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Helping silent atheists and agnostics find their voice

In a previous post, I mentioned an essay by John Shook, education director of the Center for Inquiry, where he took a gratuitous swipe at those he called “Know nothing new atheists” without naming any or giving any evidence, thus tarring all of us with the same brush.

He is receiving a well-deserved shellacking in the comments section of his blog. One comment by someone named wbthacker was particularly insightful in pointing out why what the new atheists are doing is much better than the accommodationist stance of feigning respect for religion.

Recognize that there are many potential atheists who are not currently “on our side.” They are atheists afraid to “come out”, and theists who don’t really believe, but claim to be religious because it’s easier than being an agnostic.

These people might add their voices to ours, if they hear us saying something that inspires them. When we feign respect for religiosity, we tell these people that they may as well stay where they are: that there’s nothing wrong with believing myths, if you’re nice about it.

I think that’s why the New Atheists, have done more to popularize atheism in a few years than happened in the entire century preceding them. They boldly state that it’s NOT respectable to believe in something without good evidence, let alone to make important decisions based on myths you can’t prove. And this is logically self-evident.

This certainly angers the theists, who are used to being treated with respect they never deserved. But it inspires atheists; it compels them to follow their rational mindset, instead of burying it.

Good point.

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