Establishing an identity, navigating cliques, and just trying to "fit in" are difficult enough when you're a teen. But what happens when your religion doesn't work for you any longer? What if you never believed in any religion in the first place? David Seidman takes an in-depth, practical approach to this somewhat sensitive question and applies it to today's teens in his book What If I'm An Atheist.
What If I'm an Atheist begins by defining what an Atheist actually IS. Contrary to popular misunderstanding, this term is not synonymous with "evil," and it does not mean that someone hates god. At its most simplistic, an Atheist is a person who simply does not believe in or subscribe to any religious or spiritual system, be it Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, etc. The book then discusses how to "come out" about Atheism to one's friends and family, how to handle the backlash one may receive, and, most importantly, how to deal with and accept the changes within one's own belief system. Unbelief, Seidman explains multiple times, is not something to be ashamed of or embarassed by, and there is nothing wrong with it. For some, it just happens (the reasons are varied). For others, it's always been that way. The intent of this book is to help those who declare themselves Atheist feel more comfortable about themselves in what is, otherwise, a very religious world. Each chapter is peppered with quotes and personal accounts from real teens who have become Atheists or who have always been, and this makes the text more relatable to the teens who would likely pick it up. Lastly, an appendix lists several sources should one want to read about the topic further.
Know this: there is absolutely nothing I found to be controversial about this book. What If I'm An Atheist is informative, interesting, and respectful toward all sides. Seidman encourages believers and nonbelievers to be open-mided toward each other despite their differences.
I would not hesitate to recommend this one to any teen (or adult, for that matter) who is wondering if they might be an Atheist and would like to read more about both sides of the question. --AJB