What is there about the word "atheist" that makes normally sane people act crazy?

Help! I just got off the phone with my best friend. I started telling her about an event I attended recently. When I mentioned the group's name (which included the word "atheist") it was like I had rung a bell for Pavlov's dog! She immediately went on a rant about how she is "sick of atheists," and how "stupid" they are to be "angry at God."

This shook me up because normally she is a wonderful friend. She is a non-practicing Jew who was raised completely secular. I've been open with her about the full extent of my apostasy, and I've even identified myself as an atheist to her before. Perhaps she didn't believe me? What is there about that word?

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Idk.It does seem perplexing.

Throughout grade school, i was raised a christian. And of course, we were taught that t godless, and t gays and such were all going to hell. The bible is big on having no other gawds befor Jehovah. That dictate seems to assume that even idolators believe in some gawd. That anyone wouldn't have any god seems beyond their ken, except that I know that at least once, t bible calls all us unbelievers fools for not believing in any god.

And, if I recall,Sam Harris did some mri imaging study where he saw that some people's god beliefs are almost as central to their core identity as any belief that they have.

The negative image has largely changed for gays. I assume it will change for us asp as our numbers are growing so fast so long as enuf of us are open and out of t closet about our atheism.

Did you tell her atheists are not "angry at God" but at the susceptibility of many people to believe he exists? I have believer friends who know I am an atheist and when they pray before a meal titter at the notion a heathen is in their presence. It does not bother me. I only smile and let it go. In fact, when they meet for holidays and pray before the big meal, they do a hand holding thing and I join in just to be polite. I do not think about the prayer or even pretend to be praying. Sometimes I glance at their 11-year-old girl and she smiles at me. It makes me wonder if she's in on the joke. More and more people are in on the joke. It's going to take a few generations, but we will be caught up with Europe by the 22nd century I think.

"More and more people are in on the joke. It's going to take a few generations, but we will be caught up with Europe by the 22nd century I think."

I think it might be faster than that. The internet, with all the online lectures, discussions, research, and books that are so easily available, is a game changer.

I was the last person who I ever thought would give up my faith. I'm in a Recovering from Religion group and we all feel that same way. It's the really serious believers who find out first that it's all a house of cards. I've also found out in discussing my "doubt" with Christian friends, that a lot of believers are secretly teetering. I think it's going to spread faster than you think.

I hope so! The Internet is the death of christianity as we know it.

So what was your sense of "God" as a believer?  Did you have a perception of God - a sense of presence, as one might have the sense a person is near without actually seeing them?  Do you think your religious friends often have that sense of presence of God?

Such a sense might be related to early memories of one's parents.

Or do you mean a cognitive belief rather than a perception?  Good feelings organized by a belief system? 

I'm curious what it feels like :)

I know exactly what you mean. I was just talking about it, that people assume that if you are an atheist you must be a nihilist, who dwells in darkness and has not love for his fellow men. They just can't fathom the idea that I don't need a got to tell me to be good and love others.

It's because the word Atheist brings visions of joy, completeness, clouds, puppydogs. While Religion brings vision of Deamons, Ghosts, Devils, torture, burning lakes of fire...........it's Atheist for me!!

Let's write some happy atheist songs to go with these nice visions. I still find myself singing religious songs when I'm doing mindless chores. I need replacements.

Yes, the religionists have had thousands of years... time for us to catch up!

A few things you might like:


Heritage Songs of the Ethical Society -- a songbook from the Ethical Society of St. Louis, with some 40 humanistic songs, many to familiar hymn and carol tunes


Jaclyn Glenn's "Amazing Science" (video and lyrics)


And our discussions of winter holiday (and other) songs are worth a look! 2012 2013

Very good! Nice to have an alternative because the tune appeals, the old words simply are not true. 

I was just looking through that "Ethical Society Heritage Songs" collection, and it includes "A Humanist Credo", by John Hoad (1927-2011), to the tune of ... Amazing Grace!

  1. Where shall the human spirit turn when ancient creeds are dead?
    What shall our faith as fu-el burn when all our Faiths have fled?
  2. We trust the human spirit still, the tide that brought us here;
    the sense of good, the human will to learn the way of care.
  3. The way is hard, and wrong is strong, but we shall triumph yet
    as more will join the human song to give, as much as get.
  4. To seek the best in you and me, to share and care for earth,
    to serve a new humanity, and bring world-peace to birth.

I like Hoad's sentiments. Oh! would that this would be true in our lifetime! 


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