Atheist & Agnostics-Hi there!
Melissa, I think you’ve missed our main point – or at least my main point. I take no issue with god or religions. My problem is the churches themselves and their following who never leave us alone. Not the theoretical but the practical. We aren’t angry that someone prays to god or buddha, but that that person insists that WE do.
Bluedolfin, interesting point raised. I think we all believe in something or other, at least in moments of extreme difficulty or fear (like me on a bumpy airplane!).
MELISSA I think you totally missed the point that most who have posted here are making. So many of us have been treated horribly and had terrible things done to us or to our families by people identifying themselves as christians only because we have identified ourselves to them as non-christians. That isn’t intolerance it is religious hatred. The intolerance that atheists and agnostics speak of is this and the disrespect they are shown by christians who want to convert them. It just occurred to me that no one has ever tried to convert me to their religion except christians.
I think BlueDolpin mentioned something that is key to intolerance and that is the need of so many to judge and condemn others. That may be born of feeling judged and condemned. As for seeing that behavior pattern in raw foodists, other than conversations about sex offenders, I admit that after christians, racists, and sexists, the group I hear the most hateful speech from are vegans/vegetarians. I too have heard the reverse, omnivores railing against vegans, but it isn’t anywhere near as intense or often. Whenever it pops up here, it isn’t because someone baked an apple but because they were willing to eat a hamburger but there are some hardcore faw foodist who clearly want to make those who aren’t 100% feel inferior.
I refer to most christians as OTCs, “old testament christians, because that seems to be what regulates their beliefs. They identify christ as their savior but reject all of his teachings and instead rely on the OT to regulate their behavior. The OT is really big on judgment and condemnation. This explains why so many of those who call themselves “pro-life” are passionately in support of the death penalty, despite the obvious contradiction.
BTW – It is my understanding atheists don’t believe in god and agnostics haven’t committed to a belief in god.
Did I really say that? 8O)
Would you believe at an atheist alliance conference I went to, two Christians showed up to argue? Nothing better to do, I guess. I realize, however, that not all Christians are so pushy about their personal beliefs. I wish they would keep their religion more to themselves, considering they (in general again) are so scared and pretend it’s impolite to question them on said beliefs.
i agree with richard dawkins on the note that religion holds a place of undeserved respect in our society, and deserves to be questioned and criticized like anything else.
Meditating – the OT is actually really big on love, redemption and connectedness – thats why Jesus claimed to fulfill it with His way. Unfortunately, people pick and choose scripture to support their own personal religious theology, dogma and doctrine. It is human made. One would only know for sure what scripture is saying by getting as close to the original documents and language as possible.
Speaking of intolerance, aren’t we all intolerant of something? If we’re honest with ourselves we’d see that is true. If we tolerated everything, then we would not ever stand for or champion for things we believe in. BUT our intolerance of certain things, ways and behaviors must be tempered with respect for PEOPLE. Often times, ones love for a cause or belief system supersedes ones love for people and all humanity. Sadly, it is part of the human condition and all fall victim, no matter what belief system one follows. (I’m a believer and God follower)
mamamilk, I sadly agree with you, we are all intolerant of something. It’s part of our genetic engineering as humans. Like racism. I believe we are all congenital racists, be it against purple, pink or blue. It’s our way of making sense of things – categorizing. But this is the basest, most vile of human characteristics and must be fought. That’s why it’s important to challenge you’re individual purple, pink or blue and prove it wrong, or at least TRY.
As Rodney King wisely once questioned, “Why can’t we all just get along?”
Yep. We don’t love, truly love…. I believe that’s why people don’t get along. Humanity has a difficult time having a REAL REVELATION of LOVE. We and our systems and our paradigms get in the way of love….
Superfood – Wow, folks show up at an atheist conference just to argue? Yipes!
Meditating – Many folks have tried to convert me, it’s not limited to a percentage of christians who like to preach. (Let me stress, again, that i support and love all people of all religions – but I don’t wish to be converted). People of the Muslim, Bahai, Jewish faiths – all have tried to convert me. I have been told that lightning would strike me down since I rejected my parents faith. I’ve been asked if I even have any morals, and what will stop me from hurting others since I don’t have religion?
Melissa, we are open minded… we have repeated many times throughout this discussion that we support all religions, we respect people of all faiths. All we’re asking is that they do the same for us! Atheism does not mean i’m an immoral, bad person who needs to be converted to a religion. Yet this is how I’m treated by some people!
I have immediate family members who continually tell me that I’m sinful. They tell me I must lie to their friends, so their friends don’t know i’m godless. Other family members won’t speak to me, and do not want their kids around me.
Meditating – perceived superiority annoys me to no end!! I keep reminding the family members that i’m committing sin by THEIR standards, not mine. By my standards, i’m a VERY good, upstanding citizen. I donate blood, volunteer with animals, assist folks with outdoor activities, deliver food to sick friends, and so on.
Carmentina~ You calling me out? What did I ever do to you? I never tried to force you to swim or play with me… I never splashed you… What do you have against me? heeheehee :Op
Winona~ Well… right now I’m focused on packing and getting rid of about 20 years of “stuff.” I’m not sure what is next for me… :( summery stuff is pretty non-existent right now. So, thankx for posting about your adventures (a waterfall across the street and kayaking? How cool!). I’m living vicariously and having fun though you. :) However, my big adventure lately is discovering the amazing catalog of free podcasts on iTunes and other places (I know, sad…) It’s been great listening to some neat podcasts while doing stuff. I’ve been enjoying NPR’s Wait. Wait. Don’t Tell Me! and Whad’Ya Know?, Meet The Authors, and other podcasts of varying “deepness.”
I also came across someone who was convinced that one could only know “goodness” by having religion. It didn’t occur to the person that someone who did not believe in a God would value life for the simple fact of valuing life without being “told” to or in fear of an authority source. I was surprised at that. However, it always sets me back a step when I come across my own incongruent beliefs, something I’ve taken for granted as being the “truth” when indeed it isn’t. PS. It sure sounds like your soul is on a top 10 wanted poster seen by a lot of people. lol
Bluedolfin, damn you for being BLUE!
hehehe … my soul just looks so juicy and delicious that it needs to be saved. right!
wow, 20 years of accumulation… that’s tough! Good luck! Yeah i’m all about the waterfalls. I go to one or two of em every day, different ones – to swim, or just watch em, or row past it. there’s something soothing about the sound of water.
I agree that i have incongruent beliefs – but see, i’d never push them on others. Or tell them they’re flawed.
“if someone is â€œtrulyâ€ Atheists or Agnostic (I donâ€™t know the distinctions of the two), meaning they donâ€™t believe in any God(s), then someone condemning them (which is a power attributed to a God) means nothing, like speaking in a foreign languageâ€¦ or does it”
My boyfriend always says offense only exists if you TAKE offense. If you don’t take offense, other people cannot have any effect on you!
To be more frank, I wasn’t shocked that Christians would show up. My parents are Christian and very pushy. It’s funny – my dad told me that evolution has been disproven. I told him I won’t discuss it with him, we can agree to disagree.
It’s hilarious to me as well that when one person sees or believes that something is there that really isnt’ or can’t be proven, he/she is considered delusional; however, when many people believe it and there’s money and insecurity involved, it’s simply religion.
hahaha superfood, well said!!
Itâ€™s hilarious to me as well that when one person sees or believes that something is there that really isntâ€™ or canâ€™t be proven, he/she is considered delusional; however, when many people believe it and thereâ€™s money and insecurity involved, itâ€™s simply religion.
I’m glad i’m not the only one with super pushy parents. My folks also lied to create a world that agreed with their religion. Some of my family doesn’t believe in an after life, but lied to say there was so i’d believe in religion. Fascinating. Isn’t the point of religion, the afterlife?
Carmentina~ Blue is beautiful and good!!! Long live the bluies!!! ha!
Winona~ Thankx. :) What I mean by incongruent thoughts is like when I realized the phase “indian giver” is no longer an acceptable phrase to use. Growing up that was a common phrase and nothing was thought of it. When I said it one time, a light went off in my head and I really became “present” to the underlying intention/meaning behind it. I was appalled I ever used it.
Yeah, do whatever they make up that “god” wants, and they get to live forever. Or just do whatever and ask for “forgiveness.” :)
Thought Id bring this topic back up.
Ive been athiest for 5 years. I questioned everything for about 4 years before that.
I was raised in a christian household who went to church two days a week, and went to all the church festivities.
As I got into high school, I didnt exactly question God, but I started questioning organized religion. I was still forced to go to church, but I made it an impossible hassle for my mom to get me awake in the morning just so I couldnt go.
My first year in college I took loads of philosophy classes, and still believed in God, but my anger and questions over organized religions, and their affect on MY life, ALL our lifes, furthered.
As I went home during the summer, my Mom once again forced me to go to church. I went with her, but I snuck out each day and spent time in the mountains behind the church building. I figured you can celebrate God anywhere, whether it was church or the mountains. My Mom didnt believe so, and for that reason, among a couple others, I was kicked out of her house and onto the streets.
I took care of myself for a while without a job or a place to live, until a friend took me in and I found a job. During this time I was reading all I could about how corrupt democracy and America is, and listened to all the punk music I could. It influenced my thoughts enough that instead of just questioning religion, I started questioning God.
I battled with my belief in him back and forth for a couple more years until I came up with 3 or 4 questions that stopped me from believing in God. I asked my mom (yes i still talked to her after her kicking me out) I asked other christians, youth leaders at church, and my mom even went directly to two pastors, and NONE OF THEM could give me an answer that was logical, thought out, or felt like the truth. It was the same thing they fed me since bible school, and trying to appeal to my faith. But I found once I lost faith in humans, I lost faith in God.
Now, Im happily God free. I still dont have faith in MOST humans, but I do have faith in my friends. Though its a different faith than what the pastors were trying to appeal to me.
“Itâ€™s hilarious to me as well that when one person sees or believes that something is there that really isntâ€™ or canâ€™t be proven, he/she is considered delusional; however, when many people believe it and thereâ€™s money and insecurity involved, itâ€™s simply religion”
much like : a person who is homeless and poor, acting strangely is “crazy” but the same behavior from a wealthy person is considered “eccentric” go figure….
Jkd: ive always felt that out in nature is the “holiest” place to celebrate spirituality….;0)
Omshanti: Even now, athiest and all, I still feel deeply connected to the earth and try to spend as much time out in nature as possible. Even to the point of disappearing for a couple days up in the mountains all alone.
I haven’t read through all the posts, but I thought I’d share my view too…
Please forgive me for this biased opinion, but I feel many christians don’t know how NOT to be hypocrites of their own words. I see many of them preaching goodness, godliness, and the way god would want us to act. But then I see those same people smoking, drinking, and cussing up a storm. Sorry, but that’s not very “christian” to me. I also think many people are members of a church just to have an excuse to be with other humans. ie: potlucks, the events that promote gossip and gluttony…you know “sins”....But whatever for all the bad christians I have to remember there are nice christians out there too.
My parents tried to raise me Christian, but I knew right around eight years old that I did not wish to continue following the “path of god.” It never felt right nor did it feel real to me. I think if god really did exist that at such a young age “he” would have called out to me and would have opened my eyes so I could see the truth. It doesn’t make sence to me that a man that “loves” me would allow me to slip and fall away just to burn in hell. Yeah, that sounds like a great loving god.
I tried for years afterward to figure out weather or not the concept of god was real or not. There were many instances in my life that would lead me to believe there was a god. I still do not know, but I do know I believe in nature. I believe in energy. I believe in me. We all represent gods and goddesses in our own right and that is good enough for me.
You have to ask yourself why people would not only believe in crap like the punishment of eternal hell for committing suicide, the supposed inherent evil and filth of woman, etc., etc., etc,. but also fall to their knees and worship such a vile creature as their god.
Hey I am a Catholic, but I just wanted to say one thing.
I totally agree with what chakra essence said about preaching about “do this and that such thing, blah blah” and then going out and acting the exact oposite. it is really disgusting and a poor representation of us. I just wish some people would do more “doing” and less preaching(lipservice).
Ok, that’s my piece.
I’m leaving now.
Wow. Winona, have you read through this whole thing?
As you can see, there are other atheists and agnostics here. I became a Freethinker after high school (Catholic – do you believe it? They taught me to think for myself a little too well!), then my atheism was cemented in college after I took a class studying the Bible as a work of literature, and how the scriptures were written by unknown persons many, many years after the events in question, and how christianity and judaism are based on some tenets of islam, paganism, zoroastroism, and other stuff, and it was basically created to explain the things we didn’t understand at the time.
Some atheist lit that I enjoy reading:
- Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist by Dan Barker. His journey is fascinating reading. He is one of the main folks in the Freedom From Religion Foundation (along with his wife). They put out a regular podcast (although I haven’t listened in a while).
- The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Impeccable logic.
- The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of REason by Sam Harris.
- Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris. Condensed the logic from End of Faith.
- God is Not Great: How Religion Spoils Everything by Christopher Hitchens. Pulls no punches, but right on the money.
I also read an edited volume called the Improbability of God and God: the FAiled Hypothesis by Victor Stenger, but both of those used a lot of logical arguments and such and weren’t as interesting to me as the previous titles.
Hi mickmaster -
Yep, I have read the whole thread : ) I had an upbringing similar to yours – lots of religious instruction. I have never mentioned what religion i was taught, as it doesn’t matter.
When I was told that parts of our religious books were made up, but represented as true – well I certainly had problems with that!
For the religion I was, we read books written by some dudes that these folks claimed was a prophet. A couple of guys wrote books, a couple other guys wrote books around the same time too. Both groups of guys said the other ones were wrong. Who is right? Our religion claims that one group is right, and everyone else who wrote books claiming to be a prophet was wrong. WHY? No one can give me a definitive answer. Religion has no answers. Only questions. Holes in their arguments. LIES. Ooo, the lies really get me down.
How come the books that folks read today are so popular? What about the countless numbers of guys through history who claimed to be spiritual leaders, had a following, wrote books – but they were lost in history?
So many people claim to write g-d influenced books, but everyone is wrong. It’s done out of a fear of death, and to explain the unknown. This is how primitive cultures behaved! Now that we have REAL science to explain the unknown, this is the end of faith. I’ve got to read those great books you pointed out!! Thanks!!!
I was raised catholic but always felt I was being cursed for being a child. I started playing sick on Sundays and finally my mom got it. I really did not think about religion much during my teen years. I had friends of all kinds and no one really got confrontational with people about religion in the city I grew up in. In college I took a general religion class and found it very educational. I thought that it would be nice to take parts of all of them and then I would believe in that. I met my husband when I was 18 and he was mostly atheist. He was raised Christian and had many of the same experiences as me growing up. As an adult I felt I had more info to make an informed choice on religion. I would have considered myself atheist until I had my daughter. My husband and I talked a lot about religion and both felt that if we did not teach her about religion we would be making her decision about what to believe. But I said I would not lie and pretend I believed in god. She is 6 now and left everything pretty general until he grandmother died. She did not deal well and asked me if grandma was watching her from heaven. I told her yes. Most of her friends were Christian and I never mentioned heaven to her. It has been a little more than a year since her grandma died and I have modified what I told her immediately after grandma died. I have explained that some people believe in heaven, some believe you come back as a human or animal, amd some believe when you die you are just dead. I have told her recently that I don’t believe in heaven but life is about our time here on earth. I told her to focus on this life and not about seeing grandma in heaven when she dies. So as of now it is hard for me to be atheist. I do not believe in god but also do not believe there is no god. I have seen no proof either way. I believe in science but also have seen things that cannot be explained by science.
RAW CURE I can appreciate how you feel about your child. I went through a similar thing with my 10-year old son when our neighbor Bill died. His wife told my son Bill was in heaven. My son liked the idea of heaven and he wanted to go to church with our neighbor’s wife. I decided if he was at a point in his life where he needed it to comfort him, then it would be okay. He went somewhat regularly for years. As an young adult, he teetered on his beliefs and considers himself agnostic today. However, his wife is christian and I don’t think my grandson will be given an option.
Finding my belief was horribly painful because it went against everything I had ever been taught. The concept of heaven is most comforting, but the converse, hell for non-believers, is extremely coercive and I think is the more powerful of the two motivating factors. I think it was much easier for my son because he heard both sides and used his own mind to get where he is. Given my similar experience, I can certainly understand your position.
On another note, I too believe in science. If science can’t explain it yet, it is because we just haven’t discovered the science. But rest assured, it’s out there.
I think lying to your children or pretending things to your children about a heaven you know does not exist furthers the weak tools that “believers” use to gain members. If you want your children to be strong, tell them the truth.
And as far as teaching them about religions, I see no problem with that, but it’s not keeping something from your child to NOT tell them about other fictitious crap that people make up, so religion is no different. THe only reason I’d tell them is to inform them (the children) that a large number of people may believe in X but that does not make it so. I would not have to nor feel the need to explain why I don’t believe in X, just as I would not feel the need to explain why I’m not racist. Just because other people do something ignorant doesn’t mean we have to explain why we don’t.
I don’t see how you can have a “pushy atheist,” considering the term “atheist” and the “non-believers” wouldn’t exist had someone not made up the lie in the first place. But I’ve only met one atheist who argues with Christians; all of the other atheists I know are reserved, quiet, peaceful, and actually have morals in place! I love it; I seek them out as friends.
Mickmaster, I just want to make a small correction; the Bible was not based on tenets of Islam, rather, Islam took much of its ideas from the Judeo-Christian teachings. Islam came a few hundred years after the birth of Christianity. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that’s what I remember from my world religions and Islam classes.
This semester I am taking a (required) Biblical literature course. On Thursday we all introduced ourselves and little about our faith background, and I seem to be the only atheist in a room full of rather devout Christians, in a class taught by a minister in a Methodist-affiliated school. It will be interesting.
There are lots of thought-provoking ideas being shared on this thread. Its very enjoyable to read.