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The Isolated Atheist

February 28, 2008

This is life as I see it for an isolated atheist. 

Sandra is an isolated atheist that keeps her atheism a secret.  She may belong to a religious family, or god forbid a country or an area of a country where religion is so pervasive that it saturates the local culture.  She doesn’t dare reveal her misgivings about religious doctrine, let alone the existence of a god, because that would be social suicide.  How could she ever expect to find a husband and start a family if her children might also become atheist?  Even if starting a family isn’t a priority for her, she doesn’t tell dates and significant others that she is atheist.  Why should she?  Nothing good will come of it.  It might in fact hinder her from having a serious relationship.  She could, perhaps, move to a larger city where people tend to be more accepting of varying attitudes, but in order to do that she would have to leave both her extended and immediate family behind.  Many people might say “why not,” but for Sandra this is not an attractive option.  So instead she lives her entire life keeping the fact that she does not believe in the supernatural a secret. 

John is openly atheist, and most of the people he knows admire him for having the courage to be so.  However, when friends and family first find out that John is an atheist, he notices that people tend to act differently towards him.  Some of the women he dates will immediately ask him if he believes humans came from monkeys, and will soon inform him that they can still be friends.  However, they don’t date atheists.  Sometimes, people will begin to avoid eye contact with John, and will stop carrying on conversations with him.  John is often at a loss as to why this happens, although it is usually soon after has told them about his atheism, or perhaps when they see his profile on a social networking website.  John actually begins to be surprised when he encounters someone that treats and views him the same as before when they learn he is atheist.

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Do these situations sound familiar?  I have in fact seen them myself, and lived them at certain points in my life.  I think they speak to the need for the atheists that live near each other to come together to form a support and social network for each other.  If nothing else, atheists will have a community to turn to when they feel isolated, for whatever reason. 

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