Friday, December 10, 2004

Theists' Point of View

I previously discussed how evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity creates a point of view that distorts believers' view of the actions of those not of their religion. In the earlier case, I talked about how American Christians seem unable to recognize when those of other religions do the exact things the Christians would do in their place. But, bizarrely, this phenomenon works the other way, as well: It causes Christians to assume and fear that others whose agenda is entirely different secretly have the same agenda as the Christians.

For instance, these Christians want to classify all other intellectual concepts as "religions" and those who adhere to those concepts as "believers." For instance, Christians try to say that both evolution, science, and atheism are "religions" which "require as much faith" to believe in as Christianity. These Christians have lost the capability, if they ever had it, to discriminate between baseless claims and claims presented with evidence. Since their beliefs rest on faith, they say to themselves, everyone else's must as well. This is also a defense mechanism against attacks on their faith by claiming that any critic of Christianity must have "faith" to "believe in" evolution, science, or atheism.

But it takes no "faith" to see that science works. Science isn't a belief. It is a set of intellectual tools and a system for seeking explanations for the way things work. Nothing more. One needs no "faith" to see that science works: Look around. Evolution, similarly, is simply the best theory at present to explain the available facts. It takes no faith to believe in a theory supported by facts. Atheism, on the other hand, isn't a belief at all, nor is it a religion. It is simply a lack of belief in a god or god(s). But Christians cannot comprehend this, and therefore try to insist that atheism is about "hating God," "rejecting God," or "worshipping Satan" or some other belief, because they only understand beliefs. But, to "hate God" or "reject God," one must think God exists to be hated or rejected. To "worship Satan," one must believe Satan exists, and therefore God. Atheism is not a religion or even a belief anymore than lack of belief in Santa Claus or magic elves is a belief.

But, by equating non-religions with religions, Christians feel more comfortable, as they are used to dealing with beliefs. In addition, it allows them to attack the straw men of the beliefs they think evolutionists, scientists, and atheists have on an equal playing field, or so they believe. In fact, their attacks are meaningless, because they are attacking something they themselves have invented for which evolutionists, scientists, and atheists have no attachment.

In much the same way, I think part of the reason Christians fight against the secular government of the United States so hard is that, since they want to establish a Christian theocracy and don't care about the First Amendment, those fighting to maintain religious freedom must really want to create an atheist state. To support this case, they equate secular with atheistic and therefore contend that anything that does not overtly support their religion must be against it. They cannot see keeping religion out of schools as simply the maintenance of our secular government as required by the First Amendment: They see it as encroaching secularism, and therefore encroaching atheism. Since Christians desire to overturn the Bill of Rights and American jurisprudence in favor of a Christian theocracy and biblical law, secularists (who are really atheists) must want to destroy God, religion, and American Christianity. They cannot possibly want religious freedom as they claim. Since we don't want religious freedom, it is impossible that they do.

Except we do. As I have said before, I believe in freedom of religion, as much as I dislike religion and the things done by those who practice it. I would not support an amendment to the Constitution to outlaw religion in America. That would be wrong and a breach of the freedoms of other Americans. I think everyone should have the freedom to worship, or not, whatever god or god(s) he or she wishes.

But, since Christians do not believe in religious freedom, they cannot imagine how I could either.



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