NTSC: Reminded that what we do makes a difference, even if it’s not always obvious at the time.

Many years ago, back when I still blogged on xanga, there was a particularly dedicated commenter who kept coming to my blog to debate me.  Her name was Courtney and, unlike her smug, insufferable aspiring pastor fiance, she was assertive but very enjoyable.  She was kind.  For a few years this went on until finally it kind of faded into silence.

A few years later, a commenter came to my blog under a pseudonym and always posted pretty good comments.  They were one of my favorites.  Later, I would find out, that it was Courtney.

She’s happily atheist now, and has now gotten to the point where she wants to be an activist.  Being a volunteer helping to organize this shindig is her first foray into trying to aid the atheist movement.  I’ve spoken with the lead organizer, Kevin Butler, who has become a fairly tight friend of mine, and he sings her praises unlike any church choir.  Apparently, Courtney is making a huge difference.  I’m very proud of her.

Today I picked up a program and read her bio…

Not only did she wrestle a bear once, but Courtney Caldwell was actually converted to atheism by none other than JT Eberhard (after years of attempting to debate him online). to this day, she is unsure which was more difficult – attempting to match JT’s wit, or the bear’s strength. Her very first atheist convention was last year’s NTSSC.

That meant a lot to me, even if I think she was being far too kind.

I keep all the emails I receive from people who have told me that I’ve either de-converted them or who wanted to let me know that I changed their minds.  That number is presently at 153.  I don’t know how many others never emailed or said anything.

Debating religious people, just in our ordinary lives, changes minds.  It never happens immediately, which is why I think atheist sometimes ask, with immense frustration, why we even bother to argue with religious people since it never makes a difference.  Well, it does.  It may take a lot of time, but it does.

And we should not be so quick to put all the blame on religious people.  Perhaps we could improve our debate style or fill gaps in our knowledge to make ourselves more effective.  Don’t just blame the believer for being close-minded, make sure you’re improving.

This has been a good day.

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