Friday, September 28, 2007

Being nice is the best tactic

I've been reading all the new "new atheism" books out there lately...The God Delusion, God is not Great, Letter to a Christian Nation, etc. Dawkins, Hitchens and Dennett et al are brilliant. Their ability to get their points across leaves me breathless with envy.

But they're so darn mean!

Don't get me wrong. I agree with them. I believe religion, especially the fundamentalist versions of it, is bad. It makes no sense and I don't understand how intelligent people can possibly believe any of it.

But I'm just having a hard time dealing with the meanness I'm reading. It doesn't seem necessary. Maybe it's a reaction to the agression atheists have received from theists all over the world for centuries. I confess I find it highly entertaining in a way. It's sure more interesting to read than most of the philosophical, professorial stuff I read on a lot of the atheism blogs I follow. But after I finish reading, I feel a little bad.

It's not in my nature to be mean like that. Not as a rule, anyway. I can be grumpy with the best of them at times. For most of my life, I've been a committed atheist, but I've always felt that religion, when practiced with the best intentions, is not really a bad thing, and can inspire people to do good things (even if it is for a heavenly reward and not true altruism). I'm doing it! I'm being mean. Well, I'll reserve the one can be sweetness and light 24/7.

But I had a thought a few minutes ago while reading yet another blog entry about how vitriolic some of these atheist writers can be. I thought... "wouldn't it be the best demonstration of how great atheists are if we all just acted really nice all the time?" It's like they well is the best revenge. Well...being nice would prove all the theists wrong about us being amoral and evil and all that nonsense.

So, now I can continue to be my natural, nice self, being open about my atheism, and knowing that my nature will show dubious theists that atheists are nice people too.


Felicia Gilljam said...

You might find this blog post of mine of interest!

Mike Haubrich, FCD said...

I don't see them as being mean, other than they are being straightforward. Richard Dawkins is unfairly accused of meanness, but from all interactions I have seen of him I have not found him to be mean.

Patti said...

Without going back to the books and the videos for citations I can honestly say that I got the distinct impression of meanness and ridicule from Dawkins at times. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting it.

That said, there is probably a place for that in this debate. But with so many of the public faces who are writing about atheism these day being confrontational and argumentative (even if just in their writings) it wouldn't be a surprise if believers got the impression that we're all like that. I just think that if believers think atheists are horrid, amoral people, the best way to dissuade them of that opinion is to be nice.

I know, I'm naive. :-)

W. E. Messamore said...

Lol, I'm laughing Patti because as a Christian theist, it irks me to hear other Christians presenting their beliefs in a cutting, abrasive sort of way. So I can relate! Even though you and I fundamentally disagree about the nature of reality, I'm glad to know that if we got to talking about it, there'd be none of that enmity.


Barbara Martin said...

Although I did not watch the programs Patti, I'm not an atheist, but I'm no longer a believer in religion. I do believe in God and the heavenly realm above.

Because a person is an atheist does not make them horrid or mean. It is only a belief you have, nothing more. People are entitled to their beliefs.

But there will come a time in your life when you will experience God and/or angels, and it is at that time you will see the truth as it is. You will still have your choices, even then.

By keeping open to yourself will allow you to see... May God bless you and keep you safe.