1minion pretends to debate an atheist ad complainer

Pretending obviously because the column itself was written long before I woke up this morning. It’s by someone named Michael Coren, who also has a blog, but not one I’ve ever read before. So, onto the Toronto Sun article and my lengthy rebuttal…

It’s Christmas time, and that can only mean one thing. A group of atheists and secular humanists are trying once again to place ads on the sides of city buses explaining that God is a myth, religion is pointless, and UFOs and Jesus have equal credibility.

The ad was put together by the Centre for Inquiry in Canada. Their Extraordinary Claims website has a very extensive list of dubious beliefs that are worth challenging in order to encourage rational thought over gullibility and ignorance. They simply want people to question anything they’ve assumed is true, especially when evidence for the reality of it is patchy, questionable, or nonexistent.

Personally, I prefer my money to go to charities for hungry children and homeless families, but that’s probably because I’m one of those silly Christians.

It’s not silly to want to support charities. I can’t find the article right now but I read a thing yesterday about a Reddit challenge going on between atheists, Christians and Muslims to donate as much as possible to needy charities. Granted, atheists might outnumber Christians and Muslims as Reddit users but they’ve certainly made the most of that by giving the most to their charity of choice: Doctors Without Borders. And they’re aiming to give $40,000 compared to the Christians giving merely $12,000. The Muslims were hoping to raise $5000 for theirs.

There’s also Kiva, which the Saskatoon Freethinkers supports by donating money to small businesses in developing countries, loans that are later paid back by the grateful people so the money can be reinvested in other ventures. Atheists etc. have raised more than three million bucks for that since 2008. The Christians have raised 1.8 million so far. Those are only two examples where atheists are kicking butt, but I know that Christian charities far outnumber secular ones and many atheists are picking these particular causes because they don’t want to support any groups that might have ulterior motives beyond aid.

If, however, people want to make the sides of large vehicles slightly less boring they have a perfect right to do so. Unlike, for example, pro-life groups and organizations opposed to same-sex marriage which have repeatedly been told that their money isn’t good enough for all sorts of public and private venues, and denied the right to purchase billboards.

I don’t know a hell of a lot about advertising so I don’t know how it’s decided what ads should run. I assume the desire to avoid controversy and vandalism ranks high on a reason not to take money from those kinds of special interest groups? Americans don’t seem to have trouble getting pro-life billboards up for public viewing. There’s this one from Wisconsin, and this one from Arkansas as a couple easy-to-find examples.

I see in 2008 a similar attempt in New Brunswick was stymied, as was one in Ontario. The New Brunswick story on that page claims the denial of ad space was due to a policy against politically-inspired advertising. Both abortion and same-sex marriage tend to be politically polarizing concepts and I can see why businesses might not want to look like they’re actively supporting any of those things, in case it loses them customers.

Still, hypocrisy and double standard aside, as long as nobody is calling for violence or being horribly obscene an ad is an ad.

But do these jolly God-haters appreciate the irony of their actions? I very much doubt it.

You see, the only countries willing to allow them this freedom and prepared to protect them in their zeal are the very societies founded on the Christian principles the God-haters appear to despise.

Atheists aren’t god-haters. You have to think it exists before you can hate it. Duh. And I think I’d need a list of the so-called “Christian principles” to see if I despise any of them. If you mean the ten commandments, do I need to remind you that Moses wasn’t Christian? The Jewish god gave him those and they were only meant to matter to his people, not necessarily everyone else. Plus, there are inconsistencies galore, depending on what part of the OT you’re reading, and what version.

Freedom and justice and equality and democracy and truth and whatever all else are noble things worth supporting. Human rights are worth supporting. The right to choose is worth supporting. Making political policies that take away those rights are not worth supporting. You’d never want to support a position that called for the return of slavery or stoning or whatever other weirdass human interactions were a-ok in bible time, but it’s totally fine to tell a woman she can’t decide what to do with her own body? To tell homosexual couples that they’re evil and going to hell because they aren’t “right” by your bible standards? Give me a damn break.

That they occasionally mention Yahweh or Allah is little more than window-dressing; it is Christ, Christianity and the Christian God they are opposed to. Of course they are; Christianity is what mummy and daddy believed, and so it must be wrong and it must be cool to be nasty about it.

This level of ignorance is not unsurprising. Clearly you’ve made little attempt to understand those who you despise, choosing instead to make some very broad assumptions about what all atheists are like and how they all think and then you likely pat yourself on the back for being clever because you’ve “got it all figured out.”

Hardly.

Christianity winds up getting the focus because it’s a majority belief position in North America. It’s far more prevalent and obvious than the rest but ideally we’d like to see an end to all belief in supernatural claims when they lack evidence and provide no proof of actual existence or historical reality. All of them. It’s not going to happen, but it’d be nice to see. I’ll concede that some people have perhaps used rebellion as a means of getting away from what their parents believe but others fell out gradually and had a hell of a time dealing with their new ideologies and what it would mean for their families and their careers and everything else. For some, the journey to atheism is a very painful, traumatic process. All you need to do is read a few testimonies from de-conversion to see that.

In non-Christian societies and in non-religious cultures — such as Stalinist Russia, the various Soviet satellites, Maoist China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Hitler’s Germany and his fascist empire — these freedoms simply did not exist. And spare me the Internet mythology about Hitler being a Catholic or Stalin not being a militant atheist, because no genuine scholar of the Reich or the Gulag would support this nonsense.

I won’t call Godwin’s Law if you can name a genuine scholar and a peer-reviewed document that I can look up that supports your theory that it’s nonsense.

I agree that past dictators have run people into the ground and done horrible things, whether they want to claim a god is on their side or not. Some people are just vicious bastards and that’s all there is to it. It’s a pity they’re the ones with all the charisma and power, but so it goes. Kings, emperors and pharaohs the world over, all the way back through the earliest civilizations, have been capable of doing the worst to their countrymen and their enemies. Humans are really really good at being bad. I wonder why that is.

Thus it’s more than inconsistency and more like fundamental confusion. Nations built on Christian ideals promote freedom even for critics of Christian society, but nations built on other religions or on no religion at all suppress freedom and allow very little criticism. Which should lead even hysterical atheists to support Christian-based cultures out of a support for freedom if not a regard for Christianity.

It’s argued that the United States was a nation “built on Christian ideals” but how long did it take blacks to earn freedom? To earn the right to vote? To drink from a white person’s water fountain or sit at the front of a bus? It could be argued just as well that Christian ideals have held society back. Nations run on Christian ideals have only reluctantly made room for others because they still crave the luxury of deciding for everyone what to do and think and say… just like those other strict belief systems that control their followers to extremes.

What we see, though, is the opposite. Because it would be dangerous to mock Muhammad in Egypt or Saudi Arabia, or argue for God in North Korea, and it’s so much easier and safer to avoid the genuine issues and play armchair warrior.

Words have power. That’s why it’s dangerous to mock Muhammad. It’s a word they’ve granted too much power and that’s the problem. If it’s dangerous to bring in the word “God,” it’s for the same damn reason. That is why we need to be able to sit in our armchairs and use the power of our words to denounce those faiths and beliefs and condemn all horrors and injustices, even when a religion isn’t behind them.

And I don’t have any idea what you mean by “genuine issues.” If these aren’t genuine issues, I don’t know what is.

Religion can cause horror, such as women being stoned for blasphemy in Pakistan or homosexuals hanged in Iran. But there are no attempts to put ads on buses in Karachi or Tehran.

But I expect there are those who wish they could. That, by and large, winds up being the problem with religion – lack of choice in the matter. Once in it, you’re expected to be in it until you die, even if they have to kill you themselves to make sure that happens.

I see Iraqis are blaming Americans for bringing the idea of atheism into their country. They liked it better when the people weren’t aware it was an option, I suppose. That’s another problem with religion – the need to keep people ignorant and uninformed.

The state giving people some time off at Christmas or mentioning God in the national anthem doesn’t seem all that bad compared to being locked up for 30 years in Marxist Cuba for being a Christian, but perhaps I don’t appreciate just how awful it must be as an atheist in contemporary Canada.

Everyone should get holidays and they should be able to take them whenever they want. I don’t think God needs to be in our anthem. We don’t need to be begging some supernatural thing to keep us glorious and free and I do wish that line wasn’t in there. It’s retarded. Also, who’s been locked up in a Cuban prison for 30 years because he or she is Christian? Or did you just make that up for effect?

And it’s quite nice to be atheist in contemporary Canada. We don’t seem to incite the same level of ire and vitriol that our American counterparts seem to get on a daily basis. Canadians are just so darn nice, eh?

That’s probably why they tend to look so unhappy and angry. Merry Christmas you poor things, Merry Christmas.

By the way, the false pity just makes you look like an ass. I can tell you don’t really mean it.

Happy Holidays. May we all aim for peace on earth and good will toward all human kind, animal kind and rocks.

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3 Responses to 1minion pretends to debate an atheist ad complainer

  1. Wanna see how idiotic the complaints about the extraordinary claims campaign can get? Listen to the smarmy, condescending priest try to equate Nate Phelps’ family’s “God hates fags!” signs with the new bus ads here. Really rich coming from a representative of a homophobic institution that values its image over the welfare of victims of pedophiles. Penna gives nothing other than assertion in his defense of saying that claims for the existence of Allah and Yaweh are different than those for Zeus. Utter nonsense and completely vacuous. It pissed me off to watch it.

  2. 1minionsopinion says:

    Your link’s a booboo but I can try and hunt it down at some point. I don’t know if I want to be pissed off today, though. Saskatoon Freethinkers are hosting their second annual Festivus party today and I’d rather be going in a good mood. Mind you, it’s a topic that might suit the “Airing of Grievances” portion of the party…

  3. I have indeed had problems getting that link to work. Best just to go to the Alberta Primetime webpage and do an internal search using “Phelps” and “Penna” as the keywords.

    Say hello to Dale and Kendra for me at the party!

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