I've been an atheist less than a year, and I have to say that it has been one of the loneliest of my life. Even surrounded by people, I have never felt more intellectually alone. The closest thing that I have to spirituality is an awed feeling of the universe, its beauty, and our place in it. But yet I'm not surrounded by anyone that I can physically see or touch to share that feeling of awe with, without invoking a god that I do not believe exists. There is no way that I can, or would, go back to believing in the Christian god, or any other god, but when I did believe, at least in some way I felt that it tied me to those around me. Believing in a god, even a fictional one, gave me hope and the feeling that someone was always there when I needed to talk...Of course, it also helped to intellectually cripple me by providing "God dunnit" as the answer for everything I didn't understand, and caused me so much emotional stress that I was constantly asking for forgiveness for everything that I thought God wouldn't like. I guess it wasn't so much a haven as a prison that I talked myself into trying to love. 

I love it that we have online places such as ThinkAtheist that we can go to to interact when we can't with the people around us, but at times like this I still feel really lonely. I go to school in Carrollton, Ga, and I haven't met any other atheists (or other people) that I can genuinely talk to who critically thinks about what they say. One of my roommates is a Christian, and she said a funny thing to me yesterday. While we were watching a Christmas special, she started talking about how her brother (who's in another sect of Christianity) didn't believe in the biblical Christmas story of Jesus, or even that Jesus existed, and by the look she gave me, I could tell that she thought that was ridiculous. Although I didn't say anything but just smiled, I've told her before that I was an atheist, but I don't think that she was listening because then she said that she had to believe in something. She said that even if the story was fictional, she'd rather believe than not because she had to believe in something (and I think that she mentioned that it gave her hope). Then she said the part which bothered me, which was that atheists bothered her (presumably because she doesn't understand how people can live without gods I guess). 

Just for once I'd like to meet someone who's open-minded enough to envision a life without any gods, and who has critically thought about what they believe and why. I'm kind of a loner, but I would at least like to meet one person in my area who doesn't make me feel like my life should feel empty without a god hovering over me telling me every little thing I should do. I was a Christian. I rejected it for good reasons, not over some traumatic event in my life or anything. I rejected it using reason, but I feel like I'm being penalized for not buying into believing without evidence.

Does anyone else feel like this, or have a situation like this?

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Comment by Chase King on December 3, 2011 at 9:59pm
I totally understand what you're saying. I struggled finding others that had the same mindset as me for the longest time. I still do, my first two years of college were pretty lonesome, mentally, being that I had no one to converse with about my thoughts. Not just religious conversation, but anything involving higher levels of thought. My third year, I finally found an atheist organization, which has just changed my life completely. Even though the group is very small, it's still much better than what I had before. I am currently president now, which leads to finding more people with the same urge and need to have logical conversations. I attend college in Louisiana, the south, so I understand how scarce atheists are in the region. But, just keep on the lookout for others, they're out there, just maybe afraid to come out and tell their true thoughts on religion. Good luck.
Comment by Shamari on December 3, 2011 at 10:31pm

Thanks for all the replies :) I haven't given up on finding anyone, but it's definitely turning out to be more of a challenge than I originally thought it'd be. I understand that people's beliefs are very personal to them, and when they are challenged it may seem like I'm attacking the person rather than the belief, but I think that believing that strongly in something that you've never challenged is unhealthy. I did it for years without thinking, but when I think about all the stories I swallowed just because family members told me they were true, I cringe. I don't care what people believe, but when it means that you can't even have a rational discussion because of it, there's something wrong.

Comment by Ralph Oswald on December 3, 2011 at 11:07pm

Shamari, glad to meet you!

I'm kind of fortunate that my best friend at work is agnostic, so she doesn't become offended when I rant. There is at least one other atheist at work, too, but he only works part-time.  I'm also fortunate in that there are groups right here where I live, of which I have become a member. 

Before a few months ago, I was in a similar situation and everybody around me were devout, or at least practicing, Christians. It is a little irritating when everywhere you look, there is someone spouting some kind of religious dogma, quoting verses, interpreting everything to fit his or her own needs. 

You do need to make a physical contact with a person of a similar mindset. Carrollton is home to University of West GA. I'll take it that you attend classes there. Here is a link to Atheists of UWG's forum. Go there. Make some friends. You may be surprised that people you already know are part of this group. It's usually a great deal easier to make friends with people with whom you share a common bond. 

The nearest atheist/humanist/freethinkers Meetup groups are in Atlanta. Check into them:

The Atlanta Atheists Meetup Group & Freethinkers Atheists Agnostics Brights Humanists & Skeptics. Another group you should look into, Atlanta Freethought Society, is located in Smyrna.

Lastly, come join us here: National Atheist Party of Georgia. I am a member of the Louisiana State Chapter. Some of the members and leaders there are my friends and I would be happy to see you there.

Best of luck. Come talk to me, ask a question (I'm not one to ask about scripture. There are many people here who are very knowledgeable in that area.). Anyone here will be willing to give what they can of their time. 

Comment by Bill Butler on December 3, 2011 at 11:50pm

Hi Shamari I think most of us can relate there are a few other Atheist near me but not many however I moved from an area with a thriving community. I see some people have suggested specific groups in your area that's a great start search all over the internet as well there are people all over try Facebook and just do Google searches with your town, state, or county name and Atheist and some more groups should pop up. good luck and never forget that you are not alone we are a growing legion and we are everywhere. 

Comment by Marc Hammond on December 4, 2011 at 1:44am

Hello Shamari! I was born and raised in Carrollton and now live only a hop, skip and jump away from there in Birmingham, Alabama.  Your description of how lonely you feel can probably describe many of us who, fortunately, have found an outlet online to connect with others who feel similarly. I can say that I know of no one else who considers themselves an atheist, and there are many times when I feel like there's no one else in the world who 'gets' me.  But like Bill said before me, because of all of the friends i've made online, I know for sure that atheists are everywhere and we are slowly and bravely making our presence more known. Hang in there.

Comment by Richard Porter on December 4, 2011 at 5:10am

Hello Shamari, coming from the UK which is a pretty laid back country in regards of religion I can't really relate to your situation but I from the sounds of things it can't be easy. If I were you I'd probably do a quick google search and see if there are any atheist/skeptic groups based near you. I just had a quick search and came across this group http://www.meetup.com/Fayette-Freethought-Society/ it looks like they're based about 30 miles away (so not too far) and they seem to hold pretty regular meetings. From what I can see they seem to be a pretty decent group so it might be worth getting in touch, or maybe spending a little time searching for other groups nearer to you. Hope this helps your situation!


Comment by Stutz on December 4, 2011 at 7:29am

Shoot, it can be tough not to feel intellectually alone sometimes if you just have a college education. Even many of those that do, didn't seem to gain much curiosity or critical thinking skills from it. But I majored in philosophy, so maybe I should have seen that coming.

The thing I most respect about my fellow ex-believers is the thought-journey they undertook. It requires some pretty deep thinking and no little amount of self-educating to reason your way out of religious faith. That's why it can be difficult to find like-minded people: not a lot of folks are willing, able, or inclined to try it.

Comment by Mo Trauen on December 4, 2011 at 10:08am

Hi Shamari,

I have gone through what you are experiencing several times, but the worst was when I lived in the South of the U.S.--not that far from where you are now.  I think Richard's suggestion is a good one.  Do several different internet searches for groups in your area.  Also, look for science based groups.  Be careful though, you can bet that there will be a cadre of "christians" in any science group you find.  They seem to deliberately seek them out for purposes of making them inhospitable to non-believers.  If you find such a group, have some simple conversation stoppers ready (such as "Is the universe finely tuned for us, or do we fit it because we evolved here?  Saying the universe if fine tuned for us can only be based on the assumption that there is a god, thus the point is based on circular reasoning.")  Then after you join, wait quietly for others like yourself to show themselves or join as new members.  You can form your own coalition of reason.

Likewise, you could start advertising in likely places (such as the science and philosophy buildings on campus) and form your own freethinkers club.  But, if you do that, find a way to do it anonymously.

Finally, you could transfer to a college in Atlanta or even further away.  Again, there is no guarantee and you will probably find more believers there than you expect, but it might be worth doing.  Though  I don't know your situation.  If you are at that college because you got the best financial aid deal there, then you might just have to make the best of it.  If so, then just remember that it will be over in a surprisingly short time and the rest of your life will be so much longer than that.  In the meantime, don't let the bastards get you down.

Comment by Ed on December 4, 2011 at 12:31pm

As an atheist in his fifties in rural North Arkansas being isolated is something I deal with on a daily basis. While I'm not overtly anti-social I do spend a good deal of my time alone here on my property. I have friends locally but they are all Xtians firmly committed to their theistic beliefs. I do have feelings of being "spiritually isolated" as my atheism is very rare in these parts of the country. Online social networking is one of my few options and I am thankful to have it. But having an atheist neighbor would be just too cool; maybe some day.

Comment by Shamari on December 4, 2011 at 1:02pm

Thanks for the replies, it makes me feel so much better just that there are others who can relate. I don't mind being solitary most of the time, since that's just the way I am, but it'd be nice to have someone to talk to and not debate sometimes about religion, atheism, etc. But thanks Ralph and Richard for the links, I will check them out to see if I can join a group near me. Ed, I hope that a freethinker moves in next to you soon! I don't mind having Christian friends, but sometimes it can get really frustrating.


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