Out of the closet?
From the IAmAnAtheist.com comment form:
Being a proud atheist requires the courage and “out of the closetness” of the bi, lesbian, and gay community of the late 70’s early 80’s. Just think about it….. Some of us choose to remain in the closet and be among the casually assumed god fearing atheist’s that feel it’s just more convenient that way. If you feel you’ve been doing your part with a certain bumper sticker or casual “discussion” of evolution vs. ID with a local tribesmen than I feel you are doing your part, but it’s just a start, which is how all (I hate to call it a movement, its more of a rational enlightenment and to some a feeling similar to what the religious must feel about their connection with god must feel like, except this is one based on evidence collected using the scientific method that reveals the beauty of the Universe, and of our own planet Earth. For now i’ll use the term movement for sake of ease.) successful movements for human rights move forth. Discrimination will be expected among the job force as well as some angry “faithFULL” friends. What do you think? Should we go outside the box with our “methods”? Are you satisfied with the motion of the ocean right now? How can we let others know that they are not alone?
This is a big question. I think that, in large part, people have to find their own path and comfort level. We also each have to decide what works best for us, and there are many viable strategies. For example, does it do more for atheism to make lack of religion part of your day-to-day identity, or is it better to just be a good person and allow religious people to perhaps be surprised when they find out years later that you have been an atheist all along? Personally, I don’t know — I think individual experience will vary.
In my own case, I feel there is a big difference between being an atheist and being a lesbian, etc. For me, because atheism is something that grew from my search for reality, being without religion isn’t something I consider to be one of my defining characteristics. I am moral, inquisitive, and skeptical — these are things I am, that I try to show in everything I do, and that I promote to others. They are things that led to my atheism, but they are more important than my atheism. I am not religious just as I am not black or a professor or French. It may sound funny coming from someone who runs an atheist blog, but I don’t think that being without religion is even in my top 10 important characteristics.
Instead of promoting atheism, I would rather see people fighting against bad thinking (including religious thinking) and against flawed morality (including dogmatic religious morality). I don’t think of atheism as a goal, but as a frequent consequence of intelligent thought. Given the nature of humanity, I don’t even know for sure if the world would be a better place with no religion in it. But I’m convinced that the world would be a better place if everyone were rational, moral, and skeptical. And if that state of affairs led everyone to be atheists, that would be okay with me, too.