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 :)

Views: 29

Comment by Choscura on July 16, 2011 at 7:57am
Enjoy the relationship, if indeed it does become one, don't begrudge your friend his comforting fallacies (but in no way tolerate his attempts to put them on you or anyone else), and get on with your life.  At least your friend is not Buddhist: then he would attempt to convince you that you are a lapsed Buddhist whether you had ever been one or not.
Comment by Tex in the City on July 16, 2011 at 11:20am
LOL lapsed buddhist...love it
Comment by Sassan K. on July 16, 2011 at 2:36pm
So - did you end up hooking up with her or at least getting her #?? lol
Comment by Dustin on July 16, 2011 at 4:06pm
Yeah please tell me  you got her number =)
Comment by Artor on July 16, 2011 at 5:03pm

There are secular Jews who follow the traditions because that's just what they do in their families. It's a cultural thing, not necessarily religious. Their beliefs in Yahweh may or may not be sincere. I actually know alot of Jewish Pagans too.

I also know of another group called "Atheists in Foxholes," which is exactly what the name says.

Comment by Sassan K. on July 16, 2011 at 5:17pm
In fact - there is also a large number of atheist Jews for those same very reasons Artor. It is estimated that 10-20% of Israelis are atheist Jews.
Comment by Michael R on July 17, 2011 at 12:04am
As an ex-military man I can confirm that there are a LOT of atheists in the military and in the foxholes. Unfortunately, we are vastly outnumbered by our theist members.
Comment by James on July 17, 2011 at 12:14am

Good to hear things went well with the girl.

 

I must say I hate that 'lapsed Catholic' mindset. My wife and I were both raised Catholic. Now she's Wiccan and I'm Atheist. Yet my mother-in-law still likes to say that we're 'going through a phase' and that once you're a Catholic, you're Catholic for life. Little does she know I'm formally defected from the RCC, but that's another story... The sad thing is that we know tons more about her religion, but she still feels like she knows better and that we are still really Catholic and will come around soon... So I can agree with how annoying that kind of stuff can be.

Comment by Kairan Nierde on July 17, 2011 at 12:40am
Your guy friend sounds like a real handful...what with saying you don't know your own mind and implying you're whack-job-like. Very nice. Sounds like it's time for a gentle, sober-time talk on Atheism 101...for example:

Atheists are not whack-jobs...pejoratives for the mentally unstable are normally applied to those who fervently DO believe in something. He's got us mixed up with our polar opposite; tell him we're the "arrogant assholes" and the fundamentalists are the "loony whack-jobs."
Comment by Bo Beeny on July 17, 2011 at 6:18am
I personally feel awkward and offended from just READING your entry.  Must've been an annoying night, indeed =S At least things went well with the girl.

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