Being an out, proud, vocal atheist, one thing I seem to have trouble communicating to people is just how very little I care about their own personal beliefs. I dont care if you love Jesus any more than I care if you love Big Macs or tap dancing or MAC lipstick. Its your life, whatever.
My problem is, people just cant keep their hands to themselves.
For instance, it is against the religion of Muslims to generate artistic renditions of their choice of deity. That means that Muslims cant make a velvet painting of Mohamed riding a bucking bronco. I can.
Alternatively, in some branches of Christianity, abortions are against the rules. That means these branches of Christianity cant get abortions or do fetal stem-cell research. This religious rule should have no impact on my life, as I am not a member of their churches.
Now, if I am being particularly ‘civil’, I could, for the sake of a dinner party discretely move my painting of Mohamed riding a bucking bronco out of the dining room, and refrain from making jokes about how I am serving dead baby for dinner for the comfort of my Muslim/Christian guests, just like I would make sure to have a vegan/vegetarian option available if I were inviting a vegan/vegetarian to the same dinner party. I am under no real obligation to follow the vegan/vegetarians ‘rules’ (its not like they have a real food allergy that could kill them), or the Muslims/Christians, but I would try to be accommodating within reason.
Religious people appear to have a very difficult time understanding this point, though I think it is rather easy to ‘get’.
I also dont care what people personally believe in as long as it doesnt broach into my profession– If you are making scientifically testable claims, and those claims are proven to be false, then you need to accept reality and move on with your life. The Earth is not 6,000 years old. Humans cannot procreate via parthenogenesis with todays technology, much less Bronze/Iron-Age technology. HIV-1 causes AIDS. Vaccines do not cause autism. Mega-doses of Vitamin C dont cure cancer. Meh.
People who continue to make these statements, whether its Francis Collins or Peter Duesberg, are going to have to deal with being at the wrong-end of my bitch-stick until they accept reality.
And the thing is, I just plain dont have patience for people who dont understand these two simple points, because 1) I grew up with and was educated by theists who ‘get it’, 2) I regularly interact with theists who ‘get it’, even here in Oklahoma.
Example: Dr. Bruce Prescott. Baptist as all get out. Got a PhD in theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (same place Dr. Dr. William Dembski ‘teaches’). Pastor. Hosts a religious talk-radio program here in Oklahoma…
And a completely normal, nice, rational guy– President of our local Americans United chapter. Encourages people to ‘Turn off FOX’. Encourages dialogue between Christians and those of other (or no) faiths. And rather than just complaining about how UNCIVIL us EVIL atheists are, he actually has nice things to say about us heathens:
The greatest irony is that Oklahoma atheists offer more evidence of Christ-like love and charity than many Baptists and evangelical Christians:
Singer, of Oklahoma City, and the group of about eight people held signs and a banner that read, “The hands that help are better than the lips that pray.” Leaders of the group said the banner referred to a food drive they held Thursday
Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. — 1 John 3:18
Stuff like this really gets me fantasizing… what would life be like if I could completely and totally not care about what other people believe, because it wasnt ever going to hurt me? Religionists would have to personally struggle with questions about Creation and abortion and homosexuality, but I would be allowed to ignore their personal beliefs, like I can currently ignore whether someone likes milk in their coffee?