Willful Ignorance

Every once in a while, inspiration arrives unexpectedly.

Recently I’d had a rather humorous exchange of ideologies with some very nice, albeit imaginatively compromised theists on the internet. Although we had extremely different views about life, death, the afterlife, science and theology… for the most part we were all able to discuss our varying perspectives without too much Christian inspired animus. As only the invisible, all-knowing, all powerful, sex hating, intergalactic ruler of the cosmos knows, I was uncharacteristically well behaved.

Sure, there were those who took exception to my very existence, and who typed in all capital letters (to let me know that they were shouting in anger) that I was undoubtedly going to hell, and that –as one synaptic impaired dullard asserted– “GOD IS AN AWESOME GOD! I HAVE 2 AWESOME PRAISE REPORTS THIS WEEK! HE IS WORTHY 2 B PRAISED! I GIVE HIM ALL THE PRAISE AND GLORY!” (actual quote)… but for the most part the discussion revolved around me trying to explain basic science to people who refused to acknowledge it. To them, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the earth is 6000 years old, humans and dinosaurs coexisted, and their appalling consensus was that any science that contradicts the bible is a tool of Satan.

But my resolve is such that I cannot sit in good conscience and allow blatant lies which negatively affect so many lives to be accepted without speaking out against them. My idealism won’t allow what I felt was a flippant, cavalier disregard for human suffering from “Christians” sitting comfortably in their heated, carpeted homes to go unanswered… especially when they engage in trite religious platitudes such as “Jesus loves us”, or the comment that began our interaction:

“GOD is with you, He is on your side, He has your best interest at heart and He is working to bring restoration and peace to every area of your life”.

But clearly, God doesn’t love all of us, and if he does, he has a funny way of showing it. Sure he loves the wealthy, or the plain ole’ lucky… but try telling a victim of the Rwandan holocaust who’s had her arm hacked off with a machete, or someone who lost their family in the Japanese tsunami, or a 4 year old dying painfully from leukemia that God has a special plan for them. Faith in god not only allows theists to dismiss the man made pain and suffering occurring around the globe and chalk it up to “god’s will”…. it allows them to remove themselves from any sense of empathy and pretend that (especially brown) people somehow had it coming for not believing as good, Anglo mid-western Christians do.

The sanctimonious indifference exhibited routinely by American Christians is the height of condescension, and serves the less than noble purpose of narcissistic self-centeredness. “God loves me, more than the Serbian child who became paralyzed when a bullet ripped through his spine while he was doing his homework. I can tell because he rewards me with cable television. In fact, I don’t have to concern myself with the poor little cripple, God is on the job.” Religion appeals to the darkest parts of human nature, and allows us to rationalize some otherwise very antisocial, bigoted, and overtly ignorant perspectives. It’s as if theists are complicit in a post-life ponzi scheme, design to sign as many gullible people on as they can. And like any other multi-level-marketing pyramid, only those at the top are rewarded.

Which is why I believe that even a little religion is a very bad thing. For theist –many of whom I have little doubt are very well intentioned– the belief in god deprives them of the ability to think critically, or to fundamentally reason. It allows them to ignore facts and evidence in favor of what they’d like to believe. It can cause people who are obviously not insane, to make some very irrational statements of faith. Once one convinces themselves that a talking snake persuading a woman to eat an apple is the reason for war and disease, believing that god was punishing the hedonistic city of New Orleans with a hurricane is not such a stretch.

When adults practice the art of self-deception in any other aspect of their lives, we call it denial. We offer therapy, support or perhaps even an intervention whereby all of one’s friends get together and explain what an irrational, self-destructive imbecile they are behaving like. However when they do so in regard to the genetic, or astronomical evidence supporting the actual age of our universe or the origin of our species, we call it “faith”. However “god” is the abusive relationship theists can’t get out of, and they keep telling themselves that “He loves them”, despite the random, abject cruelty he routinely exhibits. They need an intervention.

But it gets worse. When people allow themselves to become corporeal servants to an ethereal dictator… and when we sacrifice our intellect and ability to employ logic here on earth in the hopes of gaining post-life admittance to what Christopher Hitchens so eloquently described as a “Celestial North Korea”… When we convince ourselves that we’ll find happiness in a heavenly hive where one must appeal to an almighty creator’s sense of vanity by constantly heaping praise on him, while simultaneously serving as “bottoms” in a sadomasochistic, mentally abusive patriarchy which only allows one to only be rewarded for blind obedience, and the ability to endure boredom… it is epitome of lazy thinking in the face of real world issues that require our serious attention.

As such, religion hurts everyone. To which I say to those whom demand “respect” for a fundamentalist, inherently bigoted worldview that eliminates any metaphoric interpretation of scripture, and which denies science in favor of fairy tales…. You’ll get none from *this* Atheist.

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About Rich Woods

Rich Woods is the author of the critically acclaimed books, UnLearn Vanilla Marriage, and Yahweh to Hell. He is also a columnist, sociologist, and satirist who has performed seminars around the country. He's also made several TV and radio appearances. Transitioning from a blue-collar background has given Mr. Woods a unique perspective --and an even more unique elocution--among his peers. Raised Catholic, Mr. Woods is now a very public atheist who champions the separation of church and state. He's an advocate for non-traditional relationships, including --but not limited to-- negotiating non-monogamy, as well as being a vocal opponent of political correctness. Throughout his career, Woods has had colorful metaphors hurled in his direction from both liberals, and conservatives. To be honest, most of the vitriol comes from the Tea Party. However, he considers one of his greatest accomplishments having been called "Harry Reid's Lapdog" , and referred to as being "just like Rush Limbaugh" from two different sources within minutes of one another. Originally from Queens, New York, and presently residing in central New Jersey, Rich Woods is madly, and hopelessly in love with his wife Jane since before they were wed in 2002, and is the proud father of two successful, brilliantly creative, young adult children. Try as he might, he can't juggle.

Posted on December 11, 2011, in Archived Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi Rich,
    I love your blog! I found it through the link you posted on the RRS facebook page, and your posts are great – I think we agree on most everything!

  2. I love it, your position (which is the position of most Atheists) is very well articulated.
    Retaining a calm demeanor when discussing and debating religious beliefs is a must, if the intention is to shed light on the ignorance of facts neccesary to subscribe to those beliefs. We may not be capable of proving that something nonexistent does not exist, but we can point out logical fallacies, biblical inconsistencies, refer them to historical information comparing Christianity to ancient mythology (discrediting the bible as a clear forgery and nothing more), as well as explain how knowledge of science and sociology fills the gaps quite well.

  3. I agree with some stuff you write on your blog, and you are part of my RSS Reader. Hopefully this elevates me above the level of a troll.

    I find it interesting and telling, that you have taken all Christians in America, and turned them into one group “American Christians”. Maybe a better approach is to treat your fellow human beings as individuals. Or would that be considered too Christian? Just sayin’

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