I have never known a kind atheist. For that matter, I have never read a kind atheist either. By that, I don’t mean that the atheists I have known and read are not kind in some particular area or in life at large. What I mean is that I have never known or read an atheist who is kind in their atheism.
Of course, that isn’t a generalization either. I’m not saying that all atheists are unkind about their belief. Though I do find it peculiar that I have been unable to find one who is. And I’m not saying they’re the only ones who are ever unkind in their beliefs. Certainly, Christians exist with such tendencies. And while I have known and read many Christians from this category, I have known and read far more who insist on love as a central tenet of our faith. A prime directive from Jesus, if you will. But I digress, for I am not here to talk about statistics or generalities.
Now, in saying all of this, I do recognize that many atheists I have known and read insist that kindness is not requisite. They insist that atheism is about knowing the truth. They insist that truth sometimes hurts. This is true. If you are in this camp, please know that I agree with you in a sense. Truth does not have any intrinsic kindness to it. And yet, kindness can be achieved in the pursuit of truth. I’ve seen it. But this is also not what I am here to discuss.
I should also point out that I am not referring to the jumbled concept of atheism creeping into our modern culture. Atheism as I am referring to it here, is the classical sense of the word. So agnostics are not included in my previous statement. In fact, most agnostics that I have known are quite kind in their agnosticism. Perhaps that is due to the fact that it is hard to be unkind about something when you aren’t sure about it yourself. But this is still not the point of my post today.
What I am here to discuss is the title of my post, and it has basis in this thought that I have never known a kind atheist. Despite this lack in my experience, I still insist that the world needs atheists. Or to be more precise, I insist that the world is far better off having unkind atheists than if those atheists were forced to believe in a religion. In fact, I would even go so far as to theorize that the world is better off having at least some atheists than if every atheist chose a religion of their own free will. Of course, I have no evidence to support this theory, nor do I believe it would be possible to test. But given what we know about homogenization of ideas, it never benefits anyone, least of all the ideas themselves.
We need disagreements in life. We need to differ on issues. And while differences can be attained on minor doctrinal matters within a religion or even between the religions themselves, I still think that the belief in no god needs to exist somewhere in someone. Of course, given what I believe in my own faith, I wouldn’t wish the lack of joy and hope on anyone. But for some people to disbelieve for a period of their lives seems almost a necessity. At least, that is, in the world we live in. Also given my faith and the hope for a future beyond this life, things could change there. But I don’t believe that mankind can, in ourselves, create a world where such drastic disagreement is anything less than vital.