Originally posted at Pharyngula: PZ writes on why atheists need to stop fretting over offending the faithful.
That is a billboard that’s appeared in New Jersey, thanks to American Atheists. It is assertive and strong and clearly expresses an idea of atheism, that the tales we are told about religious ideas are superstitious myths, and I approve of that message.
I was raised pretty devoutly Catholic, attended a Catholic university (Go Irish), and after college realized that I’m an atheist. My family is still Catholic and many of my friends still attend mass, and every day, I struggle with Not Being A Big Fucking Dick About It (and I often fail and end up acting like a jerk, and then I feel horrible). This is an example of a group of atheists losing that struggle.
Chris Hitchens-like atheists and agnostics would disagree with me (and then tell me that it is impossible for me to be funny, as a woman), but, in my experience, I’ve found that confrontational atheism isn’t productive, just as aggressive proselytizing on the part of religious groups isn’t a good way to endear the religion to the populace in the modern era. Many of the holidays that are celebrated around this time of the year are religious in nature, and part of existing as a decent person in this world is letting people go about their daily lives in peace.
She doesn’t want to be a Big Dick to the religious, but oh, yes, sneering at a bunch of loser atheists…that’s safe. No one feels bad about that. As we all know, good atheists bow and scrap and say “Yassuh” to the religious, and never ever disagree with them. It’s so much more productive to reassure believers in dogma and superstition that their myths are reasonable, or at least to sit back and keep our mouths shut.
I agree that letting people go about their lives in peace is the decent thing to do. So, tell me, what about that sign interferes with common decency?
Are people who see that sign subsequently unable to go to church? Does it silence preachers all across the land?
Does that sign incite hatred, does it deprive people of their civil rights, does it oppress a minority?
Does it misrepresent atheism, does it unjustly criticize religious people for ideas they do not hold (which, by the way, would be wrong, but doesn’t interfere with people’s lives)?
Might it stir a little resentment, maybe even sting Christians a little bit because it reminds them that atheists exist and freakin’ disagree with them?
YES! And that is a good thing that does them no harm, and even does them considerable good. We’re here, we’re just as much a part of this society as they are, and we’re not going to sit silently any more.
If Christians resent that, well, they can just read Jezebel or a thousand other sites and discover the self-loathing atheists who consider the forthright expression of their ideas to be dickish and indecent, and restore their sense of smug superiority that way.