A Question For Atheists.(249 Posts)
When and how did you decide that you didn't believe in god?
Cote, thanks for replying. My points were very much in shorthand form, but there to show that not all who believe in God do so "because that was what they were taught when they were young". We all have different reasons for different things, and those reasons make real sense to us, even if they are not always intelligible to others. To understand where a person is coming from can take time, and while I may not have made my points crystal clear here, and I wonder whether you are really interested in exploring why people believe. If you paused and thought a bit about some of the things I have said (and read them through, instead of racing to dismiss them as it seems you have) we could start an interesting and open conversation on this. But only if that's what you want. I appreciate that some people have had it with religion and just want to push it away from themselves as far as they can, and that requires dismissing religious people as easily as possible. If that's where you're at then I accept that, and any discussion we might have has as much chance as openly discussing ideas with the most conservative religious fundamentalist. If, on the other hand, you are genuinely curious let me know and I will persist.
To answer the OP, I didn't have a god to reject in the first place. I was raised without one. So I didn't ever have to decide that I didn't believe in a God, I just didn't know about them. I wouldn't use the word atheist to describe myself, I am without religion and like ll babies I was born without religion rather than being born atheist. The word atheist is just a lazy way of trying to make religious people understand. It's a label.
Rosieres - I would like to answer your 6-point "rational inquiry" through which you have found God:
(1) "Universe exists and seems to have a starting point" doesn't mean it must be deliberately created by a conscious and intelligent entity.
(2) "Ethics in an objective sense , originated in God" doesn't sound like a rational enquiry at all to me. Ethics are the moral concerns of man, and are hence meaningless without man. Besides, ethics have changed/evolved over time, and people from different cultures can even have different ethical values. So clearly, there are no objective ethical values, external, immutable, and "given" to mankind by a deity.
(3) "Disciples clearly believed Jesus was resurrected, so he must have been" Err, sorry, but this is not even logical, let alone a "rational inquiry".
(4) I read this several times and can't say what you think is particularly rational about it. So you have a sense of God in your life. Good for you, but how is that in any way part of this rational inquiry you said brought you to finding God?
(5) There is no "ontological nature of God". There is an ontological argument for the existence of God which makes very little sense to me, personally. Maybe you would like to explain why you think it is rational and convincing.
Your "God is the ground of being, the capacity for all things to exist" sounds like you think God = the fabric of space/time. However, since God has created the universe, he needs to be separate from it (unless you want to argue that God created Himself, hence the universe created itself, which is not very Christian afaik). Anyway, what is your source of information? (Not speculation from some philosopher).
(6) It is good that you accept you don't know everything, but again can't see how this is supposed to be a rational inquiry that brings us to find God.
We had readings as well (non religious, obviously), just not singing. I think the attendees would all have found singing quite odd to be honest.
Well the incoming and outgoing music isn't usually sung to Pedro. Non religious ceremonies can be very short and traditional ceremonies that I'm used to involve singing as well as readings. Anyway, this is a side issue to the main topic of the thread.
I'm sitting here feeling very uncomfortable at the moment with an awareness of having been quite unfair to you - a bit of a shit bag, really. Doing exactly the kind of thing I hate other people doing to me. I stand by what I said, but I think a personal attack regarding something said on another thread is not on.
I will PM an apology, but I think a little public one is in order.
At my own wedding we had Pachelbel's Canon played by my brother on guitar as DW came down the aisle and my own home recorded rendition of White Wedding by Billy Idol to play us out. Nobody sung anything, don't really know why you'd need them to.
Aged about 5, in school assembly. No particular reason but having grown up in an atheist household I expect the frequent references to God on starting at school made me think about it.
I've never believed in any god, so its not like I realised that there wasn't one. I'd never been at the point where I believed in one in the first place.
I have a theology degree as I was interested in religion as an academic subject. After studying religions for 4 years under and post graduate, I came to the following conclusion: The message of all religions is "don't be a dick to other people". The rest of the stuff is just decoration and flounces. As I can manage not to be a dick to other people without religious belief, its superfluous to me.
Ellie, if you now have a problems with my use of the words bigotry and analogy, on a thread we were on months(?) ago, please post it on that thread. It's not great form to bring it onto another thread
I don't think it's good form to insult people in such a disgusting way when they merely point out that a particular belief is unreasonable or makes no sense.
So, consider us quits.
I think I made my point pretty well.
I love "Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace", Msrisotto. Was my favourite one at school.
Bring me sunshine is cute, I did actually consider it but it was the theme tune of a group for patients I was running at the time so would have been a bit odd.
We had I vow to the my country and make me a channel of your peace. Beautiful songs. I did feel conflicted about this but as I said before, these hymns are a huge part of my childhood. I sang them at school with my friends and at church with my family. Everyone I know knows these songs which I kind of like actually. Can't make myself believe though.
Ellie, if you now have a problems with my use of the words bigotry and analogy, on a thread we were on months(?) ago, please post it on that thread. It's not great form to bring it onto another thread.
mrsrisotto I know what you mean about being a cultural Christian. Although I'm an atheist, I will take part in carol services, religious weddings and so on because it's part of my history. And what's not to love about carol singing? [bugbrin]
There is something comforting about the familiarity of a church service - the Lord's prayer and so on.
My best friend killed herself some years ago. My then boyfriend was hideously unsupportive, and told me that I should pray to God to forgive her (he was a Catholic). We used to go to mass as we were planning to marry and he wanted a church wedding. The priest was wonderful, and gave a mass in her name a few weeks later. I went there with some friends - it was lovely to have the value of her life acknowledged by other people.
It was never a decision I had to make. I have never believed in any god or anything supernatural, even though I went to a C of E school with prayers and lots of Christianity talk. I barely even believed in Father Xmas when I was little. I certainly don't remember ever believing in him, even though my parents kept up the pretense for us (which I did enjoy).
When I mentioned as a kid that i wasn't a believer, my parents said they were "disappointed" in me That's awful and really saddens me.
I went to a wedding at a country house about a year ago and everyone sang "Bring Me Sunshine" instead of a hymn. I thought it would be cringe worthy and naff, but it really worked. The words are perfect for a marriage.
I was brought up CofE and was always resistant to going to church on Sundays. Went to a church school too. During RE class, I argued and questioned a lot, I was brought up to have a good debate over the dinner table. . It was here that the answers I got during RE did not convince me that a god exists.
When I got married at 25 we actually started going to church to become eligible to get married there. I took the opportunity to read the bible which cemented my atheism. I had to get married in a church though. When I mentioned as a kid that i wasn't a believer, my parents said they were "disappointed" in me. My mum cried when I said we were considering a non religious do, and I only then realised that the songs and language which I had grown up with we're not allowed in non religious ceremonies. What were we supposed to sing? The Beatles? All historical readings are religious, this is my history too. I am a cultural Christian and whilst I am atheist, I do not wish to emancipate myself from my own childhood and family. I will therefore celebrate religious occasions like Christmas and Easter with family because to be honest, that is what it is about for us - family, not god.
I call bigotry when I see it Then perhaps you might care to familiarise yourself with what the word actually means first and do us both a favour. (You'll find it somewhere after "analogy" in the dictionary).
Should I start calling thick-as-too-short planks when I, personally, see it too? Or is that just offensive? I mean - I can call what I see too, right?
Teens when I realised that the patriarchal religions all used their concept of God to ensure that controlling women by physical violence could be kept to a minimum - if men can control us by psychological and emotional violence instead, that's an awful lot more efficient and effective and builds in a continuation of male control.
Also I just found it incredibly convenient that this male god had facilitated the horrific male violence against women and horrific violence of the rich and powerful against the poor and powerless for centuries. I don't see why a deity would do that and came to the conclusion that men had invented him for their own nefarious ends.
Oops one too many Ellies in that sentence. Apologies.
Oh yes Ellie, I vaguely remember that thread Ellie, however my earlier post still stands. I call bigotry when I see it and it is dealt with at the time in the thread. If you feel otherwise, please feel free to resurrect the thread your talking about. After all, it is the holiday for it .
Dione Not on this thread, but you have in the past. It was when I pointed out that Christian beliefs make no sense. You'd been trying to insist otherwise. I disengaged at that point because I know that when people start slinging those kinds of insults about that I have won (and I usually do). I also spent an unfortunate amount of time trying to explain to you an analogy after you thought I'd accused all Christians of having drink problems, ffs.
My secularism is a more important part of who I am than my atheism. I strongly, strongly believe that each and everyone of us has the absolute right to believe whatever they like and worship whoever they like. We only get one life, and Muslims & Christians et al must have the freedom to spend that life how they wish. That's important to me. Of course, my right not to have other people's beliefs imposed on me is equally important & secularism is the only way to cover all bases.
So, being called a bigot by someone who clearly has no real conception of what the word means pisses me off A LOT.
But this does not mean that I feel the slightest compunction in refusing to afford religion more respect than it has ever deserved. This idea that it's ring fenced & you can't be critical because you'll hurt people's feelings is exactly why fundamentalism is flourishing all over the world. People take offence over other people's opinions and WE ALLOW IT! Why?
Italian I'm sorry if I said "all" Christians. I didn't mean all. I could reel off the names of several MN Christians who are more than happy to get involved in a debate, and don't automatically get offended. But I have also been called a nasty troll (quite recently), ignorant, closed minded, bigoted (as we've seen) and various other pleasantries from loving Christians.
But to address your actual question, Dione - I never "discovered" I was an atheist. It's not on an equal footing with "finding God".
I agree with Sam Harris completely: "Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs".
It's not a belief in itself - it's simply the position of those of us unconvinced by theistic arguments. When did you discover you were an aleprechaunist?
Age about 6, when the Vicar came to our C of E Primary School and said something like "I think there's something special about Church schools", and I thought "Who on earth are you? I've never seen you before." And, for what it's worth, I never saw him again.
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