"Hi Kevin and thanks for the warm welcome. I'm thoroughly disturbed by religion in all honesty -- especially the Abrahamic ones. I know America is sadly rife with it. A travesty for a country built on secularism and the pursuit of freedom. It's been suggested that it's actually because or at least partly due to that secularism that has allowed the religious hard selling free-for-all that you find yourself swamped in today. And I know atheists are thoroughly oppressed in America. At least you don't live in the Islamic world. The majority of Muslim scholars would have you killed for your apostasy."
Ha-ha, no doubt I would be in deep do-do if I lived in the Muslim world. Basically, I'd have to pretend to be a believer.
Christianity is kind of the definition of "normal" in the United States, although a lot of conservatives lately are complaining that "everyone's an atheist now." Good grief, I think I know exactly one other atheist in this country. Where are all the others hiding? and what are these church buildings I keep seeing on every street corner?
I have a unique "problem to contend with" as I was raised LDS/Mormon, so when I'm in Utah I'm surrounded by believers. Some of my friends and brothers have become agnostic, but I know only one guy who's gone clear to the atheist end of the spectrum.
So, I have had to learn to be diplomatic, and strive to remember what life was like for me when I was a "believer." My oldest brother is still a staunch Mormon, and I have had to learn to speak in a way that is respectful of his beliefs -- despite Christianity's total rejection of, and disrespect toward, atheists. It is commonly said, here in the United States, that if you're an atheist, you're not a *real*
American. I suppose I am supposed to move to Sweden or Denmark or something? Heh, even if I tried, I'll bet the immigration laws are too strict to allow me. Being an atheist in America is not unlike being Alice in Wonderland.
Fortunately, my beliefs seldom come up in conversation, especially in conversation with believers. I think they know I'm an atheist, but they also know I won't take crap about it, and will even stop associating with a family member if they start riding me about it.
When push comes to shove, I think Americans are (reluctantly) tolerant of atheists; that is to say, they are more bark than bite. It's an interesting question though, as to whether I could get a job as an organist for a church that knew I was a non-believer.
Utah will always be my "First Base," as I lived about my first 20 years there. The standard there is to indoctrinate the kids from the cradle, which I don't like but I can't do much about it. I sigh and smile at the irony. So many kids will grow up with the confusion I grew up with. At least my few agnostic brothers/friends will teach their kids a little more of an open view of the Universe.
I consider myself a "99%" unbeliever; that is, I hold out about a 1% chance that God exists. More importantly (from my perspective), I hold out about a 3% chance that there is any life after death. Semantically speaking I guess I could call myself an agnostic, but really, 99% atheist is close enough.
Although science isn't always right, I think it's right in modeling life by the process of evolution, and I think humans had "half-ape" ancestors (technically humans *are*
apes), which throws a "monkey" wrench into the Adam/Eve story.
I accept that as an organism that can be broken down to the molecular level, I can have the illusion of freewill but not the real thing (unless I soul, and I think it's 97% likely that I don't have a soul). Combined with the unfortunate reality of death, I figure my best move is to enjoy the here and now as much as possible, and treat other people well as much as possible.
Further details are available on request.