Is atheism easier for lifelong atheists?

I was very interested to read Greta Christina’s recent post, “Will Atheism Become Easier?”  Greta asks,

And if we came to our atheism more or less on our own — if we came to the atheist community after we let go of God, not before — we had to re-invent the wheel. I certainly went through that. When I let go of my spiritual beliefs, I wasn’t familiar with a lot of atheist and humanist and skeptical and secular philosophies of life and death. Death especially was a struggle for me — as it is for many believers letting go of their beliefs — and I pretty much had to piece together my own ways of coping with a life in which death is really and truly final. And I’m not the only one. Other atheists who have left religion report similar emotional and philosophical struggles: about death, about meaning, about personal responsibility, about really big questions that frame our lives.

But I’m wondering if that will be less true for the next generation.

It’s an interesting question to me because I am that next generation, so to speak.  I never had to come to atheism on my own.  My father is an atheist, his parents were atheists, and my mother’s interest in Judaism always seemed to me to be mostly ceremonial.

I have no hesitation in answering the question of whether it’s easier to grow up without the baggage of religion, because I never thought atheism was the slightest bit difficult.  From the first time I ran into opposition from my Kindergarten classmates, I was never shy about stating my opinion, and I have rarely felt much anxiety about whether life is worth living.

Sure, being an atheist has sometimes been difficult because it makes me a minority and puts me in conflict with other people.  It has caused the occasional trouble with classmates, neighbors, and coworkers.  Fortunately major conflicts have been relatively rare for me, and the answer has usually been to meet better people or avoid topics that cause fights.  On the whole, though, I have never felt much of that massive life upending reevaluation of priorities and values that ex-theists seem to experience, or lost a lot of sleep worrying that there’s no meaning to it all.

I have always found other people’s deconversion stories to be fascinating, and by contrast, I’ve always considered the story of my own atheism to be a bit boring.  Massive internal conflict and soul searching is something that makes a good narrative — an engaging heroic journey, if you will.  But that doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with skipping it.

With apologies for the overused analogy: My son has never believed in Santa Claus.  Even among atheists, this is a controversial position to take, as many atheist parents reason thusly: “I believed in Santa Claus, and it brought magic and wonder in my life until I learned the truth.  Is it fair for me to deny the same thing to my kid?”  Using a sample size of one, I think it’s absolutely fair.  Ben is still at an age where many of his peers believe in Santa, and I have asked over several years, “Do you feel like you missed out on anything, because you didn’t believe in Santa?”  He’s always immediately insisted that he’s glad he never bought into it.  He doesn’t seem to enjoy the holiday season any less (he says it’s his favorite holiday), and never seems to have been disappointed by the fact that he receives presents from his parents instead of a storybook character.

Speaking of my son, he’s another lifelong atheist, and he seems to have an even easier time of it than I did.  Like me, he doesn’t hide his opinions from fellow students.  Like me, it occasionally causes a little conflict with true believers.  Unlike me, he seems to have collected a fair number of atheist friends at each school and daycare he goes to.  I give the credit to the ever-increasing willingness of the atheist movement to speak their minds and make atheism socially acceptable.  I’m pretty confident that Ben’s generation of kids will grow up with more exposure to atheists and less fear of them than any of us did.

I certainly don’t want to say that I never faced philosophical dilemmas.  Christians have challenged me all my life to think about their views and justify my rejection of their beliefs.  I’ve devoured apologetics, both historical and modern, in the form of books and radio shows and religious TV programming and live church attendance and (of course) online and in person debates.  I’ve experienced doubt, sure — there was a period when I took a hard look at Pascal’s Wager and asked myself if there’s really a reason to fear eternal consequences.  Obviously, I concluded there wasn’t.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve certainly worried on many occasions about my own mortality.  I’ve read my old school papers and blog posts and felt some existential sadness that the “old me” will never exist again.  I have even, a time or two, pondered the fate of the last humans living.  What will it be like when the legacy of the entire human race ends, as resources run out, or the planet freezes, or the entire universe collapses?  Those are sad things to ponder.

But at no point have I seriously thought that it would have been better to have never lived at all.  I don’t just argue in the abstract that no God is needed to give my life meaning.  I try to appreciate what I’ve got, and enjoy what I do, and I can still feel optimistic that life continues to get better as people learn more.

As my son thinks of Santa, so I think of God.  I respect people who have gone through the experience of learning for the first time  that there is (probably) no God.  I appreciate the struggle that they go through in reforging their identity.  But I don’t feel like I have to trade for their experience.


  1. Gralgrathor says

    I’ve always wondered what it would have been like to grow up in a religious household, in a society that was predominantly religious. Would I have been able to shed superstition eventually? How much nurture is there in skepticism, and how much nature? Statistics show that deconversion is the exception rather than the rule. Still, I wonder.

  2. josh says

    I feel the same way, but my atheism wasn’t (nor is) accepted by my parents or some of my friends.

  3. says

    As my son think of Santa, so I think of God.

    In my experience, when Santa (or the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, or Russell’s Celestial Teapot, etc.) gets brought up one tends to get accused of mocking theists, arrogantly dismissing great thinkers who defend theist positions (while being accused of lacking sophistication of thought) or, at the very least, as attacking some strawman of theism which no one really believes in (as opposed to some unassailable, sophisticated theological position which, somehow, no one ever bothers to expand upon).

  4. Kazim says

    Yes, I realize that, and I don’t mean to belittle them exactly. The main difference between Santa and Jesus is that there is an obvious cultural rejection of Santa that occurs once kids reach a certain age, and I don’t think kids are to blame for believing something that has such an elaborate mythology behind it, which is also delivered with so much social acceptance.

    While believing in Santa sounds dumb to most adults, I used to really admire the way Bill Watterson would write sophisticated theological discussions into his “Calvin & Hobbes” comic strip. Calvin and Hobbes would be on their sled, and Calvin would be thinking about Christmas, and he would wonder, for example, if he could truly be considered “good” if he’s only manipulating the system to maximize his presents. Change the terms of the discussion and you could make the same conversation about Jesus and heaven come from the mouth of Pascal or Aquinas. They’re even, dare I say it, useful ideas for unbelievers to think about and discuss.

    In comparing theology to Santa Claus belief, I’m not trying to say that people who believe in religious dogma are stupid. I’m just trying to frame it in a handy context that everybody understands about something which they started out accepting but turned out not to be true.

  5. gralgrathor says

    True. Most theists immediately reject the point of the analogy and substitute their own analogy for yours, and then counter that analogy.

    The analogy’s original point is to illustrate the merits of believing something without evidence. The point that is substituted and then answered is something along the lines of “if Yahweh could’ve created the universe, then a teapot could’ve created the universe”. Frankly, I find this puzzling.

  6. John Kruger says

    I did manage to just stop going to what was a pretty loose and liberal Methodist church with the autonomy of moving away from my parents, and nobody ever bothered me about not continuing to attend. Compared to many stories I have read I had it pretty easy.

    I did struggle with morality for some time, since I could no longer trust the definitional obedience route. I recognized the Bible as totally unreliable, but did not quite connect the dots on it not being the source of morality for quite some time. I was also a bit troubled by giving up the idea of an afterlife, since this made death much more frightening.

    I suspect the most traumatic aspects of de-conversion have to do with the amount of change that it causes. Do you lose many of your close relationships? Do you lose your job? Do you lose how you think about right and wrong? Do you lose your sense of identity? The more you say “yes” to these kinds of questions the more traumatic it is bound to be. So it seems fairly straightforward that those who are atheists longer or younger will have an easier time of it, if only because they will not have to deal with nearly as many sharp and deep changes in their life.

  7. John Kruger says

    It is a really annoying defense mechanism. Instead of considering the parallel in reasoning mistakes, the response is more or less “Oh yeah? Well you are mean!”

  8. says

    Oh, I don’t mean to imply that you are intending to belittle believers. My comment was merely an observation based on my own experience (the last time this happened my respondent was not even a theist, by the way –more like a self-righteous agnostic, I think) and I know that when I have made such comments I have not intended this ridicule that I have been accused of.

    I like the strip that you linked to.

  9. says

    I’m a 4th generation atheist (at least on one side of the family ;)). My kids are so far the 5th generation (they are technically atheists because the only thing about “god” they have heard so far is people groaning and cursing).
    No, I really never had those “soul searching” struggles. Meaning of life, death, they just were.
    It never seemed like my nominally christian friends were less grieved about loss than I was. In short, there didn’t seem to be much of a difference.
    I should note that Germans aren’t very religious in general. They still manage to be about as good as the average person is. Most people seem to manage a certain level of decency without actually ever having a philosophical thought in their life, it seems more like religion makes you believe you need that crutch.

    But since you mention it:

    With apologies for the overused analogy: My son has never believed in Santa Claus. Even among atheists, this is a controversial position to take, as many atheist parents reason thusly: “I believed in Santa Claus, and it brought magic and wonder in my life until I learned the truth. Is it fair for me to deny the same thing to my kid?” Using a sample size of one, I think it’s absolutely fair.

    I have never denied that there are Santa and the Easter Bunny, and I have never claimed there are. (I also have never been asked directly). I have never put on a charade.
    I don’t lie to my children.
    But I want them to make their minds up:
    Why do all the Nikoläuse look different?
    Why do they have to ask the name every time?
    How come they’re all a bunch of incompetent loosers who’ll deposit gifts in 20 different places with friends and family instead of just making one big appearance?

  10. bubba707 says

    When Christians (or anyone else) demands you justify you’re nonbelief in their nonsense just tell em to bugger off. I don’t feel like I have to justify anything when they try to unload a bunch of unprovable bullshit on me. I guess I’m one of them nasty gnu atheists but at age 63 my bullshit capacity is very low.

  11. Kazim says

    If it weren’t for the show, I might not spend a lot of time arguing with Christians anymore either. But I’m glad I went through the experience of arguing a lot in my teens and twenties. It’s not good to just accept a belief blindly, even atheism. Some amount of questioning and defending your own beliefs is necessary if you want to be sure that you’ve arrived at convictions that are solid.

  12. says

    I have a SUPER boring story about being an atheist my whole life . . . even when young and attending parochial elementary school. Of course, I didn’t know I was an atheist then! Virtually no religion at home, never an issue. Did have a few things when growing up; but really nothing.

    I also find the stories of becoming an atheist fascinating. Simply amazing the struggles people have gone through to get to atheism.

    Nope, I do not argue the nature of God anymore . . . degree in philosophy, HAD those conversations, etc.\

    Now? I want to make a difference; build a secular America.

  13. bubba707 says

    Been there, done that til I’m sick of it. I have to say I don’t accept that I owe anyone any explainations or justifications for anything. Maybe it’s that I’m getting old enough to understand how short my life is and don’t want to waste any I have left on idiots.

  14. Dennis says

    My interest in this post is the concern over death. I am a geophysicist and I believe in the big bang which is estimated to have occured 14.5 billion years ago. Assuming thats when time began (t=D/V if nothing moves relative to anything else time is irrevalent) I’ve been dead for 14.5 billion years, and alive for only 58. All I know about my past period being dead is time went by quickly and it wasn’t particularly distressing. I expect my future death will mirror my past death. What is to fear? If anything life is reward for having a good death! Oh! that doesn’t make sense. Does it?

  15. RickRay says

    Your article is well done! I think I was a non-believer from about the age of 9 or 10. Most people around me were just the kind of Christians who struggled day to day to get by and just believed in a God because everybody else did. Somehow my critical thinking skills wanted me to question their “beliefs without proof”. Religion wasn’t a big issue until my second wife decided to become a born-again Christian and told me that God was the most important thing in her life. Somehow, my logical brain told me she was psychotic. Since when is an imaginary, invisible sky-daddy who never appears or says anything, more important than your children and your family? I began hating religion and so for the last 17 years have been doing research on the topic. By reading letters from along with other sites I see the damage that has been done by religion. I regret that I was unable to save the family unit and see how this delusional dogma has destroyed so many other families. I have one boy who is a non-believer, and the other one follows his mother’s religious beliefs. What are we to do? It’s part of my reality so I deal with it on a daily basis. How it all ends is a mystery I will likely never discover.

  16. jacobfromlost says

    I don’t think the Santa/god comparison is unjust, as I don’t see adults as that much more advanced than children anyway.

    As adults, we often like to think we are more mature, more intelligent, more insightful, etc, but insofar as that is true…it’s not by very much at all. Adults are generally just larger children who have lived slightly longer, which may or may not mean that much in comparison to children (very often it doesn’t mean much at all).

    All the “sophisticated theology” for god can be just as easily applied to Santa, and, honestly, often IS applied to Santa by children (and sometimes by adults to reinforce, or create, children’s belief).

    The fact that some people grow up at take the very same thinking that supported childhood nonsense for adult nonsense doesn’t make the adult nonsense more robust. It’s the same old child nonsense with the word “sophisticated” pasted on it by the adult, and “Santa” swapped out for something more acceptable among adult communities…just the way “Santa” was acceptable among communities of children.

  17. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    It was easy for me while I’d thought theism was, outside of tiny Westboro-like cults, extinct in my region and replaced by clubhouses and custom; that religions were mythology fandom; ‘missionary’ meant tangible support like Doctors without Borders and activism abroad; and ‘conservative’ had something to do with caution and conservation.
    Then when a relative, in recounting a trip to the grand canyon, alluded to hearing about intelligent design, I offered to play the Nova documentary about it. The topic drifted to Jesus, and he went into fundie-mode: repetetive programmed statements, verbal thuggery, and passive-aggressive praying to himself. He vehemently insisted that I read the holy book but refused to open his own copy.
    Other relatives had homeschooled their kid, I’d always assumed for higher standards. But once I finally asked, they cited religious disagreement with public school. They didn’t even know about infrared light (!?), so believing in invisible wind was a clever apologetic. God inserts knowledge of medicine in doctors’ heads (apparently not the decade of med school teachers). A location called Hell can be felt to exist. ‘Faith’ was hoping something to be true, yet faith in their religion’s assertions wasn’t hoping 90% of the world would go to Hell for having different sects. They needed to be told how to be moral because they were like dim children who couldn’t figure it out for themselves (They were making a case for that at least).
    So for a few years now, I’ve been soaking up psychology, anthropology, history, doctrinal overviews, deconversion stories, and argument podcasts in a humanizing effort to not loathe them most of the planet for their fantasy addiction and incurious reckless disregard for reality (including the very details of their own religions’ history).

  18. says

    I’ve been tending toward the notion that everyone is raised embedded in some set of beliefs, inculcated from a young age, that it takes some effort to unravel. Even if that set doesn’t include any kind of god, it likely includes a political and ethical outlook, a variety of assumed factual content, and assumptions about how such things tie together.

    Perhaps that unraveling is easier, if one isn’t raised in a religion that works so hard to nail that down, and into one’s brain.

    But perhaps, in part, the unraveling is more subtle, because the ingrained beliefs are more diffuse and harder to identify.

  19. Zane says

    I am torn on the Santa issue because while it does seem to be dishonest to tell a child something you know is clearly false, for me it also gave me an opportunity to stretch my critical thinking muscles early on.

    My parents did the Santa thing with me, they used a unique wrapping paper that was different from anything that would be given from them (also making sure that there was none left over that I would find in a closet at some point when going to wrap my own gifts), they borrowed a large boot to create footprints in the fireplace, and Santa would write a note responding to any I left for him with the milk and cookies, written by my dad with his off-hand so the writing was different.

    Yet despite all this, I began to notice discrepancies between my experiences and those of my friends. For instance, my gifts would be left near the fireplace, while others would find them under the tree with the rest of the gifts. Another got gifts from Santa that weren’t wrapped. So when Christmas came around when I was six, I decided to perform an experiment. I chose the two things I wanted the most for Christmas, the thing I wanted most, I asked for from Santa, both at the mall and in my letter which I mailed myself. When my parents asked me what I had asked Santa for, I told them the second thing. (I figured given the Santa stories, if I asked Santa for the thing I wanted the second most, he might still know what I really wanted potentially corrupting my data.)

    Sure enough when Christmas morning came, the gift from “Santa” was the thing I had told my parents I had asked for. I had figured out the truth and never felt betrayed by them for lying to me, but rather pleased at how critical thinking had let me reach the truth.

    It helps that they always taught me to be skeptical though.

  20. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    Plus universal biases that need no parental urging, like
    fundamental attribution error, self-serving bias, and the ever-popular Dunning–Kruger effect.
    <Grr. Two links triggers moderation here.
    Wish I could retract my comment when that happens.>

  21. grumpyoldfart says

    Never any problems ever.

    No philosophical doubts.

    Totally unafraid of dying.

    Never believed in the Tooth Fairy.

    Truly believed in Father Christmas.

    And the dam at the back of our place was bottomless – some things you just know.

  22. Zengaze says

    Don’t know if I ever believed it, I was trooped along to church, baptised, confirmed, and all that but it ws out of tradition more than anything else. That’s an Irish catholic family for you. I did the altar boy thing too

    My earliest memory of questioning the whole thing was during a sermon and the priest was referring to gods house, when the stupidity of god having a house struck me, I guess I was about eleven, and that very simple thougt caused the house of cards to fall down, looking around me I saw all the people piously on their knees listening to some eejit in the pulpit and realised I didn’t believe it, and what’s more it confused me that all these people believed it.

    What probably enabled my freedom from religion was the fact that my father was an atheist, though I didn’t know it until I asked him, I always had thought it unfair that I had to goo to church with my mother on Sunday morning while he slept in.

    So that was that. Though I would say that I wasn’t truly an atheist until my thirties, for periods of my life the question of existence would pop up again, I probably never really put it to rest, as I had just realised religion was. Ullshit and then got on with my life without it, and I tried Buddhism, and later a mad phase where I attended an evangelical church, that is a long long story. I met my wife there and her beliefs and my lack of them do cause problems. Such is the journey.

  23. ElNerdoLoco says

    I think I am in kind of a weird spot here. My parents are both technically theists, yet do not consider themselves to be religious. They always harped on how unreasonable religion is, yet God somehow still existed. “It is a matter of faith.” they told me. So growing up, religion was always odd to me and God inconsequential. Neither really had any impact on my life. So I am not sure if I was an atheist or not. Technically, I suppose I was a theist. I did think a god existed. But it had no impact on my life at all and I did not even think much about it until high school. I was involved in a competition called the academic decathlon. One year, an event called The Superquiz focused on philosophy, psychology, and religion. I did not know what an atheist was prior to this, but I was able to call myself one before the season was over.

    While nothing about my life changed, when studying for this quiz, I had to talk about this stuff with my team mates. For most of the year, I called myself an agnostic. Atheism was not an area of study for this competition, but it was talked about and I adopted that label. There was a lot of debate, and I was alone on my side.

    Our team dynamic was never friendly. We were always competing with each other as no level of cooperation was really beneficial in the decathlon, but two team mates I had considered friends spent far less time with me as the year progressed until I eventually moved. We have not spoken since.

    The lesson I take is, living without religion is very easy. Probably easier than living with it. Living as an atheist however, I do not think is exactly the same.

  24. jacobfromlost says

    I remember finding the “god’s house” assertion ridiculous also. I went to church with a neighbor for a while (it was the only way his parents would let him spent a Saturday night), and they had this really old single-wide mobile home behind the church that was used for Sunday school. The kids didn’t behave all that well, and a very severe, older gentleman that led the Sunday school kept telling us that “this is god’s house too,” as if that would make them behave.

    Well, it didn’t make them behave, and that made the assertion doubly…maybe triply…absurd in my eyes. One, it was a dilapidated mobile home (and that stark reality made me consider the CHURCH in a new light also–it wasn’t really that fancy or remarkable either). Two, the threat to the kids that it was “god’s house” didn’t change the kids’ behavior because the claim was ridiculous on its face. And three, I was very well behaved before I ever went to church, and very well knew I wasn’t well behaved because I was being threatened with ridiculous nonsense. The kids around me were being threatened with ridiculous crap continually, and they either didn’t care, or it seemed to make their behavior worse.

    I eventually stopped going and wasn’t really friends with the neighbor much after that.

  25. Jay says

    I think it’s interesting that we’re having this conversation because it’s an exact mirror of conversations I used to hear/have in church. There was always this tendency in church to talk up the stories of personal conversion of those that were previously most un-christian. “I was a hedonist, drunkard, criminal until God turned my life around!” were always the interesting testimonies, but more than once I recall discussions about how those conversion stories were no less “powerful” than those of a young person who grew up in church all his/her life and never knew any of that “sinful” life.

  26. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    I disagree. Deconversion stories are more about informing the rest of us what each flavor of theism is like from an insider, and hinting at what general circumstances are most favorable to recreating the process in others.
    Conversion’s about reminding everyone what a wretch one was without the church and celebrating how great membership is. A supernatural intervention’s supposed to be responsible for the timing, so there’s nothing to learn there.

  27. Zengaze says

    I think I first developed a taste for Ridicule when I consulted my dad about some very very basic theology our religious. Education teacher had posed us, I can’t remeber exactly what it was, but I decided to get my dads view. He didn’t answer the assertions directly but told me to ask the teacher if judas iscacriot had god on his side (he was a big Dylan fan). I did so the next day, the all consuming rage which I witnessed the teacher repress coupled with the dismissive wave of his hand as he scanned the room for another student to question whilst the cogs in his brain clunked gave me great satisfaction, as well as the realisation that this guy didn’t know shit. A great lesson in not blindly accepting knowledge from authority.

    And just as a rebuttal to any xtian reading this who says I misunderstood the priest, and that what the priest was referring to was a building dedicated to honouring god. I got that too……

  28. Zengaze says

    The Santa thing I have decided to do, to encourage imagination and yes a little bit of a fantasy world. I think it’s very different from the god delusion as I fully intend them to realise it was fun all along, and they will of course realise this with or without me. Is this a betrayal of their expectations that I as a parent would never lie to them, if it is then great, that’s another good lesson to learn.

  29. says

    Back when I was a work-a-day journalist, I did a story interviewing a psychologist who said it was OK for parents to lie to their kids about Santa Claus. It may have just been confirmation bias, but the guy’s opinion was that kids suffer no untoward effects by parents engaging in this kind of behavior.

    That story got picked up by the AP and was run in just about every newspaper in the country. The clipping file was massive. So, in the opinion of one mental health professional at least, no harm’s done.

    My fondest memories of Christmas were of waking up that morning and finding an unwrapped present from Santa under my pillow. My two brothers and I would play with those toys until we heard the downstairs stirring that meant it was OK for us to tumble down and get the rest of the loot.

    I found out about Santa not being real at about age 7, but played along for my younger brother’s sake. At about age 8, I figured out that the “god” thing was a fake, too.

    So, did my early belief in Santa and subsequent discovery of the truth lead me to the truth about there being no god as well? I never made the direct correlation; but I do find it interesting that within 8 or 9 months I had jettisoned both belief in Santa and belief in gods.

    Maybe I was precocious.

  30. Zengaze says

    I think there’s something in your statement which points to the difference between the theist mind and the atheist mind. Don’t jump on this I’m generalising.

    This was talked about briefly in another post, but it’s about education and critical thought. The more conversations ive had with theists the more wacky shit I’ve heard them come out with, I’m talking jaw dropping ignorance of reality. Neither am I referring to people who have never opened a book, I’m talking about third level educated professional people in careers which require evidentiary procedure and analysis.

    One such person in an plea for god cited gravity, “and how it only exists on earth”……….. My mind actually went numb and I had trouble responding, when I did and refuted it in the most basic way I could think of “how was man able to walk on the moon” she shut down completely and went into I don’t want to listen mode, but that’s another story.

    In conclusion it seems to me that atheists who have broken from indoctrination are more likely to question what they’re told than theists, so the key to freeing theists minds is to teach them to think properly.

  31. Mark says

    I was raised nominally Christian. Well, I was baptised into the Anglican faith and attended school in the UK (with the daily act of worship). Aside from that, the only time I set foot in a church was weddings and funerals.

    At age 7 I remember clearly reasoning thus: “if I do a bad thing, I go to hell forever. There is nothing I could do that would make punishing me forever fair.”

    It was at that point that the concept of gods stopped troubling me.

  32. CompulsoryAccount7746 says

    I remember testing Santa’s omnicience by hiding a tiny stocking in my room, telling no one about it, and being saddened at the result. But maybe I misjudged Santa’s M.O.

    The next year, to be sure, I did the more direct but embarrassing test. I napped under the back of the tree, where I wouldn’t be seen except by whomever was going to place the presents. By then I was fairly confident what would happen, even anticipating how sad a sight it would be for my parents if they were the ones who showed up.

    I don’t remember if I was machiavellian enough at the time to see that contingency as fitting punishment for their lying.

  33. Zengaze says

    Damn that’s pretty complex reasoning for a seven year old lol then again I thought a week was forever when I was seven.

    By the way totally OT but all our US friends here think we have it great in liberal Europe. They have absolutely no idea of the extreme religious moves affoot within the UK, and we have no constitutional protection. In fact in the UK religion and the state are hand in glove.

    Mark my words there’s a battle for the soul of the uk coming. They already get to teach ID in schools funded by the state, I’m not talking church schools which have always existed. I’m talking a new method through schools called academies.

    The stuffy old traditional churches which have been viewed as mainly benign and tame, are being replaced by nutty evangelical churches popping up everywhere with their bible literalism and donuts coffee and rock music to wash it down with. They are American imports, and “secular” Europe is asleep on guard.

  34. drdave says

    Both of my parents were religious, but of the liberal persuasion. Dad instilled the sciences and mom instilled the arts. But, christianity never took, and the superficial, please the adults aspect evaporated by 16. It’s not really a deconversion story. Now, after 50 years of indifference to the issue, I have become a bit uppity about my atheism. I found the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix several years back, and am reaping all the emotional and social benefits traditionally touted by the religious folks (too bad, no longer a monopoly).

  35. Dennis says

    I don’t know if you respond to days old posts but I will respond to your response. Fun for all. Anyhoo, yes I wear my seatbelt. I obey the law and want to ensure a long life, I am not suicidal or depressed. I have a good athiest life. The point of my responce is religious opologiststs can’t answer what about the time before life. Is this a reasonable argument? I have confused many religious people by stating this argument. They have no argument the bible says nothing on this topic. It doesn’t mater whether they belive time began 5000 years ago or 14.5 billion years ago, they are not old enough to account for all past time. They can’t account for it without going extra biblical. I always ask then to find me a biblical quote that proves them. Fun for all. They always tell me I am going to hell! I tell them I will vaporize them witm my VORTRON ray gun before they get to send me to hell! Fun for all!

  36. Mark says

    My father always taught me to question everything and never settle for “because I said so” as an answer.

    My grandfather gave me a telescope when I was 4.

    I was always a questioning and inquisitive child.

    I think the battles raging in the UK at the moment are part of a last ditch attempt by the religious to control what they are rapidly losing control over – the populace. They are losing their grip on the hearts, minds and laws and, instead of trying to openly engage in debate and politics, they are ruining the playing field by shitting on it and setting fire to it. The only outcome for them is people being able to see what unreasonable and unyielding people they are and alienating the moderates until they are the just the crazy people shouting in the street.

  37. says

    I have never been religious, so people talking religion to me is like describing color to a blind man, I just don’t “get it”. Sixty-one years on the Big Blue Marble and I’ve had very little interface with religion. And, in reality, this is true of most people. Here in the US the average person is “religious” about 1/168th of the week, while in church. And most people don’t go to church regularly. I just get that extra hour a week to sleep in on Sunday morning.

    Being natively atheist is a problem when it comes to dealing with fanatics, because I can’t put myself in their shoes.

  38. Sammi C says

    Greta Christina seems to have a deluded view that there is an “atheism” with a philosophy and so on. She wants to argue that being an atheist requires one to become some sort of secular humanist, which is completely nonsensical. I think she is trying to construct a godless religion or at least a moral philosophy which is a huge mountain of inference to build on the foundation of the simple observation that there are no gods.

    For myself, brought up by mildly Christian church-goers, but initially accepting when young, then agnostic in adolescence, then atheist in adulthood, there is no difficulty in any of this.

    One of the reasons is that not everyone feels the need for a moral philosophy or anything similar to guide their life. I try not to comply with most laws and not be dishonest, discriminatory or unfair most of the time, and as far as I am concerned I don’t need to justify why I behave in a social way.

    There’s too much projection going on of the sort (a) I feel I need a philosophy of life, therefore (b) everybody must feel they need a philosophy of life.

    No gods. No atheism. Just atheists.

  39. m6wg4bxw says

    “[…]I never thought atheism was the slightest bit difficult.”

    “Sure, being an atheist has sometimes been difficult[…]”

  40. Kazim says

    Nice sentence fragments.

    Greta specifically said that she was not talking about whether atheism would get easier socially, but whether it would be easier for people psychologically if they weren’t going through a faces of shedding their God beliefs. I said that, indeed, atheism has been a bit difficult for me socially, but not psychologically.