Winning Hearts and Minds

In the post Should Atheists Evangelize?, back in March, I argued for the conclusion that nonbelievers should, in fact, seek to spread the good news of atheism under certain circumstances. Since then, I have built on this foundation by proposing a plan for how best to achieve that. In previous posts of this series, I have addressed how to respond to religious distortions (Shattering Stereotypes) and how to present atheism to an audience unacquainted with it (Atheism as a Positive Worldview). In … [Read more...]

Fossil Fuels

For more than a hundred years of human history, the words "the 21st century" were used as shorthand for the distant, advanced future. Utopians and futurists looked forward to an era of transformation, when knowledge and will would reshape human society almost beyond recognition. Now we are in the 21st century, and we can see for ourselves how those prognostications have fared. In many ways they have fallen short. We still have war, crime, disease and poverty; we do not have flying cars, … [Read more...]

Shattering Stereotypes

In a previous post, Should Atheists Evangelize?, I defended the position that nonbelievers should speak out publicly in defense of atheism. It seems obvious to me that, if we are to act in accordance with that principle, we should come to a general agreement on how to go about it and what methods are most effective. With that in mind, this post will be the first in a three-part series on evangelizing for atheism, offering suggestions on how we should present ourselves and how to deploy our … [Read more...]

A Look in the Mirror

Marc Gellman, a Jewish rabbi and one-half of the "God Squad", has recently written a solo column titled "Trying to Understand Angry Atheists" in which he takes up one of the oldest religious clichés - that atheists are "angry".It starts out well enough:I think I need to understand atheists better. I bear them no ill will. I don't think they need to be religious to be good, kind and charitable people, and I have no desire to debate or convert them.There is nothing in that passage I can … [Read more...]

Out of Respect

A recurring topic of debate among atheists is just how much respect we should pay to people's religious beliefs. A substantial number of nonbelievers, I am certain, would unabashedly proclaim that religion is all so much superstitious rubbish, and we should not pay other people's ridiculous superstitions any respect, regardless of the esteem in which they themselves hold them. The opposite position (more common among liberal theists, probably, than among atheists) is that all religious beliefs … [Read more...]

Kicking the Crutches Away

In a previous post, I defended the conclusion that atheists should, under certain circumstances, evangelize on behalf of atheism. I recently read a story that bears on this conclusion, thanks to a recent edition of the Grand Rounds medical blog carnival - a beautiful and moving post titled "The rites of passage", about a badly injured old man admitted to the emergency room who kept himself alive, seemingly by an act of pure will, until a priest could be found to administer him his last rites. … [Read more...]

Should Atheists Evangelize?

It is a perennial question, among atheists, of whether we should evangelize in favor of atheism the way the religious do. It is not hard to see why this question has been so hotly debated, since there are good arguments on both sides.Since atheism is a positive worldview, there would seem to be a reason we should bring it to others. Deconversion is almost always described, by those who have gone through it, as an ultimately joyous experience. There is true happiness in throwing off the burden … [Read more...]

Better Left Unsaid

Mahatma Gandhi said, "All religions are true." If you think about it, they all serve the same purpose: comfort the afflicted, explain the unexplainable, provide moral guidelines for living a good life. The differences are primarily cultural — language, place of origin, traditional elements — not spiritual. What does it matter if one person prays to Allah, another believes in multiple deities, and another doesn't believe in any God, if all three are fundamentally good people who treat others the w … [Read more...]