You may have seen them on cars or t-shirts, the coexist message has become fairly popular with liberal Christians and other liberal religious people. On the surface, it sounds like a pretty cool movement, but I do have a few issues with it.
Have you seen this Bumper Sticker:
Each letter represents a different religion or idea. The “C” is for Islam, “o” for peace, “e” for gender equality, “x” for the Jews, “i” for Bah’ai, “s” for the eastern religions, and of course “T” for Jesus and Christianity.
First, there are a lot of groups not represented here. While I am all for gender equality, I am also for gender relations equality. There is nothing representing the gay community. What about atheism or at the very least Humanism? No representation for Scientology? Tom Cruise will sue you for that. What about the Hindu religion and the Satanists? So coexisting with the Bah’ai is okay, but not these other religions and non-religions?
Maybe I am reaching a little bit. Maybe the word “Coexist” just isn’t long enough to fit all that stuff. So I looked on Yahoo Answers to find what the full meaning of “Coexist” was. It turns out that someone asked this very question. Here is part of what DyLaN asks:
“The complete meaning of the coexist sticker?… If there is a deeper meaning like all religions should combine or all religions are wrong I would like to know before I stick it on my car because I go to a Christian school and I don’t want them all to think I’m an evolutionist or atheist.”
Well, of course DyLaN doesn’t want to coexist with atheists or people who actually accept the mountains of evidence in support of evolution.
The thing is, I don’t think that is all that far from the truth. It does seem like liberal theistic believers are the ones pushing this “coexist” movement and I can think of a few reasons why.
First, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe they really think that everyone should get along even those who disagree with their ideas. Fair enough. Maybe there are people out there who believe that. But does that mean that their ideas ought to be protected from criticism? I am all for coexisting with people who hold ridiculous ideas, but I still think I ought to inform them that their ideas and beliefs are ridiculous. I can think that their ideas are ridiculous without having to want to blow them off the face of the planet. I can coexist with them, but I would rather they realize how ridiculous their ideas and beliefs really are.
That brings me to the second reason for the coexist movement. It is a great way to shield ridiculous ideas and beliefs from criticism and make those who think those beliefs are ridiculous seem like bad guys for point it out. I think that might be why Scientology isn’t represented. Too many people think that the story of Xenu is ridiculous. No one wants to “coexist” with them.
This sets up the false dichotomy that one must either accept ridiculous ideas or believe that those with different ideas are evil and should be destroyed. Just because I think someone’s beliefs and ideas are ridiculous, doesn’t mean that I can’t coexist with them. But it also shouldn’t protect them from criticism. In the free market of ideas and beliefs, the best ideas are the ones that can stand up to criticism and not the ones who hide behind peace to protect certain beliefs from criticism in order to avoid competing in the free market of ideas.
Religion is dying and the religious know it. That is why they are doing everything they can to protect themselves from the inevitable. So take that Coexist Bumper Sticker off your car and put on a bumper sticker supporting critical thinking or something. Atheist bumper stickers and Humanist bumper stickers are great too. Maybe even a Dangerous Talk bumper sticker, hint hint.