Some things just shouldn’t be organized

Alain de Botton

Don’t let a guy like this, become the next…

Jim Jones

…guy like this.

My closet is organized by season and my books are organized alphabetically by author. My apartment is an ode to organization. But there are some things that should be left to flourish on their own. I see atheism as one of those things. The other day I was reading an article about how an atheist organization had put up some in your face, anti religion billboards and my first thought was these people are going down a very slippery slope.

As regular readers of this blog know, I am an atheist and I am not afraid to shout it from the rooftops. All this means is that I do not believe in a god (any god). The issue I have with this kind of behavior is that it is akin to picking a fight… the very same behavior that atheists (rightfully) accuse religions of exhibiting. I have no problem defending myself and my disbelief when pressed, but I see no reason (reason, get it… what atheists do believe in) in goading the religious toward further persecution of atheists. I understand that it is important to defend the separation of church and state wherever it is being threatened, but that is one of very few cases I can make for the need for atheists to get organized. The organization who put up those billboards is American Atheists, found online at www.atheists.org. If you go to their website, you will see a big red button that says “Donate Now” and that they are holding a convention next year. They also have literature for you in the form of a magazine (available in app form). American Atheists is not a new organization, they’ve been around since 1963 and, according to their website, have been defending civil liberties and the separation of church and state ever since. I find this interesting if only because their site seems to have taken several pages straight out of the church handbook.

Earlier this year a man named Alain de Botton published a book entitled Religion for Atheists in which he asserts that instead of eschewing all that religion has to offer, atheists should steal some of the attractive things about religion such as, building a sense of community, making our relationships last, overcoming feelings of envy and inadequacy, escaping the twenty-four hour media and creating new businesses designed to address our emotional needs. Pardon the expression, but for Christ’s sake, what the hell is so special about the emotional needs of atheists? To my eyes, this man is trying to set himself up as some sort of atheist messiah by preying on and exploiting one of the human traits that religion exploits so well… the need to belong.

It’s the need to belong that enabled events like the Jonestown massacre, the Manson family murders and the Waco Siege to occur. You may be thinking, but those events were all cult oriented. I submit that all religion is a form of cultism. Every time humans organize in an us vs. them way, it ends badly. It seems that, no matter how well-intentioned the origins of the organization are, there is always some greedy, morally questionable person who comes along and co-opts the ideal for his own financial gain and power. The need to belong is indeed powerful and is usually paired with the need for validation which is a very dangerous cocktail when some douche bag with a messiah complex is feeding those needs. Your average person, no matter how much of a skeptic they claim to be is almost powerless against being lured into a group when told that they are right and there are many more people who think the same way.

So please, atheists of the world, heed my warning and stay away from organizations that want to poke the religious bear. If history has taught us anything, it’s that those religious types are not afraid of shedding copious amounts of blood in service to their imaginary sky daddy and if we want to keep the moral high ground we are so fond of, the last thing we need on our hands is a holy war… or in this case an UNHOLY war.

2 responses to “Some things just shouldn’t be organized

  1. Alain de Botton has some interesting ideas, but imho they’re nothing more than intellectual thought experiments and hypothetical musings. He does make some good points, and he’s right that atheists lack a “community” when compared to a church-going citizen, but I really don’t think an “atheist church” is an idea that will ever get off the ground as anything other than philosophical dreaming.

    Having said that though, just take a look at this new “Atheism+” movement. It has all the trappings of a cult and is already setting itself on a pedestal above everyone else.

    • I agree. I had not heard of the Atheism + movement when I had written this, but it’s seems to be exactly what I was warning against. I loved your post. Thank you for reading mine.

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