Saturday, 16 April 2016

How to promote atheism?

I recently watched a documentary called 'The Unbelievers' by Gus Holwerda, which got me thinking about the techniques his subjects, Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, use in promoting atheism. Krauss argues that Dawkins' contempt and ridicule for religious beliefs are less likely to persuade people than his own softer approach, which involves 'meeting people where they are'.
Dawkins argues that he himself doesn't mind it when people point out the error of his ways, so he feels comfortable dishing it out. But I think most people would do anything to avoid feeling that they are in the wrong. Most of us wish to cultivate pleasant emotions within ourselves, and light up when we associate ourselves with positive things. I know that there are so many things that feel disturbing to me in everyday life, that it's comforting to connect with texts that rub me the right way.
Which gets to the crux of the issue: Religions are comforting. If we're seeking to replace one set of spiritual beliefs with another, the comforts of atheism need to outweigh those of the religion. Whether it's the comfort of not having a homophobic god, or simply not having to think of god as male, it's going to be the positivity atheism brings that will ultimately be the catalyst for change.
Atheists would benefit from recognising the potential of religious followers and honouring their unique gifts, quirks and sensitivities. "Celebrating Logic and Reason" shouldn't come at the expense of respecting our fellow human beings. I know that I have many things to learn from believers in my life, and they would be more likely to learn from me if I am demonstrative of that knowledge. Let's all meet each other half-way and communicate in the spirit of love and peace. 

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