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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Then bring up:

Thank you Rational Robot!
I've found it really depends on the company I happen to be keeping. I don't talk much about it at work or with family outside of my household, because I know I'm in a loathed minority. They all either know or suspect, but it just doesn't make for polite conversation in the case of work & religious family.

As far as the rest of society is concerned, the toxic ones tend to weed themselves out. I have a habit of making myself rather intolerable to the intolerant. I don't just stand for everything that is bad and evil in this world (science, reason, freedom), but I actually *enjoy* who and how I am. The very nerve!

How very dare you!!! ;-) :-D

Intolerable to the intolerant! I just love that! That's my motto!

This is why I've only come out to my husband, when we were dating, who it turned out was also atheist and to a friend of mine who told me she was atheist first. Whenever religion comes up in social settings etc I just don't say anything and get up to get a drink or whatever. It's sad.

It seems like recently (in large part due to  Reason Rally), it's become something we're 'allowed' to talk about as a whole, so more of us are raising our hands. It doesn't hurt any that the next generation is rejecting dogma and intolerance at an encouraging rate. Perhaps fundamentalism will burn itself out as the kids mature into our doctors, legislators, and educators. I have hope that before long, the scales will be more balanced.

In the meantime, I'm very glad to have found a community here where I don't have to censor my thoughts to make them more palatable, or carefully dance around 'unsavory' facts when discussing science :)

Chera I do try to avoid the topic ..yes

Yes, the fact that I'm an atheist comes up every time I get caught lying, cheating, and stealing.  It's the strangest thing.....

I've had to deal with this very issue on many occasions during failed attempts to convert me via family/friends.  I was raised Catholic (roman catholic) and lost my faith (if I ever had it which I highly doubt) when I was 13.  I've had plenty of arguments over what essentially boils down to Subjective morality vs Objective morality.  I'm often told that without an objective moral standard (ie GOD and the bible) there is no impetus to do good and no absolute punishment for doing evil.  Objective morality is also often used as proof for god; something I find ironic at best.  The theist states "there is an objective moral standard to which all people, regardless of their religion, follow.  If there is this objective moral standard outside of ourselves then it HAS to have an objective moral standard creator".  Sounds a lot like the argument for creation...right?  I personally do not believe in objective morality and I believe that all morality is inherently subjective.  I'm told that all people can agree that killing, theft, and slavery (slavery?!) is immoral and is therefore objective.  In debate I ALWAYS call nonsense on that.  For starters: the bible condoned slavery and was the main justification for the white slave owners in the south not but a century ago.  The fact that slavery is now outlawed only goes to prove that the idea of slavery being immoral is subjective and entirely at the whim of people and not some god.  The same thing goes with killing.  If someone commits a heinous crime and is sentenced with death, that is tantamount to killing (as the bible doesn't determine what is killing and what isn't).  In war, there are almost always casualties that are blanketed forgiven as being 'just a part of waging war'.  Regardless of the justifications for such actions, both are most definitely killing.  The mere fact that we can determine when it is OK and when it's wrong to kill goes to show just how subjective morality is.  Theft you ask?  Wallstreet...need I say more?  I have yet to be told of a single moral standard that is entirely objective (universally agreed upon and originating outside consensus of man). 

Thank you Devin for all your replies .. very helpful to me

In terms of "where do atheists get their morals" and who punishes people if there is no ultimate justicar after death.  I have this to say: our moral system (laws and ethics) are subjective which is why they vary from place to place.  Furthermore, they are a product of our evolution as a communal species.  There was a time when our ancestors would roam the lands in small family groups.  It was necessary to fight for our very survival.  If you came across land that was occupied by another family and they control of the food supply (hunting and gathering) you would take from them so that you could survive.  Eventually we learned how to till the land and create our own food.  This allowed us to stay in place and required increased cooperation.  The family group beget small villages which beget towns which beget cities.  As more people cohabited in smaller environments working towards a common goal, we determined that we needed laws to govern our behavior for the better of all.  If I steal your food or kill your family member, what is to stop you from doing the same to me.  A society without rules will likely fail.  This is the basics of our moral system and I could elaborate quite a bit on it.  As for "who judges us"..we do.  I am accountable not only to every other person where I live, but I am also accountable to our legal system.  I firmly believe that this is the only life I am going to live.  When I die, I die.  Why would I want to spend my one chance at life sitting behind bars in a cage?  Sorry for the all-over-the-placeness of this post and my previous one.  I hope this helps anyone who gets the same response the OP does when coming out of the closet (so to speak).

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