before I start I have to issue a warning: DO NOT watch this video if you’re not sure you can stand it, because I barely could. it’s monstrously graphic depicting the whole process of decapitating an apostate…
so…how do atheists, particularly antitheists, perceive the news about outrageous crimes committed in the name of religion flocking in from all over the world each day?
it has become more and more difficult not to be almost overinformed thanks to facebook, blogs we follow, various trusted websites of choice. yet, being an atheist, or even better, an antitheist, is worth almost nothing if it isn’t accompanied by some sort of humanism. this means that an atheist who supports things that have been time and again proven to be harmful to societies by science, such as weak gun laws, the death penalty and so on, is still some sort of an ignorant bigot who abuses one part of science, mostly natural sciences, to disprove god, while selectively ignoring the less straight forward social sciences that show us a lot about how societies can work.
what I’m going on about is the issue of not uncritically mixing up the harms by religion as a structure and institution of power with actions of religious individuals who have had almost no say in their indoctrination. it’s important to blame religion and the leading clerics and politicians (not that this difference is valid in islamism) pushing fundamentalism forward, abusing the gullible nature of religiously indoctrinated humans who didn’t enjoy any sort of independent education, not to speak about being taught critical thinking and doubtfulness in all sorts of dogmatic preachings. but it’s also fair to note that you shouldn’t shoot the individual messenger, but react to the message and act according to the threat it poses to your liberty.
recently I’ve read about and watched videos about a lot of almost unbearable crimes in the name of religion. where do we, as antitheist humanists, draw the line of who we hold responsible? the video opening this post makes me feel like I don’t find the right answers, it’s incredibly violent and has been sent viral around the internet simply because it’s “producers” wants to spread fear.
but there’s more…there’s always more religiously motivated crimes. only yesterday all over the international media we could see reports about a group of taliban murdering, partly beheading 15 men and 2 women simply because they were listening to music and dancing. social interaction and a hint of cheerfulness between men and women is considered enough of a breach of the merciless shariah laws to actually murder everyone involved. read this BBC article if you haven’t read about it so far.
then there’s a 12 to 14 year old christian girl in Pakistan, probably with down syndrome, who thousands of angry local muslims want to see executed for blasphemy (fortunately it seems the officials don’t intend to do anything of the like, but still they keep her and her family in custody, maybe only until the lynching mob calms down, but who knows how they react towards public pressure…it still shows how fundamentalism is growing in a way that the local governments, no matter how secular or religiously minded, don’t have answers to the push for absolute power islamists are working on in many regions of the globe). but mind you, although many “moderate” muslim clerics don’t really want to execute a child with down syndrome, you only have to look back a couple of weeks to see what happens in Pakistan, when the mob actually gets hold of you. a man accused of blasphemy has been burnt to death after the mob raided the police station where he couldn’t find safety: read this if you don’t know the case.
in other places like Mali, where an islamist group of rebels and terrorists now dominate the north of the country after a coup d’etat, shariah corporal punishments are already being applied. while the afghan and pakistani taliban murder because they see sin in all music but qur’an-chants, in Mali you can see the same process of criminalization of music and entertainment in an early stage. it’s heartbreaking: read this article about how the music has died in northern Mali
you get my point, which is about a basic dilemma all humanist atheists have to face. to what extend is the individual responsible for atrocities, where is the line we have to draw because group dynamics are taking over until the individual gets lost in the power and ecstasy of the lynching mob? social sciences show us that there are no direct answers to this problem. and since there are no such answers there are no direct solutions, just indirect ones. those are the same old suspects education, welfare, human rights, lowering the gap between rich and poor…let’s face it, those never get old because they just work. let’s try to be angry instead of hateful and promote those humanist values.