Tuesday, September 05, 2006

To Sign or Not to Sign?

My friend and fellow atheist, Ka, from Biblioblography says he doesn't want to sign the Wal-Mart Bible Letter. He gives his justification thusly (his post came up with some funny characters in it [รข€™] due to some kind of browser/font issue on my end, so I had to edit out the strange characters the best I could and the quote may not be 100% syntactically correct):

My point here is that we need to contribute more positive items to the world. Charity work, volunteer work, throw some money at a recurring problem, hell, give out free copies of the Atheist Manifesto, or The End of Faith ('cause let's face it, you can get all sorts of bibles for free, or next to nothing) sure, you get what you pay for and all, but when it comes to the Almighty Dollar, people ain't gonna pay extra for something unless the novelty value is extreme, and most think that we believe in "nothing," where's the value in that?).

Short version, is what I'm always trying to teach my 17-year-old niece: pick your battles. Choose the ones you can win.


A fair point, indeed. Incidentally, the esteemed Austin Cline also mentions the same sentiments that Ka points out, yet he still concludes that signing the letter would be a good thing overall:

Is there any chance that this petition will be successful? No, quite frankly, I don't think so. I'll grant that it's nice to imagine companies like Wal-Mart treating Christianity and Christian material in a manner that it ethical and intellectually consistent with how they treat other sorts of material. I agree with Aaron Kinney that the ideal situation would be for Wal-Mart to sell all the material, but also that if they going to ban some of it on the basis of sexual or violent content, then they should evaluate the Bible on the same basis. I doubt that it would survive such a review if conducted fairly and objectively.

...

That doesn't make this petition entirely worthless, though. If nothing else, it may draw people's attention not only to Wal-Mart's censorship policies and how they can negatively impact the distribution of information in America, but also perhaps some of the violence, sex, and hatred conveyed in the Bible. That's not such a bad goal to have as well.


I agree with both Ka's and Austin's sentiments, but I must respectfully part ways with Ka's conclusion.

Both Ka and Austin are right in that this letter has a snowball's chance in Hell of actually getting Wal-Mart to stop selling Bibles. I mean, even if I am wrong about the non-existence of God, surely I am not so delusional to think that this letter would get Wal-Mart to stop selling Bibles?

No, I am not. What I am fairly sure about, though, is that if enough people sign this letter, it will bring the atrocities of the Bible to the attention of the average Joe Six-pack American public. How many self-professed Christians in America are even aware that the Bible has stories of incest-rape committed on Lot by his own daughters? Surely, most self-professed Christians in America are aware that the Bible says not to work on the Sabbath, but how many of them are actually aware that the Bible proscribes execution for those who break the rule? How many self-professed Christians in America today are aware that the Bible says to execute non-Christians?

How many self-professed Christians in America today even realize that their own holy book would be banned from libraries and store shelves if their own anti-obscenity policies were uniformly enforced?

To me, this is about awareness. Not Christian awareness of atheism as Ka states, but Christian awareness of the contents of their own sacred book. Unfortunately, I didn't make this point clear in my original post about the Bible Letter. Instead I argued from effect: The effect of either having obscene books sold in Wal-Mart again, or the (unlikely) effect of having the Bible pulled from their shelves. But after some further thought on the issue, I think that awareness of the Bible itself and it's contents is definitely the most important point in this whole issue. Austin Cline seems to understand that rather well:

If nothing else, it may draw people's attention not only to Wal-Mart's censorship policies and how they can negatively impact the distribution of information in America, but also perhaps some of the violence, sex, and hatred conveyed in the Bible.


Emphasis mine.

So, while I do respect Ka's decision and understand where he is coming from, I think that he should reconsider. I also think that any atheists who are hesitant to sign the letter should think long and hard about the importance of bringing the Bible's full contents into the thoughts of the average Joe Christian, and sign the letter just like Austin Cline, PZ Myers, and myself have done.

8 comments:

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey Aaron, thanks for the thoughtful nod.
The only issue I see.
I also think that any atheists who are hesitant to sign the letter should think long and hard about the importance of bringing the Bible's full contents into the thoughts of the average Joe Christian, and sign the letter just like Austin Cline, PZ Myers, and myself have done.
Well, after over a year (holy crap, has it been that long?) of blogging & arguing w/xtians, I dunno.
I recall having this discussion w/a BAX buddy o' mine, & I brought up the genocide of the Canaanites, & he gave me pretty much the same answer McDowell gave in ETDAV: "They were sexually amoral, worshipped other gods, etc", usual drill.
I've banged xtian bloggers over the noggin w/all of these things, & it sometimes seems like I'm hitting a wall, is all.

olly said...

Ka,

I see your point about banging them over the head with it, but I think you are giving up to easily. I don't mean this as an insult or anything, just that this isn't an easy row to hoe for most of us here. We KNOW that only one out of every 1,000,000 Christian's who read our blogs are going to even stop and think about what we are saying critically, let alone be convinced by it. But the problem with letting that argument lead you down the path of saying 'pick your battles' is that the path to apathy is lined with good intentions. Soon you will stop caring to argue at all. Soon you will stop worrying about the Christian's. And then they become unchecked.

Our main purpose as Atheist and freethought bloggers is to be a thorn in the side of rampant, unchecked Christianity/Religion. Does that thorn amount to much in terms of stopping momentum? Probably not. But we can't let things like Xian bullheadedness and Religion itself bulldoze on unfettered.

We have an obligation to speak out, even if it means jack shit in terms of deconversions in the end.

-olly

stillwaters said...

And the time and effort that a person puts into this to JUST SIGN the petition is almost nil.

Putting together the petition took a lot of effort, but for just one person to sign it takes almost no time at all.

Go ahead and sign it. You'll still have plenty of time for the charity/volunteer work.

I'd still like to see a million signatures on that thing before Nov. 1.

Aaron Kinney said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comments everyone.

And yes stillwater, I will soon perorm a small burning sacrifice to provide a "sweet smell unto the lord" so that he may bless this letter with 1,000,000 signatures :)

stillwaters said...

You better make it a BIG sacrifice, if this petition is ever to get to 1,000,000!

Cripes, people. Come on and sign it. This is one way, an easy way, to make a statement to others that their precious bible is not considered by everyone to be the bastion of morality.

Aaron Kinney said...

BIG sacrifice. Got it ;-)

Time to roast me some unblemished fatty goats!

Krystalline Apostate said...

olly:
I see your point about banging them over the head with it, but I think you are giving up to easily.
I see your point, but give up too easily? Never.
I don't mean this as an insult or anything, just that this isn't an easy row to hoe for most of us here.
You do catch more flies w/honey than vinegar.
But the problem with letting that argument lead you down the path of saying 'pick your battles' is that the path to apathy is lined with good intentions
Nope. We're outnumbered. We need more friends, allies. Rather than stoke the fires of discontent, or provide more targets & ammo, we need an even playing field.
We have an obligation to speak out, even if it means jack shit in terms of deconversions in the end.
Hey, I'm w/you on that 1.
A well-place word in the eye of the storm works far better than bellowing in the winds of the vortex itself, sometimes.

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