What Does It Mean to be an Athiest?

I initially approached this study with some anxiety. Atheists are often ill spoken of, particularly by fundamentalists, due to how in-your-face they can be about their disregard for all things religious and spiritual. I personally have come across several such atheists in the blogosphere – it’s not pleasant. There are even other atheists calling out the unpleasantness (as I discussed here). Not all atheists are unpleasant, though! I’ve also come across nice atheists, like my friend Erin, who is very respectful and non-judgmental about the beliefs of others. She agreed to discuss her atheistic world view with me so I could share it here.

Interview:

What does atheism mean to you? When did you decide you were an atheist?

To me atheism just means the lack of belief in an intelligent creator. I never actually realized I was an atheist, it just developed over time as a logical conclusion to philosophical questions.

Have you taken any flak for being atheist? 

I have taken flak for being atheist. I was personally attacked by the mother of one of my very close friends who committed suicide. She called me a bad influence and said I wasn’t original or unique and was going through a stupid phase. It was probably just brought on by grief and anger but her son was also an atheist and being one of his best friends I knew that. The funeral was an insult to his memory because they pretended he’d been a good Christian his whole life when it was against everything he believed in.

How does your family feel about your beliefs?

My family was originally a little critical but they never took me to church. My mom was Catholic and my dad Lutheran but only by upbringing. After listening in to years of conversations over dinner between my brother (also an atheist) and myself I’m pretty sure my mom is one too now.

What do you think of the world of atheism as a whole?

The fact that some atheists just tend to be angry assholes and want organized atheist groups etc to me seems to hurt more than help, except in communities that really need outreach, like ex Mormons, Jehovahs, and other extremist religions that seek to ruin people’s lives if they league the religion. Internet has played a huge role in the spread of atheism both because of networking but more so because of the wider sharing of knowledge and ideas. That being said, atheists can be just as abrasive and close minded as some religious people, and that’s exactly what the should be working against

Do you have any atheist blogs or books you recommend?

I haven’t really felt the need to participate in any atheist media but I know a lot of people use the atheist Reddit and there are some really helpful subreddits linked to it for people who are currently in, attempting to leave, or have left some of those damaging religious environments. As the largest atheist community on the web though they can be pretty dumb sometimes and there’s a lot of groupthink. It’s a good starting place. There’s a good atheism FAQ there and links to the various support groups.

Have you ever struggled with your beliefs?

Nope. It’s never been an issue. I’ve liked to think about it, to try to poke holes in my own logic internally, as I do with any philosophical decision. I mean, it must be great to KNOW (in their eyes) there is awesome eternal life after death but it’s never caused me any suffering. The world and universe is the way it is and I can’t change it, only try to understand its true nature.

I read a fascinating article just the other day about the six types of atheists – please go check it out.
Here is a story I linked to awhile back about an atheist.
Here is my review of the book god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (capitalization as printed by the author), written by atheist Christopher Hitchens.

Blogs to check out:
Atheist Channel on Patheos (Patheos has weird pop-up things sometimes, fyi)
Atheist Ethicist
Proving The Negative
Epiphinom
Rationally Speaking
Debunking Christianity
Dwindling in Unbelief
My Secret Atheist Blog

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