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Atheist Good Cop/Bad Cop Game

We all know that there are a wide range of people who believe very different things and yet all call themselves Christians. Some Christians are the Good Cop Christians, some are the Bad Cop Christians, and some are somewhere in between.

The thing with atheists is that atheism is a term that describes a lack of belief. So all atheists are different and the only thing we all have in common is that we all lack the belief in a deity. There is no atheist doctrine. Lately however, some atheists have started to form communities and groups. Some atheists have started to organize not only around our lack of belief but also around some common values like reason, education, science, and compassion for our fellow human beings. Despite our newly found organizational skills, we still are a rather disorganized group of people who have very different ideas on how to deal with our common problem (i.e. religion). In fact, we can’t even seem to agree on a term to call ourselves.

The point here is that some in the greater atheistic community think that we shouldn’t be openly critical of religions and should just educate ourselves and hope that those of the Abrahamic faiths reject their mythologies on their own before they destroy the entire planet and us with it. I guess we can call these the Good Cop atheists since they are the ones telling the Christians, Muslims, and Jews whatever they want to hear except of course that they now believe in God. I have nothing against these Good Cop atheists and sometimes I even use that strategy when talking about religion one on one with particular Christians.

But I must confess that I am probably more in what has been called the Bad Cop atheist camp. That is the view that we should let “People of Faith” know that we think their beliefs are ridiculous and dangerous. I think more often than not we should call them out and be critical of what they believe and how they behave because of those beliefs. I think that if someone doesn’t want to be ridiculed for their beliefs, that they shouldn’t have such ridiculous beliefs and then I wouldn’t laugh so hard at them for those beliefs. If someone told me that they believed that Elvis was God and that they saw Elvis last night in a 7-11 Convenience Store, I am going to tell that person that they are nuts. I don’t think I need to treat that person seriously and pretend that he has a valid claim on reality which should be treated on par with the claims of respected scientists who have evidence to back up their ideas.

Ultimately though we have to realize that whether someone is a Good Cop atheist or a Bad Cop atheist, there is a time and a place for both. In fact, I think sometimes we may need both at the same time and at the same place. Could you imagine if on one of those police shows, only the Good Cop came in to question the suspect? Or what if only the Bad Cop questioned the suspect? The way the game works is for both cops to question the suspect. So here in reality, we need the good atheist cops to tell the religious that they might be right (even though we are almost certain that they are wrong) and then we need the bad cops like me to lay out just how ridiculous their divine claims actually are.

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