It should be clear from my reasons for choosing to be an atheist that I have no interest in convincing other people to become atheists. I think people should choose to live in the universe which they prefer. I don't think that somebody who believes in god is wrong; they just follow a different faith. After all, many people who believe in different gods are able to live together comfortably, despite the clear contradictions between their faiths.

Of course, some religions include the belief that they know the only truth, and the further belief that they should convince everybody else to embrace that truth. That's OK as long as it stays peaceful, though personally I prefer that such people don't come by and bother me. Sometimes it turns violent, and I think that most of us can agree that that is bad for all sides.

Incidentally, I don't think that religion has caused as many wars as people sometimes claim. I think that religion is more often used as a rallying flag to convince the fighters that the desired war is just. Still, religion has undeniably caused many wars, and has made many more wars much worse. Moreover, I can easily imagine a war fought in the name of atheism, although I don't know of any actual examples (I don't count the wars started by atheistic communist countries, because atheism was not a significant reason for starting or continuing the wars).

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Comment by Frink on December 10, 2008 at 5:39pm
Agreed, to a point. I don't go looking to pick fights over the question of god's existence, but I've never been known to back down from the discussion when it's brought up. What I've discovered is that it's actually quite easy to advocate a humanist lifestyle, argue against the existence of god, yet not have to resort to insulting someone's religion or point out the nuttier aspects of it.

Instead of a tit-for-tat when common misrepresentation of atheists or atheism are invoked, it's far more effective to simply dismiss them and offer the correct information. Having a knowledge of logical/argumentative fallacies is useful in dismantling or otherwise invalidating an attack.

When it comes to matters of public policy and laws we all have to live with, on the other hand, I think it's fair to use what is available if the proposition is potentially damaging or regressive to society.

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