When I tell people I am an atheist it is extremly hard to bring the words out of my mouth because it comes with so much criticism. In most responses I get "Oh, no" or "thats not right", something along those lines. I feel like I have to have a long drawn out discuss with people when faced with the question of religion because there are so many believers out there. So I'm wondering how does everyone also handle situations like this? Do you have to always defend yourself, your nonbelief? How should I handle, or what should I say the next time someone questions me about this and tries to belittle me for not believing in God? I'm sick of explaining myself to people who are religious!
Heather & All...
First off... never be afraid to be yourself...
We as RATIONAL Atheists should never have to apologize for not believing in fairy tales! (Would any religious person apologize for not believing in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Unicorns, Fairies, Leprechauns, etc..??)
I realized it was all a lie when I was ~8yrs old in 2nd grade of Catholic school (~1966) after a traumatic incident with the nuns that made my life miserable there till the school finally closed at the end of my 7th grade year.
I grew up with a staunch Catholic mother that beat me with belts & wood/metal coathangers from the time she discovered I'd been lying about going to church on my own, & I finally came out & declared my disbelief at ~14 (& every time I refused to attend church or accept her "god") till I finally left home at 17... and never stopped harping on me till she died.
I kept my mouth shut around others for years, as back then it was far harder to come out than it is today.
The one great thing about reaching this age, is that the older I get, the less I care what ANYONE thinks about ANYTHING I believe or do... (Atheist, Vegan, belt-length hair, beard, etc...)
When I've placed personal ads over the last few years, I make it very clear I'm a ~45+yr Atheist, & have NO interest in meeting anyone with religious beliefs. (Previously, was always stuck dating Catholics/Christians, or at best only semi-religious... now I'd rather be alone than hide who I am.)
As I find more sites like this, and rarely, a few local friends who are also Atheists, I'm becoming far more vocal, and activist... (Atheist T-Shirts, bumper stickers, Facebook/website in works, etc... )
Search the internet for "Athiest Quotes"... LOTS of great ones that will give you short replies to their inevitable questions.
This is one of my favorites...
"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
- Stephen Roberts
I tripped over this site last year... spent hours browsing thru it...
It lists somewhere over 3,000 "gods" that various civilizations around the world have believed in throughout history. (I always wondered the number, but expected it to only be in the mid hundreds)
Using S.R.'s quote above as a basis, you could try this next time...
"I'll bet you $20 I can prove you're 99.9% Atheist."
(Obviously they'll scoff"... if you're really feeling confrontational, goad them into taking the bet... :)
Remind them that an Atheist is one that doesn't believe in ANY "gods" (including the "devil").
Then ask them if they believe in Allah, Buddha, Krishna, Zeus, etc..? (Rattle off a dozen or so famous ones...)
Obviously they'll say "no.. no... no... etc..)
Then ask them if they realize that throughout history people have believed in & worshipped over 3,000 "gods" as their "one true god" (Tell them to check the above website)
"So then, since you absolutely disavow the existence of ALL of the over 3,000 "gods" that others have believed in & worshipped throughout history as "false gods" in favor of just your one... you ARE more than 99.9% ATHEIST!!! I just believe in ONE LESS "god" than you do... yours! PAY UP!!!"
That should shut them up!! <LOL>
Hope this helps... :)
You know, It's interesting; I've never actually been CRITICIZED by any overtly religious people. I've had some discussions, mostly politely, but no direct, and very little indirect, criticism.
Most of the actual criticism has come from self-identified "liberal atheists", most of whom seem very intolerant and un-liberal to me.
Particularly ironic is the fact that those atheists who most heavily harp on the separation of church and state, are the very ones who seem utterly incensed at the fact that I do, indeed, separate religion and politics. (They seem to feel that one's religion, or lack thereof, should dictate your politics.)
I call these people "phony atheists". In my opinion, they are (despite their denials) highly religious. They just happen to be religious about something other than a conventional religion. Instead they place their unthinking faith in UFOs, or astrology, or psychic energy, or animal rights, or reiki, or environmentalism, or vegetarianism, or whatever.
They get very offended if you don't agree with their viewpoint, sometimes to the extent of personal attacks, cussing you out or making physical threats. Frankly, they scare me a lot more than any number of people knocking on doors and offering to "Spread the Word".
Many of them label themselves atheists, while at the same time clinging to all kinds of unsupportable beliefs. One woman I know roundly ridicules Christians, Muslims, Jews and so on for believing in gods; yet she also practices astrology, believes in "psychic readings", and insists that UFOs are constantly visiting the world and being hidden by a vast governmental conspiracy. Despite calling herself an atheist, I she is just as religious as any evangelical Christian ever would be. Just about a different set of nonsensical beliefs.
Faith comes in all varieties. Some disguised as atheism.