Could I take a poll? How important is it to YOU for others to know where you stand on the God fantasy? Do you go out of your way to let others know you are an atheist when you could just as easily keep quiet? (We'll assume that most of us are careful when employment or personal safety is at stake.) But how about those situations where you know you will be quietly pitied or quietly condemned for your atheism but will not be openly vilified, rejected or threatened? In other words, I'm thinking about relationships and situations where you know that people will talk about you behind your back but probably will not confront you in any way. Do you feel that to be intellectually honest you need to "share" or reveal your atheism, even when there is probably zero chance of awakening or enlightening others or causing them to rethink religious dogma?
I tried to reply to this a few hours ago-- hope I'm not repeating myself. At age 23 I broke up with a guy primarily because he was an atheist. I didn't even bother to ask him to explain his views and perspective. The only atheist I knew of at the time was Madalyn Murray O'hair. I too wanted to raise my children as Xtians, and an atheist was not in my picture of how my life should unfold.
Times do change. Now I like to read about Secular Student Alliances on college campuses and I get a kick out of their "hug an atheist" fundraisers for worthy causes.
I too never bring it up but if asked I tell them.
I especially like "Misquoting Jesus" "Contradictions of the New Testament" "Forged" and "Legends, fictions and manuscripts that illustrate Christ's story".
Ehrman is easy to talk with, either by email or at presentations.
Hi BK-My sister is the only one in my family who I've pointedly told what I believe, or don't (as the case may be). My brothers, parents, and extended family don't know (although I'm pretty sure my mother knows, or maybe we've talked about it, I don't remember. She's such an accepting person, it doesn't really matter as long as you don't really eat the babies). If they were to ask, I would tell them, otherwise it's bloody well none of their business. My friends are pretty clear on where I stand, as is my husband and step-daughter, who are also atheist. One of the people I work with knows, the other doesn't (it's never come up). I had a flying spaghetti monster decal on my old car, but nothing on the new one for no reason except I haven't thought about searching one out on the interwebs. I'm not a confrontational sort of person, but I will explain my reasoning if asked.
As for the shower situation, I probably would perk up my ears and listen to everything being said, but wouldn't say anything in and amongst the crowd. However should the opportunity arise (either on the day, or later), I might ask her in private more questions about why she she feels called, how her husband feels about the homeschooling, if she feels pressure from other people (at church, at home, at work) to home school, why she thinks this is the best thing for her child. I'd try to understand and be sympathetic, and probably not counter everything she said with an argument against, but try to plant the seed of questioning in her brain. There are many times the seed of questioning can accomplish more than the sledgehammer of logic. So often we get caught up in what we believe (or don't) as being "right" that we lose sight of the fact that everyone has to deal with their lives on their own terms, even if that makes other people uncomfortable.
Thanks for starting this thread. I've enjoyed reading through the discussion!
Reg MM, I like the "seed of questioning" rather than the "sledgehammer of logic'.
also..."as long as you don't really eat the babies"... LOL!
On a serious note, it is kind of remarkable and even shocking and sad that many of us are so skittish and fearful and careful about making our atheism public. After all, we don't live in some restrictive Muslim country and we have no state religion... and all we're talking about is a philosophical opinion about magical thinking among our peers... yet some of us fear hatred and rejection for our beliefs. I know many of you who have wider circles and live in urban areas have no such squeamishness, but even with all the progress that has been made it is still a big step for some of us to simply state that we don't believe in the majority fantasy...
I would agree with you that it is indeed sad. And I think skittish is a good descriptive of how I'd feel about going on a Big Reveal. Having grown up in a somewhat conservative religious family, and within that a more than somewhat conservative area in which everyone is related to everyone else and knows everyone's business whether it gets told or not, I've learned to keep my crazy thoughts about religion to myself, specifically when I'm with family (other crazy thoughts can be expressed, and in relation to myself are probably expected). Years of conditioning are hard to overcome, even though I've been atheist for a good 10 years or more.
Yes, I rest on my laurels. No one in my family asks me if I talked to a sky daddy today because it's most likely assumed that I did, that it went well, and I've been blessed with a new dishwasher because of it (I haven't-the old dishwasher still sits there collecting bread crumbs and coffee stains). Their assumption of my belief is my crutch, and I freely admit it to strangers such as yourself. Sad indeed.
No matter where I've lived, big city, small town, or otherwise, my atheism has never been a secret, although it's never me who initiates the subject. I've never had any issue from other people because of it either, & the live & let live seems to be more prevalent here.
Their assumption of my belief is my crutch, and I freely admit it to strangers such as yourself. Sad indeed.>>
I used that crutch for a long time and it worked well, though I probably didn't personally initiate enough religiously oriented babble to allow my inlaws be to confident that I was a believer. Then I opened my mouth a few times and have now dropped too many hints to retreat back into the "assumption" mode. Even if I basically go back under cover at this point I feel better having asserted my right to beleve differently.
It's mostly people of my past that I've kept in the dark. I'm fairly open with the newbies in my life. All the ones that I 'fear' to tell are on my mother's side-they tend to be the most judgmental when it comes to these things (my uncle, for instance, will not go to his brother-in-law's restaurant because they serve alcohol). There's also a part of my that just can't be bothered, that would rather keep the peace and not become a family problem child. I run from drama and confrontation like a world-class marathoner.
You're probably going at it in hint-mode would probably be the way I would do it as well, should I feel so inclined.
As an agnostic atheist, I bring the sledgehammer of questioning.
Good one, Thor. But do you believe in yourself?
Yes, but I suspect I have ulterior motives.