Home > Uncategorized > Red Team: The Cracked Article IV

Red Team: The Cracked Article IV

We’re going to move to the first entry in Hill’s article, skipping number 2. The second entry on the list reads like a recap of the previous points. He goes into some greater explanation into a possible reason for the sexism, but for the most part it’s a summary. I understand the reason for this, Cracked.com’s editorial staff has requirements for each article they post. It’s usually a minimum of six entries, and sometimes as readers of the site will know, they go with five. However, it’s not going to be less than that unless you’re one of the staff writers who can command an audience by name alone. The problem with this is that sometimes the point doesn’t need five or six entries, this article certainly didn’t. I’m making an assumption of course, and perhaps I’m completely missing the point of the entry but it doesn’t seem necessary to address it here.

You can read the previous part here, which also contains link to parts one and two.

1: It’s Focused on the Wrong Goals

Hill’s entire article is pointing to this one entry. However the title of it is wrong. The first half of the text gives this impression but then the second half follows it with a sense that the movement is directionless. I agree with neither here. First off, there’s a huge problem in saying that this movement has a purpose since there is no leader, no single group, or even a sense of unity aside from the shared lack of belief in any gods. I hate to break it to any fundamentalists out there: but we don’t have a specific doctrine nor do we agree on every issue. For example, I like Penn Jillette’s evidence based approach to a number of things but I disagree with his libertarian position on a lot of issues. We aren’t a monolithic entity and for some reason that’s hard for people to grapple with when they discuss a conspiracy of atheists as the Michelle Bachman’s of the world are known to do.

The mistake that is made here in saying that we’re focused on the wrong goals is that Hill commits the fallacy of “guilt by association.” He cites internet trolls who only exist to rile people up. Sure, that’s a fair criticism of trolls but it’s unfair to say that it’s endemic of the movement itself. That’d be like saying that everyone who watched the movie “American Sniper” is racist because of the comments that appeared underneath some well known reviews of the movie. Yes, of course, some of those people exist in the offline world as well who take potshots at a person’s religion but in general, most atheists aren’t like that.

There are two goals that I recognize as common to all Atheists whether they work for them or not: awareness and recognition. Awareness is simple, it’s just people trying to get the word out that Atheists exist and that we aren’t bad people. I think at this time we can probably say that the former has been accomplished while the latter is still under construction. There is the common trope that unless you fear a god you will be an immoral person, it’s bullshit, but it’s so tied into a common narrative that it needs to be repeated over and over that morality doesn’t need ghosts and the supernatural to exist. I’ve burned a lot of pixels making that point so I won’t rehash it now. It’s also important to spread the word that we exist so that other people won’t think they are alone in being open about their lack of belief. This is a much more common issue, especially in areas of the country where even the idea of not belonging to some kind of church is viewed with absurdity.

The second is recognition, but I need to come up with a better word for it because it almost seems synonymous with the first thing. By recognition I mean that Atheists just want to not have government officials shove a particular religion on us as though there’s something wrong with us for not sharing in it. In essence, we just want the law to apply equally whether or not we agree on the existence of a supernatural deity. This means that we shouldn’t be subject to prayer at city council meetings or in schools; we shouldn’t have to learn a “controversy” over the origin of life in a science class when the science is literally monolithic that there is no controversy. We also shouldn’t have to pretend that it’s offensive to state those things. Just apply the law without exception and without exemption whether to all of us equally. Right now 7 states illegally ban Atheists from holding public office (Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Texas, Maryland, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi) in violation of the Constitution which states that there shall be no religious test for public office (Article VI). I’m not claiming that we’re being oppressed.

If you’re religious and you think non-believers need to just suck it up and remember that this is the United States well imagine how a Christian would feel if they were forced to listen to Muslim prayers at the open of a high school football game? Or a Muslim a Jewish opening, a Buddhist a Hindu opening, etc. I have a friend that was outraged when he thought that his school district was going to have a Halal menu but didn’t see the irony that they never served meat on Fridays during Lent. It’s the same damn thing. We just want those special exemptions wiped away.

That’s here in the Western World, we just want the same legal rights that everyone else has. For the rest of the world, the goal is a little more dire because we want people to not be publicly executed and punished for not believing in the state religion as they are in countries like Saudi Arabia.

The goal could be summarized as being simple equality. As a group our numbers are growing. According to that Pew Research poll from a month back, Atheists are the largest non-Christian group in the United States and as such we ought to be shown the same kind of legal recognition that the other groups are as well.

To recap the series I think Hill has a lot of good points but in focusing on a couple of examples he can point out that the movement has some problems. Sure, these do exist and they do need to be dealt with. Pointing out the flaws in a movement that you agree with is always a sign that it’s going in the right direction. It shows that people are taking it seriously, and as long as that person isn’t accused of being a traitor it’s how it’s supposed to work. It was a good article and while I have some disagreements I applaud the critiques.

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