Some atheists tell me that all of my blogging, arguing, and effort is a waste of time.
Some atheists tell me that people won't change their minds...
Some atheists tell me that they can't speak out because of family members and personal reasons.
Some people think that what they know is sufficient and that there is no need to share information.
I want to demolish all of these false sentiments in this post...and it's not only about atheism (or at least doesn't have to be). This post can be used for activism reasons concerning any issue.
Benefits of Speaking Out:
Arguments En Masse
The mere visibility of dissent of a person's position may lead a person to think, “Hmm, perhaps he has a point” or “If he puts so much time into this, there must be a reason.” When various like-minded thinkers become visible in the daily life of a person of a differing stance, the person will consistently hear arguments against their position (perhaps I won't convince Joan with my styles, arguments, and approach, but maybe Bill's arguments will make Joan think). Think about advertising for a moment. Advertising is effective when the particular message is quite common in billboards, radio advertisements, TV commercial, internet ads, etc. Perhaps you might see an ad for a movie you don't know much about...but when friends are talking about it and ads are coming from your favorite websites you might start to think...
Inspiration For Other Like-minded Thinkers
People who share your positions are inspired when they see like-minded thinkers being active for various reasons: people realize they are not alone, people realize that they can communicate with like-minded thinkers, and positions may eventually be normalized when they are widespread (depending on the position, of course). Like-minded thinkers can also solidify their positions and make better arguments when they read and hear yours. You may also do the same!
The Chance for Gradual Changes in Positions
An atheist certainly won't convince young earth creationists about why the arguments for God's existence are insufficient in an hour, but some discussion may inspire them to relinquish the idea of a 10,000 year old universe and may eventually trigger cognitive shifts in various areas.
Dispelling the Excuses:
Speaking out about religion is pointless because people don't want to listen and already have their minds made up!"
This sentiment may be true for some people (unfortunately), but certainly is not true for all. I used to be a theist, but now I'm an atheist. A friend told me that I called pro choice “pro-death” and now I'm much, much, much more informed about the issues regarding abortion and I'm pro choice. I used to say phrases like, “That's why it's called faith,” but tear arguments like these to pieces today. I've changed...and others have changed and will change.
Not all people are totally decided on positions. Some people, for example, will say that they are Catholics because they were baptized, went to church, and really didn't think about it. Others are undecided and just use the term Catholic. Many people who reject evolution (dare I say all) simply don't understand evolution and are gravely mistaken when they think they can't believe in a god and accept evolution and think evolution and cosmology are linked. If these people heard the correct arguments, their position may change.I can't speak out because I want to please everyone; I don't want to make enemies...and many of my friends and family share opposing viewpoints that would land me in a social morass!I understand that people may be afraid of retaliation on many levels, but this can be avoided quite easily by remaining anonymous in internet discussions and going to private meetings of like-minded thinkers. The easiest form of "activism" is sharing news stories on your Facebook profile (or an anonymous one) by alerting others to important matters and providing a space for discussion.When you're having an open discussion or debate with a single person you may not change his/her mind, but people are usually either watching, listening, or reading the discussion. Audiences of discussions will think about the issues at hand and may reconsider issues.The idea of playing neutral and pleasing everyone seems absurd. I don't think that it's possible to make friends with everyone...and what's the point, anyway? Regardless of what positions you advocate or hold, people simply won't like you for very arbitrary reasons including but not limited to heritage, intellect, hobbies, musical tastes, height, age, gender, friends, etc. I'm simply not out to please everyone and I don't think that anyone should be, lest you "work yourself up" trying to attain an impossible goal. Make friends with people who you can actually have intellectual conversations with, be honest, value your own positions, stand up for what is right, and tell it how it is.
Here is an excellent video clip for a short summary of good points: