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Old 01-24-2009, 06:18 PM
 
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My parents were methodists and tried indoctrinating each of their 3 kids into same. I won't speak for my brothers but I never believed any of stuff they tried to brainwash me with. When I was 8, and challenging every word out of the Sunday school teachers mouth, a meeting was called between her and my parents and that was the end of my Sunday school experience.
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Old 01-26-2009, 12:56 AM
 
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Originally Posted by FormerCaliforniaGirl View Post
True...but what separates those who, once they are introduced to religion, buy into it with complete faith, and those who don't buy into it at all? It can't all be taught. I mean, after all I attended Sunday school and did all the lessons and listened to all the sermons, and I never...not once...believed any of it.

I guess my point is, how much is belief in God environmental (taught) and how much is biological (instinctive)?
Nature vs nurture eh? Well we definitely are not born knowing anything about religion... Some people are biologically more inclined to believe and have "spiritual" experiences, and there are studies going on currently about that. But obviously you don't know anything about Jesus without being taught from the bible, and you don't have spiritual meditation experiences without practice.
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Old 01-26-2009, 06:56 AM
 
Location: Mississippi
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I've often thought about this particular train of thought too. I think it's somewhat difficult to look back on one's life and depict the process by which you rejected the idea of a God. For as long as I can remember, the idea of God never made any sense to me and I can honestly say that I never believed it.

My parents seemed to be a little more focused on belief when I was younger as they would occasionally bring us to a church or Sunday School but they never really "forced" us to believe either by making us pray, say grace, etc... So in this capacity, the "function" of God in my life, even as a child, was never really seen as an important one.

However, even as a small kid I was typically very cynical towards the idea. I made some very unfavorable impressions with the Sunday School teachers as a child when I would call the Pope "The Poop" (I was not a very creative child) and the final straw was when I called The Virgin Mary - "Slutty Mary" (which I did actually get spanked for) and was then removed from Sunday School.

I certainly don't recall ever asking a question and hearing "God did..." or "God does..." and ever feeling as if it had some sort of meaning to me. I always thought there was a better answer for things and the answer "God <followed by an explanation>," never seemed to satiate my curiosity or give me any sort of fulfilling answer. It always left me feeling empty and deprived of the real answer.

Yet, the idea of being "born" this way seems to have some sort of functional involvement in how I feel as well. I often wonder if my parents had been much more assertive with faith and God if I would have eventually accepted it? It's hard to speculate on that because it never happened but looking from this point backwards I can only imagine that were that the case, it could be quite possible that I would be posting on here as a "Christian" who felt some sort of obligation not to go back on what I was taught as a child but I can't honestly say that I'd feel as though I believed it with all my heart and soul.

Certainly, I could find reasons to satiate my belief and this obligation. I could find any variety of reasons such as pointing out events in my life that could have turned rotten but didn't and say "God did it" but I don't think that deep down I'd really believe it. Again, it is probably much easier for me to say that as a non-believer hypothesizing on my "pseudo-belief".

I also look at my brother and sister whose beliefs I know very little about. I know all three of us find the idea of deities who watch over you and tuck you in at night to be rather absurd and in that capacity all three of us are certainly Atheists. I don't suppose my sister or brother have really ever expressed or researched their ideas on God (deities) to the extent I have but if I had to peg the two of them I'd say my sister would be a deist and my brother very close behind me in Atheism.

My parents seem to have lost any sort of zeal for belief over the last ten years or perhaps more. We recently had a discussion on it at dinner where my parents actually asked me if I believed in any sort of "higher power" to which I promptly said "No." They didn't seem surprised in the least and I found their beliefs very malleable in return. I could have made a God up at the dinner table that would have suited their preferences and they'd have said "Oh, that's what I believe in!" In fact, we sort of joked around about that too where my Dad really wanted God to be a smoking hot beach bunny and my Mom just said she wanted to be with her kids forever (conveniently leaving out my father who had just mentioned the beach bunny).

I suppose what I'm getting at is that I think that we are indeed born with genetic dispositions in the way our brains are wired and perhaps the way we receive and interpret subjective experiences. But, I think that as a child we are largely very malleable, with certain extemporaneous factors aside, to our surroundings and that mostly specifies parental upbringing.

The best I conclude is that I was born to interpret the world the way I do, my upbringing more or less reinforced that and you now have a person who finds himself so detached from the idea of God or Religion that I would honestly be profoundly shocked if I were to look into my Magic Eight Ball and see myself as a believer twenty years from now. In fact, it would give me reason to believe that the Magic Eight Ball was full of crap.

We are, talking, of course, about the rejection of religion/God once introduced to it not how our minds are necessarily born without the conception of God. I think it's a combination of genetic factors and your upbringing but I always wonder which one would tend to take precedence? If my parents were staunch Christians who inundated me with belief despite a supposed "disposition" to dis-belief what would my stance on God be? I think that's a very interesting question that I just don't have the answer for.

Last edited by GCSTroop; 01-26-2009 at 07:07 AM..
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Old 01-26-2009, 07:22 AM
 
Location: In the North Idaho woods, still surrounded by terriers
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Default Can one be born an atheist?

Only in the sense that we are born with our own individual brains and personalities. Some people have the "need" to follow preconceived ideas and some are inclined to question and doubt. "Troop" pretty much hit the nail on the head for me...in fact this whole thread has been extremely good, I think.

I am the youngest of three siblings, all raised by the same parents in the same household. My brother and I are both...well...not Atheists but not "Belivers" either. My sister, middle child, is almost a Fundamentalist...not quite, as she does concede that the earth is much, much older than 6000 years and that some of the Bible stories are there for example/teaching. She also fears death mightilly for my brother & I and her husband, who currently is in the hospital with a very critical illness. She seems more worried about making him a Believer than she is about if he will survive or not, to the point that she keeps sending her pastor in to talk and pray with him (in spite of his wishes)...which is very Christian, I know, but it makes me shake my head.

Back to the OP...sorry...my brother and I are very similar in looks, ideas, IQ's, the whole thing...while my sister is almost from a different planet from us. So maybe our ability to believe or not believe IS born in us...but those beliefs have to morph into existence over some years, I think. It may have to do with what we "need" to survive (psychologically). And it may just be a crap-shoot
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Old 01-26-2009, 08:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCSTroop View Post
I suppose what I'm getting at is that I think that we are indeed born with genetic dispositions in the way our brains are wired and perhaps the way we receive and interpret subjective experiences. But, I think that as a child we are largely very malleable, with certain extemporaneous factors aside, to our surroundings and that mostly specifies parental upbringing.

The best I conclude is that I was born to interpret the world the way I do, my upbringing more or less reinforced that and you now have a person who finds himself so detached from the idea of God or Religion that I would honestly be profoundly shocked if I were to look into my Magic Eight Ball and see myself as a believer twenty years from now. In fact, it would give me reason to believe that the Magic Eight Ball was full of crap.

We are, talking, of course, about the rejection of religion/God once introduced to it not how our minds are necessarily born without the conception of God. I think it's a combination of genetic factors and your upbringing but I always wonder which one would tend to take precedence? If my parents were staunch Christians who inundated me with belief despite a supposed "disposition" to dis-belief what would my stance on God be? I think that's a very interesting question that I just don't have the answer for.
My early life experiences were extremely similar to yours, Troop and I never bought into the God concept at all as a youngster, either. The nature/nurture question is not a simple one especially with the recent developments in epigenetics . . . wherein they have been found to be heritable . . . so it isn't just the genes but the acquired characteristics of turning on or off various genes as well that are inheritable.

I've no idea how old you are, Troop . . . but the difference may lie in my fascination with the Eastern philosophies . . . especially the Brahmanic ones, like Buddhism, Vedanta Hinduism, etc. and Taoist philosophy . . . not the religions that appeal to the masses in each of those groups . . . the religions have too much mumbo jumbo and crap to believe. My scientific, philosophical and psychological focus . . . (especially on the myths and legends that were the intellectual forebears of philosophical and religious thought) . . . may explain the differences that eventually produced the 180 in my beliefs through personal experience. I don't know if that has any predictive power for your Magic Eight Ball, however.
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Old 01-26-2009, 10:07 AM
 
Location: Montrose, CA
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Originally Posted by LiveTodayLez08 View Post
I thought everyone was born an atheist...
You don't just pop out the womb with notions of god, Buddha, or whatever.
You're indoctrinated.
*sigh* Buddha isn't a god, he's a role model. Even Buddhists don't consider him a god.

Oh, and a good proportion of Buddhists are also atheists.
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:47 PM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
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Originally Posted by SuSuSushi View Post
*sigh* Buddha isn't a god, he's a role model. Even Buddhists don't consider him a god.

Oh, and a good proportion of Buddhists are also atheists.
Whatever. I know for SOME people Buddhism is a religion.
You didn't say ALL Buddhists are atheists nor did you say ALL Buddhists think/believe/whatever that Buddhism is a philosophy.
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Old 01-28-2009, 04:37 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
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I don't think we are born "anything". I think as our intellect and personality evolves from an early age we do start making our own minds up about various issues. We are born blank slates and our environment certainly does have a huge influence on how we shape ourselves.

Religion is very much a human construct but then again so is Atheism as both imply a greater level of human consciousness and interest /curiosity in our World and the way it functions.

Animals unlike us do not seem to possess this self absorption about our good selves, where we came from or where were are heading. We alone seem to truly care about it.

We alone in the animal kingdom seem to have evolved this desire and dare I say need to make sense of the wider extent of our universe. Whether by Scientific means or Spiritual Awakening of sorts is a different matter altogether.

I do not believe Babies are born Atheists because Atheism is like Religion a choice, a calculated idea, weighing the arguments for and against in a way.

I was surrounded but Religions from a very early age but it never made sense to me. I never felt the pull towards a supernatural entity whatsoever perhaps because Religion was presented to me as another type of idea and belief but not pushed on me.
Nobody made my mind up for me. But to become a "positive" Atheist one still needs to process different data and assess it in a very deeply and introspective sort of way.

We are all born animals but we become more and more human as we develop our stream of consciousness. Logic, common sense and Reason are there as a potential but like everything else we do, need developing .

The potential is there. What we do with it is up to us to a certain degree and up to our environment also. Nature versus Nurture will always be one of the eternal debate about our Humanity but to me you cannot have one without the other in a way.

The size of our brains or at least its complex sets of wiring and connections is what gives us the ability to think deeper and more involved thoughts, but what we do with it is often due to what our early experiences are like.


Which is why I find it dangerous when Kids are pushed one way or another too much. Thinking for ourselves is the greatest asset we possess. To deprive Children of Independent thinking is to me tantamount to Child Abuse.
The wider the horizons we provide for kids the more they will develop and learn to grasp complex issues, and assess those with detachment and intelligence.

That goes for Atheism as well as Religion. I for one would not wish to deny all existence of Religion to my Kids if I ever had any.


Babies are not born with a Philosophy or a Belief. Those can ( and most often) will be instilled by eager Parents but hopefully if they have done their Job properly Children will grow to think for themselves and not simply Parrot their Parents.

To me we are born with potential. The Potential to think. But we are not born deep complex philosophers. That Human consciousness though already there in our DNA has to be spurred on somehow.
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Old 01-28-2009, 06:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LiveTodayLez08 View Post
Whatever. I know for SOME people Buddhism is a religion.
You didn't say ALL Buddhists are atheists nor did you say ALL Buddhists think/believe/whatever that Buddhism is a philosophy.
Well for Gautama there was no God . . . he was a pure atheist. He didn't trust the possibility of any permanent entity for fear that the cycles could continue again after Nirvana (in short, he didn't trust God). Anyone making it a religion is mistaken. But in fact the most popular forms of philosophies seem almost routinely to be corrupted into religions that appeal to the ignorant masses with magic and ritual, and rules, and assigning "positions" or titles to "authorities" within the religions, etc. Taoist philosophy is the finest I've ever encountered . . . but the Taoist religion is a disgrace presided over by a corrupt and venal priesthood promoting absurd magic and ritual, etc.. The pure Vedanta-based Hinduism of Sankara Acharya is rejected for the more popular Vishu, Siva ritualistic and magical nonsense because Brahma is too abstract a God for the masses . . . and so it goes.
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Old 01-28-2009, 06:22 PM
 
Location: Richland, Washington
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I don't think anyone is actually 'born' atheist. While there are atheists and religious people who are atheist or religious because they adopted the worldview of their parents, someone tends to explicity choose atheism, as when someone explicity chooses a certain faith. Someone may be 'born' a fence sitting agnostic, since they are unable to make an informed decision until they are older and they have gained enough life experience to decide what they actually believe(or don't believe), since babies and most young children don't know enough about belief in the supernatural, or lack of belief to intelligently think about them in terms of truth value.
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