In the interest of helping put your minds at ease and hopefully drawing you out a bit to join in our discussions, please allow me to share a personal story with you involving how I became a regular member of the AR.
My arrival at becoming an atheist was after an agonizing journey over the course of a few decades. As I have said many times before, the whole Christian god bible stories never made sense to me. So, as a little kid without much say in the matter, I simply went-along-to-get-along. Then, as an adult, the inconsistencies and contradictions gradually became far too stressful to contemplate. Therefore, I basically just avoided the subject altogether as much as possible.
Anyway, in short, I had already realized at a young age there was something inherently WRONG with the religious stuff I was taught. I just had to get past the ingrained fear of Satan/hell that had been so firmly implanted in my psyche. Not to mention the dread and anxiety at the thought of being labled as an atheist. It wasn’t until I met my wife that I was free to openly express/discuss my doubts about religion. She opened my eyes to things I have never been taught, then she encouraged me to joined this site a few years later. I haven’t looked back since.
I found the AR by random chance with a Google search. Just happened to be the first site that popped up, so I clicked on it knowing practically NOTHING about atheism. (Other than it was totally taboo to even SPEAK of it.) During the process of making my profile, it literally took me TWO DAYS before I finally gave in and committed to selecting “I am an atheist” for my account. And I was a nervous wreck that whole time. Thankfully, that uncomfortable angst began to fade quickly after the first couple of days. Looking back I realize it was the wide range of personalities and the vast collective knowledge of the site members that helped put my mind at ease. Even Cog’s scathing “welcome” rant was much appreciated. Gave me a good chubbi-… uh, CHUCKLE… yes, chuckle, as a matter of fact. Speaking of which, the underlying (and often blatant) warped/sarcastic/dark humor and banter was also a definite plus for me. It still is, as I am not a very social guy in the “real world”. So the AR is about as close as I get to socializing nowadays.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is that some folks know how to handle this chaotic conglomeration of free-thinking godless individuals, while many (most) others have limited capacity and/or tolerance for our diverse and unconventional methods of expression/communication. Among ourselves, we take great joy in hurling colorful and backhanded sarcasm and insults at each other, and we appreciate the creativity and intelligence required for the more subtle jabs. It’s cheap entertainment for us. Sadly, too many people nowadays are not accustomed or conditioned to such camaraderie. Therefore, when a new guest arrives, it can sometimes be difficult for us to “tone down” our shenanigans long enough to allow the newcomer to “acclimate” to the environment. But - hey - we are who we are, right?
So, to all the lurkers out there, and to all those who make an appearance to join in the discussions, please know we really do want to help you if we can. Most of us here are intimately aware of how difficult it can be to transition from your religious indoctrination to no longer believing in the delusions that still have such a powerful hold on most of the world population. If you genuinely and sincerely want to learn how to get past that wall of fear and doubt, then we genuinely and sincerely want to assist you in that effort. Give us a chance.