Blasphémateur ! The right to be atheist in Palestine


Book review
Blasphémateur !’,
by Waleed al-Husseini
Grasset, Paris
EAN : 9782246854616
marieme helie lucas

On January 14, 2015, a book, by Waleed al Husseini, titled: ‘Blasphemer !’, will be released in Paris. The date that was set in advance, but it so happened that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists were slaughtered just a few days before the book launch.
This highlights two facts that many prefer to ignore : on the one hand, the first victims of armed fundamentalist non-state actors and/or of fundamentalist states live in so-called Muslim countries; on the other hand, it is not just in France or in the West that people free themselves from religious beliefs, many agnostics and atheists live in hiding in our countries, or pay the high price for declaring themselves non believers.
Under this flamboyant title ‘Blasphemer !’, the young Palestinian author – age 25 – describes an experience which is shared by more and more youth in North Africa and in the Middle East. Like everywhere else in the world, young people come of age, suffocating and oppressed by religiosity in their family and in their neighbouhood; they refuse to renounce their craving for freedom, the discovery of sexuality, and freely mixing with the world’s youth. They end up rejecting religion, ‘loosing faith’ - if at all they ever had one of their own. Few of them take the pain – as Waleed did - to seriously explore their reasons not to believe in god.
Being rejected by their family is painful, a split of the heart from beloved ones that one goes on loving, often for lack of belonging perspectives elsewhere, as there are no atheist communities that could welcome them, with whom they could share their ideas. They face emotional and intellectual isolation.
And they face fear too. For, increasingly during the last two decades in many Muslim-majority countries, young libertarians’ rejection of religion is met – not just with moral sanction from family and neighbours -, but with state legal repression.
This is the experience Waleed al Husseini describes and ‘blasphemer’ is not just a flamboyant title for a book : it is indeed the accusation made against him when he was only 20 years old, that brought him into Palestinian jails where he experienced torture for being an unbeliever.
He is far from being the only one facing such a dreadful fate : young and not-so-young people (the eldest is probably Kassim Ahmed, age 82, a Muslim erudite, accused of ‘insulting islam’, who will be tried by the Sharia Court on the decision of the High Court in Malaysia) are regularly jailed ( like the egyptian journalist Bishoy Boulous Armia, age 32, sentenced to 5 years in jail on allegations of causing ‘sectarian rif’ and ‘insulting Islam’ for testifying on persecution of Christians in Egypt); or they are sentenced to torture ( like Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia, due to be flogged a thousand times - 1000 ! - for ‘insult to Islam’) ; or they are sentenced to death penalty ( like Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitirin in Mauretania, age 28, journalist and anti-slavery activist, sentenced to death on December 25, 2014 for ‘insulting the Prophet’ – he obviously disturbed some big slave trafficking and the religious argument was used to silence him for good) ; and they are even executed for ‘insulting Islam’ or for ‘blasphemy’ (Mohsen Amir-Aslani, age 27, declared guitly of insulting Prophet Jonah and of ‘introducing innovations in religion’ by his interpretations of the Qur’an, was hanged in Iran in September 2014) *
In secular France, - how long will it remain secular ? – one can still be a declared atheist or agnostic without running risk : a recent enough and serious piece of research** shows that the percentage of unbelievers is pretty similar in the French ‘Christian’ population and in the French ‘Muslim’ one : both show around 25% of declared atheists. Practicing believers are as few in one and the other religious denominations (about 5%), and the rest of the population limits its practice to celebrating Christmas or Eid.
This is likely to shatter prejudice. It certainly explains why Waleed al-Husseini, when he finally got out of the Palestinian jail and came to France as a refugee, was outraged at being branded ‘Muslim’ once more, as is the case of so many migrants or French citizens of migrant Muslim descent. He felt the need to set up an organization that represents him : the Council of ex-Muslims in France.
Similar organizations mushroomed in many places in Europe : the first one was set up in Germany by an Iranian woman, Mina Ahadi; it was quickly followed by a second one in the UK led by another Iranian, the formidable and tireless Maryam Namazie ; then it started in Scotland, in France, etc...
However, it would be erroneous to believe that ex-Muslims come out in Europe only: Imad Iddine Habib is the founder of the Council of ex-Muslims in Morocco; persecuted by the regime, he finally had to come out of his country. In Algeria, the « un-fasters » ( a playing on words – de-jeûneurs-, since ‘breaking the fast’ and ‘having lunch’ sound alike in French) organize public picnics during Ramdan, at great risk for themselves, in order to stand for their right not to be forced to be Muslims; interestingly, declared believers - who are fasting - join them and protect them, openly telling the media that they are opposed to government’s enforcement of Ramdan and to denial of freedom of conscience.
Waleed al Husseini is fully aware of the numerous issues that are in stock for him after the publication of his book.
The first danger of course comes from our green-fascists, a minority indeed but a vocal and determined one, who takes it as a religious duty to physically eliminate ‘kofr’ – i.e. anyone who does not pander to their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.
But not just them.
There are the well-meaning Lefties who - till such time an end is put to Israel’s control over Palestine, deem it inappropriate to raise any concern with whatever is taking place in Palestine – even torture and arbitrary detention for exercising one’s freedom of conscience, - a clear indicator of Islamist ideology’s progress within the Palestinian state. (Regarding the critic of the theory of priorities and the ‘main enemy’, please see Daniel Bensaïd’s comment, and the little poem he quotes ‘ I was shot down by my secondary enemy’.***)
And there is the large ‘respectful’ Left whose above-all concern is to avoid being accused of racism; they were instrumental in disseminating all over the world the concept of ‘Islamophobia’ that was created and propagated by Muslim fundamentalists. As if it were an idea that was slaughtered, as if it were ‘Islam’ that was facing pogroms, rather than hapless humans hunted down by racist crowds which certainly do not check on their religion before hitting their brown skins. Just ask Syrian Christians how they feel about it when they come to Europe. And, alas, it is too late to ask the too-dark-skined Brasilian who was the only one murdered after the London bombing.
After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the international English-speaking media gave us the best possible exemple of cowardly response to Muslim fundamentalism –no other brand of fundamentalism ever deserves this cautious treatment but the Muslim one; of course no one dared dispense of condemning violence, but right after having paid lip service to it, they started with caveat : yes, it is terrible but Charlie was ‘provocative’ regarding religion ; yes butCharlie had been well warned to stop it ; yes but Charlie, actually, was ‘Islamophobic’, etc…
There are also, of course, the traditional, racist and anti-Muslim right and far-right which will attempt to misuse his book, thrilled that a ‘Muslim’ may attack ‘Islam’. But Waleed al-Husseini is very clear about the différence between racism and the fundamentalist concept ‘islamophobia’. In his book, he mentions an incident: when 5 members of a far-right organization using a ‘secularist’ label as camouflage disturbed the launch of the Council of ex-Muslims of France. They had come in the hope of participating in some Muslims-bashing, but they were rebuffed by all the speakers one after the other, who firmy told them they only defended their right to be atheists.
To publicly resist, all in one go, to the traditional racist far-right, to the Muslim fundamentalist far-right, and to the coward Left in France – this is the task for Waleed al-Husseini.
We wish him a lot of courage and of political clarity to continue his struggle without falling into any trap. He already showed he did not lack courage when he faced Palestinian jails; and he also proved he did not lack political clarity by not letting any one use him politically.
May this straight forward and very thruthful book encourage Waleed al-Husseini’s new fellow-citizens – the French people – to support the vibrant popular forces wich, everywhere in our so-called Muslim countries, fight fundamentalism in isolation, feeling abandonned by the rest of the world.
Notes :
*Maryam Namazie : A defence of Charlie Hebdo must also turn into defence of other blasphemers and apostates
** Patrick Simon, Paris, INED, quoted in : Marieme Helie Lucas, A South-North transfer of political competence : women of migrant Muslim descent in France, p 46, in Marieme Helie Lucas ed. :The struggle for secularism in Europe and North America :Women from migrant descent facing the rise of fundamentalism, September 29 2014, Amazon, paperback, ISBN-10 : 1907024220 ISBN-13 : 978-1907024221
*** idem p IV: ‘The control of capital over bodies, its strong will to reveal their market value, does not at all reduce their control by religious law and the theological will to make them disappear…The poor dialectic of main and secondary contradictions, forever revolving, already played too many bad tricks. And the ‘secondary enemy’, too often underestimated, because the fight against the main enemy was claimed to be apriority, sometimes has been deadly’. Daniel Bensaïd.
Bensaïd goes on quoting Erich Fried’s poem: ‘Totally caught into my struggle against the main enemy/ I was shot by my secondary enemy/ Not from the back, treacherously, as his main enemies claim/ But directly, from the position it has long been occupying/And in keeping with his declared intentions that I did not bother about, thinking they were insignificant’.
**** Statement : After the Charlie Hebdo’s massacre, Support those who fight the religious-right, 
January 7, 201

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Erdogan: women are not equal to men

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set off a new controversy on Monday, declaring that women are not equal to men and accusing feminists of not understanding the special status that Islam attributes to mothers.

Addressing a meeting in Istanbul on women and justice, Erdogan said men and women are created differently, that women cannot be expected to undertake the same work as men, and that mothers enjoy a high position that only they can reach.

"You cannot put women and men on an equal footing," Erdogan said. "It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different."
Erdogan added: "Motherhood is the highest position ... You cannot explain this to feminists. They don't accept motherhood. They have no such concern."

Lawyer and women's rights activist Hulya Gulbahar said Erdogan's comments were in violation of Turkey's constitution, Turkish laws and international conventions on gender equality and didn't help efforts to stem high incidences of violence against women in Turkey.

"Such comments by state officials which disregard equality between men and women play an important role in the rise of violence against women," Gulbahar said. "Such comments aim to make women's presence in public life — from politics to arts, from science to sports — debatable."

Erdogan, a devout Muslim, often courts controversy with divisive public comments. He has previously angered women's groups by stating that women should bear at least three children and by attempting to outlaw abortion and adultery.

He raised eyebrows this month by declaring that Muslims had discovered the Americas before Christopher Columbus.

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Topless feminists targets Pope with explicit protest

Femen activists protest in St.Peter's Square at the Vatican. The protest is against the Pope's planned visit at EU parliament as an attack on secularism.

Femen, the women's rights group known for topless protests, took their act to a new level of provocation on Friday with an explicitly sexually suggestive demonstration in front of the Vatican.

In what they described as a protest over Pope Francis's upcoming visit to the European Parliament, three members of the group appeared on St Peter's square wearing only leather mini-skirts and flower garlands in their hair

Two of them had "Keep it Inside" written on their backs - a slogan apparently related to what followed.
After bending forward, the women dropped down on to all fours, all the time appearing to simulate anal sex with a crucifix.

Police quickly intervened to drag the women away as bemused onlooking tourists snapped the scene with their smartphones.

It was not immediately clear if the activists would face any criminal charges.
According to the group, the protest was organized because they regard the Pope's November 25th visit to the European Parliament as an attack on secular principles.
"Pope is not a politician," one of the three women had emblazoned across her exposed breasts.

God is not a magician, pope is not a politician!
FEMEN calls politicians to boycott the visit on Pope on Strasbourg. FEMEN calls all unbelievers and secular believers to unite and protest against the crime against secularism that will happen on 25th on November in EU Parliament!
Religion has no place in politics! Pope has no place in the parliament! Keep it in private! Stick it deep inside!  
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Jesus and Mary Magdalene were 'married with children,' ancient manuscript claims

Jesus was a devoted family man with two kids and Mary Magdalene for his wife, a new history book based on an ancient manuscript claims.

According to the 1,500-year-old text, there was a previously unknown plot on Jesus’s life 13 years prior to the crucifixion. The revelations were made by Professor of Religious Studies at Toronto's York University, Barrie Wilson, and an Israeli-Canadian historical writer and filmmaker, Simcha Jacobovici.

One of the most astounding claims in the book is that Mary Magdalene was the same person as the Virgin Mary. The authors of The Lost Gospel assert that the manuscript features the names of the two children of Christ and Mary Magdalene – and even recites an assassination attempt against Mary and the children.

The book also chronicles Jesus’s connections to Emperor Tiberius and his best friend, the soldier Sejanus.

The manuscript, known as “The Ecclesiastical History of Zacharias Rhetor (of Mytilene)” has been with the British Museum and then the British Library for nearly 170 years, according to The Sunday Times. It was purchased by the British Museum in 1847 before being transferred to the British Library some 20 years ago.

The Lost Gospel, which has been translated from Aramaic, is set to come out later this month; details of the manuscript are expected to be revealed at a press conference at the British Library on Wednesday. 

Some religious scholars are not enthusiastic about the upcoming release. "We're basically looking at a sensationalist money-making scheme here," Professor of New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary Greg Carey told the Huffington Post. 

Arguing that the text has not been "uncovered" by Jacobovici and Wilson, as they claim, the professor says "over three hundred scholarly books and articles devoted to this text" can be found online, with over twenty manuscripts of the story. The ancient novel needs no "decoding," Carey says, as it simply has no secret meaning. 

One of the men behind the new to-be-announced revelation, the Emmy-winning journalist Simcha Jacobovici, has been previously criticized by some scholars for his other takes on the history of early Christianity. Jacobovici has been involved in court suits, after being accused of publicizing scientifically dubious theories, and Discovery Channel once listed his documentary among the top 10 scientific hoaxes of all time. 

Claims that Jesus was married have been published before. One of the latest cases was the 2012 discovery of an Egyptian papyrus fragment, which some scholars believed to be the first explicit reference to Jesus being married. 

Although many claimed it was a forgery, according to the results of a carbon dating test released earlier this year, the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’s Wife” could have originated as far back as the 8th century AD, shattering allegations that the fragment of paper had been produced more recently by fraudsters

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Lesbian Couple Pulls Off First Gay Marriage in Russia

How is this possible, you are probably asking?  One of the two women in this couple is trans, and still is legally listed as male, even though she is living life as a woman.  Trans people, for many years, have been skirting these sorts of laws since many places either continue to legally recognize them as their sex assigned at birth even well into transition, or because the legal process for changing sex is too complicated/cost prohibitive to be worth it.  I am reasonably confident that they are probably not even the first couple to have done this in Russia, but to do so in clear defiance of Russia’s wave of anti-LGBTQ laws is a bold and brave move.
Unsurprisingly some overzealous Russian authorities are outraged:

The event has started evolving into a scandal with St. Petersburg MP Vitaly Milonov, known for his anti-LGBT drive, vowing to launch a probe to check the legality of the marriage.
“I understood their [registry office workers’] unconvincing arguments; they formally approached the issue and saw passports, but not people. I told the head [of the wedding registry office] that it is criminal negligence,” he told NTV channel.
Milonov said he is going to get prosecutors involved to try to avoid such “ugly insults to millions of Russian families in the future.”

It will be interesting to see how the Russians try to handle this.  If they simply sweep it under the rug, if they order a change to the gender on Irina’s passport to nullify the marriage (which would set an interesting precedent for gender changes in Russia), or if they simply void it on some technicality.  In any case I hope the point has been made - Russia can pass all the laws they want, but you cannot keep the LGBTQ community down.  Love finds its way.

Strangely enough, for all the discrimination and violence they often face, trans people have sometimes had some more legal standing than lesbian/gay individuals.  For instance, Iran (which is rightly notorious for its views on LGBTQ individuals) allows for trans people to undergo gender reassignment surgery and live as their preferred gender, while still criminalizing crossdressing and homosexuality.  The only catch is that if you are trans you must undergo surgery, and then behave properly in your new gender.  That is not to say that trans people have it “easy” in Iran (or other countries that have similar requirements), but it is to say that the existence of trans people make for some interesting legal conundrums in socially conservative societies.

It is certainly my hope that Russia will come around and embrace LGBTQ people as valued, full members of society.  That day is likely far off, but in the meantime, I am glad to see that there are still queer people willing to take a risk and push on the boundaries of the legal and social codes.  That there are still Russians will to march in pride events in the face of daunting threats of arrests, fines, threats, and physical violence.  

Congrats Irina & Alyona!  Stay fabulous (and safe, please)

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Why are so many young French people turning to jihad?

The scrapbook is filled with photographs and tributes: they show Dominique Bons' son Nicolas growing from a teenager into a young man.
Offering brief glimpses of past holidays and family moments, clues to his passions and personality, the book is one of Bons' few souvenirs of her son's short life.

Nicolas, from Toulouse, converted to Islam four years ago, gradually becoming more and more devout.

Bons, who is a former French soldier, says Nicolas had never spoken to her about wanting to join a religious war, but last year the 30-year-old announced he and his half-brother were going on vacation together.

Three weeks later he called to say they were in Syria -- two of the more than 900 French citizens the government believes are involved in the jihad there and in Iraq.

Within days, his half-brother was killed, and shortly afterward he spoke to his mother for the last time, telling her she would be notified if anything happened to him.

In late December, Bons received a text message explaining that Nicolas has been killed in "an explosives operation" -- that's all she knows.

"The body? There is no body... I don't have a body," she says. "If he was killed in a truck filled with explosives, the body... boom!"

Because no body has been recovered, there is also no death certificate, meaning that --officially at least, in France -- Nicolas is still alive.

For his mother, he always will be. In her grief, she has written a poem -- added to the treasured scrapbook -- telling her son: "You will exist in my heart eternally. I love you."

Unlike Bons, one anonymous French bus driver knows his daughter is still alive in Syria -- but he is desperately worried that may not be the case for much longer.

The man -- who asked not to be identified out of concern for his daughter's safety -- says the 23-year-old converted to Islam and married a Tunisian man before moving to Syria with the couple's two children.

The couple said they were going there to do humanitarian work; they are now believed to be in Raqqa, and safe -- for the moment at least -- but the city, an ISIS stronghold, is a target of coalition forces.

And both father and daughter fear she could be arrested if she comes back to France.

He has a warning for other parents: "Pay attention... it could happen to you before you even know it."

David Thomson, author of "The French Jihadists," believes there are many reasons why so many French Muslims are becoming radicalized and heading to Iraq and Syria to join militant groups.

"Religious frustrations, material frustrations, perhaps a feeling that it would be a sin to stay back in France, a desire to experience this historic moment and die fighting the coalition," he explains.

Concerned at the growing threat of radicalization, French authorities have introduced new regulations in an effort to stem the tide of citizens traveling to the Middle East to join the fight.

"We had to change our rules in different ways," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius explained to CNN's Christiane Amanpour recently.

"First we decided that the government, the administration, would be able to suspend not only passports but also ID for people whose intention is to go to Syria."

The second step is to encourage families concerned at the path their children appear to be taking to contact the authorities and report their fears.

"Because we have many cases where families do not agree with the youngster and at the moment they are aware that the young people want to leave and therefore they have to get in touch with us in order to have a reaction," he said.

"We have to be very, very strict and to explain to these young people, especially the young girls -- 13, 14 years old -- that if they are going there, some of them think that it will be a new life, [but] in fact they are prostitutes, they are sexual slaves.

"The young people are utilized and many of them are killed."

Fouad El Bathy has spent the past nine months trying to bring his teenage sister safely home from Syria before it is too late.

Nora, 16, was recruited and given a plane ticket to join the fight in Syria, according to French intelligence.

Fouad is convinced she is being held against her will, and took the risky step of trying to find her and get her back -- he was even taken captive at one point.

But when he finally tracked her down, he couldn't convince her to leave.

"I told her to come back with me but she cried and beat her head against the wall and she said I can't I can't."

Later he was told the leader of the group wanted to marry her.

Since Nora is a minor, El Bathy's lawyer hopes that if she does make it back he can persuade French officials to treat her as a victim not a combatant.

Like El Bathy and Bons, the relatives of many of those caught up in the jihadists' web say they feel powerless to protect their children and siblings.

Bons has set up an organization aimed at publicizing what has happened to some of those who have made the trip to Iraq and Syria.

She hopes that by spreading the news through schools and social media, she can convince others of the dangers posed by Islamist extremists -- though for her son, it is too late.

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10 Myths About Atheists

1) Atheists Believe Everything Came From Nothing

Many theists believe there was once nothing, and then there was something—the universe—created by their god. And so they ask, “But if there is no god then how can something come from nothing?”
This question has been asked for thousands of years, but now Quantum physics has provided a basis for some atheists, such as Lawrence Krauss, to indeed believe the universe comes from “nothing.” But Krauss doesn’t speak for all atheists and he speaks of a very different kind of “nothing,” the kind where virtual particles are created from borrowed energy inside a vacuum. This is not even remotely close to what theists mean by the term “nothing.”
When asked about the universe, most atheists simply stop somewhere along the lines of “the evidence suggests the universe began expanding approximately 13.77 billion years ago.” Beyond that I’m fine with “I don’t know.” I don’t need to know. I do not believe the universe came from “nothing” in the way theists use the word or in the way Krauss uses the word. I don‘t think there’s enough evidence to reach a conclusion yet and I‘m fine with that. I’ve never met an atheist who believed everything comes from “nothing“ in the way theists use the word and in my experience, only a minority subscribe to the theory Krauss puts forward. Theists may believe the universe sprang from nothing, but they then have the burden of proving there was ever “nothing” and that “something” requires any gods at all.

2) Atheists Have No Morals

Humans are social beings, and as such we have morals. Some theists say atheists have no reason to be moral since we don’t believe in a god to instruct or punish us. This claim seems rather disingenuous when one considers that most theists who say this wouldn’t become immoral deviants overnight if they suddenly stopped believing in a god.
Studies have shown our morals are a product of multiple factors. The Milgram experiment shows authority plays a major role. The Stanford prison experiment showed the same, but also displayed the role of social hierarchy. The “good or evil” puppet test for babies suggests we are all born with a basic sense of fairness, justice, and unfortunately, bigotry. Human morality is too complex to be explained by religion or lack of it.
Millions of atheists across the globe live moral lives every day. Some don’t. Neither do some believers. There are atheist charities and atheist criminals. There are religious charities and religious hate groups. Religious people and atheists can both behave morally or immorally because of—or wholly independent of—their religious beliefs. One doesn’t necessarily lead to the other. Studies have shown the basis of human morality is present even before we’re exposed to religion.

3) Atheists Have No Meaning of Life

Even if humanity survives the next 5 billion years on this planet, the sun will balloon into a red giant, boil and possibly devour the earth before exploding and blasting out through the cosmos. The universe will continue to expand at an increasing rate, and eventually the force of gravity will be too weak for any new stars or planets to form. The universe will whither and die.
Some theists consider this and think without belief in an afterlife, nothing really matters in this life. Believing in an afterlife can influence one’s meaning of life, but a meaning of life doesn’t require belief in an afterlife. Some theists refer to Nietzsche’s nihilism as if Nietzsche were the be-all and end-all of existentialist philosophy. But humans generally define our meaning in the moments we enjoy and the goals we set. This was probably best articulated by Albert Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus.
I enjoy every moment I spend with my daughter, and one of my goals is to be a good father. I enjoy art, and one of my goals is to read, hear and see more of it. I like a large, hot cup of coffee while watching the dim glow of morning just before dawn. I love the serenity of canoeing on a sunny day and the soft crunch of fresh snow beneath my feet. I enjoy my friends and my family. Atheism does give life meaning because as an atheist, I understand this is the only life I’ve got.

4) There Are No Atheists in Foxholes

Yes there are. They even have a website. Nonetheless there persists among some this belief that atheism is generally disingenuous and that everyone cries out to “God” in times of need. This claim highlights a conflicting epistemology between the theist who is basing beliefs in part on fear and need, and the those of us who determine beliefs based on facts and evidence.
Their assumption also implies that when a theist cries out “Oh God,” they are literally trying to talk to “God.” I have several religious family and friends who say “Oh God” in all sorts of scenarios but are rarely actually trying to carry on a conversation with The Almighty. Even a theist saying “Oh God” in a foxhole is most likely not actually expecting divine intervention. The phrase is generally used in the same way as “Oh Shit,” which generally doesn’t involve any reference to actual shit. Even so, there are millions of people who’ve encountered life threatening situations and didn’t cry out about god, shit or anything else.

5) Atheists Just Hate God

About as much as we hate unicorns. Theists tend to make this claim when atheists assert moral opinions about supposed deeds of their deity. “How can you have opinions about something you don’t believe in?” The same way we form opinions about Darth Vader, Willy Wonka or the Wicked Witch of the West—according to their role within the story. It doesn’t matter if the story involves a Sith killing all the Jedi kids or a god killing a nation’s first born.
Just repeating the claim back usually gets the point across. Do Christians “hate” Allah? Do Muslims “hate” Jesus? Do Jews “hate” the FSM? Not believing in a particular religion is not dependent on a negative opinion of that religion’s deity or messiah figure. It’s simply the result of not being convinced because the burden of proof has not been met. I personally think Buddha and Lao Tzu both had great things to say, but I’m not a Buddhist or a Taoist.

6) Atheists Just Don’t Want to Submit to God

Well, one would first need to provide reason for believing there is anything to submit to. Lacking belief in deities doesn’t mean one doesn’t want to submit to what they don’t believe in. Like number 5, the point can be made rather easily by simply repeating this back to the theist. Does the Christian lack belief in Allah just because she doesn’t want to wear a hijab? Do non Catholics lack belief in Catholicism simply because they don’t want to submit to the Pope? Do Muslims lack belief Jesus was the embodiment of “God” simply because they want to continue justifying child marriages with the actions of their so-called prophet?

7) Atheists Are Angry

There once was a time when challenging religion was considered taboo. Some would like to hold on to that standard to save their religion from scrutiny. Those days are over, but that doesn‘t mean being skeptical of religion means skeptics are angry.
Being confrontational does not equate to anger. If someone told you Elvis was spotted buying T-shirts at K-Mart, their claims would be analyzed, scrutinized, debunked and in most cases, outright laughed at. I see no reason why it should be any different for religious claims.

8) Atheists Are Responsible for the Worst Atrocities in History

Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao were all atheists, so atheism must be responsible for the mass executions during said reigns—or so the accusation goes. This statement is usually a retort to blaming Christianity for the Crusades or Islam for terrorism. The fact of the matter is there have been Christians, atheists, Muslims and many others of different beliefs and non beliefs who have committed multiple atrocities throughout history. But there have also been some of the kindest deeds in history performed by people of all kinds of belief and non belief.
Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao did not execute people in the name of atheism, but rather for simply not submitting to them as if they were gods themselves. There is a long list of atheist politicians who never committed atrocities. Claiming atheism would lead to disastrous atrocities like those witnessed in the early Soviet Union is a hasty generalization fallacy which ignores all the good deeds of decent atheist politicians throughout time.

9) Atheists Are Guilty of “Scientism”

It must be difficult holding beliefs which cannot be justified with evidence. This leads some theists to conclude atheists all subscribe to “scientism.” This term is meant as an insult against skeptics for daring to ask for evidence when confronted with extraordinary claims.
Scientism is a philosophy which holds that science is the ultimate truth, and that science is the only way to truth. But preferring science to superstition doesn’t mean science is always correct. Scientists are humans and can make mistakes like anyone else. However, the methodology of science does work. That doesn’t mean science is the only way to truth. It just means it’s an effective method of attaining natural truths.
Many atheists are equally skeptical of science and religion. My first assignment in my college statistics class was to find three examples of misused data in the media. This same task had been given to each class for over a decade and no two people ever turned in the same three examples. I have also studied philosophy, including philosophy of science, and so I understand science can be wrong. I have yet to meet an atheist who believes scientists are infallible.

10) Atheists Are All Rational and Logical

This is one I hear mostly from other atheists. Some atheists like to consider themselves more rational than theists and ask why we should call ourselves atheists at all, as opposed to calling ourselves rationalists or some other such term.
But all atheists are not rational. Atheism is simply the lack of belief in deities. There are atheists who believe in homeopathy, ancient aliens, 911 conspiracy theories and a host of other completely irrational ideas unsupported by any stretch of logic. Just because someone arrived at the rational non belief in deities does not mean they are rational about everything else.

By : Lee Myers
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