Acceptance by one's community is important for a happy life. No-one likes to feel alienated. However, acceptance does not have to always mean a full embrace. What I mean is that there is a difference between being openly atheist (open in the sense of honest) and beating it around people's heads all the time.
My other half is a member of the Greek Orthodox church and I am accepted by that community as, despite always confessing my atheism when asked, I keep it to myself in their company and participate in their ceremonies (up to the point that I feel comfortable with it). I then have other, separate, communities where my atheism can be expressed more openly.
Not everyone is lucky enough to live somewhere where a community exists that accepts atheism, I get that. However that is where on-line communities such as this one are at their best. If your community does not accept part of who you are then join a community that does (as you have indeed done).
I do not want to believe in a higher power just to be accepted any more than I would like to be an advocate for hanging just to be accepted in a community that is pro-death penalty. Instead, I would work to become accepted in that community in a different way - a way that does not place emphasis on the point of contention.
My two cents worth.
I am incapable of believing in a higher power. I know many people that are not very religious. I suppose they only attend church services to fit in with the norms of the community so as they are not ostracised by it. However I think this is a weakness they have. I give greater kudos to Jehovah Witnesses or Mormons than most Catholics I know because they try to live their faith on a daily basis rather than just parading in their finery on a Sunday.
I tend to seek out the company of atheists if I want convivial company. I am fortunate to know many. I would not be able to remain in a relationship with someone that suffered the god delusion. Those that do tend to think magically rather than critically on many levels so intellectual conversations are usually quite short. I have no problem with anyone having faith in gods but I don’t tend to attract them….I wonder why? Haha.
I have heard many stories from people new to atheism who say that the only thing they miss is the sense of community and it must be alienating if they live in “bible belt” communities that only love their neighbour if they believe in the same god as they do.
I think many theists fear atheism because of preconceived notions they have of atheists so sometimes the dislike or even hatred is palpable, even if you have not said anything. On the upside Christian have stopped putting us to the sword but that is unfortunately not the case for those that don’t believe in the puny god of the religion of peace. I can thank the Enlightenment for not feeling alienated but there are still too many places where atheists must remain silent and feel alienated in order to hide in the clouds of religious darkness. Ok, that's a total of 4 cents now :-)
Hey Martin, yeah I feel it alienating. But I guess it makes the relationships with people who aren't alienating that much better. My daughter is also atheist and she is one of my best friends. Another great friend I've found is my ex-gf's mother. She lives hundreds of miles away but she's one of the most important people to me in all my life. I hope you have/find these kind of people. They may be in the corners but the map of the world is made in these corners.
Nope I have no interest forming communities based on lies and false ideologies.
Sometimes. And sometimes I wish I could fly.
I think that "being accepted" has to be the biggest reason why people glom on to a religion... in particular, the religion that was historically best at monopolizing people's loyalty.
I.e., it's not the religion that makes one feel really good or special, but the fitting in part.
I'll be the first to admit that I've considered going to church just to find a support system. I don't have real reliable family to depend on with help with my son, and when I left his dad there have been many many very lonely times. Each time I considered going to church I played it through in my mind and realized I'd have to pretend to believe things I don't believe in order to fit in, and what kind of example is that really setting for my son?
For example, the other day these girls from the LDS church sequestered me at my car. I reluctantly stopped for a second. Part of me envies them because they have togetherness with other women and mothers when they have kids and they help each other out. I don't have that sort of support - at all....so....Yah. I guess that makes me weak or whatever. But ultimately yes I wish I had a few people in my corner I could lean on from time to time. But I don't. And I've decided I'm not going to compromise my own convictions and to pretend to be something I'm not just to have a community. I don't need a fake community around me anyways.
I don't have that sort of support - at all....so....Yah. I guess that makes me weak or whatever.
Belle, I've read enough of your posts to know that's bs.
You have an ability to self-support and it has made you strong.
It's okay to sometimes not want to be strong, ...if you can be strong when it's important,
Something else too. The noise some people make weakens them. At these times the strong can be silent ...and appear weak.
I think communities form around shared beliefs and interests.
Religion is a powerful shared belief and interest, complete with a common language that can transcend cultural barriers. As a Catholic I can go to any Catholic church community in the world and immediately be welcome and "at home."
While perhaps other communities are not as powerful or as far-reaching, they can serve the same purpose. I can go to any Physics department or conference in the world and also be welcome and at home. The same with any college or university, really.
Atheism seems not to have much by way of shared beliefs and interests, at least according to many here. It's just not believing in god(s). That doesn't form the basis for a community.
So rather than focusing on your atheism, focus on your interests and what you do believe in, and go out and find like-minded people. Mathematicians, lumberjacks, labor unions, Republicans, Irish Fronkey Farmers, whatever! It is shared language, belief, and practice of any sort that help bring us together. Physicists or lumberjacks are smaller communities, but they aren't alienating.