I don't push it, but since I as well grew up Christian, i have alot of Christian friends. Sometimes they post things like, 'The saddest moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful, but has no one to thank."
I have to answer, and that never goes well. I have lost alot of friends over it, but i guess they weren't really friends. As a newly 'outed' atheist, i have felt actual more persecution than i ever have in my life. I feel as though my life as a Christian was much more readily accepted, the norm.
I used to be very outspoken on it but I eventually got tired of arguing. Everyone thinks I'm mean and they get pissed when I post things, but I hated having to see posts about jesus and god every time I signed in. I retaliated and added some atheist friends (that I met online) because I only had RL friends on my facebook and I needed back up. It went well but I lost the interest. There is only so many times that you can yell at a stop sign. I made it clear then and I still have my quotes and other things just to try and remind people that facebook is not church. They still don't get it. They continue with their praises and prayers. After debating with everyone I know, I can only hope that I made at least one person think about why they believe what they believe. That was my goal. I don't really give a shit these days because it causes me too much stress to be battling with people I love. They don't mess with me on the issue anymore though. I think they are just as tired of it as I am.
Anyway, if you can handle the controversy, I say go for it. We need to stand up and get it out in the open. When I officially "came out", I was sick of holding it in. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops and tell everyone what I thought. Though I lost many friends, I am happy I did it.
This is something that I have had to deal with over the past year. With the birth of my first child, the nature of what I publish on Facebook has changed dramatically. I used to post a lot more political and anti-religious items. Now, I publish baby photos and largely stay away from the more controversial stuff.
Am I weak or cowardly for letting others dictate my behavior? Absolutely not. Firstly, they are not dictating my behavior. I realize that I do not live in a vacuum and the changes I have made in how I approach certain subject matter on Facebook were a matter of looking at the big picture. In the end, most people don;t care what my opinion is on some news item that they are probably unaware of. Their eyes will glaze over my indignant posts that appear on their wall. The real star and attraction is pictures and video of my daughter, not my opinions. I'm okay with that.
Secondly, the person that protests about everything tends to become a voice that is muted by others. It is a bit like the saying "how can I miss you if you never go away?". If you are constantly offering your opinion on things, people will stop caring what your opinion is. There is an attractive element to mystery. Be selective and sparing.
And the last point I'll make, although likely not the last point to be made, is that Facebook is not the ideal arena to share opinions on the impolite subjects of religion or politics. Sure, it is easy to do, but is it wise? You are in essence taking a conversation that is typically handled with care even in a one on one discussion and turning it into a generic and blatant advertisement of your opinions. You will invariably run rough shod over other people's sensitivities. If you have a "devil may care" attitude about it, then losing friends and alienating family might be an acceptable outcome for a subject you feel passionately for. However, if you are like me and being in agreement on matters of politics and religion is not mandatory to be a friend or a loved one, then these are topics that should be handled more delicately than the broadcasting of indignant Facebook posts allow.
All this is to not suggest that I never post anything political or anti-religious anymore. Or that we should always walk on eggshells around others. Or hide our atheism. No, none of that! In the end, do what is right for you. And if what is right for you is compromising by holding your tongue more for the sake of peace, then there is nothing cowardly or weak about it. We all must navigate our own paths in our own social networks, both digital and in real life. You should never hide who you are or what you believe, but not advertising it constantly is NOT the same thing as hiding it.
I'd like to think that when I do post the occasional link to a story along with my opinion, it is much more likely to be read when it appears sparingly as opposed to a continuous feed day after day that simply becomes background noise on the news feeds of others to be ignored.
I have some Christian friends on facebook. Occasionally they post a bible verse as their status, and occasionally I post a video that mocks Christianity, like a cartoon that shows just how ridiculous the flood story would be if taken literally. For the most part that is as far as it goes. In person I never bring up the topic of religion because it isn't part of my life, but I don't hide my surprise when I encounter someone who takes religion seriously.
Anyway, for most 'friendships' it doesn't matter. In the case of my family, who are mostly fundies, we just don't speak - for more than a decade now. I just don't think that a person who subordinates reason can offer much in terms of friendship or even companionship, so I'm really not close to anyone like that in my life.
Although Ken Miller self describes as a Roman Catholic, it's readily apparent that he is more of a deist than a theist. I find it a bit disturbing that he politically aligns himself with organized child molesters, and if we were to ever be seated side by side for the duration of a flight, that issue alone would be contentious enough for me to find it difficult to have a friendly conversation.
Now some might suggest it is unfair to reduce all that is the Holy Roman Catholic Church to a description so terse and vulgar as 'organized child molesters' but I assure you that is the most charitable description I can find in my heart to offer. But let me get back on topic.
Someone like Ken Miller could not be accurately described as subordinating reason in their lives. In fact, most deists might be accused of nothing more than suspending reason from time to time when in emotional need. I myself have plenty of beliefs that have no basis in reason, but I would never try to support them against reason and I certainly don't invest heavily in them.
Daydreaming can be fun. Holding to an unfalsifiable belief might bring comfort. Shoring up one's mind to defend a convoluted mythology as literal, however, requires the absolute subordination of reason.
I like you.
I agree that I can't completely respect someone that supports a child abusing organization like the Catholic church or defends the Bible as literal truth. However, saying that they can't still offer anything in terms of friendship or companionship is a bit harsh. Maybe I have lower standards by necessity because I live in Missouri? Perhaps if the population pool were filled more with rational secularists, I could afford to be picky.
Living in a strongly theistic area you haven't witnessed this?
Nope. It may be that I live in a major metropolitan area (St. Louis). But, most theists here do not discriminate like that. Oh, they may pooh pooh the idea of atheists, but every theist I know personally is kind and friendly to me. I guess I am a likable fellow. Most know that I am an atheist. But, since they know me and interact with me, they know I am not just an atheist. And that is why I think it is important for atheists to interact with religious people. When they see us as fellow human beings, or as Reggie, or Heather, they will reject the personification of the evil atheist coming from the pulpit. And it is not too much of a sacrifice as I find most of the people in my life that make my life enjoyable are some degree of theist. I just try not to be judgmental about them as a person and hope they will try to do the same for me when they find out I don't worship gods.