As a blogger, I often come across articles and essays on various subjects that I think I may want to comment on in the future. i take the step of actually bookmarking these into a folder which, when I want to peruse topics that may or may not be relevant to what I want to write about, I can find a reference easily. This post as one of those.
Recently I read what I consider an excellent essay by Daniel Fincke, Atheists Should Persuade, But Not Proselytize. It’s very well reasoned and I mostly agree in that we should not be attempting to convert, or more accurately de-convert people from their various belief systems.
Where I think I may disagree somewhat is where he discusses using persuasion of those same people. I may not understand what he means by using that word but to me, to persuade someone is to bring them to your side of the argument; to have them reconsider their stance on something to the point where they finally agree with you.
Unlike Daniel, I don’t consider myself an evangelist for atheism. I do write quite a bit about atheism, but only to point out, in my opinion, how completely inane religious belief is to me. It’s never to try to convince someone, not an atheist, to abandon their belief.
I don’t hide my being an atheist from anyone. In fact, several colleagues and friends are aware that I’m an atheist. I don’t advertise it out of some sort of fear of any repercussion, it’s just a topic, belief or non-belief, that almost never comes up in any conversation. No one that I’m aware of seems to be the least taken aback about my non-belief.
I don’t think, at least in my situation, that it would be beneficial to try and convince someone toward atheism. I would like to see, like Daniel, atheism grow. In the U.S., as of 2014, we were 3.1% of the population. That percentage may be slightly higher today, but these surveys aren’t taken very often because of our tiny demographic.
I have my doubts whether any increase has to do with atheists persuading others towards atheism. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but I think it’s more likely people eventually come to the conclusion that religion is false.
What I’d prefer to see in the short-term is less bias towards atheists. We can assist in accomplishing this by just showing others that we are basically no different than they are. The poor portrayal of atheism I think is generated by the media. Think about when atheism is discussed, who the media speaks with: Atheists? Rarely. Most of the time it’s pastors and priests. Of course the public is going to have a negative impression.
If we need to persuade anyone, it’s the media to take a fair look at atheists and atheism.