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Letter: Good without the Loch Ness monster

To the Editor:

I want to address a couple key points in Anish Mitra's '10 recent column ("Good without God? A response," Nov. 16). The thrust of Mitra's piece is a critique of the militancy and vocalness of the atheist movement today. He begins by positing that taking a missionary strategy toward atheism, i.e. trying to spread it, is hypocritical since atheists are thus "bearing a striking resemblance to the organization they are trying to discredit: the Church." Such a statement reveals a deep misunderstanding of atheism. It is not a rejection of bureaucracy, it is not a rejection of community, or of the spread of beliefs in general; it is a rejection of any kind of God, of the occult, of the supernatural, of superstition.   

Mitra then goes on to discuss the activism of atheists. He asks, "If something does not exist, why would anyone feel the need to militantly preach about the entity's non-existence?" He underscores the suspicious and discrediting nature of this eagerness to fight for atheism by pointing out that, though he does not believe in the Loch Ness monster: "I don't waste my time writing columns, paying for advertising campaigns or actively ‘enlightening' my peers about my thoughts."            

This analogy between belief in the Loch Ness and in God overlooks a fundamental extension of the latter: religion. If billions of people based their ethics, their values, their scientific beliefs and their daily customs off what they conceived the Loch Ness monster to represent and demand, then I should hope that Mitra and everyone else would feel the need to engage in all the counter-movements that he scoffs at. In fact, I am always confused when I find an atheist who does not feel angered or frustrated by the mass religious faith that possesses our world. If you lived on a planet where people did not want homosexuals to marry, did not want abortion to be legal, gave women far fewer rights than men, flew planes into buildings and waged countless wars, all out of devotion to the Loch Ness monster, wouldn't you feel the compelling, burning need to do something about it? God, I hope so!

Nora Bosworth '10
Nov. 16


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