Normalizing Atheism One Platform at a Time

teachers wanted blackboard
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I recently joined Medium. I have been sharing some recent Atheist Revolution posts there and writing some new content for that platform. Some of the new content doesn't fit here. Some of it would be at home here but reflects a different goal.

Like any new platform, Medium has a bit of a learning curve. It will take me some time to figure out how everything works, but I have enjoyed it so far. As you'd expect, the audience is quite different from the typical audience for an atheist blog. This has got me thinking about trying to write about atheism and related topics for a broader audience.

Preaching to the Choir

Most atheist bloggers have struggled with the "preaching to the choir" notion where we seem to write primarily for atheists. I know I have. There's nothing wrong with writing content for atheists, and I still enjoy it. I do sometimes wonder what I have to offer those who would never visit an atheist blog.

Just the other day, I found myself wondering what I might say if I suddenly found myself with a large platform from which I could reach a large and diverse audience. What do I wish more people knew about atheism? If I could impart one message, what might it be?

Medium offers at least some potential to expose me to a very different audience. It isn't perfect. Their algorithm tries to put content in front of readers who are more likely to appreciate it. Still, I suspect there are fewer hurdles in reading about atheism on a general platform vs. visiting an atheist blog. I mention this in case you find yourself reading something here and thinking that it seems basic and that most atheists would already be familiar with it. You might be reading something I'm planning to share on Medium for that broader audience.

Normalizing Atheism

The more I think about, the more interested I am in normalizing atheism. How do we do this? We can make it more likely for others to encounter atheism-related content on whatever platform they use. Another way to do it is by providing accurate information about atheism and atheists. Many people still don't understand atheism because their only source of information is clergy. They hold inaccurate views of atheists because they don't know any. It is time they meet some.

Writing for a more general audience isn't easy. It needs to sound different. It needs to be simpler, more concise, and a bit less inflammatory. Why? If we are going to get through to people who are not already atheists, it is important to meet them where they are. That means fewer anti-religious rants. It means being patient and looking for opportunities to cultivate empathy for those of us who don't believe in gods.

There is some atheist-oriented content on Medium but not much. Most of it is anti-atheist bigotry from Christians or anti-theistic rants by a handful of atheists. There's a space for reasonable content on atheism, a space I'd like to fill. Whether there's an audience for this remains to be seen.

My Plans for Medium

I consider what I'm doing on Medium to be experimental at this point. It may fail miserably, and that's okay. The platform seems to be mostly populated with writers hoping to make money. That translates into more woo than I've had to wade through in some time. That stuff gets attention, and attention is how writers earn. I don't view myself as trying to compete with it. There's so much I wouldn't know where to start!

I am still working out my goals for Medium. So far, I've got three.

  1. I'd like to provide an alternative to the angry and bitter atheist voices that many have come to associate with atheism and demonstrate that we're not all cretins.
  2. I'd like to plant some seeds of doubt along the way, or at least encourage critical thinking.
  3. More selfishly, I'm hoping to improve my writing and try some new techniques.

I'm sure I'll come up with more as I learn more about how things work, meet more writers, and stretch myself a bit.

Medium has a number of "publications" which is their name for...well, they are sort of like blogs. Some are written by a single author, but most have an editor and several authors kind of like a print magazine would. Anyway, one I've been enjoying so far is called Happily Faithless. I've written a couple of stories (this is how Medium refers to posts) for them so far and plan to do more.