Thursday, September 16, 2010

It’s atheists who are the aggressive ones

One of the pope’s senior advisors, Cardinal Walter Kasper, has pulled out of the pope’s unwanted beano to the UK after saying "when you land at Heathrow you think at times you have landed in a Third World country".

According to ‘Vatican sources’, however, this was not intended as a sleight against Britain.  Instead, it was just out and out racism, so obviously that’s perfectly alright:

[Vatican sources] said his "Third World" comment referred to the UK's multicultural society.

I’m not one to throw charges of racism around blithely, but I can see nothing but contempt for non-whites in this statement.  It’s the statement of someone who isn’t even aware they are saying something deeply bigoted.

Kasper paused briefly to repeat the old lie that BA bans their employees from wearing religious symbols, as though it would say anything about Britain as a whole even if it weren’t completely made up.

Then he said that the UK is marked by "a new and aggressive atheism".  He ha an odd sort of relationship with the truth, this Kasper, in that he wouldn’t  recognise if it bit him on the arse. 

I wish I didn’t have to keep repeating this, but there’s nothing new or aggressive about atheism.  That the religious feel under attack is nothing more than a sign that they’re aware that they have something to defend.  You can’t go around spouting silly beliefs and expect nobody to laugh at you.  But that’s exactly what they do expect.  That they can no longer get clean away with this trick is not a sign of more aggressive atheism, but one of increased information, scientific understanding and secularism. Churches don’t have as much influence these days over what we’re allowed to criticise and they are woefully and embarrassingly unprepared for it.  It’s not the fault of atheism or of atheists.  In a sense, increased atheism is a result of major religions’ hatch-battering.  They didn’t expect that their influence would wane as people learned more and therefore became more free, so they pretended it wasn’t happening.  They pretended that science wasn’t ripping their silly beliefs to pieces.  They’re good at pretending, but not as good as they thought they were.

Anyway, it’s interesting that after offending everyone in an entire  country, he claims it’s the atheists who are the aggressive ones.  I’m not sure I understand what is pejorative about aggression in this context anyway.  When you have something to defend, aggression can be an important and effective strategy.  We atheists have something to defend.  The churches are using their undue and unearned influence to try to force us to behave how they want us to.  Aggression is an entirely appropriate response.

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