The Era of The Angry Atheist is Over!

This post in July of 2010 by Steve Zara closes with:
I propose a new strident atheism. No playing the games of theists. No concessions. No talk of evidence that can change minds, when their beliefs are deliberately placed beyond logic, beyond evidence. Let's not get taken in by the fraud of religion. Let's not play their shell-game. Link
He carries on a tradition started by Richard Dawkins himself. In February 2002, four years before his book The God Delusion was released in 2006, Dawkins called atheists to arms in a TED talk. His talk wasn’t aired until April of 2007. He makes it clear he wants a campaign much like the gays used to gain acceptability in American society. His final sentence was, "let's all stop being so damned respectful."

This strategy got the attention of our nation like nothing else. It was very effective one too. It got people thinking, talking, debating. It encouraged many people to come out of the closet and tell others they are atheists too. It helped fence sitters change their minds. It got national bookstores to develop "Atheism" book shelves.

But it's over. The era of the angry atheist is over. Anyone who persists into the future will just be talking to other atheists from now on. Don't get me wrong. People go to church because it encourages them. So atheists need our cheerleaders too. It encourages us. We like to read or hear someone rant against religion, much like believers love to hear sermons against the "vile godless immoral heathen."

Ahhhh, but if you want to change minds that's a different story. Leading atheists cannot afford to stay in angry mode. The effectiveness of that strategy is over. It did it's work well. But it's dead.

In case atheists want to know, I have good Gnu credentials. There is no more evidence for the Christian God than an invisible pink unicorn. I'm just being the pragmatist that I am. All approaches have their effect. I just think the angry approach is dead. The angry emotional approach is off-putting. It reinforces stereotypes of bad atheists. It creates fear into the hearts of believers who may think we would put them in mentally challenged facilities if we had the power.

What I'm not saying. I'm not saying atheists should not be angry, as Greta Christina has argued so well in her recent book. I'm not saying we should stop ridiculing religion. There are plenty of reasons to do so, and as Richard Carrier explains it does have an effect. I'm also not suggesting any leading atheists are still in angry mode, although from anecdotal evidence it appears there are a lot of young angry atheists that feed on this.

What I'm saying is that if we follow through with the recommendation of Dawkins to use a campaign like the gays did to gain acceptability in American society, then after getting the attention of the nation they did the needed work of showing why America should accept them. It's the second half of their campaign we need to follow as well.

This requires patience, kindness, humility, friendliness, and an unremitting battery of science buttressed by an equal assault from all other disciplines of learning.

We're winning. Let's notice the trends and do what works best.