First of all, hey guys! I haven't been on for awhile!
I just wanted to pop back in to my good old atheist community to express some concern over two trends I am noticing in some atheists.
The first is dogmatic atheism. I've gone 5 years never having to encounter a dogmatic atheist and suddenly I've met a couple recently. Atheism is NOT and can NOT be a positive claim. People claiming that there is definitely no god (apparently they exist) need to be confronted whenever possible. I am working very hard to try to secularize the world, but it is extremely important that religion is not replaced with nontheistic dogma.
If atheism is an emotionally held position rather than a rational one, first of all the theists are right. In this scenario the atheist is no better than the most indoctrinated theist. Second of all, with the broad and promising reach of secularization, it forebodes a possible future when religious oppression is not eliminated but simply turned against the religious.
This brings me to my second issue: Hostility. When being hostile to theists, you have to stop and think about your intentions. Being hostile to a theist achieves nothing more than blowing off steam for your own selfish interests. I suppose this is fine if you can't deal with not having the release or don't care about the image of atheism, but again if we are to spread at all as a rational position rather a emotional/dogmatic one, personal attacks should really stop. They're usually excused by some rendition of "they started it" or "theists do it so much worse!" But come now... it is intellectually dishonest to justify such behavior this way. Adults behaving like children will be dismissed like children. Just think about how well those "atheists hate god" people affect your opinion. Nobody is forcing you to stay and talk with an idiot. If you can't stand what they're saying, most likely they won't be convincing any moderates anyway. Leave them to someone else who can handle their terrible arguments without getting hostile.
Keep in mind that nobody thinks that they are evil or stupid. People draw lines and expect in some sense to be respected. Don't give them certain respects that they don't deserve naturally but for a rational, non-emotinal position, civil discourse is always a minimum respect. An overwhelming majority of theists have no idea what atheism is. They've been lied to by their religious figures and their community which supports the urban legends. People don't need to be stupid in order to be brainwashed. They have extremely good reasons to fear us. Their churches spread propaganda and there are enough atheists confirming that we're "angry, hateful people" to block all critical thought.
"We shall have to repent in this generation, not so much for the evil deeds of the wicked people, but for the appalling silence of the good people."-MLK
""First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to "order" than to justice"
This goes both ways. The atheist moderates need to be heard over the dogmatic ones. The theist moderates need to be considered when trash talking the extremist ones. The leading social activists in history have all realized the importance of the moderates.
Theists are not stupid. They're not playing fantasy. The only requirement is belief in god. We can't get so caught up in our own opinion that we create our own pseudo-religion and demonize the theist moderate.
We need the help every theist moderate that we can get. They are our most powerful tool for social change. They are the ones who will spread the word to the theist community that we're not monsters. They will make more atheists and atheist sympathizers than any one of us ever possibly could.
Please consider this next time you choose to debate a bigot. Your actions affect much more than just you and the other participant. If we don't remove the emotional blocks to reason, we can't expect reason from anybody.