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‘That atheist does not speak for this atheist’

Although the book-burning by some nutter didn’t go off in the end, a koran and a bible were burnt on the 11st September.

Alex Stewart, an Australian lawyer tore pages out of the books, uses the paper for rollies and smoked them.

Apparently the Koran tasted awful.

He has since been put on leave and has unsurprisingly upset the people who disagreed with his assertion that ‘with respect to books like the Bible and the Koran, whatever, just get over it’.

That didn’t really move me.  I don’t really care that he smoked pages from a religious book because if that stuff is real then what’s on the paper doesn’t matter – it’s what’s carried in the mind and in that person’s actions.

What did shock me was the response I saw on a forum, saying ‘that atheist does not represent this atheist’.

Of course he bloody doesn’t represent that person.  He doesn’t represent me either; he may be an atheist, I may be an atheist, but beyond that we have nothing much in common. Why is this so hard to understand?  This bloke was male. I am male.  Would one  assume that I automatically accept whatever he says because we’re both male?

That someone feels the need to make this statement weirds me out, because it shows that the fee a need to distance themselves in the face of what is very understood by society at large.   I do not share an ‘identity’ with other atheists; I have no sense of community with them, I don’t sit around making jokes about how gods don’t exist.  If I make a reference about some ethical debate I do not expect other atheists to agree with me simply because we’re atheists; beyond our common lack of belief, which may not even have been reached in the same way), we may not have a single thing in common.

So if you’re wondering, atheism is not a dogma, it has no assertions; it’s a negative, not a positive, a disbelief with no claims to make. As such, I have nothing to apologise for.

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