I did a forum search and was surprised to not find any recent threads touching on this topic. I am new to this site, and a big part of what drove me here are my feelings of isolation and subsequent feelings of depression stemming from a lack of community and contact with fellow atheists. I imagine plenty of you have or currently feel this way, and I'd like to hear from other people about their experiences and how they cope.
I currently do not have any close friends or family members who are atheists or skeptics, and many of my friends and family are either fervently religious or have world views that center around some other form of woo. Up until about a year ago I did have a girlfriend who was an atheist / skeptic, but that relationship ended badly so I felt it necessary to cut ties completely.
So in a nutshell I find it difficult to relate to those around me, and I feel a serious void because of it. I'm going to leave it at that so this post doesn't drag on, but please do chime in if you relate or have something to share on the subject. Thanks!
I have both isolation and depression. As for the first one, isolation, I've been a loner most of my life although I can talk your leg off. At 68 now I'm going on 2 years as an atheist and I see so much how this isolates me more than before. It's possible that I've even lost a job because of this, and the theists are batshit crazy. My childhood theist friend told me just last week that "Jesus is a personal friend of his." Make that claim about any other person who died 2000 years ago and you might end up in a rubber room. Tell them you don't believe them, and somebody could end up harmed or killed. I'm very outspoken but you also have to be careful.
Depression can come and go for many reasons. I try to understand it, and I alternate through it with TV, books, and sleeping. You can even "nitpick" little things as projects to help you get through it. Things like tree trimming, home maintanance, etc. Of course, lack of a job right now and the fact that my wife and I decided to live separately since April 3rd has a great amount to do with it. My life is forever changing and here lately I don't like the changes. Fighting all of this and starting to deal with serious health issues isn't fun either. I used to weight lift but only light exercise would help me now. Maybe light exercise and diet. All you can do though is adjust and try to go on. Now I just do it all with fewer friends than before.
BTW are you related to Army seargent Gene Sikorski of helicopter fame? He was a friend of mine in 1966. We were in the 84th Engineer Co. in Nurnberg. Gene was a very intelligent man who really had a higher status that his rank would indicate. He had a very high security clearance.
My religious friend isn't schizophrenic but he may be speaking again from a "learned mentality." I met him when we were 12 or 13 years old and he lived 2 houses away from his grandparents. The fundy grandpa was always saying "the world cannot stand another day" which meant the end is near and the "rapture" is coming soon. Even today I hear those same words out of my friend, parroting his grandfather. Since his own father was not in the picture, it's easy for me to see this now and also his remarks about talking to Jesus and how Jesus is a "personal friend" of his. I'm putting this together like a psychologist would, but these types of people scare me even if I was once one of them. This is the type of person who could end up killing you and proclaim that they "were doing you a favor." There was even a case where a man killed his best friend because that friend came out as atheist to him. Either the theist really felt threatened by this knowledge of "no god" or he may have felt that an atheist had no right to live. If they had been friends for a long time the theist might have even felt "betrayed."
Since I woke up, I like that term "batshit crazy." That fits them pretty well.
the world cannot stand another day
Haven't people been saying this throughout human history?
Jesus predicted the end of the world in the lifetimes of the people around him, did he not?
Yes, he did. To continue believing in him when he did not "return" the end of the world was moved ahead to a future event. That way the old christians could "die off" and the faithful would know that the promise was "yet to come." It was apologetics to the rescue.
Believe it or not, some preachers even teach that what Jesus said about some of his apostles being alive when he returned is literally true. They claim some of these men may be alive today and just hiding from us. Others claim the apostles just "misunderstood Jesus." If they could misunderstand that badly, why would I believe anything that they ever said?
No matter. That's how crazy the fundy religious world is.
Perhaps you could use those comments as Socratic interventions with your friend. The Socratic method is a way to deal with irrational people and maybe cause them to become more rational over time.
i.e. "Jesus said the same thing basically".
Although perhaps observing that Jesus said the same, would activate the religious defense mechanisms too much.
What I like is that over 70 years later, when they finally started to write things down, my Buybull has the words of Jesus in red. Now how did they do that?
Talking to my friend about any of this just makes me the bad guy. He would never lose faith, friends, and family by getting away from his religion now. Instead he would lose me and keep everyone else. It goes to show how shallow your relationship is when you met at 12 or 13 and have been "friends" your entire life. The path of the atheist is a very difficult one.
I'm not sure we have any deathbed atheist conversions either in which a christian becomes atheist at death. At that point it no longer matters unless you are christian.
Talking to my friend about any of this just makes me the bad guy.
Even if you said something mild like "People have been saying that for thousands of years"? Would that make you the wicked skeptic?
I'm not totally silent around him. I try to make him think, but to fully understand it you would have to once have been a Pentecostal fundy yourself.
Christians sometimes seem like robots to me. They've been taken over and it sometimes seems like consciousness isn't necessary to explain their behavior.
For example Turek, author of I don't have enough Faith to be an Atheist.
I'm certainly isolated, but it's because of illness, not religion. Super-severe allergies.
I live in a college town in upstate NY. There's a lot of irrationality around here - there seems to be an ocean of it - but it's anti-vaxx and alt-med more than religion. At least, that's more noticeable. People mostly keep their religious sentiments to themselves
I spend most of my days recently recovering from allergy shots. Most of the time I post here, I'm hazy from an allergy shot.
But I'm optimistic - they will help. I just don't know how long it will take.
Ryan, so sorry you're going through all this, but hang in there!! It's not so much the atheism but all the other things that still happen to even religious people. Like so many prominent atheists remind us, you are NOT alone; there are many others in your community that feel the same way- isolated and atheist.
Exercise is the healthy approach- works for me. Bike riding, running, weights and hiking are things you can work on alone, making productive use of your time and giving you the endorphin rush/mood lift. Then, you can meet up with others and run 5Ks, hang out at the gym etc.
Religion might come up and it might not. As long as you have the activity in common, that's all that matters.