When someone describes themselves as an atheist, they’re not telling you very much. It tells you nothing of their morality and nothing of their intellect. Within atheism there are a lot of rifts because the term is so limited in scope. Popular battles include: social liberalism vs classical liberalism (or libertarianism), whether or not religion is a net positive impact in the world, and whether deconverting the religious is best accomplished by a less confrontational standpoint (a la Michael Shermer or Paul Kurtz) or by a view that refuses to give any ground (a la Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, or PZ Myers).
There is one type of atheist, though, that I, and indeed most, atheists cannot agree with: the Raelians. A Raelian is someone who believes, at a minimum, that life on Earth was created by uber-intelligent extra-terrestrials, known as the Elohim. Typically Raelians have a strong commitment to cloning. One example is that some believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected not by a divine and personal creator, but by the cloning power of the Elohim. Further, the Elohim are recording our DNA and memories so that we could be cloned one day if necessary.
This is all developed from an attempt to corroborate more supernatural religious concepts with more materialist explanations. Noah’s ark is really just a story about the DNA and cloning lab on a spaceship; the Garden of Eden was a lab on Earth; the “great flood” was the product of a nuclear explosion created by the Elohim; and all of history’s prophets were directed or contacted by the Elohim themselves.
Most importantly, for some, this answers the question of where life came from. Let’s forget, for a moment, about whether or not there is any evidential basis for such arguments. Sure, life on Earth came from aliens, but where did the aliens come from? If the aliens were produced by a chance assemblage of chemicals and evolved slowly over time (which seems, to me, the most likely hypothesis for ANY alien life we would discover), why not just posit that this happened here on Earth without introducing fantastical ideas of ET scientists? Some Raelians will argue that the universe is infinite, in both time and space, and thus asking where or when life began is an utterly non-sensical question: it just always was. Unfortunately, modern cosmology doesn’t seem to confirm this opinion for the time being: it points to a specific moment at which time and space came to be.
Why is this of any relevancy to me? Well, it’s not really, except that there are still countries so theologically warped that any atheist or apostate (one who has left the Islamic religion) deserves to be sentenced to death. Such is the case of Negar Azizmoradi, the Iranian leader of the International Raelian Movement. She fled Iran after publicly declaring herself an atheist, thus saving her life. Unfortunately, she went to Turkey where she was arrested for having an improper passport. Now the Turkish government is deciding whether or not she should be sent back to Iran; it seems Turkey has a history of declining those seeking asylum. Unfortunately for Azizmoradi, being sent back to Iran would be a death sentence that no human being deserves, no matter their professed faith.
Though I disagree greatly with the validity of Raelianism, I cannot help but feel deeply for Azizmoradi, for whom the prospects do not look good. What a shame that the “superior morality” of religion is paving the way for seemingly well-intentioned individuals to lose our only chance at life, love, and liberty.