Outspoken Atheists Are Just As Annoying As Street Preachers!

Outspoken Atheists Are Just As Annoying As Street Preachers! May 22, 2019

Outspoken atheists are as annoying as street preachers.

I spotted this specific sentiment on Twitter yesterday, but many like it are shared to my social spaces on a daily basis. It’s a bit like a broken record: every day, new people who’ve clearly never thought this idea through, insist that outspoken atheists are just like pushy Christians. Of course, we’re not and here’s why.

First off, Christian street preachers are there for one specific goal: to change your mind and win your soul for Jesus. Some of them certainly come at it from a very sincere place, concerned about their fellow human beings burning in Hell. Others feel they might be more gloriously rewarded in the afterlife if they can turn many hearts to Jesus. I’m sure there are plenty of other reasons. While I can only speak for myself, I can assure you I am not here to change anyone’s mind about god or turn them into an atheist. Of course, I have received many letters and messages from people who say I played a role in their deconversion from the world’s major religions but this is not what I have set out to do. I know from speaking with many of my fellow outspoken atheists, that they are not trying to do that either. Sure, I love to create small amounts of doubt in the believers’ mind when I can, but this is not to rob them of their faith, but rather to have them realize that maybe their beliefs aren’t rock-solid enough to act on. A person with doubt is a less dangerous person than someone who is absolutely certain and uses their beliefs to inform their actions.

People who push religion also tend to invade your space with it. Whether they are street preachers interrupting your peaceful stroll or they’re Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking on your door every week. Outspoken atheists don’t go door to door asking if you’ve heard the good news about nothing. We don’t leave copies of the God Delusion in every hotel room across the globe. We don’t send missionaries to war-torn and poverty-stricken areas so we can manipulate the desperation of the locals to get them to deny god. No, we tend to speak amongst each other and on our blogs, in our books and podcasts and that’s about it. Myself, I love to discuss and debate religion with theists but only when they’ve posted something publicly or come to me with it. I also love to do this with mutual respect and kindness. I would never dream of violating someone’s personal space to push my ideas.

Atheists also do not have an organized church system across the world where the godless are expected to attend weekly indoctrination sessions. There is no guilt to be felt in missing any secular conventions, no reason to feel we’re not being good enough atheists if we don’t show our face at atheist events from time to time.

An outspoken atheist is someone who simply speaks publicly about religion from the perspective of a nonbeliever. That is literally it. There are various goals for this. I asked you on Twitter what you thought these goals were. Here are some of your answers:

Some of you spoke about discrimination against atheists:

Some brought up religious-based discrimination against other marginalized groups:

Others mention scientific progress:

There was talk of standing up to barbaric and harmful customs and rituals:

For some of you, it’s important to normalize atheism to ensure other atheists know they’re not alone and that they have support when they decided to out themselves as atheists:

Many talked about peaceful coexistence:

For some, it’s about politics and secularism:

A huge number of you talked about bringing awareness to the fact that the godless can have morality, too:

Some of you talked about assisting those who might have questions about their faith:

These seemed to make up the sentiments of the vast majority of the people who answered this question. The goal of outspoken atheists is not to make more atheists, though we are definitely not opposed to that. The goal is to make this a better, fairer world.

You can follow me on Twitter for more discussions like this here: @godless_mom

I’d love to know what you think the main goals of outspoken atheism ought to be. Note I said outspoken atheism and not atheism alone. I had an awful lot of people on Twitter point out that atheism itself has no goals, and I agree. This discussion is about outspoken atheism. Let me know what you think in the comments!

If you like what I do here and want to support my work, you can donate here or become a patron here.

Images: screenshots via Courtney Heard

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • WallofSleep

    “Others feel they might be more gloriously rewarded in the afterlife if they can turn many hearts to Jesus.”

    Jokes on them. As a former xtian, now atheist, if I make a death bed conversion and become the proverbial Prodigal Son, Jesus will throw me a way bigger party in Heaven than they’ll ever get.

  • Chris Hogue

    Condescending twits, regardless of belief, are annoying.

  • RainbowPhoenix

    There are bad eggs in every group, but atheism at least isn’t systematically designed to encourage and protect theirs.

  • “We don’t leave copies of the God Delusion in every hotel room across the globe.”

    I have to admit that I’ve considered it! But I think “Why Evolution is True” might be a better choice.

  • Raging Bee

    I’ve seen street/campus preachers in college, and the only atheists I can think of who were more annoying are Dawkins and Harris, if only because they have bigger audiences now than any single loony on a streetcorner. So, bit of an apples-to-wombats comparison there…

  • The Antagonizer

    I spotted this specific sentiment on Twitter yesterday, but many like it are shared to my social spaces on a daily basis. It’s a bit like a broken record: every day, new people who’ve clearly never thought this idea through, insist that outspoken atheists are just like pushy Christians. Of course, we’re not and here’s why.

    Oh, but some are. It’s a more or less thing.

    I would never dream of violating someone’s personal space to push my ideas.

    Anti-fa disagree. So do radical feminists and LGBTQ groups. Oh, and BLM.

    Atheists also do not have an organized church system across the world where the godless are expected to attend weekly indoctrination sessions.

    They instead indoctrinate their own with garbage like 1 + 1 = 2. Binary logic is dead.

    An outspoken atheist is someone who simply speaks publicly about religion from the perspective of a nonbeliever. That is literally it.

    Study the history of violent, radical atheist movements.

  • Michael Tymn

    My religious friends consider me an atheist, since I doubt the existence of an anthropomorphic (human-like) god. However, the problem I have with garden-variety atheists is that they seem to believe that a belief in God goes hand in hand with a belief in the survival of consciousness, i.e., life after death. The two are considered concomitants and they assume that if there is no god, there is no afterlife. Serious psychical research shows that a belief in survival does not require a belief in god. God may be a cosmic consciousness or creative force of some kind behind it all, but it is not necessary to believe even that to accept the evidence that consciousness does survive death.

  • I would never dream of violating someone’s personal space to push my ideas.

    Anti-fa disagree. So do radical feminists and LGBTQ groups. Oh, and BLM.

    This only makes sense if your definition of personal space is somewhere approaching “everything the light touches”. A person not liking the smell of your shit and saying so is not, in any reasonable sense, invading personal space.

  • Michael Neville

    Serious psychical research

    There’s an oxymoron if ever I saw one.

  • Michael Neville

    So you’re whining that liberals are invading your personal space to tell you that you’re a hating bigot. There’s an easy fix for that, stop displaying your bigotry and you won’t be called on it. Even a conservative bigot should be able to figure that out, given enough hints.

  • Anri

    As soon as I go around telling people that the most perfect justice they can receive for the crime of being themselves is to be locked forever inescapably in the most horrible place possible, I’ll accept the label of being as annoying as a typical theist.

    Until then, not so much.

  • rubaxter

    Yawn.

    I have yet to be confronted by “Anti-fa disagree. So do radical feminists and LGBTQ groups. Oh, and BLM.”

    Perhaps because I’m not a self-centered, greedy, grasping, egotistical, maybe criminal, jerk, on the prowl and looking for trouble?

    Oh, and I particularly enjoyed “Binary logic is dead.” from a twerp posting on the internet.

    BTW, child, 1 + 1 = 10, so you obviously are ADHD and failed to pay attention when it mattered.

  • rubaxter

    OTOH, you can easily turn off Dawkins and Harris, not having them on your street corners unless you’re particuarly posh?

  • zenlike

    Yup, his history is one of raging antisemitism and white supremacy. Probably melts like a snowflake when someone calls him on his shit.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    ‘Survival’ of personality past the death of the organism has yet to be demonstrated.

    In fact, there’s no proposed *mechanism* as to how such an action could occur.

    When you have a solid scientific explanation how personality can survive the cessation of the chemical and electrical actions in the brain of the organism, get back to us.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Anti-fa disagree. So do radical feminists and LGBTQ groups. Oh, and BLM.

    Sooooo….you’re complaining about being hit BACK first?

    Typical…not surprising, but depressing in it’s childish predictability.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Outspoken atheists don’t go door to door asking if you’ve heard the good news about nothing.

    OK, it happened once, and that was for comic effect. And why is it funny? Because it never actually happens.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U58wgn-9Y3c

  • ThaneOfDrones

    There are people who put warning stickers in Bibles they find in hotel rooms. But that’s the asymmetry: The Bible is already there.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Serious psychical research… the evidence that consciousness does survive death.

    (roll-eyes)
    The evidence that consciousness survives death is not the least bit convincing. A few points:

    * “Near-death” is not death.

    * Veridical accounts, i.e. that people can see or hear things after they “die” lack a plausible mechanism. We know how people see. Light bounces off objects, some of it enters the eye through the pupil, gets focused by the lens onto the retina, thus triggering photoreceptors. These photoreceptors are in nerve cells which then pass on signals to the optic nerve and then the brain, etc. Similarly for hearing. These are all material mechanism. If a ‘soul’ leaves a body, it leaves the eyes and ears behind, and thus it would lose access to those material pathways. Also, there are material explanations for “out-of-body” experiences which must be considered, and which are much better-evidenced than dualistic explanations: Electrodes trigger out-of-body experience

    * Imagery, such as lights, faces of loved ones or religious figures: So funny things happen in the brain when it is being shut down – or booted up. It is no surprise that multiple people experience similar symptoms during these events. A curious detail is that Christians undergoing such experiences see Christian religious figures, Hindus see Hindu religious figures, etc.

    * Timeline: if the person is “dead”, how can they be sure of the timing of such experiences? Maybe it happened as their brain was rebooting, not when they were ‘dead’

  • ThaneOfDrones

    Not sure what the Bureau of Land Management has to do with any of this.

  • Milo C

    I acknowledge your point; belief in an afterlife is a separate supernatural claim from belief in a god or gods. However, they are both supernatural claims with no good evidence for either. ThaneOfDrones makes a fairly good summary; I would also recommend NDEs Debunked in RationalityRules’ YouTube series. It’s a short watch with good data.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    LOL.

    That’s their sobriquet for Black Lives Matter

  • ThaneOfDrones

    I take my humour where I can find it.

  • Michael Tymn

    Milo, “supernatural” is a subjective word, nothing more. I can recommend dozens of books debunking those you named, i.e., debunking the debunkers, but I suspect you have a will to disbelieve, so I won’t bother. But let me suggest you explore my blog at
    http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/ The evidence is there for anyone with an open mind.

  • KenderJ

    So, you don’t live in the west then?

  • Erik1986

    They’re considering birth control for the mustangs. The ones they don’t take off the range and pen up so cattlemen can graze their cattle on the cheap on public lands.

  • Raging Bee

    Obvious bluff is obvious. And called.

  • Raging Bee

    Yeah, it’s kinda cute when a guy who calls himself “The Antagonizer” complains about being antagonized by others.

  • Jim Jones

    A couple of JW women knocked on my door a week ago.

    I’ve never knocked on anyone’s door to deconvert them.

  • Jim Jones

    Too much effort but really fun would be to cut a gun shaped hole in them.

  • Jim Jones

    Not even remotely more annoying.

    You have to go to them, not the other way around. You might as well complain that Sofía Vergara is sexually harassing you when you watch her on TV.

  • Jim Jones

    > Serious psychical research shows that a belief in survival does not require a belief in god.

    WTF does that mean?

  • Michael Tymn

    Thrower,

    I would point you to some evidence, but it would probably get erased as was my earlier response to another person. It would appear that Courtney Heard or whoever controls the blog does not welcome such evidence. I say “evidence,” not “proof,” but it is evidence that easily meets the “preponderance of evidence standards” of our civil courts and for the discerning person even meets the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of our criminal courts. But even this will likely be deleted, so why bother? So much bravado and “wisdom” by people who are too young to really comprehend the subject or have not taken the time to fully digest it. I wonder if they will be so bold and courageous when they are diagnosed with a terminal illness, as two of my friends were this past week. That is not suggest that we should believe in survival because it helps us deal with the certainty of death, only that one should fully explore the subject with an open mind and not assume that the afterlife is the ridiculous humdrum heaven and horrific hell of orthodox religion.

  • Raging Bee

    She’s not?! Damn, that’s disappointing…

  • Sophotroph

    I suspect you have a will to disbelieve, so I won’t bother.

    This is called “failing to assume good faith”, and it very much undermines any argument you might think you have.

    We disbelieve because sufficient evidence has never been found to justify belief. The default for all propositions is disbelief, because the alternative default would require one to believe countless contradictory propositions.

    Having an open mind doesn’t mean “being willing to consider my proposition”, it means “being willing to consider all (reasonable) propositions”.

    In order to be properly open-minded to all positions, we can’t merely accept yours out of hand. That’s why open-minded people appear closed-minded to you.

  • rationalobservations?

    The most “annoying” thing about outspoken atheists for religionists is that we ask such difficult questions like:
    What do you believe and why do you believe it?
    and:
    Do you have any actual tangible evidence of your god(s)?
    and to christians:
    Why don’t you follow the original / first 4th century written bibles and why are they so very different from bibles in circulation today?
    and the two words that annoy them most:
    PROVE IT!

    It also must be pretty annoying when we point out their non-argument that there is an option between accepting the existence of a god (singular or not accepting the existence of a god ( as in “Pascal’s wager”) is rendered nonsensical by the mythological “existence” of many millions of undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men among which the originally Canaanite god “Yahweh” and the Roman’s god-man “Jesus” appear unremarkable and of which no evidence of existence has ever been discovered.

    Fewer than 18% of Americans can be found within a church on any given Sunday according to the actual figures published by the American Church Leaders organisation – in spite of the lies told in polls and surveys.

    https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/139575-7-startling-facts-an-up-close-look-at-church-attendance-in-america.html

    The figure of Americans active in religion is far higher than with the rest of the developed world and in many European educated, free, secular democracies the number is below 2% or nearly off the scale and the villages towns and cities of the developed world pay silent testimony to the ongoing death of ignorance and superstition by the growing number of empty rotting redundant churches that have not currently been demolished or redeveloped into something more useful to mankind.

    It is worth also noting that the most peaceful nations in the history of our recently evolved species of ape are also the least religious nations in the world today. Every day growing billions of citizens demonstrate that we do not need belief in terrible, ridiculous, undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses or god-men to be good and without enthrallment to any dishonest human entirely self serving institution of religion – we are much, much better.

    http://visionofhumanity.org/indexes/global-peace-index/

    We look with sympathy (laced with contempt?) on those who claim to abstain from evil only because they fear punishment and hope for reward after death actually consigns them to the eternal nonexistence that is the ultimate outcome for all living things. The rapidly growing demographic of the godless/nonreligious need no such threats because we all own the evolved things we call “empathy”, “sympathy” and an evolved “human conscience”. Not that most religionists lack these things since we all evolved in the same way at the same time – but it must be observed that evil is never done so gleefully as when done in the name of religion.

  • rationalobservations?

    I wonder if you can rise to the challenge of presenting evidence of the existence of any of the millions of undetected and undetectable gods, goddesses and god-men of mythological fiction? If you think you can you need to validate the claim by also revealing the natutre of that tangible evidence and the location in which it is conserved.

    Put up or shut up time…

  • Sophotroph

    If your post was erased, there would be a stub that mentions the fact.

    Disqus has fairly well-known issues that can result in posts disappearing, often reappearing later.

    That you immediately jump to “Atheists are erasing my truth because they can’t handle it” is pretty telling.

    And if you had evidence for an afterlife that would survive judicial scrutiny (pro tip: You don’t), it would be awfully silly to sit on it forever until you want to try to win an internet argument by mentioning that you have it but not showing it to anybody.

    Seriously, if you had that kind of evidence, we’d be watching you explain it on TV right now. Nobody has ever had such evidence. It would be the news of the millennium.

  • Michael Tymn

    Sophotroph, I don’t think space will permit me to list all the evidence. The one that was erased was the link to my blog, which has more than 250 entries, about 50 of them dealing with the evidence. Or you can check out the book, “Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterflife.” It took me more than 25 years to thoroughly research the subject, and it is pretty difficult to summarize 25 years of study in a single comment here. Yo’ll have to do your own research. However, if you think you are getting the straight scoop form Wikidpedia, don’t bother.

  • Brian Curtis

    At least they’re admitting that street preachers are obnoxious, vapid bullies. That’s a start.

  • Elizabeth A. Root

    Susan Blackmore (she is in Wikipedia) has degrees in physiology, psychology, and parapsychology. After a vivid out-of-body experience, she became convinced that psychic phenomena were real and embarked on careful scientific research studies to prove this to scientists. She succeeded in convincing herself that she was wrong and became a skeptic. She has an interesting book on near death experiences.

    BTW: People have a long history of calling those who don’t believe in their god(s) atheists, even if they believe in another god(s).

  • Elizabeth A. Root

    I am baffled by your linking radical feminists, LGBQTIA+, Anti-Fa, and BLM with atheists. I suppose some people in each of those groups are atheist, but I haven’t heard of them pushing an atheist agenda. Let me guess, you think those are godless movements, and so you’re declaring them to be atheists. People have been declaring others who don’t agree with them to be atheists, regardless of their beliefs, fior thousands of years, and that hasn’t made it any less ridiculous.

  • Sophotroph

    His thinking makes perfect sense. There are only two sides: him, and the bad guys.

    Obviously, anybody who doesn’t agree with him is on the other side and thus, naturally, working together hand-in-hand to destroy Christendom and the human race.

    Your problem is you’re trying to bring actual thinking into this. Rookie mistake.

  • Elizabeth A. Root

    I’ll remember that. I was going to ask him if he was off his meds.

    Reminded me of the time someone tried to connect my review of an unflattering book about Ann Coulter to support for pedophilia.

  • We stayed in a Marriott affiliated hotel awhile back and my wife was /horrified/ to find a copy of The Book of Mormon in the room! She didn’t realize that Marriott was a Mormon and was afraid that she’d start seeing them in hotels everywhere.

  • (((-MARK-)))

    I find the belief that one MUST believe in Jesus to be SAVED and Salvation is ONLY through Jesus (along with born into sin); to be one of the most obnoxious and evil religious ideas in all of humanity.

    I am happy that many Christians don’t believe that (though I don’t know why).

    The idea of the ‘one true religion’ the idea that EVERYONE must convert (and humans are responsible for converting others) to be the major ideas that causes religion to become evil. Not the God belief itself.

    I am looking at Christianity and Islam, (which gets conflated to ‘religion’) as being the two most influential and destructive of the religions in the world.

    Any place these religions went, forced conversions backed up in many instances not by just simple death; but some of the most inhumane sadistic torture/deaths.

    It nearly eliminated any pre-Christian and Pre-Islam beliefs and culture that existed prior to its arrival. Christianity was not native to Europe but it did almost completely wipe out Pre-Christian culture (save things like Santa and the leprechaun)

    I am grateful for the moderate forces influencing Christianity and Islam. That either do away with this one true religion, or at least the need to act violently or with coercion.

    I find that a much more realistic solution to the problems of religion. Much more realistically that making people atheist. (How are atheist to change people’s minds, Mock them, convince them? That may work for some, but only a small percentage.)

    To the extent that these two religions contain the idea of salvation only through their faiths. Hell without it. It’s the duty of a secular democracy to allow for this belief while at the same prevent people who have this belief from imposing their beliefs on others and certainly not using violence.

    It’s the duty of a secular democracy to promote science and reason. Not any conclusion of what some people believe to be the question on the God belief. Or as I (and others) say teach evolution not atheism. Science backs up evolution. Science merely suggests but does not prove atheism. Rational thinking, suggests but does not prove Atheism. Our school system should support science and reason not impose some people’s conclusions on others.

    I actually feel sorry for people whose faith dictates that they are responsible for the souls of other people and the need to convince them to believe what they believe.

  • (((-MARK-)))

    What find annoying is people who are atheist who feel that makes them skeptics and qualify them to talk about religion as a social construct. I am not talking about merely observing the effects of religion on people. But people who believe they are knowledgeable about the beliefs and practices and theology of religions that they really know nothing about (or worse a little bit about).

    People who talk about the Abrahamic faith, or monotheism or even ‘Religion’ as of it were mostly the same.

    Now, no one needs to understand a religions theology to criticize the practices of people on that religion.

    But to pontificate on religious theology that they know very little about. Then resist attempts to correct them. Then use the idea of them being skeptics is all so annoying.

    I find myself (as a Jew) constantly seeing straw man arguments being used against Judaism. Example? People who think that Judaism believes in original sin and hold onto that belief despite being corrected, because they know Christianity.

    Thankfully most atheist are not like this. But enough to give atheist a bad name.

    Out of all the modern day Atheist movement ‘Leaders’. I find only Hitchens to be a student of religion and this is able to talk about religion with any depth and nuance.

    Otherwise many debates just turn into ‘ this is another example that proves religion sucks’ . As though any example can prove the whole. (Except as a counter proposal)

    Maybe I expect too much of atheist. I don’t have the expectation that the vast majority of religious people are skeptical. But I kinda of hoped atheist would be.

  • (((-MARK-)))

    The only possible mechanism in a materialist universe. Would be the presence of some sort of intelligent entity, aka God.

  • Cynthia

    Agree this is damn annoying.

    As with anything else on the internet, though, the obnoxious and ignorant get amplified. I don’t think that this is necessarily a reflection on atheists in general in the real world – most of whom don’t go around engaging in atheist activism, but simply happen not to believe in God.

  • (((-MARK-)))

    I don’t think most people would say what they say to people’s faces.

  • (((-MARK-)))

    I went to David Silverman’s Twitter account. He actually replied to me saying my comment was too dumb to reply to and I should read his material first.

    He made a recent comment that people who are atheist can’t be Jewish, they are atheist. It doesn’t matter what they think, they are wrong. He talked about it in his book.

    I replied that a Jewish person can be an atheist and be Jewish and who was he to tell other people what Identity they have. I said are you an atheist prophet and is your book some sort of scripture?

    Later on I realized he is also using the Khazar argument. Even though several people gave him evidence against it months ago.

  • Cynthia

    Using an argument that is (a) debunked, (b) irrelevant and (c) often cited by people who want us dead? Yeah, sounds like a winner.

  • (((-MARK-)))

    David Silverman has much in common with our friend Gary.

    Always right, never wrong and all should think like he does.

  • Elizabeth A. Root

    I do have a friend whose belief in his god is very important to him, and he does not believe in life -after-death or miracles.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Circling back around, months later:

    If you can’t deliver a precis, referencing how this new idea demonstrably interacts with known facts and concepts, don’t waste my time.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Both begging the question and argument from ignorance.

    Try again.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Nonsense.

    You can’t provide a concise summary that will pique interest, while shilling for your worthless site to gain clicks.

  • (((-MARK-)))

    No thanks