Recently, I was watching a online panel discussion on atheism when one of the participants cited a statistic from a survey that I found to be very disturbing.
According to the American Psychological Association, atheists are perceived to be less trustworthy than rapists.
I’m tempted to do my best John McEnroe impression: “You CANNOT be serious!”
Let’s start by acknowledging a simple fact: any harm that may come from atheism would be largely self-inflicted. If anyone suffers from atheism, it is first, and foremost, the atheist.
Atheism simply means that one does not believe in any sort of supernatural God. Period.
Rape, on the other hand, is violent and evil–the pernicious act of a predator. By its definition, another person is harmed. In short, there really is no comparison between rape and atheism.
Whether or not the poll was accurate is not important.
The question is, how could anybody even think someone’s beliefs, or in this case, their personal non-belief in God, is worse than a vicious sexual assault on another human being?
Would you rather your daughter’s friend confide that he doesn’t belief in her God, or that he brutally raped her? Having a daughter, it’s easy for me to answer that question. I know my daughter is not easily influenced by the thoughts and words of other people–God only knows, she heard enough of my words of advice that went into one ear and right out the other.
The words of her friend would not affect my daughter’s personal belief in a supernatural God, which happens to be quite strong.
I know this for a fact.
I would not be so certain about her ability to deal with the psychological and physical trauma of an extremely violent sexual assault, because I also know she would refuse to submit and fight back, which would make her attacker very angry and worsen the situation…unless, of course, she kicked his ass.
Which is possible–she was a tough kid, and she’s a strong young mother of three. About as tough as they get. But I’d rather not find out.
While we’re still on the subject of religion and rape, let’s dispense with Todd Akin and “legitimate rape” nonsense–an incredibly stupid and insensitive remark at best. It is unfortunate that terms like “statutory rape” even exist; underage premarital sex is a far cry from a violent and physical sexual assault on a helpless, innocent victim.
Oddly enough, in the survey cited by the atheism panelist, the other options shown on the chart were “Christian” and “Muslim”, begging the question–why was “rapist” even included among the choices?
The fact that rapist was even offered in a set of options where the only other choices were related to religious beliefs may bring into question the motives of the American Psychological Association. Are they trying to deliberately make atheists look bad by showing the low esteem in which they are held by the general public, or to make the theists dominating public opinion look horribly biased against atheists as a whole?
Would not “Satanist” have been a much more logical choice?
To say that every rapist is an atheist would be as foolish as suggesting that every Lutheran is a serial killer. Sure, there is an example of a rapist who happens to be an atheist–in fact, I know of one. His name is Michael Seibert. But there’s zero evidence to support equating atheism with rape.
In fairness, I also know of a “Lutheran” serial killer, right off the top of my head–murderer Dennis Rader, of “Bind, Torture, and Kill” infamy.
From the looks of this survey, atheists seem to have a bad reputation in terms of public opinion.
I took umbrage with the survey because I have friends who are atheists, and I trust them far more than I would ever trust a rapist. I found the comparison insulting. But I must also admit that I understood the poll, to some degree.
There are two sides to every coin. To a large extent, the damage to the public image of atheists has been primarily self-inflicted.
The more outspoken atheists in the limelight routinely mock and ridicule those with whom they disagree. Atheist organizations file frivolous lawsuits claiming that religious icons cause them to suffer “nausea, depression, and anxiety.”
However, other atheists are busy organizing sex parties in former churches, apparently to deliberately offend religious people as much as possible while they are completely unaffected though surrounded by religious icons. This sort of hypocritical behavior does little to endear theists to atheist’s “plight.”
Again, in fairness, I cannot think of a single atheist friend who would not be appalled as I am that a former church was desecrated by an atheist sex party. They know right from wrong, and when one is crossing a line…
Nobody likes to be insulted or humiliated, especially just for believing in something that atheists reject as superstitious nonsense.
Trust me, the scientific “beliefs” of any atheist can just as easily be mocked and ridiculed if only the atheist will stick around to have the conversation. But trading insults and deliberately offending those with whom we disagree is very counterproductive to a free and open exchange of ideas…you know, like dialogue. Meaning a respectful conversation between two people.
I’ve personally learned (the hard way) that the word “creation”, when uttered within some sort of theological or existential context, inevitably brings an abrupt end to conversations with an atheist. Unfortunately, it’s a real conversation-killer.
Is that the fault of the creationist, or the atheist?
I’ve been called a moron, an idiot, a narcissist–and those have been some of the nicer things people have said about me. Whenever I dare speak blasphemy of Darwin, questioning the viability of his theory beyond “species”, it seems that I’ve committed the unforgivable sin–almost like comparing Jesus to Santa Claus.
Obviously, Darwinian natural selection adequately explains variations within the boundaries of species. That “fact” I do not dispute.
What it does not explain, except by illogical and somewhat twisted extrapolation of solid information, is how that process leads to the formation of a distinctly new species. No viable explanation exists without a lot of conjecture that violates the well-known laws of biological (sexual) reproduction.
I’ve asked the question, but no biologist has been able or willing to answer: what process besides sexual reproduction, and time causes a new genome to form? Why can’t “transitional” fossils instead be viewed as prototypes of future species, models constructed by an intelligent designer?
The only obvious answer is that bias against any possible God clearly exists in the minds of atheists.
As soon as one points out the obvious–that speciation theory violates every known biological law–the conversation screeches to a halt. One dares not challenge the conventional wisdom of a Darwinist.
Some atheists even go beyond atheism to anti-theism. They vehemently reject any possibility of God due to abject hatred of religion, and violently oppose mere discussion to challenge that conventional wisdom.
Remember–you don’t dare question Darwin while I’m busy mocking your God…that seems to be their only consistent message.
Though I cannot cite any APA statistics, it seems that in the mind of the average atheist, at least from the condescension one hears when they speak of creationists, the word “pedophile” seems to be the most appropriate synonym for them.
Therefore, in my opinion, lack of respect is a two-way street.
For almost five years, I’ve welcomed every opportunity for an open, honest discussion, without exchanging barbs or insults, with any atheist friend willing to consider my arguments. I haven’t given up hope to engage an atheist in open and honest debate where we truly compare the best of each argument, but the prospects appear to dim with each passing day.
Our biggest problem for atheists and theists remains learning how to have a normal, respectful conversation where we actually listen to one another.
I am perfectly capable of expressing my opinions without insults, or making unfavorable and unfair comparisons between the person with whom I disagree and a rapist.
I’ve been known to declare victory when my debate challenger made the first personal attack. Although I’ve been routinely insulted for my religious beliefs and sometimes spoken to as if I’d actually like to have sex with small children, no one has actually gone so far as to make the accusation.
Which is a good thing, I guess. Some of the things that have been said were bad enough.
When one makes a personal attack in a debate, he has effectively acknowledged that he has no better argument to make other than to assassinate his opponent’s character…meaning he’s run out of valid points to buttress his argument.
The last resort of the truly desperate to win an argument: if you don’t like the message, shoot the messenger.
However, I prefer to echo the sentiments of the late Rodney King: why can’t we all just get along?