I am often grateful to people (atheist comedians) like Chris O’Dowd who provide ample ammunition for their theistic counterparts. It is usually rather straightforward to refute illogical statements and it shall be our purpose here to review his claim in light of the facts.
Just the Facts!
In a recent article (from which the meme quotes) we have O’Dowd suggesting that religion is unacceptable and will one day be analogous to racism (1). However, this is simply absurd considering the facts. What I feel this quote suggests is that religion will one day become hush-hush & unacceptable like racism is today (well, at least in some places). Yet we find that O’Dowd’s belief is detached from reality.
For a start a study by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity suggests that religion is growing and atheism is declining (2). For instance, in 1970 there were around 165 500 000 atheists in the world, that equates to about 4.5% of the global population. Yet, in 2010, the number of atheists had fallen to 136 582 200, or 2.0% of the population. It is expected that by 2020 there number of atheists worldwide will be at 136 685 000. Although that is a small increase in absolute number, that will still be down to around 1.8% of the world population. What this suggests is that atheism shall always remain a minority view in this world for the foreseeable future. I believe that it is an unattractive, false worldview that goes against most of what human experience affirms (read my article here).
Secondly, religion is growing and humans tend to be predisposed to believe in God. Further, Islam is set to become the world’s largest religion in the year 2070 if current model predictions are correct. Beyond 2015, the “Muslim share of the world’s population would equal the Christian share, at roughly 32% each, around 2070. After that, the number of Muslims would exceed the number of Christians, but both religious groups would grow, roughly in tandem, as shown in the graph above. By the year 2100, about 1% more of the world’s population would be Muslim (35%) than Christian (34%).” Besides Christianity & Islam other religions (with the exception of Buddhism) are also set to grow, for example, Judaism will grow by 16%, Hinduism by 34% & Folk Religions by 11%. So, O’Dowd’s atheism, alongside racism, is declining worldwide & this suggests that, by O’Dowd’s own criterion, that atheism is more analogues to racism than is religion!
Further, in the article O’Dowd goes on to say that “For most of my life, I’ve been, ‘Hey, I’m not into it, but I respect your right to believe whatever you want’. But as time goes on, weirdly, I’m growing less liberal. I’m more like, ‘No, religion is ruining the world, you need to stop!’.
Well, here you have a self-admitted fundamentalist who thinks that he can tell people what to believe. The claim that “religion is ruining the world” is also rich coming from the atheist as it was the outpouring of atheism that has caused the most suffering in this world, as the atheist John Steinrucken admits – that those secular attempts for utopia “when actually put to the test, have not merely come to naught. Attempts during those two centuries to put into practice utopian visions have caused huge sufferings” (3). That religion has caused conflicts & suffering is true, but atheism also needs to account for its share of the pie.
Yet, despite all this I am not telling people that they cannot be atheists or that they “need to stop!” I disagree with the believers of other worldviews but I don’t find myself telling them what they can & cannot believe. Yet, this is what O’Dowd instructs religious people – that they stop believing what they do. This is just pure arrogance on his behalf. I suspect that atheists like him are known for “placing blind faith in materialism and refusing to listen to reasoned criticism” (4) & instead tend to spew out illogical, arrogant statements such as this one. Then we have this gem: “You wanna go and live in your weird cult and talk about a man who lives in a cloud, you do that, but don’t.”
Here we have O’Dowd constructing a strawman god. I won’t speak for the other religions but “a man who lives in a cloud” is at total odds with Christian theology that affirms God to be sovereign (Isa. 46:10), transcendent (Isa. 57:15), omnipotent (Mat. 19:26) and so on. Such attributes are clearly unlike a “man who lives in a cloud” and Christians needn’t take such a caricature seriously. Also calling Christianity a “weird cult” illustrates the depths of O’Dowd’s ignorance for he mistakes what a cult actually is. Islam, Christianity, or Hinduism are not cults, instead a cult is “a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion” (5). Often a cult is a deviation from a specific religion, for example, Mormonism as a deviation from Christianity would count as a cult. So, O’Dowd calling Christianity, or any major religion, a cult is simply incorrect.
1. Life & Style. 2014. Actor Chris O’Dowd says religion is ‘unacceptable’. Available.
3.Steinrucken, J. 2010. Secularism’s Ongoing Debt to Christianity. Available.
4. Pastor Matt. 2013. Atheist Fundamentalism. Available.
5. Cult | Definition of Cult by Merriam-Webster. Available.