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 John Kelly on December 4, 2011 at 3:18pm

My wife found some good local atheist groups on meetup.com.  I think she is feeling a little less lonely now.

Comment by Dale Headley on December 4, 2011 at 3:26pm

Shamari:   Speaking as a fellow "loner," I don't understand what all the angst is about.  Like many others who have responded to this post, you express a sense of alienation for not sharing the default belief system of the deluded majority IN THE U.S.  My attitude is, "so what?"  To my way of thinking, it is THEY who should feel left out - left out of knowledge, reason, and - most of all - the awareness that life, as we experience it, is all there is and all there needs to be.  In general, we atheists are content with our rational world views.  That's why WE don't traipse around knocking on doors - actually OR metaphorically - trying to win others over to our intensely personal insights.  It is they who are most truly and pitifully lonely; they who MUST struggle constantly to reinforce their increasingly discredited theism.  Deep in their psyches, they know they are wrong; but their paralyzing fear of death impels them to gather in ostentatious churches with other fearful souls and pray obsequiously, and to my mind - demeaningly - to an entity that makes no sense, offers no evidence, and is completely inaccessible by any of our five senses.   I (not some dubious "Supreme Being") bless them and hope they find solace in their self-imposed ignorance; but I feel totally liberated by not being among those who cower in terror at what horrors they imagine might befall them following death.  I don't really understand, therefore, why this disconnect makes you feel "lonely."  It is THEY who should feel lonely - for being left out of the growing enlightenment around the world - everywhere but here, SO FAR.  If you think of it globally, Shamari, you will realize that you are not as isolated as you have been led to believe.  You can count on me, for one, as a friend, however disembodied.       

Comment by Helena on December 4, 2011 at 4:39pm

Kind of lucky living in Australia, because people here (except for a very vocal minority), frankly don't care.
You have to remember that people who live a lie (something that is indoctrinated and not factual), find it very difficult to see themselves as a complete fool. Hence, the ostrich approach - put the head in the sand... and why they gather in large numbers and make anyone else feel bad enough so that they do not think for themselves. In any group that tries to establish control, independence is an anathema. Loneliness is one of the hooks that gets people to "tow the line". 
Your best bet is to try and start a group of like minded people - discreetly because you don't want the rabid ones hounding your tail. I know of a person that did this by advertising with the contact being a disposable phone number. She got some very interesting hate calls in her message bank, so she published them with no commentary except for the title "More good reasons to become an atheist, here is an example of Christian hypocrisy..."

Comment by James on December 4, 2011 at 5:01pm

I too wish there were more people about that are openly Atheist, but there probably are more Atheists around than you would think. Personally, sites like TA are enough to keep me intellectually stimulated and don't feel alone since I do know a few other Atheists and free thinkers. But I would suggest going on meetup.com and seeing if there are any local groups near you. I was surprised to find that there are a few in my immediate area and even more once you expand toward large cities. I hope you find what your looking for.


Comment by Shamari on December 5, 2011 at 4:42pm

Dale, you make a good point. I haven't thought about it that way, although it is true. I am proud that I was able to reason myself out of believing in what should have been an obvious fantastical being. Even better, I've found many reasons for living and accomplishing things without religious motivations. I feel like a better person because I don't do good things now because secretly I'm afraid of God or hell. Sometimes I feel sorry for my family and friends who believe just because their parents believed, or they can't imagine a life without God. I used to feel that way, but after actually looking at the arguments that atheists presented, I had to reject god. Sometimes life is frustrating, but I'm glad I decided to weigh the evidence. But the people around me seem to think that they should be praised for believing with no evidence.


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