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Friday, 13 November 2009 10:15

In Defense Of Atheists Against Dehumanisation

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(In Australian English)

The Vice-Chancellor of The Australian Catholic University wrote an article referring to atheists as part of a plague, an infestation. Marquez Comelab warns us against the dangers of religious groups having the tendency to dehumanise any group of people who contradict their religion.


Apparently, I am part of a plague: an infestation much like the bogong moths in Canberra and the frogs in biblical Egypt. I am an unwelcome and unlovely creature who has the awkward habit of turning up in bulk. Greg Craven, the vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, asserts this in his article, A plague of atheists has descended, and Catholics are the target, published in The Age on the 4th of November 2009.

Waving the many metaphors Greg Craven has decided to use in his article, like likening atheists to cheap electric kettles, for example, I will focus on the major arguments he is making and write short rebuttals to these.

1. Atheists want everyone to know that they have not found God, and that no one else should.

As an atheist, my main motivation is not to stop other people from finding God, but rather, to discourage others from having a one-dimensional view of the world and encourage one that is enriched by the facts and evidence science presents to us, since many are in stark contrast to the many teachings of religion.

2. Atheists are specifically attacking the Catholic religion for strategic reasons.

As an atheist, my arguments are not against one particular religion. Rather, it is against all beliefs that are merely started, asserted and replicated through superstition or indoctrination.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are more Catholics than any other religious group, in Australia. If Catholic doctrines are being criticised then it is likely because, in relation to other religions, Catholic doctrines are the most prevalent and most recognised the world over. Craven should recognise that it is the numerousness and the global ubiquitousness of Catholic doctrines that makes them easier to discuss.

Take, for example, the doctrine of Transubstantiation: the belief that when you swallow the bread and the wine in church, the bread and wine literally turn into the flesh and blood of Jesus. To me, this is an example of a religious belief that is not backed by evidence. I use it NOT because it is Catholic, rather because there is greater probability that more people have heard and can relate to it. Citing it will therefore likely get my point across.

3. Atheists are atheists as a way to make themselves feel immensely clever.

This comment reminds me of a school kid, who, after not having a good come-back in an argument with a mate, says: "You think you're smart now, don't ya?!" There is something peculiarly childish about such arguments, which is quite surprising coming from a Vice-Chancellor of a university.

4. Atheists do what they do because they hate Christians, as opposed to politely dismissing them.

As an atheist, I do not look at Christians as adversaries. From the tone of his article, Craven seems to look at the world in the simple terms of US-AND-THEM mentality. My mother is a believing Catholic and my father is Anglican. Most of my friends and relatives are Christians. I certainly do not hate them. I certainly do not hate you, Mr Craven. I simply want us, believers and non-believers, to continue our discussions in a way that is not divisive and dehumanising.

Like many citizens of this country and of this world, I am concerned with many issues humanity is currently dealing with. When atheists, including myself, express opinions that religion is at the heart of many of these problems like terrorism, stem cell research, abortion and condom use, we are entitled to express and argue for those opinions just as much as anyone is entitled to express and argue for theirs.

Referring to atheists as hateful bogong moths, frogs and noisy kettles, does two things: it takes the discussion away from the real issues and two, it dehumanises a group of human beings. Dehumanisation, Mr Craven, is a process utilised by groups like the Nazis against the Jews in the Holocaust and by the Hutus against the Tutsis in the Rwandan Genocide. Atheist or religious, Australians expect more from a Vice Chancellor of a university than to resort to such tactics.

Marquez Comelab is the author of The Tyranny Of God: Liberating Ourselves From Our Own Beliefs.

Last modified on Sunday, 20 November 2011 23:48

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Book On Reason

The Tyranny Of God by Marquez Comelab - Book on Religion, Science, Reason, Faith, Atheism and Reasonism

The Tyranny Of God

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Listen to the Introduction and Preface

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Is there a God? Where do the animals, plants and human beings come from? Are scriptures the words of gods? Does religion teach us to live moral lives? Why do so many people kill and are killed over it? How should we live our lives if God exists? How should we live it if God does NOT exist?

This book explores the truth behind our beliefs in God and the propensity of human beings to be religious. In an honest attempt to seek the answers to life's deepest questions, I probe into how life began. I then progress to investigate the true nature of religions and their impact on our lives and the rest of humanity.

The main purpose of this book is not to argue against religion. Rather, it tells our story and how we have come to oppress ourselves with the tyranny of our own beliefs. I wrote this book to include everything I discovered to be relevant in my search for the truth, not just the truth behind God and morality, but also behind us and our existence. Instead of reading this book with the expectation that it is trying to prove the tyranny of God, I would like to recommend you read it as a story book: as a book that tells the story of humanity from the Big Bang.


"While Comelab's writing is always moderate in tone, its message clearly undermines current distractions with accommodationist arguments towards presumed religious "moderates". It is written with the fresh confidence of a young man who has had early success in his adopted country and only recently come to realise the truth of atheism. For those like me whose only worry about Atheism has long been its faultering progress, Comelab reminds us that much of the energy must continue to come from those who have more recently learned the truth. He seems more than bright enough to soon progress to seeing atheism not as an end but as a starting point to the kind of understanding that should enable us to work towards a future incomparably better than any heaven the faithful can imagine."


Its beyond my imagination that you can put it all together in a book. Two thumbs up! You can not imagine what happen when I first read the title of your book, and got excited about it and kept reading until dawn. I commend you in putting so much effort to collecting data and put it together to support your idea. 

How can I say this... your book is really ME in here, existing to tell, spread, and contradict  but in very small area only (very limited, considering my country religion majority). Most of it can only be talked between my family member and close friends. Your book provides BEAUTIFUL BITTER TRUTH : that is how I would sum it up.

I called it beautiful because it opens up the very shell of a religions and the implications it caused over the past hundred, even thousands of years. I cannot describe with my limited english skill the insight your book has shown. But I am AFRAID your book WILL NEVER SPREAD TO MY COUNTRY. It will cause a massive attacks and chaos from the religious majority. I feel happy but the same time sad, really sad...Well again I cannot say THANK YOU ENOUGH.

- J. A. (Indonesia)

This book has taught me so much about evolution, the history of religions and the effect is has on our modern day society! The author shares his personal journey as a believer and provides much needed "food for thought". I recommend this book to all those who want to form their own opinion about believing or not believing.