Originally posted at the Friendly Atheist: Hemant Mehta writes on the recently launched “Extraordinary Claims” Campaign here in Canada. He also addresses the oft-used argument by theists that atheists should just sit down and shut-up.
National Post columnist Kelly McParland doesn’t get the campaign at all:
So why does he care if people believe in God, Allah or the tooth fairy? Atheists are defined by their disbelief. i.e. the biggest thing in their life is that they don’t believe in something. But rather than just go around quietly, not believing, Trottier and his pals feel compelled to make other people not believe either. Their only faith is in the rightness of not having faith.
Isn’t that just a bit strange? I don’t happen to believe basketball is that interesting. Sorry, just don’t. I tried, but it bores me. Mainly I just keep it to myself. But if I was Justin Trottier, I’d be out there raising money to run ads in subways and streetcars, trying to convince other people that basketball is boring. The ads would say: “If you think basketball isn’t boring, you have to prove it. Just like Bigfoot.”
Would that make sense? (Answer: No). And to what end, exactly? If five more people suddenly realize they also don’t care about basketball, have I achieved anything?
I’m so sick of hearing that argument. Why do you atheists have to tear everyone else down? If you don’t believe in god, fine, but just sit there and shut up about it.
We actively fight against extraordinary claims like the ones in the poster because those claims cause harm.
They can drain your wallet.
They will waste your time.
They can become the basis for irrational, unnecessary, and dangerous laws.
They offer false hope that will never come to fruition.
They can make you kill or hate or injure others.
They can make you take placebos when actual medicines are available.
They make you believe in fiction.
They make you fight against reality.
They brainwash children and adults alike.
As one commenter said about McParland’s article, no one is flying planes into buildings because they don’t like basketball.
We can’t “live and let live” when we see how much damage these beliefs — as silly as some might seem — have inflicted on people we love, and how much pain these beliefs have caused by people who took them too seriously.