Author Topic: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing  (Read 4619 times)

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Offline screwtape

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #116 on: February 28, 2012, 11:01:14 AM »
Which has got me thinking...do a lot of religious people have some weird, strange, twisted idea of love that *completely* segregates the human experience from it? 

yes.  It is called "agape".  It is love, but not like any kind of love we know or which naturally occurrs.  It can only be given by god.
http://www.gotquestions.org/agape-love.html



Maybe I just need a better working definition of 'love'.

Good luck with that.  xians live by obfuscating.
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Offline Lorax

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #117 on: March 03, 2012, 03:40:11 AM »
what kind of behavior.

What behavior will allow me to know that Jenna loves me?

My husband shows me he loves me by his actions, he helps me, he makes me laugh, he holds me when I'm sad.

So if someone does this they love you?

If they don't do it, they don't love you?

Both?

ROFL oh my that's funny!  It's so nice to see you this desperate, Lorax, again evidently trying to find secret messages in my posts.  What do you think my answer will be, from my post, Lorax?

You will probably dodge the question while saying something arrogant and dissmissive...

Oh wait!

Offline Lorax

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #118 on: March 03, 2012, 03:42:23 AM »
JDawg, I have a feeling that you are a high T on the Myers-Briggs aren't you?

I think that "state of mind" you are referring to is what i would call a "feeling"

Offline velkyn

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #119 on: March 05, 2012, 09:57:51 AM »
You will probably dodge the question while saying something arrogant and dissmissive...

Oh wait!

quite amusing when I've answered your question already, but you've ignored it.  I did ask you a question, Lorax.  What do you think my answer would be?  But of course, you didn't even try.   

Yes, Lorax, if they do those things i mentioned, they love you.  If they don't, they don't love you.  Love depends on actions and emotions.  Now, if you don't agree, and you still want to partaicipate in a discussion, you need to rebut my points. 
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Offline inveni0

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #120 on: March 05, 2012, 12:30:51 PM »
Why shouldn't I be just as worried that people will now say that I'm not a "true" atheist?

I understand your dilemma.  I, too, was once a hard core believer, yet I was often told that I was wrong--or, more accurately, not quite "right" with Christianity.  And even now, I hesitate to call myself an atheist.  It's not that I'm afraid that I'm not atheist enough (though I'm most likely not...more on that later).  It's that I feel like "atheist" has a lot of negative connotations to it.  Coming from Christianity, atheists are viewed as boozing, cursing, selfish heretics.  But I've not changed into any of those things.  I'm the same person I have always been...I just no longer believe in the Christian god.

In fact, I don't believe in any god that mankind has yet invented.  I do believe in spiritual experiences...though I don't believe they're spiritual.  I believe they're natural experiences that the brain interprets as best it can.  I liken feeling a presence in the room to seeing a cloud shaped like a dinosaur.  The cloud ISN'T a dinosaur.  It wasn't even designed to be that way.  We just happen to recognize a pattern, and so that's how we interpret it.  With a presence in the room, we could just be feeling a natural change in pressure, sensing electromagnetic forces, or even just fabricating the sensation within our own, still evolving minds.

In other words, I don't dismiss people's religious experiences.  They ARE seeing something, feeling something, hearing something.  It just isn't what they think it is, and it isn't something that can't be explained by science and reason.

So I'm not agnostic, and I'm not anti-theist.  I can't come down on others for being insane....I was once insane, too.  But I don't believe in god.  I believe in science.

I'm a scientist without a laboratory.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2012, 12:32:22 PM by inveni0 »
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Offline Schizoid

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #121 on: March 05, 2012, 08:39:24 PM »
Quote from: inveni0


I understand your dilemma.  I, too, was once a hard core believer, yet I was often told that I was wrong--or, more accurately, not quite "right" with Christianity.  And even now, I hesitate to call myself an atheist.  It's not that I'm afraid that I'm not atheist enough (though I'm most likely not...more on that later).  It's that I feel like "atheist" has a lot of negative connotations to it.  Coming from Christianity, atheists are viewed as boozing, cursing, selfish heretics.  But I've not changed into any of those things.  I'm the same person I have always been...I just no longer believe in the Christian god.

In fact, I don't believe in any god that mankind has yet invented.  I do believe in spiritual experiences...though I don't believe they're spiritual.  I believe they're natural experiences that the brain interprets as best it can.  I liken feeling a presence in the room to seeing a cloud shaped like a dinosaur.  The cloud ISN'T a dinosaur.  It wasn't even designed to be that way.  We just happen to recognize a pattern, and so that's how we interpret it.  With a presence in the room, we could just be feeling a natural change in pressure, sensing electromagnetic forces, or even just fabricating the sensation within our own, still evolving minds.

In other words, I don't dismiss people's religious experiences.  They ARE seeing something, feeling something, hearing something.  It just isn't what they think it is, and it isn't something that can't be explained by science and reason.

So I'm not agnostic, and I'm not anti-theist.  I can't come down on others for being insane....I was once insane, too.  But I don't believe in god.  I believe in science.

I'm a scientist without a laboratory.

I think I am where you are at.  Perception is reality to the perceiver even if it is not true and I won't claim that a religious person's spirituality or spiritual experience is not real to them.

I, too, was once a hard core Christian in my beliefs, but more mellow in practice.  Now, aside from being a nonbeliever, I am pretty much the same person that I was then.  Just older and hopefully smarter.

I have no problem with religious people in this country, Christians, who are non-oppressive, non-judgmental, and non-controlling.  That seems to be a tall order to ask, but there are some live and let live Christians.

I am a live and let live atheist, but I am not about to let some Christians try and turn the U.S. into a theocracy and control people based upon "their" religious beliefs.  People are welcome to their delusions as long as they don't harm others.

Offline Jake

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #122 on: March 05, 2012, 10:29:31 PM »
I don't think you're not a 'True™' atheist, Onesimus.      There's no award to win at day's end; there's nothing to prove to anybody.   

We humans, we're social creatures.   Irrespective of religious involvement in the framing of a context, we're social creatures; tribal animals to the spitting definition of it.     As humans, we tend very strongly to find social patterns and model our behaviours after them, and our mindsets; the very metastructures of our perceptions; adapt and shape to the conventions we both consciously apply to ourselves in an active fashion as well as those we reject.     Moreover, there are any number of subcontexts we're rarely to never conscious or aware of that we never-the-less react to, and those play a role in our social adaptations too.


Religion, in this sense, is a lot like drugged water.    We need water to live; we need to socialize to live.   Really, we do; prolonged isolation and even greatly limited contact with other people has some pretty alarming effects on not merely our cognitive forms, but our very means of cognitive function, our emotional states, even our physical health.     And it doesn't have to be literal isolation either; perceived isolation, even if its just removal of a familiar point of contact with no comparative replacement, can have similar effects as isolation, usually in the short term.

So, with religions of many varieties, we get a package deal, including some things we need that have nothing to do with religion at all and are not exclusive to religious providence what-so-ever.    We need to socialize, we need our senses of otherness in contrast to self, we need (to arguable and varying extents) the emotional interplay of engaging with others. 

We need those as much as we need water for entirely different, but no less certain, reasons.    What we don't need is a drug in the water or religion as a motive or a cornerstone enabling our social pursuits.

It could well be argued that atheism is the hardest cup of water to drink in that framing.   It doesn't replace frameworks of faith-based perceptions; it removes them, and if they're replaced with rational, fact-oriented information and knowledge and thoughts and feelings contrasted with known quantities, it won't feel familiar because the whole scope and conceptual nature has not only been changed, but is heavily dependant on you to contruct it.      Atheism doesn't come with all that many emotionally fulfilling points; we have to define those by our own cognitive and emotional metrics, or we wind up feeling pretty adrift.

And there's a fairly simple reason for why; we need our senses of purpose and belonging, of role and of identity.    In that capacity, religion does an alarmingly good job of handing it all to you on a silver platter, so to say; here's your role, this is your purpose, these are the explanations of why, this is what it means and here are all these people that, in accepting all of this, you'll be able to relate to at least on this level.   

There's a lot of stuff in what religion offers that people really do need.   Unfortunately for religions, it isn't the doctrine or the calcified iron-age moral perspectives, the guilt, the fear or the shame that reinforces and gives personal dimension to a great many of the supposedly positive elements.    As a drug in the water, religion creates the disease and numbs the pain it, itself, brought on.   

But the process is interactive.   We need interaction, both internally as cognitive, sapient creatures as well as externally with other things and people.    Atheism doesn't replace that process, and in the absence of even an ultimately damaging process, no process at all is pretty empty.    There is nothing out there to talk to; nothing looking in on you; nothing that loves you -or- hates you.

For people that aren't accustomed and have never in all their lives been encouraged to become accustomed to constructing those processes via other channels and finding those interactions elsewise, it can be a very depressing, lonely and hollow-feeling experience, to deconvert.    They might well go right back to their religion, even if they can't stand it, because it feels like -something-.

I can assure you that religion doesn't have a special monopoly on that something.   We have to be distinctly proactive in creating it for ourselves though, and we don't have any grand, unifying causes or rallying points for tribal formation to culturalize around.      In a church setting, you've got at least the potential to feel connected by a common cause or purpose or perspective (or all of the above) to people around you as ratified by a lot of things to sit and probably not talk about so much, but merely to take comfort in taking for granted.

People like the security of things they can take for granted, and I'm not using 'take for granted' in its pedestrian connotation of negativity.    I'm referencing certainty, security, absolution, affirmation, confirmation and correlation as platforms for empathy, sympathy and mutual basis for experience.

Atheism doesn't come with any of that.    If religions were operating systems on a computer, Atheism is like the most stripped-down linux kernel on the planet; it does nothing and offers you nothing if you don't program it yourself, and that can be bloody well hard.    You will almost certainly need other peoples' help to do it unless you're some kind've super-excellent programmer...but if you're a super-excellent programmer, there's a good chance you've been programming your own tools anyway and will not be facing such a debacle.   

Freedom is not what some would like to imagine.    It isn't an emotionally stirring symphony rising and falling as the credits roll and the hero in the story rides off into a sunset.

It's standing there in silence that will remain silent until you change it doing nothing until you do something, knowing nothing until you learn something, going nowhere until you set forth for any or no reason that you fancy at all.

You will almost certainly wind up going 'What now?' and feeling despair of it, quite possibly more than once.    Find your people, make a place for yourself, ask yourself some hard questions and accept nothing less than the certainty only you can provide in their answering though, and you can make it smashingly. 

Who do you want to be?    What will matter to you, and why?    What are you curious of?   What will you care about?     What do you like, and dislike; why?     

You're building yourself up from...not nothing; you've a whole lifetime of experiences and thoughts and feelings that all roll up into a pile of tools to work with in defining who you are and why you are that and what is and is not important to you and so on, but it takes practice to become proficient with those tools.    It really does.    And some things, you may not quite be able to bring yourself to abandon that you acquired from religion.

You might feel shame over it.   You might imagine that you're a 'bad Atheist' because you're still comforted by the sneaking suspicion that there are invisible beings out there somewhere, even if you wrestle with what they might be and what they might want and so on.    We're imaginative creatures; powerfully imaginative.     If we're being reasonable with ourselves, and honest with ourselves, we don't abuse ourselves for making what we might suppose are mistakes, though.

We acknowledge that growth doesn't, and really can't, all just magically happen at once.    Things like deconverting from religion might happen abruptly and might feel sudden, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.    Its a very dramatic and probably emotionally jarring thing for some...and when the dust settles and the drama of the moment is long gone, there you still are, looking at the operating system of yourself that does nothing and has nothing going on on that blank screen except for one little blinking cursor in the top left corner and a keyboard of your cognitive sapience at your fingertips.

It isn't convenient.   It sure as all get-out isn't easy or necessarily fun.

But it is, very powerfully, the way you get to decide who you are and why you are that and what means what to you on your own terms to as fine a degree as you want.

You're not a 'bad atheist' if you look at what prefabricated systems of belief offer and copy things that you like -because you like them-.    You're an atheist, not a scientist; you don't have to be rational.    You're a human first; humans aren't always rational and, frankly, trying to be will make you a pretty miserable human in terms of how poorly that's probably going to work out.

You're an atheist, not an obligated upholder of sacred Darwinian tenents.    Do you really like faeries?   Does it amuse and entertain you to imagine that there are invisible faeries in the world that play pranks on people and carve snowflakes into their shapes?    Are you willing to accept the reality that just because you like it and it amuses you and it has emotional value to you that it has no bearing on reality for anyone else or being correct outside your own whim and fancy?     Go ahead and believe in faeries.   Be happy with your musings and your decorations and your ...I dunno, stories or poems or paintings or little rituals of leaving treats out for them that the cat probably eats if you like.

It's ok to be human.    Moreover, it's ok to change your mind.     Maybe, where you're at right now, you need to believe in something that you don't know how to replace with anything else.

Maybe you need some notion of a god-figure to emotionally deal with things.    Compare it to an operating system again; maybe you need some training wheels to get your system functioning and had to import some things from MicroJesus Express to cover some things you just don't know how to replace and remain functional with yet.     Can you change your mind later?

Of course.   But...what if you're happy with this cobbled-up hybrid of some stuff you've pieced together yourself and all this other stuff you imported from MicroJesus Express?

Are you a bad atheist if...you're actually happy with that?    If it really works for you and you're not hurting or impugning anyone with it at all?     

Might not be the best sort of position to make compelling statements from in debate with some purist system guru that's custom coded their whole system, but is that a requirement to be a functional, reasonably happy human being?     

Do you need to be that kind of purist system guru right away even if you'd like to have that kind of self-awareness and metacognitive faculty and self-certainty to be able to be like that?

No.   That frequently takes time, a lot of hard work and a lot of struggling; it's a process that's never finished either.   

So, there's my...ohhh...sixty eight cents worth of thought on that.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2012, 10:42:21 PM by Jake »
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Offline Lorax

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #123 on: March 12, 2012, 09:01:41 AM »
You will probably dodge the question while saying something arrogant and dissmissive...

Oh wait!

quite amusing when I've answered your question already, but you've ignored it.  I did ask you a question, Lorax.  What do you think my answer would be?  But of course, you didn't even try.   

Yes, Lorax, if they do those things i mentioned, they love you.  If they don't, they don't love you.  Love depends on actions and emotions.  Now, if you don't agree, and you still want to partaicipate in a discussion, you need to rebut my points.

No I don't really want to continue in discussion with you. Having read the forum rules though it's apparently not my choice. Can I take this an an invitation to stop?

Offline velkyn

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #124 on: March 12, 2012, 10:39:57 AM »
No I don't really want to continue in discussion with you. Having read the forum rules though it's apparently not my choice. Can I take this an an invitation to stop?

It’s nice to see that you evidently can’t support your claims.  You can stop if you like, but that’s your decision and responsibility. 
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Offline Lorax

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #125 on: March 16, 2012, 03:04:12 AM »

Online atheola

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #126 on: March 16, 2012, 05:10:39 PM »
Jake..great points.. I've thought of most of that, but never bothered to put it in text book form. You ought to write Atheism for dummys everyone.
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Offline Tero

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #127 on: March 16, 2012, 06:03:58 PM »
I can't see a problem in calling yourself an atheist, except in some social situations in America, where you feel discriminated for that. No need to tell your christian boss about your nonreligion.

Offline ungod

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Re: Still trying to get the hang of this non-belief thing
« Reply #128 on: March 27, 2012, 02:47:27 PM »
I can't see a problem in calling yourself an atheist, except in some social situations in America, where you feel discriminated for that. No need to tell your christian boss about your nonreligion.

That's right - no need to tell your Nazi boss you're a Jew, either. Just keep living in fear of the Gestapo.

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