Message: So here is my question. I’ve been an atheist now for 4 or 5 years and I’ve just got back recently on the dating scene. I live in the stereotypical southern town where most everyone here and anywhere around me are very much ultra religious. I’ve had a few dates now with some girls and one of the first things they ask is where I go to church at. I answer truthfully bu it seems every time I tell them I am an atheist they are immediately judgmental. It seems the word atheist scares them more than what it really means. AKA Voldemort scares people more so than he who must not be named to people in harry potter. ( yes it’s a terrible comparison I know.) Is there anything I can say that conveys me being atheist with out implicitly telling as such?
Hi Taylor. There are of course different words you can use other then “atheist”. You could say “non believer” or “humanist” for example. If “atheist” is such a damaging word where you live then what you have to do is show people that you’re a decent person before you drop the A bomb on them. You could also try a different response. For example when asked what church you go to, you could reply with “I don’t go to any church right now because I haven’t found one that makes sense to me yet.” She will probably ask you what it is about it that doesn’t make sense and without bashing her faith, you can turn this into an opportunity to explain why you don’t believe yet. There’s a reason I used the word “yet” there.
When I used to work in sales one of the first things I learned was the “boat strategy”. The idea is that if you can get the other person to think that you are in the same boat that they are in, that they will be more open to listen to you. By using the word “yet” it allows the other person to think that at the very least that you are open minded and are willing to discuss the topic (which you should be). This in turn gives you the ability to ask questions of them (socratic form of argumentation) in order to lead them to your way of looking at things and not having them feel like you are attacking their faith. At the worst this may encourage your potential partner to preach to you constantly (which should be a warning sign anyway) or at best it will allow the two of you to discuss theism with a mutual respect ( a keeper!).
Remember that the best way to combat the bad rap that the word “atheist” seems to have with some people isn’t by presenting good arguments as to why you’re an atheist, it’s by being a good person. So make sure that you project yourself in a way that people will look at you with affection and respect. Go the extra mile to be kind. Do things like open doors for the elderly, use your manners, give of yourself without expecting reciprocation. This way when people find out that you’re an atheist it wont be, “OH! You’re an atheist?” but instead will be “Oh, YOU’RE an atheist??”
Thanks for the question Taylor. Feel free to reply using the comment section below, and to any other atheists out there, what would be your advice to Taylor? Any personal examples out there?