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Atheist Perspective: Exemption

Being an atheist in the United States usually means that you are a bit left leaning when it comes to politics. Not that there is anything intrinsic to the denial of a divine power that makes someone vote Democrat, but that the Republican party simply does not want to admit us. Last year they denied an atheist group a table at CPAC for instance. If your politics align with most of the Republican party platform: smaller government, supply side economics, intervention foreign policy; as an atheist you have to reconcile with the position that the conservative base simply does not want to admit that you exist. I bring this up as a disclaimer because it is so rare that I do this: the extreme left is just as bad.

The problem here is in the over toleration of beliefs that exists on the left. There are beliefs that are wrong, as an atheist that’s a pretty obvious sentiment. I am going to believe that all religious beliefs are wrong; but along with the wrong beliefs are the dangerous ones. The toleration of dangerous beliefs is not a virtue, it’s cowardice or it’s ignorance and it’s sometimes both. Atheists align with the left on issues of science: notably being anti-Creationist/Intelligent design and admitting that anthropocentric climate change is a real thing are Democrat positions. They are atheistic positions, usually, because scientific and epistemological issues  prove their truth. Even climate scientists paid by fossil fuel magnates, the Koch brothers, couldn’t refuse the evidence of climate change.

Yet, when it comes to beliefs the left is not immune (that’s going to be a really salient word choice later) to anti-science quackery. Right wing science denialism is dangerous in the long term–denying the truth of evolution does no immediate harm, it  does harm in robbing students of a proper scientific education. An education that is going to be needed in the future. President Eisenhower, and indeed the entire country, realized this when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik and immediately updated the nation’s science education standards. Competition among countries necessitates that each generation not only has the same knowledge as before but progresses beyond it. Without that knowledge we, as a nation, will continue to fall behind.

It’s a long term problem and perhaps that is why it gets ignored or is so easily denied. On the other side of the political spectrum the problem is the opposite. The toleration of moonbat ideas is just as bad only it is more immediate. For all the anti-science claims the left makes about the right, the left is notoriously bad when they tolerate the anti-science “alternative medicine” and new age treatments. These types of beliefs are no different than the fundamentalist Christian creationism arguments in essence. They deny mountains of medical evidence substituting it for anecdotes by quacks and “religious gurus.”

Right now measles has returned. It has returned because the far left seems to think that its ok to ignore vaccination schedules in favor of what someone once incorrectly thought was a danger. It never was, and only in rare cases has a person gotten directly sick from a Measles vaccination shot. If being an atheist is about not assenting to a belief in god because of a lack of evidence then a preponderance of evidence must necessitate that assent.

Further we must also disregard those people who are denying the evidence, claiming conspiracy theory; as being utterly wrong. It does not matter whether or not we agree with them politically or ideologically, if they are wrong, they are wrong. In cases like this, they are deadly wrong.

Sure, Chris Christie seems to think that parents have the choice and Rand Paul doesn’t like government mandates on anything but their home states aren’t the ones where we are now getting pockets of a disease that was declared eradicated the same year Bush was elected president. The state with the highest vaccination rate is Mississippi at 99.7% while blue states like California and Oregon routinely have the highest vaccination exemptions. Some may also want to claim that it’s the religious that are getting the exemptions, this isn’t the majority case. Sure in areas where Menonites and the Amish are populace those particular groups may refuse vaccinations but given that they seclude themselves from the general population it’s a very little risk, we must also consider that coupled with their extremely low population and the risk in general puts us back at the 2000 “eliminated” label.

Facts are facts, they are religiously and politically neutral. Ignoring them is dangerous and tolerating their denial just because it doesn’t come from a typical source is hypocritical.

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