Atheism

Do You Have An Atheist “Elevator Speech”?

I’ve gotten a few interesting questions when wearing my “atomic whirl” American Atheists necklace. Everything from “are you a chemist?” to “do you know your necklace is broken?” (the open loop at the bottom appears to some as if it has been broken) to “What is that?” I’d like to be able to field these kind of questions a bit more gracefully than I have in the past.

June 21st has been set apart by the worldwide atheist community as Atheist Solidarity Day. This is a day for all of us atheists and other freethinking folk to wear something that publicly identifies us as atheists. The idea behind the event is to show ourselves to others in our community so that if there are “closeted” atheists in our communities who think they are all alone in their disbelief they will learn that they are not so alone.

However, our fellow travelers in non-belief will not be the only ones to see what we are wearing. Many of the things one may wear to advertise one’s atheism will be totally mystifying to those who do not run in atheist circles. For some, this is a good thing because it lessens the likelihood of being harassed by some crazy, even it well-meaning, fundengelical. But what will you say if some curious observer of unknown religious conviction notes that you are wearing a symbol for something and asks you what it means?

I was first exposed to the idea of the “elevator speech” during my brief stint at the Unitarian Universalist Church. Many people, if you tell them you are an Unitarian Universalist, are likely to look at you with this glazed over, confused look like you just said a phrase that is totally incomprehensible to them. Thus the UU elevator speech. It is a tool for explaining to the uninitiated just what an Unitarian Universalist is, and why it’s a positive thing. It’s a way of dealing with the questions without the “deer in the headlights” look because you haven’t really boiled down your thoughts on the subject before. It’s a sort of sales pitch. There is a good explanation of the concept at Reason and Reverence.

I think this is a great tool for atheists to use when we are out-and-about wearing our atheist swag. Unlike the term “Unitarian Universalist,” people are more likely to have been exposed to the word “atheist” though their perception is likely to be tainted with misconceptions from their religious culture. I see the atheist elevator speech as being more about explaining, in a positive way, why I’m an atheist and why atheism is a good thing. I’m working on coming up with mine, and will post it when I have a bit more time. In the meantime, do you have any ideas for the speech you would like to share?

Update:
Here is a quick draft for my elevator speech. Since there are so many little topics that could come up in a conversation, I think it’s a good idea to have a few little speeches on hand to cover them. The major topics that come up seem to have to do with where atheists get their morality and why I don’t believe in God.

Here is my draft for why I don’t believe in God. I think it still needs work, but it’s a start.

I believe that the rational and scientific view of the world is the best, because it best conforms to reality. I’ve found no real evidence in the world, in scriptures, or in philosophy that tells me there is a real god anywhere. For that reason, I do not believe in any.

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2 thoughts on “Do You Have An Atheist “Elevator Speech”?

  1. Did you purchase the gold plated or the rhodium edition? I love the necklace, and have the small and large version. Yes, the elevator speech is a great tool to have, and you will be surprised and how it rapidly becomes adapted to a real situation as soon as you are put on the spot. It seems passion has a way of finding words. Come live in Louisiana for awhile, you will have more than enough opportunities to discover the perfect snippet.

    • I have the gold-plated one. Still wear it every now and then, when I’m in the mood.

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