Could I take a poll?  How important is it to YOU for others to know where you stand on the God fantasy?  Do you go out of your way to let others know you are an atheist when you could just as easily keep quiet?  (We'll assume that most of us are careful when employment or personal safety is at stake.)  But how about those situations where you know you will be quietly pitied or quietly condemned for your atheism but will not be openly vilified, rejected or threatened?  In other words, I'm thinking about relationships and situations where you know that people will talk about you behind your back but probably will not confront you in any way.  Do you feel that to be intellectually honest you need to "share" or reveal your atheism, even when there is probably zero chance of awakening or enlightening others or causing them to rethink religious dogma?

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That is wonderful Patricia - I am somewhat open and like you I don't bring it up - only my family does not know.

I'm not wearing a t-shirt with a big letter-A ... but if someone wants to know what my "religion" is, I'll tell them.  No, I won't go out of my way about it ... but if some day I'm on jury duty and am supposed to swear to something and the closing words are, "so help you god," my response will be, "Keep god out of it and you got a deal."  Same deal swearing on a bible - I won't do it.  The three sets of Jehovah's Witlesses who have come to my door have learned that an atheist lives here, and that he's not afraid to say so or to cross wits with them ... though his suspicion to this point has been that his opponents have arrived largely unarmed.

I am an atheist ... and I don't care who knows it.

Here is a hypothetical situation as an example:  You are sitting at a small extended family gathering-- a baby shower.  Someone mentions that her cousin, a young mother of five children under age 8, will be home schooling starting this fall.  She adds that the cousin does not want to home school but has been "called" to do so and is therefore being "obedient".  Do you question any of the several ridiculous assumptions in that statement while others in the room are nodding their heads in acceptance and understanding of what has been said?  Or do you keep quiet? 

I love this "called" business.  Was the call person-to-person, collect, or what?  What they're being obedient to is something that is not in any way innate to them but was more than likely TAUGHT, indeed INDOCTRINATED into them as children before they had any means to evaluate what they were being taught for themselves.  Should we also mention that this teaching has no mechanism for verification or corroboration and amounts to very little more than a 2,000-year-old MYTH?  And while we're at it, this is the myth which doesn't seem to like science because it contradicts their magic book's assertion that the world is only 6,000 years old and was made in seven days, rather than a universe that is about 13.78 billion years old and a planet that has been around for about 4.5 billion of that?

Oh ... and just WHO is this person being "obedient" to?  If some god, are they in direct communication or is the obedience by way of some earthly proxy?

They got any answers?  I got LOTS more questions!

EXACTLY, Loren.  But would you bother to point any of that out to the baby shower lady?  (By the way, this was a mixed-sex baby shower.)  Specifically, would you suggest that the "god" of this 4.5 billion year old planet in a 13.78 billion year universe probably would would not have a great deal of investment in prescribing the particulars of this one young mother's children's education?  Because, believe me, these people think this IS the case!

Well ... I don't do baby showers ... but if someone's in a one-on-one  conversation with me and the subject comes up ... they better be prepared for the answers, 'cuz I won't hold 'em back!

So you wouldn't attend a baby shower (this one didn't involve any silly games-- just good food and wishing the parents to be well with some gifts) OR would you not be at a gathering if you knew that those attending are religious?

I would ask a lot of questions. Who "called" her to homeschool her children? How will they benefit by being home schooled? Does she know how to teach all the subjects a child needs in order to succeed in a technological society? Will she offer opportunities to her children if they show interest in higher math, science, music, liberal arts, or sports? How does she intend to help them learn participatory behaviors with people who are different? Who does she have to obey? Why? Why does she not rely on her own knowledge? From what is she protecting them? Are there other options? 

The rest of the family may agree with the mother for her reasoning, but she is entitled to ask herself these questions. I am sure every mother who home schooled her children asked similar questions of herself. 

If there are problems such as bullying taking place, that requires a parent/teacher/administration intervention. No child should be subjected to tyranny from anyone, student or teacher. 

That seems to be an excellent and comprehensive list of questions and issues regarding homeschooling.  My guess is that the particular young mother in question is maintaining that "God" has called her to home school and that she is therefore doing it even though she is reluctant.  And the motivation is probably to insulate her children from the secular world.  But those are assumptions on my part.  To be fair, I can think of many reasons even entirely non-religous parents might have for choosing to not toss their children into six hours a day of the culture of same age peers.

Yes, I can understand and support a mother who has a compelling reason to homeschool, if she is temperamentally able and willing. My daughter home schooled and she did an outstanding job. 

Tyler, I think I'm agreeing with you.  It's just that when my silence lets people assume I'm in agreement with their nonsense (even if it's fairly harmful nonsense)... I'm torn.

As for me, I'm completely open about it. Virtually, everyone who knows me knows I'm an atheist. That includes other attorneys, judges, all of my family members, business associates, and friends and acquaintances. And, they have learned that when challenged, or they say something inane such as "I'll pray for you," as far as I'm concerned it's 'open season with no limit.'  And, I have absolutely no qualms, when challenged, of making someone incredibly uncomfortable when pointing out their superstitious stupidity. And, that includes a public setting

As to the hypothetical about homeschooling and being "called" to do it, I'd probably initially keep my mouth shut, but roll my eyes and have a facial expression conveying the idea of  "here's some freaking moronic ignorance." If asked about it, asked! Fasten your seat belt, and let's go for a ride!




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