Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Identification

This Friday is apparently Atheist Pride Day on Facebook. I have chosen to participate, although I am not completely convinced of its merit. There is a thin line that is easily crossed between proud identification and obnoxious swagger. The world would be a better place without religion, but since religion is nearly ubiquitous, many people may not think to question it. Those who do may not feel comfortable confessing their unbelief to their friends and family. I have been pretty lucky; most of my friends are atheists or non religious, and my family, while not happy with my conclusions, has reacted with civility and love. But for those whose lives may be irrevocably changed, it is essential that a visible and sizable support network be present. That is exactly the point behind Richard Dawkins' Out Campaign. As a member of the atheist community, therefore, I feel that it is my duty to identify myself.

But the line is crossed when the identification becomes a battle flag. Christians are not convinced by a show of reason any more than atheists are convinced by a show of faith. Confrontation can be fun (especially for new converts on both sides), but it is generally fruitless. Loss of faith comes quietly, and from within. I can't imagine an atheist convincing any Christian that god does not exist simply by plying the tired old arguments. That isn't to say that the arguments aren't valid or convincing, but anyone who is questioning their faith has to come to those conclusions on their own.

So I will participate. I will identify myself as an atheist on Facebook (beyond the 'religion' field already filled out in my profile). But I am doing this for the benefit of atheists, not theists.

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