A couple of days ago, I tweeted this:
The ‘idiots’ were the people attacking the website of the Global Atheist Convention which is taking place in Melbourne. Let me get your disappointment out of the way early: I’m a Christian. So I’m not here to rail against the Christians who were *obviously* behind this.
What I will say is this. If Christians were doing this, they should be ashamed of themselves. By that I mean proper Christians, not ones who say they are when really they don’t act like one (I’m looking at you, John Howard) or who feel vigilante action is the way to go. It’s not and, as I tweeted, it’s counter-productive. Christians have nothing to hide and if those outside don’t like it, well, at least they’ve heard the message.
I think the Atheist movement, specifically David Nicholls, head of the Atheist Foundation of Australia (AFA), need to harden up. The reality is probably a couple of mischievous geeks who DoSed the site for the lulz. I say a couple, the goose who did it is unlikely to have brilliant social skills, but let’s try and be fair.
Nicholls whined that it was an attack on free speech and yes, it was but so is every other DoS attempt. The problem is, Nicholls runs the line that government and public life should be free of religion. Erm. Okay, so what he is saying is that those who are in government should be secular and aren’t allowed to be influenced by their beliefs. Even though he holds a particular belief (or non-belief) that heavily influences his thinking and actions, yet his thinking is fine because this particular group holds that their thinking is clear and rational. Additionally, World Vision should just get on with saving the world without acknowledging the religious ethos of its very existence. The Red Cross ditched Christianity and look how that’s worked out for them. It’s a bloated bureaucracy beaten only by the UN.
Now, before you get going, I should point out a few things. The vast majority of Christians accept climate change (the prophet Hosea pointed out that the earth was groaning to its creator due to sin…in other words, what we’re doing to the earth and its resources are attributable to greed). The vast majority of Christians accept evolution. The vast majority of Christians accept science and just to remind the crazies, the dude who cracked the human genome is a Christian. His motivation? He loves the fact that there is a creator and doesn’t think it ‘just happened’ but was all part of a plan. And that he was given the power to unpick it all.
So, once more for the ignorant, most of us believe that Genesis is what it is – poetry, a creation myth. The Bible is not a science textbook and science textbooks do not and cannot explain, prove or disprove God. As Dylan Moran pointed out, ‘Bang, (monkey noises), hi honey, I’m home’ does not really explain the universe. He also pointed out it would be far more amusing in reverse order. It’s a simplistic view (he also propounds God is like talking to a sock puppet, so he’s not on ‘my’ side), but bang! is as ‘lame’ as ‘God is behind it’ if you want to split hairs.
What makes me very tired about current discourse between Atheists and Christians is that the Atheist view of Dawkins, Hitchens et al is so ill-informed. Countless people have regurgitated the same three passages from The God Delusion to me. Expecting me to just roll over and say ‘Oh, gosh, you’re right,’ the first thing they do is backpedal when I demand an apology for them calling me, my wife, my parents and her parents child-abusers. What strikes me as deeply amusing is that this sort of turbo-regurgitation, which is mostly bile, is the exact same accusation levelled at ‘religious’ people. The Christian response has been muted and where loud, stupid.
A fellow Twitterer who shall remain nameless because I haven’t asked permission to to use his name, pointed me to his favourite article on Scientology because I had suggested that Nicholls hadn’t said much when Anon were attacking Scientology. I think he was sort of agreeing that you can’t moan about free speech when you don’t condemn religious organisations being attacked. Anyway, this is it:
I understand people think Christianity is a bit whacked but I actually intensely dislike the comparison of doctrine. Whittled back to its core, Scientology is a science fiction story without redemption or freedom. The story (or truth, dependent on your view) of Christ is one of redemption, reconciliation, love and the freedom to choose your path. Scientology fleeces its followers to remove Thetans, a non-existent alien presence that they say they can prove with an e-meter. Christianity promises no such thing. If a Christian does, throw a Bible at him/her.
Christianity preaches that you must turn away from sin and demands no money. The Bible *recommends* tithing but you are not compelled to do so. God wants you to give from your heart and not your wallet.
On the subject of sin, I find it deeply amusing that Atheists reject sin as a concept because they believe that it is invented by man and not God but are rapidly producing their own lists of sins and commandments. I read blog after blog where atheists are telling Christians or religious people that public displays of religion are wrong. Voting for a party or person or policy informed by belief is wrong. Eating organic is an attack on science. I have one word for those who think science is infallible: thalidomide. I have two words for those who think science is the source of goodness: atomic bomb.
In just the same way people have done rotten things in the name of religion, science is guilty of insidious cherry-picking. Remember the scientists who told us smoking was good for us? Yep. I do too. Who was railing against smoking since the 1920s? The church.
When it comes down to it, there’s a huge difference between Atheism and being anti-religious. Many anti-religious hide under the cover of Atheism because that is a more acceptable label (what does this sound like?). The Global Atheist Conference will no doubt support the suppression of religious expression, will be a sort of Hillsong for the unbelievers. And they’re welcome to it and Cath Deveney’s shrill rehash of fellow speaker Dawkins’ propaganda. All power to them and I hope the Christian population ignores them because they are exercising their rights and privileges, not as Australians but as what we believe is an expression of their free will to reject God.
Christianity is not a rejection of reason, science, clear-thinking or rational behaviour. Any Christian who is not intellectually engaged with their faith will obviously find it hollow and not act according to what their faith does demand of them – tolerance, justice and love.