Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Coffee and Conversation, Meeting #1

The Coffee and Conversation meeting that I wrote about here went pretty well. There were about ten of us, from a variety of different religious backgrounds, including Jewish, Catholic, New Age, Jehovah's Witness, and non-religious. We discussed several topics related to atheism and skepticism, and they had brought along a couple of booklets: a Baloney Detection Kit (video covering part of it here) and a guide to How to Debate a Creationist. One person asked me what was keeping me from fully embracing the atheist position, and I couldn't give a very good answer. I think it's more my fear of the societal associations with the term than an actual difference in worldview. In other words, I'm pretty much an atheist and am just reluctant to admit it.

Toward the end of the discussion I mentioned my situation – the fact that I'm living with my Christian family, and that I'm really worried about how they'll react once I reveal my nonbelief to them. One of them gave me some very good advice: trying to go about it slowly, starting with a vague mention of doubts, will only make it more difficult. They would probably try to get me into some Christian counseling or something. Instead I break it to them all at once, possibly with a one-page written explanation of why I no longer believe.

Before I left they recommended I read books by Dawkins and Hitchens, and specifically Sam Harris' The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation. Overall, the group confirmed my initial impression: they were intelligent, articulate, friendly and supportive. I definitely plan to attend meetings in the future.

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