Since this letter was written I have reflected upon my position as well as my word choice and I recognize a serious problem. Atheism is simply not believing in the existence of god, Anti-theism is not believing in god and attempting through argument and force to quash belief in god. I cannot condone anti-theism because it is not my place to tell other people how to live their life as long as they are sane and do not force their ideas upon others. As such when I use the phrase Anti-theism in this essay please forgive my ignorance. The reason I have not replaced the words is because I’m sensitive about reforming old work. This letter is a demonstration of where I was at when it was written and also reflects part of my developing identity. Changing it would be denying what I was, namely, ignorant about pre-fixes.
Thank you for writing back. And thank you again for the chance to challenge my lack of faith.
Your question about the persecution of Chinese Christians does bring up an important question: are we anti-theists in some way to blame for the atrocities performed? Of course my immediate answer would be no, but not purely out of defensive reasoning. You’ll find that often the supposed virtuous, who are in fact merely ignorant pimps lashing out at others while prostituting and corrupting the supposed gloriousness of their own faith, are quick to attack and group all anti-theists and skeptics together. The desire for the purge is ever in their mind, and should you ever doubt this simply find the twitter responses of those early discoverers of god is not Great and you’ll be reminded of the so called kindness of Christians. But back to my original point.
It is true that atrocities have been committed by those who profess an outward revulsion or rejection of the so-called “divine.” There is no way to rebut this. The often cited example would be Hitler (that figure of fetish that incites such wonderful “hate-boners” I believe is the appropriate word), however for the sake of this writing let us escalate the ante and instead cite the examples of Stalin and Mao-Zedong. I cite these two men because through the course of their reigns as dictators they were able to murder more individuals that Hitler could have possibly aspired to (and let us never forget that we sided with Stalin during the” Greatest War,” whatever that means, that ever was or ever could be). Along with this, I cite them because they were both noted anti-theists.
Now I address your concern. It becomes difficult to retaliate to the claim that atheism is far worse than religious institutions because of such examples(if you are new and un-expierienced to debating and defending your ideas). Allow me to address the farce that is this argument in two points.
1. To begin with, while the religious individuals do certainly have a point in that these men accumulated corpses and did their part to stamp upon those who did nothing but profess their faith, they ignore their own argument and history entirely. Whatever the body count these men amassed is irrelevant once you accuse others of being worse than yourself. By acknowledging your own guilt you have self incriminated yourself, therefore you are in no position to assume moral superiority. The history of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism is a bloody mess of contradiction, murder, rape, torture, and psychological totalitarian sentiment. If a Christian were wise, they would acknowledge such travesty and attempt to promote themselves as far away from their own history as soon as possible.
2. The examples of both men cited are essential because, while they were anti-theists, they were also dictators of communist empires. It therefore becomes a question of which “ism” assumed precedence. Consider if you will B—- that you are stepping into a Dairy Queen (pardon the southern imperative but being from Texas they tend to be prolific). There is an option of a Reese’s Blizzard or a Cookie dough Blizzard. Which do you ultimately decide upon? The natural response is the cookie dough Blizzard because cookie dough is excellent, but I realize I’m chasing a rabbit.
My point is that is that is that when one is approaching an ideology there are aspects that assume great weight. Religion creates a sense of tribal unity, particularly in local communities, often at the expense of similar dedication to the state. Totalitarianism is distrustful of anything that takes focus away from itself. If you can, remember the scene from Animal Farm in which the old crow Moses returns to the farm following the expulsion of Jones. Orwell is keen to note that Napoleon immediately distrusts the bird and his teaching of Sugar Candy Mountain, but allows the bird to continue. That distrust exists because it distracts. Neither Mao, nor Stalin were particularly pleasant men (one need only mention Mao’s fondness for young girls and the mind cringes and retreats to cookie dough Blizzards once more) but they were efficient “Communists.”* As such, they desired only such dedication to the cause of the state from everyone else. In this way we may be allowed to include Hitler into their company once more for it has often been noted that the Third Reich and Nazism in general was sold in a kind of cold spiritual ideal. Fascism as it existed and in many ways continues to operate, sells the state as the spiritual guide to existence. In this way we cannot truly call them anti-theists, for in their world there was a god, themselves.
My point, B——, though it has taken too many sentences, is that while these men may have made an effort to stamp out theism, such actions can be rooted in calculating political will, as opposed to genuine humanist contemplation.
Let us return to China however. I recently observed with my wife an episode of Anderson Cooper 360, the story which no doubt spawned your letter. The Chinese government has recently cracked down on several churches across the country, but at one site in particular they demanded the taking down of a cross upon a steeple. Living in East Texas I am accustomed to the sight of the cross. It exists on the tops of churches, in rhinestone patterns on the butts of women attempting to look sixteen once more, on book covers, in doorways, on walls, on backpacks, in tattoos, and thus the list goes on. So frequent is the occurrence of the icon that it seems to have lost any, if at all, spiritual or symbolic significance, though I recognize that statement places me in the minority. As such, when I heard this portion of the story I was not particularly offended or rebuffed by the news. Let people call me what they will, I was not impressed. Though allow me to defend myself, the action was spoken for in the tone of command, as is often the case in China, and as I have observed before, commands leave no room for mutual satisfaction. I may not possess a fondness for the cross, but I despise tyranny and any behavior that impedes individual will. The story festered into something sinister as video clips were shown of Chinese police officers beating members of the congregation of the church. Bloodied faces stared into cameras and I watched as six or seven men would drag a body from the mob and beat it with sticks. The police were eventually forced to retreat, however they eventually returned with help. And so the cross came down.
If I understand your conflict B——, you are not alone. Despite my revulsion of religion, this offense is a violation of human rights, which again does not mean much in China, but any who professes to the title of humanist must express with conviction that a violation has taken place. Being an anti-theist does not make one immune to atrocity, for despite whatever ideological differences we may have, when atrocities are being committed for the sake of political malarkey the human population must respond in kind.
Do not fear however that because acts are being committed in the name of anti-theism that you are somehow at fault, or else guilty and right to blame. Such a thought has no foundation. It is bullshit. The fact that you feel anything at all demonstrates that you are a human being that possesses not only reason but also empathy, the only “virtue” that is of necessity. What is occurring in China is not true atheism; it is cruel political manipulation acting through violence to defend an outdated ideology.
As per your second question B—–, I will try and smile in the next profile picture.
Thank you again for your letter.
Sincerely, yours in the best of confidence and support,
Joshua “Jammer” Smith
*P.S. If you were wondering why I placed an asterisk next to the word “communists” it is because the ideology these two men professed and advocated were not true communist structures. Real communism is an unattainable utopia, and these men perverted the idea to achieve their own agendas. I should write an essay about this when I find time in my hands