My basic point here is that facts don’t lead to conversions to atheism or reality based thinking.

Humans have needs and they will compromise on facts in order to meet them.

Atheists therefore need to create communities and a culture that meets the needs of humans – all humans – not just young single humans who like living on the net – or ones that can type well – or intellectualise etc.. but children, computer illiterate people, busy people etc…

Christians have churches

We need community halls

Christians have festivals and rituals that meet the needs to share celebration with people of like minds – we need something similar that meeds our need to share with community and celebrate life. Let’s do what the christians did and take over their festivals with something atheistic.

I need suggestions but things like the Hubble take off anniversary or Darwin’s birth or other such celebrations of importance to the growth in our knowledge of the world based in science. Was Darwin born around December??? : )

We need to get away from the indoctrination of Christmas and Easter, but we need to replace it with something that is suitable to our world view.

I have an interest in converting others to atheism. I don’t really know why – but I suspect its something to do with the fact that I have needs – social needs – that aren’t being met – and perhaps the additional normal reaction that I would prefer it if more people shared my world view.

I live with a theist, all my friends have some form of supernatural believe – so why am I an island – my father is an atheist and he brought me up as such. Although it took me until I was 31 to actually let go of any supernatural belief from my mothers religion or supernatural thinking friends. Why? My theory is that because it didn’t meet me needs.

Now I have 3 children. I’ve managed to persuade the eldest who is 9 that there is not God. I suspect that this may stick. IF it continues to meet his needs to do so.

Since deciding that I was an atheist and encountering Naturalism on the net and gaining support on the internet from other atheists around the world, mainly in American and the UK – and since also reading lots of books on the matter of evolution, physicals, etc – I now have a good grounding in science and scientific understanding of the world.

BUT still my needs are not met.

I need real people to spend time with, a culture, social scene, connection. The local atheist group meet at 7 pm at a pub on a week night. They drink beer. How is this useful to my dinner, teeth, book and bed routine? How is this useful to my need for my children to socialise with others of a like minded world view?

We not all determined to have atheist friends and family – I have one – my father – who lives a very long way away.

It’s all very well shouting the facts from the roof tops – but that clearly doesn’t convert people. Harris states in The Moral Landscape that our beliefs and reasoning and faith is all mixed up in the frontal lobe (although yes, he puts it way more logically and eloquently than I do) – this relates to another article I’ve read that basically tells us that facts don’t change minds – values change minds. That we all start with a bias and basically build on that bias – it takes ‘spiritual’ experience to change our bias or beliefs.

I think we need atheist halls – we need atheist culture – we need atheist community that is inclusive of all – old, young, poor, rich, able bodied, disabled, educated, low skilled, black, white, literate, illiterate – a community and place that is inclusive of all.

My basic take on it is that people have basic needs. They get their basic needs met through many avenues. Sometimes – in fact often it is more effective to get needs met if we submit to having supernatural beliefs or faith. This means that supernatural belief is more attractive to people in order to meet their basic needs – to have a religious faith.

I get a list of basic needs from Marshall B Rosenberg’s book – Nonviolent Communication –

Autonomy Interdependence Spiritual Communion
• to choose one’s • acceptance • beauty
dreams, goals • appreciation • harmony
values • closeness • inspiration
• to choose one’s • community • order
plan for fulfilling • consideration • peace
one’s dreams, • contribution to the
goals, values enrichment of life Physical Nurturance
(to exercise one’s • air
Celebration power by giving • food
• to celebrate the that which • movement, exercise
creation of life and contributes to life) • protection from life
dreams fulfilled • emotional safety threatening forms
• to celebrate losses: • empathy of life: viruses,
loved ones, dreams • honesty (the bacteria, insects,
(mourning) empowering predatory animals
honesty that • rest
Integrity enables us to learn • sexual expression
• authenticity from our limitations • shelter
• creativity • love • touch
• meaning • reassurance • water
• self-worth • respect
• support
Play • trust
• fun • understanding
• laughter • warmth

What I’m proposing is that if an atheist culture or community – however it was created – covered meeting these basic needs then we would have a lot more chance of converting people to thinking of reality in terms of reality and not of supernatural thinking.

What incentive does someone have of changing their beliefs or letting go of theistic beliefs when it would mean that they would be letting go of their basic needs being met.

So if belief is needs based – how can we better change others to seeing the world more as it is – as opposed to through the lens that is obscuring the reality in order to meet basic needs?

We need then to provide the same services as the church does, in our atheism.

Right now, I have a family with kids and the local atheists meet at the local pub at nights late and drink beer. How is this conducive to supporting my needs to mix social with others of my world view? How is this meeting my need to have my children grow up with adults who can share a real view of the world with them? It’s not. It’s exclusive and un supportive.

IMO if atheists want to get with it – they need to create a culture that is inclusive of ALL parts of society – until then it will be confided to young single people or old professors who are lucky enough (determined) to have friends and family sharing their views.

We need to start buying buildings and creating community gardens and activities that include old people young people children, single people married people gay people disabled people and so on…

I know we have online communities – but these are for a narrow group of people who have time to sit on the internet and can read and can type – and even can intellectualise.

How can we increase that support base to include all aspects of our society and meet a much broader set of needs?

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Replies to This Discussion

Don't get me wrong, I understand where you're coming from. I didn't "come out of the closet" so to speak, until a couple years ago. Shortly after the time my family convinced me to go onto Facebook. It was there I started meeting other atheists (through the different FB groups). Well when you do that, it's then pretty hard to keep it hidden. I still never pushed it, but certainly didn't hide it either. Every once in a blue moon I'll post an atheist article/link I find interesting. Most importantly, nothing insulting, if you know what I mean. As a result, I started finding out friends I knew for a long time, that I would of never suspected, were also atheist. I say "never suspected", because they were all over the board personality wise. Most, if not all, could give a crap about Darwin, or learning much of scientific discoveries. They simply didn't believe and were good people. Of course, I've also met what one would call "typical atheists" and have become good friends with them as well.


My point is, there are more atheists out there than one knows. The problem is, most will never join groups like this, because (no offense to everyone here) they find most of us irritating and arrogant. I truly believe if I was a forceful atheist, I would have never have met half the atheists I have.


That being said, if you really want to "convert" people, my 1st piece of advice is forget about the extremists. Concentrate on the more liberal ones. Especially the ones who disagree with the extremists. Point out that the extremists are the ones truly following the bible, koran, etc. The more liberal ones will usually counter with the whole "jesus loves us" crap, but the simple response is "yes, but that doesn't delete what the bible already reads. Love your slave all you want, he/she is still a slave". You may just get through to a few that it's not as good as they think. It's a first step, anyway.


As far as holidays go? Just make all the existing ones generic. I very much doubt the general public will go for any new holiday from anyone...there's too many as it is and it just becomes a joke. So how about just make your own for just you and a few friends/family? For the last few years I've been throwing "Kiisterfest" at my farm making it an annual event. It's in winter and we're on top of a very high hill and do a lot of tobogganing and partying (still a family event though). It's become quite big and something we enjoy with our friends. We do another annual event at a friends at summer solstice, plus 2 more at 2 other friends. For me, the "generic" thing is atheism. Like the saying goes...atheism is like the off button on a TV as religion is a channel on TV. (I didn't put it in quotes, because I'm sure I didn't get it EXACT).


Also remember to keep you're chin up... stats show atheism is growing as fast or faster than any religion, so you may be surprised in another generation (^_^)  

That being said, if you really want to "convert" people, my 1st piece of advice is forget about the extremists. Concentrate on the more liberal ones. Especially the ones who disagree with the extremists.


Well, yes and no.  If you're hoping for a specific person to convert from fundamentalist Christianity, you're better off not wasting your time.  The odds of it happening are very small.  On a one-on-one level, you're more likely to influence a liberal Christian.

But, once a fundamentalist's shell is cracked, they're likely to fall hard.  Look at Dan Barker, John W. Loftus, Matt Dillahunty, and Rich Lyons.  Since there's more wrong with their worldview, in comparison to reality, there's more solid evidence to show them that their beliefs are completely opposed to reality.  If you can just crack that shell.

Liberal Christians are already ignoring so much of their holy book.  What's one more thing to cross off the list, once you disprove it?  I think you've got more work to do, with a liberal theist.

Yes, there's always exceptions with the fundies (as everything else in life), but personally I'll leave them for the atheist masochists (^_-).

Go on then Terence – tell us where the word ‘bunny’ comes from?  I think it’s all quite relevant to the conversation – as culture is about the evolution of such things.

Origin of the word 'bunny'.
We begin by examining the English language of Medieval times. The word 'rabbit' was then used only for the young animal. The adult was a 'coney'. 
Note particularly that the pronunciation of 'coney' was, and is, 'cunny'. 
There was another word too that was pronounced 'cunny'. It was the familiar form or variation, especially among females, of the other word for the vulva/vagina, namely c*nt.  
Before that epoch, this useful four-letter word played an honest and useful role in language, but it drifted into coarse use, until a strongly puritanical English government and church outlawed its use in print and in 'decent' spoken language along with several other words as well.
This marginalised use of the word 'coney' because of its pronunciation cunny. So, because it sounded increasingly improper to speak of coney for the adult animal, the adults came to be called rabbits instead of coneys. Bunny is simply a gentle alternative and eventual replacement for cunny--I mean coney.
Very interesting. Thanks.
Here's a little more information: The Latin for coney or cony is cuniculus. A rabbit warren is a conyger.  A hole and passage underground is a cunicle.  
In Roman Latin vulva is cunnus. In Basque, Kuna. There is a Hindu goddess Kunti--the name probably of Sanskrit origin which could explain the presence of the core word in so many European languages.  A Roman goddess, protective of babies, is Cunina. Related words are cunabula, cunctipotent and cunning. 

Wasn't Hugh Hefner? (^_-)

I am posting a somewhat improved version of the ideas for strenghthening families and communities for atheists. It is attached as a Word file, so that you can improve it. I hope to share this at the Atheist discussion gathering in Albuquerque tomorrow morning. I would very much welcome feedback on this. And I hope you will find it something worth sharing with others.

The larger issue is the matter of resources for atheist families, particularly those with children. I raised my three children with no religious instruction and they turned out great. But we didn't talk much, at least in any kind of organized way, about such matters as values, ethics, personal and social responsibility. Having activities and events around which such conversations are expected is valuable for families. Families need ideas and resources about how to do this, what others have tried and what seems to work best. The idea of a wiki on this subject would be an ideal way to build a body of knowledge. But a new wiki may not be needed. Following is a partial list of atheist wikis. I included the stated purpose for each. It looks like it would be possible to build family and community building ideas into one of these, particularly the first, which now has a community page with no content, and family page could presumably be added. Let me know what you think. Also, do you think it would be valuable to start a separate discussion thread on this site about this topic? Thanks Alice for getting this started.

Partial list of Atheist Wikis

A. General purpose Athiest Wikis


Stated purpose:
The objectives of this wiki include, but are not limited to:

▪                Presenting the atheist point of view.

▪                Dispelling myths about atheists.

▪                Highlighting the damage which can be caused by religions.

▪                Showing the world the damage caused by Religion



Stated purpose:

Support for the struggle against superstition



Stated purpose:

A wiki for atheists to share opinions and knowledge.)


B. Specific purpose Atheist Wikis



Stated purpose:
Iron Chariots is intended to provide information on apologetics and counter-apologetics. We'll be collecting common arguments and providing responses, information and resources to help counter the glut of misinformation and poor arguments which masquerade as evidence for religious claims.



Stated purpose:

Wikiquote is a free online compendium of sourced quotations from notable people and creative works in every language, translations of non-English quotes, and links to Wikipedia for further information. 



Dr Terence

Interesting story – it seems that all the old English words for sex, pooh and virgina have been replaced – a point made by A S Neill in his book Summerhill in the 1920’s when talking about allowing his school students at his boarding school to feely use such words – he was quite a liberal man even for our times. It is interesting to see the evolution of language. As I was teaching my son how to read and write he asked me why English was so hard, and so I told him a story of how it might have happened – such as groups fighting with groups then having shared children and teaching them different languages that merged together over time – it wasn’t accurate as such – but it quite captured his imagination and after which he was much more happy to accept to odd spellings and differences in works that sounded the same or different in a confusing way.

Hi Mark


Thanks for the work you’ve done – having 3 young children myself at the moment – I really don’t get much time to think about or write about this stuff – you on the other hand have all that experience, will and perhaps more time than me also.  So I’m very grateful for this and look forward to hearing more.

I feel for you Ima : )



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