I find it hard to explain my self to people who do not know what an atheist is. I have bin called a devil worshiper a pagan the list goes on and on.  what gets me is the onslaught  of combative Beauvoir I'm meant with before I can even start to explain what an atheist is. is this a problem that most atheists have?  or is this just a small issue?  

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Comment by SteveInCO on February 19, 2013 at 7:40am

No idea about Satanists.... (FWIW, from the Church of Satan website: "Satanists are atheists. We see the universe as being indifferent to us [...] Our position is to be self-centered [...] Satan to us is a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism [...] We do not believe in Satan as a being or person. [...] People who believe in some Devilish supernatural being and worship him are Devil-worshippers, not Satanists.")

I wouldn't take the Church of Satan seriously, at least not insofar as they claim to represent Satanism.  I think they hijacked the name--anyone can set up a "church of Satan" and come up with something no one would recognize as the "real" Satan, likewise with Zeus, Thor, etc.  (Imagine finding a bunch of people claiming to be Thor worshippers but they insist he doesn't actually carry a hammer.)  Satan is generally understood to be "the devil", i.e., a malevolent deity and that has nothing to do with these folks.

Now that having been said a lot of what these alleged "satanists" profess is actually pretty OK.  But of course if you say that in the wrong place, you simply add fuel to the fire called "Atheists are just devil worshippers."  I really wish they hadn't done this.

Comment by Luara on February 19, 2013 at 7:14am

point of my anecdote being, people seem to identify atheism with nihilism.  There are plenty of non-believers around who don't call themselves atheists.  In very theocratic countries, many nonbelievers are probably in hiding, going through the motions of the religion. 

Calling oneself an atheist is associated in people's minds with many things beyond just not believing in supernatural happenings - like anti-religion and nihilism.

Comment by Napoleon Bonaparte on February 18, 2013 at 1:17pm

Grinning cat, thank you for pointing out that distinction. I'm aware that my knowledge of the occult is limited by my lack of reading on the subject. Still, I often like the way the occult is expressed in art and story. There is a Dark Side to life and this interests me.

Comment by Luara on February 18, 2013 at 12:38pm

Would they say the same thing if you said you "weren't religious" or "weren't a believer"? 

A lot of people associated "atheist" with anti-religious attitudes.  Also with "strong atheism", the conviction that supernatural happenings are very unlikely to ever happen. 

I told a neighbor once that I'd been going to a local atheist group.  This guy is not religious so far as I know, yet he looked shocked.  He said "I'm not an atheist", he kind of waved his arms around and said "I believe in ... something", he didn't seem able to articulate what something was.  I didn't inquire further to find out if there was anything definitely supernatural about this something, but he seemed to feel that "every good person believes in something".  

Well, I believe in something too!  I believe in treating our fellow creatures fairly and empathetically, in not causing avoidable suffering, I believe humanity is a miracle of sorts and worth caring about, I believe in honesty.  I just don't see any reason to think there's a supernatural aspect to my beliefs.

Comment by Grinning Cat on February 18, 2013 at 11:44am

Napoleon, I've seen people here who identify as atheist pagans, who might be moved by the stories and ritual and symbolism without believing in the actual spooks.

No idea about Satanists.... (FWIW, from the Church of Satan website: "Satanists are atheists. We see the universe as being indifferent to us [...] Our position is to be self-centered [...] Satan to us is a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism [...] We do not believe in Satan as a being or person. [...] People who believe in some Devilish supernatural being and worship him are Devil-worshippers, not Satanists.")

Comment by Kiljoy616 on February 18, 2013 at 10:30am

No its a big issue and seems to depend at least for me with what kind of denomination the person believes in. I find the issue is not so much that its about a God but more about a Heaven. People (monkey's with toys) really have an issue more with the whole Heaven/Hell than with the whole God. I guess the Reward & Punishment tactic still works if you get them young. 

The way I think of this is as follow, for most Believers its an afterthought that not everyone believes what they believe. When someone comes into their circle and put even more doubt into the equation it makes them very fearful that what they have been told and drill into them is a bunch of BS. Now how would anyone feel if someone comes up and tells them something others have told them to be the all truth is actually a big piece of cow dung. 

Violence does tend to be the end for most of these kind of people, so never take them lightly since the "monkey with toys" can be pretty nasty when they don't have much to stand on when it comes to their believes. Though I find most of it hot air, I never take violence or talk of violence lightly and as ex-mil that we are violence is something we are all aware of and can come unannounced and out of left field. 

Comment by Michael Penn on February 18, 2013 at 6:50am

An atheist is someone who does not believe in gods, or no longer believes in gods. My case is the later, as I was trained for the ministry and was fully expected to be a Pentecostal preacher. My conversion (or "falling away" if you will) came about when I realized that the bible is simply a collection of stories and fairy tales. This book is many other books sewn together loosely, and none of it is "infallible" with writings that often contradict themselves. God is angry and wants to kill everybody in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament he loves you but still wants to send you to a burning hell if you don't worship him forever and unquestionably. God is flawed, and at best bipolar! Study any of the "holy books" in the world and you find a similar situation.

At my work recently I was loaned out to another line over a period of days. Talking with the team leader there, I learn that she doesn't believe and neither did her father. I told her many bible stories and had her laughing big time. Soon one young man is telling me in the break room how I don't know shit about the bible, and if I don't stop what I'm saying "we are going to fight." This is going to be a big arguement, he says. I simply asked him why we would fight because I no longer believe? The very next day another young man jumped in my face angrily because I'm talking with the team leader. He doesn't want to hear it anymore. They come across claiming I'm not doing my job, but the real problem is anger over hearing that you no longer believe in their imaginary god. They do not want to appear as foolish. Now we find that these Christians can't even be honest in their complaints!

This is a small issue of being a non-believer, but may prove that I'm a pretty good "preacher" after all. When I get these reactions I simply shut up. Then I get along well with others. Why would I want to fight you over an imaginary friend? The problem here is that the entire world needs to wake up. 9-11 was about "religion" but the Christian doesn't see that. I've noticed an increase in television ads saying "receive Jesus," but this isn't the answer. An atheist will have minor problems with others, but solving the worlds problems can only be done through a non-theist society.

Comment by Napoleon Bonaparte on February 18, 2013 at 4:12am

I wish I could be a devil worshipper/pagan because it sounds like good fun. Unfortunately, I know it's a load of shit and I can't take it seriously. The definition of an Atheist is simply someone who does not believe in Gods. Combative behavior from believers is not based on rational thought so I think it is a small issue. Such behavior can be dismissed with rational argument.


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