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I’m not agnostic, but…

Arrest the Pope? Whilst it’s something I admit I would find refreshing and might make Charles Manson do a little salsa dance in his grave, I’d also like to see Richard Dawkins thrown in jail with him. Just imagine how awkward the showers would be. I’ve been an atheist since I was 5. Being educated at a Christian themed primary school, they tried their very best to convert (and/or exorcise) me, which more or less had the opposite effect. If I’d had a judo lesson for every prayer or bible reading, I’d be a fucking ninja by now.

But it riles me when people say “Oh, are you into Richard Dawkins?” when the subject of faith comes up. Because he embarrasses me, the same way Bin Laden embarrasses Muslims, or hardcore PETA protesters embarrass the average vegetarian.His general argument is highly critical of religion, pitting logical scientific thought against religious theology. Which is fine. But it’s an argument he’s propagating with the same militant zeal you’d expect from a Ku Klux Klan grand wizard.

This is a man who wouldn’t mind seeing religion wiped from the face of the earth. But regardless whether or not you believe in it, religion is pretty beautiful. Like art and science, it has helped shape humankind. By the actions of certain people, religion has the power to bring both atrocities and delights. Think of suicide bombers and wonderful advances in culture (Not on the same plate, mind). In the same way science has given us the mp3 and insulin, but also ways to utilize anthrax for our own malevolent ends. And music gave us the Beatles, but we also had to put up with Chris DeBurgh. It’s all swings and roundabouts. With his army of loyal (often angry, teenage) disciples, who tirelessly rant his ideals and teachings in pubs and internet forums, Richard Dawkins is beginning to appear a lot like an ironic parody the religious prophets he seems so intent on debasing. And I find this to be something of a paradox.

This is because atheism is not an alternative religion. It’s an alternative to religion. Which means an atheist shouldn’t really have a place in a religious debate. It’s the main perk (a perk I’ve forgone for the sake of this article) of being an athiest. Therefore one could reason that Richard Dawkins has as much place in the field of theological debate as Michael Moore has in global politics. And, to be fair, it’s the same reason the Pope doesn’t have a say whether or not I should wear a condom or make love to men and women out of wedlock. When I see posters advertising the Alpha Course, I think; “Christians will be Christians.” Without batting an eyelid, I carry on with my day. But when I see a poster on a London bus saying, “THERE IS PROBABLY NO GOD, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” It makes me cringe. Because that’s not what an atheist says to religious people. It’s what a twat says.

So bearing this in mind, it’s safe to say a “good” atheist would not be drawn into this bland crusade, a jihad against faith, as it were. Besides, knowing our luck when we die, we’ll all wind up in Valhalla. And then the Norse God Odin will cut our feet off with an axe.

Photo by Rob & Lisa Meehan..

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