Wednesday, March 17, 2010

An Itemization of Problems for the Everyday Atheist

Hello to those few who have kept up with my poorly updated blog!

Lately, as I read other atheist blogs and learn about the many experiences that other atheists (typically more prominent ones) have in their very real world, I've come to realize that we sometimes have little in common as atheists. Our cause might be the same, but our views on certain subjects might be dissimilar. This entry will itemize and discuss some of those issues.

1. The assumption that all atheists are completely liberal: Let's be honest with ourselves, being atheist automatically places us outside of most political boundaries. Like any demographic, atheists can fall in any place on the political spectrum. As a former Republican, I can attest to this. I still retain many of my conservative views fiscally, but my social views have changed dramatically. I've been an atheist longer than I've been political. Sadly, both major parties seem to shun those who are irreligious in favor of the popular vote. It's quite hard to find bloggers who profess any kind of conservatism, as the title "conservative" seems to carry with it many preconceptions. I would wish to eliminate any blanket statement about atheists as liberals or conservatives, as it ignores the idea that any common person in every walk of life can refuse belief in the spiritual.

2. Smugness: Many of the more aggressive atheist bloggers tend to have a strong anti-religious attitude that may be shocking for many people to read. I'm numb to most of it now, but I can't help but wonder what it would be like to be a religious person reading a scathing remark about a religious point of view. We should always be there to hold harmful religious ideas in check, but if those same ideas can make people happy and don't hurt non-religious or disagreeing religious people alike, why not live and let live? I think many atheists would agree with this stance, as we'd all like to be respected for our beliefs and are fighting for that level of respect in our current socio-political situation. I love people like Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers because they hold nothing back when it comes to religion, but for the sake of garnering our own respect from them, I think that we should follow the golden rule.

3. Social atheism: I would love to meet fellow irreligious folks, and I have. I've gone to local events related to getting like minded people together. I only take issue with the fact that many of us seem so lackadaisical when it comes to organizing events, or simply apprehensive about attending them. For one, I can say that I'm afraid to meet those other atheists. Many of them are super smart, and intimidatingly so! Many of them are involved in the sciences or have PhD's in complex fields that would go over most of our heads. Many are great at articulating their points of view and may have something to say beyond the scope of anything the "common" atheist might wish to fathom. Some of us are shy, and fear the smugness of more up-front opinions of aggressive atheists. Many of us simply wish to enjoy good, like minded company without discussing the many issues that plague the non-religious. Atheist events can be that unsteady boat full of holes that nobody wants to fish from.

4. Assuming that we've all "rejected" religion: Again, it all has to do with blanketing a group of people with similar views with a similar blanket. I'm definitely one of the guys who flat out rejected religion, but there are many of us who were (luckily) raised outside of religious teachings. The feedback from these kind of people can be extremely important, as it can give us insight on how/how not to raise children in a non-religious environment. As atheists, we are not immune to flaws simply because we refuse religion. Anyone can commit a crime, and anyone can do harm, regardless of beliefs and/or demographic origin.

5. We "believe" in evolution: We trip hard and fall flat on our faces with this one. The word "believe" should never be used to describe our views on evolution. Evolution is a scientific theory, not a belief system. As materialistic empiricists with a need for information, believing in something does us no good. It is either true, partially true and in need of refinement, or false. Personal preference has no bearing on the facts. To interpret beyond a fact is a complete error. If we are to hold scientists to the same rational thought, then we must do to the same with ourselves.

I'll continue this list when I come up with more items and have more time. Please post your thoughts! I love hearing them!