'Pity For The Poor Atheist!'
(April, 2000, Column)
I really enjoy reading "Positive Atheism" and urge you to keep up your good work as long as you can.
When the religious fanatic said she felt sorry for you, you could have said "Don't feel sorry for me, I am very happy not knowing the unknowable". I have come to believe that the vast majority of what passes for religion are beliefs based on the attempts by primitive men to explain, in ways they could understand, things that mankind will most likely never know. One of the great things that separates mankind from the other animals is we have the brain power and curiosity to want to explore and find the meanings behind everything. We can't seem to accept being ignorant about anything. This has resulted in the curse of religion, with all it's evils. Not being willing to accept the unknown is a two edged sword; the good edge is all the wonderful things mankind has discovered, invented, and achieved down through the ages, with religion, and it's superstition, bigotry, and ignorance being the punishing edge. I am quite happy not worrying about the unknown; there are enough things in this wonderful world of here and now to keep me happy and occupied.
Best of luck,
From: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
To: "Boyd Dunford"
Subject: Re: PITY FOR THE POOR ATHEIST!
Date: Tuesday, June 06, 2000 8:56 PM
The spontaneous response I gave to her reflected what I had been reading lately, and this column was written for the purpose of getting that message across.
Positive Atheism Magazine is dedicated (among other things) to ending bigotry against atheists and opening doors of communication between atheists and theists. We do this by pointing out instances of bigotry, examining the thinking that leads to such bigotry (as I did in the column), and trying to be reasonable toward theists (as we hope theists would be toward us).
PAM downplays the style of atheism which criticizes or pokes fun at specific theistic beliefs (though we do occasionally indulge in such practices, and have in the past).
I realize that superstition is a common component in fostering bigotry, but I think the real culprit is fundamentalistic (loyalistic and unscientific) thinking. Superstition is just one form of thinking that can be treated fundamentalistically to foster bigotry. If we see superstition as the culprit, and not fundamentalistic thinking, then we run the risk of seeing ourselves as immune to bigotry (because we're not superstitious). My experience has been that atheists can be just as bigoted as theists, and I have suffered more severely at the hands of bigoted atheists (defending the cause of atheism) than I have at the hands of bigoted theists (in the name of God).
I do agree with all your thoughts regarding the unknown. However, if I were to experience this same situation again, knowing what I do now and having considered your letter, I would still want to respond by asking, "Why do you feel sorry for me?" and by thinking that this condescending attitude is a cause of bigotry against atheists.
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
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