As an Atheist, What Do I Want?


As an atheist, what do I want? At first glance, this question is a tough one. After all, most of what I want has very little to do with atheism or with being an atheist. When I am asked this question, I find that the person asking it usually has something in mind that is not apparent from the question. They want to know if I am after the complete eradication of religion or whether I might be content with anything short of this unlikely scenario.

What I want, as an atheist, is actually a bit simpler than that:

I would like to see a gradual erosion of the social acceptability of religious belief until it becomes something which most educated adults would be embarrassed to profess.

As you might guess, this brief description carries plenty of implications. In unpacking it, one might consider the following:

  • I do not believe that the complete eradication of religious belief is necessary to bring about a significantly better world. While I'd welcome a religion-free world, I could be content with far less.
  • Most politicians would not continue to profess religious belief and pander to religious believers if religious belief was a source of embarrassment to a large segment of the population. To do so would be a liability.
  • Getting what I want would mean that most religious people would probably keep their religious beliefs to themselves.
  • In the world I seek, religious belief no longer has any role in government. Separation of church and state is accepted and enforced.
  • I recognize that some people - especially those who remain uneducated and impoverished - will probably always seek religion for the solace it provides. That being the case, I am in favor of working to improve education and eradicate poverty.

How about you? What do you want as an atheist?

For more on this topic, see What Do Atheists Want? and For Those Who Are Curious About What Atheists Want.