I am engaged in a very fruitful, reciprocal and helpful dialogue with some atheists. I can report, dear readers, that they haven't disemboweled me, eaten my children, placed inverted burning crosses on my unmown lawn - they have engaged in dialogue. They are, dear readers, normal human people who have the same hopes and fears and an appetite (this lot at least) for talking about what it is that we don't share - a faith.
On the other hand, you have the British Humanist Association whose glossy website is most illuminating. Did you know, that if you wanted to do away with that vile and arcane religious behaviour of having Godparents for your little bundles of love, you can. The BHA offer a choice - an OddParent; yes it's true. I have heard about a BHA funeral which made use of a beautiful poem called 'Love' - itself a straight extraction from 1 Corinthians 13.
Let us not forget the less-than-balanced Christians (there are other religions available) who percieve atheist along the lines that this image illustrates. There is a perception in the minds of some, if not many, that atheists are the Anti-Christ! In the interests of accuracy and decency, I have to dispel that myth here and now - they are just different to us Christians in terms of belief. They have families and they have the same needs, hopes and dreams that we all have.
I see a problem when these two camps come together. The Humanists are formed on the premis of 'not, no, isn't' about religion - what a life, spending it denying something as true. What a negative and fruitless existence, if I may be so bold. Some Christians grouping are formed on the premis of 'threat, bad, attack' about atheists - what a life, spending it defending against a broadly non-existent attack.
In my dialogue with the group of atheists I have met, I have learned that there is much common ground. The BHA have to admit that a considerable part of their philosophy, in that is moulded againt religion, actually owes much to religion for its form and expression. Christians have also to admit that debate has to be healthy. Blind faith is as silly as blind atheism is daft, especially when there is a shared existence that both can enjoy and talk about for years - and that is how it is to be human, how it is to love other humans, how it is to feel pain and anger, how it is we feel about our faith or its lack. Dialogue enhances us all - it draws us all closer together. Excepting Prof Dawkins who seem incapable of listening, we can all grow stronger and better of we stop and listen to other voices - especially those that don't say the same words that we do.