Why Worry About a God That Isn’t There?

You don’t call yourself an a-unicornist.  Or an a-Santaist.  Why call yourself an a-theist?

I get this a lot.  “Why do you worry about something you don’t even think exists?  Why call yourself an atheist?”

That’s a reasonable question.  People with no God belief may not call themselves atheists for lots of reasons.  Maybe they prefer another name like freethinker or agnostic.  Maybe they want to focus on what they do believe in and so think of themselves as humanists or naturalists.  Maybe, as the cartoon suggests, not believing in God is as irrelevant to their lives as not believing in unicorns or Santa Claus.

But I do call myself an atheist.  God belief impacts society in ways that unicorn belief or Santa belief could never do.  In the list of Christian excesses below, see if you agree that only religion—and not mere belief in mythical creatures—could provoke these actions.

  • The Pope says that condoms shouldn’t be used in Africa to stop the spread of HIV
  • U.S. preachers provoke anti-gay legislation in Uganda
  • Some churches forbid birth control
  • Stem cell research is held up
  • Young women are urged not to get the HPV vaccine that protects against cervical cancer
  • In-vitro fertilization, which has brought four million children to parents unable to conceive, is attacked by the Catholic church
  • Some Christians push for Creationism to be taught in science class, for Christian prayers to be said in public schools, and for the Ten Commandments to be displayed in courthouses
  • Christian belief seems to increasingly be a requirement for public office, despite the fact that the Constitution makes clear that no religious test shall ever be required
  • … and other excesses that come to mind for you.

If Christianity could work and play well with others, that would be great, and I’d find other activities to occupy my time.  But it doesn’t.

If you’re a Christian reading this, you may respond that your church doesn’t do this.  In that case, agree with me!  Agree that Christianity—in some versions, anyway—crosses the line and must be kept in check.

Artwork credit: Mike Stanfill

Only 21 More Shopping Days Till the End of the World!

That’s right, boys and girls—the world will end one month from today on October 21, 2011.  There’s not much time left to finish those nagging last-minute chores!

Of course I’m referring to Harold Camping’s predicted Rapture on May 21 and the end of the world 153 days* later.  Not a lot happened on the “Rapture” and, as Armageddons go, the one we’re in right now seems quite mild.  Camping’s predictable backpedaling reframed May 21 as “an invisible judgment day.”

Camping’s Family Radio organization came out of this fiasco financially strong, but many of his followers spent their retirement savings to spread the word during the run-up to May 21.  Camping has done nothing to correct the harm he’s caused, and some have called for a fraud investigation.

Camping hasn’t learned from his public humiliation and is holding fast to his date for the end of the world.  He said, “It won’t be spiritual on October 21st.  The world is going to be destroyed all together, but it will be very quick.”**

Many Christians, embarrassed that Camping spoke for their religion, quoted Matthew 24:36 to argue that Camping is unable to make a prediction about the end.  In this verse, Jesus says:

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Christians also quote another verse: “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.…  Destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman” (1 Thessalonians 5:2–3).  But Camping can quote the very next verse:

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.

Aha—the true Christian like Camping apparently can know the end!

Or maybe the Bible is simply a sock puppet that can be made to say anything.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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