Guest Post: An Atheist in High School
GM Note : This is a guest post from Ryan, who’s perspective on being an American atheist in high school is extremely valuable. Let’s boost and support the atheist kids out there! Follow Ryan on Twitter here: @RAtheistH Hello there my fellow godless ones! My name is Ryan (@RAtheistH on Twitter). I am a high school freshman in a small town in rural Pennsylvania, I like to refer to it as a little mini Bible belt. Most of the people in this area are Christian. Out of a student body of 500, I know of 4 open Atheists, including me. I went to a Lutheran pre-school and my mom used God to explain some things but that is really the extent of my childhood religious experience. I became a Deist in the 6th grade, Agnostic in the 7th and full on Atheist in the 8th. My pass times include anime, video games, watching the science channel, and consuming Richard Dawkins debates. Unlike many other young atheists, I want everyone to know what I am so they treat me how they believe they should. Surprisingly, I haven’t been bullied much or at all for this. Anyways, enough off that. Time for some random experiences of a high school freshman.
Talkin’ ‘bout Science? Dats a paddlen’- There I was one day, talking to my friend about some scientific topic. I mind you, he is very Christian and we were discussing a seemingly non-controversial topic. As we were speaking, a girl a few lockers down from mine said something along the lines of “God is all, do not question him”. I said to her “Yeah, sure. And for the record, I wasn’t trying to disprove him, I was talking to my friend about something completely unrelated to that”. She then said something along the lines “You are stupid and disgust me” and walked away very proud like. The students at my school can’t seem to handle the simplest of scientific discussion. You are either part of the “Oh that’s a cool scientific thing” club, as I and a handful of others are, or you are in the “Don’t question Gods glory”/”Science is retarded club”. Sadly, less than 20% of my peers are in the intellectual class.
The Godless Pledge
The Pledge- This is a fairly controversial and widespread topic, but I thought I would share my thoughts and such on the topic. Up until recently I would say the pledge, reluctantly, but still say it. Most students, aside from the truly patriotic ones, don’t really say it anymore, mainly due to laziness. My reason is the same as many other Atheists, I don’t want to say “One nation under God”. Normally, this wouldn’t cause issues and I wouldn’t bring it up. Here is my reasoning for discussing this. I am in this program called the Civil Air Patrol. It’s a volunteer auxiliary of the USAF tasked with search and rescue missions, cadet programs, and aerospace education. At the beginning of each meeting, we are ordered to say the pledge. You can’t not say it and you need to speak it from your soul (or very loudly, depending on how you wish to describe it). So every Thursday, I have to lead the members of my squad (I’m the loudest, so I’m tasked with livening up the squad’s speeches in unison) in something I strongly disagree with. I find it funny as one of the auxiliary’s unspoken values is honesty.
Civil Air Patrol Prayer- Now at the beginning of each Civil Air Patrol meeting, the squad Chaplin says a prayer. While short, it still angers me. I was under the impression that the military was supposed to be a religiously neutral entity. Recently the squad foreman noticed that we hadn’t had a prayer yet and stated “We can’t start a meeting flying on one wing. You know, we said the pledge and we haven’t praised God yet”. I’m just sitting there thinking “Do we REALLY have to? I can understand saying our nation’s anthem but is this much religious input really necessary?” And of course by regulation, I have to agree with him and stand at attention for a few minutes. I am fine with people praying at home and church, but not before a meeting of a military auxiliary. I would tell them of my atheism (I have hinted it a little), but a feel like the Chaplin would pull me aside in future meetings and try and convert me or attempt to find my “tragic childhood accident” that caused me to “hate God and worship the Devil”.
Arguing KNOWN facts with Christians-
I hate arguing religion with Christians, especially with my friends. Countless days of endless arguing that never goes any ware, ends in torn friendships, and repeats the next day. Now, I never thought I would be arguing the credibility of something that has been observed with another honors student. The topic I speak of is Ecology, climate change, and human population. We’ll call my friend Ken. At the time, we were in an extensive Ecology unit in my general science class. My teacher kept bringing up that if we destroy the environment, we kill ourselves. Ken did not seem to grasp this. He believes that plants and animals are not needed and that the human population could easily and without problem expand to about 20 billion, despite the estimated carrying capacity of 10 billion. I tried to explain the cycles of energy and material to him but he just shrugged it off with his ignorance. Ken doesn’t usually pay attention in class either, he either sleeps or reads the Bible. Sometimes both at the same time, he found a way. I gave him a scenario of saving one child in Africa or all the animals and plants in Africa. He said save the child with the reasoning of “No amount of animal lives are worth a human life”. I then explained that if the ecosystem collapses then the human population will be affected. Ken then said that there is no proof that humans rely on the environment and that we are completely separate from all other life on the planet. Like, how do you not see what everything is connected? Plants recycle the oxygen we need, we can’t do that with machines yet, and animals keep the plant and other animal populations in check. I don’t know where his argument is rooted, but I’m willing to bet it has something to do with religion. How else could someone so blindly disregard a 100% known fact? Disclaimer, I have not read the Bible yet and I could be entirely wrong on that assumption, but it still seems likely as my other extremely Christian friend agreed with him.
And with this I would like to come to a close. This was my first time writing an article for anything and it was an interesting experience. While I was writing this my friend and I got into an argument on whether or not Atheism is a religion, but that is for another time. This is Ryan signing off, good day to you.