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Old 05-29-2013, 12:07 PM
 
Location: On the Edge of the Fringe
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I call it "Predestined" to atheism although in reality, I do not believe that we are in any way predestined to anything, because our lives are the direct result of our choices. actions and thoughts.
That being said, do many of us feel a natural association with atheism, in that we as a human species are naturally atheistic?
Or do we have this part of our existence that makes us feel connected to a god or higher power?

Arguments exist on both sides, but consider that for some of us, religion/theism just does not seem right. I know that was my case.

Growing up, I was a nerdy kid who had toys ranging from a telescope to a binary computer. I had my wall decorated at one time with posters of star charts, and astronomical data. I remember asking my grandmother, who was a devout southern Baptist to the end why she did not like watching Star Trek on TV
Her answer was "Because they don't really fly around in spaceships like that"
It was my immediate thought of "Well Jesus isn't real either but you sure center your life around him" Left best unsaid, making me think "From where did that thought come?"

I was forced to go to church as a kid, and I hated it. I campaign against it now, and do not take my kids because they need not be subjected to the mindless abuse such as I was. (Although my one son begs me weekly to take him to the Buddhist temple for lunch.)
But as a child even, I hated religion. As an adult I am fascinated with socio-cultural mythology, but I look back on my childhood, all the forced religious dogmas and rituals, which I pretended to do all the while saying to myself "I do NOT believe any of this"......it could be said that I was inclined to atheism from the beginning. Perhaps in a way my "predestine" as Toward atheism.

Could it be that some of us, perhaps many of us, just didn't by the phantasmagoria stories of a dead man walking around and coming back Any second? (Which, BTW, according to several Texas Baptist preachers, he was due back right after the Sunday service 35, 36 ,37 ... years ago....)

Just as I knew Star Trek was a fantasy, and perhaps people like my grandmother lacked the insight or intelligence to understand it, so I saw the Christian religion as a pure fantasy.
And since the adults I observed who preached about it the loudest were examples of human failure (AKA alcoholics, wife beaters, tax evaders, child molesters adulterers etc etc ad nauseum) Perhaps those of us who were smart enough to see that really were atheists all along.......

Before I got off of face book, I made contact with one of these people my age, who went to the same church as me as a kid. Her dad was even a Sunday school teacher of mine. Amazing, but past her high school education, she remains the same unintelligent person, still seems to have some of the nasty attitude I remember, and preachers to everyone about how Jesus is ALIVE!, and will be back any minute. Does not seem like she has much else going for her in life, but then again, what did I expect? Some people bought into the religion and for whatever reason they choose, have stayed with it. Either it is comforting, or they have a social circle in it, or they are afraid not to leave, who knows? but the ones who stay for whatever reasons are theists, and those like me and perhaps many of you who shake our head and say "No way" are the non-theists. And like myself, perhaps you too have been an atheist all along.
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Old 05-29-2013, 12:24 PM
 
Location: East Coast of the United States
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I grew up in a religious household as well. Somewhat like you, I seemed to instinctively know that many of the things taught in my religion were just myths and ancient legends having little basis in reality. But I considered these to be symbolic, so I separated them out mentally from the "real" stuff. It was not until much later when I learned a great deal about science that I began to doubt the entire premise of religion and the supernatural. That was the tipping point that began my path to agnosticism and eventually to atheism.

BTW, I like your comparison between Jesus and Star Trek. Religion is a lot like science fiction - with the exception that people actually believe in religion. lol.
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Old 05-29-2013, 02:01 PM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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I have thought a lot about this issue. I am envious of people who seemed to see straight through the BS and reality distortion fields right from early childhood. My current wife is one of those. I find that I was ever taken in to be embarrassing.

And yet ...

Things about it did bug me back in the day. I did, at some level, see through it. I just didn't particularly want to see it as the epic fail that it was. The inertia, the social costs, the loss of support systems, disapproval of parents and various other things made it ... expedient to look the other way.

Is this what many theists do? I suspect the answer is yes. A relative minority are utterly complacent in their bovine acceptance of dogma. But a large contingent, I think, simply drive private doubts and reservations underground and go along to get along, as I did. What finally peeled me away was the (to me) unbearable cognitive dissonance between Real Life(tm) and the "positional truth" of the ever-victorious Christian marching steadily towards glory.

I suspect that some of the difference is also in your social conditioning. I am from midwestern stock, very reserved and readily verklempt. I am very much a product of the "if you don't have something nice to day, don't say anything" school of thought. Others, either by nature or upbringing, are more willing to call a spade a spade, or more to the point, to call people out on their BS. This is very much alien territory to me, and although I've broken out of it somewhat in my old age, I am still loathe to be the one to disturb the composure of others. To me it's a little like door-to-door proselytizing; I feel I should leave others to their illusions as it's none of my business. They generally want to shoot the messenger anyway.
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Old 05-29-2013, 06:09 PM
 
Location: On the Edge of the Fringe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
I have thought a lot about this issue. I am envious of people who seemed to see straight through the BS and reality distortion fields right from early childhood. My current wife is one of those. I find that I was ever taken in to be embarrassing.

And yet ...

Things about it did bug me back in the day. I did, at some level, see through it. I just didn't particularly want to see it as the epic fail that it was. The inertia, the social costs, the loss of support systems, disapproval of parents and various other things made it ... expedient to look the other way.

Is this what many theists do? I suspect the answer is yes. A relative minority are utterly complacent in their bovine acceptance of dogma. But a large contingent, I think, simply drive private doubts and reservations underground and go along to get along, as I did. What finally peeled me away was the (to me) unbearable cognitive dissonance between Real Life(tm) and the "positional truth" of the ever-victorious Christian marching steadily towards glory.

I suspect that some of the difference is also in your social conditioning. I am from midwestern stock, very reserved and readily verklempt. I am very much a product of the "if you don't have something nice to day, don't say anything" school of thought. Others, either by nature or upbringing, are more willing to call a spade a spade, or more to the point, to call people out on their BS. This is very much alien territory to me, and although I've broken out of it somewhat in my old age, I am still loathe to be the one to disturb the composure of others. To me it's a little like door-to-door proselytizing; I feel I should leave others to their illusions as it's none of my business. They generally want to shoot the messenger anyway.

I remember being dragged along on "Visitation Saturdays" The church of my parents somehow had a sales record of houses because they knew when someone moved into town. Nothing like being busy unpacking your furniture and someone rings your doorbell saying "HI we are from the Baptist church. Do our bu-leave in Jesus ?"
I felt that it was very rude, because it violated what I was always told was the "Golden rule" you know "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?"
I would prefer to be left alone.

I think the final straw came when as a teen, I refused to go on a Mission trip. The Annual Youth Mission trip was to Utah, to "Save those people from the Mormons"
My take was, one, it is none of our/their concern and two, these people needed to be working on themselves, not trying to convert others.

That kind of established me as an outcast in the church. We moved to another town a few years later, and my mom became re-addicted to religion, tried to force it on us, I openly rejected it then. Went as far as to say out loud on Sunday in front of everyone "I QUIT THIS CHURCH"
(Never saw overweight adults run away so fast, like the lightening was about to strike or something)

Point being, it took less effort for me to quit, than it took for me to be there in the first place.
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Old 05-29-2013, 07:19 PM
 
40,052 posts, read 26,730,521 times
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Default Predestined to Atheism

I do not believe in predestination of any kind. It was an odd feeling reading KingCat's posts because they resonated so much with the first 30+ years of my life. I never believed any of it but for social reasons I went through the motions as a Catholic through Confirmation. I came out as an atheist during my rebellious years starting around age 13. If not for martial arts and my meditation obsession . . . I would probably have stayed the same. Funny how our lifestyles evolve due to so many different factors.

Last edited by MysticPhD; 05-29-2013 at 08:32 PM..
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:20 PM
 
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We are all predestined to be atheists; only a large, and unlucky, contingent among us get indoctrinated with, and fall for, religion.
I had a brief period from ages 9 to 11 when I went to Sunday School and tried to find god. But I specifically remember by age 11, I had given up that pursuit. I did this on my own and I did it deliberately. I took a sense of pride in it.
For 13 more years I would be an atheist without thinking a whole lot more about it. Then at age 24, I rediscovered science, and in particular, Carl Sagan. Until that time, I never thought about science having anything to do with atheism. It did, however, satisfy me intellectually and in a way that some people may find fulfillment in religion. It very much validated what I had known since I was 11.
Edit: Okay, I know science doesn't really have anything to say about 'god' but it does a great job of diminshing the need for a god as an explanatory tool...

Last edited by SteelDragon; 05-29-2013 at 08:24 PM.. Reason: addendum
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Old 05-30-2013, 05:02 AM
 
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I do rather like these memoirs threads. I know that I never regarded religion as anything but just another 'class' at school. Except it was a class in mythology. But I certainly had a lot more to think about in the teens to twenties. I did have a look at the occult and precognition, palmistry, Dreams and astrology. A few weeks of investigations convinced me that was self - deluding tripe.

I also had input from Transatlantic evangelists pushing Bible -literalist fundamentalism. I think the first end of world claim (early 1960's that must have been) failing to deliver busted their credibility for me and their arguments for biblical prophecy didn't seem to quite work, either. Discovery of the Sumerian Creation myth and how similar it was to the Biblical one was thought -provoking, too. I suppose that there was a lot of seeking and questioning and deciding that, if there was a god it was the god of al religions -or none - and that the best way to communicate was through meditation. That's why I gave Buddhism a try, as mental communication with the Reality was emphasized rather than faith that Buddha existed.
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Old 05-30-2013, 04:47 PM
 
Location: Central Jersey
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I think a lot of folks who are "predestined atheists" are what the Myers Briggs calls Intuitive Thinkers (NTs), who are pretty underrepresented in the general population, but who dominate higher education and the sciences. They tend to be natural skeptics driven to questioning everything and everybody.

I was a fairly bright kid, but an Intuitive Feeler (NF), meaning that, like NTs, I could "think outside the box", but I tended to also be a people pleaser, and I took things on authority much more than an NT would have.

As I got older, rather than rejecting religion outright, I tried to reconcile biblical Christianity with rationalism, using justifications for belief which grew more refined and convoluted over time. Most churchgoers around me seemed to not give their beliefs a second thought, and presumably most NTs had by their early twenties realized that religion was illogical, and had therefore moved on. Eventually I too walked away.

As a young Jew attending temple services, the NT comedian David Cross said to himself, "Wait a minute. You people don't seriously believe all this nonsense, do you?" I was never like that as a kid. Even having abandoned Christianity, I feel that I still "get" the religious mindset in a way that many NT's might find puzzling.
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Old 05-30-2013, 06:20 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there
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Default The answer to non-answers....

Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
I have thought a lot about this issue. I am envious of people who seemed to see straight through the BS and reality distortion fields right from early childhood. My current wife is one of those. I find that I was ever taken in to be embarrassing.

And yet ...

Things about it did bug me back in the day. I did, at some level, see through it. I just didn't particularly want to see it as the epic fail that it was. The inertia, the social costs, the loss of support systems, disapproval of parents and various other things made it ... expedient to look the other way.

Is this what many theists do? I suspect the answer is yes. A relative minority are utterly complacent in their bovine acceptance of dogma.

Quote:
Bovine acceptance... quite funny, really... But then it DOES fulfill an apparently deep-seated need to be protected from death through Godly Salvation, don't you agree, mordant? I feel strongly now, having taunted, questioned, and even politely asked. But then, when that did not get any responses, I relentlessly attacked Christians here on C-D for the past 4 - 5 years, but found that they simply WILL NOT discuss their brainwashed fear of death and thus their insistence that Christianity MUST BE REAL!
But a large contingent, I think, simply drive private doubts and reservations underground and go along to get along, as I did. What finally peeled me away was the (to me) unbearable cognitive dissonance between Real Life(tm) and the "positional truth" of the ever-victorious Christian marching steadily towards glory.

I suspect that some of the difference is also in your social conditioning. I am from midwestern stock, very reserved and readily verklempt. I am very much a product of the "if you don't have something nice to day, don't say anything" school of thought. Others, either by nature or upbringing, are more willing to call a spade a spade, or more to the point, to call people out on their BS. This is very much alien territory to me, and although I've broken out of it somewhat in my old age, I am still loathe to be the one to disturb the composure of others. To me it's a little like door-to-door proselytizing; I feel I should leave others to their illusions as it's none of my business. They generally want to shoot the messenger anyway.
Quote:
Originally Posted by St. Josef the Chewable View Post
I think a lot of folks who are "predestined atheists" are what the Myers Briggs calls Intuitive Thinkers (NTs), who are pretty underrepresented in the general population, but who dominate higher education and the sciences. They tend to be natural skeptics driven to questioning everything and everybody.

I was a fairly bright kid, but an Intuitive Feeler (NF), meaning that, like NTs, I could "think outside the box", but I tended to also be a people pleaser, and I took things on authority much more than an NT would have.

As I got older, rather than rejecting religion outright, I tried to reconcile biblical Christianity with rationalism, using justifications for belief which grew more refined and convoluted over time. Most churchgoers around me seemed to not give their beliefs a second thought, and presumably most NTs had by their early twenties realized that religion was illogical, and had therefore moved on. Eventually I too walked away.
Well stated, SJtC. It is so blatantly obvious that as I noted above, they cannot begin to discuss it because they know exactly where such logical investigation will led. Their Christian belief system is thus an internally unchallenged belief they cannot allow themselves to ever question.

But... as you also note, there also seem to be those {of us...} who prefer to openly challenge things that others will not challenge. I, as an example of your line of reasoning, was attracted to automotive engineering when I was still in Grade 10, then I earned my engineering degree, then later two biology degrees, followed by some post-post grad work in practical & applied field geology, and then, later, the trappings of yet another degree at the PhD level, in some advanced ecological concepts. Even now, I'm considering additional educational pursuits, if only as a teacher, to keep my hand in.

Hardly the mental workings of one who chooses to simply accept the unsubstantiated thinking of others, which is so commonplace amongst the truly religious.
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Old 05-30-2013, 08:02 PM
 
Location: On the Edge of the Fringe
4,885 posts, read 3,973,523 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by St. Josef the Chewable View Post
As I got older, rather than rejecting religion outright, I tried to reconcile biblical Christianity with rationalism, using justifications for belief which grew more refined and convoluted over time. Most churchgoers around me seemed to not give their beliefs a second thought, and presumably most NTs had by their early twenties realized that religion was illogical, and had therefore moved on. Eventually I too walked away.
The Bible, as Literature, is a classic example of "Life Imitates Art." Which is why so many of us will spend time trying to reconcile religion and rationalism. And many will make a quick exit through the back door of the church during the "invitation prayer" when we realize that the answers in life are waiting outside, that try as we might, the equation of reconciliation just does not balance in this formula.

I found leaving easier than staying, even easier than going in the first place. (I used to beg my parents every Sunday to let us stay home.) Going was hard, because it never seemed right. I think Bishop Spong summed it up when he talked once about "Biblical Administration" in terms that many evangelical/fundie religions claim to have a formula,, or a policy even, of administering Biblical Faith. Well, if it were true, it would not have to be "Administered" as in administered=forced in this context. Something that is forced is not comfortable. And I am not talking about that suit that fit great three years ago and doesn't now. I am talking about something that does not seem right, but a person continues to follow it and force it upon himself, it affects his psyche which manifests itself as various mental disorders which prevent one from becoming a self actualized person. Sadly, this is all too common.
I await the arrival of the self-actualized Christian to show up and say "here I am," because the very nature of the religion will prevent personal responsibility and empowerment, forcing a person to rely on another person for self value. And, even worse, from what I can see, an imaginary friend at that..
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