Nearly every day I read another opinion piece in the press on how the "raging, militant proponents of the New Atheism” are destroying the framework of our society. Most harshly denigrated in these articles are typically one or more of the Four Horsemen: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.
The atheistic authors and speakers who hail from Christian cultures and backgrounds are not the only voices in the world to be shouted down for criticizing theism. From ancient times, those who stood up and voiced skepticism against the prevailing theistic superstitions had a good chance of being demonized, or worse.
A little history from Wikipedia:
Diagoras of Melos (5th century BCE) is known as the "first atheist". He blasphemed by making public the Eleusinian Mysteries and discouraging people from being initiated. The Athenians accused him of impiety, and he was forced to flee the city. He died in Corinth.
The efforts of modern day believers to soften, squelch, or even silence the voice of reason is nothing new. It's also not just something that only happens in “Christian countries.” Most people are well aware of the penalties imposed against those who resist the current religious tide in Muslim lands. But apparently it's not just Christians and Muslims that are offended by atheism.
I read an interesting article this week. A portion of it is quoted here:
Thanks to Hindu Munnani the launch of this movie “Vanakkammaa" has been stopped. Police say that it is postponed.
The poster of this movie shows Hindu Gods attending to nature’s call in public place.
The producer of the film, Anbu Thenarasan, is an atheist.
What basically happened is that an angry mob of Hindu zealots scared the government into shutting down production of this movie before filming even began. And what are they all up in arms about? Because these "gods" are supposedly being portrayed in a disrespectful manner by none other than an evil atheist.
If it is true that god belief is part of our evolutionary makeup, it seems to me that god belief will not be going away any time in the foreseeable future. Evolution is slow.
At the conclusion to the opinion piece quoted above, the author asked this question:
An atheist doesn't believe in God. Does it mean that they have to denigrate God?That's the question I'd like to ask here. Is it profitable to make fun of the gods or goddesses worshiped and adored by our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc.? Should we, as ex-Christians, be understanding, tolerant and respectful of those who stubbornly cling to faith? Or, should we be more open about our non-belief, even provoking confrontation with our Christian associates, using whatever means available to extract their spiritual vestigial appendages?
And, since we are all going to die anyway, what's the difference whether other people believe in a god or not?