Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Why atheists need to make themselves heard

Russell Blackford has a nice article in The Philosopher’s Magazine, here, about the need for atheists to be vocal.  Almost everybody seems to disagree: the religious often can’t understand why people are allowed to criticise religion at all and many atheists think we should avoid criticism because it is somehow counter-productive to some mysterious atheist agenda.  The latter attitude bewilders me.  I have no agenda as an atheist other than a commitment to having good reasons to believe things.  As a member of society and man around town – atheist or otherwise – my agenda includes trying to make sure children and other humans are not misled.  This involves fighting religion.  It involves combating dogma of any kind.

The inevitable charge that this commitment is as dogmatic as any religion is as irrelevant as it is tedious.  It’s a principle, not a dogma, and the only people who can’t recognise the difference seem to be dogmatists themselves.

There are lots of reasons why we shouldn’t just shut up about being atheists or about our reasons for being atheists.  My favourite is something a different Russell (Bertrand) said: “There can’t be a practical reason for believing something that isn’t true”.  And so on, but watch the whole of that interview because it is simply magnificent.

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