Ideas About Groups For Nonbelievers

May 9, 2010 at 2:14 pm 49 comments

I’m not really a people person. Like a lot of atheists (supposedly), I’m quite an outsider, as much of a hermit as I can get away with, in fact. I have never liked going out in crowds or socializing with large numbers of people. But I help run my local atheist group and am coordinator of the Morgantown Coalition of Reason.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I have realized something that I want to share with you. Even though I’m a curmudgeonly hermit-y atheist, I love going to the 3 atheist/freethinker/skeptical meetings we have every month. That’s 3 Sundays a month where I happily leave the house and go socialize with a small group of people. And I look forward to it. The one or 2 Sundays where we don’t meet I miss it.

Even people like me benefit from social community and contact. The beauty of the atheist/freethinker community is that we are relatively like-minded. We have a foundation of common ground. But we are also quite different, of course, which is good because that makes things interesting. The added bonus of freethinkers, skeptics and atheists is that we seem relatively level-headed (overall – there are exceptions,  of course) and we argue and discuss matters with interest and fairness. No drama llama is invited! So it’s actually fun and mentally stimulating.

I think we all need some type of community, which is one thing that religion has in its favor that being a lone atheist or nonbeliever does not.

But this is easily remedied. I thought I’d share some thoughts on how to get involved with a secular group of like-minded people. If none exist in your area, you can start one up.

Tips For Finding A Local Atheist/Humanist/Freethinker/Skeptical Community

1. Do a local Google search on the type of group you’re interested in. They may have a Yahoo, Google or Facebook group, or other page set up, or a website devoted to their activities.

2. Go to your favorite organizations and see if they have local chapters, or a list of local groups associated with them. Examples would be CFI, American Atheists, AHA, UnitedCoR, SCA, etc.

3. Look in your local paper, either online or in print. We have our meetings listed in the Today section of the paper, as well as a general entry in the church section (which is really more for a laugh than anyone looking there for an atheist group, I think)

4. Visit the library or local coffee shops for possible fliers on the bulletin boards.

Once you’ve seen that no local groups exist, or you find that you aren’t interested in what’s available, it’s time to start your own.

Tips For Starting A Local Atheist/Humanist/Freethinker/Skeptical Community

1. Start a local yahoo group, Google group, and/0r Facebook group. If you are sure of the name you want your group to have, you can get a domain name and set up a blog or website for the group you are forming.

I recommend a WordPress blog that pings to many different listing sites. This gets you into Google and other search engines much faster than a plain old website, in the easiest way.

2. Go to your favorite organizations and see if they offer any tips on starting a local chapter. Examples would be CFI, American Atheists, AHA, UnitedCoR, SCA, Atheist Nexus, etc.

3. Set a date, time and place for the first meeting. Also have a topic or agenda to talk about. For the first meeting, your location can be the library or a comfortable coffee shop. Provide directions to the meeting clearly in whatever web presence you’ve chosen.

4. Set up a Gmail email so people can contact you with questions.

5. Contact your local paper. Look for a contact for the Today section, or something similar. Be friendly and polite and see if they will list your local meeting.

6. Create fliers (they don’t have to be big or fancy) and put them in the local coffee shops, the library, and any other places you can think of. If you created a group somewhere online, make sure to share that on the flier so people can read more, as well as your new email address so they can ask questions.

Also post to any groups you’ve created on Facebook, Yahoo or Google groups. Spread the word!

7. Show up to the meeting about 10 or 15 minutes early. I carry a tote bag that identifies me as an atheist (one of my Sir Lee Tees designs, a positive atheism message) to help people I haven’t met yet find me in the location. I also have my picture up on Facebook and the websites so people can see my face. Then they have no problem recognizing me when they first come to a meeting. You can do something else to identify yourself to make it easier and more comfortable to people who will need to approach you. Or if you meet at the library, put up a sign in the room you are in, etc.

Expect the first meetings to be small. Maybe get a friend to sit with you for a half hour to see if anyone shows up. For Morgantown Atheists, there were quite a few meetings that were just the original founders and no one else. But with lots of messages on Atheist Nexus and other areas, and now with its own website it has grown to quite a dynamic little group that meets 3 times a month and now will have a secular service project ongoing.

8. Have some flexible goals in mind for the direction you want your group to go in. My experience is that these small communities sort of take on a life of their own, but having some ideas to start off with can at least give you confidence, as well as help others to decide if they want to come to a meeting.

~ So that should get you started. Give it a try. You’ll probably be very glad you did. :)

Cross-posted from Heaving Dead Cats

Entry filed under: Neece. Tags: , , , , , , .

Unequally yoked marraige – episode 1 Jehovah’s Linguistic Land Grab

49 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cindy Mulvey  |  May 9, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Did you forget or do you know DEIST=

    Belief in God based only on reason and nature is Deism.http://www.sullivan-county.com/deism.htm

  • 2. neece  |  May 9, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    There is no evidence of god or anything supernatural whatsoever in the universe so deism is just as unreasonable as christianity or any of the other religions.
    This post is about nonbelievers and skeptics getting together to have a community. It’s not exclusionary, of course, but it isn’t about religion or a belief in god in any sense.

  • 3. Scott  |  May 10, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    Neece,

    I’m sorry to see you take such a hard line towards Deists. There is much commonality between Deists and atheists of all stripes in my view.

    Most of the deists I talk to are open minded, free thinking type people. In fact, as a new deconvert I often waiver between Deism and weak Atheism.

    They would be terribly offended that you categorically lump them together with Christians or other believers in revelation based religions.

  • 4. neece  |  May 10, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Well, Scott, I’m not trying to be hard on deists as people. I have deist friends and we get along fine. They are good people who don’t have anything to do with the hypocrisy and corruption of religion, so that’s a vast improvement.

    But it still doesn’t mean it’s reasonable to believe in anything supernatural, because there is no evidence for any of it.

    I’m not lumping them in with religious people except when it comes to unreasonable belief. Belief is still belief, not based on reason or fact or science or evidence. It’s still a flawed way to go about deciding how you view the world.

  • 5. DSimon  |  May 10, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Scott, I have to agree with Neece on this. Although deists and many other types of moderate believers often share important goals with activist atheists, that doesn’t mean that polite criticism of their beliefs is off-limits.

    To invert the situation, I absolutely would hope that my allies are willing to tell me honestly when they disagree with me or my beliefs. That way, when they say they do agree with me, I know they mean it and aren’t just saying it out of political expediency.

  • 6. DSimon  |  May 10, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    (Also, I think Neece’s curtness could partially be attributed to the fact that Cindy is clearly just a drive-by spammer.)

  • 7. neece  |  May 10, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Thanks, DSimon, yes, Cindy seemed very spammy to me.
    I agree with you. No beliefs should be off limits. That’s no way to handle reason and reality.
    I would rather have questions that can’t be answered then answers that can’t be questioned.

  • 8. Joshua  |  May 11, 2010 at 11:39 am

    “There is no evidence of god or anything supernatural whatsoever in the universe so deism is just as unreasonable as christianity or any of the other religions.”

    What if I do this:

    God is the essence that allows the existence of simple energy able to produce organized complexity.

    I’m an a-theist. I don’t believe in theisms. However, I am a deist, meaning I believe that if you define your deity properly it is true.

  • 9. neece  |  May 11, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Joshua, I disagree. You’ve watered down the idea of a deity so much that it becomes meaningless.

    God: the creator and ruler of the universe, the supreme being. (dictionary.com)

    If you are an atheist, then you don’t believe in any gods. I am not sure how you can be an atheist and a deist at the same time. They are mutually exclusive. One says there are no gods, one says there is a god (or gods?) that is supernatural and created the universe. I’m not up on my deistic beliefs, except that they are very vague and can be just about anything.

    It doesn’t change the hundreds of years of scientific observation of our universe and the distinctive lack of anything supernatural whatsoever. Ever.

    You don’t need god as any essence to produce organized complexity. There’s no evidence for it. We have nature which does just fine on its own. Why bring in the supernatural, when it’s not needed? It doesn’t exist.

  • 10. Ardegas  |  May 11, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Check this article: Why Most Atheists Will Never Join
    an Atheist Organization

  • 11. neece  |  May 11, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Ardegas, what a negative, cynical article. That isn’t what our organization is like at all. My group gets together to hang out with like-minded, freethinking, skeptical nonbelievers. We aren’t shills, and we don’t talk politics except when it comes down to church and state.
    We get together to have a community. We get together to do good things for our community.
    That article is not what it is like for us, and it doesn’t have to be that way for anyone else either.
    Atheism is a lack of belief in gods, and skeptical atheism is a skeptical look at all things supernatural (in a nutshell). So atheists have something in common and can meet together for the sake of talking to other open-minded people who don’t believe in gods. There’s nothing nefarious there.
    We also don’t sit around and bash religion that much. We mainly talk about positive things, science and philosophy. And we investigate religions to understand them. It’s quite educational and interesting.
    We don’t get together to affirm our atheism. We are all really comfortable with that. We get together to hang out and become friends, and to expand our minds.
    Try it, you might like it.

  • 12. Richard Hoyt  |  May 11, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Disappointing that I didn’t meet you personally when I was a young man. Check out the link if you want to have a smile.

  • 13. Anonymous  |  May 11, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    “It would be nice if an atheistic organization existed, but as far as I can tell, it does not. I have now met a total of one, count them on your hand, one person in an atheistic organization whom I would care to hold a conversation with, and he is printing this piece that you see right now. As a point of fact, I have found my repulsion for organized atheists grows in direct proportion to my exposure to them”. (from article in the link in post #10).

    This reminded me of that famous Woody Allen quote: “I wouldn’t join any organization that would have me as a member”. :)

  • 14. 4riozs  |  May 11, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    “God is the essence that allows the existence of simple energy able to produce organized complexity.”

    Josh I like that example. I can relate to your unbelief and belief. But how do you reconcile the term atheist with deist? That’s why I take the term agnostic, I think their can be something, posibly, “energy”. I think of God in terms of energy, not a personal relationship with a spirit or a person.

    Neece you got my hopes up, I thought your group was in Pennsylvania, but that’s nice that you are trying to have something for those of us in this boat. I think that’s why church is so “popular”- a place to get together and “commune” as they say. I know it’s been a little sad not having all them church activities, picnics and playing sports- sounds silly. My new job has a lot of activities and I have found an outlet in that.

  • 15. neece  |  May 11, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    4riozs, where are you in PA? We have people from south of Pittsburgh come to our meetings. We’re near the PA border, in Morgantown, WV.
    Yes, that’s exactly what an atheist/freethinker/skeptical group can do. We can get together and “commune”, have BBQ’s, spend time together and become good friends.
    I’m glad you found an outlet with your new job. I think that’s really healthy. :)

  • 16. Ardegas  |  May 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Hi, Neece,

    My perception of atheist online forums is that they expend most of the time bashing religion. I don’t know about real life forums. I guess they are more polite. So the main issues online atheist forums treat: bashing religions (mainly Christianity), religion vs. science, definition of atheism.

    Definition of atheism… Who woulda think?. I don’t find many Christians discussing to exhaustion what it means to be a Christian, but such is the nature (or lack of nature) of atheism.

    If atheism is only a lack of belief in God, then there’s not much to talk about. It would be like:
    “Do you believe in God”
    “No”
    “Me neither”.
    “Let’s go to party”.

    Personally I do believe in the supernatural, because there is plenty of evidence. But, if you start presuposing atheism and materialism, it’s obvious you won’t find the evidence.

    Not so sure about God. I can’t even define God. Problem of evil is a major obstacle.

    But if you find that your atheist group fills you in some way, more power to you. I guess in my country, Honduras, most atheists are radical Leftist, not my cup of tea if you ask me. I find improbable I may feel comfortable in an atheist group whatsoever, but who knows. Your atheist group sounds cool.

  • 17. Ardegas  |  May 12, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    This reminded me of that famous Woody Allen quote: “I wouldn’t join any organization that would have me as a member”.

    Or was it Groucho Marx?

    Was Groucho Marx an atheist? Or was it Karl Marx? :-)

    By the way, check this joke of Groucho Marx:

    Q: What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic?
    A: Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog.” :-)

  • 18. SnugglyBuffalo  |  May 12, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    I don’t find many Christians discussing to exhaustion what it means to be a Christian

    Really? I remember discussions about what it really means to be Christian happening quite frequently.

    As for atheists not having much to talk about if it’s just a simple lack of belief in gods, that would be true if we didn’t live in such a religion-soaked society. If most people didn’t believe in gods, atheists really wouldn’t have much to talk about, but since atheists are fairly uncommon and the religious members of society are constantly trying to exert religious influence wherever they can, we wind up with a great deal to talk about.

  • 19. SnugglyBuffalo  |  May 12, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Plus, I think most of the atheists who care enough to form organizations are concerned about more than simply a lack of religion, where it starts to spill over into critical thinking skills and skepticism in general.

    Personally I do believe in the supernatural, because there is plenty of evidence. But, if you start presuposing atheism and materialism, it’s obvious you won’t find the evidence.

    It was when I stopped presupposing supernaturalism and started from a neutral position that I realized how bogus it all was.

  • 20. DSimon  |  May 12, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Ardegas, no atheists that I know presuppose atheism. As for “materialism”, however, atheists in general have a lot of justified confidence in the scientific method as a good way of figuring out if things are true or not.

    You could argue that that’s needlessly presupposing empiricism, but the thing about questioning whether or not you can use evidence to figure out if things are true is that… well, it’s tricky to find evidence to support the argument that arguments don’t need to be supported by evidence. :-)

  • 21. Joshua  |  May 13, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    “Joshua, I disagree. You’ve watered down the idea of a deity so much that it becomes meaningless. ”

    I see. Well, it is quite foolish in my opinion to assert confidence about concepts when we can’t even understand quantum mechanics. The principles underlying that may very well be the equivalent of deity.

    So what if it is God of the gaps? It is only human to do so and to claim you don’t do it is… quite frankly… to undermine your humanity.

  • 22. Joshua  |  May 13, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    That said – of course – you are right logically.

    However, the point of social groups is not to be right but to enjoy compromise.

    Right?

  • 23. DSimon  |  May 14, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Joshua, you’re changing the subject. Neece’s point is that you’re using the word “deity” in a way that has nothing to do with its established meaning.

    In fact, you’re continuing to do so in your latest comment. Unless the “principles underlying [quantum mechanics]” include a distinct entity that is conscious and created the universe, I have no idea how they’re supposed to be equivalent to a deity in any way. What makes the hypothesis of a distinct conscious universe-generating entity any more plausible as the basis of quantum mechanics than, say, invisible pink unicorns?

  • 24. DSimon  |  May 14, 2010 at 9:43 am

    (Joshua, by “changing the subject”, I was referring to your comment #21 where you talked about “assert[ing] confidence” in response to Neece’s point. I didn’t mean to imply that I have a problem with you making general statements about social groups.)

  • 25. Joshua  |  May 14, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Hmmm, I don’t think either of you get what I’m saying at all.

  • 26. DSimon  |  May 14, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I think the same applies in the other direction.

  • 27. Joshua  |  May 14, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    The definition – found in a dictionary – I would use for god would be: the Supreme Being.

    Is there a supreme being? Sure – if that is the only definition you hold. Sure, there is a supreme “thing” that exists – a principle or whatnot from which all other principles and balance get their root.

    Nothing about personality in that definition. Nothing about consciousness. Nothing about anything except supreme and being. So, it doesn’t have to be a person, doesn’t even have to be self-conscious, doesn’t have to be anything other than – well – existent. It doesn’t even have to “create” the universe because, well, creating time is impossible.

    So is it meaningless? Of course not – because it inspires awe. Don’t be so naive.

    So, that concept inspires awe and whatever lies beyond my current understanding that continues to inspire awe might as well be supernatural and I’ll keep it around because it makes me feel good. That’s what everyone does. I’m only human.

    So, call me whatever you like (atheist, deist, theist) – that’s where I’m at right now.

  • 28. Joshua  |  May 14, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I apologize for saying you are naive. That wasn’t nice, nor was it probably true. Sound like we are just talking past each other.

    I should probably continue with my goal of not returning to this site since it ends up just making me frustrated :)

  • 29. SnugglyBuffalo  |  May 14, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Alright, you have a concept that inspires awe; why call it “god” and confuse the issue with the idea of a supreme, conscious being that people commonly think of as “god”?

    The idea of a supreme “being” tends to imply consciousness, I think. No one calls a rock a “being”. I would agree that you’re use of the word renders it meaningless. What you’re talking about is pretty distinct from any common understanding of “god”, but you don’t try to distinguish it in your language.

  • 30. DSimon  |  May 14, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    IIt doesn’t even have to “create” the universe because, well, creating time is impossible.

    Sez you. :-)

    That article is about a challenge to the conventional notion that the Big Bang was in fact the origin of time itself. The issue is in contention now, but still, a “beginning of time” is actually a plausible notion.

  • 31. BigHouse  |  May 14, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Josh, are you trying to prove some kind of point or are you taking a new direction I haven’t seen posted here in your beliefs?

  • 32. Joshua  |  May 14, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    DSimon,

    “Turok theorizes that neither time nor the universe has a beginning or end.”

    Right, time can’t have a beginning and therefore nothing can create time.

    BigHouse,

    I’ve just have had a pretty massive change in view in the last few weeks, yes.

  • 33. Daniel  |  May 15, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Could you define the difference between a “nonbeliever” and a “skeptic” in regard to Deism?

    Seems to me that to take such a hardline approach to atheism in defining who is the right kind of atheist is just as bad as Christian Fundamentalism.

    What kind of stuff do you do or talk about in your group meetings? Do you discuss anything that helps people to grow in relation to each other? For me (myself a former Pastor deconverted) this is an important part of the community… “freethinking” in my opinion means not everybody is going to see it the same way you do, but that’s a good thing and why we need each other.

  • 34. DSimon  |  May 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Seems to me that to take such a hardline approach to atheism in defining who is the right kind of atheist is just as bad as Christian Fundamentalism.

    Daniel, I can’t imagine any freethinker or non-believer group kicking someone out just because they were a deist (or at least, any group that did that wouldn’t be a group I’d still be a part of). However, discussions about the meaning of the word “atheist” (and for that matter, the words “deist” and “skeptic” and “non-believer”) ought to be totally legitimate.

    I don’t want to see certain topics of discussion become taboo because of the chance of exclusionary practices. The way I define “freethinker” includes the idea that any idea is up for civil discussion and criticism.

    Right, time can’t have a beginning and therefore nothing can create time.

    Joshua, yes, Turok theorizes that. However, the conventional theory is that time actually did start at the Big Bang. There’s nothing internally contradictory about that, provided that there’s no claim that the start of time was itself caused by something prior. For that reason, you’re right to say that “nothing can create time”, but that’s not the same thing as “time must extend infinitely forever in both directions”

  • 35. Daniel  |  May 15, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I guess my point was if we’re talking about a group or community… then debate over the definition of the word “deist” strikes me too much like the theological debates found in Christian circles and argument over correct doctrine (in this sense what is a ‘true atheist’) but I know that probably was not the intent so I’ll not drive that part further.

    For definitions… Webster defines deism as “a movement or system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing morality, and in the 18th century denying the interference of the Creator with the laws of the universe”

    Which in my mind makes sense in that it’s the opposite of theism that argues for a personal God who is involved.

    So, if deism emphasizes ‘morality’ without the interference of the Creator… it seems to me that it would be on the same ground as the hard line atheist who also denies any such supernatural involvement in the world we live… so The ‘World Views’ would be just about the same would they not?

  • 36. DSimon  |  May 15, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Similar, but not the same, because atheists often emphasize the rationalist viewpoint that unfalsifiable (i.e. supernatural) things cannot be justified to exist. Deists, on the other hand, claim that the supernatural does exist, but that it has little-to-no impact on the world. Many atheists (including myself) see that as a counter-productive line of reasoning, in that:

    a) It’s doesn’t work as well for trying to figure out what’s true and what isn’t, and
    b) It has practical consequences in that many harmful ideas (i.e. homeopathy and other alt-med junk) use that same sort of burden-of-proof-shifting judo to support themselves without having to provide positive evidence

    In other words, the difference between atheism and deism is about how to deal with unfalsifiable ideas. It’s a real and important difference, but I agree that it’s not as important as the many differences between fundamentalist theists and free-thinkers.

  • 37. Joshua  |  May 15, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    “However, the conventional theory is that time actually did start at the Big Bang.”

    Nothing can start unless time already exists. The act of starting requires time as a prerequisite, so saying time began doesn’t make any sense.

    In my opinion, it is a mental illusion. Our minds cannot comprehend the non-existence of time and we turn “time” into a “thing” and therefore subject it to itself.

  • 38. Joshua  |  May 15, 2010 at 11:00 pm

    And thank you Daniel.

  • 39. dj  |  May 17, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I enjoyed this article. I am going to print and keep it. Thanks for writing it, Neece. I am also “not really a people person”, and I liked hearing about your experience with being involved in atheists groups.

    I just looked up a local atheist group this morning, and think I will try out attending it. I think because I am not a “people person” having the structure of meetings will be a good social outlet for me, and since my social needs are low and I don’t spend a lot of time with others besides my husband I would prefer to spend that small amount of social time with people who are like-minded in this way. I spent far too much time with believers in my life, especially when I was one, that I would like the change of being around atheists.

  • 40. DSimon  |  May 17, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    The act of starting requires time as a prerequisite, so saying time began doesn’t make any sense.

    I don’t think that assumption is justified. You’re implicitly assuming that everything that happens must be caused by something that happened prior. You’re right, the idea that “one moment, time didn’t exist, and the next moment it did” is non-sensical. But that idea and the idea that the Big Bang was the start of time aren’t quite the same.

    It’s possible (some would say quite plausible) that there simply was a first moment of time, not caused by anything. It doesn’t “feel” quite right, but then so do a lot of things that turn out to be true about physics.

    Which is not to say that it’s necessarily true that the Big Bang was the start of time; as the article I linked pointed out, it’s still an issue of contention. But your claim that it’s logically impossible for time to have a beginning doesn’t bear out.

  • 41. Daniel  |  May 17, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Neece, thank you for writing this article… I stumbled on this article because the idea of a group does intrigue me.

    I am curious though, what would be the content or what goes on in these groups? You discuss how to join or start one.. but nothing is said on running one.. could that be another article perhaps?

    Thanks

  • 42. Neece  |  May 19, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Joshua, 22: Well, I’d say that the point of social groups is to have community. There is compromise in that, of course, but it’s more about sharing ideas, learning and developing as a person while spending time with people in social discourse.

    Daniel 33: We have deists, skeptical atheists, regular atheists, and even an occasional quaker come to our meetings. All are welcome and we will have friendly discussions where we don’t agree. We all try to learn something at each meeting.
    What do we do? We have a book club once a month where we read and review and delve into a different book. We have a general meeting with a theme where we look at different topics, usually secular, scientific or historical in nature. Sometimes we just hang out. Almost all meetings end in us just going to dinner to spend time talking about anything. And we meet once a month for a religion of the month club where we learn about one religion as much as we can. Of course we’ll have more meetings for some religions than others, but it’s like peeling an onion. We just love to learn and share.
    We also meet to do good works in our charity campaign. We are just trying to get that going so it’s not in full swing yet, but we’re working on it. And this weekend we have a birthday party for one of our members which we are getting together for.
    It is all pretty normal, human interaction. While we may have the same basic lack of belief in a god (almost all of us) we all come from different walks of life and we all learn from each other. That’s why we can honestly call ourselves freethinkers.
    The members of our group have become my very good friends and that’s the real point.

  • 43. neece  |  May 19, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    SnugglyBuffalo 19: Yes, while most of us don’t believe in any gods or the supernatural, we do have a ghost loving member, etc. He’s an atheist but not a skeptic. And that’s where the fun begins because we all have something different to bring to the table. We all have discussions and share openly without attacking each other.
    One thing we studied early on was logical fallacies. This was really helpful in keeping us from falling into that trap as much when arguing. We can all spot the basic ones and call each other out if we slip up. It’s a good step for any skeptic/atheist/freethinker to learn.

    Dsimon 34: Good point. We don’t have any taboo subjects in our group. We are all respectful of each other even when we disagree. And we do disagree, which is normal. It’s all up for debate. :)
    One thing we don’t belabor much anymore is the definitions of atheist and deist. If you want to call yourself a deist and you don’t mind explaining your beliefs, come talk it over with us. If you don’t want to call yourself anything, you’re also welcome. No need to waste countless hours nitpicking definitions.
    That’s not to say that we don’t define terms before we start a discussion. That’s imperative. But we don’t nitpick them to death and then beyond the grave just to argue.

  • 44. neece  |  May 19, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    DJ 39: Thanks, DJ. I can’t express how much I get out of our little group. Those heathens have become my very good friends. I really do care for them. And I’m a curmudgeonly old atheist, so there you go. If it can be good for me, maybe it would be good for you too. Who knows!
    I’d much prefer to hang around with like minded people than people I feel uncomfortable around. I certainly can be myself around my atheist group. It’s very liberating.
    Daniel 41: Probably the best way to see what goes on in our groups is to see our website where I post for each event. In my previous comment I kind of explained a lot of what we talk about, but if you want to see more detail you can go to http://www.morgantownatheists.com. As you can see, we get together 3 times a month or more. If you have any other questions you can contact me through that site. Let me know you’re coming from here if you do.

    By the way, comment 42 was me as well, I have no idea why it says Anonymous.

  • 45. Joshua  |  May 20, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    You’re implicitly assuming that everything that happens must be caused by something that happened prior.

    Yes I am because the definition of “happen” requires a moment before the happening occurred.

    Time happened… nope, happening assumes the existence of time.
    Time was generated… nope, generation assumes the existence of time.
    Time began to exist… nope, you can’t begin unless time exists.
    Time was caused by X… nope you cannot have an effect of a cause without time.
    Time started at X… nope, you cannot start unless time already exists.

    Time is.

    Well, that one works but says nothing about a starting point.

  • 46. Dan +†+  |  June 20, 2010 at 11:48 am

    >>I love going to the 3 atheist/freethinker/skeptical meetings we have every month. That’s 3 Sundays a month where I happily leave the house and go socialize with a small group of people.

    Its called church for atheists. You see, I told you that atheist have a religion.

    Y’all have denominations, y’all organize camps to indoctrinate your philosophy to young children, y’all publish books and promote atheism. You definitely belong to a religion!

  • 47. searchingtraveler  |  June 23, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Hi everyone. This is my first time visiting this site. In response to the initial post- finding groups for nonbelievers, I have a few suggestions. First meetup.com has a lot of nonbeliever groups and you can search by area and under tags like Agnostic, Atheist, Ethical Society,Skeptics, etc. It is also really easy to start a group there and you get a LOT of exposure. I have started other groups there for some of my other interests and you get a LOT of members. If there was nothing else around, I would probably try a Unitarian church but I haven’t actually tried that so I don’t know how that would work out!

    I have wondered about how to join a community as well. I haven’t found one yet. It was so much easier as a church-goer! You join a small church and you have an instant community! Everyone believes similarly, you know what to do…. Instant community! Instant Identity as a certain type of Christian that you can use to find the same type of people where ever you travel in the world. Instant openings for friendship…. I am going to miss that.

  • 48. Xtine  |  July 19, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    This spring I finally organized a Meetup group for Twin Cities/Minnesotan Former Fundamentalists. We are having our 3rd gathering tonight!!! and brainstorming about transitioning from toxic to healthy. Check it out at http://www.meetup.com/Former-Fundamentalists/ No big plans but to offer support for people who need to debrief from hard-core religion and want an option other than atheist groups – or in addition to skeptics/atheist/humanist groups or even church.

    I agree that meetup.com is a good place to search for or start up a secular or deconversion group. Not everyone wants or needs to talk about their experiences but for those who do – just knowing that there is a group out there hopefully will be encouraging for some.

  • 49. Thierry  |  December 23, 2012 at 6:07 am

    Its not religion, it’s the pepole interpretting and applying it. im pretty sure not every believer agreed with the actions the pictures portray. theres good and bad in most religions. a hardcore atheist is as bad as a hardcore christian imo. im agnostic, and thats coz i *hope* so much for a type of heaven and understand the need for a reason to live. Coz I struggle finding one with my own intellect every day. Some call it depression. Others call it a need for structure. And for some, structure is what religion provides. Whether that results in good or bad will often depend on the context and interpretter. Thou shall not steal is one I still commit to coz I hope for heaven. And I think that’s a good result. As were mother teresa and ghandi. and you cant deny the influence of religion in their lives.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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