The Old Testament is responsible for more atheism, agnosticism, disbelief-call it what you will-than any book ever written; it has emptied more churches than all the counterattractions of cinema, motor bicycle and golf course.
A.A. Milne (1882-1956)
In October the Freedom From Religion Foundation is holding their annual convention. It’s going to be at the Concourse. Yes, that’s right, the city will be bulging with atheists between October 12-14. Not that it isn’t already. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is based right here in Madison with offices at the corner of Henry and West Washington.
I found this tidbit out from a recent article in The Wisconsin State Journal: “Atheist Christopher Hitchens will speak in city” by Doug Erickson on Monday, July 23rd. Hitchens’ book “God Is Not Great,” holds the No. 2 spot on The New York Times best-sellers list. That’s quite a coup for a relatively small town like Madison. Christophr Hitchens is one of THE men of the hour when it comes to promoting atheistic thinking.
Then on the the 24th there was an article in the Journal by Kim Vo from the San Jose Mercurey News: “Atheism gaining more acceptance, say the godless.” Atheism is getting a lot of press in Madison all of a sudden. The article in the San Jose Mercury mentioned some thing Vo called the ‘fundametalsit atheist.’ But what IS a fundamentalist atheist? It wasn’t clear from Vo’s article.
She mentioned a man haranguing a young woman, his niece, with questions about her theistic beliefs. He wanted her to be sure that what she believed was the truth and it was obvious he believed his lack belief were the truth. That’s not fundamentalism in the strictest sense of the word, in my opinion. That’s evangelicalism or proselytizing.
All atheists are fundamentalist atheists in that we adhere to the core fundamental atheist premise: we lack belief in a gods or goddesses. That’s it. That ‘s the only thing that binds all theists together. Loosely. Very loosely.
Atheists have no other beliefs or lack of beliefs in common. We have no codified creed. We don’t gather together in meeting houses specially built for the purpose of discussing the atheistic creed because there isn’t one.
My friend MerlinsDad and I were talking about the problems that fundamentalist religion had wrought upon our world in recent years and our own descent into non-believing heresy. We were joking about what fundamentalist atheism would look like and I asked what fundamentalist atheists would sing when they congregated. He thought that was hilarious but I’m sure the younger generation would have no problem coming up with something. I don’t remember the names of the songs but my son has had me listen to some decidedly atheistic music.
Vo’s article made it a point to say that amongst the younger generation it is more acceptable to be an atheist and the numbers grow the younger the age set. Only 6% of the elderly define themselves as atheists but 19% of the 18-22 year olds do. That’s good to hear but as those young people age I wonder whether their beliefs will change or at least whether they will succumb to the pressure to be more circumspect about their lack of belief.
There is a great deal of pressure in the United States to conform to the norm and hold some kind of belief in the supernatural, particularly the Christian supernatural. The chances are pretty great that they will marry someone who is a believer who will want to have that marriage sanctified by the church. The emotional persuasive tactics used by true believers determined to win a convert can be overwhelming to someone who is not prepared for them.
Proselytizing is pervasive amongst the Christians. They are adjured to “go forth and spread the good news” by their holy book and it seems as though they are willing to use any means possible to obtain this goal. Some sects believe that until every man woman and child on the face of the earth has heard “the good news” of Jesus birth and sacrifice for mankind the return of Christ to reign on Earth cannot take place.
But what about the proselytizing atheist? I would say that Annie Laurie Gaylor from The Freedom From Religion Foundation who has won fame for tirelessly fighting for separation of church and state and Christopher Hitchens amongst others are evangelical atheists in some ways. I don’t say this disparagingly. Perhaps in writing about atheism I have become one in a small way. But how often do you hear about atheists coming up and asking you if you believe in God and then arguing with you about all the reasons you shouldn’t?
Many Christians do this all the time. Every chance they get. Complete strangers will walk up to me on State Street at least once or twice a month and hand me a pamphlet asking me if Jesus is my savior. If I’m in the mood for the philosophical debate I might say no and then we will butt heads for half an hour or so while a crowd gathers to watch the show.
Have you ever seen atheists standing on the Library Mall declaiming that god does not exist and all who believe in him are fools of the worst order? I haven’t. Someday I’d like to do that, just to see what would happen. I’m afraid I’d probably get stoned. With real stones.
I’ve sure seen Crazed Christian Evangelists out there screaming that homosexuals are going to hell because of their perverted ways and that the wages of sin is death practically every day the weather is decent enough to stand outside. No one really pays any attention to them so they’re really wasting their time but still, think of the noise pollution.