I may not love God, but I love many of those who do…

‘Schadenfreude’ is a horrible word, when you think about it. Not only do you feel like a pretentious knob when you try to use it in a sentence and offend roughly 90 million people across the channel when you inevitably botch how it’s supposed to be pronounced, when you think about what it means – ‘pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune’ – it’s really not something you should enjoy half as much as you undoubtedly do when you feel it.

YouTube's 'TheAmazingAtheist

Remember kids, all REAL man are feminists too.

It’s without the slightest, faintest trace of guilt, however, that I admit the word ‘schadenfreude’ perfectly described my reaction to learning of the catastrophic meltdown (warning, there’s some pretty offensive stuff on there) of popular YouTube user and early front-runner for Twat of the Year, ‘TheAmazingAtheist’, earlier this week. While telling a rape victim that the man who took so much from her when he committed the sickening act deserves a medal for doing so is pretty bloody offensive to say the least, I also couldn’t say that it was the first time this obnoxious, arrogant piss-bag had offended me.

Take, for example, his line-by-line critique of the infamous ‘I Hate Religion’ poem that surfaced just the other week. Now everyone has a right to their own views, but the way the ‘Amazing’ one decided to take this man and his harmless celebration of his own faith and beliefs and completely rip into him for every single thing he suggested in a foul-mouthed, condescending and aggressive manner was not only disrespectful, but pretty damn offensive, in my opinion.

But despite his complete intolerance for any theological viewpoint or appreciation of any kind and the unnecessarily vulgar manner in which he puts his own thoughts across in his videos, they’re not what bother me most about this guy. The main reason I get so offended by this ‘man’? Because I’m an atheist, too.

I’m a young man who has given the mysteries of life and the universe probably as much thought as any of us have and I’ve come to my own conclusions about the context of my own existence on this crazy, beautiful little speck we call ‘Earth’. Or ‘Terra’. Or ‘Zemlja’, or whatever it is in your language. While I don’t know and doubt humanity will ever get close to knowing how and why we all came to be, I’m convinced in my own mind that it wasn’t because a supernatural being willed us into existence in ‘his’ own image, and I honestly don’t think there is anything that could happen or anything anyone could say to convince me otherwise.

“But Geoff, surely this means that you must feel religious people are all ill-informed, close-minded, stupid and backward people who all place their misguided faith in the belief of an illogical and outdated concept purely to try and help them reconcile the context of their own being and somehow resist against the cold, chilling realisation that the nothingness of death renders our very existence both pointless and meaningless, doesn’t it?”

Well actually, my rather verbose imaginary friend, no. It doesn’t.

What it all boils down to for me is that some people who label themselves “atheists” don’t tend to differentiate between the social benefits and problems that come from people having faith. When I think of all the friends and neighbours I’ve had during my short life so far, those who stand out in my mind as being the friendliest, the most considerate and the most respectful have all been people of faith.

Back in Adelaide, my next-door neighbours were a Christian family and you’ll have to trust me when I say that they are the nicest people and most respectable people you could ever hope to have in your community. They live ordinary Australian lives – drinking, playing cricket, watching footy at the weekend, killing large spiders regularly – but they are all regular church goers and are extremely active in the community, volunteering for charity service and working with the Salvation Army. When I think of all the non-religious friends I’ve had (who are the overwhelming majority), I can’t think of any, myself included, who have ever done anywhere near as much for their own local community by comparison. Also, while they knew I was a non-believer, not once did they actively try to persuade me to join their church or to read the Bible or anything like that. They never tried to force their beliefs on me or anyone else and I certainly never entertained the thought of trying to do the same to them.

And this is what makes me truly despise the term ‘atheist’. Or, more specifically, the concept of ‘new-atheism’ – the idea that ‘religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.’

‘exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.’

wherever its influence arises.’

Herein lies my biggest problem with ‘atheism’. Just as the nice young man responsible for the ‘I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus’ video was not doing anything untoward with his poem, wasn’t trying to condemn us or tell us how we should live our lives or who to hate, but simply expressing his own relationship with God, that was all it took for the ‘Amazing’ Athiest and many others like him to think ‘yeeaaaah boys! Time to go to town on this Christian douchebag!’. Because that’s what all atheists sound like, obviously.

Not only do I think that’s a shame, I think it’s worrying. With the non-religious people on the internet and across the world becoming increasingly more vocal about genuine concerns they have around the impact of religion on politics and pushing for increased secularism (which I support 100%, by the way), what does it mean for the future of our civilisation if some of those non-believers continue to go after any religious person expressing their faith in any context, like in this case?  Isn’t there a danger that we’ll start seeing people actively campaigning to get rid of all religion in the world? What will happen then? Will that mean a witch-hunt against Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, anyone with faith?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fact that there are a number of religious people who really do go too far with how they act in the name of their God. But whether it’s al-Qaeda or the Westboro Baptist Church, surely any reasonable person can recognise that those people are extremists whose actions aren’t representative of the loving, tolerant teachings of the Quran and the Bible? The men who flew planes into the Twin Towers on 9/11, who detonated bombs in Madrid, London, Bali, countless locations in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and others, slaughtering tens of thousands of women and children and innocent men in the process, they were not Muslims – they were terrorists. It pains me to see how many highly intelligent people across the Western world appear to flat-out refuse to acknowledge the separation between the two and instead choose to view those Muslims who preach love, tolerance and acceptance of other beliefs and cultural values in the same light as those extremists with anger in their hearts who preach hatred and intolerance who anyone who dares question their own beliefs.

Ultimately, I think the increased discourse about religion throughout the world can be a good thing for humanity. But it depends on how this whole debate is approached by both non-religious people and people of all different faiths as to whether this will help humanity progress as a species or whether it will lead to even more conflict and bitterness in the world. While I probably share the views of the ‘AmazingAtheist’ when it comes to the existence of God, I know for sure that if you gave me a choice between a world without religion full of people like him or a world with religion full of people like my Australian neighbours, I’d accept Christ into my life in a heartbeat.

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About Magnificent Geoffrey

I may be 'Magnificent', but I honestly have no idea what I'm doing.
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3 Responses to I may not love God, but I love many of those who do…

  1. Great piece although it comes after a week of outrage that Christianity is being eroded in the UK thanks to two news stories which everyone should know by now and I thought very much that those saying Christianity was being threatened were OTT to say the least.

    I’ve had the opposite experience: the best or most inspiring people in my life are atheists and I’ve rarely had good experiences with people from my local church (in fact, I very much get the feeling they’d rather lock the doors than risk me entering, I jest). But I know that the world isn’t about good people vs Christians and that there are many good Christians in the world and maybe more of them than there are atheists. I haven’t actually decided upon a God- I’d declare myself as an atheist but really I’m a secular humanist. I do think a lot about what made us, I’m curious about other faiths and I think spirituality is a good thing. A few weeks ago, while I was being treated in hospital my nurse told me all about how she converted to Buddhism and I had nothing but admiration for her for embracing her spirituality and identity. I’m often outspoken and people think it’s about religion and I’m sorry for that: my problem only has ever been with bigotry which unfortunately a few social conservatives use their religion to hide behind but atheists can be bigots too. I’ve also experienced the nasty side of atheism where people happily shoot any religious folk down for believing in what they see as an imaginary friend. However, at the end of the day I think the world would be a beautiful place is we all accepted each other, if a church could be next door to a mosque and atheists went on with their day without anger while the services went on. Or if buildings were used for all religions with stained glass windows showing the crucifix and the Buddha. Faith doesn’t bother me- intolerance on either side does.

  2. Sorry Mag, I won’t be able to tell you how wrong you are on this!

    I must say that I feel almost as bad about those terrorists as i feel about people like this “atheist” guy, as both are so self focused they completely fail to see other peoples thoughts and lives as relevant and worthwhile in themselves.

    As for atheism, I would probably be in there, although not as an “anti-believer”, just as someone who fails to see the reason why a god or gods would have to exist. Sadly religions (as all to often do Ideals or parties) tend to grow into power houses with vested interest. But there’s a lot of good people finding a great basis to form their lives around belief, and I admire them for doing so.

    Hm, is there a point in this reaction? I am not sure of it. But I thought I’d give my opinion anyway 🙂

  3. I completely agree with you. I wouldn’t consider myself a proper atheist, but people like that ranting moron give the whole non-religious side of the argument a bad name. The less attention we give people like this, the better. It’s just sad.

    As for faith itself, once again, I agree. You could argue that it creates wars, but as you quite rightly eluded to, these people are extremists and in no way are they doing what a God – assuming God is as amazing as he’s made out to be – would have ever wanted. This ‘Amazing Atheist’ guy is an extremist too. Religion has its ‘evil’ people, but so does atheism.

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