I know this is going to sound like a bit of a rant, but an idea just occurred to me.
I’ve noticed that atheists, quite frequently, have sour dispositions. They’re often stand-offish, critical, and unfriendly.
I notice they are also quite frequently socially awkward, but that’s a different issue to tackle.
I suppose, on one hand, it’s not terribly surprising that atheists can be a surly bunch. Being a controversial minority doubtlessly contributes to frustration and a well-developed ability to argue.
However, at the same time, we’re making silly mistakes all too often.
I hate to prove my point with anecdotes, but, on many different occasions, friends outside of my atheist circle have mentioned that atheists seem to have a stick up their collective butts. All the time.
I don’t think this is a good thing, really. I’d prefer people to get positive feelings when they come across atheists, instead of watching what they say to avoid unnecessary arguments.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that atheism needs to work on its PR.
Almost everybody I talk to seems to disagree with the “militant” positions that firebrand atheists such as Dawkins and PZ take. They feel they are too extreme and that their outlook too rigid.
I might disagree to some extent, but that’s not the point. The point is that the great atheist leaders that many atheists regard so highly are often viewed by outsiders as extreme, unreasonable, and ridiculous. Even those who agree with our cause often feel this way. Which means that if we’re trying to get the public on-board with our ideas and opinions, we’re failing.
We need to work on our image. I’m not sure where to start, but perhaps approaching the problem from the ground up is a nice way to start tackling the issue. What I would suggest is for atheists everywhere to be a little more friendly to not only one another, but also to others outside their atheist circle of friends. Before you attack a theist’s beliefs, ask yourself if the argument is worth it. You probably wont change their mind anyway. Instead, perhaps you could start up a discussion about science and try to explain the scientific viewpoint on this or that. Slowly and gently introducing them to the worldview of scientific naturalism might make them more receptive to atheism and critical thinking. And be open to their ideas too, you might even learn something. Do whatever, just don’t get into a shouting match and reinforce the stereotype that atheists are argumentative, unfriendly, and annoying.