Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Funny - You Don't Look Like an Atheist!" (part 1)

I have heard that statement numerous times in my life.  It seems that I have spent the better part of my adult life trying to dispel erroneous preconceptions of atheists that are held by believers of all sorts.  The "looks" issue is one of the least of them.

I am not shy about announcing my religious (non)belief, and discussions about belief systems have popped up occasionally at the various places I have worked.  And, it seems that there is one person at each employer that makes that statement.... "Gee, you don't look like an atheist."  If I was quick-witted enough, my automatic response would be "well, I do take the time to file down my horns daily."  (I have always had a very high forehead - the spots where horns would grow has never seen hair...)

So it appears that erroneous preconception #1 is that we must look like, well, something other than "normal" (whatever that is).  Trust me, I am as white-bread as they come.  I guess the folks telling me I don't look like an atheist were expecting, oh, a hardcore biker dude, or punker, or a tattoo canvas - something that is definitely not me.  Funny thing, though - I have known hardcore biker dudes and dudettes, punkers, and heavily tattooed folks who were believers in a god (most the same god as the folks who made the statement). On the flip side, some of those who were viewed as having the appearance of being most holy ended up being anything but (see Jimmy Bakker, Pat Robertson, the current Pope...).  I worked with a lady who was as sweet to you to your face as anybody you'd ever meet, but behind your back, you were mud to her and anybody she could tell.  She tried to get people fired, rumor was she worked to bankrupt an ex-business partner of her husbands... quite the conniver.  So much for looks and appearances.

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