Friday, 6 September 2013

New To Atheism Part 3 - Resources

If you're a new atheist, especially one that feels the need to keep this information from family and friends, you may feel a sense of loss, and a sense of loneliness. Of course you may be happy to be known as an atheist but have no one within your community or family to talk to about it. 

It's not that atheism is necessarily a topic that is going to generate hours and hours of conversation, but I'm sure there's part of us all that wants to be able to tell someone close how we feel about something and receive back an 'I agree' or 'Yep, I know what you mean'. We all have a sense of wanting to belong, somewhere where we can feel included and that we're accepted for who we are. 

With atheism in many parts of the world, this simply not possible. From the possibility that people may lose their jobs, be ostracised from their community, or be shunned by their family to the extreme, sad, and horrific reality that there are people in the world who are imprisoned, maimed and sometimes even killed for being for an atheist. 

This is, of course, a completely unacceptable situation. There is simply no opinion/point of view that anyone can hold that should see them physically harmed for holding it. And yes, this extends to extremely racist or sexist or other unsavoury points of view. I'm not suggesting society should respect these points of view, but to harm people for having them - that's just unacceptable. 

For atheism specifically there should be no adverse implications at all. It is a single position on a single question. It's not discriminatory, it's not judgemental, it's not sexist nor is it racist. When someone becomes an atheist after having been a theist for a period of time they are the same person they always were. What is happening is that the answer to a question has changed - Instead of 'yes' the answer to 'Do you believe a god exists' becomes 'no'. It doesn't mean the person suddenly hates theists, it doesn't mean the person suddenly thinks all theists are morons, it doesn't mean the person is suddenly an arrogant individual with no morals. What it shows is that the person has put some time and thought into the idea of 'god' and is no longer convinced that the claims that a god exists are true. 

So what is a person new to atheism to do? Where can a person new to atheism turn to get the contact, interaction, and information they desire? For many, online - the internet - is clearly the answer. The online world, particularly the applications known as social media, is - dare I say it? - the Mecca for atheists. 

Through my twitter account @MrOzAtheist I have come to speak to, interact with, and even become friends with atheists all over the world. There is a vibrant and lively atheist community on twitter which welcomes life long atheists right through to people who are still theists but are having doubts about their beliefs. I've seen a number of examples of people new to atheism thanking others for the help and support they've been given. I've seen people tweet things about feeling alone in their real life community but feeling like they belong to a group online. 

When it comes to who I follow I couldn't recommend anyone in particular here and do justice to all the atheists on twitter who are tweeting their thoughts. I follow just over 500 quality people, and almost all are atheists. Many of them tweeting atheism majority of the time and others tweeting all kinds of topics, both serious, and seriously funny. If you are interested in who I follow on twitter you can see the list here. Of course these people will follow some people I don't and so on. If twitter is your thing, I recommend having a look at the #atheist and #atheism tags and seeing who is tweeting on the subject and when you find someone you like - follow them. (Of course, if twitter is your thing, I'm sure you're aware of how this all works!)

It really is quite heart-warming to be part of a community that provides an avenue for people who would otherwise feel lonely without it, to feel like they belong somewhere. Things such as The Not Alone Project which has recently been started by Martin Pribble (have provided an avenue for atheists to post their story in "a place where the non-believers stories can be published, in a completely safe environment, which doesn't judge its participants in any way." There's also Gamma Atheist's blog where he's publishing guest posts by atheists outlining their paths to atheism (or back to - depending on your point of view). There are many, many quality atheist blogs where everyday, average atheists, are talking about many issues affecting atheists in particular and society in general. 
I can highly recommend the following:

Rosa Rubicondior
Martin Pribble
Rachel (Atheistic in Alabama)
Green Fille

Of course this is not an exhaustive list and I suggest searching around for any blog whose words ring true for you. 

Another popular way for atheists to learn from others and to feel part of a the community is through podcasts. As with the atheist blogs, there are too many to list them all so here are just three:

The Imaginary Friends Show:
The Herd Mentality Podcast:
The No God Cast:
The Thinking Atheist Podcast
 The Scathing Atheist

There are more, please take the time to look for them, ask people on twitter who they like listening to and go from there. 

YouTube is another place where atheists connect and learn from each other. Number one for me, and the people I learned more about discussing this topic than anyone else is The Atheist Experience. It is actually a public access television show out of Austin, Texas and is run by the Atheist community of Austin. A quick search on YouTube of The Atheist Experience will bring back some great responses. I also recommend searching particularly for Matt Dillahunty (my biggest influence) and Tracie Harris. All the hosts and co-hosts on The Atheist Experience are fantastic, but Matt and Tracie are my two favourites. 

I also recommend:

I also recommend the early Thunderf00t videos dealing with creationism. I also recommending looking up debates and discussions. Obviously those involving Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens come to mind

There's going to be way too many to list, but many areas these days have local atheist groups, atheist or sceptical meetups and the like. Have a look on Google and see if there's one in your local area. If bold and start one! 

Of course then there are books. Probably not so high on the 'connect to other atheists' scale but there can be a comfortable feeling in reading the works of people who are expressing the thoughts you've held for sometime but haven't been able to express. 

The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins. Probably the most well known book on the subject having sold over 2 million copies. 

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything - Christopher Hitchens

What Are You Without God?: How to Discredit Religious Thought and Rebuild Your Identity - Christopher Krzeminski 

I also recommend (though I haven't got to it myself) reading books by Friedrich Nietzsche. 

If you are new to atheism or new to wanting to connect with other atheists I hope I have provided some information you find helpful. If you are a follower on twitter and you have further questions please don't hesitate to ask. 



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  2. Many new atheists are proud of their achievement, and they should be. It takes a powerful iconoclastic and renegade mind to dispel the insidious mass delusion of theistic belief. It also takes years to leave a philosophical record of how exactly one arrived at it.

    There are some, as Sam Harris, who were raised in a secular family, so there was no great "break from the spell" to contend with. We do see a lot of social atheists in various internet forums today. Men, women, boys, girls who call themselves atheists because it's trendy, rebellious, edgy, or just plain "gangsta". We can guess these types will be the ones who hit middle age and backslide into the faith of their forefathers or some other branch of new age woo woo ism down the line. And that's okay, too!

    Lawrence Krauss recently said, "it's the job of educators not just to educate, but to eliminate ignorance". I've come to the realization there is probably no more worthless or futile discussion than debating whether there is a god or not. Or, as Sartre once remarked (paraphrasing) "it wouldn't make an ounce of difference one way or the other". Sure, it makes a big difference in politics, legislation, school curriculums, women's reproductive and gay rights. When people go around citing god, or the Bible, or whomever as justification to deprive others of their inalienable rights they need to be theologically, scientifically and resoundingly crushed, shamed and exposed for the ignoramuses they are.

    My overall sense is that the god issue is a non starter, a ruse, a distraction, because the idea itself is obsolete and irrelevant. Since we know atheism to be irrefutably, scientifically, historically, anthropologically, sociologically, linguistically true, and out of the ten thousand deities of our human past not one has escaped the ideological dung heap, the likelihood of any one religion in the world today escaping the same fate is ludicrous. It would be like betting against the sun rising tomorrow after studying its past performance.

    The reason theism or atheism per se is pointless is because people really don't worship a god, they only worship their god, and when it comes to worshipping their god, the only access to IT is in their head alone. And what is in their head is a quagmire and melange of half truths, prejudices, parental issues, delusion, some mental illness, and a rather jaundiced world view supported by a hodge podge of urban legends, fairy tale boons, fulminations, and loads of confirmation bias. To argue against this is like trying to explain aviation to South American pygmies. Their only reference can be to an "Iron Bird".

    Similarly, it is not sufficient to simply debate the god question anymore. Atheists would do better to direct their attention and effort away from that meaningless abstraction and go after the religionists on their own ground i.e. theologically, historically, linguistically from the "factual" records. We have all the evidence we need. It is out there. The only reason any religion today has a history is because it has been falsified, bastardized, plagiarized, extrapolated and expropriated over hundreds, if not, thousands of years, from other historical records --nevertheless, the other records are out there for all to read and discover.

    As much as I appreciate Dr. Richard Carrier's effort to defeat Christianity through the Bible, it seems a bit like trying to prove Frodo and Gandalf fictitious by citing The Lord of the Rings. My advice to "new atheists" is congratulations, you've made it! Now move on, and get busy, there's real and more important work to do, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster thing ain't cutting it anymore.

  3. Until a couple of weeks ago I would have readily cited as a great site for the freshly minted atheist, however it is experiencing a few technical difficulties at the moment as a new site has been created, leaving the regular posters ( like myself) to scout around to find another haven for fellow travellers. Luckily I came across this blog, so my overwhelming need to connect with the like-minded has been met.

    I have been very fortunate to find agreeable, non-theists across the globe. It's an amazing feeling when you can communicate with another person in say USA, Canada or the UK and be united by a common bond of disbelief.

    It has become apparent to me reading the comments (here) on different articles, that a large number of respondents are female! This is very pleasing as we are under represented on other sites I've visited. This is a great pity as I really feel outnumbered at times ( not that I've ever felt badly treated, just misunderstood on occasion).