How to Spot an Atheist

Hi friends and fellow bloggers,

I thought I’d share with you an article I wrote, which is running on the OnFaith site today.


33 responses to “How to Spot an Atheist

  1. Hi Debbie. I look forward to reading your article. Unfortunately, I’m getting an error when I click your link.

  2. Thank you for letting me know, Victoria. Not sure what happened, but it should be fixed!

  3. Wait… why does it say YOU wrote that?? I’m confused!

    • Ok, I just read the rest of it. LMAO!!!

    • (Not enough coffee…)

      • @Shanan & Victoria Haha. I was trying to address all the stereotypes. I’m sure I missed a few!

        • I thought what you did was clever. The emotional center of my brain was immediately activated, lol. I do agree with you that the argument (whether God exists or not, is for the most part, unproductive. My concern, and it is a major concern, is that as unbelievers, our rights are affected. In my state, for example, I cannot run for public office if I don’t believe in a creator. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, if you will excuse the cliche.

          Next week the Supreme Court will decide if corporations are people of faith. If they are deemed people of faith, then this will greatly affect us all, quite negatively, both believers and unbelievers. It’s the side-effects of faith that I have issue with — not that someone believes in God. But I do get where you’re coming from with your article regarding stereotypes. Just not sure it will convince those who need the most convincing. Just the term atheist or humanist can activate their right amygdala (negative emotions, disgust, fear, aggression). I believe that believers are the ones who will be the most effective at convincing other believers that we are not messengers of “Satan”.

          • Good points, Victoria. For certain, we absolutely need better boundaries and to clean religion out of the political sphere. But we shouldn’t waste our time and energy on petty things (removing a cross from a public cemetary that’s been there for decades) and arguing with each other–we should go for the meatier policy changes. We need to make sure religion is removed from our schools. We should lobby for stripping the special tax status of religion and give them tax breaks only for acts of secular community service.

            My state has a similar law about holding office; however, it is trumped by the US Constitution, and that says no religious test to hold office is permitted. Regardless, in a state like mine–and probably yours–admitting to unbelief would amount to a political kill. You’re right, other believers might be our best advocates…


  4. Based on those 7 rules, I must not be an atheist.

    Yes, your article says it well. Thanks. And I hope people do read all the way to the end.

  5. I’m shocked! Where’s the baby eating!?

  6. I am also getting “cannot be displayed” when I click on the link.

  7. Very cool! (I’ve heard of that book, btw – up and coming famous author)

    “I see a pattern where the randomness of human actions can be directed through probability for an overall cumulative and positive effect. All throughout our society there is a butterfly effect that we are most always oblivious to…I guess my message is to go boldly forth and increase the peace and love and know you are not alone. You may not always be aware of the others choosing to follow this same path as you, but they’re out there, and they’re making a difference.”

    ~ LanceThruster

    [from Deborah Mitchell’s book “Growing Up Godless” – Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.]

  8. Thanks LanceT. I like that quote!

  9. The only thing I would take issue with on a small level is the contention that we are not trying to talk people out of their faith. Talking to people, helping them to think more rationality and question their beliefs can (and often will) lead someone to abandon their faith. I know this to be the case yet I don’t shy away from asking the tough questions when speaking with believers. You don’t shy away from it here on this blog or (I’m assuming by the title) in your upcoming book. Does that mean we’re trying to talk someone out of their faith? If by that phrase you mean getting them to proportion their beliefs to the evidence instead of making a leap over probabilities, then yes, absolutely we’re trying to talk them out of their faith. Should we be kind and respectful of people? Again, yes, absolutely. But faith doesn’t deserve respect. I suppose it would be easier if the word “faith” weren’t such a slippery thing… Good article, though, and I hope your book sells well.

    • Hi MichaelB, Good to hear from you. Thanks for the comment.
      I don’t try to talk others out of their faith–I don’t want them to try to talk me into faith. I just figure that my responsibility is to teach my kids, as you say, “to think more rationally.”

      I don’t think you’re nitpicking at all. We all have different views, and we all influence each other a bit. 🙂 This is a group effort!

  10. And for what it’s worth, I know I’m nitpicking, but what are friends for? 🙂 I did share the article in my fb feed, so we’ll see if anyone says anything. I agree with the sentiment and think more articles like this should be written. I’m glad you’re out their fighting the fight. I wonder if, someday, there will be a tipping point for atheists being accepted by the general population in the US. If there is it will be because of people like you.

  11. I must have missed this somehow! I think it’s great and spot on with how I feel about this kind of ‘radar’. I started to read the comments and then I stopped, because at the end of the day -it reminds me of why I don’t like reading comments on any article based in religion, where there is name calling and mud slinging from both sides. Well done, Deborah. I loved this!

    • Thanks, Rachael. I agree. It was disheartening to see so much animosity and mud-slinging from both sides. I am still hopeful that most people don’t want this hostility and especially don’t want this for their children.

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