Mar 13, 2011

Three big screw ups for atheists like me

Being a non-believer, aka an atheist, I've encountered a variety of situations where I've been harassed, attacked, and ostracized for not having the same beliefs as those around me. Upon looking at my past experiences, all I can really hope for in the future is to learn from those experiences, and not repeat my mistakes. I've noticed a pattern in my own life which I must change. There's simply no point to expecting “the world” to change to suit my whims. The burden is on me, rather, to adapt to my environment.

Big atheist screw up number one: Discussing religion honestly This one gets me every time. Someone (, family, friends, random strangers) comes along and brings up any certain religious figure. In my stupidity I respond with what I believe to be an educated response, all the while failing to realize this individual is not looking for anything other than the pre-programmed response.

See, what I normally do is make the mistake of expecting others to “see” what appears so obvious to me. But it never works. We end up parting ways, each of us considering the other a fool for not agreeing on what seems so logical to us. (The difference being I don't consider them evil and demon-possessed – just tragically gullible.)

Take, for example, last night. I met a co-worker for the first time. At the point of introducing ourselves to one another, I learned she's not from Louisiana. Out of curiosity, I asked “What brings you to Louisiana?” She says “God.” For once, I didn't ask any smart-ass questions like “Really? What kind of car does he drive? I came in on a Greyhound.” I simply kept my mouth shut. No need to smart off. Let her have her beliefs, if she wants them. Her beliefs are too deeply-rooted for me to ever affect them, anyway. (Admit it. You're picturing Jack Nicholson yelling “You can't HANDLE the truth!” Aint you? Yeah, me too.)

If someone is ever looking for the truth about the fraud of religion, they'll probably be on the ThinkAtheist blog anyway, where we can discuss free thought openly and honestly. But out here in the world, where the hyper-religious get hyper-vicious, it's just best to leave them to their own.

Big atheist screw up number two: Not playing along. Since a non-believer understands there are no invisible sky-fairies flittering around “up there,” just who in the heck are we worried about offending by not being completely honest, anyway? Ourselves? Big deal! Just give 'em what they want to hear. It's what their preachers do.

This is tied in with the aforementioned Big atheist screw up number one, referenced above. Most people just aren't ready for the plain, brutal truth. They've been told for years that non-believers want to do terrible things to them, such as eat their babies, or to enslave them to our benevolent alien/demon/robotic overlords. They're scared of us, and for no real reason.

The last time I was dumb enough to be completely honest with a mystic, I was on a job where someone else began discussing religion. I blurted out “I am an atheist, and don't want to waste my time with this.” (Paraphrasing) Little did I know what kind of a threat I announced myself as to these folks around me. One co-worker did warn me a certain other co-worker was a practicing minister, and that I should be careful. It was from that day forward, I found myself entirely alone in my work, and alone in the break-room.

Nowadays, I know better. When I'm on the job, my co-workers will even enjoy the occasional “Oh my God,” and “amen” from time-to-time. There's noone to be truthful to about it all, so why not fib a little, when necessary? The truth only gets people like me hurt. I've learned to play along. Direct, insistent questioning of my beliefs will only elicit a response of “I don't discuss my beliefs on the job.” Play along.

As for my personal life, I've actually encountered many very accepting people from within the church. The love of my life is a believer, and I'm fine with that. I've no desire to change her, or to tell her how she must believe, because it's her life and not mine. There's even a sister, whom I cherish, who is devoutly religious. But in neither of these two cases are they trying to ruin me for not believing as they do. On-the-job religious discrimination is always a different critter, though.

Big atheist screw up number three: Accepting the label of “atheist.” The brilliant Sam Harris explained it the best. “If you don't believe in astrology, are you labeled a 'non-astrologer?'” (I'm paraphrasing again. Sorry Sam.) So, as a non-believer, am I to accept the label of “atheist?” There are times when the label is a little easier to spell than one of “A-Guy-Who-Simply-Asks-For-Evidence-Of-Why-You-Want-My-Obedience-Devotion-And-Money.” So, sure, I'm not exactly offended by the short-hand of a label. I'm no more offended by the label, than different denominations of Christians would be, were they both labeled “Christian.”

But labeling myself as an atheist, on purpose, is akin to a military target painting themselves for enemy bombers. With all of the myths and pre-conceived notions about “those evil atheists” I just find it much easier to no longer identify myself so readily.

0 Whaddya Think?:

Check your page rank.

Check Page Rank of your Web site pages instantly:

This page rank checking tool is powered by Page Rank Checker service

A sponsor:

Wondering how to get a website, but don't know how to code?
Need to be able to update your website but don't want to hire someone every time?
Looking to start earning $ online but don't know where to start?
Contact your local Web Designer in Tasmania
Working locally to achieve your global marketing goals.