Nobody enjoys a good argument more than I do, especially when I’m right. As a counselor though, I am very much aware that most of the time heated arguments only serve to solidify the position one has already taken. Consider the debates we see on the news. Democrats and Republicans regularly skewer
each other. We never see a Republican say “Gosh! You’re right! What was I thinking all this time?” Likewise, Democrats in debate generally don’t suddenly say “Wow! Reaganomics really makes sense to me now!”
Usually, such exchanges cause us to hold onto our position even more tightly. We become more defensive, and, in many cases, resort to ad hominem attacks. No matter how solid the opponent’s position,we will not concede the argument because we do not want to be wrong. Being wrong, for most of us, means that we are weak. Nobody wants to perceive themselves as weak.
And so goes the cycle of debate. We atheists assert our logic and display evidence that the Bible is no more valid than the Bahagavad-Gita or the Koran. Our logic is airtight and we have the powerful tool of scientific reasoning behind us. In the end, though, the theist remains unconvinced, choosing to ignore reason in favor superstition. In fact, history is replete with examples of people willing to die for a religious position rather than recant and save their lives.
We atheists are right to defend our rights . . . to seek relief when theists try to take control of our educational system and deny our children access to scientific knowledge . . . to share our ideas in various public venues . . . to post billboards speaking to the closeted atheist who thinks that he or she is alone in their lack of belief. Free speech is a constitutional right that we ought to exercise to help ensure that our voice is heard.
That said, most of us have been verbally assaulted by well-meaning family members and friends who attempt to warn us of the fires of hell. “Repent!” we are admonished “or face damnation!” Some of these people seem incapable of carrying on a conversation without “preaching” to us. Isn’t it fun to share a long car ride with this type of person?
I wonder, though, how many of us are guilty of the same thing? We find ourselves taking pot shots at religion almost obsessively. People stop wanting to be around the “angry” atheist.
Theists already see us as enemies. With that in mind, in our daily life we should consider putting the rhetoric on the back burner. How many atheists do your coworkers really know personally? If they can see that we are people, and not horned characters from their favorite book, we will gain credibility. This means that we respect their right to their belief system even though we know it is wrong. By demonstrating respect we gain a hearing and a way to start true dialog.
Should we speak up to defend our rights in the workplace? Absolutely. Should we bombard
our coworkers with questions about contradictory bible passages? Probably not.