Non-Practising Atheists

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bipedalhumanoid
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Re: Non-Practising Atheists

Post by bipedalhumanoid » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:04 pm

I avoid talking about religion at work, preferring to keep it secular, but sometimes I wonder if that's a good idea.

People do leap to strange assumptions about what atheism is. I know for instance that my boss links my atheism to my nationality and views atheism as a foreign concept becuase Irish people are catholics. I don't think he is aware of the significant non-religious population in this country.

He also once said something that lead me to believe he thinks that atheists are against freedom of religion. He was upset at the loss of financial sovereignty when the IMF came in and was talking about the people who fought for Ireland's independence "and our right to practice our religion". Immediately after he said that he turned to me and said sorry in a way to be interpreted as "sorry, I expressed a view that differs from yours". I had no opportunity to come into the conversation and correct him, but he had no reason to say that unless he thought I had a Stalinesque view of religious freedom.

I've actually come across very few atheists in my time who hold the view that religion should be banned or oppressed. Freedom of religion, as long as that freedom doesn't infringe on the rights of others, is something I support 100%.

The catholic church's caricature of secularism as an evil force trying to stamp out religion and that of secularism as a religion in its own right seems to be quite widely accepted here.
"The fact of your own existence is the most astonishing fact you will ever have to face. Don’t you ever get used to it." - Richard Dawkins... being shrill and offensive again I suppose.
Dev
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Re: Non-Practising Atheists

Post by Dev » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:23 pm

I have a close friend who hates atheism. He isn't anyway religious nor does he believe in God but he won't call himself an atheist just a person who doesn't believe in God.

I suspect really what he hates is how some atheists have become arrogant self appointed pseudo-intellectuals telling otherwise indifferent people that they are stupid.
bipedalhumanoid
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Re: Non-Practising Atheists

Post by bipedalhumanoid » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:53 pm

Dev wrote:
I suspect really what he hates is how some atheists have become arrogant self appointed pseudo-intellectuals telling otherwise indifferent people that they are stupid.
Or possibly how people like Dawkins have been caricatured, as arrogant psdeudo-intellectuals telling otherwise indifferent people they are stupid, by the media.

I have a brother in-law who is basically non-religious. He also hates atheists and he sites the existence of groups like Atheist Ireland as evidence that atheism is a religion.

He views religion as a harmless banal private matter that shouldn't ever be challenged. To him, the greatest crime a person can commit is knocking on his door in a misguided attempt to save his mortal soul. He equates those who stand up to religious privilege in the same way that he regards those who knock on his door to preach.

He is wrong of course. There is a difference between lobbying against religious privilege and preaching religious dogma.

His indifference is based on ignorance of how he is affected by religious privilege. I believe this variety of indifference should be challenged. Especially since he lives in a country where there are for-profit corporate entities owned by religious organisations that don't have to pay tax and many other ways in which he IS affected by religious privilege.

What do you think? Should we be indifferent to indifference through fear of being called arrogant, self appointed pseudo intellectuals?
"The fact of your own existence is the most astonishing fact you will ever have to face. Don’t you ever get used to it." - Richard Dawkins... being shrill and offensive again I suppose.
paolovf
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Re: Non-Practising Atheists

Post by paolovf » Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:25 pm

bipedalhumanoid wrote:I avoid talking about religion at work, preferring to keep it secular, but sometimes I wonder if that's a good idea.
Yeah it's a tough, I refrain from talking about religion unless people are already talking about it and if I feel like I have something worth while to contribute. But I wouldn't bring it up as a random topic of conversation.


On several occasions, I've gotten passing remarks like "sure you'll do what you want anyway, you're an atheist" or "I suppose you're against that since you're an atheist".

In the first case I do think some religious people don't think I have much of a moral structure, while in the second case some people think I just voice my opinion on injustices for the sake of it, because I'm an atheist and that's what we do. :?
Dev
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Re: Non-Practising Atheists

Post by Dev » Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:56 pm

bipedalhumanoid wrote:
Or possibly how people like Dawkins have been caricatured, as arrogant psdeudo-intellectuals telling otherwise indifferent people they are stupid, by the media.

What do you think? Should we be indifferent to indifference through fear of being called arrogant, self appointed pseudo intellectuals?
He does cringe whenever I mention Hitchens or Dawkins. Which is a shame since the both men have many interesting things to say. Ironically he loves Stephen Fry even though he can often be as aggressive against religion. I would agree though that some atheists take shit too far. e.g. /r/atheism on reddit often comes across as one big circlejerk.

I do think we have the same position on this bi. I don't think remaining silent does much to help.
Last edited by Dev on Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
ptferg
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Re: Non-Practising Atheists

Post by ptferg » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:06 pm

I've only become vocal about my Atheism in past couple of years and what I have found is that if you attempt to explain your world view to religious people they tend to stand on the defensive and close their minds somewhat. I've found the best way to approach the topic of their belief is to just ask questions, therefore you are not 'preaching' your beliefs but you do get them thinking about theirs and it opens their mind a bit. Also I have yet to meet one Christian who has read the bible and I always encourage them to do so as the only information they have about the bible is the heavily edited version regurgitated on a Sunday morning.
http://www.humanisticus.com/ My musings about religion, Atheism, secularism, Humanism etc.
aiseiri47
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Re: Non-Practising Atheists

Post by aiseiri47 » Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:15 pm

It would never occur to me to avoid discussing religion in any social situation, work or otherwise; I find it's easier to get into a disagreement with a work colleague than it is with a friend. I rarely find myself in disagreements anyway; the majority of people I've worked with have no time for religion. Those that are "religious" are really just gut-reaction Catholics. They probably wouldn't be that invested, but they still ask you why you're eating a chicken sandwich on Good Friday (I once had a colleague ask me this and when I said I wasn't Catholic, she said something along the lines of "Ah, but that's not the point." :| )

That said, this particular conversation came up on Ash Wednesday; I commented that I'd forgotten it was Ash Wednesday until I saw someone with ashes on their head, which was particularly ironic since we'd just been talking about what we'd had on our pancakes the day before. And from there we were just discussing how it's annoying when people ask you what you're giving up for lent, and it went on from there... it was a perfectly lighthearted discussion. I even had a debate with one of the girls at work about the existence of ghosts (she believes, I don't) and we spent more time laughing than doing anything resembling "arguing".

Religion is going to come up, at some point. It's unavoidable. A girl at work asked me if my parents were coming over (they live in the States) for my baby's due date. I said I didn't know, because it was very expensive, and in America, holidays aren't as abundant and easy to take as they are in Ireland. She responded "Yes, well, I guess it would be better if they came over for the Christening instead." And suddenly we're on religion! I could have just muttered a non-committal "yeah", but I simply told her the baby wasn't being christened. She asked me what religion I was and I said I didn't have a religion (I never answer "atheist" to that question because it's not a religion.) At that point she told me if my baby died, I wouldn't be able to bury it. (She didn't say it in a snotty Catholic way; she just has really poor social skills). While a part of me was shocked that anybody would say anything like that, I knew it was just who she was and I simply asked her did she not think that was rather absurd in this day and age and there was no horrible clash involving the horror of not baptising babies. I'm sure she was thinking bad things about me, but I don't really care because I can't stand her :mrgreen:

I think it's important to discuss these kind of things with the people we see on a daily basis; as I said, religion comes up, and not talking about it is active avoidance, which creates a taboo, which means when it does get talked about, it's in some kind of violent clash of elevated emotion. And that only reinforces the idea that we're in some kind of two-sided war of fundamentalists and militant atheists.

I guess I just talk about everything and I act like there's no reason I shouldn't; which is exactly what religious people do when they come in and ask what you've given up for lent. No reason to make an awkward situation out of it, just answer honestly.
Dr Raskolnikov
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Re: Non-Practising Atheists

Post by Dr Raskolnikov » Sat Mar 03, 2012 4:25 pm

aiseiri47,

I like your story of the chicken sandwich! :lol:

How did you respond to that? I was thinking I would like to have responded with a further question: "So, do you fast from dawn 'til dusk during Ramadan? No? Well there is the point!"

Of course in the heat of the moment I'd most likely screw it up. I do think responding with a question is a good way to wrest back control of a situation though, by pushing the onus back on the other person.
Science is like a blabbermouth who ruins the movie by telling you how it ends. Well, I say there are some things we don't want to know. Important things. - Ned Flanders
yellowfish
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Re: Non-Practising Atheists

Post by yellowfish » Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:46 pm

I have had several people accuse me of lacking imagination or of being limited in my view of the world, as if I have some sort of odd learning disability that stops me seeing the whole picture.
Jon
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Re: Non-Practising Atheists

Post by Jon » Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:54 am

yellowfish wrote:I have had several people accuse me of lacking imagination or of being limited in my view of the world, as if I have some sort of odd learning disability that stops me seeing the whole picture.
It's not so much that you are lacking imagination, more that you are lacking imaginary friends. That's probably because you're all grown up now.
"Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things; One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."
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