Meeting Other Atheists
Dear Sir(s) and/or Ma'am(s),
I wrote you quite sometime back regarding how an atheist could find a logical explanation for the creation of the universe. I am an atheist and help in answering my own moral questions is very much appreciated. I've found your web site, especially your responses to e-mails from other atheists and theists, to be quite helpful in giving me rebuttals to offensive comments about my beliefs from other people and ways to support myself.
I've been an atheist for some time now. I transgressed over a course of three years or so from an Episcopalian, to an agnostic, and now an atheist. I'm not looking into converting, I think I've found what I call moral and physical truths. As I've shifted my views, I've shared them with a number of people and discussed them. To date, there are two people out of several I know that are willing to speak with me on my level and not try to prove me wrong or make me believe in something else. I'm grateful for this company since it actually gives me an outlet: true friends who like me for who I am, friends I can confide in and feel secure with and share my opinions with openly.
My friends are theists -- except one, who is moving from agnosticism into theism as I write -- and I don't hold it to them. Although I enjoy their company, I've found it difficult sometimes because I'd like to know some people with the same beliefs I have. I know I'm not alone. My friend in conversion, during a discussion he and I had about religion, pointed out that, "for Christians, you can socialize in church. But you can't have an atheist church, so you're on your own for meeting another atheist." I agree, you can't have any atheist place of worship and thus meeting others like yourself is difficult-at least for me it is.
I'm sure there must be organizations and groups for atheists in the world. Like I said, I know I'm not alone (and your web site is nice proof and reassurance of it!). Is there any possibility that you could list atheist organizations in areas around the United States? Or ways that atheists could convene to discuss their own values in an educated fashion? My two friends give me this, but it's not as easy for them to relate since they're theists, and maybe part of this bit is from being an adolescent, but I'd like to meet some new people -- preferably atheists.
Any help you could give would be great. If you decide not to post any information on your web site, but have some that you could send me via e-mail, I'll include some information about myself below to narrow my location and interests and hopefully aid you in finding the group I'd like. If you are unaware of any organizations but know where I can find information, could you please send it?
Thanks for your time.
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Tuesday, January 02, 2001 6:40 PM
Although I do not (any longer) associate with other atheists in a group, I note that some atheists find the practice quite useful. You can read about my feelings toward groups in a recent editorial column called "Reducing Our Own Stigma."
There are now three ways to go about associating with other atheists:
First, would be to contact the large groups such as Freedom From Religion, American Atheists, or Atheists United (originally, I hear, several chapters of American Atheists who were kicked out by Madalyn Murray O'Hair shortly before she was murdered). We have links to all these groups in our Web Guide. To me, the ultimate atheist group would be London's National Secular Society, but I don't know if they'd want chapters over here. Wouldn't hurt to ask.
Secondly, you could start your own group, or even a campus group if you are in college (campus atheist groups are a big thing these days). We have a list of campus groups in our Web Guide under Local. Again, the model campus group is the British "Atheism Central for Secondary Schools." This group, I think, is actually sponsored by the school system as part of a "fair-play" thing to balance the religious instruction within the school curriculum there.
Finally, the Internet has afforded us a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow atheists. I started this website from scratch five years ago, and now (I hear) our website is quite busy. (I predict we'll have to pay premium rate for hosting within the year, as our upload is increasing steadily by an over half a gigabyte increase each month!) But, I didn't just post a few pages and leave it at that, I have been on this thing several hours per day the entire five years. The same would go for any project: the more you put into it, the more likely it is to become successful. I now spend two hours a day just answering e-mail. As for other Internet groups, I used to be pretty active on AOL, but discovered that "flaming" the "xians" was a favorite activity that I wanted no part of. Several of our readers are very happy with about.com.
Volunteering either to stump for atheist rights and dignity or to maintain our knowledge base is also a way you can be involved, though the latter is not a direct contact with others, per se. I support People For the American Way, American Atheists, Freedom From Religion, Atheist Centre (India), Rationalist International (India), and the American Civil Liberties Union. These are the groups for which I actively stump, and I also have contributed to several of them.
Kentucky hosts the home of the Bank of Wisdom, which digitizes old Freethought literature to ensure that it doesn't get lost in oblivion. The man who started Bank of Wisdom has a paranoid streak, convinced that meddling go-gooders have done their duty in removing this material from circulation (methinks it's mostly in the hands of private collectors), but he has done a great work nonetheless. I have done similarly, but since my standards of quality are so much higher, I have been able to digitize only so much. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find typos in my work, whereas some his work contains errors almost on a line-by-line basis. I'm sure he could use volunteer work as urgently as I can. If you'd like to start digitizing some of this material, I can help you get set up with all the right software, and can point to the material that needs to be done. Be very careful, though; this work can be very exciting (discovering a whole new world in each book) and I take no responsibility if you become addicted to digitizing some of these great classics. If you want, I'd post and promote them here, or show you how to create and promote your own website. The search engines will ignore you unless you own a domain.
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