So, I watched Richard Dawkin's talk on his atheist call to arms done at TED. Click Here .
There were several moments that really made me thing a little bit. He spoke about the negative stigma that atheists receive in the US, and about what name Atheists should give themselves to be more accepted.
In one passage of his speech quoted George H. Bush answering a question about how patriotic atheists might be. Get the whole story here. George's response was
Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.
Which is funny, since 'under God' wasn't even in the original pledge. According to that all knowing Wikipedia, it was added later by a very influencial group called the Knights of Columbus that felt separation of Church and State wasn't all that important.
Atheists really tend to have a sort of social stigma attached to the name. Probably this is why I have insisted to friends who ask me if I'm atheist, I generally reply that I'm Humanist. Mr. Dawkins continued to suggest that in order to gather votes in this country, one would have to be openly religious. Gathering votes means gathering enough money to get votes. I wonder if an atheist could ever rise to the point of political power in this country. Mr. Hawkins argued that an atheist probably could not.
But some of our smartest and brightest stars are atheist and intellectually they would certainly be as capable, if not more capable, of guiding our country through the strange religiously based political mine fields in our world today.
Well, at least they would not claim that God was on the side of America. Instead, perhaps we could have discussions about how we as humans, and possibly the most intelligent creatures on the planet, should be good to each other for goodness sake, rather than for fear of damnation's sake.
I understand that most people in the world have some sort of religious belief. I also held 'deep' religious beliefs up until very recently and so I can see how people have them, but it seems like reason should begin to have more influence over private thought. I'm not sure how I managed to dodge these thoughts for so many years really. How is it that politicians do?
He related a story about a meeting with someone who described himself to Mr. Dawkins as a Tooth Fairy Agnostic. His thought process was that although he could not prove Tooth Fairies don't exist, he certainly wasn't going to live his life pondering their existence, much as he felt there was a lack of evidence to conclude the existence of God.
In the end, he recommends that closet atheists come out of the closet and be known so that folks begin to see that atheism doesn't necessarily equal an amoral individual responsible for the crimes of humanity.
In my opinion, it would seem much more likely that theism itself would be more responsible for many of the crimes committed against humanity in God's name.
Sort of unrelated, but also featured on TED was Julia Sweeney's act on meeting the Mormon missionaries. I giggled a little and enjoyed her story.
It is quite true that when you hear somebody else tell you about their superstitious beliefs, it can sound more like the fantasy section at barnes and nobles than a religion. But interestingly enough, I think it probably only sounds that way because I'm not used to having it brainwashed into me from childhood.
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