Posts Tagged ‘ Atheism ’

An Open Letter to “Good” Atheists who Respect Religion

Dear Conformists,

Hi. Are you rolling your eyes at me for calling you a conformist? I know I shouldn’t insinuate that your admiration for religion and its beauty is a way of appeasing roughly 89% of the world population which you know is religious; that it is just a way of getting a cheap nod, because let’s face it, even if you sweep every atheist reading your book, essay, column or blog off her/his feet, the world’s applause-o-meter barely registers a sound. Make the theists happy, and that is what gets you likes on Facebook.

It could just be that you genuinely believe in religion as, not an absurdity or a pernicious force, but something benign; something we can easily coexist with. That’s your opinion, and it’s fine.

Then there are those who believe that it’s okay to be an anti-theist who criticizes religion, but we should be still be respectful towards other people’s beliefs. No argument there. That is ideally how it should be done.

Unfortunately, anti-theists cannot be expected to act more “ideally” than any other group indulging in activism, online or otherwise. What’s more unfortunate is that most theists, with their inordinately thin skin, are more likely to find the idea of anti-theism itself pretty provocative. You’re just very likely to be labelled “smug”, “arrogant” and a “troll” if you’re not diplomatically starting off every sentence of your criticism with, “Yes, religion is great and I deeply admire some of your religious personalities, but….”

Brendan O’Neil, in a recent article on The Telegraph, wonders how atheists have become “the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet”. History is not his strong suit, because atheists have always been regarded as the “most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet”. Islam calls them, “the worst of all beasts” and the bible refers to them as “corrupt fools”. And that’s how its followers have treated the godless for the past…I don’t know…about 2000 years.

That is why it is necessary to salute the valor and courage of our theists and “good-guy” atheists, defending us all against the rise of smug atheists who make disrespectful internet memes. Actually, no. You are an embarrassing redundancy, right up there with the white activists fighting for men’s rights.

In any kind of activism, there will always be a minority that resorts to tactics that may be considered distasteful. Like vegans calling you “murderers”. Socialists calling you “thieves”. Feminists calling you “misogynistic assholes”. Anti-theist atheists – those claiming (not unreasonably) that religion is a malignant force – are expected to act far more diplomatic and civilized than all other kinds of activism. It is because the subject they deal in is still considered so sensitive, the slightest pinch induces massive butt-hurt.

Atheist debaters are expected to work with teaspoons where all other activists are allowed to work with spades. And it is because of this, that atheists come off as more acerbic and abrasive than than those who criticize any other ideology or system they find harmful.

I don’t need to apologize for atheist trolls any more than feminists, Occupy folk, Democrats, liberals, LGBT and human rights activists have to apologize for the dicks they contribute to the internet.

And as for respecting religion, I don’t need to respect any religion claiming that I, as an atheist, am so vile that I deserve eternal torture. That’s like you calling me a “prick”, and demanding that I respect your belief. Sorry, can’t do; especially when you’re passing on their hateful ideas to your kids, and then scratching your heads when they grow up to be bigots.

Advertisements

A Western Liberal’s Guide to Islamic Realities

If you’re an American liberal, or a liberal from any one of the other ‘Western’ nations, there’s a chance that you’ve worn out the word ‘Islamophobia’ through repetitive use.

One such liberal is Nathan Lean, who wrote an almost-horeshit article for Salon recently. “Almost” because it raises some valid points, “horseshit” because, well, it’s horseshit.

For too long, many Western liberals have acted as apologists for the Islamic ideology as a special courtesy to the Muslim minorities who, since 9/11, have suffered much discrimination. Please stop that. Recognize the difference between attacking Muslims and attacking  their beliefs, these are not the same.

Nathan Lean makes the following objections about the activities of prominent atheists, which I will respond to individually.

1) Dawkins cannot assert that Islam’s a dangerous ideology if he hasn’t read the Quran.

I liked Dawkins’ example that you can conclude that Nazism is dangerous without actually reading the Mein Kampf (this is not a correlation between the two books).

It’s evident from Dawkins’ works that he is very well aware of Islamic concepts and beliefs, even if he has not read the exact text from which these beliefs are derived.  That, and the statistical fact that religious terrorism is almost entirely a fief of Islam in today’s world, imbues some credibility to Dawkins’ claims.

2) Chomsky has criticized Dawkins and Hitchens as “religious fanatics” who demand that their followers blindly support the whims of politicians.

Chomsky’s a dick. Take it from a citizen of Pakistan, whose army Chomsky has publicly praised as highly efficient – the same organization that is accused of providing protection to Osama bin Laden (whose hideout was only a short drive away from a military academy) as well as other Islamist groups, consistently interfering in the country’s political processes, and committing unspeakable human rights violations in Balochistan.

Besides, the crux of Dawkins’ and Hitchens’ entire narrative is evidence, evidence and evidence. Speaking of which, Chomsky cannot offer any proof that these two have ever led their followers to blindly support anything.

3) Dawkins’ tweets about women in Islam

Dawkins tweeted: “Islam is comforting? Tell that to a woman, dressed in a bin bag [trash bag], her testimony worth half a man’s and needing 4 male witnesses to prove rape.”

Assuming that Nathan Lean has read the Quran, unlike Dawkins who allegedly just pulls stuff out of his behind, he should be aware of the following verse:

—————————————————————— – – – –
And let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents [contracts of loans without interest]. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her. (2:282)
—————————————————————— – – – –

And unlike Christians, most Muslims today take the Quran literally.

The four-witnesses rule has been followed by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan until 2006 (and still followed in certain Islamic countries). And full body covering is a common religious rule which, though not strictly found in the Quran, is followed by countless Muslims around the world in the name of Islam. These are not just actions of a “few bad Muslims”, these are hard Islamic principles.

And then there’s the objection to this tweet by Dawkins: “Next gem from BBC Idiot Zoo: ‘Some women feel “protected” by the niqab.'”. It’s an objection that makes no sense, unless you think covering your face is a harmless thing, and not a social barrier. Clearly, you’re not a feminist.

Dawkins and other prominent atheists have been just as sardonic and acerbic with unreasonable Christian dicta.

4) Dawkins lambasted UCL and the Islamic group for allowing segregation.

They didn’t allow the segregation, they enforced it. Lawrence Krauss reported that he was outraged to see some nice young people being split up and told where to sit by the organizers, which was apparently the trigger for him almost storming out.

Lean makes a fair point that Dawkins should have criticized the gender-separate seating options for orthodox Jews at the Barclays Center, New York. But it’s highly likely that it simply did not fall on Dawkins’ radar (the UCL gender-segregation incident was made famous in the atheist community because it was hosting a God debate. Also, unless you’re advocating the two-wrongs-make-a-right-rule, I think we’re done.

—————————————————————-

Dear Western Liberals,

I’m an ex-Muslim, born and raised among the Muslims in an Islamic country. I’ve studied Islam in much detail. And unlike you, who might have done the same probably just to appear more open-minded to your liberal friends, I did it because I had very little choice in the matter.

Your apologia for Islam offends us; a personal slap to my face, and to the face of just about every ex-Muslim, every woman, homosexual, non-Muslim, freethinker and free-spirit, who has been discriminated against, if not overtly oppressed, under Islamic law.

Your fervor for defending Muslims from discrimination and wicked stereotypes is admirable, and I share this fervor as well. But I must insist that you recognize the distinction between protecting Muslims’ from bigots, and acknowledging the dangers posed by the Islamic ideology.

No, all Muslims are not misogynists or terrorists. But that is usually because they have made a conscious or subconscious decision to ignore many of the rougher, archaic tenets, or re-interpret them to become more compatible with the modern era. Otherwise, you cannot be a spokesperson for gender equality, the LGBT community, free speech, AND Islam at the same time.

Again, please stop cozying up to an obviously harmful ideology as a courtesy to the mistreated Muslim minorities in your countries.

United We Stand

Coexist

Secular Groups and Intra-House Politics

It’s bad enough that the free-thinkers are among the most widely persecuted groups in the world; that many of us are forced to keep our identities secret just so we can avoid being yelled at, discriminated against, or shot for apostasy. Evidently, I need to guard my ass from factions within the secular groups too.

Pakistan Atheists and Agnostics (PAA), and countless other secular groups around the world, are not just social clubs. Our cohesiveness is a defense mechanism. This group supported me when I had to climb out of my dorm window as a mob at my university tried to attack me for being an atheist. They were there to ward off the feeling of crippling isolation I felt in the year following my de-conversion. They were there to assist me through the daily frustration of hiding my identity from everybody, including my parents.

Naturally, I feel that people who allow unpleasant experiences with group members to generate rifts within the group itself, can go fuck a jagged keyhole.

We’re not a cult, but we are a support group. And we stick together for more reasons than just religion-bashing. Atheists and agnostics who deny this persecution are invited to step out of whatever sorry Defense, Bahria or F-sector bubble they live in and smell the air of real Pakistan.

It is becoming increasingly painful for me to introduce myself as a feminist, knowing what self-proclaimed feminists they have done locally and internationally to secular groups. I sympathize with women who have faced sexism within these circles, but I have nil respect for the ass-lords who treat misogynism as a uniquely “secular” phenomenon, instead of a general phenomenon which is present among all groups including, yes, the atheist ones.

I’m talking, of course, about people like Rebecca “Elevatorgate” Watson and the Atheism+ crowd. They are the ones who have almost completely dedicated their lives to sabotaging the secular movement by portraying sexism as an “atheist problem” rather than a pandemic that’s pervading the secular community just as it’s pervading others.

While providing additional ammunition to a world that is already starkly anti-atheist, they tend to ignore the fact that atheists and agnostics are far better aligned with the cause of feminism than the general population. Without religion, we have one less excuse to support the anti-abortion, hetero-normative, “cover-yourself-in-a-trashbag-so-I-feel-less-tempted” attitude.

PAA, and I’m certain this is true for other groups too, is hounded by people who have allowed bystanding members to become collateral damage in their personal relationship battles; who have downed group websites, and threatened to rat out their fellow atheists possibly putting their lives at risk; who are engaged in a perpetual vendetta, an endless bitch-fit against an atheist group(s).

Get…a…grip!

I’m not advocating tribal mentality. Perhaps secularists in the developed world are in a better state, but we in the developing countries, particularly the Muslim world, have enough extrinsic shit to deal with without the unending intra-house politics.

Who’s the sexist-est of them all?

It’s claimed that atheist men can be as bad as the religious ones when it comes to sexism and bigotry.

Just yesterday, an atheist man refused to shit a brick about The Big Bang theory being a patriarchy-affirming TV-show. Oh dear. I guess that puts him in the same league of sexists as the religious zealots who firebomb girls’ schools and force their women to wear burkas. “Atheist Taliban” as they are sardonically referred as.

Throughout our history, we’ve been plagued by men treating women as subhumans in Dawkins’ name. When their attitudes are challenged, they thunderously reply, “Who are YOU to question The God Delusion?”. And then they notice the straps of your school bag on your round, feminine shoulders and shoot you in the head. Because, you know, atheists are as bad as the religious extremists.

One of the principal failures of the radical feminists is the inability to develop more a nuanced approach on dealing with sexism.  Their inability to differentiate progression from retrogression, and realize that some things are actually better than the other. To acknowledge some progress, and not just focus on perfection. Merely huffing, puffing and snapping, “Hmph! They’re all the same!” is not an intelligent way to handle these affairs.

The atheist movement is not devoid of sexists and bigots, and there’s a lot of work to be done. But once you’ve discarded “because God says so!” as an excuse to uphold the patriarchy, you’re left with one less reason to reject feminism. An atheist has an obvious advantage over a theist, as he can change his stance without the fear of angering God and risking a permanent place in hell.

We need to stop pretending that there’s symmetry in this lunacy, because there isn’t. Religions enforce misogynistic attitudes, atheism doesn’t. It’s because there’s no atheist rule book commanding its male followers that they are “superior to men”, or that they can have multiple wives, or that their testimonies are twice as valuable as women in courts, and make “their” women wear restrictive clothing.  It’s a neutral position, which is far more susceptible to rational argumentation.

An atheist and his family: “Mom, I’m going to hell”

I’ve been doing this for a long time now..

Several years of swimming against the tide; wading through a constant stream of hate mail; switching blog addresses whenever things get too hot to handle.

I’ve been an outcast on multiple levels. I somewhat pride myself for being a Pakistani who is essentially the death of all stereotypes. I’m an atheist and a bisexual and a feminist and a far-leftist and an extremely  introverted personality. My complexion is significantly fairer than most of my fellow citizens. Even my BMI makes me an outlier (I literally do not “fit in”). If only I did not share the same race as most Pakistanis, I would’ve been Minority-Bot 4000. Continue reading

Moderately Guilty

Imagine that you have a 100 people in your neighborhood. A scoundrel among them begins to spread dangerous rumors about you being an immoral person. As a result of such an ignominious propaganda:

– 50 neighbors continue to treat you the same as always, ignoring the rumors.
– 40 neighbors stop talking to you, or even if they remain in touch, do so cautiously
– 8 neighbors actively protest against your presence in the neighborhood
– 2 neighbors take extreme actions and try to harm you or your property

When the neighbors find out about the acts of the two extremists, almost all of them come forth to condemn the violence. The extremists are punished and the matter is put to rest.

But the problem is far from over! They fail to realize that the extremists were not the cause of the disaster, but merely the effects of a deeper cause: the rumor-starter, who out of personal enmity with you or your family, had begun to spread such dangerous lies.

Alas, that scoundrel will never be caught or even blamed. He’ll continue to spread that propaganda about you and your family, and in doing so, will carry on rousing extremists among the neighbors to act against you. At some point, the neighbors would have to man up and take responsibility for being a petri-dish in which that propagandist thrives.

Moderates complain that they’re being unduly harassed by the tsunami of vitriol being spewed by the Atheists and other non-religious people. They believe that they mustn’t be blamed for the crimes of others, because they don’t believe in such violence themselves. What moderates need to understand is that they’re not being blamed for violence – they’re being criticized for upholding and revering a system that is allowing such extremists to spawn.

The bible, for example, calls Atheists “fools” and “corrupt” (Psalm 14:1). Quran too preaches that non-believers are so vile that they deserve to be roasted in hell for all eternity. In a fair world, these religions would be facing class-action lawsuits for “harming the reputation of non-members and promoting bigotry against them”. But this is a religious world. And any ideology with the magic word of “sacred” stamped across it can wiggle its way out from under the microscope of rational thinking.

The moderates have assumed the bizarre stance of sanctioning the barbaric religious laws themselves, but criticizing those who follow these laws. Most of the moderate Muslims agree that lashing people to death is an unconscionable act, but none would dare question surah Al-Nur itself which very explicitly commands Muslims to lash adulterers to death.

To combat this ethical dilemma without invoking the wrath of their “compassionate” God, Muslims have sealed these verses shut within a labyrinth of unfathomable religious and historical complexities. For example, those engaging in premarital sex can only be punished if conditions 1..2..3..4..5..6…can be fulfilled. These conditions are such that they almost never get fulfilled and Muslims are relieved of the need to carry out such morally-unacceptable acts.

How moderates approximate their belief in lashings and crucifixions with their belief that God is a merciful being, is beyond my comprehension. This is, perhaps, because they fail to recognize the fact that before their holy books and their prophets and their priests and their scholars, God gave them a conscience. Conscience is this magical thing that helps us make the right decisions.

Condemning brutal religious laws doesn’t make you an Atheist by default. It is perfectly possible to believe in God without being religious. God, for many, is the fulfillment of a spiritual quest and the answer to our very existence (if you don’t find the answers of physicists compelling enough). Religion is a franchise that sells God to the masses by packaging Him in a series of doctrines meant to serve the corporation’s own interests.

So stop defending what you know is daft. Call a spade, a spade. You don’t need a bitchy Atheist to tell you that lashing, stoning, crucifixion and plain institutionalized bigotry is wrong. You don’t need religious knowledge to tell you that these things are wrong. All you need is a conscience and the courage to listen to what it has to tell you.