Atheists! We're going about it all WRONG!

As much as I respect Dawkins, Hitchens, and other intelligent, loud and proud atheists, this is NOT what will get Christians to drop their religion.

When I first came here a few weeks ago, I was flamed up about Atheism. I wanted to smash every Christian in debate and roar over their crushed egos when they realize that their god is false (dramatized of course =P)

However, the more I tried to debate and argue Christians, the more people just played me off as "just some jackass." I know we have all had this problem. So finally, after the last Christian refused intelligent debate and basically spat in my face that he has the right to believe anything he wants to, I took some time to reflect on how wrong this approach was.

I thought: What if I was stupid? What if I rejected reason because it made me feel bad? What would make me want to listen to an atheist?

Talking to my mom, who is a very intelligent spiritual person (I suspect she is slightly agnostic, although she says that she loves god and goes to many different kinds of spiritual leaders within many religions to make sure she isn't brainwashed by just one), she kind of bridged the gap for me as someone who is both an intellectual and very emotional person.

So, my mom and I had a debate and I realized how differently I approached the issue when I was talking to someone I loved. I started by respectfully asking a question about why she believed what she did and after she found some comfort telling me what she believed in, I made arguments like: "well, what about this...?" rather than "Well, that doesn't make sense because..."

The snobby intellectual response is exactly what theists hate about atheists. It is contributing to the reason why Christians and theists hate us. You all hated that snobby little jerk in high school who always was being a kissass to the teacher because he/she wanted to flaunt how smart he/she was. This is how theists view up.

There are two important goals that we must achieve in order to spread atheism effectively. The first one we are already doing quite well. Our smartest speak out against, debate, and prove that we are better than the smartest Christian leaders. However: this is not how we get the average, puzzled, questioning theist. This is only effective in rallying atheists to stand up for themselves.

The second thing we are not doing so well. When these Christians do not have neither the will nor the intelligence to defend their faith, they only stick by it because it gives them comfort. I can see how atheists are scary! We are smart and we have all the logical means of destroying everything they stand for. What we MUST do is show theists that we are compassionate and accepting as well as intelligent people.

Think about it like a war (indeed, the WAR on atheism) we are the superpower. We are smarter and have better tools for debate. If we were a country, the approach we would be using right now would be similar to a strong country crushing a weaker one (germany into france) and occupying it. The Christians are very scared of this happening to them just like a conquored nation would be, they are extremely bitter towards us for trying to crush them (as they see us).

We need to show that Atheism isn't about crushing people's opinions. It is about peace. It is about stability. Religion is dangerous and we only spread because we want a world full of love and reason rather than a world of discrimination. In order for them to want to be like us, they first and foremost have to like who we are. Christians who think we are an angry bunch with no compassion would OF COURSE try to block us out in order to keep their loving atmosphere.

Now you might say: Yes, but how do we spread our own atheism then? We are all about reason and they won't listen to it.

The answer, of course is they must come to us. We must be every bit as humanitarian as theists and they might start to think: "Wow. For godless people these people do very good things." We need news coverage, inviting debates, and a message that radiates peace. This is the only way that we can convert someone who values how they feel over how they reason.

The question, then is how do we debate without forcing debate?

Here are a few ways I came up with:

1) Post atheist-supporting quotes on your facebook status. They must not be offensive, but reflective, such as Epicurus. Just put on a thought every week or so. If someone comes attacking you, calmly say: "I have a right to my opinion and you came here as the agressor. If you would not like to debate please leave me in peace. I would, however love to clear anything up for you."
Posting the status will force people to at least see (whether or not they reflect on) an interesting thought and it will bring some to debate you. (it does work btw. I've been doing it for a few weeks)

2) If you have ever been on a college campus, you have seen the crazy evangelists calling people whores, being cheuvanist, and making people very angry. If you are in college, you have a golden oppurtunity! Go and sit 20 paces from one of these people and put up a sign that says: "Atheists promote peace. Come and see what we are all about." Sit down; don't stand up. Engage with them like equals and make them feel comfortable talking to you.

3) Go to volunteer at soup kitchens or homeless shelters and then try to talk with the many Christians there about why you feel a bond of brotherhood without needing god that makes you want to help others.

It is the theists who need to overpower, belittle, and dominate. We must show that we are better people, not just prove it with logic. If you are more Christlike then a Christian, trust me. They will notice.
The only way to debate a theist is to get them to care about what you have to say. The only way to do that is to have them come to you; not seek them out. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and herd in the sheep!

If anyone has other ways of peacefully promoting atheism, comment and let me know.

Questions? Criticisms? Go. Critique it.

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Comment by Johnny on October 25, 2009 at 2:45pm

What you are saying is similar to what I am, but you don't seem to have the idea that religion is a plauge like I do.
I am one of the people who agrees with Hitchens and Dawkins that religion is dangerous and a horrible form of comfort. All I want for the world is compassion and understanding. Theists can never fully achieve this, therefore I find it my own personal interpretation of responsibility to do anything I can to bring Christians "to the light" (ironic, lol). Live and let live is only for the people who are brainwashed passed the point of no return.

If there are people who are moderate and willing to listen, we need to make the message available to these people.

And to answer your question: yes, we would be just like theists in trying to convert them and just because they are annoying doesn't mean that theists don't have the right to convert us. There is nothing religious necessary in converting somebody. We are not dogmatic. Republicans and Democrats try to convert moderates all the time!

We have an opinion and if we want others to share it, we must share it with the people who are ready to listen to an opposite viewpoint, not shove it down their throats.
Comment by Johnny on October 25, 2009 at 2:37pm
Oh! I think I forgot to adress how to fend off aggressors.

What I do, as not to turn off other people who might come and see you badmouthing a horrible person, is just say politely: "I set this up for a respectful debate on religion. I came here to share what I stand for (don't ever say believe in) and if you can't treat me with respect then you are not being Christlike. Please take your religious war elsewhere. This discussion is for people who care what other people think."

The response confident, stern, and retains composure. If an angry fundie wants to smash the Christian reputation against a wise, collective atheist, score one for you!
Comment by Taylor James on October 25, 2009 at 2:37pm
I like your approach John, but wouldn't we be like them if our mission is to convert them. If we just live what we believe and keep peace and respect, eventually that will be noticed and wanted. Maybe we should let them be, let them live their so called "peaceful life", sooner or later they'll have a need for real peace and start to search for it. What do you think they'll find? Maybe what we found.
Comment by OutlawGirl on October 25, 2009 at 2:26pm
I like your suggestions. This is similar to a tactic I suggested a couple weeks back about getting under the theist's defenses by approaching them on equal ground, rather than talking down to them.

I've already put up a journal entry on one of the sites I frequent which is a brief FAQ on atheism. I've actually had a few of my friends on that site talk to me about it. They all seemed genuinely curious and interested in my beliefs. There's only one person I've encountered who acts hostile (in a cold war sort of way; we had a sig war that went on for months) but she's a home schooled, uber fundamentalist. I'm not sure how to approach her. She gets offended very easily because she's been persecuted for her beliefs. Psychologically she seems to have turned her persecution into justification which means that no matter how I try to to talk to her she always interprets it as a victory for her. I've decided to just leave her alone.



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