Let me acknowledge at the outset that it does indeed make me a bit uncomfortable when someone begins to talk about their religious beliefs, especially when I do not know the person very well. The primary reasons for this are as follows:
- I was raised in an environment where religion was a private matter, and it was considered rude to talk about it with people one didn't know fairly well. This left me reacting in a visceral way with something like "I don't know you that well" or "we don't have that kind of relationship" when a casual acquaintance or stranger tries to talk about their religion. For me, a complete stranger asking where I attend church is comparable to how you might feel if a complete stranger were to ask you when you last had sex.
- I worry that I might laugh in your face. I don't say this to be mean, but I find religious beliefs so absurd that my reaction tends to be very similar to how I would react if you told me that you can fly like Superman. Because I generally try to be polite in social situations, the amount of self-censorship required of me when you bring up your religious beliefs is quite taxing.
- I have little use for one-way conversations. I have found that most of the time people bring up their religious beliefs, they are interested in having them confirmed by others. I am not only not going to do this, but I might criticize your beliefs. Since this is typically met with hostility, these one-way conversations quickly become uncomfortable. If you've ever been in a conversation where you felt like the other party didn't want to hear what you thought, you know what I mean.
I cannot speak for other atheists, but these are the main reasons it makes me uncomfortable when you approach me to talk about your religious beliefs.
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