Religion, Atheism and False Equivalency
by Noah Lugeons
I’m so tired of hearing it that I’m tired of saying that I’m tired of hearing it.
Christians and their cohorts are desperate to seize the middle in the culture wars and that’s damn hard to do when you’re still dragging your heels on subjects like birth control, gender equality and premarital sex. The tenets of religion are so far behind the mainstream that the only hope they have of appealing to the masses is taking the focus off how medieval and fucked up their beliefs are.
You can see this in their constant attempts to publicly back-pedal everything their religion stands for. They’ve already distanced themselves from God, from all the crappy stuff Jesus said, from the entire history of their religion’s expression and practice, from the current hierarchy that controls it, from almost every passage in the bible and from almost every major precept of their faith. They try to water it down so much that god just means love and there’s no way to disagree with them.
And that public face is, of course, contradicted by almost everything that the majority of the faithful do and say, but it doesn’t matter. It’s a PR campaign and if you’re trying to sell a product that everyone knows breaks immediately, the first words you’re going to attach to it our “long lasting”. Think about how often you hear about Islam being a “religion of peace”, Judaism being “modern” or Christianity being a “religion of tolerance”. The hope is that if you can put your slogan on the complete opposite side from the truth, people’s opinions will land somewhere in the middle.
Which brings us to the false equivalency. Because the Christians have no good answer for “your religion is insane, unverifiable and it’s a tool to justify bigotry, sexism, child abuse and ignorance”, they have to deflect. They can’t reasonably stand there and try to pretend that their religion isn’t insane, unverifiable, bigoted, sexist, abusive and ignorant, so instead they opt for the “Oh, yeah?” tactic and say, “Well, atheists are even worse!”
Think about how often you hear a Christian imply (or directly say) that atheism:
- Takes just as much faith as religion
- Is just as militant as religion
- Is just as unverifiable as religion
- Can be used to distort morality just like religion
- Is just as “bad” as religion
This seems to be the Argument Du Jour with online apologists right now. They say that “Dawkins is just as bad as…” and then they’ll insert the name of somebody who just said something about how gay people should be beaten to death or that women should learn to shut up and listen to their men… in the name of the son, the father and the holy ghost, amen.
And as Dawkins recently responded via Twitter;
Yes, I’m just as bad as the fundamentalists. Now excuse me while I throw acid in a woman’s face and then behead someone with a machete for disagreeing with me.
Shall I bother to refute it further? Should I bother to point out that nobody has ever been killed in the name of atheism? (And remember apologists, being killed by an atheist isn’t the same thing) Should I bother to point out that there is no doctrine or authority that can alter morality within atheism? Should I bother to point out that the most “militant” atheist you can find has never called for the killing of anyone anywhere? Should I bother to point out that even the really sexist atheists never talk about covering women from head to toe and then stoning them to death?
The answer to all of these questions is, of course, no. The very act of refuting this type of argument gives it more credit than it deserves. I’m an atheist blogger, podcaster and from what I hear, I’m one of the most vicious atheists out there. And the worst thing I’ve ever done to a Christian is made him cry because I used potty words and talked about Jesus’ naughty parts. I’m an “atheist extremist” and the only weapon I own is a thesaurus.