Matthew Archbold: Keep trying

Article: “Atheism is the Uncoolest Choice Ever, and I Can Prove It

Setting aside for a moment that atheism is hardly a “choice” in the general sense of the word, I’ve typically always ended up rolling my eyes whenever a religious publication talks about atheism. Since they always seem to fuck up on so many levels.

And Matthew Archbold is no different. And I can prove it. Not to mention his article is childish — why the hell is an adult trying to describe something as “cool”? — and a striking example of a superiority complex.

8) Religious people live longer, happier lives, according to numerous scientific studies. I know you atheist types are all about the SCIENCE even though you pretty much get all your scientific information from Huffpo articles with clickbait headlines like “Watch Bill Nye completely own a Creationist!” or “How Rolling Your Eyes is the Greatest Debate Tactic Against Christians!” (Rule of thumb: if the article you’re reading contains exclamation points, it’s probably not a respected scientific publication.) But I guess because you’re an atheist who will live a shorter life maybe you don’t have time to read actual scientific journals. I mean, something’s gotta’ be cut out, right?

But on top of shorter lives, studies indicate you’ll be more miserable too. So while your life won’t be longer, it might just feel that way.

Two words: citation needed. And not Conservapedia. And I highly, highly doubt you’ve been reading science papers.

But granting the proposition for a moment, how is this relevant? At least in being a life-long atheist I haven’t been wasting my life believing something that is demonstrably false.

Here’s the thing about your belief: chances are you were indoctrinated into it when you were young, meaning you defend it through known psychological mechanisms, likely seeking out apologetics every time your belief is challenged as a means of reaffirming it. Shedding that belief is emotionally and psychologically painful. I’ve seen it a number of times. Even considering for a few moments that what you’ve believed all your life is wrong can be painful. Especially when you’re a devout and dedicated believer.

For more passive believers — the “weekend Christians”, if you will — the transition tends to be more benign.

So if Christians are truly happier, it’s for false reasons. Bliss due to ignorance.

On atheist “misery”, I’ll get to that a little later.

7) Michelangelo and Bach (look ’em up kids!) were indisputably awesome Christian artists. But hey, atheists have the kid who plays Harry Potter. Do you really don’t want to be a part of any group that includes the actor formerly known as Harry Potter. Or maybe you do because that’s how uncool you actually are.

Michelangelo was never photographed like that. Ever.

That’s because cameras didn’t exist back in Michaelangelo’s time. What was the content of your history classes at St Joseph’s, out of curiosity?

And Daniel Radcliffe is the best you can do? Okay I’ll raise you Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman — i.e. the Mythbusters. And Kari Byron for good measure. Among many others I could add.

Got any Christians from today you’d readily reference? I mean if the best you can come up with are Christians who lived centuries ago… Especially since most of today’s youth is unlikely to appreciate Johann Sebastian Bach, or George Frideric Handel (who wrote the famous Hallelujah chorus, so surprised you didn’t bring him up), or, to be realistic, any of the classic composers.

Except perhaps Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and that’s only because of his 1812 Overture, or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s rock version of The Nutcracker.

6) Typical Atheist gathering:

You’ve apparently never heard of the Reason Rally. Do a search on Google Images for the 2012 Reason Rally, which had upwards of 20,000 in attendance according to city officials. Unfortunately the 2016 Reason Rally wasn’t something to write home about, but there were still a few thousand in attendance. And other atheist gatherings have also drawn crowds a hell of a lot larger than what you’re attempting to represent as “typical”, such as the 2002 Godless March on Washington which also brought a couple thousand.

And several atheist speakers regularly command crowds. For example Seth Andrews, Matt Dillahunty, and AronRa went on a world tour as the Unholy Trinity. Christopher Hitchens routinely commanded large audiences as well. Indeed the crowds atheist speakers can bring has been used as a crutch for creationists to get more exposure. Such as the “debate” between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, which Ken Ham used to get more exposure (and money) to his organization Answers in Genesis.

5) Most of your big time mass killers of the 20th century were atheists. I’m talking Stalin, Mao, and Che among others. These guys had the kind of body counts that there weren’t enough body bags for so bulldozers needed to be employed. And nothing says uncool like being a mass killer of the innocent.

They were COMMUNISTS. Being atheists had nothing to do with it. Show me someone who committed mass atrocities because of their atheism. I highly doubt you’re going to find one.

Plus the history of Christianity is penned heavily in blood, so don’t act like Christianity is somehow immune to that kind of atrocity. Especially since Hitler was a Christian, and no amount of denial will change that.

4) This is an extreme Christian.

Let me introduce you to a few extreme Christians.

Paul Jennings Hill

That is Paul Jennings Hill. He is so far the only anti-abortion activist to be executed. He was executed by the State of Florida in 2003 for the assassination of an abortion provider and his body guard with a 12-gauge shotgun.

That is Scott Phillip Roeder. Hailed by anti-abortion activists for assassinating George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas. He was sentenced to a “hard 50” (possibility of parole after 50 years) at the age of 51, meaning he’ll never again see the outside of a prison unless he by some stroke of luck happens to become a centenarian.

That is Rachelle Ranae “Shelley” Shannon. She shot George Tiller in 1993, though it’s unclear if she intended to kill him as she shot him in his arms. She is currently in Federal custody for numerous other attacks on abortion clinics and due to be released in 2018. (Update: the Federal Bureau of Prisons states she was released on November 7, 2018. BOP Register No. 59755-065.)

Fred Phelps 10-29-2002

And this is, of course, Fred Phelps, the late patriarch of the Westboro Baptist Church, arguably the most extreme of the Christian denominations in the United States with regard to tenets.

Arguably the only denomination more extreme than them is the Army of God, since at least the Westboro Baptist Church is largely peaceful, if infuriating.

The Army of God, on the other hand, has been linked to a number of high-profile incidents, including kidnappings, attempted murders, and murders. And as such they are classified as a terrorist organization by the United States Departments of Justice and Homeland Security. Shelley Shannon is connected to them, and Scott Roeder is believed to be connected.

But they’re not the only Christian terrorist group in the world or the United States.

And no list of “extreme Christians” would be complete without…

Hitler portrait crop

Or let me guess, “they’re not real Christians“?

And how nice that you found a picture of Richard Dawkins being a little bit irate… That must’ve been difficult. Surprised you didn’t screenshot him getting annoyed with Ted Haggard. But you’re presenting it as if that’s how he typically is. Talk about disingenuous. But then that’s the Christian and Catholic modus operandi when talking about atheists and atheism.

3) As a Christian, my wife looks at me like I’m a gift from God. Seriously, to her that’s what I am. Your atheist girlfriend (should you ever get one after you move out of your stepdad’s basement) will see you as a gel-haired accident in skinny jeans on a lonely rock orbiting a meaningless sun in a mistake of a universe. See the difference? It’s kind of a big one.

Hopefully your wife doesn’t still have the gift receipt…

And be realistic if you’re gonna generalize about atheists. Better yet, how about learning about who we are. I’ll fill you in on a few things.

Most atheist teenagers in the United States actually live in Christian households. Largely keeping a secret that they know would lead to animosity, if not outright shunning from friends and family. Basically they just go through the motions because they know that keeps the peace. One of the beauties of the Internet is these “closet” atheists can be honest behind a cloak of anonymity in online communities with little fear of being “outed”, so we’ve been able to find a few of them and guide them accordingly.

And even after moving out on their own, they likely still go through the motions and lie about their beliefs to, again, keep the peace with family and friends and avoid losing their livelihoods. Because despite a Federal ban on termination due to religious belief, I’ve read several stories by atheists of how their terminations came not long after they were “outed”, with bullshit narratives spun about the person as a means of skirting by the law. Not to mention the cut-off with the newly-outed atheist by their family and friends when they’re discovered.

You’d also likely be surprised by how many in the clergy are atheists. Keeping their secret until they’re in a better position to resign their ordinations without becoming impoverished as a result and without being defrocked beforehand. There’s even a non-profit organization dedicated to finding and helping atheists in the clergy looking for an out. It’s called the Clergy Project.

I’ve been loosely involved in atheist activism for the last decade, and I’ve read stories from teenagers as well as adults who are secret atheists who hope their family and friends do not find out. Some are spouses to devout Christians keeping that secret from their spouses.

By the way, in the above where you claim Christians are happier than atheists, I know this plays a role in atheists claiming to not be nearly as happy. Imagine living with a secret that, if discovered, will create a rift in your relationships with friends and family that’ll basically mean losing your livelihood as you know it.

Seriously you and a lot of other devout Christians and Catholics have no fucking clue who we really are. Atheists come from all walks of life. Employed and not. Working parents and stay-at-home parents. Married and divorced. In a relationship and single. Young and old. Rich and poor. We are all around you. Some likely even sit in your church every Sunday and holiday merely to keep up appearances. Keep the peace with the family and community.

You have no fucking clue. Because it wouldn’t surprise me if you’d rather shun us than understand us. And that has been the mistake many Christian families have made for decades. Not just with atheists, but also with homosexual and transgender family. It’s one of the reasons I will not out myself as an atheist to the rest of my wife’s family, and why I also don’t mention it at work.

To keep the peace.

At least in the United States I’m privileged in that openly declaring my atheism here at least isn’t, literally, a death sentence. There are atheists, as I write this, who are trying to escape the Middle East, reaching out to other atheist and secular organizations for whatever assistance they can. Because being an atheist in an Islamic country can get you killed.

My wife and I have been married for over 5-1/2 years as of when I write this. Divorce rates are lower among atheists. And our marriages are typically happier, again reflected in the much lower divorce rate. Atheists don’t see ourselves as having married biological accidents on some lonely rock floating around a meaningless sun in an accidental universe. Talk about taking every misconception about atheism and stringing it together in one sentence, along with misconstruing atheists as being basement-dwelling, immature rebels from broken homes.

I’m actually, genuinely surprised you were able to bend over that far to stick your head up your ass! I had no idea anyone was actually that flexible! Congratulations! Your god must be proud of the complete dishonesty you’ve shown, not only in the above-quoted paragraph, but throughout your entire article.

So now that you’ve opened your asshole with your head, how about pulling it back out so you can shove your fist up there and go fuck yourself.

And yes, I’m being deliberately, unapologetically abrasive simply because Archbold’s article isn’t the first time I’ve encountered what he’s said, the misrepresentations he’s made. And I doubt highly this is the first time he’s made such misrepresentations.

2) Many of your college professors agree with your atheist beliefs. How’s that for the uncoolest choice ever? Hey, look at you siding with all the gray-haired tweedy authoritarian types at your school. Note: If your best friend at college is the “Diversity Awareness Coordinator” you’re colleging wrong. And if you think your professors are cool, I think they call that being a brown-noser. And brown-nosers are even less cool than gender studies majors.

Y’know when the whole 60’s thing happened, young people would say not to trust anyone over 40. But now, you guys go off to college wanting nothing more than to adopt the beliefs of your old boring professors. What could be less cool than wanting to be like your teacher? (Except if your teacher is Tony Esolen. Then it’s ok.)

And what’s this got to do with anything? Yes a lot of academics are atheists. And there are plenty who are not.

And you obviously have no idea what a brown-noser actually is. A brown-noser is sucking up to someone else, in a rather obsequious and sycophantic manner, with the intent of seeking favors. Liking your instructors isn’t the same as kissing their ass.

At this point, you’re just reaching for anything you think will give you a one-up over atheists.

1) Atheists have less children and that probably means…well you probably know what that means since you’re all about SCIENCE! Once again, to sum up, you’ll be miserable, have a shorter life, and quite likely less sex than your religious counterparts. And you thought atheism was cool? Reconsider and repent ye’ fools. Jesus said he is the way, the truth, and the life. Left unsaid, is that He’s totally cooler than Richard Dawkins!

Wait, that’s your #1? Yikes…

First, the percentage of the population that is religiously unaffiliated or atheist is GROWING! It was about 1 in 10 about a decade ago, and now it’s under 1 in 5 to approaching 1 in 4 depending on the survey. So we don’t have to worry about birth rates among current atheists when we know more atheists will come through deconversions. Seriously if you honestly think you can just outlast us, you’d be fighting a losing battle.

Especially since the birth rate among atheist families is actually only slightly lower than among religious families in the United States. Yes, we’re all about SCIENCE, but you apparently didn’t do any READING to determine the validity of your claim before making it.

And I know The God Delusion still has a lot of Christian panties in one hell of a bind, and I know you love having all kinds of strawman misconceptions of atheists in your head, but at least understand that Richard Dawkins is not atheist Jesus. For one, Jesus never existed as he’s described in the Bible, whereas Richard Dawkins is a real man. And second, a lot of atheists actually don’t like Dawkins for various reasons. And if you actually knew anything about atheists and our community, you’d already know that.

So enough with the misconceptions. Again I’ve been at this for about a decade, and it’s been a long time since I’ve heard something that hasn’t been refuted a thousand times. And you’re no different, Mr Archbold.

Before you write any more articles on atheists, and this actually goes to all Christians, get to know a few of us as people first. I think you’ll be genuinely surprised as to who we really are compared to the strawmen you’ve built in your mind.