Certifying my Atheist Bingo card:
1. – 5. I’m just going to go ahead and claim the whole top row. I’ve had arguments with people about “atheism is a religion, too,” “you can’t disprove God,” and “evolution hasn’t been proven.” I have been told that I’m arrogant because I’m an atheist (“what makes you think you’re so much better than believers?” and variations on the “who do you think you are” theme are the most common), and while it’s not an argument that comes up often, I have been handed the bandwagon appeal of “MOST people are religious, so…” I don’t even entertain that one anymore.
6. “You’re going to Hell.” I’ve been told this by both friends (though I wonder if I should put that word in quotation marks; would a real friend say that to another?) and complete strangers. My response is that threatening me with Hell is precisely the same as threatening me with a snubbing from Santa Claus (and, if I’m feeling particularly feisty, I’ll add that Hell is where all the cool kids will be, anyway, and that I hope my mother will save me a seat. That gets folks really riled up).
7. “There are no atheists in foxholes.” This goes nicely with the “everyone repents on their deathbeds,” which is also crap. There are PLENTY of atheists in foxholes (and on deathbeds). I always wondered, as well, why people think that others have to be frightened by their approaching death to accept religion. If faith is something you’re coerced into, is it really faith? I have never had that question adequately answered by the believers to whom I’ve posed it.
8. “Atheists are closed minded.” This, from a “friend” (quoted verbatim from her facebook post scolding me for my attitude toward religion): “From my perspective it is wrong to argue, literally under a quote about open mindedness and explorations of other’s beliefs, no matter how disturbing, and pretty much write off anyone who believes in God. I found your words hurtful and was cut very deeply by them. I am struggling to stay in a relationship with someone who has so little regard for my beliefs and feeling. Don’t be open minded. Scream your beliefs to the world if you choose, but disabuse yourself of the notion that you are open minded. I’m beginning to have a great deal of compassion for the students in your classroom who had strong religious beliefs. It begins to make sense to me that they sought to address their frustration in your classroom via their parents and the administration. I would be very difficult to talk to a teacher who oozes disrespect for one’s beliefs and believes she is open minded.”
I suppose this could also count for
9. “You shouldn’t disrespect my religion.” You may not think I should, but I disagree. If you can love the sinner but hate the sin, then why can’t I love the believer but hate the belief?
10. “Biblical slavery wasn’t like modern slavery” and “You’re taking that out of context!” are kind of the same thing, so I’m only going to count them as one. Replace “slavery” with “marriage” or “discipline” or “laws” and you get pretty much every argument I’ve ever had with anyone about the Bible. It’s SO EASY to make excuses for the Bible – to dismiss the violence and the hatred and the misogyny – and to pick and choose the passages that suit your argument. I’m also sick unto death of those who claim that the Old Testament is somehow exempt from critical scrutiny and that direct calls for despicable behavior (stoning women, for example) are somehow metaphors. Yeah; no.
*Bonus!* “Who used God or religion to hurt you so deeply?” The assumption is that one has to be in some way directly harmed by religion in order to be atheist is short-sighted and simplistic. I am anti-religion not because I have been directly harmed by it, but because I am a feeling, thinking human being who can clearly see the harm that religion does to other people (and has done throughout history). I can think for myself and come to my conclusions based on evidence; I don’t have to experience something firsthand to understand its implications. I am an atheist because I despise what religion does to separate people from each other (and their own capacity for thought, empathy, and reason). I didn’t need to be raped by a priest to figure that out, and the assumption that I would is insulting to my intelligence and to the depth of my capacity for empathy.
(for the record, I could have claimed every other square except “I was an atheist once, too.” My experience is that the direction that path takes is from belief to non-belief; rarely does one go the other way)