05 December 2011

Some insights into the atheist mindset from Skepticon 4

Skepticon 4 went down in Springfield, MO, a couple weeks ago, and videos of the talks are up on YouTube now. Some people who identify as skeptics dislike that Skepticon seems to do deal so prominently with atheism, but given the current state of religious issues in our country I don't think it should be surprising at all how centrally it figures.

A couple of the atheism talks struck me as being addressed as much to non-atheists as atheists, so I thought I'd share them here. If you don't consider yourself an atheist and are wondering about the atheist mentality, these videos can give you a decent idea of where we're coming from, I think. Bear in mind that these folks don't speak for all atheists. Greta's views on the usefulness of anger are divisive in the atheist community, particularly.

The talks are long in today's world of thirty second videos of babies laughing (they're about 45 minutes each), but well worth it, I think. First up is Dan Barker, a former minister. He explains a bit about his program to help other clergymembers who have realized they don't actually believe leave their positions, and also discusses the lines of thought that brought him to his own conclusion that he is in fact an atheist. After the jump is Greta Christina, who addresses the perception of the general public that atheists are defined by their anger.

I like Barker's approach: he's straightforward, but doesn't come across as too bitter or condescending.

I agree with what a lot of Christina says about harnessing dissatisfaction, but I'll point out again that this isn't the only point of view among atheists. But even if you don't agree with her views in the second part of her talk, hopefully you can see where a lot of the frustration in the non-believing and secular communities comes from.

Please feel free to discuss your opinions of the videos in the comments, or to shoot me an email if you'd prefer to privately inquire into my views as an atheist.

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