Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Picking on Christianity


With the Global Atheist Convention just around the corner (this coming weekend, actually), I wanted to devote a post to answering a simple question: of all the religions, why do I tend to pick on Christianity in particular or at least more than the rest?
First, a brief clause to explain why I pick up fights with religions in the first place. I tend to describe myself as an atheist; however, this description is flawed. It is glaringly wrong: since neither I nor anyone else can ever hope to disprove the existence of gods (in most of the shapes or forms humans tended to imagine them to be), I can never have absolute confidence in saying there is no god. I can, however, argue that the probability of gods being there, in particular the gods humans came up with, is so low that I can confidently live my life with total disregard to the concept, the same way today's Christians disregard the belief in Zeus. Indeed, disregarding I do: while agnostic by definition, I am also clearly an anti-theist both in attitude and in actions. The problem is, saying I’m an agnostic with anti theist tendencies is a bit long in the tooth; saying I’m an atheist tends to convey the same message in a much clearer fashion.
So yes, I pick on religions. They are begging to be picked upon, even the seemingly tame ones. Dalai Lama? He’s all cute and cuddly, but the aura fades fast when one bothers to hear what homophobic message he carries. And no, the guy’s not exactly a feminist. However, there are good reasons why I don’t pick on other religions as much: with the exception of Judaism, I don’t know enough about religions other than Christianity. That includes Islam, the elephant in the room, although in Islam’s case there is the fact I avoid picking on it because I would like to die of old age; a sadder testimony for the quality of a religion cannot be provided. Yes, I am fully aware that the more militant side of Islam is a small minority, particularly in Australia; they are, however, still quite powerful, at least in the way their message is projected through Western societies. There is also too much silence coming in from the moderate Muslims when it comes to keeping the troubling minority at bay.
Now we’re coming to my main argument. I pick up fights with Christianity because more than any other religion Christianity tries to impose itself on me, an Australian living in what is alleged to be a secular country. Secular my ass is probably what I want to say through the following examples:
  1. When Richard Dawkins is brought to Q&A to debate atheism with a religious leader, they brought a Christian one to counter him (Cardinal George Pell). They did not choose, say, an Imam.
  2. The work newsletter sent to my work inbox before Easter had an item on “how do other Christian cultures and nationalities celebrate Easter”. It did not talk about what other cultures do around Easter time, but rather narrowed things down to what other Christians are doing – effectively assuming that I’m a Christian myself.
  3. My calendar contains two Christian holidays, Christmas and Easter, but nothing from any other religion.
  4. My head of state, the queen, is also entitled the protector of Christianity at her kingdom. I know she’s irrelevant and all, but she’s still officially there, on my passport and everything.
  5. With the exception of Julia Gillard, all our Prime Ministers have been Christians. The guy who seems likely to replace her next year, Tony Abbott, is so much of a Christian he scares the shits out of me.
  6. When my son goes to state school next year, he will be indoctrinated with Christian dogma and non other unless I actively opt him out.
I can go on and on, but the point should be clear: Christianity is actively doing its best to impose itself upon Australia. As an anti-theist agnostic I will do my best to push it back, and that starts with picking up opportunities to demonstrate the flaws of the Christian system of belief.


Uri said...

She was baptized, wasn't she?

Or are you saying she's an atheist?

Moshe Reuveni said...

Who? The queen? I suspect she was crucified/christened/whatever you call it.

Moshe Reuveni said...

If you are referring to Julia Gillard: She is Welsh in origin, and according to Wikipedia was "raised on the baptist tradition". Now she declares herself to be an atheist. Not as strongly as Dawkins or Hitchens, but there can be no doubt about it (as there can be no doubt about her political rivals using it against her).

Uri said...

Yes, I was referring to Gillard. Not only is she an atheist, she’s also living in sin! And a woman!

I think there’s only been one bachelor US president (there was/were also a/some widower/s), no women, and as far as I know, no atheist ones (definitely not in the last century). At least you can be happy about that.

Moshe Reuveni said...

I don't think there is any "risk" of an atheist USA president any time soon. Atheists are loathed there by the majority of the public (according to repeat surveys). Together with other trends, it makes me worry about the USA's decline.
As for Gillard: the fact she's a woman in a very chauvinistic company is great, and the fact she's an atheist is a great bonus. That said, her policies thus far would not give one the impression her atheism affects her in the least. Then again, the thought of the alternative is quite scary: Abbott is your devoted Catholic through and through. My impression is that, sadly, Gillard is potentially great but trapped in a party that won't let her do much.