Author Topic: How important to you is your lack of faith?  (Read 590 times)

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Offline Onesimus

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How important to you is your lack of faith?
« on: October 20, 2011, 12:22:03 AM »
I tried to think of a way to phrase it so it wouldn't exclude the faithful, but eh, they'll find some way to join in.

I was thinking about this a day or so ago.  There's a big skeptical event coming up in my hometown in November with famous guests, and I attended two years ago but had a lousy time mostly due to my own emotional issues.  Last year, I decided to go to a completely unrelated event, scheduled the same weekend, which promised to be more fun.  It was; I'm going back this year, and once again blowing off the local skeptics and their famous guests.

I actually do feel the same kind of way I used to feel when I'd skip church - like I'm opting out of the healthy, whole-wheat choice and indulging in junk food instead.  It's not so cut and dried in this case, mostly because I'm still wrapping my head around the idea that it's perfectly okay to not attend group meetings if I don't feel like it.  Yet I still feel that twinge.  In this case, and I'm bracing for the blowback here, atheism does feel a little bit like a faith, a faith that one can betray by lack of support.  Clearly, I'm not supporting them if I can't even be bothered to show up. 

How can I avoid this patently absurd conclusion?  Now that I've reclaimed my life from theism, why do I feel like I owe anything to the lack of the same?  When does that feeling go away... or, does it? 

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2011, 01:54:21 AM »
.........complex.

I have never been a joiner, this forum is the most consistent "clubbing"[1] I have ever done, but I am aware that society as a machine is often well serviced by those who join, and partake.

But it sounds almost like a debt the way you have presented the perceived "pressure" whether that pressure be external or in your case internal, it almost sounds as though you feel something (some behaviour) is owed by you, just because you have no belief in god.

Do we owe anybody anything except perhaps the golden meme TM (do not do unto others etc)?

Personally I don't think so, this game we are born into is an evolved messy inheritance that we did not ask to play, so apart from observing the sacrosanct inviolability of everyones' personal space/life what debt can there be?

Volunteerism is a completely different ballgame.

I'm with you on this, if the event (which I may or may not go to once) proved stupid, or boring, or a waste of time  on first visit, I certainly wouldn't feel obliged to go again just because we share a common disbelief.


I hope screwtape notices this thread as I know he has a strong outlook on this.

 1. why do I see baby seals with crucifixes? xian blood in the snow. ;)
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all edits are for spelling or grammar unless specified otherwise

Offline Noman Peopled

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2011, 02:51:40 AM »
BM
"Deferinate" itself appears to be a new word... though I'm perfectly carmotic with it.
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Offline grant

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2011, 04:45:35 AM »
Yet I still feel that twinge.  In this case, and I'm bracing for the blowback here, atheism does feel a little bit like a faith, a faith that one can betray by lack of support.  Clearly, I'm not supporting them if I can't even be bothered to show up. 

Atheism shouldn't feel even a bit like a faith. Its an "understanding". It doesn't need support.

Get over it and enjoy life.
What if the hokey pokey is what its all about?

Offline Hatter23

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2011, 08:19:24 AM »
I kind of feel that way when the big atheist Marches on Washington...only 50 miles away...happen. But they always happen around Halloween...and I'd rather do Halloween stuff  or Fall train trips with my weekend than a march.

An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline gonegolfing

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2011, 08:48:08 AM »
I tried to think of a way to phrase it so it wouldn't exclude the faithful, but eh, they'll find some way to join in.

I was thinking about this a day or so ago.  There's a big skeptical event coming up in my hometown in November with famous guests, and I attended two years ago but had a lousy time mostly due to my own emotional issues.  Last year, I decided to go to a completely unrelated event, scheduled the same weekend, which promised to be more fun.  It was; I'm going back this year, and once again blowing off the local skeptics and their famous guests.

I actually do feel the same kind of way I used to feel when I'd skip church - like I'm opting out of the healthy, whole-wheat choice and indulging in junk food instead.  It's not so cut and dried in this case, mostly because I'm still wrapping my head around the idea that it's perfectly okay to not attend group meetings if I don't feel like it.  Yet I still feel that twinge.  In this case, and I'm bracing for the blowback here, atheism does feel a little bit like a faith, a faith that one can betray by lack of support.  Clearly, I'm not supporting them if I can't even be bothered to show up. 

How can I avoid this patently absurd conclusion?  Now that I've reclaimed my life from theism, why do I feel like I owe anything to the lack of the same?  When does that feeling go away... or, does it?

Transference.

There's no need whatsoever to transfer any of the baggage of religion, or the feelings associated with it, to your atheist position.

Remember, the atheist position has no demands of faithfulness, and instead brings complete freedom of expression, movement, and thought. Common sense combined with a healthy balance of personal desires and responsibility to the general health of the community you live in, should rule the day.

A person who understands the atheist position, understands that there is no guilt associated with it. This remnant of religious style guilt that you're putting yourself through is easily disposed of by wiping that part of the slate clean in your mind:-- just like you did with most other things associated with the god delusion.

Now, if you're having these feelings partly because you have a degree of activism in you, then that's another matter and of course a good thing. We definitely need to be open about our position and there should be no hypocrisy or denial. But you should not allow any outside pressure or selfinduced guilt-trips to influence how you approach your atheist position. If you want to "feel" anything at all, then make it a feeling of appreciation for your new position, and instead of a feeling of guilt, turn that feeling into a conviction that activism is worth it and that you'll participate when time and circumstances enable you to. 

Atheist activism certainly is needed now more than ever. Much more would be accomplished if all atheists would be active to a certain degree (and perhaps even to the point that they are stretched a bit) and supportive in the various battles that exist between religion and society and it's impact on policy and government.......The odd atheist may chastise you and say ""You're damn straight you should feel guilty you lazy twit !! Look ! if we're going to eliminate the effects of religion and the god idea, then you better get the fuck to that conference and learn a few things and get organised and prepared so we can win this god damned fight !!!!!""......That may work on some, but it certainly wouldn't be my approach to you.

When you think about it:-- what could be more amazing, and worth talking about, and worth supporting, and worth being jacked up about, than being in a position that allows one to refute a poisonous delusion and allows you to be free and have shit loads of fun and debauchery at the same time ?!!  :P

Go have your fun  ;)

Cheers mate.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2011, 09:01:24 AM by gonegolfing »
"I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond atheism"....Penn Jillette.

Offline pianodwarf

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2011, 08:51:39 AM »
I kind of feel that way when the big atheist Marches on Washington...only 50 miles away...happen. But they always happen around Halloween...and I'd rather do Halloween stuff  or Fall train trips with my weekend than a march.

There's one coming up in March, which I plan to attend (I live in the Metro DC area, myself).
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Offline Onesimus

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2011, 08:52:44 AM »
Atheism shouldn't feel even a bit like a faith. Its an "understanding". It doesn't need support.

Get over it and enjoy life.

"Shouldn't" isn't synonymous with "isn't".  From my very first statement as a newly-hatched non-believer (on the previous version of this forum, 4 1/2 years ago), I was worried about my relative lack of debate skills, and those of you who are blessed with good ones may not realize just how lucky you are, nor how important they are.  I harbor no illusions that I'm "over" my faith forever no matter what.  I'm pretty sure that if I were taken away from every bit of atheist influence and thrown into some social situation where everyone around me was a believer, they'd talk me right back into it, at least eventually.  The reasons wouldn't be good, but they'd be there everywhere I'd look, and eventually I'd just give into the pressure on some level.

I'm still not a good debater.  I have a friend who is heavily into the creation science thing and he's always trying to engage me in a conversation on that topic.  I find it patently absurd, but I don't have a mental catalogue of the reasons why I find it absurd.  Our conversations consist mainly of him making claims, and me shrugging them off.  I don't fight any harder because I'm not a scientist, not even close to a scientist.  Even if I were to parrot some Dawkins, it would be, well, parroting Dawkins.  I hold no illusions that I have anything to say on the topic.  My friend, however, does harbor such illusions, and keeps trying to get me to joust.  And... I understand this.  He believes passionately, right?  It's his right to express himself.  It's also my right to not change my mind in response to his claims.

I guess I'm trying to say that maybe I don't need support, but without a reasonable amount of support, I might actually start believing again, in something, on some level.  Certainly not in the fundamentalism of my youth, but I could easily become a deist or a UU or something like that.  I wish this weren't so, but I'm trying to be realistic about my own mental and emotional capacities here.

Offline Hatter23

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2011, 09:01:27 AM »
I kind of feel that way when the big atheist Marches on Washington...only 50 miles away...happen. But they always happen around Halloween...and I'd rather do Halloween stuff  or Fall train trips with my weekend than a march.

There's one coming up in March, which I plan to attend (I live in the Metro DC area, myself).

I know, but I am a tax accountant. I work weekends throughout March and April for the most part. Though it isn't nearly as bad as it was 10 years ago...thank the internet
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

And you should feel guilty for this. Give me money.

Offline Onesimus

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2011, 09:08:31 AM »
Remember, the atheist position has no demands of faithfulness, and instead brings complete freedom of expression, movement, and thought. Common sense combined with a healthy balance of personal desires and responsibility to the general health of the community you live in, should rule the day.

I wish I could completely accept this.  First I would get the opinion of, say, Sam Harris, who raised a big stink a few years ago when he tried to say that there might be something beneficial about mysticism and contemplative practices.  Somehow he stood up to Daniel Dennett's objections.  That's way, WAY beyond what I could hope to do.

The odd atheist may chastise you and say ""You're damn straight you should feel guilty you lazy twit !! Look ! if we're going to eliminate the effects of religion and the god idea, then you better get the fuck to that conference and learn a few things and get organised and prepared so we can win this god damned fight !!!!!""......That may work on some, but it certainly wouldn't be my approach to you.

Yes, it might work on some.  I'm pretty sure that it's working on someone like that, right now, somewhere.  But I have no way of finding out who or where, so I'm left with empty speculation.

Go have your fun  ;)

I'll get pics.  :)

Offline Chronos

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2011, 07:15:14 AM »
I'm still not a good debater.  I have a friend who is heavily into the creation science thing and he's always trying to engage me in a conversation on that topic.  I find it patently absurd, but I don't have a mental catalogue of the reasons why I find it absurd.  Our conversations consist mainly of him making claims, and me shrugging them off ... He believes passionately, right?  It's his right to express himself.  It's also my right to not change my mind in response to his claims.

That's probably the best thing to do with a creationist, anyway. You wouldn't be able to convince him of anything even if you were the world's best debater. His job isn't to understand, but to proselytize. After it was over he would just walk away and search for another victim. In my opinion, you are refusing to be a victim. Your time and energy is better spent on the talents that you have that the rest of us wish we had.


I guess I'm trying to say that maybe I don't need support, but without a reasonable amount of support, I might actually start believing again, in something, on some level.  Certainly not in the fundamentalism of my youth, but I could easily become a deist or a UU or something like that.  I wish this weren't so, but I'm trying to be realistic about my own mental and emotional capacities here.

We just need an atheist church. Most of what people really enjoy about attending a regular church is the socialization. They can pray on their own and get with god just about anywhere. They congregate to socialize -- the rest of the stuff is just following rules.

John 14:2 :: In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Offline Samuelxcs

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2011, 07:18:24 AM »
My lack of faith is important because if I had faith I would be wasting my time, I don't like wasting my time.
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Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2011, 08:15:07 PM »
My take is a variation on what Samuelxcs said.  My lack of faith is of no importance to me, but the faith of others is too often a disservice to humanity, and I have to speak out against it when it is.
Not everyone is entitled to their opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline Timo

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2011, 10:43:46 PM »
I don't think that my lack of faith is all that important to me.  But I think that's due, in part, to the sort of religious tradition that I grew up in.  I grew up in a church, a little Black church, that was and is just as much about community as anything else.  For me, rejecting the faith didn't mean rejecting the tradition or rejecting the community I grew up in.  And so I still, occasionally go to church, mostly only on special occasions.[1]  Though, I'd probably go more often if I lived closer to home.

So yeah, I think the question of how important is my lack of faith is actually getting at something different than what you're actually asking, which is how much of a sense of community do I feel as an atheist....or something like that.  And I suppose my answer there would be "very little."  Like kin hell, this forum is pretty much the extent of my involvement with a larger atheist community.  But I think that might just be because, while I rejected Christianity in my teens, it didn't really alienate me from my community in any meaningful way.

On a completely anecdotal level, it seems to me that the most vocal and involved atheists are former fundamentalists, which actually makes perfect sense to me.  They have the most dramatic changes to make with respect to their worldview when they deconvert and their respective communities often times don't accept heterodoxy let alone apostasy.  Furthermore, they have the unfortunate distinction of seeing first hand the worst excesses of religion. 
 1. There's even a little joke in my particular denomination for people like me, which is "CME does not stand for Christmas, Mother's Day and Easter."
pero ya tu sabes...

Offline pingnak

Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2011, 10:52:37 PM »
As an apathetic agnostic, my lack-o faith isn't all that important.

But as others point out, the destructive tendencies of the faithful make me care a bit about their issues.

If only I could get them into more moderate variants of their faith.  De-radicalize.  That's all I could ask.  I don't care if they believe in magical sky daddy and whatnot, so long as they keep it out of my face and play nice.


Offline Timo

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #15 on: October 22, 2011, 11:26:09 PM »
If only I could get them into more moderate variants of their faith.  De-radicalize.  That's all I could ask.  I don't care if they believe in magical sky daddy and whatnot, so long as they keep it out of my face and play nice.

I completely agree.  If theists want to accept that science answers the "how" questions and that their faith answers the "why" questions, I really don't have much of a problem.  If they accepted that, no matter what their church teaches, homosexuals have relationships that the state ought to recognize in the same way they recognize heterosexual ones, etc, I don't think that I'd have much of a problem with theism.

pero ya tu sabes...

Offline Finntroll

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Re: How important to you is your lack of faith?
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2011, 02:05:37 PM »
I wish I could completely accept this.  First I would get the opinion of, say, Sam Harris, who raised a big stink a few years ago when he tried to say that there might be something beneficial about mysticism and contemplative practices.  Somehow he stood up to Daniel Dennett's objections.  That's way, WAY beyond what I could hope to do.
I tend to agree with Sam Harris. If one becames a hardcore only-physical-world atheist, one risks to lose the ability to understand lateral thinking, deconstructive philosophy (including stuff like zen), ontological relativism, even lose the understanding of art and poetry. And become a flat reductionist. And that in my mind equals the religions.

My lack of faith is generally not very important to me. I don't even get the word "faith". Claiming to know something you don't and then bullshit for it? I guess I have remnants of somekind of playful child's faith, but I would never define it, because I would be bullshitting too. I never was a fundamentalist, nor were my relatives.

However my lack of faith to things like the fundamentalist christian world view IS important to be. That religion is to me dark, ugly and cruel. Based on more or less conscious lies. Converting to that would make me feel the same as converting to a Satan worshipper for a christian.