I'm interested in the personal angle of how Atheism came about for us.
In my case it has been a lifelong flirtation with religions, followed by a final acceptance that Atheism is not just possible, it is most likely (very likely) to be a true response to the universe we inhabit. I find myself, along with my fave philosopher, Albert Camus, realising that we just have what is in front of us until we don't.
From this, comes the interesting project of finding value and happiness in such an emotional state. It feels, to me, honest and quite brave. As an old acquaintance once said to me, "An atheist is a person without an invisible means of support."
How was it for you?
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I had a long and comprehensive spiritual search. Then after going through an in depth Zen phase realised that my position was one of disbelief of all god claims.
It has remained that way for the best part of 40 years.
I didn't settle for atheism. I was told the religious stories and I didn't believe them. Later I was told that makes me an atheist.
@Dworkin...” we just have what is in front of us until we don't.”
That’s about “it” for me. The scientific method, thus far, is the best model to get to as close “to what is true”.
...and you said a friend said “ An atheist is a person without an invisible means of support."
You’d need to clarify “invisible” (or your friend). I can’t “see” gravity, or “see” my sense of balance but so far both these “invisible” things support me when I stand.
That's a good point about 'invisible' - hadn't thought of it. Guess my friend was talking poetry rather than physics, which in a way is kind of religious talk. There is some irony in that thought (smiley).
PS - How do we do quotes on here? Smileys?
Speaking of “symbols” - I love the idea of them, and communicating in a “poetic” way.
Yes, its that long search that gets me. Why? Zen was also my last stop on the ride. The interesting thing in later years will be looking at the world, and taking it free of the values ascribed by religions. It is an exciting prospect.
This morning a guy on the radio was saying that Covid 19 is brought about by human moral failings. Well, we don't need to rebut that view!
So, putting aside religions and associated moral claims, I'm thinking of Atheism as a positive action, rather than a reaction against anything. At bottom, I'm thinking of atheism as acceptance. Hmm, kind of Zen?
@D ... an acceptance of reality as we know it :)
Yup. If “zen” is peace, I’m at zen with that.
I did not find atheism, it found me.
I was raised by a christian family, my father a Mason, my mother Eastern Star. At approximately at the age of twenty I left organized religion because it seemed more of a social club than a place for serious worship, and I desired to be closer to my god. For the next forty plus years I did a lot of research, spoke to many religious leaders, even spent many hours at night in church on my knees praying for any sign.
I was looking for, I was searching for anything spiritual. I wanted to find god.
I searched everywhere I could, I did a lot of research, and over time, one by one, eliminated the religious stories and dogmas as being untenable and fantasy. Then about six years ago I ran across atheist debates on YouTube. What I witnessed put my thought process in order, gave me the tools for critical thought, and allowed me to critically examine the god question. I even set out to read the bible diligently, in it's entirety.
Eventually I came to the realization I was an atheist.
I did not want to become one but here I am.
"Then about six years ago I ran across atheist debates on YouTube. What I witnessed put my thought process in order, gave me the tools for critical thought, and allowed me to critically examine the god question."
This is kinda true in my case too. I wasn't a very devout muslim. I think I've pretty much questioned every myth and tale out there in the religion even when I identified myself as a muslim. So perhaps in my case it was mostly about identity than anything.
It wasn't until few years back I had some debate with someone that I realize I don't have compelling arguments for my case (in rejecting the myths etc) since while I was kinda agnostic muslim, I lacked the knowledge and critical thinking. So I went to good 'ol YouTube and watched many debates. It put me on path to learn more and as I learned more I found more meaning for myself (which many religious folks may call "spiritualism"). After navigating through various pathways I realized that any existential question can only be best dealt with first examining it through the lens of Physics and then philosophically.
@Dworkin: Welcome aboard.
Never mind! Issues reading posts again! FUCK - I WANNA JUMP DOWN SOMEONE'S THROAT!!!!
I’m here for you babbbeeeeee :)
@Dworkin: I will still make the comment.... It sounds like you have no idea at all what Atheism is. "How did you settle for atheism." makes no sense at all.
No one "settles for atheism." There is nothing to settle for. The question makes no sense.
When I was young, I colored in coloring books. At some point in my life I just walked away. I don't color in coloring books any more. I have not "settled for" not coloring in coloring books. I just don't do it (much) any more.
"Atheist" is what religious people call those who no longer color. You can substitute heathen, heretic, non-believer, sinner, apostate, the damned, or any other term you like. They all mean the same thing. "People who do not believe in God or gods." People who either put down the coloring book and walked away or those who never bothered to develop an interest in coloring. There is no 'SETTLING" for anything. No one needs a "replacement" for coloring books and no one needs a replacement for religion. If you have SETTLED for atheism, you do not understand it.
Atheism is not a substitute belief system. It is not a world view. It is not a philosophy. It is not something you do. It is something you do not do. You just don't find it useful to believe in god or gods. That's it. Nothing more. And certainly nothing to settle for.
@Cog Re: "When I was young, I colored in coloring books. At some point in my life I just walked away."
Ugh... *rolling eyes*... Um, you know that we know that the reason you stopped coloring in coloring books is because you started eating all the crayons. Shame on you for trying to mislead our new guest.
Aah, you've spotted that I'm an agnostic. (smiley here)
A few years ago, a couple of religious friends said to me, "You have to settle for something." I could see that they were attacking my agnosticism as a kind of weak indecision. At the time I was a bit offended, feeling that their view was a criticism of the philosophical quest, a criticism of the humility of not knowing.
They were seeing religion as a thing that you go to. I was (to them) stubbornly not going anywhere.
Let me try a simple analogy. I might wait hopefully at a bus stop and the bus doesn't come. I wait and the next bus doesn't come. Eventually I might give up on the whole 'bus' thing and settle for not getting a bus ride. I'm thinking here of settling and acceptance as synonymous in this respect.
Now, I'm just about settling for not getting a bus ride, and looking for ways that I might enjoy the walk. Shucks, I might even realise that I never wanted a bus ride in the first place! Not there quite yet, but you never know.
@Aah, you've spotted that I'm an agnostic. (smiley here)
Then, sorry to point out the obvious, you do not know what an "agnostic" is either.
Obviously you are struggling with understanding where you fit and how to express your ideas. Agnosticism and Atheism are not mutually exclusive. Agnosticism and Theism are not mutually exclusive.
Atheism answers the question, do you 'BELIEVE' in a God? (No)
Theism answers the question, do you "BELIEVE" in a God? (Yes)
Agnosticism is a completely different question.
Do you "KNOW" have knowledge of a God existing. If you say "Yes, I know a god exists." It says nothing about worshiping it or revering it or anything else.
If you say 'No' you do not "Know" whether a god exists or not, you may be a theist or an atheist. Pascals Wager is the Agnostic Theists Mantra. You might as well believe whether God exists or not because you gain everything and lose nothing (An outright lie, but still the position of the Agnostic theist.)
Most atheists are agnostic based on the fact that they have never seen any evidence to conclude any sort of knowledge about god or gods.
Agnosticism has to do with 'KNOWLEDGE"
Atheism has to do with "BELIEF."
Do you believe a god exists.... Yes or No. 'Yes' and you are a Theist. 'No" and you are an atheist.
Do you know that a God exists? Yes and you are a theist or a non-worshiping person who realizes gods are real which makes you a weird sort of new age theist I suppose.
Say "no" I do not know that a god exists and you are either a theist or an atheist. Have you ever met a theist that actually knows for a fact that God exists? Many think they Know but when you question them it all seems to boil down to "Well you gotta have faith." Faith is not KNOWLEDGE. Most theists are by definition Agnostics.
YOU HAVE TO SETTLE FOR SOMETHING - because - the question is simply put - "Do you believe in the existence of a god or not?" That's it. It is a Yes or No proposition. Belief is not KNOWLEDGE.
Even atheists admit that they do not have knowledge. What they also do not have is BELIEF.
So--- Do you believe god exists or not?
@ Cognostic, I also noticed that Dworkin is carrying a lot of incorrect assumptions and baggage.
@David: Yep! It it was not me who wrote the post someone else on the site would have. But lets give him credit for showing up and hopefully, beginning his journey.
Agreed, Dworkin has conducted himself politely and with respect. We should respond accordingly.
Dworkin, you asked, “How did you settle for Atheism?”
Well, I was born.
"I'm interested in the personal angle of how Atheism came about for us."
There is no such thing as "atheism". It is not a movement, there are no leaders, no instruction manual, no dogma. There are just atheists, who by definition have not accepted that there is a god or gods. It is not contingent on science or evolution or anything, just that the atheist has not received enough evidence to be convinced a god exists.
"In my case it has been a lifelong flirtation with religions, followed by a final acceptance that Atheism is not just possible"
How can you arrive at that conclusion? I am an atheist, and my position is determined by not being convinced that a god exists. For exactly the same reason and logic that I will not blindly accept that a car being sold by a shady used car salesman who tells me "trust me, it's good". I am being presented with an opinion, I check it out, and I am not convinced.
"I find myself, along with my fave philosopher, Albert Camus, realising that we just have what is in front of us until we don't."
Are you a nihilist? In the interest of fair play, I reveal my position on that topic, I am not a nihilist.
"From this, comes the interesting project of finding value and happiness in such an emotional state. It feels, to me, honest and quite brave. As an old acquaintance once said to me, "An atheist is a person without an invisible means of support."
As an atheist I do not lean on an imaginary friend in the sky to make me feel good or solve my problems. Because of that, I take responsibility for all of my decisions and actions, and I find that liberating and builds my confidence. I face reality, even death head-on. I do not cower in the face of adversity or death. I do not revel in that, but I deal with it. I am an adult, I am responsible for my actions.
I appreciate life more, I find more beauty in nature and people than when I was a theist. Life is good, life is wonderful, life is a journey to be cherished and enjoyed.
Dworkin, is it possible that you being a theist is partly responsible for your pessimistic view on life and this universe?
Well, this seems like a good place to introduce myself.
Greetings Atheist Republic! Nice to join you.
I'm looking for ways to keep sane without leaving the house. So, here I am.
I grew up in a very Catholic family. Two of my dad's brothers are big deal RCC priests. 12 years of Catholic education. Picture books with cute pictures of Baby Jesus and arks carrying friendly lions is how I learned to read.
But I started noticing logical cracks in what I was being taught early on. The first I became aware of "The Problem of Evil" was the first day of second grade. My teacher, Sister Loratine, put a glass jar on her desk and let us know that she expected us to fill it with small change by the end of the year. So "the Church" could feed starving children in Africa. I blurted out, "How much is Jesus putting in there?"
The response was swift, thorough, and uninformative. What I did learn is that grownups view Jesus the way 5y/os view Santa Claus. I started seeing religion rather differently. I started asking myself questions more like "How can anybody believe this?", and less like "Why did God tell us that?" A few years later, I got my own Bible. I figured that either the answers were in there or the answers didn't exist. The answer was "They don't exist".
I thought that made me a hard atheist. I couldn't be a Protestant, because then I would go to Hell.
This was also about the time I realized I was gay. I got a solid dose of Christian ethics.
Over time, about 50 years, I've mellowed. I've come to appreciate the value of a church community. I've come to realize that we humans are excruciatingly unlikely to understand reality well enough to completely dismiss the possibility of transcendence.
So, while I identify as atheist for most purposes, agnostic deist is more accurate. It's just too nuanced for casual conversation here in Jesustan, Indiana, USA.
Nice to meet y'all.
Hello Tom, welcome to Atheist Republic.
Your life journey must have endured some pain and confusion, I have heard similar stories from other atheist gays and trans.
I sincerely hope I see more of you, and that we can exchange meaningful conversations and learn from each other.
Honestly, I've been pretty lucky about the gay thing. My family is much too conservative to disown a child over who they love. They're serious family folks. My parents hugely disliked it. But the fact is that my partner, Doug, became their favorite son-in-law. Because, unlike their traditional s-i-ls, when they needed help with stuff he was there.
Raking leaves. Fixing the car. Maintenance on their substantial home. Washing up after big holiday get togethers. Doug was always ready to help. My other brothers-in-law were always a little too busy, or far away.
My parents valued that sort of family. I had it pretty good in that department.
And now, Doug and I moved to place big enough to live with his mom. She's no invalid, but she's way into her 70s, with multiple health issues. She doesn't have to cook or clean or tax herself with any such physical activities.
It's working out for everyone.
Do I believe God exists or not?
Well, first off, I would remind myself that this thread was inspired by a personal quest, and this quest continues although in a different form from original.
A thought experiment.
1. A person is in hospital, lucid but in the last days of life. They think to themselves "Lights out".
2. A person is in hospital, lucid but in the last days of life. They think to themselves "I wonder what's coming?"
Is there some clue about persons 1. and 2. which might unravel the puzzle of agnostic, atheist, agnostic atheist, agnostic theist? I'm not sure that person 1. or person 2. would need to believe that God exists in order to have those thoughts. I feel that I am nearest to person 2. although I can kind of imagine what it would be like for person 1. That's why I'm here.
PS, Please don't interpret my questions as some kind intellectual trap for anyone, because I'm not a theist troll on this subject. I've spent long years in thought and have two philosophy degrees for the trouble, although they don't seem to have done me much good! (puzzled smiley).
@Dworkin: How are you relating anything you have said to the topic at hand.
1. Lights out is a conclusion that appears to be the most logical choice. We have no example of a soul and no example of consciousness existing outside a brain. It appears, "lights out" is a fairly accurate assumption.
2. "I wonder what's coming." This makes the assumption that there is something coming. Perhaps better stated is ..... "I wonder if anything is coming?" Given that #1 is by far the more logical of the two responses, expecting something to come next must be done so with no facts or evidence at all. It would be an "expectation of the gaps."
Nothing in what you have said has anything to do with Atheism or Theism. Atheists do not believe God or gods exist. Theists believe God or gods exist. A God may exist and like the Old Testament there is no HEAVEN OR HELL. You die and you rot in the ground. Whether or not a God exists completely sidesteps your hospital analogy.
Both Atheism and Theism address a single question. "Does God exist." Yes or No.
There are atheists that believe in all sorts of bullshit.... not many around here but they are certainly out there. New age spiritualists for example, do not believe in god or gods but assert everything has a spirit. Technically they are atheists. They just aren't critical thinkers when it comes to their own beliefs.
I can not make this any more simple for you..... Does god exist? Yes or No?
I can spoon feed you a proper response if you feel the need. "Sometimes I think God exists and sometimes I don't." This would be a statement of fact for someone presenting themselves as confused as you appear to be. NOTE: You can not hold both beliefs simultaneously. That is cognitive dissonance. You do have to choose. Even if it is Camus existential choice for what is in front of you here and now.
Welcome to the forum. I'm a bit stir crazy with the virus lockdown too. Friendly forums (and friends) are such a help just now.
I did not 'settle" for atheism .It was an inevitable conclusion to many years of study and [initially) much 'prayerful thought'.
'To settle ' suggests a compromise based on a clear choice of options. Atheism has never been a choice for me. One day I simply realised thatI no longer believed but that I simply did not and do not know. . That made me an agnostic atheist .It was true in 1987 and it's true now.
I was brought up fortunately in a place and time where religion is no longer important or significant to the vast majority of people.
Growing up in the 80s in England with parents who never discussed religions, I was never truly engaged with theism until my very early teenage years.
By then I was a very sceptical thinker and when I went to my first religious education studies lesson, I was told about this cosmic wizard who made everything but there was no evidence, a man called jesus who raised from the dead, an immaculate conception and so on and so on...
Each claim becoming more far fetched and ridiculous with each passing day and the evidence being provided for said claims being increasingly ridiculous.
I soon realised this was no different then to other mythological nonsense and have refused to give the level of respect its feckless followers demand.
Having grown older and seeing the damage religion has done and still is doing, I hate it even more.
I genuinely find it staggering anyone can believe it.
I was born an atheist, since then various theists tried to claim various deities were real, but that the majority were not, but not one of them can offer any objective evidence for the one they claim is real, or any objective difference between theirs and the non real ones. Their arguments are always irrational and biased.
...and so I have remained unconvinced and don't believe their claims. Atheism is just a fancy label that theists like, that serves no real purpose. I am most definitely a secularist, and a humanist, and believe that all political power should be entirely devolved from religions and their beliefs. As should all state funded education.