How much good are we doing by being activists?

I mean, I have seen lives get crushed by this moment of clarity.

Isn't it better just to let theists live happily oblivious of the truth, blindly expecting their reward in the afterlife?


First off, thank you everyone for your responses. Now I'm afraid I'm going to annoy the Jebbus out of you all with mine, I apologize in advance, and also for the delay.

Just to clarify, I have seen that the realization of the nonexistence of god has caused anguish, severe depression and even attempts of suicide, on people experimenting it. Just to be fair, I have also seen other people feel relieved and happier after getting rid of that burden.

I *AM* an activist, and very open about my lack of belief, but sometimes I wonder if it is worth the pain we cause.

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theocrats, bully believers in the public square.... yes fight them on our secular turf....and no don't go after a rank an file delusional in their churches, their homes or bible camps.... but let one of them come to the school board and promote creationism and they will get it with both barrels....there is no such thing as equal time to religion with science, it is illegal and it is dangerously stupid..... a Michigan Pentagon contractor is providing "scopes" to mount on rifles with bible verses on the weapon attachment..... yes John Chapter 8 and insane lies from Corinthians are engraved onto US weapons.... giving Muslims more reason to conclude Americans are "crusaders" SOMETHING JOEL BARLOW NEGOTIATED EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE IN THE TREATIES OF TUNIS, Tripoli and Algiers under Washington and conclude by Adams: "the gov't of the US is IN NO SENSE founded upon the xian, mehomitan or musselmane religions."
"Sometimes changing the world is a lot easier that changing 1 person's mind."

Great quote and post.

Target the 'Theism' not the theist. The theist is just a human like you and me.. And really its not even Theism so much as its the Radical Militant Political Theism that attacks and tries to put chains on ALL individuals regardless of their personal beliefs.

Christianity and Islam are diametrically opposed as they both MUST try to convert And/Or control the entire the true faith. (yes I know that there are christians and muslems who do not have this as their goal.....they are those who are evolving and might have a chance if they continue to do so)

But the activist theist must have an answer from our sector... Its no good hoping that Activist Christains and Muslems will just battle it out and kill each other off... I mean it might be ok if they could all go off-world like to venus or somewhere and do it.... but unfortunately they are doing it here where it affects EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.

Brute force isn't going to work. That epic battle just destroys it all....(which unfortunately is what many in the Theist Activist Camp desire MOST) It destroys us all because there are just TOO MANY OF THEM.

We have to find a way to winnow away at their numbers. Now you don't have as much chance with entrenched believers breaking them away from ideologies that have the VESTED interests of the better part of their lives, thought, word and deed.

Our hope is in slowing the growth of new converts by presenting a positive rational alternative. Of building a substantial global and publically acceptable presence that allows the countless numbers 'in the closet' to have the comfort zone they need to come out.
yes i agree mostly there. The individual fundies are lost and we should not be wasting your time with them unless its for a right good kicking.

I like the view that its easier to change the world than one persons mind and I am intrested in your views and opinions here.

take care man
"M" what a great question. If 'they' are of the liberal variety, not the literal, then peace be with them. If they are the extremists that want to control womens bodies, inhibit my gay and lesbian friends from getting married, believe dinosaurs and humans walked along side together-and want to teach that in science class-believe that it is their american duty to fight the current crusade and want women to return to the home (Quiverful) etc etc etc, then "M", that is wrong and our efforts are vital. Out movement is very much like the civil right movement, womens rights and gay and lesbian movements of decades past. So yes, it is important. Thank you for your efforts, check in latter.

I think it is important. Theist's dont want to live happily oblivious. They want to take their "belief" out into the real world and use it to make laws! If they kept their beliefs personl activism would be unnessecary.
Hi Monica,
I would like to split your question in two parts: a) letting people hold their beliefs however delusional they may be as far as that make them happy, b) be an activist atheist when religious beliefs interfere with public life.

I wouldn't think to "evangelize" people, certainly not people happy with their beliefs, be they delusional, irrational or whatever. Except if I really think that there would be an increase of happiness, and that's a really tricky evaluation. Done that just once and the outcome was excellent. But I wouldn't dare that if I'm not almost certain of the result.

On the other hand, activism is quite important for at least two issues: helping people "come out" being sure that there is a social environment that doesn't reject them and resist the religious politics when they interfere with rational treatment of social problems.

The first one is a friendly win/win situation. Mandatory if you are openly atheists. That's why I love the OutCampaign, am a declared Bright, blog, tweet, facebook, etc. about atheism.
The second one is a strictly political win/lose situation, intended to oppose the morals carried by religious or religious affiliated or religious friendly political actors, when, and only in this case, they oppose rational takes on a particular issue. I don't oppose religiously motivated efforts to feed people of help them rebuild their lives after a catastrophe. I do oppose religiously motivated efforts to regulate the sexual/reproductive behavior of people on the basis of revealed truths.

Being an atheist activist is a quite rewarding activity with a lot of happiness and fun to witness. And a few worthy battles to fight.
I just wouldn't push it to the evangelical level.
I'm not sure what you mean by "this moment of clarity" destroying lives.

If you mean that "out" atheists have been unfairly fired, or shunned by their families, or had their children taken away from them, or had vile slanders published about them -- well, yes, that's all true.

But it was not the "moment of clarity" that did any of those things.

It was other people's reactions and other people's choices.

Granted, as responsible adults we have to be aware of the possible consequences of every choice we make. Granted, there are many good reasons for any individual atheist to refrain from going public or joining atheist groups or participating in atheist activism.

But I will not grant that leaving people in ignorance is doing them a favor. I will not grant that permitting them to enact their prejudices in law does any justice to the principles of equal rights and individual dignity.

Everyone draws their this-far-no-further line in a different place -- but for each of us, sooner or later a line must be drawn.
Okay, I have updated the original question with this:

First off, thank you everyone for your responses. Now I'm afraid I'm going to annoy the Jebbus out of you all with mine, I apologize in advance, and also for the delay.

Just to clarify, I have seen that the realization of the nonexistence of god has caused anguish, severe depression and even attempts of suicide, on people experimenting it. Just to be fair, I have also seen other people feel relieved and happier after getting rid of that burden.

I *AM* an activist, and very open about my lack of belief, but sometimes I wonder if it is worth the pain we cause.
I am under the impression that it is uncommon for someone to go from a believer of the sort you describe to a non-believer so quickly. Having your world turned upside down and not for the better would be devastating no matter what the belief is. Someone may believe the love of his life is faithful and loves him back, only to find out that she is cuckolding him and hates him. Is it better that he never knew?

It seems to me that more often than not, conversions are sudden and deconversions are a slow process. Beliefs are not overturned by logic or reason, but they may be created by almost anything. They are emotional and, once entrenched, do not budge to such outside influences very often. Usually, the believer will find ways to rationalize away conflicting evidence instead of letting it devastate them and by changing their beliefs.

That is why I do not worry too much about Christians and that rare disorder known as Sudden Deconversion Syndrome (SDS). I have faith in humanity's ability of self delusion. ;)
In my experience, going from a believer to non-belief is a much slower process than the reverse. It is much more likely for someone to have a powerful, emotion moment when they suddenly see 'the light' than it is for someone to suddenly go 'Hey, this is all bunk'.

Losing ones faith is more likely, as far as I can tell, to build up slowly. There may be a specific moment at which someone realizes that they don't believe any more, but it's usually the final straw among hay bales of doubt and contradicting evidence that has been building up, sometimes for years.

Our actions will rarely convert anyone who is not already doubting. More often we'll just plant a few seeds of doubt, and maybe provide some water to help it sprout.
True Dave, it was a slow process for me... but it WAS very traumatic.
Perhaps "worth the pain" is not the proper standard of measurement. Remember, we're talking about freedom of thought and conscience. Is there anything that's more "worth the pain" than this?

IMHO, the proper standard is "price no object."

Please understand, I am not advocating forced deconversions for all. Nor am I discounting anyone's anguish. I remember the looks on my parents' faces when they learned that I didn't believe. It's not a memory that I treasure. But I could not lie to them and maintain my respect for them, nor my own self-respect. I was sixteen and that's when I learned that being an independent adult is painful, and decided "price no object."

If you've never read Mark Twain's classic Huckleberry Finn, you might like to give it a try.



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