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Hilarious. Reblogged this from atheist assessment. Time to get serious though, and time to go off on a rather distant tangent because, undoubtedly, the religious will characterize this image as offensive for mocking religion.

I don’t get how children having imaginary friends for too long (at an older age than they should be having them) is a problem while adults gathering in a room to talk to their imaginary friend is considered no big deal at all. Instead religion is something to be respected and venerated rather than something to be problematized. After all, Judeo-Christian values are what our civilization is based on and religion often acts as a positive force, like through charity for example and, more broadly, by trying to make sense of the world. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that people, even in the 21st century, go to war because God wills it, supposedly, and because the other guy is wrong, evil, immoral, decadent and whatnot.

But when atheists criticize religion, they’re being intolerant and disrespectful. I don’t see why everybody should just, automatically by default, show religion respect and tolerance, at least if being critical of religion makes you intolerant and disrespectful (which it doesn’t in my opinion). Why should atheists give deference to religion? NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is among the worst and says that atheists are “mean” and “intolerant” for having the gall to say that there is no good reason for theism and that religion is harmful. He has also said that “the tone of this Charge of the Atheist Brigade is often just as intolerant — and mean. It’s contemptuous and even …a bit fundamentalist.”

Christian author Os Guinness has expressed hope for a “respectful exchange of ideas somewhere between the militant extremes of religious violence and militant atheism.” Note how Guinness contrasts “religious violence” and “militant atheism” as if they were opposites on the same spectrum. This is a reprehensible distortion of reality because there is nothing comparable between religious believers who are willing and able to justify torture, mass murder, and terrorism on the basis for their religion; and are atheists who use harsh words, pointed criticism, and sometimes even mockery to make their case against religion.

Assuming that such people are sincere in thinking that a comparison can be made, they may fear atheists’ criticisms as if they were an act of violence against their beliefs. This would indicate how much they fear criticism: serious, sustained criticism of the reasonableness of religious and theistic beliefs may be perceived as being likely to destroy those beliefs, just as violent religious terrorists destroy buildings. In other words, atheistic criticism of religion is feared as being too strong and successful. They’re afraid.

Robert Wright, a visiting lecturer at Princeton, has said that atheists who criticize religion may “undercut the very thing that makes America work as a civil society”. Since when has America required people to hush up criticism of powerful traditions or institutions? Atheists in America represent a specter of doubt, questioning, skepticism and criticism (and even blasphemy.!) and that those are exactly things that are allowed in a democracy. Criticism of many kinds has brought social evolution, often for the better. Where would we all be if nobody questioned social issues? We’d be living in a society based on uniformity, stagnation and wherein everybody shuts up because it’s the respectful, tolerant thing to do. That reeks of dictatorship to me. No, religion is not what makes America (or any other democratic country) work as a civil society. Freedom is the underlaying principle.

My last point of contention that I will mention today is that, well, mention any of this in other areas of disagreement, when their side is doing the mocking and criticizing. You won’t see conservative Christians condemn Tea Party slurs against the Democrats.

When we atheists have the gall to speak out and actually say what we think, a bad situation becomes intolerable. People like Kristof and Wright don’t offer substantive counter-arguments to atheists’ critiques of religion and theism because they have none to offer. The best they can do is cry that the critiques shouldn’t be raised to begin with. They can’t say that openly because they recognize that this is genuine intolerance, so they try to saddle atheists with fake claims of intolerance in hope of getting them to self-censor.

 

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