Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thank you rational atheists - Mmegi

Original here.

I would like to express my thanks to all the people who have approached me or have sent me messages by email or on Facebook supporting my letter last week entitled "Atheists are rational and logical". I confess that I expected a negative response but in fact everyone has been remarkably positive. It's often surprising to learn that although the religious might be in the majority a surprising number of people reject superstition in all it's forms and embrace the rational, the logical and the real.

However it saddens me that some people explained how they couldn't "come out" as atheists because of their fear of rejection by their communities, families and friends. One of the most objectionable things about any rigid belief system must be that, whether it's religious or political, Christian, Muslim or Marxist, dissent is unwelcome and often forbidden. In extreme but distressingly common situations heresy and apostasy are treated as capital crimes. People have been killed just for expressing their free thinking.

Thankfully I live in a country where enlightenment is not an offense.

A final point. Isn't it curious that many Christians refer to the ultimate evil as "Lucifer", a word that means "bringer of light". It's ironic that the Devil is seen as the one who enlightens, not the religion.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Atheists are rational and logical - Mmegi and Monitor

Original here.

In a column in Mmegi on 15th January Don-Martin Takudzwa Whande argued that atheists like me somehow fail to see the overwhelming evidence for the existence of God. He's wrong. I think we atheists have a clear, rational, logical and above all, reasonable view.

There are many arguments against the existence of an invisible friend in the sky but I would rather be constructive and offer him a suggestion. I think his approach of using endless quotes from the Bible to persuade us non-believers is wrong. Why would the Bible persuade me? I don't believe that god exists and I don't believe the Bible has anything particular to teach us.

Of course people will say that there is wisdom in the Bible but there is in all religious texts, whether Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist. And crucially there is at least as much wisdom in many non-religious texts. What's more, for every delightful, inspiring, poetic quote from the Bible there is another that is vicious, cruel or just plain evil. The Bible is littered with endorsements of murder, genocide, slavery, rape, human sacrifice and the mass slaughter of children. And I'm meant to give this book respect and be persuaded by it?

The same goes for many religious leaders. Last week, the esteemed (by some, certainly not by me) american TV evangelist Pat Robertson said that the people of Haiti had brought the recent catastrophic earthquake upon themselves. His exact words were "they got together and swore a pact to the devil" and that consequently "ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other". 

Need I say more? OK, I will. Robertson is a nasty, vicious, hateful old bigot and those who use religion as a cover for their hatred deserve to be shunned by all reasonable people.

Anyway here's a challenge for those who feel the need to convert us atheists to religion. See if you can come up with a persuasive, thoughtful, rational argument that doesn't involve a single quote from your religious texts. Then we might consider them.