Whenever I come out Atheist .. they assume I must have no ethics or morals whatsoever and that I am willing to do just about anything --- like lie, cheat and steal.

Anyone else have this happen to them?

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Danny Thomas, I respectfully disagree. I believe we are born with no meaning or purpose. Looking at life through the microscope and telescope of time and space, life began very simply and from natural events and over time changed and evolved into all that we see around us today. There is no design, no plan, no purpose. Life gives life to life, generation after generation.

Some of us can trace our family line back to the 1500s and even knowing names and dates and a little history reveals no meaning or purpose to me. As I look at my own family tree I see people coming from Europe in the 1600 because they were persecuted in England and wanted freedom of religion. Once here they did atrocious things to people who did not share their beliefs, including cutting off noses and ears of those who did not conform. Another branch were very devout Christians in Salem, Mass., and they accused, were part of the trials, hung and squashed witches and confiscated their property. Another line wrote beautifully about god and devotion to him even as he packed his ships full of Africans and brought them to the Americas to be sold into slavery. He made a mighty fortune and our family often tells of this great man and his great home. Well, on inspection, he was a slaver of the worst kind. I was looking for noble ancestors and found scoundrels dressed in religious garb. 

What was their purpose in life? Where did they discover their meaning? Did great wealth and great social standing mean more to them than humanity's flourishing?

Obviously my family hate it when I recite the legal and historical records and fail to follow the family line of being descendent from great men of the Revolution and a signer of the document. Or of the role our ancestors played in the Revolution and Civil War. The family stories just don't match the documentation. 

That said, I could stand on the propaganda about my family tree; or I could stand on the documentation that defined how they functioned in those early days; or I could stand on the realization that I descended from people who were able and willing to do whatever it took to get what they wanted; or I can create my own meaning and purpose, remember the past, imagine a preferred future, and move in that direction. 

Joan I always appreciate your input and perspective. What I liked about the quote was helping others.

Steph, on that point I strongly agree and should have acknowledged it. Thanks for the clarity. 

I agree with you Joan.

And like Idaho I do agree with you Joan.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Great quote!

I get that a lot.  There seems to be some perception that religious people are at least more honest than atheists.  I wonder if there is not some small truth to it.  It's been shown that people act more "honestly" if they are being watched.  Just the presence of a video camera will make people act more honestly even if the camera is clearly disconnect or powered down.  Could religious people in general act more honestly because they think they are being watched by some deity?  I like to think the emotional maturity demonstrated by atheists might counter the "watched" phenomenon but I really don't know.      

I find it funny. I dated a girl that broke up w/ me because I am an atheist. Yet not only did she sleep with me very quickly but she and I were still having sex when 2wks after we broke she was sleeping with her new boyfriend who is Xian like she is. Yes great moral views. I had to tell him. She asked me y. I told her because it was the right thing to do

Believers in a higher power have produced many child molestors, murderers, theives, the list goes on and on.  I am an Atheist and not afraid to say it to anyone.  I have morals, give to those in need, don't kick Puppies, and am generally a nice person unless you are a dick.  I can live with that.  Yes I have experienced the negativity, especially from my own family.  In fact my morals are so high that I refuse to lie that I believe in something I know is not real.

Good for you Glen!  That is great that you stand-up for yourself and for what you know is right.  I am trying harder to not be wimpy and just come out and say I am an Atheist whenever it is in a conversation, instead of just kind of nodding my head or staying silent.~ Melinda

You may not be wimpy, but rather prudent in a toxic environment. For me, it came down to do I want to have toxic relationships or do I want to healthy and with healthy people. When I made that decision, it became clear to me that some people just aren't worth the poison they spew. When/if you are ready, you will talk from your heart and be able to protect yourself from assaults that may, or may not, come. Once the family gossip knew, they all knew. Some were supportive from the start, others were cautious and curious, others revealed enough information to know I wanted to not be around them. 

Also, if you are comfortable with what you think, you will transmit that information along with your statement. If you doubt yourself, perhaps you should hold off for a while. 

In any event, I wish you well, and that you end up with much deeper and more meaningful relationships, even with those who do not agree. 

In the meantime, there are a cloud of witnesses on this site that support you. 

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