March 25, 2016

Do You Ever Feel Sorry for the Bigots?

Hildegard von Bingen Liber Divinorum Operum
Hildegard von Bingen [Public domain]
Do you ever feel sorry for the bigots? I know their behavior creates problems for others, and I'm not denying that. I'm also not excusing it. Many of them manage to make life quite miserable for others, and I know of no excuse for that. Still, there are times when I cannot help feeling sorry for some of them.

Consider the Christian who still clings to the absurd notion that atheists are immoral because we do not believe in his or her preferred god while simultaneously believing that Christians are more moral than anyone else. What a sad existence it must be to have convinced oneself that one's neighbors are evil merely because they do not share one's god belief. "You don't believe what I believe, so you're a bad person!"

I wonder sometimes when I encounter such a Christian whether he or she realizes that there is no evidence sufficient to support god belief and no moral argument worth making to persuade others to convert. I often get the sense that such a Christian is desperately clinging to the only thing he or she has left: the primitive idea that we must believe in gods because that is what good people do. And then I begin to wonder whether such a Christian really believes or merely believes in belief.

The belief that atheists are immoral because we do not believe in gods is laughable. At least, it would be if it did not cause so much harm in the world. This belief has led some of those who hold it to treat atheists quite poorly without experiencing a trace of guilt. And thanks to such a view, many atheists still feel that they must conceal their true thoughts on religion or face adverse consequences. Sad but true. And yet, I sometimes see such a sad desperation among Christians who maintain such a belief that I actually feel bad for them.

I think it has become much more difficult for someone to cling to Christianity these days, and it is likely to become even more challenging in the future. Sure, bigotry is persistent and will almost certainly be with us forever. But the thing about bigotry is that it tends to become less socially acceptable over time. While it may not happen anytime soon, I find it easier to conceive of a time when anti-atheist bigotry will be much less socially acceptable than it is today. I wonder what these Christians will cling to then. Without their childish sense of moral superiority, what do they have? What good is being a Christian if it does not entitle one to think one is better than everyone else?
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