Does anyone read the Toronto Star? I don’t, because I live in Florida, USA. But I do get Google alerts on atheism, and this incredibly inane letter submitted to the Toronto Start turned up in my inbox:
Reader Rudy Grant dared to say that Canada needs an atheist for the leader of the religious freedom office. I disagree.
Atheism is a religion. Oxford defines religion this way: “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” The average atheist, I dare say, believes in the power of intellect, often his/her own. So that’s his god.
I prefer to have someone who worships a superhuman controlling power, namely God with a capital G, at the helm of such an important office.
Laura Leavens, Mississauga
I like how Bill Maher put it:
“Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex position.”
Laura here helpfully provides the Oxford Definition of religion. I do notice she fails to provide the Oxford definition of God.
If you were wondering, the Oxford dictionary defines God in this way:
Definition of God
- (god) (in certain other religions) a superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes; a deity:a moon god an incarnation of the god Vishnu
- (god) an adored, admired, or influential person:he has little time for the fashion victims for whom he is a god
- (the gods) informal the gallery in a theater.
Laura says that we atheists believe in the power of intellect (often our own).
Check out those definitions. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see a single definition under which “intellect” would fall.
It’s also a false argument. We certainly don’t worship our own intellect. Indeed… I’ve become convinced over the last couple of years that there are a huge number of atheists who wouldn’t know what intellect was if it bit them in the ass.
Personally, I disagree with Laura and Rudy, to whom Laura is responding. No country “needs” an atheist in power. Countries only need people in power who will help that country move forward into the 21st century. What Canada, the US, and all other countries need is for faith to NOT be a deciding factor in whether or not someone would be good with power. We shouldn’t care if a person believes in a higher power, or what kind of higher power, when we vote for them. It simply should not be an issue.
Here in the US, what I want to see is an atheist run for president and not be demonized for being an atheist. That doesn’t mean I’d vote for them. For example… I think it’d be great if, say, Michael Shermer ran for president and his atheism was not brought up at all, ever, in any way, shape, or form. I wouldn’t vote for him, because he’s a Randian libertarian and I’m a Socialist Libertarian… that is, while we agree on the fundamental idea that “you have the right to do whatever you want as long as you do not violate anybody else’s right to do whatever they want” and that we don’t think God exists, we disagree on pretty much everything else. I don’t think he’d make a good president for the US because that is not the direction I want the US to go in. The fact that he’s an atheist has fuck all to do with it.
On the flipside, I’d happily vote for a Christian, or Jew, or even a Muslim if (s)he and I agreed on a majority of social and economic issues.
Because religion, or the lack thereof, means nothing to me, and that’s the point. It shouldn’t matter whether or not a candidate believes in God. That’s all us atheists are saying: the religion, or lack thereof, of a government candidate should very simply not be an issue.