From Greta Christina’s Alternet article here:
Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there’s no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it’s just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses…and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it’s mistaken. It’s persuasion.
As long as we don’t know exactly how organic life began from non-life, then atheists’ conclusion that life almost certainly began as physical cause and effect will be called blind faith in materialism. But if we can replicate abiogenesis (the origins of life from non-life) in the laboratory—something that’s expected to happen in the next few years—this will be seen as proof that life had to be intentionally created. After all, it required people working in a lab for decades to make it happen!
Why this is untrue and unfair: This one drives me up a tree. The conclusion that life almost certainly began as a chemical process is not blind faith. It’s a reasonable conclusion based on the evidence. The overwhelming body of evidence supports the conclusion that life is a physical, biochemical process, developed into its current state of complexity and diversity by the natural process of evolution. It is reasonable to conclude that this phenomenon began as a physical, proto-biochemical process.
And when/if abiogenesis does get replicated in the lab, that’s hardly proof that life had to be designed. I’m sorry, but that’s just silly. Natural processes get replicated in the lab all the time. We grow mold in Petri dishes—does that mean mold can’t occur naturally?
When we speak out in any way about our atheism—and when we continue to organize, and to make ourselves and our ideas more visible and vocal, and to generally turn ourselves into a serious movement for social change—we are accused of being hostile, fanatical, rude, evangelical, bigoted and extremist.
But if we don’t speak out, if we don’t organize, if we don’t forge ourselves into a powerful and visible movement…then the bigotry and misinformation and discrimination against us will continue unabated.
Why this is untrue and unfair: We really can’t win on this one. Even the most mild forms of atheist activism and visibility result in believers accusing us of disrespect, intolerance and forcing our beliefs on others. If we do something as mild and unthreatening as putting up bus ads saying “You can be good without God” or “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone,” you can bet good money that plenty of believers will get worked up about how those terrible atheists are insulting Christians and other believers. The purest act of visibility—the simple act of standing up and saying out loud, “Atheists exist and are good people”—is treated as another example of the offensive, dogmatic, in-your-face extremism of the atheist movement.
But here’s the skinny:
There has never once been a marginalized group that has won recognition and rights by sitting back and waiting politely for it to happen. There has never once been a marginalized group that has won recognition and rights by doing anything other than speaking out, organizing, making itself visible and vocal. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
So you’ll have to forgive us if we take the accusations of our offensive, dogmatic, in-your-face extremism with something of a grain of salt. You’ll have to forgive us if we listen to the concerned advice from believers about how our confrontational tactics are alienating people and we need to dial it back…and respond by giving it the horse laugh, and continuing to do what we’ve so successfully been doing. You’ll have to forgive us if we treat the attempts to quiet us down as attempts to shut us up.