Saturday, November 24, 2012

Atheists on the March

Monkey people. Have you evolved yet?
In a country which is saturated by Catholic symbols and traditions, if not always practices, I was surprised this afternoon to encounter a protest march by atheists. (They were celebrating the anniversary of Darwin's Origin of the Species.)

I encountered them, ironically, in the Plaza las Nieves, which is named for the Church of Our Lady of the Snows, which stands across the street. A wise person once said that promoting atheism could help nobody, since, if the atheists are wrong, you're going to Hell, and even if they're right, there's no reward besides satisfaction.

'Proudly evolutionist.'
But promoting atheism can do society a favor if it supports evidence- and science-based policies, such as ones recognizing the reality of global warming, the value of research such as stem cell treatments and equal civil rights. Sure, evolution is a fact. But if someone wants to believe that we were all created by a giant frog and live on the back of a turtle, it's all the same to me - as long as it doesn't affect public policy or get taught in the schools.

'We're just one more species and must protect the planet.
Thanks Darwin!'
Reflecting on the atheists' march, I was struck by the pradox that the United States - the source of so much science and technology - is also probably the developed nation where the influence of religion is the strongest, in areas like education, gay rights and abortion policy.

Colombia has been an officially secular nation since its 1991 Constitution. But Catholic culture is everywhere.

Sometimes, perhaps, secularism gets taken too far, such as when a court recently banned the quoting of The Bible in court decisions. The Christian Bible, like pretty much all religious books, contains lots of good advice - as well as lots of ugly stuff. Even so, the Bible quotes do reveal a kind of bias. After all, Colombian courts are much less likely to quote the Koran or the Book of Mormon.
Definition of a primate.

More science, less religion.
But later on I saw these people hanging religious banners on Plaza Bolivar.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Stuart Oswald said...

It's a shame that atheists have to to do this against people of faith all the are doing is imposing their own atheistic beliefs over that of others. If they really had no faith they would class themselves under agnosticism. Atheists have their own bigoted views which you touch upon in these piece. Religion has done a lot more good than bad (that's the whole theme of it) and It's a strong factor as to why Colombia is such a wonderful place with so many good people.

Nate said...


When was the last time you heard of a proclaimed atheist molesting a child? Or a group of atheists killing a group of people for their beliefs? Or an atheist dominated country attacking and killing those of another, different country with beliefs different than theirs? fact is, you have not. But all of the things I mentioned above have happened in the past, are happening now, and will continue to happen in the future if religion continues to poison the feeble minds of the uneducated masses....The whole theme of religion is to destroy other perspectives, beliefs and way's of life/culture and create a homogeneous mentality/society of obedient drones.

Miguel said...

Hi Stuart,

Thanks for your comment. But I don't think that those atheists were imposing their beliefs on anybody, just expressing them. On the other hand, some religious believers do try to impose their beliefs, over the media and by knocking on my door and interrupting my day. But that's their right and I respect their sincerity.

And Nate is right that religious people have molested kids and committed other crimes. But I'm sure that atheists have, too.

The difference is that when priests do it, it makes the news. Of course, you can also argue that imposing unrealistic, unnatural sexual rules produces very sexually frustrated priests.

But, even so, they are violating their religious values, but aren't committing these crimes as an expression of their religion.

Completely independent of the truth or falsity of their stories, religions do teach some great values. And, maybe most important, religions provide comfort to believers, which is something I sometimes wish that I had. Mike

Stuart Oswald said...

Thank you Miguel for your fairly balanced reply. However, of course Atheists were trying to affect the lives of others, why else would they have been protesting!?

Nate, it is very disappointing to read your reply. Believing that an Atheist is not capable of molestation of a child, whereas a person of another belief is not, is really not an educated view in itself. Your next point of an Atheist "dominated" country really is a point to take note, as it shows you up somewhat. I only need to mention China and the cultural revolution, soviet union and everything it commited, third reich, North Korea and even still present day China plus many more other self proclaimed atheistic governed organizations. All of these Atheistic countries have (and are still) murdered and suppressing free minds that any other (combined) (and yes including religious majority countries) in human history. "Poisoned minds" is another bigoted point. In fact I would claimed that people of faith are far more enlightened, faith does not exclude science where science cannot even disprove God. "Feeble minds" and "uneducated" shows your content of people of faith and shows a lake of human values yourself where it can be so offensive to other humans.

Otherwise, I really do enjoy your blog.

mauricio forero l said...

The fact remain that most conflict in this world, war, violence, hate, and zero tolerance always comes from religion or at least 90% of the time. Muslims hating Jewish, Christians hating Muslims and Jewish, Jewish hating Muslims and so on and on and on...Religion is the source of ignorance and stupidity, here in USA you can find people still believing in Adam and Eva, and that this world is just 5000 years old, the same people that dislike science and progress, hate homosexuals and people of other faiths. Religion preys on the ignorant and the poor and, by doing this is a mayor factor or obstacle for social progress.

mauricio forero l said...

The fact remain that most conflict in this world, war, violence, hate, and zero tolerance always comes from religion or at least 90% of the time. Muslims hating Jewish, Christians hating Muslims and Jewish, Jewish hating Muslims and so on and on and on...Religion is the source of ignorance and stupidity, here in USA you can find people still believing in Adam and Eva, and that this world is just 5000 years old, the same people that dislike science and progress, hate homosexuals and people of other faiths. Religion preys on the ignorant and the poor and, by doing this is a mayor factor or obstacle for social progress.

Miley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stuart Oswald said...

Mauricio, that is a very bigoted view point you have and you've ignored my points about atheists having actually murdered more innocent people. It is more over that people are the ones committing these acts and less so religion. People use whatever it is to justify their acts. I can say by educating myself that atheism has directly enabled people to murder others in simply showing atheistic lines of thought (communism, fascism, socialism..). Plus it is religion that has granted mankind to flourish and believe in more.. Don't think you are somehow superior in your mind over people of faith, because it shows your own bigoted ignorance. The world will never agree in one order and that applies to atheists too. Atheism is in itself a religion and a very aggressive, bigoted and rude one at that too.

I'd be interested in what Miley and William had to say?

Miguel said...

It's certainly true that officially atheist nations such as the Soviet Union and North Korea have committed horrific crimes and murdered many millions.

On the other hand, I wonder whether the wars and hatreds in places like Ireland, the Middle East and South Asia would have happened anyway without the religious differences. But perhaps the religious differences deepen and prolong the hatreds.

In any case, noone should lose sight of the fact that most nations in the world have a predominant relgion, yet most nations are at peace. At the same time, the world's most agnostic nations - in Scandanavia - do seem particularly peaceful. Mike

Carlito said...

I don't consider myself a religious person but religion has two very important points:

1. Any psychiatrist would tell you that you have the need to believe in something big... if not religion it will outlet by other means, that's why current ideological wars (like capitalism vs communism) or more recent conflicts (vegans vs meat eaters, global warming vs non believers) all have in common some kind of faith in their world view and also some sense of righteousness. There, where you find you're defending a point of view because you think you're absolutely right is where your religious sense has migrated.

2. Catholic religion and those similar to it is one of the pillars of western civilization because one fundamental: It intervened in our sexual lives in such a way that we're less endogamic now than 50 generations before, hence we're dependent more on institutions than on our family to progress and that behavior allows democracy to flourish; that's the same explanation why in arab countries, where endogamy is the norm (to marry cousins) democracy is seen suspicious, they rather rely on their big families than on institutions and that's why they are more prone to violence because of religion than us.

mauricio forero l said...

Hey Stuart, sorry if I offended you, to be honest, my wife is very religious, and one of the kindness people that you can meet, so my points of view some times put me in troubles, not just with her but, with so many people, by the way Stuart, I'm not an atheist.


Ally Brown said...

Stuart, you refer to atheism as "rude", yet you've called atheists "bigoted" several times, for having the temerity to offer their different points of view. That's not bigotry. If you want to understand bigotry, go to Northern Ireland, go to Syria, go to Israel - go anywhere where two groups of people are devoutly religious in different faiths. Atheists have the right to hold placards showing their perspectives. Atheists do not fly planes into skyscrapers over disagreements about the wishes of a deity.

It's very ignorant for you to suggest that communism, fascism and socialism are linked to atheism. Look at the word itself - a + theism = without religion. It has nothing to do with economics or politics (why you would associate socialism with the other two is beyond me anyway, most of Europe is socialist and enjoys high living standards and low crime rates.) Similarly, it's just not true to suggest that atheistic regimes are responsible for more deaths than religious ones. Atheists must represent less than 1% of all people since the dawn of time. Only science, education and the globalising effect of the internet have propagated atheism, whereas the previous default was religion, for all time. If China is atheistic, you need to read about Buddhism and Daoism. If you think the third reich was atheistic, you need to look at Hitler's religion (hint: he was the same religion as most of South America), and the Vatican's complicity with his regime. If you want to talk about atheistic regimes (again, it's not a political term, so this is a confused point anyway), why don't you look at the largely secular countries of northern Europe and east Asia, where there is the most separation of church and state, and tell me how Hong Kong, Japan, the UK, Germany, Holland, Belgium and the Scandinavian nations are doing. These countries have the highest standards of living, the most effective public services, the least inequality, and the lowest crime rates, in the world. Compare to the most religious countries in the world - the Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, all of Africa - and observe how much their gods are helping them.

The very fact you are able to read and comment on this blog, using an electronic box of plastic connected to the world via invisible flying waves of information, is down to science, whose principles contradict all those of religion. Jesus - or Mohammad or Zeus or whatever prophet or God you worship - did not know what plastic or electricity or radio waves were, and did not even know that South America existed. Not very omniscient, is it?

Ally Brown said...

PS - of course most religious people are lovely and kind and normal people. That's fine. Good people are good people, whatever their beliefs. I am also a good person. It has nothing to do with my beliefs in the origin of humanity or the meaning of life. Atheists protest against the influence of religion on public policy, not against religious people themselves.

Miguel said...

Someone wise once observed that every religious person is an atheist about every religion but one of them.