***Update***: You can see John’s original post here.
John W. Loftus, author of Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, suggests that the trouble with atheists is that we lack organization.
He elaborates on each of his points, but the short versions are:
1) We don’t provide a united front.
2) We have no leaders.
3) We cannot agree on anything else but religion.
4) We have no agreed upon causes.
5) We cannot agree about tactics.
I don’t know if he really believes these things are all issues our movement has to struggle with but I don’t see any of them as problems.
We’re not going to be unified when our disbelief in any gods is the only common thread binding us. It’s fine if we support one group or another or none at all. I think we all benefit when we can be counted in some way, but if you choose not to do that via a particular group, so be it.
We don’t need (nor should we want) any sort of atheist “Pope.” No one person can tell us how to think or act — not Dawkins or Hitchens or anyone else. There are plenty of atheists who have earned my respect, but it doesn’t mean I take what they say as infallible.
Diversity in what we call ourselves, and who we vote for, and where we stand on morality just shows we’re not a homogeneous bunch. That’s a good thing. People who try to pigeonhole all atheists as anything are just broadcasting their ignorance.
We may not agree on which causes to support, but the beauty of that is that we end up supporting a wide variety of them. Some groups focus on lawsuits and church/state separation issues. Others focus on charity work, or college groups, or local communities, or debunking claims of supernaturalism. I doubt one group, even a strong one, could do all these things very well. It’s a strength that we have many groups tackling all these things — hopefully, they’ll work together when there’s something bigger at stake. Groups like the Secular Coalition for America show that this type of cooperation is possible.
The issue of tactics has been debated nonstop. You don’t *have* to be friendly or angry or an “evangelical” atheist. Different types of tactics will get through to different people. We need all kinds.
If we have a problem within our movement, it’s that we don’t have as pleasant of a story to sell as Christians. We’re “competing” against the idea of forgiveness, Heaven, and hope. The truth isn’t nearly as optimistic. But it’s honest and awe-inspiring if you understand the beauty of science.
What do you see as the biggest problems we face?