I am 47 and live near Memphis, TN. Middle of the Bible belt.
I am not sure when I actually became an atheist. For a long time I thought of myself as an agnostic, but now realize how totally irrational it is to believe in any religion.
I would like the group’s thoughts on keeping your atheism a secret. Only a couple of people actually know I am an atheist. When someone asks me about my religion I usually say I am Catholic. This can actually be a problem sometimes due to where I live since I didn’t reply Southern Baptist. I rationalize this by saying to myself that I don’t have time to get into an argument with someone over a subject that they have an irrational belief in and don’t want to always have them trying to “save me”. I am also concerned about how it might impact friendships and working relationships.
Recently though I have started to think that I should be more open about my atheism and actually challenge the believers. I also wonder how many others are actually like me and just going along to get along.
Would enjoy getting some perspective from others on this.
Cute.....but I've actually seen this one. There is some debate over rather there is a Lester Moore buried there. No one can find a record of him, and they did keep records of people getting shot....even though it happened rather often in Tombstone.
At the very least, it takes a warped sense of humor to put a marker in the middle of a real graveyard that says this. It's also pretty warped that the cemetery is a mandatory tourist stop.
Heh, yahoo answers is a ball.
Consider hypocrisy -- deism, pantheism are fun to use against xians
If you love God, do not expect God to love you in return -- Spinoza
Ameristan is a dangerous country. It is a mentally diseased state of mind.
But, it is also a wide swath of the U.S. land mass extending from North Dakota to Texas and across the unreconstructed South. Its citizens are moral monsters.
Their influence vastly outweighs their numbers. They are supported by funds from the vast holdings of international corporations whose power surpasses that of any nation state, including the U.S.
Federal courts have consistently upheld that the word 'God' on coins and currency does not refer to the xian divinity or any other specific religious divinity. It refers to a one-size-fits-all "God" concept roughly equivalent to the god of deism or pantheism.
Basically, this god is the cover-your-ass "god" used by Tom Jefferson (and other 18th century atheists) to save themselves from public anger. Jefferson, and Lincoln, were openly attacked as atheists in attempts to discredit them.
Hypocrisy is nothing new in politics. So, "Nature" or "Nature's God" were often invoked as a sop to the mob. But, state laws still on the books provide for the "secular arm" to punish atheism.
The gentle art of hypocrisy has fewer adherents today. But, many xians would prefer the God of Spinoza or the God of Tom Paine.
I can understand your reluctance to unnecessarily alienate people by beating them over the head with your rationality. But PLEASE don't shrink from it; don't keep it a deep, dark, shameful secret! I never seek out religionists with whom to argue (though I'd like to), because what they believe is none of my business. HOWEVER, when they seek to interject their nonsense into the public schools or the political process all bets are off. And I become positively euphoric when they knock on my door on a Saturday morning, foolishly intending to enlighten my damned soul. That's when I PROUDLY let them know that I base my decisions in life on reason and logical, scientific evidence; I then proceed to assault them with a torrent of examples of how their beliefs are manifestly irrational. They NEVER return.
When you choose to keep your beliefs a secret, you are a coward - admitting that you are ashamed to not be a part of the mainstream, fairy tale paradigm in this - the only developed country that still buys into this medieval claptrap. But how can you be ashamed of what you REALLY believe? Admit it: you are being torn by the dichotomy of your parental indoctrination and your rational, adult mind, but you have not yet committed yourself to either. Make up your mind!
@Clay and welcome. Sometimes I don’t use the word Atheist if I am asked about my beliefs. It is a label that does not really describe me. I say I am “non-religious”. If a discussion ensues then I say I am a non-believer due to the lack of evidence for any god. I do not deny that there are gods – I just don’t believe that there are any. Then they say that there is only one true god so ask them why they don’t believe in the other ones. This usually gets it going. Then some familiar lines about why there must (obviously) be a god are trotted out. The Universe had a beginning…the bible says so…etc. I then point out that these are arguments and not evidence.
To the more fundamentalist ones I refuse to debate Science for too long as it is a waste of time and I will keep the debate along the lines of the nature of belief (subjective v objective). When they say they do not believe in Evolution I usually ask what books they have read on the subject and explain to them that Evolution is not in the realm of belief but of understanding. If one studied the subject it would make sense. It would be understood and therefore seen as being the true. If your only science book is the bible and the only things you know about Evolution are the misconceptions that are pushed at religious seminars then one does you (i.e. a Theist) does not understand it.
Some will talk about the “goldilocks zone”. God put the Earth just in the right place so we would not burn or freeze. What about the other billions and billions of planets? This morning a JW tried to explain to me that we are perfectly designed as humans so I ask him why he was wearing glasses.
It is always best to keep the debate centred on the nature of Belief itself. They have standard arguments (again not evidence) which are common across most of the Abrahamic religions and you can easily build up replies to them. Many Atheists have no interest in debating them. I have no problem with that. I have been debating theists for fronkeys years. I enjoy it. Sometimes it is frustrating to see people who are so deluded and if I can instil some doubt in them maybe they will learn to think rationally. I have had many positive results and helped quite a few people onto the path that leads to de-conversion. It is good to debate Theists if we see it as doing something positive for them. It is never a matter of shouting at them or feeling superior. I respect the person not the belief so I challenge them in order to make them challenge their own beliefs.
If someone knocks on my front door and claims that they have the revealed Truth from a god about “Life, the Universe and Everything” then I will listen to them. If they cannot justify it then I will challenge them as to why they hold those beliefs. Keep the debate focused on that. It does not matter at this juncture what I believe. That is not up for discussion until they explain themselves properly and answer my questions. Another point about why we should debate Theists is that along the way we can learn so much ourselves about how the world really works without even having to consider the need for a god.
Never get angry or disrespectful. Try to keep the debate on a one to one basis initially. The fundamentalists travel in packs of two or more and are hard work at the start. If they do tell them it’s ok and you forgive them. Remember the point is not to “win” the debate as this is virtually impossible because they can always play the faith card which, in their minds, trumps everything you say. The point is to create enough doubt for a little critical thinking to start. If the debate is going nowhere or getting out of hand then this might help.
This morning a JW tried to explain to me that we are perfectly designed as humans so I ask him why he was wearing glasses.
What was his response? You can't deliver a great line like that and leave us hanging! :)
@Marc – re the glasses comment with the Jehovah Witness. He started to explain (rationalize) that it was because we are no longer perfect. Not since Adam and Eve fell from grace. I asked him if he thought this could be Evolution in reverse. He did not get it. As he had already also managed to “explain” the Third Law of Thermodynamics to me I suggested that if the eye was designed perfectly and was never so again was it not a perfect example of Entropy? That got an even greater squint from him and I decided to invite him in for coffee to see how long he would last. Some JW’s have managed nearly 2 hours before they make excuses and exit stage left. He managed 45 minutes before his phone rang. They should keep better records about me as I have taken 2 of their members back to reality this year.
I always “accidently” leave some Mormon literature visible on the table and enjoy listening to them getting stuck in on those ”deluded” Mormons. The power of the baby jebus and the power of cognitive dissonance. :)
I always kept FFRF 'non-tracts by my door for all religionists who stopped by.
Thanks for the advice. I do believe that saying non religious vs. atheist is probably a smart way to go. The other arguments will also be helpful.
Although I 'departed' Catholicism over 66 years ago, i didn't really go public until I retired, 23 years ago. THEN I went public - big time. Letters to the editor in many papers in response to those of the Xianuts. I was pleasantly surprised. I made many friends through this, & had a lot of FUN in the process.
I challenge every chance I get...why not...they do!