But we [‘militant atheists’] are dangerous: We murder dreams, and blow up illusions!
Well: here is the answer to de Waal’s question. Some atheists are evangelical because religious claims about the universe are false, because children are brainwashed into the ancient superstitions of their parents and communities, because many religious organisations and movements have been and continue to be anti-science, anti-gays and anti-women, because even if people are no longer burned at the stake they are still stoned to death for adultery, murdered for being “witches” or abortion doctors, blown up in large numbers for being Shias instead of Sunnis… One could go on at considerable length about the divisions, conflicts, falsehoods, coercions, disruptions, miseries and harm done by religion, though the list should be familiar; except, evidently, to de Waal.
A. C. Grayling, “Apes and atheism”, a review of Franz de Waal’s The Bonobo and the Atheist, Prospect
Any person who tries to intimidate members of our community with threats or harassment is in no way my ally and is only weakening the atheist movement by silencing its voices and driving away support.
God has left no footprints on the snows of time.
We atheists, however, need to buck up, assert our rationality, and change the way we deal with the religious, with everyday affronts delivered (at times unknowingly) by believers, with the casual presumptions that historically have tended to favor the faithful and grant them unmerited respect. A lot is at stake. Religion is a serious matter, reaching far beyond the pale of individual conscience and sometimes translating into violence, sexism, sexual harassment and assault, and sundry legal attempts to restrict a woman’s right to abortion or outlaw it altogether, to say nothing of terrorism and war. Now is the time to act. Polls … show the zeitgeist in the United States is turning increasingly godless, that there are more atheists now than ever before (surely thanks in part to the efforts of the New Atheists).
As for why atheists speak up against religion – it’s because it’s harmful. It’s harmful when children are left to die because of religious misconceptions and fear of things like blood transfusions and vaccines. It’s harmful when people are encouraged to rely on revelation instead of knowledge. It’s harmful when members of a technologically advanced society denounce science and hope for the end times. It’s harmful when people are psychologically abused into thinking they are sinners when they are normal human beings and it’s especially wrong when atheists who have the courage to say they do not believe and you are harassed and threatened by believers.
I think the trouble with being a critical thinker or an atheist or a humanist is that you’re right. And it’s quite hard being right in the face of people who are wrong without sounding like a fuckwit. People go, ‘Do you think the vast majority of the world is wrong?’ Well, yes. I don’t know how to say that nicely, but, yes.