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Switch to Forum Live View How many of us were atheist? I was Xian for around 20 yrs, atheist for 1.5 years and anostic...
5 years ago  ::  Mar 26, 2010 - 10:02PM #1
Wolfhoundgrowl
Posts: 82

How many of us were atheist?


 


I was Xian for around 20 yrs, atheist for 1.5 years and agnostic everlastingly lol

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 26, 2010 - 11:34PM #2
BlackWingBlueSky
Posts: 386

Mar 26, 2010 -- 10:02PM, Wolfhoundgrowl wrote:


How many of us were atheist?


 


I was Xian for around 20 yrs, atheist for 1.5 years and agnostic everlastingly lol





I think of myself as an agnostic atheist -- personally I don't find the concept of gods at all believable or useful, but there's no way I know whether or not such beings exist.


 

Sandy

I've seen normal, and I'm not impressed.
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5 years ago  ::  Mar 27, 2010 - 3:51PM #3
BillThinks4Himself
Posts: 3,207

I want to echo the point just made.


I don't believe in God.  My reasons are obvious - can't see him, can't hear him, can't detect him in any objective way.  I was taught to believe - on the basis of candy-apple promises.  God is a wonderful analgesic.  No wonder what your condition may be, you can cut the misery factor appreciably by mixing in God's blessing, God's forgiveness, God's protection and God's upcoming reward to those most deserving.


I lost my faith in God - not from science, not from mere skepticism (which can be turned on itself to produce an impotent neutrality) but from taking a good look around.  Last night, at dinner, somebody prayed for something connected to our quality of life.  But while that prayer was being said, there were people - somewhere - getting blown to bits, getting raped or murdered, getting slapped down and abused, going to bed hungry, or rotting in the pits of this world.  If God loves us, and is powerful enough to help us, why does he allow so much suffering?  The canned answer is that God doesn't want to interfere with free will - even when a little intervention would hardly bruise human freedom.  Others say it's to let human beings learn from their mistakes, or respond to challenges they need.  But if that's the case, why pray?  If God wants me to make my own decisions, and live with the aftermath, why bring him into it?  I strongly suspect that people do believe in divine intervention - except when it doesn't happen, at which point they rationalize the lack of air support as par of "God's great plan."


I have little use for a light bulb that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.  I don't need a car that starts only when it feels like it.  If reliability isn't on the resume of a Supreme Being, I think it's time to validate his parking and send him on his way.  "Don't call us; we'll call you."  Ironically, ancient scripture is replete with instances of divine intervention but devoid of divine abandonment.  Maybe that's because a God who doesn't show up isn't really a God you want to support.  Just looking at the Old Testament, God put clothes on Adam and Eve, slipped Noah a hot tip about the Flood, gave a bunch of worthless desert to Abraham, hobbled the ram so Abraham wouldn't be dining on Isaac, blessed and preserved Jacob, looked out for poor Joseph (who was then in a position to save Israel from the big drought), looked out for the baby Moses, plagued Egypt, parted the Red Sea, fed Israel manna and quail, brought water out of the rock, helped David slay Goliath, gave strength to Samson, saved the life of Elijah, et cetera.


Who'd have believed in a naked Adam, a drowned Noah, a cannibalistic Abraham, a castrated Jacob, an imprisoned Joseph, an impotent Moses, a slaughtered David, or an Elijah whose chariot to heaven got lost while Elijah lost his head.  If you look at the New Testament, much of it is an attempt to explain away the obvious.  John the Baptist is dispatched without so much as a divine cough.  Jesus is arrested, beaten, crucified and buried.  The Jews are not saved.  Their temple is razed.  Their communities are driven out so the Romans could build a freeway.  Even if you could convince me Jesus rose the third day, why did he then cut town.  Wouldn't it have made sense to show himself to the people and raise a Maccabbean-style revolt?  What messiah gets himself killed, comes back to life, and then splits town?  What happened to the big mission - to save Israel?


Instead, we get a b.s. story about how Jesus went back to Heaven, where he remains, waiting for the time of his "Second Coming."  But what is he waiting for?  The Romans are gone.  Who took them out?  Not Jesus.  It was Attila the Hun.  Was Attila a messiah?  No, he was a barbarian with a bigger army.  As would happen with the closing of the death camps, it didn't take divine intervention.  It took a bigger army.  It didn't even take a godly army.  Auschwitz was closed by the Soviets.  You can pray all you want but things don't change unless you make them change.


Now, does that mean there's no God and no possibility of a God?


I wouldn't go that far.  In fact, I don't celebrate the death of God.  If there's no God, we're all doomed in a certain way.  I can probably handle that for myself, but when I look around at people I love, the last thing I would wish for them is to be wiped out by death and dissolution.  If I could pray for anything, it would be for their preservation.  But when I look around me, I don't see anything that supports such a hope, even if that hope is as strong as ever.  Praying didn't save my mother.  It didn't save my sister, either.  Even if you come to me with talk of "God's Great Plan," none of the indignities that visited my mother and sister were needed to "call them home."  One died of throat cancer; the other from ovarian cancer.  In both cases, the parade of horribles had no rational connection to any visible purpose - high or low.  


So I remain an atheist.  If God is out there, I don't see anything that compels me to believe.  I see silly stories, backed up by threats.  I see people grasping at straws for some comfort against the tremendous sorrows of loss and the fear of death.  Someone once said, "If God didn't exist, people would make him up."  Maybe people make him up because he doesn't exist.  In fact, one need only look at the sheer variety of gods to see that God is a concept that arises out of a context.  The tiny, vulnerable, state of Israel, God was a wrathful being.  People today still wonder why anyone would worship Yahweh, particularly if Yahweh is such an S.O.B.  But isnt' that the point?  Those living in fear want someone to be in charge.  It's not his loving qualities that made Yahweh attractive.  It was his ferocity.  To a people enslaved and invaded by its neighbors, Yahweh was a source of strength.  God would protect them - and if not, it was because they screwed up.  As long as they were following the Covenant, they were protected.  If, on the other hand, Israel got hauled off by Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks or Romans, it must have been because of its own iniquity.  Blaming the victim may seem wholly insensitive, but consider the alternative.  A God unable to save Israel - good or bad - meant that they were on their own.


When you get to Jesus, the Kingdom of Heaven has already been redefined.  It's not a Maccabean nation-state.  It's a heavenly realm - up there and in your heart.  People are being "born again" into this invisible kingdom, which contains all the nations of the world, and which can exist anywhere.  It has its own emperor - Christ - whose "kingdom is not of this world."  You can kill him but he won't stay dead.  What's more, he isn't interested in fighting over the petty kingdoms of this world.  He's interested in ushering his believers to a special place outside this world.  By the time we get to Jesus, "God is love."  That's because a wrathful God would have brought all these other kingdoms down.  But such a God didn't exist.  The only explanation is that the Jews aren't doing their part.  But how?  They are performing their sacrifices.  They were contributing to the temple.  They actually have a temple.  The call here is one of reconciliation.  The rejection of Jesus is a rejection of the God of Love and Reconciliation.  When the Jews are ousted by the Romans, it's a calamity brought down upon themselves, not because the Romans were morally superior, but because the Jews have offended Heaven by rejecting God's son, or God among them.


The Christian is distinguished from the Jew.  The Jew wants to fight for Zion.  The Christian wants to get along, to "love your enemies," "go the extra mile," "turn the other cheek," etc.  At a certain point, the only Jews safe from Roman atrocities were those who collaborated with the occupation.  The message of Christianity is one of obedience to civil law while reaching for a heavenly empire.  This "heavenly empire' was, at first, rejected by the Romans, when taken literally.  It later achieved tolerance and popular support because the Romans saw, in it, a non-threat.  One could believe in Jesus and serve the cause of Rome, because one's allegiance to Jesus was no threat at all.  As Jesus is reported as saying, "Render therefore unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God, that which is God's."


Allah, on the other hand, is a harbinger of Arab unity.  It's no accident that Allah requires submission to his will.  Islam created a force, a Persian Emperor with or without a Persian Empire.  The values is privileges are the norms of Bedouin tribesmen - fasting, prayer, alms, a simple faith, hospitality, etc.  It reduced all divisions to a single, unified, growing empire, one capable of not only uniting the Arab world but one able to occupy parts of Europe, Africa, Asia Minor and Central Asia.  If Allah is as stern as Yahweh, it's not because these are creations of Middle-Eastern peoples, living in a harsh land open to invaders.  It's also because neither Allah nor Yahweh were negotiating with a power as great, if not greater, than themselves.  Yahweh was the voice of fierce Hebrew nationalism; Allah was the voice of Arab imperialism.


The many gods of Hinduism are also a reflection, but of unity amid division.  No single tribe was powerful enough to subdue the entire Indian subcontinent, not unless it tolerated differences from one cult to another.  India's paradoxical polytheistic monotheism let all groups worship whatever they wanted, with the understanding that God can be anything to anyone.  After countless religious wars to not only unite the land but to unite its many faiths, the most workable solution was to recognize God behind the many masks of local deities.  One nation under many gods . . . .   Buddhism, on the other hand, is a religion without a god.  It guts Hinduism of caste to focus on individual growth by letting go of desire.  Buddhists are seekers of enlightenment, one to be had by letting go of self and simply doing what is right.  Where Hinduism seeks to bring the individual to a oneness with God, Buddhism's nirvana is oneness with the universe.  While some would conceive of this as a kind of pantheism, the oneness of Buddhist enlightenment is more of a change in consciousness.  If desire puts the individual at odds with the world, as it really exists, enlightenment eliminates the conflict.  The individual sees things as they are and seeks to live a life of harmony.  Without a god, Buddhism may be more philosophy than religion.  It is certainly atheistic, even if its principles are basically those of a poet/philosopher.

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 28, 2010 - 7:06PM #4
Agnosticspirit
Posts: 9,244

Nice post, Bill! What little I know of the latest monotheistic faith is rather promising. The Bahai seek an end to conflict, recognize all the prophets in the Abrahamic faiths and walk the walk when it comes to gender and racial equality.


They're still a little hung up on sex, but that's to be expected from Abrahamic monotheism. Wink

Tribalism, ethnocentricism, racism, nationalism, and FEAR is the Mind Killer... >:(

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5 years ago  ::  Mar 31, 2010 - 7:47PM #5
Myownpath
Posts: 949

I was raised Catholic and then when I turned 18 I was exposed to many concepts in history class that were contrary to the Bible. Within three months I was an atheist. My guess is that I had questions all along as a child and this seemed to make the most sense.


I was an atheist for about three years and then realized I could not prove or disprove God and then was agnostic for several more years. Then about 10 years later I was exposed to various New Thought and New Age ideas in which God was not an anthropomorphic being and I attended a New Thought church from 1998 (started slowly in 96) and stopped going about four months ago. I must say the views helped heal me of some of my Christian upbringings damage. I think I could have been labeled as a deist, or maybe panentheist, or even pantheist - whatever.  I continued to go to church despite my asnosticism because I had good friends and the church had good music.Every Sunday was a non- judgemental, liberal, fun party.


About 4 years ago, I felt my life was not progressing as it did the prior 10 years of my life and felt there were concepts about my church  in which I disagreed. I figured if I could question the religion I was raised in, it was time to really look at whether or not I agree with these beliefs. Were they really true?  Plus, many members delved into the New Age scene and brought back views which were far out on the rational thinking scale. They had nothing to do with the church, but I could feel the presence of this philosophy. I never joined the first church because certain views never sat right with me.  The second church was an offshoot of the first church because of some financial blunders and was not affiliated with the main church until four months ago. So for the last 4 years I was teetering between Deism and agnosticism.


About this time last year, someone nominated me to be a board member. Could you imagine, me, bordering on being an atheist, sitting on a church board making decisions? lol. Of course I thought no way and it really made me think I needed to make a clear commitment and clarify my views.


Finally last June, I spoke with an atheist co-worker and mentioned I was thinking about talking with atheists online and of course she thought it was a good idea. I started to realize I needed to eliminate anything that is truly false from my life. I gave away most of my metaphysical books and plan on getting rid of all of them soon. I decided to go to church and really listen to the service and decide if I wanted to continue or be true to myself. Ironically, the services were so good even a dyed-in-the-wool atheist would have enjoyed them. One sevice quoted Bishop Spong while the other was somewhat anti-religious in a kind and gentle way. I was very confused as to whether to stop or not because the messages did apply to my life. I tried UU but all the churches in my area are really boring and are nothing compared to the Unity Church I attend. Finally, I realized that I still had to true to myself. Someone saying, God did this or that made me cringe, so I figured I will find a different social community in time. 

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 01, 2010 - 6:52PM #6
Wolfhoundgrowl
Posts: 82

Aye, I don't want to be cliche, but most important is to be true to oneself in these things.


To listen within. In a real rational way of-course!! lol

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3 years ago  ::  Jul 03, 2011 - 4:07PM #7
Kingdom_Walk
Posts: 2

Mar 27, 2010 -- 3:51PM, BillThinks4Himself wrote:

I want to echo the point just made.


I don't believe in God.  My reasons are obvious - can't see him, can't hear him, can't detect him in any objective way.  I was taught to believe - on the basis of candy-apple promises.  God is a wonderful analgesic.  No wonder what your condition may be, you can cut the misery factor appreciably by mixing in God's blessing, God's forgiveness, God's protection and God's upcoming reward to those most deserving.


I lost my faith in God - not from science, not from mere skepticism (which can be turned on itself to produce an impotent neutrality) but from taking a good look around.  Last night, at dinner, somebody prayed for something connected to our quality of life.  But while that prayer was being said, there were people - somewhere - getting blown to bits, getting raped or murdered, getting slapped down and abused, going to bed hungry, or rotting in the pits of this world.  If God loves us, and is powerful enough to help us, why does he allow so much suffering?  The canned answer is that God doesn't want to interfere with free will - even when a little intervention would hardly bruise human freedom.  Others say it's to let human beings learn from their mistakes, or respond to challenges they need.  But if that's the case, why pray?  If God wants me to make my own decisions, and live with the aftermath, why bring him into it?  I strongly suspect that people do believe in divine intervention - except when it doesn't happen, at which point they rationalize the lack of air support as par of "God's great plan."


I have little use for a light bulb that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.  I don't need a car that starts only when it feels like it.  If reliability isn't on the resume of a Supreme Being, I think it's time to validate his parking and send him on his way.  "Don't call us; we'll call you."  Ironically, ancient scripture is replete with instances of divine intervention but devoid of divine abandonment.  Maybe that's because a God who doesn't show up isn't really a God you want to support.  Just looking at the Old Testament, God put clothes on Adam and Eve, slipped Noah a hot tip about the Flood, gave a bunch of worthless desert to Abraham, hobbled the ram so Abraham wouldn't be dining on Isaac, blessed and preserved Jacob, looked out for poor Joseph (who was then in a position to save Israel from the big drought), looked out for the baby Moses, plagued Egypt, parted the Red Sea, fed Israel manna and quail, brought water out of the rock, helped David slay Goliath, gave strength to Samson, saved the life of Elijah, et cetera.


Who'd have believed in a naked Adam, a drowned Noah, a cannibalistic Abraham, a castrated Jacob, an imprisoned Joseph, an impotent Moses, a slaughtered David, or an Elijah whose chariot to heaven got lost while Elijah lost his head.  If you look at the New Testament, much of it is an attempt to explain away the obvious.  John the Baptist is dispatched without so much as a divine cough.  Jesus is arrested, beaten, crucified and buried.  The Jews are not saved.  Their temple is razed.  Their communities are driven out so the Romans could build a freeway.  Even if you could convince me Jesus rose the third day, why did he then cut town.  Wouldn't it have made sense to show himself to the people and raise a Maccabbean-style revolt?  What messiah gets himself killed, comes back to life, and then splits town?  What happened to the big mission - to save Israel?


Instead, we get a b.s. story about how Jesus went back to Heaven, where he remains, waiting for the time of his "Second Coming."  But what is he waiting for?  The Romans are gone.  Who took them out?  Not Jesus.  It was Attila the Hun.  Was Attila a messiah?  No, he was a barbarian with a bigger army.  As would happen with the closing of the death camps, it didn't take divine intervention.  It took a bigger army.  It didn't even take a godly army.  Auschwitz was closed by the Soviets.  You can pray all you want but things don't change unless you make them change.


Now, does that mean there's no God and no possibility of a God?


I wouldn't go that far.  In fact, I don't celebrate the death of God.  If there's no God, we're all doomed in a certain way.  I can probably handle that for myself, but when I look around at people I love, the last thing I would wish for them is to be wiped out by death and dissolution.  If I could pray for anything, it would be for their preservation.  But when I look around me, I don't see anything that supports such a hope, even if that hope is as strong as ever.  Praying didn't save my mother.  It didn't save my sister, either.  Even if you come to me with talk of "God's Great Plan," none of the indignities that visited my mother and sister were needed to "call them home."  One died of throat cancer; the other from ovarian cancer.  In both cases, the parade of horribles had no rational connection to any visible purpose - high or low.  


So I remain an atheist.  If God is out there, I don't see anything that compels me to believe.  I see silly stories, backed up by threats.  I see people grasping at straws for some comfort against the tremendous sorrows of loss and the fear of death.  Someone once said, "If God didn't exist, people would make him up."  Maybe people make him up because he doesn't exist.  In fact, one need only look at the sheer variety of gods to see that God is a concept that arises out of a context.  The tiny, vulnerable, state of Israel, God was a wrathful being.  People today still wonder why anyone would worship Yahweh, particularly if Yahweh is such an S.O.B.  But isnt' that the point?  Those living in fear want someone to be in charge.  It's not his loving qualities that made Yahweh attractive.  It was his ferocity.  To a people enslaved and invaded by its neighbors, Yahweh was a source of strength.  God would protect them - and if not, it was because they screwed up.  As long as they were following the Covenant, they were protected.  If, on the other hand, Israel got hauled off by Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks or Romans, it must have been because of its own iniquity.  Blaming the victim may seem wholly insensitive, but consider the alternative.  A God unable to save Israel - good or bad - meant that they were on their own.


When you get to Jesus, the Kingdom of Heaven has already been redefined.  It's not a Maccabean nation-state.  It's a heavenly realm - up there and in your heart.  People are being "born again" into this invisible kingdom, which contains all the nations of the world, and which can exist anywhere.  It has its own emperor - Christ - whose "kingdom is not of this world."  You can kill him but he won't stay dead.  What's more, he isn't interested in fighting over the petty kingdoms of this world.  He's interested in ushering his believers to a special place outside this world.  By the time we get to Jesus, "God is love."  That's because a wrathful God would have brought all these other kingdoms down.  But such a God didn't exist.  The only explanation is that the Jews aren't doing their part.  But how?  They are performing their sacrifices.  They were contributing to the temple.  They actually have a temple.  The call here is one of reconciliation.  The rejection of Jesus is a rejection of the God of Love and Reconciliation.  When the Jews are ousted by the Romans, it's a calamity brought down upon themselves, not because the Romans were morally superior, but because the Jews have offended Heaven by rejecting God's son, or God among them.


The Christian is distinguished from the Jew.  The Jew wants to fight for Zion.  The Christian wants to get along, to "love your enemies," "go the extra mile," "turn the other cheek," etc.  At a certain point, the only Jews safe from Roman atrocities were those who collaborated with the occupation.  The message of Christianity is one of obedience to civil law while reaching for a heavenly empire.  This "heavenly empire' was, at first, rejected by the Romans, when taken literally.  It later achieved tolerance and popular support because the Romans saw, in it, a non-threat.  One could believe in Jesus and serve the cause of Rome, because one's allegiance to Jesus was no threat at all.  As Jesus is reported as saying, "Render therefore unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God, that which is God's."


Allah, on the other hand, is a harbinger of Arab unity.  It's no accident that Allah requires submission to his will.  Islam created a force, a Persian Emperor with or without a Persian Empire.  The values is privileges are the norms of Bedouin tribesmen - fasting, prayer, alms, a simple faith, hospitality, etc.  It reduced all divisions to a single, unified, growing empire, one capable of not only uniting the Arab world but one able to occupy parts of Europe, Africa, Asia Minor and Central Asia.  If Allah is as stern as Yahweh, it's not because these are creations of Middle-Eastern peoples, living in a harsh land open to invaders.  It's also because neither Allah nor Yahweh were negotiating with a power as great, if not greater, than themselves.  Yahweh was the voice of fierce Hebrew nationalism; Allah was the voice of Arab imperialism.


The many gods of Hinduism are also a reflection, but of unity amid division.  No single tribe was powerful enough to subdue the entire Indian subcontinent, not unless it tolerated differences from one cult to another.  India's paradoxical polytheistic monotheism let all groups worship whatever they wanted, with the understanding that God can be anything to anyone.  After countless religious wars to not only unite the land but to unite its many faiths, the most workable solution was to recognize God behind the many masks of local deities.  One nation under many gods . . . .   Buddhism, on the other hand, is a religion without a god.  It guts Hinduism of caste to focus on individual growth by letting go of desire.  Buddhists are seekers of enlightenment, one to be had by letting go of self and simply doing what is right.  Where Hinduism seeks to bring the individual to a oneness with God, Buddhism's nirvana is oneness with the universe.  While some would conceive of this as a kind of pantheism, the oneness of Buddhist enlightenment is more of a change in consciousness.  If desire puts the individual at odds with the world, as it really exists, enlightenment eliminates the conflict.  The individual sees things as they are and seeks to live a life of harmony.  Without a god, Buddhism may be more philosophy than religion.  It is certainly atheistic, even if its principles are basically those of a poet/philosopher.


I'm glad to see someone so well versed.  Regarding the tragedy you've experienced in your personal life.  As you likely know the Kingdom explanation for this is that death and suffering was introduced to the world with the fall of Adam and Eve.  Obviously a consequence of free will.  So all suffering is mapped back to that.  I know it isn't a deep/philosophical answer, but at the end of the day that is what it is attributed to.


Also, you referenced God only doing things in the Bible that can clearly be seen as 100% positive from a human lens.  I disagree, certainly it was hard to swallow seeing people in Acts who literally DIED because they told lies to Peter, or in Revelation when it talks about all the death, suffering, and disease to inflict the earth. 


You asked what is the relevance of God?  The relevance for each of us is that we are a creation and that to ultimately understand our purpose we should seek to communicate with our architect (God).  When you quietly pray and instead of just talking, allow your mind to go blank and wait until you hear that voice that doesn't quite seem like things your mind would normally say to you that is you getting spiritually tapped in.  I believe God provides those seeking him this gift initially very quickly to build relationship.  As time goes on I think that we ahave to begin to do a better job of more deeply practicing Kingdom principles and then our communication with the Holy Spirit continues to improve. 

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1 year ago  ::  Jul 16, 2013 - 10:47PM #8
GodlessSkeptic
Posts: 61

Yeah there still seems to be a few who do not undertsand what "agnsotic" means and think it something exclusive of atheism. ALL agnsotics belong to either the "theist" (rare but do exist) or "atheist" camp. There is no 'neither' option.



I thought I would miss this place by now but returning here after many years has me thinking I will find better discussion elsewhere on the web.

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