Hey all. I've in the past few months really embraced the idea of being an atheist. I tried for a long time to reconcile the differences between the logic of science (I'm a science teacher) and the dogma of Christianity. After a while, I gave up and just let logic speak for itself.
I've honestly never felt more relaxed in all my life as now that I've given up the silly notions of Christianity. And I'm thrilled to discover this website because it's just a nice change of pace to be around like minded folks.
The hardest part, and this could be coming from this still being fresh to me, is not being an ANGRY atheist. I catch myself being angry that others still drink the deity kool aid. I know people who will purposefully ignore information, evidence, and logic just so that they can wallow in the ignorance that their faith encourages. I hope it gets easier to not be bothered by this. I don't want to be angry and I also don't want to alienate my friends by talking to them like they're idiots.
Thank you all again for just existing and being here.
Dr. Stephen Uhl, former Catholic priest turned atheist and psychologist, wrote about his journey under a couple of different titles; the audiobook version is No Gods, No Guilt. He talks about why prayer seems to help (as he's seen hypnosis help patients make changes they didn't consciously think possible), and urges us to be patient with people who unlearn at different rates.
Hi Brandon. You're a little deeper in the Bible Belt than me. Southern tip of Illinois just across the Mississippi from the Missouri Boot Heel. As to angry atheism, I suppose it depends if you've "outed" yourself or not. As to me, I have, but I realize that's an individual choice factoring in family, work, and in certain areas of this country, personal safety. I can understand how a person could get angry if they hear all the "Hallelujah" BS, and are still having to pretend in a belief system.
As to me, I'm outspoken enough where my response is typically humor, or something along the lines of, "Oh really? God did that? Which god? I'm betting Quetzacoatl. Though, it could be one of the Voodoo Orisha spirits. Ohh, you mean your god, as opposed to everyone else's." Things like that generally end the conversation with the "true believers." As to those on the fence, I take time and patience explaining why. It helps, in one sense that I'm a lawyer. The reason is that I can always fall back on the example of someone filing a lawsuit. The plaintiff has the burden of proving what it is they alleged. The defense doesn't. I explain I'm on the defense side of someone claiming the existence of the supernatural. They made the claim, now prove it to me with verifiable evidence.
One just needs a bit of perspective. If your grandchild tells you that the sun and the moon are one and the same thing, but it becomes the moon at night and the sun during the day, a proper grandparent would not get ticked off and scream at the kid. His friends told him that and he believes it. Maybe sitting sown with a picture book, or whatever, but kindly will help. And if not, if the kid is stubborn, he will come around, because of his connection to you. It is relationships that bring people around, and their trust. Missionaries have been using that ploy for years, making frinds and then sucking them in. They don't get pissed that you don't believe in Jesus. It's a learned skill.
Brandon, I very much agree with and experience anger that keeps flashing through my eyes. We have had several conversations on Atheist Nexus sites about the role of anger in our experience. Many people express feeling like a shaken bottle of soda water ready to blow its cork. There is no other place, really to ventilate and I think there should be.
Anger won't last forever because we quickly learn the beauty that comes out of realizing there is no god watching over us, guiding us on our way, answering prayers, performing miracles, only to discover no such god exists. We can fool ourselves some of the time, but with enough challenges, it becomes clear god does not answer prayers.
Some say the way to break a habit is to stop doing the familiar. Well, that seems to work for some, but not for me. I see stupid and I see no reason to remain silent. I observe efforts to bring creationism into the public science schools and I feel rage. They have no right to teach delusions to our children when we need well trained and inquiring minds for our coming society.
Doubt is the greatest gift we have and we need to be encouraged to seek answers to our questions. Nobody gets hurts by knowing something is true because of evidence. Being able and willing to separate science from mythology means growing up.
I am a retired teacher and experience a lot of emotion about this issue.
Living in Dallas and it being very international, I get the interesting experience of being in a bit of an oasis of tolerance mixed in with the strong religious climate. In my own experience there are a few frames of mind that help make things go smoother. By thinking like this, I can be cordial with just about anyone and rarely do I ever get an extreme negative reaction.
1) People are fundamentally good and try to do what they believe is best. Sometimes they're mistaken or delusional, but they're trying.
2) All argument begins in agreement. If you disagree on everything, then you can't even have a conversation. Additionally, most people agree about most things. We share a lot more in common with our religious people than we have differences. Find common ground BEFORE trying to find points of contention.
3) Religious people ARE NOT enemies. These are fellow human beings who happen to have been unfortunate enough to be born, raised and/or brainwashed into religious delusion. However, not every religious belief is unreasonable. Most are the natural logical conclusion of incorrect and/or delusional axioms. Don't waste your time arguing over the details, focus on the axioms from which their logical conclusions flow.
4) People best absorb soundbites. Long drawn out arguments won't make your case. Good one-liners will reverberate in their minds for the rest of their lives.
Welcome, Brandon. I live in the Bible Belt, too. When I first came to A/N, I was very angry. I used to be tolerant of religion until I realized how much harm is done in the world in the name of religion/gods. I am no longer tolerant but do try to find a safe, appropriate outlet for my anger which A/N is. I find that the group Recovering from Religion has been very helpful. I also find that ignoring religious comments with a blank look on my face and/or leaving/changing the conversation helps.
I'm also in the Bible Belt, and I understand it can be hard not to feel angry - especially when a guy with a megaphone shows up at your college holding signs that say everyone is damned and such. That happens about twice a year at my school. The guy is usually escorted off campus by campus cops. There's also a guy that hangs out on a strip of land right outside the local Walmart that has tons of signs (Honk if you know Jesus. If you don't, pull over) and a sound system which he uses to preach on. These crazy nutbags are everywhere.
I'm in the Bible belt as well. I currently live in Tennessee but am originally from South Carolina, which proudly boasts of being the first state to leave the Union and the last to return!
As for the anger or contempt, I feel this often when I read the drivel coming from friends when they ask for prayer or post memes or other nonsensical quotes that may be circulating in Christian circles. I used to reply to some of these, but now I just let it go because I don't want to waste my time debating a person who has clearly shut off all logic to the brain. It really gets me if someone says they will pray for me about a legitimate problem because while I understand the sentiment, it's literally a meaningless statement. In any case, the short answer is yes, it does get better ... from both sides. If you have family or friends who are believers, they may have been initially shocked or reacted harshly when you "came out." In my case, all of that has cooled. I came out in 2008, so it does take awhile, though. Best of luck.
WELCOME! I have always thought of atheism as a great liberation -- you don't spend one second worrying about what God wants, means, thinks. He's gone! (Or actually, was never there to begin with.)
Advice from one who has been an atheist for at least 50 years: Avoid discussions with religious people. If you choose to get engaged, be able to argue calmly and anticipate the believer's few pitiful arguments. Think of them as deluded consumers of psychological cocaine; religion give false comfort as it sucks you in.
Try to learn about why people need gods. Eventually you will see them as weak, spineless followers, worthy of pity, not anger. And be optimistic (difficult at my age): religion may seem ineradicable, but every year secularism gains ground.
I looked through the advice in the comments. It is excellent, and I could take some of it myself. I'm still angry at the religious murder that has killed millions and continues to this day.
Brandon...I know how you feel. Being with a group of like-minded people (whom I found via meetup.com - check it out) was like a breath of fresh air. It's great that you've found a group offline. I regret that you have to fake it. I can't see your colleagues becoming more liberal any time soon.
Atheism is denial of the existence of Jehovah, Zeus, Thor -- any and all supernatural beings. Humanism is many things. Its highest values are human dignity, autonomy, and reason. The Torah is profoundly anti-humanistic. It's all about total subjugation to God. Governments are usually anti-humanistic, subjugating the welfare of individuals to the success of the collective. Same for corporations.