Sometimes I view online atheism as disappointing. Many online appear, in my opinion, to view their mission to simply mock religious believers and never proffer an actual argument against some believer they’re having a dialogue with at the time. The discussion devolves into insult and condescension. I don’t think that’s a way to approach anyone’s dogma, and of course it doesn’t make either party look especially mature. There are some that are decent and ask respectable questions, only to receive the same condescending, attitude from the other person. Does that mean, as atheists, we should descend to the same level in response?
I don’t believe so. I think that taking the high road is the best tactic. Yes, believers try and bait us all the time but why should we, knowing this to be the case, take the bait? It’s so much easier for the atheist, and more difficult for the believer, if the comeback is respectful, asking questions as to why they would make a derogatory statement about something (atheism) they don’t seem to know anything about and then ask them why they believe what they do about atheists? But I rarely see any type of interaction like that. It’s disappointing and doesn’t do anything to further the cause of atheism (if there is a cause). We’re accused of being demeaning to religion, purveyors of hate, when I see a lot of that from the other side. It’s often easy to see the deficiencies in another’s argument while being completely oblivious our own.
If we’re going to attack religious belief, we should attack based on it’s inadequacy, not because we believe it’s just silly (it is). When someone, a believer, calls me immoral because I’m an atheist, I ask, them, why they believe that to be true? the response is often, if not always, that it is “God that gives us our moral compass and without God, a person cannot be moral”. the last person to use that argument with me, someone I know fairly well, slunk back when I asked her, “Haven’t you received four speeding tickets in the last year? Doesn’t God tell you that you have to obey man’s laws?” Of course many will say that they’re imperfect, but I always come back and ask why it is then, they are so determined to judge imperfections of others?
For me, that’s a meaningful dialogue that doesn’t attempt to demean the other person. It doesn’t matter what the believer says, will they, or more important, can they, make their argument based on logic and not some book that most of them haven’t actually read?
I think once we engage without derision, we’ll find less antipathy aimed at us. Maybe not, but shouldn’t we try?