I was raised Catholic but Ive atleast been agnostic for about 10 years in that i knew the thought of a god allowing suffering made no sense to me. The thing is I never really gave it much thought past that. I figured that I could just let the Religious believe in what they want and I will mind my own business and just live my life. I guess like alot of people in their late teens/early twenties i was more concerned with what I was going to do that night(bars, parties) rather than any religious or political matter. Now im in my late 20's and as one would expect, I have matured and my focus is now on the policies and people who are affecting my way of life and the life of my daughter. For the past 6 months or so my spare time has been consumed by reading Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Mills, watching debate after debate on youtube, and most recently browsing the wonderful site that is "Think Atheist". It has taken over my life in a sense. I have no desire to read anything else off the topic of Religion at this point. Its mindblowing... I never realized the effect of religion on my day to day life and the future of my life. I really felt that i could just do my own thing and live a peaceful life. I live in the south so i have alteast a weekly run-in with someone who feels they need to preach....whether it be at work or a status update on facebook. The funny thing is that I welcome these people now because I can easliy debate most things that they would bring up.....pascals wager, faith, "you think your grandma came from a monkey?" ect. I seriously cannot wait for the next conversation with a believer. Again I live in the south so the debates are generally pretty easily handled in that most of the christians are not educated in their own religions nonetheless science. What im getting at here is that I feel like Im becoming a bit obsessive with my Atheism. Is this something that most of you have gone through or are currently going through? I really feel the need to become active in pushing the Atheist cause. I completely agree with the aggressive Atheism that was posted on the sunday service today.....non violent of course. So is this aggressiveness just a phase that most Atheist go through.........or is this something that you are as active in now as you were 10 years ago??? if so what are some things you are doing in your community to further our cause?

Views: 39

Comment by Apple on November 29, 2009 at 9:54am
As with anything, it is easy to be aggressive on the internet but not so easy out in the real world. Now, if you want to be active in your Atheism then I would suggest labeling yourself so that people know you are an Atheist. I wouldn't recommend bumper stickers for your car, especially if you have a nice car, because fundies might slash your tires. (A method of "loving thy enemy") An Atheist pin with the letter "A" is a better idea. By wearing the pin it gives people a chance to bring the subject up. This way you don't have to bring it up. Nobody likes it when someone starts talking about or asking religious questions out of nowhere. If someone sees the pin they might ask you about your Atheism, or even what the pin means. This gives you a chance to talk without starting a conversation about your Atheism out of nowhere. You might also meet other closeted Atheists around you doing this. So yes, if you want to be active it doesn't take much more than labeling yourself with a pin or something similar. I hope this helps.
Comment by Gaytor on November 29, 2009 at 11:42am
I speak openly, but try not to wear it on my sleeve. It can be socially distasteful, just like being overly religious can be. People want to live their lives. If someone makes a demonstrably false statement, I'm happy to correct them. When a new fossil comes out I'll talk about it. I find ways to make the conversation pertinent in a veiled way and see if I have a biter. Living in Washington, we don't have nearly the die-hards as you'd have in the South. I'd mainly be concerned about how often I do it in given circles in the South. You don't want to be known as that guy who "Preaches Atheism" at every opportunity. In college when people were finding themselves, I found just admitting it at gatherings was enough to draw conversation from all sides. But if you speak like Pat Condell in regular life, you'll find that you'll be atheistic about the existence of friends.
Obsessive... I should start a therapy group and advertise here. Many of us are here way beyond healthy levels. I could be my first client!
Comment by Reggie on November 29, 2009 at 12:06pm
Jim, your timelines mirror my own. Bars and nightlife in my early to mid-twenties. Then in my late twenties I suddenly began reading Dawkins, Hitchens, and really developed a love and appreciation for science. For a time, I could not touch a work of fiction because I saw it as a waste of time. There is simply too many things to know! And while science occupied much of my reading, I did enjoy a certain glee in reading about the failings of religion and how silly it all really was.

I think that this obsession is natural for someone who has walked our path. It is new and knowledge is seductive, we have lost time and need to make up for it. I consider it to be like a romantic pairing, where the first few years are ripe with passion. Eventually, that passion is replaced with something more foundational that carries less zeal.

I find myself on the downslope of the "Atheist high". I am less willing to debate any and all. I find myself choosing my battles more wisely. I am able to read and enjoy works of fiction again. I am less obsessed with my atheism, but I am still in love with it. It has become more a part of me, like a lover would in a well established relationship.

I'll be interested to see how I feel and view these things ten years from now. My hope is that atheism and I do not become "married on the couch", as Louis C.K. so beautifully put it.
Comment by Johnny on November 29, 2009 at 1:07pm
What Reggie said. Although mine was not as eloquently said, I started typing similar thoughts before my browser crashed. Since I lost it, and Reggie said it better, I'll just him give him props.
Comment by Reggie on November 29, 2009 at 1:16pm
Thanks Johnny.
Comment by B. on November 29, 2009 at 2:10pm
I find the obsession with atheism unnerving. It's so blatant on the profiles of some of Think Atheist's members, and honestly, almost dissuaded me entirely from joining the website.

However, I have the luxury of living in a very tolerant community (country?), where being an atheist is not alienating. Furthermore, I fell no need to "share" my beliefs with any others, though they are obvious and I am outspoken about them whenever the topic comes up. However, I rarely encounter any disagreement, as my social circle consists predominantly of analytical thinking scientists anyway (many of which are evolutionary biologists, who could school me in the topic any day).

I do not understand the excitement of atheism. Some people can take hold of it with such passion, but since becoming an atheist, I've always just taken the non-existence of God as a self-evident truth, and continued about my daily life. The only book I've read on the topic is "The God Delusion" (which I enjoyed immensely), and while I'm open to reading more, I feel zero desire to seek these books out.

I could never live in the South. Seriously. I lived in Utah and I had to move. Being an atheist in the Mormon mecca was unpleasant, but the Saints are rarely extremists. I find southern baptists and evangelicals nothing short of terrifying.
I also regard the dietary habits, and consequently the rampant plagues obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, of the American South as the epitome of all-that-is-wrong with Western/Developed-country food consumption. That has nothing to do with God, but it certainly adds to my general assumption that anyone that hails from the Bible belt has a two-digit IQ (healthy unbelievers excluded, of course).
Comment by Reggie on November 29, 2009 at 2:57pm
I find the obsession with atheism unnerving.

It certainly can be. But think of it as a counter-obsession. Let me explain it while addressing something else:

I do not understand the excitement of atheism. Some people can take hold of it with such passion,

I live in the Bible Belt and religion, Christianity namely, is more pervasive than I had ever known before I was an atheist. I didn't notice it because I was sympathetic to Christianity. I was never a believer in the fundamental sense, but I would defend it even as I doubted it.

But where the passion comes from is not from atheism itself, as we all know atheism to be a "negative" claim, or a refutation of a theistic claim. There is nothing to get excited about, really. It would be like getting excited about the cupcake that is not on the table.

So why all the excitement? Freedom. A release from burden. Many of us grew up, indoctrinated to think that, if we did not believe in all this nonsense, then we are going to hell. It is a scary proposition. And when it is all around you and no one says any different, even smart folk can be tricked into believing this is the case. But what to do when you CAN'T believe? When the facts don't line up with their stories? When their answers are insufficient to quell your doubt? For many, it is a tortured process of trying to delude themselves and being unable to.

So, when someone in that position reads something like The God Delusion and all of a sudden every question has a sufficient answer, when religion is laid bare, when the shackles of religious threats and coercion are rendered impotent, then you have cause for great excitement.

And excited I was. I felt free. I felt released of this burden I had struggled with since I was a child.

I would hope that no atheist would find that off putting. But maybe you are talking something a little different? I certainly never ran looking for fights with theists, either. But, I may have encouraged a few. ;-)

That has nothing to do with God, but it certainly adds to my general assumption that anyone that hails from the Bible belt has a two-digit IQ (healthy unbelievers excluded, of course).

And I can safely say that this general assumption is wrong. Not always wrong, for there are a fair amount of these people around. But I know many intelligent theists and to denigrate them for their religious views would be underestimating them unjustly. I also know many atheists who couldn't hold a candle to many theists in competitions of gray matter.

The biggest problem is not that many theists are not smart enough, but rather that they just don't critically examine their religious beliefs.
Comment by Doug Reardon on November 29, 2009 at 4:27pm
New converts are always the most ardent and zealous.
Comment by Gaytor on November 29, 2009 at 6:43pm
I find the obsession with atheism unnerving. B.

We haven't met B, but from what I've seen, you might have at least an internet obsession with it. I for one like that about your posts. You must be spending copious amounts of time developing your thoughts. Maybe you are referring to forceful or intolerant nature of some when you thought of obsession. I was thinking about it in terms of time, on line, reading or just in my head. Stupid Voices in my head!
Comment by Samantha J. on November 29, 2009 at 6:57pm
Since, as of right now, I'm proud of my Atheism (as opposed to when I first admitted it back in February...) I have also been going through a phase of aggressive Atheism, reading, learning, and trying to get back what I feel was taken from me, which is a love of science. I do believe it's a phase, mostly because it's a shiny and new feeling, much like puberty only certainly not as hellish. It's a new obsession mostly because you feel that it effects you more than you ever realized. (Much like me discovering politics and current events as more than that boring show on TV called "The News".) It'll probably pass when you (and I, for that matter) get used to this new and shiny way of life.


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