Julian Baggini has preached an atheist sermon in Westminster Abbey, in the belief that, if we have the will, we can all get along. Well, leaving aside the massive and bizarre incongruity of such an event, in such a place, I’m inclined to agree.
As an atheist, I’ve always got along with believers. Were I Dawkins I might say that they’re entitled to their favourite fairy tale – where we differ is that though I share that view, I tend to keep my own council, unless provoked.
Sadly, over the 60 years of my atheism, the number of believers who don’t extend to me the same courtesy is legion.
It varies, from those who see my disbelief as an affront to their belief (q.v signs outside a vast number of churches graphically describing what will happen to unbelievers when they die – er, no it won’t guys, there’s only the worms); and those who believe I should be killed because I don’t share their beliefs; Muslims – who also eccentrically claim theirs is a tolerant, non-violent, religion). And that’s not to mention those who see me as a suitable project for conversion (though that happened more when I was younger, and tended to involve young women of an evangelical disposition).
Why is it Christians and Muslims are so threatened by disbelief, yet pretty much no other religion is? Insecurity? Fear? Or bigotry?
As I said, I get along with believers – just a pity that more of them can’t get along with me. Or, more accurately, with the idea of me, and my freedom to make my own decisions on how to live my life.
Which is pretty damn well, as it happens – it’s massively arrogant to assume that one has to be a Christian to take from life only what one needs, while giving back whatever one can to the less fortunate, though you do, I believe, have a commandment to similar effect; it’s just not copyright. And atheists, of course, don’t need to be prodded by the clergy, or bribed with promises of eternal life, or virgins (good luck with that, by the way – I’m not sure which is the more unrealistic expectation).
People should be allowed to believe in whatever supreme being they wish, should they be hard-wired in such a way as to need that support, just as long as they do no harm to anyone else while they’re about it.
I await the arrival of that day with interest.
In the meantime, the vast majority of atheists are not militant Dawkinsites, and I find the idea of militant disbelief just a tad weird. Can you imagine the picket line? “What do we want? Nothing! When don’t we want it? Never!!”
We atheists are just like you (no horns, or barbed tail!), with the same hopes and fears, and aspirations, but mostly with far fewer people to hate, or fear, because we really don’t care what you believe, as long as you don’t try to pretend you’re better than us because of it.
Have a nice day…