/ ask / Can I date an atheist even if I’m not one?

Dr. Darrel Ray is an atheist, humanist, and psychologist. He is the author of The God Virus, and specializes in issues relating to religious deconversion. [ more ]
If you have an issue relating to religion but no one to talk to, ask Dr. Ray. He doesn’t promise that he has all the answers, but hopefully he will be able to provide insight and experience that will be beneficial for both you and for the many other young people in similar situations.

Dear Darrel,

I’m in love with an atheist, but I am religious. I don’t feel very connected to my religion and have recently stopped attending religious services and events. What do I do about the person I love; and am I considered an atheist?

From Dr. Ray

You may or may not be an atheist. At this point it sounds like you are open to putting aside your religious beliefs in favor of a worldview fully supported by observable evidence. If so, that is a choice that will lead to a deeper and more fulfilling understanding of the world we live in.

If you decide that you are not able to, or not willing to, give up your religion entirely, that does not mean you cannot continue to be in a healthy and happy relationship with your atheist partner. This is particularly true if you only believe in your religion in a vague or general sense, or are not too personally invested in it.

If the person you are dating is an atheist, he or she has probably read some cool stuff about science or philosophy. Talking about these subjects with someone who is well versed in them can be a lot of fun. Consider selecting a good book or article and reading it together, and then sit down and talk about it.
Explore a wide range of ideas, examine each concept critically, and then decide what you want to call yourself; whether atheist, agnostic, humanist, or some varying degree of religionist.

You can also listen to some cool music by some of the new atheist musicians like Tim Minchin or Shelley Segal (I love her stuff), and then talk about the themes within them. After you listen to these, go back and listen to some religious songs and talk about what they might mean and how the two are different.

The best thing to do when you are young is to openly explore all sorts of ideas, learn how science works and develop good critical thinking skills. You will use these skills the rest of your life. Critical thinking will make you a better person, keep you from making mistakes, help you understand people and nature, and keep you from believing things without sufficient evidence.

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