Recently Chris of NonProphet Status sent me a message commenting on my really old post called “Why Atheists Annoy Me” where I pretty much rip into everything about a typical atheist that drives me crazy. It got linked on PZ’s blog (and I should mention – I think PZ is actually a pretty nice guy) and I got quite a bit of heat from it. I thought it might be worth revisiting the topic now that a) I’m open about my Christianity and b) have been way more active in the atheist community for the past couple years.
Most of my complaints still remain, but I have a couple more to add.
I do need to take back my comments about lectures and conferences. Atheist communities have seriously branched out in the kinds of services they offer. People are doing pub-night meet-up groups, social events, going to movies, staging debates, having movie nights, going bowling… etc. The atheist community has seriously amped up the kinds of events that are happening. Beyond this they have started doing more social science and philosophy based events. I think the only further criticism I have on this front is that the atheist movement needs to start branching out to people in the visual arts and music areas. There has to be atheist music nights we can do, right? :) Also, I’ve come to appreciate the high number of organizations we have so that there can be this wide variety of events.
As for the other points, they all still pretty much hold true.
- Dawkins: I still find the confrontationalist approach extremely irritating, however I am coming to appreciate their contributions more. They can get the public’s attention while the accomodationalists work on creating an inclusive and supportive community. The one thing I don’t appreciate, however, is confrontationalists who do not recognize the value in aligning with moderate religious people like myself. I have met some people in the past couple months who told me, flat out, they would not want to work with me because I identify as Christian. Even after I explained to them all the things I had done for/in the atheist community – they still said no because all religion is harmful.
- Level of Seriousness: Ya’ll do still need to lighten up a bit. However – I think this has to do a lot with the geography. Most uptight atheists are American. The Canadians seem more laid back about it all and this is for very good reason. In the states many issues such as abortion and gay rights are hardly considered to be topical in Canada anymore. We have far less to be up tight about… I mean, we have Nate Phelps and the states got…well… you know who.
- Intelligence: I didn’t really articulate myself all that well last time with this point. It is seriously annoying that all atheists think they are intellectually superior to everyone else on the face of the planet – however, this is just annoying. It becomes a problem when it is alienating people who either a) are not confidence in their intelligence or b) really aren’t very smart. This aura of intellectual superiority can be a real turn off to some people… and cuts off a lot of people that might benefit from being a member of the movement.
- Closed minded: …”My way or the highway” ’nuff said I think. But this is not just atheists… there are a lot of people like this. This is linked with my complaint about spirituality. It may not make sense to YOU as an atheist, but it makes sense to someone. I think at this point if it isn’t harming anyone then it is okay to just leave it be and not fight with it. There are so many other pressing issues…
- Positive outlook: Atheists always seem to be the victim… and they are rarely talking about what there is to look forward to in the secularist front. Instead they continue to be rather negative.
What would I add? Not a whole lot, I don’t think…
- Diversity: The freethought movement is severely lacking in diversity. White – rich – men… that’s the face of secularism today and in history. Even most of the writers on this site are white men. I don’t know if there should be events and campaigns created to specifically target black communities or women, but we can certainly create events that might cater to them more. The secular parenting group is a good example of this. Also, it would be helpful if all the white-men would talk about this issue… Greta Christina did a great talk about this:
- The Face: this sort of relates to my first new point… and it is sort of changing. Justin Trottier’s face is everywhere. We need new spokes people. People who have different personalities and have more fun. Our movement was starting to look a bit… small and robotic with just one person doing all the media. However, now I’ve seen new people popping up, so that’s good.
Overall I think atheists are generally less annoying than Christians – that’s why I’ve hung out with atheists for so long instead of hanging out at churches. The conversations are usually more intellectual and have a wide range of topics. But atheists have a lot of social/emotional intelligence to develop and I think that will help the future of the freethought movement a lot. Most of the problems people have with the freethought movement are, again, this “humanizing” problem. We need to be seen as friendlier, and the more friendly people there are, the more these issues I (personally have) against atheists as a group will start to diminish.
I’ve already read comments that say “you shouldn’t generalize” … Well, I am.