Friday, October 23, 2009

Militant Atheist: A Letter on the Term

I’m an atheist. No. It’s worse than that, actually. I’m a loud mouth atheist, I’m a combative, argumentative, aggressive, “militant atheist.” I talk about my favorite delusion every chance I get. I deliberately use provocative language, substituting “delusion” for religion and “sky fairy” or “imaginary friend” for God; I ask people to justify their belief all the time; I put forward arguments against god to anyone who will listen; I invite positive arguments for the existence of god from anyone willing to produce one; I demand coherent definitions of the thing “God” from anyone who might understand the need for such a definition; I blog about religion; I seek out religious people who might like to argue the matter and pick fights in which I have no intention of being gentle.

But I’m a militant atheist.

Some of my friends even shake their heads at me, expressing their disdain at how I’m constantly strumming the same old chord, an irritating proselytizer of unbelief, a shameless agent provocateur attempting to lure people from their comfort zones. It’s considered rude, inappropriate,unbecoming, off-putting etc… people don’t like it anymore than when people start injecting our lord and savior, Jesus, into every mundane thing, into every conversation, or every event, bridging huge gaps between the subject at hand and their faith. I don’t do this, I seldom if ever make such ham-handed segues into the topic of the God debate; I wait for it to be brought up and then pounce.

But I am a militant atheist.

Why am I condemned for this? Why is this worth pointing out? Jehovah’s witnesses frequent my porch. John is the name of the man who regularly comes a knocking and we have had a number of interesting conversations ranging from the beauty of nature as found within view of my porch to the foundations of moral reasoning. Bear in mind, this man knocked on my door once and has continued to return. In all our exchanges I have not had occasion to call him a “militant Christian.” Surely the very act of knocking on my door is a bolder move than anything I admitted to above. But, no…

I am a militant atheist.

I do not knock on people’s doors and if I did knock on doors
so that I could proselytize against god, it would be considered so incredibly rude as to merit active campaigns against my activities. Moreso than if I were selling cookies, anyway. I do not protest funerals, as do the Westboro Baptists. I do not stone to death adulterers. Nor would I rape and kill a family member who was raped. Nor would I murder a person who once held the same views as me but had recently switched sides. Nor would I command the mutilation of a child’s genitals, imposing a covenant on the child without his or her permission. I would not kill, maim, or shame a person for acting on their sexual proclivities. I demand no rites, no tithes, no rituals, no prayers, no profession, no utterance, no submission, no allegiance, no indignity, no dissolution of family bond, no affirmation of permanent commitment, no denial, no cognitive dissonance, no abdication of reason. I demand very little, in fact. Such things are the province of religion.

But I am a militant atheist.

These are the extremes. (But, some of them may not even seem extreme to you, consider religious circumcision.) Oh, certainly, many of these things are condemned. But why is my, by comparison, much more mild and docile approach condemned as well? Why is it so unacceptable that I am a loud mouthed atheist and yet it takes overt
brutality for a person to be taking their religion too far?

But I am a militant atheist.

Now, I’m not so mystified by the label I’ve received, “militant atheist,” though I do think it’s tragically ironic in light of the things I’ve pointed out. I understand why it might be worth the effort, to a believer, to brand me in this way, though. The advantage is obvious enough; that guy just has a chip on his shoulder and he’s out to prove something and rob us of our beliefs. It might bother me if this wasn’t the case; after all, I am out to prove something. But it bothers me that the same terms are applied to my spirited but non-violent challenges to accepted beliefs as are applied to the violence carried out in the name of such beliefs.

And to some degree it bothers me to hear other atheists telling me I’m besmirching the name, “atheist” as if the term is deserving of some special honor or as if the community ever enjoyed any respect to begin with.

But, no, what really bothers me is the suggested dichotomy of the atheist community. There are the loud mouths and the silent; the outspoken and the mute; those who challenge and those who acquiesce. My question isn’t “why am I labeled a loud mouth?” My question is “why the hell aren’t more of us speaking up?”



  1. I happen to be a Christian, and I actually really like the way you think. I'll admit that I am probably not as intelligent as you. I think a lot of people who believe in God are afraid to admit things like that, and they are afraid to listen to an athiest's arguments.

    In my opinion, this is because they don't actually have any basis for their belief. They are afraid to get out of their "comfort zone" as you called it. They never go out and find a reason to believe what they believe.

    I used to be like that, (I'm still young, 20 years old.) and about a year and a half ago I decided I didn't want to base my life around something out of fear of the unknown. Ever since then, I've had no problem actively searching out other points of veiw, and REALLY considering them.

    At first there was this feeling of "doom" when I felt my beliefs were challenged, but the more I researched, the more confident I became that I was doing the right thing.

    I read a quote on one of the articles on this blog. It was talking about the universe, and human conciousness. It said something about how humanity is not the measurement of the universe, and that human conciousness in relation to the vastness of the universe was enough to confirm what people call "spirituality". It was basically implying that people hang on to religion as a way to cope with the mystery of "life".

    That is exactly the problem with most "theists". They believe they understand the universe, and then they go ahead and contradict themselves by giving no coherent proof for their understanding.

    The only thing that I know for certain, is that I do not understand the universe. I believe, just as you would, that in the big picture - when you factor in the vastness of the universe - no human being knows much of anything.

    We have our ideas, and our theories. We have religion, and we have evolution. Evolution is based on science - science being WHAT WE KNOW and nothing else. One thing science cannot prove, is how things started. Not only the question of "How?" but also - "Why?". These questions are unprovable, at least at this point in time. No matter who you are, or what you believe - if you go back in time far enough, there is no scientific answer.

    One thing that has always tickled my funny bone is this. When you probe an evolutionist about evolution long enough, you will eventually get to that UNKNOWN. At this point, they usually adopt that same attitude of the fearful theist who is being taken out of his comfort zone.

    You can't prove that God exists with science, and you can't prove that God doesn't exist with science. This is where I believe "evolution" and "science" part ways. Science is WHAT WE KNOW, and evolution is a theory that has a lot of science in it - but when it comes right down to it, it is based on the UNKNOWN. It is based on an assumption.

  2. Imagine that somehow, you have the power to create a world. You create little people in this world. Imagine that you can see them, and they cannot see you. Eventually, the little people are going to start wondering why they are there, and how they came to exist. They cannot see you, because their knowledge is so finite compared to yours.

    They eventually will set up their own "science" - their own set of rules by which they measure reality. It will be based on their FINITE knowledge.

    There might be two sets of people - ones that assume somehow they were created, and ones that believe they were not created.

    You get the point. That is how I personally see the universe. That is how I understand the universe in comparison to humanity's consciousness. I believe in a Creator.

    Now - on the other hand, there are those who understand the universe a different way. They believe there is no creator, and they believe there is no answer to the question "Why?". They believe that "How?" is the only question that matters, and it is this BELIEF that guide's their quest to find truth. The fact is, "Why?" implies a Creator.

    If there is a "Why?", then ultimately it cannot be ignored if we hope to find the truth. If we ignore it, then we are literally blinding ourselves.

    Now, my question to an athiest would be. "How do you rule out the question "Why?".

    The fact of the matter is, science cannot explain this. Just as faith cannot "explain" scientific matters in a scientific way. Our explanation is that there is someone out there who can explain what we cannot.

    Yet, still, "Why?" is ruled out.

    If you have heard all of this before, I apologize. But I would very much like to hear your opinion on it; so that I have something else to consider.

  3. Sorry, I didn't realize there are not supposed to be comments on this blog. If you would like to reply, email me at I also have Myspace and Facebook under that same email adress, as well as Skype.

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  5. You are a faggot.

    You are a whiny, self-important faggot.

    Eat a dick.

  6. Oooh, did the big scary atheist make you mad?

  7. VERY well written. I've created a copy and hung it on my wall. Thank you for this.

    PS. I'm also glad to be the first person to "thumbs up" your blog on StumbleUpon.


  8. Great essay and great video. Well done.

  9. I had the wrong like on my last lazy typing. This takes you to my blog if you want to check it out.