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.
I look at it like this, God believers are living in the Matrix (yea, I went there)...but some of them suspect that something isn't just right about it...I think that some people are capable of surviving outside of that matrix and should therefore be unplugged and deprogrammed from it in order to realize their potential and see the unrelenting Truth of the matter. Not everyone can cope with this at our current evolutionary state so it would be unwise to attempt to unplug anyone that will go kicking and screaming or that will simply ignore logic and facts anyway because their entire existence and understanding can crumble (I came close to this as my faith fell apart)...so they should be left alone for the most part.
The truth is though, some of these people hurt other people either by trying to legislate their morality on others or in more extreme ways, those people should be exposed and/or stopped because they pose a danger to society and personal freedoms.
I actually like your analogy :) I think that's what the movie meant to imply, perhaps not about religion though.
You're right though, it can be dangerous to "unplug" people who either aren't ready or can't handle it. I'm not sure if my cousin just wasn't ready or if she really can't handle it, but when I was going through my deconversion period, she starting showing some bad signs of what was to come if she lost her religion. I was trying to be discrete with my findings at the time, but she was extremely curious and kept claiming she wanted to know the truth. Well, because she'd been brought up to believe you can't be good without God, she went from Little Ms. Goody, "I don't cuss or kiss boys" to trying cigarettes and cussing at all the wrong moments (you know when people cuss and it just doesn't sound natural or they use the wrong word, like "Shut the damn up") and experimenting unwisely.
Although I didn't believe, I decided it was best to suggest she go back to church. At the time, this seemed to be a relieving piece of advice for her. She has since ceased to go to church or practice religion, but she's not ready to "let go of God". So, I won't push the issue. I think it's mostly because she's a daddy's girl and he makes it pretty clear he doesn't approve (in very cruel, manipulative ways).
ANYWAY! Trying to convert people... bad idea. Insisting they acknowledge and allow our rights is a GOOD and necessary idea.
I have never "converted" anyone to Atheism.. There are no Atheist cults to convert to. To convert someone away from faith is to do their thinking for them. I've never spent more than an hour with anyone who is delusional..... there is a reason why shrinks keep their "sessions" short...... I've always been atheistic since my earliest memories as a child, I was repulsed by the prayer I was told to recite: "Now I lay me down to sleep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take."
.....as Ingersoll said: "any system that shocks the mind of a child can not be a true system." I tended to avoid the scarier topics and asking questions about "soul" or "die" yielded gibberish circular reasonings:........gawd made your soul before you were born.... die is when you go to heaven..... jeebus loves you and will protect you..... As a child, I also went hunting with my dad, helped clean guns, count bullets and shotgun shells, run after shot rabbits or quail or pheasants dropping to the ground or bleeding to a stop in the snow...... I saw the life and light go dark in the eyes of paralyzed and flopping shot disabled game..... I saw how easy it was to pull off a head, slice open a belly and sling out guts, pull off fur and "field dress" game and place same in an ice chest for final cleaning at home for cooking or freezing..... and I read Hosea 13:16 "rip open the bellies of pregnant women" how no one could make an excuse that was true of such shocking obscene violent words from an alleged holy book from an alleged holy mom of an alleged baby gawd......I never de-converted because I was never converted.....I wonder how many Atheists have forgotten their earliest questions, their earliest reactions to the horrors of religions"
I was repulsed by religious bigotry in my family, a Catholic married my Uncle, birdbaths in the sanctuary where my cousins were married, people dipping water onto fingers to cross watch wallet spectacles testicles.... padded rails for sore knees genuflecting on command...... my Great Aunt Mable, JW made me the best home made bread, home made jams and veggie jellies out of her huge garden, a garden of eatin.... why do one brand of xian look down on another brand of believer? She was so sweet, sincere and kind.....my father a pentacostal my mother a methodist who converted to a fundie Church of Christ on 53rd and Franklin in Des Moines, IA, took a bath in bra and panties with a white sheet draped over her wet body..... too much for a kid 6 years old to take into open observant scientific eyes..... I read Ask Andy in the comic pages, a science column amidst Pogo, Dennis The Mennis, Dick Tracy etc.....I taught myself to read at age 4 because I wanted to do what my father did, read.....my first biography I read at age 7 was Einstein. I was watching Disney Science films like MR Hemo and mathematics with Jiminy Cricket......those two Atheist heroic minds and talents and voices were enough for me, much better than the voices and fists of hate and delusion
I just finished watching, laughing and joking with others during the Jim Jeffries 'I SWEAR TO god" comic performance at "Skirbal" in New York on HBO........ More and more Atheists are out there making hundreds if not thousands of people laugh at and with Atheists. Ricky Gervais and Julia Sweeney, please people let's keep speaking the names of Atheist humorists so we do not have to constantly tell old Mark Twain and Bob Ingersoll jokes.....and don't hesitate to honor the late George Carlin...... as Emma Goldman said "if I can't dance in your revolution...." we need to be of good humor, often serious but also ready to smile with our enemies as well as our peers......in the morning another round of legal wrangling in Municipal Court regarding the tampon terrorists attacking our local privately owned abortion clinic as well as insane protests downtown in front of the safer Planned Parenthood clinic...... "Legislating morality" IS THEOCRACY ..... theocracy IS TREASON..... we can legislate ethics, but any alleged Moral precept is either also ethical or is un-ethical..... gays and lesbians can be assumed to do immoral sex and I don't give a shit as an Atheist to argue on "moral" grounds whether extant or proposed legislation should be stopped. There is nothing ethical or equal about denying gay couples full equality of benefits of marriage. There is nothing ethical or scientific about the Nazi Pope, MR Ratzinger alias Benedick by any number DENYING A BILLION PEOPLE CONDOMS TO PREVENT PREGNANCY AND PREVENT THE TRANSMISSION OF DISEASE.... we need to fight this evil monster..... and to close here, let's laugh with Sarah Silverman who said: "hey Pope! Sell the Vatican, give the money to the poor and you will get killer pussy."
I don't really see myself as an activist. I've been an atheist for over 20 years, but just recently started coming out (out of respect for my parents). I let people believe what they want, but will try not to hide away my opinions (except when near my mom...)
I do hide a bit at work since I'm employed at a catholic school board...why rock the boat when you're in it...but it's more hiding away in a dark corner during morning prayer, slowly I'll let them know where I stand...luckily I'm protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights (at least I like to think I am...)
But to answer your question...I just let them be as long as they let me be...even when I'm forced to participate in a yearly "group mass"...I just sit way in the back, listen to my iPod, and joke around with the others that feel that it's a waste of time.