And so in many religious minds the outspokenly faithless atheist is ethically offensive—not just to the minds of the fundamentalists who fetishise tradition in the most obvious extreme but also in the minds of those religious liberals who fall all over themselves trying to find ways to respect tradition as much as their doubting intellectual conscience can possibly permit them. The atheist is an irreverent, anarchist individualist whose lack of respect for tradition may indicate a dangerous possibility of thinking with no traditional brake on her thinking if it gets out of hand.
It seems that I am not the only one who has noticed this trend afterall. It cannot have escaped the notice of others that the contradiction of the belief that without faith ‘goodness’ is worthless as there is no authority to defer back to. Instead I hold that there is an authority; it is my sense of decency and knowing the difference between right and wrong. In other words, the only authority I need is my conscience. I think before I act or speak about how my actions will affect other people. I do not go out of my way to offend but nor I am not prepared to sacrifice my integrity and fain belief to spare over-sensitive feelings or to coddle others who find the very existence of atheists distasteful. I will not pretend I believe something that I do not in order to ‘fit-in’ or to get my child into a good school. I would think hard before trusting anyone who would. Far from being honourable self-sacrifice, it is flagrant mercenary dishonesty, hypocrisy, and all it would teach my son is that it is okay to lie to get what you want. I could not live with myself for teaching him that lesson.
I wish the ‘faithful’ would think about what they are asking of us before they decry those who dare to openly question religious beliefs. It does not make one radical, to have differing political ideas and it is quite acceptable to criticise the manifestos of various parties, but when openly questioning religion we are either dismissed as radical and ignored by those who ‘don’t have an opinion’ (cop-out) or denounced as ‘just as bad as the fundamentalists‘. We rarely receive positive feedback or encouragement from any direction outside our own group. I am willing to speak openly about religion and stand up against it where it is trying to force its way into the public arena. Whether I do that alone or with support does not make it less worthwhile because I will know that I at least tried to do the right thing. If that makes me ‘militant’ then so be it because I would rather be honest and able to live with myself than do nothing and battle with my conscience.
An article in today’s Guardian criticised Richard Dawkins’ idea for opening an Atheist school. I would ask those who hold so-called faith schools in such high regard to also think before criticising this. How is it any different? Why is this idea so terrible? Those members of the pro faith-schools ‘club’ should perhaps consider that maybe THEY are being ‘closed-minded’.
How can anyone who supports faith schools in principle oppose an atheist school?