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Recently realized I'm an atheist

#41Moorish_IdolPosted 10/29/2013 8:52:42 PM
DT2501 posted...
And to anybody else who's reading, I'm more than happy to talk about my experiences and my perspective. I'm just not going to engage in any pointless pissing matches, especially if you're not going to follow along with the conversation.

I have a question:

You mentioned you are keeping your atheism to yourself irl. Is there anybody in your current household who are religious? If so, do you still plan to attend ceremonies/Sunday sermons/etc. with them?
#42Julian_CaesarPosted 10/29/2013 9:31:55 PM
CS_Goodman_ posted...
Julian_Caesar:
Even the Bible says that God prefers those who reject Him to those who are "lukewarm." Probably because the people who reject Him are at least being honest with themselves, unlike those who are sitting on the fence and trying to have the best of both worlds.

The passage to which you're referring is about the city of Laodicea, whose geography is being used metaphorically to make a point: Laodicea's water supply came from a local series of hot springs. However, due to the distance it had to travel, by the time the water made it into Laodicea it was no longer hot. It was lukewarm.

Cold water, of course, is much preferable to water that's gone lukewarm; likewise for hot water.

The point being that the property of "coldness" in no way corresponds to unbelief.


I'm not entirely sure what you're saying here. For one thing, I never said either "hot" or "cold" corresponded to unbelief. I'm aware of what lukewarm is, and why it's bad...because it is neither one nor the other. So I'm suggesting that regardless of whether you'd call unbelief/rejection "hot" or "cold", God is using the illustration to show his displeasure with those who aren't obedient (and in this case, are trying to hedge their bets).

Now if you're suggesting that God was referring to "hot" and "cold" as two separate good qualities (i.e. fervent missionary vs. Calculating theologian) then I respect that interpretation, even if I disagree.
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Every day the rest of your life is changed forever.
#43Julian_CaesarPosted 10/29/2013 9:47:09 PM
DT2501 posted...
OrangeWizard posted...
Active study of what, exactly. Christianity? Because thinking that God is some "sort of mystical, spiritual, SOMETHING that was completely unknowable" isn't exactly a Christian belief. Neither is "most of the bible being a parable"

Your first two posts were sarcastically implying I didn't know what I was talking about, then you said this, which is basically the same thing as "Tell me what you think you know about Christianity so I can tell you how wrong you are." I already explained why I'm not playing that game. I suppose it really doesn't matter though if you truly are gone now.


Eh, don't give up on OW just yet. He's pretty snarky to everyone, and the non-theists in particular will tell you to completely ignore him. But he's actually one of the more rigorous posters when it comes to the rules of logic and argumentative reasoning. You may disagree with his premises, but good luck trying to show that his conclusions don't follow from those premises.
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Every day the rest of your life is changed forever.
#44IamvegitoPosted 10/29/2013 9:57:59 PM
Good for you, DT2501. Everyone should think critically about their experiences, both religious and not, and only then decide what they want to "be." No one can make that decision for you.

The only advice I have is to be careful not to descend into confrontational behavior. You shouldn't feel the need to develop apologetics for your beliefs, nor the need to engage with those with whom you disagree.

As far as my experience, I am a (borderline) atheistic Christian, what with my process theology, and am surrounded by evangelicals and mainlines. I try not to broach the subject at all costs, since my friends have very judgmental belief systems. On this point, I have the advantage of still calling myself "Christian," and can therefore use God-language as necessary to "blend," despite meaning at times the complete opposite of what these folks say. I find it easier, then, to be around my atheist/ agnostic friends, as I don't have to fall into that uncomfortable zone of deception. There's an apt Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote about that somewhere, but I digress.

I do not have the "true atheist" experience, then, so I need to check my privileges a bit. Understand that you've chosen a harder road, one that's going to be met with scoffs of indignation and judgment. Do not be deterred by hateful people who condemn you for not sharing their beliefs in that which is unknown (even to them). In a way, coming to terms with who you really are should be a liberating experience, not one of strife. Try to avoid that sort of trouble, and you will certainly have a better life than you would have by trying to hang on to something which you don't truly accept.
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"A day will come when you think yourself safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you'll know the debt is paid."
#45DT2501(Topic Creator)Posted 10/30/2013 4:55:17 AM
Moorish_Idol posted...
I have a question:

You mentioned you are keeping your atheism to yourself irl. Is there anybody in your current household who are religious? If so, do you still plan to attend ceremonies/Sunday sermons/etc. with them?

My wife and I haven't been to church on a normal Sunday in years and years. If that were the case, it would be very difficult for me. We do occasionally go to churches for special occasion kinds of stuff though, and I'm honestly OK with that. Funerals and weddings, and the occasional Christmas, don't really bother me because you're there for a purpose other than just saying "God is great, let's all bow down in worship." I still get something out of meeting with friends and family to celebrate a wedding or pay respects to the deceased, and I just ignore all the parts that I don't believe. Christmas is similar in that I mostly just enjoy the "goodwill toward men" aspect of it and ignore the "birth of our lord" aspect of it. We generally go to more relaxed services when we do go though; if we went to Catholic services, it would drive me crazy.

BTW, I think I would classify my wife as agnostic. She believes in God, but she also believes that most of the teachings of the church are BS. She's sort of at the place where I was about five or ten years ago. If she still wants to believe, that's OK with me, I don't judge anyone for anything. I haven't flat-out told her that I'm an atheist, but I told her that I didn't see any point in baptizing our child (due in December... I can't wait!) and I make no secret that I think pretty much anything that religions claim to know about God is BS. There's really not much difference in practice between "I think all organized religion is BS" and "I'm an atheist." I'm just one degree farther down that path than she probably realizes. I don't think she'll ever admit to herself that God doesn't exist though. She had the message imprinted on her a little more firmly than I did, plus she thinks that religious ceremonies are fun. All the tradition and reverence toward holy ceremony feels special to her, and she likes that aspect of it. (She already knows how much I hate it though.) Long story short, I see no problem maintaining our relationship the way it is without saying anything.

Oh, and every time my dad tells me he just got back from church, I ask him what the sermon was about. I don't give a crap about the worshiping part, but the moral message is sometimes interesting to me. It's funny how often he can't remember what the message was and how often he didn't see any message at all.

Iamvegito posted...
As far as my experience, I am a (borderline) atheistic Christian, what with my process theology, and am surrounded by evangelicals and mainlines. I try not to broach the subject at all costs, since my friends have very judgmental belief systems. On this point, I have the advantage of still calling myself "Christian," and can therefore use God-language as necessary to "blend," despite meaning at times the complete opposite of what these folks say. I find it easier, then, to be around my atheist/ agnostic friends, as I don't have to fall into that uncomfortable zone of deception. There's an apt Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote about that somewhere, but I digress.

I was in the same place as you a few years back, although it sounds like my friends and family are less fanatical than yours. I still don't plan to be confrontational with anyone, because what would be the point, other than hurting their feelings? People believe what they believe, and it's not like I'm going to convert them. Maybe some day I'll feel like I need to be "honest" with them, but at the moment, I'm just glad I can be honest with myself, and I'm not feeling any pressure to put them through any misery for my sake.
#46Faust_8Posted 10/30/2013 6:08:56 AM
Julian_Caesar posted...
DT2501 posted...
OrangeWizard posted...
Active study of what, exactly. Christianity? Because thinking that God is some "sort of mystical, spiritual, SOMETHING that was completely unknowable" isn't exactly a Christian belief. Neither is "most of the bible being a parable"

Your first two posts were sarcastically implying I didn't know what I was talking about, then you said this, which is basically the same thing as "Tell me what you think you know about Christianity so I can tell you how wrong you are." I already explained why I'm not playing that game. I suppose it really doesn't matter though if you truly are gone now.


Eh, don't give up on OW just yet. He's pretty snarky to everyone, and the non-theists in particular will tell you to completely ignore him. But he's actually one of the more rigorous posters when it comes to the rules of logic and argumentative reasoning. You may disagree with his premises, but good luck trying to show that his conclusions don't follow from those premises.


A conclusion is useless if the premises aren't true, and OW expects you to take them on faith with no evidence or reason for doing so.

It's easy to construct a nonsensical logical argument that has a conclusion that follows from the premises. But since none of it is true, it's an unsound argument. Being a valid argument isn't enough, it has to be sound too or else it's meaningless.

OW parades around that he has a valid argument, ignoring that it's not shown to be sound yet, and pretends that makes him a very logical person. It's nothing more than "if you assume these premises are true, then my conclusion is right!" It's an "if...then" but the whole point it's a very big IF.
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I'm not against religion. I'm against all bad ideas, held for bad reasons, prompting bad behavior.
#47OrangeWizardPosted 10/30/2013 7:32:07 AM(edited)
You're still mad about the "You can't criticize God" and "Is God good?" topics, aren't you?

All logic is based off of premises, and if we keep asking for proof of our premises, we're eventually going to climb the ladder until there isn't any more ladder.

For example, we have no proof that we can trust our senses, or the senses of others. Every single thing we know about the universe is filtered through our perception, and we can't prove that it's accurate. We always have to start somewhere, and at the root of everything is an assumption.
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Think about all the time I've been wasting
Finding the right thing to say
#48DT2501(Topic Creator)Posted 10/30/2013 10:35:17 AM
"I think, therefore I am." Yes, if you want to get anywhere beyond that, you do need to make up SOME assumptions.

The problem I usually run into when using logic to discuss religion is that it is incapable of answering the questions I always needed answered. Logic is great for deciphering religious scriptures and things like that, because it lets you analyze what the statements mean and what can be implied from them. It really helps you better understand the religion. Of course, you generally have to believe in God already for any of these arguments to be relevent.

I find logic much less helpful outside of that context. Arguments for the existance of God tend to fall into two general categories. Some reduce God to an unknowable force (like with the first cause argument, teleological arguments, arguments based on the hard problem of consciousness, etc.), at which point it's no longer a personal God and it might as well be an undiscovered scientific phenomena that has no direct influence on how an individual lives their life. Others use questionable premises (like inductive arguments, transcendental arguments, the argument from degree, etc.), where you kind of have to buy into them through faith a little bit from the start.

You can be great at logical reasoning, but the person you're arguing with has to agree on the premises for you to have an impact. For someone having a crisis of faith, logical arguments don't help, because the problem is not the reasoning, it's the lack of faith. No amount of logic can make someone believe something they don't believe. This should be pretty obvious, because if you could create a logical proof for God, there would be no debate about it.
#49kozlo100Posted 10/30/2013 11:02:15 AM
Just so you have some context for my post, I've been an atheist for nigh on 20 years now, with a Catholic background, and I'm married to a Mormon.

I think if now me was going to advise the me of two decades ago, it'd be something along the lines of not worrying overmuch about validating your position day to day, relating to the people around you is more important. Figuring out where you stand will come, you'll get where you need to be. There's no need to force it at every opportunity and debate it at every opening. Doing so can lead to frustration.

The other bit is about interacting with other people. I'd definitely have told past me to do some heavy thinking about how two rational, reasonable, intelligent people can both validly come to wildly different conclusions. How the fact that my view is incompatible with another person's does not mean they are irrational, unreasonable, or even necessarily wrong. Figuring out how and why that happens helps keep me from getting angsty and has helped me learn and understand quite a lot of things. It'll also help keep you from denying the religious people around you the respect they may deserve, which is important.

The only comment I have on your specific situation is to maybe give some more thought to your family. You would obviously be a better judge than I in the end, but a lot of times people are more open about this stuff than you'd first think. The other point is that telling them would do more than just hurt them. They're your family, they want to know you, and this is part of who you are. Ultimately, separating yourself from them and hiding yourself may hurt them more than them knowing you fell away from the faith would. That's totally your call, and you are the best judge of it, but it might be worth thinking about.

Anyway, that's my two cents.
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Time flies like the wind,
and fruit flies like a banana.
#50epictetus1216Posted 10/30/2013 2:05:11 PM
Just keep thinking free. Never be afraid to, and don't let anybody cajole you into doing anything else. If they tell you it's because you never understood what it means to be a Christian in the first place, ask them which denomination you should go to to have it explained to you. The debate over what it means to be a Christian has been going on for millenia.

So many Christians can't agree with one another on this point or that. One thing they all agree on is that Jesus is their personal saviour. If you can't find reason to believe that yourself, don't. Simple as that. Good luck as a free thinker. The air is fresh. Take a deep breath and enjoy. Never be afraid not to.