So this happened. I’ll summarise what I’m focused on in the blogpost itself if you don’t want to read all of that (oh no, reading! *hiss*!).
Basically, an atheist…
lodged a consumer complaint against a billboard for River’s Church located on its premises in Sandton [which is in South Africa, international readers].
The billboard features an image of a man holding his hands against the temples of his face. The following quote “An atheist is a man who believes himself to be an accident – Francis Thompson” appears underneath.
The complaint then:
In essence, the complainant submitted that the billboard offends him as an atheist as he does not consider his existence to be an accident. Secondly, the depiction of a man with an empty head communicates that atheists are stupid.
The following are my preliminary thoughts when reading about this ruling. (Note: the Christian respondent “smartly” – read idiotically – responded with Bible quotes. Nice move, guy. That’s really going to convince anatheist.)
A recurring rebuttal from some atheist thinkers, to convey ideas about atheism, is to assert “We are all born atheists”. This is used to show believers that we have all been at some point atheists. Perhaps, too, we are almost all of us atheists of most gods that have been proposed – and indeed of those that have not even been considered yet. According to the definition of ‘atheism’ Paul Cliteur finds most important, however, we cannot be atheists of that which we haven’t considered, which means we cannot say we are born atheists.
Image Courtesy of my great friend and creative partner Damien Worm
The year began with a life ending. My grandmother was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer and died quickly – but, thankfully, painlessly – within a few weeks. Her bodily deterioration scraped down the iron exterior of her social self. I had grown up with her presence always filling any room or event that we attended. The gaps of silence between withdrawn family members forced to interact, the awkward distances moulded by time apart between once close siblings and cousins, were filled by her incredibly sharp – usually scathing – wit, creating a bridge on which interaction could take place. She was someone who was lucky enough to have more people love her than she loved; not through malice but through being unaware that so many did.
I recently watched a documentary on Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who kidnapped, drugged, and raped his daughter for 24 years; forcing her to be his sex-slave and mother to incestuous grandchildren. What more evidence is required for us to postulate the non-existence of a loving, caring god? Certainly, the systematic extermination of nearly an entire race of people was not enough; the brutality of the world throwing up destruction – whether through volcanoes or hurricanes – does not dint the happy glaze in the faithful’s eyes; and now, a woman raped by her father and kept in his dungeon for a quarter of a century, does not appear to slow faith, either.
Ideally, I would like to stop there and say: The jig is up. There is no man behind the curtain. Praying is the still-frame of an audience slow-clapping for the arrival of their beloved stage performer. Yet this performance has ended, there is no one watching out for you. We are here to look after ourselves and, by definition, each other. Leaving it up to god to catch your babies, let your favourite football team win, get you that hot date, earn your promotion, get you through this terrible ordeal, cure your son’s incurable disease, stop your wife’s neverending pain as cancer destroys her from the inside, take grandma up into heaven, forgive the wrongs of murderers and pimps and drug-lords, proclaim what’s right or wrong, is not a viable alternative to facing this stupid, bigoted, terrible world we live in. This is not a place of happiness. It is a place filled with suffering, with stupidity, with bigotry, which, after our toil and struggle, ends finally in death. Continue reading →
I was happily informed today that I am an answerer on the wonderful website, AsktheAtheists.com. I have answered two questions so far, but I’m intrigued and rather happy with the format of the whole website. The editor has specifically asked us not be nasty or dismissive of questions; it doesn’t mean we must answer every one of course, but, when we do, to try explain gently since the questioner has bothered to come to the website and deposit a nugget of curiosity.
I’m not sure what the site traffic is like, but frankly that’s not of interest to me. Having recently faced students asking me what to do with some new found doubts in their religious faith, I’ m attempting to learn methods of education that actually are efficient. This doesn’t mean being always gentle or always brutal, but learning to be sensitive to the environment, contender and context to know whether to use stones or feathers to get them to change their position.
Do have a look at the website and please provide feedback on what you think of the site. Now, my next aim is to one day be a panelist on this site.