Well then! I have no clue what this individual means by my “inferiority complex.” If anything, I think pretty highly of the ideas I present, and I think I continue to make a pretty good case for the prevalence of religious privilege, the undeserved respect that supernatural beliefs, belief systems, and related practices receive in society.
I am an atheist. I am also an antitheist, though I don’t think I’m in Christopher Hitchins antitheism territory! I don’t know if this cowardly tweeter meant to insult me or express a self-victimizing concern, but either way, it’s pretty laughable. I am not ashamed of my antitheism. 🙂
The only concern I have as a result of this tweet is the confusion between the words “atheism” and “antitheism,” because I do not think they are mutually exclusive. Since I recently developed another similarly confusing word, “contratheism,” I thought I would provide a post to clear up any confusion.
The terms atheism and contratheism refer to WHAT a person believes. The term antitheism refers to HOW A PERSON FEELS about what other people believe. Let’s start with the first two.
» atheists – those who do not believe in God/gods, recognizing that such entities have no supporting evidence, and thus they live their lives as if no gods exist (the prefix a- meaning “without”)
» contratheists – those who do believe there is no God and/or who actively deny the existence of God, often known as “strong atheists” (the prefix contra- meaning “opposing”)
I personally think it is important to contrast those two, as they are often thought to be the same. I am an atheist; I am not a contratheist. (Read the post where I introduced the term for more detail on this matter.)
So what’s antitheism all about?
Well, first, from my point of view, it’s important to note contratheism as a separate concept, because some would say that contratheism is inherent in antitheism. I argue that it is not. In fact, there are some believers who might also identify with antitheism, suggesting that even if God or god-like beings existed, they would not automatically deserve respect and subservience.
Next, it’s important to recognize that there are different degrees of antitheism. Some, like Dawkins and Hitchens, have been accused of being “militant” antitheists. They are not literally militant; like me, they are simply very open and direct critics of religion. I write, I hope, more like Dawkins than Hitchens, approaching such issues by offering an argument for discussion instead of writing uncompromising attacks. I think Hitchens is right about a lot of what he says, but I just don’t think he is quite as approachable.
1. As an antitheist, I speak openly about my atheism and challenge those religious beliefs I disagree with.
While I argue that atheism and antitheism are overlapping and not mutually exclusive, it’s easy to see how some might think of antitheism as a different “brand” of atheism. As author Stefan Baumrin writes: “A mere atheist might think, or even write, as in a diary or a wellworked manuscript to be left in a locked desk drawer these words but would never broadcast them.”
2. As an antitheist, I hold that skepticism and critical thinking are intellectually superior to supernatural belief.
I have written before about how I do not respect beliefs. I have gone so far as to argue that this is a matter of the potential of the human mind. To hold a religious belief, one must suspend a critical analysis of the world in favor of a self-serving fiction. The only difference between religious beliefs and delusions is popularity. To exercise the full potential of our brains, we must challenge our instinct to forgo reality so that we can define our existence by that which we can know instead of that which we cannot.
3. As an antitheist, I hold that humoring any religious belief is dangerous to society.
I know, I know… I’m extremist and intolerant, right? No. This is an intellectual argument. Allow me to demonstrate mathematically. The commutative property will come in handy.
“There is a God and the Bible is His Word.” = A belief with no supporting evidence = x
“Slavery is an acceptable practice, since Jesus condoned it in the Bible.” = A belief with no supporting evidence = x
“Gay people lead immoral lives and should not be treated equally in society, because the Bible says so.” = A belief with no supporting evidence = x
x = x = x
When we’re accepting truths that have no substantiation, there is nothing to distinguish between them. By allowing for one as “harmless” as believing in God, we’re opening the door to any others. (Interestingly, when people cherry-pick their beliefs, they do so using secular moral reasoning, the very thing atheists/humanists/secularists espouse.) The only way we can eliminate stupidity and oppression is if we demonstrate that none of the supporting beliefs have any merit and we stop respecting them as if they’re okay.
Oh, and if you’re curious about the slavery thing, I would check out (you can just scroll over them!) the following verses: Matthew 10:24, Matthew 24:45-46, 1 Timothy 6:1-5, Ephesians 6:5-6, Titus 2:9-10, and 1 Peter 2:18-29.
4. As an antitheist, I hold that there are no unique benefits to religion.
Many have attempted to couch things like morality, charity, community, and inner peace within religion. I argue that while religions may be organizing structures for some of these “benefits”, that alone is not reason to preserve religion. No religion is responsible for the existence of those values, nor are those values dependent upon religion to persist in our society. In fact, there is substantial evidence that they reflect the very nature of humanity and how we evolved as a species. We can be selfish, but it’s easy to be selfish when society is prosperous. Our morals, our concern for taking care of others, our need to connect with others, and our need to feel good about ourselves… these qualities are universal properties of humanity. We do not need supernatural beliefs to access them, maintain them, encourage them, or provide opportunities for them.
So, here is a quick review:
I am an atheist.
I am also an antitheist.
I am not a contratheist.
There are plenty in the gay community who would never wave a rainbow flag, just like there are plenty of atheists who would never speak out against religion. I am one that would.
Oh, and don’t attack me anonymously or I’ll call you out on my blog.