Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Positive Atheism and the Humanist Symposium

It's easy to get mired down in the negativity. Many polls show depressingly few atheists in the U.S.. Others show that more than 50% think that churches and religious groups should have more power to influence government policy. Still others show that atheists are the least trusted social group in America. Many people confuse atheism with satanism, terrorism, etc. So many people are afraid to "come out" as an atheist that it's called "the other closet."

In response to these facts it's easy to see why many atheists write hateful, angry comments about Christians and other theists. We are sometimes too quick to call them "stupid," "delusional," and "ignorant." The theists that have picked up on this are starting to call us "fundamentalist" atheists or even "militant" atheists. Many posts on atheist blogs are rants and ridicules. Many of these wind up on blog carnivals like Carnival of the Godless. And for many of us, they make for great reading and we start to feel better about ourselves.

But there is another way to feel better about ourselves. Instead of feeling better by making the theists seem lower, why not feel better by making ourselves seem higher? Instead of denigrate, encourage! There are a lot of positive views out there, but we could always use more.

When I started this blog, I had imagined that most of my posts would be rants. But when I started looking around at other blogs, I found I particularly enjoyed reading the more upbeat -- or at least even-tempered -- posts like those at Daylight Atheism and Friendly Atheist. I also love to read deconversion stories. I find them inspiring, like reading of a great victory despite greater odds. I've tried to inject some more inspiring and encouraging thoughts into my own blog. I don't think I'll ever cut out rants entirely, but I like to think I have a pretty good attitude and I try to avoid name calling.

It has worked great for me. When I started this blog I was deeply depressed. (I had been ever since the Paula Zahn debacle) Soon after starting this, and writing inside the atheist community I hadn't previously known was there, my mood brightened incredibly. So regardless of how others have taken it, this blog has certainly made one person feel a lot better.

Others have noticed this too. Adam from Daylight Atheism is starting a new blog carnival for us happy heathens called The Humanist Symposium.
Rather than general posts on atheism and religion, the purpose of the Humanist Symposium will be specifically to defend and uphold atheism as a positive worldview of morality, reason and purpose, a desirable and attractive alternative to belief systems based on religion.
I think this is a tremendous idea and am looking forward to reading it, writing posts for it, maybe even eventually hosting it. Thank you, Adam, for encouraging the encouragement.

Please spread the word!


Intergalactic Hussy said...

I completely understand. My blog used to be entitle "Religion Is Immoral", going off the idea how religious folks say we are immoral. And as many bad things that the religious right may do, I needed to be more positive. I had a lot of things going on and would get annoyed with theists easily.

So I recently discovered Zen as a way to be a more positive atheist. I can't say that I am 100% more positive but I am a lot more welcoming to theists. Well, only the theists who also accept science. The ultra-strong religious anti-science group still gets little respect.

I will spread the word. And this is a great idea. Humanism is the key.

Ebonmuse said...

Thank you, friend! It's my hope that this carnival will encourage people to write more posts promoting atheism as a positive worldview. Criticizing religion is well and good, but there's a whole wider world that we godless folk live in, and it's a beautiful place. I, for one, would like to tell everyone about it.

Anonymous said...

I agreed to write something for the carnival too, but to tell you the truth I'm having a hard time deciding on a topic. It's way easier to complain or to make fun of somebody else than to say something positive and still be interesting.

David W. said...

That explains CNN in a nutshell, doesn't it?

Sacred Slut said...

I'm looking forward to the Humanist Symposium, as well. Not everyone will agree, but I think it will be a step in the right direction for the community as a whole.

That's not to say I won't indulge in some ranting now and then myself. IMO "ignorant" is a factual description oftentimes, not a slur.