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Atheists - is there anything about faith that appeals to you, would you like to believe?

(411 Posts)
Italiangreyhound Wed 27-Mar-13 10:51:43

Hi, I've been reading a few threads and I've heard atheists say stuff in the past about belief in God. Stuff like they don't believe in God but they would like to or they can see why it would maybe give peace or would be nice etc. I am just curious how atheists feel a bout this and if they want to talk about it?

I am a Christian, I hope I am an open and tolerant person and I would not want to cause offence. I am just curious, as we come into Easter if anyone wants to chat about this.

If not, may I wish you a peaceful and happy Easter, even if all it means to you is some chocolate eggs.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 13:25:54

I sometimes think I would like to be Jewish- but I think it's only because I saw Fiddler on the Roof at an impressionable age. I like the idea of being a Jewish matriarch and summoning my family to dinner every Friday.

But, that apart, no.

DieWilde13 Wed 27-Mar-13 13:26:52

I also see the appeal of having faith. It must be wonderfully comforting.

sydlexic Wed 27-Mar-13 13:32:15

I find it hard to believe that anyone has a true faith with no doubt what so ever.

I have no doubt God does not exist, I would be happy to be wrong and that death is not final.

I do have christian values and believe in honesty and integrity, I don't think you need faith to be a good person. I know of many that have faith and are definitely not good people.

badguider Wed 27-Mar-13 13:32:25

I am atheist and have absolutely no desire for faith or for religion but I do envy the fact that religion holds power over most of the ceremonies which mark life moments such as birth, marriage and death.
You CAN have 'naming ceremonies' and registry weddings and humanist funerals but all are more effort to think about and organise than the church versions which are often the 'default'.

I'd like a more 'tradiational' way to mark these events without the religion bit.

I also quite like some of the community and welcoming part of church but at the same time I hate the way some churches are judgemental and unwelcoming so I guess it's a double-edged sword.

I think church-halls can be very important in communities (for toddler groups, cubs and brownies, old people groups) and wish there were more non-religious venues for such events.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 14:06:22

slug, the thing is the concept of leadership is framed in worldly, ie non Christian terms. Did Jesus demand the top bishop job? Did he assert his rights? Or did he wash Peters feet? That's the lowliest servants job, nobody wanted that job but Jesus did it and he was all about service. So it's not very Christian to go about demanding the top jobs. For men or for women.

LizzyDay Wed 27-Mar-13 14:24:49

"So it's not very Christian to go about demanding the top jobs. For men or for women."

Well that's a concept that's ripe for exploitation. Maybe the churches should lead by example and not exploit it?

cestlesautres Wed 27-Mar-13 14:24:57

Seeker, rofl. grin

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 14:27:57

Lizzyday what do you mean? Exploitation?

Perhaps we should step back a bit and this discussion and first agree what leadership means. I have one understanding of the word but I think others have a different idea entirely so we could be debating apples and oranges here.

LizzyDay Wed 27-Mar-13 14:41:53

greencolourpack - I just meant that the concept of 'it's better to be humble and servile and you'll get your rewards in heaven ' can be and has been exploited by the rich and powerful throughout the ages in order to get other people to do things for them.

But actually if we get into that we'll derail the thread so maybe best kept for another occasion. smile

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 14:46:56

Ahh green, but did he say "women have a place at the top table"? I think not and men and the structures they create around religion have taken that to mean Jesus was male therefore priests/leaders etc can only be male.

Christianity has historically and to this very day been pretty hard on women. But then again, I can't think of an established religion that does treat women as something other than second class citizens.

InNeedOfBrandy Wed 27-Mar-13 14:54:29

I really really really want to believe in God, I would love to feel part of a family/community and believe everything for a reason and God loves me. I have tried so hard to have faith in Christianity and Paganism and each one I find unbelievable as the other.

I have tried a couple of churches but the whole (and I really don't mean any offence) happy clappy we love God brigade just made me cringe.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 15:00:56

And the trouble is, women are expects to b grateful for this second class citizen status. "Women have a very social role in th life of the church"

Yep. Those flowers won't arrange themselves.......

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 15:05:16

Slug, your ideas about leadership are based on being powerful and lording it over others and there is the implication that to be the boss equals first class citizen and to be the servant is to be the second class citizen but that doesn't necessarily follow. Again I say Jesus washed Peters feet. why did he do that? Why didn't he demand power? Why did he ride in on a donkey looking totally unimpressive? Why? To teach us something about leadership. leadership equals service.

I think a lot of people think church leaders and their brains go instantly to "evil scumbag bastard wolves in sheeps clothing exploiting the poor vulnerable women who are too thick to know any better". But that's just the wolves. Why do you hear about the wolves in the news? Why do we hear about pedophile priests? It is because they are the exception, not the rule. The rule is the sheep in sheeps clothing. The rule is the leaders who know Jesus Christs example and they go into that job trembling at the responsibility, they care for their flock, they listen to everyone, yes even the women, they try to be good leaders. I have known many good leaders. I haven't known any evil bastard exploitative paedo church leaders, so I don't think leadership and instantly think exploitation.

Nettee Wed 27-Mar-13 15:09:03

Greencolorpack - your story about your atheist friend is so sad. This is why I cannot be a Christian. I am not an atheist but I think if I were I would like to believe in a loving God and an afterlife. However I would feel awful if I thought that lots of people I knew and loved and many more that I didn't would be spending eternity in Hell while I enjoyed myself.

Anyone who wants a community and some worship without the creeds - try out the Unitarians.

Also there are lots of universalist and liberal Christians out there if you look for them - some books to read - how to be a bad Christian and love wins (can't remember the authors) and rescuing the bible from the fundamentalists by John Shelby Spong. I am trying to figure out why people feel so drawn to the historical Jesus / living Christ. The liberals out there basically believe in God's unconditional love - why is Jesus a necessary part of this? This is a serious question, possibly for another thread. (the answer that I am not looking for is that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins)

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 15:12:52

I see your point of view Nettee but if you believe in God you have to believe that some people reject salvation. But thinking "I don't like this therefore it is not true" is not an option. It's like saying, I hate slavery in other countries therefore if I cover my eyes and say "Lalalala slavery doesn't exist" it suddenly pops out of existence.

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 15:15:46

I have to ask green. If a position of power is denied one group then is that group not second class?

This is what some of the more err.... 'extreme' end of the Christian spectrum thinks of your "salad bar" Christianity. <<disclaimer: there is no way I think anyone on Mumsnet, or possibly in the UK thinks like this>>

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 15:18:42

Not if the leadership listens to that group and reflects what they want in what they deliver.

What do you mean by my salad bar? I didn't follow the link, saw it was something about feminism and I'm not really interested. You grow up with your mums ideology rammed down your throat and you grow bored. Also I don't want to watch YouTube cos I've got the telly on.

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 15:21:47

So all those women who campaigned for female bishops didn't count then? Or all the female members of the Roman Catholic Church who are given absolutely no say in the church hierarchy also want their subservient status as well?

I guess we need to start attending the papal conclaves to make sure the next pope's female then. Oh, wait....

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 15:22:33

Salad bar Christianity is referenced in the link above. It refers to Christians who pick and choose what they want to believe and conveniently ignore the nastier parts of the bible.

greencolorpack Wed 27-Mar-13 15:27:39

I what way "didn't count"? If they want to do that fair play to them. There are arguments either way. I don't think much of the arguments for women not being in leadership but like I explained before its not a "deal breaker" for me personally and I can go to another church if I don't like the C of Es take on things, as I believe I already explained above.

The Bible has been interpreted by the church over a long period of history. The Bible does not say you can't have women bishops. So I am not "ignoring nasty bits". You don't know me from a hole in the wall so you don't know how I interpret the Bible. If this gets hostile then I will just stop posting here. Life's too short.

backonlybriefly99 Wed 27-Mar-13 15:31:34

Italiangreyhound, I hope you have a good Easter in your own way, but I'm not a fan of religion at all.

I don't hate religious people as such. Important to get that across. My first experience with a church as a child was an elderly widow who offered to walk neighbour's children to Sunday school. I think they call it a walking bus now.

I knew her for many years and she was a kind and generous person. Her motive was clearly to share something she enjoyed. I can also see that people find comfort in religion and if that works for them then fine.

However, my objections to religion are two-fold.

I think inevitably any church hierarchy fills up with ambitious/controlling people - true in politics and business too - and the nicer people get relegated to putting flowers in the church. Also as an atheist in the UK I find organised religion affects me directly and infringes on my freedom to be myself. So organised religion is something I'd be pleased to see the end of.

For individual believers it's my opinion that practising faith (belief without reason) is unhealthy and potentially dangerous. Not just bombers - though they are one result of people acting because they have faith that this is what their god wants. There will be many more who simply believe that their creator wants them to be nice to people and that seems okay doesn't it. But I think it is better that people make up their own minds about right and wrong. Basing it on their own experience, knowledge and study. That's how we make progress.

MrsHoarder Wed 27-Mar-13 15:31:42

I want (sometimes desperately) to believe in an afterlife, a higher power and a great plan, but haven't been able find that kind of faith since about the age of 12.

But it is one of the reasons why I permitted DH to arrange a Baptism for DS. There is a lot of good and comfort that comes from the church and I want him to have a chance to be involved in that.

seeker Wed 27-Mar-13 15:32:54

Are there any bits of the Christian church where women are on a completely equal footing with men?

slug Wed 27-Mar-13 15:40:02

Oh granted green. I'm not attacking you or your particular version of Christianity, apart from your tolerance of institutional sexism. I simply couldn't buy into a belief system that explicitly brands me as less than a man.

The you tube links are one of the funnier and more extreme manifestations of what happens when you take the bible absolutely literally. The woman who makes then, I suspect, has some serious issues. Her blog includes posts titled "Buses-The Road To Communism" "Witches and Capital Punishment" (she's all for it) and "Good Ideas - Bringing Back Slavery" again, she's all for it because slavery is explicitly condoned in the Bible.

FantasticDay Wed 27-Mar-13 15:40:53

Hi. I'm just reading an excellent book called Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton about the things that can be learned from religious beliefs and practice (acceptance that we are all flawed, shared meals, education etc.) and talks about how these can be adapted for secular society.

Btw (I speak as a Unitarian Christian), I think all Christians are salad bar Christians - don't know anyone who believes in slavery, would stone someone for working on the Sabbath, thinks women shouldn't cut their hair etc. I would say that the definition of a Christian is to follow Jesus' teaching to love God and love your neighbour as yourself. The rest - the Golden Rule, forgiveness of sins, What Would Jesus Do? etc. all stem from this.

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