FacebookTwitter
Hatrack River Forum   
my profile login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Life without religion - a look back (Page 2)

  This topic comprises 4 pages: 1  2  3  4   
Author Topic: Life without religion - a look back
rollainm
Member
Member # 8318

 - posted      Profile for rollainm   Email rollainm         Edit/Delete Post 
Tom and 0Mb:

I hear your words, and they certainly make plenty of sense. I've mostly heard and thought it all before (and continue to do so). It still doesn't make the fear go away. I'm fairly sure it will fade eventually. Or I'll get used to it anyway. Even now, through it all, I am still living my life. I love my life. I love living.

"That said, the idea of oblivion after death scares me. But it scares me. And part of the point of oblivion is that there's not going to be any of me left to mind not being around; at the very point at which I'd encounter the horror of nothingness, I'd be unable to experience stuff. So I try not to worry about it, since it's almost definitionally irrelevant."

I like that. A lot. It actually helps. Thank you.

Posts: 1945 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
neo-dragon
Member
Member # 7168

 - posted      Profile for neo-dragon           Edit/Delete Post 
When it comes to oblivion, there's literally nothing to fear. [Wink]
Posts: 1569 | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ikemook
Member
Member # 9973

 - posted      Profile for Ikemook   Email Ikemook         Edit/Delete Post 
Rollainm,

I went through a lot of the same feelings you're having now, until I finally realized what was wrong. It took 3 or so years for me to finally embrace life without God/Gods. So it might take a while.

So, in addition to TomDs and 0Megs excellent advice, here are some bits of thought of mine.

First, something one of my professors told me. It was actually concerning an ethnographic research project I was planning; specifically, I was designing questions for interviews. To paraphrase, he said that at some point I had to stop theorizing and trying to work out what questions to ask, and just start asking them. I could revise the questions along the way.

It was helpful advice, both for my research and for my personal "issues." There came a point where I was at the bottom of what I know as the existential hole, where all my doubt and anxiety had reduced me to feeling completely purposeless. At that point, oddly enough, I just got tired of it all, and decided to pick a direction, pick a purpose, and go for it. If it didn't work out, I'd learn from it, accept the consequences, and pick a new one. This worked rather well, over time, as it got me going again.

So, if all else fails, choose and act. Pick something that seems to make your life meaningful, and go for it. If it doesn't work out, accept the consequences and pick something else.

=================

The other bit is more philosophical, and involves a strange realization I had that helped me get over my fear. I *think* this is very similar to what TomD said.

When faced with the reality of the lack of intrinsic meaning and purpose to life, I had a choice. I could approach my life positively, imbuing it with meaning. Or I could approach it negatively, and not. The key here is that either option is a choice that I make. Thus, to see my life as purposeless is not so much to see it "as it is," but to choose to not imbue it with meaning. In other words, if my life is meaningless, it is because I chose (albeit without realizing it ^_~) to see it as meaningless.

For me, this was a very profound observation. If I desired for my life to have meaning, I needed to first change my perspective. To begin to interpret my life in a way that imbued it with meaning.

This wasn't necessarily any easier to accept, at least at first. But I found that it helped me realize that I was responsible for the meaning in my life, and that any lack of meaning or purpose must be addressed by myself. If I want my life to have meaning, I need to do things and view things in a manner that gives my life meaning.

When I finally changed my perspective, things became much better, and my fear and anxiety over a perceived lack of purpose gradually disappeared.

=================

Also, might I suggest a book. David Cortesi's Secular Wholeness, A Skeptic's Path to a Richer Life. It's a very interesting and easy-to-read book with suggestions and thoughts on how to make life meaningful. It's focused on basic things: basic ethical codes, relationships, etc, and has some good suggestions. Not a very philosophical book, and very easy to read. I found it to be useful, and recommend it for people who are having this kind of trouble.

--David

Posts: 17 | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rollainm
Member
Member # 8318

 - posted      Profile for rollainm   Email rollainm         Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks David. This is encouraging. What is most encouraging of all, though, is simply the reassurance that others have gone through a similar phase in their lives and come out the other end relatively unharmed. I know I'm not unique in this respect, but it's always comforting to hear it from others.

Your book recommendation is noted. However, it's quite possible that by the time I get to it I won't need it anymore (hopefully anyway [Smile] ). I've just begun what I hope will be a very rewarding self study of philosophy, and there are quite a few books on my list that I'm intent on getting through before even looking at anything else.

Posts: 1945 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ikemook
Member
Member # 9973

 - posted      Profile for Ikemook   Email Ikemook         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Your book recommendation is noted. However, it's quite possible that by the time I get to it I won't need it anymore (hopefully anyway [Smile] ). I've just begun what I hope will be a very rewarding self study of philosophy, and there are quite a few books on my list that I'm intent on getting through before even looking at anything else.
That's good. I also found that studying philosophy (especially reading up on epistemology) and science helped a lot of my doubt. I'm currently attempting to read through some of it, but that might have to stop soon. I have graduate school-related matters to attend to.

But anyway, reading philosophy, history, science, and other similar topics helped bring a lot of clarity to my mind, which made me more confident in my beliefs. In particular, studying language--symbolism in language and though, the uses of language, a few bits and some reflection on the nature of statements and propositions--as well as logic in general helped a great deal.

The best thing I found is to start with people and the limitations of perception. How people think and construct thoughts (through language) was, for me, a good foundation from which to build my beliefs. I'm still working on this now, in fact. As soon as I finish applying for grad school, and finish writing this paper, I'm going to go back to my studies of philosophy.

This is all, of course, only a suggestion, of course. It might very well be different for you, which is perfectly fine ^_^ It seems, to me, to be different for everyone.

And now, I gotta get to bed. I need to be awake in like 5.5 hours or so, so I can spend all day excavating.

G'luck with your reading!

--David

Posts: 17 | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Juxtapose
Member
Member # 8837

 - posted      Profile for Juxtapose   Email Juxtapose         Edit/Delete Post 
I've heard it said that everyone was "dead" for several billion years before they were born, and no one seems much bothered by it. Tongue-in-cheek as it is, it's a perspective that's given me comfort now and again.
Posts: 2907 | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
BlueWizard
Member
Member # 9389

 - posted      Profile for BlueWizard   Email BlueWizard         Edit/Delete Post 
The problem for me has never been God; it's been religion. Religion is the bane of God.

First, we have hyper-personified God. We have made him over into our own image because that is the only context within which we can pretent to understand him. So, I can see why people reject this hyper-personified God. I mean all he really seems to be is Santa Claus's brother; 'got a list checking it twice; going to find out whose naught and nice'.

And if you are not nice, he is going to smite you up one side and down the other. He is a vengeful God. Again, how can any one truly believe in this hyper-personified God?

Now, it is OK to use a personified God simply as a means of relating to him and discussing him; a metaphor. His true nature is so incomprehensible, that we really have no choice. The problem comes in when you start to believe that the metaphor truly is God.

I like OSC's description of 'Outside' in 'Xenocide' and 'Children of the Mind'. When Jane discover faster than light speed travel, she simply move things outside the universe, and then back in at a new location. OCS's description of 'Outside' comes a lot closer to God and Heaven than the fairytales they tell you in church. At least to me anyway.

On a local level, I think my churches intentions are good. But religion in a broader context and as a bureaucracy is one of the most historically and consistently corrupt organizations to have ever existed on the face of the earth.

I do think that away from the corruption of the Church and religion, people's spiritual beliefs can be very comforting. If I were adviser to the Communist Party, I would tell them to allow and encourage religion even if they don't believe in it, because it gives the masses comfort and hope.

Even if it is false comfort and hope, it still makes them more productive and more cooperative citizens. Very very foolish of the Communist Party to try to suppress religion; totally counter productive.

I do have spiritual beliefs; after a fashion, I do believe in God, but only as the combined collection of all the spiritual essence in the universe. Heaven, by extension, is being part of that spiritual essence that lives on after death.

But, Santa Claus's brother, fields of perfect meadows, and lakes of fire; no thanks. That has far more to do with power on earth than it does a picture of heaven.

Steve/BlueWizard

Posts: 803 | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
0Megabyte
Member
Member # 8624

 - posted      Profile for 0Megabyte   Email 0Megabyte         Edit/Delete Post 
The weird thing is, I don't have a problem with God.

Any of them!

Neither the Christian God, Lord Brahma, nor a Deistic being who started the universe and nothing else.

Seeing no evidence for any supernatural entity, I don't see why to bother believing in them, since it would be the same as believing in a celestial teapot orbiting Mars becaus ethere's no proof there isn't one there, somewhere.

However, the concept of Outside touched a chord with me, too, BlueWizard! Best description ever.

In only aiuas were real. That would be nice, and not TOO surprising.

Posts: 1577 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
BlueWizard, your description of God is not far from mine.

quote:
Now, it is OK to use a personified God simply as a means of relating to him and discussing him; a metaphor. His true nature is so incomprehensible, that we really have no choice. The problem comes in when you start to believe that the metaphor truly is God.


Exactly.
Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Flaming Toad on a Stick
Member
Member # 9302

 - posted      Profile for Flaming Toad on a Stick   Email Flaming Toad on a Stick         Edit/Delete Post 
Steve, I seem to remember having a conversation with you about something in the same vein as this.

*searches*

EDIT: Found.

Posts: 1594 | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
JonnyNotSoBravo
Member
Member # 5715

 - posted      Profile for JonnyNotSoBravo   Email JonnyNotSoBravo         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by 0Megabyte:
My moral concepts were totally unrelated to those of Christ or Paul or the Old Testament God anyway, just the same way most of our moral concepts aren't.

You didn't elaborate on your moral concepts, but one of mine, as an atheist, is to do unto others as I would have them do unto me, which is very biblical. I also very much agree with the one-law-above-all-others philosophy, "love thy neighbor as thyself." I think that was quoting Jesus from the New Testament. I don't believe in the divinity of Christ or the concept of a god, but I do agree with some of their basic moral concepts, and believe those concepts existed before Judeo-Christian religions.

I also believe that the main purpose of my life here is to be happy overall and create happiness in others. I think that's a zen buddhist philosophy, but I don't know anything about buddhism. If believing in a religion leads to greater happiness for some people than not, then I'm all for it. More happiness means less stress and generally a longer life, all other factors being equal. I think religion can lead to that kind of happiness for people. It gets people off of drugs and alcohol. It provides a support network for the poor, the lonely, the sick and the dying. It has a wonderful mechanism for dealing with death. All of these things can reduce stress.

It's funny that you mentioned Carl Sagan and his tools for rationalism, because I don't think he was an atheist, and he talks about that in The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. He was a skeptic, though, and not a strong believer in conventional religion.

Posts: 1423 | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Earendil18
Member
Member # 3180

 - posted      Profile for Earendil18   Email Earendil18         Edit/Delete Post 
0Megabyte, first off.

DUDE, I live in Spokane too, I totally know what you're talking about! I didn't realize there were other Spokanites on this board. That just fills me with joy!

Second, I think religion has too much of a social aspect to be of any use. Conform or be ostracized!

Joseph Campbell describes universal mythology themes and symbols that occur in every religion across the world. Have you read The Power of Myth? It's fascinating, and enlightening, I can lend it to you.

/thumping

My own beliefs at this point I've labeled as:
Agnostic With Judeo-Christian Tendencies [Big Grin]

I've decided that there are certain "principles" that are shared by various religions, and certain natural laws that can be used as such (Action has a reaction, for one). I'll never forget when I was told I was going to hell for being Jewish, and that's when this whole investigation started really.

Remember the thread on Missionaries? Eyeahhh, that's related. [Blushing]

Posts: 1236 | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
BlackBlade
Member
Member # 8376

 - posted      Profile for BlackBlade   Email BlackBlade         Edit/Delete Post 
Steve/BlueWizard: For some of us its the making God into an incomprehensible being that can be whatever the user wants Him to be that makes Him utterly useless.

But I can agree with you that belief becomes dangerous when folks think other's need to get with the program and accept their version of the truth even if they don't want to.

Posts: 14316 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rollainm
Member
Member # 8318

 - posted      Profile for rollainm   Email rollainm         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
BlueWizard, your description of God is not far from mine.

quote:
Now, it is OK to use a personified God simply as a means of relating to him and discussing him; a metaphor. His true nature is so incomprehensible, that we really have no choice. The problem comes in when you start to believe that the metaphor truly is God.


Exactly.
I've never understood this. The more I try the less I get it.
Posts: 1945 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post 
I think the idea is that it enables you to live your life exactly as if there were no God, but to claim otherwise. [Wink] *ducks*
Posts: 37449 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
The idea is that God is infinite and uncomprehensible and so we have to understand God by use of metaphor - in small bite-size pieces. We understand what parts of the idea that we can.

We also try to live in relationship with this infinite and uncomprensible. So we use ideas like Father or Lord, for example. More often these days we are likely to use Mother or Creator or Friend.

The problem, as Steve points out, is when we start to believe that the metaphor we use to imaging one part of an infinite concept is the reality.

I don't see how this enables one to act as if there were no God.

Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rollainm
Member
Member # 8318

 - posted      Profile for rollainm   Email rollainm         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
The idea is that God is infinite and uncomprehensible and so we have to understand God by use of metaphor - in small bite-size pieces. We understand what parts of the idea that we can.
How does one come to such a conclusion so confidently?
Posts: 1945 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Telperion the Silver
Member
Member # 6074

 - posted      Profile for Telperion the Silver   Email Telperion the Silver         Edit/Delete Post 
Here is a tale of my leaving religion and other angst.
Posts: 4953 | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
Which conculsion? That the infinite can't be completely understood? That we understand the various bits that we can? Or that it exists at all?

The first two seem self-evident to me. The last is faith.

Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
0Megabyte
Member
Member # 8624

 - posted      Profile for 0Megabyte   Email 0Megabyte         Edit/Delete Post 
Earendil:

Oh, you live here in Spokane as well, then? How interesting, and very cool!

So my perspective is not just my imagination then? Outside of college, it doesn't seem a good idea to mention my beliefs. Hmm.

Johnny:

" I think religion can lead to that kind of happiness for people. It gets people off of drugs and alcohol. It provides a support network for the poor, the lonely, the sick and the dying. It has a wonderful mechanism for dealing with death. All of these things can reduce stress."


Yet. The problem is, and this is a big problem, I'm not fond of lies and delusions, regardless of their positive values.

The fact is, to have a mindset that will value believing something without any evidence, which in some cases makes believing without any evidence a virtue, that makes people ignore evidence and go only with what they wish to be true... that sort of mindset is the most dangerous thing in the world, and the cause of far too much evil to count.

Posts: 1577 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rollainm
Member
Member # 8318

 - posted      Profile for rollainm   Email rollainm         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Which conculsion? That the infinite can't be completely understood? That we understand the various bits that we can? Or that it exists at all?

The first two seem self-evident to me. The last is faith.

The latter mostly (I suppose my rhetoric should have been more obvious -obviously weíre going to have a disconnect where faith is concerned), but also the confidence in the idea that God is so incomprehensible that that he can only be understood metaphorically.
Posts: 1945 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by Lord Solar Macharius:
this while reading your post and the trumpet hit at exactly the same time as I read the word trumpet. Coincidence? I think not.

[ROFL] The thing is, God does have a sense of humor, and he likes making little jokes like that. So I totally can believe it might have been a tiny message to you that someone is listening and cares. On the other hand it might have been just coincidence. [Smile]
Posts: 6246 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
I don't see how this enables one to act as if there were no God.
If there were no God, Kate, what would you do differently?
Posts: 37449 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MightyCow
Member
Member # 9253

 - posted      Profile for MightyCow           Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
[ROFL] The thing is, God does have a sense of humor, and he likes making little jokes like that. So I totally can believe it might have been a tiny message to you that someone is listening and cares. On the other hand it might have been just coincidence. [Smile]

I like to think that God loves coin flips to come up heads, but that he jokes with us by only making that happen half the time.
Posts: 3950 | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Nathan2006
Member
Member # 9387

 - posted      Profile for Nathan2006   Email Nathan2006         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
The evil, vindictive bastard who was so insecure he'd throw people into eternal torment because their honest attempts to believe in him were inaccurate? I never believed in such a being anyway.
Me either. :~) Neither do most christians (I can't speak for any of the other gullible, delusional people who believe lies, as I've never been anything but a Christian delusional person who believes lies.)

quote:
But I can be honest about it now. The Bible could be used to support my views if I cherry-picked verses, sure, but if you cherry-picked another way, you could support slavery, the annihilation of all people other than your specific group of Christian faithful, and all sorts of other evils.

As can be said for most any religious text.

quote:
What moral use is a book whose moral message depends entirely on what you want it to mean?
I would say that that depends more on the person reading it, than the book itself. [Wink]

quote:
That's my observation. I could be wrong. But the purpose of mentioning that is to show my realization, true or not, that my morals aren't based on it.
Understood. But, I think that would depend on which cherry-picked verses you read. Perhaps your morals line up quite nicely with another 'angle' of the Bible. If it can say anything, then you can further validate your atheism with it.

quote:
As for the general public, sure there are others that have my views. But based on a combination of the beliefs most people tend to possess here, and random chance, I don't dare just mention it to a stranger, because, well, Christians don't react well, at least not conservative Christians.

I assume that you haven't met every christian in Spokane, thus making you unqualified to say that none of them will react well. In fact, I doubt that you've met every conservative Christian in Spokane either.

I also find it interesting that you would consider a Christian's political beliefs as being pertinent when you are talking about Christians reactions to your atheism. I find that true Christian love transcends political barriers. At least occasionally.

Sorry. Pet peeve. I'm pro-life, thus I'm conservative. I'm for gay marriage, now I'm liberal. I'm a christian, now I'm a fundementalist christian who feels persecuted all the time, and berates athiests I meet on the streets.

quote:
It's not so much that I go out anyway, it's that I know how people were when I was a Christian, and it's too much of a hassle to go out and take that risk with every new person I meet.

How do you introduce yourself to people? I hardly ever say "Hi, I'm Nathan, and I'm a christian. Conservative too."

Be prepared, this next part is a sentence that I can't find a way to soften at all. Sorry. I'm really not angry, I'm not trying to be hurtful, and this can really be taken the wrong way.

Okay, here goes.

It seems that every person in Spokane has a problem with your atheism.

Or, perhaps it is not the people of Spokane that are causing your discomfort. Maybe, you aren't quite as happy and contented as you think you are.

I could easily be wrong, but I know with me, personally, I sometimes project my insecurities into other people's 'opinions' of me. Maybe you're doing that too.

Or perhaps I'm totally reading into this too much, and have just made a completely unecessariliy offensive comment. [Embarrassed]

quote:
The thing about religion, everyone recognizes how silly other peoples' beliefs are. However, when it comes to theirs, even if they're just as silly, many refuse to see it.
I know you haven't met me, so that means that, at the very most, every religious person minus one feels that way.

quote:
It's like people turn off... no, people DO turn off their rational abilities when it comes to these beliefs they were taught as children. I know I did!
Just as somebody could turn off their intuitive abilities to know that they are discontented. But, this is getting semantic-ish. I'll digress.

quote:
The problem is, trying to gain any moral knowledge from the Bible is not going to go well. If you read the whole thing, you'll see a dozen competing moralities.

Of course, the Ten Commandments? They weren't for us. By "Thou shalt not kill". it meant, "Thou shalt not kill Jews, but the heathens? Have at it."

I find that you are either being diliberately obtuse, or you have little real understanding of the Bible, perhaps due to a personal bias, perhaps due to an inablitity to read beyond a literal interpretation of text.

I know you don't believe the Bible, so understanding it is of little importance to you, but if you're going to go around quoting it, however roundabout you are about it, it's preferable you study it a little bit more.

The killing thing... It's rather uncomplicated. There was a whole letter of the law vs. spirit of the law mentality (Please ignore the terminology, I'll explain it in a very uncomplicated manner.) mentioned in at least one of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), where Jesus pretty much showed how intent mattered. If you so much as hate your brother, you've committed murder. That kind of thing. You may kill by accident, or in self-defense, and it's not murder, but you could hate a person, and it is murder.

In the old testament, I believe God told them to take the promise land, and he did tell them to kill people. So, generally, killing whatever gentiles hung around the area wasn't sinning, as God told them to do it, and they killed for him. Their intent was to serve God. And, they never were pro-actively hunting all the non-christians. They didn't start a crusade across Europe and Asia and kill everybody. At the very least, it was frowned upon by God. [Wink]

Perhaps I learned a different 'angle' of it than you did, with different cherry-picked verses, but the Bible seems rather consistent to me. I don't have to warp it to get it to make sense to me, and it truly is the word of God, to me.

And for all those people eagerly clicking their quote buttons so that they can put in bold the words 'to me' every time I use them, you must not be very familiar with my posts, as I consistently put 'to me' in there on purpose, to show that this is *my* particular experience. To me -- Two words that serve to limit a lot of presumption.

You may now quote all of the inadvertantly presumpteous statements in my post, to show me how I didn't use the words 'to me'.

And, please, nobody search the Bible trying to find two contradictory statements for me to 'explain'. Though flattered that your admiration of my explanation of the 'thou shalt not kill' has promted you to ask for another explanation, I'd prefer not to continue along that line of questioning.

It's so easy to find them, too. We are told to live our lives, letting our light shine like a city on a hill, but we are also told to hide our good deeds, lest we embarass those we help.

In Proverbs, we are told not to argue with fools, for it's a waste of our time, and in the next verse we are told to set fools straight, or they will have a swelled head. Two contradictory statements were put next to each other for a reason, and through those verses we are to extract an interpretation. I don't think it was sloppy writing. And, because I believe that the Bible was written entirely by God, I don't think any of his contradictions are unintentional.

And finding them is just a matter of... Picking cherries.

quote:
It's like... one time, I spoke to a bunch of Mormon missionairies, several times over a week. In the end, after all the complicated converstions about religion, God and the Mormon faith, and how important it was for me (to them) to see their views... well, I finally realized 'you know, I don't need this stress. This stress, this worry, this attempt of theirs to make me feel guilty and wrong and warn me of turmoil... I don't need it!' was a very uplifting feeling. Discarding unnecessary emotional baggage, acrued over several rather intense days of conversation.
I remember a particular cherry-picked verse from the Bible, saying that 'If you want oxen in the pen, you will have to clean up after them'.

God, or gods, come with mess. Rather, religion does.

As a christian (Edit: I said this to clarify my religion, not to imply that all christians feel the way I've expressed that I do in the following paragraph), I have no trouble reconcilling the fact that though church is an organization ordained by God, it is a human, and therefore inherently imperfect, organization.

Every concept of God is subject to man, filtered through are various presuppostitions and bias.

Some people find it easier to just cut out God entirely, and the mess the comes with him.

Quoted by Javert:

quote:
The way I figure it, if there is a God but no corresponding correct religion, he already knows that there's no evidence for him, so he won't mind that I don't believe in him.
The christian God believes otherwise. Biblically, man is without excuse, having seen creation. Creation is the proof that there is God.
Just felt like nitpicking. [Wink] Now somebody can nitpick how I didn't remember the entire verse... It's the first one in the Romans Road.

Anyway, I don't really have a point to this point. I just felt like dissenting.

If you really *are* happy, then I'm delighted for you, if not a tad bit worried that you've doomed yourself to eternal damnation.

Posts: 438 | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Javert
Member
Member # 3076

 - posted      Profile for Javert   Email Javert         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
The christian God believes otherwise. Biblically, man is without excuse, having seen creation. Creation is the proof that there is God.
Just felt like nitpicking. [Wink] Now somebody can nitpick how I didn't remember the entire verse... It's the first one in the Romans Road.

I'm just going to nitpick that calling it "creation" is circular logic. Prove to me that it was created, and I'll be more than happy to call it a creation.

But you're welcome to your opinion and I have no particular desire to change your mind. Cheers. [Smile]

Posts: 3852 | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Samprimary
Member
Member # 8561

 - posted      Profile for Samprimary   Email Samprimary         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
I like to think that God loves coin flips to come up heads, but that he jokes with us by only making that happen half the time.
Does god flip coins with the universe?
Posts: 15421 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
Plays dice, as I recall.

Tom, more when I have more time, but, yes, I behave differently than I would without God. At least, I think I do. Certainly, I behave better when I am more conscious of God. When I am aware of the divinity of every person I encounter; when I am reminded that I am a beloved child of God; most of all, when I remember to be grateful.

I don't know that this is necessary or good for anyone else. I know it is for me.

Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
TomDavidson
Member
Member # 124

 - posted      Profile for TomDavidson   Email TomDavidson         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
When I am aware of the divinity of every person I encounter; when I am reminded that I am a beloved child of God; most of all, when I remember to be grateful.
Do you treat people better, believing them to be divine children of God, than you would if you believed that they were human?
Posts: 37449 | Registered: May 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
What is the difference?

But yes, when I recall that God loves them and that I should, I treat them better.

I don't think we need to derail this thread further. This is supposed to be about other people and their freedom from religion. It doesn't need to be about me and my freedom with religion. I've written about that plenty already.

My apologies for the derail.

Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rollainm
Member
Member # 8318

 - posted      Profile for rollainm   Email rollainm         Edit/Delete Post 
I don't think it's a derail. The thread naturally progressed in this direction.

And it's certainly not derailed by you if you're responding to questions posed by others.

Posts: 1945 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rollainm
Member
Member # 8318

 - posted      Profile for rollainm   Email rollainm         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Creation is the proof that there is God.
quote:
If you really *are* happy, then I'm delighted for you, if not a tad bit worried that you've doomed yourself to eternal damnation.
Such bold statements really do demand elaboration. Please please explain how you can justify this kind of judgment.
Posts: 1945 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Alcon
Member
Member # 6645

 - posted      Profile for Alcon   Email Alcon         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
If you really *are* happy, then I'm delighted for you, if not a tad bit worried that you've doomed yourself to eternal damnation.
If he's doomed himself to eternal damnation at the hands of god for simply not believing in him, then we're all screwed any way, cause that ain't no benevolent god! That is a god I want nothing to do with.
Posts: 3295 | Registered: Jun 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
For the record, I don't think anyone is doomed to "damnation". I think that we can choose to separate ourselves from God, but I think we have every opportunity for reconciliation.
Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rollainm
Member
Member # 8318

 - posted      Profile for rollainm   Email rollainm         Edit/Delete Post 
I know this isn't intentional, at least from most religious folks, but sometimes I can't help feeling just a tad offended when it's ever implied that I chose to abandon God, as if only a stubborn, self-centered, ignorant fool would ever make such a grave error.
Posts: 1945 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
SC Carver
Member
Member # 8173

 - posted      Profile for SC Carver   Email SC Carver         Edit/Delete Post 
It's interesting to me that Christians always talk about being free from there sins, that Christianity has freed them. The other side says the same thing, believing there is no God has freed them. To me, Christianity never made me feel free. I always felt guilty I was not living up to expectations.

As far as eternal damnation, as I said in my earlier post, God never answered my prayers, he never changed my heart. Even though I earnestly tried seek him for years, I still love my favorite little sins and am I honest enough myself to know I am going to continue to do them. According to the Bible if I am saved then I my heart should change and it hasnít. So that would make me one of the unchosen majority doomed to eternal separation from God, and the way I look at it, if the Bible is right I will be doomed, if its wrong then when I die nothing will happen, given the choice I'll take the later. ( I know Christians will say I have turned my back on God, not the other way around)

Now that I have come to the realization the Bible isn't God inspired truth it hasn't really changed me. I still believe in treating people the way I want to be treated, not becuase God told me to, but becuase it is the right thing to do. I still believe in all the great morals the Bible teaches, who cares where they come from, they are still a good way to live your life. I just donít believe there is this all powerful being who cares about me has a plan for my life. Itís a nice fairy tale, but I havenít seen any evidence for it. Besides its hard enough to figure out what I want to do with my life without trying to figure out what God wants me to do with it.

Iím going to bed, Iíll check back in tomorrow to see what direction this thread is going.

Posts: 555 | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post 
I support everyone in their own beliefs and their own journeys. I was going to try to tell my story in this thread too, as I said in my first post, a story of how I found freedom going the other direction, but now that I think about it, I think I won't. I think this should be the thread where the people who feel freed from God can feel the love and support.

I love and support you all! May you find joy in your path, wherever your path may take you! [Smile]

Posts: 6246 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
rollainm, I wasn't clear. People abandon God (or whatever they choose to call it - Love, creative energy, spirit, life force) for many reasons. Hurt, despair, pride, laziness, apathy, shame, anger. Sometimes for a while, sometimes forever. Shutting oneself off from the divine, whether that means God or not, is "hell" as far as I am concerned.
Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MightyCow
Member
Member # 9253

 - posted      Profile for MightyCow           Edit/Delete Post 
How can you abandon something you have never known in the first place. I can't very well have been said to abandon people living on Jupiter's moons. Am I supposed to write them all penpal letters and build a rocket to launch them up into space, just to make sure the Jupiter people aren't feeling bad that I've chosen to turn my back on them?
Posts: 3950 | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattP
Member
Member # 10495

 - posted      Profile for MattP   Email MattP         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
rollainm, I wasn't clear. People abandon God (or whatever they choose to call it - Love, creative energy, spirit, life force) for many reasons. Hurt, despair, pride, laziness, apathy, shame, anger. Sometimes for a while, sometimes forever. Shutting oneself off from the divine, whether that means God or not, is "hell" as far as I am concerned.

For many us, it was not much a shutting off from the divine as a recognition that there was no connection to the divine to begin with. It was not a good thing, nor a bad thing, driven by neither hope nor cynicism. It just was. I cannot abandon a god I never knew, whether he's there or not.
Posts: 3275 | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
SoaPiNuReYe
Member
Member # 9144

 - posted      Profile for SoaPiNuReYe           Edit/Delete Post 
See my opinion is this:
It's in your best interest to believe in God because a) If there is a God you win and b) If there isn't a God, you didn't really lose.

Posts: 1158 | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
MightyCow and MattP, please note my rather broad interpretation of divine. Creativity, love, spirit. All that is good in each other.
Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
steven
Member
Member # 8099

 - posted      Profile for steven   Email steven         Edit/Delete Post 
Boots, how much wiggle room do you leave for refining or rethinking your concept of the divine, based on the possiblity of future events?
Posts: 3354 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
kmbboots
Member
Member # 8576

 - posted      Profile for kmbboots   Email kmbboots         Edit/Delete Post 
Well...I think it is a pretty servicable definition. What did you have in mind?
Posts: 11187 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
steven
Member
Member # 8099

 - posted      Profile for steven   Email steven         Edit/Delete Post 
What if we were to encounter an alien civilization at some point, that was really different from any human group, in every way?
Posts: 3354 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattP
Member
Member # 10495

 - posted      Profile for MattP   Email MattP         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by SoaPiNuReYe:
See my opinion is this:
It's in your best interest to believe in God because a) If there is a God you win and b) If there isn't a God, you didn't really lose.

Lots of problems with that one. How do you make yourself believe in something? Can you force yourself to believe in, say, fairies?

Second, which God? Do you pray to Zeus too, just in case that's the right one? See, it's not a simple God/no God choice. There's a virtually limitless number of entities which one may choose to devote one's faith to and many of them frown more on praying to the wrong god than to no god.

Finally, why do you not lose if there's no god? Many concepts of God require specific actions to be taken - going to church, paying tithing, etc. I'd rather not dedicate a fair portion of my life to the mechanics of a religion and make unnecessary sacrifices if that religion does not actually represent an extant god and if this life represents the entirety of my existence.

Posts: 3275 | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Javert
Member
Member # 3076

 - posted      Profile for Javert   Email Javert         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by SoaPiNuReYe:
See my opinion is this:
It's in your best interest to believe in God because a) If there is a God you win and b) If there isn't a God, you didn't really lose.

Ah, good old Pascal and his wager. Never took to this, for essentially the same reasons MattP posted. But here's another thing. This wager seems to make the assumption that by not believing in a god you are risking hell (or at least some form of punishment).

So by that logic, shouldn't you just believe in the god who has the worst hell?

Posts: 3852 | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Earendil18
Member
Member # 3180

 - posted      Profile for Earendil18   Email Earendil18         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by 0Megabyte:
Earendil:

Oh, you live here in Spokane as well, then? How interesting, and very cool!

So my perspective is not just my imagination then? Outside of college, it doesn't seem a good idea to mention my beliefs. Hmm.

Johnny:

" I think religion can lead to that kind of happiness for people. It gets people off of drugs and alcohol. It provides a support network for the poor, the lonely, the sick and the dying. It has a wonderful mechanism for dealing with death. All of these things can reduce stress."


Yet. The problem is, and this is a big problem, I'm not fond of lies and delusions, regardless of their positive values.

The fact is, to have a mindset that will value believing something without any evidence, which in some cases makes believing without any evidence a virtue, that makes people ignore evidence and go only with what they wish to be true... that sort of mindset is the most dangerous thing in the world, and the cause of far too much evil to count.

I completely agree with your response here, and yes we do live in a conservative area. However, I also don't think the university's are necessarily more flexible. You going to Eastern? There's a gentleman I interviewed who is part of the Humanist Action League(HAL), and he's an atheist. You'd like him, his interview was most thought provoking.
Posts: 1236 | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
0Megabyte
Member
Member # 8624

 - posted      Profile for 0Megabyte   Email 0Megabyte         Edit/Delete Post 
Nathan:

"Perhaps your morals line up quite nicely with another 'angle' of the Bible."

As a matter of fact, for many years I used the Bible in just such a way, so I talk from a perspective of experience.

" assume that you haven't met every christian in Spokane, thus making you unqualified to say that none of them will react well. In fact, I doubt that you've met every conservative Christian in Spokane either."

I'm fully aware of the variety of opinion of the people here. I believe I've even mentioned that more than once.

You don't need to eat every apple in the world to know that some of them are rotten.

"I also find it interesting that you would consider a Christian's political beliefs as being pertinent when you are talking about Christians reactions to your atheism. I find that true Christian love transcends political barriers. At least occasionally. "

Sometimes it does.

Other times they speak of killing you, or at least gloating at the thought that you will suffer eternal torment after you die.

Can you really tell me that they're less Christian?

Are they less Christian than the Christians who burned down the Great Library of Alexandria?

The Christians who burned witches in Salem?

Perhaps they're a different kind of Christian than you, but who am I or you to disagree with them with their self-labeling?

"Or, perhaps it is not the people of Spokane that are causing your discomfort. Maybe, you aren't quite as happy and contented as you think you are."

Incorrect. When you hear family members speak of how bad atheists are, when you hear people condemning people like you on the radio and on television daily, when you see as you're driving along the road signs speaking against "unbelievers" (at churches, of course) then you start to notice the distinct, subtle anti-atheist prejudice floating in the air.

"Or perhaps I'm totally reading into this too much, and have just made a completely unecessariliy offensive comment"

Don't worry about it, I forgive you.

But to be sure, I'm comfortable being an atheist. It's just that many others dislike atheists. Perhaps I was unclear before, as I know very well that there are very many who would not think ill of me. But still, it's not something I can just go shouting to the rooftops and get applauded for in public.

"I know you haven't met me, so that means that, at the very most, every religious person minus one feels that way."

Forgive me for being nitpicky, but as I said, "many refuse to see it."

That's many, not all. That's many, not even necessarily the majority.

Key, vital detail.

"I find that you are either being diliberately obtuse, or you have little real understanding of the Bible, perhaps due to a personal bias, perhaps due to an inablitity to read beyond a literal interpretation of text."

Perhaps it's you who doesn't understand the original meaning of the words.

Christian interpretation aside, the early Jews interpreted the words meant for them rather differently than you do.

I've read the entire Bible, more than once. I've been a Christian most of my life, and do not presume to tell me I have an inability to see beyond the literal text.

Don't presume to tell me that I feel understanding it is of little importance, that I need to study it a bit more.

Or did you even know that the two creation stories are two stylistically different stories, written at different times during the history of the Jewish faith? That Joshua and Judges represent two nearly contradictory descriptions of the period of Hebrew history that both of them cover?

How about the very fascinating differences in the Gospels, the purposes of Mark, the first Gospel writer, and of Matthew and Luke, the other Synoptic writers, and the very huge differences between theirs and John's accounts?

The intruiging differences between the descriptions of Paul's conversion in Paul's letters, that is, the genuine ones of his written by him, and the late-written Acts of the Apostles by Luke, which shows a very different story?

Paul's description of certain events which, in his account, were not at all harmonious, but which in Acts was spoken of as a wonderful pleasant get together?

How about a hundred other things, all of which I could go into in vastly more detail than I am here and now?

Needing to study the Bible more? Sure, it'd be fun, and I'd continue to enjoy it as I always have.

But don't patronize me, and don't assume my knowledge is less than yours.

And as for describing the basic biblical concepts?

I didn't go to Bible school for years, go to a Catholic school where religion and the Bible was an everyday subject, go to Church weekly and read the Bible consistantly, going to classes on the subject, a Catholic college, and studying and praying vast amounts, to be told I don't know the Bible because my views on it differ than yours.

"Perhaps I learned a different 'angle' of it than you did, with different cherry-picked verses, but the Bible seems rather consistent to me. I don't have to warp it to get it to make sense to me, and it truly is the word of God, to me."

Perhaps you aren't noticing the basic factual contradictions, say, between the various Gospels as an easy example?


"And, because I believe that the Bible was written entirely by God, I don't think any of his contradictions are unintentional."

Yet in this world there is no evidence of a god of any sort, neither Thor nor Zeus nor Yahweh.

Oh, and, for the record: Those words were written by humans, with human ideals, from human beliefs. It's a book that shows, quite plainly, the changing ideology and changing morality of a civilization as it progressed from tribal nomads to a glorious kingdom, on to a ruined, scattered people.

It was edited by people with a point to make, who were not God in the least.

"Some people find it easier to just cut out God entirely, and the mess the comes with him."

Church was perfectly fine, and I had absolutely no problems with it.

It was just this thing called evidence... adn the sheer, enormous, unignorable lack of it, that kind of turned the tide.

It has nothing to do with what's easy.

What would be easy would be to accept what I've been told and continue thinking I'd go to heaven.

"If you really *are* happy, then I'm delighted for you, if not a tad bit worried that you've doomed yourself to eternal damnation. "

If a god who refuses to show himself would punish you for refusing to believe in something that demands you set aside those human powers he claims to have given you, then such a sadist deserves no worship anyway.

I would rather burn in hell than worship evil.

Posts: 1577 | Registered: Sep 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Nato
Member
Member # 1448

 - posted      Profile for Nato   Email Nato         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by rollainm:
quote:
But there's no internal questions. No more internal dichotomy. I have plenty of emotional stuff in other areas. But in religion, it's totally gone.
I'm happy for you. Really, I am. But I'm also quite envious, to be perfectly honest.

It's been about four years since I finally realized I no longer believed in any kind of god. It hasn't really made things any easier for me. I'm not less stressed. I don't feel free or enlightened. I don't have any fewer questions about the world or life or existence. If anything, I am now more stressed, more worried, less certain in what I believe. I'm not by any means a total nervous wreck, but I do spend a significant amount of time nearly every day contemplating just what it means to exist in a world where there is no God. It's essentially incomprehensible for me. I fear I will never find my purpose in this world. I fear I have no purpose. I fear I will lose everything I cherish. I fear death. I fear nonexistence.

The probable nonexistence of God has done little but complicate my life. Not that I would willingly go back to believing now. I do take some comfort in having come to this realization.

I just can't imagine how it can be so easy, so freeing, for so many of you.

It really was fairly peaceful for me to admit to myself that there is no meaning inherent in the outside world. It didn't make the world mean any less to me, because all the narratives I envision for it still exist in my head--just now I don't need to wrap them around the elephant in the room. The current generation literally has the ability to start writing a new course for humanity. It is essential, and I feel that the possibilities for what humanity could become are endless. I want to be part of the great project that will guide the biosphere into a peaceful, sustainable state. I think you have to create your own purposes, anything from trying to make your closest friends and family happy to creating art to share with the whole future of humanity. You can work on any scale you want, at any pace you want, and you can do it with whoever you want.

It is utterly incomprehensible sometimes, and you will never run out of questions. That can be part of the fun though.

I recently have been digging through recordings of lectures on various podcasts trying to find people who share my purposes and questions. There are a hundred other ways to "find the others", and even finding an author you like is one connection to stimulating thinking. Once you make that connection, you can interact with the community of other people who are concerned about the same things.
quote:
Originally posted by Alcon:
Well, a certain comfort with the idea of nothing after death helps.

I don't think I really became an atheist until I had gotten comfortable with this. I do want my life to have meaning even after I'm dead. I don't feel like I need to be there to experience it anymore, though. I'd rather work within my lifetime to try and make the lives of future generations happy, and hopefully through the cultural conversations we have, create the emotional, cognitive and linguistic toolbox that future people will need to be free.
quote:
.......
the fact that I feel like I have a purpose, not based on any sort of god or divine. The purpose is one I've given myself and involves what I want to do with my life (see humanity off into space, in one way or another).

I love hearing the self-purposing people do when they can choose for themselves. [Smile]
quote:
Originally posted by rollainm:
The latter mostly (I suppose my rhetoric should have been more obvious -obviously weíre going to have a disconnect where faith is concerned), but also the confidence in the idea that God is so incomprehensible that that he can only be understood metaphorically.

It made sense to me when I believed in God, and still does--I just think we understand EVERYTHING through metaphor. (I agree with George Lakoff and Mark Johnson about their Conceptual Metaphor Theory)
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Tom, more when I have more time, but, yes, I behave differently than I would without God. At least, I think I do. Certainly, I behave better when I am more conscious of God. When I am aware of the divinity of every person I encounter; when I am reminded that I am a beloved child of God; most of all, when I remember to be grateful.

I think you can be aware of divinity in every person without the God framework. A sort of version of "Namaste"
Posts: 1592 | Registered: Jan 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 4 pages: 1  2  3  4   

   Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2