A Matter Of Atheist Pride

Unfortunately, the world described by John Lennon’s “Imagine” will remain only in the imagination of freethinkers and moral human beings. The coincidence of birthplace should not be a matter of pride or righteous distinction. You did not choose to be born into an X family. You did not choose to have a more or less or X predisposed country as your birthplace.

However, at some point we’ve got to open our eyes to reality and see the facts as they are.

Throughout the course of humankind, and probably for a very long time after this, the coincidence of birthplace will continue to be a matter of pride, self-righteous distinction and inevitably, bloodshed.

In some cases, however, there are good reasons for one’s pride. The term ‘nigger’ is incredibly derogatory, but it’s used freely by those who are discriminated against with that very term. The irony is astounding and disarmingly effective.

In fact, if you take any group at any time which has been discriminated against or persecuted or ostracised, chances are there will be a common uniting theme of pride.

I disclose I am of Serbian origin. In no effort to seem holier than thou, I take great pride in my origins, not out of nationalism, not out of patriotism, but pride out of hardship. We Serbians are a damnedly hard-headed people. Serbia caused World War I, the Great War, never before seen in history of Man. Yugoslavia later on was the sole nation occupied by the Axis which refused to capitulate, and stayed strong even when being the target of Genocide at the hands of a Croatian fascist regime. When rumours broke that the King was negotiating with the Germans, the people of Belgrade took to the streets to protest and to chant “We’d rather have war than a pact”. Without getting into the intricacies of the savage Yugoslav Civil War, the brutality of it is a morbid testament to the hard-headedness of all involved. And finally, even with the entire Western world crushing Serbia’s chest over Kosovo, that the country will not let go of its heartland even after being ravaged by the world’s first superpower is, again, sheer hard-headedness and a sensation of unity through hardship.

I speak of the Serbians out of personal knowledge, but any group distinguished in any way has a common theme of unity through pride. Blacks, Armenians, Jews, gays, Native Americans, you name it.

I, personally, cannot say I’m proud of being an atheist out of the hardship of being an atheist since I live in Europe. I have personally never had to endure discrimination or persecution for my naturalist world views.

But I sympathise with people who think like me from all over the world. Atheism is unique in that it’s a state of mind, a philosophy, which transcends skin colour or, well, religion.

I take pride at being an atheist every time I read about atheists in the States being hounded or harassed or mobbed. I take pride every time I read or see Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Atheism is the universal punching bag for organised religion. If there is one uniting theme across the three Abrahamic religions, it’s the hatred of Atheism. Which makes the struggle for rationality and reason all the more dangerous and courageous.

Atheism shouldn’t have to be a matter of pride. It’s a logical outcome. It’s science. It’s moral values and beautiful humanism.

But even if every person in the world is really born an Atheist (they are taught their religion), Atheism is a mark of persecution, in some places more than in others. And this is what demands pride of being atheist.

I live happily in secular Europe. I don’t feel the need to ‘convert’ anyone to my lack of religious belief. But seeing the struggle of freethinkers throughout the world only awakens my solidarity which inevitably engages pride.

“Imagine”, by Lennon, is the ultimate beautiful utopia, where pride is completely unnecessary. However, in the harsh reality of persecution of rational freethinkers, being an atheist is all about keeping your world views to yourself. But it’s also, in the interest of solidarity with your fellow atheist, about being damn proud of them.

9 Responses

  1. My husband has been turned on by the thoughs of Dawkins and now readily admits to being an Athiest as well as having pride in it. I think if more Athiest’s stood up and had pride in themselves, there would be more athiests that the religious ever dreamed…and might scare ’em enough to shut the hell up.

  2. It’s true that herding freethinkers is like herding cats, but I agree with you🙂

  3. ‘The only nation occupied by Nazi Germany which refused to capitalute’

    I think that the French resistance, the Dutch resistance, the Soviet partisans, would all beg to differ with you on that one.

    Please be assured that not all religious people are like the right-wing assholes that currently occupy the American government. I’m a Christian (not an evangelical) and I don’t hate other faiths, or atheists, or anyone else. My religion is just that – my religion. Other people believing in other things, or not believing in any religion, does not bother me in the slightest.

    The beauty of freedom of conscience is that everyone is free to believe – or not believe – whatever they want. Those who seek to impose their religious beliefs on others by intimidation are not just violating secular principles of freedom of conscience (et al), but also the ‘love thy neighbour’ principle at the centre of Christanity (most other religions have a similar concept). They are a disgrace both to humanity and to the religion they claim to represent.

  4. This is such great, potent stuff (um … ew) that (boorishly enough, I know) I had to leave a note wondering if you might not like to see something I’ve written (and published on the monster-huge, way-conservative Christian website, Crosswalk.com, for whom I almost daily write), that’s very much about this EXACT topic. If so, perhaps check out:

    http://johnshore.wordpress.com/tag/fun-with-atheists/

    My last book is called “I’m OK–You’re Not: The Message We’re Sending Nonbelievers, and Why We Should Stop,” which is my argument for why Christians need to STOP trying to turn everyone else in the world into Christians. So you can imagine how some Christians see me.

    In that book, I ran 50 direct, anonymous quotes from non-Christians across the country about what they think of being “evangelized” to. Turned out to be some very sobering, very powerful stuff. I’m happy to say those quotes have generated for the book a lot of love from exactly the kind of fundevangelists you’d think would be the first to take offense to it. It’s really been nice.

    Anyway. Thought I’d stop by and say hi.

  5. So you don’t believe there is a God of any kind?
    No doubts?
    No worries?
    I myself am a former agnostic. I could not imagine being absolutely sure there is not a God.
    I always wondered
    I sought
    I found.
    God was there loving me all that time. I doubted His existence he had no doubts about His love for me.

  6. So you don’t believe there is a God of any kind?
    No doubts?
    No worries?
    I myself am a former agnostic. I could not imagine being absolutely sure there is a God.
    I always wondered.
    I sought.
    I found.

    I’m much happier now that I’ve looked at the evidence and determined that the probability of there being a God of any kind is infinitesimal and utterly illogical.

  7. I think that atheism should still be a matter of pride in the same way that wandering through of something like say a proof that pi is transcendental and understanding it should be a matter of pride. It takes some careful thought and one feels pleasure doing that careful thought.

  8. John Shore: Thank you very much! I will be looking out for your books in the future.

    sloggy: I find life far more beautiful and accomplishing without the supernatural explaining things and without having to live in constant fear of the big security camera in the sky. But that’s just me, you are entitled to your own beliefs, of course.

  9. No matter what group or affiliations you hold, during your life, you will be both praised and mocked for them. That’s just the harsh reality of things, as creatures with selfish intentions.

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