Someone I used to know decided today that if I happen to state my views as an atheist on an atheist Facebook page that she can tell me that I’m forcing my religion down her throat. People might say that I could have directed the comment to be read by friends only or by acquaintances only; I always try to make sure that I direct any of my comments to those who I know will not be offended or feel as if I’m forcing things upon them. This woman (who I know is a Christian) told me that I was “forcing my religion down her throat.”
If I remember right, I was giving my opinion about the new Pope. I don’t recall forcing her to read what I wrote, or telling her to read it, or telling anyone else to tell her to read it. She knows that I’m an atheist, and that a great many things I write on FB have something to do with atheism or skepticism or freethought or agnosticism or science. But I put up comments about music, classic television, sports, weather, my family members, my friends, teaching, the education system, epilepsy, vertigo, cats, my students, other people’s children, my wife, my opinion of the medical profession, and anything else that crosses my mind.
She’s as welcome as anyone else to read or to ignore anything I post on FB. I do the same for about 1/4 of what gets put on my wall; I’m not always interested in everything people have to say, and some of it, frankly, just makes me want to grab people and shake them. I don’t think I’m smarter than anyone else, because how smart you appear has a lot to do with your surroundings. I’d be an idiot in front of a sewing machine or in a mechanic’s shop, but when it comes to trivia, I’m genius-like. But I do know that I know enough about being an atheist to be able to tell when someone doesn’t know the first thing and is trying to force their beliefs on me.
I refuse to compromise my thought process to satisfy the bronze-age thinking of someone who doesn’t know that atheism is not a religion, nor is it even a belief system. Atheism is the absence of belief in the existence of gods. An atheist is a person who does not believe that gods exist, plain and simple. There are more complicated concepts within that idea, but for the beginner, that’s the essence.
It has no connections to politics, it has no great philosophical beliefs, and it implies no beliefs about society, science, or religion (Buddhism, for example, is an atheistic religion). Each atheist has their own beliefs and attitudes. If you know that a person is an atheist, all you know about them is that they do not believe in gods.
I am an atheist. I do not believe gods exist.