Hey. I just found this sight through Stumble Upon. I’ve just got to say thank you so much for what you write. I’m in college now, but when I was in high school I caught so much bull crap from people because I didn’t believe in a god. I wish I had found this earlier to help defend myself verbally against their almost brutal ignorance (high school in South Carolina- you know what I mean).
Anyways- I’m not trying to sound biased against these people. It is just that they have been so biased against me. I’m still trying to repair some of the damage done by my former fellow students. Enough of the whining, though. I would greatly appreciate it if you could write me back explaining some more of your own views. I’m also on a “newfound search for knowledge” and anything you could do to point me in the direction of philosophical, scientific, and historical information that would help me understand this world a little better would also be greatly appreciated.
Since I began this Web site, I have heard from literally hundreds of people who had experiences such as yours. It’s awful to be alone, particularly when you are surrounded by bigotry. I think we are luckier today than we were when I was a child because now we have the Internet, so that those who feel isolated can find others with similar problems.
You don’t need to worry about sounding biased against people who treated you badly. You aren’t against their religion, you’re against their immoral behavior (and, perhaps, against the fact that they are religious hypocrites). Not all religious people are like that. (As an aside, some atheists forget that the Christian who shoves you in the mud and the Christian who offers you a Bible tract are two very different animals — the latter can sometimes be annoying, but generally is not acting out of malice.)
I would be happy to discuss my own views, but there are many of them. Do you have something in particular in mind? My most significant point of philosophy is what I call 2Q — it’s a method of examining moral and philosophical beliefs that applies equally to theists and non-theists alike. The application of 2Q has lead me to atheism (although it might not do so for all people).
There are also many, many books I could recommend. I’m not too fond of recent books about atheism, in that many of them error on the side of being anti-religious. If I were starting from scratch, wanting to learn all that the world has to offer to an atheist, I’d start by reading Carl Sagan for positive atheism, Stephen J. Gould for appreciation of the wonders of the world, and James Randi or Joe Nickell for getting-your-hands-dirty skepticism.
If you are interested in religion, I would also strongly encourage you to read the Bible. As you do so, search the Internet for information on anything that doesn’t make sense to you, and make a point of trying to learn about the culture in which the scriptures were written. It is (to me, at least) an incredibly interesting subject, and can help both your personal understanding and your understanding of religious thought and development.
Once you feel you have spent significant time examining and developing your own beliefs, I think it would be best served by concentrating more on the writings of those you disagree with than those of those you agree with. It is good mental exercise to expose yourself to arguments against your position and see how rigorously you can defend yourself. I regularly read anti-atheist books and listen to apologetic podcasts, and I think it has made me a better, more well rounded person.
Thanks so much for writing. Let me know if you have other (or more specific) questions!