Today I was having cocktails with a friend, and she started to rant about how bad religion/ the bible is. I felt comfortable at that moment to tell her that I didn't believe in god. This (to her) seems very different than her negative assertions about religion and proceeded to ask me, "So you don't believe in anything?" I told her there may be something out there but I don't think there is a god. She wasn't mean, and didn't treat me different after that but I felt a bit of a condescending tone in her voice when she asked if I believed in anything. It bothered me and I wish it didn't. Any advice how to deal in this type of situation?
This is exactly why it can be hard to come out as an atheist. Even people who are hostile to religion still buy in to it at some level, and we're left on the defensive. Good for you for being honest.
In similar circumstances, I've used some variation on the idea that all I know for sure is that we have each other, here and now, and that makes our time together extremely valuable to me. (I really love the Tim Minchin performance poem "Storm" - near the end he riffs on this theme.)
Wow I just saw the animated version of the Storm poem. I loooved it!!! Also, most people don't realize they are on the tip of non-belief because their rational minds can't believe the bible. They just won't go all the way. But with the internet and sites like this, more people are taking the next step.
Most people haven't stepped back to take a cold look at how fundamentally ridiculous the idea is that some grand being magically conjured up the universe and added a parallel spiritual dimension to house souls, ghosts, and other spirits. If they did, they'd have to realize that almost any other explanation is more likely than that everything that exists is due to magic and sorcery.
I've been asked this question often. I always simply say I believe in anything solidly supported by reason or evidence - preferably both. Religion supplies neither.
Hmmm.... Nice response, I might use that next time. :) thanks
Good tactic, but I think that is best left for someone who isn't a friend, might cause trouble.
You deal with it by educating yourself and knowing why you believe how you do. If you do not have a semi short concise argument off the bat to knock out that tone in their voice you might as well change the subject. You won't change their mind or anything but you should get some respect at least. IF not bitch slap the mother fucker. Thats how the Duke would do it. Know more about their religion than they do that always pisses them off.
Bitch slap? I will keep that in mind, lol.
I would ask her to explain how she thinks not believing in anything is the same as not believing in a god. Also, I would explain that atheism is only and solely a lack of belief in god. One can believe in everything in the world except god and still be an atheist, albeit a silly one. This is were a lot of confusion lies when people think atheists believe nothing. You could tell her you believe in love, friendship and being a good person etc, except you simply don't buy into the whole supernatural garbage.
I think her friend meant, if I may reword, "If you don't believe in God, then what do you believe?" I doubt if she meant anything as patently absurd as not believing in anything at all. A person who doesn't believe in anything at all is either unconscious or dead. We trust gravity, we believe that the sky is above us and not below us, that water is wet, that 2+2=4 and so on.
Its sounds to me like your friends knee jerk reaction to your comment was just plain old insecurity. She doesn't like religion but perhaps isn't ready to give up the whole ball of wax...she migh be thinking that another religion would fill her needs better than 'christianity'. You trumped her with your 'I don't believe in God' statement. That condescending 'tone' may have been her attempt to mask that insecurity.
She may not be far enough down the road to be able to handle the 'I don't believe in God' yet. Give her time to think it all through. Disatisfaction with your own religion is just one of the first steps to opening your eyes....