I’m in way too mellow a mood tonight to be laying the smackdown, and I think we’re all tired from a weekend of insane politics (and beating up Ken Ham, which was just more cathartic than I can describe), so let’s do something fun together.
No, not that. Mind out of the gutter, you! Yes, you – I see you smirking there in the back.
So here’s the bone (shadupshadupshadup!) I want to throw you:
I’ve been doing a fair bit of hanging about with various and sundry atheists in non-cyberspace lately, and I’ve noticed a spectrum. I’ve not done enough hanging about with atheists to really get a clear perspective, but I’m seeing some broad categories:
The militant atheists who’d love nothing more than to stamp out the last bit of religion – verily see it as their duty to do so;
The newly-arrived atheists who’ve just come out of the soul-shredding experience of rudely losing their faith and who are starving for confirmation that there really is life after religion;
The long-term atheists who’re tremendously comfortable with their godlessness and truly enjoy poking sticks at fundies just to watch ’em howl;
The easy-going atheists who think just about everything’s a bit of a lark, especially the silly things religious people do, and love nothing more than having a good-natured laugh over it all;
The live-and-let-live atheists who have no problem with believers who aren’t viciously trying to force their belief on others;
The who-the-fuck-cares atheists who are too busy caring about other things to give religion much thought at all, despite being surrounded by frothing fuckwits like Ken Ham (yes, I just couldn’t resist another poke – he’s such an easy target);
…and many more, I’m sure.
The point is, just like you can’t label a religious person a definite way just by virtue of them being religious, you can’t know everything about an atheist just because they’re an atheist. “Atheist” is just the big-tent label that contains a huge variety of folks. I’ve even heard of conservative atheists, although how someone can be rational enough to abandon religion and yet still buy into conservative philosophy in the current climate, I still haven’t figured out. Maybe there’s a conservative atheist around here who could enlighten me.
I wish I could tell you where I fall on the atheist spectrum. Honestly, I’m still not sure. I know I’m not militant, although there are days when I just want to take every believer in the universe by the scruff of the neck and shake the faith right out of them – we all have those days, especially after dealing with Ken Ham. But religious moderates don’t actually bother me, when I stop to think about it. After all, there’s the good believers at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, who fight shoulder-to-shoulder with the secular folk in a valiant effort to keep religious fuckery out of the public sphere. There’s my many faithful friends, who believe in a wide range of God, gods, goddesses, and other assorted supernatural beings, most of whom are rational enough not to fall for woo despite the religious streak. Their faith makes them happy, it’s not something they force on a single other soul, and there’s no way I could bring myself to take it from them. So, militant I am not, despite the fed-up days.
And who the fuck needs a label, anyway? We are who we are: complicated human beings, too complex for labels to fit most of us neatly. So let’s consider it a banquet. Which atheist dishes do you heap on your plate? Do you take a heaping helping of militancy with a side of fundie-poking? Do you load up on there’s-room-for-everybody, but pick out the Ken Ham because that just ruins the flavor? Are you newly arrived and scarfing up a bit of everything while you figure out what’s most to your taste?
And how do we show the world that there’s not a single entity behind this term “atheist,” but a whole smorgasboard of godless goodness?