I have atheist friends that think I’m a bad atheist.
No, really. I do actually have friends. I also have acquaintances and perhaps an enemy or two. I’ll keep you up to date if any legendary battles ensue that involves any kung fu or car chases.
Now, most of my friends are atheists. OK, I would define them as such, but perhaps they would not self-identify as such; most of them are generally non-religious, at very least. I am close to a few people that are religious and theists as well, and I do get along with them quite well. But what I have come to realize is that people have personalities independent of an opinion about gods or religions. I mean this in the sense that there are certain dispositions towards certain types of issues that have some determination on how they will behave. Now, before I cause your vague-o-meter to explode, allow me to be a bit more specific, if I may.
One’s opinion considering the existence of god is one thing. Another is what one does with this conclusion, assuming they really care at all. Within some Christian circles you will hear criticism about those that are “luke warm” (and I don’t think they mean that they left the New Testament on the radiator), rather than being “on fire for Christ,” or whatever the kids are saying these days. Similarly, there are people who are “luke warm” about their position in our society as atheists, rather than active, outspoken, etc.
I get this. No, really, I do! For them, this activity to criticize and battle against the minority that are trying to maintain some theocratic type of control are wasting our time or, as some have said to me, doing more harm than good. They live in a world, a real world, where progress has moved on. They ignore or are willing to live along side those that they disagree with because they don’t see what people like me are doing as helpful, but rather harmful or merely setting back progress. They have other priorities.
I want to be them, I want to live in the world that they live in. But, frankly, I think that their world has a little bit of fantasy in it as well. I think this because they forget that it was the efforts of people like us, the people “on fire for the lack of god,” (lol) in cooperation with the work of scientists, engineers, inventors, and so forth that we have progressed. They also fail to see what we are really doing. They tend to think that we are creating the problem by putting people on the defensive, when in fact we are generally only responding to the problems we see.
Now, I will grant that there are some that do provoke people, and this may cause defensiveness. I also believe that this is sometimes the only way you will get through to some people. There have been a number of comments sent, for example, to the Rational Response Squad that have said that without their aggressive tactics, they would have never realized their own delusions and moved past their religious convictions. And then there will be some people simply put off by such tactics. Their insecurity about their beliefs are the real issue for those people, I think, the faith itself being a symptom. Criticism of your beliefs should be either shrugged off or taken as a personal challenge, and not be met with defensiveness.
There are many out there that are still swayed by the proclamations of the minority fundamentalists. There are families being torn apart as people discover their lack of belief in some god, people swindled out of their money by televangelists, and there are people that believe that scientists are involved in an evil conspiracy to promote the lie of evolution. In my opinion, there must be a front line in this set of circumstances; their must be people that engage the people that promote and are insidiously duped by these promoters. To do otherwise would be to leave the misinformed, ignorant, and swindled on their own.
And the more people willing to stand up for good science standards in our schools, good sex education, and the freedom to criticize will help ensure that the future will be one that these people already think they are living in. And if they don’t already think we are living in that world, then what harm are we doing? And if we aren’t doing it right, then, by all means, show us how.
Because right now, you (and you know who you are…) are not doing anything but ignoring the undesirable effects of continued religious influence on society except to tell us we are doing it wrong.
So put up or shut up, haters.