4 Things Both Atheists and Believers Need to Stop Saying

#2. Devout: God Helps Those Who Help Themselves


Although probably not as immediately infuriating as "God Hates X," I really don't need to hear about who the devout think God helps. While God's existence might be an open question, there is no shortage of people doing every damn thing they can to help themselves and still failing. If there is a God, we don't know who gets helped and why. At the moment, you'd get more traction saying, "God helps those who are repulsive enough to have a reality show."

Kisses, JC!

Indeed, even the omnipresent and useless "God works in mysterious ways" is preferable. Although I'm a firm believer in not spewing religious cliches at those in pain, at least that phrase has a trace of humility. Even if you believe in God, you should be able to admit you don't know what could possibly be the point of AIDS babies or genocide. If the existence of those things don't shake your faith, that's fair enough. That is a wholly different thing, however, than looking at those in pain and believing there is an omnipotent power watching and refusing to help certain people because they haven't jumped hoops sufficiently to win prizes in the form of divine intervention.

#1. Atheist: God Is a Fairy Tale For Morons

There have been atheists of significant intellect: Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, and the aforementioned Christopher Hitchens. But in what may come as a surprise to the Internet, not believing in God will not, in itself, make you smart. Reading the God Delusion is as likely to transform you into a genius as reading the Holy Bible will make you a saint. And by the same token, faith need not be a sign of a feeble mind. But just mention God online and you'll be mocked as a mental deficient awaiting the second coming of the "flying spaghetti monster."

In support of this intellectual elitism, some atheists will say that skepticism is the sign of an active and curious mind -- traits consistent with learning. Fair point. They will point to creationists and stem cell research protestors as people placing obstacles in the path of progress, and I'll agree with that too. But there is a difference between questioning the stupidity of dogmatic, close-minded zealots perpetrating institutional abuses and simply mocking sincerely held religious beliefs by equating faith with stupidity. It's sort of the difference between giving a formal presentation about the inherent flaws of your company's policies and procedures, and just farting in your boss's office.

"Who did this to me?"

The perversion of the Spaghetti Monster meme is a good example of how some, particularly on the Internet, have destroyed the distinction between thoughtful protest and mere mockery. In 2005, in reaction to the decision of the Kansas State Board of Education to permit the teaching of creationism as an alternative to evolution in public schools, Bobby Henderson wrote an open letter espousing his religious belief in a divinity known as the flying spaghetti monster. He demanded belief also be afforded equal time in the school system. The letter went viral and spawned a faux religion called Pastafarianism. An effective protest pointing out the ridiculousness of people's subjective religious beliefs as a basis for scientific education. But now, for many, citing the spaghetti monster means only that religious people who are stupid enough to believe in God may as well believe in spaghetti monsters or leprechauns.

If you want to convince yourself that ignorance loves atheists as much as the devout just spend some time watching the flame wars between these factions online. Usually not a trace of intelligence. Just the worst aspects of blind faith from believers and atheists alike: some with unquestioning beliefs in a God just like the one in that Book, and others holding onto an undying conviction that nothing could be more divine than a mind with the ability to deny the existence of anything more divine.

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For more from Gladstone, check out 3 Things Gay People Are Going to Hate About Gay Marriage and 3 Reasons the Ground Zero Mosque Debate Makes No Sense.

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