Some atheists are taking themselves a bit too seriously..
Ggnothi seauton (Greek): It means know thyself, and it’s something I’ve always taken to heart.
I’m not always the most positive and easy going guy around. I’ve been known to kick some dust in the faces of my opposition. When you’re in a fight, particularly one for the hearts and minds of your fellow human beings, you can sometimes lose sight of how the conflict changes you.
When you have a website devoted to the subject of atheism, you invariably run across a wide spectrum of opinions. Generally, the atheists who come to the site (having already listened to the podcast), are pleasant, and jovial. It’s the kind of atmosphere I’ve always tried to foster.
But there’s a deeply cynical side to atheism. From my own experiences on the web, trying hard to grow the site, the overwhelming feeling I’ve get is there is something terribly somber about being an atheist. For the most part, I think it’s because society still feels uncomfortable with what we have to say. Every conversation turns into a personal attack, and there’s the feeling out there that if you invited an atheist to your party, he’d be a giant killjoy.
Hell, I am a killjoy, and I recognize it. Gnothi seauton. But it’s something I’ve worked hard to change. I don’t want to make it sound as though every card carrying atheist out there has a chip on their shoulder, but there is definitely a negative vibe out there.
Case in Point: A few days ago, I sent in little funny comic I drew out into forums and social websites to see if it would generate any interest. It did, although the response was almost universally negative. The reason? Well, most of the critics disliked my use of the word evolutionist. They felt it was a derogatory word. They were right: it was a little derogatory. But they missed the point: it was a damn joke.
Now, it’s clear these commentators were only a small minority of the fans, but it does not change the fact there are groups of individuals who take atheism a little too seriously. If you can’t poke fun at yourself, then you’ve lost something special and unique to those without any religious affiliation: we can laugh about our beliefs. There may be the temptation to make atheism a bastion of reason and intellect, but what will this accomplish if we can’t laugh a little once in a while?
I fear that if we don’t lighten up a little, we’ll begin to drive people away. No one wants a lecture every time they voice their opinions and ideas. They want someone to listen, and not criticize.
So I challenge each atheist to know thyself a little bit more. Are you taking this ‘No God’ thing a bit too seriously? Are those around you tired of hearing about how the evidence points to a godless universe? If you answered yes to any of these questions, take a step back, relax, and try to lighten up. It’ll feel better, I promise.
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