If I may offer an opinion, I think that the people who spend this much time thinking about their atheism are trying to convince themselves more than anyone else. Unlike theism, atheism is nothing to base your life around. I mean, to co-opt and invert one of their favorite analogies, you don’t see any groups of people going around organizing a community around a non-belief in fairies or unicorns. And this perception of theirs that religious believers see atheist as some kind of resident aliens, as one interviewee expressed in this sentiment:
“I am telling people I am willing to discuss this, that this is how I am and you have to accept this,” he told Winston. “I am essentially othering myself to show that normal people with normal lives and problems are atheists.”
Seriously, what sane person does not know that? As though believers think atheists are essentially different from other human beings? I dunno. Having been an atheist for most of my life in an extremely religious area of the south, I never felt the need to go out of my way to “discuss my atheism” with anybody and especially not to try to convert anyone. I typically got along just fine with everyone, and if the subject of my atheism came up it may have been met with an awkward silence or a few questions, but it never came to an uncivil confrontation, and certainly no one ever acted as if I were some kind of alien creature. The most “confrontational” it ever got was a Christian co-worker giving me a copy of Ray Comfort’s “Atheist Bible” for Christmas and jokingly telling me “Happy Atheist’s Day” on April 1, which I found pretty funny.
That’s what I don’t get about the whole new atheist campaign. At the root of it, you have these demagogues proclaiming that life is essentially meaningless, the universe has no purpose and that free will is an illusion. Then they take the utterly baffling and contradictory stance that a) scientific knowledge is of indispensable importance (how is anything important if life is meaningless?), that they believe in the supremacy of reason (of what value is reason if its subject is without purpose?) and that religion is detrimental to the well-being of man and they must try to convert as many people as possible (how can someone change if they have no free will? And again, given the meaninglessness of life, what is the well being of man? Why does it matter?)
Sorry for the rant. I just get rankled by the sheer inconsistency of this whole movement.