Atheism discussion

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Fire_Ice_Death, May 7, 2004.

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  1. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    We've had hethens, satanists, evolution types, catholic sanctuaries (forbidden under new rules), mormonism discussions, and pagans. So I think it's time the Atheists have another thread (last one was locked) and discuss why one would become an atheist in the first place and maybe share why a person became an atheist. This discussion is open to all members and is not intended to be a Christian bashing party. I ask all members to keep things respectful.

    I've just now began to acknowledge I am an Atheist (due to believing that it was a religion--false notions). But now I'm gradually accepting this as fact. I became an Atheist in high school when I met my friend Alexis, she introduced me to the idea that there was no god and that the whole thing was a bunch of nonsense. I was intrigued since my father (and relatives) pretty much forced Christian views upon me. Well forced is too strong of a word; it's not like I was dragged to church, but they passively encouraged Christian views on me and I (like most kids) believed them. I bought into heaven and hell and all of that.

    I'm a generic Christian by birth since my parents never really went to church but my aunt and uncle did (babysitting) and whenever we're at family gatherings we have say grace (I just laugh at the ridiculousness of it all). Anyways, back to how I became an atheist. I studied religious beliefs (not all of them mind you, just the big three) and gleaned some understanding of them. Their views as well as stories conflicted with my moral code and with the reality of the world. I believe science, I don't study science all that vigorously, but science deals with truth, religion (in my case Christianity) only claims truth. So I was left at an impasse, I could reject what family members have been forcing or I could go my own way and become the black sheep of both sides of my family. I chose becoming a black sheep. So here I am 7 years later embracing my atheistic beliefs. But I still haven't told my family yet (my parents only know) and I'm fine with that, I believe your spiritual (or lack of) views should remain private.

    Onto the discussion of Atheism:

    Atheism is NOT:

    - A religion
    - An act of youthful rebellion

    I've heard this before many times, "Everyone believes in something," no, not everyone believes in something. Specifically when using this sentence they're referring to a god.

    So to any atheists out there, why did you turn away from your religion or lose your faith? And what are some aspects of atheism that turned you toward disbelieving your religion?

    I know this isn't the usual topic for the Senate Floor, but do give this thread a chance. And remember all members are welcomed to chime in with their thoughts, just remain respectful and there won't be any problems (and yes, this is coming from me).

    EDIT: Word use.
  2. The_Fireman Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2001
    star 4
    This discussion is open to all members and is not intended to be a Christian bashing party. I ask all members to keep things cordial.

    Thanks for that. As long as it stays that way, like you said, there will be no problems. That said, did you check this with a mod first? I don't forsee this thread lasting long.

    Anyhoo, just though I'd share my thoughts and gratefulness at your attempt to keep things polite and respectful. :) *bows out...for the time being* Heh.
  3. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    No I haven't. We're not a religious discussion. ;)
  4. Jedi_Learner Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 10, 2002
    star 5
    "So to any atheists out there, why did you turn away from your religion or lose your faith?"

    When I was younger I was sent to a Christian Primary School where my mind was filled with silly notions that defy science. I forget the name of the ceremony, but it had something to do with becoming a Christian or something? Anyways, eventually I grew distant from the whole Christian belief and developed my own views of the universe and our existance here. I believe Religion is all one big life in an attempt to make our life and death have meaning. As I am now older I demand real evidence of proof of things.

    Last year I was blessed with the homo experience. Now if I'm not going to burn in imaginary hell for my treachery against Jesus and God then my love for my boyfriend will. God loves me? Does he ****.
  5. darth_paul Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2000
    star 5
    No I haven't. We're not a religious discussion
    *laugh*

    I personally don't see any problem with this thread; my only concern would be that it is redundant next to "There is a god" (though that seems slanted the other way). Certainly, with a thread discussing what it takes to be a Christian, a thread discussing the nature of atheism would seem only fair as well. And interesting, ceretainly interesting. I just hope you'll remain tolerant of the religious who do come here in search of discussion and debate.

    -Paul
  6. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    There is a god is an agnostic perspective thread. :D
  7. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    catholic sanctuaries

    There's never been a "Catholic sanctuary." There's the Catholic discussion thread, but that's a sibling thread to the Mormonism discussion thread (started within weeks of each other in 2002).
  8. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    I called them sanctuaries because that is what they appear to be at least from my perspective. But fair enough.
  9. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    My parents sent me to a private school up to the 5th grade. Even then I had a hard time lowering my head to pray with a class in Sunday school.

    At some point in the late 80's my sci fi interest turned into a science interest thanks to a book called The Science in Science Fiction, now out of print, good luck finding a copy of this little treasure.

    Of course this lead to reading non-scifi works by Carl Sagan, Asimov, Einstien(who was not religious but "believed" in a harmony to the Universe) and many others. I can't say I had an epiphany(SP), I think it just dawned on me over time that things I barely thought might be true were not true at all.

    There are certain long winded possibilities for a creator that I think might be possible, but I don't lean towards being an agnostic.

    Here is an extreme example of extreme fundies: I happened across a religious broadcast on the radio which was making an indirect shootdown of science. How did God make the universe? He SAID "let there be light" and there it was. Simple.

    That is a word for word quote which pretty much sums up for me "not good enough".
  10. Mortimer_Snerd Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 14, 2004
    star 6
    "Everyone believes in something,"

    Ve believe in Nothing! Give us ze money, Lebowski!

  11. darth_paul Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2000
    star 5
    Here is an extreme example of extreme fundies: I happened across a religious broadcast on the radio which was making an indirect shootdown of science. How did God make the universe? He SAID "let there be light" and there it was. Simple.

    That is a word for word quote which pretty much sums up for me "not good enough".
    See, that sort of thing has always bothered me too, being a very scientific person. That's why I'm not a Bible literalist, in many instances. The first couple of chapters of Genesis are for me a beautiful symbolic tale and a profound allegory of human nature. I think the evidence points toward the evolution of humanity, along with all other life. There also may have been a Big Bang, though the evidence for that is somewhat shakier -- at any rate, I believe the universe as we know it took its form according to natural physical processes. But it all had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere, to me, is God.

    I've actually been told I'm not a Christian by people who've discovered I believe in human evolution and a universe that expanded according to the laws of physics. What puzzles me most is that people who believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God really believe that after He went to all the trouble to create the laws of physics, He could not have used them to give form to the creation He envisioned. I understand why they don't agree with me - they're literalists - but I don't understand why the idea is so absurd to them. It just makes sense to me that God, forming the laws that govern the universe, would use the very processes he had just made to form His creation.

    For me, that doesn't negate the importance of the creation story. Of course all scientifically primitive peoples must have other methods for explaining how things to be; creation myths are almost universal. (I gather there are a few mythic traditions which lack them, which has always seemed weird to me. At any rate, most belief systems do have creation myths.) The important part is that God did form the universe -- something that I believe. I just think it was in a way slightly more in accordance with the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology than Genesis suggests. And the story of Adam and Eve contains such a wonderful message about humanity -- our curiosity, our search for knowledge, our corruptibility, and ultimately, our freedom. (I should note that I don't discount the thought that there really were an Adam and Eve, or that Eden unfolded as presented in Genesis. I just don't think it's integral to my faith that it did, and I'm willing to look at it both ways.)

    Bottom line: I see why, given the dominant climate of literalism and fundamentalism, a scientific mind could be driven from religion and from Christianity in particular. I just urge you (and I am going to feel free to urge such things upon people in this thread; just be aware that I do respect your beliefs and am simply trying to encourage you to consider everything) not to stop your exploration of religion and Christianity merely because some people say your personal beliefs are incompatible with their religion. Read for yourself; don't take other people's words on it. I've heard it said that the worst thing about Christianity is the Christians. Sadly, that's sometimes true. Whether or not you're a member of an organized religion, it's never appropriate for other people to dictate what you should believe. Don't ever let other people interfere with your search for truth, whether you think it might be found in religion or in science.

    -Paul
  12. Qui-Rune Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2002
    star 4
    Greetings,

    I feel that the term "Atheist" means different things to different people. To some it may mean one who does not believe in the existence of God. To others it may mean a person who is totally void of any facet of spirituality.

    I, personally, at the age of 13 told my mother that I was a "recovered Christian". I have studied religions for many years and the funny thing is...they are all so very similar (with the excepting of the Eastern philosophies). I am a firm believer that any deity...God, Allah, Satan...etc...are man made; a personification in a sense. That's what gets me so puzzled about the religious martars...especially the overly violent ones we are seeing in the Middle East.
    To me, they are quite narrow minded in view.

    However, just because I do not believe in deity does not mean I am not a spiritual person. My spiritual beliefs lie within the tangible.

    "In the beginning...Man created God in his own image."
  13. Darth Guy Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 16, 2002
    star 10
    Well, I never actually became an atheist; I've been one for as long as I can remember. My parents don't believe in forcing religion upon others, partly because they're not very religious themselves; they let me believe whatever I want to believe. I've tried to consider the possibility that any of the major world religions(Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and Buddhism) are actually (or mostly) true; I've always come to the conclusion, based upon what I've read, heard and seen of the major religions, there is not enough proof of their beliefs for me to devote myself to any one of them. I have never seen anything to make me believe there is more to human existance than what is immediately apparent-- that there is any purpose to it. "Faith" is a word that will never really apply to me.
  14. Cyprusg Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 16, 2002
    star 4
    I was raised in a strict Baptist Christian household so for most of my life I took that was "the truth" and never accepted any ideas that the person I thought I was talking to all my life (God) could be a figment of my imagination.

    But then one day in church the pastor was talking about Adam and Eve and it just occurred to me "this isn't literal!". Being a very analytical person I started to think why christians including myself would believe such an absurd story when it was obviously a parable. Well my obvious conclusion was that the pastor and all of us in the church believed the way we did because that's how we were raised or that's what society taught us to believe. When I came to that conclusion I analyzed my own personal beliefs of christianity, and had to question why I believed so strongly in it.

    The truth is that I didn't know better. Anytime someone tried arguing about how absurd christianity was I viewed them the same way they viewed me "they just don't know any better". Which I think is the case in a lot of ways, if you're raised an Atheist chances are you'll continue to think that way throughout your life, same way if you're a christian, very few people truly think about the other side. But I've walked in both shoes.

    But over the course of probably a few years I went from disagreeing with certain things in the bible to disagreeing with the core points of the bible and that turned me to atheism completely. I've had christians tell me that it's just a faze and I'll come back to God, that's hogwash, my mind is clear and although I don't have all the answers I'm 100% sure the Christian God does not exist.

    The one thing I say to christians now (my family does not know I'm an atheist by the way) is that even if the bible was right and even if God does exist, I still wouldn't want to follow him. How could a God create people to be in a certain situation and damn them to hell for it? The whole idea is sickening. But anyway, this is an issue I feel strongly about so I could continue forever, but I'll stop.
  15. Davin Felth Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 22, 1999
    star 1
    I'm an atheist in the sense of the word defined as a lack of belief in a theistic deity.
    I do have a spirituality though.
    I have attended the Zen Buddhist center here, though, and so much of my worldview is directly related to that.
    I believe in a naural perpetuation of the world that opperates beautifully when unimpeeded by the unnatural will of ego to control it. I think that same principle applies to people, too. The man whose life is spent struggling to achieve success and self preservation will experience things much more poorly than the man who simply accepts what is handed to him.
    I also believe though, that the ego is itself simply the emergent property of fluctuating aggregates. In the most accurate simile, man is no more a consistant entity than any other system in nature.

    And so why I'm an atheist can be derived from that...
  16. darth_paul Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2000
    star 5
    How could a God create people to be in a certain situation and damn them to hell for it? The whole idea is sickening.
    What sort of "situation" are you referring to?

    -Paul
  17. Cyprusg Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 16, 2002
    star 4
    darth_paul, like criminals for instance. Nobody truly chooses a criminal way of life, they do so because they don't know better and most of the time they are of low intelligence. A recent study showed that 15% of people in prison are mentally ill.

    The idea that there are evil people and good people is so absurd and has been antiquated by psychology. There is no such thing as true free will, we're all a product of our environment, in order for there to be free will we'd all have to be born on a level playing field. Now that's not to say there is not free will as far as simple choices, I choose to post on the internet for instance, but for most people that commit crime or become bad people they do so because they don't have the capacity to make sound choices.

    That's what I'm talking about, if you put someone of low intelligence in an abusive household surrounded by criminals or bad people more often than not he's going to become a bad person himself. Very few people break out of that cycle, and if they do it's because people in their environment enabled them to do so or they were intelligent enough to do so.

    The definition of free will is "The power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances", but we are ALL constrained by external circumstances. External circumstances that christians say God put us in, so how can he judge somebody when he's the one that put them in that situation?
  18. anakin_girl Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 2000
    star 6
    ). Certainly, with a thread discussing what it takes to be a Christian, a thread discussing the nature of atheism would seem only fair as well.

    Seriously.

    Anyway, I'm not an atheist, but I am a person who believes that there is truth in all religions. I just did a study at work on religious diversity, and one of the exercises was taking 10 different versions of the Golden Rule and telling which religion they came from. Most of us, living where I do, of course recognized Jesus' version and no other. I did manage to get about half of them, but only because I've taken an interest in different religions.

    I believe that we are all descended from a Great Creator and the religion we choose to follow is our own personal path to Him/Her. I don't believe that there is One Path that we must follow or risk getting sent to Hell. It just doesn't make sense to me that one path would be meant for six billion people.

    For some people, that may mean dispelling the notion that there is a Great Creator, but that's not an idea I can let go of--IMHO, someone has to be responsible for the way the universe was formed. However, I don't think that atheism is a pathway to "Hell" either.
  19. The_Fireman Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2001
    star 4
    I understand why they don't agree with me - they're literalists - but I don't understand why the idea is so absurd to them.

    Mark 10
    6 "But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE.

    It's not that the idea is absurd, it's just that it's incompatible with the rest of the Bible. Now tell me: was Jesus lying when He said from the BEGINNING of creation, God made mankind?
  20. darth_paul Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 24, 2000
    star 5
    Cyprusg - But God doesn't damn you for such things. That's why Jesus had to come, and to die, so that we no longer had to be judged by our actions. God asks us to love Him, which trying our hardest to glorify Him and walk as He would wish. But He understands that we're all human (after all, he made us that way), and so he's forgiving. Love Him, and that's all you need.

    I don't believe that everyone who doesn't believe in God and Jesus is going to Hell, but I'm not going into that right now. At any rate, for believers, God has a special promise that your circumstances and your sins will all be forgiven, so long as you remember that He is Lord. The thing you're concerned with -- getting rid of that was the very purpose of Christ's death.

    By the way, just for the record, I don't believe everyone is placed in his situation by God. I think some bad situations occur through the random nature of the world, and some through various people's deeds. Sure, God may allow it to happen, but that doesn't mean that He wants it to be that way or that He is approving of it. One way or another, though, so long as you love Him, it doesn't matter to Him. Which is an amazing gift.

    Edit: Fireman - If you want to get purely technical, even in a literal Biblical interpretation, God didn't make man from the beginning of creation. He got around to it on the sixth day, as it happens. Me, personally -- if I believe that God designed the universe to come into being according to the laws of physics -- if he set it in motion in order to lead to the creation of starts and planets and humankind -- then yes, God set about creating man from the beginning of creation, because he had put into place from the start the mechanisms that would cause mankind to arise. At any rate, Jesus doesn't literally mean the beginning of creation -- or if He does, then that's the best proof I've ever heard that Genesis cannot be taken literally. He's being a tad hyperbolic, and basically meaning to say that God's design of humanity was for man and woman each to leave their families and come together to start a family of their own; in other words, that the union of marriage is supposed to be permanent, and that divorce is unacceptable, and that it's always been that way.

    -Paul
  21. sleazo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 13, 2001
    star 4
    Well I used to be an athiest until i realized that i had no idea if there was or wasnt a god. Who am i to know? If there is or isn't a god my feeble homo sapien brain is not complex enough to know truly understand what that entity is. Therefore i pleasantly go through life not worrying about it.

    Either way i was very lucky to have grown up in a household free of religion. Whenever i asked what religion i was(generally in response to the same question asked of me by elementary school clasmates) i was told nothing. When i went further my parents told me "you will decide when you are older". I always had a certain curiosity about the subject and used this curiosity to learn as much as i could about as many religions as possible. I remember from an early age not being able to differentiate between greek and christian mythology. I wondered why one was considered mythology and one was considered a religion. It made no sense to me. As i got older it made more sense to me as they both were mythology.
    The varying sects of Buddhism however without a belief in a god have always resonated with me. To me these philosophies make the most sense to me of all of the worlds "major religions". Even with this I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that i will never understand what god is or isn't.

    What disgusts me however is the arrogance of people who THINK they know what god is and try to push their ideas on others.
  22. Cyprusg Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 16, 2002
    star 4
    Cyprusg - But God doesn't damn you for such things. That's why Jesus had to come, and to die, so that we no longer had to be judged by our actions. God asks us to love Him, which trying our hardest to glorify Him and walk as He would wish. But He understands that we're all human (after all, he made us that way), and so he's forgiving. Love Him, and that's all you need.

    I don't believe that everyone who doesn't believe in God and Jesus is going to Hell, but I'm not going into that right now. At any rate, for believers, God has a special promise that your circumstances and your sins will all be forgiven, so long as you remember that He is Lord. The thing you're concerned with -- getting rid of that was the very purpose of Christ's death.

    By the way, just for the record, I don't believe everyone is placed in his situation by God. I think some bad situations occur through the random nature of the world, and some through various people's deeds. Sure, God may allow it to happen, but that doesn't mean that He wants it to be that way or that He is approving of it. One way or another, though, so long as you love Him, it doesn't matter to Him. Which is an amazing gift.


    But how can he expect them to love him when their not in an environment that enables them to make that decision??? Darth_Paul, like you've said earlier, you are a christian because your parents, but you could just as easily been born into a situation where you didn't have access to that. Same goes with The_Fireman, he's a christian because of his environment.

    I think I've gotten into a similar argument with Fireman about this, he had said at the time that God gives everyone a choice to follow him or not. Now realistically, we all know that's crap. If I live in Iraq for instance, all I would know is Islam, if a missionary comes up to me and says "become a christian or you'll go to hell", THAT IS NOT A CHOICE. If I deny that person that doesn't mean I deny christianity, it means I deny that person. In order to make a choice to spend your life following a religion you need to understand that choice. Getting tidbits of information about christianity is not a choice. The only TRUE choice would be if God came down and said "Cyprusg, I am the way, if you follow me you'll go to heaven, if you don't you'll go hell" and we KNOW those are the two outcomes.

    So you think God doesn't put us in our environment? He doesn't choose our parents? He doesn't give us our intelligence? (The reason I keep mentioning intelligence is because it's obvious intelligence is HUGE factor in what we become throughout our lives, like I've stated criminals usually have very low intelligence) That sure doesn't sound like what it says in the bible....
  23. somethingfamiliar Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 20, 2003
    star 5
    I was raised Catholic but never took it very seriously. Eventually I just noticed how arbitrary the distribution of religious belief is, just as the distributions of all other cultural practices are. That was enough to tell me that religious belief is simply a function of culture and like any other cultural function I have the option to take or leave it as I please depending on its usefulness to me and the ease of disassociation from it. For example, the use of money to buy or sell things is a useful and basically unavoidable facet of my culture and so I, like the vast majority of my society, participate in it. However, I feel that religious orthodoxy and orthopraxy are not useful to me and are quite avoidable so I don't participate in either.
  24. Dak-Konzerth Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 3, 2003
    star 2
    Relevant Parts of My Life Story

    Growing up, I do not think that my parents ever imposed Christianity upon me. They did send me to Sunday School at a local church, which was really no more than a blend of a child day-care and an arts and crafts club, but that was more because many other children my age were there. My parents are at not atheists, I do not think, but they did little to guide my choices.

    Today, I think I can call myself an atheist. The philosophy I have found that most reflects my personal beliefs is Albert Camus' Absurdism. It makes the most sense to me. Maybe I will even find something better some day, but it is not often I find something that makes me think "Oh, wow. This is what I have been believing all my life and now I have a nifty name for it!". I really have no problem living without a predetermined purpose to my life. In fact, I would feel like my life were not my own if there was a purpose to my life that I could not control.

    One things that really annoys me (when I am in a bad mood), and puts a smile on my face (when I am in a good, humorous, irony-sensitive mood) is people making rash generalizations. This picture, consequently, often cracks me up. Spread it, and others on that fair site, around. My sister is one person who is very insensitive to beliefs she does not hold, especially Christianity. I, on the other hand, have no problem going into a church or chapel. In fact, I go to a chapel twice a week because it is mandatory for school, and sometimes I will even sing and say the prayers because it is fun. I could have joined the band to escape, as my sister did, but I do not like playing musical instruments. I often use curse words invoking religion like "heck" and even "gosh darn it". Most often when people try and claim fundamentalist Christian views in my general direction, I do not argue. I try to maintain an awkward silence.

    I guess I have trouble believing in a god because whenever I think of it, it seems wholly speculation (pun unintentional). By the logic of having a god exist, you can claim with zeal that anything else is true. It is like dividing by zero.
    [/rambling]

    Cyprusg, could you please define intelligence in the context that you use it? It is a very vague term with many different interpretations and takes on it. And you use it a lot. If you define it, it would be much easier to grasp what you are saying.

    Others, whatever the definition comes out to be, please do not argue it. That would get the thread sidetracked and waste time.
  25. The_Fireman Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 2001
    star 4
    Same goes with The_Fireman, he's a christian because of his environment.

    Not so, my friend. I have a very rebellious streak when it comes to ideas (as opposed to actions). At one point I was almost completely ready to leave my faith and walk my own path. Then one day...BAM, it hit me in the face. I couldn't deny God. Even with all the alternative explanations I looked into, I just could not deny Who it was.

    I still tend to look at things a little differently from most conservative Christians. Point is, I'm not afraid to turn away because of the people I'm around. And I'm not ignorant of other explanations, so it can't be that.
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