If we don't believe, why do we always talk about it?

OK, everyone here is an admitted Atheist.  I would love to have one string of discussion where we don't mention the thing we don't believe in.  All Atheists seem to do is talk about that thing and how other people are silly to believe in it or how other people will be upset if they find out we don't believe in it.  It's like someone with a gluten allergy constantly talking about bread in all its variations.  If you don't believe in it, it's really not worth mentioning.

We're Atheists.  Let's talk about life without that thing.  Don't mention it.  Not a single word.  Talk about your life in a positive way and not in a "Gee, I sure am glad I don't believe in that thing" way. 

I'd be interested to know how other Atheists swear. I always say "Oh My Word!" as I don't believe in that thing other people say and my word is stronger than that thing could ever be.  I also tend to say "Fuck!" a lot, but only because it is wishing anyone within hearing a pleasant experience.

I'm off to finish the dinner dishes and have a glass of something on the balcony. Discuss.

Tags: atheism, atheist, avoidance, choice, speaking, word

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There are plenty of places, even on this site, to talk about things not related to atheism.  This site exists primarily as a platform for us to share our thoughts on atheism, and so of course most discussions will be dominated or at least influenced by that.  If it were, say an economics site or a car buff board, conversations would run that way most of the time.  Want to have discussions that don't revolve around theism / atheism?  Fine -- start a discussion group as many others here have.  But it does no good to get your panties in a wad if someone on that group mentions theistic topics.  We're all atheists here and we bring that with us.  For many of us it's a pretty darn important topic that we can discuss freely in few other fora.

I've never been religious, nor was I pressured to be when young.  So my statements about theism are likely not expressions of subconscious indoctrination or a struggle to escape it.  I simply see theism as an interesting psychological phenomenon.  I wonder why the majority of my peers (here in the fundie belt the vast majority) adhere to an epistemological system that makes no sense to me and seems quite harmful.  I engage in conversations (more outside than here) because maybe they know something that I don't, or don't know something that I do, or both -- ideally both.

I never (well seldom) begin with an assumption that someone's religious views are silly or stupid.  I have what I think are valid reasons to think as I do, and they have what they think are valid reasons to believe as they do.  That's not an argument for pure relativism, which ironically is an absolute stance.  Some ideas are better than others, and I believe that absolutes (probably) don't exist in nature.

My stance as an identified atheist is that theism creates unnecessary social harm, and that whatever good may be derived by some theists from their faith is misidentified as derived from religion rather than from our biological social nature.  Yeah, the "Golden Rule" is a pretty good idea.  Elephants follow it, as do dogs and probably termites in some sense.  We don't need the blood sacrifice of a magic man as a reminder.  We just need to try to understand what sort of animals we are.


I talk about it because religion endangers human existence. 35% of Americans believe in the second coming,  some sooner rather than later. The majority of Americans are Christians,  so it behooves me to disabuse as many as I can of this insane fairy tale. 

I like the second coming but these days the first is about all I can muster.

I keep telling my wife that I'm better than Jesus: I take a few hours for my second coming, sometimes a day: he is taking, what, 2000 + years?

Well said, Emmett, but when J's daddy fucked up so badly, what can J do but more of the same?

Seems to be generational. Kind of like spousal abuse. Only in this case, the spouse is humanity.

Permalink Reply by Michael Penn yesterday

"I like the second coming but these days the first is about all I can muster."

LMGDFAO Mike, I like that as it's true of me also !

I do get your point but agree with those who say that once it isn't such an issue, it won't need to be the focus of discussion here.  Would you ask African Americans to forgo speaking of racism, homosexuals to forgo speaking about sexual orientation?  Not quite yet, I think.  Maybe someday.  I believe we are the last minority that has yet to make it mainstream.  Soon perhaps there will be a sitcom about an atheist couple trying to make it in the Bible belt with born-again relatives.  Then we'll know that the hour of acceptance is near.

And when I swear I take "the lord's" or anyone else's name in vain.  It just seems more natural. :)

I'm writing the FOX network tomorrow morning suggesting your idea Ceil.  I think it's brilliant. Not sure if you have noticed, but Seth McFairlane who is the creator/executive producer of the Family Guy is also the executive producer of Cosmos. May be he will fit a slot between the Simpsons and Family Guy for your atheistic family in the bible belt.  Sounds like a hilarious show already!

"It's like someone with a gluten allergy constantly talking about bread in all its variations."

More accurately, it's like someone with a gluten allergy getting annoyed with people constantly trying to stuff bread down their throat.  If you have a problem with that, go find a discussion forum that isn't targeted at gluten allergy sufferers in bread-land.

As for swearing, I have no problem with invoking mythical creatures like Jesus Christ or his father God Damn.  If I heard someone come out with "oh my word!" I'd reach for my smelling salts, or maybe a handheld fan.

it's like someone with a gluten allergy getting annoyed with people constantly trying to stuff bread down their throat.

People with gluten allergies do talk about something similar, actually!  On celiac forums people often discuss their annoyance at the questions they are asked, such as "surely that tiny amount of gluten wouldn't hurt" or "come on, try some of this (with gluten)" and being thought of as a sourpuss because they don't. 

If you have a problem with that, go find a discussion forum that isn't targeted at gluten allergy sufferers in bread-land.

But this forum is for nontheists everywhere.  Including in places where they aren't particularly oppressed, such as in Ithaca where Marty (and I) live. 

Living in Ithaca I don't encounter the things I see described here.  I have almost no experience of the Bible Belt and I'm glad of that, having read what people describe here.  Nonreligious people might be a majority in Ithaca - it's a little college town. 

It's difficult being a minority in general. 

Now that I've been around this site for a whole 48 hours and am thus an expert on everything, I'd like to put my $0.37 cents in on why I personally am driven to talking about religion.

I went to a vicious, sadistic Catholic elementary school in Brooklyn from 1965 to 1973.  Remember, at that time it was entirely legal for a teacher to beat the crap out of a 10 year old with a whiffle ball bat.  Or anything else at hand.  And beat us they did, physically and emotionally.  Examples follow.

In 2nd grade one day, we went downstairs to the "lavatory" at 10:15 every morning.  I kept wondering where the scientific instruments were, because all I saw was urinals.  Zipping up and ready to leave, some kid let out a loud screech.  A sound!  Somebody made a sound!  Well, my teacher had to find out who that was, so we stood there for what seemed like an eternity and nobody said anything.  So she assigned the following to the entire class: "I must not talk in the lavatory," 100 times. From the lavatory we went right back to class and got out our religion books.

In 6th grade one day, I forgot my copy of Robert Louis Stephenson's dismal, boring classic "Kidnapped," back in my desk.  We switched classes for reading.  When I asked my teacher if I could simply go back and get it (in the adjacent room) he literally crucified me.  I had to kneel and stare at a dot he drew on the blackboard, with a dictionary on my head, and one on each hand.  I fainted and awoke to him screaming at the class, then looking at me with utter fury in his eyes.  (The next year, he was drafted into the Army and was killed in training at Fort Dix.  We cheered.)

My parents put me through this because we were Catholic.  (Did I mention we had to go to school with our class every Sunday at 8:00?)  I never told my parents about the tortures we endured: I knew a lot about suffering in silence.  The awful thing is, I could have gone to a school right up the block, a public elementary school: but my parents did not want us befriending non-Catholics.

I teach 2nd grade now, and I can't imagine hurting the kids I teach.  I can't imagine making anyone, or a whole class, write something as a punishment.  Religion has no place in my classroom.  Suffering has no place.  Martyrdom has no place. 

When I think of the indoctrination, the viciousness, the contradictions, the shattered hopes, the squelched dreams of my childhood, I think of that blasted church of red brick in Brooklyn, and I get angry.  When I hear of kids from religious families getting killed in Afghanistan, and some priest giving a homily about sacrifice, I get angry.  When my neighbor drives away I see his bumper sticker: REAL MEN PRAY and I get angry.  When I see that Americans are more likely to elect a foreigner, or a Muslim, as President than they are to elect an atheist, I get angry.

The society I live in is dominated by people who are okay with indoctrination, viciousness, churches, wars, exclusivity, and smarmy self-satisfaction.  I love where I live and I want it to change.  If I do talk about my beliefs, maybe I can save some parent from indoctrinating their child along religious lines.  If I don't talk about the things that make me angry, it becomes silent rage.  It can kill me. 


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