Here’s what prompted me to start this blog. I recently found out via Facebook that a friend and former colleage of mine just had a baby. It came out a little early — not exactly a preemie, but early enough that it needed some extra care.
Lots of people, of course, sent messages of support with some variation of “our thoughts and prayers are with you.” And I started wondering, if I only say “my thoughts are with you,” does that seem like I’m being stingy with my good wishes? Or, if I explain that the reason my prayers aren’t with her is because I don’t pray, because I’m an atheist, isn’t that kind of hijacking the thread with an irrelevant discussion of my beliefs and worldview?
This isn’t, of course, the first time I’ve encountered a situation where being an atheist was awkward, or created a situation where I had to think about what would be the appropriate thing to say or do as an atheist in a world where it’s generally assumed that you believe in some deity or other(s).
So I thought starting this blog would be a good way (or at least an interesting way) to explore these situations, even if all I end up doing is talking to myself by typing instead of muttering half-aloud (also something I have a tendency to do).
In future posts, I’ll try to deal with questions like what an atheist should do in a gathering where someone calls for a group prayer, how to behave at church (or other religious) weddings and similar ceremonies, how to talk socially with people who mistakenly assume you’re a non-atheist, and the like. I’ll probably also wade into the debate over whether outspoken atheists like Richard Dawkins are helping or hurting the cause of fostering greater understanding and acceptance of atheism, and maybe offer some “self-defense” tips for atheists who find themselves in a situation where etiquette has gone out the window already, and the only thing left to do is to fight — and win.
It should be interesting.