One lesson I remember from my Mormon youth was that atheists simply didn’t want to believe in God because it allows them to commit sin without guilt.
Though ironically for fundamentalist religious followers, I suppose it’s easier to murder, enslave and deny rights to fellow humans ― something that doesn’t fall under the “love one another” Christian virtue ― because it’s what a Bronze Age god decreed.
Yes, I’m using the “pride goes before destruction” proverb against those who preach it. Since it’s logical to recognize that not all members in a group are fanatics ― a courtesy other parties won’t offer ― I’ll speak to those who feel their faith is at war.
I’m referring to those who overlook the First Amendment and several Supreme Court rulings when they explain there is no policy that separates church and state. Movies like the Pure Flix Entertainment film “God’s Not Dead” and its sequel further this idea that secularism in public schools equals oppression of Christianity, because when non-Christian students chose to express their spiritual beliefs (or lack thereof), Christians apparently lose their freedom.
There’s something arrogant about believing one’s own group of people is divinely chosen, that their belief is the only true way to salvation and anyone who does not accept said belief is lost. This pride becomes even more convincing when purveyors of this reductive thought process disregard evidence-based, expert-driven theories in lieu of fantasies that have little or no proof. When confronted with empirical evidence which contradicts faith, faith proponents will often point to a future truth, which will be revealed in God’s own time.
But I didn’t conceptualize this distinction from watching a religious film. Marvel’s “Dr. Strange” contains a piece of this idea that atheists are proud and theists are enlightened.
In the beginning of the film, we’re met with the typical cocky doctor who feels like he has power over life and death. In desperation, protagonist Stephen Strange goes on a journey to heal himself from a car accident, and apparently, his lifestyle.
Strange later argues with his soon-to be-mentor the Ancient One over how there’s no possible way of “healing through belief” and “there’s no such thing as spirit,” two remarks that won him an amused smile and an eye roll. He’s quick to convert after the Ancient One literally punches him into the next dimension and sends him on the special-effects trip of his life.
Here’s the thing about science: Unlike religion, it works to always correct itself. Strange would be right in not accepting “chakras or energy or the power of belief,” not because he’s self-righteous and closed to the possibility, but because as a scientist, he can’t view it as a possibility unless it has verifiable proof.
Atheists accept that they don’t have all the answers. There is no one correct way of living and the truth should be discovered instead of handed over. This doesn’t sound arrogant to me.
With all the concepts that fundamentalist religion does not accept — man-made climate change as an immediate danger, homosexuality as biology rather than a deviant choice, safeguarding women’s reproductive health rights, evolution being a well-supported theory, morality being subject to individuals and not doctrine —― I think there’s enough material for a better movie.