Sunday, July 4, 2010
A "friendlier" God?
By far, one of my favorite people living today is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She is an amazing woman who actually lived through all of the worst third-world fascist theocracy we hear about only through the news, and she came out of it a champion of freedom and human rights. She literally has a fatwa on her head across the Muslim world for saying things like.............well...........like what she says in the video above.
She is now an atheist who has officially denounced her former religion of Islam. But even among atheists she is controversial in some ways. Especially in America and Britain where we are not at daily risk of being murdered for our beliefs, or lack thereof, and so we have the luxury of over-exaggeration. We atheists in the west really only have one outlet of flexing our mind grapes [(c) Tracy Jordan].............which of course is fuckin' with our moderate Christian friends. We push their buttons. We get in over-the-top arguments in highly inappropriate places, like work or baby shower parties, where we accuse American christian fundamentalists of being "just as bad" as muslim terrorists. We point to the shooting of abortion doctors, mothers drowning their children, half-retarded presidents who think stem-cells are the devil's Lego blocks. And all that IS obviously out there and worth criticizing.................but isn't it a little offensive to people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and those who have actually suffered through religious oppression when we equate those fringe aspects of American life that, at the end of the day, are pretty few and far between, to entire regions of the world where beheading, slavery, honor killings, amputation, genetic mutilation, public stoning, martyrdom, rape, domestic violence, and suicide bombings are literally EVERYDAY occurrences and completely sanctioned by whole governments?
Just a little offensive, maybe?
And this is why many atheists in this country have a problem with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, because they don't want to give up that intellectual argument. In her new book Nomad, Ali suggests that not only is Christianity BETTER than Islam in it's practice and it's practitioners, but she goes so far as to say that "enlightened moderate Christians" should be more active in the Muslim regions, spreading their good word and trying to convert people. Why? Because she believes (and I would say rightly so) that while some of us can clearly do without God or religious belief.......................most people in the world cannot. And so her proposition is that for the time being, while we are forced to live with the religious, we might as well promote the "friendlier" religions over the less friendly ones. At one point in the interview I posted above, she makes the point that in a whole region of the world, Islamic fundamentalists have a monopoly on the marketplace of ideas.
On face value, I am one of those atheists who basically disagrees with her. I believe that as time goes on, the world will only continue to become more and more secular. Development and wealth are the solutions. Technology, access to information, comfortable living conditions.............these are what drive young men away from strapping bombs to their chest or killing their sisters to protect family honor, not introducing new gods. Christians aren't better people than Muslims at heart, and god knows (pun intended) that their holy book isn't any less violent or oppressive. If American Christians really believed in a literal translation of their book and truly lived by its word..........I don't think anyone could disagree that we would also have beheadings, slavery, subjugation of women, etc, because all of these things overlap both the Bible and the Quran. In my opinion, Ali's solution is very much like the one we hear every 4 years in political elections when folks try to rationalize their reasoning for not voting for third party candidates who are clearly better.
It's the "lesser evil" argument. And personally, I don't see why we need to settle for any lesser evil. Evolutionary theory is less than 2 centuries old......................of COURSE it's gonna take a while to embed itself and compete with religious superstitions that possibly go back as far as a THOUSANDS of centuries (which if you are decent at math, is a few more than 2). What I'm sayin' is.....................so what, we're in a rough patch? Atheism is not some flash-in-the-pan trend that needs to be coddled, like Scientology or MGMT's career. It's basic logic. And besides, Islamic fundamentalists can be physically fought. I have a couple ribbons on my military uniform that say I'm supposedly fighting them right now, although that's up for debate. My point is that you can't fight fire with fire, unless you're that little bald kid from Avatar, in which case you'd have bigger things to worry about than Islamic terrorism. Like for instance, firing your agent and picking better scripts.
Anyway, what are your thoughts on all this?