Sunday, February 27, 2011

On Atheism & Disability

I've been noticing something lately:

In groups centered around disability (at least the ones I know of), there's a lot of godding it up.

I mostly hang around the autism & epilepsy parts of the disablilitysphere, & I hear a lot about praying, I hear a lot about "His will be done", I hear a lot about evil. I hear a lot of thanking God (or equivalent) when a treatment does what it is supposed to do.

I hear that my neurology is an act of evil, the destruction of God's Perfect Creation. And I hear that anyone who doubts that is an agent of Satan.

Say what now?

I'm an atheist. I believe in no gods. I don't believe in any gods. I strive to live an ethical life and to be the best Neurodivergent K I can be. I know damn well that when my medications work, it has nothing to do with God, but with science working. I know damn well that when things don't work, it isn't the work of Satan, but of an incomplete understanding of all brains and mine in particular.

If it makes someone feel better to pray or engage in other superstitious behavior, more power to them. As long as they aren't hurting anyone, good for them. I can sort of see how believing that one's own or one's child's condition is part of some giant ineffable plan makes it easier for some people to deal. I disagree, I think it's magical thinking, but again--whatever helps you sleep at night.

That isn't how it's used, though. I don't just see the harmless ritual around the disabilitysphere.

I see blame.

I see vengeful religion.

What is vengeful religion? It's prayer and faith as a weapon. It's using your gods to say "you are a horrible person for disagreeing with me, and I wish more than anything that my skydaddy would strike you down." It's "LALALALA YOU NEED TO SHUT UP BECAUSE MY GOD SAYS I AM RIGHT". It is things like "I pray you don't work with people" after a disagreement. It is things like "you are evil and work for Satan" because one is atheist. It's angrily 'praying' that my heart be softened or whatever because I am clearly bitter or something about being me. (Fact: I like being me. Who I am doesn't believe in gods. Whoopie shit.)

If you are theistic, and you run across me or another disabled atheist, don't jump to self righteously pray for me; it's obnoxious and condescending. Don't assume that when I argue with you or state that I don't believe in gods it's because of bitterness with my lot in life-I'm not. Seriously, I'm pretty great. I am pissed as hell about poor treatment, I am pissed off by holier-than-thou self righteousness, I am pissed off by a lot of social problems, but I am not bitter about your invisible friend testing me. Imaginary things aren't worth being mad about.

The behavior the imaginary things are used to justify, though--that's often worth my wrath.


Leah Jane said...

I've noticed this too. I'm not an Atheist, but I am a secular Jew who doesn't believe in sticking my nose in other people's business, but while I've been out with my more visibly disabled friends, we've been harassed or "prayed over" by religious people. It's not only disturbing, but it's invasive and potentially triggering.

Neurodivergent K said...

Urgh. I find that extremely invasive. So sorry you've had to deal with that.

spectrummom said...

Someone asked why you were angry at Jesus. Kids never seem angry at Santa Claus when they find out he doesn't exist. They are pissed off at their parents for lying to them for all those years.

Betty Clark said...

Thank you! I've been through the same thing, so it's good to find this blog.

sergey said...

I have a disability and I have had to be prayed for by church as well. This is very comforting that I am not the only one who had to experience that. I thought they were "loving on me" because prayer is their way trying to be kind and show gods love but in the end it does negate you and your views.

I was open to religion because I was born in Soviet Russia and they used atheism and science to prove I was not human enough but now I'm finding out that the religious institution was not any better.

NewtToad said...

I'm quite spiritual, I'd say, though I don't necessarily believe in gods and I, too, am uncertain about what happens after death and can't even begin to speculate. Perhaps our consciousness just shuts off, or maybe not. There's the multiverse theory, where, if we die, we'll just end up in a parallel world just like this one, and this will be repeated over and over again, infinitely, but that could be BS because it's not really a theory, but a hypothesis -- barely.

Religion is a human institution, just like all of the other institutions, hierarchies, power structures, and dynamics. Religion is mostly social, and therefore the Abrahamic religions mostly appeal to Allistics moreso than Autistics, I'd think (Not to say that Autistics CAN'T be, say, Christian, of course, just like there are plenty of Allistic atheists). Allistics tend to believe they must know what God thinks. There is also the "conquerer's mentality," attempting to unify everyone under one supposedly "objective" reality. At least ancient tribal cultures had a place for those who were different. We were the shamans who pushed society forward.

Secularist Allistics are just as guilty of mistreating Autistics and saying we're disordered, using Psychiatry to do so, and even other Autistics are against Neurodiversity/Autistic culture and civil rights and say we're "ableist." And it baffles me. I have an account on RationalWiki, which is a secular and liberal wiki, and I've posted on, and both of these places I've been ganged up on and basically had to stand alone with my ideas. And it's not just these anti-vaxxers either who are doing this. As a matter of fact, the majority who oppose what I say are equally opposed to those who say vaccines cause Autism. Many of these probably believe they are taking a "moderate" position, as though moderate equals good, but they don't realize how biased they are as well, how privileged and lacking in that very same empathy they like to claim Autistics lack. They are difficult to reason with.

We have to start critiquing Psychiatry and the very idea of us as "disordered." We have to work hard to expand what it means to be human, and to also do away with anthropocentricism and the notion that humans are somehow superior, more valuable or special than other species. Too many atheists and secularists prop up this restrictive notion of "being human," and just leave out the supernatural component. I seek to challenge all of it.