I’ve been thinking for a couple of days about a tweet from a friend concerning the ongoing schism within the atheist community. The friend made reference to, in the end, our side winning.
I really don’t see this schism as a matter of winners and losers. To me that type of language invokes a game mentality. For me, the schism that has been going on now for over two years is not a game. Sure, in the beginning it was somewhat amusing, and there was a lot of mockery to be thrown around.
A lot of that has passed now and although I do keep an eye on certain websites to look for some of the absolute buffoonery that has so often graced their pages, I’ve mostly moved on to other things that are really of more interest to me.
What’s important to realize is that probably 99% of the atheist community either does not know, or doesn’t care about petty squabbles that go on between two tiny, seeming activist factions within the community.
More though, is how this pettiness looks to the outside. I’m referring to those that already hold up atheists to all sorts of derision. We can’t say that those people are not looking on and chuckling under their breath. The reason their doing this is that some within the community approach them with an air of superiority. We’re seen as looking down on others as being not smart enough to listen to our arguments against theism and understand that everything they’ve ever been taught is wrong. Hell, some even classify atheism as another religion.
These are the things as atheists we need to focus on and not some petty disagreement with other atheists. In the end, no one really wins or loses and if we don’t focus on what’s important in the community we’ll never be able to make effective changes in our society that prefers one group over another.
Let’s look at it this way: the community doesn’t need to focus on one small bubble within and make an effort to ostracize those that reside there. Let those that want to be there be there. I’ve found out in my life that people that become toxic eventually marginalize themselves without any help from the outside.
Realize I’m not saying we should just ignore it entirely, because when non-atheists bring up this schism we need to be able to discuss it without rancor, and tell them that one small group does not represent the entire community just as Westboro Baptist church does not represent all of Christianity.