Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Evangelical Atheism

Two days ago I was told that my blogging and reading and posting on atheism and/or the real conflicts between religion and reason in our culture is the existential equivalence of Christian Evangelism.

It was done as a dismissive criticism. It fits the epistemic game of offering rhetorical equivalence in terms between ideas to damn an action by aligning it with its apposite.

It is the current apologetic tactic of sophisticated Christians who deconstruct the meaning of "faith" to show that "faith" is practiced by all, even those who choose skepticism.

It seems silly to me because it is rooted in shame (which always seems silly to me) but also because it needs to make its argument by risking equivocation to provide some perceived equivalence between skeptical criticism of supernatural "truth" and the promotion with certainty of supernatural "truth".

The accusation upset me.

I was upset not because I disagree that there is an "evangelical" quality to those of us who once were held sway by religious nonsense and have come to see that critical thinking is a more sustainable and moral choice but because the accusation was so poorly reasoned.

I guess in a simplistic way anyone who has a concern for a given topic, follows thought leaders in that topic, writes about it on his or her free time and disseminates this information would be considered "evangelical".

The person who made this claim on another occasion talked to me about the liberating effects heavy marijuana consumption has and how America would end their trade deficit if we stopped subsidizing farmers and instead legalized pot so that it could become the international cash crop it deserves to be. I thought it was an interesting point but didn't dismiss it by saying, "Man, you sound like some Evangelical Christian trying to convert me."

The online etymology dictionary traces the term "evangelical" to the 16th century meaning one who spreads the Gospel. Gospel in that context is proper and it relates to a specific authority on reality with the aim of conversion to that authority.

My aim is not conversion. I don't want anyone to believe anything I say simply on my authority or the authority of my character or the authority of any inquiry I make into belief or atheistic argument I entertain.

I want people to reason.

I would imagine people would enjoy reasoning.

It also seems that what people dislike about me through this blog is the tone I choose when communicating the ideas I have. I'm told that my point of view promotes my "rightness" at the expense of others "wrongness" and the position I'm suggested to take is a laissez faire association to ideas that endorses either the "rightness" of all ideas or the celebration of another's subjective unreal assertions because that makes life beautiful.

I find those arguments unconvincing. Here's why:
  1. I aspire to be a writer. The writer's job is to be critical of assertions and promote ideas that give insight into truth not subjective comfortable belief
  2. I was emotionally and psychologically harmed by theologies that suggested self-hatred is a sacramental holiness and see these theologies continuing to animate the need for supernatural belief today. I think it moral to help others who may be trapped in self-punishing premises to realize that there is little logic or reason to the belief they are held sway by invisible forces
  3. I have a 9 month old son who I need to protect from religious people who will try to convince him that his opinions or desires are evidence of his depravity or weakness and if only he give over to authority he will be safe
  4. 80% of the US population denies or misunderstands the mechanism of natural selection within Darwinian evolution and in this misunderstanding seeks to interfere with science education because it is onerous to their beliefs
  5. George Bush's gut level thinking regarding weapons of mass destruction became the electorate's approved method for international politics because there seemed to be an adoration of instinct over analysis
  6. The major theologies of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism contradict one another but all lay claim to Jerusalem thereby stoking nuclear intentions in the Middle East and even leading many people to believe a nuclear incident there would be "good" (based on their theologies)
  7. The fastest growing Christianity in Africa is Pentecostalism which has led parents to accuse their children of witchcraft (sanctioned by the bible) and has led these parents to set their children on fire or have them drink battery acid
  8. Traditional Islam demands that a woman's clitoris be cut out and her vagina sewn shut to ensure that she is a virgin on her wedding night
  9. The Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church has been uncovered as an institution that used its wealth and influence to collude to keep child rapists protected within its walls and continues to obfuscate on these crimes despite evidence that criminal collusion occurred at the highest levels of its clerical authority. It also has intellectual influence over the fastest growing economic populations in South America and continues to obstruct women's reproductive rights despite evidence that a tight correlation exists between poverty alleviation and a woman's right to choose if she will be pregnant
  10. Pastor Rick Warren of the Purpose Driven Life (NYT Best Seller) has supported the Ugandan legislation that would make homosexuality and colluding to keep homosexuals safe a capital crime worthy of the death penalty
So yes, I guess I am an Evangelical but to associate me with an Evangelical religious person (specifically Christian) is to ignore the facts we are facing as human beings.

I will continue to be Evangelical in my atheism and I have very little shame in it.

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