My compass is better than your compass, sha-la-la.

January/2005: Society - Recently Michael Coren, a Canadian editorialist for the Sun, wrote the following lines about George W. Bush's statements that only people of faith should be president:

In an interview with a Washington newspaper this past week, he made two statements that have landed him in a certain amount of trouble, but which are in fact supremely wise.

The first was that a political leader, particularly an American president, should be a person of faith. The second was that women should never have to fight on the ground, in the front line, in a military conflict.

As for the former, he is absolutely correct. People who believe in their own supremacy rather than that of a higher being are far more capable of acts of sadism and horror. Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot, among others, have taught us that.

Yes, I know that religious people have committed terrible crimes down the ages, but they have done so in spite of, and in contradiction to, their beliefs. Atheists have no such moral compass and may act according to will and whim.

It's often hard to get worked up over anything Christians say anymore, I've simply become too old and too apathetic about the entire topic of religion. If you want to believe that a Java Bean gave way to the entire existence of man, great. If you want to believe that Big King Puffery of Heavensville created the heaven, earth and Tyrannosaurus in seven days, wonderful. I've ceased caring about the delusions of others, most people need their mental crutch so they can wander through shitsville mortality and believe that they will become immortal fuzzy slippers with their harps and "all is full of love" utopia in the sky. That's fine, your warm blanket of delusion doesn't bother me. I've long ceased caring.

However, it is "Theist Moral Supremecy" that grates still to my core of mostly numb apatheism. The "moral compass" argument has reared it's oh-so-ugly head so many times that I must snicker. First, let's deal with our lineup of great terrible Atheists that Coren rattles off, and his entire misconception that they were Atheists to begin with. Sadly, few Christians really understand what Atheism is. This fact amazes me since Atheism is, at root, so blessidly simple. Atheism is the non-belief in a deity. That's it. I'm done. I just told you what Atheism is. You don't believe in the supernatural, you don't believe in a creator, you don't believe in karma, reincarnation or 12 virgins for every male when he dies. You don't believe in anything spiritual. Nada. No mother nature, no Santa Claus, no many-armed elephants. Atheism is the lack of belief in a god, gods, or supernatural forces that some call god in several large Asian countries.

That's it.

Atheism is likewise not the belief in your own supremacy. This is where the religious libel us.

I do not believe I am supreme. If I walk into the woods without a gun, run into a bear, and we fight... I will lose. I do not believe I am the reincarnation of a great German leader for instance. I don't believe I am my own god. I don't believe in any gods. I do not believe I am "divinely inspired" to rule over a master race. I am not Hitler. He was not an Atheist. The belief in yourself as something supernatural is diametrically opposed to Atheism. Additionally, Hitler believed in god! Perhaps if you read Mein Kampf, you'll understand even better how non-Atheist Hitler actually was: "God does not make cowardly nations free." -- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf. Hitler was religious, and to cast him with our lot is incorrect on every factual level.

So Hitler can't be thrown into our brood by any honest historian, but was Mao an Atheist? Not in the least. Again, it's easy for American Christians to alledge so, but the man was a theist, through and through. From The Kissinger Transcripts, a collection of Henry Kissinger's most important meetings.

Oct. 21, 1975, Mao's residence: the Great Helmsman prepares to meet his maker.

Mao: I am going to heaven soon....And when I...see God, I'll tell him it's better to have Taiwan under the care of the United States now.

Kissinger: He'll be very astonished to hear that from the chairman.

Mao: No, because God blesses you, not us. (Mao waves his hands.) God does not like us because I am a militant warlord, also a communist. That's why he doesn't like me. He likes you.

The chairman believed in a god, he also taught others to look at him as a god. This is contradictory to Atheism. For not only is there no god, there is no god possible. I am not a god. I could not be a god. Nor could you. Nor could Steve from down the street. There is no possibility of a god because the supernatural doesn't exist, can't exist and on no plane of reality could exist. Asking one to worship them as a god is not an Atheistic principle... then again, I don't need to continue with Mao because quite simply, Mao believed in a creator.

Pol Pot cannot be legitimately described as an Atheist as well. Yes, he abolished organized religion. He persecuted Christians, Muslims and all other organized religions. But Pol Pot was no Atheist. Raised a Buddhist, he, like most other megalomanical dictators, believed himself to be guided by destiny, or a "greater hand." No, he did not believe in god, yet, as foe and one-time ally Prince Norodom Sihanouk stated... "Pol Pot does not believe in God but he thinks that heaven, destiny, wants him to guide Cambodia in the way he thinks it the best for Cambodia, that is to say, the worst. Pol Pot is mad, you know, like Hitler." The belief that a heaven or destiny is guiding you is no Atheist belief. It is the opposite, a theist belief in the supernatural or afterlife. A "force greater than ours" guiding such hands.

Stalin an Atheist? Sure. That statement is true although he did at times border on nearly demanding worship unto himself. Still, Stalinism was largely unofficial, unlike Maoism.

The mischaracterization of three of these four as Atheists is nothing new. You see, to the Christian, the Atheist is the one who "persecutes" them. It is surprising to me that Christians don't point at the "young turks" who killed so many Christian Armenians during the Armenian Holocaust in the 1900's as "Atheists" just due to the fact that they persecuted Christians. The idea that no Atheist could make a proper leader due to Stalin, a communist, is absolutely without merit. Communists never make good leaders, for they are communists to begin with. Whether they be Atheist Communists like Stalin or Theistic Communists like Mao, Communist leaders almost always spell trouble no matter if they believe in a higher power or not.

The overall point is perhaps even larger though... the idea that Atheists are necessarily "humanists" is what Coren is pointing towards. He mischaracterizes Atheism as believing that "Man is supreme." Nothing of Atheism indicates this. I'm an Atheist and like I said, I don't believe it at all. We are mentally far more intelligent than all other lifeforms on the planet, but that being characterized as "supremacy" is groundless. Christians look at Atheists and abhor us because they feel that we are saying we are "supreme over god" when in actuality, they can't wrap their minds around the statement that there is no god. So they try to cast us with the humanists, worshippers of humanity. It is a false tactic, designed to make Atheists look like nothing more than hedonists, caring for nothing more than one's self-pleasure. It's a leap in logic that is so widespread with Christians that it's rather hard to speak with them about anything. Hedonism has nothing to do with Atheism. Self-love is not "Atheism" in action. The two mindsets come from different roots. While a majority of the few Hedonists that exist may be Atheists (Though, I am unsure if this is truth), a majority of Atheists are not Hedonists.

I believe that an Atheist would make the best president. Why? Because my moral compass is simply so much better.

In the last 731,825 days, a lot has happened. For example, if you were going to choose a government to live under, you would not choose one from 731,825 days ago. If you had to choose laws to abide by, you wouldn't choose a set of laws from 731,825 days ago. If one were to get married to a male or female, you certainly wouldn't want to marry one that had the mentality of a person who lived 731,825 days ago. Why not?

Because law, government and people from 2,005 years ago were atrocious. Things have improved since then. Moral precepts, structures and beliefs have changed. Forms of government have evolved. Socializing has changed, the manner in which we do it is completely different. Now, if people 2,005 years ago couldn't get say, relationships right... or governments perfected... why would one assume that a book from 731,825 days ago would be the "finest moral compass" one could have? Since then, things have changed... yet, the bible has not changed. Our governments have changed. The bible hasn't. How society interworks has changed... yet, the bible has not. To argue such inflexibility is proper in morals but not say, code of laws, is nearly insane on it's own right. We, the world and how to interact has changed. One should have a moral compass which is properly updated as well.

At this point, I could do what most Atheist's would do and pick out various elements of the New Testament that nobody listens to or cares for anymore. I could do it, but it's a waste of time because you know nary a soul today follows the bible literally. To argue that the bible is even a coherent moral compass for today's life indicates hypocrisy. Few follow the intention, but rather vaguely follow the "spirit" in which the bible was written. Which then brings us to the long-line of the religious who commit terrible abuses. Christians would naturally say, like Cohen, that Christians are acting in "spite of their beliefs, contradicting them", but is this really truth? How do you contradict theism which has no set definites? When you leave humanity to intrepret the work of others for it has since lost all common relevance to the modern age, you are asking for 4 million people to take 4 million different viewpoints on what actions actually constitute a "moral life." Some Christians even go further to say that there can be no such thing as a "moral life" for immoral thought is equal to immoral action in the eyes of their deity. This sort of blanket condemnation certainly encourages immoral action, since we're all condemned anyways. Then, compounding the danger, it is stated that repenting for your sins and accepting god will put you in the good grace of god. Literally, Christians have no shared morality that "sticks"... in other words, that will leave you condemned on any social scale outside of a lack of worship for the "almighty." Nearly the same argument Christians use against non-Christians.

Contrast that with we Atheists, whom use modern moral precepts to decide upon courses of action. We have flexibility, which is not to be confused with "whatever we will or whim", but allows us over a span of centuries to reflexively react to changing times and social mores. Additionally, it is we Atheists who have a greater respect for the medium in which we live. Christians are here and are just biding time until they take the big train to the big cloud in the sky. If a Christian dies, he's solaced by the fact that he'll simply move on to "a better place." For myself and Atheists, we're the opposite. In general, we value life on a greater scale than any Christian could, for you see, this is it for us. To lose this, or to lose the comfort in this, is to lose everything. It is not to lose comfort temporarily until death, or to lose life temporarily until ascension, but to lose it permanently. A nuclear war to an Atheist is a terrible thing, for life is over and darkness will be all that is left. No Atheist president is initiating nuclear holocaust. A Christian president would be more susceptible to "pushing the button" for he has something better to look forward to and can absolve himself of doing it... remember, it's in god's hands, he is guiding the actions, all things that occur happen due to his grace. And, most importantly, our Christian button-pushing president can look forward to happy angels with harps and songs of pure happiness. The Atheist? We get worms. We're not pushing any buttons.

Let us pretend there is a day without laws. No laws, therefore, no government consquence for your action. Anarchy reigns supreme. Now, ask yourself, who do you wish to be your neighbor that day? The Christian, whose morals are left up to their own intrepretation of words from 731,825 days ago, who can absolve himself of whatever harm he lays upon you or consequence of his action, knowing that his acceptance of god and repudiation of his own thoughts AND acts will garner him entry into the afterlife. Or the Atheist, who isn't about to take a shot at you for fear of you shooting him, ending the entirity and sum of his existence?

Perhaps I should put it a starker sentence... never, in human history, has there been an Atheist Suicide Bomber.

Why? If we supposedly lack a moral compass, should we not be out harming others? Or is our lack of a wholescale harming of others due to the very fact that we have the most impressive moral compass almost inherently? The answer is the latter, our inherent respect for our lives, peace and protection would bring forth a president who would act with unparalled morality in fairly guiding the country. No wars except those brought to our shores, no subterfuge, no nuclear war... and a lack of general "My religion is better than your's" angst towards countries with "other" religions.

Your neighbor on that day would be that death-fearing Atheist with empathy, not the Christian who knows that no matter what he does, he will go to a better place. If you ask yourself truthfully, that's who resides next door during anarchy. And if you'd choose an Atheist during anarchy to be in proximity with, it is only logical that you'd choose an Atheist to make the laws you currently live under, for if one is better in a situation without, that one would be better in a situation making. This plane of reality is all we (and you, even if you don't agree) will have, and we want it to be the best experience possible.

My compass is newer, shinier, and far more stable. North is north, south is south.

No 731,825 day old intrepretation required.