Wednesday, July 10, 2013
It just recently occurred to me what being an antitheist has made me. At the slightest hint of someone expressing religious faith I can't help but have this urge to pounce on them and argue and debate them on how their religious beliefs are absurd and unsupported by evidence. What kind of person has this made me? What would a world be like if everyone were adamantly polemic like myself about their beliefs?
Now when I'm in public, I don't confront people who I suspect are theists and challenge them. Not at all. I mostly let people's public displays of religion slide. Occasionally, I will ask them a few thought provoking questions just to see what kind of reaction I will get to see where it goes, but I am not at all the atheistic equivalent of Ray Comfort doing his "man-on-the-street" style confrontational interviews. When I get drunk at bars I do sometimes get cocky and want to debate religion and politics, but in liberal New York, most people already agree with my atheistic and liberal slant.
But what I'm afraid of is that my sometimes extreme antitheism might prevent me from being able to interact with people who do not see the world the way I do. I mean, I don't have that many religious friends, and the ones I do have are very liberal theists, but I don't like the idea of constant arguing with people. I like it when people get along and can set aside their differences. I lived down south for a few months about ten years ago before I became an antitheist. I had to deal with people who were very religious from time to time and for the most part I just ignored their religiosity as it didn't directly affect me. But the more I get older and get into politics, the more I cannot let other people's strong religiosity slide, because beliefs have consequences, and those consequences affect my ability to live in a secular society.
I would like to try to have one religious friend to see if we can get along. The few religious friends I've had I basically just argued with constantly. But it is possible that people with opposing views can settle their disputes from time to time and bond over what mutual interests they have. I disagree for example on some political issues with almost all of my friends, yet we still find time to get along with what we have in common. It can be done — with the right theist. And I say this because I don't want to be a bitter, angry, antitheist my whole life who quarantines himself from all the people who believe in god or some "higher power." I'm not necessarily saying that I want to be an accommodationist either, but I don't want to be the angry stereotypical atheist/antitheist and I want to think more about ways people with opposing worldviews can get along better.
That's why I wrote my Gentleman's Guide to Militant Atheism as a template for manners when obdurately opposing religion.