If I were still awarding the Face-in-Palme D’Or Award,™ today The Atheist Missionary would have been a shoe-in. You see, in the blog today he made the following comment: “(despite my sarcastic online handle) atheists aren’t looking for converts.”
I replied with my trademark witticism: “Oh yeah. That’s why Boghossian wrote ‘A Manual for Creating Atheists'”.
Heh heh. Clever me.
TAM’s comment is worth highlighting for three reasons.
First, as I just noted, many atheists are indeed concerned with converting people to their position. They are every bit as evangelical as any Christian. Richard Dawkins, widely repudiated to be the world’s leading atheist, is as evangelical as they come, a good ole’ fashioned pulpit thumping preacher, albeit with an Oxbridge accent and a secular gospel.
Second, atheists who aren’t evangelical about their message ought to reconsider carefully their lack of concern for spreading their beliefs. If you believe no god exists then this is important news, news that ought to be shared with others in the public square of intellectual exchange. An atheist who does not care enough about their beliefs (or other people) to share those beliefs with others is not admirable. Being lackadaisical about the truth is no virtue. (Same goes for you unevangelical Christians.)
Finally, I am always bemused by atheists who make sweeping claims about the extraordinarily diverse atheist community. I’ve talked about this before in “Here’s how atheism works? On the presumption of atheists who speak for other atheists.” The statement “atheists aren’t looking for converts” is equivalent to “Canadians are polite … and boring” or “Women are scared of mice”. In other words, it’s an indefensible generalization.
The bit of good news is that The Atheist Missionary is actually better than his rhetoric. He really does care about making converts to his position. That’s why he regularly engages with people who hold dissenting views whilst trying to offer objections to those views. So it seems to me that his handle is not quite as “sarcastic” as he seems to think.