As I am new to the atheist community I have had some burning questions. Why do atheist get active in any way or care to have a voice? Why bother even visiting an atheist website?
I can understand Theist that believe that God has sent them on a mission to spread their religion and therefore become activist. Atheist have no religion or mission from God.
I can answer my question from my perspective but I do not know the motivations of other atheist specifically, particularly those who have always have been atheist. I can see understand how Christians picket and protest at rally's for their beliefs. I have often humored myself with the thought, What do atheist do? Picket with signs that say "NOTHING"?
I will give an example of my ax to grind, that is, why I am here. I have had anti theist thoughts even as a christian for over two decades. I was extremely devout and studied the bible constantly as I still do to this day, but for different reasons. I had no influence from the outside and did not know any atheist. I belonged to a religious family and community. At some point in time I realized that the christian god was not real. I only came to terms with my unbelief in the last two to three years and only came out as an atheist within the last year. This was a lonely, difficult process. I did not discover Atheist books, or websites until the last two years. I had made the hard trip on my own. I love the community and support of A-N. It is my hope that by being vocal here that I might provide the support I did not have. It is nice to know I'm not the only one out there that does not buy into theist beliefs. I may become even more active due to the support of this community.
I know my story and reasons, but I still am not sure how or why others would be impassioned to be vocal about no god. Perhaps other new atheist have similar questions. I would like to hear from others why you are here and why you think it is important.
A look at my blog would give you multiple reasons. I was slow to come to atheism, and I mean by-way-of-Joe's-Barn slow. I wrote Habemus Papem back in 2005 and This I Believe the year after. Before then in 2003 I returned a forwarded note from a friend with an excess of godding in it with a tone which was not what you would call supportive of religion. Even before that, I was aware of CBS News' reporting on the catholic church and what they had been doing with young boys, long before Mea Maxima Culpa was released.
I first "officially" declared myself an atheist on experienceproject.com, back in 2009, and that's when my education in atheism and religion really began. I learned about the Four Horsemen, about Dillahunty and AronRa and others who were already calling religion on its bullshit. I also learned about Hovind and Ham and William Lane Craig and their variable attempts to justify their belief systems. In 2012 Steve Shives posted his first "An Atheist Reads" series on Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ, and I began learning about counter-apologetics. That education continues in multiple formats to this day.
After five or six years, I decided I needed to be active in the real world and joined the Freedom From Religion Foundation and its local chapter, the Northern Ohio Freethought Society. I've worked with them on local issues, including the billboard we put up for the Republican National Convention. I joined American Atheists at the Reason Rally, and while I am not active with them at the moment, I suspect that their mindset and mine will find considerable common ground for future action.
Why am I vocal about no god? Because the other guys are vocal about something that not only doesn't exist but can do considerable harm to our society and our planet, if left unchecked.
And I mean to do my bit to stop them.
Loren, you seem to be a sound fixture here and that is a very good thing!
I'm just a guy who got a bee in his bonnet and ran with it. I see atheist activism as being important in an age where religion sees itself losing influence and will apparently do anything to stop the figurative blood loss, and the more outrageous the "better," and this doesn't even mention the problems with Islam.
We can't all be David Silverman, and I make no pretensions about being anywhere NEAR him. With luck, I can make a difference.
For me, atheism is only one (significant) component of who I am. I largely don't care if other people choose to be religious or not, as long as they're not being coercive of others. (I try to avoid the stereotype in the old joke: How do you know if someone is an atheist or a vegan? They'll tell you in 20 seconds). If someone wants to talk religion, I'll go there, but I'm not going to push my ideas onto them. I'm comfortable with atheism, but apparently many people are not.
I was raised a JW (aarrghhh) and found the beliefs incompatible with logic. My wife was raised Southern Baptist, and came to atheism after exploring alternatives including Wicca.
I had been a member of a local atheist/humanist group, though I've avoided them in recent years -- they have become largely a shill for the Democratic party and the leadership seems unable to separate atheism from the political. My atheism is part of my overall philosophy of a centrist free market libertarian who also appreciates some of the concerns of liberals and some of the appreciation of tradition that philosophical conservatives (think Roger Scruton).
The one thing you can say about atheist is that we're all different.
Thank you Jay, I have noticed very firm political opinions within the community myself. I do not comment on political subjects as here it is more important to focus on atheism. When the rights of unbelievers are at stake I will not however neglect to raise my voice. We are all very different. I believe atheist are the most diverse "group" of people there are. Hopefully we can make this a strength.
I was taught to spread the "good news about Jesus Christ" when I was a theist. My job has not changed. I'm still spreading the news about Jesus Christ but this time around the message has changed. I take it as my duty to let you know there is no valid evidence for deities.
Thank you Michael, I believe similar experiences have put us on similar paths.
There are several reasons for being vocal about disbelief. One is that many people have serious doubts about religion, but find it hard to summon up the courage to abandon it because they think they will be alone in their atheism. Just knowing that there are others who share your way of thinking can be tremendously encouraging—especially for those surrounded by believers.
The main reason to be open and active is that religious belief is not a morally neutral thing. It often leads people to oppress others with a different religion or none. Religion has social consequences that restrict human freedom. Mankind's progress depends on the rational approach to life spreading more widely in the world. We need to give up the magical thinking that religion promotes. The more people who adhere to rational thinking, the better we all are.
You seem to have similar thinking to James A. Lindsay in his book Everyone is wrong about God. If you have not read it I would recommend it. I think you would enjoy it.
Thank you for your comment. I think humans are both benevolent and evil. Religion does a great job of being a conduit or outlet for evil. Religion simply qualifies evil by sanctioning it by the justification of God. Without humans there would be no religion. It is theoretically possible to have a religion without evil. This is not practical as humans create religion so evil always comes out in it. It is very accurate to make the assertion that as long as there is religion in the world there will always be justified evil.