Cover Image: Hi, I'm an Atheist!

Hi, I'm an Atheist!

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Member Reviews

I wanna start with the fact that I’m not an atheist. 

Far from it in fact.  What are your friends and family that are and I wanna respect them so I decided to pick up this book and see what happened 

This is much more of an introspective of how atheism is treated in American culture more than anything

Interesting but also boring appoints 

Thank you than that galley for sending this with you copy Thank you than that galley for sending this with you copy  

 As always this My own opinion
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Are you looking to learn more about being an Atheist, know someone who is, or just curious?  Then you should pick this book up and explore something that is foreign to you.  If someone tells you that they are an Atheist, does that really tell you much about that person?  Does that statement make you want to turn around and put as much distance between you and them as possible?  I have a family member who is an Atheist, and I learned so much from this book, it made me see that person a little differently and made me ask questions that made us closer.  I definitely enjoyed this book and the conversions that it has spurred.
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Hi, I'm an Atheist! is a look at what it means to be an atheist and how to "come out" to those around you.

What I liked:
-The points the author makes are 100% valid and important.
-The FAQ section does a great job of explaining the hard questions that can be tough to answer if you aren't prepared.  The wording is simple but informative.
-The resources section is the whole reason why this was a book and not something shorter.  It is a great way to begin looking for support and a community.

What I didn't like:
-Other than the two sections listed above, this book was extremely repetitive.  I hate to say it, but it was along the lines of "a meeting that could have been an email." I ended up skimming quite a bit of it because the same ideas were presented in the same way multiple times.
-While I understand why the "coming out" comparison was used throughout the book, it really isn't the same.  Ultimately everyone chooses their own beliefs or religion.  Sexuality and gender are not chosen.  I feel like this may simplify and cheapen what the LGBTQ+ community has to face.

Overall I would recommend this book only to those who are already atheists or are leaning in that direction.  In my opinion the resources and FAQ sections alone are the most important parts.  

3.5 Stars
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I am an atheist and I was so exhausted by this book.

David G. McAfee’s Hi, I’m an Atheist: What That Means and How to Talk About it With Others is often sloppy, arrogant and patronizing. McAfee is so focused on proving atheism is better than religion that he undermines his own advice about how and why to talk to people about being an atheist. Very few experts on communication recommend founding a difficult conversation on the idea that one position is clearly better than the other and eventually the other person will change their mind, if they are smart enough.

McAfee lost me in the first chapter with his description of atheists “coming out.”

"Although coming out as atheist has become commonplace, the term began in reference to homosexuals who disclose their sexual orientation to their family and friends—becoming “openly gay.”"

So, the first flag is accepting the appropriation of LGBTQ+ culture and the second flag is flattening LGBTQ+ culture to “homosexuals.” Coming out in the LGBTQ+ community is a personal decision about being one’s authentic self in terms of sexuality and gender. Homophobia, transphobia, sexism and racism are alive and well in atheist and other secular spaces. Given the way McAfee addresses the intersection of LGBTQ+ and atheism, I don’t feel like he himself has risen above such cultural blind spots.

McAfee asserts that morality and love, among other things, are only true if they don’t rest on an idea of a divine judge or and afterlife. Essentially, my morality is better than a religious person’s morality because I do good with no promise of heavenly reward, and I love more truly because I know we won’t spend eternity together and accept love is worth the inevitable pain of loss. First, not every religion has a concept of reward or punishment in the afterlife, so as much as he occasionally references Judaism and Islam, he’s really talking about atheism in relationship to Christianity. Secondly, going into a conversation with someone you value holding the mindset that you are better than them is an essential ingredient for failure. McAfee does say that you might want to adopt an agreed to disagree position early on, but he spends much more time on why atheism is right. There is a short account from an atheist married to a Christian about how their marriage works. They respect each other, are honest with each other, and pick their battles. Unfortunately, that person didn’t write the book and doesn’t talk about how he initially introduced his atheism to his now wife.

A lot of this book made me feel like I’ve been lucky. I have had to deal with misconceptions about me because I don’t believe in a god or gods, but rarely have I had to deal with outright hostility. Even the deeply Southern parts of my family are mostly more culturally Christian, than religiously so. Furthermore, the members of my family who are evangelical Christians have stuck with living their faith instead of attempting to proselytize to me. I have had many positive relationships, familial, personal and professional, with people of various religious faiths. Even so, I still feel like I could use some help in gently talking with people I don’t know well about being an atheist and an Ethical Humanist. David G. McAfee did not write that book.

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the advance reader copy. I reviewed this voluntarily.
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As someone who is wavering between being agnostic and an atheist, I'm glad this book exists. I agree with 90% of the author says, and it's comforting to know that other people feel the same way I do and can write about it effectively. I was raised in the religious South, smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt. Would this book change these people's mind? More than likely not. Their beliefs are so ingrained into their DNA that it is almost impossible to remove it. However, I really liked and appreciated this book because it confirmed what I've been thinking and feeling for years. It's an excellent educational tool for those who want to know where I stand on things involving religion. Would it be a pleasant read for someone who is a devout believer in a God? No. But then, no book would. As insightful as this book is, the issue isn't with the book. It's with the people who read it. The academic tone of the book is perfect for me--I'm an English professor who's used to reading academic writings--but I know there are some people who won't like the way it's written. 

All of this is to say that I absolutely loved the book. To identify with something so personal--about something so controversial--made for a refreshing read.
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This book wasn't what I expected. It is not designed to talk you into being an atheist, it is not meant to help you answer questions about God(s) and whether or not they exist. Instead, it serves as a reassuring voice urging atheists to speak up and "come out" as atheists. It offers some basic guidance to that end, and presents a nice appendix of resources. 

There wasn't much "new" info here, but the resources will be especially helpful. My thanks to the author, publisher, and #NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
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While I did find this book to be edifying, the first half was rather repetitive.  The best parts of the book were in the second half with the interview and the question and answer section.  That being said, I still feel this is a very good book for atheists who want to "come out of the closet."  Not much applied directly to me but I can see where this would be good information for others, especially those who were raised religious and are trying to break away from this.  I also feel this would also be a good book for religious people to read if they have a friend or family member who has come out as an atheist.
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I’ll admit, when I saw the bright, cheery cover of this book, I thought this was going to be a fun, quirky, albeit maybe a little tongue-in-cheek guide for atheists on how to come out to their religious family members and navigate those oftentimes awkward conversations around the dinner table and at family gatherings. 

So imagine my surprise when I open this to find that it’s full-blown discourse on secularism and the  existence and treatment of atheists in modern-day society. Like, I would argue that this is less of a whimsical guide and more of a scholarly nonfiction book in which the author largely argues against the existence of God(s) and the need for religion. I definitely would not give this to a loved one who was religious as a way to help them understand me and my struggles or to help bridge the gap between us. It would basically be giving them a book completely disproving their religion and asserting that their beliefs are illogical. Not exactly the best way to go about wanting your loved one to accept you for you who are...

Keep in mind, this is coming from someone who for the most part agreed with everything the author said. I have my own beliefs on organized religion, the validity of it, the ways in which it’s been used to reinforce one’s own bigotry, and other personal criticisms that I have with it. That’s a whole other conversation. We don’t need to go there. But just looking at it objectively from an outsider’s perspective, do I think that the answer is to invalidate another person’s religious beliefs in order to declare that my worldview is superior? No. My hope in coming out as atheist wouldn’t be to try to make a compelling argument and persuade someone to have the same beliefs as me. For one, religious beliefs are an incredibly personal thing for a lot of people that go deeper than presenting facts. It’s unshakeable faith, and I would never want to overstep and get in the way of that for someone.  

But this is where the author really makes a bad case for himself and all atheists, by basically conforming to the stereotype that everyone thinks about atheists: that they’re know-it-alls who are going to try to disprove religion at any chance they get.  There’s even a point when talking about coming out to family members as atheist for the first time that he then writes this:

“Over time, it is even possible you might convince your loved ones that they don’t need religious doctrines to live happy and full lives, perhaps freeing them from centuries-old supernatural dogmas, too.”

Yet throughout the book the author criticizes religious people for pushing their beliefs onto atheists, bringing up instances such as Jehovah’s Witnesses who go door-to-door. But hey, who knows. Maybe your family members will come to their senses and identify as atheists, too! Isn’t that… pretty much falling into the very thing that you resent about religious people?  Also, in coming out as atheist, wanting to simultaneously convert your family members shouldn’t ultimately be the end goal. Just as you hope that your atheism will be accepted, so too should you respect others’ beliefs and refrain from trying to convert them or make them feel like they need to change their worldview to match yours. Otherwise we’re just going around in circles with both parties wanting to save or convert the other, with no one truly accepting the other for their belief system in the end. 

But this is the general attitude that the author maintains throughout the book, often coming across as quite arrogant and self-righteous while having moments of being very condescending when it came to discussing other peoples’ religious beliefs, asserting that his own atheistic worldview was clearly superior.

(in a Q&A section of the book) “Why do you hate Christians?”
(paraphrased) I don’t. I simply think they are indoctrinated with irrational beliefs. 

This is just one of several examples throughout the book where he makes little jabs and patronizing comments at religious people, like stating that they’re guilty of “wishful thinking” and even one instance where he basically says, “Telling someone that they’re wrong doesn’t have to be a bad thing.”

I think a big issue with this book was that the cover didn’t match what this book was actually about. It’s marketed as a fun little guide for atheists as they navigate life after coming out, but instead you find it’s an in-depth argument in favor of atheism and debunking all other religions. While there are still sections of this book that serve as a guide for coming out as atheist and having those conversations with loved ones, just know going in that a large portion of this book centers around theological criticism rather than helpful tips. Even speaking as a fellow atheist who is outspoken in my own little circles and who on paper agreed with the arguments and conversation that the author presented, I can’t say that I agreed with the approach that he took. 

So would I recommend this book? Perhaps, if you are an atheist who simply wants their beliefs validated. Not so much if you genuinely want to use this book to have genuine conversations with religious loved ones built on mutual respect and understanding for each other.
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I received an ARC on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

(2.5/5 stars)

The book gives an overview of why and how atheists may “come out” about their lack of belief in gods and contains resources including likeminded organizations, books, and websites. I hadn’t heard about Rebecca Vitsmun, and her story and the interview with her was a nice inclusion. However, I think it does overemphasize how important it is to let other know if you have no religious beliefs and can also downplay possible repercussions especially in strong Christian areas.

I do wish there were more concrete tips that could be used when it comes to planning conversations. One of the chapters discusses the importance of good timing for the conversation without discussing how to determine what makes good timing. The gist of the chapter seemed to be the earlier the better but didn’t mention things that I would think would be key picking a time to talk that will be relatively stress free for everyone involved.

I believe the FAQs about what questions atheists may receive after coming out were helpful, but some of the answers (and other areas in the book) felt condescending towards religious people. In response to a hypothetical question about a believer asking if they can pray for a person to find God, the author responds “Of course you can! You can pray all you want—I can’t and wouldn’t want to stop you—but it stands to reason that other Christians would have done the same, meaning that your attempts would be duplicative and therefore unnecessary because other believers have tried it without any success. In fact, I find it pretty hard to believe a real god would need prayers to inform it of anything. So, while I won’t try to stop you from praying for me, I would humbly request a good deed instead. After all, if for every well-intended prayer uttered in hopes of making the world a better place, there was instead a good deed accomplished, the world might look as though those prayers had been answered.”

I think this book can be helpful for people who are interested in making their atheism known to others, but I also believe that it could leave some people feeling guilty for choosing to keep their beliefs private.
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As a atheist my self I'm so glad that this book is around. I really liked how each chapter starts with a quote, and the chapter on building or joining a community of like-minded people was interesting and helpful. 
However there was allot of repeated sentences.
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I really liked how each chapter starts with a quote, and the chapter on building or joining a community of like-minded people was interesting and helpful. All the chapters could be more concise, though - there's a lot of repetition and I found myself skimming a lot.
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Although I've been "out" as an atheist for years, I still really enjoy reading these coming out books to help me learn how to better talk to others and be a better representative in the community. The book covers everything from reckoning with your feelings about religion to discovering your beliefs or lack thereof, to explaining to friends, family, strangers, and creating that sense of community. Hi, I'm an Atheist! is absolutely a new essential must-read for those questioning, agnostic, or atheist. 

5/5 Stars

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I've been struggling with how to review David G. McAfee's "Hi, I'm an Atheist!: What That Means and How to Talk About It with Others," a sort of introductory glimpse into what it means to be an atheist and how to, essentially, "out" oneself in a way that is healthy and observing of self-care.

The first point to be made is likely to acknowledge that I am not McAfee's target audience for the book - I'm not an atheist and I'm not seeking to learn how to share that side of myself with others. It's pretty clear throughout "Hi, I'm an Atheist!" that McAfee is targeting his writing to like-minded individuals who've already done the work to determine themselves to be atheists even if, perhaps, they haven't decided to claim the "title" or they're in the infancy of what that means for daily life.

Now then, this opens the door to the possibility that I, perhaps, approached "Hi, I'm an Atheist" with an axe to grind and some sort of spirit-driven gleam in my eyes ready to rip it apart.

This is also not true. While I would likely identify as a Christian, though certainly on the more progressive end, I'm comfortable with atheism and have spent a good amount of my life in interfaith communities. I've never surrounded myself exclusively with like-minded individuals and as someone who is ordained have officiated weddings for atheists. I have many friends who are atheists and I embrace them for who they are.

After all, as McAfee points out repeatedly throughout "Hi, I'm an Atheist!," there are an awful lot of reasons to turn away from church and to turn away from belief in a God.

I get it. I really do.

Like McAfee, I grew up in a dysfunctional home made more dysfunctional by the presence of organized religion (in my case, I was raised a Jehovah's Witness). It was church I would eventually be kicked out of as a teenager - one of two occasions in which I was kicked out of churches.

My brother, who recently passed away, was an atheist. We were born 12 years apart and his birth was at the tail-end of my mother's journey with Jehovah's Witnesses. Our upbringing was different yet the same in many ways - yet, essentially, we decided on two different paths. It's compelling to look at the influences of birth, development, and upbringing.

Essentially, when I review a book I examine everything from writing to structure to narrative to "Does the author accomplish their goal for the book?" This goal may be stated, and certainly is here, but often is not. The narrative, however, should state it and typically does.

As a film journalist who critiques professionally, I take a rather serious approach to my reviews. It's also fairly basic:

A 5-star rating is reserved for that rare flawless literary experience. While I've become somewhat more lenient as I've begun reviewing arcs/galleys, I still hold the 5-star review to the highest standards.

A 4-star rating is a very good experience and likely my most common rating. A 3-star rating remains above average, though I have some reservations with the book. Generally speaking, I find value in the book and consider it above average but it's not likely a book I will revisit again.

A 2-star rating, as assigned here, is mostly a book I don't believe accomplishes its goals and that I didn't particularly enjoy reading. It's not a values-based review but one based in critical thought. As an example, though film-based, one of my best known reviews is an endorsement of the original "I Spit On Your Grave" film. I could easily say the actions in the film violate my values, but it's a film I consider to be incredibly well made for a variety of reasons. I believe the filmmaker accomplished, for the most part, his goals.

The 1-star review is, to me, a failing in writing and I book I simply will not recommend.

I bounced between 2 and 3-stars for "Hi, I'm an Atheist!" precisely because I do believe there's an audience for this book, though I question how much it will actually help or support them (as is part of the stated goal for the book). I'm deferring to 2-stars because, quite honestly, I think that McAfee falls short of his stated goals for the book and, at times, simply writes poorly. This may very well work itself out before the book's late 2021 release, but as someone who read an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC), I have to review based upon what I received.

I wanted this book to succeed. McAfee correctly notes that atheism is massively understood, though the belief that many compare it with satanism is a tad histrionic.

Labeled as "the essential guide for the non-believer," "Hi, I'm an Atheist!" is a cutesie title and perhaps the friendliest thing about the entire book. It offers up a tone the book never delivers on.

In the book, McAfee notes that once he realized and accepted that he is an atheist he very intentionally set out to tell others about it - this is especially those who struggle with openly sharing their own atheism AND those who are devoutly religious.

"Hi, I'm an Atheist!" is somewhat successful at the former while a complete failure at the latter.

Beyond my reservations with co-opting the whole "coming out" phraseology (a poor and lazy literary choice), McAfee openly talks about a variety of issues he thinks relevant to the atheist who is preparing to tell the world and live openly. These conversations are hit-and-miss and most successful when McAfee incorporates both research and resources into the conversation. The book's final chapter includes a wealth of resources and is easily one of the book's highlights. The biggest concern I have is that a book like "Hi, I'm an Atheist!" should draw the reader closer to atheism. It should make the journey more compelling, more attractive, and by book's end I should easily be drawn into McAfee's life journey. Even if I don't agree with him, I should get it.

While McAfee regularly asserts being happy and well loved and having resolved early conflicts with his family, the truth is there's a negative tone that weaves its way through the tapestry of the book. It's in language usage and structure and, quite honestly, editing that feels unfinished. Again, I'm hoping this tone changes by the date of publication because right now I felt like I needed a shower after all this negativity. "Hi, I'm an Atheist!" is a relatively short read, but it's a book I had to regularly put down because of McAfee's exhausting negativity that was mostly passive-aggressive in its approach. Here's the thing - I actually believe McAfee - I just don't believe he's captured it well on the written page. While the book may provide some guidance for those who are atheist, there's nothing here that would draw someone to atheism. If someone on the fence was reading the book, I can't imagine them reading this book and going "Yep, that's the life for me."

In terms of conversations with the devoutly religious, despite his assertions otherwise McAfee regularly writes with a passive-aggressive hostility that is far from engaging and creates an environment where no one is going to listen. If this is the same attitude the professor he describes saw, it's no wonder she saw him as having an "axe to grind" and not appropriate for the program.
McAfee asserts throughout "Hi, I'm an Atheist!" that he has positive relationships with those believers and openly engages in dialogue but with the tone in the book it often feels like the conservative who exclaims "But, I have gay friends" or the racist who says "But I have Black friends." It feels oddly fundamentalist in tone. Again, this is a language and structure issue more than anything. He projects that atheists should not be feared, but essentially spends the entire book vacillating between hostility and defensiveness.

I was troubled by the fact that in discussing an experience with discrimination in the academic world that he chose to openly criticize and identify the university, who wrote a letter of apology for the experience as he requested, yet doesn't openly criticize or identify the professor involved. While I understand legal standards, it reinforces the hostile tone to openly identify an institution that made some gestures toward resolution. This story would have been more effective had he either chosen to not directly identify the institution (despite the fact it's fairly easy to figure out) and/or if he'd shared an attempt to try to resolve the concern. This strikes me, again, as a writing language issue as writers everyday are able to communicate difficult truths without violating confidentiality or crossing that legal line.

This leads to my biggest concern with the book - McAfee's atheism seems to depend entirely on Christianity/God rather than standing on its own. McAfee spends far too much of the book sharing why he's not a Christian rather than why he is an atheist. For someone who turned away from belief in god as a teenager, it seems like (or at least is written like) his entire life structure is more grounded on those negative experiences rather than positive experiences with atheism. Would McAfee's atheism exist without his early childhood experiences? For someone who openly writes that we're born atheist, I'm not convinced. McAfee has failed to cut his umbilical cord to atheism.

I'm anxious to read the final version of "Hi, I'm an Atheist!" because I'm anxious to see if my experience reading the book changes. There are other aspects of the book that I appreciate including his inclusion of an interview with Rebecca Vitsmun and the wealth of resources McAfee offers. There's a sincerity in his desire to let people know they need not go through these experiences alone and he backs up that desire quite nicely.

In the end, for me McAfee falls short in his stated goals and has crafted a book that feels incomplete and like a work-in-progress. There are some good ideas here, and certainly some needed ones, but "Hi, I'm an Atheist!" never gels into the book that McAfee wants it to be mostly, at least in my perception, because McAfee never gets out of his own way. A relatively short book, most will likely finish it in one day except for those who, like myself, grow weary of the negativity and need to set it aside from time to time.

I do reviews because I aspire to empowering authors and, indeed, I'd still say that despite the fact that "Hi, I'm an Atheist!" didn't work for me it still has an audience and here's hoping it continues to be tweaked and edited prior to publication and ends up being a book that lives up to McAfee's otherwise admirable goals for the book.
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