Why it is critical that atheists feel normal.
Atheism is a valid position. It's a valid response to the question: Does God exist? It's perfectly acceptable for someone to respond that they don't believe he does. And it's critical that we as a society realize this.
I'm sick and tired of hearing people claim that atheists are new. We aren't. We're an older view on the question of God/gods than Christianity. I'm sick and tired of atheists being portrayed as robots and fictional atheists being portrayed as generally unlikable but skilled characters.
Non-belief is as valid as belief. And I, and many others are working to demonstrate that. We're working to normalize the idea that atheism is an acceptable position. I'm doing that by writing about atheism on a multitude of sites, and working with an organization made up of people who look and think like I do, the Secular Latino Alliance. I am working to help others realize that atheism is acceptable and has just as much merit as theism. I am also working to come up with clever ways to rebut popular theistic arguments like the idea that due to the fact that atheists talk about God (or at least ones in the U.S.A. do) we must secretly believe in him. Or the idea that we are as aggressive as theists can be. Neither of these things are true. But these are the types of statements that vocal atheists have to put up with, in the United States. And things are worse throughout entire chunks of the planet. In the Middle East, most atheists risk death and other punishments if they are open about their atheism. If we want to truly be free, then we need to combat the idea that atheists are villains who deserve scorn and punishment by virtue of their atheism. We need to combat the idea that religions themselves are deserving of respect. They are absolutely not deserving of respect. People who practice them deserve our respect. But not the ideas. Not the rituals. Not the holy books. These objects, and ideas, these concepts, are not what deserve our respect.
Atheists deserve to be respected. It isn't our atheism that deserves respect, but us. As human beings. Who have the right to have an opinion about the existence of a deity. We deserve compassion, and respect. But the Koran doesn't. The Bible doesn't. Christians and Muslims deserve respect. But not the CONCEPT. Concepts do not deserve respect. Ideas and ideologies do not matter more than a human's right to be honest and open with themselves and others. Christians in countries where Christianity is persecuted against deserve the right to be Christians without fear. Muslims in nations where Muslims are persecuted against deserve the right to be Muslims without fear. The same goes for atheists.
If we live in a world where a belief in a deity who came down to Earth is normal and socially acceptable, the disbelief in that claim ought to be as normal and socially acceptable. It shouldn't be something many people intrinsically dislike. We shouldn't be chilly towards one another. Let's work together. Let's learn together!
It's time that people begin to talk to atheists. And it's time more atheists become vocal. So that everyone learns about atheism and how the ONLY thing we have in common with each other is that we don't believe in deities. We can even believe in the supernatural! Just not gods. That's it.
I hope you help me normalize atheism. If you want, just chat with an atheist! That alone helps! :)