The Golden Compass – Bring on the Atheism!

The His Dark Materials trilogy has been on my reading list for a while. I love all sorts of fantasy, and that includes children's and young adult fantasy. But since I have a rather long list of books to read, His Dark Materials hasn't been really high on my list. It keeps get replaced by such things as The Conscience of a Liberal by Krugman, and the new Orson Scott Card (more on him below) book, Empire. Until now.

I've heard all the rumblings regarding the movie, The Golden Compass, which is based on the first book in the trilogy. Oh no! The author of the books that the movie is based on is atheist! Oh no! The author made a comment to the effect that the books are about killing God! Oh no! He says he's the anti-C.S. Lewis! (Disclosure: I love C.S. Lewis.)

And, finally, the moment I've been waiting for has arrived. I received a chain email regarding the forthcoming Golden Compass movie (I love these things):

If you stand firm in your belief of God, I suggest that none of us go see this movie, ever, and to tell all of our friends and family to not see this movie.

Of course, now I want to see the movie even more. And I certainly still want to read the books. In fact, I'm ordering the whole trilogy off my son's book order. Since the library is all out. Does that mean I don't firmly believe in God?

Honestly, it looks like an interesting movie, and it's based on books that are, by all accounts, interesting and well-written. I've been reading fantasy and science fiction about gods, demons, magic and atheism since I was six years old. So, I guess instead of being an active Mormon, I should be Wiccan. Or an atheist. But I shouldn't believe in Jesus. And yet, despite all the stuff I've been exposed to, I'm a Christian.

Can you imagine what would happen if they made movies out of Orson Scott Card's Ender series? Well, Card may be LDS, but last I checked his protagonist, Ender, was a humanist and probably agnostic (if not an atheist). But because Card is Christian, movies on his books probably won't be boycotted (well, maybe by evangelicals). And don't forget that the “Zoram” character in his Homecoming series (a blatant rip-off of the Book of Mormon) is gay. And Card uses more profanity in some of his books than I think I'll find in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Just because Philip Pullman is atheist doesn't mean his books are worse than Orson Scott Card's (or any other Christian author's — I mean, the Left Behind series wins full marks for gratuitous violence).

I doubt my the first thing a 9-year-old is going to think when watching The Golden Compass is “Wow. What a great movie about atheism. I think I'll abandon the beliefs of my parents!” My guess is that kids watching the movies will be thinking, “Awesome! I wish I had a talking monkey for a friend!” or “A movie where kids are better than adults! Cool!”

When I read the Chronicles of Narnia in first grade, I didn't think of it as a tale with Christian underpinnings. I thought it was an awesome story where kids were doing fantastical things. And the animals talked. And there was magic.

I doubt very highly that child readers (and watchers) of His Dark Materials are going to discuss the religious (or lack thereof) beliefs of the creator. Any more than my youngest brother abandoned the Church for the world of witchcraft after reading Harry Potter.

Tags: The Golden Compass, The Golden Compass atheism, The Golden Compass movie, Orson Scott Card LDS,
His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

0 thoughts on “The Golden Compass – Bring on the Atheism!”

  1. i’m glad you wrote this. i had seen the preview for this movie, and being a fantasy lover also, wanted to go and see it. then i too got the mass e-mail about the author wanting to send the message to kids that organized religion and the idea of God is horrible. i still kinda struggle with going to see it now though. because i’m thinking, do i really want to support someone who’s goal it is to kill God? no matter how good the book/movie looks? i don’t know. i really dont’ know.

  2. ah, the support question.

    i guess i equate atheism in a lot of ways the same way i think of religions in general. i wouldn’t shun a work by a hindu author because s/he doesn’t believe in the same God i do. i’ve read writings muslims. should i stop just because they encourage christians to abandon their religion and join islam? i’m not talking about jihadists, i’m talking about people whose goal it is to win converts.

    i guess i just see an atheist like pullman as someone trying to gain converts. much like we indoctrinate our children to be lds from a young age and proselyte, trying to win people over to our way of thinking.

    just because he doesn’t think the same way, and share the same religion, doesn’t mean he’s evil. i don’t feel like i’d be supporting evil.

    i’d be supporting quality entertainment and reading material. besides, the fact that he had to tell people about his goal kinda tells me that his creation, like so many works of art, can be taken in many different ways. i’ve always believed that the consumer of art, whether it be writing, painting or music, makes it their own. so many people i talked to were surprised about pullman’s statement because they’d read the books and didn’t get that at all.

    but whatever makes me feel better, i guess :0)

  3. Hi Miranda,

    Well stated. I too am a fantasy loving Christian mother. Even though personally I still have my concerns about the movie and books (and will until I have the chance to read them myself) I think the biggest issue is just that people are aware. I have no problem with people seeing the movie or reading the books. I mean we do live in a country that allows people of all faiths and religions to put stuff out there for all to see and read and thats a GREAT thing. Does it mean that I have to let my child view all those things? No way. Thats where my discretion as a parent comes into play. As should any responisble parent’s.

  4. yay parental discretion! such a good point christina. it should be out there, and we should help direct our kids to what we think is appropriate. after all we ARE PARENTS.

    that said, since i have stuff of all sorts in the house (including carl sagan) my son will have the opportunity to be exposed to different viewpoints and we can discuss them rationally.

    keeping your kids from everything, by saying only that “it’s bad!” without giving concrete reasons, is inviting them to want it more.

    my brother in law pointed out something else to me: he pointed out that much of what we use today in terms of technology is built on the work of atheists. so if we don’t want to support them…well, you see where his train of thought is going.

  5. I appreciate the polite discourse on this topic, but if you’re a person of faith, it really comes down to this question: Why would a practicing Christian want to give their money and tacit support to a man who boldly told the Washington Post, “I am trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief”? Philip Pullman has made it quite clear what he wants to do with his books: denigrate religion and lead children away from their belief in God. He says he wants to “kill God,” for God’s sake. How could he be more clear about his purpose? What more evidence do we need about the unholy nature of his intent, and the cause he’s serving with the fruits of his labors? Yet in response, we hem and haw, afraid to sound unhip, or narrow-minded or politically incorrect. Well, I support Pullman’s First Amendment right to produce and try to sell his garbage. But I refuse, in the interest of trying to sound broadminded, to downplay what’s at stake here in his ongoing efforts to lead children into disbelief. Yes, if you’ve raised your kids with a strong faith, this movie and Pullman’s books may not phase them. But in a society where so many are lost, bewildered, and unchurched, he is bound to find many takers. That’s why he’s sold 15 million copies of his book.As you might assume, I’ll do all I can to dissuade others from seeing this movie. And more importantly, from buying the Golden Compass books, which are even more vitriolic in their hatred of religion.

  6. Since this is still a hot blog topic I thought I would give it a try, I hope Miranda does not mind. I think I understand many of the points of view that have been pushed vertiginously around this author. I have never read his works and I do not feel that I need to do so to understand the premise of the dogma everyone here is writing about.

    Good arguments have been made on both sides; however I tend to back Miranda’s view. To the first anonymous; yes as a society we are entertaining ourselves out of eternity but not because of one book or one movie or one author. Making simple statement of ambiguity coupled with a single cause and effect to explain something as complex as eternity is really impairing eternity and God. Despite what some would have us believe, heaven and God are not one dimensional, uniformed ideas.

    To tom s.; you are very ardent about your beliefs, I hope that you are not one of those people who are willing to draw close to Him with your lips but your heart and actions are far from him. In other words are going to “practice what you preach”. Purpose and intent are not the issue, and if they are then you have missed the issue, outcome should be our disquiet. What makes Pullman different from any other atheist in the world? Could it be the fact that he is as ardent in his beliefs as you are in yours? I hope that you can live up your ban, which is not of Pullman but of what he represents, of atheism and not support anything produced, invented, or created by an atheist. After all, does not supporting an atheist, vocal or not, lead to the same out come? If you truly are living up to your words we will never know because you will not be able to use a computer, or the internet. On the 99% chance that you will not live up to your statements I do have more to say to you. Within mainstream Christianity an epidemic is starting to develop; individuals are converting to Christianity over and over again, from church to church and eventually falling or fading away. The reason is because they never knew what conversion was the first time they did it. Most of us come from Christian homes where we had a “coercive conversion” from our parents, in early adulthood some become “saved” and convert on their own. However, that does not become good enough so they get saved over and over again trying to actualize a conversion that never comes. The conversion never comes because there is nothing else their to solidify their faith. Stopping our children from developing awareness on their own can lead them to spiritual impotence when they are older. At least if we allow them to find understanding on their own when they are younger it can be in a controlled environment such as our home, and it can be done under our direction. Since by her blog I know Miranda is Mormon; the PhD who put the study together did briefly mention that Mormon men who serve mission do not have the same reconversion cycle, he says it is because Brigham Young sends them away to missions were their faith can be challenged.

    I will hem and haw over this, not because I don’t want to be unhip (honestly who used the word hip anymore), but because I do not want to be ignorant. Ignorance is not bliss, and you can not be saved by it. In the world but not of the world sort of stuff. Tom, Under your view of Pullman then another book, blogged by Miranda, needs to be boycotted as well; the Homecoming series by Orson Scott Card sounds a lot like Pullman’s books only with Mormonism instead of atheism. Isn’t one of the big goals of Mormonism to get people to join their church? If you still want to compare fruits, no greater fruit can a man or women have then in their children, and Ronald Reagan’s son, Ron Reagan is a outspoken atheist. I guess that means that our 40th president must also have been an evil atheist, or at least just a really bad person, and we should never quote what he said or what he did, if we listen to Ronald Reagan then we will turn out like his son did.

    In the end is anyone better off for using “vitriolic” language to take a stance. Let us all remember the words of the great Obi won Kanoi: “Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes” adding “I will do what I must.” Miranda you are not going to hell because you read Pullmans books, see his movies or allow your kids to do the same. Tom S. you are not going to heave because you did not read Pullmans books, see his movies or allow your kids to do the same. Whoever goes to whatever place, it will be because YOU alone deserve it. God is not that oblique and nether are his laws.

  7. debate! :o) always fun.

    i read different viewpoints because people are still people. and rather than looking at someone like pullman and saying “it’s bad” and moving on, i am interested in WHY he says things like that, and WHAT he actually writes in his books, regardless of his stated intent in the media.

    atheism is so interesting to me because most lost their faith in god at some point, and i wonder what could have happened. i think it’s more than just “he’s a bad person with an unholy purpose.”

    and, now that i’ve read the trilogy, i have more insight, and it’s interesting to me that the children didn’t actually kill god. they set him free.

    who was killed in the book? actually it was a usurping angel who wanted to force his will on all people. in my framework, lucifer died. interesting how i brought my own beliefs to the book and made it fit within my own framework.

  8. To counted to the idea that it’s just his belief and you would not counter a movie made by someone who’s religion is Islam:

    Most “religions” in the world are trying to worship God in one form or another. They are trying to love God, and help others love God the same way. In that aspect I agree, no I would not boycott a movie made by a follower of Islam.
    That being said:
    This trilogy sets out to get people (children) to hate God. I do not see atheism as another belief set equal to other religions of the world. Especially extreme atheism to the point to denouncing God (as did Coriantumer). In this I cannot support their beliefs as it is damaging to the idea of God and religion, whereas other religions are just different manifesations of the same idea.

  9. atheism is so interesting to me because most lost their faith in god at some point, and i wonder what could have happened. i think it’s more than just “he’s a bad person with an unholy purpose.”

    I’ll tell you what happened to me.

    I came home from school one day to find my father in bed, apparently asleep.

    Well, this sat badly with me, as he had apparently forgotten to pick me up from school. So I went up to my room to take a nap.

    Turned out he was dying. After I figured this out, I called 911 and my mom. Too late. Later I went into his bedroom and cleaned the human feces from the walls. Apparently he had tried to go the bathroom, but couldn’t walk there.

    He’d crawled on his belly.

    And then I came home, and ignored his plight, thinking he was dead.

    And then he died.

    I was a devout Christian when I was a boy. My dad was not. He did not believe in god.

    So I was asked to believe my father the unbeliever was in hell. And that I’d never see him again, being “saved.”

    What kind of god would let a boy watch his father die like that, and then separate him from his dad for all eternity?

    Not any god I want to worship.
    So even if you’re god exists, which I don’t believe, I wouldn’t want to be saved. What’s the point, if those I love are in hell?

    Screw that.

    So I’ll be watcthing these movies with interest. And I hope they do kill god.

  10. Thanks for your story cbh. I think a lot of people are discouraged by such experiences as yours.

    I am so grateful that my religion teaches no such thing. The chance to repent after death is there (though it’s harder than in life), and the final judgment doesn’t take place at death. In my Mormon framework, your dad still gets a chance to “convert” after death and will end up in a kingdom of glory, content for an eternity, even if he chooses not to convert.

  11. Miranda, thanks for blogging on this topic. It’s been a big issue for me as a public school teacher in a widely LDS community. Having done a great deal of study on the topic of this book series, I would like to point out a few things.

    First of all, don’t believe every piece of spin thrown at you in an email forward. It’s called being “blown about by every wind of doctrine.” Secondly, the author of the book did not sit down one day and say, “Gee, how can I undermine Christian belief? I know! I’ll write a children’s book series!” His books are about killing God (in a sense), but they do not advocate killing God. Devil worshipers, not atheists, want to fight against God.

    Lastly, while this series does tend to vilify the contemporary concept of God, so do we Mormons. The oppressive, partisan god that will damn a person for having the audacity to be born in a nation without Christianity is no god of mine. The totalitarian god, who would rather have people obey out of constraint than give them the freedom and ability to err–this is no god of mine. If Phillip Pullman wants to kill a belief in that infernal impostor of the Master of Heaven and earth, I support him in that effort. And if, as he himself has said, he is agenda is just to get people to keep reading his books because they’re good…well, I’ll support that too.

  12. Of course I don’t believe every email forward (count is up to three on this one, folks), as I pointed out. And as I stated, I am perfectly happy to see the movie, and I’ve read the books. I was struck by the fact that really, the person who got killed was, in fact, someone I’d identify with Lucifer.

  13. I’m a Reform Mormon, but in 2001, while still a member of the LDS Church, a very devout LDS friend gave me “The Golden Compass” to read. Not being a fantasy fan, I put off reading the book until just last week. I LOVE this series! It is SO Mormon! I know why Orthodox Christians might hate it, but am confused by Mormon disapproval. This series attacks the doctrine of Original Sin (so does “The Book of Mormon,”), it champions Free Will(aka Moral Agency) as does “The Book of Abraham”) and puts forth the idea that humans are divine (as does Joseph Smith’s King Follett Discourse.) Most importantly, the series presents the EXACT same interpretation of the Adam & Eve/Eden story as does Mormon theology–which is, that the so-called “Fall” was a GOOD thing and that Eve was a hero for eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.
    No wonder my fellow Mormon gave me a copy of “The Golden Compass.”

  14. I figured I’d weigh in as I am an atheist. Interestingly I don’t have a particular reason for being one. I have led and continue to lead a happy, fulfilling, life. I am close to my parents (who do believe in God but accept my belief or lack thereof), great friends and I have a loving, wonderful husband who is also an atheist. I don’t mean to speak for him but I don’t think either one of us had a particular tragedy that occured to make us this way. We just simply have no “need” to believe. I also know that we are good people. I know this from every fiber of my being. I don’t “hate” the concept of God, I also don’t wish that other people would stop believing in God. I have no particular agenda in that regard. I honestly don’t care as long as they are good people. I mean no offense by this next comment (but I suspect I’m already offending certain people so here goes), to me, God is no different than other fictional beings out there – Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or even other deities from other past religions – Zeus, Athena, you get the picture. I don’t hate them, I don’t have an agenda that has anything to do with them. I just simply don’t believe they are real.

    I can tell you that I’ve slowly realized over the past few years that I’m an atheist. I can also tell you that in actuality I’ve probably been an atheist since I was a young child. I was always taught that God existed. And I suppose I had good reason to believe that he did. I came from a loving family, and was basically born “lucky”. “Signs” of God all around me, right? No reason to disbelieve, to hate him, to doubt his existance. I get it. I get why people do believe and why it’s such a universal theme for humanity. I was taught that he existed both by my education and also by my parents. Really the world over teaches it. It seems to be a given for the majority of folks out there. Anyway, being a good pupil, and being a devoted daughter, aiming to please the adults around me, I think I half-heartedly believed. But it was an empty belief. Almost as if my heart was saying “okay, whatever you say”, but I didn’t TRULY believe. Too many things just didn’t make sense and seemed a little… made up. A little bit like humans have a need for answers to their questions and when they can’t answer the questions through some other means, they attribute it to a faith. This isn’t a bad thing, it just means we are creatures that need certain comforts to fulfill certain voids and I think faith is something to do that with. And that’s okay. Whatever gives you purpose in life. Whatever allows you to fear death a little less. Whatever let’s you sleep at night. I sleep at night knowing that I don’t need to live in fear of a higher power, whether that be God, Jesus, Zeus or Thor. When I die, I am going to fade into nothingness. And to me, that is the most peaceful thought I can have. No consequences, no punishments, no rewards. All I can do in life is enjoy what I have been given, being this lifetime, be a good person and love those around me and contribute to their lives as well. And if it turns out I’m wrong, and I’m going to the place called hell that some man way back when decided to write down in a book called the bible, then I’m sure I’ll be in good company. In the meantime, I’m sleeping just fine and I’m really looking forward to seeing some good entertainment in the way of this movie.

  15. Thanks anon! Your story is very interesting, and I think that many others share that story. I interview scientists a lot, and they probably have experiences similar to yours.

    Just an FYI, though: I don’t think you’re going to hell :0)

    One thing I’ve never comprehended about Christians is how they somehow think that if you don’t believe in God you’re evil. It’s like Mormons (mostly in Utah, I’ve found) who think that people who have a can of beer or a glass of wine are wicked…

  16. I came across your blog reading up on the debate about the “atheistic agenda” behind The Golden Compass, and yours was a refreshing combination of a religious perspective with open mindedness.
    I saw the movie last night and have to say that it didn’t thrill me, but I’m not generally a huge fan of juvenile fantasy. The special effects were terrific, and the actors quite good, but the story was just too simplistic for my taste. I felt mostly the same way about the books, but the movie was even more dumbed-down. My wife, on the other hand, liked the movie quite a bit although she was disappointed that it did not follow the book more closely. (We had roughly the same opinions of the Narnia movie.)
    As to the whole promotion of atheism question; you are likely to see what you are looking for. That is to say that whatever Pullman’s intentions might have been in choosing some of the particulars of this story, whatever anti-religious sentiment exists is not of the slap-you-in-the-face variety.
    Like many here mentioned, my wife also never noticed the christian symbology in Narnia until I pointed it out. We both read His Dark Materials series and didn’t take any of the metaphysical material there as anything but run-to-the-mill fantasy story mumbo-jumbo until we came across a story about Pullman being an atheist with an agenda. Even in that light, I can’t recall anything in the story that addressed a specific religious or anti-religious doctrine. He doesn’t ever actually mention the Catholic church, Jesus, or even God that I can recall. (Although there is A LOT of talk about “killing god” in the media, I’m not sure where they get that phrase.) Pullman calls him (or the being who claims to be the creator, rather) the Authority, and if I hadn’t known from the books who the Authority was I wouldn’t have even realized what they were talking about in the movie.
    The Magisterium is depicted in a very sinister and unkind light, but if it bears an uncanny resembalance to the Catholic church of not so long ago I think that is a shortcoming of that church, not Pullman’s writing.
    This endless debate over what themes and symbols are here remind me of the scene in Adam Sandler’s movie “Billy Madison” where the main character makes a lengthy and rambling disertaion as to the symbology of a children’s book regarding a young boy and his lost dog pertaining to the social impact of the industrial revolution. Maybe not a completely fair comparison in this case since Pullman has freely admitted he does have it in for Christianity, but my point is that most of the arguements for an atheist agenda that I’ve heard and read sound nearly as tortuous.
    I’d like to add one last thing; as an atheist, there is no atheist conspiracy! For one thing, there is no more a uniform atheist belief sytem than there is a christian one. (By which I mean the Catholic/Mormon/Jehovah’s Witness/Baptist/Unitarian/etc spread of beliefs that are lumped together as christianity.) When would we plan it, anyway? We don’t have meetings once a week like you guys do 😉 Saying that atheism is a belief system is the same as saying that not believing in Santa Claus is a belif system (asantaclausism?). It is just the conclusion that one reaches after evaluating the claims of theists. More importantly, it says nothing about the atheist’s moral beliefs. To break my rule about generalizing atheists, I would say that most atheists are, morally, secular humanists. One way of describing christians is as religious humanists, so really we have a lot in common.
    Sorry if that was off topic, but I see a lot of the common religious folks discussing atheists misconceptions in your conversation here and just wanted to add that perspective.
    Thanks for having such an open mind!

  17. Thanks Jim!

    One of the things I love about reading (and other creative outlets) is how I can bring my own experiences to the table and then make whatever I’m reading truly mine. Once the author (or artist, etc.) puts it out there, to a certain extent it’s out of his or her control.

  18. Thanks – I’m back (the atheist without any particular anger issues who isn’t going to hell). Thanks for appreciating my point of view. It is certainly refreshing to get that. And I totally agree – no hidden agenda. It’s quite boring actually. I just don’t believe in God and it’s as simple as that. And it’s true, we have no regular weekly meetings. I really don’t know what we’d discuss if we did. Very well-put, that atheism isn’t a set belief system. It’s just a simplified way to say someone doesn’t believe in God.

    I also saw the Golden Compass this past weekend and I quite enjoyed. I agree it doesn’t go terribly deep (at least not yet) but I thought it was entertaining, delightful and delivered a good message. Plus it is clearly geared toward older children so it had a certain charm in the way the message was delivered. I also agree that the message you take from it is what you want to take from it. Anyway, I went with a close friend of mine who happens to be a practicing Catholic, and she took no offense to the portrayal of the Magisterium. She felt that it shows the dark side of religion, which is really not religion itself but what the wrong kind of people use religion for. How they abuse the power they are given, if you will. She said that if she had children, she wouldn’t fuss over them seeing it.

    Anyway, clearly the author also has another most noble agenda here, and that is to make money. Nothing wrong with that. But don’t you think he wants to stir the pot and cause everyone to have these discussions? He’s loving every minute of all this controversy. Whether he’s really on a mission to kill god? Who knows. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. I guess I don’t care because I don’t believe in God so it doesn’t bother me one way or the other. I can appreciate how certain people might take offense to the notion. But let me tell you this: I’ve read Mein Kampf. This does NOT mean I support Adolph Hitler! It means I was curious to see what made the crazed man tick. The very thought of his belief system makes me sick to my stomach, yet I still read his story. Part curiosity, and partly because if we don’t learn about opposite viewpoints, we’ll never know for sure exactly what we are oposing. I like to know my “enemy”, if you will. And this certainly doesn’t apply to the monstrosity of the Nazis, but certain opposite viewpoints may be able to open our eyes and cause us to see things we never imagined possible. Or, if you want to use the Nazis as an example, reading about them and understanding them helps us focus on what NOT to do. I also have a lot of Jewish friends who went to see the controversial movie, the “Passion” by Mel Gibson. They weren’t exactly keen on supporting Mel Gibson and his agenda, but they also wanted to see for themselves what the concern was all about, and if there was indeed a concern, how to best deal with it. You can only do that through learning about it. I would not want to place judgment on something that I’m not familiar with, is all I’m trying to say. And in the end if you are absolutely certain you don’t want to support any movie where its creator openly supports “killing god”, then that is your complete right and choice, as it was his choice to write the story in the first place.

  19. Thanks for returning to the conversation! You’ve made some very good points. I, too, am interested in learning about other people and their motivations, as well as other countries and their customs. Which is probably why fantasy appeals so much to me in the first place…

  20. I don’t think Pullman is an atheist in his trilogy “his dark materials’ besause he gives a fair description of a universe that is consistent with that of judaism/christianity/islam.
    It is a universe with an upper being, higher powers etc. Where he is diversing from religion is, that he not automatically assumes that you have to be submissive and worshipping to those higher powers.
    This is done at two levels: the father and mother of the girl and their lack of parental responsability, and that of a god and devine powers with their lack of responsability.
    This is what an atheist does not understand: why do religeous people worship a god ? It is in their eyes completely insane and illogical, even if there is something like a god. (The only logical reason could be fear and that makes the believers a bunch of cowards) But if they do, let them, if they do not harm other people.

  21. Thanks, Anon!

    One of the things I noticed in the books was that the universe presented was not one at odds with a religious perspective. It is at odds with religion as repressive force. And, really, when you look back through the ages at what has instigated some (but not all) of the most atrocious crimes against humanity, unfortunately religious zealots operating under the presumed “authority” of God are the main perpetrators.

    And of course, you point out something very common. To us, our beliefs seem normal, natural and logical. To those who do not share them, however, a different view is taken. Atheists think that we are as illogical as many Christians think atheists are.

    One of the main (and unfortunate) differences is that most atheists I know don’t think the majority of religious folks are “evil.” Most Christians I know, however, are laboring under the delusion that atheism = evil.

  22. Saw this a couple days ago googling around trying to figure out the big deal about this movie. (Someone had mentioned it, otherwise I wouldn’t have known, I’m not really a news person anymore 😡 )

    I didn’t go see the movie, just because it looked like the usual “kid beats the bad guy movie”, but it looks like I misjudged it 😮

    I’m somewhere between atheist and agnostic I guess, but I still don’t find the movie interesting enough to watch.

    I guess it was someone else’s turn to complain about a movie with religious themes in it, just like Passion and Narnia. (Never went to see Passion, so I’m not sure if it was overblown or maybe deserved.)

    The freedom to say what you want is a double edged sword.

    Suppose I’ll share my “Reasons I don’t believe” or in my case, don’t really care much.

    Let’s see… a condensed version would be that I took the whole “created equal” thing to heart, and I never understood why people would be criticised for the way they live. ie. being gay, “the wrong” religion, etc. I’ve had friends of a couple different religions, like a muslim and a catholic; to quote someone who explained why they were an ex-catholic “I had a great friend from Japan, but my religion said he was going to hell, but yet he’s the best friend I’ve had.” (I know not all denominations preach that, but it sticks with you.). I also had a hard time thinking there was much of a divine order to everything when my father had his own family and it just was me, my mother, and my sister half the time, as well as an abusive step-father in the past (Mostly when he was on drugs, and after he started doing them).

    Those are the main reasons anyway, everything else is a tad bit trivial.
    I just try to judge people on moral character, not what place of worship to go to. I don’t mind religious people as long as they aren’t a real jackass, and they don’t cram their religion down my throat. (Though I still close my eyes and mouth the words to the dinner prayer over at my uncle’s out of respect, it is his house).

    Anywho, just thought I’d share a bit. Also wanted to say it’s really great to see a religious person being open minded towards others’ views, I don’t come across people like that often enough.

  23. Thanks for sharing, Guy!

    It’s funny to me how religion, which is supposed to be all about bringing people to God, actually so often pushes them away. But I put it down to more of a human failing, rather than a failing of religion. People aren’t perfect, so they never follow their religions as ideally as maybe they should.

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