Friendly atheist discussion? Is it even possible?

  1. The 'We are christian nurses' thread has been around a long time. I've lurked, but never posted because I respect the nature and intent of the thread, and I didn't want to be thought of as an interloper. So I'm starting this thread so I can talk to other atheists. It will be interesting to see if this thread stays on topic, or degenerates into a theological death-match. Maybe I'm naive, but I have faith that this thread will remain civil.

    I was raised a catholic, but I've been an atheist since my teens. I simply have never believed in God. I'm 43 now, and have a wonderful husband and two great kids, ages 8 and 10. So far, only my husband, parents, and a couple of friends know about my beliefs. I guess that makes me something of a quasi-closet atheist. I haven't told anyone at work. I've only worked there for a month, and it seems everyone is deeply religious, especially my DON. I fear they would consciously or sub-consciously allow my atheism to color their feelings about me. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who think that atheists are immoral people. That, of course, could not be further from the truth. I am a very decent, caring and considerate human being. I'm that way because I love people and I want to be a productive member of society, and a positive influence on the people around me.

    Prejudice is a major reason why I never told my children about my atheism. So when they were little I basically decided to let them decide for themselves. It was the coward's way out, I suppose. Anyway, it seems they have learned about religion the way I learned about sex. From their friends. Odd, I know. I think I'll tell them when they are a little older.

    I'm sorry this is getting a little long. I just wanted to talk to other people who feel as I do. I know that about 10 percent of the population are atheists, but sometimes I feel very alone in my beliefs. In 43 years I have only personally met one atheist. I think that's unfortunate. I believe the misconceptions some people have about atheists are perpetuated by a lack of exposure. Maybe if we had our own sitcom........
    Last edit by Rustyhammer on Aug 4, '03
  2. 156 Comments

  3. by   Angelica
    I guess I spelled atheist wrong on the thread title. I'm something of a perfectionist, so it bothers me when I do that. I need to get over that, I think.
  4. by   Rustyhammer
    My kids are pretty devout atheists as are my wife and I.
    They have learned not to say much about it to other people but can debate the issue to the bone if needed.
    I'll bring it up if someone asks me "What church do you go to?" or "Where did you babtize your kids at?"
    It kind of blows some folks away when I tell them I'm atheist.
    ps: I edited your title for you Angelica
  5. by   2muchfun
    Angelica, it only bothers me that you feel intimidated to express you're views on your beliefs. I work at a Catholic hospital, many religious co-workers of various denominations. Myself, I was raised very strict Baptist, religion nearly ruined my life, but that is another thread topic. Before I am tempted to digress, the point I wanted to make is that we have on nurse who is WICCA(sp). She is not pushy with it but neither is it subtle. Really, I haven't seen any problems. Many of the conservative Christains have had some interesting conversations, both exchanging beliefs and knowlege.

    It's interesting though that your reservations about expressing your views mirror many religious ppl's reservations about expressing their beliefs.

    Finding your spiritual beliefs is a life time journey imo. I know that in the course of my life and experiences, my views have changed and evolved.

    I am not athiest, so I hope my post isn't intrusive. I am always interested in what ppl believe and what has led them to their particular beliefs.
  6. by   Angelica
    If I'm intimidated, it's because SOME people are not as open minded as you. I'm not sure I'm ready to take that leap, especially with my DON at my new job. I appreciate your response, though, and I certainly don't think you're being intrusive.
  7. by   Rustyhammer
    I certainly understand your reluctance to "come out".
    Nothing like being told by all your co-workers that you are doomed to put a kink in your work ecosystem.
    However, I have run into a lot of religious people (of all faiths) that have a live and let live attitude. These people have become comfortable enough with their own faith that they don't feel threatened when they run into someone with a different viewpoint.
  8. by   Angelica
    You're absolutely right, Rusty. I think most people wouldn't care one way or another. I'm going to hold off on coming out at work, though. Not only is it a new job for me, but it is also my first job as an RN. I just graduated in June. So right now my feeling of intimidation exists on several levels.
  9. by   Spidey's mom
    [QUOTE]Originally posted by 2muchfun

    "It's interesting though that your reservations about expressing your views mirror many religious ppl's reservations about expressing their beliefs."
    ************************************************** *

    I was interested in this quote because maybe it says alot about humankind in general. Stereotyping categories of people by a small minority of that category's people seems unfair to me. And that stood out in Angelica's post and 2muchfun's post.

    My observation on this BB is that the majority of people of all categories treat each other with respect and there are only a few who manage to say something that is insulting.

    Most born-again Christians don't bash you over the head with their bible. Most atheists don't shove their thoughts down your throat. Most Wiccans don't . . . . etc.

    I try not to prejudge a person based on bad experiences. Each person deserves that respect.

    Keep talking . . . .

  10. by   Shamrock
    Raised Catholic, but like you, fell away from the church. I think not so much because of athiest beliefs, but the inability to believe
    in the seemingy (to me anyway), inflexible "rules" that Catholics
    are supposed to believe in. I just can't support ABSOLUTELY no abortion, gay people, etc.... I do believe in a "supreme" being of
    some sort, just haven't decided what/who. I'm leaning toward my
    cat. HA
  11. by   Nurse Ratched
    Hello, fellow atheist(s) (wave!)

    I had to giggle at the premise of your post - with atheism, you just don't believe - there aren't dozens of different ways not to believe in a god. Makes it kinda hard to argue among ourselves .

    I have been an atheist for as long as I can remember altho I have gone to a number of churches on a visitation basis with friends of various denominations just because I find religion interesting.

    My lack of religious beliefs is not something I discuss in a work setting unless I am directly asked (and if directly asked by a pt, I will skirt the issue because my religious beliefs just aren't relevant.) If asked by a co-worker, I freely own up to my atheism. It's as much a part of me as the beliefs of any person of faith are of them. (And if you don't want to hear the answer to a question, don't ask it .) It's a rare person that tries to convert me, but when they do, I make it clear to them that I hold my beliefs as strongly as they do, and I would never try to convince them NOT to believe, so I expect the same respect of my views.

    I consider atheism an extension of my practical view of life. Do no harm, life a decent life so that you can look at yourself in the mirror, live and let others live as they would, and don't worry about rewards later or sweat too much what tomorrow may bring. I do believe that you get back the energy you send out, and that has been an excellent guide for me.
  12. by   Angelica
    I am also fascinated by religion, but not enough to actually go to church I once registered for a comparative religions class, but I dropped it after one week (excruciatingly dull professor)
  13. by   iliel
    Hi everyone! It's nice to see this post. I'm also atheist. I've been that way for as long as I can remember. I think my parents are as well, but they never came out and said it, they just let me decide for myself.
  14. by   gwenith
    I do believe that something is cranking the handle that turns the universe - I just hope it does not stop any day soon

    Like Nurse Rached my beliefs are intensely personal and I do not discuss them with anyone. I am interested though in what religions mean to other people and how they live their lives but it is a "scientific" curiosity and more than a little akin to anthropological interest.

    However I do have the following joke I think you will all appreciate.

    A atheist died and went to heaven where he was met by St Peter and given a conducted tour around heaven. The atheist confused said "Hang on! Why am I here? I never believed in any of the religions."
    Saint Peter smiled and answered "Although you did not believe you have led an exemplary life obeyed the commandments and acted in an altruistic manner - this has earned you your right to be here."

    The tour goes on and the atheist notices a large wall down the center of heaven. He asks "What is the wall for?"

    St Peter replies "Oh well all the (insert name of religion here) are behind there."

    The atheist puzzled "Is it better behind the wall than here?"

    St Peter replies "No it's just the same - it's just that they like to think they are the only ones up here!"

    I do have a very good defense though for anyone who tries to "Shove" religion at me - I tell them I am a member of the solipsistic society of latter day puritanical perfunctory pantheists!

    Usually by that time I am able to get the door closed again.