Author Topic: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing  (Read 4779 times)

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Offline Onesimus

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Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« on: November 12, 2011, 02:13:14 AM »
...yes... still.  After almost 5 years, I don't feel any more resolved about it.  There are just too many years of programming going on in my head, and most of it is programming I did on myself.  It comes back to me in unexpected ways.  I find that, though I now have much more evidence that religions are inventions of man, I could still debate better from a Christian standpoint even with its weaker arguments.  I watch Matt Dillahunty on YouTube, awed by his logical grasp of any situation, yet I somehow feel compelled to call in some day and plead for him to stop endangering his immortal soul.  Insane?  Yes.  Patently insane.  Yet I could still do it, using thinking I don't even subscribe to anymore.

Here's something even more insane; I think I finally have figured out at least one reason why I'm rather unwilling to label myself an atheist.  For most of my Christian years, I had a knack for running into people who would try to convince me that I wasn't a "true" Christian, for reasons which varied with every episode.  Why shouldn't I be just as worried that people will now say that I'm not a "true" atheist?  I think they could easily make a case.  It might not be the best case, but it might be at least temporarily compelling, and it would separate me even further from this, this, uh... well, can we even call it a community?  It's not a religion, that's for sure.  It supplies none of the amenities religion once supplied me. 

I'm not as bad off as I was in 2007; I don't need actual professional help.  But I thought by now I would have reached a point where I would be glad to have divested myself of faith.  I don't feel glad.  I feel like I did something which will keep me feeling broken and empty for the rest of my life, and that I should have held onto my delusions tighter.  It's too late now, though.  It's gone. 

As much as I despise using the Christian imagery, it fits.  I feel lost.  I feel like I'm right back at that point where religion found me all those years ago, but that there's no "saving" me this time. 

(I'm sitting here reading my own thoughts, and it occurs to me that I'm actually rarely this negative.  It's not that I've typed lies - I mean this stuff at this moment - but I think I'm exaggerating my despair because of fatigue and recent disappointments.  I'm going to post it simply as a document of my thoughts, if for no other reason than to point out that not everyone is unconflicted about their non-belief.  Is it possible that others experience these conflicts?)   


Offline natlegend

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2011, 05:14:45 AM »
Brainwashing, pure and simple. My alcoholic dad has told my mother pretty much every day during their 45 year marriage that she is stupid. She believes that now. Stupid, sad, but that's how it is.

If you are afraid of being labeled as 'not a true atheist' then perhaps you might feel more comfortable  calling yourself agnostic?

Having never been religious myself I can't imagine what you are going through. I wish you the best.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2011, 05:55:28 AM »
After almost 5 years, I don't feel any more resolved about it.

Please explain what you mean by "resolved".

There are just too many years of programming going on in my head, and most of it is programming I did on myself.

From my experience, indoctrination by others is easy to escape from, compared to self-indoctrination.
Here's my advice:
You are human, and therefore capable of error. After you accept this, it is a "simple" matter of analyzing your beliefs (religious or otherwise) to see if they fit with reality. Do research on everything you can. You must remember that beliefs are like medical diagnoses[1]: If even one single thing doesn't fit, then that belief is wrong.

It comes back to me in unexpected ways.

Can you provide examples?

I find that, though I now have much more evidence that religions are inventions of man, I could still debate better from a Christian standpoint even with its weaker arguments.

From my perspective, religion has no arguments that aren't riddled with fallacies, arrogance or anthropocentrism, and any argument that is riddled with fallacies is wrong. That's what a fallacy is. If you can provide a single argument that doesn't have fallacies, I'd appreciate it.
You must also understand that because every religion on Earth is based on mythologyWiki (not to mention that we know that they were all made up), they are wrong.

I watch Matt Dillahunty on YouTube, awed by his logical grasp of any situation, yet I somehow feel compelled to call in some day and plead for him to stop endangering his immortal soul.  Insane?  Yes.  Patently insane.  Yet I could still do it, using thinking I don't even subscribe to anymore.

Quote from: Albert Einstein
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

You are not insane. When you realize that something that defined your worldview is wrong, things like this can happen.

Here's something even more insane; I think I finally have figured out at least one reason why I'm rather unwilling to label myself an atheist.

Atheism has a clear definition; whether you consider yourself an atheist or not is irrelevant. If you lack a belief in deities then you are an atheist. Whether you're an agnostic atheist is a whole different issue altogether.

For most of my Christian years, I had a knack for running into people who would try to convince me that I wasn't a "true" Christian, for reasons which varied with every episode.  Why shouldn't I be just as worried that people will now say that I'm not a "true" atheist?

No such thing as a "true" atheist. All atheists are individuals, just like theists. But unlike theism, atheism has no worldview. Each religion teaches forces a person to adopt a certain worldview, regardless of whatever is actually going on. Atheism does not.

I think they could easily make a case.  It might not be the best case, but it might be at least temporarily compelling, and it would separate me even further from this, this, uh... well, can we even call it a community?  It's not a religion, that's for sure.  It supplies none of the amenities religion once supplied me.

Nobody can make a case for what is a "true" atheist, as such a thing doesn't exist. It's like someone trying to make a case for a specific god. It's impossible. As for what atheism is: It's lack of belief in deities. Period. There are communities made by atheists for atheists, but atheism in itself isn't a community, worldview, religion, belief or belief system.
As a human being[2], you must be the one to define your morals, ethics, worldview, et cetera, according to what you think is right.

But I thought by now I would have reached a point where I would be glad to have divested myself of faith.  I don't feel glad.  I feel like I did something which will keep me feeling broken and empty for the rest of my life, and that I should have held onto my delusions tighter.  It's too late now, though.  It's gone.  As much as I despise using the Christian imagery, it fits.  I feel lost.  I feel like I'm right back at that point where religion found me all those years ago, but that there's no "saving" me this time.

I cannot give you advice for this. I have a near-obsession with truth. I (metaphorically) get off on it, so I've never felt this after I stopped having faith in deities. I felt happy, knowing that I was wrong but that now I've reached the right conclusion, and therefore have learned something.

I'm sitting here reading my own thoughts, and it occurs to me that I'm actually rarely this negative.  It's not that I've typed lies - I mean this stuff at this moment - but I think I'm exaggerating my despair because of fatigue and recent disappointments.

We all have our moments. This is not uncommon.

I'm going to post it simply as a document of my thoughts, if for no other reason than to point out that not everyone is unconflicted about their non-belief.  Is it possible that others experience these conflicts?

I think it is very likely that other atheists have these conflicts.
 1. Sorry for the analogy; I watch too much "House".
 2. Because let's face it, every theist cherry picks his/her own book.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline Chronos

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2011, 08:01:30 AM »
But I thought by now I would have reached a point where I would be glad to have divested myself of faith.  I don't feel glad.  I feel like I did something which will keep me feeling broken and empty for the rest of my life, and that I should have held onto my delusions tighter.  It's too late now, though.  It's gone.

As much as I despise using the Christian imagery, it fits.  I feel lost.  I feel like I'm right back at that point where religion found me all those years ago, but that there's no "saving" me this time. 

Are you sure you just don't miss the social aspect of church? What if we developed a place where we could socialize, confess sins, do good works, feel the love, sing and dance and not have any fire and brimstone?

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 jetson

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2011, 08:03:50 AM »

Are you sure you just don't miss the social aspect of church? What if we developed a place where we could socialize, confess sins, do good works, feel the love, sing and dance and not have any fire and brimstone?

Atheist and Freethought conventions!  Much good fun, for sure!

Offline Historicity

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2011, 10:13:12 AM »
As much as I despise using the Christian imagery, it fits.  I feel lost.  I feel like I'm right back at that point where religion found me all those years ago, but that there's no "saving" me this time. 

Since I'm a Child of the Sixties[1][2] I get my philosophy from rock and roll songs.  What you said reminds me of these Steppenwolf lyrics:

    If I could show you where I've been
    Perhaps you'd know and never ask again.
    Could I forget the things I've seen?
    Perhaps I'd smile and we would be the same.

    CH: I can't return to where you're going.
         What I have learned, it can't be undone.
         Don't blame yourself, don't you know
         It was none of your doing

         All my faith got caught in a maze.
         I lost my dreams in a faraway place.
         Now that I have seen you again
         I can't believe your world's still the same.

    Sometimes I slip into the past
    When life was sweet.
    I thought that it would always last.
    It was so easy to believe that all is well
    They always catch the thief.

    CH:
 1. Please don't gag.
 2. Now in my sixties, ironically.

Offline Add Homonym

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2011, 10:37:15 AM »
but that there's no "saving" me this time. 

Praise the Lord. hallelujah!

Situations like this make me think the human brain is not as plastic and reprogrammable as we would like to think.
Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.

Offline Historicity

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2011, 10:44:27 AM »
well, can we even call it a community?  It's not a religion, that's for sure.  It supplies none of the amenities religion once supplied me. 

Check out your local Unitarian church.  Some of their ministers have made it plain it is really a place for agnostics and atheists to have a church organization. 

The local soup kitchen is a faith-based charity and works by rotating between church groups for the volunteers.  The lady who founded it would start the opening outside in the parking lot leading the volunteers in a group prayer in a circle.  A nice non-denominational prayer that was sufficiently inclusive to be amorphous.  But when the local Unitarian church supplied the volunteers that day some of them pointedly objected because they were atheists.


My neighbor used to attend the local Unitarian church but quit saying it was a bunch of retirees who just wanted to talk about their investments rather than what they could do for the community.

As the story goes:

A man just bought a new Porsche 987c Cayman and wanted it blessed. He went to a Catholic church and said to the priest:

Owner:  I have a new 987c Cayman, Father.
Priest:   Okay, and how can I help you?
Owner:  I want you to give it a blessing.
Priest:   I suppose I could do that, but what's a 987c Cayman?

He went to a Lutheran church and said to the pastor.

Owner:  I have a new 987 Cayman, Reverend.
Pastor:  Okay, and how can I help you?
Owner:  I want you to give it a blessing.
Pastor:  I suppose I could do that, but what's a 987 Cayman?

He went to a Unitarian church and said to the minister:

Owner:    I have a new 987c Cayman.
Minister:  That's great.  I only have a 944, a 1991, the last year they made it.  I'm sure it's not as good but it's a classic.

And they discussed horsepower, natural aspiration vs turbo, maintenance, insurance and tips on not getting ripped off by the mechanics.

Minister:  Well, to the point: How can I help you?
Owner:    I want you to give my 987c a blessing.
Minister:  I suppose I could do that, but what's a blessing?

Offline jynnan tonnix

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2011, 11:38:24 AM »
Oneismus, you sound kinda like Old Church Guy...from what I recall, he had flirted with atheism and found that ditching his beliefs made him feel empty and incomplete. Somehow he has managed to strike a balance that works for him between rationality and still clinging to the feeling that there is truth in his faith. He acknowledges that there is every possibility that he may be wrong, and, really, that's enough to endear him to most atheists.

I think some people are just wired to respond more to that feeling that there is something out there bigger than ourselves, and the religion one is indoctrinated into naturally makes the most sense as far as providing a basis for it, but when you are also wired to look at things logically, there's a big gulf there. Like people for whom neither the right nor left brain is really dominant, you just have neurons firing from the parts of the brain linked to spirituality and logic at the same time. Or something. I'm no neuroscientist.

Maybe you shouldn't really overthink the problem...I'd wager that a whole lot of people out there who consider themselves believers don't really buy into most of the doctrine, but don't really bother to analyze it, and continue happily along. As you say, it's kind of too late once you have woken up enough to see things more clearly, but really, there's no shame in being an agnostic atheist. Very few really ever come to the point of absolute certainty about the non-existence of god, and even they don't generally look down on or belittle those who can't quite get there.

Offline riley2112

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2011, 12:31:28 PM »
Onesimus :  Reading your post gave me nothing in which to look forward to. I am a believer, but after wandering around this forum for the last week or so, I am starting to wonder what it is I believe in. I could give argument to my beliefs but for every one I give, I have read one against it. And one backed up with fact. I mean how do you fight fact with wishful thinking?
I to believe that if I was to give up the lord that an empty feeling would grow within me. Like I would be leaving something important behind. However the facts that have been laid out before me can not be ignored by anyone with even a small amount of intelligence. I too feel like once again I am at a cross road. What makes this sad for me is I only came here to get the other side's view for a school paper I am doing. In doing so I now find myself doubting a belief that I was sure of less than 2 weeks ago. Funny how things turn out.

 
Most people think they know what they know. The problem starts by not knowing what you don't know. You know?  (Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence)   (Albert Einstein)One fool can ask more questions in a minute than twelve wise men can answer in an hour.
--Nikolai Lenin

Offline jetson

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2011, 01:03:18 PM »
riley - there is absolutely no better feeling than coming to a better conclusion about the world around you.  By better, I mean one that you can truly feel comfortable with, without any nagging doubts.  Weird, how I as an atheist have absolutely no doubt at all in my mind regarding the existence of any gods.  There are simply none, anywhere.  And this website, with it's main question and forum, seals it.  God has never healed an amputee, and that is precisely because there is no god.

I have heard from plenty of former believers about the struggles in letting go, including worries, and being ostracized by your close friends and family.  Not to mention the very real hatred and bigotry in the United States against atheists.  But I will tell you that I have never felt more human than I do now, and it has been an awesome feeling for me ever since I read The God Delusion, and realized that being an atheist is the right thing for me.  And it is OK!  I even told the author in person, Richard Dawkins, when he was signing my copy recently at a conference.  I told him that his book made it OK to be an atheist, and that's exactly how I feel.

You are a human being, prone to mistakes, misunderstandings, and beliefs that don't match up with reality, like every one of us!  But one thing you are not, is a born sinner, or a fallen human in the eyes of some ancient god.  You are no more that, than you are a person who would some day upset Zeus, to the extent that he zaps you with a bolt of lightning!  Yes, as stupid as you probably think that sounds, it is exactly the same thing to me when a Christian claims that God will send me to Hell for not believing.

Keep thinking, keep challenging, and keep asking questions.

Offline Roq

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2011, 01:23:28 PM »
I feel like I did something which will keep me feeling broken and empty for the rest of my life, and that I should have held onto my delusions tighter.  It's too late now, though.  It's gone. 

Yeah - it's called growing up.

OTH there are compensations and now you don't have to feel guilty for enjoying them. And whilst doing so you might then find you lose your self pity, at least for the duration. So eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. 


Offline Betelnut

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2011, 01:38:14 PM »
I'm a die hard atheist (raised that way too) but I started going to a Unitarian church about 2 years ago.  It is nice and does provide the social aspect of church that a lot of people need, including me.

Online One Above All

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2011, 01:42:57 PM »
I'm a die hard atheist <snip>

What does this mean? Does it mean "gnostic atheist"?
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken_rjcf/Lucifer/All In One.

Offline Roq

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2011, 04:06:54 PM »
I'm a die hard atheist (raised that way too) but I started going to a Unitarian church about 2 years ago.  It is nice and does provide the social aspect of church that a lot of people need, including me.

I understand that unitarian's are christians who don't believe in the trinity, which seems like sort of a little endian / big endian argument akin to arguing how many tentacles (noodly appendages) the spaghetti monster has.

Wikipedia says that in the US unitarians accept non theists and so has become more of a social club than a church. But why not join a golf, chess or whatever club, where one is more likely to meet people who at least have some sort of common interest?



« Last Edit: November 12, 2011, 05:00:56 PM by Roq »

Offline freefromjesus

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2011, 07:42:43 PM »
I embodied my attitude about being an ex-christian in my username. I am FREE FROM JESUS! Yes, I miss some of the social interaction Church brings, but have found I don't miss the hypocrisy one bit. I was active in Church, Youth Leader, Sunday School Teacher and amateur Apologist as well. I had all my Josh McClown and C.S. Lewis books in my library and would inundate (delude) myself in it anytime I was approached with hard questions, not just from Atheist but even liberal Christians. I know things are tough without Big Daddy in the Sky to pick you up, man, but I feel its a lot better living in Truth rather than a Lie;that makes up for it.

Offline Add Homonym

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2011, 10:51:36 PM »
So eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

9 All this I saw, as I applied my mind to everything done under the sun. There is a time when a man lords it over others to his ownb hurt. 10 Then too, I saw the wicked buried—those who used to come and go from the holy place and receive praise in the city where they did this. This too is meaningless.

11 When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong. 12 Although a wicked man commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time, I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God. 13 Yet because the wicked do not fear God, it will not go well with them, and their days will not lengthen like a shadow.

14 There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless. 15So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.

16 When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man’s labor on earth—his eyes not seeing sleep day or night— 17 then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.

1 So I reflected on all this and concluded that the righteous and the wise and what they do are in God’s hands, but no man knows whether love or hate awaits him. 2 All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, a the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not.

As it is with the good man,
so with the sinner;
as it is with those who take oaths,
so with those who are afraid to take them.

3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. 4 Anyone who is among the living has hope — even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!

5 For the living know that they will die,
but the dead know nothing;
they have no further reward,
and even the memory of them is forgotten.

6 Their love, their hate
and their jealousy have long since vanished;
never again will they have a part
in anything that happens under the sun.

7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. 8 Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. 9 Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.

Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.

Offline Poseidon

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2011, 12:36:54 AM »
Onesimus is conflicted in his own way. I sympathize with him.

I have been comfortable in my own skin for a long time, not paying much attention to the existence or non existense of a supernatural being or talking snakes or the great deluge or that many counties do not allow the purchase of booze on Sunday.. It had been  simple case of you go your way and I will go mine.  Those were comfortable feelings and I had not, heretofore, realized it.

My adopted son died last week. He had become a hard shell christian a few years back. I had to drive 400 mile to a small but modern town in Georgia for his funeral. The hell fire and brimstone preacher, who did the funeral service, made me ill. Many of his friends and aquaintences offered me sympathy along with assurances that Fred was in the arms of jesus, he had gone to a better place, streets paved with gold , and other well meaning absurdities. The town is modern but it has a church on damned near every block, this is truly the bible belt. On the way home, out in the boondocks miles from any noticeable settlement, there were lots of isolated churches, mostly baptist, some pentecostal. About once every four country miles, there was another church. I tried without success to avoid exclaiming aloud; "oh please no, not another fucking church".  I was driving alone so no one heard my expletives except..........god.

I am suffering from a severe case of jesus overload. This kind of stuff never bothered me before but now I am emotionally messed up, sorely disappointed at such widespread ignorance, even angry at having been exposed to such madness.   Golden streets in a pigs ass!

Onesimus has problems in one direction and I have a problem in the opposite direction. Shall we pray?



Offline jetson

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2011, 12:49:03 AM »
Poseidon...I read on wiki, or somewhere, that there were over 400,000 churches across the United States.  I'm afraid that is something we are all going to have to live with for the foreseeable future.  Maybe we need an app for blowing up churches!   ;D

Offline Onesimus

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2011, 02:02:16 AM »
Atheist and Freethought conventions!  Much good fun, for sure!

There's going to be one in my hometown next weekend.  I'll be 9 hours away... ironically, at a different event which has nothing at all to do with skepticism and is strictly recreational.  Why I chose one over the other is maybe a topic for another thread, if I haven't already done it.

I'd like to just say that, as expected, I don't feel so down today, mostly because I had a healthy amount of social contact.  Yesterday was spent largely in isolation, and unless I'm hyperfocused on a task, that's just not very healthy for me.  In January I'll be moving to Florida to reunite with my partner of 20 years and I expect that my mood will elevate accordingly.

Here's the kicker.  For years I may have been alone, but I did not feel alone.  I really did feel the presence of God in my daily life and my private thoughts.  Sometimes it was torment, trust me, but all in all it was a rather pleasant and sanguine delusion.  These days, when I'm alone, I really feel the alone-ness in a way I never used to feel.  The human brain certainly has a marvelous way of simulating experiences; these pseudo-experiences are what I miss.  By dropping faith, I've made it impossible for my brain to simulate feelings like companionship, empathy, and a sense of deeper purpose.  And let's face it, the real thing isn't always available.     


Offline ungod

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #20 on: November 13, 2011, 05:31:06 PM »
Would a pet help fill the void? Seriously.  :angel:
Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has.
Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding. - Martin Luther

"What good fortune for those in power that people do not think." - Hitler

Offline freefromjesus

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #21 on: November 13, 2011, 06:03:56 PM »
Since you know God is a sham, can't you just now feel the presence of The Flying Spaghetti Monster instead?

Offline Poseidon

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2011, 12:39:45 AM »
Jetson that is a plausable number. Roughly one church per 750 people in the U.S.  Examining the demographics of church going, or not going, communities would make a good topic for another thread.  It takes money to operate even a quaint little church and a lot of money to operate big ones like those mega-churches that have seating for 5 to 10 thousand attendees.  Where does all that money come from?

Sorry, I did not mean to hijack this thread.  I'll go to my room now.

Offline Betelnut

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2012, 03:49:25 PM »
I'm a die hard atheist <snip>

What does this mean? Does it mean "gnostic atheist"?
 

Sorry for late reply--that means I don't believe in god or any supernatural entity.  That I know there isn't a god just as much as I know there isn't a Santa Claus.

Offline Truth OT

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #24 on: January 22, 2012, 06:08:10 PM »

I have heard from plenty of former believers about the struggles in letting go, including worries, and being ostracized by your close friends and family.  Not to mention the very real hatred and bigotry in the United States against atheists.  But I will tell you that I have never felt more human than I do now, and it has been an awesome feeling for me ever since I read The God Delusion, and realized that being an atheist is the right thing for me.  And it is OK!  I even told the author in person, Richard Dawkins, when he was signing my copy recently at a conference.  I told him that his book made it OK to be an atheist, and that's exactly how I feel.

You are a human being, prone to mistakes, misunderstandings, and beliefs that don't match up with reality, like every one of us!

Something many seem to overlook is how deeply anthropocentric thought is a part of the human psyche. We have tendency to be vain and from a subconscious perspective, I'm willing to bet that most are not content being human and are willing to search for and buy into philosophies that promise man more than the actual reality of being human does.
I profoundly struggle with this line of thinking as I realize that I have a God complex and a real desire to be more than human in that I wish to combat the certainty of my own mortality and cling to the hope that there is more to life than what man has seen.

Offline jetson

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #25 on: January 22, 2012, 06:31:49 PM »

Something many seem to overlook is how deeply anthropocentric thought is a part of the human psyche. We have tendency to be vain and from a subconscious perspective, I'm willing to bet that most are not content being human and are willing to search for and buy into philosophies that promise man more than the actual reality of being human does.
I profoundly struggle with this line of thinking as I realize that I have a God complex and a real desire to be more than human in that I wish to combat the certainty of my own mortality and cling to the hope that there is more to life than what man has seen.

I have thought about this quite a bit myself.  I get caught up in thinking about the true nature of being just another mammal.  This holds very few requirements when you really think about it.  But for some reason, we have these later brains that have evolved to give us the desire to know why we are here, and to wonder where we are going.  It could be a real burden if taken too seriously.

Offline learnin

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2012, 12:32:09 AM »
...yes... still.  After almost 5 years, I don't feel any more resolved about it.  There are just too many years of programming going on in my head, and most of it is programming I did on myself.  It comes back to me in unexpected ways.  I find that, though I now have much more evidence that religions are inventions of man, I could still debate better from a Christian standpoint even with its weaker arguments.  I watch Matt Dillahunty on YouTube, awed by his logical grasp of any situation, yet I somehow feel compelled to call in some day and plead for him to stop endangering his immortal soul.  Insane?  Yes.  Patently insane.  Yet I could still do it, using thinking I don't even subscribe to anymore.

Here's something even more insane; I think I finally have figured out at least one reason why I'm rather unwilling to label myself an atheist.  For most of my Christian years, I had a knack for running into people who would try to convince me that I wasn't a "true" Christian, for reasons which varied with every episode.  Why shouldn't I be just as worried that people will now say that I'm not a "true" atheist?  I think they could easily make a case.  It might not be the best case, but it might be at least temporarily compelling, and it would separate me even further from this, this, uh... well, can we even call it a community?  It's not a religion, that's for sure.  It supplies none of the amenities religion once supplied me. 

I'm not as bad off as I was in 2007; I don't need actual professional help.  But I thought by now I would have reached a point where I would be glad to have divested myself of faith.  I don't feel glad.  I feel like I did something which will keep me feeling broken and empty for the rest of my life, and that I should have held onto my delusions tighter.  It's too late now, though.  It's gone. 

As much as I despise using the Christian imagery, it fits.  I feel lost.  I feel like I'm right back at that point where religion found me all those years ago, but that there's no "saving" me this time. 

(I'm sitting here reading my own thoughts, and it occurs to me that I'm actually rarely this negative.  It's not that I've typed lies - I mean this stuff at this moment - but I think I'm exaggerating my despair because of fatigue and recent disappointments.  I'm going to post it simply as a document of my thoughts, if for no other reason than to point out that not everyone is unconflicted about their non-belief.  Is it possible that others experience these conflicts?)

Well, Onesimus, I can empathize with your plight because I was deeply religious for 40 years of my adult life.  A hypocrite but religious nevertheless.  Even though I've let go with most of what I believed, I have trouble of letting it all go.  I'm not really empty or lonely, in fact, you might say I feel as if a burden has been lifted.  I do enjoy not being bound to following all these stupid rituals and ceremonies that  a serious Catholic follows.

Here's the problem I have.  There are stories in the New Testament that are bothersome.  Let me explain.   Some of the happenings, recorded in the Gospels, simply do not seem like they were made up to me.  If the Gospel stories are fiction, it is amazing to me that the authors came up with some of these stories.

Take the story of Barrabas.  The Jewish people were given the choice between releasing a notorious criminal and a man who, supposedly, had done nothing wrong.  In the context, it is amazing to me because you have a man who, supposedly, was to take the guilt of humanity upon himself and you have it all played out with a hardened criminal being set free because of the innocent man being despised.  Try as I may, I can't see a fiction writer coming up with something like this.  There are other happenings, recorded in the gospels, that I can't easily dismiss.   

I guess you could say I'm at the point where I can dismiss most of what I've believed but I cannot say, for sure, that there is not some kind of superior force, God if you will, at work.  Agnostic?

At any rate, I've come up with a philosophy that helps me live in peace.    I believe in love.  If there is some kind of God, and God is love, then, I believe in God.
I have to explain what I mean by love.  By love, I mean that desire for the good of another individual; the desire not to hurt another individual; to place that person's good on the same level, if not higher, than your own.    If there is an entity out there that possesses this quality and has a plan to bring it all to a good completion, then, I'm on it's side.  If there isn't, then, I have a meaning to my life even though it be temporary and short.  And that is to make other peoples existence, in this sometimes horrible existence, a little better.

Offline Lurking

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2012, 05:45:24 AM »
From my experience, going from believing to not-believing is a process. A very hard process. You can't just switch believe off in one quick action. Believe/non-believe is not a light bulb that turns on/off.

Years of indoctrination made me believe, no matter what. To even think of non-believing was a sin. I didn't even think of or know how not to believe.

It is very difficult to escape that type of believing, because I just had to believe. No matter what. After all, everyone else believed (something like Pascal's Wager worked for me at that stage).

 However, years of thinking about why I and everyone else in my community believed what we believed provided answers as why not to believe.

My advice is: study the process of how to think. Not what to think. How to think. Ensure that nothing inhibits your thinking process. It worked for me when I realised that I wouldn't burn for eternity if I asked simple questions on things that didn't make sense to me.

 I was ensured that I would burn for just thinking the way I did. My thinking process evolved to something like: "If these guys can only use terrorist methods of threatening me on what to think, they have no answers!"  From then on it didn't take too many years to deconvert. Although it took many years to get to that first stage.

Offline changeling

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #28 on: January 25, 2012, 06:57:07 AM »
Take the story of Barrabas.  The Jewish people were given the choice between releasing a notorious criminal and a man who, supposedly, had done nothing wrong.  In the context, it is amazing to me because you have a man who, supposedly, was to take the guilt of humanity upon himself and you have it all played out with a hardened criminal being set free because of the innocent man being despised.  Try as I may, I can't see a fiction writer coming up with something like this.  There are other happenings, recorded in the gospels, that I can't easily dismiss.   


It was never the practice of the Romans to give the people the choice of which criminal to let free.
That is exactly why this is a fiction story.
You also understand that Barrabas literally means the (son of father or Jesus son of father).
So the people were given a choice between Jesus the son of father or Jesus the son of Father.
A perfect fiction story.
The level of dumb they have to sell, is only made remotely possible by the level of flocking their sheep are willing to do in the name of rewards for no thought. quote: Kin Hell

"Faith is the enemy of evidence, for when we know the truth, no faith is required." Graybeard