I’m new to this atheist thing, and think the world is ready for a kinder, gentler, more compassionate atheism—or maybe some of you could tell me where to find it.

A lot of atheists of my acquaintance tend to be typical NTs (in the Myers-Briggs personality model): skeptical (duh!), logical, intelligent, categorical, given to debate (often fairly sarcasticly and impatiently) and definitively *not* all warm & fuzzy (that would be me, a just-as-typical NF).

 

So here’s my question: Do atheists ever have fellowship dinners, where strangers or newcomers are treated as welcome guests? Do they ever enjoy times of communal “sharing”, where they stand and tell good news as well as relate suffering and need and loss, where they ask for and offer encouragement  and emotional support (cf. “prayers”)? Do they ever hug each other when they meet, call each other “brother”? ‘Cause I would love to find that kind of atheism—and I think it would help an awful lot of believers find their way out of the tradition and habit of comforting belief. . . 

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Hi Katie!

I’m glad I’m not alone. We share with believers the human condition with all of its experiences and difficulties (our ontological aloneness, desire for a meaningful life, marriage, the birth of children, family, death)—and yet without shared rituals, traditions, community, and without a shared paradigm to make sense of it all. It would be a shame to feel that I have a greater potential for happiness, meaning and community within a church even though I no longer hold to its basic tenets. (I’m sure now that many people do so . . .) I’d be glad to consider you my “sister warrior” (lol!) in the common cause of life; let me know what you discover out there, and I’ll do the same. I see no need to sacrifice any of the good things I have enjoyed, but life as a non-believer feels pretty darn stark at times.

 

P.S. I’m INFP (mystic/ humanist/ idealist to the core!)

Hi Kasu,

Thanks for your thoughts. In psychology, we often conceptualize models of mind as useful or not useful, rather  than strictly “true” or “false”. I’ve found the MBTI to be a useful model of illustrating and exploring how that all people are different, but different in predictable ways. I know the most reliably validated model of personality is Five Factors, but even though I’m aware of criticisms of the MBTI and of the "Forer Effect”, I still prefer it and find it helpful. (I’m a psychologist).

 

What I’m trying to describe as lacking in the atheist community (as I perceive it) I could best typify as “warmth”. Let’s face it, the ‘kind of people’ who self-identify as atheists don’t come across as warm and cuddly—or maybe that’s just my bias and lack of sufficient experience with them/ you-all. The ‘kind of people’ (there I go again, and I know I shouldn’t) who embrace a less-than-mainstream paradigm seem (in my opinion) to be individualistic, independent, and not overly sensitive to criticism or rejection, and somewhat sarcastic and biting themselves at times as they dish it out. I’m not interested in starting up a movement of some sort myself at this point, just as I didn’t want to start up yet another church (while I was a believer) that would be a teeny tiny bit closer to what I believed was “the Truth”. But until we get some visible atheists starting up charity projects, helping the hungry, reaching out to the outcast (NF and SJ-type behaviours), and getting elected to public office—this will continue to be a hard sell, in my opinion. 

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