How Much Progress Has Atheism Made?

pie chart

I been wondering lately, as atheists, how much progress we’ve made in society lately? By lately I mean, say, the past 10 years. Heck, I’ll even take the past 5 years. I’m not sure. It’s certainly not negative, but what can we claim as overall positives in atheism just in the last few years?

In America, we’re still viewed as untrustworthy by society. We can speak as we wish, but having that speech accepted by all is tenuous at best. We’re viewed in the same light as rapists and murders here even though it’s unusual to hear that one of those caught, was actually an atheist.

There is less of a stigma than in past years, but that still doesn’t allow some atheists to declare themselves openly. Some are fearful of keeping employment while others face  family or friends that may hostile simply because they are an atheist. We have a long way to go.

It didn’t help that a few years ago we were fighting amongst ourselves, but those disagreements were mainly internal and I don’t think they made much, if any impact, on anyone else. What that did, I think, was make many apathetic and even drove some away from any appearance of activism.

Those that are believers consider us no different than they are: we are just another religion. They think we have substituted one god for another. Atheists have not given them a lot to dissuade that view.

Atheists are not very welcoming to those that have political or social views different than what is accepted among most. I can say that as a conservative who has been derided by other atheists simply for that fact. So, we don’t see a great number of conservative atheists, at least those that will claim to be, because not only do we have to work for acceptance in general, we have to make a greater attempt for acceptance among atheists.

This all sounds like doom-and-gloom, but it’s really not. I’m just trying to point out obstacles we have to overcome, some of which we have created ourselves. I’m not proposing that atheists become like evangelicals, but that we are more open, welcome, to all. We need to be what political parties refer to as a Big Tent; A group that has many voices – some that may differ from others – and not be constrained by groupthink.

We have an opportunity to do just that today. Atheists can become something greater than what we are, or are perceived of, today, or we can remain as we are and in 5 more years look back and wonder why we’ve made no progress.

7 thoughts on “How Much Progress Has Atheism Made?

  1. I think it can all unravel very fast. There are more of us than are yet willing to go public. I met a guy the other day told me he’d built a couple of churches, and a little about his life in ministry. I said we’d be great partners because I’m a full blown atheist. He went in to tell me he didn’t think he’d ever set foot in another church. After his natural guard was down, he was very much agnostic, if not full atheist already. It’s just risky to say so.

    • Think about it: around 3.1% here identify as “atheist”, a little over 10 million, but how many are openly? Why don’t organizations like American Atheists and Freedom From Religion Foundation have larger memberships? It’s because people are stil not completely comfortable being openly atheist.

  2. You might be interested in a video posted by The Atheist Conservative. It is one of Pat Condel’s oldies but goodies.

    When the towers went down on 9-11, atheists in the country decided for the sake of the country to not make a fuss about Islam being a religion…or about religion at all for that matter, because it was felt by the “leaders” of atheist groups to be inappropriate during that grief-filled period.

    That was mistake, even though it seemed the humane thing to do at the time.
    I was a less mellow atheist at the time, but I agreed with the sentiment.

    We should have hit hard and pounded home the message that deity belief leads to such atrocities and the only reason Christians are different now is due to the fact that they dragged their butts into the modern era and away from the Dark Ages.

    I was a member of both AA and FFRF. I found AA to be too radical for a Conservative with traditional ethical principles. I was nearly banned from their aachat forum, called an agnostic and an ignorant troll for speaking up for compassion for those in dire circumstances. FFRF became tedious for me, with their constant in-your-face…but nicely and legally…law suits. I just grew tired of the total adherence to almost militant atheism from both of these atheist groups.

    I just wanted to be left alone with my family to not worship a deity. And…to keep plugging away at representing ethical atheism on various forums and sometimes in my small town life.

    There are, I agree, dangers to being openly atheist. I have had to keep my head down in real life and public life because my husband has been and will be again (we hope) a local elected official.

    I don’t think atheists have ever been a majority or a driving force for change in any civilization. It is against human nature to be an atheist …or so it has always seemed. We are the odd ones in humanity.

Leave a Reply