You’re an Atheist? I’ve never met one before…by Don Lacey on Jan. 10, 2013, under Atheism, Faith, Freethought
A few years ago, before I retired from Raytheon, I went on a trip to Phoenix with a co-worker. Raytheon provides air to ground missiles to the Air Force and we went there to discuss the possibility of providing moving ground targets for practicing shooting those missiles. It was one of the last things that I worked on for Raytheon and it was a fun project. We would buy trade-in sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and modify them so that they could be remotely controlled on the test range. It’s great fun and a little exhilarating to drive around a full sized Suburban by remote control and I got my name on a second patent.
During the meeting at Luke AFB, there was a bomb scare in the building. We had to evacuate and wait outside for a while. We went to the parking lot where my Thunderbird was parked. It was the car that my coworker and I came up in. Someone noticed my front license plate had an unfamiliar symbol and he asked me about it. After a very short “thought delay” I told him that it was the American Atheist symbol. My co-worker was shocked. He said, “You’re an Atheist? I’ve never met one before.” I told him that I bet he had and that was the end of that conversation. We completed our meeting with the Air Force and headed home and my co-worker sat quietly in the passenger seat until we got to about Picacho Peak.
Then he said, “So you’re an Atheist…Where do you get your morals from?”
This is a question that Atheists get often and I had a ready answer for him. I said, “Same places you get yours from.” He said, “You don’t believe in the Bible.” To which, I said, “Do you get your morals from the Bible?” At this point, I can’t remember the exact word exchange but we both agreed that there were some horrendous things in the Bible and it’s unlikely that a person would get all their morals from it.
We had a friendly conversation and I think he learned that Atheists weren’t the evil creatures that he thought them to be. At least, I wasn’t one. Both of us retired from the Air Force. Both of us had a family and we were both selling modified used cars for violent destruction on the bombing range. Aside from the difference in beliefs we were very similar in many ways.