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?
I would agree with you that it is indeed sad. And I think skittish is a good descriptive of how I'd feel about going on a Big Reveal. Having grown up in a somewhat conservative religious family, and within that a more than somewhat conservative area in which everyone is related to everyone else and knows everyone's business whether it gets told or not, I've learned to keep my crazy thoughts about religion to myself, specifically when I'm with family (other crazy thoughts can be expressed, and in relation to myself are probably expected). Years of conditioning are hard to overcome, even though I've been atheist for a good 10 years or more.
Yes, I rest on my laurels. No one in my family asks me if I talked to a sky daddy today because it's most likely assumed that I did, that it went well, and I've been blessed with a new dishwasher because of it (I haven't-the old dishwasher still sits there collecting bread crumbs and coffee stains). Their assumption of my belief is my crutch, and I freely admit it to strangers such as yourself. Sad indeed.
Their assumption of my belief is my crutch, and I freely admit it to strangers such as yourself. Sad indeed.>>
I used that crutch for a long time and it worked well, though I probably didn't personally initiate enough religiously oriented babble to allow my inlaws be to confident that I was a believer. Then I opened my mouth a few times and have now dropped too many hints to retreat back into the "assumption" mode. Even if I basically go back under cover at this point I feel better having asserted my right to beleve differently.
It's mostly people of my past that I've kept in the dark. I'm fairly open with the newbies in my life. All the ones that I 'fear' to tell are on my mother's side-they tend to be the most judgmental when it comes to these things (my uncle, for instance, will not go to his brother-in-law's restaurant because they serve alcohol). There's also a part of my that just can't be bothered, that would rather keep the peace and not become a family problem child. I run from drama and confrontation like a world-class marathoner.
You're probably going at it in hint-mode would probably be the way I would do it as well, should I feel so inclined.
As an agnostic atheist, I bring the sledgehammer of questioning.
Good one, Thor. But do you believe in yourself?
Yes, but I suspect I have ulterior motives.
Yeah, you got a good old fashion snortle (snort/chortle) out of me for that one.
I guess I am a bit late but here goes. Except my elder brother, no one in my family knows about my atheism, although I have been trying to drop hints to my parents for quite some time now. As for friends, they all know and respect my opinions. I don't necessarily broach the topic of my atheism in normal day-to-day interactions but if someone is pulling religious bullshit out of thin air in front of me, they must be ready for a debate, although to be honest, I won't do a good job of convincing anyone. I have never come across a blatantly religious, in-your-face-religious kind of person before, so I can't say what I would do once confronted with them.
Here's one that my church friends never got. They didn't even think it was funny.
This minister is walking through an alley and he hears a sound like glass breaking. Then he finds a homeless man standing by a broken bottle of booze, talking and mumbling.
"Oh, Jesus. Oh, my god. What am I gonna do. Oh, help me Jesus" the man moans.
The minister says back to him, "that's right. You can do it. You can break that cycle of sin and booze, and you don't need that bottle. Pray on through. You can do it."
With that encouragement the homeless man says "you don't understand mister. That was the only bottle I had."
My atheism is never a secret, not in personal life, not at work. But I don't push the subject either. Within reason I'm more than happy to talk about it. I work with atheist/agnostics, Christians, Hindus, Muslims.
Once my wife and I were at a B&B and a woman and her daughter at the table started talking about the 'wonderful' missionary work their church was doing in third world countries. I made a couple of pointed comments about the problems caused by shoving a European religion into other cultures, and the subject changed.
Sometimes it helps to keep it light. I have a few non offensive religious jokes that let atheists and religious folks laugh together. Can help defuse tensions.
[On a humorous side note, some years ago a couple of Christian co workers asked me to settle an argument about whether something was in the Bible; they knew I was an atheist, but they also knew that I knew more about the Bible than either of them]
"How important is it to YOU for others to know where you stand on the God fantasy?"
Not at all. It comes up maybe 1-2 times a year. It's a non-issue most of the time.
"Do you go out of your way to let others know you are an atheist when you could just as easily keep quiet?"
No, but I'm not closeted either.
"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?"
That's their damage, not mine. If they start treating me differently or badly because I'm an atheist, I cut them out of my life like a tumor, the same way I would a misogynist or a racist. Hate is hate.
"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?"
Do I think it's intellectually honest to reveal my biases? Yes, absolutely. But I don't pretend I have the power to "enlighten" or "awaken". If they are thinking adults, then the information is readily available to them when they are ready to look. We "awaken" ourselves.