Why be an Atheist Evangelist?

I often question myself when I argue with religious people and other believers in the supernatural - not necessarily my own position, but the manner in which I assert it.  It has been pointed out to me that I tend to be brisk and sarcastic in my arguments.  I agree that this is true, but I think there's more to it than that.

Any time I respond to someone, I read my own post over and over again, often times long after posting it, just to look for any possible holes in my argument and to observe how I responded to particular comments.  Time and time again, I find that the real sarcasm doesn't begin until I start to get exasperated with the same argument over and over again.  I also find that it happens when the other party starts asserting what my beliefs are or makes other assumptions about me or my position.  In short, I keep it to a minimum, but it does happen.

I have always held strong convictions, but for many years I maintained a strict habit of keeping most of it to myself.  Unfortunately, this led to a severe "doormat" mentality, as I never wanted to offend anyone and just wanted everyone to like and accept me.  After watching hours and hours of lectures, debates, arguments, documentaries, and more, I realized that I wasn't only an Atheist - I was an Anti-Theist.

I got inspiration for my blossoming 'evangelism' from many sources.  On YouTube, I discovered AronRa and his Fundamental Falsehoods of Creationism video series, which led me quickly to 'The Atheist Experience' television show, as Aron had been a guest co-host on an episode of that show.  This solidified my resolve to start speaking out in a meaningful way; not because I wanted to emulate them, but they helped me realize several things:  That I was lying to my family by omission by not coming out, that I was not alone in my non-belief, and that I did not have to remain silent when presented with baseless claims.  Because of my love of science (in all it's wondrous forms), I realized that science itself is constantly under attack, and also that many of my family and friends were actually contributing to this attack on science.  I could keep silent no longer.

So why be an Atheist Evangelist?

First, let me say that there is nothing about Atheism which obligates one to evangelize.  I personally feel an obligation, but it has nothing to do with my non-belief in gods, it is a completely personal conviction which is based on my own circumstances and my skill set.

Beyond that, there are plenty of good reasons to stand up and make yourself heard.  In my opinion, the primary reason is to reach out to other Atheists.  When you start stirring up that pot, there is a chance that someone else will be emboldened to out themselves as an Atheist.  Whether or not they want to be evangelists themselves, the existence of such a person is often enough to show someone that they aren't alone.

Another great benefit to evangelizing is the effect that you can have on those whom have yet to make up their minds on religion.  Maybe someone has been gradually shifting more towards Atheism, but has not been exposed to any 'out' Atheists yet, and perhaps is unaware of many of the counter-arguments that exist to combat religious ones.

Moreover, when you are regularly making arguments or points in regards to religion, you can become a resource to other Atheists who, perhaps, have very few people to whom they can speak about these subjects.  For instance, the folks at the 'Atheist Community of Austin' can often be found offering advice and critique to their fellow Atheists; I myself have actually used them as a sounding board for ideas in the past.

While it is true that there are people who have 'deconverted' due to the influence of an Atheist Evangelist (such as Richard Dawkins), please understand that this is going to be rare.  Because of this, it is generally best to not make the immediate goal be to actively deconvert religious people.

What should your goal be?  That really isn't my place to say - it really depends on your own situation.  For many, the goal is to try to foster an environment of critical thinking.  For others, the goal may be to simply disseminate information about Atheists and Atheism, or even about religions.

For me, I want people to simply question the things that they've been taught or told (including every word that I say or write).  I want people to know more about their own religion, for instance the stuff in the Bible that many people simply don't know exists.  I also want people to understand real science, not just what they've heard about science on Sunday morning.  I personally feel that, the more people that choose to deal with reality on reality's terms, the better society will become.  This is why I'm 'advocating reality' each and every day :)

If you have any comments or opinions on Evangelical Atheism, please join the conversation!  This is probably not the last post I'll make on this topic, and I might just make a video....


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