Any other atheists around?

(309 Posts)
GuybrushThreepwoodMP Fri 01-Nov-13 22:18:39

Is there a group for us atheists to discuss ideas of faith, morality, life, the universe and everything (42!)?
Note: I would not want this to become about dissing people of faith and would truly welcome discussion with anyone. This isn't about ridiculing anyone. I would be particularly interested in sharing ideas and discussing the social, anthropological, philosophical, political and psychological aspects of religion from an atheist point of view. Anyone else? I can provide brew and biscuit and wine .

YoniRotten Sun 10-Nov-13 23:22:28

msmiggins, but do these spells actually make anything happen?

Hettie, that is a good Sam Harris quote. Indeed!

msmiggins Mon 11-Nov-13 06:59:38

Witchcraft doesn't mean I have to "believe" in any deity- therefore I count myself as an athiest.- And yes magic does work for me I have been practicing for 25 years. I respect carl Jung's analysis of the collective subconcious to explain witchcraft - I also like the Ancient Greek schema of archetypal Gods which are metaphors rather than extrinsic deities.

GuybrushThreepwoodMP Mon 11-Nov-13 22:19:27

mrsmiggins I'm intrigued! Is magic something you feel you get direct results from? Can you give examples? I'm always interested in different beliefs and how they manifest. Magic is definitely not something I personally believe in. My own attitudes stem from the rational and empirical but also from a firm confidence in the existence of a confirmation bias relating to all human beliefs. I think we all tend to attach the most meaning to that which confirms what we already believe and ignore that which doesn't. For me this accounts for belief in psychics (cold-reading), horoscopes and religion equally.
Of course the beliefs of skeptics are subject to a confirmation bias as well! Derren Brown's programme Messiah was an interesting view of this kind of thing.
Magic though. It's an interesting one. Magic to me is no more or less believable than the concept of God- it's just a choice to have faith in something else really (although it's a lot more attractive to me than organised religion!). Do you feel that your belief in magic is a 'faith' (is something which by definition cannot be proved empirically) or fact? The faith versus fact idea has always fascinated me. Because religion, by definition, cannot be based in fact can it? That's the point- that the existence of God can't be proven therefore one has to have faith- and yet it does so often seen to be confused with fact.
Which brings me into another topic- secularisation. Religion in schools-yay or nay?
Terribly disorganised and waffly post- sorry! Lots of ideas floating around.

CoteDAzur Mon 11-Nov-13 22:33:04

When you say you practice magic with spells etc, do you mean mixing herbs and feeling better about something? Or do you think you actually make things happen with your incantations?

Joining the party.

Re Bertrand Russell, I really recommend his History of Western Philosophy. It gave me a huge grounding in both the development of religious philosophy and more contemporary secular thinking.

I love pointing out to Mono-theists that they are almost as atheist as me. They don't believe in the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Sikh, Hindu and multitudes of other gods, just like me.

I think the biggest challenge for Atheists and Secularism is to find somewhere for humans to hang a spiritual hat. It's what's lacking from mainstream atheism. All the atheists I know are confident and in a safe place (emotionally). Atheism has little to offer those who are struggling, suffering, mourning. This is the breakthrough that needs to be addressed and no amount of Richard Dawkins or Brian Cox gawping at mountains and stars will deal with grief in the way a priest can.

Atheism and magic are clearly not mutually exclusive. Magic doesn't need a god, it merely need actions not currently explained by science. Plenty of that about as scientific knowledge is finite.

Skeptics and magic are probably mutually exclusive.

It just so happens that many atheists are skeptics.

HettiePetal Tue 12-Nov-13 07:22:05

I don't agree with you, Muswell - priests aren't necessarily the only game in town when it comes to grief. They probably are if you're of a religious persuasion, true - but I have read some stunningly moving passages about the reality of life from secularists/atheists

Atheism doesn't have much to offer the struggling & mourning, but it is at least true, which means more to me than any empty promises about an afterlife.

Magic doesn't need a god - No, but it needs supernatural woo-hoo, because that's what it means. You could make the argument that, "Well science doesn't know everything and we might find out blah blah blah" but that's backwards logic and we don't use reasoning like that to determine what reality looks like.

Yes, you can be an atheist and believe in ghosts, magic, an afterlife & leprechauns with pots of gold, just not a terribly rational one.

msmiggins Tue 12-Nov-13 07:46:40

Hettie- the title of this thread is "Any other athiests around?" are you now trying to set definitions on who may call themselves an athiest?
As Muswell says you can be an athiest and may or not be a skeptic when it comes to other issues.

HettiePetal Tue 12-Nov-13 07:49:44

Er, no.

I said Yes, you can be an atheist and believe in ghosts, magic, an afterlife & leprechauns with pots of gold, just not a terribly rational one quite clearly, did I not? Or didn't you read that bit?

I gave my opinion on witchcraft. Is that OK with you?

HettiePetal

I think you have given quite a robust response, including asking the poster if they read your post. Did you read mine, because I don't think we said much different to each other?

Wasn't this supposed to be a more friendly atheist thread?

I find some atheists very combative in their argument. Whilst that is an entirely valid approach in pursuit of the truth, it is no more persuasive because of it.

Magic is about the paranormal. We consider science in the realm of the normal and magic to be outside of it. Hence my original point. In addition, atheism is specifically about non-belief in Gods. Skepticism is much wider and therefore has the scope to exclude magic (although not absolutely).

msmiggins Tue 12-Nov-13 08:15:53

Yoni- yes the spells work- I wouldn’t do them otherwise.

Guybrush- the results are very tangible, I don’t want to be too specific, but I have influenced health, money, home, travel, and personal development . tI doesn’t require me to “believe” in any external force or god. Magic and ritual trigger our subconscious to bring about changes, as long as these are within our “sphere of availability”.
CoteDAzure I see the results of my practices- my very sceptical OH has come to believe in my works 100% as he has been astounded by the results over the years.
But I don’t want to hi-jack this threat, it is about atheism, not witchcraft.

HettiePetal

Perhaps my more substantive point on your post is about the pastoral care that religion provides.

I agree with you that atheists can find refuge and solice, but it seems to be a solitary affair that requires the atheist to find their own emotional salvation. That isn't going to work for many people, only those strong enough.

How do we create a popularised atheist font of pastoral care that those who are feeling demotivated and emotionally weak can access? Asking them to read a book is not going to cut it, in my opinion.

msmiggins Tue 12-Nov-13 08:18:43

Hettie- I don't want to sound combative, but perhaps you too need to consider your words- "supernatural woo-hoo", isn't perhaps the language that will encourage someone to be open about their views - especiallyl as this is a "friendly athiest thread".

CoteDAzur Tue 12-Nov-13 08:23:50

Isn't "magic" supernatural woo, though? If not, I'm happy to learn what it really is so please educate us.

So what happens when you stir your pot and chant your incantations?

CoteDAzur Tue 12-Nov-13 08:25:40

"Home, health, etc" - So nothing directly attributable to your incantations, like a carpet flying as you point your wand towards it?

msmiggins Tue 12-Nov-13 08:27:55

"Wasn't this supposed to be a more friendly atheist thread?"

Hettie I am not sure what you mean by "woo" but your attitude is not one likely to engender a patient explanation of my work.

msmiggins Tue 12-Nov-13 08:31:28

CoteDAzur, the areas I outlined to you are general. My rituals are very specific.

WaitingForMe Tue 12-Nov-13 08:31:42

I'm an atheist and believe that we have more ability to influence the world around us than many people believe. So I believe in the law of attraction and I suppose magic and prayer in the sense that if we can clearly articulate what we want to achieve, are constantly watching for opportunity and work hard to set everything in place for success then the rewards can be immense.

So DH and I needed some extra money. About £350 per month was needed. Through my work (I run my own business) I saw a very specific advertising opportunity. I reacted fast - I created a stylish ad and DH created a micro business. It cost £80 and he made £410. We just ran it again and he has made £175 so far.

It's a form of mindfulness that works well for us. We make collages of the things we want, we have lots of conversations about our dreams and if course we work bloody hard. I don't think there is anything "out there" helping us but I am regularly surprised at the scale of some of our successes.

MsMiggins

Whilst I, for one, would be entirely skeptical about your magic, I hope I would be making polite enquiry, carefully phrased so as not to ridicule. The best skeptical or Socratic methods always make the counterparty feel entirely comfortable with their belief (until the questions undermine them or not).

I am not sure that you will get that here which is a shame as I would like to hear more and question it.

msmiggins Tue 12-Nov-13 08:41:15

Waitingforme- that's very interesting. You describe visualtization- another useful tool, some may call it by another name and some may call that too witchcraft but it certainly stirs us into action, and not always in a conscious thinking way.
Ritual is a very ancient form of human activity, whether it's a rite before a hunt or a midnight mass in a Catholic church our minds are influenced in ways we don't always understand.
A hunting ritual will form a cohesion amongst a group of hunters, sharpen the senses, moderate the movements on the hunt and probably will lead to a greater success.
Same goes for witchcraft or spells. Yes I practice magic but I don't think I need to believe in any supernatural force to do that.

msmiggins Tue 12-Nov-13 08:44:48

Thankyou Muswell.
I have found very rational and mundane explanations as to how my magic works- which it does to suprising levels.
I would love to discuss more but I see that my views so far have raised some hackles so I won't divulge any more.
Suffice to say that I do consider myself an athiest- which was the original theme of this thread.

WaitingForMe Tue 12-Nov-13 08:47:46

Reading that makes me realise how much I engage in ritual. I work my energy up and down as necessary. I light candles to calm/inspire, listen to different genres of music to influence my mood and so forth.

The scrap booking is even semi-ritualistic and my book looks how old spell books are depicted in films. I'm quite amused by the idea I'm inadvertently practising witchcraft!!!

msmiggins Tue 12-Nov-13 08:56:51

WaitingforMe- I love that idea! This sounds like a lot of the work I do too, although I take things a little further. Ritual is part of many daily tasks- think of the Japanese tea ceremony or even the act of offering a cup of tea to a visitor.
We don't fully understand all the workings of the human mind.

WaitingForMe Tue 12-Nov-13 09:04:24

My mum is buying me a Japanese tea pot for Christmas as I want to start doing a tea ritual as a way to break from being DSs mum and change my mindset when I need to do a project for work!

But I'll PM you now as I fear I'm derailing the thread somewhat!

On the subject of emotional help to those who need it surely the Samaritans are an example of non-religious care? Then there are women's support groups, advice centers of all kinds, marriage counseling and so on. I'd say that a lot of that care is undertaken outside of a religious setting.

I would imagine that most of the time what religion offers essentially duplicates that.

Where religion has a monopoly is that a priest can say "Your suffering doesn't matter because you're going to get a brand new life later" or "God says you are doing the right thing so you don't need to feel guilty"

I personally don't feel that those are positive contributions regardless of how much short term relief they might give.

I think positive thinking and mindfulness (which I now realise is not woo at all) would be of greater help in actually solving the problems now and in coping with them.

If we have created a group of people who can't bear life without the promise of heaven then I think the mistake was in dangling that carrot in the first place. Introducing a reliance on something that can't be delivered and which doesn't solve the problem the person is facing today.

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