Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Atheists Unite!

I am very pleased to note that we seem to be entering a new phase in the embryonic Atheist renaissance going on currently. There has been talk for some time within Atheist circles about how we can raise public consciousness for our themes and ideas, until now this has been quite a challenge for those wishing to steer down a more political and influential path.

Atheism is not an alternative “religion” (much as the religious would like people to think it is) and it has no dogmas or rituals, it is simply a lack of belief in God (also usually anything supernatural), because of this there is very little cohesion in the broader Atheist movement because there is nothing to coalesce around other than the absence of faith. There is strong evidence for this lack of cohesion, for example, it is interesting to realise that Atheist numbers in the USA far exceed that of the Jews for instance, but everyone knows how powerful the Jewish political lobby is in that country; Richard Dawkins likens organising Atheists to “herding cats”.

Hopefully we have seen the beginnings of a change in that situation, as of Monday “The Out Campaign” was officially launched at Dawkins WEB site see here although the campaign is currently small scale and a little amateurish I’m sure with the level of interest and momentum that Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris (among others) have built up it will catch on quickly and gain constituents. The scarlet "A" symbol has been chosen to represent the campaign (I hope they checked that no one needs this font to be licensed)

Currently the campaign is mainly oriented around getting Atheists to “come out”, rather in the style of the gay rights campaign of a similar ilk back in the 80s; the general gut feel of the movers and shakers is that there are a lot more Atheists out there than our establishment bodies would have us believe. I also think that we will encounter a lot of “fence sitters” who are either too afraid or too apathetic to emerge from the closet as well. Why bother?, I hear people ask, well I think it’s a simple fact of life, unless politicians, businesses, communities and governments realise how numerous we are (i.e. what power our influence potentially wields) our views will continue to be marginalised and iron age religious bigotry will continue to rule unchallenged over many parts of this little globe of ours, question is, are we happy with that?

My personal hope is that this campaign will expand and encompass many more goals over its life, for example,

  • How we acquire political clout
  • Establish our manifesto, i.e. church-state separation
  • Raise funds
  • Handle the media
  • Influence the zeitgeist
  • Develop institutions
  • Reach out to people under the cosh of oppressive theocracies
  • Build community

Exciting times.

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