In Search of Young People to Help

Question from Adrian:
Hi there, I just found this site by googling “understanding atheism”, and it is almost exactly what I’m looking for. I am an atheist, and have always identified myself as such. I’ve never believed in a deity, or any sort of supernatural event, even as a child.

What I have been looking for is a place where atheists and theists can cordially talk about beliefs. More so the beliefs of theists, as atheists don’t have a “belief system”. I wanted to find a place where I could answer questions that theists proposed out of curiousity, not out of anger or out of trying to prove me wrong (not that I mind those questions, I just want people who will actually listen to what I say). I would really like to offer my perspective to others who are willing to listen.

With that said, I would love, like really love, to get a chance to talk to kids between 13 and 25 (I am 25) about atheism and answer any questions they have. The ideal site for me would let me talk to kids who are questioning their beliefs, and do not know how to live without those beliefs, and have questions on how I do it.

Well, I know you know nothing about me, but my question to you is: do you know of a place (website) that I can do this? I’m willing to give a few hours a week to reading and answering questions. Basically I want to do what you are currently doing on this site. Except I would prefer to do it with teens, preteens, and young adults. Please let me know your thoughts.

Some background on myself, whether it is important or not. I have a bachelor’s in computer science, and I currently work as a software engineer in a liberal state in the U.S.. I have no kids, no criminal record, and have never smoked or done any drugs. I’ve had alcohol once in my life. My main passions are fantasy, health, and somewhat secretly, theism/atheism.

Thank you.

Answer by SmartLX:
I was looking for just such a place, and I found it in Ask the Atheist. I commented on some answers, started contributing officially, and eventually took over. It’s cordial (if not exactly neutral), and mostly reactive, driven as it is by visitors’ questions.

This kind of site isn’t quite what you’re after, though. You want to answer a specific type of question from a specific type of questioner, and the material we get here is a real “box of choc’lits”. And we don’t get anything like enough traffic to occupy you for several hours a week, not with me already here. (Feel free to keep commenting though.)

An organisation does exist to advise and help people who have started their journey out of religion and religious faith: Recovering from Religion. It’s a broader offshoot of the Clergy Project, which was set up to help preachers who no longer believe. They have everything from a blog to a forum to local support groups. If you present yourself and state your wish to help young people, I’m sure they can find a use for you.

If you want to try targeting youths on your own, there’s nothing like Facebook. A well-publicised free-for-all discussion there will draw them in from all around. I’m not aware of any existing groups with this particular aim, but it’s easy to search and almost as easy to start a new one.

Wherever you end up, we’ll be happy to link to you. Good luck.

3 thoughts on “In Search of Young People to Help”

  1. Thanks,

    I appreciate the feedback. I checked out the recovering from religion site. It seems interesting. But the problem with it would be that the members look like they have made their choice already, and just need extra comfort. I’m more looking for people who are confused about the subject and want guidance or perspective.

    For now I’ll take your advice and try to start a facebook group. I will have to experiment on group privacy settings and such because I am not currently a member of any groups on facebook (I think). I don’t want my only group to be an atheist group as that is not a conversation I want to have with my extended family who are all hyper religious. Although my actual profile information does list me as “atheist” if anybody cares to check….publicly joining (or founding) an atheist group is still a bit scary.

    Hopefully I can make a group and still have it be invisible in my profile! It’s mission will basically be “ask an atheist” and will target people who have questions about their faith, and wonder how an atheist sees it. Hopefully I can acquire some other atheists who can help with this. If I can just help 1 or 2 people then I will be happy!

  2. Haha, mostly because it’d be a pain to have to re-log in as a different user for different purposes. I’ll consider making an account just for this. I might just leave one of my computers that I don’t use very often logged into that account, and leave my primary computer on my personal account.

    Thanks for the advice.

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