I’ve recently grown bored of writing about theology and atheism. I thought perhaps I would finally be able to do a hard hitting topical piece on rainbows and sunshine, puppies and kittens. Perhaps I could write a review on the sneakers I bought recently that are so amazing that it’s more comfortable to wear them than to go barefoot. Really, I love those shoes. It’s like slipping my feet into a cloud’s vagina. Unfortunately, the infuriating habit of people to form stupid clubs has jarred me from the thunderous whimsy of my pedal utopia.
The problem with movements is that they become closed off from ideas very quickly. What might start as a mass of people working toward creating a better world for all eventually devolves into extremism or idiocy. People tend to become entirely too accepting of unproductive concepts simply because they were presented by respected group leaders. Or they’re too muddled to get any work done in the first place. The Occupy movement comes to mind here. While I felt there was a genuine message at the beginning, the countless factions made that message too foggy for anyone to get behind. So I don’t like joining movements because I simply don’t trust masses of people who think they have the momentum of their convictions behind them. Especially if said convictions are really just a college phase. Furthermore, I believe the best way to tell if you’re on the right side of a debate, find out which side has the better sense of humor. Most movements aren’t funny. I’m looking at you Tea Party. If your sense of humor can be found anywhere near Branson, MO, you’re on the wrong side of history.
The latest organization to stop being funny(if they ever were) is American Atheists. In their recent conservative bating attempt at edgy publicity, the AA have put up a holiday themed billboard in Times Square that says “Keep the Merry, Dump the Myth” with a picture of Santa Claus over a picture of Jesus. While many atheists were celebrating a victory for free speech or sticking it to the religious right, I reacted – as I do with most things the AA does – with a resounding “meh”. It seems that as atheism has grown in the country, atheist organizations have completely lost site of when to fuck off. Don’t get me wrong, religious billboards excrete abject stupidity every hundred yards on the freeway. I have often wondered why there aren’t more anti-religious signs. Now that they exist, I wonder why they have to be dicks about it. The answer that they did it first is no excuse. I support any public statement if done right, but the battle is not won by humorless 25′ slogans.
Last year the AA put out signs that said “You Know They’re All Scams,” with the symbols for the major religions below it. While I certainly have no gripe against harsh language, I can’t help but wonder who thought that would be a way to get people on their side. Plus, such slogans imply an attempt to state a fact. Any thinking atheist knows they can’t disprove God and wouldn’t even try. So, since it can’t be shown to be a scam, perhaps the president of AA should avoid saying that he’s merely telling the truth. In an interview with Bill O’Reilly, American Atheists president David Silverman said he was simply letting atheist church-goers know they they didn’t have to go to church anymore. In other words, doubters are not alone. This, I believe, is the one area where skeptic organizations do real good. However, a sign that reads, “You Are Not Alone” might have been more effective. It’s clear in this case that Silverman meant to provoke, not provide information. Incidentally, the interview with Silverman gave birth to the “You Can’t Explain That” meme when Bill O’Reilly stated that he believes in god because, “tide goes up, tide goes down, you can’t explain that.” The simply fact that Silverman couldn’t explain that (THE FUCKING MOON!), makes one wonder what he’s doing at the head of an organization that claims the intellectual high ground.
Atheists are consistently painted as a group of killjoys who waste their time on trivial issues like having “Under God” in the Pledge Of Allegiance. Unfortunately, they have only themselves to blame because they waste their time on trivial issues like having “Under God” in the Pledge Of Allegiance. If you’re going to jump on that boat at all, why not ask why children are made to pledge allegiance to anything? It’s a bit heavy an obligation to lay on kids who don’t really understand what they’re saying. But I guess to some atheists, that sort of indoctrination is fine unless it involves God.
I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I am often guilty of the blanket ridicule of religion. And I’m especially harsh to religious leaders, a group that consists of some of the worst human beings alive. The difference is that I try to do it with a level of humor, avoid insulting individuals(with some exceptions), and most importantly, I’m just some asshole with a blog; and I’m an asshole because that’s who I am as an individual. I don’t on Fox News as a voice for atheists everywhere, nor do I buy ad space. But if I did, I would certainly be more creative than the American Atheists have been. Those of us who are vocal would do well to think about why we’re speaking out in the first place. We should provide a voice to others who might still be afraid to break away from their traditions, not cater to the three people who are deeply offended by Christmas trees. We speak out to prevent religion from infiltrating public policy. Instead of demanding they remove manger scenes from public property, why not help to get other faiths or non-faiths represented as well? I thought the whole point was to aid those who feel under-represented. Religion is never going to disappear. All we can do is work against the sort of absolutism that goes along with it and in doing so, help to include everyone in the public forum. And try not to be a dick.