Growing up as a theist I had all the answers. It was the one answer that ended all questions. The answer that couldn’t be questioned. Now I have more questions than I have ever had. Atheism, instead of the perceived arrogant claim of knowledge, is in fact the opposite.
To be labeled as ‘militant’, atheists must have done some pretty brutal things. I am very eager for this to be proven by hearing from those affected by atheism. I am more than aware of the atheists that have been tarred by this brush. Maybe it was Dawkins on a stage talking on the topic of female genital mutilation. Maybe Hitchen’s speaking of the horrors of sex slavery or Harris complaining about homosexuals being thrown from rooftops. I can see no reason why such conversations are met with hostility, particularly if the main topic to take away from such a conversation is morality. From my experience of atheism, I have not seen violence used as a tool to spread an idea. I see violence used as a powerful and often effective tool by religious fundamentalists to get a message across, this occurs daily. Merely speaking of the horrors used by terrorists in support of a religion is enough to be portrayed as bigoted and unfair towards the religion as a whole. What moderates perceive is militant here is an attack via reason. Reason hurts personal beliefs. What I would urge any reader to consider is that personal beliefs can change, and often do, to some degree. You don’t have to be burdened with the belief most prevalent in your neighbourhood, nor do you have to take responsibility when this belief, often formed thousands of years before your conception, is met with criticism.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a militant atheist ‘favours confrontational or violent methods in support of a political or social cause.’ An atheist- ‘A person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.’
Militant atheism seems to involve an individual who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods favouring confrontational or violent methods for the cause. Is this entirely accurate? Although many atheists are content with the label ‘militant’, the term truly gives an inaccurate perception. Whenever I have watched a militant atheist in action it seems to be behind a coffee table. I am yet to see a militant atheist labeled so for anything other than a debate. So why such a seemingly overblown and misleading label? It would seem that the general population places atheists on the same pedestal as believers, carrying out militant actions the world over and worthy of the term. Militants killing those with a difference of opinion. Militants deserving of the label, most definitely favouring confrontational and violent methods.
Moderates in this instance are more concerned by atheists questioning their belief than fundamentalists killing in the name of it. The concern so large that militant is the most accurate way to describe it. Really? An argument with an atheist is equally militant. Militant anti-atheism is a term that you probably have not heard, if it was used to describe terrorist acts against those of us wanting to criticize terror attacks, it would be appropriate. If it was against those simply conversing with atheists, it is blown way out of proportion.
Militant atheism, from a British/ Western perspective, may consist of establishing a conversation with adults, highlighting that their beliefs are contributing to the terrible suffering endured around the world. It isn’t the sole cause, however religious violence has been present consistently throughout our history. Is atheism the real enemy here?