Atheist Teen

63


Discussion by: Aubriel_J
My name is Abby and I’m an atheist. I happen to live in a very small, very religious town where I am somewhat notorious for my views. My family and I have been horribly harassed and outcasted. The biggest problem our religious neighbors seem to have is my age. I’m fifteen now and was only ten when I was ready to call myself an atheist. They tell my parents they raised me completely wrong and insist that I am simply too young to be atheistic. I have researched both science and theology. I’ve read two of Dawkins’ books. I know more scripture than most Christians I know. I am not ignorant in the least. Besides, no one seems to have a problem with calling small children Christians and bringing them to church. Why is it any different? Should there be an age requirement to irreligiosity? Why are teen atheists or agnostics automatically deemed rebellious or ignorant?

63 COMMENTS

  1. It’s called prejudice, which is a kind of ignorance! You are not ignorant. They are.

    On the other hand, it is sometimes better to keep one’s atheism quiet. People are very attached emotionally to their beliefs, which often give them consolation or whatever. They can be very resentful if you contradict something that makes them feel good. Too often, the fact that someone doubts their stuff makes them somewhat doubt it themselves, and they’ll hate you for that.

    So say what you think to people that can’t really hurt you, but be quiet with your very Christian teachers and bosses. They can flunk or fire you!

    • In reply to #1 by Fouad Boussetta:

      It’s called prejudice, which is a kind of ignorance! You are not ignorant. They are.

      On the other hand, it is sometimes better to keep one’s atheism quiet. People are very attached emotionally to their beliefs, which often give them consolation or whatever. They can be very resentful if you contrad…

      This is a very sensible comment, Fouad; and it’s also also a great pity that is how things are. It shows how religion can offer carrots, and very big sticks, (rewards and punishments). Yet for changes to occur, someone has to have courage and reveal their true selves, (come out as atheist, so to speak, as gays have done and are still doing with their sexual identities).

      Of course it doesn’t have to be you, Abby, who carries a banner for atheism. But if you can do it, I admire you tremendously, and am glad of the service you are doing for other like minded people, who are less courageous.

      Nevertheless, take care.

    • I agree,. This world is rife with examples of religious people taking their beliefs to the level of violence. Harassment is the first step and often, it doesn’t stop there. Authority figures, such as teachers, have only to make a little comment to let the neighborhood goon squad know you are fair game. I’m not saying that you should live in fear, but neither is it a good idea to be quixotically frank.

      In reply to #1 by Fouad Boussetta:

      It’s called prejudice, which is a kind of ignorance! You are not ignorant. They are.

      On the other hand, it is sometimes better to keep one’s atheism quiet. People are very attached emotionally to their beliefs, which often give them consolation or whatever. They can be very resentful if you contrad…

  2. You’ve probably heard of the gay rights videos “It gets better” interviews with gay people who were miserable as teens but are now amazingly successful while the people who were making them miserable work at Walmart. I think those videos could be relevant to young people like you as well. The people mocking you are ignorant and scared and you threaten them so they attack you. They love to talk about their precious “freedom” but when they see someone who actually uses freedom to make their own decisions that are different from the herd they can’t tolerate it.

    My one bit of advice is hang on till college and try to go to a school thats not religious. You will be amazed at the way diverse opinions are encouraged rather than attacked. You probably know all this already though but anyway good luck :)

  3. One reason why some believers overreact might be because they already have so much invested in their believes. Most theists I know practice some sort of worship, go to churches, give money etc. To contradict their belief implies that all their activities have been for nought. It sounds silly, but that’s how they feel, which explain their behavior when confronted. Just hang on till you’re older and can move out to better place.

  4. Well done, first of all. As for whether their is an age requirement for being irreligious I would say, all children should be irreligious until they are old enough to decide, for themselves, whether or not they accept the arguments of a religion. Not accepting an argument has nothing to do with age.

    I think irreligious is the starting point. People need to be convinced of the religious claim. So, a Christian child can hardly be considered a Christian, whereas an atheist child is probably more likely. I don’t doubt that a child could grasp the arguments of a religion at a young age, you and I were both very young when we each decided the idea of god was silly. I would argue that a child should at least be of a suitable age before they can enter a church, 16 perhaps, and not be classified as a religious child until after that age.

    Baptism is criminal.

    • In reply to #4 by aquilacane:

      “Baptism is criminal”

      I learned the other day that according to Church of England figures seven out of eight British children are no longer Christened (baptised). Sometimes I believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel and we have reason to be optimistic.

  5. “Besides, no one seems to have a problem with calling small children Christians and bringing them to church.”

    Bingo, you got it. Clearly, you have mastered more critical thinking skills than most of the adults in your community.

    When faced with criticism to your views, just calmly engage in a conversation and bring up points such as the one you have raised above. If an adult attempts to pull rank on you instead of addressing the logic of your position, respectfully point that out. “I understand, Mr. or Mrs. So and So, that you are older and more experienced than me, but that still does not explain point X or point Y. Could you please address the argument that was put to you?”

    My guess is that some of these adults may recognize that their own positions are not well supported, and are somewhat embarrassed at being out-thought by a youngster such as yourself. All the more reason for you to not back down.

  6. In addition to the excellent comments below I’d like to add: you are probably surrounded by a few of these faithful that also atheistic in their silence. They are likely among the most vitriolic and outspoken of your critics. They see themselves in you and hate your freedom and guts.

    I on the other hand applaud your freedom and your guts. There is nothing ignorant about your description of the situation. The ignorant are those that would crap on you. If they actually believed the horseshit that they peddled, there would be no way that they would crap on you. God will do it when we are judged, right??? Yeah right.

    Hang in there and come to Dawkins when you need some reason infused into your situation.

  7. It’s laughable how the religious can have the gall to say you’re too young to be atheistic when they have the monopoly on claiming children as their own [insert Priest joke here]. They have had it their way for so long that they’ve normalised their ridiculous views to the point where any deviants are treated as such. Keep your head up.

  8. Everyone’s born without any religious belief, so their idea of age having anything to do with it is stupid. The reason why they want to see it as you “rebelling” really has less to do with your age, and more to do with how Christian view the world. Anything that see has being against their god is viewed as “rebelling” against the same, as if this god of theirs is in possession of morality itself. If you haven’t already, you should read The Trial and Death of Socrates. In it it is asked whether or not “the pious is good because it’s loved by the gods, or is the pious loved by the gods because it’s good?” In other words, is goodness defined by what a god says, or is it an independent quality? Christians, whether they realize it or not, view morality as being whatever their god says it is (although when confronted with this obviously arbitrary difficulty, given Biblical texts, they do try to dance around the issue).

    Christians, just like with members of other religious groups, don’t seem to fully realize (except perhaps in a post modern way, which doesn’t help their case) that the only reason they believe as they do is (almost always) through indoctrination as youth in the local religious customs. Trying to deal with them logically, no matter how “liberal” or “moderate” is always futile, because on the subject of religion they always start with a conclusion, and any evidence that contradicts that conclusion must therefore be mistaken somehow (you will often here the unthinking phrase “out of context” used). They don’t seem to grasp how arrogant their beliefs are, despite the claims to humility. They don’t seem to grasp how their generally Earth and human centric dogmas don’t hold up to what we know about the vastness of the cosmos. They want to view everything as a top down arrangement, with some sort of alpha (male) primate in charge of everything, so they cannot readily wrap their minds around our bottom-up universe in which there is nothing ultimately “in control”…what one might call a pareidoliac theory of mind.

    They are as hostile as they are because they are slaves and you are not. They give themselves in absolute submission to a totalitarian ideology, and such ideologies always demand the submission of everyone in some way or another. Because they view themselves as being owned by a totalitarian, they see the rejection of their belief system as an outright attack on it. Essentially, of course, it is an attack on their belief system. There are people like me who are anti-theists outright, but any ideology that espouses free thinking (you can be an Atheist, Agnostic, whatever) simply cannot coexist with an ideology that seeks to control thought itself. The United States itself managed to prove that slavery and freedom cannot coexist next to each other, and this is true more broadly. Because they are enslaved to a totalitarian ideology, because they view that ideology as being an absolute truth, they always see themselves as superior and others who wish to not adopt their religious label must still bow to their beliefs, because not doing so is by definition in their belief system an immoral act. That’s why people who would otherwise seem friendly and progressive can suddenly behave as despicably as your neighbors.

    I can only recommend trying to live as if you weren’t surrounded by obnoxious bigots. If it makes you feel any better, there are probably others in your community who are like yourself, but too afraid to come out. Some of them might even be people who join in on the hateful chorus out of fear that they could be subjected to it themselves.

    • In reply to #9 by zengardener:

      They are just afraid that you will lead the other children into the fires of Perdition.

      It’s sad really.

      And if you want to really see them stirred up, lead their children into not helping out at the next church fund raiser!

  9. We hear this sort of thing often from theists. They have their children confirmed on their churches, usually at around 14 or so–which makes them full members of the church in their own right. Presumably, they take the position that their 14-year-old children are old enough to declare that they are Christians but other 14-year-olds are not old enough to declare that they are atheists. They see nothing contradictory in this stance.

    Keep up the good fight, Abby. This sort of discrimination will not go away. We all need to stand up for everything we refuse to have imposed on us.

  10. I would add to the above, disagreeing slightly with Fouad. Learn even more–study the bible and especially the origins of the Christian religion (Digeser, The Making of a Christian Empire, anything by Ehrman). So when they bring the subject up, you can demonstrate that you know more about their religion than they do.

    I had a couple of JWs visit my house this week. They won’t be back.

    You may, if you are not polite and careful, alienate some people you consider friends. But that is the price. It’s worth it. One of my very best friends is a born again Christian and we have some wonderful discussions. His wife, unfortunately, has disowned me (she left him, too).

    Nothing is more important than truth; and if expressed in calm and authoritative terms, can bring any Christian into line.

    • In reply to #11 by JHJEFFERY:

      I would add to the above, disagreeing slightly with Fouad. Learn even more–study the bible and especially the origins of the Christian religion (Digeser, The Making of a Christian Empire, anything by Ehrman).

      Huxley and Bertrand Russel are good too. really know the scriptures. I have a set of sunday school teacher’s manuals for The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter day saints (Mormons, that is) which shows just how carefully they have to teach the bible to make their doctrine stick. I also remember one of my school chums getting a detention because he found the verses on mildew in Leviticus and claimed that it proved the ancient jews were too dumb to invent bleach…

      They don’t like being made fools of, but you have to be ever so honest and reasonable about it. The bible has something in it which contradicts almost everything else (how else can the church maintain power if they can’t use their own rules to have a bit each way!) so taking the standard lines they use and finding the counter arguments is well worth the time.

      The JWs don’t come here anymore either, but that’s because I have a copy of their operations manual so I knew who to ask for at the Kingdom hall to be put on the ‘no visits’ list. They appreciated being treated considerately. They are our fellow humans too. This was in Australia (where they can be done for tresspassing if they knock on a door on the ‘no-visits’ list)

      So when they bring the subject up, you can demonstrate that you know more about their reli…

  11. The biggest problem our religious neighbors seem to have is my age. I’m fifteen now and was only ten when I was ready to call myself an atheist.

    Their problem is that adults with a faith-dependent childish mentality, see mentally mature rational teenagers as a threat, so they project their own mental inadequacies on to you (claiming you are not mentally mature enough to understand their childish nonsense!) .

    Psychological projection

    Projection is the psychological phenomenon where someone denies some aspect of their behavior or attitudes and assumes instead that everyone else is doing or thinking so instead. It is usually seen as the externalisation of a person’s negative traits, placing blame on an outside force such as the environment, a government, a society or other people.

    Projection can also extend to philosophy and knowledge. This occurs when a person or small group of people assume that everyone else is working with the same ideas and/or information that they are. When this fails to happen, however, it can lead to pluralistic ignorance.

    A telltale sign of this is when a speaker says that “Everybody knows that…(a certain course of action)” is either beneficial or harmful, so society should avoid an impending catastrophe by following the course of action that the speaker proposes.

    Teenagers tend to go through a rebellious stage around the age of thirteen, so claims or “rebel teens”, can have credibility even when unjustified.

    Why are teen atheists or agnostics automatically deemed rebellious or ignorant?

    That is because small-minded groups consider their (very limited) views based on fairy tales for adults, to be the norm (see “projection” above), so those who reject them must be “rebels”!

    It is quite common for expert university historians, archaeologists, and science professors to be deemed “ignorant” by know-nothing, fundamentalist, faith-heads, so I would not take an allegation of “ignorance” from Biblical literalist, know-it-all-know-nothings, seriously! Most of them have only read a few bits of one book of mythology (THE Bible), and understood none of that one anyway!

  12. If they say you’re too young to be atheistic, it implies that they think being an atheist is a sign of maturity, which makes it a very strange criticism to direct towards you. They’re obviously very confused! Anyway, at 15 you’re certainly old enough to make a rational analysis of religion.

    It’s hard to give advice, not knowing your precise circumstances, but it sounds like you have a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate to your townsfolk over the next few years how atheists can be as kind and considerate towards others as anyone. I wouldn’t make too much of a big deal about your atheism, just show everyone what a good person you are. You could change some minds.

  13. At the age of 15 it would appear that you are a whole lot mature than your neighbours. There is no age requirement to becoming an atheist, these people would be quite happy to have you as a christian at this age and wouldn’t question you at all if you said you were a christian.

    Don’t worry about them. Be yourself. Keep questioning everything and everybody.

    One other point, the reason most adults pick on teenagers is quite simple really, we’re all bloody jealous cos we ain’t that age any more! :-)

  14. Hi Aubriel_J,

    … no one seems to have a problem with calling small children Christians … Why is it any different [for young atheists]?

    The difference is that prejudice is given to you. It’s not about labels as much as it’s about their fact free opinions and fear.

    Should there be an age requirement to [being] irreligious?

    You don’t need us to answer that question.

    Why are teen atheists or agnostics automatically deemed rebellious or ignorant?

    They’re not. My Daughter isn’t. However, she lives in a largely secular and non-religious society – unlike you.

    Never forget what is happening now. This is what life is like when the religious believe they are in charge, and that they really do have god on their side.

    As a previous Poster said: Get yourself to a good college and your life and prospects will change for the better.

    Peace.

  15. My experience is that a lot of theists (typically Muslims and Christians) have what John Corvino calls a failure of empathy, which is to say they cannot help but give special dispensation for their own religion, their own church (and other aspects of those like themselves, say as supporters of their own hockey team).

    This is why they have no problem with (say) posting The Ten Commandments in a public classroom, but would completely freak out if the Five Pillars of Islam were similarly posted, or the Wiccan Rede: But the Ten Commandments is different they would argue (without rational backing).

    Claiming someone is too young is imply an ad hominem attack, or (the reciprocal), an appeal to authority (in this case of the status of adulthood). Either way, it comes down to the same thing: because of a characteristic of this person he or she can be dismissed.

  16. It doesn’t sound like you need advice, more that you can do with some support which, as you can see, we’re all happy to give you. You’ve already been perceptive and organised enough to come to a place where your thoughtful views are welcomed – keep coming back and good luck.

  17. Your neighbours sound intolerant… and, frankly, telling someone’s parents that they raised their child completely wrong is rude.

    Too young to be atheist? Do they realise that children are born atheist?

  18. You do not say but I assume (and hope) that you have the support of your own family here. If so, full credit to them. You have not been raised all wrong. You have been taught to think for yourself and to question. That is a priceless gift which about 80% of Americans never receive. They have been raised all wrong.

    You will never “convert” your neighbours. But if they really irritate you, you might ask them whether as good Christians they would every openly display such prejudice against another minority, such as a black person or a Jew.

  19. Hello Abby, and welcome to RDFRS, which you’ll find is a place worth visiting regularly.

    If you click on the RDFRS Store above, you’ll find excellent books, and I recommend ‘The God Virus’ by Dr Darrell Ray. This will give you good, well-researched explanations as to why people of faith behave and react in strange, biased and hateful ways to those who don’t have their (sect-specific) infection – which typically was passed to them via their families, friends and peers during their information-hungry and vulnerable childhood.

    It can be very difficult to live beside faith-infected folk, especially in highly virulent communities, and I hope you aren’t living in a place where your life is at risk – as opposed to just your freethinking sanity and future education / career / family opportunities….

    It can be useful to be a bit quiet and subtle while you continue to educate yourself in reality and reason, so that when you become an independent adult you will be well-armed against those people who were locked into faith prisons, who fear and resent those who live free of revelations and dogmatic ‘truths’ that can’t withstand intelligent inquiry.

    Many here grew up religious, most in religious communities, and it has been a struggle to throw off the chains – or stay free of them (as in my case) – so there is good advice and very much knowledge that our Users can and will share with you.

    You can spend much time reading past Posts and Comments (here and in the Old Site) – as well as reading the various letters in Converts Corner – many of which are from young folk in many locations – which will show you that you’re not at all alone on your journey through your growing years.

    Good luck, and never stop reading…. Mac.

  20. Just to develop the point made by others that you and your family seem to be amongst the few mature adults in your town. Without wanting to patronise in any way, I can imagine that this could be difficult for someone at an age where there is often a mix of needing to find one’s own way and yet be supported is very common, ie there could be figures in the community that teenagers would see as reference points – not least young people a bit older than oneself. Sadly, it sounds like locally you and your family will largely be your own reference points.

    Age is, of course, irrelevant to being right or honest. Plenty of young people your age, indeed young children, are rational and honest: plenty of older people are foolish, or worse.

    While you personally may not be able to change other’s minds it is far from impossible that you and your family might make them think. It seems that you and your family are thoroughly ‘outed’ – and while I daresay a big motive in your ostracism is to serve warning on any other would-be doubters, persecution unwittingly gives your cause publicity and maybe show to some how unpleasant religion is – and some kindred ‘souls’ might, over time, emerge . Facebook etc etc might be routes to finding closer, if not exactly local support? (Though I guess reaching other townships or cities might be difficult just now?)

  21. I was also 10 when I realized gods were nonsense. I was fortunate to grow up in the northeastern part of the US so I was not harassed. You are fortunate to be intelligent and independent minded.

  22. Why are teen atheists or agnostics automatically deemed rebellious or ignorant?

    sounds like they’re more scared of young atheists than old ones to me

    being a teen you’ll get labelled rebelious and ignorant anyway, comes with the package. if you’re an atheist you’ll get labelled the same way so being both makes you pretty much the closest thing to the antichrist they’ve had to deal with so far.

    luckily for you, you’re growing up in a time with things like the internet to connect with others like you. sadly if you’re the only atheist in a religious town, you’ll always feel an outcast but look on the bright side, most teenagers I’ve met go to grreat lengths to label themselves as an outcast by behaving like every other teenager!

    as for being too young to be an atheist, well everyone who ever said that to you was born an atheist

  23. it s dont good time to be atheist. you re alive in christian communoty, and you have doing by yourself your refleion, and you ahve thinking, and not believing; it s the way of science, the way of free thinking; For information, the first atheist is french catholic abbey, jean meslier, and he dont ha dsaying is thinking because its in this time (&è century) dangerous to said that; maybe dont said forthe miment your atheist, but search some books for have better arguments, better knoowledge.
    fabien, french atheist

  24. Just quote George Orwell to your antagonists!
    Freedom if it means anything is the right to tell others that which they may not wish to hear!
    Your reasoning has determined that belief in an imaginary sky fairy is contrary to common sense.
    And ask them why they don’t worship Odin,Jupiter ,Zeus , or Baal instead?
    As RD has pointed out belief in an almighty is a product of one’s cultural background.
    Ask them about the omniscience ,omnipotence,and omnipresence of imaginary Allah!
    Hopefully you can covert them to atheism by asking them to look at convert’s corner on this site?

  25. First of all let me say good for you.
    It’s great to see even the young start to stand up for themselves and what they do, or don’t, believe.
    Reminds me of the quote, “Never be afraid to stand alone.”
    I, like a lot of others, was raised Catholic and born in the South. Long story short, I left Catholicism and chose agnosticism in my early teens (mostly because I couldn’t reconcile the concept of a human soul). However, eventually, I became an atheist (well-versed in the bible, biblical history and a plethora of other religious texts and faiths). I currently live in the ‘Bible Belt” here in Tennessee. My wife is a Christian and the daughter of a southern Baptist preacher, hahahaha. However, and to my own surprise, her family finally came to grips with my atheism and gives me no issues about it. Of course, they knew me before they knew my irreligious views, which I think helped them get over preconceived notions about ‘evil godless atheists’. On a few occasions a few of them had a couple of civil debates with me. I think it frightened them. I used logic and reason and placed a seed of doubt in their minds. They debate me no more.

    As for age, as already mentioned above, we are all born without the knowledge/belief in religions, these are manmade and taught to us at an early age. So, why not be able to revert back to atheism at the same early age? Seems only fair to me.

    Good luck and congrats on your decision to grasp logic and reason.

  26. My wife still tells me I am an atheist because I am ‘too lazy to go to mass’ (!) I AM 61.
    In Ireland, supposed the most catholic country in the world. Attendance at weekly mass is as low as 4% in the capital and about 50% in rural areas. Most of these are ‘al a carte’ catholics and if asked will mostly say that they ‘believe in something’. In other words, they don’t question religion as you have done. A spirit of inquiry is essential for intelligent thinking.

  27. You seem interested and (at the same time) worried about how others feel, think or speak about you. I suggest your study the following concepts, which incidentally have little to do with religion or atheism:

    1) Enabling;
    2) Codependence; and
    3) Xenophobia.

    In short, do not make their problems your problems. Do not take ownership of their dysfunctions, fears and bigotry. Stand your ground without being violent or naughty. Tell your persecutors that you disagree with them and stand on your right to believe and act as you choose.

  28. I know exactly how you feel-I’m in the same situation. Precisely. It’s a little unnerving. Anyways, my view is that if you have studied religious beliefs and made your own decisions about your faith or lack thereof, you shouldn’t be considered rebellious or ignorant. Regardless of your age, if you’ve made an independent decision, you count. They shouldn’t consider it your parent’s fault unless you know of nothing else and have been “indoctrinated” (for lack of a better word) your whole childhood. From what you’ve said, you’re legitimacy as an atheist is undoubted in my eyes. As for dealing with these people, I find that it’s best to keep atheism to yourself unless they ask-which is rude anyways. Be proud, but don’t be loud unless it’s necessary. Good luck!

  29. Within their context you are apart from them, a nonconformist, a heretic, and a threat to their equanimity and a challenge to their beliefs and identity. They are in the majority, probably a big majority, they have the power and can define what is right or wrong according to their own rules which do not include tolerance for you or your beliefs. In short, you are a pariah to them.

    Don’t go out of your way to be a target. Try to get some enjoyment out of high school, go away to college if you can, go someplace where you’re not so isolated in your thoughts. You could go undercover, pretend to go along, spy on them, keep a journal, and write an exposé under a pseudonym or when your family is safe. Then join the atheist book tour and speaking circuit. It could put you through college.

  30. “Should there be an age requirement to irreligiosity?”

    No. But you may find that your choice may be ignored or denigrated by other adults until you are seen as being an adult yourself. Stick by your belief though, and don’t let adults sway your mind.

    “They tell my parents they raised me completely wrong and insist that I am simply too young to be atheistic.”

    It’s absolutely none of their business to think that, let alone tell your parents that. I think it’s great that your parents seem to have (a) educated you to be independent minded and to think for yourself and (b) don’t appear to be pressurising you in any way to conform to the local religious mindset.

    “Why are teen atheists or agnostics automatically deemed rebellious or ignorant?”

    Don’t worry, it’s the duty of teenagers to be rebellious, contrary and always asking questions! It’s entirely normal behaviour in preparation for independent life. I’d worry a lot more about those poor brainwashed teenagers who’ve been forced to swallow the religious Kool-Aid. Mind you, it might be worth talking to them about how they feel about being obliged to conform to the local religious mould; you might find they’re just as frustrated as you.

  31. Hmmm another thought…. reverse phycology…..God gave you the amazing gift of a brain, so it would be a sin not to use it, so you use it to think rationally, research, analyse and assess the facts scientifically and hence come to a conclusion worthy of Gods gift to you. If God didn’t want you to be an Atheist he shouldn’t have given you a brain capable of thinking him out of existence, POOF! Oops I guess God didn’t think that one through.

  32. @ grahum
    Reverse psycholgy. Human brain is one of the most complee thing of univers. He must use representation for construct is thinking. Some guys said “you cant explicated that, it s gods(s). A d Mysef is the alone to know it. But one day, some over guys understand the phenomene andd see that god(s) iis not the explatication

  33. Religion has a history of deeming the young as rebelius and violent. They insist that the young have an inconcievable concept of life and therefore should be governed by the same book that keeps them down in the dumps of hypocracy. My best advice would be to follow a quote from my beliefs, although I believe in Aliens;
    “Do not lay moral truth upon ignorant ears.” It means to lie. There is nothing good to come from the abhorrent when they are massed into one ideological basis such as religion. Lie to them to protect your own integrity.
    “A man may have days of innocence, just as a child some days of great knowledge. Do not dwell on age but rather mind, for one outweighs the other.” – Autorean

    • In reply to #42 by Imaculotus:

      Religion has a history of deeming the young as rebelius and violent. They insist that the young have an inconcievable concept of life and therefore should be governed by the same book that keeps them down in the dumps of hypocracy. My best advice would be to follow a quote from my beliefs, although…

      “Religion has a history of deeming the young as rebelious and violent”

      1. Opinion or fact?
      2. This is general truth characterizing all religion, all religious teaching, or all religious individuals?
      3. This is generally false of any non-religious thinking or attitude of groups, adults or parents in general?
        irrespective of religious belief?
      4. Do the insurance, medical or legal systems have any objective data on this?
      • In reply to #43 by whiteraven:

        I cannot really center out all the non-religious bigots…

        There’s plenty of non-religious bigotry. Outside of racism, they usually appear as moral panics, as they’re prejudice against ether activity groups or subcultures.

        • Gun enthusiasts are often presumed to be homicidal or to advocate open homicide.
        • Video gamers are expected to express violence in reality as a course of their enjoyment of violent video games.
        • People with acknowledged mental disorders are considered unpredictable and prone to increased violence and crime.
        • Goths (those in the Goth subculture) are regarded as “death cultists” and thought to be violent and criminal.

        Here in the United States, our legislators are eager to pass laws to restrict the rights of (if not outright criminalize) all of these groups even though there are no statistical indications that any of them are more violent than the populace. (The one exception being that gun owners, in those statistically rare cases they are violent, are more inclined to use a gun in their violence than those who don’t.)

        The danger of religion is not that it incites bigotry; humans are already biased towards generalizing based on anecdotal events as a survival trait. The danger of religion is that it justifies bigotry even in societies that recognize and compensate for that bias. The United States was intended to be a pluralistic and tolerant society, but religious doctrine gives license for one to indulge their tendencies towards exclusion and privilege.

        • In reply to #55 by Uriel-238:

          There’s plenty of non-religious bigotry. Outside of racism, they usually appear as moral panics, as they’re prejudice against ether activity groups or subcultures.

          There is a big difference between non-religious people who are bigots and people who are bigots because they are non-religious. While it is common place for religious practices and doctrines to make folk sectarian bigots who may otherwise not be, non-religion, or as it should be stated because non religion is not synonymous with non belief, Atheism, doesn’t make a person a bigot. I’m not comfortable with the term non-religious vis a vis non-deist…or Atheist. The is a debate on the subject of definitions on another thread.

          Gun enthusiasts are often presumed to be homicidal or to advocate open homicide.

          Can you cite a source? It’s my understanding that the religious and non-religious alike are seeking stiffer gun control, not because they generalize all gun enthusiasts as homicidal nutcases, but because those psychopaths in society that do have homicidal tendencies, have far too easy an access to firearms under the current rules.

          Video gamers are expected to express violence in reality as a course of their enjoyment of violent video games.

          Again, can you cite a source? It’s my understanding that the religious and non-religious alike are seeking stiffer censorship on violent video games, not because they generalize that all video gamers are expected to express violence in reality as a course of their enjoyment of playing violent video games , but because those video gamers in society that do have tendencies to express violence as a course of their enjoyment of playing violent video games have demonstrated such. As a society, we have an obligation to do what we can within the frameworks available, or can be put in place by legislation, to stop access to video games that exceed the limits of decency. While I accept that that is a subjective view, nevertheless, we impose rules on subjective assessment all the time. We do it for other leisure mediums, pornography, movies, books and music for example. Children and the vulnerable need protecting, as do the rest of us from the nutcases.

          People with acknowledged mental disorders are considered unpredictable and prone to increased violence and crime.

          Again, can you cite a source? It’s my understanding that the religious and non-religious alike are seeking better monitoring of some people with certain acknowledged mental disorders that are considered unpredictable and prone to increased violence and crime. And why not? We do it for other groups in society that are deemed unpredictable and prone to increased violence and crime.

          Goths (those in the Goth subculture) are regarded as “death cultists” and thought to be violent and criminal.

          Again, can you cite a source? I have no understanding of this phenomena at all. What I would say though is, if a group in society are “death cultist” and thought to be violent and criminal a la Charlie Manson’s Helter Skelter cult, is it not incumbent on the rest of us to ensure we are all protected from such loonies?

          Here in the United States, our legislators are eager to pass laws to restrict the rights of (if not outright criminalize) all of these groups even though there are no statistical indications that any of them are more violent than the populace…

          Yes, but here is your problem. Those legislators in the U.S. that are so eager to pass such laws, are religious. And in most cases, they are religious by virtue of the law. Added to that the fact that they are in positions to legislate such laws by a democratic mandate handed to them by the US population which is also predominantly religious…well, you can see where this is going…your argument is falling on its arse.

          But let’s look at some details…first, poor gun control allows nutcases easier excess to firearms, that’s a no-brainer. But a national poll in the U.S. found that 85% of gun enthusiasts themselves voted for stiffer regulation.

          Quinnipiac University national and statewide polls conducted since the December 14 Newtown massacre consistently find overwhelming support for universal background checks, including among voters in households where there are guns.

          …(The one exception being that gun owners, in those statistically rare cases they are violent, are more inclined to use a gun in their violence than those who don’t.)

          Legislation isn’t being advocated to spoil the fun of gun enthusiasts and remove freedoms for goodness sake. As statistically rare, you believe violent cases are, when they occur, they can be devastating. Let’s look at some data though…

          Mother Jones has tracked and mapped every shooting spree in the last three decades. “Since 1982, there have been at least 61 mass murders carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii,” they found. And in most cases, the killers had obtained their weapons legally:

          The WaPo also says this in the article…

          “The Harvard Injury Control Research Center assessed the literature on guns and homicide and found that there’s substantial evidence that indicates more guns means more murders. This holds true whether you’re looking at different countries or different states.”

          It’s the number and accessibility of firearms that is the problem. It’s not about poo-pooing on the good ole boys shooting beer tins off the coral fence.

          Now what about those violent and extreme video games?

          “The 2008 study “Grand Theft Childhood” reported that 60% of middle school boys that played at least one Mature-rated game hit or beat up someone, compared to 39% of boys that did not play Mature-rated games.”

          The American Psychologists Association had this to say..

          “THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that APA advocate for the reduction of all violence in video games and interactive media marketed to children and youth”.

          A site that lays out both sides of the debate is ProCon.org.

          What I will say, is that anyone not advocating censorship of this sort of thing…

          “Several games have garnered significant media attention, including 2004′s JFK assassination reenactment JFK Reloaded, 2005′s Columbine shooting reenactment Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, and 2006′s RapeLay, a Japanese video game where the player stalks and rapes a mother and her two daughters,”

          …needs their head examined.

          Video games should be censored in the same respect other entertainment mediums are censored and for the same reasons.

          Now for the mentally deranged…I’m assuming it is that category you are inferring to in your comment. Again, another no-brainer. Those with mental health issues that demonstrate violence should be strictly monitored and confined if necessary. Coincidentally, as I type this comment, the current news article is on this very subject.

          “How NHS Mental Health Care Was Failing as Patient Nicola Edgington Killed Again”

          Edgington walked out of hospital in the early hours of 10 October 2011, where she had gone seeking help, apparently explaining that she was hearing voices. Later that day she slit the throat of Sally Hodkin with a meat cleaver and nearly decapitated her, after earlier pinning Kerry Clark down with a knife.

          As psychiatrists with experience of this kind of case in the NHS we believe the opportunity to treat someone early in their illness is no longer there, and they have to become a risk to themselves or someone else, before they can now get a psychiatric bed.

          As psychiatrists used to dealing with similar patients, we wonder if Nicola Edgington had had the same symptoms, but if their digitised records were not that she had previously killed her mother – even if she was equivalently dangerous and with the same psychotic symptoms – we wonder if the system would have the capacity to admit her.

          Although I guess you are talking about the US specifically…

          “Suspect’s family blames system for death of mental health care worker”

          “I just want to put out there that my son’s not a coldblooded killer,” said Redd’s mother Debbie.

          She defended her son who tried to strangle her in 2005. He pleaded guilty except for insanity. So instead of prison, Redd was put under the watch of the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board.

          “I’m truly and deeply sorry for what happened. It could have been prevented,” Debbie said.

          Redd’s family argues doctors and CCMH staff didn’t listen when Redd complained about his lowered medication dosage, which they say was done to treat a viral disease.

          Why wasn’t he monitored, and why wasn’t he put in a hospital facility for this treatment?” said Redd’s brother, Jeramie Ross. “Instead they just take him off his meds and leave him at home, alone.”

          The “Goth death cultist” one is a bit trickier to refute as info is scant. I’ve found many calls for bigoted bans of the poor Goths, but mostly from irrate parents and religious groups specifically because they see Goths as being non-religious, or more specifically, anti-Christian.

          Russia seems hellbent on pushing legislation to ban Goth and Emo music because the politician driving this issue calls the music a “dangerous teen trend,” a “social danger” and “a threat to national stability.” Igor Ponkin from the Russian Interior Ministry’s Public Oversight Council is pushing the proposal of the Russian government’s Government Strategy In The Sphere Of Spiritual And Ethical Education bill. That’ll be this Igor Ponkin then…

          “Igor Ponkin—who scrutinized the video clip of Pussy Riot’s “Punk Prayer” through “psychological, linguistic, and judicial-linguistic” lenses and concluded that the accused had indeed conspired to violate public norms and showed considerable contempt for the society overall and religious believers in particular, and that their motive was religious hatred.”

          “He is also a prominent critic of the European Court’s interpretation of Church-State relations, which according to him is a double standard that leads to unlawful interference in internal affairs of the Church and inevitable violations of freedom of religion.”

          Hmmm!, he doesn’t sound like he’s non-religious to me.

          Obviously, no one should be persecuted. Nobody should be subject to legislation for what they call themselves or their fashion. Maybe for any extreme anti social actions the group pursue, if indeed it can be demonstrated that it is group driven. But in a country that allows the freedom to carry out unsavory actions like those of the Westbro Baptist loonies, I don’t see a fashion genre having much to worry about. Ironically, on a Google search the top hit was…

          ‘GOD HATES GOTHS . COM’ IS THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE ‘PARENTS AGAINST GOTH’ ORGANIZATION

          Are the non-religious pursuing the persecution of Goths because they are Goths, or because of some other insidious malarkey Goths get up to? Are the non-religious really even seeking legislation to outlaw Goths?…I doubt it, but I’ll take any evidence to the contrary under advisement.

          All this stuff is interesting, but I can’t see where you’ve made an argument in support of non-religious bigotry with the examples you have put forward. For me, there is no bigotry from any non-religious group or individual …and certainly none that is based on their non-religiousness…I just see common sense.

          Apologies for the lengthy post, there was a lot to cover.

  34. I’m really sorry to hear your story. It must be really difficult for you to feel so isolated when you simply want to follow what makes sense to your own heart and mind. I am a Christian myself and am always saddened when people who profess the Christian faith do not live by it – myself included, for we are all flawed simply because
    we are human. I agree with Fouad Boussetta’s comment that the fact that someone doubts their stuff makes them somewhat doubt it themselves, and they’ll hate you for that. I would add, however, that everyone is susceptible to such things. The people who have hurt you, I guess, do not react like this because they are Christians, but simply because they are human. It pains me that people who are supposed to love their
    neighbor so often fail at this fundamental Christian principle. Best wishes.

    • In reply to #44 by Lonevoice:

      I’m really sorry to hear your story. It must be really difficult for you to feel so isolated when you simply want to follow what makes sense to your own heart and mind. I am a Christian myself and am always saddened when people who profess the Christian faith do not live by it – myself included, fo…

      I want to second what Lonevoice said. Don’t judge all people of faith by the intolerant people its been your misfortune to deal with so far. I’ve been an atheist since about the age of 12 and most of my family, friends, and lovers have been people of faith. I’ve spent a fair amount of time working in political movements for peace and some of the hardest working most dedicated people I’ve met in those groups have been people of faith.

      To be honest it amazes me the intolerance that some atheists display on this site. Its as if they take the absolute worst aspect of religion and then want to behave the same way and as I read over the various comments to you I want to make it clear not everyone feels that way. Its just that (and I think this happens a lot on the Internet and the world in general) the most radical people (who also tend to be the most unhappy and emotional) are the most vocal.

      I hope all our ramblings have been of some use to you.

      • Well done you Abby…how nice it was to read your article and witness your free thinking and un-stymied approach to the subject.

        In reply to #45 by Red Dog:

        To be honest it amazes me the intolerance that some atheists display on this site. Its as if they take the absolute worst aspect of religion and then want to behave the same way and as I read over the various comments to you I want to make it clear not everyone feels that way.

        Well Red Dog, even though tolerance and intolerance are a matter of subjectivity, will you please explain what you define as “intolerance” by some Atheists on this site. In what manner does this “intolerance” manifest itself in your opinion?

        Is it equivalent to “religious intolerance” for example…as experienced by Abby in the OP?

        Any examples of this “intolerance” by some Atheists on this site you’d like to share? Just to get a handle on the kind of thing you see as being intolerant you understand.

  35. Abby if you knew you lived in a very religious town, you should have kept your “notorious views” to yourself, and while this may not sound very fair sadly the consequences are now plainly obvious.

    You can be an Atheist without having to tell the world about it… especially a world who’s not interested! Live and learn… now move on as best you can.

  36. Hi Abby,

    There is no way to explain it other than they are wrong and don’t understand how reason and logic work.

    You have a real chance here, especially with access to a forum like this one, to develop good strong solid arguments explaining your position. I would recommend focusing on that.

    As far as your specific question about small children being deemed Christians is OK but you being deemed an atheist is some how not OK, I think your response is fine. “Why should it be any different?” is a brilliant response.

    I would wager that what you are lacking is not understanding, knowledge, or intelligence, but rather skill at debating.

    Learn to choose your battles. There is likely no need to run about declaring your world view at the drop of a hat.

    Don’t debate; explain. Generally people who seek to engage you in informal debate are either trying to convert you or use you as entertainment because they “like to debate”. This is nothing but a huge time sink. I advise avoiding it since people who reject logic rarely know how to debate. However, if given the opportunity to explain your world view take it.

    The religious will have a limited set of challenges to your world view. They get them from television and DVD’s that they buy at revival meetings. Learn what those limited set of challenges are and have well studied answers for them. I’m not recommending memorizing other peoples answers. I am recommending studying other people’s answers and understanding them.

    It’s also fun to point out that the question you are being asked is, for the sake of argument, the “God of gaps” argument, give them a little history lesson about GoGA, clearly explain both sides of the argument, show why their question falls apart and help them develop a better question. And be able to do it in under a minute without losing your breath or having to talk fast.

    Teens are automatically deemed rebellious regardless of their world view. We all went through it. Now it’s your turn. :) It’s just a stereo type. I wouldn’t worry about it.

    Ignorant? While the case could be made that you are uninformed about a good many things and there are life experiences that you have not had yet; if 4 year old Kanon is knowledgeable enough to be a preacher
    ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0roh1jWxhg ) you can probably be knowledgeable enough to be an atheist.

  37. Just remember that know matter how educated a religious person is, and no matter how hard they dog you, they still have an invisible friend, and they believe ignorant crap that illiterate sheep herders pulled strictly outta their asses. Just replace God with Unicorn, pink elephant, Purple Dragon, Money, Power, Arrogance, or even Porn, and everything they say still makes the same amount of logical sense, and is just as true to boot.

  38. In reply to #49 by Ignorant Amos:

    Well Red Dog, even though tolerance and intolerance are a matter of subjectivity, will you please explain what you define as “intolerance” by some Atheists on this site. In what manner does this “intolerance” manifest itself in your opinion?

    I didn’t have to look far for an example. Just look at the comment before yours:

    Just remember that know matter how educated a religious person is, and no matter how hard they dog you, they still have an invisible friend, and they believe ignorant crap that illiterate sheep herders pulled strictly outta their asses. Just replace God with Unicorn, pink elephant, Purple Dragon, Money, Power, Arrogance, or even Porn, and everything they say still makes the same amount of logical sense, and is just as true to boot.

    This kind of speech is what I consider intolerant. The implication is that if you are a theist you are by definition some kind of fool, something I know not to be true by my experience with many intelligent religious people. The people who are giving Abbey a hard time are fools but its simply bigotry (aka intolerance) to assume that all religious people are like them. Not only is such talk intolerant its just plain wrong. There is a significant difference between Unicorns and the concept of God. Scott Atran has a good discussion of this in his anthropological analysis of religion In Gods We Trust (section 1.4 Why are Micky Mouse and Marx different from God). For those of us who want to understand religion in a scientific sense its important to take an objective look at it and not assume its just idiocy. I would think that people who believe in reason and critical thinking would agree with that.

    • In reply to #50 by Red Dog:

      I didn’t have to look far for an example. Just look at the comment before yours:

      Just remember that know matter how educated a religious person is, and no matter how hard they dog you, they still have an invisible friend, and they believe ignorant crap that illiterate sheep herders pulled strictly outta their asses. Just replace God with Unicorn, pink elephant, Purple Dragon, Money, Power, Arrogance, or even Porn, and everything they say still makes the same amount of logical sense, and is just as true to boot.

      Well, apart from the colourful prose that the comment is framed in, I don’t think it fits the definition of being intolerant.. as in, unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters.

      This kind of speech is what I consider intolerant. The implication is that if you are a theist you are by definition some kind of fool, something I know not to be true by my experience with many intelligent religious people.

      There is a marked difference between labeling someone a “fool” and describing their beliefs as foolish nonsense. There is no doubt that many believers are highly intellectual human beings on many subjects, but can be foolish or down right stupid if you like, on religious beliefs. Compartmentalization is a well understood psychological phenomena.

      Compartmentalization * is an unconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person’s having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves.*

      Compartmentalization allows these conflicting ideas to co-exist by inhibiting direct or explicit acknowledgement and interaction between separate compartmentalized self states.

      I don’t think it is intolerant to point out a persons foolishness. I recently mocked my mother and partner when they returned from a shopping trip intent in using ear candles and the effect of the ridicule embarrassed them into not using them before checking out the efficacy of the nonsense.

      Richard Dawkins is on record, in an interview, of ridiculing Mitt Romney’s faith and in quite some detail. Is it intolerant of RD to point out that anyone with that amount of idiocy and belief in demonstrably obvious nonsense should have their acumen questioned and has no business in a position of importance regardless of there level of intelligence in other disciplines? By his academic credentials he is clearly not an imbecile, yet his religious beliefs are clearly imbecilic. So, is it intolerant of me to ridicule a Mormon on their beliefs that their temple undergarments have magical protective powers? I think not.

      Is it intolerant to ridicule chiropractors who promote homeopathy as a cure chronic illness?

      People who espouse nonsense, regardless of their intellect, should be called out on it for the good of all concerned…especially when they visit this site to promote said nonsense.

      The people who are giving Abbey a hard time are fools but its simply bigotry (aka intolerance) to assume that all religious people are like them.

      There’s irony for ya. Not knowing the educational profile of those giving Abby a hard time, nevertheless, they are fools in your opinion? Their intolerance, or bigotry if ya like, is inspired by their silly religious beliefs. They need called out on it.

      Not only is such talk intolerant its just plain wrong.

      No, I don’t think it is wrong to point out the fallacies in a persons thoughts.

      There is a significant difference between Unicorns and the concept of God.

      No, essentially there isn’t. But I’ll take an argument made in rebuttal under advisement.

      Scott Atran has a good discussion of this in his anthropological analysis of religion In Gods We Trust (section 1.4 Why are Micky Mouse and Marx different from God).

      I must look that up when I get a chance…I might just learn something.

      For those of us who want to understand religion in a scientific sense its important to take an objective look at it and not assume its just idiocy.

      It is just idiocy though. I’ve yet to be convinced otherwise.

      I would think that people who believe in reason and critical thinking would agree with that.

      One does not exclude the other. I can still look at religion from an empirical investigatory position while holding the view that it is idiocy.

      There is a difference between being abusive…or really intolerant and not making a point…to that of engaging in honest criticism…or observational ridicule.

      • In reply to #51 by Ignorant Amos:

        In reply to #50 by Red Dog:
        There is a difference between being abusive…or really intolerant and not making a point…to that of engaging in honest criticism…or observational ridicule.

        It can be a fine line between reasonable ridicule and abuse. It doesn’t seem possible to use the idea that an abusive act is one that is experienced to be abusive, as there is disagreement over the reasonableness of reactions to criticism.

        There is an admittedly debatable point that one’s approach might be varied according to the person being criticised – someone who is an ‘ordinary’ believer, without much influence, maybe not well educated, should perhaps treated more gently than high profile speakers with large media access and influence (such as Dawkins comments regarding Romney). Yet, maybe that’s patronising, maybe the approach should be to focus on the ideas not the person, in which case ideas would be attacked irrespective of the speaker.

        I do though think there is benefit in trying to understand where other’s ideas come from, which probably means studying their views and contexts objectively, while recognising and avoiding emotionalism. I certainly admit to the latter – I find it hard not to let my real anger over religious prejudice (and other things!) spill over into my arguments. I’m not saying I should pretend I’m not angry, or even that it’s wrong to be angry (though it may not, in the end, help so much as other responses). But I should (try to) be aware of it, take a deep breath so to speak, and (try to) keep calm. On the whole, forum posts take a while to type in and can be reviewed – whereas face to face the angriest words can come out the fastest.

        • In reply to #52 by steve_hopker:

          It can be a fine line between reasonable ridicule and abuse. It doesn’t seem possible to use the idea that an abusive act is one that is experienced to be abusive, as there is disagreement over the reasonableness of reactions to criticism.

          Oh I agree completely. The example of the Mohammad cartoons is a case in point. The bus ad campaign another. It is fellow Atheists that criticize ridicule as intolerant that I take issue with.

          There is an admittedly debatable point that one’s approach might be varied according to the person being criticised – someone who is an ‘ordinary’ believer, without much influence, maybe not well educated, should perhaps treated more gently than high profile speakers with large media access and influence (such as Dawkins comments regarding Romney). Yet, maybe that’s patronising, maybe the approach should be to focus on the ideas not the person, in which case ideas would be attacked irrespective of the speaker.

          Another concise and articulate comment that I could not have stated better myself. Sometimes it is the precision of a scalpel that is required, sometimes it is just a case of wading in there with a meat cleaver. Each case must be taken on it’s own merits. I have no problem with a molly coddling approach to a believer that is open minded to such an approach, but my experience with a lot of the apologists that pitch up here is the requirement for some butchery to the ignorant nonsense they have to date been indoctrinated with. It’s horses for courses and while there are many here that are skillful surgeons, I’m a bit of a abattoir worker.

          I do though think there is benefit in trying to understand where other’s ideas come from, which probably means studying their views and contexts objectively, while recognising and avoiding emotionalism.

          No doubt…as an ex-serviceman I firmly believe we should know our enemy and their tactics and instruction manuals. Sometimes though, when the blood is running down my forehead from too much banging my head against the brick wall of dogma, I get a bit frustrated and my emotions take over. The moderators of this site will bear witness to that. I was once called an anti-Semite for suggesting Moses was a myth, a suggestion with some support from non other than the esteemed Rabbi Wolpe…go figure why that was enough to create a bit of emotion.

          I certainly admit to the latter – I find it hard not to let my real anger over religious prejudice (and other things!) spill over into my arguments. I’m not saying I should pretend I’m not angry, or even that it’s wrong to be angry (though it may not, in the end, help so much as other responses). But I should (try to) be aware of it, take a deep breath so to speak, and (try to) keep calm. On the whole, forum posts take a while to type in and can be reviewed – whereas face to face the angriest words can come out the fastest.

          Agreed…having been raised in the cauldron of religious sectarian bigotry that is Northern Ireland…and having been on the the receiving end of of vehement religious bile as a child and later as a serving soldier on the streets of Belfast I can safely say I am well aware of what it’s like to have to bite ones lip in the face of adversity. This is not the only forum to which I’m a member. When in someone else’s house I have to abide by their rules and accept that I will be the brunt of the other sides ridicule…but when they venture here to offer epiphanies, I think they become fair game.

          Richard Dawkins is forever being described as shrill, strident and lest I say “intolerant” when he criticizes (ridicules) woo woo, when all he is doing is being honest. Some of our funniest comedians fill their act with piss taking of religions…Dave Allen, George Carlin, Ricky Gervais, Billy Conolly, Bill Maher, Dara O’Briain, Eddie Izzard and Tim Minchin to name but a few….more here … are these lot being “intolerant”? Some would definitely say yes, but not too many Atheists would.

          If someone believes that a mouthful of wine and a bread wafer turns into the blood and body of a mythical figure fro 2000 years ago and from the Palestinian levant, they are insulting my intelligence, they are taking the piss, they are doing worse than ridiculing my beliefs and no matter how many academic qualifications they have up the kazoo, I’m going to call them out for their batshit crazy fucked up in the head nonsense. Whether fellow Atheists like it or not, it is not intolerance…intolerance is when they say I will burn in damnation for all eternity for saying so.

          • In reply to #53 by Ignorant Amos:

            In reply to #52 by steve_hopker:
            intolerance is when they say I will burn in damnation for all eternity for saying so.

            Yes, as both an atheist and a gay man I feel the threats of damnation from some religious speakers, indeed from some quarters threats of death, are far more intemperate than anything I’ve heard Dawkins or other prominent atheists say. It is question of knowing one’s enemy, or if the other is open to reason. The behaviour of some religious fanatics of course should not be followed as an example and I’m not aware atheists speakers do, though as I’ve said I can feel myself getting inflamed, usually to the detriment of my own reason and coherence.

            I think we need to play the long game in terms of argument. Of course, if some extremist did get hold of weapons of mass destruction and seriously looked about to, in their delusions, bring about Armageddon, there would have to be swift and vigorous action, possibly military. Concerning the religious encouragement of the death penalty for homosexuals in some countries, that is a matter of life and death but the actions from outside can only be diplomatic and to be fair in the UK the government is I think applying pressure. Then again, some of the countries involved are major oil supplier, eg Saudi Arabia, so I fear objections are muted.

            Obviously I’m biased, but I feel Dawkins is pretty calm most of the time, though some fundamentalist stubborn unreason would test most people’s limits.

            But the steady flow from as well as into fundamentalism, even by preachers, suggests a combination of setting the case out and people working it out for themselves does work. Some may move out altogether atheism, but there is also a flow into less extremist faith groups, which is some gain, not least in terms of public safety.

            And there are some less extreme religious prepared to speak out, this was evident after the recent killing in London and there is dissent and conversation within some religious groups , not least over women and gay rights. I accept the critique of moderate beliefs, but it does feel a kind of half way house, and moderation of religion rather its end is surely our realistic goal, in the medium maybe even long term.

  39. The only thing I can say is : Stay strong!
    It took me a lot longer to realize the superiority of science and reason over religion and superstition and that cost me a lot of time that I could´ve spent researching and learning about “real things”.

    Dont bother with the opinions of intolerant bigots. Go your own way. Think for yourself. And spent your time doing what you feel is right. There is no age limitation for having free thoughts.

    On the other hand .. if it´s really that much of a problem maybe keep it to yourself until you can get out of there.. even teachers and bosses are only human and can be very unfair to people that hold different beliefs.

  40. Hi Abby,

    I’m new at RichardDawkins.net. I too live in a small town where everybody and his mama is a Christian. It’s hard to breathe. . I assume that the religion in your town is Christianity. Beg your patience if I am wrong. I’ll say this, a Christian has to believe that atheists are evil. They’ve been indoctrinated to believe that God is the only way to be good. The very idea of a good atheist is a threat to everything they believe. You can’t just be not good. You have to be EVIL. Since childhood is equated with innocence, an atheistic child is tantamount to child pornography in their minds.

    I know it doesn’t make sense, but we’re not talking about people who are ruled by sense.They are ruled by a religious paradigm based on powerful emotions like fear, guilt, pride and greed. They will interpret everything they see in a way that fits into their religious paradigm.

  41. I would consider survival in a hostile environment more important than a confrontation. We should not forget how cruel and unforgiving teens and the ignorant can be when confronted with what they deem to be a threat. Yes, you should hone your arguments and be able to intelligently present your point of view and argue against superstition. Since they already know of your atheism, let them be and quietly develop allies with which you can have serious conversations and learn how to organize. Perhaps refer those who have questions to blogs (such as RDFRS) or literature that has helped you strengthen your intellect and atheism. Science has a history of small insights eventually hatching major discoveries. I would argue (for myself) that is how I’ve become an active atheist in my twilight years and how we will eventually change the World view. Best wishes to you; this experience should help motivate you to do your share in activating that change.

  42. My name is Yusuf Salih and I also “happen to live in a very small, very religious town where I am somewhat notorious for my views”. But I am 55yrs old. I understand how difficult ignorant people can make your life. You have my fullest support and admiration.

  43. I know exactly how you feel! I am also 15 and live in a small religious town. I started as agnostic 2 years ago but am now a solid atheist. My parents are also atheist, but have advised me to not tell my family for fear of “breaking my grandparents’ hearts” although i really do not care. Your post has inspired me. Most of my friends know of my decision, but i want to be a proud atheist, not a scared one. I think i will come out to my family this weekend.

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