The Atheist Academic: I read the comments you guys leave, you know…
I like when people leave comments on my articles; I really do. Most of you leave them where the article is posted (i.e. Facebook) instead of on the actual article, and that’s okay. I mean, it makes it look like nobody reads my articles if you just look at the School of Doubt page, but I can look at the statistics. I know.
Sometimes I get angry comments, and I think maybe I like those the best. I try not to argue back with people, because that’s just not my thing, but I really do read them. I like making people angry because that means that you’re engaging with what I’ve written. It’s like I tell my students: love something I’ve given you to read, hate something I’ve given you to read — just have an OPINION. And then support it with facts so that you don’t look like an idiot.
But there’s one thing that I’ve gotten as a comment a number of times (thank you, Facebook Atheist page) and that is this: Why do you feel the need to bash people who are just trying to live their own life and practice their religion? You are the type of atheist that makes everyone think that we’re assholes.
I feel like there are two ways that you can be an atheist. The first way is to live as an atheist, but with your head in the ground. You can silently believe that there is no god, but just go about your life and ignore (or join in with!) the religious people around you. You may go to church just for the socialization. You might notice a religious play at your child’s public school and think, “Well, it’s not THAT big of a deal…”. And that’s fine. If that’s how you’re comfortable being an atheist, good. You’ve gotta be good with yourself.
But there’s another way you can be an atheist. You can let other people know that intelligent people just like them are atheist, too. That it’s not something weird to be ashamed of. That atheists are your doctors, your teachers, your neighbors, your gas station attendants, your lawyers… everyone. You don’t have to shove it down their throats, but you can answer, when you’re asked, that you’re not religious. You can post an atheist link on Facebook. And if you’re in the right place — say, an atheist page on an atheist website — it’s honestly okay to poke fun at religious people. To exercise your camaraderie with your fellow atheists by giggling together at how silly the religious people are. How hypocritical they are. I’m not being an atheist asshole (not that there’s anything wrong with that, Anton!) — I’m just sharing with likeminded people.
Either way of being an atheist is valid. You can blend in, if that’s how you feel comfortable. Or you can speak out, and let the world know that atheists are around them, and they’re good people.
So, go ahead and leave your comments. I’m curious — do you feel that you’re one type of atheist more than the other? Can you be one in certain situations and the other in other situations? Is there a third kind? Let me know what you think!