When I heard that someone had hacked a local construction sign to read "It's official- God does not exist," I got a nice little giggle out of it. It's the kind of harmless prank that I always kind of wish I had done myself. And it happened right here in Salt Lake City, which means it pissed off all the right people to make me happy.
Now I'm pissed off.
I wanted to see an image of the sign for myself, so I Googled it, and found this story from a local TV news station:
Who can tell me why this angered me so? Anyone? Anyone? That's right, little Jimmy- this pissed me off because they chose to frame the story as an attack on religion. The lead-in called it a "message against religion".
What the huh? Where's the attack? It's a belief statement. Sure, the "It's official" adds a little emphasis for humor, but honestly, I don't see any attack here. I hate to sound like all those whiny atheists out there who piss and moan about how unfairly we're all treated, but would anybody see a sign that reads "It's official, God does exist" as an attack against atheists? If so, then we're under semi-constant assault.
I've heard this crap too many times to just let it go. My mom lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (that's that big land mass North of the U.S. with the scary free medicine). It's one of the cities where some folks bought ad space on buses
and put up a very nice atheist message: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." Nice, right? It seems to me that the only thing this campaign attacks is worry. So I'm talking to mom about this, and she tells me that a friend of hers, a man whom I've met and who I mostly like, has written a letter to the editor of the local paper decrying the ads as anti-Christian.
Anti-religion, anti-Christian… it all sounds so damned angry. But that's the point, isn't it? The believer crowd LOVES to paint atheists as a bunch of hateful, vitriolic assholes. Pastor Rick Warren famously said he'd never met an atheist who wasn't angry. Of course, he's such a douche, I defy any thinking person not to get angry in his presence, but that's not the point. The point is that a lot of believers have this view of atheists.
It makes sense to them. We couldn't have just come to atheism through a simple application of reason and logic, and we certainly couldn't have studied the sacred texts and prayed heartfeltly (not a word, I know) about them, and gotten no response… If a believer thought that, it could open the door to doubt and actual inquiry, and as we all know, inquiry is the first step down the evil path. No, most believers know that what's obviously happened is that someone in whatever church we were attending did something to offend us, and now we reject the whole belief system based solely on that. Oh, and Satan did something to trick us somewhere in the middle there.
It's actually kind of fun, when I think about it. I can make a believer feel attacked simply by stating my own beliefs. I don't have to say anything about them at all, which means I can hurt their feelings without actually doing anything mean (I'm against actually being mean). That's a pretty easy goat to get. It's like picking on the sensitive kid in school- you know you shouldn't, but it's so damned easy and you get such a great response!
Hey believers: There is no god! Take THAT!