Atheists Are Unfortunately Regular August 8, 2008

Atheists Are Unfortunately Regular

Here’s one more article on last week’s De-baptism ceremony, this one from Columbus’ alternative newspaper The Other Paper.

The article by Lyndsey Teter starts out nicely. We get a quick mention of baby-eating. Twice:

“People think that because we don’t believe in God, we’re immoral, or that we’ll eat your babies,” said Ashley Paramore, board member of OSU’s chapter of the Secular Student Alliance.

Not only do atheists refrain from munching on infants, Paramore said, but they’re pretty regular — even friendly — folk who aren’t evil or inherently different from their more-spiritual counterparts.

(Quick note: Ashley’s not a board member of OSU’s chapter of the Secular Student Alliance — she’s a board member of the national SSA. The SSA has affiliate chapters, but they have their own separate officers. That’s harmless enough, though.)

Paramore’s theory proved unfortunately true at the nation’s first Coming Out Party for Atheists held Saturday in Westerville. Uncomfortable potlucks, less-than-dynamic speeches, weird bumper stickers and ritualistic expressions of unshakable beliefs were all a part of the inaugural gathering.

Now we have a couple problems.

Unfortunately true”? I assume this is sarcasm, judging from the article’s headline, but the sarcasm doesn’t come through in the article itself.

Less-than-dynamic speeches“? I spoke at the event! (That’s it, Teter, you’re going down.)

After that, however, she did nicely express what many atheists were thinking:

“If you announce to a room full of people that you’re an atheist,” the reaction can be a bit icy, said OSU student Daniel Merrit.

“A lot of people have been waiting for some event like this to come along,” said Alexander Loeb, a 31-year-old Columbus resident and atheist.

“It’s like being in the Matrix — only there’s no Morpheus,” he said of converting to atheism. “You’re plugged in to the truth, but you’re sort of left standing there by yourself.”

And I’m in the article, too, though the link to my site is wrong (*Hemant shakes his fist*)… why don’t they test those links out before publishing them?

Mehta, who blogs at, offered to the group of 100-plus some practical tips on how they can best learn from their Christian counterparts, including the realization that atheists take themselves too damn seriously.

“We could use more self-deprecating humor,” he said, adding that it wouldn’t hurt to take a page from those who are morally against birth control.

“We need to breed more atheists,” he said.

(This is a joke, by the way, poking fun at fundamentalist Christians who always seem to have ginormous families.)

Regardless, Mehta was impressed with the turnout. He said often times, it’s difficult to organize such events in liberal colleges because “people know where to find other atheists.” But in places like Columbus or Kansas, for example, the needed exposure might help atheists fill some gaps in their movement.

“We find that there are a lot of people in their 20s and younger, or their 50s and older, but you won’t find many in the 30 to 40 range,” he said.

“A lot of people fall back into religion when they have families,” because churches provide many services and an established community.

“We’d love to be able to get together once a week, and have a room where the kids can play safely while the adults sit and talk,” he said.

“We’d love that. But we’re not there yet.”

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  • sc0tt

    “We find that there are a lot of people in their 20s and younger, or their 50s and older, but you won’t find many in the 30 to 40 range,” he said.

    Is that true? Where do you discuss this in detail?

    I’m 49 and this surprises me.

  • I don’t know any actual numbers. I just know that from my experience going to atheist conferences and local meetings and speaking to other atheists, gatherings tend to be dominated by older people, followed by college-aged people, followed much later by middle-aged people.

  • Darryl

    From the title of this piece I thought you were going to apologize for the verbal diarrhea prevalent among atheists. (like me)

  • Ron in Houston

    scOtt – aren’t you splitting hairs? 49?? You’re too damn close to 50 to bitch. BTW – I’m 48. It is a rather interesting generalization. I know the birth of my kids made me ponder about the wonder of it all. I’d actually agree that I was more willing to accept religion in the 30-40 range than in my 20’s.

  • sc0tt

    scOtt – aren’t you splitting hairs? 49??

    I wasn’t speaking just for myself, but I guess the 50+ crowd started questing authority and all that in the 1960’s and maybe I got in on the back end of that.

    Or maybe it’s just Hemant’s selection bias because we middle aged parents don’t have time to go to conventions so he doesn’t see us. Or maybe we do and we just look a lot younger or older than what Hemant thinks middle aged folks look like.

    Call me skeptical – I need to see a survey or something.

  • the link to my site is wrong

    You should probably register addresses that are misspellings of your own and redirect them.

  • SkepMom

    I’m in my 30’s, am coming up on my 12th wedding anniversary and have two beautiful kids. Our little atheist family of four attended the Atheist Coming Out Party and we all enjoyed it (Hemant’s speech was good and really resonated with me).

    While we have many friends who are atheists and around our age they are not reproducing. When conversations about religious families having 16 kids come up we joke with our childless atheist friends that they need to do their part to help keep the balance. Alas, our words are not strong enough to sway their convictions, and they in turn tell us to have more (and we won’t oblige).

    Having children tipped me over the edge from waffling agnostic to staunch atheist. I have one atheist friend who had children then found god shortly thereafter. I understand easily how this happens. While I have yet to see statistics on the average age of atheists in North America, the alienation our children sometimes feel and the lack of like-minded peers may be evidence of it.

    Off to Google those stat’s….

  • Darryl

    When you’re 20 or younger you’re full of fire and want to tear the world a new one (plus you’re probably single); when you’re 50 or older you’re wiser, hopefully, and you start to not give a shit what society thinks (plus your kids are grown and on their own).

  • You should probably register addresses that are misspellings of your own and redirect them.

    Some misspellings are redirected here. But the one in question wasn’t one I considered… there are only so many I’m going to pay for…

  • TheOtherOne

    Uncomfortable potlucks, less-than-dynamic speeches, weird bumper stickers and ritualistic expressions of unshakable beliefs

    What? How exactly is “more food than we could eat in 2 days, with plenty of options and cool people to talk to” an uncomfortable potluck? The speeches were fine. If you’re not into weird bumper stickers, why are you even checking them out? And um, the “ritualistic expressions” that I heard were all jokes . . . .

  • Mriana

    Speaking of “baby eating”, I’m working in a 24-hour daycare currently. 😆 Haven’t eaten a single one of the little darlings. Of course, the topic of religion or non-religion hasn’t come up in conversations. Living in the Bible Belt, I wonder what the reactions of parents would be if they were to find out I don’t believe? I’m not going to say a word, esp since I have to work on Sundays.

  • When I was in my 20’s, I was about as gung-ho a Christian as you could get. It wasn’t until I got older and wiser (ripe old age of 33), that I finally “came out” as an atheist.

  • Ingersoll’s Revenge

    As the late, great George Carlin said:

    “You know, I really tried to believe in God, tried to believe that there was a God that created all of us in his own image. But the older you get, folks, the more you look around and realize that something is f***ed up.”

    I’m with Carlin; I’d think that the numbers for the religious crowd would dip dramatically at the age of reason and continue to fall thereafter.

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