I have always wondered why many atheists (such as Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins) are so concerned with convincing the rest of us that God does not exist. If there is no God, then there is no purpose or meaning other than that which we fabricate in order to assuage our nihilistic angst. So I am curious as to why a true atheist would waste their finite putrid existence on efforts to convert others to their godless faith.
You're obviously not even remotely familiar with Carl Sagan's work.
Carl Sagan in fact was NOT an atheist, and professed many, many times, (as has his widow since his death) that he was an agnostic, and not an atheist. If you actually listen to his lectures, and read his books you'll find that in fact Sagan in some sense did believe in "God", even if what he perceived to be "God" was simply not along the lines of dogmas that could be infallibly stated.
I know certain Evangelical Protestants in America over the years have used Carl Sagan as a target and claimed things about him in an attempt to build a straw man version of Sagan, but the reality is he was not an atheist. Ann Druyan his widow has often been asked about the "new atheism" that Dawkins and some others push, and she has repeatedly said that Carl would strongly disagree with their approach for many different reasons. Even some of the new atheists you meet in every day life distance themselves from Carl Sagan, and in particular find Sagan's novel Contact a stumbling block because unlike the movie, the book ends with essentially scientific evidence for God's (or a Creator/organizer of some sort) existence.
Well, maybe I just answered my own question. I guess since their belief system is so devoid of hope, meaning, and purpose, then they cling to the ledge of existentialism as they dangle over the precipice of nihilism and decide to provide some meaning to their lives by desperately trying to convince everyone else that God does not exist.
Again, you're not describing Carl Sagan in anything you said here. I'm not even sure I'd describe Dawkins in that way exactly. Daniel Dennet, and a few others, like Chris Hitchens, I'd certainly say somewhat accurately fit that description, but the more I read/hear Dawkins, the more I see that some in the religious community have demonized him into someone that really doesn't exist. Sadly this seems to be the "Christian" way going all the back to the early heretics...Arius went from being a misinformed, quite likable guy (I believe some of the fathers talked about how likable of a man he was even though they thought his theology was seriously wrong) to being an evil man bent on destroying the Church of God and an enemy of the Gospel.
With that said, I think the reason people like Dawkins in particular are so outspoken and try to "prove" atheism, is because, at least for Dawkins, he truly believes religion has caused far more evil than good. He truly believes it is religion that is the cause of human tribalism, sectarianism and killing, mass war, slaughter, starvation, power hungry men in the control of the world etc... it's important to also note that many atheists (like Michael Shermer) in fact do NOT agree with his hypothesis that "without religion there would be no 9/11."
The problem we find so upsetting with Dawkins, is that there is some, even a lot of truth in what Dawkins says about religion. that religion and dogmatic statements where we humans KNOW everything about God, and that we just happen to be in that group of people who God revealed himself to, and YOUR NOT...is in fact, in part, true. And this DOES lead to wars, killing in the name of God etc...the problem is that Dawkins is sort of on the borderland between science, history, and philosophy and I believe he confuses all 3 things at times. Again, some atheists have even pointed this out over the last few years, and of course he doesn't see it.
But Dawkins really isn't the nasty, mean individual he's so often made out to be, and seems perfectly willing to sit down and debate, quite respectfully I might add, with religious folks.
Guys like Dennet, and Hitchens I have very little tolerance for, and Dennet in particular really does believe all religious people are just down right stupid...good intentioned, but stupid. Dennet in an interview once said that when he was going in for his bypass surgery, a friend said, "I'll pray for you" and he said to her, "I forgive you"....which I thought was pretty degrading to this woman, but he just did NOT like the idea of someone praying for him because he thought it was silly....but if it was so "silly" then what was to forgive? That raises flags for me because Dennet is just so opposed to even the idea people are praying for him, it does make me wonder if indeed he's simply in denial of his belief. I can't imagine Dawkins though getting worked up over someone praying for him to the point he felt inclined some need to "forgive" them. (Sagan for sure wouldn't because one of his dearest friends, who was at his side when he was dying was a religious friend, though I can't remember the guy's name)
Dennet OTH I don't think would WANT religious friends. For me that's the test...if an atheist has religious friends, then they're probably an "honest atheist" as you said. But if atheists hang only with other atheists, then they've turned it into a "club", group, or shall we say a sect where they are the only group who is "enlightened" while we're all silly superstitious people.
However Carl Sagan doesn't really fit in with any of these guys, and was critical of that style of speaking even when he was still alive.
But like Diogenes who looked for an honest man, I keep looking for an honest atheist. Show me a man who has calculated how to achieve the greatest amount of sensual pleasure for the longest possible duration - regardless of the consequences to himself or others - and I will believe him when he tells me he is an atheist. Otherwise, I only see in all these ostensible atheists actual theists that are desperately trying to convince themselves of their own tenuous and subjective presuppositions.
So what say ye?
I think that is true of some people....but not all. Having gone back and forth between belief and agnosticism, (flirting with atheism, but in the end I always accepted there was "something", some God at work....or a "force" or whatever....) I don't think it's true of everyone. Honest atheists IMO are indeed hard to find on the street, in every day life, but I do believe they exist. However your qualifications for finding an "honest atheist" will never be met, because in fact most atheists do not believe atheism leads to 24/7 pleasures, or seeking of pleasures. That, IMO is a religious person's understanding of how THEY would act if there was no God. (ie: if I knew there was no God I'd spend my life doing all the stuff I'm not allowed to do now because God says "thou shalt not"...) it's the proverbial concept of tell your kid NOT to get into the cookie jar, and the first thing they'll do is figure out how to sneak a cookie. but don't mention the cookie jar, the the kid basically doesn't care.
For an atheist, the "off limits" of a deity's commands don't exist, so it's basically a non issue, like the kid who knows the cookies are in the jar, but has no "forbidding" from having a cookie. Human nature is just that way. We want most we we think, or we know we simply cannot have. People who actually don't believe in God actually don't act like WE assume WE would act if all of a sudden WE had no limits. It's sort of like the problem St. Paul had with his Churches in Corinth where they thought "freedom in Christ" meant, "hey we have no rules, AWESOME lets do EVERYTHING".....he had to clarify that's not what he meant.
But that's human nature I think.
Atheists don't have these do's and don'ts and so for the most part, they don't care. Now they might be doing things we find sinful, sex outside of marriage etc....but they aren't, for the most part, living heathen lives either. Again, I'm refering to informed atheists, or agnostics who are not simply 'rebelling' like Christian kids in college often do...I'm talking about people who truly either don't believe in God, or who truly, and honestly don't know one way or the other. There are plenty of people who are just in rebellion and so do everything and anything they want, but I would say they are really agnostic or atheist....but that's just me.
Great topic though.....