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!
Ryan, I know what you mean. I'm around a zillion people every day, but often feel that I'm in a silo. Always seeking people with similar outlook, sensibility, and values. Nexus is a major place for me, I can pretty much express myself and see some kindred spirits. That means a lot.
I am sad to hear of your situation. A lot of atheists can relate to your situation. 80% of the population share a belief in God. This is a great place to talk to people. People here are supportive, and understand. You don't need to feel alone. That's what atheist communities are for.
I'm right where you are. I see family on facebook, and realize that my profile would be a huge problem, so I never did facebook. The older I get, the more they seem alien to me. Recently an extended family member posted "God's Not Dead" (reference to movie) and 38 others liked it. As for my neighborhood and community, forget about it. I don't know if I'm depressed, but I feel like I'm holding a secret. For me, right now, it's actually better to not advertise it. I don't think anything can be gained from it. I know these people around here. They will be confused, and try to turn me with a ridiculous argument that I'd blow out of the water, and as soon as I questioned them, I'd be the devil. So many times I've seen potential in people, but know for a fact that the minute we would discuss religion, everything would go haywire, or the relationship would not progress. I 've actually stopped thinking about it, and accepted that's how i have to live. I don't know anything else.
Damian, I can so agree with you. My step father has always been a believer and always wanted to make me look shallow in anything, even religion, when I'm the one that studied it in ways that he never thought of.
Not so long ago he told me on the telephone that he had the greatest proof for the existence of god. He said that his bible says god will gather the Jews from all over the earth in "the last days" and they will return to Israel. This claim has happened in his lifetime, he says.
Then I asked him to explain to me why the Jews were still in every nation all over the earth? He acted dumbfounded and said I wasn't very smart as an atheist. I was much smarter before.
I agree with you Freethinker31. He was trying to use his Buybull to prove prophesy and what he said proved nothing. Evangelicals and Fundies like him would grab at anything to prove Jesus is coming back tomorrow, and just as many would do something to think they were starting this "chain of events" bringing on the "end of the world." Imagine Bachmann and other right wingers who believe this. Now all you need is the wrong hand on the red button. I can see a lot of theists jumping up and down and praising god if nukes start to fall. What they don't see is that Jebus is not going to be there to help them.
"Jewish" is just a label our parents were taught that they had to teach their children to have, in order for them to avoid feeling too guilty about themselves due to the possibility of not teaching their kids to have the label they were taught that they had to teach their kids to have. I do not identify as a Jewish atheist, I identify as Michael.
The reason people invented countries is sort of for similar genetic or evolutionary reasons why some animals have to piss on certain rocks or trees to mark their territory... If you live in Israel you have to serve a mandatory sentence in the army, and i would never be in an army and risk getting shot at...
As an atheist Israel is not spiritually meaningful to me. I was taught that Jews are Jewish because we believe in one god... you do not believe in a god, so now do you have to invent new reasons why we still have to keep the same label? When Jewish people daven are they talking to the wall? And which wall, the dry wall in the house or shul or a pile of stones in Jerusalem? 80 billion google years from now notions of ethnicity, culture, religion,which language you think you have to speak, race, nationality, and so on, will not make one damn bit of difference.
By the way, were you taught about the messiah? I was told in hebrew school that any day or any hour, the messiah might come, at which point a sort of paradise or messianic age would start, and living people (I do not know whether all people or just Jewish people) would end up in Israel, where they would live in a sort or paradise, and dead people (I don't remember whether all people or just Jewish people) would roll under ground until they got to israel and dead people (I don't know whether all all people or just Jewish people) would come back to life... when I imagined the messiah coming, I imagined a man, dressed in a dark suit, dropping out of the sky, with his feet and hands pointing upward and his rear end facing downward... does your family put dirt or sand from israel in graves, to serve as a sort of homing devise...
Another thing, being circumcised is like having a disfigurement or scar that says, HEY EVERYBODY, I'm JEWISH! Come and GET ME!! Or do you want all Jewish people to cram themselves into Israel so the arabs can more easily kill us all?
Good, at least you are not fasting. The purpose of fasting in religion is to inhibit the function of part of your brain so that you will be most receptive to the higher than usual level of religious brainwashing which is supposed to occur on the fast days. But as for Israel, there is no evidence that our personal direct ancestors ever lived in ancient Israel, why not visit Lithuania, which had way more Jewish culture than Israel...
The whole concept of a Jewish homeland is nonsense. The whole concept of dividing people into groups according to ethnicity or culture may be a mental disorder, but if you wanted to make sure Jewish people do not go extinct, Jewish people should spread themselves evenly around the world, with not too many Jewish people in any one place.
Consider forming a Freethinker's yahoo meetup group in your area - at a public place like a coffee shop. Also consider having a facebook page (anonymous or not) so you can connect with fellow atheists. Also join progressive-minded groups like book clubs, college groups, alternative arts coallitions etc as there tends to be more atheists in those venues. Good luck and remember that a LOT of atheists are closeted (personal reasons, professional protection etc) so finding them on facebook or another social media site might be a good start.
I've been depressed and isolated for so long I don't remember what it feels like to not be depressed and isolated. If you can think of it, I've probably tried it. I was prepared to try a few more things recently, but so far, I'm striking out. It doesn't help that I view hope as a toxin that makes me a member of the walking dead...a few more days, a few more months, a few more years, a few more decades. I have just enough hope to keep me alive, but not enough to really live. For many years, I've been shrinking further and further into myself. At some point, there won't be anything left.
When it comes to depression, it's easy to fall into the habit of blaming outside influences. The fact is, though, that depression comes from within. Regardless of one's circumstances in life, it can hit hard (Robin Willams for one recent, blatant example. Or others even at the prime of their life- Elton John struggled with this even at the height of his success.)
Once we recognize this (I too have struggled mightily with it, and still do from time to time), then it's a little easier to deal with. You have to separate out the illogical thoughts ("there's no hope; things will always be like this") from the logical ones ("it's not my surroundings; I would feel like this even if things were different.")
I've learned that some of my darkest thoughts gather like storm clouds around the same time each month. Now, I see them for what they are, and it's a tremendous help. I separate out the hormonal thoughts from the logical ones.
Also, we live in a time where the internet is as important a tool as the Guttenberg press in terms of communication. We may not have people in "real life" we can relate to, but from the comfort of our own homes, we can access people around the world in forums like this one! That is tremendous.
Those of us who are surrounded by delusional fundies, must keep calm/carry on as examples. As the angry, insecure delusional people struggle with their faith and contradictions, we go about our lives doing what we enjoy, quietly demonstrating how great life can be without religion. We need to be examples of how it makes no difference whatsoever whether you pray or attend church, or not.