December 12, 2010

Joining the atheist web

I read atheist blogs fairly often, though not a lot of them. Basically, I'm the sort who enjoys PZ's smashdowns of religion and Jasen Rosenhouse's careful dissection of it. Those blogs are my home neighborhood. But there are many other blogs that discuss every possible aspect of religion and atheism. That's the sort I'm writing about today.

I find it admirable that so many atheists take the time to argue through the god nonsense and knock it down, peg by painful peg. Someone has to do it. Personally, in real life I enjoy trying to talk people out of believing in god and consider it a public service. If someone is hobbled by religion, I try to help them open their minds to the real world. I do this because I don't want them to waste their lives thinking obsessively about things that don't exist. Makes sense to me. But I've never done it on a blog, nor do I do it here. This is more the occasional smashdown type of blog.

Recently, in an attempt to connect with more atheists I joined AtheistNexus. It seems to be a smart, active site with a ton of well-informed members. Reading their stuff, I thought they seemed like people I could happily spend an evening with. Potential friends by the dozens (hundreds?).

But I hesitated to jump into any of the forum discussions because . . . I have no interest in talking about any aspect of god or religion. And that's what's basically what goes on at atheist blogs. In a sense, it's all god talk. Sure, it's putting it down but it's still talking about this thing that doesn't exist. It kind of made me tired, like stepping into a ring to box shadows.

It's nonsense, right? So why spend time talking about it? Due to this feeling, I lurked, frozen and unwilling to participate. It was so strange: I liked the place but didn't want to jump into . . . god talk.

To me, atheism has nothing to do with religion. It's oranges and apples. You've got reality on one side and zilch on the other side. What is there to compare? Or talk about? It felt so strange to want to join in all the atheist fun and games -- and then not be able to do it because of my perception that everyone was talking about god.

But then of course I read enough posts to realize there are a lot of people there who are just getting used to the idea that there's no god. It can be weird to have the universe suddenly transformed from a mushy god-dominated fairytale, into the real world. It's not the same old, familiar ballpark, at least not if you were a true believer at one time. So I finally realized everyone there was talking about god issues to help the newer folks. That I could grok, so I took the plunge and felt right at home.

It was weird, though. I didn't know I'd have to break my own ice when I joined an atheist group. I didn't even know there was ice to break, but there was. It's a great place and I'm glad I joined.

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