My fellow atheists,
I sincerely hope that the few new ideas and suggestion that I am about to make, are not seen by any as just some kind of thinly veiled, self-serving attempt, to aggrandize and promote my own website. Or that I presume to speak for everyone, or that I have taken into account, the view from anyone else’s perspective.
What I have done, is attempt to lay the groundwork for an idea I wish to see up and running. An idea — I hope many of you will agree — who’s proverbial time has come.
That it represents both a philosophy and a course of action, I’m hoping that many of you will decide to join me in this endeavor, by availing yourselves of the free ideas and tools that I wish to offer.
Let me first say, I recognize that we represent a largely ad hoc community of fiercely independent individuals, with a wide variety of shared views and interests. And we often only coalesce into groups around issues as varied as attempting to get public school boards to ban the use of non-scientific syllabus and textbooks in our classrooms, to our support for those human rights issues involving gender, sexual orientation, parenting, and marital rights, to name a few.
But the fact that we continue to see and feel the egregious intrusion of religious political handling in all of these areas, gives most of us the sense that we share at least one common denominator. And that we’re also open to finding new and more effective ways to combat the problem.
The fact is, we need to recognize religious belief for what it is — a pathological intrusion of superstition into an individuals thought processes. And one that intrinsically distorts their world view.
But knowing that it severely cripples the sufferer’s ability to differentiate fact from fiction, and reality from illusion, is some cold comfort for those of us made to suffer the result of their influence on decision-making, in those legislative areas of privacy, education, and public policy. Or those scientific and medical issues that would somehow seem to require an individual’s normal cognitive ability to appreciate scientific fact, and apply unclouded rational reasoning, in order to address.
However, and having said that, I believe that it harms our position, and we are able to be pointed out and labeled as members of just some other lunatic fringe group on the margins of society, when we adopt a stance that is glaringly anti-religious in both tone and symbol.
It hurts our credibility when, while claiming that we don’t need a belief in, or edicts from, any supernatural being in order to be moral, we are all-too-often opting to adorn our own sites with overtly anti-religious, occult or satanic sights, sounds, and symbols, that are only designed to elicit fear and loathing in the traditional religious community. And, which also tend to send the mistaken and ambiguously mixed message, that either:
- We simply don’t have any imperative moral beliefs ourselves,
- Or, rather than a genuine disbelief in any deity, we are simply working to replace the Christian god with one that’s more to our liking.
So, rather than tattoo our own body of work with a variety of scarlet letters and other overtly sacrilegious symbols,– which signify nothing so much as a giddy daring-to-flout that which we claim to have no belief in — we need to effectively reposition ourselves on the social and political horizon.
I suggest that we simply leave them to their own devices and sacred symbols of superstition. And that we begin to assume and assert our own place on the moral high ground of society.
One of the most positive ways we can move forward, is by adopting an attitude of wholesome acceptance for, and an unembarrassed right to the expression of, those philosophical, political, moral, and lifestyle views of our own.
I think it can help to clarify and better communicate our position in relation to religion, if we espouse the idea that even though it’s not a religious belief of any kind, being an atheist often does inform those positions taken on a wide variety of moral issues — and especially those taken in opposition to the political insertion of religious belief, into the social fabric of our lives.
However, lest this be mistaken as a call to get back into any sort of closet, let me go over a few details of the practical agenda that I have in mind:
1) For purposes of repositioning ourselves, and ‘branding’ our emerging presence, both socially and politically — and for the reasons listed — I would like to suggest that we start by adopting the more mainstream and modestly upbeat monikers of Modern Atheist, and Modern Atheists, as the preferred terms for identifying ourselves. And when referring to our ad hoc community of individuals who ascribe to the generally espoused views of what it means to be an atheist.
- It reclaims ownership, and implicitly repositions ourselves through the use of the generic term, as both relevant, and finding traction in today’s world.
- It also implicitly repositions religious belief as something terribly old-fashioned (and never underestimate the power of fashion).
- As we become more recognizable, and recognized as members of an ad hoc community with viable political interests, we can begin to visibly insert ourselves into the political process.
- We can provide viable presence and support for ourselves, as well as those other groups fighting the same battle against the forces of religious political activity.
2) As a wonderfully handy acronym for Modern Atheist, I propose that we appropriate the word MATH.
- It is non-pejorative
- It is already anchored in the language,
- It would be very hard to marginalize.
- As the recognized workhorse of scientific academia, and the proof behind the veracity of virtually all scientific claims, it not only helps to further define our position, but is embarrassingly hard to argue with.
- The acronym can be alluded to unobtrusively, in just about any situation or location.
- I find it doubly useful as a write-in for religious preference.
3) That we adopt the use of logos that are patently non-threatening in design, and that avoid any appearance of eluding to any of the sights, sounds, colors, and symbols, that touch on any of the emotional springs tied to that other ethos.
In designing the logos in use here, I went out of my way to make them very nondescript, on casual observation, yet communicate the desired message on closer inspection.
– I invite anyone who wishes to, to download and display my designs, unaltered, on your own web sites — no litmus test, and nothing to join or sign up for.
– I would appreciate the courtesy of a link back. And of course, I encourage you to sign up for free email notifications of new articles and updates from here.
– The door is literally wide open, as far as I’m concerned, for those of you wishing to come up with designs of your own, that incorporate any or all of the terms Modern Atheist, Modern Atheists, and/or MATH.
– I’ll even throw in use of the slogan I came up with:
Straight and Narrow Be The Way
— but MATH is the Path
My main appeal would be, try to keep it light — Stylish, identifiable, but non threatening (try to stay away from the glaring use of red).
4) That we get the ball rolling, and further help mainstream the idea, by showing up at political rallies, demonstrations, and coffee shops, with everything from pennants, posters, tee shirts and coffee cups, emblazoned with our simple message.
So by all means, ‘come out’ as an atheist — and stay out. But rather than any sudden head-on confrontations between individuals or groups, lets simply and unobtrusively appear to rise-up from within the midst of those manifold social organizations and institutions where we are already members, and where we’ve always been.
I would like to point out that, for a great number of people out there right now, being an atheist is like ‘the lie that’s too big to be true’ — and many would claim to not know anyone personally who is an atheist.
And while we can be fairly confident that the perception doesn’t match the reality, you will recall that it just wasn’t that long ago when being gay was ‘the lie that’s too big to be true’ in many peoples minds. And many of those same people were also quite sure no one in their family, or anyone they knew, was gay. (Can you hear me now?)
But we really do need to stop rolling over for religion, by refusing to continue observing a polite don’t ask / don’t tell protocol.
And we may be put in the position of having to occasionally bounce heads with bosses, or take someone to court for religious discrimination. But hey, look at all those who’ve not only gone before us, but have literally paved the way — sometimes at great cost to their own freedom, dignity, and personal blood loss.
I can only ask,
- What is it we’re afraid of?
- And just what the hell are we waiting for?