Atheist evangelism. Proselytizing reason. Witnessing for rational thought. For some the very idea of these things is an anathema. Many others feel that the path to follow is to lay siege to religion and try to tear it down. But this just doesn't work.

Tearing down other ways and beliefs is not how religions grew to the behemoths they are today. It was by promoting their own views. In many cases aggressively.

Promoting one's positions is human nature. Its how we interact with society. The things we value we promote and share with others in the hopes that they too will find value in these positions.

Of course the problem is that in the case of atheism there is not a defined common position other than the simple lack of belief in god(s). At least on paper. The truth is that there is often a great deal of things in common amongst atheists. Things they value. Things worthy of promotion.

If atheism is only known by its negative traits then it will be dismissed and pushed to the side in society. If we want to have a place at the table we need to be organized, positive, and growing in numbers. And to do that we need to promote atheism, reason, and rational thought. In their positive light rather than just as an opposition to theism, faith, and irrational thought.

Just a thought. What does everyone else think? What ideas and aspects does anyone think we may have in common worth promoting?

Tags: atheism, organizing, promoting

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I don't like the idea of shoving atheism down people's throats or preaching it. We should be proud and loud about our atheism, yes, because it is so underrepresented--but at the very most we should just debate and encourage free thinking, not our way of thinking.
How do you differentiate being loud and proud from shoving your views down other peoples throats?

A champion doesn't have to shove their views down someone's throats to get their point of view across. I think thats part of the issue. People think that to stand up for and idea and champion it puts them in and adversarial position with those who do not agree.

We don't have to be adversarial. We just have to be smart.
By being loud and proud, I mean doing everything up to harassing people--if they ask you to stop trying to debate with them, then stop. Don't be disrespectful. Don't follow them around or talk to their kids or appear at their private places like at their doors. Christians love to use these tactics, we're better than that :)

I think we can, however, debate at every opportunity possible, speak up whenever we see a joining of church and state, ridicule their beliefs (why not? They ridicule ours and it's free speech anyways) as long as it's not personal harassment or insulting (which is hard to do sometimes) etc...
No need to use the same tactics as them. As I said. We get to be smart.

I think something that needs to find its way into the atheist community however is the notion of promoting the positive aspects of atheism rather than focusing on the negative of the faithful. The idea being to build up the image in the minds of those near enough to switching rather than trying to tear down the image of believers.

People come around on matters of belief slowly. And its seldom the result of a single debate or point that does it. Its the slow build up of ideas and concepts that contend within their own mind that determines what people believe. And the best way to build up such ideas is with positive ideas they can link into. Thus finding the common ground between people of different beliefs and showing them the positive connections to your beliefs goes a great way to shifting their views.
Not trying to suggest a dogmatic approach is necessary. In fact I quite dislike such things. It is dogma that is the chief enemy of humanity in my thinking rather than religion. As soon as you have a dogmatic position established you have created a means be which to divide people. And that is the start of conflict.

And being right isn't even necessarily the issue to raise. Perhaps the virtues of doubt rather than faith could be a rallying point. There are a lot of things that could be a focus of such promotion that need not tread upon the ground of dogma.
Fundamentalists also have hair. And legs.

;-) OK, sorry, that was a bit snarky........ but I suppose it leads me to a serious question. What is it that we think makes a fundamentalist a fundamentalist? Are there a whole suite of things, which we then need to avoid all of? Or is it only when you have the full set that it's a problem?

I agree that we don't want to end up exactly like them, because then we've lost the battle before we've started. But that doesn't necessarily mean we have to reflexively reject everything they do....... or does it?
I think that being a fundamentalist is something that an atheist could never be. That is, an atheist does not cling to any dogma or higher authority. We don't cite Dawkins as any kind of moral - or intellectual - authority.

We can be obnoxious, however, and that should be avoided. What is unfortunate is that christians take any kind of assertive tone or opinion and throw it back at us as being 'just like them' (which is an odd kind of argument in any case) as though we are not allowed to have opinions because we don't believe in a god (and specifically their god).

I find myself trying to be more moral, more patient and kind than I might otherwise be just to prove that atheists aren't all bad. And while that may not be terribly honest, it is at least injecting some goodness into the world. Nothing wrong with that, right?
Promoting reason and rational/critical thought is very important, and could well be done without connecting it to religion/atheism. After all, critical thinking should ultimately destroy religion.

Still, with regard to specifically the 'positive aspects of atheism' itself, what do people think those are? As you've said, there's very little (or nothing) to it other than rejection of religion, and while many atheists do agree on many issues, they really occupy all parts of the political and social spectrum. Taking as an example the abortion debate, we can't necessarily say "atheists are pro-choice", even though there is a strong correlation between the two, and much anti-abortion rhetoric is religious in origin. There are atheists who are passionately anti-abortion, and even if we feel that they are simply mired in religious-style thinking, we still can't just pretend they don't exist!

When I try to think about what the positive aspects of atheism are, all I can come up with is "the absence of the negative aspects of religion"!

In my view, promotion of critical thinking is the key, from as early an age as possible. This can be divorced from all talk of religion and atheism, and will have many other benefits (for example it'll help to get rid of irrational views about medicine).
Oh I agree it is definitely a conundrum. Atheism itself has literally nothing to promote about it. Its an absence of something. Kinda difficult to raise a flag to just that.

But the simple truth is that atheists do tend to congregate. And they do tend to come up with shared views. I would hate to think that the only thing that can come of that is pure negativity. Because if thats the case then we shall always be pariah is our own society.
Rather promote the good ideas atheists stand for, like for example many of us seem to lean towards liberalist views. We can probably even explain it as such that many atheists don't judge people because of their ethnical or sexual backgrounds, but we consider all equal since after all, we are all human. Among other things. Of course this won't go home with those extreme fundies but who cares what they think anyway. The rest of the western world at least likes to pretend they all believe that liberalism is a good thing and instead of using the differentiating "lack of belief" vs "belief" we have a common ground; we care for humans and don't think any other human is less worth even though they have different ethnical/sexual backgrounds or were born as invalids.

We can also continue to show that atheists don't necessarily at all must be unhappy, selfish or have an overly mechanical train of thought (ie, our world is mechanical, bound by rules and so are humans etc) but we are just like everyone else but with the minor difference with the lack of a belief in any god(s).

We can also say that in certain situations where objective judging must be used, an atheist might probably be more prone to make a righteous choice since a believer might be clouded due to their religion having different morals.

Well tbh, the most important thing is to convey the image that atheists aren't strange but they are just like any other people. I have gotten the impression that some religious think that atheists are of another breed, since they cannot comprehend why someone cannot believe in any god(s).

Also, since Christians like to boast over how much charity money they spend etc compared to atheists, we must find a compareable case where their argument can be disapproved. Since charity is seen as selfness (although I personally don't believe in such a thing) which somehow make Christians feel they are special because they are so good and "selfless".
"the most important thing is to convey the image that atheists aren't strange but they are just like any other people"

This is indeed a very important goal
I'm not into proselytizing. Never have been. It's probably because I hate it so much when people do it to me. I've always hated in-your-face religion, even when I was a Christian. I just don't want the confrontation.

Imagine you're strolling through the mall, gazing longingly at a pair of shoes you're dying to buy, when suddenly someone approaches you and asks, "Have you been saved?" You casually reply, "No." (The idea of your being saved matters not one jot to you.) After that, a lot of pleading, cajoling, and finally finger pointing ensues. What a pile of crap. You were just shopping for shoes. Even if the proselytizing is done by a friend or family member, even if it's done tactfully and with great concern, you're simply not interested and have other important things on your mind.

I have always tried to remember that scenario when I think about in-your-face atheism.

In today's atmosphere, however, it might be wise to change my opinion. I don't know. I still hate confrontation.

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