But Richard Dawkins is so mean!

You know what is the most annoying thing about being an atheist?

There are of course the little things, like, “Evolution is only a theory,” or, “Atheism takes as much faith as religion.”

But the thing that has been taking the cake recently is the projection of bad habits and qualities onto atheists. I hear all kinds of bad things about people I don’t even know– brave atheists like Richard Dawkins who put themselves up to be a bulls-eye for any theist who ever felt ridiculed. I don’t know the guy, but every time I see him speak he seems respectful and polite. Yes, he is blunt. Don’t take it personally.

Last night I told my church mid-week group that I am an atheist. I also had to break it to them that almost nobody cares if they don’t swear or look at porn. They probably aren’t looking at you funny. And those who mind don’t matter. And if someone does give you a hard time and starts trying to tell you how bad of a person you are because of your faith, you can tell them to shut up. Really. But if it’s possible, take a few minutes to attempt a civil discussion. You’ll probably both be pleasantly surprised. Be calm. Be polite. Atheists aren’t all sneering at theists and theists aren’t all bigots. Avoid topics like abortion and gay marriage and evolution. Just get to know people.

And then, Christians, don’t sit around in your small group and talk about how hard it is to be a Christian in this godless world. It’s not that hard, really. I know; I’ve been there. I imagine it can be hard if you go around talking about how you hate the sin but love the sinner. It can be hard if you think everyone ought to respect your religion. The thing is, we don’t have to like your opinions or your God. We don’t have to tolerate your intolerance. But that doesn’t mean we don’t like you, and it doesn’t mean we can’t have a civil discussion.

I am out as an atheist to pretty much everyone I know on a first-name basis. Many of them are religious. We have not treated each other badly. We have been respectful and had some interesting religious discussions. But do you think the nice atheist they met on the train comes up at Sunday School? I think not. Then atheists all turn into caricatures of immoral, relativistic, God-hating, anti-religion infidels who think Christians are dumb and love to tell them so.

I don’t think Christians are stupid. Honestly, I don’t even think Christians are deluded. I simply think they are wrong about the existence of God.  Does that mean we can’t be friends?


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