15 June 2008

The Problem with Atheism

Regardless of what some supernaturalists say atheism is not a religion. Some equate a non-belief in something as being equal to or the same as a belief in something. That isn't correct.

The problem with atheism is it does not fit neatly into a box, nor is there an organic group to which all atheists belong.

In my experience there is an incredible amount of fear within the black community, especially in the USA. The reality is if you are black and mention your non-belief you risk losing your job, being ostracised by your family, losing any support from the community, etc. People are fearful that theists will cut them off from their own community.

I have received comments from people who are 'closet atheists' and they are unable to discuss their true feelings and views with their loved ones. The church has such a strangle-hold on the community that is impossible to function well without their approval.

I'm beginning to understand that atheism equates to communism - such nasty, horrible things happened to people in the USA who were outed, some erroneously, as communists. 'Hitler was an atheist', is just one pathetic refrain spouted by those drowning in complete ignorance. Generations of American citizens were raised in an environment of fear. The downsides of not conforming to the will and wishes of the powers that be were evident for all to see.

The conditions which existed for white Americans added and compounded the problems within the black community. The black churches preached conformity to the rule of god. Black people were clearly less empowered than they are now. But we are at a point where a backward country, with backward leadership, a largely ignorant populace and with well-thumbed bibles are leading the charge further down the road of regression.
Black people are frightened, petrified that their lives will change for the worse if they 'admit' to being non-believers. Black people who are disaffected with one black church will take a bit of time out and find another one - Barack Obama, as an example. Some people in churches don't actually believe and see through the charade, the pointless rituals and symbols that is the 'church' and yet still go through the motions because the alternatives would be too much for them to bear.
It takes enormous guts and self-will to place yourself in a position where the whole community will treat you as a pariah and still stand strong and firm in your decision.

But the greatest loss is for America herself. The numbers of black people who believe in the unbelievable stories such as creationism, Noah's ark and the like and totally reject anything scientific is disheartening. How many people attend theology colleges currently? Imagine how much more advanced the USA would be if half of those attending theology colleges and seminaries worked and studied within the scientific fields. What kind of a different USA would there be? What kind of a different world would there be? To spend all that money, all those hours, all that energy promoting fictitious characters is appalling.
My focus on the USA is mainly due to my residency in the region for a short while. The USA is a huge country and her policies have immense impact on large areas of the world. As a world leader, it is my view that the USA should move towards progress.
The UK can't do it - a poxy little country, chomping at the bit, wailing about its lost empire. A confused people who claim to be secular yet bow and scrape to an outdated, gluttonous, monarchy - a truly democratic system! Sometimes you have to step away from your circumstance to really see the whole picture.

So, if the next black person wants to discuss religion and spout about how good god is and all the rest of it then I am going to be so completely frank. I will not be kind and bite my lip - I refuse to respect a system, a regime, a poisonous system that has not advanced humans one little bit. The time for the kid-gloves has passed - eons ago. There is no problem with atheism. None at all.


Ralph Dumain said...

The anti-Communist crusade of the '50s tarnished and permanently affected the course of American atheism and humanism. I don't know what it especially affected the black community as far as atheism is concerned. I remember one fellow I knew, a Bohemian son of a black preacher, whose dad's Bible had some anti-communist propaganda in it, but I don't recall a specific connection with godlessness.

It seems that being an atheist in redneck country is particularly difficult, but it's also tough being a Catholic, Jew, Hindu or Buddhist as well. But yeah, with the possible exception of crackerdom, it seems that blacks are the most religious people in the USA.

But what's worse than religiosity and superstition among the uneducated and illierate poor is the prevalence not just of religious respectability but superstitious thinking among educated blacks--astrology, occult beliefs, Afrocentric drivel about the superior qualities of melanin, even a conflation of race and culture discredited by anthropology in the early 20th century. Black intellectuals, who theoretically should have some immunity from community pressures, have mostly refrained (at best)from challenging theism and religion, or have themselves advocated it.

All in all, Americans are a disgrace, and while a few try to pass themselves off as Africans, black Americans are, alas, American to the bone.

Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
Wasn't the communist party an extremely strong supporter of civil rights in this country? You'd think blacks would consider communists a GOOD thing- I mean Martin Luther King was a socialist, one of the groups defending the Scottsbourgh boys was the party...

Can you explain this to me?

Zee Harrison said...

As always you hit the nail squarely on the head with a mighty thwack!
I totally agree that a major issue within the black communities is the superstitious element which runs deep.
A few of my friends now don't discuss with me that they are addicted to reading their horoscopes every day! No amount of reasoned discussions will stop them living their lives by these fabricated 'predictions'. As one example.

The more I spend time over this side of the pond the more I realise what big problems, particularly the USA black citizens are in - they are in this situation and are believers in superstitious ideas. A double whammy. Incredible.

I must admit that as a 'foreigner' my history of America is not as up to speed as it should be.
My understanding of the 'Scottsboro Boys' case is that the lawyer was viewed as a communist and a foreigner, even though he was a naturalised American citizen and was not a communist. I think they feared his reputation as he was renowned for never losing a case and being fair.
His dogged determination to get at the truth created a fear amongst some white people that the Scottsboro Boys would 'get away' with allegedly raping 2 white women. What a horrible, tragic episode in American history but sadly, not unusual.
We musn't forget that being a communist meant not believing in a 'higher power' and this, no doubt, represented a threat to the status quo. Most communists, not all, are atheists and right there is the problem!

(I would be interested in your views on this case, Ralph!)

Thank you Samuel and Ralph,
I enjoy your comments and input.

Ralph Dumain said...

I have much historical information on this topic, but can I realistically fill in several decades of history in this little comment box?

But speaking of history, one first has to know some historical facts in order to have an attitude toward them. People reacting to a contemporary situation will do so in accord with what the options are at that moment. There is nothing going on now, so little perspective. The destruction of the basis of the labor movement and of its political influence has irreparably damaged the Democratic Party (let alone anything to the left of it), and Obama cannot set things right even if he intended to do so.

Few Americans of any color have any appreciable knowledge of American history; fewer still have even heard of the Scottsboro Boys. McCarthyism affected black Americans' historical memory as much as anyone else's. Certain figures have been rehabilitated for those who pay attention--Paul Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois. But for practicaly purposes it's all ancient history.

I don't have the space here to tell the history of black participation in and attitude toward socialist movements. In any case, it all belongs to long ago, and few people even know the full story of the '60s, including the politics of their icons.

One thing that does bear emphasizing, since so few people know this: a good percentage of the history of black atheism, nonbelief, and skepticism is buried with the history of black participation in anarchist, socialist, Communist, Trotskyist, and other radical movements.

Miss Vicki said...

I suspect if you do the latter...

"I will not be kind and bite my lip - I refuse to respect a system, a regime, a poisonous system that has not advanced humans one little bit. The time for the kid-gloves has passed - eons ago. There is no problem with atheism. None at all."

Then you will begin to attract and meet black folks who are atheists and nonbelievers.

I know more black people who are atheists and/or nonbelievers than I know Christians. And, I knew a lot of black christians when I followed organized religion.

More African Americans I meet are like minded as I when it comes to this white christianity but the black folks I meet who will die on the cross for and with Jesus treat me like I have a plague and I feel truly sorry for them.

I feel sorry for anyone caught up in lying organized religion.

Zee Harrison said...

Miss Vicki,
Thank you so much for your comment.

I think you are right. I do seem to have more non-believers in my life now but the bulk of my friends are theists and hardcore ones to boot!

I seem to get less tolerant as I age and I'm not sure if that's a positive or negative thing!! I know dialogue is important but I;m getting truly tired of hearing the same circular arguments about god's existence, etc.

You have a great blog and you write everyday - not sure how you find the time!
Regards, Zee