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On Becoming a Passionate Atheist

By Carl S ~

A recent letter from American Atheists says,
"Each year, the Christmas season brings critics out of the woodwork to challenge us on our "war on Christmas," followed by attacks on our morality... The funny thing is that we have not really had a war on Christmas; we were just blamed for having one anyway. Ladies and gentlemen, if we are to be blamed for a war on Christmas, why not do something to deserve it?"

Atheists, like scientists, are portrayed by the religious and the media, as cold, analytical, logical . . . and dispassionate, despite the overjoyed reactions we share over new discoveries. How can believers ignore the shouts and hugging at NASA control when landers touch down on Mars, or astronauts land and walk on the moon, or when Voyager spacecraft and the Hubble telescope send their first pictures? What drives scientists to spend tedious hours, days, years, keeping precise measurements and records in the labs, or working with trowels and small brushes, dusting off ancient bones in intense desert heat, day after day? What passion takes them into active volcanoes, or into the depths of the Mariana Trench? The dedication and risks taken are sometimes astounding.

Consider, if the New Atheists did not make so much sense, they would not be attacked as nuts fixated on reason, cold logic, in defiance of warm, contented, " know-in-one's-heart" belief. Let's counter-argue that atheists are just as passionate as the most righteous believer. What believer, taking the stance that the resurrection is physically impossible, and therefor must be true, rejoicing in it as authentication of her own desire for immortal life, dares to have the passion to find evidence for this?

If you asked the believer to believe that that teapot orbiting the earth is really there, though un-seeable, you would rightly expect to be mocked. That would take faith, you know. But, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." For the believer believes that if it doesn't make sense to humans, it must be really important. The believer is passionate about this to the extent of saying that if his god said it, that's what it means, and if his god says something that contradicts what he formerly said, that isn't what he really meant. In fact, the passion is so intense and real that it's like that love which is called "blind;" immune to reason, with but a tenuous connection to reality.

Ask yourself what is more passionate and sensitive: to help alleviate needless human suffering and death, or to send money instead to the likes of Pat Robertson, or a wealthy Pope, or to purchase a vial of "holy" water from a TV pitchman? So, most atheists, I think, had that formal traditional dedication to the beliefs they were raised in. But, being sensitive and passionate, when they sensed something "wrong" in their beliefs, pursued their intuitions and gut feelings like scientists trying to crack the DNA code, or pursuing fossils, testing constantly for the facts. Whatever it took, they dared to go into forbidden places. Let's get down to those contradictions, find out the truth, and question why such beliefs are held and authorities are honored. Let’s see other sides: pore through history, ethics, moral writings, even mythology, and find the buried facts, even if it means losing esteem, the camaraderie of believers, and being rejected. Most atheists bring a passionate, obsessive dedication to the pursuit of truth, justice, and fairness that any ethical defense lawyer would admire.

Why wouldn’t they be angry at those who would put them down, reviling them for their behavior, demanding that they be as indifferent to evidence as themselves? Are atheists not in the same situation as Afro- Americans before THEY protested? Aren't we the "niggahs" to the Christian Righteous? Shouldn’t our passions deserve fair treatment, an equal voice, and respect? Yet, we are arrogantly attacked. As those African- Americans of the 1960s did, we too must speak out. Things will not get better if we allow this status quo. . . if we cease to insist that the emperor has no clothes, that we are morally good, based on the rational desire - passionately defended - for the betterment of all human lives.

Ask yourself what is more passionate and sensitive: to help alleviate needless human suffering and death, or to send money instead to the likes of Pat Robertson, or a wealthy Pope, or to purchase a vial of "holy" water from a TV pitchman? Is it compassionate to believe that all the people on earth were so bad, including infants, that they deserved to be drowned in The Flood? What kind of a person would WANT to accept humans as universally bad? That's a sickness of psychopaths. Atheists do not have that attitude; freedom from that belief and those like it in the heart of religions is what drives us. We cherish the freedom to think, to learn, to understand, and be members of this world and to give a damn about our humanity because there are no gods to care, no impending supernatural deliverances, and because there are so many more “Aha!” and "That's curious..." discoveries to be made.

Our passionate curiosity has made us much better human beings than we were before, as believers. We want to share our acquired knowledge, to free others, and have them participate. We're sick of the believers’ wet-blanketing of our enthusiasm, and their demands that we "stifle it". Are our intentions really "evil"? We might turn the question back at those who are degrading us. We are NOT "niggahs who deserve it." And if they can't handle the truth about us, it's their problem, as reality usually is for them.

It’s time to demand the respect we with OUR passions deserve. It's way, way, overdue.