Monday, November 2, 2015

Atheist Zealots

I was raised and indoctrinated with common Christian beliefs, so I came into my current state of non-belief in a god through a process of reasoning and questioning. Once I realized the true nature of our existence, I came to regard all who did not believe in a god or gods as highly intelligent, rational peers. I now understand that I've probably given some who have never believed much more credit than they're due.

I have learned that simply being an atheist does not automatically mean a person is intelligent, rational, or compassionate, because there are atheists who never had to go through a process of rationalizing, reasoning, and questioning what they understand to be true. Non-belief in a god is a default position; the belief in god needs to be taught, and especially at a young age before a child is old enough to reason. While it can be argued that religious teachings may stunt or delay learning about things like science and history, it does not inherently turn people into ignorant, bigoted, hateful zealots. In fact, there exists in this world atheists who are ignorant, bigoted, hateful zealots, in spite of the fact that some of the most intelligent people are those who have never held a religious belief.

One such demonstration of this can be found in a Facebook group known as "Atheist Republic." After accepting their invitation to the private group earlier this year, I noticed the group devolving from oppressing religion to becoming bigoted and hateful of people who hold religious belief. I wrote blog posts such as the Niqab debate in hopes to temper people's bigotry of Muslim women, but the vitriol continued. I decided to ignore their bloodless ideology until I got caught in the cross hairs of their witch hunt.

It started with a joke. I posted a picture of a baptism cake, with the caption, "The cake is a lie." This is a long-running joke with players of the original Portal video game, and in case you don't get this joke, "The cake is a lie" was a hidden message in the game used to convey the message that a promised gift is being used to motivate without any intent of delivering. In religion, there is a promised gift being used to motivate without any intent of delivering, but it isn't cake. This was an example of satire combined with irony that I enjoy.

The first comment appeared to be from a crank questioning my belief. I followed up with what I thought was sufficient clarification without ruining the joke, and even went so far as to stick with the religious-themed satire of the original while posting a picture from the game, in case this person sincerely didn't understand.

I thought that ought to be sufficient for anyone to figure the joke out, but this zealot was clearly on an anti-religious witch hunt, because instead of bothering to even look at my profile or google "The cake is a lie," he chose to insult me by calling me a troll.

Reasoning that he was a one-off crank,  I pointed out the simple fact that he just may be, in fact, a humorless twit; hardly even an insult, given the circumstances. That's when he called out the admins of the group by tagging them in his reply.

He had lobbed the first insult by calling me a troll for all to see, rather than questioning me or sending his concerns to the admins in private. As I soon discovered, he wasn't a one-off crank in this group; he was rallying fellow zealots in his anti-religious witch hunt. It was a mob mentality as they set their rifle sights on me: One of their own, and, as this blog demonstrates, one of the most outspoken atheists.

While certain atheists accuse religion for terrible things such as the Salem witch hunts, it turns out that this is simply an ugly, cancerous side of human culture, fostered by ignorance and bigotry, that can affect atheists equally as it does the religious. It's no wonder that, with behaviour like this, people believe atheism to be just another religion.

I have decided that, after being banned from Atheist Republic, to consider abandoning my atheism, and start a new religion. My religion will be cake. The cake is not a lie, even if it is written. Anyone wish to join me?