Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Rallying Cry From Atheists

Written by my atheist friends from a local Singapore Atheist Group, Atheisthaven:


Atheism is an abject failure.

As atheists we are in a unique situation. While we are ostracized,
marginalized, persecuted, prosecuted, abused and generally deprived of
our rights by unsympathetic regimes and autocratic systems in the real
world, it is in cyberspace where we can express ourselves freely to
some substantial degree. It is in this virtual realm that we dare
challenge theists and other proponents of illogicality and come away
truly victorious.

However, these victories, impressive as they are, cannot but feel
hollow. For all the reasoning and logic which made us, dare I say it,
ubermensch, we are unable to demonstrate our superiority where it
really matters. Dawkins and Hitchens might have made the world stand
up in recognition of the fallacies of religion, but is this
proliferation of truth and rationality changing the way people really
behave?

Sadly, the answer is no. Superstition still holds sway. To many,
atheism is a passing fad. People remain attached to their cherished
beliefs. After all, knowing the truth does not equate its acceptance.
Not only do people want to believe in something, they need to feel
wanted. Religion provides a very strong support in satisfying this
emotional need, as evident by the number of support groups, cell
groups, social and community structures the religious have put
together to bind its adherents.

It must be intoxicating knowing that `Someone' will always love you.
That `Someone' will look after you in every situation and never falter
in His efforts. To have this preposterous notion `validated' by your
fellow humans who actually help you in times of difficulties while the
`Someone' never makes an appearance must seem an affirmation to the
desperate. What religion does so effectively is to make each and
everyone of its followers feel special. Logic goes out of the window
in the face of this compelling emotional assault. It is an irony,
considering that rationality is painted over by a very real human need
which in turn is satisfied by an illusion instead.

This is where atheism fails so miserably. Atheists do not help each
other just because they believe in the same creed. The theists,
however, do so because their doctrine specifically wills it. For all
our arguments and justifications we do not deign to help one another
because we take the point of `not giving a damn about God' one step
further to include ourselves. I see friends who are Christians support
each other within their own church and cell groups. What do I see when
I look upon my fellow atheists?

Theist : 1 Atheist : 0.

Our endless debates with theists achieve little. We are wasting
precious time trying to convince people who do not want to be
convinced. People would rather live a happier life believing in a lie
than accept things as they really are and being less happy as a
result. Reading about the articles atheists post on the Internet makes
me think that all these well-meaning writers want are to amass as many
hits for their sites and to comment favorably on each other's writings
in the hope that the praised party, overjoyed at being appreciated,
would return the favor. We hide behind monikers like `infidel' and
`heretic', perhaps to impart some perceived quality in our cause, but
we do not back our words with concrete action. I have more respect for
the religious folk (the non-violent ones) who preach their gospel and
live their life accordingly than for self-proclaimed atheists who
cannot even be bothered to scrap their addled brains off the computer
screen to think: I am an atheist. What does this mean? What do I do?

Atheism is on precarious ground in this respect. And it is time to
stop the rot.

We must acknowledge that we are on our own. We have no god(s), no
temples, no institutions and nothing to rely upon. Social structure
and cultural norms, influenced to some extent by religion does not
give the atheist credence. In many parts of the world, atheism is
punishable by stoning. In more civilized climates, a priest who
incites violence against non-believers is at the most given a slap on
the wrist – he might even be lauded for his sense of justice. But an
atheist who gives credible reasons for his rejection of religion, and
quotes from reliable sources – he is making `seditious' remarks and
persecuted for being `anti-religion' . It is obscene. You can say that
people are treated equally in these modern times, but you cannot deny
that some are more equal than others.

In view of the many difficulties atheists face, I propose we take care
of our own. And we can do this through support groups.

A support group need not have a club-house or a fixed physical
location where members can convene. We can host a bulletin board
(forum) in cyberspace, much like what Atheisthaven is doing. However,
instead of `ghost members' and people who pack only rhetoric and
little else, such a group must consist of dedicated individuals who
genuinely want to make a difference. While we do not restrict the
membership to atheists (the non-religious, freethinkers, agnostics,
even Buddhists - especially those leaning towards a philosophical
bent may join), members must be committed. As this commitment takes
the form of certain obligations, we want positive individuals who
truly believe in improving themselves and others. Atheism by its own
nature, promotes self-reliance and an internal locus of control. All
efforts should have an egalitarian spirit in its core, mutual aid as
its strength, and self-actualization its ultimate goal.

This is strictly an informal group. No membership fee is required. We
only ask that members make an effort to know each other and to
interact, preferably face-to-face. This fosters cohesiveness which is
very important because people tend to help their own friends than
relative strangers.

What form should this aid take? At the most basic level, information
exchange. People who have questions can post them on the group site,
and those with the answers can promptly reply. Questions can range
from anything – potential job openings, which university to choose,
even where to get the best bargains! At a deeper level, members can
work on some task together or maybe enjoy a little soiree.

While we encourage members to look after each other's interests, we do
not look kindly to people who join for ulterior motives. This is not a
MLM (multi-level- marketing) scam, nor is it a dating agency. Promoting
any political agenda is also a no-no. In a nutshell, the group is
similar to a normal theist cell group, minus the praying and speaking
in tongues. Think of it as a secular social network, where normal
people (without a faith) make friends and chill out.

We must succeed in this endeavor. If sodden theists can organize
themselves, it would be a crying shame if intelligent atheists cannot
even produce a similar response. The time has passed for talking. Let
us show people that we are capable of doing great things, even without
divine edicts… because In Humanity We Trust.

Liu Weixian and Liang Xianghong
- 14/03/2008

Labels:

10 Comments:

At 6:05 AM, April 23, 2008, Blogger Atheist said...

hey dude, i'm an atheist too, i share your views, maybe you can come check my blog out too man.

peace

 
At 10:05 AM, July 24, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who don't want to be atheist, I am starting my own superstition --Oops, I mean religion-- just for you. Pay me $10 a month and I promise you will go to heaven. I guarantee to give your money back if you don't.
Isn't religion wonderful?

(Super No. 1)

 
At 8:44 PM, December 23, 2008, Blogger Ryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 8:46 PM, December 23, 2008, Blogger Ryan said...

Hi Weixian, Xianghong.

This is Ryan. You made a good point so I started this

http://www.meetup.com/The-Singapore-Humanism-Meetup-Group/members/

I'm Singaporean, graduated from a liberal arts college in the US. I'm fascinated by science and the human potential. I enjoy religious texts like the Bible and the Koran as a piece of literature, a cultural reference and a source of moral ideas.

Let's start to find each other.

 
At 1:47 PM, January 11, 2009, Blogger yenfeng said...

Hello, I'm a reporter and am interested to find out what the atheist groups in Singapore have to say about UK's Atheist campaign on public buses: "There is probably no God. So stop worrying and enjoy life."

Other societies (Spain, US) have picked up on this and ran similar (but somewhat less aggressive) campaigns to spread the word.

What is Singapore doing? Please contact me at yen.feng@gmail.com. Would be great to hear from you.

Thanks,
Yen

 
At 9:50 AM, February 07, 2009, Blogger numbernine said...

First let's get this out of the way. There is no God in the physical sense. This is pretty obvious.

Secondly, the question of whether He exists or not is really not important. Does the equator exist? There is no line that is perpendicular to the earth's axis. Does the north star exist? It is a mere coincidence that there is a star in the sky which corresponds almost exactly to our north pole. 2000 years later it will not be there. But these mental constructs are so important to us. Why? Because they are the guiding light. They set bearing, direction by which we orientate our lives. We have to act as though it exists. And so it is with God.

Money? What is that? You are willing to exchange a loaf of bread for a piece of paper? But everybody believes in it. And at the end of the day that piece of paper is only truly worth what people believe it to be worth. Money doesn't exist.

If you know your history, in the 60s in the West almost everybody thought that religion was dead. Everybody had profound faith (pls take note I am using the word faith) in science and progress. For some reason after that people had a collective spiritual crisis and religion made a comeback in a big way. Moral of the story? Man shall not live by bread alone.

Atheists understand that man will have to live with faith. That's why they have invented their own creed, humanism. After that, what next? Will people complain that atheists are not sufficiently organised? Will they start forming discussion groups? Churches? Temples? Inevitably there are only 2 outcomes. Either your humanist project will end in failure, or you will end up as another one of those organised religions that you purport to reject in the first place.

Bottom line is this: everybody can believe what they want. But there is almost nothing that your humanist beliefs can do for the world that organised religion is already doing. If people are not jumping onto the atheist bandwagon, it is because they grasp this argument on some level.

 
At 6:08 PM, May 15, 2009, Blogger Chen said...

RAR!!! Hey Waiyin.. oops WeiXian, heard about your blog from Pier and decided to check it out. Glad to see that you are still alive and kicking.

- your poor platoon mate CQ who is posting from ITI (this reservist very xiong *cries*)

 
At 9:46 AM, August 04, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey numbernine, well said.

talking about the project ending up in failure or becoming what it opposes to brings this thought to mind; isnt most monotheist religions formed this way? eg; a newer religion digressing from an older one...

granted, religion serves it's purpose well as a guiding light. but religion also divides us.

this movement thingy in mention seems to have been created to oppose the current anti-atheists sentiments. but in creating a formal group, there is bound to be disagreements on what is to be done or not. and it's not hard to predict that this would go down the opposite direction of where the group is heading...

yes there is nothing much a new movement can do then what organised religions have already done. but people in organised religions dont know that religion has outlived it's purpose.

it is only when one steps back from being religious and takes an atheist point of view can one understand the role religion has played in our human history.

 
At 12:00 AM, February 14, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr Yong-Wah Goh's foul temper Enjoy reading. :D

https://sites.google.com/site/provingbeastishector/archive-1/archive-1

 
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