My Atheism

I think we need to be frank with people. Most of us are atheists not merely because theists haven’t met their burden of proof. We are atheists because we think theism is a bad idea and we would like to see it go away.

Of course, we should be honest and admit that not all theisms are created equal. Some are more oppressive and acutely dangerous than others (the Abrahamic traditions fall in this camp—yet even here there are different intensities). At the same time, they are—all of them—at the very least pernicious.

However, many atheists want to have their cake and eat it, too. They want to be personally free from religious sentiment without rattling their religious brothers and sisters. Humans need company (atheists are a minority, after all). So they have that ecumenical spirit. I get it. Most of my friends and relatives are religious, too.

But atheists should know what that term really means and where it takes us. Because it doesn’t just take you there. It takes me there, too. I don’t think we can have both of those things. That’s why I’m a militant atheist. At the same time, I’m well rehearsed in the art of accommodation. You learn that skill when you are in a minority.

I regret that this attitude makes me seem obnoxious to some people. Please know that I love you and I have no interest in personally confronting you about your beliefs in casual or professional interactions. In the end, I wish to leave you free to believe what you want to believe. For those who are suspicious of my assurances, it should come as some comfort that I don’t have any power.

But I will be over here in my corner of the room making arguments all the same.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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