On Atheism and
I think what he’s trying to say in this post is highlighed by the two excerpted passages:
In politics, I think there are two competing motivations for voters to support a cause publicly. One is to influence the majority to agree, to make changes that you believe in, and the other is to distinguish your opinions as superior to most other peoples’…..
With religion, I think atheists have the same dissonance going on. If they really think the world would be better off without religion, they shouldn’t hate religion and call believers fools. Any successful new belief system must appreciate the beauty of what it’s replacing and strive for backwards-compatibility.
I think the fatal flaw in this post is not just what Sarah highlighted but also Mr. Spinard’s apparent assumption that atheists are either 1. Being elitist or 2. proselytizing.
What is missing from his apparent worldview is the idea of being true to ones self, ones own beliefs/ convictions etc. The idea that atheists aren’t in it to make other people feel bad about being religious, they just really aren’t religious is somehow completely lost here. Speaking for myself as an atheist I don’t care about religion or religious people except insofar as religion interferes with my life.
(And at this point in human history that is arguably, quite a bit. Every religion in the world seems to want their beliefs carved into law. But if there were a group of religious folks who wanted to practice and follow their beliefs and leave me alone I would not care if they did so. I would like to think most atheists would agree with me on this point, but I have no evidence for that, so like god, I will not believe that it is true.)
He’s basically saying that if atheists want to make more atheists they need to figure out how to make atheism more like religion. I don’t necessarily think that atheists feel compelled to make more atheists. I think we’re all pretty sure that in the right environment (one that values reason and logic perhaps) that more atheists would make themselves.
But amazingly enough atheists are already aware of the need to make atheism more appealing. (Although, y’know, without the whole prayer thing, because telling atheists they need to pray is like… well I don’t know what it is like, but it is fucking stupid.)
What Atheists do need to do, and I think are beginning to do is to build a community. Religions, especially groups that have regular church meetings, come with a set of traditions and a built in community for meeting people and social events. Beyond prayer many people who may not necessarily agree with their religion find this community, the rituals and the traditions to be comforting.
I think many atheists who are out now many be the kind that don’t actually care for this kind of community. I know that there is truly nothing I loathe more than running into people who tortured me through grade school every year on Christmas Eve. But I am sure that there are some people who have friends in their church communities and would miss sharing time with a community of people.
If I were a more community/activity minded person I would probably enjoy spending Sunday Afternoons volunteering, or having progressive dinners, or bridge club or singles events or events for kids all with other Atheists. Unfortunately there is no great venue for this. And I think that is probably one of the major reasons that some people stay in their religious community. leaving the religion means leaving bridge club, book club, fund raising groups, so on and so forth. I think what Mr. Spinrad is trying to get at very poorly is that closeted atheists continue to betray their hearts, not for religion and prayer but for community.