I tried to believe in god once. I was about seven. My mate used to go to Sunday school every weekend where he routinely got the opportunity to hang out with a girl I fancied. They would come into school on a Monday morning chatting about all the fun they had. I wanted part of it. I figured that if I also believed in god, then I could also go to Sunday school, where I would also get to hang out with her and she would be immediately and hopelessly compelled to fancy me back due to my natural charisma and devilish wit. There were but two flaws to my fiendish plan: firstly my “natural charisma” at the time consisted of standing awkwardly near girls I liked and sweating profusely until they left, and secondly the whole god thing seemed like complete and utter tosh.
It never made the faintest bit of sense to me no matter how much I wanted to believe. I used to have arguments with this same mate about the absurdity of the whole Jesus/god story. We decided to settle it one day by asking our (presumably infallible) teacher after school.
Me: Hey Mr Savage. Does God exist?
Teacher: Of course he does. How else do you explain why they’ve never found the missing link?
Me: Err. What??
My mate: Haha. See, I told you!
I eventually began to become interested in scepticism, which was bolstered by an interest I once had in close-up magic. I had learnt a shitload of sleight of hand in my twenties and even began inventing my own card tricks, a few of which were reasonable enough to be published. I liked the idea of layering psychological subtlety upon psychological subtlety and deception upon deception, turning a relatively simple trick into a legitimate fucking miracle, leaving the spectator with no earthly way of working out how I’d accomplished it. The problem was that I just didn’t like magicians.
*Incidentally, if you are the type of person that bemoans secularist infighting and identity politics, do not go anywhere near the close-up magic community. Grown men arguing over who invented a move and creaming themselves over the delivery of a hollow plastic thumb in the mail is enough to make any self-respecting person want to vomit through their nose. Ultimately the reason I gave up close-up magic was an overwhelming desire to not be identified with these excruciating buffoons in any way, shape or form.
Anyway, due to this erstwhile interest, I was given a book by impish mentalist Derren Brown as a present one Christmas. Among its chapters was a section on scepticism. A quote which I’d previously never heard was included and attributed to one Christopher Hitchens: “That which can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.”
I began reading Hitchens and watching his debates. This coincided with Channel 4’s broadcast of Richard Dawkins’ two part documentary Root of All Evil. Discovering these two people and their blistering attacks on the insanity and divisiveness of organised religion was what got the ball rolling for me.
Somewhat inevitably there was a point where I began to notice that not all religions were the same in terms of either the sheer stupidity of their doctrines or the threat they pose to the world at large. To my shame, it took me far longer than it should have to recognise this. One religion began to stick out like a sore thumb as being vastly more intolerant, aggressive, retrograde and terminally dangerous than the others. You KNOW which religion I’m talking about.
12th September 2001 might have been a good time for me to recognise this. Or even 8th July 2005. But no. Embarrassingly enough it took me much longer. I can’t pinpoint an exact date or event that caused me to snap out of this intellectual coma. There was no lightbulb moment. It was more of a gradual mental stockpiling of a constant stream of Islamic bullshit that finally shook me awake.
It seemed I wasn’t the only one who miraculously missed this important distinction between religions. And the more that the vocal atheism movement ignored this difference, the more its arguments began to seem less like an urgent war of ideas that we must win and more like the rather redundant intellectual exercises I’d occupied myself with inventing card tricks.
I couldn’t help thinking that a lot of atheists will still be debating Pascal’s wager and the difference between evolution and abiogenesis when the jihadist’s blades start slicing through their vocal chords.
So what I offer here is a steadily growing collection of ramblings and rebuttals focused mainly on Islam, which I hope are at least entertaining or interesting to someone. I write sporadically at best, so sometimes I might bash out two or three blog posts in a month and sometimes you won’t hear from me for months at a time. I only speak when I’ve got something to say and even then, only when the responsibilities of daily life leave me alone for long enough to say it.
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