I’m a bit unusual in the sense that I wasn’t raised religious, that I never “converted” to atheism. But I also think I’m unusual for another reason.
I don’t really have any religious friends.
I don’t think I did it on purpose. Even in high school, where I considered myself “agnostic” and basically didn’t want to think about religion anymore, almost all of my friends were non-theists. I didn’t select them for this reason: many of us had known each other since we were little kids. But when I think of my close group of friends, the demographics were something like this:
1 Not very serious Wiccan (who is now an Atheist)
2 “spiritual but not religious” people
I had other friends who were liberal Christians or Hindu, but they were school friends – we never really spent time together outside of class.
I thought maybe this was a fluke, but the same thing has happened to me in college. Of my original group of friends I made freshman year:
1 Liberal Christian
But I didn’t grow up with these people – we just happened to be roommates. Granted, it was on the Honors Science floor of the dorm, so that probably skewed the odds…but it’s like we accidentally found each other. I didn’t screen the girls on the floor or in my classes to find the heathens – we just happened to clump together.
Do I think this is just a coincidence? No, I’m sure there’s a rational explanation. I wouldn’t say my high school group found each other because we were all religious outcasts – most of my friends were forced to go to CCD or Jew Camp or all sorts of community things where they could have made religious friends. Even with those opportunities, we accidentally became close friends with all the other heathens. I think we even encouraged each other’s nonbelief to an extent. Middle and high school were times where we would discuss belief a lot (we were nerds, shut up), and probably reinforced skeptical thinking in each other.
More importantly though, I bet we’re just drawn together because we have similar values. Not only are we all atheists, but we’re all liberal, nerdy, slightly perverted, etc… That doesn’t mean all atheists have those attributes or that no theists do, but it’s a pretty good stereotype. That would also explain college, where we didn’t grow up together and reinforce each others beliefs. They were already there, but overall our personalities just happened to match. But one thing about my hypothesis doesn’t work: all of my atheist friends have good religious friends.
Why am I the one person with only atheist friends? Now that we have the club, it’s even worse. Well, I mean, it’s wonderful because I’ve made so many more good friends through our meetings. But now I have tons of atheist friends. I even “lost” my one token Christian friend because he became an Agnostic – I guess we’re a bad influence on him. I’m not actively avoiding theists. Hell, I don’t even find out a person’s religious beliefs right away – how could I be avoiding them? Am I subconsciously distancing myself from theists? Or do they distance themselves from me when they find out about me being president of a club of atheists?
Part 2 tomorrow: Why this actually matters to me