I haven’t written anything for a while because there were no really major issues I felt needed to be addressed. I will however, post a few observations about a number of seemingly trivial issues and maybe some additional things will come to mind as I write.
Ever since I began publicly declaring myself as an atheist I have endeavored to find like-minded people, both in the “real world” and on the web and this has proven a very difficult task indeed. On a more personal note (I suppose that this is where my romanticism creeps in), I have been divorced now for 6 years, and for a time, explored the possibility of a more intimate relationship with a woman. Of course she would have to be of the same intellectual and philosophical bent as I, but finding such a someone has proven nigh impossible, especially given where I am living for the moment. There are several web sites out there that purport to be a way to meet atheist/agnostic singles, so I gave them a shot. Sorry to say, I was not impressed. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I think not.
Over the last 10 years or so I have had occasion to view personal ads on the web at sites like Match.com and Yahoo! Personals. The ads people post, if not the people themselves, are invariably deeply superficial. For comparison purposes and to be completely fair to the ladies, I checked out the ads other straight men were posting and they were every bit as shallow. When it came to the atheist/agnostic singles sites, I found exactly the same lack of depth with the only difference being the fact that they professed to be non-believers. In many cases, their non-belief seemed superficial as well and used mainly for shock value and to affect the appearance of being hip or edgy, much like the infatuation with the satanic trappings brandished during the heyday of heavy-metal rockers like Ozzy Osbourne, Kiss, Judas Priest, and that exemplar of their generation X progeny, Marilyn Manson. I have realized that atheists of any real intellectual substance are not likely to use such avenues, or like me, if they have, they quickly became disgusted.
It has also been difficult to find online communities of atheists, freethinkers, and agnostics. The Usenet groups devoted to atheists and agnostics are practically empty, Yahoo has ignored repeated entreaties to open (or re-open) a chat room for atheists and agnostics, and it is hard to find active, lively venues for stimulating conversation, the forging of new friendships, the magnification of individual action through group efforts, and if I may go to far, maybe even finding that someone special. I have recently found a few active chat sites for atheists/agnostics and I will be posting a list of such sites soon. If anyone out there knows of any more, please feel free to drop me a line.
Richard Dawkins has observed that organizing atheists is akin to “herding cats” and this would seem borne out by what I have found, as I outlined above. Dawkins also observed that there are more “out” atheists in this country than there are observant Jews and they wield political power that is far out of proportion to their numbers (LET ME BE VERY CLEAR HERE AS MY WORDS COULD BE EASILY TWISTED, EVEN BY HONEST PEOPLE), however, this is NOT the result of some shadowy conspiracy on the part of Jewish folks, rather, it is due to the millenarianism of the Christian Right whose interpretation of the Book of Revelations, accords great significance to the fate of the Nation of Israel as it pertains to the Second Coming of Christ.
This situation can be changed, but it will not be easy. I am not advocating that atheists suppress their individual differences in order to present some sort of faux “united front” to the rest of the world. What we can do is to agree to hold believers, of all stripes, to the same standards of intellectual honesty, logic, reason, and evidence. We can make it very clear to them at the outset of any dialog, that while they have every right to make their case (the choice of the “legal” terminology is deliberate), we have a right to subject them to a rigorous cross-examination and that their assertions will have to meet the same standard of “reasonable doubt” as actual courtroom testimony. We would do well to keep in mind when in the above sort of situations all the courtroom dramas we have seen on TV and in movies, and that, as in an actual court of law, there are some basic rules regarding the treatment of witnesses and that being resolute in our application of reason to specific claims people make does not and should not necessitate being cruel or malicious in our discussions with believers.