What does it mean to be a “friendly” atheist?

You’ll notice the title of this blog is “neighborhoodfriendlyatheist”, and I allude to the overall meaning of the title in my very first blog entry. However, I want to expand a bit on what being a friendly atheist is all about since the term is somewhat ambiguous. 

This whole “friendly atheism” concept is a sort of philosophical idea that I have been toying with over the past few months. What I want to do in very basic terms is try to provide an ideological bridge between the religious and the non-religious. The two groups undoubtedly do not see eye-to-eye on certain issues, but that’s fine because I don’t want to arbitrate a compromise between them. That would be a foolhardy endeavor in my opinion because you cannot compromise on the idea of god. Either a god(s) exists or it doesn’t. It can’t “kind of” exist. 

What I am advocating for is that both groups adopt policies of non-judgment towards the other. I should not be judged for being an atheist, just like a religious person should not be judged for being a christian or whatever religion they happen to follow. I would also advocate that we actively try to avoid trying to change each other’s minds on the topic. That does not mean the nature of existence and the nature of god should not be debated, but rather that they should be debated in a civilized manner. No one should look down his nose at the other; something that I have seen people on both sides do. If you ask me what I believe about the nature of god and all things god associated, then I will tell you. I will tell you honestly and directly, and it will be completely devoid of condescension. I would answer that way because I would expect the same thing from you if I asked you about your beliefs.

We all live on this planet. We all breathe the same air and drink the same water. We are all human and and as such we are all flawed. Don’t let my lack of belief lead you to negatively stereotype me, and I won’t associate you with all the negative things that accompany organized religion. There are scores of reasons for someone to be religious or non-religious, so it is not intellectually wise to make assumptions about someone based on their religion or lack thereof. A person’s spiritual choices are only a part of their overall personality, although it is admittedly a big part. But! There are numerous other aspects of someone’s personality to take into account before you pass judgment on them as an individual. 

My point is that if we can actually start talking to each other about this like rational human beings then I think we will find more common ground than people would suspect. We just have to have the courage to venture out of our intellectual bubbles (yes, both sides) and reach out to the other side. If we can talk about things like our professions, our families, and even pop-culture then I think the religious will realize that atheists aren’t all that bad, and vice versa. 

We have to get along better, humans. We already divide ourselves along race lines, socioeconomic status, and nationality. Even the different religions divide people up. Let’s try and get past the religion thing. You can keep your beliefs and believe whatever you want to believe in, but don’t try and purport yourself to be somehow superior because you have those beliefs and others don’t. Having an idea about how things work does not make you any superior to anyone else.

So what does it mean to be a friendly atheist? It means that my mantra is one of non-judgment. I am here to educate people on atheism and why I chose not to believe in god, and that is all I’m doing. I will provide information. If it escalates into a debate then that’s fine, but initially I will only be seeking to inform; not persuade. 

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