Atheists have good news to tell. There are no gods, ghosts or fairies. There is no incomprehensible sin. There is no judgemental super-being monitoring your mind for thought crime. There is a whole world of reality out there that is more beautiful, more mysterious and more worthy of your awe than any story religion has ever told.
But advocates for atheism more often see their cause in terms of combat. Atheists fight irrationality, atheists dismantle spurious claims, atheists oppose the influence of faith in civic life.
Regardless of whether atheists are correct, it doesn’t sound very appealing.
Perhaps we shouldn’t care. “It doesn’t matter whether it is appealing or not, it is true!” Okay, sure, the horrible truth is better than a beautiful lie. But when did we decide that the truth is horrible?
Somewhere, the popular online atheist movement forgot the difference between connection and accommodation. So, on atheist blogs such as “Pharyngula” or “Why Evolution is True”, I struggle to find more than token common ground with non-atheists. Sympathy and empathy have been purged in pogroms of doctrinal purity.
I’ve been guilty of this as much as anyone. There are some things that make me angry. There are many religiously motivated injustices that need to be fought. Religion often abuses financially, emotionally and intellectually. Many believers bring the fight to us. I gain pleasure from a feeling of intellectual superiority and am tempted to try and engender it whenever I’m given the opportunity. I often fall into the kinds of patronizing language some believers routinely use on non-believers, until the pastiche is indistinguishable from my actual character.
But there are also massive numbers of people online who would be attracted to a more positive message of what atheism could do for them. I think that atheism has a message of good news, and we could afford to all be more evangelical about it.
What do you think, whether atheist, believer, or something in-between?