My path to atheism: Yours? Rebuttals?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Dinosaur, Apr 1, 2017.

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  1. Ted Grant II Registered Senior Member

    As a child I didn't question religion as it never occurred to me to do so.
    It was just another 'thing' in the world.
    When I was 16, I bought a motor scooter from a workmate. I had to collect it from his house. When I arrived, everybody in the house were just leaving to go to a Church service. They insisted that I join them and although my desire was to drive away on my first vehicle, I didn't want to appear rude, so I went along. It was a scary service, with people shouting religious declarations and a woman at the back fell on the floor wriggling and babbling. Later, I found out that she was overcome by the Holy Spirit. The pastor asked all new people to come out to the front to be 'saved'. I was too shy to comply. All I wanted to do was get out and drive home.

    Later, in University, one of my friends suddenly got converted by the resident Church group and I was quite upset that we didn't get on any more. We kept having arguments. He kept quoting Bible passages, which were alien to me, as I had never read the Bible. When I was in my second year, I decided that I should read the Bible to find out for myself exactly what all the fuss was about. I expected to be very impressed.

    I read it and made copious notes, which I still refer to, more that 50 years later.
    I do not believe the Bible is the word of any god.
    I suspect it does contain some truth, such as wars that can be confirmed by other sources.
    Much of the Bible, in my opinion, is beautifully written literature designed to convert people.
    It is, of course, a collection of books, originally chosen by the evolving Church that we now call the Roman Catholic Church.
    Until very recently, that Church was the only Christian Church and was very powerful indeed, as it was supported by the Roman Empire.
    I also believe that most, perhaps all, of the books were written by the ancestors of the Jews.
    They were not intended to be put together as be have them now and many other books were left out.

    As I cannot accept the Bible and as I have no other sources that interest me, then I have no reason to believe God exists.

    I think belief in God is pointless as it doesn't explain the origin of the Universe. How did he do it ?
    I think we learn morals from other people, especially our parents, friends, teachers, TV etc.
    We don't need belief in God to explain these things.

    For those of you who derive some comfort from your beliefs, congratulations, but please do not give your hard earned money to any religious guy or organization. As far as we know, Jesus didn't need money and seemed to prefer poor people. If he does return to judge people at the end of the world, he will not look kindly on any preacher that has nice clothes, a big car or a private jet.

    So remember, giving money to your preacher is going to harm him!
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2017
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  3. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    From DaveC426913 Post 7
    What I actually posted was
    Hypocritical does not seem close to a synonym for demonic.
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  5. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Not synonym: intermediate step.

    I don't follow the step(s)
    from: 'that was a demonic request' and 'this guy is evil'
    to: 'I don't believe in God at all'.

    The latter does not directly follow from the former. What was the middle step?
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  7. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Also, they keep telling you "Prayer works." It doesn't, but when you're helpless praying feels you're doing something, and if you keep convincing yourself that a god is paying attention*, then praying gives you the illusion of doing something effective. That's why some monastic orders dedicate their whole lives to payer - as if it were actual work. Obviously, I have a lot more respect for the ones that make wine or cheese, or train helper dogs or tend lepers.

    *To anyone pointing out that prayer hasn't worked, a priest will say "Sometimes the answer is No."
    Which puts you right back at square one: pray or not, believe or not, something beyond your control is going to happen.
    Might as well save the tithes and candles.
  8. river

    Hmmm.....atheism , is really about the rejection of the three abrahamic religions .
  9. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    And all the other ones.
  10. river

    So what spiritually matters to you ?
  11. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    I don't know what you mean by spiritual.
  12. river

    Good question .

    The metaphysical philosophy of being .
  13. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    That sounds impressive.

    But answers nothing.

    First, metaphysics is a branch of philosophy.
    So to say "metaphysical philosophy" is tautological with regard philosophy.

    Second, metaphysics is generally understood to be the philosophy of being (and all that might entail, such as existence, properties etc).

    So your statement is simply a tautology.
    Either you could have said "philosophy of being" or simply "metaphysics".

    And then we have your notion that this is an answer to the question of what is meant by "spiritual".
    Do you honestly mean that whenever you see the word spiritual you simply mean "metaphysics"?

    Or is there a particular metaphysical view you hold that explains what you mean by the word spiritual?
    If so, what is that view, please?
    Yazata likes this.
  14. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    No. It is not. It is really about not being a theist.

  15. superstring01 Moderator


    A lot of people come to the conclusion that atheism is an ideological committment, like being a passionate Zoroastrian or Muslim. I guess one could be. I admit it. There has to be at least a few people out there who are evangelical atheists. But by and large, the word "atheist" is simply the closest approximation to what I believe. I'm not particularly fond of the word because it ends up occupying a box in peoples' minds that "Baptist" or "Hindu" fits into: "Oh, that's just your existential belief." It isn't, at least not for me. They don't make a word for: skeptical agnostic-atheist-materialist-humanist-pragmatic-utilitarian. So, when pressed, I just say, "Meh. agnostic-atheist-ish."
  16. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    So your question is, what matters to me in terms of the philosophy of being? Maybe thinking about being itself, not trying to fit our being into a narrative of divine purpose.
  17. StrangerInAStrangeLand SubQuantum Mechanic Valued Senior Member

    The problem is not with the word. The problem is with the people not understanding the word, not trying to understand it & many not wanting to understand. Many refuse to accept it when it is explained to them. Some who do not know what theist means think they know what atheist means. Some say atheism is an ism because it ends with that when, of course, the whole point of the word is NOT theism.
    If we do not use the word because people insist on misunderstanding, we will need another word & eventually we will have the same misunderstanding with that word.

  18. superstring01 Moderator

    My general frustration too is in word meanings.

    A lot of people think that because I call myself an atheist, that I'm making an affirmative assertion: "There are no deities." Sure, that can be what an atheist says. My only assertion is, "I hold no particular belief in any deities." I couldn't even go so far as to say, "I believe no deities exist," though I do lean slightly towards that. I also confess that I cannot know and that it cannon be known at all right now, thus the "agnostic" part.
  19. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    For me, it is nothing more than rejection of the supernatural as a principle in my life.
    Whether something that might be classified as a deity might or might not possibly exist, in some form, in some way, is of no consequence - what I'm rejecting are the stories told by duly constituted religious bodies.
    They're fine as mythology, as literature, as a historical factor, as cultural background noise, as an imaginary insurance policy that many people buy, much as they buy 'protection' from less subtle and sophisticated racketeers.
    It's just not something I want - either for myself personally, or as a force in the making of the secular laws by which I'm expected to live.
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  20. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Yes this is more or less the position that Dawkins was forced to concede, in his debate with the Archbishop of Canterbury in Oxford a few years ago. He admitted, rather through gritted teeth, that he was strictly speaking, technically agnostic.

    But I agree it seems fair to allow those people, who consider themselves in practice atheist but who concede the non-existence of God cannot be proved, to invoke Ockham's Razor and say, given the absence of any evidence in favour of God's existence, that they have "no need of that hypothesis" (Laplace).
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  21. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    LOL, I like that picture, through gritted teeth. Dawkins can be kind of a dick, as all zealots can be.
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  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    As for me...

    When it comes to Yahweh, Allah, Krishna, Vishnu and Shiva, and all the named deities of that sort (Zeus, Osiris, Isis...), I don't believe that the names correspond to supernatural beings. (They do correspond to ideas, beliefs and items of mythology, however that works).

    So I'd say that makes me an atheist when it comes to revealed theology.

    But, when it comes to the ultimate metaphysical questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? Why does reality display the order it does? What was the first cause and what caused that? What is the most fundamental level of being from which everything else emerges? ... I have to admit that I don't have a clue what the answers are.

    Since things like first cause are traditionally been treated as divine attributes and have traditionally been the objects of theistic 'proofs', I have to say that I'm an agnostic rather than an atheist when it come to natural theology.
  23. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    As for my path to atheism/agnosticism or whatever I am, I never had any religious faith to lose, so I never went through any wrenching conversion experience where I stopped believing in God, identifying as a Christian or any of those things.

    My childhood home was very secular in an unusual way. My Dad was an aeronautical engineer and during my earlier years he was an Air Force officer. He was always scientific and this-worldly. My Mom was a... a spy, I guess. She was a civilian employee of the defense department who worked in intelligence. She was probably chosen for that job based on her academic background (religious studies at the U. of Chicago).

    Mom and Dad met each other in post-war Japan where they were both serving and were married by a Japanese magistrate in Yokohama. They honeymooned by climbing Mt. Fuji, staying in the pilgrim inns. They used to visit shrines and temples in their time off and collected Buddhist art, amassing a pretty good collection. We observed the Christian holidays (Christmas, Easter) but as holidays, not as something religious.

    I was tremendously influenced by my mother, who excelled far more than I do in her selfless Buddhist compassion. Her attitude towards religion was that something transcendent definitely existed, in the sense that there's much more to reality than this (imagine waving your arm around) but nobody really knows what it is. Each religious tradition kind of strives towards it, highlighting particular aspects like that Indian parable of the blind men and the elephant. (One feels its leg and says, 'An elephant is like a tree', one feels its trunk and says 'an elephant is like a snake'.) So while she didn't literally believe any tradition's doctrines in their entirety, she didn't reject them as bullshit either. Her idea was that there's an element of truth to be found in all of them and they all need to be treated with respect.

    I'm a pea from the same pod, I guess, and have always felt the same way. That's why I've never shared atheism's passionate anger and hostility towards religion. I've never considered religion stupid. (Perhaps that's why I'm more comfortable calling myself an agnostic than an atheist.) Instead, religion has always attracted and fascinated me in much the way that art does. The sense of being surrounded by the mysterious and the unknown is probably a big part of what motivated me to study philosophy in university.

    I guess that I'm more inclined these days to think of the value of religion in terms of practice than in terms of metaphysics. (Maybe that's the Buddhist influence.) Walking a religious path isn't so much about what people believe as it is about what they do. Christianity seems to emphasize belief, but Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism and the others are typically more about praxis: about prayer, about meditation, about cultivating virtue. All of those things have their effects on the people doing them and are engines of self-tramsformation.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
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