Excellent Ed, I had a similar experience. At one point in my life I argued religion with Rudy Guiliani outside Brother Joseph's chemistry class. I just couldn't get past, "God loved the world" so much he sacrificed his only begotten son. What the fuck for? I felt like screaming, so He could appease Himself.
I get mad at this idiotic horseshit just thinking about it. And original sin! What the heck did I do? to deserve to be considered evil.
I got it. I'm going to post Barbara Walker's compilation of Biblical quotes right now. Shows how "whacky and bizarre" the whole thing is. Check out my blog, Rich Goscicki. I'll post it in a few minutes. It's a must read.
being a skeptic (my skepticism was part of what lead me to an atheistic position) is hard. when I started talking about it to people and getting into the subject as others were talking about psudo-stuff, I found myself loosing a lot of what were called friends. and the local atheist community seems lacking and separatist, meetups in tiny out of the way places that are really hard to find. every time I try to get a group together in alameda no one responds. I think we need a bit more "community" in our atheist communities.
any body here from alameda california? ANYBODY?!
I used to work at the Alameda Naval Air Station, but I'm now back in Idaho where I've yet to meet an atheist :(
You're right, we are most of us in really tough positions. Mine come from never having been indoctrinated in any matter of religion or morality. My outlook on life has been naturalism from day 1, which sets me apart from a great many atheists who are Humanists (a majority it seems) who push for goodie-two-shoes and morality as we already know, under the guise that today's multiple moralities are in fact absolute and all derive from one fundamental morality, which I disagree with 100%.
And then, there are skeptics who are faithers, and Humanists who are faithers, and people who believe in the religion of capitalism, Buddhism, still others who believe in the religion of democracy. Letting go of gods is only a very small fraction of what makes up an atheist, even without gods, people still carry their original upbringing value system.
Until atheists let go of clinging to religious views of the world, atheists will continue to vary wildly in belief philosophical systems. Probably 99% of atheists you meet are armchair scientists, people with no scientific training who tout science blindly, on faith, without a critical approach.
Atheists are a very very long way away from forming any community of mind. Rejecting gods, without rejecting all the various sociological consequences of faiths, is just the first step, just like being agnostic is a prep period for becoming atheist.
So what we have while we wait for this multi-generational (just like aboriginal peoples, or Apartheid survivors need multi-generational healing) process to happen is to take haven and speak freely on sites such as these. My home town has a 37% of non-religious affiliation but they all shy away from the word atheist, and pursue games of spirituality... as if some human "spirit" was any more likely than some "god".
Yep, we are a very long way from achieving anything truly different for this planet.
My favourite quote from Dawkins is that it's like herding cats. Atheists generally cling to whichever "good moral code" marked them most as children which means saying one is atheist actually has very little effect on one's views of society. Atheists often say don't throw away the baby with the water... but that's exactly what we need to be doing.
Until that happens, there is no atheism, only a bunch of cat-like atheists.
Sincerely, I wish you good luck on finding a local community of like-minded people. It is a challenging path, cuz internet contacts can only get you so far.
I like your viewpoint TNT. I still have a number of viewpoints that are from my religious past, but I'm happy with my progress.
"Amen." (excuse my French) We are all lucky to have A/N. Where I live in the deep south, I would almost be taking my life in my hands to come out of the closet. It is also dangerous to just have an Obama sign in my yard or on my car, much less proclaiming to be a witch/devil worshiper. If there is anything red necks hate more than welfare recipients, it's atheists.
Semi-closeted. I try not to bring it up, and am evasive when necessary, but my immediate family knows and I'll be truthful if asked directly. And I was thoroughly open about it during the Christianity and Islam unit.
I'm open about it with friends and family. I grew up in a family where God and religion wasn't even mentioned. In fact my dad stopped us from celebrating Easter because "we aren't Christians" which upset me at the time because I LOVED candy. The rest of my family believes in some kind of higher power of some sort. My mom literally told me that she believes in it because it feels good. Nobody in my immediate family is really hardcore about it. My extended family are a different animal entirely though.
Part of me wishes I grew up religious a bit just so I could understand that mindset and debate them to understand where they're coming from. Another part of me feels incredibly fortunate that instead of being taught to read the Bible my parents bought me chemistry sets and microscopes for kids.
But yeah in summation I'm open about it with friends and family. Most of my friends are either atheist or catholic and we have some good discussions about the topic of religion from time to time while maintaining respect.
Count yourself lucky. Any potential value or equity that growing up religious would provide you in theological debate with christians would be far outweighed by the backwards methodology that you are expected to apply to your thinking. It does far more harm to your insight than good.
What closet ? I'm not a coward
Maybe it's because of my African wife that I'm semi in the closet about my atheism. At least to her I'm that way to protect our marriage, but I've found her agreeing with some of my statements from time to time. It would simply kill my step father to find out his "minister" turned out atheist, but I'm making myself known to my 2 daughters now. As time goes on I'm finding that I'm almost militant with atheism to anyone else. That might be because I'm angry at having been lied to about God all my life, and I find it incredible as to what everyone else believes! Then people have balls enough to tell you how "sacred" one's religion is and how you should not make fun of other people's religions. Well, why not? If it's bullshit, you should be telling them it's bullshit! I've had it with "Christian apologetics."
The most often heard angry remark about my atheism is that as a former minister I don't "know the Bible very well." On the contrary, I'm atheist because I know it all too well. Then I go online to sites like Answers In Genesis to find that first graders are much smarter than this. How do people believe this clamp trap? I've even found that there are sites pretending to be atheist, but in the end you discover they are Christians "trying to win you back." How deceitful! But according to Martin Luther it's all OK if the "lie" was told in some way that would help God.
Then you go online trying to find support in NOT believing in God, and 90% of everything there ends up telling you "but the Bible says. . . ." No wonder everyone is brainwashed! Did you ever buy a new car and you also get a new car manual? Now imagine that everything in your entire life, everything in this world, is suddenly explained and made clear by that new car manual. Would you believe it? Of course not!
Now suddenly your TV is telling you to "trust in Jesus" and to "receive him." We find a Jesus Cult going here that says everything is OK if you do this much alone, even if the Bible said differently. Nobody wants to die or to "burn," but somebody dies and is put in the ground, then all the idiots claim that person is in heaven! Maybe the entire world is insane.
As I come out of the closet slowly, I'm getting more and more militant with my atheism.
I personally have found my atheist militancy dwindling as more time has gone by, with the apex of it occurring about 2 years ago. I think everyone has a tendency to want to shout it from the mountaintops when they first learn the truth, culminating in, for me, not so promising returns. It's not that my will was broken or my hope in people dashed - simply that ones energy is much better spent planting new seeds than trying to tear up the whole garden, if that makes sense?