How many people have you met who never go to church, never pray, and seldome
speak about religion?
How many people do you suppose were raised to believe in the bible, went through
all the motions, said and did all the "right" things, simply because they wanted to fit
in and be like every one else?
These are the people who, in their heart, have doubts but if you asked them, do you
believe in god, they will say; yes, I suppose so.
In reality, they hardly ever think about religion, and they are so used to just going with
the flow all their lives.
In other words, for all practicle purpose, these people are atheists and dont want to
admit it to anyone. They go through their whole lives with it bottled up inside.
I think these are the people helped most from books by Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc.
All they need is for someone to tell them; hey, it's okay to not believe, it's okay to say
you are an atheist.
I believe there are far more atheists in the US then we can ever know, because they
are "closet" atheists.
A guy I work with fits this mold exactly. He was raised to believe, say his prayers, go
to church, and just go along with it without really having any personal commitment.
He gave the same default answer; yeah, I guess I believe there is some kind of god!
I loaned him my copy of Bill Maher's wonderful film, Religulous" on DVD.
A few days later, he returned the DVD and said; "you know, for the first time, I really
thought all this relious stuff through logicly. This DVD really opened my eyes."
Now, I know we have all seen polls that say 90% (or something) of Americans believe
in "a god". Do they really? How many of those polled Americans do you think are just
like my friend at work? They simply give their default "yes, I supposed so" answer.
I live in a fairly progressive area, where people are pretty well educated, so I am
pretty safe with my atheist bumper stickers.
They are there to force people to THINK. Nothing mean, or confrontational, just
I have gotten lots of comments and reactions (mostly positive), and folks have even
asked me where I got them.
I believe, thanks to the internet, and a sudden flood of "new atheist" bestsellers, a
tide is turning in America.
It's slow, and uphill all the way, but I believe people are, many for the first time,
taking a good hard look into themselves and realizing that the religion they were
raised to never question and just have "faith" is a lie.
People everywhere are "coming out of the closet" and learning that its okay to not
believe, it's okay to ask the hard questions and expect REAL answers, it's okay to
tell christians, NO. If you want to change our laws, ban abortions, stem cell research and gay marrage, show me your argument, show me your satistics and evidence.
Here is your challenge; next week, find a friend to loan YOUR copy of "Religulous"
to. Help change a life ;)
Thanks for reading.
Living in New York City, I am lucky in that you can come across, well just about anything. I have never been a closet atheist. Heck, I am proud of being kicked out of Hebrew School when I was 13 cause even at that age I would ask the dreaded “why” questions. I find myself regularly advocating for my beliefs, but by the same token when I hear a colleague at work with a comment such as “it is a good day, praise Jesus” I am never disrespectful. But if the discussion comes up (and is does often enough), I will always give my opinion. For example, in the office we were talking about raising children, and the topic of religion came up. I read my Dawkins, and was clear in my consciousness raising that there was no such thing as a “Jewish” or “Catholic” child, only children of “Jewish” or “Catholic” parents. There is no reason to be a closet atheist, there is no shame, in fact there should be pride. As an atheist, I believe in spreading the good news…pun & irony intended. Besides, I must confess to really enjoying reading (and re-reading) books by Dawkins, Harris etc. on the subway…sometimes sitting next to someone reading the bible. There is nothing better than encouraging people to think and re-evaluate cherished ideas they may have not given too much in depth thought to in the past. It is also good to set an example, I consider myself a compassionate and good person…knowing I am an atheist, how would someone contrast that with a cherished belief that all atheists are neither?
Good comments Daniel.
I know you are right about people in NYC, they pretty much dont care what you do, say or
think! as long as you stay out of their bloody way ;)
My area is almost like that. No one would ever think of openly making negative comments to
anyone. Not even to kids! Everyone is happy in their own little bubble.
Something you wrote struck me funny. When I finally read the Bible (well, old testament was
as far as I could get) for myself, I would always read it at home in private, never even think
of taking it out in public, or even letting my friends or family see me for fear they will think
I "believe" this crap!
I would be utterly mortified and shot at dawn!! LOL!
Anyone who saw me reading it, I would feel compeled to say; hey, I dont actualy believe this
Bronze Age scribble, but I want to know for myself what it says, all the better to defend
myself from morons who do :)