/ ask / How do I communicate when atheism is or isn’t “just a phase”?

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.
Just a Phase Moon 2


Question 1

Dear Darrel,
 I told my friends at school that I am an atheist, and pretty soon they all decided they were ‘atheist’ too, and they’re all being really obnoxious about it. My parents think I’m just going through a phase, and I know that I’m not, but I think my friends are and it makes me angry to have them treat it all like a fad. What do I do?


Question 2

Dear Darrel,
 My boyfriend and I discussed our religious beliefs, and he told me he’s an atheist. I have decided that I agree with him, and that I’m an atheist too, but I’m afraid to tell him because I think he’ll say I’m just copying him and I don’t really mean it. What do I do?2

From Dr. Ray

Answer 1:

You are a very lucky person. We get so many letters from teens saying that all their friends have shunned them after they came out as atheist. I wouldn’t worry if it is a fad or not, at least they are questioning. And even if it is a fad, you can now help move them beyond fad into a legitimate reality-based worldview.

Part of being cool is knowing where to get new information and sharing it. You can set the pace by discussing things with your friends that challenge them to think for themselves. At this time, you are probably their most important source of information and attitude. You have led them this far; they obviously respect you and enjoy your intellect. The best leaders are those who challenge others to think for themselves, to learn and to discuss new ideas.

Invite some friends over to your house and watch some videos by Richard Dawkins like The Root of all Evil or listen to some cool podcasts together. Podcasts like The Humanist Hour, The Thinking Atheist, Living After Faith, American Freethought or The Atheist Experience. It is a lot of fun for everyone to agree to listen or watch a podcast and then talk about it over lunch at school or at an afterschool meeting.

Finally, you must be a naturally influential person or your friends would not be following your lead on atheism. Learn to develop your leadership skills and you will be very successful in life.


Answer 2:

You sound more concerned about what he thinks than what you have learned yourself. If you have done your homework; if you have read good books and articles or watched some of the great videos like Why I am No Longer a Christian or An Archaeological Moment in Time, you are making up your own mind. You are developing a reality-based worldview that is independent of any other person.

If you do your own research you will bring new ideas and resources to discuss with your boyfriend. You are certainly not just copying him if you introduce him to things he has not considered.

I love it when my partner tells me of a new podcast she has discovered, or a book that sheds light on some new ideas. In doing so, she isn’t copying me, she is enhancing my life. If your boyfriend is a true freethinker then he will be delighted that you are enhancing his knowledge and his life. So don’t worry about copying him, be who you are, read things that interest you and develop your own reality-based worldview, it can only enhance your humanity and intelligence, and show him what an awesome person he has for a girlfriend.

If he does get mad at you, maybe he isn’t worth your time and you’d be better off finding someone who holds you in higher regard.

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