I've been asked to speak to Christian children about atheism.

So in what has to be one of the most surreal moments of my godlessness I was asked by a close friend of mine to speak to her Sunday school class about atheism. The kids are between 15-17 and "non-denominational." My friend has sworn that this isn't some sort of malicious attempt to convert me, and I trust her on that.

I said I would give the lecture.

So people of ThinkAtheist here's my question for you:

If you could tell young Christians (in the south no less) about your atheism what would you tell them?

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Heck, I'm trying to figure out how I'd talk to my kiddo about it when he gets around to asking. He'll be 2 in April, so I have time. LOL  For some reason I feel it'll be like having "the talk" with him. LOL

I'd start out with what you agree upon: that the other thousands of gods out there are not real.  Tell them, briefly, of some of the gods that have once been believed in and some that are still believed in, and that you all agree that it's hogwash.  Better yet, ask them to name the gods.  Ask them how likely they are to become followers of Zeus, Odin, Hinduism, Kokopelli, or the FSM.  Then ask why not.  What are their reasons for not believing?  Then you can throw out the usual arguments from Christians, (but don't say that this is what Christians say as that might be seen as an attack): There are sacred texts saying that these gods are the true gods, can they prove these gods don't exist, what if they are wrong about their disbelief, followers of these religions claim to have had personal experiences with these gods, and on and on. 

I think you will get nowhere if you approach this as why you don't believe in Jesus.  They are probably expecting an attacking atheist, and if you go in there showing that you mostly agree, you'll get farther with them.

Let us know how it goes.  What a great opportunity!

I like this approach in general.  The common ground is always a good starting point.  Take some time to think about what you share and focus on this.  You don't believe in god, but you all live in the same world with the same pressures.

As long as you don't go in dressed as a monster ready to eat children, I think you're good :).

I agree. Great approach. 

Have to go with masses and say I like this one as well <3 FSM!

Please point out to them that being an Atheist is not the same as religion. Atheism is just a lack of a belief in god, not a belief that there is no god. Being an atheist doesn't mean you are 100% sure there is no god. This seems to be a point that confuses a lot of believers.

Also tell them that morality doesn't have to come from religion, I think just the opposite is true. Religion gets morality from people, not the other way around. And morality can evolve as well, it did with woman's rights and minority rights. We think differently now than the people who wrote the holy books ~2000 years ago. 

I disagree with you, Nick. Being an atheist does mean that you are 100% sure there is no god. It's agnostics who aren't sure. Obviously it isn't just believers who are confused.

Atheism deals with belief and agnosticism deals with knowledge.

- A gnostic theist claims to know for certain that a god exists. Gnostic theists are the most common sort of theists.

- An agnostic theist believes in god but does not claim to know for certain that god exists.

- A gnostic atheist claims to know for certain that a god does not exist.

- An agnostic atheist does not believe in go but does not claim to know for certain that a god does not exist (this is actually the most common type of atheist.)

Then we have all sorts of other words and isms regarding this subject:

- An ignostic essentially thinks that the question of whether or not a god exists is meaningless.

- Apatheism - one acts with apathy toward belief in a deity.

- Antitheism - one who is opposed to theism.

I suggest that you at least explore the Wikipedia articles on irreligion before claiming that atheism always means that one is 100% sure that there is no god. I am not 100% sure that there is no god, I am a 6.9 like Dawkins is on his spectrum of theistic probability.

If you are not 100% sure that there is no god, then you cannot call yourself an atheist. You are either an atheist or an agnostic--there is no middle ground. "Agnostic atheist" is an oxymoron.

Wrong.

Could you at least take a look at what Becca is saying before plain disagreeing?, it makes you look like a theist.

I have been an atheist for 40 years. I do not believe in gods (any of them), and I know for certain that none of them exist.

What Becca calls "agnostic atheist" is actually "agnostic." The terms are not interchangeable.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnostic_atheism

http://atheism.about.com/od/aboutagnosticism/a/atheism.htm

"

Agnostic Atheism & Agnostic Theism

Once it is understood that atheism is merely the absence of belief in any gods, it becomes evident that agnosticism is not, as many assume, a “third way” between atheism and theism. The presence of a belief in a god and the absence of a belief in a god exhaust all of the possibilities. Agnosticism is not about belief in god but about knowledge — it was coined originally to describe the position of a person who could not claim to know for sure if any gods exist or not.

Thus, it is clear that agnosticism is compatible with both theism and atheism. A person can believe in a god (theism) without claiming to know for sure if that god exists; the result is agnostic theism. On the other hand, a person can disbelieve in gods (atheism) without claiming to know for sure that no gods can or do exist; the result is agnostic atheism.

It is also worth noting that there is a vicious double standard involved when theists claim that agnosticism is “better” than atheism because it is less dogmatic. If atheists are closed-minded because they are not agnostic, then so are theists. On the other hand, if theism can be open-minded then so can atheism.

In the end, the fact of the matter is a person isn’t faced with the necessity of only being either an atheist or an agnostic. Quite the contrary, not only can a person be both, but it is in fact common for people to be both agnostics and atheists. An agnostic atheist won’t claim to know for sure that nothing warranting the label “god” exists or that such cannot exist, but they also don’t actively believe that such an entity does indeed exist."

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