Don't get me wrong, I understand where you're coming from. I didn't "come out of the closet" so to speak, until a couple years ago. Shortly after the time my family convinced me to go onto Facebook. It was there I started meeting other atheists (through the different FB groups). Well when you do that, it's then pretty hard to keep it hidden. I still never pushed it, but certainly didn't hide it either. Every once in a blue moon I'll post an atheist article/link I find interesting. Most importantly, nothing insulting, if you know what I mean. As a result, I started finding out friends I knew for a long time, that I would of never suspected, were also atheist. I say "never suspected", because they were all over the board personality wise. Most, if not all, could give a crap about Darwin, or learning much of scientific discoveries. They simply didn't believe and were good people. Of course, I've also met what one would call "typical atheists" and have become good friends with them as well.
My point is, there are more atheists out there than one knows. The problem is, most will never join groups like this, because (no offense to everyone here) they find most of us irritating and arrogant. I truly believe if I was a forceful atheist, I would have never have met half the atheists I have.
That being said, if you really want to "convert" people, my 1st piece of advice is forget about the extremists. Concentrate on the more liberal ones. Especially the ones who disagree with the extremists. Point out that the extremists are the ones truly following the bible, koran, etc. The more liberal ones will usually counter with the whole "jesus loves us" crap, but the simple response is "yes, but that doesn't delete what the bible already reads. Love your slave all you want, he/she is still a slave". You may just get through to a few that it's not as good as they think. It's a first step, anyway.
As far as holidays go? Just make all the existing ones generic. I very much doubt the general public will go for any new holiday from anyone...there's too many as it is and it just becomes a joke. So how about just make your own for just you and a few friends/family? For the last few years I've been throwing "Kiisterfest" at my farm making it an annual event. It's in winter and we're on top of a very high hill and do a lot of tobogganing and partying (still a family event though). It's become quite big and something we enjoy with our friends. We do another annual event at a friends at summer solstice, plus 2 more at 2 other friends. For me, the "generic" thing is atheism. Like the saying goes...atheism is like the off button on a TV as religion is a channel on TV. (I didn't put it in quotes, because I'm sure I didn't get it EXACT).
Also remember to keep you're chin up... stats show atheism is growing as fast or faster than any religion, so you may be surprised in another generation (^_^)
That being said, if you really want to "convert" people, my 1st piece of advice is forget about the extremists. Concentrate on the more liberal ones. Especially the ones who disagree with the extremists.
Well, yes and no. If you're hoping for a specific person to convert from fundamentalist Christianity, you're better off not wasting your time. The odds of it happening are very small. On a one-on-one level, you're more likely to influence a liberal Christian.
But, once a fundamentalist's shell is cracked, they're likely to fall hard. Look at Dan Barker, John W. Loftus, Matt Dillahunty, and Rich Lyons. Since there's more wrong with their worldview, in comparison to reality, there's more solid evidence to show them that their beliefs are completely opposed to reality. If you can just crack that shell.
Liberal Christians are already ignoring so much of their holy book. What's one more thing to cross off the list, once you disprove it? I think you've got more work to do, with a liberal theist.
Go on then Terence – tell us where the word ‘bunny’ comes from? I think it’s all quite relevant to the conversation – as culture is about the evolution of such things.
I am posting a somewhat improved version of the ideas for strenghthening families and communities for atheists. It is attached as a Word file, so that you can improve it. I hope to share this at the Atheist discussion gathering in Albuquerque tomorrow morning. I would very much welcome feedback on this. And I hope you will find it something worth sharing with others.
The larger issue is the matter of resources for atheist families, particularly those with children. I raised my three children with no religious instruction and they turned out great. But we didn't talk much, at least in any kind of organized way, about such matters as values, ethics, personal and social responsibility. Having activities and events around which such conversations are expected is valuable for families. Families need ideas and resources about how to do this, what others have tried and what seems to work best. The idea of a wiki on this subject would be an ideal way to build a body of knowledge. But a new wiki may not be needed. Following is a partial list of atheist wikis. I included the stated purpose for each. It looks like it would be possible to build family and community building ideas into one of these, particularly the first, which now has a community page with no content, and family page could presumably be added. Let me know what you think. Also, do you think it would be valuable to start a separate discussion thread on this site about this topic? Thanks Alice for getting this started.
Partial list of Atheist Wikis
A. General purpose Athiest Wikis
The objectives of this wiki include, but are not limited to:
▪ Presenting the atheist point of view.
▪ Dispelling myths about atheists.
▪ Highlighting the damage which can be caused by religions.
▪ Showing the world the damage caused by Religion
Support for the struggle against superstition
A wiki for atheists to share opinions and knowledge.)
B. Specific purpose Atheist Wikis
Iron Chariots is intended to provide information on apologetics and counter-apologetics. We'll be collecting common arguments and providing responses, information and resources to help counter the glut of misinformation and poor arguments which masquerade as evidence for religious claims.
Wikiquote is a free online compendium of sourced quotations from notable people and creative works in every language, translations of non-English quotes, and links to Wikipedia for further information.
Thanks for the work you’ve done – having 3 young children myself at the moment – I really don’t get much time to think about or write about this stuff – you on the other hand have all that experience, will and perhaps more time than me also. So I’m very grateful for this and look forward to hearing more.