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Old 04-04-2013, 02:45 PM
 
Location: Guangzhou, China
9,779 posts, read 13,355,348 times
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I think that many if not most of us know how hard it is - many of us grew up in religious households, and that's part of what pushed us away from it. And many of us had to go through the social fallout from family and friends - my dad barely talked to me for five years, and when he did, it was generally antagonizing - keep in mind, this was from 13 to 18 The youth group leader came over to "have a talk" with me, I had uncles and grandparents warning me about my decision, I had friends stop talking to me... it wasn't fun, wasn't fun at all.

Although my experience was unique to my situation, I'm sure that many atheists have had similar experiences.
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Old 04-04-2013, 06:59 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,082,614 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hiker45 View Post
I don't see why it is so difficult for some people to accept they are Atheists.

It should be a joyous occasion, kind of like getting rid of the old clunker and getting a beautiful new car. It should feel wonderful to throw out the old religious beliefs and accept a new view of life.

Of course, I came of age in the 1960's and have always lived by the motto of that time: "If it feels good, do it."
Hiker, my guess is that you did not come from a branch of theism that took itself all that seriously. If so, count your blessings. Imagine thinking that you have the Truth (capital T) and that this is all that stands between you and things like eternal perdition or the wrath of god. Imagine being raised with this from earliest childhood. Imagine you are accustomed to thinking that every good thing that happens in your life is because of god's benign, guiding hand, and then imagine having the temerity to question that influence and risk losing it. Try to, anyway.

I was not particularly vulnerable to guilt but it took me about 10 years after leaving theism to comfortably view myself as an agnostic, and another 5 or so to admit to myself that I was an atheist. By contrast, I've talked to many who have issues with guilt and whose self image requires external approval and validation; it's amazing to me that they ever make it out. Some are psychologically never really at peace and if they could will themselves to believe they'd return to the fold in a heartbeat. They are in actual torment that they can't change that aspect of themselves.

Another aspect of leaving theism is it can kick the props right out from under some people socially, even to the point of being ostracized from their families. And Marx was right, religion really IS the opiate of the people; atheism is bare-metal living and puts the hard facts of life right in your face. If you are the anxious type this may be pretty hard to handle.

If you never had to deal with this stuff or if you're just so incredibly healthy and balanced that you shrugged it off easily, good for you. If you don't have parents, siblings, and extended family judging you or pestering you or even condemning you -- good for you. Count your blessings. Believe me, you're lucky.
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Old 04-05-2013, 06:08 AM
 
3,637 posts, read 2,697,087 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hiker45 View Post
Heck, if it is so difficult and painful, then keep your religion. It is fine with us.
Maybe because as hard as it is to shed religion - living a lie is even harder. Just because one of the two options is easier - this does not mean "easy". Easier and Easy are two different things.

One can not - without a penchant for personal delusion - believe what one does not beleive. You can pretend you do - lie and tell other people you do - but that won't make it so.

One can attend the ceremonies - pop the biscuits - slurp the wine - go through the motions - kneel - stand - sit - and recite but it is still living a lie and some people simply can not do it.

But shedding a religion - coming out as a non believer to those who do believe - stepping outside the routines and ceremonies - can bring all kinds of pain and trouble in and of itself. Shunning - loss of friends, family and even jobs - and in some societies and areas violence and even death.

Some people would RATHER die than live a lie or live enslaved to one. I respect them for this. I have no issue with them occasionally getting over whelmed and starting a thread like this one to acknowledge just how hard it is though. Because it is - for many - and it is worth being aware - and raising awareness - of this fact.
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:57 AM
 
Location: Sitting beside Walden Pond
4,609 posts, read 4,113,595 times
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Mordant and Monumentus, those are excellent posts. I have a couple comments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
Hiker, my guess is that you did not come from a branch of theism that took itself all that seriously. If so, count your blessings.
You are right about that. My mother went to church a few times and my father was Agnostic, but he liked religion because he said it helped a lot of people. Religion was never discussed in our house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
Imagine thinking that you have the Truth (capital T) and that this is all that stands between you and things like eternal perdition or the wrath of god. Imagine being raised with this from earliest childhood. Imagine you are accustomed to thinking that every good thing that happens in your life is because of god's benign, guiding hand, and then imagine having the temerity to question that influence and risk losing it. Try to, anyway.
To be honest, I can't even imagine what that must have been like. Seriously, I can't even imagine it. Like my father, I have always had a benign view of religion because it has never caused me any problems, but this forum has many examples of how strict religious beliefs have caused stress to people.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
If you never had to deal with this stuff or if you're just so incredibly healthy and balanced that you shrugged it off easily, good for you. If you don't have parents, siblings, and extended family judging you or pestering you or even condemning you -- good for you. Count your blessings. Believe me, you're lucky.
My religious friends seem happy (except for the one whose wife is much more religious than he is), so I never thought of myself as fortunate to be raised in a household with no religion, but maybe I am. Your comments have definitely opened my eyes. Thanks

But I am still going to watch one of my favorite videos on Youtube. You gotta admit, these people look happy.


Rock of Ages [Live] - YouTube
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Old 04-06-2013, 09:32 AM
 
Location: Somewhere out there
9,616 posts, read 11,371,891 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
The questions and doubts often cannot be ignored or brushed off with the 'Who knows anything for sure -God knows what he is doing - just have faith' and it is impossible to live a lie anymore - pretending to believe what one cannot see as making sense.

As a lifetimer, I never had to do that (even Buddhism was more 'giving it a try') and I can only admire those people who go through an often harrowing experience of 'letting go' in itself, never mind the sort of reaction they get from the believers.
I for one have endured the usual "Well then, you were never a [pick one...] proper, real, correct, actual or committed Christian then!" reaction, a combative insult if I ever heard one!

Frankly, though it was difficult, AREQUIPA old chum, since on what must have been the first time I let doubts enter my mind, I recall often shuddering when I just harbored such immoral and unethical thoughts. I do remember, after about 5 years of that lengthy, almost 10 year period of growing doubt (though balanced with increasing belief that I was indeed right in my distrust of the whole enchilada!) there truly was no mystical Godly entity, I would look skyward (still showing that persistent Sky Daddy belief, can you believe it?) and yell "F##$k You, God!"

Usually I did this when He did not answer a simple, heartfelt prayer... but then, He never does. It's all selective imagination on the part of all out devout friends here! But then I immediately cringed until about year 7 or so, previously anticipating that oft-promised [my Sunday School teacher's fault! Fear and obedience training right on cue!] lightning bolt from an angry and implacable God. Which, I'm also told, "He would not ever do! After all, He's a loving God who only wants you to love Him in return!", though there's plenty of outright and inexplicable vengence in the bible from that self-same volatile and vengeful God.

Wat has The Almighty Abrahamic God failed to do during my conversion?

1) Never answered nor even acknowledged any prayers, even those I had made before my own doubts began to infiltrate the myth.

2) Never did anything demonstrably good-hearted for those in our community who really needed some heartfelt help (the injured or financially downtrodden, or who perhaps tragically lost a key family member like the job-holding husband, etc.

3) One of my best friends briefly lost control of his dad's car on his high school graduation night, and was summarily decapitated by a downed telephone wire that the phone company had left improperly marked and unattended after their work on it during the day.

We all held a quite prayer vigil for Neil, but nope: no outstanding contact no consolation from God about it at all. You should have seen his devoutly Catholic mother in the months that followed: she eventually walked away from the grand fakery of her church.

4) Never showed any reaction to anything on the global scenario where some "Act o God (now the' a zinger, huh?) like a tornado, hurricane, tsunami earthquake or whatever, had occurred, leaving literally millions of victims to their own devices. Still a problem now, and "God works in mysterious ways!" is just a stupid & evasive sidestep, nothing more.

So, to date, even though I've given up on "Him", even as far as others' firm beliefs noted here, there's been a big fat ZERO response, ever, from their God. Those who ardently claim to have such communication, full of real meaning, are simply applying their own special biases to the facts, ignoring when He does nothing, and adjusting their beliefs that He's obviously responsible when something coincidentally "fits" or almost fits, the situation.

As well, those believers have refused to anser even the most simple and forthright questions. They also refuse to provide u with their definitions of such key words as "evidence", "proof" etc. Obviously, they are truly frightened of being cornered by the very truth they alone claim to have a special understanding on. And that, equally as obvious, those of us who can't seem to ever be at one with their God are, or never were, good Christians.

Again, how insulting, but in fact, a telling reverse commentary on their own lack of true technical or scientific understanding and spiritual intellect.
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:39 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,082,614 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hiker45 View Post
My religious friends seem happy (except for the one whose wife is much more religious than he is), so I never thought of myself as fortunate to be raised in a household with no religion, but maybe I am. Your comments have definitely opened my eyes. Thanks
No prob, hiker. Glad to be of service ;-)
Quote:
Originally Posted by hiker45 View Post
But I am still going to watch one of my favorite videos on Youtube. You gotta admit, these people look happy.
Hollywood always portrays the dream or ideal, not the reality. This is religion on a good day, when things aren't too bad and everyone is reinforcing their belief that it all makes sense and that all is well. Or on a bad day when everyone is doing a good job of providing comfort and succor.

Religion, particularly its less dogmatic forms, does have benefits and I'll not deny that, although I'll deny that it is an objectively optimal way of life overall. But in its more virulent forms it can also be very harmful.

People whose life has gone fairly well and/or who are blessed with good ability to rationalize difficulties, tend to credit religion with their success. My eldest brother did that, and then one day he got out of bed and his leg snapped in two. Bone cancer. Gone in a few months of intense suffering at the age of 67, just 2 years into his blue collar retirement. That's when all the feelgood backfires, when life ceases to make sense and a life of exemplary godliness is seemingly the target of some deity taking a dump thereupon. Then comes the anger and/or confusion and/or devastation.
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Old 04-07-2013, 11:29 AM
 
Location: Bellingham, WA
9,745 posts, read 14,183,733 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northsouth View Post
Not that I'm looking for advice or anything but you people don't have a clue what it's like to be an agnostic atheist in the bible belt.
Actually I have a very good grasp of what it's like, considering I used to live there. Also note that my current location is nowhere near the Bible Belt. That was my solution.
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Old 04-07-2013, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there
9,616 posts, read 11,371,891 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
... when life ceases to make sense and a life of exemplary godliness is seemingly the target of some deity taking a dump thereupon. Then comes the anger and/or confusion and/or devastation.
You've got that one right, mordant. It's intellectually hard to justify being that statistically selective, and to then ignore any other response with an apparently all-knowing shrug coupled to the usual deflective thoughts, i.e.: that this is only God casually thinking over their fate, or letting bad things happen!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamplight View Post
Actually I have a very good grasp of what it's like, considering I used to live there. Also note that my current location is nowhere near the Bible Belt. That was my solution.
Ah yes, Lamplight; snuggled up tight agin them Godless Canucks eh? They who have instead turned to their socialistá government for all their post-retirement salvation expectations. As well, their final days wil be spent in The People's Good Heavens Final Solution Home, which is exactly where my mother, and then later my father, found a quiet, well medicated but largely ignored End Time. All absent God, who has obviously pulled up His tent pegs and abandoned Canada!

(Btw, Lamp, I was born in YVR's General Hospital, and then raised in Burnaby, a city adjacent to the rapidly hyper-expanding Vancouver Asian megopolis. Asians in Beemers and Benzes, neh?)

(Great Asian restaurants though. Hmmm... perhaps this is where God goes for good Szechuan? Yummy!)

Last edited by rifleman; 04-07-2013 at 12:46 PM..
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:39 PM
 
Location: Montreal, Quebec
15,087 posts, read 12,012,697 times
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Quote:
Religion, particularly its less dogmatic forms, does have benefits and I'll not deny that, although I'll deny that it is an objectively optimal way of life overall. But in its more virulent forms it can also be very harmful.

Your overlooking something. It it wasn't for religion, we'd have really $hitty horror movies. Without the religious aspect, The Exorcist would fall flat on its face. Same for all the "restless spirit, battle between good and evil, possession by demons" films.
Not to mention, films like Silent Hill and The Mist would be rather one-dimensional without its crackpots.
I'm a big fan.
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:54 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,082,614 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by weltschmerz View Post
Your overlooking something. It it wasn't for religion, we'd have really $hitty horror movies. Without the religious aspect, The Exorcist would fall flat on its face. Same for all the "restless spirit, battle between good and evil, possession by demons" films.
Not to mention, films like Silent Hill and The Mist would be rather one-dimensional without its crackpots.
I'm a big fan.
The basis of horror is the unknown, and there is plenty of unknown -- what is in outer space, including aliens, for example. The creatures in, say, the Alien franchise simply play on the fear of one's body being violated in creative ways, e.g., being made into a host for hatchlings.

Even religious themes play on the unknown, the fear of death, and the fear of suffering. There is malevolence or evil apart from religious ideation. I daresay that The Exorcist or Rosemary's Baby is as scary to an atheist as to a theist, because the horror is based on the distortion and brutalization of humans. It just so happens that the backstory for the entities doing said desecrations is religious. It needn't be.
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