Today we learned that Christmas is more warred-upon than ever, with terrible, hell-bound atheists trying to co-opt the world's best birthday party. One atheist such as this commenter, as frothing and zealous a heathen as they come.
I find it interesting that so many Christians like to talk about the "war on Christmas" and how "in your face" or "smarter than thou" atheists are. Really? Because I don't see any vast hordes of atheists preaching to or oppressing their Christian brethren. Last statistics I remember said that 78% of Americans identified with a Christian faith. Non-religious account for 13%, and even those aren't all atheists. [www.politicsdaily.com]
It's much like the battle of semantics in abortion politics. Christians believe, a positive word. Atheists are against things, whether it's Christmas or god or morality. The signs above that seem to have raised the most ire among Christians are those that make atheism positive. That is, they make it about something rather than about the absence of something. In this case, about reason. And I can see how that might ruffle some feathers, as, if you're sensitive, it could imply that being religious isn't being smart. But it's more basic than that. Is faith based on reason? No. It's not. Faith is at its core, unreason. It's faith. That doesn't mean smart people can't be people of faith, but in this area they are willing to overlook reason because they believe something that cannot be proven. In a literal sense, it is more reasonable to be an atheist.
Me. . . well, I am an atheist. An atheist with a slightly Buddhist-influenced, science-fictiony belief in the conservation of energy and matter. And one embracing of the fact that the universe contains many surprises, miracles even. For me it's enough that the universe is itself miraculous. I don't need the hand of god (anthropomorphized or otherwise) to appreciate the world or to act as a moral person. Period. I am not out attacking Christians or trying to *convert* them to non-belief. I don't think I am generically smarter than the religious, although I sometimes wonder how they could believe x or y. Much the way they wonder why I cannot see their *truth,* I suspect. I'd simply like the same level of respect and understanding of my non-belief as they would like to have for their faith. (See, even atheists know about the Golden Rule.)
And while these billboards and cheesy and lame, it's kind of nice to know there are enough of us out there to merit a sign or two. I live in a liberal bastion and still I don't go around telling people I am atheist, even on occasions when it might be appropriate to do so. I have no problem telling feminist-haters that I am a feminist or shouting my pro-choice and pro-gay marriage politics from the rooftops. But when it comes to straight up not believing in god. . . awkward. My socially liberal but southern, churchgoing in-laws have no idea. Neither do many of my friends. God is a given for the majority of Americans, including many of my not-very-often-practicing Christian and Jewish friends. Being an atheist is, to some degree, being an outsider. Being untrustworthy on the most basic level to someone who is religious. A sinner. It would be nice to feel like this was something I could mention when appropriate, without exhaustively defending myself, but quite often it seems like it would have only a negative effect. So I am silent. And I don't like feeling like I should be silent.