Perhaps one of the biggest problems for atheists is uniting ourselves. There is no structure within atheism, no hierarchy, no leaders. This is not a coincidence, and most certainly it is not a bad thing. Afterall, it would be rather hypocritical of atheists to oppose structured religion if we were only to turn ourselves into a non-theist version of what we oppose. So firstly, its worth pointing out i do not want this to happen. I am not proposing an official atheist organisation (that is a world wide one, aside from national organisations), or that we should appoint leaders.
However, this poses the problem of uniting ourselves under one common banner. I feel that this is the main reason that we have not been as successful as we could be. Atheism has so much potential, people in the thousands are realising they can live life without religion, however the issue is they do not know where to turn when they leave religion behind.
Take a Christian for instance. Upon making a life changing (and incredibly brave) decision to leave their old beliefs behind, what lies ahead for them? I have never been religious so it is hard for me to imagine, but i can think that after having a belief system that is structured with priests, vicars, churches, popes and bibles, that atheism seems a desert in comparison. This is important to note- atheism is not without belief…it is without theist beliefs. We can believe whatever we like, some atheists are spiritual (not me personally), some a science based, some believe in alternate realities (which aren’t as sci-fi as people make out…but more on that to come) and so on…
So what i think we, as atheists must do, is to provide areas where people can say ‘yes, that is atheist,’ but still remains unstructured enough so that current atheists are not made uncomfortable. This last statement may sound a little simplistic, but it must be remembered that atheism is by nature an ambiguous term. You have strong atheists, weak atheists, agnostics, secularists (well those last ones aren’t technically atheism, but perhaps a subdivision), it is therefore maybe a little hard to expect an orgnaistion that takes all this into account to not be structured, afterall it would have to be to exist.
Now i realise there are organisations out there, and very good ones at that. But they are not united. A good example is the ‘Brights’ movement, of which i am a member. The Brights attempt to make an attempt at structure within atheism, however the task is not easy, however not impossible i think.
So that is the issue, and as you can tell, i do not have the answer. It will most certainly take longer than our lifetimes to come up with this solution as i do not believe it to be an easy one…however, as i said, perhaps not impossible.