Thursday, July 13, 2006

Wish Week Day 6: Atheist Entertainment Network

I wrote this list of wish a while back with the expectation that I could use them and take a week off from the daily obligation of coming up with something to say.

One thing I worried about is that world events would come up with important topics while I was going through this series. It is a worry that seems to have come true.

In the last few days we have had terrorists blow up a number of trains in India, the beginnings of a new war with Israel, a high school student who wants to refuse chemo therapy because he does not like the effects, stem cell legislation, legislation allowing offshore drilling, a voting rights act, and, today, a negotiated settlement between Senate Republicans and the Bush Administration to get the FISA court to review Bush’s warrantless spying program.

So, today I will do another one of the “Wish Week” entries. Then, I must get back to doing real posts.

Wish Week Day 6: Atheist Entertainment Network

This is now Day 6 of “Wish Week” – a week of ideas that I would wish for if I had the power to make wishes (or the money to make such a wish come true).

I have already discussed:

Day 1: Logic Circles

Day 2: Truer Legislative Representation

Day 3: The University of Earth

Day 4: Fresh Start Campus

Day 5: Restructure NASA

Today’s wish is to see something like an Atheist Media Network.

First, I wish to distinguish this from the services provided by such operations as the Infidel Guy, the Freethought Radio Network, and Freethought Media in one very significant way. The network that I have in mind would spend no time at all on the issue of whether a God exists or whether the claims made in the Christian Bible (or any religious text) are true or false.

For me, the proposition that there is no God has the same status as the proposition that there are no leprechauns, the earth goes around the sun, and material things are made up of atoms. If I turned to a science network to learn about the current status of scientific thought, I would expect them to assume that things are made up of atoms and not spend half of each day trying to prove it. Listening to proofs of atomic theory every day would quickly get a bit old.

I recognize that these issues are important to some people, and I would certainly object to the argument that, “What I do not find useful, others should not find useful either.” So, this is not a wish that applies to everybody . . . just me.

I think that the difference here stems from the fact that I never went through any type of deconversion experience. I remember my first days of grade school thinking of Christianity the same way I thought of ancient Greek mythology – as a bunch of made-up stories from a bunch of primitive people who did not really have a scientific understanding of the world around them. I never took any of it seriously. Somebody who had to actually wrestle with belief in God would have reason to be interested in the arguments for or against. However, that is not me.

So, I find myself with two types of media outlets. There is the standard “public media” that does not want to do anything that might offend its Christian audience, and the “atheist sites” that spend the bulk of their time proving that God does not exist, that the Bible cannot be literally true, and that some theists are not the models of moral perfection they claim to be.

I keep thinking that it would be nice to tune to a station somewhere that is going to assume that God does not exist, that does not dwell on this subject, but reports on everything else going on in the world in a manner that does not care whether Christians tune in or not.


I would like, from time to time, to see (read, listen to) entertainment that takes a godless perspective for granted. Even Firefly took steps to make sure that Christian viewers could find their views well represented in the show, even though it contained an atheist character. If the program is not trying to pander to religion, then it tends to go far off in the other direction where its primary focus is to ridicule and mock religion. Really, I do not need this either.

What would a society of atheists be like? Certainly, it would not be a society obsessed with the existence of God. Indeed, the only reason for this focus on God among atheists is because atheists are looking in the direction of potential danger. If a prowler comes into your house, you are going to focus your attention on the prowler. Still, it might be nice, in a moment of calm entertainment, to imagine a world where there are no prowlers in the house and people can focus their attention on other things that are important to them.

(Note: Over at my web site, I have a story called The Cult of Justice and Will that was written with no respect for religious belief. It was also not written to ridicule religion. It is simply written in a context where religious beliefs are clearly false.)


Five children die at a family reunion, and no atheist sites mention it. Five children die at a church outing, and atheist sites are eager to report this. Here we have a group of people devoted to this kind and benevolent “God” who allows these children to die.

The “Atheist Media Network” that I have in mind would treat both of these stories the same. It is a tragedy. It is not an opportunity to once again repeat age-old arguments that, “Doesn’t this seem incompatible with believe in an all-powerful, benevolent God?” That case has been made over and over again such that, if they don’t yet understand it, one more repetition is not going to accomplish anything.

It would be a different matter if the Church members killed the children themselves because they believed that their God told them to do so. In this case, the news would be as relevant as news that there was a serial killer on the loose – which, in fact, would be literally true. It may also be newsworthy to discuss the implications of a Church that demanded actions which would result in the children dying (e.g., by refusing medical treatment).

However, this specific tragedy does not fall in either of these cases. The only reason to discuss the case is to point out, once again, that their claim that God or guardian angels are watching over them seems suspect.

Second Thoughts

One day, while I was thinking about this wish, I had some second thoughts.

I got to thinking, “You know, I just bet that there were people in the Nazi movement in Germany who longed for a situation where they did not face any critics. I bet they loked to imagine a situation where people took the Nazi view for granted and its defenders did not have to defend it from anybody else. Also, I bet that the slave owners in the Pre Civil War southern states longed for a civilization where everybody simply accepted the status of blacks as slaves.”

If it is possible for Nazis and slave owners to wish for something analogous to what I have asked for, I certainly cannot say that there is any moral merit in granting this particular wish.

One thing that I can say about the Nazis and the slave owners is that I hope that they never find their comfortable world.

Perhaps it is not such a good idea for this type of wish to be granted. I could see myself being far too comfortable in this type of world – a world where everybody accepted the same assumptions that I do and nobody questioned them. The problem with being far too comfortable with this type of situation is that one does not get confronted with the possibility of error. Even the mistakes are embraced in this fantasy world.

Perhaps we can use a good challenge every now and then.

Not every wishes should come true.

No comments: