Writing Godless Mom, I get approached a few times a day by a theist with their back up. Perhaps it’s the word godless, or maybe it’s the memes I post that are critical of the beliefs they hold dear. Whatever the case, they often come at me guns blazing and I have to try and diffuse the situation in some way or another. Most of the time, I end up muting or blocking because they don’t want to hear me.
That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of believers out there who will hear my reasoning. There are, and they are awesome. But most of the time, it’s a fight to see who hits block first.
I thought I’d clear some things up about me and the way I view theists and believers of all sorts, so maybe we can avoid this situation in the future.
I don’t think religious belief makes you stupid. I also don’t think it makes you a fool, nor do I see you as someone who has been fooled. I see you as a normal person with the same cognitive functions as myself, but who was given different information about the world around us as you grew. I see you as someone who likely has doubts you are afraid of and for good reason. Perhaps you want the worldview you were taught to be true. Maybe it gives you a feeling of security. Maybe you’re afraid of the unknown. I see you as someone who could possibly be an atheist one day, and it’s not going to be because you suddenly jumped a few IQ points. It’ll be because you were brave enough to confront your doubts.
I would never attack you based solely on the fact that you’re religious. I would and do, however, find it difficult not to tear a strip off of people who use their religious beliefs as an excuse to say and do awful things.
I enjoy your civil conversation. While I don’t always have enough time to discuss things at length on Twitter or Facebook, I do try and I never shy away from answering an email. I don’t care if you’re a believer or an atheist, I think we can have a great conversation so long as we respect each other.
I do take issue with the things you might believe. This doesn’t mean I take issue with you. If your son or daughter was sucked into a cult, would you have an issue with him or her, or with the things he or she has been led to believe? If you can imagine that situation and the fact that you would still care deeply for your child, no matter what they believed, then you can imagine how I feel about your belief.
I’m not interested in arguing about your beliefs. Having never been a believer, I can’t pretend to know what I am talking about and quite frankly, religious doctrine doesn’t interest me in the least. What does interest me is how it affects people. I will argue why I don’t believe, and I will argue in favour of the rights of my fellow human beings, but as far as your holy book goes, I am simply not interested. Unless and until there is demonstrable evidence for its truth, it’s like debating whether or not Holden Caulfield is gay in the Catcher in the Rye: a futile exercise that runs out of fuel really fast. I read your holy books. I found them distasteful. I do not want to argue about it.
If you come at me swinging nonsense, I will defend myself and my fellow atheists. I’ll knock your strawmen down faster than you can say John 3:16. That’s what happened to Albert. It’s what happened to Pastor Jack, and it’s even what happened to my fellow atheist, Jaya.
I reserve the right to make fun of silly things. If you believe in things I feel are silly, those beliefs may be made fun of. I don’t do it to offend you. I do it because it’s how I most love to write. Think of it like comedians holding a roast, only in my case, I’m not roasting a person, I’m just roasting some ideas that you may or may not hold dear. If you are offended by a total stranger on the internet having a go at the things you believe, perhaps you should consider how strong your beliefs are. Seems a smidge fragile to be threatened by the likes of me. I mean, I am flattered you think I have that sort of power and all, but really, the strength of your beliefs and whether or not they can stand up to a few jokes on the intertubes is all you.
I don’t want to upset anyone; I only want to make people think. Sometimes, I like to do it through jokes. Sometimes, I do it through reasoned arguments. Sometimes, I don’t do it at all in spite of my trying really hard. I know that the things that I say are going to affect people negatively but that won’t stop me. I feel what I have to say is important and a few hurt feelings along the way are perfectly acceptable collateral damage. My suggestion: don’t take it personally. Try to see the reason, and hear what I am actually saying. Put down your protest signs, and slip out of your persecuted pants. Let the wall down and really hear me. You might be surprised.
We could absolutely be friends… as long as you don’t mind a little blasphemy from time to time.
Okay, maybe a lot.
The truth is, some of the best conversations I’ve had here as Godless Mom have been with believers. I see you as just the same as me. We are equal and you have every right to believe whatever the fuck you want. I don’t think you’re stupid, or foolish or goofy for having religious belief, and I welcome your comments and discussion anywhere online you find me.