In my many encounters with theists and some atheists, I have been asked why I devote a portion of my life to talking about, debating, and critiquing religion. The subject matter is engaging and so are its implications/applications. The religious do not allow me to keep my atheism to myself. I cannot pick up the paper, get on the internet or turn on the news without seeing theocratic factions encroaching on free societies.
There are plenty of believers who find my opposition to theism to be from a place of poor taste and I would agree if I did something like following sentence. It would be unkind of me to visit the local hospitals and preach to the faithful as they lay in their death beds that their god is not real. Clearly, I’m in complete violation of my social license and I ought to be rebuked for such ugly behavior but very many in the ranks of the faithful are far too eager to lecture others about the goodness of their god in a time of tragedy and pain. You may believe whatever you wish but why must I hear about it?
They say that many believers are not as educated or intelligent as I. It appears they think I am behaving as some kind of intellectual snob. Who am I to say anything about what brings other people comfort and hope? Why sneer at the gods and prestidigitators of the common folk? After all, the common folk have nothing else. Their lives are in shambles, they lack access to vital things/institutions and religion/God is what fills the void. While they live their present life in the leaky basement filled with rats, disease, and pestilence, religion/God gives them hope. Within that hope, their putrid lives have meaning and importance. Their current state of suffering is only temporary and they will be rewarded with an afterlife full of abundance, happiness, joy, and goodness. God will alleviate their plight when he stretches his loving embrace from the Heavens to call his children home. While they may be broken vessels which cannot be perfected in their bodies, if they remain humble and faithful, God will see fit to mitigate their suffering as long as they ask. His mercy will rain down and the beautiful breezes of his eternal love will envelope his followers as he carries them home.
But is not there where intellectual snobbery rears its head? The people who utter such noxious screeds are not “common people”. They distinguish themselves by claiming they are too cultured and sophisticated to believe in creationism and all that jazz, and simultaneously they claim I have no right to speak on religion/god. They opt for preaching obedience in the presence of immense suffering. It's pernicious and cynical.The prescription reeks of condescension. It is espoused by those who claim to be spokespersons on behalf of the god, all while they suffer the least. If the task of the educated is to keep quiet about what makes or keeps the common folk comfortable and happy, then I shun the task. When you say it does not matter whether the religion is true or that the god is real but it is the nightlight(it’s not lit up and quite possibly, in your broken state, you have to find it) in the room of darkness and despair, the darkness and despair still dominate the room. Asking me to pipe down over such an alarming concession is not feasible. It is an exercise in vulgar, cheap, and tasteless thoughts to suggest the very real suffering which happens daily is part of some divine plan. Such positions are spouted uncritically and wantonly by the faithful. I do not come from a place of arrogance when I demand that theists and others develop better standards for holding their beliefs. Simply because it makes you feel good or it is a belief possessed by your friends, parents, or is part of your cultural background is not good enough. It is a demand which can be met head on with honesty and dedication. The pushers of faith appeal to solipsism and that kind of vacuous nonsense up with which I will not put.
As long as the faithful continue to demand preferential treatment within the public school system (science and history), lobby to avoid taxation by the government and have the audacity to try to influence policy which dictates law, then I will be obligated to speak and do something about it. The faithful can have their faith even though I do not think they need it but if they insist on waving it around in public, I cannot remain silent. I suggest you speak out too.