Phil Oliver:

People often demur, when asked if they consider themselves atheists, on the grounds that it sounds too confident and cocky to say they don’t believe in a transcendent/supernatural creator God… even if they really don’t. But why should it seem any more cocky to say “I don’t believe X” than to say “I do,” when it’s already been conceded all around that nobody-but-nobody knows for sure? If we’re really flinging open the closet doors and inviting everyone into the fresh air and honest sunshine of truthfulness, it should not. No double-standards need apply.

And what’s so terrible about being confident anyway? What’s so terrible about possibly being wrong? I maintain that it makes no sense to be wary to the point of paranoia over metaphysical commitment unless one is still laboring under the cultural inheritance that teaches that pride is a deadly sin and God is a vindictive, jealous God who will settle all scores and avenge even the most trivial slights. You clucking hens who are so quick to condemn atheists for cockiness, is that where you’re coming from? Have you even thought about it? Shame on you either way.

The inability to change one’s mind when presented with new evidence is a deficiency, yes, but making a fetish out of a stubborn refusal to take a stand one way or the other is no less so. I don’t know which is more pitiful, the cowardly inability to shake off the fear of offending a celestial petty tyrant, or the incredibly self-absorbed delusion that our individual personalities are actually significant in the grander scheme. “What do we matter? Our whole lives are experiments, let us also want to be them!”