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Old 04-09-2013, 02:21 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,210 posts, read 18,624,767 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post

One remnant of my evangelical background is that I tend to view evangelicalism as "all in or nothing" in nature, and still tend to think of people of milder convictions as sort of outside my understanding. I have friends who are Presbyterians and to them church is little more than a social club or lodge meeting despite the lip service paid to the Nicene Creed or some such. This is just in a different category for me than people who take faith seriously as a matter of life and death. I don't really understand the middle ground that's willing to accept Holy Writ as entirely metaphor and allegory. Why bother. Intellectually I understand the answer to that question, but not intuitively.
It would probably require you getting inside another person's head to fully grasp their motivations in this regard.

There are the non religious/religious types, my family produced two of them. My brother has no personal religious convictions of any sort. If he thinks about the cosmos at all it is unapparent because he has no interest in those sorts of discussions. His wife is a believer and church goer, but also never raises the subject of religion, I've no idea of the depth or form of her belief. They live in a small West Virginia town where the church is the social center of things and my brother is an exceptionally social creature. To him missing church on Sundays would be unthinkable because he would view it as missing out on the town party. When they travel, which is a lot, neither seems to feel any obligations to attend any services on the road. Religion and their local social life are fused at home.

Then there was my father who made the intellectual decision to pretend to be religious. He converted to Catholicism when he wed my mother, which I'm confident was entirely motivated by trying to please my mother and her father who was a Catholic bigshot. He never missed mass, insisted that we children never miss mass, and even stuck us all in Catholic schools through high school. He also had a number of important business dealing with the church.

After I ceased believing around age 14 or 15, I would get into these prolonged, agonizing arguments with my father about the validity of religion in general and Catholicism in particular. These dust ups could get pretty heated and typically went on until my mother got upset and demanded we stop.

The thing was, my father was an attorney with a very sharp, analytical mind. I could not bring myself to accept that he actually believed any of the things he was so ably and strongly defending. Yet he would not admit this, he would not present himself as anything other than a true believer.

Then a couple of years before his death, he finally was candid with me. He told me that no, of course he didn't believe in any of the religious fluffery, rather, he embraced Catholicism because he felt that he needed discipline in his life and of all religions, Catholicism was the one which imposed the most discipline on its adherents.

Well, I didn't believe that either, at least not completely. My theory was and remains that his conversion and practice was an expedient at the time, something which advanced his marriage and his career. Of course he wasn't about to admit that while my mother was still alive, and since she outlived him, he never did admit it. But at least I did manage to extract the fact that he never was a true believer.
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:30 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,104,852 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clintone View Post
Their mentality makes sense if you believe them to be agnostic Christians...as in I think my beliefs are true...but I am not sure enough about that to warrant making this life considerably less pleasant for others.
Middle of the road theism is either what you're describing (agnostic theism), or social expediency, or (the way many conservative / fundamentalist evangelicals view it) cold, dead habit / tradition. It meets people's social needs and is maybe a hedge with the Almighty, just in case. I just never would have put up with all the trappings and obligations of theism for those reasons. I grew up from the age of 5 in the church and believed it must be true because all the authority figures in my life insisted that it was, in the most ardent terms, and I didn't understand the dynamics of how throughly people can bamboozle themselves when they want to -- nor did I understand how group dynamics self-reinforce.
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:40 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,104,852 times
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Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
My theory was and remains that his conversion and practice was an expedient at the time, something which advanced his marriage and his career. Of course he wasn't about to admit that while my mother was still alive, and since she outlived him, he never did admit it. But at least I did manage to extract the fact that he never was a true believer.
Your father made a decision to go along to get along -- as both a personal family proposition and a business proposition apparently. And he was smart enough to know that to keep up the pretense he had to fully inhabit the role, never even privately admitting it was a sham. If he was at all extroverted, he also, like the other gentleman you mentioned, simply enjoyed the social interaction. Such interaction is lifeblood to an extrovert. Going the road less traveled just isn't worth it on a day to day basis.

The final factor, and I think someone else touched on it, is that many people are just what I would call metaphysically incurious. At bottom they don't really care that much about the Meaning of Life and are content with someone else's prefabricated explanation, so long as it's subscribed to or tolerated / respected by the majority. Most people who post in this forum seem to be at least curious enough to hold a view that is consistent with known facts and if you really follow that where it leads you no matter what, you end up outside of theism.

I know that I was willing if not entirely content to go along with the theist flow as long as my life was at least rationalizeable within that framework. What took me out of the fold, kicking and screaming, was a completely burned out Rationalizer(tm) due to life experiences totally at odds with the theist playbook. Rationalizations and excuses wouldn't do the job for me anymore, and I can't live a lie.
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Old 04-11-2013, 12:51 AM
 
Location: Missouri, USA
4,413 posts, read 2,992,559 times
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Thank you for your enlightening comments, mordant (and other information providers).
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Old 04-20-2013, 11:45 AM
 
Location: Canada
124 posts, read 120,318 times
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If you disliked the word, don't label yourself as it.
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Old 04-20-2013, 12:45 PM
 
Location: NJ
17,579 posts, read 39,828,270 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clintone View Post
I think it's because of the following:

If you have seventeen Christians in a room who know all the other sixteen people in the room are Christians, until one of them brings up religion, they'll probably think of each other as atheists.

Atheist means human, but without the religion. That's how they'll more likely than not view one another. They'll try to predict one another's thoughts and feelings by thinking about the other Christians as if they had no religion.

Therefore, when an atheist comes amongst them and says, "I'm an atheist," they'll think, No you're not. We're the atheists. You're the only one who desires to draw attention away from your humanity with a title at this time.

Note that the word atheist will likely not be the title they will specifically use in their minds. The title instead might be Christian. It might be human. Both terms mean the same thing as atheist in this context though.
One of the more confusing posts I have read on CD.
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Old 04-23-2013, 11:18 AM
 
231 posts, read 262,315 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
It is defining me not by what I am, but what I am not.
Very interesting. An atheist has to first form a god in his mind to not believe in it. It is a wonder why there aren't more aunicornists. I've wondered this myself if there's some sort of "default" God belief within me like I believe in other axiomatic things like logic or morals.
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Old 04-23-2013, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Missouri, USA
4,413 posts, read 2,992,559 times
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Originally Posted by chuckd83 View Post
Very interesting. An atheist has to first form a god in his mind to not believe in it. It is a wonder why there aren't more aunicornists. I've wondered this myself if there's some sort of "default" God belief within me like I believe in other axiomatic things like logic or morals.
My favorite science fiction Author, Greg Bear (who also routinely portrays organized religion as the bane of humanity in his books), wrote about a fictional character who experienced god as a feeling of paternal acceptance.

She was the mother of one of a new species of children, and had an epiphany in which she began to view god as a guiding force of evolution.

Greg Bear wrote the following at the end of this book:

In answer to the obvious question about evolution, do I support neo-Darwinian randomness or theistic external design? The answer must be neither. Do I support fundamentalist or creationist views? I do not.
My view is that life on Earth is constituted of many layers of neural networks, all interacting to solve problems in order to get access to resources and continue to exist. All living things solve problems posed by their environments, and all are adapted to attempt, with reasonable success, to solve such problems. The human mind is just one variety of this natural process, and not necessarily the most subtle or sophisticated.

So basically, we're all part of a pseudo consciousness called god that strives for success of networks between life forms on Earth.

I don't know how accurate that is, but it's an interesting idea. In addition to the aliens who created the universe as a computer simulation, it's another one of those gods an atheist could consider not beyond the realm of possibility.
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Old 04-23-2013, 12:29 PM
 
39,266 posts, read 10,922,331 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooshi View Post
If you disliked the word, don't label yourself as it.
Some do, like Dawkins who apparently prefers to call himself agnostic. I don't. I am happy to be atheist. I took it rather that the post was asking why some people avoid calling themselves atheist even when (like Dawkins) that is what they are.

Perhaps it is to avoid being signed up some some definitions which don't fit what we (as atheists) think but which we are supposed to accept as applying to us ion the grounds that it was found in some dictionary or other. Perhaps it is because of the impressive pile of pejorative epithets and slanderous accusations that some brands of believer have ready to fling whenever the 'atheist' shows its face.
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Old 04-23-2013, 12:46 PM
 
231 posts, read 262,315 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clintone View Post
My favorite science fiction Author, Greg Bear (who also routinely portrays organized religion as the bane of humanity in his books), wrote about a fictional character who experienced god as a feeling of paternal acceptance.

She was the mother of one of a new species of children, and had an epiphany in which she began to view god as a guiding force of evolution.

Greg Bear wrote the following at the end of this book:

In answer to the obvious question about evolution, do I support neo-Darwinian randomness or theistic external design? The answer must be neither. Do I support fundamentalist or creationist views? I do not.
My view is that life on Earth is constituted of many layers of neural networks, all interacting to solve problems in order to get access to resources and continue to exist. All living things solve problems posed by their environments, and all are adapted to attempt, with reasonable success, to solve such problems. The human mind is just one variety of this natural process, and not necessarily the most subtle or sophisticated.

So basically, we're all part of a pseudo consciousness called god that strives for success of networks between life forms on Earth.

I don't know how accurate that is, but it's an interesting idea. In addition to the aliens who created the universe as a computer simulation, it's another one of those gods an atheist could consider not beyond the realm of possibility.
Possibly, but I would reject this "we're all god living to exist" thing. Why is that particular teleogy true? That would take just as much faith as any religion.

I'm talking about things that I believe for no good rhyme or reason. For example, I just attended the funeral for my grandmother. We spoke about her life, mourned for our loss, and buried her. Why? Lions devour their dead. Most leave them in the sun to rot. There is something inside of me (and I think it's beyond what I've been taught) that the human life is more dignified than other things and we should bury them even after they're gone.

Other more fundamental questions are things like the uniformity of nature in which all of science is based. Why believe the future will resemble the past? Bertrand Russell brought up the pure faith needed for that to work.

Or even the laws of logic. Where do they even come from if I believe only things I can see exist? Or that our world was the product of purely material phenomena?
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