Atheism As An Outreach

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From: "Positive Atheism" <>
To: [unsigned]
Subject: Re: Atheist Organizations
Date: October 20, 2001 4:52 PM

Outreach, as the Humanists use the term, specifically applies to attracting non-members into the group, and generally to providing services to the public that will act in the Christian sense of "Let your light shine so that others may see your good works and thereby glorify God." This is precisely how the churches use the term as well, as far as I can tell.

This, specifically, is not something that I do, but is something that I work hard to avoid. I don't care if people become atheists. If any "evangelization" unto atheism occurs, that's somebody else's role, not mine.

I want atheism to stand on its own merits, not because of what atheists do in order to attract people to the concept (including good works). To fall for that is to buy into the Christian notion that a philosophical claim is true because the people who believe it are moral and upstanding people, or that if a wicked person believes something, it must therefore be false ("Well, Hitler and Stalin were evolutionists, so creationism has just gotta be true!"). If atheists happen to be moral and upstanding, it's not because of their atheism but because of their ethical system, to which their atheism is only casually connected.

What I do is try to educate the public as to what atheism means and does not mean, and who atheists may or may not be. I do this specifically for the benefit of atheists. The rest of what I do is specifically targeted to an atheistic audience, and would not be considered "outreach" by anyone.

Perhaps if this were a group, then "outreach" might include atheist non-members of the group. But I am not a group.

What I also do (but only because it draws an audience and helps atheists, never because I have anything to say to theists) is respond to challenges made by theists. I do this specifically so that atheists can gain a familiarity with the thinking that goes on when a Christian tries to evangelize an atheist. It's also kinda fun. Finally, it showcases a lot of the desperation contained in the Christian position in that they will often to go great extremes of dishonesty trying to convince me that theirs is a position of truthfulness! But never do I engage with a Christian as an opponent for the purpose of convincing the Christian of anything. When I'm discussing something with a friendly Christian, then yes, I am into it for the exchange of ideas, but when I the Christian is hostile, it's just to showcase how these arguments go when I do them.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
    people with no reason to believe

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