Cranky Old Atheists Helping Bright-eyed Younger Atheists

I love that Atheist Nexus exists as a resource and community for atheists, and I would like to make sure that we maximize that with very real support for each other. As a 41 year old, I guess I'm an "older atheist," and I would like to offer my experience and support to younger atheists who may have a question or two about what it's like "later in life" as an atheist.

I would also add that I'm a father of three girls, so for those who are wanting to start families but are unsure of what it will be like as an atheist in a religious country, feel free to ask me or my peers about that, as well.

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You don't seem cranky at all, Jake. :)
Not to other atheists! :)
"As a 41 year old, I guess I'm an "older atheist--"

Bloody hell! 41 is "older"? Mate you're a gossoon.

I'm 61. That means I'm NOT "a grumpy old man" or "a bit cranky". I'm a fully fledged reprobate; skepical,cynical and misanthropic. I'm not so much angry as having been in a really bad mood for 25 years.

"Cynic": "What an idealist calls a realist" (Sir Humphrey Appleby)
Sir Humphrey Appleby was a fictitious character of Byzantine cynicism and cunning in my favourite TV series "Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister"
If it helps, Nate pegged me as "older." It's all relative. :)
"Cynics regarded everybody as equally corrupt... Idealists regarded everybody as equally corrupt, except themselves." -- unknown

"A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future." -- Sidney J. Harris
Tarquin, how's life as 61 and a misanthrope? :) Generally, I've experienced and felt people think misanthropy is something for the teenagers, which fits very well with the typical teenage angst but something you grow out of as you continue to age. I have a rationalized view on my misanthropy though, but generally I've noticed this attitude that misanthropy, nihilism and whatnot is for kids. What do you say?
My misanthropy takes this form;

I love and cherish my family and the close friends I have (2 friends,each of over 35 years) I also protect children and animals if I can.

I have an intense dislike of human beings as a species.

I've arrived at this position over many years,having begun my teens as a rather priggish idealist and devout Catholic youth leader.

I slowly discovered that neither people (individually or en masse) nor life itself are as I thought they were. I began to see and accept life as it is. I don't deny the existence of altruistic acts,only of altruistic people. I finally concluded that we humans are merely "animals with delusions of grandeur"

My life philosophy became based on egoism,with unfortunate and inconvenient vestige of Catholic conscience

Today? If you're interested, read the lyrics of Simom and Garfunkel's "I Am A Rock"
(replace "poetry" with "PC")
I've had many similar experiences. Why do you think that so many twenty something Atheists feel like they need to segregate themselves from older Atheists? I'm coming from the perspective of a younger Atheist and I find that the political and social aspects of the Freethinker community are filled with primarily middle aged men and women. Paradoxically, my generation is one of the most secular minded in recent history. It seems we just don't seem to want to commit to any kind of long term organization where we have to pay attention to something for a long period of time.

Perhaps it's all that Ritalin we've been fed as children ;)
I actually thought your response was thoughtful and am quite glad you made it. I think you make important points. It's interesting in that I don't see this so much as a community issue like you note with Jewish synagogues, but rather as a way to empower and offer support for individuals. I guess that's community support in the way you find in self-help groups, if that wacky comparison makes sense.

It is entirely possible that this isn't needed, by the way, and your question to mthoreau addresses that.
mthoreau, do you think age intregration is possible, or even appropriate?

I think that at least some degree of separation between generations is going to occur, and that this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The experiences of a college student are very different from someone who is married with children and a mortgage and it is only natural that they have a hard time relating to one another. There certainly is a generation gap that all communities must cope with, but as Freethinkers I would hope that we are better equipped to handle these differences.

Mostly I'm just dismayed at the lack of young people getting involved in voluntary organizations. I don't think that this is a uniquely Atheist problem, if you've read Putnam's Bowling Alone or Twenge's Generation Me it becomes evident that America is losing it's sense of community in its quest for ever more extreme expressions of individualism.

To be honest though, I really don't have any ideas or solutions to this. I could go on and on about why I think Gen X (or is it Y?) is the way it is, but that is another post for another day. I guess I'm something of an exception to the rule because I've always made a point to seek out like minded individuals because community is important to me. It is the responsibility of younger Atheists to leave their comfort zone and the responsibility of the older ones to make them feel welcome. It irks me that Freethought and activism is largely the territory of the gray hairs, (aren't the 20 somethings supposed to be the idealistic and energetic ones?) but I suppose that we young people have no one to blame but ourselves.
I think this is the sort of thing that just works itself out. Well, unless the Bowling Alone trend goes to infinity. I think people tend not to join causes until they get older. Voting trends have been like this for decades. Young people just don't vote much, but as cohorts age, they vote in higher percentages. I suspect young people are too busy with their social lives, schooling, first jobs, first babies, etc, to really devote much time to causes. They either think that everything will go to hell before they can do anything about it, or that things will just work out until they have time to deal with it. Either way, they don't feel they have much of a stake in things, and with little accumulated life capital, they have little to gain or lose by being politically involved. Of course, armchair psychoanalysis isn't much use with regard to individuals, so I doubt it's a whole lotta valid when aimed at entire generations.

Perhaps more important, however, is what the hell are we going to do after Generation Z? We've plumb run out of letters. Who was the bozo that started counting with Generation X, so close to the end of the alphabet? Not a forward thinker, that's for sure. I propose we use a system like the one we use for hurricanes. Generation Bob, Generation Cindy, and so on. We could base it on the most popular baby names at the beginning of each 20-year period. Good thing I'm around to solve the big problems...




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