I am a fairly recent atheist. I'm really more of a Judeo-Christian agnostic, but I have a suspicion this is just old habits dying hard. It's not been an easy journey and it's only recently that I've become more outspoken. This is partly due to becoming more aware of important civil liberties issues that I've read about ('enforced' public school prayers, the 'war on Christmas' being used to suppress diversity) and partly because I'm getting tired of the sanctimonious lies and hypocritical whining of Christians and the militant hate expressed by Muslims. Another important motivator has also been the common view that Christians seem to take, that because they are God's new chosen people* He wouldn't let them come to harm, thus scientists are liars and frauds and climate change is not man made etc. This affects me and my family directly (for e.g. warming up the planet we have to share) and indirectly (for e.g. I'm paid by Federal monies allotted to the National Institutes of Health (NIH); any attack on science is an attack on the meagre wage I get for serving the public good as a scientist).
Three recent events are of note and have spurred this little, meandering post and the two to follow when time permits.
A couple of weeks ago I made my first public statement of (lack of) belief. I read bloggers and writers who are great with their words when it comes to describing and defining their lack of belief in any higher/spiritual power. I've been curiously concerned about how I might speak up if asked about my opinion. I was at a bar with a friend and she was chatting to a gentleman, a dancer and choreographer. She is a Christian and so was this chap. I forget how the conversation moved round to this spiritual realm, but as they made the usual mumbling statements of faith, I stated that i was an atheist. You could have heard a pin drop.
"No you're not!" My friend exclaimed in the tone of voice usually reserved for young adults who make outlandish statements ("I'm going to buy a motorbike mom!")
"Yes, I am." I replied.
The dancer spoke up, curiosity in his voice betrayed by the fear and revulsion on his face. "Why do you think you're an atheist?"
I ignored the condescension of the statement, although I must admit I nearly used it as a springboard for a feisty rebuttal on manners. Heart thumping I paused for a moment and then spoke up "I am an atheist because after searching hard, I can find no evidence that there exists any higher power or any need for there to be a god. I can't believe in something I can find no evidence for."
His reply was a thoughtful, "Oh!". He briefly tied the common PoF tactic of asking me if I therefore believed in love etc., something I've since faced a few times and torn apart with ease. The idiocy of these statements simply betrays a lack of thought and reasoned argumentation on the part of the asker. My friend then steered the conversation back to more libatious matter and we ordered another round of drinks.
I think I handled it OK.
*An inherent LOL to poke at these people is each little sect thinks they're the chosen on and all the rest are hell-bound frauds. This is a very fun stick to poke them with....People's Front of Judea etc.