(Closed) Calling All Atheists–Please Give Me Some Insight

posted 8 years ago in The Lounge
Post # 122
Member
1074 posts
Bumble bee

@takemyhand:  I totally agree! It’s not offensive to wish me Merry Christmas either. I do really appreciate when people try to be considerate of my opinions, but like most atheists I grew up in a religous community and it just doesn’t bother me. I do say gesundheit instead of bless you when people sneeze, but that’s really the only religous phrase I avoid using. I certainly don’t expect others to do the same though.

Post # 123
Member
3580 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

@Sunfire:  I was never mad at you, doll.  Quite the opposite.  If I format something and it makes me sound like an a-hole, I would hope to be called out too because that’s obviously not our intention, my sistah from another mistah!  🙂 

Related to pagan culture, yes they are some of the most interesting folks ever (although there are a ton of kooks too, like most religions).  My gay male Bridesmaid or Best Man is a “Wiccan”.  (I bring this up because I only know straight female pagans IRL)Well…but he also loves hinduism but mostly leans toward paganism.  He believes in the healing power of thought and captured energy in geology but also has an altar for pagan related swag and the dieties.  Maybe he’s covering both bases?  It works for him.

The concept of karma has still run through a lot of these atheists posts ‘what goes around, comes around’.  Shouldn’t those posts read ‘shit happens but I try to uncomplicate my life by not being a douche’?  I just find it so interesting.  What do you atheists think?

Post # 124
Member
3580 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

@takemyhand:  I still totally say thank god or god damn it.  I think this is more cultural.  I also switch it up and say thanks Buddha.  😉

Post # 125
Member
313 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

1. In your view, what is responsible for the existence of the universe? Where did the world come from? How did it come into being?

I believe in the big bang theory, but this isn’t really something I think about often because I believe it to be largely unknowable.

2. What are the basic elements of your belief system?

I try to practice compassion as much as possible.  I believe that people are motivated by ego and that suffering is universal, so we need to try not to judge.  I also believe that we are all pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

3. Explain to me in which religion you were raised by your parents, if any. How did your parents approach religion in the home (strict, lax, etc.)?

I was raised without religion.  My parents never really mentioned God or anything but would allow us to go to church with our friends and attend Christian summer camp (there aren’t a lot of non-Christian summer camps around here).

4. What events in your past affected your beliefs about God’s existence (e.g. – I studied biology; comparative religions or anthropology; or I met a boy/girl I liked and was influenced by him/her)?

These are all quite personal so I will try to sum it up as never really seeing much sign of God’s workings in the world.

5. What are your main objections to belief in God’s existence (e.g – suffering; pluralism; hiddenness)?

I believe religion has become a convenient excuse for many evil things in the world and has unfortunately been the basis for way too much unjustice (towards women and minorities, for example).  However, I would never, for example, decide not to be friends with someone because they believed in God.  Everyone is different, obviously.

6. What is your purpose in life, and why did you choose that purpose? Is it just yours, or for everyone else too?

I don’t believe I have a purpose in life.  If I did, it would probably be the same as any other animal on earth.

7. What happens to a person at death?

They decompose.  I don’t believe in the idea of a soul or anything like that.

8. How important is your belief system to you in terms of your decision making process? How does it enter into the ways that you establish priorities and goals?

I don’t think I really think of myself as having a belief system.  The philosophy I most agree with is Buddhism and Buddhist beliefs impact my life quite often.  For instance, I don’t eat meat or fish and I try to acknowledge that everyone is experiencing suffering and therefore we are all essentially going through the same experience.

9. If you could say anything you want about what you perceive to be the Christian community, what would you say? What are the problems with the Christian view of reality? What do you like/appreciate about Christians? What do you not like or appreciate?

I would rather not answer these questions because those who I have been challenged by are not really Christians, in my mind.

10. Is there anything else you think I should know about atheism from your perspective?

Atheists generally do not share as many of the same qualities as those of the same religious group would, I don’t think.  I would never describe myself in conversation as an atheist because there are too many negative connotations and in combination with my philosophical views people would just be too confused most of the time.

11. Please include a little about yourself, for example: age, gender, worldview affiliation, occupation, education level, married or not, etc.

Age: 24.  Gender: F.  Occupation: Childcare.  Education level: Working on B.A.  Will be married in August.

Post # 126
Member
2491 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

@WillyNilly:  It is cultural! I wonder if Christians are offended by us when we use religious sayings in a non-religious way…

Post # 127
Member
4369 posts
Honey bee

@OrchidsandCandles:  I really enjoyed hearing how you put things and your reasoning. I identify with all of it. 

Post # 128
Member
611 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

1. In your view, what is responsible for the existence of the universe? Where did the world come from? How did it come into being?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, and am happy to accept that I will never know. I don’t feel the need to have an answer for these questions. But I do not believe in any of the religious/spiritual explanations that the various religions over human history have proposed.

2. What are the basic elements of your belief system?

I identify with Secular Humanism, which teaches that human morality is not derived from supernatural sources or by the example of God or gods or Jesus. I strive for a life that is loving, kind, fair, and tolerant, and my concept of morality is based entirely on how I believe it is right to treat other people. So, stealing, lying, cheating, or in any way harming people–those are all terrible things, but I don’t believe that because the Bible tells me so, I believe it simply because it’s a basic truth of human nature. Things that some religions label sinful or bad (for example homosexuality, sex before marriage, eating pork, etc) I do not believe to be wrong, because they cause absolutely no harm to anyone else.

3. Explain to me in which religion you were raised by your parents, if any. How did your parents approach religion in the home (strict, lax, etc.)?

My father was raised Catholic, and abandoned it as a teenager; my mother was raised Unitarian. Neither of my parents ever taught me NOT to believe in God; they simply raised me without that element in our lives. Therefore to say our household was secular (existed in the absence of religious belief) is more accurate than to say it was atheist (which is a deliberate disavowal of religion).

4. What events in your past affected your beliefs about God’s existence?

No real specific events; it was just a growing realization when I was a teenager that I didn’t actually believe in the concept of God. The more I learned about the rest of the world, the more my beliefs were reinforced by what I saw. 

5. What are your main objections to belief in God’s existence (e.g – suffering; pluralism; hiddenness)?

Pluralism from a logical point of view–there have been thousands of belief systems over time, and each one firmly believed they were right; therefore I believe none were right, and each was born of the historical era, climate, geology, and cultural practices of where it originated. But also my observation that good fortune and suffering are arbitrary in how they occur; good people suffer terrible things, and terrible people have long, healthy, fortunate lives. I cannot accept the idea that God could deny the prayers of parents losing a child to cancer, yet grant the prayer of a high school student who wants to do well on a final exam.

The hiddennnes of God is NOT one of the main reasons for my disbelief… if there were a supernatural power controlling the universe, I can certainly imagine that it might choose to be undetectable by science and factual observation.

6. What is your purpose in life, and why did you choose that purpose? Is it just yours, or for everyone else too?

As I said above, just to live a life full of good actions and loving relationships. 

7. What happens to a person at death?

We decompose. I do not believe in an afterlife, although I am open to the idea that under some circumstances people may leave “ghosts” behind. Human beings are incredibly complex life forms with our own internal energy sources, and I do not find it impossible to believe that sometimes that energy might leave some kind of imprint behind.

8. How important is your belief system to you in terms of your decision making process? How does it enter into the ways that you establish priorities and goals?

It’s not something that directly informs my decisions, priorities and goals. Since I live my life in the absence of religion, that element that spiritual people might turn to to guide them in making decisions just doesn’t exist for me. I just use logical analysis, and emotion. The main way my lack of belief affects my day-to-day life is when I am constantly reminded that most of the other people feel differently than I do, and would like to use our legislature to impose their beliefs on me and people like me.

9. If you could say anything you want about what you perceive to be the Christian community, what would you say? What are the problems with the Christian view of reality? What do you like/appreciate about Christians? What do you not like or appreciate?

I would insist that the United States is NOT a Christian nation, never has been, and never should be. It should be a secular government with citizens of many different beliefs. But my problems with Christianity do not apply to ALL Christians, only to the ones who insist that everyone should believe as they do, and who want to force everyone to believe as they do. “Because the Bible says so” is not an acceptable reason for why a law should or should not exist. You must accept that the Bible is not the final authority for all humans, only for humans who believe in it. No one is obligated to believe, or to behave according to your beliefs.

I have tremendous respect for Christians whose heart is in the right place — the Bible’s messages of love, tolerance, charity, compassion and kindness are the best that mankind has to offer. So people who reach for those values, through the specific avenue of God and Jesus, are people I respect.

10. Is there anything else you think I should know about atheism from your perspective?

Think I’ve said it all! 

11. Please include a little about yourself, for example: age, gender, worldview affiliation, occupation, education level, married or not, etc.

33, female, designer, two bachelor’s degrees, NYC resident, engaged.

Post # 129
Member
611 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

@StuporDuck:  Yes yes yes THIS! 

Just logically thinking about the Greek God system, in which the Greeks made up fictitious characters to explain events around them— it makes sense. People want answers as to why things happen. Because our earlier ancestors did not have the means to REALLY answer these questions, they started making up things their brains could handle. I think all religions serve this function. And there isn’t anything wrong with a series of stories explaining the unfathomable… but when there is proof to an earthly event that puts the argument to rest, it discredits the concept of “God.””

Post # 130
Member
611 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

@vorpalette:  “I also wish that some Christians would give themselves credit for things that they accomplish, rather than anything and everything that happens is because of God, or that God is going to solve all of your problems if you just pray, pray, pray.”

This is a great point. My best friend has another close friend who is a born-again Christian, who is 36 years old and has been single and living in her parents’ house, working at a job she hates, for at least the last ten years. My friend has said that her friend’s attitude to her life is a resigned, “God will provide.” So instead of taking the initiative to try to change and improve her life, she just falls back on the notion that God has a plan for her and will magically toss some wonderful opportunities into her lap at some undetermined point in the future, and all she has to do is wait. Obviously this is as much to do with this woman’s personality as it is her religion, but I have noticed more than once that sometimes the “God has a plan” mentality is sometimes used by people to abdicate responsibility for their own lives, for taking risks and attempting challenges. And it’s sad.

Post # 131
Member
166 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

I’m just commenting to say I’m impressed with this thread.

 

Post # 132
Member
2491 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

@starbuck:  That entire comment makes me think of the book “Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell. In it, he outlines a chapter about two boys who were geniuses. One was motivated to take initiative and ask questions from an early age. The other boy was taught not to question authority and just accept what he was given. He associates the lack of entitlement and critical inquiry skills to class, but it is the same application. Those who do not seek more, lose out. Those who just accept what is given to them, fail at excelling. Those who question logic, fight for their rights and demand that they are entitled to more, are the ones who hit the high end our societal success.

Post # 133
Member
1714 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2016

@SoupyCat:  Thank you. It is a subject dear to my heart as it were, I feel very strongly about the atrocities committed around the world, and even moreso when they are committed in the name of a higher power. It seems like the idea of a god has enabled many people to simply lose all and any sense of accountability for themselves, and instead just attribute everything to this one being they haven’t even proven exists. 

Post # 134
Member
149 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

Totally going to post my list later, no time at work now!

Post # 135
Member
949 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

 

 

1. In your view, what is responsible for the existence of the universe? Where did the world come from? How did it come into being?

Basically the Big Bang Theory, evolution, and so on. I do think it’s pretty amazing that life as we know it came about, but I find divine involvement in that to be more improbable than the existing scientific theories.

2. What are the basic elements of your belief system?

I wouldn’t call it a belief system, per se, because it isn’t about believing in anything in particular. My moral standpoint is that humans should be good to each other and everything in our world to the best their ability.

3. Explain to me in which religion you were raised by your parents, if any. How did your parents approach religion in the home (strict, lax, etc.)?

I went to a Quaker school for many years, so I’ve adopted a lot of my approaches to the world from that philosophy, i.e. nonviolence, equality, social justice. My parents have been involved in a Quaker meeting, a church related to Unitarianism, and a dash of Buddhism. Pretty lax, I guess. They never even implied that I needed to get on board with any of those belief systems, I just needed to get over myself and come along if the rest of the family was going to meeting, even if I thought it was boring. 🙂

4. What events in your past affected your beliefs about God’s existence (e.g. – I studied biology; comparative religions or anthropology; or I met a boy/girl I liked and was influenced by him/her)?

I don’t think I ever had this progression, it’s more that I never had any particular reason to believe in a god. I do think there is a lot of wonder in the world, and I mean that in a kind of awe-filled way, but I don’t conceptualize it as being embodied in a god-related figure.

5. What are your main objections to belief in God’s existence (e.g – suffering; pluralism; hiddenness)?

I don’t object, especially to other peoples’ belief. The idea just doesn’t get me anywhere. It doesn’t help me be a better person or find meaning in life.

6. What is your purpose in life, and why did you choose that purpose? Is it just yours, or for everyone else too?

My purpose is whatever I choose for it to be. I choose to work towards communication and connection between people through my profession, and to be loving and caring to all of life and the planet to whatever degree I find myself able.

7. What happens to a person at death?

Rationally, I believe we just die and our individual consciousness no longer exists. When I’m feeling mystical, reincarnation from a Buddhist perspective appeals to me, but I can’t make an argument that it actually happens. 

8. How important is your belief system to you in terms of your decision making process? How does it enter into the ways that you establish priorities and goals?

As I’ve said, I think having a positive effect on the world around me is important, so I try to work towards that. 

9. If you could say anything you want about what you perceive to be the Christian community, what would you say? What are the problems with the Christian view of reality? What do you like/appreciate about Christians? What do you not like or appreciate?

The Christian community is very diverse and holds a lot of very distinct world views. I’m all about Christians who actually adhere to the teachings of Jesus, who, to my mind, was a very special person (whether he existed or was the son of God or any of that) and had a lot of useful teachings. What I’m very against are the people who use religion, any religion, to consolidate power and control others.

10. Is there anything else you think I should know about atheism from your perspective?

I’m not even sure I identify as atheist or agnostic, though they’re useful labels. I’m just not religious, it’s not a central belief in the way religion is for some. 

11. Please include a little about yourself, for example: age, gender, worldview affiliation, occupation, education level, married or not, etc.

25, female, not sure what worldview affiliation means here, my field is pretty specific so I’d rather not indicate it here, but it’s loosely in education, master’s degree, soon to be married.

Post # 136
Member
2319 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

Wow! Awesome responses!

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