I'd like to get some other folk's reasoning for being more vocal about their atheism online than in their day to day life. Is the ability to use a pseudonym no one will be able to connect to you as a person make for your ability to speak up? Do you worry about family/friends/coworkers/etc... finding out? Do you see vocalizing your views as therapeutic or as a way to take action to move the world toward secularism when doing so in other ways would get you flak?

I personally try to make my opinion known where I can, but for fear of losing contact with a few friends and most family doing so online is the most readily accessible way to speak to and hear from people both of my own views and theistic ones and have discussions with them without fearing what the repercussions would be in my daily life for doing so. There's also the feeling that if someone I knew found I'd participated in places such as AN it'd likely be people I knew but didn't know were like minded toward religion. It would be cool to find out a friend whom I'd avoided the subject with was actually in agreement with me. Sometimes it feels like there must be more people who question religion, but we don't see each other because there's no way to make it known to other freethinkers without risking the problems that often come with being open with it.

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Hello fellow Indiana atheist. We seem to be few and far between. I haven't found any other at Atheist Nexus that are near Lafayette. Fortunately for me, there is an atheist group here, that gets together every couple of weeks. Our group got started through meetup.com. It might be worth looking for or starting something in your area through meetup.

Regarding the subject at hand... I'm not really closeted about my atheism in day to day life. But I'm not generally an in-your-face atheist in everyday life like I often am on the web. I've been very regularly active and confrontational on an internet religious issues forum, but the social dynamics of 'real life' are very different than the social dynamics of an internet forum.

I agree with you that "They are too afraid to ask..." for the most part. Most theists, even very outspoken ones, have fragile egos/worldviews, and don't want their worldviews exposed to much scrutiny. Beyond wanting to know that you generally support the same delusional way of looking at things that they do, they really aren't much interested in other's points of view on the nature of reality.

Regarding the original post...

I'm very active on the internet for a wide variety of reasons.

1. I think it's critically important to humanity that we propagate awareness of the importance, and general value, of critical thinking.

2. I value having my viewpoint challenged. Going through the effort of developing counter-arguments to quality critiques helps me find 'soft spots' in my way of thinking, and educate myself on relevant topics. This ultimately leads to my having even greater confidence in the robustness of my viewpoint.

3. The ability to be relatively anonymous can be of real importance. I do most of my posting in the religious issues subforum of a large handgun forum, and some of the posters there are downright crazy. In addition to general religious lack of contact with reality, I've IMO accurately diagnosed forum participants with Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. People with BPD are generally more dangerous to themselves than others, but NPD can border on psychopathy, and getting seriously confrontational with such people in a situation where they could feasibly seek revenge isn't something I'd recommend.

4. It is therapeutic for me (to some extent) to engage in such discussions, because it makes me a lot more conscious of how my religious upbringing has impacted me. And the knowledge that I can support my point of view extremely thoroughly by comparison with most theists gives me a lot of confidence.

5. One of the biggest reasons I'm involved in internet discussions is that I believe it's valuable for people to put a human face on atheism because the way most theists conceive of atheists is grossly inaccurate. Therefore I tend to post a lot of relatively personal things so that people (at least those still capable of it) are able to see that I'm just another human getting along the best I know how. It doesn't mean there aren't times when people accuse me of being Satan incarnate, but over the long run, I've earned the respect of a lot of theists for being honest, thoughtful, and intelligent.


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