When people ask me about my beliefs, I generally say that I non-religious, rather than saying that I'm an atheist.  I don't do this in an effort to avoid controversy, rather, it's a more accurate statement of the situation.  I just don't have any religiously-held beliefs.  Let me explain what I mean.

While organized religions generally tend to favor a particular god or gods, some, such as Jainism and certain varieties of Buddhism, manage to exist as non-theistic religions.  So, just for the purpose of discussion, let me define 'religion' non-theistially as any set of beliefs, adhered to in toto, that exist either without, or in opposition to, any supporting evidence or logical basis.

For example, I have an acquaintance, let's call her Sandy, who is not conventionally religious.  If you asked her, she probably would say that she doesn't believe in God. However, she does believe, quite fervently, in ghosts, psychic phenomena, fortune telling, reiki, auras, and the idea that extraterrestrial aliens are constantly whizzing about our planet in flying saucers and abducting farmers in swamps.   

We once got into a discussion about this, and she attempted to demonstrate that her various beliefs were correct, by citing people that agreed with her. When I finally pointed out that that wasn't any sort of evidence, and that in any case many of them contradicted each other, she burst out that you didn't need evidence, you just had to BELIEVE.

Now, I submit that Sandy's viewpoint, despite it's lack of a supreme being, is just as much a religion as any sort of fundamentalist Christianity.  It has a dogma, and its adherents cling to it tightly, in the face of all evidence to the contrary.  They defend it vigorously, and decry as heretics any that fail to believe; indeed, many of them even look towards a sort of salvation, undoubtedly waiting to be scooped up one day by the mother ship.

Now, the area I live in seems to have quite a bit of this sort of thing, whether it applies to fundamentalism, UFOism, vegetarianism, fascism, anti-establishmentarianism, liberalism or any other sort of "-ism"... people who are utterly fanatical about their particular beliefs, and want to convert others.  The local atheist society seems overrun with this; they may not believe in God, but most of them certainly believe in plenty of other things, with equally religious fervor.  And I find that they are just as obnoxious and difficult to get along with, as any doorbell-ringing cultist I've ever met.

So where would one go to avoid this sort of thing?  Where best to find people that that are not only deism-free, but are also rational, and dogma-free?

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One of my close friends who's always been pretty solid in his thinking and is an atheist saw one of those crappy shows on the history channel about how aliens genetically engineered humans to mine ore for them. We were talking about something completely unrelated and he changes the subject to this topic and babbles on about it while the rest of us just kinda looked at him. I was such in shock by the whole thing I couldn't think straight to debunk it. After all he shouldn't be the one to go off on nuttery. The concept might be interesting, but come on aliens that have high technology and FTL probably have better ways to mine ore than genetically engineering ape people and giving them pickaxes.

On a side note the history channel needs to stop having shows about aliens, ghost and other woo, and go back to fact land where they belong. Unless of course somebody actually has proof of something, but then I doubt we'd here about it on a show like ghost hunters. I think that would be something the media would obsess about for a few weeks.



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