“How to be an ally with atheists”

Greta Christina’s blog has an interesting piece about “how to be an ally with atheists,” addressed mainly to politically left-liberal believers who want to be more inclusive towards nonbelievers. It’s almost all eminently sensible stuff; I think Christina does a very good job capturing some of the routine everyday crap that drives atheists up the wall.

Still, I wonder how the premise of the piece holds up. Christina says that

the atheist movement is just beginning to get off the ground, and it’s already come very far in a very short time, both in terms of numbers and in terms of visibility. IMO, in the coming years and decades, it’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.

I don’t know. That seems optimistic. If I were a liberal and was concerned only about political payoff, I still might be tempted to distance myself from nonbelievers, since any association with atheists can only hurt in the wider public realm. Making it clear that you stand against nonbelievers can be cheap way of advertising ones moral credentials, for liberals as well as conservatives.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    TE said: If I were a liberal and was concerned only about political payoff, I still might be tempted to distance myself from nonbelievers, since any association with atheists can only hurt in the wider public realm.

    Or you could just be honest & authentic…… But then again that's hardly politics….

    Every day I'm thankful that I'm an atheist living in *Europe*….. [grin]

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03034292023591747601 PersonalFailure

    hey, cyberkitten, want a roomie? being an atheist in the US is like walking around with a target on your back.

    I do get a certain amount of amusement out of handing blank sheets of paper to people who hand me religious tracts, but still.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    PF said: hey, cyberkitten, want a roomie? being an atheist in the US is like walking around with a target on your back.

    It does seem that way from this side of the pond….. If I lived in the US I’d probably move to Canada!

    PF said: I do get a certain amount of amusement out of handing blank sheets of paper to people who hand me religious tracts, but still.

    A few would-be converters knocked at my door one day – why is it that only Christians do that? – and asked me if I thought there was a plan for life on Earth. Yes, I said with confidence. Their eyes positivley lit up until I told them it was DNA. [laughs]

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03034292023591747601 PersonalFailure

    cyberkitten: LOL! I would love it, if instead of mormons and evangelicals, I got pagans at my door proseltyzing. That would be awesome!

    Curiously, some of the biggest fans of my blog (not that I have that many readers) are pagans. They seem to be having the most fun with their religion.

    What country are you from? I have to lie all the time so I don’t get fired or harrassed. I love the internet for the honesty it affords me.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    PF said: What country are you from?

    I’m from the UK.

    PF said: I have to lie all the time so I don’t get fired or harrassed.

    Totally amazing. How can you live somewhere like that?

    PF said: I love the internet for the honesty it affords me.

    Oh, I have a feeling that not everyone is honest on the Net. I know what you mean though. People can hide behind ‘handles’ and say what they’d never say otherwise.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11532683087210250003 Gaius Sempronius Gracchus

    Republican President Taft was a frank agnostic.

    Never get away with that, these days.

    Odd, isn’t it?


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