Society's Attitude Towards Atheism

July 21, 2010
Throughout my elementary years, all students were forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every day. That sentence alone might give you an idea of where I’m going with this, given the controversy in the news lately. Anyway, I had never been to a church in my life. My parents had decided to raise me and my brothers non-religiously. We celebrated Christmas every year, but that was the extent of our religious affiliation, and I had no problem with it. I mindlessly regurgitated the Pledge every weekday morning at 9:00, and was blissfully unaware of the complications that surrounded it. As I got older, though, and entered middle school, I became aware of the different religions and how mine didn’t really fit in. I had never met anyone who approached religion like my family did and so when my peers would talk about church group or similar activities, I would just quietly blend in with the nearest wall and try to look like I had some inkling of what they were talking about. The more I learned about this foreign concept called religion, the more I thought about it, and the more I thought about it, the more I wondered how anyone could ever actually believe any of it. But, as I attended a predominantly Christian public school, I didn’t speak up for fear of being abandoned by my friends or bullied.

In my freshman year World History class, we were taught about all of the religions of the world and how they came to be. This was enlightening for me, because all I really knew were the major beliefs of each religion. Learning about how Mohammed supposedly had seizures and hallucinations in which parts of the Quran came to him really put religion in perspective for me. What would happen today if someone started having the same experience and claimed that God was talking to them? You know as well as I do that they would promptly be shut in a cushioned room in an asylum far from civilization. Yet people today still believe what Mohammed recited so many years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to target Muslims in any respect; I am merely using their religion as an example of how ludicrous these ideas are to me.

After taking this history course, I read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, wishing to learn more about the scientific backing behind atheism. Theistic religions just didn’t make sense to me – when I heard people talking about creationism with all of the evidence of evolution staring them in the face, I wanted to rip my hair out or punch something exceptionally hard. The God Delusion put everything straight for me. It confirmed my suspicions and decisively disproved a lot of common arguments that Christians make against atheists. My favorite quote from Richard Dawkins is probably “We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.”

Now, I don’t care who knows that I am an atheist. Many people resent me for it, or say that I offend them by not believing in God. My retort for that question is that I am offended by them believing in God. I have used this in more than one situation, and the person in question has countered the statement with a look of complete disbelief. Why do they think that it is okay for them to say something to me, but that it is not okay for me to flip the statement back at them? Ah, mysteries of society that I will undoubtedly never understand. My true friends are the ones that don’t care what beliefs I hold. Those who hold it against me are obviously not worth my efforts.

I think that society needs to realize that atheists are real people, too. As much as people nowadays think about not discriminating against Jewish people or Muslims, they do not think about the views of atheists. Why are public schoolchildren across the US forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every morning when it makes the reader swear that they are under God? Does the separation of church and state not go that far?

But do me a favor and think about religion and the factual evidence that is out there. Read Dawkins’ book. Ponder why you believe what you do. Is it because you’ve been told to believe it since you were very young? Or is it because it is truly what you believe? Don’t let yourself be blinded anymore. Open your eyes.

Thank you.

Join the Discussion

This article has 144 comments. Post your own now!

TheEmptyUniverse This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 11, 2015 at 3:07 pm
It's funny, because we're learning about religions in AP World, and I've actually lost a lot of respect for Christianity. I'm not going to walk up to someone and say, "You're a moron," but I'm shocked that something that existed in many empires as a way to keep the population ignorant and obey the law still has as many believers as it does today. And when I read that Muhammad had "visions", I paused. In today's society, he would be pumped full of medication and tied down, so he couldn't form his... (more »)
JesusandHisLawyers said...
May 28, 2014 at 12:20 am
Friendly advice, from one atheist to another: Don't cite The God Delusion as a source, ever. Nobody over the age of 13 takes Richard Dawkins seriously. He's something of a running gag in the non-theistic community due to how completely off his rocker he is. 
cosmos4242 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 31, 2014 at 9:47 pm
Interesting bit about the pledge of allegiance: It didn't used to include "under God."  It was changed in 1954 in response to Communist threat.
WilliamN said...
Mar. 27, 2014 at 3:15 pm
I'm a born Christian, but I considered myself atheist starting in 7th grade. Atheists got to represent, we just get no respect for choosing to believe in ourselves rather than some higher being!
I'mANerd&I'mProud! said...
Nov. 18, 2013 at 8:55 pm
I'm a born Hindu, but around 5th grade, I became an atheist. Nobody except my two closest friends and I know about this, not even my parents, because I'm afraid that they might not accept me because of that. I can really relate to this article, and I love it. BTW, by law, schools can't force you to say the Pledge of Allegiance. It is one of our student rights to say no to reciting the pledge.
ALenny said...
Jul. 31, 2013 at 11:23 pm
I LOVED THIS! And am in complete agreement. It frustrates me deeply having to put up with the preachers of a mass delusion and yet be vilified for believing in the facts of science. Well done for speaking out. I'm so over this crap infiltrating our lives. Have your beliefs, sure, just keep them to yourselves if you expect atheists to keep to ourselves and stop trying to shove religion down my throat!
The_Introvert said...
Jun. 1, 2013 at 5:21 pm
This is a brilliant article. I can't tell you how many times my family has been threatened simply because we're atheists. And the Christians who do it have the nerve to talk about their "good Christian morals."
NewIdentity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 2, 2012 at 11:10 am
I just started reading The God Delusion. So far it is very interesting. I have become an atheist recently, but I have to hide it from almost everyone. I can't tell my parents because they are conservative christian missionaries. I really hate hiding such a big part of me from everyone.
JustSilentlyWaiting said...
Apr. 22, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I am not the biggest, religious person at all in any religion. Honestly, right now Hinduism sounds pretty cool to me. I have plenty of friends that are Christian, Muslin, Athiest, and Jewish. I believe that as long as everyone's happy with what THEY believe, then why should it matter to me what it is that they believe? Personally, I agree with every word in this article. Go you for speaking out!! But seriously, to everyone commenting rudely on this about how your a Christian or something else... (more »)

shinjite said...
Oct. 28, 2011 at 5:46 pm
In the Old Testament, God seems very tyrantish. But actually, one could only expect Him to be a bit frustrated because of all of the people that reject Him and pray to false gods. God is very loving and merciful, but many mock Him or neglect Him or don't accept Him and that really must frustrate Him. God does love you very much though!
Mtizzle replied...
Jan. 17, 2012 at 2:13 pm
um... if God is a powerful being why would he have human emotions he is perfect think about that why would he be frustrated he all pwerful and knowing
cam_parks replied...
Mar. 2, 2012 at 9:01 am
LOL got em!
shinjite replied...
Mar. 2, 2012 at 2:21 pm
God has His Ways and He doesn't get frustrated in the same way. If your human and you're frustrated with someone, you would take out your anger at first chance. As God, He punishes us when He needs to. If you let a child do whatever they want, they might eventually listen to you. But 9/10 chances, they won't. They'll just get worse. He needs to punish His Children to help them learn. He is only being a good father. He is all powerful and knowing therefore He knows that sometimes He needs to lay ... (more »)
shinjite said...
Oct. 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm

If you are an atheist, I don't hate you, but I must admit that for me, it would be really hard to live without God. Isn't it hard whenever you have something you're really scared or worried about, and you don't have anyone higher to trust in? Wouldn't it be better to have a God who loves you and is kind and merciful? I know you could say "well, my family loves me and I don't need mercy" but God is someone who will love you so much more than that. I'm just curious, I'm not trying to be rude. B... (more »)

RumMonkey said...
Sept. 26, 2011 at 4:55 am
Atheists shouldn't be hated just because they choose logic and science over personal belief. Because WE don't believe anyone deserves to die just because they have different opinions.
Kitty-Anneli replied...
Apr. 25, 2012 at 10:49 am
lol Well said
swcricket98 replied...
Jun. 5, 2012 at 12:23 pm
I respect the first sentence greatly.
8tephanie This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 11, 2012 at 12:01 am
Who ever said we think atheists deserve death for their beliefs? I know many of us are completely aware that's the path atheists choose and don't get offended when we try to change your minds, it only genuinely means we care (except for some its a pride I-need-to-prove-you-wrong thing)
H-Millz replied...
Oct. 7, 2016 at 9:55 am
@RumMonkey At the same time, who ever said that atheists are choosing logic and science over personal belief? Atheism is a religion in an of itself, because you are believing in something you cannot prove. You cannot prove there is no God, and you cannot prove how the world was created either. It takes faith in order to not believe in something, as well as to believe in something.
Sylvia said...
Sept. 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm
And by the way, that comment about Christians was, unfortunately, genuine, and posted online. Thankfully though, it was not on this site. I hope there's no room for that kind of hate here.
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