I had kind of a cool experience yesterday.

I was sitting waiting for my physics discussion to start and I had brought Dawkins' "Unweaving the Rainbow" along to pass the time. From behind me I heard a voice "so...are you reading Dawkins for a class?" I turned around to the guy sitting in the row behind me, who looked like he had been a bit nervous to ask me. I replied, "no, just for fun. I like his stuff."

It was great the way his expression completely changed and he told me he liked his stuff too. He asked if I read "anything else like that" and I told him I liked Harris and Hitchens a lot too. There were other people in the room, and it was very obvious to both of us that we were avoiding the term "atheist," but it was also so very obvious to each other that we were. There was definitely a sense of excitement and even relief that we had each found another fellow atheist. There was an instant ease between us because of it.

As exciting as it was to make this new friend, it was bittersweet. The way we both danced around the topic of atheism at first only reminded me how socially unacceptable it still is to be an atheist in this country. We were both a bit cautious at first, because we weren't sure where the other was coming from. It worked out this time, but it could have just as easily have been some fundie looking to attack.

Things need to change, people.

Views: 28

Comment by Dave G on February 18, 2009 at 1:52pm
I know precisely how you feel, Sniz.

A couple months ago, I found a kitten on my porch, and took it to the vet to be checked. While waiting for my turn, I was reading Dawkins' The Selfish Gene. A couple sitting beside me noticed, and mentioned that they'd enjoyed the book also. We began talking about various other books and authors we'd read (Hitchens, Harris, Paine), but also never came right out and said the word atheist, although it was obvious that we all were atheists.

I ended up inviting them to the monthly meetup, and am richer two new friends for it. But it is sad that we had to be so tentative about it.

((Also, the story ended happily for the kitten as well. His mom came looking for him and he ended up safely back with his brothers and sisters.))
Comment by Andrew the Fluffer on February 18, 2009 at 2:23pm
I know that feeling of relief you're talking about when you meet another atheist. It's very exciting. This happened with a co-worker and I recently, as well as one of my residents in my dorm.
Comment by MightyMateo on February 22, 2009 at 11:26am
I look forward to an exchange like that sometime in the future. For now this site and others will have to do. I completely agree when you say that things need to change.


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