In support of Adam Lee’s post in Daylight Atheism
On Getting Through the Dry Spells
Never had I started to read what seemed a more soporific and self-sorry blog. Oh, woe is me, I am undone, seemed to be the message Adam Lee was trying to convey. Let me go through his post item by item:
‘No matter where I physically go, mentally I feel like I’m somewhere in the middle of the desert. And I don’t think I’m alone in this: it seems to me that a similar dark cloud is hanging over the secular community.’
My reaction: don’t lay on the secular community reasons for our own bouts of depression. The secular community is having a tremendous and positive influence on the rest of the world.
1. At least one religious community is running scared, imploring their members not to converse with atheists on Twitter.
2. The Pope is feeling the effect of secularists arguments; he’s thrashing about wildly trying to identify the person or persons responsible for leaks about the internal workings of the disgraceful Vatican. While his poor butler languishes in a Vatican cell, the leaks keep coming. Cardinals are running around like headless chickens as secularists pile on the pressure regarding the hiding of paedophiles within the Catholic community.
3. Creationists have tried arguing on television and video with highly-regarded atheists, skeptics and secularists like Richard Dawkins, James Randi, Daniel Dennett and Sam Harris – and are being shot down in flames!
4. In Britain, Humanists have succeeded in having evolution introduced into the curriculum for primary school children. An organisation called Republic is openly calling for the abolition of a monarch who is also Head of the Church of England. Secularists are challenging the British Government to abolish the present set up of the second chamber of Parliament, also known as the House of Lords. Sections of the media are openly calling for bishops to be removed from their privileged positions in the House of Laws.
5. In America, more and more young people, rather crudely known as ‘millenials‘, are openly declaring that they do not believe in a god. More entertainers feel confident in declaring themselves atheists. Only the election can prove it but the Catholic community in America seems more and more restricted to false bluster and bravado as Americans begin to realise what religious freedom really means. And Secular Students’ groups are making huge inroads in ensuring that non-believing students have a voice in colleges and universities.
6. In Muslim countries like Indonesia and Pakistan brave men and women are declaring that they are secularists and do not believe in Allah. Sure, they still risk death or imprisonment but, gradually, they are being heard.
These are just a few examples of the successes secularism is having. There are many more.
‘Most prominent, I think, is the rampant sexism and misogyny that’s shown its face within our community, where many of us had harbored hope that people would know better.’
Sexism and misogyny are rampant everywhere. But how many secularists and atheists call for women to be made second class citizens? Of course there will be sexism and misogyny at conferences and meetings, like everywhere else, but because women like Rebecca Watson and Emily Dietle are free to declare that they will not tolerate it something can and will be done. Some men, like Martin Pribble, are trying to encourage women to carry on their fight, encouraging them to demand that procedures are put in place that will ensure that, at secularist, atheist and humanist meetings, at least, women have someone to complain to who will ensure that perpetrators are brought to account and thrown out. There is no place for sexism and misogyny in the 21st century and secularists are uniquely positioned to do something about it.
‘The democratic revolution in Egypt is fading; Syria is being torn apart by civil war’
The possibility of installing democracies in Islamic states was always a pipe-dream. There is no freedom in Islam but the freedom to submit to Allah and once a convert has been swallowed up by the Ummah, there is no going back. Apostasy is usually punishable by death.
The basic flaw in the ‘Arab Spring’ was not the revolutions themselves, it was the lack of understanding of Western pundits that there could ever be anything but reversal. Without reversal, Muslim extremists call for the imposition of their barbaric practises, inequality for women, death to homosexuals and the destruction of Israel. And which country is most vocal in calling for secular governments to be overthrown: Iran, the strongest of the Shi’ite states. Most Shia societies are theocracies, unlike Sunni societies which allow non-clerics to organise their governments, and therefore the most open to secularization. The only hope for peace in Islamic countries is for strong secular government, something only China and Russia seem to have grasped. The most obvious example of reversal is in Egypt, where the army is showing signs of taking back control. To anyone vaguely familiar with Middle East politics it was obvious that the majority of people would vote for the Muslim Brotherhood, a party that, no matter what its public statements, is hell bent on introducing Sharia law and pressing for the destruction of Israel. And once Israel is destroyed Islam will turn on the immoral West.
‘But what you can damn well do is fight as hard as you can, and never be daunted, never give up’
Now we get to the reason why I support Adam’s apparently doom-laden blog. We must never, ever become despondent. Winston Churchill suffered from depressions he called his ‘black dog‘. But he always did something about it. He painted, built walls, wrote histories, anything but give in to the seemingly dark and dismal mood in which he found himself. I may not have agreed with Churchill’s peacetime policies but I cannot but admire his determination to combat his black dog.
There is always something secularists can do. The Vatican is trying to force their control of sexuality and morality onto everyone else. Do not allow it. The Vatican does not have to be destroyed but its power can be minimized by argument and demonstration to the stage where it is politically castrated. Argue with Catholics wherever you find them; demonstrate how destructive their beliefs are by giving examples of the effect of their policies on contraception, abortion and equality. Tell them at every opportunity that they are wrong and why they are wrong. Contact politicians and the media and explain why contraception is so vitally important if we are not to cause a sudden catastrophic reduction in the worlds’ human population, of why technology may only be able go so far in providing food for the hungry millions. Encourage secularists in Islamic states; give them support, show them they are not alone. Support the families of those who fall foul of oppressive Sharia law.
‘How much longer this dry spell will last, I don’t know’
This is my main argument with Adam Lee’s blog post. I do not believe we are in a dry spell. So many secularists are standing up against religions’ insistence that they are right and everyone else is wrong. So many new secularists are ready to be counted. Secularists, atheists and humanists are making inroads into politics, where real power lies, and governments’ policies. I think that the dry spell was pre-21st century and that it is well and truly over. Stand up, be proud, be counted and join the march into a secular future.