When I tell people I am an atheist it is extremly hard to bring the words out of my mouth because it comes with so much criticism. In most responses I get "Oh, no" or "thats not right", something along those lines. I feel like I have to have a long drawn out discuss with people when faced with the question of religion because there are so many believers out there. So I'm wondering how does everyone also handle situations like this? Do you have to always defend yourself, your nonbelief? How should I handle, or what should I say the next time someone questions me about this and tries to belittle me for not believing in God? I'm sick of explaining myself to people who are religious!

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Okay, point by point ...

Why do you care whether your parents would have a problem with a non-Jewish girl or not? You're abandoning everything about the Jewish heritage. Just screw it and go with whomever you find whom you like. By looking for an ethnically Jewish girl, you're restricting yourself to a very small percentage of the population ... and then you're looking for a very small percentage of those. This is not a good way to find a girl, when you already have problems with being socially awkward.

Most non-ethnically 'marked' (interesting phrasing and potentially a bit insulting; I'd work on a better descriptor, if I was you) white girls are Christian, yes. I hate to tell you this, but most people in this country are Christian, period. And most ethnically-Jewish people are observant Jews. You're already cutting yourself down to a small percentage of the population by insisting on an atheist. Don't cut yourself down further, unless it's absolutely necessary (such as my prohibition against smokers). Flat out, look for atheists of whatever race. If a girl is an atheist, she's not going to have any Christian observances of any sort, except perhaps a secular observance of Christmas, as many atheists have. That doesn't count.

Your last paragraph tells me why you shouldn't look for an ethnically-Jewish girl, even more than I already thought. Many atheistic, cultural Jews hold onto all of those sorts of observances, despite their atheism. If you tell a white girl that you don't want your son circumcised, you're unlikely to have any argument on the subject. If you tell a culturally-Jewish girl that, you're likely to run into problems.

As for Judaism being more neurotic than other religions ... you haven't met many Catholics or Mormons, have you? I'd add pentecostals, but I think they're more psychotic.
When I was younger I was kind of embarrassed that I was an Atheist. I would tell people I was catholic until I was probably 15 or 16 years old. Then I went through a phase where I said I was an atheist and people kind of looked down on me. Now, when asked what religion I am, I say I don't have one. Some people get confused and asked what my parents were, thinking that I would just be what they are (dumb argument since you aren't born the same political party as your parents so why should you automatically be the same religion). Anyways, I find that it works a lot better.

In my opinion, the term atheist is stupid. There is no word for people who don't believe in Santa, Witches, Leprechauns , etc. Therefore, why should there be a word for someone who doesn't believe in whatever God is.

Also, never explain yourself to the religious. They need to explain themselves to you. Just ask them what God is. Then keep asking questions about things they say until they get really confused. It usually only takes 2 or 3 questions.
The term I use is "rational nontheist" ("nontheist" for short). This avoids the "See? You have faith, too!" reply that religious people tend to make if told that you're atheist, and I haven't heard anybody hand me the "wishy-washy" line that is often given by fellow nontheists if told you're agnostic. (Why noncommittal to a belief to which one shouldn't be committed should be thought wishy-washy, I don't know. I can only suppose that some atheists take agnosticism to mean sitting on the fence, half-inclined toward belief and half-inclined toward disbelief, instead of meaning what it means in my case, which is refusing to say "Absolutely not" but not even a little tiny bit inclined toward belief.) I would still like a shorter, pithier term that would get across the same information, but I haven't found one.

There is no word for nonbelievers in Santa Claus because nobody seriously maintains that Santa Claus exists. There is a word for nonbelievers in God because some people--historically a majority--do maintain that God exists, necessitating a word for those who don't.

Unlike you, I am happy to explain myself to the religious. If I have the time, I'm happy to listen to their explanations, too. If anybody is going to convert anybody, I'm going to convert them--which is one of my goals in life.
not to say there is anything wrong with you at all, but it sounds like you are not quite an atheist.  Or at least it seems strange that people on an atheist website are actually boasting about how they cannot be 100% definitely sure there is no god.  I would like to think I'm not the only person who is 100% completely sure that there is definitely no god.

Michael, we've been over this.  That's an anti-theist, a subset of atheism.  It's just like moral, amoral, and  immoral.  Amoral does not mean that someone is doing the opposite of what is moral.  Maybe one of these years you'll get that.


And if you're going to claim anti-theism, you may want to do a bit more legwork on backing up your claim.  So far, I haven't seen anything even vaguely convincing.

You can't possibly be that serious, because what it seems that you imply is that I need evidence of why there is no god (as if you are not already an atheist?).  Its not that I have a real problem with this discussion, its that I would expect to have this sort of discussion (if I wasn't afraid too to argue or talk enough in public) only with an average person or a serious theist or supernaturalist or a christian.  I also feel it would be nice to have some elegant philosophical arguments for why god is imaginary, but even without such arguments, if you can just stand to transcend this discussion and just look at the actual facts about the universe, then of course there is no god, and sure, god does talk to some people, but the talking is just imaginary, a symptom of a mental disorder. 


In my dialect or the way I use English, I don't use "amoral, I only use "moral" and "immoral," but if I do hear "amoral" then I understand it to be a synonym of "immoral."  (a lot of what we think of as morality is actually based on christian or possibly Jewish religious beliefs and may be imaginary or invalid or unhealthy).       

"Immoral" and "amoral" are not synonyms.   With respect to actions:  Randomly murdering someone is, on most accounts of morality, immoral--it violates morality.  Painting a portrait is amoral--morality doesn't demand it, but neither does it violate morality.  With respect to people:  Someone characterized as immoral is someone who deliberately violates the speaker's or society's moral code; someone characterized as amoral is someone who simply doesn't care about morality.  The amoral person's actions may or may not be what morality would demand; his actions may or may not violate the prohibitions of moral law; but he doesn't take morality into account when deciding what to do. 


As to God:  There is a difficulty in discussing what is needed not merely for nonbelief that there is a God but for belief that there isn't one.  The difficulty is that if you say "There is no Santa Claus," nobody gets upset and accuses you of having faith or of making too strong a statement, because, after all, nobody thinks that there really is a Santa Claus.  The lack of evidence *for* a Santa Claus suffices for it to be unreasonable to think that there is a Santa Claus.  When we go further and say that there is no Santa Claus, we're technically going too far, unless we have some reason to think that there isn't a Santa Claus; we should really just say that there's no reason to think that there is a Santa Claus and that therefore we shouldn't believe that there is one.  But it's a lot quicker to say that there is no Santa Claus--which goes further but which nobody minds.


However, when it comes to saying "There is no God," there are people who *do* claim the contradictory and who *do* mind the shorthand way of putting it.  So, we should be more careful and say merely that there is no good reason to think that there is a God (which, please note, some people dispute, at which point the argument is about the legitimacy of their purported reasons rather than about whether or not we should believe based on no evidence) and that we therefore shouldn't believe that there is one. 


I do not agree with your phrasing "then of course there is no god, and sure, god does talk to some people, but the talking is just imaginary, a symptom of mental disorder."  I would phrase it as "then of course we shouldn't believe that there is a God, and sure, some people have mental experiences that seem to them to be God-talking-to-them experiences, but those mental experiences are not caused by an actual God's actually talking to them but are instead merely imaginary, instances of mistaken ascription of an external cause (God) to a purely internal experience."


Every person speaks a slightly different language, but in the case of speakers of the "same" language, or at least in English, the differences are small and there is 99 or 99.9 something overlap or sameness between any two given speakers.  So, that's the way your dialect works, and my dialect lacks the word amoral.  Of course, any language can discuss any concept, its just that if a language lacks a single word for a concept, than it has to be described with a few words or a sentence or a few sentences or more, as necessary.  (Other languages, like German, Italian, Slavic, and Hindi, are more like dialect continuums and there is a lot more differences between various dialects).


As for the non-existence of god, it is so odd that on an atheist website, someone would actually go through so much casuistry to make the claim that it is technically wrong to say that there is definitely no god.  It is only wrong to say there is definitely no god, if by wrong you mean impolite to say in front of a theist or supernaturalist. 


What you think I should say, "then of course we shouldn't believe that there is a God...and so on, halfway makes sense, but that is all just too much casuistry for me, and right now I'm reminded of the Yiddish phrase, "hak mir nit keyn chaynik" which means don't bang on a teakettle for me, or more loosely, don't scramble my brain around with so much nonsense or casuistry.  Nu, so I don't see why we can't just be direct and extremely honest, even if the religious nuts don't really like it: god is imaginary.  That's a three word, wonderfully succinct, direct, powerful, 100% true honest description of the way the universe works, which would be totally unnecessary to say if nobody had ever invented the idea of god but makes sense to say given that so many people seem to believe in or want to put on the pretense that there is a god. 

Or, if you like long statements: ok, god does exist...in the fantasy world which is in peoples heads and in the literature people wrote, but god most definitely does not exist is the actual world which is outside the fantasy world that is in peoples heads and literature and myths people wrote.  Divine inspiration is imaginary or a symptom of a mental disorder.            

  • As for the non-existence of god, it is so odd that on an atheist website, someone would actually go through so much casuistry to make the claim that it is technically wrong to say that there is definitely no
    god.  It is only wrong to say there is definitely no god, if by wrong
    you mean impolite to say in front of a theist or supernaturalist.

A good reason for it is because atheism is not the declaration that no gods exist.  It's a response to a claim.  It's a disbelief in the assertion that a god exists, as unsupported by evidence.


The reason that I argue so vehemently against your unsupported assertion is because of what the theists say.  They say that they don't have enough faith to be an atheist.  They say that we're as much a religion as they are.  They say that we're making an argument to the contrary of their argument, with no proof of our own.


I have enough difficulties arguing against their misconceptions of what atheism is ... and then I come on here and find you proving them correct, in your case.  And I'm not content to speak in absolutist terms on here, because I'm sure you go out and speak the same way elsewhere, potentially making the rest of us look bad.  I'm not willing to write you off as a lost cause, because I keep hoping you'll eventually understand why what you're doing is so potentially harmful to the atheist community.

"Amoral" is much more often used to mean "worse than immoral."  An amoral person not only breaks the moral code but ignores it completely.  Bill Clinton sometimes behaved immorally, but the Bush administration was amoral.


As for whether or not Santa Claus exists, I have very good reasons for believing he does not.  Reindeer don't fly; it would be impossible for one person to visit every household around the world in one night; a fat man like Santa could never get down most chimneys; there is no toy workshop at the North Pole; and my dad ate all the cookies.  Despite all the poems, books, stories, movies, and cartoons about Santa, he isn't real.  It's a simple matter of deductive reasoning.  Clausists might argue that you can't disprove the existence of Santa.  Maybe not, but I can disprove all the stories about him.  See above.  Ah, the Clausist would say, Santa isn't a person; he's the spirit of Christmas.  And spirits, I would say, are not real.


Does this sound familiar?  Can I disprove the existence of God?  Maybe not, but the stories about him are bogus.  Seas do not part, there is not enough water on earth to cover the entire surface to a depth of fifteen feet, staffs don't turn into snakes, snakes don't talk, virgins don't give birth, dead men do not climb out of their graves, and the earth was not created in six days.


By the way, if a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to hear it, it sure as hell makes a sound.  Sound is caused by vibration. Tearing bark, cracking wood, and tons of falling cellulose cause a lot of vibration.

  • Tearing bark, cracking wood, and tons of falling cellulose cause a lot of vibration.
Am I the only one who reads that sentence and tries to puzzle out which sexual act it's a metaphor of?

I agree that telling a logically consistent story in which Santa Claus actually exists requires either violating physical law or granting Santa access to various extremely advanced technological devices.  Nevertheless, it can be done:  Perhaps Santa's reindeer use an antigravity device to defy gravity; perhaps Santa's bag reaches into a fourth spatial dimension, rendering it effectively bottomless; perhaps Santa's workshop is hidden by an invisibility shield; perhaps Santa has a time dilation device that allows him to reach all of the homes he needs to in one night; perhaps Santa has a Star Trek-style matter transporter allowing him to get into and out of homes; perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.... 


Naturally, I would not for one moment suppose Santa Claus to actually exist.  The point is only that it can be made logically consistent, and therefore is logically possible.  Similarly with most versions of God.


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