1. As an atheist, what stops me from harming my neighbour when I am said to have no moral high ground from any so-called “Gods”?
You are obviously no atheist; you are one of those who like to propagate that this is what atheists like to say.
Atheists truly stand on a better moral high ground than those who stick to their primitive religious beliefs. To atheists, it is important not to harm their neighbours or even those who live far away – whatever their race, creed or belief. That is why a majority of those who went to jail before World War I as conscientious objectors were atheists. Noam Chomsky who objected to and wrote against Vietnam War was an atheist; the one who encouraged persuaded and lent religious fervour to five US presidents who bombed, killed and threw napalm on faraway peasants and then himself went all the way to bless the perpetrators but not the victims was America’s most religious preacher – Billy Graham. Hitler believed that his intent to destroy Jews as a race was in keeping with the desire of Jesus; Stalin learnt his morality in an Orthodox seminary.
You never hear of shootings in atheist conferences in America, but shootings in neighbourhood churches are so common that newspapers publish them only when there are fatalities.
Atheists do not entertain hopes that whatever they do, however many they kill, maim or torture, they could go to heaven by seeking refuge in God or in Allah or Durga or by bathing in the Ganges just before they die.
Nor do they look forward to a heaven where they’d play harp to please God who’d be sitting on a throne with 24 elders around him and singing the vain-glorious Idiot’s glory while a seven-horned lamb would be reading a scroll that sends all others except themselves to eternal fire. Nor do they look forward to being forgiven all their sins with the first wound they suffer in fighting a Kufir or heathen, and thereafter would be given 72 hourlies to screw and 8000 slaves to serve and, if that would be one’s wish, boys fresh like pearls to service them just as they and Christian priests make young boys on earth service them.
Atheists do not fight or kill in the name of God, angels or prophets.
Since they do not form any group of aggression, atheists do not split into sects and fight each other.
They do not frighten children or gullible adults with stories of Satan, Shaitan, Devil, jinns, ghosts, dead men coming out of graves on their skeletons just to create terror, but would be frightened themselves if they are shown the cross on which their God was nailed up or an amulet bearing the name of Allah.
Atheists are simply the ones who like to obey normal laws and inter-personal morality that is good for the society and are usually enshrined in their statute books – but would rather not look into your bathroom to see if you ‘dropped your seed’ or whether two adults of the same gender experimented with their sexuality or even had sex with each other. An atheist is adept at minding his or her own business, which (s)he considers is the business of a civilized society as a whole, but not of opinionated individuals.
Atheists are people who have no reason to believe that women are inferior beings, that God had ordered them to remain subjugated to men, or that they should suffer in childbirth, or that menstruation is a dirty sin worthy of expulsion for the period of its occurrence, or that they have no right to decide whether they should carry on with a pregnancy or terminate it before a real human being is formed.
Atheists are people who hate wars on all grounds; killing of people – even murderers – in cold blood – judicially or otherwise. Capital punishment was a sight-seer’s delight in Britain during the times when religion had a heyday till the 19th century, but was totally abolished in 1964 when atheists exceeded religionists by 53 to 47.
Atheists are those who do not believe in honour killing, humiliation or punishment of any woman, teenager or man for straying from the conceited and impractical straight lines of religious morality.
Atheists would never wish to mutilate the genitals of their little boys – and, horror of horrors, their little girls.
Atheists are those who recognize historic reasons to believe that it was religion that stunted and stultified the progress of scientific knowledge through centuries with their primitive theories of creation, prevention of diseases and all those achievements that man and woman attained since religion began to lose its grip on them beginning the 17th century and rising to great heights in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but is tightening it again in this century of mayhem and bloodshed so far.
Atheist is the one who worries when he watches the attempts of all religions – Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism to name the major ones _ to raise their ugly heads against humanity and kill, maim and torture others in the name of their God or their religion or their temple.
An atheist does not believe in the existence of a hell or heaven. He certainly will not cut throats or hurl stones at those who are weak or indoctrinated enough to believe in them or strong enough not to believe in them.
An atheist does not hate apostates- anyone is free to go back without fear to embrace a religion, whatever the persuasion.
For an atheist the laws of nature are immutable, and hence there are no miracles. Miracles are treacherous forms of magic by religious pretenders. Magicians make no secret that their performance is for mere entertainment.
I could go on: some other atheists, being free thinkers not bound by the utterances of primitive people who devised their theories with no grasp on real data, might have views differing in some ways from what I stated here. That free mind, unshackled and unmolested by hear-say beliefs, in essence, is atheism.
That does not make atheists perfect people. Being normal human beings, there are those who could get provoked, those who could tell a lie to save their skin, borrow money and fail to pay, cheat on their taxes – and fall for all kinds of human failings. But they are most unlikely to destroy a place of worship, kill to protect a god or a temple or mosque or church or the holy cow, or kick a sleeping dog.
Moral high ground of God or no God has no place in atheism. Morality, for an atheist, is what is necessary for the maintenance and growth of a healthy society. For an atheist, a monotheistic God or polytheistic Gods, their angels or saints, preachers and priests, Babas and Gurus, idolaters or direction-worshippers or any other forms of mental mutilations inherited from our ancient, primitive and hence poorly informed ancestors are all the same – tolerated with understanding, and perhaps an element of condescension, but neither with hatred nor intent to kill. Atheists are of the view that pernicious religious beliefs might be curable or terminal; but the patients certainly do not deserve to be killed or mistreated for their disease.
- As an atheist, I wish to become more tolerant of religion. How can I train myself not to “lose it” when the topic comes up?
I do not know any atheist, unless he or she happens to be a totalitarian dictator for whom atheism is a mere extra weapon in his scabbard, who ‘loses it’ when the topic comes up.
An atheist has no belief to propagate since disbelief is not a belief. She usually reacts with counter-arguments when challenged, or someone like a Christian preacher, Zakir Naik or a Hindu cow-defender gets on his nerves with their hollow arguments. A writer (such as Christopher Hitchens), a singer (like John Lennon) or a cartoonist (Stéphane Charbonnier who was killed in 2015) might make pubic her or his atheism as a weapon against injustice, but more often than not gets killed. Atheists are regularly killed all over the world – mainly in Islamic countries or in other places by Islamists. White believers in Christ kill black believers in churches. In secular India, where Hindu scriptures include atheistic writings and Hindu religion does not advocate killing of non-believers, at least four atheists were killed in the last three years, one of them a lady of great charm. Taslima Nasreen from Bangladesh, a prolific writer and a late convert to atheism, who out of fear for life sought refuge was denied it in India’s side of Bengal when communists – the self-styled atheists – ruled the state. Tashima continues to be a stateless woman living under the roof of her courage, but a sitting duck for the faithful.
An odd atheist might, of course, ‘lose it’ if someone acts aggressive. Usually she is in a minority, and is equipped with nothing other than her logic, and hence loses herself from the scene rather than lose ‘it’.
3. As an atheist, would you wish that God was real or do you want to remain “right” if he’s not?
I would be devastated if I find a God of the Biblical or Quranic kind. He would throw me into eternal hell (though he probably has no idea what eternity means) and keeps revising his ideas of men and matters, also sends his son to something worse than gallows ostensibly to pardon my sins if I directly petition him before my death. As for the Hindu God of Ram Rajya, he would cut my throat with one stroke if he is told that a Shudra practised austerities. I am a Shudra, and exactly the kind he found hanging from a tree and doing his penance beyond the Vindhya mountains- the place called Kerala. I came from there and had been hanging on the back of my folded knees when saying the prayers that my grandmother taught me when I was younger.
No, Sir, thankfully, I know such pathologically vicious gods are not real, and have no wish that they come out live just so I could prove myself wrong.
4. If people who don’t believe in God are called atheists and those who doubt the existence of God are called agnostic, what would you call me, a person who still believes in God, but has dumped his religion?
Atheism, my friend, is not a dogma in a straitjacket. Even a hardened scientist-atheist like Richard Dawkins says that almost certainly there is no God. What he asserts for sure is that the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully such as the Biblical God is ‘most certainly’ could not exist.
To say that there is absolutely no God, or that there is a God, one has to define God. Different religions have different definitions of God. Abrahamic God is intolerant of other Gods and would kill to keep them out of existence, but Hindu Gods are more tolerant, even receptive, of other Gods. The more the merrier.
A few things common about all these Gods is that they are racists or fiercely partisan – Israelites against Hittites and Canaanites (and several other ‘ites) apart from civilized Egyptians and Babylonians, Jesus would save all those who petition to him regardless of their crimes but thrust the rest into fiery hell, Allah would send to even worse hell and make you suck pus from festered wounds if you say he (Allah) has partners, Vishnu would do anything to destroy Asuras (presently called Dalits and Adivasis) by hook or crook (mostly crook) and support Devas (currently Gau-rakshaks or cow protectors) and so on. What an atheist easily recognizes is that all such gods of religion were designed to exploit the gullible.
If some day you find a God who is helpful without discrimination and judicious without demanding petition or recognition, would forestall accidents and illness, enlighten humans to live in peace, with generosity and mutual love, gently handle babies, make man more humane towards animals, abolish hateful groups such as religion and race, and does not wait for praise and worship to do these and more beneficial things to this world – surely such a God would be welcome to come into existence.
Till then, believe in God particle, also known as Higgs Boson which has only momentary existence, but presumably was the creator of the universe as we know it.
Also, In the meanwhile, call yourself irreligious like I do.