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Posts: 593/742
(22-Feb-2009 at 13:48)

Re: Fearless Atheist

Originally Posted by IctouCE: View Post
I dont think a lot of people can say they chose to have no faith. From my experiences I have found that most people eventually find they have the inability to extend that belief that a higher power is there, or atleast the way that other people believe it to be.
Personally, i was born with faith in the sense of experiencing life as infused with a certain 'magic'. A feeling of wonder and awe at the mystery of it, and perhaps the belief that behind its unexplainable outward forms there is something connecting it all. Not really a 'higher power', but in a way a 'deeper power' you might say (i like the term Spirit, though it comes with certain risks). I think that is a basic feeling many of us share in some way, and i tend to call it the 'religious experience'.

Now i was raised non-religiously, so my encounters with 'God' were in a secular, educational sense. I'm quite certain that is what allowed me to easily distinguish between my own experience of a deeper power and the cultural notion of a personified higher power. I can completely see how that personal experience swiftly becomes subsumed by the familial/social conviction if you're raised in a full-on religious context. Since i lacked that religious social context, my 'spiritual instinct' was in a sense left uninterpreted, until the time that i started to do my own investigating. By that time i was already fairly grown and enough of a critical thinker to recognize leaps of faith. So i, like you said, eventually concluded i was unable to extend my belief in a 'deeper reality' to one of the historical 'higher powers' and its corresponding book and community of believers. In that light, you might indeed say i didn't choose to have faith or no faith; rather i started with faith, but was unable to find a religion that could accomodate all its feelings without denying aspects of my own beliefs.

There has been so much brutality and horror that has been perpetrated by good people who have been misled by religion. When ever I make that comment, people always retort that atheists have committed atrocities as well, and I agree, but I would not call them good people. There actions come from their morality, whereas the religious people had a good sense of morality, but in the situation their faith was more influential and is the justification for their action.
Side note, but i think you're wrong here. I don't believe for a second that either theists or atheists have a wrong personal morality, from which their atrocities directly follow. I'm convinced both have the same moral personal intuitions, and in both cases it is the ideology to which they subordinate their behaviour that produces the horrors.

There are several key stages that people must process through to be fully matured. There are a lot of people in our societies that do not mature to the stage of empathy. It is a huge problem in the western world. Far too many people lack the ability to understand the possible perspectives another person may have in any given situation. That aside, I am not saying religion denies you that stage, but it is an example of a stage that anyone wont necessarily go through. Unfortunately, religion can keep you from fully becoming a mature person. With the looming idea that a parent figure is always overhead, people never venture out from that security blanket.
Socio-psychological development is a complex thing.. and religion is surely a complicated psychological issue. I agree with a lot of what you say, and i believe religion is a strong factor in instituting and reproducing a formal rule/social role-based level of awareness. It commands obedience to convention, whereas i think developing even further onward, to a post-conventional awareness and corresponding self-image, is essential for mankind. This ties in with;

I know people dont trust atheists because they dont believe in god. They can do whatever they want without a sense of punishment unless they get caught, since they dont think there is a god to punish them. In reality, good atheists realize they must be self-governed, so they do good things not because god told them, not because god will punish them otherwise, and not because it will earn their way into the afterlife. They do it either because it needs to be done, or they want to be good, (or they get a sense of self satisfaction knowing they are good, or so, to others, they will appear to be good).
I come across this characterization a lot, and i think its a painfully infantile view. What believer genuinely abstains from evil only because he fears gods judgment in the afterlife? Surely very few, as it would amount to a horrifically ugly self-perception. These are apparently people who grant themselves so little self-control, that if it weren't for their belief in the great judge in the sky, they'd be out happily raping and murdering as we speak. Real punishment for immoral behaviour takes place right here on earth however, at the hands of friends, family, the courts, and ultimately most importantly; your own conscience (God Immanent?). Nothing comes closer to hell than a life of deserved self-hate. You can probably convince everybody around you that you havent done anything wrong, but you can never convince yourself. That's exactly why i think we all eventually realize we have to be self-governed..

Your brain is unique in the history of the universe. Use it wisely.
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Posts: 159/284
(22-Feb-2009 at 23:16)

I saw a lot of people who had problems while I was at the church. They would turn to god for help, believing him to be a higher power who would help them. It boggled my mind at how many people needed to stop looking to god for help, and to take control of their lives and start moving towards a solution. I am not saying they should lose god as a source of council, but that they should take the initiative themselves. Even within the theological viewpoint, god gave them the ability to change, they just need to wield it. Now this is not a sweeping statement of all religious people, just a few I had seen. What I saw with these people though, is that they were detached from their life, they were detached from reality and living in a world where they left a lot up to an unseen power. How could people sit there and ask god for help when they just needed to help themselves?
And that's exactly what I was saying in my previous post. It is not enough to pray for a new job or a new car, you have to get out there and work for it. God will provide a way. You will get what you want, but it may not be the way you want it. God provides us no more or less than what we can handle.

Lets take the Christian bible as example. If you look at academic research that has been done into the book by itself, you can learn a lot. First off, what we cann the bible is a collection of various works. At one point the bible was cannonized and many christian texts were taken out. There are only four gospels in the bible, but there were atleast 13. Some groups of christians even moved to personalize their faith by writing their own accounts of the life of jesus, so technically there would be hundreds of gospels, but for now we can ignore those and go with around 13. Either way it is not of great importance at this point. The following questions come about though; Who chose what was kept and what was cut? What did we miss out on? Why were things left out? What was changed or altered? What has been changed through translation alone? What has been changed by political reasons, or even simply mistakes made in copying? When were the passages written? Who were they written for? For what purpose were they written? Some huge issues come up when you get to things like the words used. We can read a newly printed revised bible and clearly understand what the bible says about something. Yet if we look at the oldest versions of those texts that we have found, there are problems. First the language used, the greek spoken then is very different from the greek spoken today. Many divinity colleges teach greek so students can read original manuscripts. A passage may say the word "kill" in greek, but at the time it was written, did that mean 'kill', did it mean 'to die' did it mean 'to murder'? There are some passages where they have found some copys of a text with an extra character, and some without the character. That one letter alone can change the word, and drastically change the meaning. Which one is correct? The many rewrites and translations have led to many issues. For example "Thou shalt not kill". Seems rational, even an atheist would agree it is a sensible idea. Yet when ancient version of the text have been looked at, it does not read "thou shalt not kill", the translation reads "thou shalt not kill a fellow hebrew". If the bible it truely the word of god, what should be done? It is okay to kill, unless you are a hebrew killing another hebrew? Imagine a cookbook that was translated hundreds of times, copied out by hand time after time, edited for political content, and for the honing of the gastronomic culture. After 2-3 thousand years, do you think the bread recipe would still make the same bread if it hadnt been continuously checked after every edition? Even on the topic of the writings themselves, if I write a post here, half the people will misinterpret it as something else, I will get flamed, and the message will be lost. Some of the letters in the bible were written by on person who was trying to affect change among a certain group of people. Some of the more antisemitic parts are written by people who then considered themselves hebrews, who were criticizing fellow hebrews for how they may have strayed from a good path. People today read it and have an excuse to mistrust jewish people. People at the time would have read it and seen a criticism for a problem plaguing their people at the time. It gets included in the cannon so people dont forget to avoid those problems, but a thousand years later we read the letter out of context. How can someone be expected to take everything into account, from translation to context, it would take a hundred life times and a time machine to fully grasp what was being said and why. In fact, omnipotence would be a great power in this situation. In the bible we find a religious text that in its entirety is beyond the scope of human understanding, not because of divine involvement, but because of human handling. And to add onto this, who even says that if we knew all those things we would be closer to the truth? Were the documents perfect when they were written, or has their processing over the years brought them closer to being a true divine product? Now, all this being said, I am in NO WAY saying that the preceding are reasons that the bible is poop. I am just saying that they are possible reasons that one could doubt the validity of what the bible says, and by association, what the religion says. To some, all these questions might fuel their desire to help whittle away at the lack of knowledge, it might push them to research so they can help clarify issues. To others, it would seem that with every additional question and factor, the accuracy would decrease and your percentage error would increase to the point where the information would be useless.
Now that you mention it, there was a show on the History Channel about the Bible, and the various verses that were left out but later found elsewhere. Quite the interesting show.

I have my beliefs, and other people have theirs. I have friends who are Wiccans, Muslims, even Buddhists. My father's side of my family is Jewish. My mother's half is Catholic. I went through quite a bit of turmoil growing up because of my heritage (My mother told me she didn't care what faith I chose. My father, on the other hand...). I think what I went through growing up helped me in my present views of others.

I come across this characterization a lot, and i think its a painfully infantile view. What believer genuinely abstains from evil only because he fears gods judgment in the afterlife? Surely very few, as it would amount to a horrifically ugly self-perception. These are apparently people who grant themselves so little self-control, that if it weren't for their belief in the great judge in the sky, they'd be out happily raping and murdering as we speak. Real punishment for immoral behaviour takes place right here on earth however, at the hands of friends, family, the courts, and ultimately most importantly; your own conscience (God Immanent?). Nothing comes closer to hell than a life of deserved self-hate. You can probably convince everybody around you that you havent done anything wrong, but you can never convince yourself. That's exactly why i think we all eventually realize we have to be self-governed..
I certainly am not one of those few. I stay away from doing bad things because I feel bad afterwards. I don't hate anyone. I hardly even use the word 'hate', unless I am quoting someone. That partially comes from my beliefs as a Christian. Most of it is who I am as a person.

Refusal to comprimise only succeeds in driving the devil's bargain. However, when one comprimises one's morals, they become the devil's bargain.
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Posts: 1/1
(22-Feb-2009 at 23:25)
Re: Fearless Atheist

[quote=Armitage;1663675]Whats fearsome of death for an atheist? An atheist shouldnt be bothered of dying except for the pain, but not for the consequences or any kind of after life.

You honestly think just because someone doesn't believe in your god, that this person will not have fears before death. Fears of what was done right and wrong in his lifetime. Fears of what could have been. Fears of who they may have left behind. Fears that they will NEVER see anyone EVER again.

Just because your book implies Christianity doesn't mean an atheist can't live his life along the same guidelines. This person may not go to church or pray, but he can still live by the rules that these guys wrote in their monumental piece of literature. Just because an atheist doesn't go as far as believing in some invisible man doesn't mean that they can't die a happy person and possibly die in their own "heaven."

Think about what you are honestly going to fear when you die. When it really comes down to it, you will fear your absence from your family members most, not some man that will judge you at his heavenly gates.

Check out this site. Keep in mind that Horus was hundreds of years before Jesus.

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Posts: 40/50
(07-Jun-2009 at 03:39)
Your question would suggest that the faithful believers should have no fear of death because they have a guaranteed place in heaven - because remember all sins are forgiven, yet I have seen faithful believers that lived their lives righteously become fearful towards the end of their lives, scared of death.

Fear though often can be rational, is more often than not irrational. Therefore asking why is unreasonable, you are asking people to explain their irrational feelings. I am scared of spiders, but if you ask me why I cannot tell you, it's certainly not because I lack faith in god!

I thought long and hard about this question. I can honestly say that I have both rational and irrational fears of death. I fear that I will not get to see my children grow up, support them, protect them, attend their weddings, see my grandchildren, be their for when they are hurt, be their shoulder to cry on, be their to bail them out when they need me. I fear that they may suffer things in their life by my absence that could have been prevented if I'd been there. I fear they will forget me, I fear they won't get over my death. I fear that my fiance will not be able to cope without me, won't be able to manage the bills, won't be able to get kids to school, will make choices that I wouldn't like regarding my children.

All of these are rational fears. Yes still this is not the entirety of my fears, because lets presume that I could guarantee that when I died, my children would not forget me, would only suffer temporarily then move on, would live their lives well balanced and happy, find the perfect guy, get married, have beautiful healthy children that they adored and coped well with, that my fiance could manage all the bills and make all the right choices. I would still be scared of death.

I would not be scared of judgment from some entity, but I cannot explain my fear, it is irrational, just like the fear of the spider. There is no reason I can pinpoint, but it is not because of faith or lack of faith, it is just what it is.

With that being said, I see no reason that an atheist is presumed to be a non believer of an after life of some kind or even re-incarnation.

Though these things have not been proven beyond doubt, there is nothing to say that one day they may be proven scientifically.

Not believing in a creator does not mean not believing in the paranormal. The paranormal may exist independantly of god with a scientific explanation forthcoming in the future.

Not that I believe, just that I believe it could be an option. Why? Because there is some scientific research into certain paranormal activity that indicates that it is a possibility, unlike the possibility of a god that has no scientific basis what-so-ever.

That being said, I do believe some things can not be explained scientifically, but then I don't think we need science to disprove god, history and common sense is enough - for those of course that can actually be objective.

Also do not most people waver in their beliefs at the moment of death regardless of religion or not? This certainly does not prove some kind of divine being exists, only that we are human and prone to human doubts.

Perhaps when it is my time, I will no longer fear death, how can any of us know how we will feel when the moment comes? Therefore how can we really answer the question? The only way to answer is on presumptions, and presumptions are not fact.

Last edited by Lady Massacre, 07-Jun-2009 at 03:43.
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