A friend on Twitter recently posted a question that I didn’t think I wanted to answer on that platform. I thought it deserved a little more than a tweet or even a thread, so I decided to address it here. Not that this will be an especially long post, but I think that the query deserves a little more time.
Here is the question(s) that were submitted got comment:
Beautiful heathens, I want to know: do you think atheists should try to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of believers they come across? Why or why not? How do you accomplish this?
Seems pretty simple doesn’t it? My initial answer to the first part was a very definitive no. I view atheism as a conclusion that every person comes to individually, based on their lived experience with religion. Most people I know question areas of their lives at one point or another and yes, belief is sometimes one of those. I’ve known Christians that have questioned their faith, but then instead of working through those questions themselves, end up in their pastors office where, of course, they are somehow convinced that their questions were okay, but also they were bombarded with scripture and told to pray. The way some of those sessions were described, had me thinking that these people left with a lot of guilt for ever questioning their faith.
Atheist organization do, in fact, attempt to plant seeds of doubt. In various cities around the world, there may be a billboard on the side of the highway that states that there is no god. Isn’t that trying to plant seeds? Of course it is. It’s not like atheists have a Great Commission, in this case, to de-convert the world, but it is in a sense, a way of of proselytizing, which our believer friends are apt to do. The difference is that I’ve never had an atheist ring my doorbell or approach me on the street, attempting to de-convert me.
Most people I know are aware that I’m an atheist. Yes, even my “Christian” friends. No one attempts to shame me into belief (well, not anymore) and my non-belief rarely. comes up anymore in any conversation. When it has, the questions remain as to what it was, as a Christian at the time, that had me doubt my faith and why I didn’t seek “spiritual guidance”? I explain (again) that atheism is not something I just woke up one morning ans decided to become. It was a process, over time, where my doubts that were on whispers in my mind, became louder. No amount of guidance is going to quiet those questions. You can’t answer a lie with a lie.
I hope to never see atheists doing what believers do: door to door, handing out pamphlets on street corners, or in any way attempting to make something out of nothing.There’s nothing wrong in normalizing atheism to the public, letting them know that we are no different as atheists than they are as believers, but I think I would draw a line at Evangelical Atheism.