Sunday, July 15, 2012

Atheism Should Not Mean Neutrality

Around a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a video on the front page of Youtube titled “American Muslims Stone Christians in Dearborn, MI (Original edit)”. I watched a small portion of it (since it was very long and I soon I had other business to attend to) to find a youth screaming obscenities at a man holding a sign. His sign, and all the signs held by his friends if I recall correctly, had Bible verses on them that referred to Christ’s sacrifice and salvation. When I later had a chance to watch the video in most of its in entirety I found that more occurred than yelled obscenities. Rocks, trash, and other objects were thrown at these Christians walking silently through an Arab festival. Furthermore, the police did little to nothing to stop the riot or help the Christians, and in fact, told them to leave or face a citation for disorderly conduct.

Needless to say, this upset me, confused me, and saddened me, but what made me ponder the longest was the comment I saw when I initially watched only a short clip of the video.

“This is one of the 5 billion reasons I’m an atheist.”

This was one of the top rated comments at the time, but it must have only recently been cycled in because it only had around 5 “thumbs up”. Nevertheless, the comment still stands. What about this comment caused me to ponder so deeply? Well, let alone there aren’t 5 billion reasons to be an atheist, but that’s a technicality and I’m sure the user was being hyperbolic. However, to think that being a person that has decided God does not exist exempts him from a situation in which two worldviews are clashing is a terrible misconception. Other religions get an equal thrashing from atheists if not physically, but verbally while claiming reason is the answer rather than religion—in the Christian case, relationship. So being an atheist does not exempt this person or people who are like-minded from conflicts that mirror this one, though his statement implies that it does exempt him.

What makes me even more curious is why he was not on the Christians’ side. They were the ones peaceably trying to insert a voice where there otherwise was not one in a place that celebrated a fallacy. The response to that was not inattention or curiosity, but outright rage, violence, and dissent. Even one who has no faith in Yeshua could see there is a stark contrast between the people proclaiming John 3:16 and the people through crates.

What’s most disturbing is this person, and whomever agrees, has taken a position of neutrality. Instead of examining both sides and coming to the conclusion that one is clearly in the wrong he has said, “Whomever they’re fighting over doesn’t exist—I wash my hands of their conflict.” Even the late Christopher Hitchens valued freedom of speech, and I dare say he would be on the side of those Christians not because of their beliefs, but because their fundamental right of free speech was violated by others who disagreed and authorities too frightened to uphold their rights.