Monday, September 6, 2010

I Love the Atheist Community

Within the atheist community recently there has been much talk about behaviour.  It seems to have all started with Phil Plait's "Don't Be A Dick" speech.

I recently read this post on PZ Myers' blog Pharyngula and it evoked such a sense of pride in me for the humanity among atheists.

Someone calling themselves "EvolutionSkeptic" posted a comment on one of PZ's posts asking for help.

"Hey, so some of you may remember me (one can hope). I found this thread that some people told me last time to find when I wanted to ask a question. Since I have one, I thought I'd check in. Hope everyone is doing well.
All right. I read "Why Evolution is True" and "The Greatest Show on Earth," as recommended by several of you. After that, I also started reading some of the stuff on Dawkins' site, because I really liked his calm approach to the subject.
After reading there and a good bit here, I'm actually getting a little afraid, and this is where my question comes in ... I can recognize the validity of evolution and that it's true. This began to make an impact on my belief in God, but I still felt like he could have set the whole thing in motion.
But the more I read there and here, the more I'm questioning that, the more I worry that my faith may be in danger. Since you guys were so helpful the first time, I thought maybe I could come to you to ask a couple of questions again ...
  1. I truly don't mean this to be insulting, so please don't take it that way, but what is your motivation to live a moral, upstanding life without the guidance of the rules of God and the Bible? I know you guys do this, but I'm not sure I understand how it works without concrete guidance.
  2. For those of you who were once Christians (I'm guessing there are some), how did you reconcile your atheism/agnosticism with your relationship with your Christian family/friends? How do you tell them? Do you still go to church for the fellowship but just don't pray/participate? Did you lose friends/family in your process of change?
I hope I'm not interrupting a conversation here, but any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for reading, if you actually got this far."
 PZ then moved it to its very own post with his own reply and the suggestion that "this is one probably better answered by the diverse views of the hivemind."  The hivemind did not disappoint!

I have read the first 200 of the almost 400 comments that were added.  So many people provided their own personal and honest stories as well as their theories surrounding ethics and morality.  Many others simply put in their two cents and then wished ES luck with his/her quest/journey.  It was absolutely lovely to see all of these "strangers" come together to discuss their views, philosophies and knowledge and encourage this person to grow and seek truth.  It wasn't about telling someone what to believe, but instead giving ES an outlet to discuss what he/she believes and how those beliefs are changing without encountering any guilt or embarrassment.

I also found it wonderful that despite EvolutionSkeptic's own community which appears to be against belief in evolutionary science and free thinking (I base this assumption on ES's fears about losing friends and family based on a belief in evolution), ES is still searching for answers and knowledge.  That is a true testament of courage - to go against the herd and find answers and beliefs that make sense to you.

I was particularly touched when ES, in thanking everyone for their replies, comments that he/she is unworthy of all the attention (comment #137).  This is responded to with comments like "Why are you unworthy? We are all in this together, support is what humans do best." (#157) and "Who could be more worthy than you?" (#195). 

This thread gave me such warmth and pride for the atheist community and their non-dickishness.  It was just one big warm fuzzy. 

I wish ES a wonderful journey full of knowledge and enlightenment and new friends.  I hope that he/she will remain strong, independent and forward thinking.  I hope that his/her current friends and family will respect, support and encourage ES in this quest regardless of the outcome - I certainly do. 

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