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Just Jack
07-03-2008, 03:16 AM
When did you say to yourself, " I do not believe in god."

I always wondered this about certain people. It seems to me that most people leave their religions in their teenage years, like I did. However, there are always exceptions.

But I would like to ask, when did you leave your religion? (If you had one in the first place)

Most of us are taught religion when we are young. I think breaking those chains is a very important event in the life of an atheist.

So please, share your experience.

(Warning: Lets not get this one locked. The threads I post have a bad habit of turning into massive arguments. I don't want this to dengenrate. So please, if you debate, please keep it civil. Thank you)

veinglory
07-03-2008, 03:31 AM
At birth. I was never raised in a religious tradition.

rugcat
07-03-2008, 03:37 AM
At birth. I was never raised in a religious tradition.You do understand you're going to hell, right?

Just Jack
07-03-2008, 03:42 AM
You do understand you're going to hell, right?

I guess my reccomendation went right out the window.

I was raised a christian, but I was never blessed or anything. Does that mean I'm going to hell too?

Why I'm sure it does.

Disa
07-03-2008, 03:50 AM
I wasn't raised with religion but I had some cousins who were. My cousin used to tell me when I was 4 or 5 to do these stupid things or God would strike me down. I went and asked my mom what God was, she said, "It's something man made up to explain why we are here and why things happen."

I spent a lot of my life feeling like something was missing because all of the believers glowed with a halo of "purity". I asked everyone I knew what God was because I really wanted to know why so many people believed in "HIM".

Anyway, later I came to my own realization of what God is to me, so I don't figure I'm atheist anymore. I don't believe in organized religion.

Just Jack
07-03-2008, 03:52 AM
From now on, lets leave hell out of here.
If your not an atheist, and don't have anything to post regarding the topic, then please don't post at all.

escritora
07-03-2008, 03:56 AM
I think rug rat was kidding.

Just Jack
07-03-2008, 03:57 AM
I think rug rat was kidding.

Probably, but I am way too paranoid for that.

So many of my threads get closed down, its not even funny.

escritora
07-03-2008, 03:58 AM
I can't remember a time when I did believe in God.

benbradley
07-03-2008, 03:58 AM
This thread has me more convinced than ever that My Purpose In Life is to write my memoir, in which this very question will be thoroughly answered.

Is that enough of a teaser?:)

z10
07-03-2008, 03:59 AM
when i became a god

rugcat
07-03-2008, 04:01 AM
From now on, lets leave hell out of here.
If your not an atheist, and don't have anything to post regarding the topic, then please don't post at all.If you weren't relatively new, you might realize both Veinglory and myself have been on this board for a few years and are familiar with each other. And you might then recognize a joke when you see one.

It's also considered impolite to direct a fellow poster to stop posting if the content does not please you. If you feel there is a problem, the proper course is to PM a mod (Like Veinglory) with your concerns.

Just Jack
07-03-2008, 04:07 AM
If you weren't relatively new, you might realize both Veinglory and myself have been on this board for a few years and are familiar with each other. And you might then recognize a joke when you see one.

It's also considered impolite to direct a fellow poster to stop posting if the content does not please you. If you feel there is a problem, the proper course is to PM a mod (Like Veinglory) with your concerns.

I admit defeat

sorry

veinglory
07-03-2008, 04:08 AM
...moving on... :)

Zoombie
07-03-2008, 04:45 AM
Uuuh...

My parents taught me about each of the major religions, just to show me what my options were. I looked at them all, shrugged, and kept reading the book I actually wanted to read...A Spell For Chameleon, by Peris Anthony...

jillbrenna
07-03-2008, 04:53 AM
If it's interesting to you at all, I "got" religion when I was 15 - leaving the atheistic bent of my upbringing - and promptly left it at age 30, when I read some books by Dawkins and Hitchens (The God Delusion and God is Not Great, respectively) and after some major upheavals in my life - a divorce from an abusive and religious guy, for one thing.

I am working on a novel right now about my experiences, with some specifically atheistic themes, so I'm interested in this topic. If anyone is interested to hear more about why I left Christianity and/or my thoughts on the topic, I'm totally open to questions.

Thanks for asking this (I think very important) question!

rugcat
07-03-2008, 05:13 AM
I admit defeat

sorryNo problem. Sorry I was a bit snarky in reply.

One of the problems is that different people define atheism differently. They even have different ideas about exactly what "belief" entails.

So, I do not believe in the concept of God as it's commonly used. Never have, but I was a lot more militant about it when I was younger. I don't believe in a being who takes an active interest in humankind, or has concerns about our moral actions. I don't believe in heaven. (Although I admit, the concept of Satan has some appeal. It would explain a lot.)

But do I assert there is nothing beyond the random convergence of electrons and quarks? I can't go that far -- I simply don't know.

My favorite quote is from JBS Haldane (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._B._S._Haldane), (who also wrote my favorite children's book) the British geneticist:

"My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose."

Mandy-Jane
07-03-2008, 05:44 AM
I was brought up as a Roman Catholic and fiercely believed all I was taught about being a good girl and going to heaven, and if you're bad you'll burn in hell etc, etc. I can't even remember the number of times I spent as a child and teenager praying to God to look after my family, especially my mum who had lots of health issues.

Then when my 6 year old daughter came home from school and said they'd been taught that they need to be good catholics so that they'll go to heaven when the world ends, I just thought "that's enough."

Now I don't buy into it. I don't pray and I don't believe in the god that I was brought up to believe in. I do believe in a higher power. I don't know what or who or where that is. I just believe that there's something greater.

But I don't call it god.

escritora
07-03-2008, 06:22 AM
Mandy-Jane,

Did you take her out of Catholic school?

I'm an atheist. My sister won't say she is but calls the concept of God bullshit. She did, however, want to send my nephew to Catholic school because the district that she was in wasn't A rated. I was so upset, but didn't say anything.

One day I read in the newspaper that a Catholic school teacher was giving extra credit to students who protested in front of abortion clinics. I got in my car so fast to drive to my sister's house. I knew that when she read what was happening she would change her mind. And she did.

Just Jack
07-03-2008, 06:37 AM
It irritates me when people define atheism as some sort of "opposition" to religion, or god. Like the age old question, "do atheists hate god?"

No, you can't hate something you don't believe in.

The definition of atheism changes depending on your perspective. If you were raised in a very faith based home, then it would seem evil to you, as an atheist would represent a polar opposite.

I think that's why the religious majority don't trust atheists, for the most part.

just an observation...

Mandy-Jane
07-03-2008, 06:43 AM
[quote=escritora;2511083]Mandy-Jane,

Did you take her out of Catholic school?

quote]

I thought about it very strongly, but apart from this, it's a great school and she's thriving there. We felt that it may do her more harm than good to take her out. She also talks a lot about god and I think she finds comfort in it. It would be wrong of me as a parent to force my views onto her.

Ruv Draba
07-03-2008, 04:03 PM
I started becoming an atheist as a kid, when religious adults couldn't answer my questions satisfactorily. At first I thought that there was something wrong with me that I couldn't understand their answers. After a while I realised that the people I'd talked to were entranced by their faith. They couldn't see the holes I saw because their minds simply wouldn't ask the necessary questions or explore the full gamut of answers.

Meanwhile, I'd absorbed a bunch of prevalent myths about atheism. Particularly, that:
Atheists are atheists because they believe that gods don't exist;
Because atheism is uncommon, it is somehow deviant;
Atheists must seek to prove that gods don't exist to justify their position;
Atheists want to see all religions disappear; and that
Atheists are all materialists or hedonists.
It took me years to discover that:
Atheists don't need to form views about statements that have no meaning;
IQ is a predictor of atheism;
Because there are more lies than truths, it is the job of theists who are trying to propagate belief to justify its validity; not the job of skeptics to justify their skepticism;
As an atheist I can love theists even while realising that I can't help them; and that
Atheists can be as spiritual as any theist - and that atheism is beneficial if you want to stay spiritually informed.

escritora
07-03-2008, 04:46 PM
Ruv Draba,

What do you mean by #5 - spiritually informed?

Higgins
07-03-2008, 04:46 PM
No problem. Sorry I was a bit snarky in reply.

One of the problems is that different people define atheism differently. They even have different ideas about exactly what "belief" entails.

So, I do not believe in the concept of God as it's commonly used. Never have, but I was a lot more militant about it when I was younger. I don't believe in a being who takes an active interest in humankind, or has concerns about our moral actions. I don't believe in heaven. (Although I admit, the concept of Satan has some appeal. It would explain a lot.)

But do I assert there is nothing beyond the random convergence of electrons and quarks? I can't go that far -- I simply don't know.

My favorite quote is from JBS Haldane (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._B._S._Haldane), (who also wrote my favorite children's book) the British geneticist:

"My own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose."

I've never bothered being an atheist because...for me personally...the bare idea of a being that fills everything but isn't there at all is a non-starter. Ie. its not even really an idea, ie not a concept coherent enough to not believe. The weirdest thing about the universe is not that it is queer, but that there are people in it that like to start the day with a bad idea and then apply it to everything. For example: suppose the universe is not queer at all, it just is and it is right there in front of you all the time. Is that a bad idea? No. at least it is coherent and suggests that personal experience of everyday things really is cosmic and really matters. Another choice is to suppose that something you don't see and know nothing about is everywhere all the time dumping His pure love and awful wrath on you constantly for no discernable reason at all. That definitely seems like something not worth considering. I did not even give it more than about 5 seconds thought at the very young age when I decided God was less cosmic than saying please and thank you and one did not have to be all that polite about it. Everyone I knew believed in God when I was a kid, but they all also wore rather ugly shoes so I had a low opinion of their mental abilities anyway.

escritora
07-03-2008, 04:49 PM
Everyone I knew believed in God when I was a kid, but they all also wore rather ugly shoes so I had a low opinion of their mental abilities anyway.


I don't know if you are joking. But the above is true for me. In fact, I have a scene in my WIP that deals with that very subject.

Higgins
07-03-2008, 05:53 PM
Everyone I knew believed in God when I was a kid, but they all also wore rather ugly shoes so I had a low opinion of their mental abilities anyway.


I don't know if you are joking. But the above is true for me. In fact, I have a scene in my WIP that deals with that very subject.

I'm not joking. I mean it is funny what a low opinion I had of adult mental processes as a child and what I based it on. They didn't seem to look at things very carefully and their ideas about the world seemed very generalized...and they certainly were not interested in the things that I thought were interesting. And they did wear ugly shoes. And the ugliness of the shoes was proportional to the intensity of their obsession with the Divinity and His Works. Evidently shoes were not high on His list of nice things to make.

Sarpedon
07-03-2008, 06:09 PM
I was 20.

It was at my summer job, at the golf course. I was mowing the slope above the third green.

All the previous week, I'd been thinking about various religious and philosophical issues, but I felt that somehow, at various times I was at the edge of something, but I didn't know what.

Finally, I asked myself an unexpected question; not 'is there a god,' but 'would I live my life differently if there were no god?' The answer was 'no,' and that was the end of it. I had reduced god to irrelevancy, and it wasn't too long before I saw how it was highly unlikely that there even was such a thing. I just had to surprise myself with the right question in order to overcome the mental programming that kept me from coming to the correct conclusion.

Ruv Draba
07-03-2008, 11:36 PM
What do you mean by #5 - spiritually informed?
Hi Escritoria...

Well, to the extent that humans fumble around for meaning in their lives,

To the extent that such meaning can be found in our relationships with ourselves, with each other, with the dim but fascinating minds with which we share our planet's biosphere,

To the extent that such meaning can be inspired by the magnificently complex, cruel and rather indifferent experience that comprises being alive in the universe,

To the extent that any sustained purpose must be founded on some sort of morality - a sense of what is good and meet and fit in our service to one another and our sustenance of ourselves,

Well, we are atheists. Many of us are enquirers. Most of us are skeptics. Some of us are well-read, but notwithstanding...

We are atheists and our spirits are the blankest of blank slates on which can be written the truths of the world.

We are atheists and no matter what tradition, bigotry, prejudice and superstition tell us, we can read, question, critique and learn from whatever observation, opinion and inspirational material we jolly-well like.


:Sun::Sun::Sun:

jillbrenna
07-04-2008, 02:59 AM
Escritora,
It would be really interesting to see that scene, if you want to share it. I'm trying to write these themes into my WIP as well: for what I have so far, I'm just not sure if it sounds "preachy" (anti-preachy?) or what. I don't want to come down so wholeheartedly on one side so as to turn off my readers: anti-preaching can surely be as offensive as preaching. But I kind of want to leave some ambiguity, so they can side with my protagonist and be sympathetic to - even if they themselves don't wholly believe in - his atheism. I think that comes across a little more tenderly. Soften them up a little to the atheistic view of the world. When I was a Christian, considering Christian writing, this is the way I wanted to write in Christian themes - hopefully it might work the other way too - !!

escritora
07-04-2008, 04:03 AM
jillbrenna,

I sent you a PM

AMCrenshaw
07-04-2008, 06:10 AM
The God-thang stopped making sense to me at a young age, but my nontheism began at 18 after reading Spinoza's Ethics.

Higgins, I have a question about what you wrote. If you don't want to take up space here, could you PM me with an answer?

"For example: suppose the universe is not queer at all, it just is and it is right there in front of you all the time. "

What is the difference between The Universe, and God - if God is the Being that is everywhere and all the time? And is it just a matter of language, at that point?

AMC

Higgins
07-07-2008, 05:30 PM
The God-thang stopped making sense to me at a young age, but my nontheism began at 18 after reading Spinoza's Ethics.

Higgins, I have a question about what you wrote. If you don't want to take up space here, could you PM me with an answer?

"For example: suppose the universe is not queer at all, it just is and it is right there in front of you all the time. "

What is the difference between The Universe, and God - if God is the Being that is everywhere and all the time? And is it just a matter of language, at that point?

AMC

For mostly aesthetic reasons, I have always found it more engaging to
think of things as they appear in a purely phenomenological way. This often means attending to the obsessions of people like Descartes and Husserl rather than Spinoza and Carnap....but for example: why take off into "everywhere" when one's perception of the universe is absolutely personal and immediate? I say "all the time" because the point about the possibly non-queer nature of the universe is that it is invariably there...it is the positive gound of there-ness. And now I suspect there will be an possibly unfortunate detour into Heidegger...which if anyone must undertake, I advising seeing Heidegger as a detailed commentary on Husserl.
Anyway...that's my detour for this morning.

Snowstorm
07-07-2008, 06:30 PM
I was raised for several years in the Assembly of God church and Mom bought us kids an encyclopedia-size book set of Bible stories. I loved reading the stories, but never considered them as REAL. The whole thing of God and the Bible as reality never stuck with me as it never made sense to believe it as reality.

kristie911
07-08-2008, 01:47 PM
I was raised in the Lutheran church but also attended a non-demoninational church...and I attended faithfully without ever really getting the concept of God. But I didn't want to upset my family, especially my grandparents. As I got older and separated myself from the church, I stuck to the excuse that I didn't believe in organized religion.

Now, as an adult, I've only recently admitted to myself that I simply don't believe in God. I hate using the word athesist because of the negative conotations it carries with it. I simply say, if asked, that I don't claim a religion. Or I stick to the organized religion excuse. It's easier than getting the OMG-you're-going-to-hell shocked stare.

Because this is new territory for me, I guess I haven't actually found where I'm comfortable. I'm not completely convinced there isn't a higher power but I definitely don't buy God as he's written in the Bible...nor do I believe in Heaven or Hell.

Where that all leaves me...I have no idea.

Death Wizard
07-09-2008, 07:22 AM
Where that all leaves me...I have no idea.


Use meditation to become peaceful and single-minded, and then see how that feels.

That's where you are. That's where we all are, regardless of what we believe.

benbradley
07-09-2008, 07:38 AM
...
Because this is new territory for me, I guess I haven't actually found where I'm comfortable. I'm not completely convinced there isn't a higher power but I definitely don't buy God as he's written in the Bible...nor do I believe in Heaven or Hell.

Where that all leaves me...I have no idea.
Perhaps you could try this word on for size:
(If you insist, you can go into the dressing room to try it on...)
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agnostic

AMCrenshaw
07-09-2008, 06:46 PM
"but for example: why take off into "everywhere" when one's perception of the universe is absolutely personal and immediate?"

The realization of dependent origination.

veinglory
07-09-2008, 06:58 PM
You might need to unpack that one. Literally is says something like: coming to know something causally downsteam came into existence. Which doesn't say much to me.

AMCrenshaw
07-09-2008, 09:23 PM
One way to illustrate what I am saying is through the metaphor of Indra's Net (a Buddhist image concerning emptiness; this aspect I won't focus on here). Indra's Net is made up of diamonds - each diamond reflects the rest of the universe and the rest of the universe is reflected in each diamond. As a literal reading, this means nothing. But as a metaphor, it illustrates the conditioned state of every single entity in the universe. The existence of humans relies on, well, you name it. The formation of the psyche/cogito/self is an intertextual relationship-- without senses, we have no Sense. What this says, I suppose, is that when I perceive the universe, I perceive all of it at once, in the immediate moment, because without any part of it, the rest is altered - perhaps into non-existence. It's the realization of that which seems outside our "immediate" perception.

Indra's Net also illustrates that our perceptions of the universe, individuated, are like "moments in time" in that they do not exist except as concepts, or in narrative; that is, our perception of the "immediate" universe and moments in time are like waves in the ocean...you cannot pick out an individual wave without the rest of the water.

In short, "personal" and "immediate" are constructions of the self, and once we realize that the psyche/cogito/self are themselves constructions- inter-texts- and have no independent origin, that the entirety of the universe can be experienced in the so-called immediate, personal moment.

AMC

Shara
07-10-2008, 04:15 PM
For me, arriving at atheism has been a gradual and life-long process.

Both my parents were card-carrying members of the Salvation Army was born, and I was dedicated into that religion as a baby. I was sent to Sunday school, given books of religious stories, told about what I had to do to get into heaven, etc, etc.

Then my parents divorced, and there was a lot of disapproval and general unpleasantness going on within the organisation.

My stepfather is an atheist, so when my mother remarried, nobody was obliged to go to church and I was suddenly faced with a different point of view.

I spent a great deal of time during my teenage years attending different churches with various friends, trying to find out more about what my options were, in an attempt to find a 'true' religion. All I really learned was that there are a lot of people out there insisting that their god is the only true god, their church the only Right Way, and I was just left thinking, "how can everyone be right??"

Eventually I went from believer to agnostic, believing that there was probably some kind of supreme being out there somewhere, but I was averse to organised religions.

It was probably about four years ago when I realised that with all the things I had seen in my life, all the things I had learned, and with all the despicable acts that take place in the world in the name of religion, I could honestly say that I no longer believe in any kind of god.

So now, at age 38, I have no shame in standing up and declaring myself to be an atheist.

And I can recommend "The God Delusion" by the way. if you're still wavering, it will bring you firmly down on the side of the non-believers.

Shara

Higgins
07-10-2008, 04:50 PM
The formation of the psyche/cogito/self is an intertextual relationship-- without senses, we have no Sense. What this says, I suppose, is that when I perceive the universe, I perceive all of it at once, in the immediate moment, because without any part of it, the rest is altered - perhaps into non-existence. It's the realization of that which seems outside our "immediate" perception.

Indra's Net also illustrates that our perceptions of the universe, individuated, are like "moments in time" in that they do not exist except as concepts, or in narrative; that is, our perception of the "immediate" universe and moments in time are like waves in the ocean...you cannot pick out an individual wave without the rest of the water.

In short, "personal" and "immediate" are constructions of the self, and once we realize that the psyche/cogito/self are themselves constructions- inter-texts- and have no independent origin, that the entirety of the universe can be experienced in the so-called immediate, personal moment.

AMC

I think this is sort of an aesthetic question. I think that one has to be willing to absorb immediacy as just being flat out there and go ahead and privilige that sense of the mind being plastered against the perceived object. Some philosophers (such as Descartes and Husserl) have set out to work from that as a starting point and that's my take on it as well.

AMCrenshaw
07-10-2008, 06:44 PM
A good starting point indeed.

Shadow_Ferret
07-10-2008, 07:09 PM
I think we're all born atheists or rather, ignorant of God. You learn about God from your family, friends and society.

I never learned. My parents had become disenchanted with the church around the time I was born and aside from being baptized (pressure from relatives "He'll go to Hell!") I never set foot inside a church. My parents never spoke of religion, God, or anything. I went to a Public School which never spoke of religion.

I grew up ignorant of God and religion. All I knew about Christmas was it was about gifts and Santa Claus and it was the birth of some dude named Jesus. Easter was about the bunny.

Hell, I was in the Cub Scouts and we'd sing "This Little Guiding Light of Mine" and I thought we were singing about a flashlight.

So I never "became" an atheist, I've always been one since the beginning.

Melisande
07-20-2008, 09:38 AM
When did you say to yourself, " I do not believe in god."

I always wondered this about certain people. It seems to me that most people leave their religions in their teenage years, like I did. However, there are always exceptions.

But I would like to ask, when did you leave your religion? (If you had one in the first place)

Most of us are taught religion when we are young. I think breaking those chains is a very important event in the life of an atheist.

So please, share your experience.

(Warning: Lets not get this one locked. The threads I post have a bad habit of turning into massive arguments. I don't want this to dengenrate. So please, if you debate, please keep it civil. Thank you)

This is my experience, as I've shared it before here at AW;



I grew up in a poor home, in Sweden. I can not remember that any of my parents ever talked about religion. I guess my mother was too busy, and my father always too drunk. When I started school my first teacher was very religious. I would guess she was a protestant for the simple reason that it is the "official" religion in Sweden, but I can't say that I know it for sure. She had us sing hymns and pray all throughout the day. I didn't understand it, but thought that since it was school, after all, this must be something I had to learn, and learning was what I was there for.

I was unfortunate to be an awkward, ugly and very shy child. Got teased a lot by my classmates. It wasn't easy. My teacher loved to preach that prayer could solve everything in life, so naturally I prayed. Didn't really know to what, but I trusted the fact that since she was a teacher, she would know. After having prayed, every evening for two years that the teasing should stop, after having developed an ulcer at the age of eight because it didn't, I decided that this God-thing was not for me. Don't get me wrong here, I didn't think in terms that God didn't exist, I only thought that I wasn't good enough for him, and that it was the reason why no help came from above. But at least it taught me to fight, and that was a good thing to learn.

At the age of fourteen one of my aunts invited me over to her house one day. I thought it was odd. She had never shown any interest in me before. Turns out she was a Jehova's Witness and wanted to "educate" me about the truth, as she saw it. She was very insisting. That made me read the Bible a lot. Not so much because I was searching for answers, but to find arguments. She never did manage to convince me of anything other than the fact that I had a free will, and about two years later she completely gave up on me. She has never contacted me since. But I had learned about the Bible, and how to engage in research.

Shortly after that I met my "Mentor". He was amazing! Of a noble family, one of the oldest in Swedish history, he taught me about writing, about philosophy and about the world. We formed an odd friendship; He, the elderly gentleman, in every aspect of the word, and I, the awkward teenager from the slum. He was also a Pagan, and he taught me about that. I found a whole new world, listening to him. A world of beauty and magic, a world of wonder. I even thought for a while that I had found faith, and became a practicing witch. But no matter how much I loved him, and no matter how fascinating it was to be a witch with powers, I found that I still didn't believe! But I had learned to get by in the world, and respect nature.

I went to sea. Worked on many ships for 20 years. I loved to lay down on deck at night and watch the stars, wondering where we all come from, thinking about the Universe, the beauty of it all and of course; the insignificance of mankind. That made me interested in science. Read everything I could find, and it was plenty, about science. Most of it was really way over my head, but I didn't care. I was in a search for answers here! I larned a lot, but nothing that gave me any answers, other than that I have no brains for science.

I retired from the Marchant Marines, got married, moved to the US. My husband was raised a Catholic, but never goes to church. He believes in God in his own way and doesn't make a fuzz about it. One of my sister-in-law's is on a spiritual journey. We talk a lot. To keep the conversation going I read plenty about religions from all over the world. She has a very basic and genuine belief in Christ, though she does not call herself Christian, as in organized in any way. I find it interesting and stimulating to argue, in the most positive sense of the word, with her, and once again I have learned a lot.

And that has been my long and winding road to atheism.

Flapdoodle
07-31-2008, 06:15 PM
When did you say to yourself, " I do not believe in god."

I always wondered this about certain people. It seems to me that most people leave their religions in their teenage years, like I did. However, there are always exceptions.

But I would like to ask, when did you leave your religion? (If you had one in the first place)

Most of us are taught religion when we are young. I think breaking those chains is a very important event in the life of an atheist.

So please, share your experience.

(Warning: Lets not get this one locked. The threads I post have a bad habit of turning into massive arguments. I don't want this to dengenrate. So please, if you debate, please keep it civil. Thank you)


I never had any belief in God(s). Unfortunately, I ended up at a Catholic school. Which was an eye opener when we had our "first confession" and the teachers took us back through the whole school and were told to "act happy" so the younger kids would think confession was good.

I notice a lot people just accepted what they were told, whereas I refused to believe it purely because I was being told it was true by someone in authority. I ended up getting so sick of it - religion was compulsory, and I considered it a waste of time - that I ended up writing a lot of intentionally blasphemous answers in my "mock" exam in the final year (In the UK we have exams at 16 and we always do "mock ups" of them halfway through the year.)... This resulted in the usual "you can't insult someone's religion." Well, I can, and I did, and they quite happily insulted me for years by forcing these fairy tales at me and not letting me do something useful.

Funny thing is, the reason we were sent to catholic school was because of a forceful grandparent who was a raving catholic and even had her reserved place on the pew. She was also a nasty piece of work, and had spent her whole live being generally unpleasant to her husband, my Mum, my Dad, and me. My other grandmother, an atheist, was one of the sweetest, kindest people I've ever met.

Atlantis
08-01-2008, 02:16 AM
I was never raised religious which I'm thankful for. The first time I got exposed to religion was in high school when a bunch of people on a writing website who were religious started calling me insults because I wrote fantasy. From that moment on I've disliked religion alot. I do alot of research into mythologly. There are hundreds of gods and different creation myths in the world. When you do as much research into mythologly as I do, you begin to see how much of the Bible is actually based on ancient Pagan myths. Poseidon's trident = Devil's pitch fork. Angel's halo = symbol known as a 'sun disc' in ancient Egypt that represents Ra, God of the Sun. And the list goes on. I'll never understand why people are so willing to believe that all of the events in the Bible are real and that "GOD" is real when...really...there is no proof. Nothing. In my opinion, the Bible is proof of nothing. Its words on paper. How is the Bible any different from written accounts of the Greek Gods? or the Egyptian Gods? What makes THEM myth and God real? What makes every other creation story and myth in the world fables and everything in the bible factual events? Who's to say that Poseidon and Zeus and Hera aren't real? or Morgan Le Fay and Epona? or Ra or Helios? I sorta classify myself as a druid/atheist. I believe in certain things, like reincarnation, but I'm also open to the possiably that there is nothing after death and I'm all right with that. It makes me want to live life to the fullest. Plus, if I get published, in a way I will continue on after death. A part of me will live on in my stories.

JimmyB27
08-05-2008, 03:34 PM
My parents had me baptised (or Christened, or something, never really got the difference - a priest dribbled some water on my head), when I was about four, and they sent me to Sunday School for a while. Which was odd, as neither of them are particularly religious.
But I don't think I ever really believed. Any more than I ever really believed in Father Christmas. I remember distinctly asking my parents how Father Christmas got into our house, since we had a gas fire in the living room and no chimney. They told me he had a magic key for houses that didn't have chimneys. Even at that young age, I remember being somewhat sceptical about the overly convenient explanation, and I think I was always the same with god.
I read the bible - well, a children's abridged version - and thought the stories were interesting, but I don't remember ever thinking about them as anything but stories.

Albedo
08-05-2008, 04:16 PM
I was raised "culturally" Christian (including occasional church attendance--never baptised though) by my mother, but at about age 14 I think I realised that I couldn't reconcile my developing sense of humanism and scientific rationalism with what my sometime youth group had taught about the inerrancy of the Bible and the existence of hell (which was totally at odds with the liberal branch of Christianity I'd been raised in, anyway...I blame the move to a small town). The weaker of my two worldviews promptly folded. At the time I thought I was rebelling against something. It took me years to realise that I'd just been drifting away from religion at the same rate as my Mum (or even a little slower).

joyce
08-05-2008, 06:09 PM
I'm not quite sure where I'd place myself as some have stated earlier. I don't like the term atheist because I do believe there's something out there, I'm just not sure it's the God society has had rammed down our throat for so long.

I was brought up Lutheran and felt like an outsider in Sunday School from the very beginning. I was probably 5-6 when I started asking my teacher and preacher all these questions that they couldn't answer. Thus, I was the problem and weirdo child in class. I was one of these kids who saw and heard spirits, so I was repeatedly told I was of the devil. Makes a kid feel real good, let me tell you. Forty years ago I don't think people were as informed or spoke of this stuff, just for this reason alone.

I started questioning things early, real early. The religious people I spoke to about my little situation only caused me more pain & grief. I assumed 15 years ago it was a gift, not a curse and I wasn't born from the devils loins. I came to the conclusion that these religious leaders/people didn't know anymore about the subject than I did. I hated all the hate and prejudice that was spewed towards fellow humans because they were different, so I chose my own way. Since then I've lived quite happily.

miss marisa
05-29-2009, 11:53 PM
Recently, actually. It kind of took place over years. My mother was never religious, but suggested I go to church when I was around seven years old. Of course, when I was young, I was impressionable and assimilated everything taught to me at Sunday school. As I grew older, I began questioning things around me and deciding that there were things I didn't like about Christianity. I read The Bible and had to quirk and eyebrow.

But a lot of factors went into me becoming an atheist. In the end, when I finally came to my descision, it kind of occured over night. Before I went to bed, I told myself I'd be a new person with new beliefs. It took a while to have the "God is watching you" feeling out of me that has been ingrained in me since youth, but I feel better now that I don't have these constant doubts nagging at me and I'm completely sure of who I am.

mister_lister
06-17-2009, 03:21 AM
I am not exactly an atheist, more of an agnostic.

I was a practicing fundementalist christian from age 15 to 33. Though I wholey reject the Abrahamic traditions of religion now, I am not opposed to the concept of theism or deism. I just don't think there is any scientific proof --either way actually -- to say, " there is definitely not a god," or, "there definitely is." I have researched both sides of the argument, quite deeply.

The turning point for me was illness -- schizophrenia to be specific. Part of my recovery was (and still is) to completely divorce myself from delusion and things that I can not proove. Understand the mind is very powerful, things run deep and I came to the conclusion that the magical thinking that lead to my becoming a christian in the first place and the resulting effect it had in most areas of my life, needed to be removed like any sort of cancer or tumor. That analytical process along with medication has brought me to higher level of consciousness than I ever had in religion.

I am not perfect, I still sometimes think magically, it is a part of human nature and my disease. But the hold it has on my life is far less than it ever had been in the past.

MGraybosch
08-21-2009, 11:32 PM
I'm tempted to say that I was born an atheist, just like everybody else, but that's a bit counterproductive. My parents are lapsed Catholics, and they exposed me to the basics of Catholicism. I attended Mass a few times, I know the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary, and I was baptized. However, I never went to confession, never accepted communion, and was never confirmed. I was an agnostic as a teenager; I thought it was important to keep an open mind. Once I got into college, though, I started thinking of myself as an atheist. I don't have a religion, and even if God was real, I would refuse to serve It.

Joanna
09-17-2009, 10:25 AM
when i became a god

rofl, that response is just ...divine. Loving it...

Personally, although I was never raised to believe, I really have to try all the time NOT to believe, as I grew religious in my teens and only became an athiest early this year, at 23 years old. How tragic, al that wasted energy.

Joanna
09-17-2009, 01:54 PM
Husserl... epoche rules. end of.

sheadakota
09-17-2009, 02:25 PM
I'm not sure what I am- I was raised Roman Catholic, nuns, all girl catholic high school- the works-

I can't give you an age when I started questioning what I was taught but it was early- I remember getting in trouble on a regular basis because I dared to question the nuns- when ever I asked them a question they couldn't answer- they would get all pissed off and tell me to trust god- to have faith- something like that- and THAT pissed me off

The last time I went to church I walked out in the middle of the sermon because the preist gave a finacial report instead of a sermon-

I questioned the phrase "god-fearing christian" once and got grounded-I mean I couldn't understand if god was so wonderful why fear him?

In my opinon man created religion, not any god, so why should i believe man? why should I worship man?

If their is a higher being out there I don't think it will strik m down if I am "bad"- or rewarded if I am "good"

I used to call myself agnostic until my brother, a confirmed athiest said an agnostic was riding the fence- Too chicken to make a decision (his words- I'm not calling anyone a chicken!)

I don't teach my children any specific religion, I will tell what I was taught when they ask me about Jesus and god- but I also tell them that this is what some people believe and they are free to chose what they want to believe-

and I am rambling now

YAwriter72
09-17-2009, 03:33 PM
I wasn't raised anything in particular. My dad was atheist, my mom probably calls herself Methodist. I would go to the Christmas Ever service with my grandparents just because it was kinda cool when I was younger. In high school I started exploring religion and trying to find "where I fit in to it all" In my mid twenties, I decided that God was just a made up thing that people started using to control other people. The bible was like the game gossip, translated so many times the real words were really misinterpreted to again, be what someone else wanted it to say. So I gravitate towards Paganism now. We respect the earth instead of an abstract "something."

My hubs was raised Catholic. Did all the steps when he was younger. He's non practicing. We are raising the boys as nothing. When they get old enough to decide on their own, its totally their choice. They have been in a church exactly one time for a wedding and have no idea who Jesus or God are.

DH and I got married in a Methodist church, mostly because it was my g-parents church and my parents were married there. Thankfully they have wonderful tolerance and had no problem with dh being Catholic and me nothing.

I think its a choice everyone needs to make for themselves and not because it was something you were told to believe as a child and just do simply because. IMO. I think in the end, you only have to answer to yourself for how you lived your life.



Just something I find interesting. Supposedly, the bible teaches tolerance and acceptance, yet I see more INtolerance among religious people towards those who don't believe. Look at how many people who are atheist or agnostic simply say, believe what you want to, its everyone's individual choice. And religious people say, if you don't believe then your wrong and will end up in Hell.

edit: want to clarify the above. I have met some incredibly bigoted, narrow-minded people who call themselves Christians, and based on what the bible teaches, should be the ones even more tolerant and forgiving of others based on that. And there are some pretty ugly minded non-believers too. Just so no one thinks I am bashing anyone who believes.

Higgins
09-17-2009, 08:52 PM
Husserl... epoche rules. end of.

But only the local epochee works it seems
(http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/husserl/):

Only the universal epoché seems to conflict with our externalist reading: if no extra-mental existence assumptions whatsoever are admitted, then phenomenologically there cannot be object-dependent intentional contents, as externalism would have it. By contrast, there may be some such contents, even many of them, without intentional content generally having to be dependent on a particular extra-mental object. Which leaves enough room for the method of local epoché to apply to any given particular case, as will become clear in Section 6 below.
Now the only function of the universal epoché is to establish the residuum thesis, which holds that the realm of (empirical) consciousness is “absolute” in that it does not depend on the existence of an external, spatio-temporal world (cf. Ideas, sec. 51, 55). But Husserl's argument for this thesis fails: it is invalid (see Beyer 2000, pp. 137-140). As a consequence, the universal epoché does not serve to establish what it was solely designed to show, namely the residuum thesis. We may therefore ignore it, stick to our externalist reading, and focus on what the method of local epoché allows Husserl to achieve.

White-Tean
09-18-2009, 06:14 PM
I've always damn well been an atheist, it's just a matter of when I realised it was okay to be one and that no one would try and take me away in a van for not swallowing what I was being asked to — I still can't see how it's reasonable for state schools to teach one scripture to children (and yes, I did ask the teacher questions she couldn't answer to my satisfaction) rather than letting religion be introduced by parents should they do so or (better yet) left until they're old enough to recognise what it is they believe in. I think the school system should be more impartial and less swayed by religious doctrine.

There was a bit of a moment when the CENSUS form (takes data on the particulars of every member every Australian household every five years) came round that I got a "No you're not!" reflex reaction from my father, until I pointed out that everyone in this damn family is an atheist, stop acting like an ancestral curse will strike down upon us for not believing what most people don't really believe in anyway. That was really the end of that nonsense.

I don't have anything against people of religion, but being afraid to be a disbeliever just damn annoys me. I've yet to be struck down by holy mythical lightning.

MGraybosch
09-18-2009, 06:16 PM
I don't have anything against people of religion, but being afraid to be a disbeliever just damn annoys me. I've yet to be struck down by holy mythical lightning.

Don't worry about being struck down by holy lightning, because there aren't any gods. I killed the last of them last week.

White-Tean
09-18-2009, 06:22 PM
Really? To think, I haven't even taken the opportunity to 'sin' so far this week. I'll get right on it with it then with impunity! ;)

It’s my 21st in eight days, there will be sinful, sinful, post-pubescent Twister.

MGraybosch
09-18-2009, 06:26 PM
Really? To think, I haven't even taken the opportunity to 'sin' so far this week. I'll get right on it with it then with impunity! ;)

Yeah, really. You'd be surprised at what a chronically pissed off long-haired metalhead with deicidal tendencies can accomplish with sufficient quantities of high explosives. I haven't met a god that can survive a C4 dildo in the butt. :)


It’s my 21st in eight days, there will be sinful, sinful, post-pubescent Twister.

I'd say "don't tease me like that", but I can indulge in sinful post-pubescent twister with my wife whenever I like. :)

White-Tean
09-18-2009, 06:28 PM
Mine will be more sinful, it's polyamorous Twister out of wedlock. ;)

MGraybosch
09-18-2009, 06:30 PM
Mine will be more sinful, it's polyamorous Twister out of wedlock. ;)

I don't call that sinful. I call that good clean fun. Remember, kids:

Nothing is true.
Everything is permissible.
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

veinglory
09-18-2009, 06:47 PM
I prefer 'an it harm none, do as thou wilt'. The first part is important.

cursedsillycause
09-26-2009, 03:12 AM
I was in denial for most of my teens, opting to personally consider myself Muslim Agnostic (I know, wtf?), but slowly, but surely, I realized that my personal beliefs, as much as I tried to contort them, did not align with the Quran, and after much critical thinking, and a lot of sadness, I realized I didn't believe in any of it at all. Deprogramming myself was the hardest thing, and saddest thing I had to do. I remember when I was doing all of that soul searching, and I'd pray to God to show me signs of his existence because I wanted to believe so badly, and each time nothing. Eventually, I couldn't lie to myself anymore, and I stopped wearing the hijab (scarf), and came out to my parents and for once in my life stopped limiting myself to please this God that wasn't happy with the way I am.

My mom is convinced I never actually believed to begin with, which is amusing because I made myself wear a scarf, and read the quran-- NO ONE IN MY FAMILY WAS RELIGIOUS. My mom never wore modest clothing, or prayed, but the minute I decided to liberate myself she says I never believed to begin with. That hurt me. She is so irrational that she can't believe I am my own person, and I don't need her religion to define me.

That's my little Atheist story. Hello, fellow Atheists.

Manuel Royal
09-28-2009, 03:25 AM
Raised Catholic. In 1970 or '71, when I was ten, it occurred to me that God and Santa Claus were the same kind of made-up story. Also, I'd been reading a lot about mythology (Greek, Norse, etc.) and it was clear that the Bible was Judeo-Christian mythology. After that, I didn't believe in Yahweh for the same reason I didn't believe in Odin.

Justin K
10-02-2009, 04:50 AM
Psh. Everyone knows that before religion can be rejected it has to be learned. It's no coincidence that babies of christians become christians and etc. If I had grown up on an island by myself and someone came up talkin bout god this and save me that, I'd be like hey man, if whatever you're saying is real, I should have already known about it. :D

White-Tean
10-02-2009, 05:24 PM
Psh. Everyone knows that before religion can be rejected it has to be learned. It's no coincidence that babies of christians become christians and etc. If I had grown up on an island by myself and someone came up talkin bout god this and save me that, I'd be like hey man, if whatever you're saying is real, I should have already known about it. :D

Yeah, I don't exactly agree with what you're saying here, I think someone could dismiss religion before learning it. If you lived a whole and happy existence (bar the lack of other human contact on your island) prior to wandering into one of the flock, would you truly believe your life was lacking and that any 'god' could improve it?

While most people will consider trying something, I don't think it's natural human instinct to adopt everything you come across, especially considering religion is inconvenient and often places restrictions upon your happy free (hypothetical) island existence.

I mean, what if someone wandered onto your island and told you it was a sin to have a wank? Not to be crass, but I'm pretty sure if you were an adult by the time this person of religion rocked up, you'd have a pretty happy relationship with your dominant hand, what with all the living alone on an island.

Also, dear Russell's Celestial Teapot, I hope their aren't any children reading this.

zornhau
10-03-2009, 12:29 AM
Psh. Everyone knows that before religion can be rejected it has to be learned. It's no coincidence that babies of christians become christians and etc. If I had grown up on an island by myself and someone came up talkin bout god this and save me that, I'd be like hey man, if whatever you're saying is real, I should have already known about it. :D

Atheism isn't a rejection of religion, it is a position with respect to its claims.

veinglory
10-03-2009, 01:11 AM
Atheism can be a rejection of religion, or at least have that as a necessary step. Unlike religion is has no one true way.

Ruv Draba
10-03-2009, 01:49 PM
As well as no supernatural authority, atheism has no revealed creed, no sacred rituals, texts or lore. There's nothing nothing to stop an atheist from adopting a revealed creed, or making belief sacred for reasons other than theism, but many I think don't. Many atheists hold a default rejection of religion and not just theism, and I think that the religious world sees atheism that way.

dahlfan
10-04-2009, 12:35 PM
Yesterday, I told my therapist I'm an Atheist, and she told me she used to be one, and then she studied biology, and now she thinks that Atheism goes against nature, and that she is NOT an Atheist now because she is a proponent of evolution, and science. She made no sense, and I listened to her talk for 30 minutes about herself, and last I checked, it's my session.

White-Tean
10-04-2009, 04:07 PM
Yesterday, I told my therapist I'm an Atheist, and she told me she used to be one, and then she studied biology, and now she thinks that Atheism goes against nature, and that she is NOT an Atheist now because she is a proponent of evolution, and science. She made no sense, and I listened to her talk for 30 minutes about herself, and last I checked, it's my session.

... yeah, I don't think she understands what atheism means. I think you should probably see another therapist if she can ramble on with contrary misinformation for half an hour during a session she's paid to treat you.

Ruv Draba
10-05-2009, 02:25 AM
Yesterday, I told my therapist I'm an Atheist, and she told me she used to be one, and then she studied biology, and now she thinks that Atheism goes against nature, and that she is NOT an Atheist now because she is a proponent of evolution, and science.Many therapists are broken individuals, and not a few of them are stupid, broken individuals. If you find that therapy is useful then my suggestion is: shop around.

zornhau
10-06-2009, 12:05 AM
Many therapists are broken individuals, and not a few of them are stupid, broken individuals. If you find that therapy is useful then my suggestion is: shop around.

+1

Roger J Carlson
10-07-2009, 11:26 PM
Yesterday, I told my therapist I'm an Atheist, and she told me she used to be one, and then she studied biology, and now she thinks that Atheism goes against nature, and that she is NOT an Atheist now because she is a proponent of evolution, and science. She made no sense, and I listened to her talk for 30 minutes about herself, and last I checked, it's my session.I'm no expert on therapists, but I my understanding is they're supposed to listen to what you think, not tell you what they think.

semilargeintestine
10-07-2009, 11:39 PM
I'm not sure how believing in G-d because you understand science makes no sense. 30-40% of scientists in America believe in G-d--the same number today that believed in G-d in the early 1920s. The number has remained constant for almost 90 years, which isn't expected if you assume faith will diminish as education grows.

You don't have to believe, but saying it makes no sense to be a scientist and believe in G-d is ludicrous.

Ruv Draba
10-08-2009, 02:33 AM
I'm not sure how believing in G-d because you understand science makes no sense. 30-40% of scientists in America believe in G-d--the same number today that believed in G-d in the early 1920s. The number has remained constant for almost 90 years, which isn't expected if you assume faith will diminish as education grows.Stats please? I've only ever seen stats showing the reverse -- that theism among accomplished scientists is statistically low for the population and gradually diminishing over time.

Which is not to say that science and theism are necessarily incompatible, but it might be saying something else.

semilargeintestine
10-08-2009, 04:02 AM
http://www.mat.univie.ac.at/~neum/sciandf/contrib/clari.txt

The first part is a report based on an article in Nature, one of the leading science journals.


LONDON, April 2 (Reuter) - Most U.S. scientists do not believe in a god,
but 40 percent do -- the same percentage as did in 1916, researchers reported
on Wednesday.

Ruv Draba
10-08-2009, 05:35 AM
Thanks Semi -- it turns out that the article quoted is the first of two by Larson and Withan to Nature. The first article points out that the proportion of scientists who are believers is lower than the general population, but relatively unchanging. The second article shows that the proportion of top natural scientists who are believers has shrunk to near zero. I knew of the second article (it's reproduced here (http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html) in full), but have been unable to obtain more than a summary of the first.

We can't conclude that a strong scientific education is incompatible with theism, but we can safely conclude that it's less compatible with theism than if we stay uneducated in science. The correlations of both studies support this, but as to what causes the them, that's still speculative. Naturally, various political interests will quote one or the other out of context and try to use it as evidence.

The following summary from Free Inquiry (http://www.accessmylibrary.com/article-1G1-21231816/unbelief-among-top-scientists.html) captures the gist of both articles:

The same authors who reported no decline in religious belief among American scientists since 1916 now announce that, during the same period, faith declined sharply among natural scientists of top rank.

In a letter to Nature (July 23, 1998, p. 313), University of Georgia historian of science Edward J. Larson and Washington Times reporter Larry Witham described a survey of religious beliefs they administered to 517 American scientists who belong to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Larson and Witham's survey closely replicated a survey of 400 "greater" scientists performed in 1914 by psychologist James H. Leuba and repeated by Leuba in 1933. Leuba, an atheist, expected religious belief to decline with increasing education and accomplishment, and it did. Leuba found distinguished scientists significantly less likely to believe in God and immortality than their less-accomplished contemporaries. Further, religious belief among top scientists sagged further during the 19 years between Leuba's two studies.

Larson and Witham polled NAS members in a mix of disciplines mirroring that originally polled by Leuba. The results seem stark: belief in God and immortality were precipitously lower than what Leuba reported. "Among the top natural scientists," Larson and Witham observe, "disbelief is greater than ever - almost total." The accompanying table compares belief, disbelief, or doubt regarding God and human immortality as measured in 1914, 1933, and 1998.

[...]

These findings are doubly startling because just two years ago, the same researchers announced their replication of another classic Leuba study. In that survey, 40% of a more general sample of scientists reported belief in God and immortality - almost exactly the result Leuba obtained polling a like population of scientists in 1914. (Leuba's finding that "only" 40% of scientists held religious beliefs shocked America when he published it in 1916.) In April 1997, Larson and Witham announced in Nature that they had administered a similar survey to 1,000 scientists in the same mix of disciplines, and found belief still holding at 40%.


There's a general first-world trend away from mainstream (traditional) theism into some form of nontheism or emerging religious forms, as this article from religioustolerance.org (http://www.religioustolerance.org/index_tren.htm) tells:


Christianity has been largely abandoned in Britain and the rest of Europe. Although most adults still identify themselves as Christian, few actually attend any type of religious service. The religion/philosophy followed by the Jedi Knights of Star Wars fame is now the fourth largest religion in the UK!

Christianity has partly faded in Canada, where only 20% of adults say that they attend church regularly, and only about 10% actually do.

In about the year 1990, Christianity started to lose market share in the U.S. The percentage of American adults who identify themselves as Christians is dropping by about 1 percentage point per year. The percentage who say that they attend church on most weeks is 40%. But, again, half are lying. Adults who identify themselves as having no religious affiliation are largely taking up the slack. Some small religions are growing rapidly. One example is Wicca, an Earth-based Neopagan religion. It is doubling about every 30 months. If this trend holds, then sometime during the early 2030's, Christianity will become a minority religion in the U.S.Many political leaders in traditionally Christian nations such as Europe now speak of planning for a post-Christian world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postchristianity).

semilargeintestine
10-08-2009, 06:24 AM
Thanks Semi -- it turns out that the article quoted is the first of two by Larson and Withan to Nature. The first article points out that the proportion of scientists who are believers is lower than the general population, but relatively unchanging. The second article shows that the proportion of top natural scientists who are believers has shrunk to near zero. I knew of the second article (it's reproduced here (http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html) in full), but have been unable to obtain more than a summary of the first.

We can't conclude that a strong scientific education is incompatible with theism, but we can safely conclude that it's less compatible with theism than if we stay uneducated in science. The correlations of both studies support this, but as to what causes the them, that's still speculative. Naturally, various political interests will quote one or the other out of context and try to use it as evidence.

I don't think it's incompatible at all. I think it is not unlike how some people become atheists for any number of reasons. If religion and science were incompatible, there wouldn't be deeply religious people in science.



There's a general first-world trend away from mainstream (traditional) theism into some form of nontheism or emerging religious forms, as this article from religioustolerance.org (http://www.religioustolerance.org/index_tren.htm) tells:

You're applying an article about xtianity declining and applying it to all mainstream religions. There actually is no correlation. Islam is steadily increasing, and Judaism has remained the same for two millenia.



Many political leaders in traditionally Christian nations such as Europe now speak of planning for a post-Christian world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postchristianity).

Where do I sign up?

JimmyB27
10-08-2009, 10:44 AM
Many political leaders in traditionally Christian nations such as Europe now speak of planning for a post-Christian world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postchristianity).
Um....what?

White-Tean
10-08-2009, 11:04 AM
Many political leaders in traditionally Christian nations such as Europe now speak of planning for a post-Christian world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postchristianity).

Oh gosh I'd love to sign up for that. I'm still waiting for the separation of church and state, and I'd love to be able to celebrate Christmas as the secular holiday it truly is, (because what did Christianity ever have to do with Reindeer).

Ruv Draba
10-08-2009, 11:24 AM
Um....what?Europe is now a polity, but I meant 'nations such as those in Europe'. I caught the error before you posted about it but figured that it wasn't worth an edit. 'Nation' isn't really correct anyway. It should be 'state'.

Ruv Draba
10-08-2009, 11:36 AM
I don't think it's incompatible at all. I think it is not unlike how some people become atheists for any number of reasons. If religion and science were incompatible, there wouldn't be deeply religious people in science.There's an undeniable statistical gulf between what scientists believe and what mainstream society believes. You've chosen to ignore it. I choose to let you. So, I've nothing to argue about.

You're applying an article about xtianity declining and applying it to all mainstream religions. There actually is no correlation. Islam is steadily increasing, and Judaism has remained the same for two millenia.Actually I confined my comments to the developed world, where theism is falling over-all. I didn't attribute it by religion, but have you looked at the stats on Jewish self-identified nontheists in Israel lately? Are you suggesting that it's the same as when Jews last lived in Jerusalem?

Where do I sign up?As you're a gentleman who's happy to let others revere what they want I'll save you a place in the queue, along with atheists, agnostics, pagans, freethinkers, gays, polygamists, animists, unitarians, Buddhists, post-Christian Christians, and other social misfits. :)

Roger J Carlson
10-08-2009, 02:49 PM
As you're a gentleman who's happy to let others revere what they want I'll save you a place in the queue, along with atheists, agnostics, pagans, freethinkers, gays, polygamists, animists, unitarians, Buddhists, post-Christian Christians, and other social misfits. :)That's quite a packet of generalizations.

There is a growing number of radical atheists that believe Christianity is dangerous and should be stopped (google Christianity is Dangerous). There is the persecution of Christians in Burma (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1540121/Burma-orders-Christians-to-be-wiped-out.html), who are "forced to convert to the state religion, Buddhism". A large number of polygamists are Mormon, not the definition of free thinking. Many gays are Christian, even conservative Christian (google Gay Christians).

By omission, it also implies that no Christians are willing to let others revere what they what, and I can assure you that is not true.

What you are doing is comparing the "best" of those categories with the "worst" of religious people. Hardly fair.

semilargeintestine
10-08-2009, 05:26 PM
There's an undeniable statistical gulf between what scientists believe and what mainstream society believes. You've chosen to ignore it. I choose to let you. So, I've nothing to argue about.

And you choose to make generalizations about an entire population based on a specific set. I choose to point that out, because it is false.

There is a definite gap between what scientists believe and what the rest of society believes. That is true. I don't see where I denied that since I am the one who quoted the stats.

I am simply saying that they cannot be incompatible since there are many religious people who are also devoted scientists. If you deny that, we're done because you're simply being stupid for the sake of being stupid.



Actually I confined my comments to the developed world, where theism is falling over-all. I didn't attribute it by religion, but have you looked at the stats on Jewish self-identified nontheists in Israel lately? Are you suggesting that it's the same as when Jews last lived in Jerusalem?

Three things.

1. You referenced stats regarding xtians and made a comment about all mainstream religions. Don't deflect.

2. The statistics for Jews in the world have remained the same. A Jew is a Jew whether she drives on Shabbos or not. In fact, Sephardim are more likely to follow religious customs while still considering themselves not really religious, i.e., traditional. I know many people like this, and they're all over NYC (many are Syrian).

3. The Jews have not been absent from Jerusalem since 1273 BCE when we entered Israel. No valid historian claims that, so I'm not sure why you insist on adopting that anti-Semitic propaganda (note that I'm not calling you anti-Semitic, rather I am pointing out that the viewpoint that Jews totally left Israel started in the Arab world; no actual historian would agree with it).



As you're a gentleman who's happy to let others revere what they want I'll save you a place in the queue, along with atheists, agnostics, pagans, freethinkers, gays, polygamists, animists, unitarians, Buddhists, post-Christian Christians, and other social misfits. :)

Xtianity has been the greatest cause of persecution for the Jews since the Council of Nicaea. I've got no problem with individual xtians who are not a-holes, but I'll be happy to see that institution gone.

Roger J Carlson
10-08-2009, 06:47 PM
Xtianity has been the greatest cause of persecution for the Jews since the Council of Nicaea. I've got no problem with individual xtians who are not a-holes, but I'll be happy to see that institution gone.How quickly we make our own generalizations while decrying them in others.

semilargeintestine
10-08-2009, 06:57 PM
It's not a generalization. Would you like me to make a list for you? It eventually became mostly at the hands of the Catholic Church, but it didn't start out that way.

Also, notice that I didn't say xtians, I said xtianity. Subtle, but a big difference.

Roger J Carlson
10-08-2009, 07:35 PM
It's not a generalization. Would you like me to make a list for you? It eventually became mostly at the hands of the Catholic Church, but it didn't start out that way.

Also, notice that I didn't say xtians, I said xtianity. Subtle, but a big difference.I'd rather not get into that here since it is very off-topic for the Atheist Forum. You have every right to wish for the end of Christianity, but don't rail, then, against those who which to see Judaism end, whether Muslim, Christian, or Atheist.

veinglory
10-08-2009, 07:41 PM
In fact, not making those kinds of generalisation is one of the rules/guidelines of this subforum. Do unto others, etc.

semilargeintestine
10-08-2009, 07:43 PM
I'm perfectly within my rights to rail against those who wish to see the end of Judaism. Judaism doesn't call for the end of any religions except those who engage in idol worship--and even then, it's not our job to end it unless it's within Judaism (i.e., King Hezkiyahu). Islam is not one of them, and neither are certain sects of xtianity.

I don't care what you believe, just don't force other people to convert with the threat of torture or death, and we're good to go.

But it is OT.

semilargeintestine
10-08-2009, 07:44 PM
In fact, not making those kinds of generalisation is one of the rules/guidelines of this subforum. Do unto others, etc.

Which is why I didn't.

Also, it's funny that you just quoted a Jewish and xtian tenet on the atheist subforum. I don't want to start a debate about that, it just made me chuckle.

Roger J Carlson
10-08-2009, 08:02 PM
I'm perfectly within my rights to rail against those who wish to see the end of Judaism. Judaism doesn't call for the end of any religions except those who engage in idol worship--and even then, it's not our job to end it unless it's within Judaism (i.e., King Hezkiyahu). Islam is not one of them, and neither are certain sects of xtianity.

I find the logic of this escapes me utterly, but :Shrug:.

I do, however, apologize the the NT Forum regulars for derailing this thread.

semilargeintestine
10-08-2009, 08:15 PM
Just to explain, I am happy to see the end of an organization that has caused the persecution of multiple peoples simply for not agreeing to join them (not just Jews, but lots of people). If they were nice, I wouldn't care. That is not the same as actively wanting certain people dead.

I also apologize for the derail.

I actually did consider myself atheist for a little while growing up. I don't think I actually was, but I told people I was.

Ruv Draba
10-09-2009, 12:33 AM
There is a growing number of radical atheists that believe Christianity is dangerous and should be stoppedI'm not one of them, but I'm glad to see it gradually defanged from its monocultural first-world dominance. I certainly don't want to see Christians persecuted, but I don't particularly like Christianity as a political power.


There is the persecution of Christians in Burma (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1540121/Burma-orders-Christians-to-be-wiped-out.html), who are "forced to convert to the state religion, Buddhism".And in my lifetime, persecution of Aborigines in Australia, who were removed from their parents and told to become Catholic, Protestant or Mehodist (three kids from the same family might be assigned three different faiths). The difference? Myanmar is under an oppressive military dictatorship. Australia was a free, Christian democracy. Quod erat demonstrandum.


A large number of polygamists are MormonMormons were forced by their mainstream Christian brethren to abandon public support of polygamy. It would be utterly fatuous for mainstream Christianity to now claim Mormonism as its proof of sexual tolerance and pluralism.


Many gays are Christian, even conservative Christian (google Gay Christians).Indeed. One of them is an Anglican friend of mine. He's still a devout Anglican (one of the few left nowadays) and believes with all his heart that he's going to hell. What it would take for him to reconcile his faith with his sexuality would be for key Anglican church leaders to reconcile their pontifications with scientific reality. Unfortunately, they're stuck in schism and so he's utterly tormented. I personally know two gay Catholic priests who have to hide this fact, and have another Catholic gay friend and I don't know where his head is at.


By omission, it also implies that no Christians are willing to let others revere what they what, and I can assure you that is not true.I concur and celebrate that fact. One of my favourite Christians is the retired Cardinal Spong -- a gentleman who'd be welcome to dine at my house on any night of the week. Unfortunately, his faith fails the Nicene Creed test in key regards, and so the Christian mainstream don't recognise his Christian identity. Nonetheless he has a lot of support among post-Christian Christians -- by which I mean, Christians who've left the traditional religion but kept their faith.


What you are doing is comparing the "best" of those categories with the "worst" of religious people. Hardly fair.Not at all. I just think that history has shown repeatedly that a Christian majority aren't wise enough, smart enough, humble enough or ethical enough to govern non-Christians or even the fringes of their own faith. But as a political minority I think the tribes of Christendom will be much smarter, wiser, humbler and more ethical. I certainly don't want to lose the faith from the world, but if politically it won't learn what tolerance really means, then I want to see its power to enforce its intolerance curbed.

JimmyB27
10-09-2009, 03:02 AM
Europe is now a polity, but I meant 'nations such as those in Europe'. I caught the error before you posted about it but figured that it wasn't worth an edit. 'Nation' isn't really correct anyway. It should be 'state'.
Tell that to UKIP. ;)



Indeed. One of them is an Anglican friend of mine. He's still a devout Anglican (one of the few left nowadays) and believes with all his heart that he's going to hell.
I think that's terribly sad.

Ruv Draba
10-09-2009, 04:58 AM
Just to clarify -- because it seems that some contributors may have flown off the handle without actually understanding terms:


a post-Christian world is one where Christianity is no longer the dominant civil religion, but one that has, gradually over extended periods of time, assumed values, culture, and worldviews that are not necessarily Christian (and further may not necessarily reflect any world religion's standpoint). This situation applies to much of Europe, in particular in Central and Northern Europe, where no more than half of the residents in those lands profess belief in a transcendent, personal and monotheistically-conceived deity.
That is not a world without Christianity. It's a world in which a traditional Christian view of reality (including human morality and the treatment of heterodoxy) does not dominate social policy. This was in my original link.

There are some Christians -- especially at the fringes of the faith (which is not to say that they're few in number) whom I think could welcome a post-Christian world, because such a world may cause mainstream Christian institutions to grow more flexible. Depending on how things play out, many non-Christians living in the developed world may also find it much easier to be themselves safely and with respect and dignity.

MGraybosch
10-09-2009, 05:52 AM
Many political leaders in traditionally Christian nations such as Europe now speak of planning for a post-Christian world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postchristianity).

Sweet. Can we work on creating a post-Islamic world as well? I'm sure that millions of Middle Eastern women would appreciate it. :)

William Haskins
10-09-2009, 06:19 AM
When did you say to yourself, " I do not believe in god."

about the same time i said the same about santa claus and the tooth fairy. pre-adolescent.

i played along for another few years, then dropped all pretense.

Don Allen
10-09-2009, 06:43 AM
about the same time i said the same about santa claus and the tooth fairy. pre-adolescent.

i played along for another few years, then dropped all pretense.


Don't start you're "there is no Santa Clause" bullshit with me pal....

Don Allen
10-09-2009, 06:57 AM
A little different take. Weak minds need several things to function properly in society.
some of those things are provided by religions and Gods.
However, God can mean different things to different people, for myself, God isn't a he or a she but more of a "presence of self", the inner voice that guides your morality and gives you strength.

What I detest, is religion as a whole, not any one religion, but the concept of having to follow primitive ritualistic behavior in order to find favor with the God of that particular cult.

I can't think of the book off hand, but I never forgot Ben Franklins take on religion (other than Washington most founding fathers seemed to share this view) that religion was a tool to control the masses.

I see nothing that dissuades me from that view.t recall t

Ruv Draba
10-09-2009, 07:25 AM
Sweet. Can we work on creating a post-Islamic world as well? I'm sure that millions of Middle Eastern women would appreciate it. :)It's interesting, MGb... In Turkey which is a secular state with a 99% Muslim population, women are (theoretically) forbidden from wearing the hijab in public. There's a growing demand among women that they can -- in fact some female TV presenters now do so. I personally think that they ought to be able to (they do in Australia and it causes no comment at all), but there's a fear among some Turks that if it's permitted it may quickly become mandatory... Meanwhile in France, kids are forbidden from wearing religious ornamentation (including hijab or a visible crucifix) in school.

So while a country like Iran or Saudia Arabia might benefit from becoming post-Islamic, I wonder whether Turkey or France might benefit from becoming post-secular -- and given Turkey's demography I wonder if it could do so without becoming Islamic-dominant? :D

For me, this highlights the whole problem here. A lot of Christians automatically assume that post-Christian must mean secular (by which they really mean atheistic-dominant or apathy-dominant). I don't see it that way and unlike Prof. Dawkins I also don't want it that way. A more sensible approach I feel is to protect freedom of reverence, but not enshrine particular reverence for anything in society except one another, our history and our future. After all, isn't that really the spirit of 'civil' in civilisation?

Roger J Carlson
10-09-2009, 05:06 PM
I'm not one of them, but I'm glad to see it gradually defanged from its monocultural first-world dominance. I certainly don't want to see Christians persecuted, but I don't particularly like Christianity as a political power.

And in my lifetime, persecution of Aborigines in Australia, who were removed from their parents and told to become Catholic, Protestant or Mehodist (three kids from the same family might be assigned three different faiths). The difference? Myanmar is under an oppressive military dictatorship. Australia was a free, Christian democracy. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Mormons were forced by their mainstream Christian brethren to abandon public support of polygamy. It would be utterly fatuous for mainstream Christianity to now claim Mormonism as its proof of sexual tolerance and pluralism.

Indeed. One of them is an Anglican friend of mine. He's still a devout Anglican (one of the few left nowadays) and believes with all his heart that he's going to hell. What it would take for him to reconcile his faith with his sexuality would be for key Anglican church leaders to reconcile their pontifications with scientific reality. Unfortunately, they're stuck in schism and so he's utterly tormented. I personally know two gay Catholic priests who have to hide this fact, and have another Catholic gay friend and I don't know where his head is at.

I concur and celebrate that fact. One of my favourite Christians is the retired Cardinal Spong -- a gentleman who'd be welcome to dine at my house on any night of the week. Unfortunately, his faith fails the Nicene Creed test in key regards, and so the Christian mainstream don't recognise his Christian identity. Nonetheless he has a lot of support among post-Christian Christians -- by which I mean, Christians who've left the traditional religion but kept their faith.
All of which misses the point entirely.

You held up "atheists, agnostics, pagans, freethinkers, gays, polygamists, animists, unitarians, Buddhists, post-Christian Christians, and other social misfits" as fellow travelers who are "happy to let others revere what they want". My point was to demonstrate that those groups do not necessarily tolerate dissent -- at least when they are in the majority.

Some of the most repressive governments of the 20th Century were atheist: USSR, Communist China, North Korea. Do I content they were repressive because they were athiest? NO. Only that atheism is not a guarantee of tolerance -- at least when they are in the majority.

The point about Burma is that Buddhists are not necessarily peaceful and tolerant of dissent -- at least not when they are in the majority.

I'm not sure what your point about Mormonism was, but mine was that polygamists are not of necessity tolerant of dissenting views since many polygamists are of the most conservative branches of Mormonism.

And you still deny (by omission) that traditional Christians (ie those who believe and follow the Nicene Creed) can allow others to revere what they want. The example you give is one of your "post-Christian Christians". There are millions of Christians who, while believing you are mistaken in your beliefs, are perfectly willing to let you hold whatever beliefs you want.


Not at all. I just think that history has shown repeatedly that a Christian majority aren't wise enough, smart enough, humble enough or ethical enough to govern non-Christians or even the fringes of their own faith. But as a political minority I think the tribes of Christendom will be much smarter, wiser, humbler and more ethical. I certainly don't want to lose the faith from the world, but if politically it won't learn what tolerance really means, then I want to see its power to enforce its intolerance curbed.That's odd, because the history of the last couple of hundred years have shown that Christian majorities can produce some of the most tolerant countries. At its founding, the US had a definite Christian majority, but chose to create an officially secular government. The US still has a Christian majority, yet it continues to allow more and more tolerance of dissent. European countries were officially Christian, yet have allowed evermore tolerance to the point where they don't actually have a Christian majority.

Frankly, if the Christian majority in the US and Europe had really wanted to enforce their religion on everybody else, there wouldn't have been much anyone could have done. The fact is that Christian majorities are more tolerant of dissent, both in their own ranks (as shown by the number of schisms) and in society, when compared with any other religion (or non-religion) which has a majority in its country.

In your rush to dismantle Christian influence in this world, be very careful about what you replace it with.

Roger J Carlson
10-09-2009, 05:13 PM
Just to clarify -- because it seems that some contributors may have flown off the handle without actually understanding terms:
As I am the only one here defending Christianity, I suppose that means me. I rather resent the "flown off the handle" remark because I never made a reference to "post-Christian Christians", and I believe I've been quite civil.

veinglory
10-09-2009, 06:56 PM
This is an official request for everyone to follow the guidelines about not making derogatory statements about the meta-worthiness of any belief system. Failing that the big lock will be coming out.

Roger J Carlson
10-09-2009, 07:18 PM
Again, I apologize for the derail.

Ruv Draba
10-09-2009, 07:51 PM
You held up "atheists, agnostics, pagans, freethinkers, gays, polygamists, animists, unitarians, Buddhists, post-Christian Christians, and other social misfits" as fellow travelers who are "happy to let others revere what they want".You misinterpreted needlessly. I described the queue as social misfits, and invited Semi or anyone who's happy to let people revere what they want to join them. I did not describe the queue as especially tolerant. I believe you were looking for an excuse for a fight, and found it.

If you want to put the case that a Christian-dominant world is better than all possible alternatives then you need the right forum, the right thread, the right arguments and the right reason to kick that discussion off. I think you've missed on all counts here. You're rebutting something I didn't say, with second-rate arguments that are well below your usual high quality and in utterly the wrong place.

The Myanmar military junta is currently beating the crap out of the Buddhist priesthood. You're darn lucky that one of our Buddhist punters hasn't called you on that and complained to the boss. There are certainly cases of religiously-motivated Buddhist intolerance to be found, but you'll have to look harder to dig them up. The world hates the Myanmar junta; the Burmese hate the junta; the priests hate the junta; the junta's hating them back.

As for your Mormon argument, I think you shot yourself in the foot twice -- once by describing Mormons as intolerant, and twice because Mormons have been so badly treated by other Christian sects that they may well do better in a post-Christian world.

And beyond that, you failed to acknowledge that the people on my list are actually, for the most part, an unusually tolerant bunch. Yet you're attacking me for my omissions. Please, get a grip.

My point was to demonstrate that those groups do not necessarily tolerate dissent -- at least when they are in the majority.I agree. So now what? If you're arguing don't put zealots in power positions I'll second that. :D


And you still deny (by omission) that traditional Christians (ie those who believe and follow the Nicene Creed) can allow others to revere what they want. The example you give is one of your "post-Christian Christians". There are millions of Christians who, while believing you are mistaken in your beliefs, are perfectly willing to let you hold whatever beliefs you want.Christians who don't believe in hell or a punitive god and believe that heaven awaits good non-Christians, are welcome to claim tolerance of non-Christian faiths and I'll not gainsay them. Christians who don't can claim to be 'indifferent' to non-Christian beliefs but not 'tolerant' of them in my books. I really meant it when I said that even now, mainstream Christianity has very little understanding of what tolerance actually means in a modern world.

To try to convey it by analogy Roger, Anglos who feel sorry for Chinese folk for their moral inferiority aren't being tolerant; they're being condescending. Christians who believe in elitist spiritual privileges for Christians only are being condescending in the same way.Condescension is an artefact of supremacism and bigotry. It's not compatible with tolerance, though it is certainly compatible with feigning tolerance.

Nothing in the Nicene Creeds in any version I've read forces Christians to be condescending, yet the mainstream still is. I think that the problem here, Roger, is that you're not in a position to know.

On the basis of our difference in definition I won't reply to your comment about 'tolerant Christian countries'.

In your rush to dismantle Christian influence in this world, be very careful about what you replace it with.I'm not dismantling anything. Mainstream Christianity was failing before I was born, and is continuing to fail for reasons that Christians themselves attribute to its incompetence, bloated privilege, unrepentant deceits and moral ossification. It's not up to me what it gets replaced with -- there are far more believers in the world than non-believers, so it's up to them. I'll still cheer though for anyone -- theist or not -- who puts human dignity above paternalistic condescension.

Ruv Draba
10-09-2009, 07:56 PM
And... sorry for the post-mod post.. I started writing it before Vein's post came out.

I'm done on this.

ResearchGuy
10-09-2009, 07:56 PM
When did you say to yourself, " I do not believe in god."
. . .
Over the course of decades of reading (especially about Christian origins and the religious enviroment of ancient times and the horrors inflicted by organized religion), observing (hypocrisy among prominent preachers and crimes committed by those claiming some special relationship to God), and thinking (about the fact that not everyone can be right in their religious beliefs, but all can be wrong).

I don't get pushy about it, except when really annoyed at someone trying to proselytize me, and sometimes not even then (instead just going with the flow, since I'll never see those people again).

Could not put a specific date or age on it, though.

--Ken

Roger J Carlson
10-09-2009, 08:50 PM
Christians who don't believe in hell or a punitive god and believe that heaven awaits good non-Christians, are welcome to claim tolerance of non-Christian faiths and I'll not gainsay them. Christians who don't can claim to be 'indifferent' to non-Christian beliefs but not 'tolerant' of them in my books. I really meant it when I said that even now, mainstream Christianity has very little understanding of what tolerance actually means in a modern world.And therein lies the difference between us.

My definition of tolerance: We agree that I have the right to believe what I believe, and you have the right to believe what you believe.

Your definition: We agree that I have the right to believe what you believe, and you have the right to believe what you believe.

I very much fear the modern world if that's what tolerance actually means.

YAwriter72
10-09-2009, 08:55 PM
that religion was a tool to control the masses.

I see nothing that dissuades me from that view.

I 100% feel the same way. I see it as nothing more than a way to control people. In the name of religion, some heinous acts have been committed across history. If there was a God, I can't imagine that he or she would condone that.

semilargeintestine
10-09-2009, 08:56 PM
And therein lies the difference between us.

My definition of tolerance: We agree that I have the right to believe what I believe, and you have the right to believe what you believe.

Your definition: We agree that I have the right to believe what you believe, and you have the right to believe what you believe.

I very much fear the modern world if that's what tolerance actually means.

Well said.

Dawnstorm
10-09-2009, 10:08 PM
And therein lies the difference between us.

My definition of tolerance: We agree that I have the right to believe what I believe, and you have the right to believe what you believe.

Your definition: We agree that I have the right to believe what you believe, and you have the right to believe what you believe.

I very much fear the modern world if that's what tolerance actually means.

I tend to think of tolerance as an immuno-metaphor. Something irks you and makes you feel hostile. You develope a tolerance to the extent that you downgrade the hostility enough to make communication fruitful. Tolerance is vital but it's not enough. Tolerance is a provisory peace covering up a festering disease. Without dialogue there is no cure.

This is an atheist board. Many of us have been burnt in one way or another by contact with Christians (parents, maybe, or priests, or teachers...). Thus, reference to Christians is a potential for hurtful associations. Thus we need to work up a "tolerance" for the words, lest they trigger unfair and counterproductive thought patterns. Then we can begin to talk.

Power relations, on a social level, are important, too. How easy is it to get away with disbelieving? How easy is it to resist the word of God? I am an atheist, and my parents are catholic (so am I, on paper). When I'm down, there is a (small) chance that my parents will suggest prayer, or talking to a priest, or that faith would make me a happier person. I hate to hear this when I'm down. What's happening?

I have no doubt that my parents love me and mean well. They find solace in faith; they see I don't have that, and they think that if I were only open minded enough to try this I might find the same sort of solace. For all I know, this might be true. I might be a happier person if I believed in God. Who knows?

The point is, though, that I can't just try. I can't just "try to talk to God", when the concept makes no sense to me in the first place. I hear this again and again. When I'm down, my mental immune system is quite busy, and I don't take the additional load as easily as I normally can. I have less tolerance against Christianity than I usually have.

So: when my parents think that I need God the most is the exact time that I can stand to talk about God the least. This is systematic.

What does this have to do with power relations? Well, to me the issue is best illustrated by confidence:

Christians tend to organise in churces; my parents are members of the Roman Catholic church (as am I - on paper). They both have very different views of who God is or what God wants, but neither of them have the slightest doubt that God exists. Along with this comes a confidence in what's good and right.

In contrast, I have no atheist network to connect to. And if there were one, we would not be praying together. We would bond over our pain, and then we would argue about things, in much the same way we'd argue with Christians. For example, I do not draw any comfort from Ruv's values (I'm not a humanist) in the way I see my parents draw comfort (for all their differences) from a common believe in God.

So I feel pretty much alone, uncertain, insecure - and unsure of what I actually believe in. Not believing in God is an absence of believe, not a believe. In connecting with other people around me I face the choice of being excluded from key rituals (which I don't want to be included in anyway, but it means "social downtime" for me - which is awkward), or accepting missionary impulses (I block them early on).

So when I'm down, there is this creeping suspicion that people try to use my misery as a pretext to get the poor misguided child back into the fold. This is unfair of me, but the feeling is a direct result of differing confidence levels, which in turn is a direct result social power levels. And how do we talk, then? I'm quite sure that I love my parents, and my parents love me, but we have to be careful only to use the language we have in common. They can talk about their values, as long as they don't legitimise them with divinity.

When I'm fine again, everything goes. Normal tolerance level. Dialogue can resume.

So this thread is about when we first became atheists. Do you realise how much the very framing of the question cedes power to theists? There are a few replies here, I think, who state that they've been raised as atheists. This is not a situation that the question's phrasing anticipates; these are emancipation stories. They're stories of breaking away. Framing the stories as liberation, with a subtext of loss. What does an atheist gain?

So, what's this sub-forum for, then? Dreams of a post-Christian world are little but atheist utopias. That may be offensive to Christians but Christian runaways have little to socialise over otherwise. They're too different. I don't like talk of post-Christian X at all, but then - in addition to being an atheist - I'm somewhat of a loner. My need for company isn't that great, and fine, in general, with my insecurities. As it happens, I have to work up a tolerance for post-Christian talk as much as I have to work up a tolerance for Christian missionaries (real or imagined?).

So, in this micro-universe, this atheist sub-forum of a religious sub-forum, the tables are turned - powerwise. Atheism is the default. What does this mean?

If anything, this means that tolerance works the other way round, for once. Clearly, the purpose of this board is not to bash religions, e.g. Christianity. And when you say:


In your rush to dismantle Christian influence in this world, be very careful about what you replace it with.

you have a point. Personally, I don't believe in any kind of revolution. Chaos follows, and chaos favours bullies. I won't like atheist bullies any more than I like Christian bullies. Talk about a rock and a hard place.

So I'm confused what's going on here. Ruv is usually better at dialogue than that, and so are you. Is this territorial quibbles? Are the atheists fighting off the theist invasion? Are the theists worried that atheists islands turn into continents, threatening their securities? What?

We're people. We have emotions. We have our allergies. We need to function in a society. We need to relate to others. We need to live with our allergies. I reiterate: tolerance is important, but it's not enough. And if dialogue is rubbing sore wounds, weakening the tolerance rather than furthering understanding, what good is dialogue? In my ideal world, tolerance is provisional and understanding lasts.

I read much in here, but I post little. I don't really need this sub-forum; the comparative religion sub-forum is more interesting to me - an atheist - yet I post there even less. Why?

What's going on?

Where are the borders? What is the territory?

Help?

Roger J Carlson
10-09-2009, 11:34 PM
Thank you, Dawnstorm. You have given me a great many things to ponder.

AMCrenshaw
10-10-2009, 01:30 AM
And therein lies the difference between us.

My definition of tolerance: We agree that I have the right to believe what I believe, and you have the right to believe what you believe.

Your definition: We agree that I have the right to believe what you believe, and you have the right to believe what you believe.

I very much fear the modern world if that's what tolerance actually means.

If this is a meta-thread derail, I'll join too. It could someday merge with another thread in the comparative religion subforum...

Tolerance is understanding of the other - when this occurs through communication, we have to stress this communication is most desirable when we engage it for everyone's benefit. We aren't always talking about the subjects in these forums, but the processes of understanding (especially if we can't keep definitions straight or at least allow them some communicability) them. I'm not sure that acknowledging the right to believe in something is tolerance, because that doesn't necessarily indicate mutual understanding.



AMC


As a side-note, I might be describing compassion; in another thread we were talking about likenesses, and it might be the stress of compassion across many philosophies, religions, and modes of thought. This isn't universal, but fairly prominent.

Ruv Draba
10-10-2009, 01:33 AM
My definition of tolerance: We agree that I have the right to believe what I believe, and you have the right to believe what you believe.
Apologies for jumping back in.

My definition of tolerance:

We have the right to revere whatever we want, wherever and however we want, subject to peaceful enjoyment and civic safety;
We do not have the right to preach supremacism in civics, metaphysics or eschatology, at all, ever;
We have no civic obligation to tolerate it when others do so.
The difference Roger is that if your church burned down, or Semi's synagogue, or a mosque or a shrine to Kali, I'd rebuild it. If your kids were being mocked by atheists in school, I'd get them to stop. But I wouldn't tolerate your kids telling mine (if we had any) that they're going to heaven and mine are going to hell. However under your credo we're all entitled to be as contemptuous of one another as we like as long as we hide it when anyone in authority is looking.

It's not tolerance, Roger. And the only ones that credo serves are those with in-group authority. Which is rather my point.

Half your key points I agreed with. Nothing makes a people tolerant and compassionate like suffering persecution without the ability to inflict it back. Bring on a society of religious minorities, I say. Decency over paternalistic zealotry.

Roger J Carlson
10-12-2009, 04:54 PM
My definition of tolerance:

We have the right to revere whatever we want, wherever and however we want, subject to peaceful enjoyment and civic safety;
We do not have the right to preach supremacism in civics, metaphysics or eschatology, at all, ever;
We have no civic obligation to tolerate it when others do so.
But that isn't tolerance at all. Not by any definition I can find. It is not the acceptance of differences, it is the denial of differences. It's the adult equivalent of "playing for funzies"; nobody's right, nobody's wrong, let's all hug.

To be truly noble, tolerance must say, "I think your beliefs are dead wrong, but I will defend your right to have them and to preach them."


But I wouldn't tolerate your kids telling mine (if we had any) that they're going to heaven and mine are going to hell. The question is, would you stop your kids from telling my kids there is no heaven? Because if my kids can't say: "There is a hell, and you're going there." (Something I would not allow them to say, btw.) Then your kids shouldn't be able to say, "There is no heaven, and you're not going there."

When your definition of tolerance relies on your perception of the truth or falsity of the belief itself, then it isn't tolerance.


However under your credo we're all entitled to be as contemptuous of one another as we like as long as we hide it when anyone in authority is looking.You seem quite certain what my credo is, which goes back to my original point about generalizations. But your conclusions show that you don't understand my postion at all.

However, if you want to talk about contempt, please take a look at many of the posts in this thread. The contempt is evident. Perhaps it's justified. Dawnstorm makes a valid point about how many atheists have been hurt by religious people, many of them family. That is truly contemptable. But returning contempt for contempt doesn't solve anything. Don't become the very people you despise.