Onboarding for New Atheists?
Religion provides a support structure for many. However, a sincere, honest appraisal leads the thinking person to conclude that there probably is no God. What then? What is the “new” nonbeliever to do – openly declare her non-belief and possibly lose friends, family, even spouse? Or remain closeted and live a lie? What are the options? Does atheism have an induction process, a way for the new nonbeliever to join the new culture, locate its supports structures, connect with the like-minded?
Childhood religious indoctrination traps many into a lifetime of false beliefs. However, for the intelligent, thinking, questioning person, the contradictions in religion sooner or later reach breaking point. What then?
What if this is you?
You have sincerely explored the faith in which you were brought up, yet your questions met evasions. You were told to “just have faith”. Threats of Hell followed. You were told that you are doing the Devil’s work. You persisted.
You now see that much of your religion is improbable, inaccurate, or plain wrong. You have concluded that there probably is no god. You have started thinking of yourself as an agnostic, even an atheist. Yet those around you are still inside the religious bubble, which repels all questioning. This can include friends, parents or, worst of all, your spouse. How can you handle this in a way that is true to yourself, yet not lose those you love?
You grew up in a specific religion. You spent years absorbing the mythology. You learned the stories, the songs, the community behaviour. Now they don’t apply. You are adrift on an unknown sea. Non-belief in gods – atheism – has its own principles, its history, its literature, its memes, its heroes, its community. In time, you will get to know them. You will find your feet again. It could take years.
What if, like churches and other businesses, atheism had a primer? A quick-start? An introduction? An “onboarding” procedure?
It doesn’t – or didn’t! Until now…
You have your reasons for rejecting religion. Will they stand up to attack? Can you withstand the illogic and threats of the religious? Where do you go to learn clear logic, good arguments, tried techniques?
These questions deserve answers. Therefore, I am developing an on-line (paid) course aimed at new atheists: People recently de-converted from religion. The course is intended to orientate them within atheist thought, history, and community. It will provide them with direction, support, and resources.
I envisage a course of ten 1-2 hour modules, with a module releasing weekly starting on Christmas Day. If you would like to contribute ideas to the course, or preview sections, please email me at RickRaubenheimer@gmail.com with subject “Atheist Course”!
If you know of people who might like to take the course, please have them sign up for the mailing list here.
About the Author
Small business owner, civil engineer, computer programmer, hiker, NLP Practitioner, Karate and Krav Maga enthusiast, blood donor. ex-Democratic Alliance Branch Chairman (Johannesburg Ward 109), Toastmasters Competent Communicator, Treasurer at Transformers Toastmasters Club, life member of Earthlife Africa, retired as Sgt from the South African Police Reservists (22 years and three medals earned), Rick is Vice-Chairman of the South African Secular Society. He blogs here and at African Atheist Activist, writes to the newspapers and is active in the promotion of science over superstition. From June 2014 to December 2015 he helped to produce the weekly newsletter for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Since February 2015 to date he has volunteered for four hours a week on the Recovering From Religion Hotline and Chatline, assisting people who doubt or are leaving religion.