Atheism & Reason (Off Site) (1999) by Austin Cline
“Perhaps you should consider doing what I have long encouraged: planting a seed of doubt. Rather than attempting to foster a radical change in a person, it would be more realistic to get a person to begin questioning some facet of their religion which they had not seriously questioned before.”
Drange explains why atheists should defend their atheism.
Martin encourages atheists to adopt “friendly atheism.” As Martin points out, atheists who are friendly towards theists will be more effective in their outreach than atheists who are unfriendly towards theists.
“Atheism will not get very far simply by attacking religious belief. Rather, we have to defend reason, first and foremost, and then criticize religion within that framework.”
Many people hold on to supernatural beliefs because they feel that certain psychological needs could not be met without them—in particular, they feel that they would not be able to have any hope without such beliefs. However, nonbelief need not be the “recipe for despair” that it is often assumed to be; in fact, not only can it leave ample room for hope, but it can help people hope in a realistic, psychologically healthy way when it comes to important things in life. Because nonbelievers can hope for most of the things that people generally hope for, dispelling the myth that nonbelief is a recipe for despair can go a long way toward making nonbelief psychologically acceptable to those who might otherwise resist it.
Planting a Seed of Doubt by Elie A. Shneour (1998) (Off Site)
“To plant a seed of doubt into an unwavering conviction is a vast accomplishment in education as well as in thinking on one’s own. To be able to doubt is humbling and constructive because it requires the application of rational thought in weighing alternatives. Once that seed has been planted, it can germinate into a full reexamination of the options, which opens unlimited vistas, or it can remain a dormant seed. In either case, the process cannot help but enrich each human being and make him or her a more effective and a more balanced member of a better society.”
In a recent article, Dmitri Tymoczko argues that religion is false but useful. Therefore, atheism should not be universally held by everyone. Martin responds to Tymoczko’s article.
Supposing that atheism is true, is it important to defend its truth? Ryan Stringer emphatically answers in the affirmative. Stringer argues that if atheism is rationally held to be true, that alone is sufficient reason to defend it, for truth and rational belief are intrinsic goods, and it is generally noble to try to change others’ minds when they seem to hold false beliefs. In addition, Stringer considers a number of secondary, supplementary reasons for defending atheism. These range from fighting religiously motivated mistreatment, developing beneficial public policies, redirecting resources going to religious institutions to benefit those in need, understanding our place in the world, and fostering thinking freely as rational and autonomous beings, among other things. Stringer wraps up by considering whether anything indispensable to the good life is lost when we abandon traditional theistic belief for atheism, concluding that the purported benefits of theistic belief over atheism typically evaporate on closer inspection.
Carrier argues that we should always respond politely; even if we only change the mind of one theist out of a hundred, “that’s worth a great deal.”
Arguing that “apathy simply renders us mute,” Chesworth encourages nontheists to adopt an activist stance.
Robby Berry was a gung-ho charismatic fundamentalist until he ran up against some arguments that he couldn’t counter.
“All infidels … have several reasons to welcome the publication of this definitive anthology of arguments from the past fifty years for the impossibility of God…. That said, I still found the book faintly dispiriting, futile even. Rather than finding myself standing on the metaphorical touchline cheering my team as it chalked up point after point, it seemed to me that everyone on the pitch was engaged in a useless game that no one was ever going to win. This was a bravura performance, but who was it for?”
Jeffery Jay Lowder maintains this page.