When a religious person feels a calling, feels passionate and incensed by what he or she sees as fundamental wrongs in the world, and wants to make of themselves an adversary against that wrong, they become a church leader, or a pastor or a priest, or a reverend, and evangelist or missionary. Do these people sit idly by and tolerate their views challenged, or maligned, or misrepresented, or contradicted, or blasphemed? Or do they speak out loudly in defense of their truth and what they think of as morally right, sometimes with anger, sometimes calling themselves one with god’s army like they are at war?
What about when an atheist feels passionate and incensed by what he or she sees as a fundamental wrong in the world? What about when an atheist has to hear his views on what is good and right in the world dragged through the mud and compared with Hitler or Stalin or called Satanism or worse? Should the atheist sit idly by? Or should the atheist likewise take up arms (verbally) and fight, even risking personal loss of family, friends and reputation (does the religious person risk losing these things?), for what he or she believes is reason, truth, liberating, and morally right?
A little while ago someone read the Richard Dawkins transcripts I posted on my blog from the 2012 Reason Rally. This person criticizes Dawkins for his declaring proudly:
“Mock them! Ridicule them! In public! Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off-limits. Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”
Why is it wrong for Dawkins to encourage this? If a person truly believes that his friends or family or society is being misled by a lie, a fraud, a scam, and not just a lie but what they see as an immoral and harmful one, shouldn’t he or she speak out? Aren’t they in all good conscience obligated to speak out because to not would be tantamount to agreeing with or approving of that which they do not?
If the atheist is wrong and the theist is right, surely what is true should have the stuff to stand all on its own! Why would it require its challengers to be silent, or apologists defending or clarifying or explaining what it should have already made clear? Truth is truth. No amount of atheist arguments should be any threat; no amount of science, exploration or discovery should be a threat either–if in fact it is truth.
Should atheists be cowards before the religious who have no problem expressing themselves and speaking out? Should we be silent and let what we see as a delusion continue unchallenged? Or should we speak of what we know or think, add to the discussion what we have read, facts or questions that so often have been ignored or drowned out or swept under rugs, or worse, twisted to further some very human agendas?
Do atheists have an agenda? Do we ask for money or seek to build mansions in the sky by pounding our beliefs into other people, finding fault in other people for not thinking the way we do?
I don’t particularly care, and I don’t think atheists do, if there are more atheists in the world or less theists. I try to be live and let live. But at the same time I am not going to be silent just because what I see as the truth is not what the majority in my society wants to see. The truth is the truth, be it popular with the masses or not. No amount of denial can blot it out. No amount of speaking in the contrary can change it.
As for lies, they eventually fall to pieces under close scrutiny. Don’t they?