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Atheists... some questions

(27 Posts)

1) do you describe yourself as an atheist or something else?
2) do you celebrate any holidays?
3) do you teach your kids what you believe?

Answering my own questions smile

1) I usually think of myself as a secular humanist, but often I will say atheist because it is easier. Sometimes I describe us as "non-church goers" if I want the conversation to continue without derailment, i.e. there is a more salient point that will be lost if the conversation veers.

2) We used to celebrate Christmas and Easter as cultural holidays from our childhood but decided as a family to recognise the soltices and equinoxes instead and make our own traditions.

3) yes, when they have asked about my beliefs but I also have taught them what other faiths believe. My kids know that they are free to make their own choices.

technodad Sat 06-Apr-13 09:02:15

1) Atheist
2) we celebrate Christmas because it is fun (and discuss why our society celebrates it). People buy DCs chocolate eggs at Easter. After all, Jesus died for our sins and Jesus was made of chocolate...
3) I don't "believe" in anything, so I teach my kids to have the same questioning and critical approach to life. My kids are taught about other people's beliefs and how those beliefs shape society.

SolidGoldBrass Thu 04-Apr-13 01:27:14

1) Atheist. Or humanist, or rational person, depending on who's asking and why, and how much I want to wind the questioner up.

2) Yes, loads. New Year, Burns Night, Pancake Day, Easter, St George's Day, May Day, Midsummer, Halloween, Bonfire Night and Christmas, and quite probably a few more that I have forgotten about. If DS had his way we would 'celebrate' Diwali and Eid and the rest as well but I am a little bit squeamish about inadvertently being rude and clueless about cultures I have very little knowledge of. All festivals are really a way of marking the turning of the seasons and having fun with family and friends.

3) A bit. It mostly consists (at the moment) of answering questions and pointing out that a lot of the main festivals are seasonal and have a variety of different stories attached to these particular times of the year, and that some people think some of them are 'true' stories, but they aren't.

LadyLech Wed 03-Apr-13 13:31:44

I describe myself as existentialist.

I celebrate any festival I consider to be fun.

I teach my children to think things through and to decide for themselves. To live their lives in the way they see fit and leaves a good Moral example to others (at this point, we're back to Q1)

trice Wed 03-Apr-13 11:31:20

I am an atheist.
I celebrate any festival that looks like fun. I do Burns Night despite being English because I like haggis. Christmas because I like the tree, easter because we get together as a family.
I tell my children all about religion as it is important for them to know how the world works. They know I think it is all make believe though.

StormyBrid Wed 03-Apr-13 11:19:35

1 - Yes, I call myself an atheist if anyone asks.
2 - I celebrate Christmas, as an excuse for a family shindig and a very good meal. There's no religion involved.
3 - DD is three and a half weeks old. We'll deal with belief systems as and when they crop up, but she'll be encouraged to think critically about things rather than swallowing words of authority wholesale. And she'll be exposed to the "there are no gods" view because that's our view and we do, y'know, talk. smile I'm secretly hoping that, like me, she'll think God and Gordon Bennett are the same person until primary school teaches her otherwise. (My own mother used the two interchangeably. If DD's father doesn't learn to watch his language, she's more likely to think God and fuck mean the same thing, as in "For *'s sake!")

ElectricalBanana Wed 03-Apr-13 11:01:58

1. Practicing atheist- and proud!
2 . We do Christmas but seen as family time. Easter - no. Give eggs to little ones but just seen as family time. My kids don't get eggs etc
3 open about my non belief and kids have been allowed to make up their own minds about everything. They are now adults and both devout atheists grin

I have religious friends and they respect my non beliefs as much as I repeat theirs..we agree to disagree. I am a logical evidence based type of thinker.and that is how I have come to be an atheist.

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 03-Apr-13 10:46:30

I wondered if someone would pick that up!

You certainly can be a pagan atheist - i've been one for years. Many (not all but many) pagans see the gods and goddesses as aspects of nature or ourselves, not as literal entities. There may be other pagan beliefs that would go straight in the woo box in the eyes of many other atheists, but a belief in god is not a prequesite of being a pagan.

seeker Wed 03-Apr-13 07:39:37

I don't think you can be a pagan atheist, can you?grin

sashh Wed 03-Apr-13 06:25:13

1) Atheist with pagan tendencies. I think it makes more sense to thank the pear tree in my garden than a god/godess.

2) I don't celebrate Xmas or easter n any form. I buy presents for about 6 people who do. I'm quite likley to burn candles or have an oil burner for soltices and equinoxes, but if I miss the day no big deal.

3) don't have children. I'm not sure what I would teach them if I had. I would not describe them as atheist or anything else, I'm with Richard Dawkins on this, you cannot call a baby an RC baby, or a Muslim baby.

I am fascinated by religious beliefs and culture though so I could see me giving red envelopes at lunar new year, eating Xmas cake or buying sweets for Buddha day.

EggsEggSplat Mon 01-Apr-13 21:24:09

1) Yes, happy to describe myself as an atheist now - but it was rather harder when I first realised I was one as a child, since I was sent to Sunday school etc.

2) Yes, we do all the non-religious /cultural bits of Christmas and Easter, as to me their main roots are seasonal not religious. Also joined in with local festivals while living in Japan and Taiwan.

3) The DCs are aware of my views and I think mostly share them (particularly DS 14 who has been quite interested in some of the debates he's found on youtube) but they know that their late father was a vague believer in some kind of higher power/life force, and there are some evangelical Christians in the family. They also go to schools which are traditionally Christian, so get exposed to hymns, bible stories etc there.

MostlyLovingLurchers Mon 01-Apr-13 21:13:52

1. Pagan

2. Yes - all the festivals marking the turning of the year. Good excuse to get out into nature, to take stock, and to eat and drink and make merry. We do celebrate on christmas as well as yule but obviously not in a christian way. We don't do Santa either.

3. I will teach him what i believe, but not that it has to be what he believes.

monsterchild Mon 01-Apr-13 20:43:05

I would say I'm agnostic, but for all the gods, not just the god of the Torah/Bible/Quran, it just seems like fairies and Shiva are as likely as Yaweh and Jesus.

I try to do all the holidays, why not?

My DS is only 3 months, my DSD is 7 and my DH is very adamant that she learns there is more to religion than her mother's fundamentalist Christian church teachings.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 01-Apr-13 20:40:15

there are loads of other words to describe that person as well.

Several came immediately to mind..... grin

Sommink Mon 01-Apr-13 20:20:48

1) I am an atheist
2) I use the religious holidays celebrated in my area as a time to spend with my family. I will explain to my dd what the holiday was originally about but that the is not why I celebrate.
3) My dd is 5 and atm she is most definitely Christian. My friend takes her to Church regularly and we talk through what she believes and I would not discredit her (or anyone else) in any way.

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 20:18:14

"Seeker, I don't particularly like the term and don't find it particularly neutral because it only describes what I don't believe in"

Absolutely. An atheist is somebody who doesn't believe in a god or gods. I don't expect any more from the word than that. There are lots of other words to describe what I do believe in. In the same way "Christian" only describes one thing a person might believe in- there are loads of other words to describe that person as well.

Redbindy Mon 01-Apr-13 20:09:27

Atheism is not a belief, its a refusal to be conned.
Holidays are great for any reason.
The kids are long gone.

MeSoFunny Mon 01-Apr-13 20:08:36

What Seeker said.

LunaticFringe Mon 01-Apr-13 20:05:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 01-Apr-13 20:02:40


Seeker, I don't particularly like the term and don't find it particularly neutral because it only describes what I don't believe in. To misquote an overused quip, I also don't collect stamps but don't count that as a hobby.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 01-Apr-13 20:00:30

1) Mostly I describe myself as an anti-theist. Whilst I use the term atheist for convenience, I don't personally think it's a label that's necessary. We don't tend to have terms for not being other specific things. I don't collect stamps but I wouldn't call myself an aphilateist.

2) I celebrate Christmas with respect of gathering with my family and exchanging gifts because that's the culture of our society. I don't 'celebrate' Easter, but I'm not averse to receiving chocolate eggs as gifts (in case anyone has any spare!).

3) DS is only just 2 so we haven't got to this stage yet, but any religious stories he comes across will be asserted just as that, stories. What he chooses to believe when he's older is up to him, but given the family he's in, I'd be surprised if he becomes a religionist.

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 17:38:35

I am an atheist, and see no reason to call myself anything else. Atheist is a value neutral term.

I celebrate Christmas and Easter because they are culturally significant events in the society I live in.

My children know I am an atheist. However, they have learned both from me and from school about Christianity and about other faiths and I have worked very hard from birth at making them effective critical thinkers.

headinhands Mon 01-Apr-13 17:21:04

1) do you describe yourself as an atheist or something else?

With friends and family it's usually 'non-religious' or 'skeptical'. Having been a Christian for some years I'm aware that the label atheist sometimes, for some people, has a less than favourable image so I avoid that word offline.

2) do you celebrate any holidays?

I enjoy spending time with family at Christmas and Easter etc but I'm not celebrating the Christian meaning attached to those festivals no.

3) do you teach your kids what you believe?

Yes, such as hurting people isn't good for our society and we can all live better, happier lives if we foster acceptance and tolerance, and challenging negative labels where we see them. I also model critical thinking, looking for evidence for what we believe and adapting out viewpoint when necessary.

cookielove Mon 01-Apr-13 17:07:27

1) do you describe yourself as an atheist or something else?
2) do you celebrate any holidays?
3) do you teach your kids what you believe?


1) If asked i will tell people i am an Atheist, but most people around me already know this so its not something that pops up often.

2) I celebrate Christmas and Easter, but attach no religion to the holidays, just enjoy the time off. I choose to eat choc eggs, and have a christmas tree and exchange presents.

3) I don't have children but when we do (hopefully soon as we are ttc) we will teach them nothing regarding religion. I don't think i could have married someone who was religious as i am very strongly against it.

Iwantmybed Mon 01-Apr-13 17:02:29

1. I describe myself as semi Taoist as I like the philosophy behind Taoism but haven't studied it enough in depth to feel truly Taoist. Although I'm definitely Atheist with regards to organised religion involving Deities.

2. I enjoy Christmas and Easter as time off work and spend it with the family. Eggs and presents are added bonuses. I don't associate it as a religious holiday.

3. DD1 has started at CofE primary school and comes home with "Jesus loves us". I try not to comment as I do want her to make her own mind up in the future so will help when she questions it all.

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