Hello, and welcome to my blog. I am the Invisible Atheist and today I’ll be conducting a terribly serious interview with myself where I plan to pull no punches and get to the bottom of what I’m all about. I won’t be letting myself squirm out of any difficult questions either, so without further ado, let’s begin.
Is it true that you hate religion?
That’s a tough question. I can see that you’re going to be a difficult interviewer but I respect your straight-to-the-point approach! Hate is a strong word and I’m not sure it’s the right one, but it’s fair to say that I have a strong dislike for religion. It’s a difficult thing to discuss though, because I have religious friends who sometimes assume that my dislike for religion means that I must also have a problem with religious people which isn’t necessarily the case at all, to quote Sir Richard of Gervais “Suggesting that I hate people with religion because I hate religion is like suggesting I hate people with cancer because I hate cancer.”
I do feel that religion causes far more problems than it ‘solves’ and has been the cause of far too many unnecessary deaths over the centuries. Even in the modern world where we are blessed with such technical marvels as the internet, there are still people suffering and dying every day because of religious doctrine. The Saudi Arabian atheist blogger who is imprisoned and tortured for ‘insulting Islam’, the American child who dies of cancer because her parents believe that prayer is the only medicine she needs, the French artist who is murdered for drawing a picture of a man who once possibly existed and said some crazy stuff, the infant who has their own beliefs decided for them before they take their first breath and who will be indoctrinated with folklore and fairy tales being passed off as alternatives to science and reason. These are good reasons to strongly dislike religion, but those same people are not always to blame for their actions. That infant who was indoctrinated from birth into a culture from which they may even be forbidden to leave, never really had a chance to think for themselves. If you’re a child and your parents, who you rely on and trust more than anyone in the world, tell you that the world was made by a wonderful and magical higher power then of course you will believe them. If they tell you this ‘truth’ every day of your life then you could be forgiven for never doubting it, you might be forgiven for believing that the punishment for not accepting this truth should be imprisonment or worse. The cancer sufferer isn’t to blame for the cancer.
Atheist Fundamentalist or ‘New Atheist’?
Both titles are nonsense. The only fundamental thing about atheism is a lack of belief in God. It’s also the only way in which one can be an atheist, so in that sense, we’re all fundamentalists. The term ‘new atheist’ was invented by religious people who dislike the fact that modern atheists are more willing to speak up for themselves against religious doctrine and propaganda. In many countries being an atheist has often meant being ostracised or attacked by those religious people who are finding that more and more people are shunning their antiquated beliefs and thinking for themselves. The fact that atheists are speaking up in these countries and standing against religious doctrine has caused upset and resentment, leading to the idea of attaching ‘radical’ labels to those atheists who they feel might be a danger to their religious ideals.
Does a good Atheist need to be a religious scholar?
Of course not. We’re all atheist at birth, it’s only when we are indoctrinated by one of the various religions that we are taught to be anything else. I don’t believe for a second that anyone has ever been born with an innate belief in Allah, Yhwh, Zeus or any of the other supposed deities throughout history. Atheism is the default human state and therefore, there’s no need to know anything about religion at all, other than the knowledge that the general idea revolves around the existence of an unquantifiable and intangible entity which must be worshiped in some way, and that you’re not willing to entertain such an idea.
Personally, I never studied the Bible or the Qur’an much before I became an atheist. I was indoctrinated into Catholicism, mainly through my education in a Roman Catholic School. Prayers were the norm and we were put through the rites of passage such as ‘Holy Communion‘ and ‘Confession‘ by the School itself which is a powerful technique in controlling young minds. We were taught, in no uncertain terms that God was real and that Jesus did indeed die for our sins. I can’t say for sure what it was that made me doubt any of this because I remember deciding at the age of (around) 8 years old that I was no longer a believer and didn’t wish to attend church anymore. I managed to avoid ‘Confirmation‘ and convince my Mother that church attendance should be a choice, but I was still subjected to another 8 years of Catholic School education, during which time, my growing confidence in my views was to get me in an ever increasing amount of trouble.
It was during this time that I really began to consider why I was so sure of my atheism. I listened to what was said in School and thought a lot about the real world implications of these ideas. I remember a particularly difficult ‘Religious studies’ lesson where Adam and Eve were discussed at length and I remember how shocked I was that everyone was listening to this ludicrous story and not speaking up or asking questions. By the end of the lesson I had been sent to sit outside for my questioning of these ideas. Why would a true story be unable to stand up to some rather obvious criticism? Once again, my convictions were strengthened.
I may have gone off on something of a tangent with what my Wife lovingly refers to as my ‘Grandpa Simpson stories’, but the message is simply that we’re all atheists until we’re told otherwise. Being a good atheist is as simple as realising that, in the words of the legendary Christopher Hitchens: “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
Are you this opinionated about everything?
So I’m told. It’s not really true though, there are plenty of things that I don’t care about enough to have a strong opinion about, but I do tend to offend most of my family and friends on a semi-regular basis with my opinions on certain subjects, so I suppose I am opinionated where I feel it’s necessary. I loathe hate movements, for example, and from time to time you’ll probably see me post articles on here about Feminism or, to be more specific, anti-Feminism. I’m an advocate of Women’s rights, but I’m also an advocate of Human rights, including those of Men and Transgender individuals and as such, I consider Feminist propaganda to be hate speech as the majority of it seems to be vitriolic in nature and aimed squarely at one specific demographic (Males) with the rest of it focused on the rights of the other demographic (Females) exclusively. Seems a lot like a hate movement to me. But don’t worry if you’re unconvinced, I’ll be backing up these claims with plenty of articles and evidence in due time. Stay tuned!
But how can you be an Atheist and not a Feminist?
A silly question with a long winded answer but I’ll try to explain here.