If you cross-read the atheism portal here at Patheos or have atheist friends who are heavily engaged with the movement, you may be seeing images like this pop up across Facebook this week.
It’s ‘A’ Week, which, as Hemant Mehta explains at his blog, is a challenge to atheists to come out and give their friends a chance to know they know atheists. This year’s celebration seems particularly well-timed, falling right after Rob Portman’s rapid about-face on gay marriage demonstrates that people may not bother imagining how they feel about their beliefs and prejudices when they move down one level of abstraction.
Discrimination against atheists is still a problem, and an embarrassing number of people elide “You can’t metaphysically sustain a philosophy of objective morality without God” into “You can’t follow objective morals without God.” So I’m glad that Hemant, JT, and others will be forcing people to confront the places where their model of atheists and atheism is in error.
But, if it’s a tradition to come out on A Week, it’s also a tradition (the last two years running) for me to wish it went further. And I don’t feel inclined to skip it just because I’ve swum the Tiber in the interim. My complaint about A Week is just that atheism isn’t very interesting or specific. While you’re telling your friends and family what you don’t believe, why make them pick up what you do believe implicitly from your actions?Atheism is a really big tent. And I’m pretty sure my atheist bookclub friend might be likely to come to (probably-rhetorical) blows with any number of the A Week participants, just as he frequently did with atheist!me a year ago. So why not use Facebook’s spacious cover photo slot to mention something about what you do believe in? Presumably, it’s what you want your religious friends to come around to after their deconversion, so it’s only polite to pitch it now.
So, start a more interesting conversation/fight and, atheist commenters, tell me what you would have stuck in your version of my Reason Rally sign.
What’s the most pertinent and/or interesting thing for someone to know about your ideals, once they already know you don’t believe in God?
I’ll take a roundabout crack at it. If someone already knows I’m Catholic, I think the most useful next thing for them to know is that I have a really Aristotelian/MacIntyrian understanding of virtue/right action. Every action you take is a choice to reinforce/ratify that way of thinking and acting for the rest of your life. Which is still basically my sign from last year.