One of my favorite places to go on a rainy day (or any day) is Half Price Books. It is a discount book store that sells previously loved titles at ridiculously low prices… it is not safe for me to go in alone. One thing, they always have a HUGE end cap display of bibles and other religious titles. I typically try to sneak a little Russell, Harris or Dawkins up there just to stir the pot and always wondered if people took notice. Well a few days ago while shopping I placed “atheism and theism” front and center on the display and then continued to browse in a nearby section. Minutes later, two teenage boys are looking at the bibles and I hear one say to the other “What is theism?” His friend said “huh?” and the first boy pointed to the book… I jumped at this chance to spark a discussion. I explained to him that a Theist, in the most basic form, is a person who believes that at least one god exists. When the first boy realized that he was a theist, and didn’t know what theism was he seemed embarrassed… but I assured him it is a term that is easily ignored and not widely used in casual conversation. The most rewarding part of all of this, for me, was teaching them that an Atheist is simply someone who does not believe there is a God… as opposed to someone who believes in the devil or (as the one said) completely “hates religion”. Sure, there are angry Atheists out there, but that doesn’t define us as a whole. I personally have no beef with religion until it tries to become my public policy… I certainly don’t believe any of it, but I would hardly say I “hate” it. At this point an older women came and escorted the boys to the checkout, but not before giving me a snide look. All I can hope is that the boys left with a little extra knowledge and perhaps a new opinion on Atheism.
2 thoughts on “What is Theism?”
It’s amazing how calm everyone can be when you are just talking facts, that lady probably thinks you were trying to convert them. Now she will probably tell her friends about the atheists that cruise the Christian aisle at the discount book store, trying to prey on Christian children.
That is our absolute favorite bookstore, but it is flooded with religious material, I think it is because the “Christian Family Store” is right next door. I wish I could have talked to them a bit longer, not to “convert” them but to educate them. Here’s to hoping that they develop their own POV and don’t just follow the crowd they are raised with.