So hey everyone. I'm new to the site. My name's Chelsea and I'm a young atheist (fifteen years old). I've been an atheist since May of 2011. I told my parents but they didn't take it very well ("Where did we go wrong? Should we check her into a mental facility? I wonder if she's just doing it for attention?") so I was able to convince them that I am Catholic, even though...I'm not. But I'd rather lie to my parents about my religious beliefs (or lack thereof, rather) than be treated like some kind of rebellious heathen. I'm a good kid, really, I think. I worked hard to get into a really great high school and I keep my grades up; I don't drink or smoke weed or have sex. But somehow the idea of atheism can cancel that all out for my parents.
Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm glad to be a part of something where I can talk about atheism without being punished for it. And if the majority of you are adults, as I presume you are, you may or may not have more experience in the world of atheism than I. With that being said, I have some trouble backing up what I believe when people ask me. It's like, I know what I believe and why I believe it, but it makes more sense in my head than it does out loud and I can't change my thoughts into sentences. I'd really like to be able to arm myself with knowledge so I don't look like a fool next time I'm asked.
Anyway, thanks for reading if you're there.
Welcome to the site. I was raised without religion so I won't pretend to be qualified to give you advice on that side of things. With regards to arming yourself with knowledge, that is a great idea. Personally I have enjoyed watching youtube videos by people like thunderf00t, Aronra, and Ozmoroid. Some of them get pretty deep into scientific terms and concepts and may go over your head but overall they are entertaining and interesting so I would recommend you check them out when you have a computer to yourself. I can also recommend the atheist experience (atheist-experience.com), it is a weekly call in show in texas where they talk to theists and atheists alike and dissect what they are saying. And finally, Godless Bitches (http://godlessbitches.podbean.com/) is a podcast specifically about feminism and atheism which you might also be interested in.
Ok, so now I have loaded over 9000 hours of homework on you I want to let you know that you are welcome here. If you are lying to your parents about being an atheist I would probably recommend you learn about internet security, particularly: how to hide what you have been doing. There are all kinds of horror stories about kids becoming atheists without telling their parents and then their parents check out their browser history and go nuts. For this, I recommend Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox as a web browser as these both have privacy modes which automatically erase all record of your browsing session.
Hope everything goes well for you,
Just ask away about specific issues and many here will provide you with good answers and food for thought (Nelson's posts, and almost everyone else's, except the theistic trolls, and Sunday School are always good to read/look through).
Some other websites you might want to check out (if you haven't already):
Why Won't God Heal Amputees, Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Humanist Association, TalkOrigins, The Rejection of Pascal's Wager, Secular Web, Skeptic, Americans United (for Separation of Church and State), Skeptic's Annotated Bible
Welcome, and good luck!
I don't think this is overly general. I think it is right on target.
I don't drink or smoke weed or have sex. But somehow the idea of atheism can cancel that all out for my parents.
I had this exact thought/feeling when I came out to my parents. I didn't come out to my parents until I was in my final years of college. Even then it was tough. I can't imagine what it would have been like as a teenager, so I completely understand just wanting to keep the peace for now. In the meantime, feel free to read my coming out story - maybe it will help just to know that you're not so alone.
As far as arming yourself with knowledge, you already have some great advice in the posts above. Also, take some time to think and self-reflect. Atheism (unless you have proof that disproves an unfalsifiable belief) is only about what you don't do and what you don't believe. Figure out what you value, what you spend your time doing, what you stand for - these will all be great follow ups after the, "hi, I'm an atheist and I don't eat babies," part. To guide this process, I highly recommend learning more in general about other systems of thinking and philosophies. I recommend looking into critical thinking, skepticism, and perhaps even humanism - but that's me :).
Welcome Chelsea! Do you attend a public or private school? A good one either way, I hope. I recommend you pay particular attention in science classes, as well as history & social studies. Read up on the mythology of other cultures, and you'll be armed with plenty of evidence to show Bible-bangers that they're full of crap. Don't expect to change any minds- the devout are skilled in ignoring clear evidence, but the knowledge will be useful to you at least.
Welcome, Chelsea. I've been an atheist for as long as I can remember. Coincidentally, "Religulous" is airing on IFC tonight and my husband and I have been watching that and laughing! As others have posted, being atheist is, for some, not so much about being able to articulate what you believe as much as articulating what you don't believe or accept based on lack of objective evidence. I'm a college professor and tell my students that being able to think CRITICALLY is probably the most valuable skill we can have as human beings. There is nothing wrong with saying, "I don't know!" People who propose to "know" something without offering any objective, credible evidence are the ones to watch out for!
Hi Chelsea and welcome to T|A. Believe me when I say that waiting is a good idea. My mother only found out about my atheism a few months ago. I'm 33, married, and haven't lived under her roof for quite a long time. Nevertheless, it was VERY uncomfortable and hostile. I can't imagine what it would've been like to come out to her while I was still living under her roof. In fact, I dread the thought of it! It's a shame that we have to lie to our loved ones, but in your case I'd agree that it's absolutely necessary. By all means, come out to them when you're older and not living at home or dependent on them in any way. Until then, yeah, you made the right call.
When I was first discovering my Atheism, I found YouTube to be an enormous help as far as arming myself with knowledge. There are lots of videos of talks given by the greats like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and many others. Their words have often made me feel like a fool for EVER having believed in all that nonsense, but it's a welcome feeling! I'd also recommend the comedy of Bill Maher and the late great George Carlin too :)
Just keep your head up and you'll get through this difficult time.
Welcome to TA.
You will find plenty of help here when to comes to whatever conversations you may have with theists in the future.You will also come to find out their most common fall back answers and how to counter most of them.. If you'll pardon the Harry Potter reference, think of it like a class in the Defense of the Black Arts.. LOL
As a newly found agnostic myself, I have also had trouble dealing with family. At first they were shocked and disappointed with me, but I don't see why they felt this way. I was raised half-assed catholic, never being baptized, and I have never had the desire to either. I have chosen to label myself as an agnostic rather than atheist. In my eyes, atheism outright denies the existence of god, where agnostics neither believe nor disbelieve in a god. Logically, since we cannot prove the existence of a god, we cannot outright deny the possible existence of one. This all stems from one's definition of "atheist" and "agnostic".
Now, my family is comfortable with our differing views. One thing I suggest is be sensitive to their faith. Discussion is fine as long as it doesn't become aggressive or attacking in nature. As a skeptic, I can respect their views while at the same time, I can engage them in some challenging questions, of which usually end with their saying, "god works in mysterious ways."
welcome chelsea. there is a ton of information available to you if you do some quick searches just on this site. there are also many people here more than willing to help you form a better understanding of your conclusion. which brings me to one thing that may help you orient yourself a bit -
quote "have some trouble backing up what I believe when people ask me. It's like, I know what I believe and why I believe it, but it makes more sense in my head than it does out loud and I can't change my thoughts into sentences."
you have not necessarily come to some unexplained belief that you dont believe in god...sounds strange right? you essentially came to the conclusion that you dont believe, its a small change in phrasing, but helps you understand that you are not basing your actions and understandings on "beliefs", simply rational conclusions. while it doesnt sound as romantic as believing, it is a better way to explain yourself. you will have no trouble defending your conclusion, when people who believe in/practice a religion have very little to "prove" to you. they can just roll around on the ground in protest that you dont agree. take your time, read up listen to the radio show, and continue to form a refined conclusion based on acquired knowledge. best of luck