As you can hear in the embedded audio, C-list actor Kevin Sorbo went on End Times radio with Pastor Rick Wiles on Tuesday to agree that atheists aren’t really atheists at all, but secretly-religious people who are just angry at God.
Wiles: The truth is, Kevin, they know he exists.
Sorbo: Of course.
Wiles: They hate him.
Sorbo: That’s exactly what it is and that’s pretty much what my character is in the movie God’s Not Dead. I mean, I know these guys must believe in something. Otherwise they wouldn’t get so angry about it. And they don’t like the fact that there’s a higher power out there judging how they live their lives.
This is clear evidence that neither of these people understands the first thing about atheism, or atheists. They’re not alone: polls show that atheism suffers a higher social stigma in America than any religious or minority group. We are literally the worst people on Earth, or so everyone with a religion seems to agree. But most of this prejudice is grounded in misconceptions and false perceptions; here are six key things that Sorbo and Wiles ought to know before they talk about atheists again.
- We actually don’t believe in their god. Or any gods, for that matter. All gods are equally as fake as Zeus, the mythological father of Hercules, and it’s irrational to be angry at something that doesn’t exist. Sorbo and Wiles are engaging in a psychological projection here: they can’t imagine a mind free of god, but they also disbelieve in thousands of other gods than their own. The only real difference between Sorbo and an atheist is that the latter disbelieves in exactly one more god than he does. And Sorbo should stop pretending that he knows us, because
- Atheism is diverse. You don’t have to come from any particular creed, color, or neighborhood to become an atheist, you just have to be a rational person. Lots of us are keenly interested in spiritual topics and religious ideas even though we don’t believe in gods. Politically, we can be conservative, liberal, libertarian, progressive, and indefinably independent. Just as America’s religious diversity is the reason why there aren’t more atheists in America, the abundance of views within atheism keeps them from organizing together like fanatics do. Which reminds me to point out that
- Atheists only ever organize against zealots. How many American churches have been closed down by atheists? How many prayer groups? The answer is zero. In America, the only people trying to shut down anyone else’s religious centers are nutty Islamophobes, mostly Christians and some Jews, who organize against mosques and “creeping sharia.” So what the atheist objects to is not that people pray, but that any religion would use laws, public space, and common resources to impress their own peculiar theology on everyone else. Fighting religious extremists is pretty much the only thing atheists can get together about, either, which brings us to the important fact that
- We’re perfectly normal people. We aren’t monsters justifying our evil, murderous ways. We are Sorbo’s friends, co-workers, and family members; logic made us atheists, not immorality or personal behavior. We are just as moral as he is, but because we choose to be that way, not because we fear our nonexistent souls will be condemned by an invisible sky-man. And we disbelieve in gods because
- We respect empirical evidence. Why does water boil at 100 degrees Celsius and one atmosphere of pressure no matter where you are in the universe? Because the world isn’t magic. It’s made of real stuff that obeys physical laws that we can understand with math and rigorous experimentation. On the other hand, Sorbo and Wiles have a belief system grounded in a set of Bronze Age fairy tales, and through circular reasoning their scripture itself is the only proof they need to insist that their particular set of fairy tales is the ‘true’ one. Which is an example of why
- We see all zealots as equally dangerous. Our data-set for reaching this conclusion is human history, i.e. real things that real people have done, such as the burning and sacking of cities during the Crusades. Atheists see zero moral difference between violent Islamist fanaticism and violent Christian fanaticism. The name of his radio show, “End Times,” betrays the eliminationist fantasies at work in Wiles, who recently opined that an Ebola outbreak could give Americans an “attitude adjustment” about homosexuals and atheists. Sure, Sorbo was only on the show to pimp his new movie, but just who would Jesus dehumanize?
Atheists aren’t angry at god. If we’re angry, it’s aimed at Kevin Sorbo and Rick Wiles for being jackasses who talk smack about people they don’t know or understand.