I often wonder why Atheists are so disliked within society. It’s not as if we’re serial killers or rapists wandering the landscape, searching for our next victim. We don’t, well at least none I know, worship Satan or practice demonology. We’re just regular people, with jobs and families that happen to differ with the majority over whether there is any proof for the existence of any god. I’ve not been discriminated against as an atheist, but I understand why some will not be open about their disbelief. So what is the reason why we’re so disliked? I think I may have at least a partial answer.
There are some atheists that are very radical and vocal. that’s okay as I believe that people should (well, within limits) say whatever they want and if sometimes that takes some rough language, then that’s the way it is. Most atheists I know or am familiar with are quite the opposite. They are very generous, kind people. It is the one or two out there though that can give an entire group a bad name. Not by doing anything illegal, just their attitude towards others that may be believers. I’ve seen this and I think that it is these few, that describe believers as bigots generally, have that affect on the general population. Think about it: describing an entire class of people in a pejorative manner is not going to make any friends or win any allies. Not every believer is the same as the others, just as not every atheist could be classified the same. When a person decides to describe a group, any group, based on their religion, race, ethnicity, or other characteristic, doesn’t that person become what s/he is claiming?
I see some of the “atheists” online often and when I do see their tweets, I shake my head. What purpose is there for denigrating others based on their belief? Certainly, I don;’t believe what they do, but I don’t spend my time mocking their belief. I will point out why I think it’s a false belief, but that’s about as far as I go. More recently, I’ve decided to mainly stay out of that entire argument. I don;’t care what others believe as I’ve said before: as long as these same people do not attempt to force me toward their belief. That’s where I and most atheists I know draw the line.
Sure, I often say here and in social media (when it comes up) that religion is false, in my opinion. What I won’t do is call those same believers stupid (although I may actually think that in some cases). I often ask those that inquire of me, why they believe what they believe and how they know its true. Other times, they will ask me something similar: How do you know there is no God? Of course, I don’t know for certain, but my lived experience tells me that.I’m interested, though, when possible of having a dialogue and not just throwing verbal stones. How To Not Win Friends is what I refer to that as being.
As an atheist, I’m interested in the why of belief. Is it a family tradition? Is it because a person feels better knowing there’s something after this life? Is it fear of eternal punishment? and I’m more willing to have a discussion with someone based on those questions, turned around, as an atheist. Was I raised a non-believer? Do I know there’s nothing after this life, and if there is, why do I not fear that same eternal punishment for not believing? All of these are what may be able to be discussed without breaking each others windows.
As atheists, we don’t do anything for our cause be denigrating others beliefs, in the same way that a believer telling me I’m going to spend eternity in hell. I’m unconvinced by that “argument”.
I think we can be better, and we should.