Militant in your Atheism that is...For those of you who consider yourselves "militant Atheists" I want to better understand two things:
1. What is Militant Atheism from your point of view...what really does it mean. Please explain in detail. Define it for us.
2. Why is it necessary. Why not just be an Atheist? Why do you consider it any different than the extreme points of view held by religious fanatics. Why isn't it enough to simply say, "I am an Atheist"
I'm asking this question honestly because I want to learn. I am an Atheist but not for very long. My mind is still poisoned by religion. I want to further my knowledge on the subject and help those others like me who are just starting to see the fog lift. Hope it will be an educational discussion. Thanks.
I'll apologize for any mistakes in my answer, for english is not my native language.
Obviously, all reasons that may be exposed here will have a strong personal scent.
In my case, I don't like the term "militant atheism" very much. Basically, because there's nothing like a atheist party (as far as I know) and because it is often confused/mixed with the the term "antitheism". Nevertheless, I do understand the purpose of the concept and under certain parameters I can consider myself as part of that group. As you can see, I'm not the most suitable person to deliver a precise definition of the term, but assuming the risk, I would say that militant atheism consist on being openly atheist to society, wich implies to stand up against dogmatic practices, such as religious authority on political and moral issues, pseudoscientific activities that may compromise society's mental or physical health, education misconceptions, etc.
Far more from being necessary, I think that under the definition above, militant atheism is essential. Critical thinking should be established in the nucleous of the idiosyncracy of every society, in order to enhance our morality, our education, our politics and by extension, every aspect in society. I'm not proposing with this that lack of critical thinking is the root of all of the problems in our society, we clearly won't reach utopia by acomplishing this goal alone. However, I can consider a far more functional civilization by sweeping away all kinds of dogmatic and antirational principles that govern our everyday life, from religious authority to astrology in our newspapers. In fact, there is a strong correlation between a disfunctional society and a dependence of religion. I can reference the famous work from the evolutionary psychologist Gregory Paul (full article can be seen by searching on Google "The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions" I prefer not to paste the link directly, since I'm not familiar with the rules of this forum regarding that issue.) It's around 44 pages long. If you don't have that time, you can go straight to the graphics and see the correlation I'm talking about. Actually, it's a bit embarrasing to se where is located United States among other countries.
Following your example, if an atheist individual simply says "I am an atheist" and keeps on with his/her life, is being a complicit observer of the consecuences of our gullible society. In other words, antirational thinking must be stopped and every single person that is aware of the danger that the lack of critical thinking does is responsible of doing so.
Hope this helps answering a bit your question. If you're still feeling poisoned by religion, I would suggest a strong dosis of documentaries and books to broaden your knowledge (DOCS: religulous, the root of all evil, the enemies of reason, uff!! all from Carl Sagan.. there's so many! consider also viewing debates about religion, from Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennet, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, etc. Books: I'd propose the same authors, with the addition of steven weinberg, steven pinker, Bertrand Russell, Ludweig Wittgenstein (analytic philosophy, not quite atheism, but a good root of today's rational thinking).. The sky is the limit! These pepople speak far more elocuently that many of us, and will definitely help in your quest.
What is a militant atheist exactly? These words generally are thrown at us like darts from the camps of the people who don't like us, namely theists. Can you be a militant non-believer in leprechauns? A militant non-astrologer?
My response to that echos the response of people like Christopher Hitchens. It's the theists throughout history and in the present who are the militants and fundamentalists, to the point of denying others everything from marriage equality, to an education based on science, to life-saving medical research, to citizenship in an imaginary "one nation under God", to our very lives. I don't want to deny theists anything except the power to force their religious views on those who do not believe in them, which is what the Constitution is intended to do.
Atheists like me and others on TA are expressing our views openly and on equal ground with theists, which is our right. Theists don't like that equal ground; they assume the exclusive and special right to not be offended by people like us, and expect people like us to defer to people like them. So the language they use to describe atheists reflects violence and warfare; their self-imagined status as horribly wronged, offended, oppressed victims, and our imaginary status as the aggressors. So now it's a war on religion. An assault on their faith. An attack on Christianity. And we the perpetrators are militants.
Only none of that is true, is it?
my only knowledge of the term was someone who believe religion of any kind is harmful
If you look at the trends in history and in our modern society, religion is harmful if left to run unchecked. "Militant atheists" (if that is your definition of one, I guess I am one of them) simply look at the grotesque amount of harm religion has done to the human race in times when the religious had the world they wanted, and weigh those events against the lovey dovey religion they preach today.
How quickly do you think that The Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith would revert back to its original Inquisitorial roots if the Catholic church for example returned to its old power.
Religion may be beneficial at times to the individual, but it is extremely harmful to the human race as a whole. Even the benefits of religion are somewhat harmful. Religious beliefs give you false hope; instead of educating you to face reality and improve yourself and the world around you they tell you to kneel, obey and submit.
Even the benefits of religion are somewhat harmful. Religious beliefs give you false hope; instead of educating you to face reality and improve yourself and the world around you they tell you to kneel, obey and submit.
I couldn't agree more with that statement if I tried. Especially the last three words which are in a nutshell why I am an Atheist. I don't know jack from a hole in the wall, but I know that leaving behind my old way of thinking had to take place for me to be free from a miserable life. I am happier now than I think I've ever been in my life, but I'm also really overwhelmed with everything that I don't know. When I was a Christian I had it all figured out. I knew a lot about it, I read and researched. I can still defend it to this day if I wanted to...better than most. I no longer want to though. Now it's like everything I learned I have to unlearn and tweak and change and it's exhausting...but worth it.
@Gallup: my only knowledge of the term was someone who believe religion of any kind is harmful.
A better term for that might be anti-theist.
Anti-theism, as described by people like Hitchens, is an affirmative life stance that theism is harmful in a personal, social, cultural, and political sense. As such, one has an ethical duty to oppose theism and encourage constructive alternatives, just as one has an ethical duty in similar respects toward conditions such as poverty, disease and so on.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but anti-theism involves more than disbelief in God and opposition to religion. By the same principle an anti-theist would tend to oppose dogma and not just religious dogma. Stalinism, for example, was a dogma of state rather than religion.
Militancy requires an ideology and following an extreme version of it. Atheism has no ideology, it's just a disbelief. Therefore there is no such thing as "Militant Atheist".
However what you are talking about is "aggressive Atheists". Atheists can be very aggressive in dealing with theists and that is due to the fact that theists are not generally very tolerant and passive people. Therefore a certain aggressive stance is required to counterattack them. When you counterattack them with logic and reason, it often leads to putting the theists in their place. Something which they do not like at all, so they scream "militancy" and accuse Atheist of being "hostile" towards them or "attacking" their faith
It is necessary to stop the religious encroaching further into society either through the political or educational system.
Recently on Irish TV I had to listen to a debate on a proposed change in the law on gay marriage. It turned into a fiasco with “devout” Catholics saying that it would somehow take away from their marriage. It became self-evident to everyone (who was not “devout”) that these people were mobilized to come unto the show. Anytime an alternative view was offered i.e. when someone pointed out that we were talking about civil marriage rights and not religious marriage they were immediately and aggressively shouted down and words like “immoral” were hurled across at them. They people are extremists. They are fanatical. They are organised and financed from church gate collections. I will do my best to show them up for the pious pricks they are. They are preventing people from having full and equal RIGHTS before the law of the land. So I will continue to be a militant Atheist.
When Islamic theists in Bangladesh today called for Atheists to be hung I turn militant and protest even if I can only sign an online petition. But I will do my best to let others know what these men of god want. They were not happy enough just to stab a “militant Atheist” last January. I open blaspheme my cartoon of their pig god.
When Christians murder people working in abortion clinics I become militant.
When the religious try to force the teaching of Evolution out of schools I am militant because they are poisoning young mind.
When they mutilate new born babies in the name of some barbaric Iron Age tradition and say it is done in their god’s name I become militant and accuse them of grievous bodily harm.
I tend to be militant to when it comes to their treatment of women. Have you got all day?
When theists knock on my door and tell me that I am wrong in my beliefs but cannot give me any reason to support theirs I get a little militant.
When I feel most militant is when I hear some apologist trying to explain that not all theists are like the ones above. Do I ever hear sincere condemnation? No, just some mealy mouthed attempt to justify the reasons they act like that is because of the actions of “militant atheists”. Well fuck them and the horses they rode in on.
I am only starting. I could go on for hours but you might think I am angry. I am not. I am just militant.