Atheism is Offensive

Last night, my screenwriting instructor, Barak Goldman, shared a note with our class. Said note was slid under his door after class the previous week, but the author didn’t care to sign it. He was exceptionally angered by this note. It was rather clear that the writer was not satisfied with the class, but chose to pin that frustration on Mr. Goldman rather than accepting that school is more about what time you put into it outside of class.

The good news, though, was that Mr. Goldman was not angered by the content of the note, but rather that the author didn’t care to sign it. The way he chose to share the note with our class actually makes me respect him, and his methods, more. I too take issue with people who don’t stand up for their beliefs and choose to, instead, stay anonymous.

Choosing not to believe in god is a very difficult choice that many people have made over the years, often setting that at odds with their families, friends, and so forth. This seemingly simple statement, “I am an atheist,” which only means “I do not believe in god,” is so destructive to a relationship with a believer that some people are unable to function in their presence. Of course, Fox News takes it upon themselves to ruin a great day, suggesting that Obama’s speech about uniting the nation, “… Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers,” is simply being offensive.

Instead of getting into a discussion about how ignorant Fox News is or how much listening to their show makes me nauseous, it is more important to address the issue at hand. Atheism is offensive, to a great many people, and it can make for some very unhappy discussion between family members. Atheism is offensive to a great many people, of most any religious view, because it stands directly opposed to their views of the world, and in many ways causes them to actually have to think…

It is a difficult and respect accumulating process, to be willing to stand up for your beliefs, regardless of the negative impact it may have on those around you. Opinions and Assholes have a lot in common, but no matter, if you have one you shouldn’t allow it to inhibit your ability to stand up for yourself. By definition we follow leaders, and where would we be if our leaders did not stand. I applaud everyone who is able to stand up amidst this bullshit.

Getting through the bullshit is tough. Standing up for one’s self is moderately difficult. Having an opinion is easy. Standing by ones opinion in the face of bullshit is what sets apart those who are respectful and deserving of our attention.

This is a spectrum, though, ranging from not saying anything at all, to thinking something, all the way up to standing by your values. I think Jon Stewart puts it best “If you don’t stick to your values when they’re being tested, they’re not values… they are hobbies!”

  • I disagree with you some. I agree that generally I have more respect for people who do stand up for their values than those who do not. However, there is a point at which doing so is to be stupid, and I do not respect the stupid even if they are brave. If a man standing up is putting his family in danger (which is very possible in southern parts of the U.S.) then he may not be a coward, but he is very stupid. There are places in the United States where being an open atheist will literally get you killed, or at the very least, get you put in a coma.

    I use a psuedonym on the internet so that potential employers won’t see my personal opinions through a quick Google search. I’ve written to local newspapers using my real name explaining my views on faith, my Facebook says I’m an atheist, and my entire family know that as well. I don’t feel that my future job opportunities need to be killed. We all have to live in the world we make.

  • You are correct that there are places in the world that are not willing to support what I prescribe, but that is not entirely what this post is about. Many people have died because of their thoughts and views, and that is a tragedy. MLK, Lincoln, and Kennedy are examples of people who have stood up for things that irritated and hurt many people’s views and paid for it with their lives. Although most of humanity is not gifted with being able to stand up to fight for slavery, or human rights, we do all have opinions and thoughts about the experiences going on around us. Politics, wars, or even the class bully picking on someone down the street are examples of where things could be said, and would surely be agreed with, if only people were more willing to share their thoughts publicly.

    I don’t want to ignore the second part of your comment though. It wouldn’t be nearly as good a process if every person on the planet were to throw their thoughts around needlessly. Youtube is a great example, illustrating Poe’s Law and the irrationality of the people of this world far too frequently. There are and always will be a large number of people that are just never going to shed an ounce of their energy in actual thought about a topic and would rather be angry and beat someone into a pulp. Standing up in this environment is certainly not for everyone, but I applaud those who do and are willing to brave that situation and be counted.

  • It’s so true. In this country, atheism is often associated with hate and evil in many circles, when this is simply not the case. No atheist in his or her right mind would openly run for political office, and this extends to many professional circles.

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