Australia’s new Prime Minister is an atheist. Yet her avowal of atheism raises as many questions as it seems to answer.
Julia Gillard begins by saying that she does not believe in God.
Then at 0.43 she sinks into Weasel words (Examples of Weasel words) and says, “I am a great respecter of religious beliefs but they are not my beliefs”
What does this comment say about the current state of atheism?
Yesterday I was roused from a much deserved afternoon nap by a ringing doorbell. Two well-dressed young gentlemen greeted me as I opened the door. In their hands were copies of Watchtower. Had they had neat little badges on their lapels naming them as “Elder Ernest” and “Elder I am come to show you the way you should live” or had they been members of my local Protestant Church on the same proselytising mission, the response would have been the same. “Sorry, no myths or superstitions here!” and a firm closing of the door.
Several days earlier I had been walking along a city street when I was offered a pamphlet or a tract or somesuch by a very determined old man, trying to tell me that the “End is Nigh”. Some short distance later his twin tried to present me with another piece of dead tree telling me that “Jesus Saves”.
Each of these people had a specific religious belief and was determined to make me see things their way.
It is accepted within our nominally Christian society that Christian Churches are expected to attempt to gain members through personal visitation yet any attempt to sway people away from a belief in God (any God) is considered to be disrespectful.
Having the Greatest Respect.
So while it is not disrespectful for a religious person to attempt to convert me/ tell me I’m wrong/ claim that I am a danger to society/ mock me for being different, according to our Australian Prime Minister, it IS disrespectful to even think of telling a religious person that they may possibly be wrong or deluded.
Is it that the religious are so uncertain of their faith that they cannot brook any opposition? That belief in NO God is worse than belief in ANY God, however misguided?
I am sometimes met with the comment that, since I am an atheist and have no beliefs, why do I bother living? Shouldn’t I end it all now since there is no future for me? My response has become, “Since Heaven is so much better than this current life, why do YOU cling to life so strongly and avoid going to your marvellous reward?”
Somehow this suggestion is always rejected, not always coherently. In fact, in my experience, those who claim the greatest faith often cling to life the hardest.
I have spent many years as a gentle cynic. Yet I can feel the delusional fanaticism of the religious offending me socially and politically. Perhaps there is a touch of age-related curmudgeonlyness in my developing anger at the myths which would rule me but I am becoming quite intolerant of stupidity and deliberate ignorance.
I’m sorry Julia. The time has come to tell these deluded religious fools where to get off.
As Christopher Hitchens said, “I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves.”