The Raving Theist

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Dying for Religion

April 26, 2004 | 43 Comments

Submitted by Viole:

A member of Al Qaeda recently said that everyone dreams of dying for their religion. Do you think there are any atheists out there who would die for their lack of religion?


43 Responses to “Dying for Religion”

  1. hermesten
    April 26th, 2004 @ 11:55 am

    What does it mean to die for religion? To die attempting to impose it upon someone else? To die resisting the imposition of someone else’s religion? To die like European Jews as the result of persecution? All of the above? Personally, I wouldn’t die to impose atheism on someone else but if the imposition of religion became odious enough, I would risk death resisting it.

    History tells us unequivocally that there are people who will kill those who don’t believe in God (or even believe in the wrong God). A more telling question might be: are there any atheists who would kill someone for believing in God?

  2. Anonymous Atheist #14273
    April 26th, 2004 @ 11:56 am


    Scenerio: You’ve been abducted by a militant group of southern baptists who have taken it upon themselves to convert the world to their will. You come to and find yourself currently tied to a dark-ages birthing chair. You are comming out of a comatose daze as a result of influence of a powerful knock-out drug one of their elite scientists have synthesized from the extracted poison of one of their snakes, to wit:

    Mormon #1: “Do you know where you are? Do you know your name? You are number 2.”

    Mormon #2: “I am number six, pleased to meet you.”

    Mormon #1: “The drugs will wear off soon. Now… (pause) tell me, do you believe in the god of our fathers, the one true god?”

    You: “N… No… I am not a number… I’M A FREE…”

    Aaaand BLACK OUT!

    No, seriously though, sticking to your guns as an atheist is equally, or probably more important than it is for a xtian. Nobody, unless their a mama’s nancy-boy who shits his drawers at the word ‘BOO!’, can give up their personal beliefs, it’s like sawing off your own arm.

    There is a threshold for most people though, and it takes immense discipline to be able to withstand hot pokers in the ass or something gruesome like that. To just agree with them in order to save your live, gain their trust, and use it against them at a more opportune time, now that’s genius.

    So essentially, it’s best to go along until it’s safe to attack, or usurp, or what have you; and then die if you have to, what choice do you have really. If you can’t live happy, change your life, and die trying.

  3. Eva
    April 26th, 2004 @ 12:07 pm

    however, there are many people out there that would kill me for my lack of religion or god-belief. and they would die for their religion too.
    and i would not kill them for their religion either…but in a face-to-face duel with a religionist, his ass is worm food…not because of his beliefs, but because i belong to the religion that advocates the preservation of your own life, no matter what. (never cared much for martyrs, you see….)
    i can play their game, they can’t play mine…..survival of the fittest!
    i get to live, and they die!

  4. Jenia
    April 26th, 2004 @ 1:13 pm

    I don’t think there are any atheists in our country at this time who would kill someone in attempts to impose atheism on them.

    However, throw in socio-political-economic factors, and atheists can imperialize/aggrandize with the best of them, even if it means indirectly causing death.

    Then if you put in both of the above together, and look at Soviet imposed atheism and the Stalin terror years…

  5. Jenia
    April 26th, 2004 @ 1:29 pm

    Granted, when people refuse to make “holiness” a part of their paradigm of belief systems, they are inevitably going to be able to reach greater degrees of self-awareness in terms of reflecting on their thoughts and logic. This could and should, but does not always, lead atheists to be more open minded.

    Concepts like “holiness,” “the sacred,” and other elements of the sacrosanct involve the willful “ultimate resignation” of rationality. Religion in mature adults is the rational cognizance of one’s decision to accept the irrational, where the irrational does not hold a pejorative sentiment, but simply implies the leap of logic called “faith.” In this way, it could be argued that religious adults are still rational despite holding faith, as long as they recognize their resignation to irrationality.

    However, once the ultimate resignation is made, further leaps of logic may be made towards negative actions and outcomes. And here we have Al-Queda.

    One could say that Al-Queda is not going to happen among atheists because atheists make no such “rational decision to be irrational,” and stick to logic and reason.

    Pure logic, though, can be the harshest of tyrants at times.

    Many mistakes have been made in human history from too strict a separation between the logical (rational) and emotional (irrational) halves of humans. Many philosophical and political theories are guilty of this very mistake, as they attempt to govern and judge dependent emotional thinking animals as idealized autonomous willfully rational beings, and wind up being interesting but irrelevant.

    Of course, just as many if not more mistakes have been made from a hard-headed embrace of the solely the irrational.

  6. Jenia
    April 26th, 2004 @ 1:30 pm

    In short, people suck.


  7. Viole
    April 26th, 2004 @ 1:55 pm

    If there’s one thing I like about atheists, they’re always so optimistic.

    To answer my own question, I’m not too keen on dying. I know there’s at least one person who really prefers me alive, and seeing as this life is all we get, I’d be real sorry to disappoint her.

    I don’t think that really answers the question in any kind of manner, though. I suspect that if my death would count for something… advance a cause… that I would be more open to the question. Right now, my only value is alive.

  8. Viole
    April 26th, 2004 @ 1:56 pm

    AA… what are the southern baptists and mormons doing working together? Southern baptists think they’ve a monopoly on god, and mormons aren’t even considered to be christian.

  9. Eva
    April 26th, 2004 @ 2:03 pm

    viole, consider being a tissue/organ donor…….
    you won’t feel a thing……and talk about being useful!

  10. ocmpoma
    April 26th, 2004 @ 2:34 pm

    The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.

    -J D Salinger
    The Catcher in the Rye

  11. ocmpoma
    April 26th, 2004 @ 2:41 pm

    Sorry, that was a mis-attribution – Salinger has a character quote Wilhelm Stekel.

  12. Daniel
    April 26th, 2004 @ 3:24 pm

    Would an Atheist commit an Al Queda action, like flying an airplane into a building? I really doubt that, atleast in this present situation.

    Would an Atheist leader advance a foreign policy with limited nuclear exchanges a pinning of it? I dont know, but ask Reagan if a born again Christian would :)

  13. Viole
    April 26th, 2004 @ 4:47 pm

    Let me give you the original quote, from Frontline:

    […] Every Muslim dreams of being a shaheed for Islam.

    A martyr.

    Like you die for your religion. Everybody dreams of this, even a Christian would like to die for his religion.

    But not as a suicide bomber you say.

    No, never.

    For the record, the man is the child of a Canadian man, and his family has never admitted to being a part of al Qaeda. I suspect that puts the question into context fairly well. The question is definitely if you’d die for your religion, not kill, and not kill yourself.

  14. rblaes_99
    April 26th, 2004 @ 6:26 pm

    Al Queda has some unique ideas about dying for their beliefs, and the rewards in the afterlife as a result. It is drilled in from the start, and for the majority of the population who live in poverty, the palace in heaven is worth a shot.

    I have still yet to see a wealthy and privileged suicide bomber in the attack profiles.

    What can you take from a man with nothing to lose?

    Would you play Russian roulette for a chance at a billion dollars?

    I might if I was hungry enough.

    I will fight for lots of things, but religion/atheism isn

  15. Ben
    April 27th, 2004 @ 5:43 am

    No. What an utterly fatuous reason to die.

  16. Viole
    April 27th, 2004 @ 6:33 am


    For me, lying about religion numbers near the top of the list of hypocrisies, and someone trying to force another to convert it beneath contempt. I’m lucky to have never had a Jehovah’s Witness pounding on my door, because I’d probably shove his bible down his throat. The mormons that hang around campus, I just treat them as jokes, and enjoy toying with them.

    If I were caught in such a position, though, that a conversion could save my life… they would have to kill me.

    I suspect that’s why, in 1984, the protagonist is killed in the end. With torture, you can force someone to say anything. If you’re good, you can force them to believe it. But given time, they will always revert to their old opinion. Better to kill them while they’re on your side.

  17. leon
    April 27th, 2004 @ 6:56 am

    what good if I am dead but to relieve the pain
    there is not sufficient yet
    but the lack of love
    and overriding mockery
    topping all my past mistakes

  18. hermesten
    April 27th, 2004 @ 8:20 am

    Rblaes, you

  19. Cubeless Academian
    April 27th, 2004 @ 9:45 am


  20. Viole
    April 27th, 2004 @ 2:04 pm

    The next Frontline, The Jesus Factor, promises to be good. Maybe… it’s about the politics of god, specifically Bush and god, and could be really interesting, depending upon how they do it. They’re usually pretty balanced, though, unlike us god-haters, so I doubt it’ll be anti-religion.

  21. hermesten
    April 28th, 2004 @ 7:52 am

    For a good show that sometimes sticks it to religion I recommend Penn and Teller’s Bullshit!

  22. thisgirl
    April 28th, 2004 @ 12:51 pm

    To Eva and others who think those with religion or faith want to die:

    I’m a Christian and I don’t want to die. I would never kill you for your lack of religion. Sheesh! I’m marrying an athiest. I would protect ALL life. Sadly, I have found that many people who call themselves Christians don’t really know what that means and thus, do not try to follow Jesus’ teachings, and so those of us who do are given a bad name. Those who truly believe and follow Jesus’ teachings are more about love than anything. Apparently, you don’t know many ppl who are truly Christians, and by that I mean by faith, not “religion.” Afterall, religious leaders hated Jesus during his time and wanted him gone. Religion could mean anything, it’s just something you do often, something you follow. Like brushing your teeth every morning, technically. But faith is more, and as I have faith in Jesus, not “Religion,” and follow his teachings, not what man has told me to do by taking things out of context, I would never hurt you or look down on you for your lack of faith. However, Eva, as for your saying that anyone who believes would be worm food, that you get to live while they get to die . . .aren’t you just full of love and peace. Not! If I HAD to, I could beat you at your little game of survival of the fittest . . . and I would somehow find a way to do so while letting you live. I my best not to harm anyone in any way; and I have no desire to be a maytr – I have far too much to do on this earth. I have a purpose – to love others and have a great life and make life better for other ppl, etc. Aside from feeling superior to others when you have no reason to be, what is yours?

  23. Cyan
    April 28th, 2004 @ 1:13 pm

    Oop. Anywho. thisgirl: I don’t think it’s very easy to tell how a person really is just by reading a little paragraph. I’ve found that a person can seem very hateful and mean online but actually be decent offline.

    Anywho. Would I die for my atheism? Yeah, if I was being forced to choose between who I am and who everyone else wanted me to be. I wouldn’t go looking for a dare-to-be-great situation if it meant I’d die though. I enjoy my life too much, and I still have potential at this young age.

  24. hermesten
    April 28th, 2004 @ 1:31 pm

    thisgirl –I think there are a lot more people of “faith” that would rather kill than die –and this applies to all “faith,” religious or otherwise. You may not want to kill anyone for their lack of religion –most religious people may not want to– but there are people out there who do.

  25. Viole
    April 28th, 2004 @ 1:44 pm

    Where’s Killjoy when you need him? Ah well.

    Dear thisgirl,

    First, a warning. While many people here are nice, they’re also here to discuss atheistic things, and will be more than happy to rip your cheerful absurdities to shreds. It’s absolutely fantastic that you believe in a two-thousand year old myth, if it makes you a better person, and yet I feel sorry for you if you need a fairy-tale to force you to be good.

    My girlfriend and I, we try to be good. It’s hard to, though, when everyone else seems to be caught up in a power-grab by some men in silly hats. Break free, girl. Cast off henceforth your old traditions! There’s a whole world full of new and exciting this that religion cannot explain, awaiting you. You’ll never know them so long as you’re blinded by the gloomy light of faith.

    Yours in friendship,
    Viole K

  26. Julia
    April 28th, 2004 @ 3:06 pm

    Thank you, Viole. Thisgirl may not understand that millions have died “for their faith” while attempting to subjugate others of the “wrong faith” (and, just incidentally, raping/appropriating the local, valuable resources), all the while protesting mightily that they believe or are following the true word of jesus’ teachings of love blah blah blah. Thisgirl, please, read your nt a little more closely. In many instances, your jesus was a complete bastard and advocated some violent actions.

    You have faith in the magic man in the sky. This is nice for you. We have faith in ourselves. Much nicer for us.

  27. Eva
    April 28th, 2004 @ 4:35 pm

    hate to be misquoted, thisgirl….
    and i can safely say that if your jesus really existed, he would have hated to be misquoted too…
    he was not about love…read again….
    he would just not cure everybody, remember?
    but, as an atheist, surely, i can doubt that he actually cured anybody…or that he walked on water…and all that….
    in fact, i say no one has ever done any of this….
    messages about love? other historic figures have done the same, maybe even beter….but your version of jesus, without the alleged miracles, is NOTHING….
    and you do not know me, so grow up…….and i’m not interested in competing with you in any stupid game…

  28. coach
    April 29th, 2004 @ 4:28 am

    I think that atheist have no desire to die for their lack of religion. We understand that life (this life) is precious and that we have evolved to the point that we can resolve differences in opinion and belief using our reason, not our blind superstitious allegiances.

  29. Julia
    April 29th, 2004 @ 2:49 pm

    Damn, Eva, and here I was, hoping you’d throw down with the girl…!

  30. Eva
    April 29th, 2004 @ 3:25 pm

    oh jules, pleeezzz…..
    if you were a guy you’d be sugesting that thisgirl and me get into a mud pit with our bikinis and wrestle…..
    reminds me of a pink floyd song… should know it…….”just five minutes worm, your honor…..thisgirl, me, alone…..”
    bah, i’d rather pray………

  31. Viole
    April 29th, 2004 @ 3:36 pm

    What’s this? Wrestling in bikinis? I’d prefer you skipped the mud–and the bikinis, for that matter–but I’m all for the idea.

    Ouch! My lover doesn’t like it, though. And she wants me to say that the only naked woman I like to see is her. But she wouldn’t mind a few pictures, if you do go ahead… ow! Okay, I’m leaving.

  32. Eva
    April 29th, 2004 @ 4:21 pm

    i knew it!!!!!!!! some atheist heathen would just come around and say they would enjoy that!!!!
    …ehm….viole, sweety…..errrr……..would you pay for that?
    (i can have a nice friendly talk with thisgirl and try to set something up…..)

  33. Viole
    April 29th, 2004 @ 4:58 pm

    No. I only made the offer because someone had to(you surely would have been disappointed if they didn’t, just like if I mentioned I have a two-hour video of my girlfriend and I making love, for free download upon request).

    Yikes, gotta go…

  34. Julia
    April 29th, 2004 @ 6:30 pm

    Eva, Viole…You, you, you HOYDENS!!!! As IF I would suggest semi nekkid mud wrestling between women!! Ha! Perish the very thought! What a mysoginistic idea! I just meant it in the typical, masculine sense, you know, in the vernacular… But, um, if you could set something up, Eva, I got 20 dollars… No “ouch” here, Viole! No more girlfriend!

    Now, about this video…

  35. Christian
    April 29th, 2004 @ 7:58 pm

    If I were an athiest I definitely wouldn’t die for my “religion.” I’d do whatever it takes to stay alive. That’s what I would be about. Living.

    I’m sure there’d be plenty of things I’d die for but not my belief that some super powerful creator existed.

    ~Steve (icqus)

  36. Eva
    April 30th, 2004 @ 5:38 am

    we cannot make any plans unless we have thisgirl here.


  37. Kevin
    April 30th, 2004 @ 6:02 am

    Has anyone noticed that not a single man has commented on this little mud-wrestling bit? At least, not before I came along. And you really can’t call it misogynistic unless there’s a man involved. Until then, it’s just a few women enjoying themselves.

    And I hope you’ll excuse me if I don’t get involved. I prefer naked women with whom I have a close personal relationship, specifically love.

  38. speedwell
    April 30th, 2004 @ 6:29 am

    Die for my atheism? Funny way to put it, really. It’s not that simple.

    No, I wouldn’t die for my atheism /per se/, but I might die because I’m too goddamned stubborn to say black is white and slavery is freedom, or that there really truly is a Santa Claus, or that disease is caused by the evil eye. So I would likewise refuse to say that there is a God.

    I would die for the truth. So if that covers atheism, then, well, I guess that means I would die for atheism. If you really want to put it like that.

  39. Julia
    April 30th, 2004 @ 6:43 am

    Kev, thank you for your restraint. It is a bit of fun between women. And hmmm, misogyny is not strictly applied to men. Women may also be misogynists. It’s actually a phenomenon in the lesbian world.

    We digress. Die for atheism? Why die for anything when there are so many things out there ready to take you out? But! Live in a theocracy? Have fragile rights and liberties stripped from me? Religion is particularly harsh on women. Die, yes, I probably would, in some protest or other. Most religions are a denial of basic civil liberties (for someone along the way)…..

  40. Kevin
    April 30th, 2004 @ 3:27 pm

    My pleasure. I’m not real big on the sexism thing, one of the benefits of my ideology. See, I can’t allow myself to have a differing opinion between gays and lesbians, because that would make me a bigot(at least from my point of view).

    As for the misogynist thing, I still have to disagree. I’m assume you speak of reducing women to sex objects, but misogynists really look at women as a lower life form, which is not the same thing at all.

  41. Julia
    April 30th, 2004 @ 6:56 pm

    I don’t understand why having a differing opinion between gays and lesbians would make you a bigot. I’m clearly missing something here. I mean, we are so different from each other, our cultures and behaviours, that it is common and appropriate to differentiate between the two groups (gays/lesbian).

    And misogyny defined is: “hatred of women”, greek “misos (hatred) and “gyne” (woman). Did I also miss something here? I wasn’t referring to reducing women to sex objects, and hatred of something (one) doesn’t necessarily confer lower life form status… But believe me, there’s an entire field in psychology dealing with women who hate… well, women. And not just for the usual catty reasons. A little deeper than that, it goes…

    And I wrecked twice on my mountain bike today, and have to go eat and ice. No mas today for me!

  42. Kevin
    April 30th, 2004 @ 9:18 pm

    Well, have you ever noticed a man pretending to be absolutely disgusted with the sight of another naked man? Have you noticed that same man start to drool when two women kiss? It seems to be a strong cultural conditioning. Two men kissing… yuck! Two women kissing? Hope no one notices that erection…

    I find it rather hypocritical, and I hate hypocrites. I once ranked them number three on my list of all time most hated things, right after enablers(‘Two thousand deaths is worse than two only in that the killing was allowed to continue. The criminal is not only the killer, but those who stood idly by.’) and hate/fear-mongers.

    I bow to your superior knowledge of psychology, and will take your words for their being women who hate their gender. I would, though, suggest that your definition of misogyny, though clearly from the dictionary, no longer covers the word properly. Certainly, it has come to include anything considered anti-feminist, or anti-women(nothing misogynistic, under a narrow definition, has been happening here). Fortunately, that isn’t me, and I doubt Viole would do anything against her favorite gender, either.

  43. Anonymous
    May 1st, 2004 @ 5:24 pm

    “….who hate their gender” should be re written to read “… who hate others of their own gender”. It doesn’t necessarily include self hatred.

    Um, I don’t know how the word has morphed over time, truly. It does seem to be a catch all in the feminist movement, though, doesn’t it? Hmmm. I obviously need to do more thinking on this (not the etiology of the word or its rampant existence in the lesbian community,,,,, at least here in the bay area), but in how the word and its usage has developed over time.

    And oh, yes, there’s that good ol’ double standard… Ever seen the billboard with the two women, sarong clothed, holding hands, with the byline “some things are just beautiful together”? Yeah, irritating, this double standard. Put two men up there and all hell (ahem, so to speak) would break loose…

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