Atheists need to give it a rest. Atheism, as a dichotomous opposite of theism, is just as annoying. Just like religious people who feel the need to try and convert their friends, family and strangers, atheists who feel the need to de-convert their friends, family and strangers are equally responsible for the societal problem of irritating, eternal religious argument.
The reason is that atheists are so into being anti-religious that they essentially turn atheism into a religion. Some people literally go to atheist churches, have atheist moments of silence and even sing shitty 80’s songs. Atheists have put atheism on the far end of the religious spectrum, but their goals are self-defeating because they purposefully place themselves on the religious spectrum in the first place. This counter-intuitively legitimizes the religions they seek to de-legitimize because they mimic the churches whose existences they mock and oppose.
Psychological studies have proven that the more people’s opinions are directly attacked, the more they cling to those opinions. As such, publicly vocal atheism, by being so abrasive, is only further entrenching religion into religious people’s lives.
Now, using atheists’ beloved science against them, there is no reason to oppose religious belief because just as atheists are correct in that religious people cannot prove God’s existence, religious people are correct that atheists cannot disprove God’s existence. There is no scientific test available to prove or disprove anything about religion: God(s), souls, angels, spirits, demons, objectivity, etc. are all impossible to prove, and as such there is no reason to argue with people for hours that they do or do not exist.
The real problem is not religious belief or spirituality in general; it is legalistic fundamentalism. And this is where religious people and atheists can find common ground. The legalism inherent within religions’ various holy texts are virtually all followed with cafeteria-style piety by practitioners picking and choosing what they want to believe and ignoring the rest. The Ku Klux Klan, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Kim Davis, the Westboro Baptist Church, Joel Osteen, venomous snake handlers in Appalachia, Mike Huckabee, your homophobic grandmother, etc. etc. are all cafeteria-style theists, and for them to say that their concoctions of religious beliefs are better than anyone else’s is annoying, if not, with some of these groups, genocidal.
But if you do not believe in spirituality or an organized religion, there is a non-annoying option: secularism. Secularism side-steps the dichotomy between theist and atheist, without having to put yourself somewhere on the religious spectrum, by simply ignoring the spectrum entirely. God might be real, or He might not be real, or God may be a woman, or both, or there might be many gods, or my cat is God – my cat certainly thinks that she is God – but the point is that it doesn’t matter. If you consider yourself secular, you can just ignore your atheist and religious friends arguing forever whether God is an old man with a beard, or has no gender or beard because God doesn’t exist. You can live the life you have regardless if a deity gave it to you or not.
Secularism also alleviates the inane societal stress over stupid, invented culture wars by promoting the trampled upon Constitutional separation of church and state. If actually secular philosophies are adopted by publicly secular people, we do not have to argue over whether or not the local courthouse should have a monument to the Ten Commandments, whether or not that also means we have to have a token Jewish monument, and whether or not atheists should get to have their ironic monument to Goat Satan on the front lawn as well. It’s all annoying, and frankly an unnecessarily privately polarizing waste of public, taxpayer money.
There is a difference between public and private, and I would suggest that people who get riled up over courthouse lawn decorations read up on Kant, but I imagine that they would not have the philosophical patience to try and understand another person’s point of view, no matter how eloquently articulated and historically significant it is.
However, one truth we can all agree on is that public secularism is an amazing idea, so amazing that our country was literally founded on it. America did not revolution to publicly endorse a specific religion, and it also did not revolution to ban all religions: it revolutioned for the right to waste its own legislative time independently imposing minuscule taxes on stamps and tea. So let’s sound the alarm for a new American Great Awakening: a Great Secular Awakening.
Our new secularists can be the parents and tell America’s fundamentalist and atheist children, “Fine, if you can’t agree no one gets a public lawn ornament. Now go to your private rooms and think about what you’ve done.”