With so many 'coming out' stories about atheism, I was wondering if there is a way that atheists can identify one another without asking. In the gay world, it's 'gaydar' - noting the way that someone walks, talks, dresses, interacts with others, or somehow just "is".
I've had a few people, out of the blue (at work) volunteer to me that they are atheist. I didn't ask why, it just seemed like a topic for conversation at the time. Even though it's a very busy workplace and we don't chat much at all.
So I'm wondering, if there is a atheist version of 'gaydar'? Something that makes us think "that person looks like an atheist!". Maybe it's a lack of interest in Xmas, or that is the only person who never mentions going to church, or... what? Seeing that evolve-fish on their car - well, that's obvious. There must be something more subtle.
I've seen a similar situation with Mormons here. Fairly quickly, they seem to identify one another by mentions of their son on a mission, or their trip to Salt Lake City, or, I don't know, their most recent jello recipes. Key words, or key concepts, and maybe mannerisms, seem to help some like-minded people identify one another.
If there is such a 'early detection system', what is it called? Or what should it be called? Somehow 'heathenar' doesn't have that snappy sound.
Just read about this study very interesting findings . . . close to what you suggest but not exactly dead on.
Among the findings:
* The odds of going to college increase for high school students who attend religious services more frequently or who view religion as more important in their lives. The researchers speculate that there may be a "nagging theory" in which fellow churchgoers encourage the students to attend college.
* Being a humanities or a social science major has a statistically significant negative effect on religiosity -- measured by either religious attendance and how important students consider the importance of religion in their lives. The impact appears to be strongest in the social sciences.
* Students in education and business show an increase in religiosity over their time at college.
* Majoring in the biological or physical sciences does not affect religious attendance of students, but majoring in the physical sciences does negatively relate to the way students view the importance of religion in their lives.
* Religious attendance is positively associated with staying in majors in the social sciences, biological sciences and business majors. For most vocational majors, the researchers found a negative relationship between religious attendance and staying in the same major. The researchers compare this finding to their data about how students who attend services are more likely to enroll in college in the first place: "In both cases, religious attendance encourages a shift toward a higher status path."
According to a study by Paul Bell, published in the Mensa Magazine in 2002, there is an inverse correlation* between religiosity and intelligence. Analyzing 43 studies carried out since 1927, Bell found that all but four reported such a connection, and he concluded that "the higher one's intelligence or education level, the less one is likely to be religious or hold 'beliefs' of any kind." A survey published in Nature in 1998 confirms that belief in a personal God or afterlife is at an all time low among the members of the National Academy of Science, only 7.0% of which believed in a personal God as compared to more than 85% of the US general population."[w]
I think you are right though, that there are plenty of high IQ religious folks.
I work as a college professor, at a state institution, in the buckle of the Bible Belt. The Gideons show up every semester to give out bibles. Our administration begins every school year with a prayer. For my first year here, I stayed a closet atheist. But, I am now fairly outspoken on the topic. Most of my students have never even met an atheist and confuse us with Satanists!
You'd think so! The administration here really loves me and they keep promoting me... but they are universally hard core Christians. This is SUCH a homogenous community. Non-Baptists are rare as hens teeth.
I'm not sure if it's a-dar or something else, but people tell me things. I've learned to pick up the cues when they want to ask (there is a look) but are afraid to do so, probably from past experience. This has lead me to just volunteer the information and put everyone at ease. Weather they agree or not, it relieves the awkwardness of an unanswered question in the air.
Things like "Oh, I'm a total Atheist." tend to just pop out of my mouth when that tilted head slightly wrinkled brow thing begins in the person with whom I'm having the conversation. I'm glad I have, I found my neighbors out as 'non-believers' happiness for both families.
Relatively recently I became employed at a call center (huge office setting) and one day I was in the break room having lunch with fellow employees and religion comes up. Most of them are pretty hard-core Christians. One in particular was notably more hard-core than the rest. He was a "You need Jesus!"-Young-earth Creationist, a picture perfect stereotype of a fundy. When all heads turned to me I mentioned I don't believe in God, a simple statement of fact, without a blink or stutter from me. And once I stated that, others started coming out, even those that professed to be Christian a few moments earlier, started offering up there skeptical sides.
Well the YEC, being thoroughly indoctrinated, knew what he had to do, attempt to convert me. He had no idea what he was getting himself into. But I welcomed it with enthusiasm, and assured him I used to be exactly like him (which is the truth). This allowed him to be honest around me and be genuinely curious as to my change of mind. His first assumption was that someone had wronged me in the church which led me to hate God. It took a lot of convincing to dispel of this indoctrinated assumption.
I've since had many outings and conversations with him. And just the other day he confessed to me that after our conversations he is seeing more and more hypocrisy in the church when he attends. And more recently he has confided in me that he considers himself to be an agnostic and has now borrowed my books I've recommended him read. He is always thanking me for what I've done.
His current area of conflict is now with his church. He removed the Bible from his favorite books in Facebook and replaced it with "books with facts not myths." This has raised a lot of questions at his church. He's currently trying to find a good excuse to stop attendance (as he teaches the youth). I'm encouraging him to keep going and try to introduce the same skepticism I introduced to him in the youth group and with others at his church. But I'm not sure how well this will work out. I need to make sure he knows the location of all the escape routes just in case.
This relates to A-dar in that just like a radar, you first need to send an initial signal out, and wait for the return signals. When I did this in the break room, I learned in much more detail the specifics of each persons beliefs.