Disclaimer: This post is in fact from an atheist perspective. I've been an atheist since birth (through lack of exposure to religion; my first contact with god was a kindergarten classmate telling me I was going to hell.) As I wasn’t converted into atheism, I don’t have any firsthand experience with organized religion, nor see much of a purpose.

I also apologize if this has already been debated; if it has, I haven't seen it.

Why does this website exist?

Are you so shaky in your beliefs that you need them hammered into you by hundreds of mostly anonymous posts bashing religion and holding atheism on a pedestal?

Is your desire for imagined community so great that you strive to create an archetypical atheist (loves science, evolution, etc)? 

Organized atheism goes against the idea of forming informed opinions individually, which, is a central idea of atheism (if a group defined by absence of faith can have tenets). Having atheists leaders (Dawkins, Hitchens, etc) is as laughable as having an atheist prophet.

It's fine to share ideas that resonate with you, but taking one person's word as gospel, like many of the posts I've seen suggest, is the antithesis of what the atheist community (if there is one) is supposed to represent. Even having a community seems against atheist principles.

I'm curious. Is community through faith still important, even for atheists?

Should the atheism be defined as a community of tolerant rationalists rather than as an ideological state defined by absence?

If not to gather reaffirmation through dogma, why are all of you here?

(This post might be over-inflammatory. Feel free to mellow it down in your mind.)

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I'm glad you were entertained. It was very entertaining writing my original post. Responding to this is a stupid move on my part, but I have nothing better to do than get into internet arguments about unimportant things.

Most of your reply is based around the idea that I don't know my questions are loaded. As you noted, I was most borrowing tired arguments from religious people who don't understand atheism. I'm aware that "There are no "central ideas of atheism"". I was mostly curious as to how other people would respond to those questions (as they seem to be the first things that religious people I know ask me when I mention atheist forums). The first is a gut reaction to a few of the posts I've seen here, and in many other 'atheist communities.' My enthusiasm for this topic does not extend to digging up those posts. You've probably seen them.

I admit that it's bad form to begin with loaded questions. Too late.

As for Dawkins, Hitchens, etc, any people who are regarded as “The Unholy Trinity”, "The Four Hoursemen", etc, have a bit of a prophet vibe. They aren't unquestioned, but I feel that a lot of what they say is taken to represent all atheists. They've been called leaders. As a simple google search turns up results, I'm, again, not going to bother to cite.

"Imagined community" does not mean a community that is imaginary. If you are going to quote every sentence, and link me to wikipedia, you should probably look up the terms I use. Another example of this is "Is community through faith still important, even for atheists?" You said

There's no reason why "even" atheists can't find community important. 

which completely misses the point. I'm not talking about community in general. I'm talking about faith based (or lack of faith based) community. Additionally, you say that I'm referring to atheism as a religion, whereas I am clearly arguing against the treatment of it as a religion. I can see how somebody who looks at things one line at a time would fail to comprehend the main points of an argument.

Based on images posted, TA definitely has an ideal. That ideal involves forming opinions rationally.

Believe it or not, I am aware that all atheism means is that you don't believe in god. Stating that I don't understand what atheism means is a logical fallacy. The prejudice and assumption are all very real, and not my own. It's impossible to discuss an idea with discussing the culture surrounding it.

Additionally, I wasn't suggesting that atheism should be redefined in any way. I was merely curious about what other people hope to gain from the community. Your second-to-last statement pretty much covers that.

Surely you are aware that many have suffered greatly for their non-belief ? I shutter to even think about what it must be like to be an atheist in a theocracy. This on-line community represents (to me) the fact I am not really alone. In my local community, I am alone.

Don't mind @Gallup.  He's just that way.   One of these days he'll come to the realization that relying solely on deconstruction doesn't actually allow him or anyone else to build anything of value (which is, perhaps, an inherent failure of atheism as well).  It's just a pseudo-sophisticated way of ridiculing others, and he goes after anyone who doesn't agree with his orthodoxy.

What you can expect next I'm sure is twice as many column inches devoted to another deconstruction, and you'll find it way too tedious to reply to in order to refute each error.  He'll have won in his own mind by sheer volume.

I think your critique has some merit, though it doesn't accurately characterize everyone here.  There are actually a number of folks who are just seeking ideas, some who find solace in a community if only because they live in an area dominated by my overt, loud, obnoxious theist brethren.  I'm not aware of whether any other atheists communities behave the same way, though I expect that all attract some of the silly stuff, just as theist communities do.  

I actually blundered here when I was looking for some info on the election of Pope Francis, and was stunned by the ideological ignorance.  It appeared to be the atheist version of the Westboro Baptist crowd.  It's actually not as bad as all that, but the willingness to spread hurtful stereotypes and encourage ideological hatred of other groups is really quite remarkable, and not at all in keeping with most atheists that I know and work with.  I personally believe that you and the folks I know are more representative of the general atheist community.

"I was promised a free pony when I joined."

I feel cheated :(

The website is a meeting place for esoteric actions & ongoing experiments re outer space contact's with the X factor & so on

Anne- as a professed atheist you seem to be mighty keen to bat for the religious team. It is just  there is nothing more that the religious would love more than for the atheist community to just go away . The religious already have an obscene amount of political power and without a strong atheist community they would have far far more.

One question Anne , what country do you live in? It is just that your reaction is fairly common from people in countries where theism is not a big deal. But that is mainly  because they do not understand the reality of the situation in highly religious countries. Though if you are from America or any other highly religious country you really should know better.

LOL!!! You're in the water upto your crotch and your casting bait. Any bites?

Most of us did not have the luxury of growing up sans religion. It was drummed into me with large helpings of self loathing and shame. Imagine my surprise when I stopped believing in fairies and bam! "reality what a concept!".

I celebrate my new found unbelief. I love that their are other's that dance and do a jig every time they affirm their own unbelief.

I can do without the bashing of religion. I don't see the point. I think that if someone believes in something that i shouldn't look down on them for their beliefs. Live and let live.

Maybe it's hard for you to see, coming from a place of unbelief since birth, how the people here would enjoy each other's sense of community after leaving our religions. Something that has been drummed into us since adolescence, something that was cause for guilt, for shame, for self hating. Not anymore! Yay! LOL...

Are you so shaky in your beliefs that you need them hammered into you by hundreds of mostly anonymous posts bashing religion and holding atheism on a pedestal?

Have you read all the posts on this site to come to this conclusion. On the side bar of what's new today, there are discussions that have nothing to do with religion. Did you see them?

Is your desire for imagined community so great that you strive to create an archetypical atheist (loves science, evolution, etc)? 

Desire for community has nothing to do with gods or belief in gods. It is inherent in most human beings to want to be with others.

Organized atheism goes against the idea of forming informed opinions individually, which, is a central idea of atheism (if a group defined by absence of faith can have tenets). Having atheists leaders (Dawkins, Hitchens, etc) is as laughable as having an atheist prophet.

Organized around what? Are you against atheists having a site where they chat and interact with others of same views? And it your assertion, not mine that Dawkins et al are atheist leaders in the same breadth as the pope is the head of the RCC.

It's fine to share ideas that resonate with you, but taking one person's word as gospel, like many of the posts I've seen suggest, is the antithesis of what the atheist community (if there is one) is supposed to represent. Even having a community seems against atheist principles.

Do you have links to this posts you have seen? were they on this site? And what in the name of all that is reasonable are atheist principles? What has community got to do with atheism? We can be atheists and have a community for BBQ or whatever thing humans do. Why this is a problem to you beats me.

I'm curious. Is community through faith still important, even for atheists?

What faith do you mean?

Should the atheism be defined as a community of tolerant rationalists rather than as an ideological state defined by absence?

Whatever you shall define thus will not be atheism.

If not to gather reaffirmation through dogma, why are all of you here?

Of all the strange questions, this is the most absurd. Why did you join? To ask these questions or to interact with others?

This post might be over-inflammatory. Feel free to mellow it down in your mind

Maybe you intended it to be.

I joined this site at a time when I lived in a very religious community.  I found the site while looking for info on an archaeological dig and found it interesting that there was an 'atheist social network'.  I mostly joined for the scientific discussions but found some of the discussions of epistemology intriguing and, yes, I joined in some of the religion bashing discussions because they often reflected the frustrations I faced in dealing with a very religious customer base at my place of business.

I now live in a very irreligious community and so no longer share in the frustrations of those who do - but I understand their need to vent and share with like minded people.  I don't find it odd that people who often find themselves in a minority subculture tend to flock together - and I'm not sure why you (the op) do.  Has your life been so incredibly sheltered that you are unable to conceive that not everyone has shared your experience in life? 

Like many Atheists I know on this site, I do come from a background of religious indoctrination. I was a non-believer long before I realised I was an Atheist, if that makes sense. When I came to understand the term “Atheist” as a self-descriptive term it was almost a revelation. It made sense to me. It was not so much a label I applied to myself as many theists assume it is but rather a term that I used privately to make sense of own perceptions and understandings of a world that were not religious. Even then I was the only Atheist I knew of. I did know some people that said they were not religious but I never considered them to be like minded.

At the age of fifteen I asked my teacher if we should consider the “Five Proofs” of Aquinas to be “Five Arguments” as they did not prove the existence of God (Yahweh) but only argued for the existence of a god that we could not know the name of. This drove him nuts, lol. This resulted in me being suspended from class and a local priest calling to my home to advise my very Catholic parents that I may be hanging out with the wrong people. That only helped me to realise that god is a delusion. I used that term 30 years ago, long before it became a book title.

None of that converted me into Atheism as you use the words. It only affirmed my idea of how incorrect a view of the world the religious view is. I became an Atheist because I no longer believed in the existence of god(s). I no longer believed what everyone else around me believed.

Once I said to myself “No gods exist that I believe in” or to be honest, what I say to myself is “There are no Gods”, I had to look for other answers to the bigger questions in life that religion had tried to  answer. Maybe it was the unsatisfactory answers that religion offered that first started me thinking that it was all wrong? I found Science to be the only satisfactory method of discovery worth considering. That gave me a completely different worldview. It was still difficult to meet people that openly identified as Atheists.

Ok long story shortened….When I found T/A I found likeminded people. They also value Science, Reason and open-minded debate. I am here to learn and maybe to help others new to Atheism if I can. If I can deride religious bigotry and laugh at the silliness of some of their beliefs then that it something I make no apologies for. I see religion as a dead weight on the back of humanity. It is a spent tool and has offered nothing knew to mankind for centuries. If it shines a torch for some that is fine with me. However I have the floodlights of Science and Reason which I discovered when I became an Atheist.

I am and have been “active” as a militant Atheist for over 25 years. My “atheist agenda” is to keep religion out of schools and politics and to help promote freedom from religion and access to education for all in countries where people of god are prepared to kill or imprison people that do not believe in their imaginary supernatural gods. I also actively debate believers to get them to challenge their own beliefs, i.e. what they are telling me is the Truth. If they (as many have) de-convert from their faith (no one converts to atheism) then I am happy for them and they can swap their torch for some floodlights. If not, so what.

This site has helped me to refine my debating skills. If I say something incorrect I will not get away with it. I will be challenged to put up or shut up. Someone will give me a new perspective on a topic I am interested in or post a link that further educates me. They will also be just as irreverent as me. If someone takes offence to anything then that is what they have done. It is always taken, never given.  

I value the company of Atheists, not because they are non believers in gods, but because I know that anyone who has enough self-awareness to say out loud “I am an Atheist”, that they value civil debate and value evidence based reasoning. They don’t suffer from magical thinking. They will be most likely be against allowing any further encroachment of religion into society. One thing is sure though, I am not here for any form of confirmation bias or “reaffirmation through dogma”. Other than that we may have very little else in common but that is not of any consequence and nobody here is concerned with that.

r@Ann - As you noted, I was most borrowing tired arguments from religious people who don't understand Atheism. I'm aware that "There are no "central ideas of Atheism".

The one and only thing that an Atheist agrees on  - Prove to me there is a god - every thing else is open for discussion - for me, there is no God.  I speak up either when a xian comes here, or a xian sys 'bless you, or some such platitude. They have to bring it up first

The bible is made of stories, twists of history - vulgar, brutal stories. 

G'day - Bob, read  even one chapter "Of- In-His-own-image"  yet. We have read your book, do some research, enhance your education on why Atheism is growing, because people are actually analysing the bible, and getting knowledge of how Atheist teenagers are treated by "Good god fearing xians'.

I left TA when Archy was censored by sone numb nut - I don't believe anybody should be censored on TA - xians are allowed to say what they will - get very rude and arrogant - but not an Atheist?. And Archy was not rude or arrogant. Try even getting onto a xian site - not going to happen - who is fearful?

We don't bash religion, if religious people of every persuasion were not warring people, who enjoy torture, blackmailing by fear. I speak up either when a xian comes here, or a xian sys 'bless you, or some such platitude. They have to bring it up first, but when they do, I say, don't bother, I am an Atheist. When good xian people are trying to stop Science and bring in religion to secular schools, I will protest.

If mormons come to my door -  I invite them in, and read the bible to them. That really is fun.

"We don't bash religion, if religious people of every persuasion were not warring people, who enjoy torture, blackmailing by fear."

[smile]

Nope, no bashing at all.

- Bob the Blackmailing Torturer

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