Author Topic: How did you become an atheist?  (Read 1518 times)

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Offline Johnny Spunkypants

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How did you become an atheist?
« on: April 07, 2012, 04:00:32 PM »
I wonder how the atheists here became atheists, or if you were always atheists. What's your story, if you have one?

Peace and blessings to you all.
I'm not here to defend my views. I'm here simply to give my two cents.

Offline Nick

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2012, 04:09:11 PM »
I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools 1st-12th grades.  Very much believed that the Catholic Church was the "true" church.  After all, it was the church of the apostles with Peter as the 1st pope.  All others were just misguided and it was sad.

Then it just changed.  Can't point to one specific thing.  Lack of answer to prayer and seeing the sexual abuse of priests as wide spread as it was got me to think and explore.  If priests did not believe then the whole thing appeared as a sham.  I always thought protestant preachers were con men anyway.

I read Dawkins and others and it just clicked.  Now it is as clear as day.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2012, 04:13:59 PM by Nick »
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Offline One Above All

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2012, 04:14:27 PM »
Not sure, exactly. I was raised christian but eventually realized it was all BS.
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.

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Offline pianodwarf

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2012, 04:17:33 PM »
I wonder how the atheists here became atheists, or if you were always atheists. What's your story, if you have one?

Peace and blessings to you all.

With the exception of a brief period from age 18 to about age 22, roughly, when I was experimenting with the New Age movement, I have always been an atheist.  There isn't really much of a story behind that to tell. I was simply raised in an areligious household.
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Online ParkingPlaces

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2012, 04:22:33 PM »
I used method #1. I came to my senses. Or started ignoring the insensibility of others. One of those two.

When I was 11.

Wish I had done it sooner.



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Offline Johnny Spunkypants

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2012, 04:23:05 PM »
Not sure, exactly. I was raised christian but eventually realized it was all BS.

I hear that.

Peace.
I'm not here to defend my views. I'm here simply to give my two cents.

Online Azdgari

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2012, 04:43:54 PM »
I realized that the simplified tripe they were telling us in Sunday School didn't mesh with what I observed in the real world, so I stopped believing it.  Then, I moved on to Kindergarten.
I have not encountered any mechanical malfunctioning in my spirit.  It works every single time I need it to.

Offline Ice Monkey

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typical story
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2012, 04:49:41 PM »
I remember being quite shocked to learn of other religions besides Christianity.  Probably around the age of 9.  I was already confused over the difference between Protestant and Catholic - why did my best buddy across the road have to go to a different school?  Why did they go to church at a different time that us?  I thought it was because the two groups took turns with god.  We had him in the morning, and they had him for evening "mask", whatever that was.  We seemed to have the same sort of families.  But Jesus didn't seem to want to be seen with both families at the same time.  He seemed to be ok with the arrangement we had with the Catholics.  So finding out about different religions kinda blew my mind.  Even though I was quite young, it was immediately clear to me that an awful lot of people were wrong about religion. 

Those are my earliest thoughts I can remember that have something to do with my atheism.  My parents were liberal Protestants.  Actually, my dad's agnostic.  I just haven't told him yet.  Outside of Sunday mornings and special events, religion wasn't a big thing in my house.  Nobody else around me seemed worried that somebody, maybe us, has a religion that's very wrong, so I pretty much ignored it too, until grade 11, when I enrolled at a Catholic Highschool.

You don't have to be Catholic to go to the school so, since I had been kicked out of my public school, and this one was actually closer to my house, I went there.  And I'm glad I did.  They really made me take a closer look at the bible.  My biblical studies to that point began and ended with the studying of the maps in the front covers during the sermons on Sunday.  Maps of "Old Jerusalem", maps of "Palestine".  I could only study the large choir so long, counting the number of members I'd like to see topless.  I rarely got beyond 4, unless the Intermediate Choir was accompanying them.

Anyways, I had to take classes there called "Ethics Class" (lol - nice title.)   We'd discuss the bible and the Catholic interpretation of the various points and stories.  Oddly, my teacher of the class the first time I took it was also my favorite Biology teacher.  Anyways, by grade 12, after much success in my first ethics class (academically.  I was good at looking up scripture.), I was caught off guard by my new teacher.  He didn't like me asking questions.  Which made me think that maybe I was on to something.  So I decided to study at least the basics of all the religions I could, including Satanism. 

That was extremely awkward.  Standing in my room with my parents, trying to explain for the 15th time why my mom, without an excessive amount of effort, was able to find my "barely hidden" Satanic Bible.
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Offline Emily

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2012, 04:56:42 PM »
I met this hot guy who was an atheist, we started dating and he made me realize christianity (and religion in general) was bullshit. FWIW, he's now my husband  :) so it worked out great!
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Offline Seppuku

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2012, 05:23:35 PM »
I was raised in a family who didn't force any kind of religious views on us. Their view was: 'decide for yourself.' But England is a protestant country, so my primary school was actually a Church of England school and it was a fantastic primary school, I wouldn't say anything bad about it. Christianity certainly was promoted by it, we even had moments of reading the bible, we prayed during assemblies. They were tolerant too, two of the girls in most of my classes through out school were Muslim and they didn't have to get involved with Christian practices. When it came to Christian holidays, it could get religious - I remember the assemblies in the assembly hall where they went through a lot of trouble to make Christmas special...even if Christianised (lighting of candles, hymns and prayers). But I actually have fond memories there. Going to that school did have me believe in God and I thought Jesus was real. The school was very effective at teaching children, things were learned there people still had no clue about in secondary school (get this, I was even in the choir...at least for a brief period; I realised that I can't sing for shit). And when it came to teaching religion, they taught about all the world religions, more so than my secondary school did. I even learned a little bit about Sikhism (the Gurus) and Buddhism and even bits of the Norse mythology now that I come to think of it. From those classes I do very distinctly remember the Buddhist story of Siddartha Gautama giving up his life of being a prince to understand human suffering, I still love that story.

Interestingly, my becoming an atheist happened whilst I was still at the school. It was actually about the time I discovered metal actually. My brother got a Metallica album and Marilyn Manson too. I think there were a few things MM said that got me thinking along the lines of questioning God & the bible through the problem of evil. Whilst I am sure my answers weren't well researched and deeply considered but then I was 9 or 10. I didn't even know what an atheist was, I never even heard of the term. I went by the name of an 'anti-Christ' because not only did I not believe God was real any more, but I thought Christianity was evil. In class, when the bible came out I almost defaced the bible and also placed my hand on the bible and said things like "fuck God" away from ear shot of the teacher, just enough for my best friend to hear and laugh (it was 'naughty', he wasn't exactly a well behaved kid, don't think he saw it as me hating the bible). And that makes me sound like I was a depressing kid, but actually I was an extremely happy kid, on top of the world most of the time.

My form tutor at secondary school was a strong Christian and he used to teach religious studies, so he and I often got into conversations about 'religion', he was quite open about it and he was a very open minded and tolerant man and I respect him for it. I even brought in the Satanic bible to class, he found it funny and read the first chapter, so he was a good sport. It was during one of those conversations that he told me what an 'atheist' was and also was a 'theist' was. He didn't give the BS talk we see many people give when trying to describe an atheist now, but actually gave me the definition I still stick by today: a person who doesn't believe in any gods. It took until I was 14 to realise that actually many people I liked and respected were Christian and that maybe Christians and Christianity weren't as evil as I claimed them to be. I also find myself being more and more open minded. I ended up studying religious studies and philosophy and have a number of philosophy books on my shelf and have considered a great deal of arguments and even came here to refined my thoughts and strengthen my own arguments, but to also listen to the arguments of others and to learn more, unfortunately, it is rare for somebody to offer something worthwhile or something we've not heard a thousand times before.

At times it does get frustrating, but the best thing I like about this place is: when you're wrong, people will make the extra effort to show you where and explain how, okay, you might not always agree but it really brings you to analyse your own argument in depth...as long as you're not that 'la la la I'm not listening' type, when I've disagreed with fellow atheists, I've had my weak arguments put on display and picked apart and where my information has been inaccurate it has been corrected. I try to return the favour by doing it to others, however, it doesn't always work out as people think you're being intolerant or are trying to demonise them or are just trying to piss them off, but thankfully there are the handful of those who get it and engage with it...I like those people, even when we standing at opposite ends they're people I'd probably buy a beer.



That's an in depth answer to your question. I figure it needed a full answer, with a before and after to put my atheism into a better context.
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Offline Aerial

Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2012, 08:08:49 PM »
Around age 10 or so. I had my father in one ear telling me catholic garbage, and being a great hypocrite about it to boot. Church in the other ear telling me more catholic garbage.
Carl Sagan's Cosmos was on TV around that time. It just made more sense to me. I am so thankful I had a voice of reason somewhere in my house then, even if it did come from a box in the living room.  :)

Offline jetson

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2012, 08:12:51 PM »
I called myself atheist.  That was all it took.

Offline HAL

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2012, 08:22:08 PM »
I wonder how the atheists here became atheists ...

I was born.

Offline kin hell

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2012, 08:31:02 PM »
When I was formless experiential protoplasm  I was an easy target, susceptible to being programmed by whatever child abusing arbitrary reality overlay got its repugnant intent on me.

When independent thought started (ie when I grew out of being just a mouth breathing antenna, and started a interrogatory rational internal dialogue), the previously unconsidered, false god theistic filter of make believe, fell over instantly from its dread illogics.

Prior to that, I was a robot, upon which the theist programming worked, but never really "took".
After that I was an independent witness to mass stupidity and horror.

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Offline Alzael

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2012, 08:55:29 PM »
I never wasn't an atheist. Even when I didn't know the term existed. I fall into the category that Hitchens once labelled as "those who are incapable of believing". Even when I was a kid I never once believed in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy (I pretended I did to my parents for the presents though, I wsn't stupid). I grew up in Canada so religion was something that rarely ever gets mentioned in daily life, so I had almost no exposure to most of it as well. I was never taught any religious teachings, which is actually rather ironic since there are a lot of believers in my family. I only have one uncle who's actually hardcore fundamentalist though. He's YEC, bible is true, born again (after his wife left him) the whole deal. My brother and I tease him sometimes.

For most of my childhood I assumed that real religion was something they only had back in the old days. When I was five I got a large book on greek mytholgy and read it which sparked in me a massive interest in religions and myths, as well as the supernatural (not a belief in the supernatural mind you, just an interest in the lore). So I gues I had always seen religion through that sort of context, that it was a thing people did in the past when they didn't know any better. Modern churches I thought of as being more like a club.

It wasn't until I was in high school that I met my first fundamentalist. Or at least the first one that I knew was a fundamentalist, like I said religion is brought up very rarely around here. That was the first time that it truly hit me that there were people in this world who actually really believed this stuff.

Needless to say it was more than a bit of an eye-opener for me. And now I am the snarky, harsh-critiquing, blunt-worded, pinnacle of male-atheistness you read before you.
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Offline 19yroldatheist

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2012, 10:04:06 AM »
I hadn't really thought about religion much until my early teens. I was raised without church until my teens when I was taken to a catholic church a couple of times. I think the concept of hell scared me enough to make me believe for a couple of months. I tried praying but realised pretty quickly that it was pointless. I then started thinking about everyone else on the planet more and realised that my life was so much better than alot of other people. I realised how much suffering there is and started to question religion. I did some reading of arguments online and basically never looked back. This probably happened when I was 15.

I remember the main things that convinced me atheism was the way to go:

1. The fact that if I was born in the middle east I'd likely be a muslim. If I was born in some tribe in the amazon I'd likely never even have heard of christianity.

2. If god was so good why was so many people suffering unnecessarily.

3. Why doesn't god appear to us everyday if it truly wants us to believe? Why doesnt it give us more evidence than some ancient texts?

4. The sheer size of the universe. If it was really made for us how come we will never be able to journey to most parts of it?

I guess what made me belief was fear of death. I then read about Pascal's wager and realised I had been fooled. Then basically I just googled all the questions I had and after reading alot of arguments I knew atheism would be the position I would hold as an adult.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2012, 10:09:25 AM by 19yroldatheist »

Offline Johnny Spunkypants

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2012, 11:00:29 AM »

2. If god was so good why was so many people suffering unnecessarily.


That's a common one. But I believe it's based on a misunderstanding, and I blame religion. People, atheists included, tend to think of the concept of god as someone who is like a parent. Religions sell this as what god is supposed to be. And when bad things happen to good people they ask how could this be. Religious people try to explain it away in one way or another and atheists use it as an argument against god's existence. Both approaches are understandable from the point of view that the concept of god is that of a parent like personality.

Many years ago I lost a pet and I was angry and sad and I guess you could say I became an atheist for a few hours. Then I thought about it and realised that I already knew it was going to die, and I already knew that everything eventually dies. Then I asked myself why I believed in god before, knowing this. Then I realised that my concept of god isn't of a parent, and that I was just angry and needed to point the finger. Ever since I first read bits of the bible, I was extremely uncomfortable with how the concept of god was described, as well as the creation story. I instinctively felt that what I was reading was either a metaphor for something or just made up. I never thought of god as an angry being who punishes, or any of that stuff. And that's why I think it's better, if one wants to consider theism, to follow their own concept of god rather than subscribe to a whole set of pre existing ideas of what to believe. My views are similar to atheism in the sense that whatever happens, happens, except that I believe that the universe (god) is conscious. Many theists instinctively feel the same. So to address the point that I quoted, I have no problem reconciling events with god's nature.

Peace.
I'm not here to defend my views. I'm here simply to give my two cents.

Offline Ice Monkey

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2012, 11:15:51 AM »

That's a common one. But I believe it's based on a misunderstanding, and I blame religion. People, atheists included, tend to think of the concept of god as someone who is like a parent. Religions sell this as what god is supposed to be. And when bad things happen to good people they ask how could this be. Religious people try to explain it away in one way or another and atheists use it as an argument against god's existence. Both approaches are understandable from the point of view that the concept of god is that of a parent like personality.

Many years ago I lost a pet and I was angry and sad and I guess you could say I became an atheist for a few hours. Then I thought about it and realised that I already knew it was going to die, and I already knew that everything eventually dies. Then I asked myself why I believed in god before, knowing this. Then I realised that my concept of god isn't of a parent, and that I was just angry and needed to point the finger. Ever since I first read bits of the bible, I was extremely uncomfortable with how the concept of god was described, as well as the creation story. I instinctively felt that what I was reading was either a metaphor for something or just made up. I never thought of god as an angry being who punishes, or any of that stuff. And that's why I think it's better, if one wants to consider theism, to follow their own concept of god rather than subscribe to a whole set of pre existing ideas of what to believe. My views are similar to atheism in the sense that whatever happens, happens, except that I believe that the universe (god) is conscious. Many theists instinctively feel the same. So to address the point that I quoted, I have no problem reconciling events with god's nature.

Peace.

So you would describe yourself as a diest, Johnny, or a pantheist?
« Last Edit: April 08, 2012, 11:18:16 AM by Ice Monkey »
Religion. It's given people hope in a world torn apart by religion." -- Charlie Chaplin

Offline Johnny Spunkypants

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2012, 11:18:22 AM »
So you would describe yourself as a diest, Johnny?

No.

Peace.
I'm not here to defend my views. I'm here simply to give my two cents.

Offline Ice Monkey

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2012, 11:25:14 AM »
Pantheist?
Religion. It's given people hope in a world torn apart by religion." -- Charlie Chaplin

Offline Johnny Spunkypants

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #20 on: April 08, 2012, 11:26:55 AM »
I guess that's close enough.

Peace.
I'm not here to defend my views. I'm here simply to give my two cents.

Offline Ice Monkey

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2012, 11:41:04 AM »
So if you say you believe in god, you mean you believe in the universe? 
Why the unweildly moniker?  Why not just call the universe Paul, and avoid the quasi-theistic stuff? 
Seems we are pretty close in agreement.  I just think you're adding an unnecessary step, IMO.
Religion. It's given people hope in a world torn apart by religion." -- Charlie Chaplin

Offline 19yroldatheist

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #22 on: April 08, 2012, 11:44:14 AM »
So if you say you believe in god, you mean you believe in the universe? 
Why the unweildly moniker?  Why not just call the universe Paul, and avoid the quasi-theistic stuff? 
Seems we are pretty close in agreement.  I just think you're adding an unnecessary step, IMO.

I would agree. Calling the universe "god" is unnecessary and confusing, since that word has alot of baggage and connotations already established by most people.

It's like calling my coffee cup, "god". It doesn't really explain much.

We already have a perfectly good word for "all existing time and space", ie. the "universe". Calling it "god" isn't necessary.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2012, 11:45:53 AM by 19yroldatheist »

Offline Ice Monkey

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2012, 11:48:28 AM »
Too impersonal for some, hence my suggestions of "Paul".  ;)
Religion. It's given people hope in a world torn apart by religion." -- Charlie Chaplin

Offline Johnny Spunkypants

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #24 on: April 08, 2012, 12:06:37 PM »
Seems we are pretty close in agreement.  I just think you're adding an unnecessary step, IMO.

My view is that the universe is a manifestation of god, which is conscious. The universe is conscious and everything is connected to everything else because ultimately it's all one. We're free to do whatever we like and our circumstances reflect what we do. We go from lifetime to lifetime learning lessons and hopefully evolving. The universe is a playful and creative "playground" which explores itself through what we interpret as "time" (although ultimately there is no such thing as time, that is a construct that we hold in order to have this experience). I don't believe that the universe came from a big bang, I don't believe that matter is all there is (matter is an expression) and I believe that everything is consciousness / energy, including events. That's my view, I'm not making any claims other than to have those views.

Are you sure we're that close in agreement?

Peace and blessings.
I'm not here to defend my views. I'm here simply to give my two cents.

Offline Ice Monkey

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2012, 12:14:01 PM »

Are you sure we're that close in agreement?

Peace and blessings.

Not now.

So when you wish me blessings, what does that mean?  In who's name?  Paul, er, the universe's? 
When asked if I'm "spiritual", I don't know how to answer.  There is such ambiguity across this landscape; confusing terms abound.  I recognize a connection between myself and the world around me, yes.  My atheism doesn't close the door on what you might call "spirituality", but anthromorphisizing or adding additional unnecessary terms is something to be avoided, I would think.
Occam's Razor, Hume's Maxim, and such. 
Religion. It's given people hope in a world torn apart by religion." -- Charlie Chaplin

Offline Alzael

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2012, 12:25:49 PM »

My view is that the universe is a manifestation of god, which is conscious. The universe is conscious and everything is connected to everything else because ultimately it's all one. We're free to do whatever we like and our circumstances reflect what we do. We go from lifetime to lifetime learning lessons and hopefully evolving. The universe is a playful and creative "playground" which explores itself through what we interpret as "time" (although ultimately there is no such thing as time, that is a construct that we hold in order to have this experience). I don't believe that the universe came from a big bang, I don't believe that matter is all there is (matter is an expression) and I believe that everything is consciousness / energy, including events. That's my view, I'm not making any claims other than to have those views.

Are you sure we're that close in agreement?

Peace and blessings.

Reality is so much simpler when you just make it up as you go along. Isn't it?

PS. Don't "Peace and blessings" me. It's not only offensive, it's utterly revolting.
"I drank what?!"- Socrates

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Offline Ambassador Pony

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #27 on: April 08, 2012, 12:30:34 PM »
Johnny, now someone has clearly communicated to you that something superfluous (or redundant, since it's in your sig.) you could easily stop doing is offensive to them.

How will you react, I wonder?
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline Johnny Spunkypants

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Re: How did you become an atheist?
« Reply #28 on: April 08, 2012, 03:06:25 PM »

So when you wish me blessings, what does that mean?  In who's name?  Paul, er, the universe's? 
...but anthromorphisizing or adding additional unnecessary terms is something to be avoided, I would think.

It's just me wishing you the best. I know what you mean about anthropomorphising the universe, or the manifestor of the universe, and I'm always very careful about that. I'm happy to use terms like "he" when referring to god, but that's just because it's a common term, but personally I prefer to say "it". It's not easy to refer to god without speaking as if it's a person, but language is limited and sometimes you have to use the words that are available if it makes espressing an idea easier. So what about your spiritual ideas?

Peace.
I'm not here to defend my views. I'm here simply to give my two cents.