Getting atheists to agree on anything has been compared to trying to herd cats. This cat wants to go this way, that one that way, until forward motion is nearly nil. Even getting an atheist to come to the table to debate a direction, or even consider that a direction is needed, is a difficult chore.
What is the harm in believing? This question is usually the one that makes the difference between a quiescent and an active non-believer (I am torn about the use of the term non-believer, as it seems a term the believer would bestow upon those who do not accept the truth, and this concedes the believer has the truth). History is full of examples of the deleterious effects of belief. Examples of the negative effects are present in everyday life. Religion divides people. Religion enables inappropriate behavior by cloaking it in a righteous veneer. Discrimination, hatred, and bigotry is made to look acceptable by citing Biblical passages which support them. Isn’t that proof enough that the Bible is no longer a credible source of values?
Religion, despite its multiple divisions of cults and sects possesses an immense machinery supported by a generous supply of funds. Religions collectively are like an immense and arrogant entity elbowing its way into the lives of everyone and presuming to tell all how they must live. Those who dare oppose the lines drawn by belief end up receiving severe admonishment and sometimes are expunged. In the Islamic world, at this point in time, to be expunged frequently means an untimely end.
Belief in an all-powerful agency may make the follower dependent upon that agency:
- Why should the environment be taken care of if that agency will soon return and obliterate the earth?
- Why should this life be valued if the doctrine of faith requires this life be despised?
- If I die in service to God’s will I will quickly attain paradise.
- How can I know what God wants unless I accept that He has agents of his will living among us (pastors, reverends, preachers, priests)?
- To resist the will of God as interpreted by his earthly agents is to risk eternal death.
- If God says that people, all people, should live by certain rules and laws then we as believers must enforce that edict upon all the masses so as to avoid the wrath of God.
Those who do not accept the existence of such supernatural forces need to speak against them. A unified voice is better than the disorganized cries of individual dissenters. Any effective campaign must involve communications on many levels with a public that has been preached to for the entirety of their lives by religion. Such a campaign, a campaign that necessarily must be of goodwill in nature, requires time and, of course, financial backing.
What about separation of church and state and the guarantee of religious freedom? Well, separation of church and state is definitely important, and freedom to believe as you wish is important too. However, I will tolerate only those who will tolerate. Fundamentalists of Christianity and Islam to not believe in freedom of religion. They do not believe in freedom to believe what you want to believe. Fundamentalist Islam is forcing their beliefs upon all through violence and the point of a gun. From everything I have read of Christian fundamentalists, if they had half a chance, they would do the same.
There will be differences among every group of atheists. Even among groups there are differences within the ranks of each group. What must be identified among the groups are the goals which all have in common. These are the goals which must be supported with time and financial backing. One goal all should support is the the continuance of the separation between church and state. Without that separation all is lost.