So I went out for drinks tonight w/ a friend of mine. I started talking to this girl next to me, who was pretty friendly/drunk, so we were chatting and flirting for awhile and my friend ducked aside to leave me to my work...which I appreciated.
Anyway, a little background, I am an atheist who spent 17 years attending Catholic schools. I attended the same high school as my friend. He claims to be a practicing Catholic, which is fine, although I of course think it's silly. I have told him before that I am an atheist and he usually laughs it off.
Back to the girl...I talked to her for a bit, and she seemed to be really focusing on the fact that she is Jewish. She especially liked talking about how crazy the "religious" Jews are vs what she is. She observes all the holidays and atones or whatever mumbo jumbo, but she doesn't "keep kosher". Somehow it slips her mind that she thinks the really religious jews are absurd and ridiculous, but thinks what she believes is perfectly understandable...anyway. I really did not steer the conversation this way, but she kept talking about it, and kept joking "oh well you're a good catholic boy you don't know what I'm talking about". It was getting annoying so I just said "well actually I'm not Catholic, I'm an atheist". Of course she stopped in her tracks, and could not comprehend this. I was like what's the difference if I'm Catholic or an atheist, we still don't believe the same things, and I'm totally ok with that. She asked "well what do you believe then?". I said I believe we're born, we live, and then we die and that's it. Most people are good people, and morally I just think people need to be nice to each other and help each other and that it doesn't require a god to reach that conclusion. She seemed stunned. I said well, look at it this way: you don't believe in Zeus right? "haha no of course not". You don't believe in Thor? Vishnu? "no of course not those are myths". And I said look, I don't begrudge you believing what you believe, but the only difference is that you think everything besides your belief is a myth; I believe that everything INCLUDING your belief is a myth.
Amazingly this didn't turn her off too much, and I think she actually understood that I wasn't being hostile, I was just answering her questions, and sort of came to terms with what I was saying.
Back to my friend...she went to the bathroom, and my friend asked how it was going. I said it's going ok, she seems a little hung up on the Jewish vs atheist thing but otherwise good. My friend says something like "why did you tell her you were an atheist?". I said why wouldn't I?
Him "you can't go telling people that, they are going to think you are crazy." I said "well that's awfully judgmental of them, I don't assume everybody else is crazy because they believe in a mythical sky fairy".
He says "well I don't believe you are an atheist so it's fine, you are a lapsed catholic". I said "what do you mean you don't believe me? I am telling you something and you just don't believe me?" Him (former military guy) "yeah well you'll be like everybody else and recant on your deathbed. If you were ever in a foxhole you would know exactly what I'm talking about." I said "first of all, there are a lot of atheists in the military, they just are afraid to talk about it for fear of feeling cast out. second of all, I am as sure of this as I have been of anything in my life: I am an atheist, I do not believe there is a god, and I will not recant on my deathbed. I promise you this". He argued that I did not have any proof that there are a lot of atheists in the military...so now I need to go find that report from the Pew foundation - if anybody has the link handy, please let me know. Moving on...
Him "fine, but at least don't go telling chicks at bars that you're an atheist, you'll end up married to some wackjob". My point to him was that I am not going to start out a relationship by lying about what I do or don't believe. If someone asks me a question or is talking about religion, I'm going to tell them, and I don't think that makes me a "wackjob". He backed off of that statement but I'm sure he still believes it...even though I don't think he actually thinks that I am a wackjob. Just all the other atheists...
Anyway moral of the story is everything went JUST FINE with the girl despite all of this :) But everybody's mindset in this situation annoyed me. Like, they can totally get that people have different faiths...but to have no faith???? THEN...and only then...are you a wackjob.
Just ranting, sorry if it was a bit incoherent -- it's 2:58 am in NYC and I did have a few cocktails :)