I've been an atheist for all my adult life, and believe strongly that my view of the world is correct and that the understanding of the world of Christians, Hindus, and Wiccan's are fundamentally flawed. But, sometimes when I read the writing and listen to the opinions of my fellow atheists, there seems to be a desire to see religion just go away. It argued by some that tolerance of religion is dangerous; if you allow Baptists to hold onto their crazy ideas, the next thing you know they'll be voting creationists onto schoolboards and clapping as fundamentalists crash airplanes into buildings. Tolerating a little irrationality opens the door to big craziness.
Personally, I'm not interested in driving religion from the face of the earth. I don't agree with the premise that religion has done more harm than good. It is merely a human tool, like fire or a hammer. It can be used for constructive purposes or destructive purposes. I'm perfectly living next to and working with Methodists, Mormons, Muslums, and Menninites as long as they show the same tolerance toward me.
Of ocurse, some would argue, atheists aren't shown the same tolerance. We regularly poll at the bottom of who American's would vote for for president. But, there's a difference between tolerance and popularity. Just because you tolerate an idea or group doesn't mean you have to like them. Atheists seem to want a world where their opinions and beliefs are respected by all. This has never happened for anyone, ever. Do you think buddhists get this? Pentecostalists? Scientologists? If you want to believe something, believe it, and have the courage and back bone to stand up to a few frowns. It's not that tough.
I want a world where atheists can live openly, free of fear of violence and governmental backed discrimination; and, fortunately, I find that I already live in a country that provides this. I've been out for all my adult life. It's never cost me a job. I've never had to pay a different tax rate. I'm allowed on public transportation. I've had access to the same bland mush of public education as everyone else. What right don't I have as an atheist that I would have as a Christian?
Most atheists value reason and rationality and, more than anything else, want to live in a world where others also hold reason and rationality as high virtues. I think that's a swell aspiration. But, I also don't think it's built into human DNA to be reasonable and rational. We are animals at our core, and will always be driven more by our underbrains and guts than by our higher cognitive powers. We aren't vulcans. 99% of the world's decisions are made based on emotions, hunches, guesses, and made up numbers like 99%. The world produced by such irrational thinking isn't a horrible one.
Rationally, there's no reason I should go out and get in my car today to drive to the mountains to look at snow. It won't benefit me economically. It will actually cost me money for gas, meals, and hotel rooms. I could be using this time to write fiction, which produces some economic gain, in theory.
All I'll get in return for my troubles are a few memories of pretty landscapes, spent in the company of a woman I love.
Doesn't suck at all.