Atheism in Western culture Andrew Zaremba-Czereyski Student #: 110031518
Atheism in Western Culture <ul><li>Discrimination takes on many forms and many faces attacking based on religion, race, sex and creed but some refuse to acknowledge that a lack of a creed could be grounds for discrimination. Yet western society feels that discrimination against those who refuse to believe, and as they come in countless races, background and of both genders they make an easy target because they do not speak with one voice </li></ul><ul><li>Like other forms of discrimination attacks come in the form of dehumanizing smears that insinuate a subhuman element to the affected group...in this popular web meme the slur of amorality...that Atheists are not capable of participating in moral society, or are some how less virtuous than their religious counterparts, as this popular poster suggests. </li></ul>
Morality and Atheism The first lesson we learn is that atheists are some how less virtuous, morale or at the very least responsible for the ills and woes of society. Fox news of course remains one of the main proponents of the view point that a godless America is a doomed America. Here we see a clip from the famous Glenn Beck on the recent beating death of a Chicago teen which he somehow warps into an attack on godlessness and secularism in America (1:17-2:00).
Even our pets arent safe <ul><li>This type of hysteria against atheist is embodied well in popular culture as well. Where Atheists are always depicted at the fringes of society and some how social reprobates. </li></ul><ul><li>This still represents part of the public lynching that the character “Brian the dog” underwent in the popular animated series family guy after he was revealed to be an Atheist. He is quickly labelled one of the most cruel and vile creatures to walk the earth…ironically much like the experience of Bertrand Russle. </li></ul><ul><li>Only after finding “god” can he be brought back into the fold of normal society. </li></ul>
Art imitates life <ul><li>Brian despite his penchant for philosophy, is no the only figure to be thus vilified with a charge of atheism. Socrates unlike Brian however suffered the ultimate price of his vilification by paying for the charges with his life as is recorded in Plato's first four dialogues. Though he denies the charge of atheism, and was not in fact an actual atheist he still pays the ultimate price as one. </li></ul><ul><li>After being charged with Impiety, atheism and corrupting the youth of Athens with these beliefs Socrates drinks hemlock rather than acknowledge the slander of the courts. </li></ul>
The stigma continues to this day <ul><li>Atheism as an accusation continues to lend weight as slander regardless of whether thperson is an atheist or not. As can be seen once again in this Fox news report stirring up controversy where there is none. Even mentioning that Atheists could be part of the diverse spectrum of beliefs that uniteAmerica seemed to be cause for outrage . </li></ul>
Atheist harbingers of doom <ul><li>Of course some ask the question if being immoral and offensive were not enough of a reason to ostracize a group of people what other maleficent deeds could we attribute to them with the power to destroy all of civilization...well civilization worth keeping. </li></ul><ul><li>All that is needed is a Christian comic book company willing to back your marketing scheme. Within the context of racist comics as a popular method of discrimination in the past it remains astounding that targeting people thusly remains acceptable. </li></ul>
Spot the difference <ul><li>When looked at with another racial group it does not seem like such a stretch as to imagine where other such images have lead in popular culture. </li></ul>
Start them young <ul><li>This type of discrimination takes hold best of course when it is fostered from the earliest of ages. The Boy Scouts of America are one such group. While their discrimination against gays has subsided in recent years they remain adamant in their stance against atheists. While at first glance it would be easy to assume this poster as satire, but in actuality it is a 50's era recruiting poster preparing America's next generation to put the godless to the sword. </li></ul>
BSA <ul><li>"The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, ‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members."-Bylaw of the BSA,. Art IX, S1, Cl. 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Yet despite the fact that the BSA defends their right to exclude atheists as a Christian organization they will accept members of any faith be they Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or Wiccan. The notion that any sort of belief in a higher power makes you a more fit human being </li></ul>
<ul><li>Yet some would argue that as a private body they have the right to determine their membership at their leisure. Yet this notion that one cannot be a good citizen without being being god fearing is again the center point of the attack adds being circulated against atheist's in Iowa. Here is a picture of another popular attack add already in circulation in other states which has been reported on several news networks this past month. Though of course since it attacks atheists it is hardly considered front page news. </li></ul>
Why smear only people <ul><li>Of course the smear of atheism can be multi faceted, why save such a useful adjective to merely using it to besmirch the credibility of people when it can be used to attack ideas themselves even if they are completely outside the domain of religion. </li></ul><ul><li>Comics such as they begin to attack not only the intelligence of the theory but the intelligence of the people who propose them. Though of course some would simply say that as these theories have many atheist proponents that such attacks go hand in hand. After all there is no shortage of Atheist biologist in this age...including their favourite target Professor Richard Dawkins. </li></ul>
Famous victims <ul><li>While the comfort of our modern age and general laws against the mixing of church and state prevent overt discrimination prevent overt harm from coming to these people not all have been so lucky historically. There have been many many figures that have felt the tide of this resentment. Thus allowing groups to propagate hateful thought or action via any medium remains a dangerous slippery slope. Here are some who have suffered death or otherwise grievous harm to life or livelihood due to accusations of atheism either true or false. </li></ul><ul><li>This is not to mention that apostasy and atheism is considered a capital offence in certain middle eastern countries to this day . </li></ul><ul><li>Socrates </li></ul><ul><li>Giulio Vannini </li></ul><ul><li>Kazimierz Łyszczyński </li></ul><ul><li>Percy Shelley </li></ul><ul><li>Bertrand Russel </li></ul><ul><li>Frederich Nietzsche </li></ul>
If we they do something right they must believe in god. <ul><li>Another lovely strategy used is one similar to the ones used by racist, and sexist groups throughout history. If a persons contribution is undeniable...then simply take away that which makes them unique. </li></ul><ul><li>This popular Christian science website like many of the past have sought to turn Einstein`s work and philosophy into a proof of the existence of a creator figure, or a ``god`` in the traditional sense. Turning Einstein from a man of science to one of religious conviction. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Yet in spite of all the direct phrases that Einstein has said you have people trying to co-opt Einstein into a dogmatic Christian, Jewish or otherwise Christian framework. Regardless of which side of the debate you are on it is impossible to consider Einstein more than a material deist at best. However others love to use Einstein to champion religious causes from creationism to arguments against the big bang or even teaching religion in schools. As we can see in the following slides video clip </li></ul>
Einstein as religious advocate <ul><li>This controversial education campaign commercial from Europe highlights again the bleak depressing atheist as the severe humorless headmaster who is made a fool of by a child’s apparently flawless logic. The fact that Professor bears an eerie resemblance to Darwin is of course most likely pure coincidence but again reinforces this negative impression of Atheists as all things evil…or at best simply foolish. In the end he remains an interesting choice for someone who said </li></ul><ul><li>-The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.-- Albert Einstein </li></ul>
Discrimination or marginalization? <ul><li>To many my choice of topics would be seen as a stretch with in the context of so many other far more visible offended minority groups. However the importance of the message is not a matter of who is discriminated against but that fact that we as a species find it so easy to defame and decry others due to a simple difference in belief or appearance. Like many types of discrimination it is those victims who are not immediately visible that are the most likely to suffer or when one type of discrimination is considered more acceptable than another. </li></ul>
<ul><li>In the end like with all cultures, creeds and genders we need to learn the simple lesson of mutual respect and tolerance. While new Atheists like Dawkins and Mahr have gone on the rabid assault we need to learn the lesson that both sides seem to have failed at. Agape, reason and justice for all will solve far more than trying to come out on top. </li></ul><ul><li>The underlying motives of discrimination have not changed overly since the inception of man…from the Greeks Barbar’s to Christian views of infidels…we have always attacked the minorities, as soon as we learn to understand this of ourselves perhaps we can learn to change. </li></ul>
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