As a child, I knew nothing of Judaism or Islam. My mother raised me in a world where Jews and Christians lived side by side, and any friction felt between them was easily ignored. The Second World War had purchased a half century of free moral passes for the new state of Israel, and the days when Western activists started to see the human toll of the genocide happening within the borders of Gaza and the West Bank were long in my future. I hadn't even heard of Islam. I had no idea what a Muslim was, so, to me, Islam literally didn't exist.
As I grew, I became aware that not everything was happy in the Middle East, and as my life unfurled I became ever more aware of the trifecta of religions that were slowly destroying the region.
Islam, Judaism and Christianity: Locked in mortal combat, for the right to rule the world.
It was a pretty one sided fight at that time.
The Christians and the Jews had all the guns, and with the exception of the Saudi state, they had all the money. They fought alongside one another to keep Islam subdued, so whatever they wished to happen in that part of the world was what happened. In time, as could be easily predicted, this created problems. Israel has been dealing with these problems for quite a long time, but the Americans could safely remain ignorant ... at least until 9/11.
The understanding that Western citizens could call themselves free ended that day. Everyone on this side of the water could see that the wars happening on the other side of the world affected them, and not just in some abstract way, but directly, fully, in a manner that might even cause their early demise.
It was in this world that the atheists started to get loud.
Quiet for so long, more and more they started to look around and see that so much of the strife and pain being inflicted on the citizens of the world, was in fact nothing more than the result of various cults trying to force their views, their cultural models, on others. With leadership from the professorial atheist authors, non-believers soon learned to be proud of their opinions, and they learned how to engage irrationality head on.
Today, the wars we atheist oppose are raging at a more fevered pitch than ever. The species is as close to annihilation as it has ever been, and yet, somehow, we have become the new player on the field. Islamic countries that simply ignored or killed atheists, now make a point of passing laws explicitly making the very thought of atheism illegal... the death of the offending atheist is the same as it was in years past, but it has now been codified into civil law, made more real because now it isn't just a religious leader that wants atheists dead, but the actual state that the leader exists within.
The conflation of state and religious power, with terminal effect.
It has reached as high as the U.N., where proposed anti-blasphemy laws repeatedly threaten to spin the world into a maelstrom of religious anarchy, as the merest suggestion of religious affront becomes a punishable crime.
This is the world most atheists battle in today. Writers like myself, living in 'safe' nations, can speak relatively freely, but our brethren in other nations are not so lucky. They risk death at every pen stroke, and a year doesn't pass that doesn't add to the list of men and women whose graves have been prematurely dug in the cause of the rational.
But I am seeing a new trend, and I expect, when it reaches its logical conclusion, it will signal the beginning of what is likely to become a monumental battle for our species.
The trend is subtle, but the outcome it points to is massive. The trend is for the leaders and public representatives of various religions to defend the heinous actions of other religions, not from the judgment of their own members, but from atheists. Atheist are becoming the new enemy, and we are seeing Christians, Jews, and the followers of Islam, defending each others’ worst assaults against humanity from the moral judgments of we, the non-believers.
The ideologies they claim to be defending are irrelevant. It is the threat of being questioned which is slowly turning enemies into allies. We are the threat they face, and we are not going away.
Today the idea of an extremist Christian defending an extremist Muslim seems absurd, and yet their ideologies align perfectly:
- The hatred of the LGBT community
- The hatred of the intellectual class
- The hatred of non-believers
- The subjugation of women
- The rise of violence as an acceptable means to promote religious values
- The conflation of political and religious authority
There are many more examples, far more than I could think of in such a quick essay, but when these two ideologies are under threat by atheism, how hard is it going to be to imagine the two followers uniting under a common flag, to fight for their common cause? It is happening today, and not a week passes that some Christian political leader in the U.S. doesn't espouse a plan that could be directly culled from extremist Islam. Who does not think any of a hundred various leaders, perhaps men like SCOTUS Judge Antonin Scalia, would hang an atheist from a pole if they thought it would gain them support?
Speaking of Scalia, he's all but said it would happen already.
Like Reagan firing the air traffic controllers and heralding the new anti-working class age, all that is stopping the slide to oblivion is the first brave Christian soul tying the first atheist killing knot. When it happens, we will be told by our leaders, our media, even our friends, to cheer.
Atheists, we are alone. That is why we must work ever harder to organize, to be the ever present voice of reason at times of injustice, because the day is coming when we will no longer be fighting individual battles. We will be fighting a war, whose combatants will be defined not by which faction of which religion they espouse, but by the very fact they embrace religion at all.
It will be the battle that either ends our species, or saves it.