Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tolerance and Religion

Atheists often talk about religion being intolerant, and I also see the same charges leveled against atheists. It happens from time to time, and it never ceases to make me at least crack a smile.

Don’t get me wrong, atheism could be as bad as religion. The thing is, religion has violence, intolerance, bigotry, discrimination, and arbitrary ethical quirks institutionalized within its very foundations. Atheism… is the lack of belief in gods. Christianity has an over 788,000 word collection of books to pull from. The entirety of atheism could fit on a fortune cookie, with room on the back for lucky numbers.

Throughout the course of my blogging, I get called a lot of things, and I expect it to happen. I’m not blogging about baking cookies, here. I am openly criticizing the most cherished beliefs of millions of people. I never lose sight of that truth. I do not take the privilege for granted. I am geographically lucky to have the luxury to say whatever I want about whatever I want.

And I have said a lot of mean shit. I mean… seriously, vile, repugnant shit. Mel Gibson shit. Stuff that I would say I’m not proud of if I didn’t look back on it and laugh. But I don’t threaten religion, nor do I even make the perfectly acceptable leap of claiming religion should disappear. I see religion as just another group I loathe, like fraternities or political parties.

Just as people have the right to come to my blog and tell me off, I have the right to say what I want about any religion I want. I won’t say anything… I wouldn’t accuse Buddhists of inventing that awful toilet paper in public bathrooms that is so thin you can read through it. I feel I have the right to point out any truthful observation I make.

It’s only fair, because I wasn’t the one making the claims first. I was born in 1983. Before I even got here, thousands of religions rose and fell, and the predominant faiths of the day have been claiming stupid, unfounded, inaccurate bullshit for thousands of years before I even got here. I’m just trying to catch up, frankly. I haven’t written 788,000 words on Christianity, and I feel I am due a rebuttal of at least equal length.

And if you look at what I’m rebutting, it is some pretty harsh stuff: putting people to death for things we as a society have legalized long ago; glorified genocide; child marriage; acceptance of slavery; condemnation of every person on Earth for frivolous shit that happened in a garden with a talking snake…

If I was truly exercising parity and providing my own equal share to the public forum, I’m missing a lot of, “People who wear cross necklaces should be stoned to death” and “burn their cities and give the women to your soldiers, for they have a church.” I am a cruel guy, but that’s a little bit much for me. I can honestly say I draw the line at hurting people or damaging a person’s things. If you don’t respect that, you’re a real jerk.

I don’t think of myself as intolerant of religion, but maybe I am. If I am intolerant, I am at least comforted in knowing I am merely intolerant of intolerance. But ultimately, I would argue I do tolerate religion, I just believe that what I tolerate is not above criticism.

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