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Laura Corin

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I'm happy to take any questions that you have always wanted to put to an atheist. As with other similar threads, let's try to refrain from attacks, both believers attacking atheists and my fellow atheists attacking believers. It would be nice if the thread wasn't closed down.

 

A few thoughts to begin with: atheists are not a homogeneous group. Some come from atheist families, some have rejected one or more religions; some are very relaxed on the issue, whilst others are very angry about incidents in their pasts. So you are unlikely to get a single line on any issue: there is no 'orthodox atheism'.

 

The sun's shining, so I'll be popping out into the garden, then coming back periodically to answer questions.

 

Looking forward to chatting,

 

Laura

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To start things going: this is a message I previously sent to someone who wanted to know how people raise children to be decent without religion:

 

I absolutely understand that you don't have any idea how to instill virtue in children or adults without positing a god - you haven't met people who do that and can't imagine how it works. I'm a second generation atheist (my grandparents were church-going but not particularly devout Christians (Church of England), my parents didn't go to church after leaving home, and I was brought up without a god.

 

I'll talk about it from two different angles: philosophical and practical. The philosophical point of view is the golden rule: do unto others.... It's present in many societies worldwide and not always connected to religion. It is perpetuated because it reduces conflict in society and it makes people feel good about themselves. The version that I was taught was, of course, based on the Judaeo-Christian tradition, because I grew up in Britain.

 

Practically, you teach being a good person initially by modelling it: you model the virtues you wish to instill. Your children see you being selfless, charitable, self-controlled, etc. This week, my boys saw their father practise self-control when he heard that our flat in London had been broken into; they shared my joy as we climbed a mountain and surveyed three counties from the top; they witnessed my selflessness as I spent my week off from work deep-cleaning and decluttering the house rather than lying around eating bon-bons; they felt my love as we snuggled by the fire together; they saw my willingness to help others when I invited in and entertained the whole family of one of Hobbes' friends when their car broke down ....

 

As they grow older, they understand that these virtues are the definition of a good person and that being a good person is something worthwhile, something to strive for. If they fall short, the reminder, 'We behave this way because we want to be decent, caring people,' is usually enough.

 

I hope that gives you a picture of how this might work. Do ask if you have any questions. FWIW, my boys' school reports most often describe them as mature, caring, enthusiastic and polite.

 

Best regards

 

Laura

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How would you feel about one of your children becoming a "believer"? I think I know what you would do - that is support them, etc. like I would if one of my children decided to become atheist. But I won't lie, it would be a disappointment to me if one of children left the faith in which I am raising them. Would it be a disappointment to you?

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How would you feel about one of your children becoming a "believer"? I think I know what you would do - that is support them, etc. like I would if one of my children decided to become atheist. But I won't lie, it would be a disappointment to me if one of children left the faith in which I am raising them. Would it be a disappointment to you?

 

 

As you say, support them, honour their choice...... But honestly, it would depend on what the faith entailed. If it was a faith that involved the kind of social views that they have been brought up with plus a god, then I would be surprised but not disappointed. If it involved becoming extremely censorious or in-your-face preachy, then I would definitely be disappointed.

 

Does that make sense?

 

L

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My dh is an atheist, but I am not. For other atheists on here, do you believe in anything happening after you die? Just blackness and nothingness, or do you believe in any sort of reincarnation or Jungian collective consciousness-type deal?

 

 

I believe that death is the end, just like the death of a plant. Back to the soil, like my Dad in his green burial site under a meadow.

 

L

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Why are so many atheists so militant about it? Why can't you just inwardly roll your eyes at what religious folks believe but keep your opinions about it to yourself?

 

My grandfather was most likely an atheist (at least he never mentioned any sort of spiritual beliefs and refused to answer any questions about the subject by saying that it was private) but he also never once denigrated others' beliefs. What has changed between that generation of atheists and today's atheists?

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As you say, support them, honour their choice...... But honestly, it would depend on what the faith entailed. If it was a faith that involved the kind of social views that they have been brought up with plus a god, then I would be surprised but not disappointed. If it involved becoming extremely censorious or in-your-face preachy, then I would definitely be disappointed.

 

Does that make sense?

 

L

 

Yes, thank you. A while back, I heard an atheist (Sherman Alexie) talking about his kids' faith. The interviewer stopped Alexie for further explanation and he said that he supported their decision and hoped that his children gained a peace from their faith that he never could. He also said something similar to your post. I was surprised by how much kinder, more generous, more tolerant (take your pick) he was than I think I would be.

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My dh is an atheist, but I am not. For other atheists on here, do you believe in anything happening after you die? Just blackness and nothingness, or do you believe in any sort of reincarnation or Jungian collective consciousness-type deal?

 

 

I honestly have no idea. It could be just nothingness, like I think it was before I was born. On the other hand, something could have been going on before I was born and I just don't know because I didn't have a brain.

 

I don't really believe in a collective-consciousness, but I do think there's some sort of possibility of....I don't know....I'll call it reincarnation, although I don't mean that I think I was Amelia Earhart in a former life. I'm talking purely about energy. We all know that energy doesn't die. It can bounce around and go out to space and come back a million times, but it doesn't die. When our bodies die, where does the energy go? I don't know. I've had so many experiences with the supernatural or paranormal or whatever you want to call it that it's hard for me to completely disregard the possibility that maybe our energy stays somewhat intact, at least for a period of time. Sort of like an imprint, I guess. And expanding on that idea, I don't think it's impossible that our energy could potentially end up in another human. But....maybe not. It's just an idea.

 

What I don't believe is that there is any heaven or hell, or that I'll somehow be reunited in a "better place" with my loved ones, or spend eternity burning somewhere if I'm an asshat.

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Not all of today's athiests are "militant", some are quieter about it than others, just like some religious folks are more in-your-face than others. IMO largely the perception that many athiests are more aggressive than in the past is related to many athiests' reaction to aggressive religious militancy and extremism.

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Why are so many atheists so militant about it? Why can't you just inwardly roll your eyes at what religious folks believe but keep your opinions about it to yourself?

 

My grandfather was most likely an atheist (at least he never mentioned any sort of spiritual beliefs and refused to answer any questions about the subject by saying that it was private) but he also never once denigrated others' beliefs. What has changed between that generation of atheists and today's atheists?

 

 

From the small sample size of atheists that I have met, it depends on how they came to atheism. If it came about as a result of some kind of traumatic collision with faith or the faithful, then anger is bound to result. If it came about slowly as a personal realisation, or if they were born atheist, they are more likely to be easy going.

 

There is a third group: people who are so intensely rational that they find the whole idea of faith outrageous and want to 'make people see'. I think that someone like Richard Dawkins probably falls into that group.

 

There's also a question of social acceptability: certainly in my grandparents' generation there were probably many atheists, but it was less acceptable to be 'out and proud'.

 

Laura

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Why are so many atheists so militant about it? Why can't you just inwardly roll your eyes at what religious folks believe but keep your opinions about it to yourself?

 

My grandfather was most likely an atheist (at least he never mentioned any sort of spiritual beliefs and refused to answer any questions about the subject by saying that it was private) but he also never once denigrated others' beliefs. What has changed between that generation of atheists and today's atheists?

 

 

Because some atheists are militant people, just like some Christians are militant people. I do know some atheists like that and I can tell you that they're like that about EVERYTHING. Religion, GMOs, Republicans, George Bush....everything. It isn't limited to their lack of religion.

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Why are so many atheists so militant about it?

 

Your perception that there are "so many" is doubtlessly biased; it is a self-selected sample: you naturally don't hear from the atheists that are quiet.

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But why should atheists have to be quiet about what they believe to be true? Why doesn't the same hold for religious people? Can you imagine if we asked religious people to NEVER speak about their beliefs?

 

 

I agree with this. The problem often experienced, however, is the manner in which a person -- atheist, Christian, whatever viewpoint -- expresses his or her beliefs.

 

My father, who espouses a made-up religion, enjoys sharing his views with us. (He lives with us.) Most of the time he is informative, which does not bother me. At other times, however, he denigrates the religion followed by, and beloved of my immediate family. That both bothers and hurts us. We say nothing "evaluative" about his beliefs; we simply indicate that we understand what he is saying.

 

There are adherents of various Christian faith groups from whom I would (and sometimes have to) flee in order to escape their aggressive rants and taunts.

 

I would, indeed, imagine that there are far more atheists amongst my acquaintance throughout life than I might guess. The vocally hostile type, then, build the stereotype.

 

The word "Christian" is used now by society to mean whatever people want it to mean. (For example, I have commented in other threads that as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, many Protestants refuse to believe that I am a Christian.) It is useful, therefore, that this thread started by noting the variety among atheists.

 

I will posit that, in general, people truly are not interested in the religious, or non-religious, beliefs of other people. Only if they are friends to begin with, or have some other IRL tie(s), are people more likely to want to know more and genuinely to try and understand the other person. When people come by the house, or accost me in the street (yes, this occasionally occurs) to market their espoused religion, never -- and I mean never -- are those people one speck interested in what I happen to believe (or disbelieve).

 

This thread has potential for usefulness. Thanks for starting it.

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Why are so many atheists so militant about it? Why can't you just inwardly roll your eyes at what religious folks believe but keep your opinions about it to yourself?

 

My grandfather was most likely an atheist (at least he never mentioned any sort of spiritual beliefs and refused to answer any questions about the subject by saying that it was private) but he also never once denigrated others' beliefs. What has changed between that generation of atheists and today's atheists?

 

 

This is an interesting question... one I so often ask myself about people of differing faiths. Why can't a vocal sect of christians (or muslims, or ....) just inwardly roll their eyes at what another sect believes but keep their opinions to themselves? I think it doesn't have anything to do with having a faith or not having a faith.... people who are more likely to blat out what they mean about anything and everything now have the power to do so and be heard worldwide in an instant. Like pp's have said, the ones who are busy living their lives with or without faith privately aren't the ones making an impression on you.

 

~Jen ... a quiet atheist.

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I will posit that, in general, people truly are not interested in the religious, or non-religious, beliefs of other people.

 

 

Except in the South, where I swear the first question people ask you when you meet them is "where do you go to church?" I'm not making this up. That's why it comes up so often in my life.

 

The only stranger thing I've seen in my life is in St. Louis (where I'm from) where the first question people ask you is "What high school did you go to?" I'm not making that up either. But I digress.

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Thanks for doing this thread. I honestly didn't have any questions to start with but reading other questions, kind of had 'oh I wonder what the answer to that is' moments so this was a good read, very informative.

 

My only question is whether there is a reason that people often use agnostic and atheist interchangeably? Is it meant to demean one or the other? Are there more similarities and overlaps between them that make it reasonable? I've always heard that agnostics believe there is a higher power but that religion is man-made whereas atheists don't believe in any higher power. Is that correct or just a misunderstanding? And I'm sorry for the really stupid question, LOL, I realize it is a doozy.

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I've always heard that agnostics believe there is a higher power but that religion is man-made whereas atheists don't believe in any higher power. Is that correct or just a misunderstanding? And I'm sorry for the really stupid question, LOL, I realize it is a doozy.

 

 

Not quite. 'Agnostic' means 'not knowing'. So an agnostic does not know if there is a god or not, or perhaps believes that it is impossible to know. 'Atheist' means 'no/without god'. An atheist has come to the conclusion that there is no god.

 

I don't know of any animosity between agnostics and atheists, but others might know more.

 

Laura

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I don't know of any animosity between agnostics and atheists, but others might know more.

 

Laura

 

 

I'm not aware of any animosity, either.

 

Truly most agnostics that I know are actively attempting to find a path. Usually on their own and it's very personal. Most agnostics that I know have decided that organized religion is not right for them, yet they want something that seems "spiritual". Most agnostics that I know either end up atheist or identify as Pagan or decide that they're happy with the philosophy of Buddhism. They aren't in the least alarmed that atheists aren't still looking or unsure.

 

And most atheists that I know think of religion and/or believe in a higher power as a non-issue. They're largely unconcerned with what other people believe so long as those beliefs aren't hurting others.

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But why should atheists have to be quiet about what they believe to be true? Why doesn't the same hold for religious people? Can you imagine if we asked religious people to NEVER speak about their beliefs?

 

I honestly don't even think it is always a conscience thought. How many times have I heard "God bless you" when I sneeze in public? I don't believe that there is a higher power/ god/ deity, etc but the person certainly didn't ask me my religious preference before they spoke. It's an automatic response for some people. Although I don't take a great offense, imagine if I said to a believer that sneezed, may the tooth-fairy bless you. To me they are booth just as ridiculous. It's really no different than the Jehovah Witnesses who come to our neighborhood to spread their word... you're doing the exact same thing but on a more frequent basis (even if it's not intentional). I do realize that they mean no harm, but it's just as offensive.

I keep my beliefs to myself unless asked, and I'd love it if believers would as well. Live and let live.

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But why should atheists have to be quiet about what they believe to be true? Why doesn't the same hold for religious people? Can you imagine if we asked religious people to NEVER speak about their beliefs?

 

 

 

I don't have to imagine, I've seen it first hand what happens when you ask religious folks politely to keep it to themselves. Its not pretty and they (meaning the people I have asked) were furious that I refused to believe and did not want them teaching it to my children. It could be that I'm sounded by fundamentalists and they tend to be a bit more extreme about their beliefs. All I ask is that they respect my lack of faith and I will respect theirs even if I don't agree with it. So far I haven't found a single one willing to give that respect so I have some pretty strong feeling on the issue.

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I'm an atheist. My Dh is agnostic. We're friendly. :coolgleamA:

 

He thinks there is no way of knowing or if there is a being that created everything, they wouldn't be listening to daily prayers or desire worship.

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I think the easiest way to understand the difference between agnosticism and atheism is the Spectrum of Theistic Probability posited by Richard Dawkins. I think most "atheists" are actually at a 6 on that scale since there's no rational way to disprove the existence of a god. Dawkins himself places himself at a 6.9. So, we could go around calling ourselves agnostics. I personally chose to self-identify as an atheist after reading Francis Collins' Language of God. He's so obnoxiously dismissive of agnosticism in that book, that I took to calling myself an atheist in reaction. I think that Dawkins is right that there are far fewer 7s than 1s on that scale, but it's easier to express near certainty with the atheist appellation than the agnostic one.

 

Whoops, forgot the link:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectrum_of_theistic_probability

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I honestly don't even think it is always a conscience thought. How many times have I heard "God bless you" when I sneeze in public? I don't believe that there is a higher power/ god/ deity, etc but the person certainly didn't ask me my religious preference before they spoke. It's an automatic response for some people. Although I don't take a great offense, imagine if I said to a believer that sneezed, may the tooth-fairy bless you. To me they are booth just as ridiculous. It's really no different than the Jehovah Witnesses who come to our neighborhood to spread their word... you're doing the exact same thing but on a more frequent basis (even if it's not intentional). I do realize that they mean no harm, but it's just as offensive.

I keep my beliefs to myself unless asked, and I'd love it if believers would as well. Live and let live.

 

 

Yes, I think people automatically assume belief. Hence, stuff like this happens. I think she handled it very politely. Live and let live. : )

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2013/05/24/wolf-blitzers-awkward-atheist-encounter/

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I think most "atheists" are actually at a 6 on that scale since there's no rational way to disprove the existence of a god.

 

 

As an aside, there's no rational way to prove a negative (in general). That's why the burden of proof must always be on those who are making the positive assertion.

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Except in the South, where I swear the first question people ask you when you meet them is "where do you go to church?" I'm not making this up. That's why it comes up so often in my life.

The only stranger thing I've seen in my life is in St. Louis (where I'm from) where the first question people ask you is "What high school did you go to?" I'm not making that up either. But I digress.

 

 

Oh my, yes. Every.single.person. It's not if you go to church, or "what's your name?", but "WHERE do you go to church?" Surprisingly, I got less of this in North Carolina than in Southern Illinois.

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This may be too individual to answer, but what about prayer/other religious rituals? I don't mean "prayer for the lost soul" type of prayer, but I'm hurting or in need type of thing. Do you find it offensive for someone to pray/perform a spiritual based ritual upon your behalf? I've heard everything from don't pray for me because I don't believe, to yes, if it makes you feel better okay.

 

Is karma considered a spiritual belief?

 

Does atheist simply mean no belief in an all-encompassing creating deity? Or can you believe in a kind of "cosmic consciousness" that is organic, but nothing more than part of our natural world? Would that fall into a pagan category. Sorry, I have scattered thoughts and I'm out of coffee.

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Oh my, yes. Every.single.person. It's not if you go to church, or "what's your name?", but "WHERE do you go to church?" Surprisingly, I got less of this in North Carolina than in Southern Illinois.

 

 

Get it all the time in VA. Not so much when I lived in upstate NY. In UT, everyone just assumed I was JW or Mormon.

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Oh my, yes. Every.single.person. It's not if you go to church, or "what's your name?", but "WHERE do you go to church?" Surprisingly, I got less of this in North Carolina than in Southern Illinois.

 

 

It's not something that I've commonly encountered here in NC. It might happen in a setting that had a religious connection (i.e., certain homeschool co-ops, etc.). But in most settings during a casual conversation with someone you don't yet know well? No.

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This may be too individual to answer, but what about prayer/other religious rituals? I don't mean "prayer for the lost soul" type of prayer, but I'm hurting or in need type of thing. Do you find it offensive for someone to pray/perform a spiritual based ritual upon your behalf? I've heard everything from don't pray for me because I don't believe, to yes, if it makes you feel better okay.

 

Is karma considered a spiritual belief?

 

Does atheist simply mean no belief in an all-encompassing creating deity? Or can you believe in a kind of "cosmic consciousness" that is organic, but nothing more than part of our natural world? Would that fall into a pagan category. Sorry, I have scattered thoughts and I'm out of coffee.

 

 

I believe in love. Love for myself and love for others.

Honestly, I really don't want to hear someone say "I'll pray for you." It has no meaning to me,(and I do understand you intend it to be taken in a kind way). I'd rather you say something along the lines of "I wish you the best." or "What can I do to help?" The act of praying to me says that you care about making yourself look good, and it has no real affect on the outcome (my own personal opinion) of a situation.

I do believe that nature is amazing, and I love a great sunset! But I really can see the science of it all.

I believe that people, those here on Earth, have a wonderful ability to love, support and care for each other. In my eyes, that's enough. I don't need an imaginary friend to hold my hand or guide me. I am a strong human being that can make my own decisions... sometimes with the help of some really great friends!

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It's not something that I've commonly encountered here in NC. It might happen in a setting that had a religious connection (i.e., certain homeschool co-ops, etc.). But in most settings during a casual conversation with someone you don't yet know well? No.

 

 

Dh had it happen a lot at his work, and I did dropping dd off at Kindy when she went to ps there. Here it comes up everywhere, though. Piano recitals, Walmart, dh's students in his college classes, literally just walking down the street...

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This may be too individual to answer, but what about prayer/other religious rituals? I don't mean "prayer for the lost soul" type of prayer, but I'm hurting or in need type of thing. Do you find it offensive for someone to pray/perform a spiritual based ritual upon your behalf? I've heard everything from don't pray for me because I don't believe, to yes, if it makes you feel better okay.

 

I don't mind if people want to pray for me. I've had people on this board that I consider dear friends that have prayed for me. I recognize that this means they care about me, and that prayer serves a purpose for them in helping me in the way they know best how. I don't say that to dismiss their actions as hooey, btw. I may not believe in the power of prayer myself, but I believe in good friends, humanity in general, and wanting to take care of the people you love however you can. What I don't appreciate is people professing to pray for someone because they hold that person to be in the wrong and their loud announcement of prayer is done in a snarky way. Sort of like that whole "well bless your heart" crap. Ugh. I think everyone could live with less of that.

 

Is karma considered a spiritual belief?

 

Pass.

 

Does atheist simply mean no belief in an all-encompassing creating deity? Or can you believe in a kind of "cosmic consciousness" that is organic, but nothing more than part of our natural world? Would that fall into a pagan category. Sorry, I have scattered thoughts and I'm out of coffee.

 

Simply, yes. I think that most atheists appreciate the wonder, the pulse, the expanding universe and are in awe of... star dust. :) I don't think you need to be Pagan to appreciate that.

 

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This may be too individual to answer, but what about prayer/other religious rituals? I don't mean "prayer for the lost soul" type of prayer, but I'm hurting or in need type of thing. Do you find it offensive for someone to pray/perform a spiritual based ritual upon your behalf? I've heard everything from don't pray for me because I don't believe, to yes, if it makes you feel better okay.

 

If someone wants to pray for me privately then I see it as a kindness - they are doing what they can for me. If however, they say (knowing that I am an atheist) 'I'll pray for you,' then it simply adds to the complication of my life at a difficult time: do I say 'Thank you' and feel insincere? Or do I go into why I don't think it makes sense and sound ungrateful.

 

 

Is karma considered a spiritual belief?

 

No idea. Perhaps someone else can reply.

 

Does atheist simply mean no belief in an all-encompassing creating deity? Or can you believe in a kind of "cosmic consciousness" that is organic, but nothing more than part of our natural world? Would that fall into a pagan category. Sorry, I have scattered thoughts and I'm out of coffee.

 

Atheism would be being without a belief in any kind of supernatural consciousness, I think. That doesn't mean that an atheist doesn't appreciate the wonder of the world. It's that 'consciousness' word that's a problem for me.

 

 

 

L

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Why are so many atheists so militant about it? Why can't you just inwardly roll your eyes at what religious folks believe but keep your opinions about it to yourself?

 

 

 

Greta Christina explains it. Be aware that there is much cussing. If you're willing to read all the way, you'll even see why she believes anger is necessary.

 

Not all atheists agree with her. I do.

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This may be too individual to answer, but what about prayer/other religious rituals? I don't mean "prayer for the lost soul" type of prayer, but I'm hurting or in need type of thing. Do you find it offensive for someone to pray/perform a spiritual based ritual upon your behalf? I've heard everything from don't pray for me because I don't believe, to yes, if it makes you feel better okay.

 

Is karma considered a spiritual belief?

 

Does atheist simply mean no belief in an all-encompassing creating deity? Or can you believe in a kind of "cosmic consciousness" that is organic, but nothing more than part of our natural world? Would that fall into a pagan category. Sorry, I have scattered thoughts and I'm out of coffee.

 

 

I'd say prayer is very individual.

I don't have any problems with being prayed for.

I'd identify as agnostic and probably headed towards atheist.

I grew up in the Lutheran church (ELCA now) and both my parents are ministers. I could recite the Greek alphabet at 5 because my mother was learning Greek to read the New Testament and my father was stationed overseas with the army while she started Seminary.

 

I can understand getting militant because otherwise sometimes you just don't get HEARD!

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And I don't know how I'd feel if my son ended up religious.

If he's like my folks, I'm okay with that. If he's fundamentalist... I might get to disowning...but if he we there, it'd go both ways. It would be very very sad and I would feel like I'd failed him.

If he's mainstream Christianity or other religion, I'd be okay. I think my husband might have more problems with it.

I'd also be fine if my son went to church with friends (again, depending on the church).

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As you say, support them, honour their choice...... But honestly, it would depend on what the faith entailed. If it was a faith that involved the kind of social views that they have been brought up with plus a god, then I would be surprised but not disappointed. If it involved becoming extremely censorious or in-your-face preachy, then I would definitely be disappointed.

 

Does that make sense?

 

 

 

 

This is how I would react. I have to say I'd be very surprised, given ds' current beliefs, but you never know.

 

For other atheists on here, do you believe in anything happening after you die? Just blackness and nothingness,

 

 

I believe that death is the end.

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Another question. If you were raised with a religious belief and became atheist, how would you have liked your family, especially parents, to deal with it? What did they do right or wrong in accepting your atheism? There's a reason, just not sure the story is relevant to the answers.

 

 

One more. How do you prefer people refer to your atheism? Obviously, it's not a faith system. Does belief system have too many religious connotations? Is there a right word or is simply using atheist or atheism the one correct term?

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Simply, yes. I think that most atheists appreciate the wonder, the pulse, the expanding universe and are in awe of... star dust. :) I don't think you need to be Pagan to appreciate that.

 

I couldn't officially quote you KK, since you posted within a quote, but I agree. In a long ago thread here someone asked if it isn't sad, cold, sterile (can't remember the exact adjective) that we don't believe in a deity. I and others replied that you don't need a deity to appreciate beauty and wonder, or to be in awe of nature.

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Another question. If you were raised with a religious belief and became atheist, how would you have liked your family, especially parents, to deal with it? What did they do right or wrong in accepting your atheism? There's a reason, just not sure the story is relevant to the answers.

 

I was raised in the RCC. Catholic schools and all. I kept my atheist quiet as a kid because I knew my parents would be angry. When I finally "came out" in my freshman year of high school, they were very angry. They forced me to participate in a church youth group, they forced me to go away to weekend retreats, they forced me to go to Mass in trade for the privilege of going to prom. I was a very angry, very bitter ex-Catholic. As an adult, they like to belittle my atheism now. Like I've just jumped on some popular bandwagon for the sake of being popular (because there are sooo many atheists about, you know?). Or they act as though I just *say* that I'm atheist to piss them off. Or they pretend that they have no idea and are continually surprised at finding it out - like when they visit and happen to notice what's on my bookshelves.

 

I wish my parents would have been more accepting of a child having questions. That's where it all began. I had questions and I was told that "having faith" was all the answer I needed. And when I continued to question, I was basically told to shut up and accept the religion I was born into and that I had no choice in it. Um. That did not sit well with me.

 

 

One more. How do you prefer people refer to your atheism? Obviously, it's not a faith system. Does belief system have too many religious connotations? Is there a right word or is simply using atheist or atheism the one correct term?

 

Not sure if I understand the question. I don't know that there is a need to refer to it, honestly. It's a... nothing. It's not a faith system. It's not a belief system. "Atheist" and "atheism" are the correct terminology for someone who doesn't believe in any conscious high power, yes.

 

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Another question. If you were raised with a religious belief and became atheist, how would you have liked your family, especially parents, to deal with it? What did they do right or wrong in accepting your atheism? There's a reason, just not sure the story is relevant to the answers.

 

 

One more. How do you prefer people refer to your atheism? Obviously, it's not a faith system. Does belief system have too many religious connotations? Is there a right word or is simply using atheist or atheism the one correct term?

 

 

I guess I just don't see why my parents would have to deal with it at all. I grew up Catholic, and remained Catholic (although skeptical) until after my children were born. Except for a few questions at the beginning of my "falling away" from the Church, there hasn't been much said on the matter. We still love each other, we still gather for holidays, we still celebrate each other's accomplishments and participate in each other's lives. I appreciate that they were accepting of my thoughts on the matter, just like they respect my thoughts on childrearing and marriage... by not insisting that I adhere to their philosophies. (But maybe you are asking about a younger person?) And although as a[n extended] family, we discuss things like philosophy, childrearing, relationships, and politics on a regular basis, and definitely do not agree about everything... in general no one tries to strongarm anyone into a "new" position.

 

I don't prefer that people refer to my atheism. ; ) I generally don't refer to it myself. It's a non-issue. It would be like someone referring to my knowledge of calculus. It doesn't exist. : )

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I couldn't officially quote you KK, since you posted within a quote, but I agree. In a long ago thread here someone asked if it isn't sad, cold, sterile (can't remember the exact adjective) that we don't believe in a deity. I and others replied that you don't need a deity to appreciate beauty and wonder, or to be in awe of nature.

 

 

Yep. And in that same vein, I don't think that death being the end is a cold, flat way of looking at life either. We have this one life. This one chance to learn as much as we can, experience as much as we can, help as much as we can, love as much as we can. I try to live my every single day with that in mind.

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KK, sorry about your experience. Ugh!

 

As to the name, I have some examples or how it might apply in a larger context, generally in a discussion, but for the life of me cannot pull out a good example....my brain is fried today.

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Another question. If you were raised with a religious belief and became atheist, how would you have liked your family, especially parents, to deal with it? What did they do right or wrong in accepting your atheism? There's a reason, just not sure the story is relevant to the answers.

 

 

I got married in a church. Our son was baptized. I felt that the community of the church would be a good thing for our son. I still think that community would be good for him in a number of ways. I just don't have the energy to waste on the hypocrisy I see, so I'm not willing to go back at this point.

 

Before our son, my father would ask when we'd start attending church regularly. I have heard my mother and father say that one of their great regrets is that my sister and I don't have a relationship with the church. My sister didn't have a church wedding and her son isn't baptized. My folks leave religion alone around us. If they didn't, I'm certain they wouldn't have a relationship with either of us. That space is essential...and for me, it's one of those lines in the sand.

 

We are fine with prayers at meals at their house. I think they don't insist on prayers here if they're here for a holiday. Mom has gone to church if they're visiting and here. We have let her take our son in the past.

 

If they pushed at this point, the relationship would end.

As it is, due to a number of past events, it's my husband who takes our son for visits.

 

It does help that in many ways I see my parents live their faith. They tithe and are good stewards. They speak out against the people who are Christian in name but who don't follow Jesus' teachings. So I don't have a problem (I think) with their religion.

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Another question. If you were raised with a religious belief and became atheist, how would you have liked your family, especially parents, to deal with it? What did they do right or wrong in accepting your atheism? There's a reason, just not sure the story is relevant to the answers.

 

One more. How do you prefer people refer to your atheism? Obviously, it's not a faith system. Does belief system have too many religious connotations? Is there a right word or is simply using atheist or atheism the one correct term?

 

 

My parents insisted I take our church's confirmation class in high school. After completing the course, I could not go through with the confirmation ceremony. My parents didn't hassle me about that decision--that was the RIGHT thing for them to do. But I still had to attend church with them "as long as I lived under their roof"--the wrong thing to do, given that I'd already learned all about the church but couldn't believe, and every sermon rang false. Since I've been an adult, we've maintained a don't-ask-don't-tell sort of thing about my non-belief. I would prefer less judgement and more give-and-take open discussions, but in reality this is probably about as good as I can expect given the individuals involved.

 

 

Athiest/athiesm/non-religious/secular humanist/"none" are all acceptable terms.

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I guess I just don't see why my parents would have to deal with it at all. I grew up Catholic, and remained Catholic (although skeptical) until after my children were born. Except for a few questions at the beginning of my "falling away" from the Church, there hasn't been much said on the matter. We still love each other, we still gather for holidays, we still celebrate each other's accomplishments and participate in each other's lives. I appreciate that they were accepting of my thoughts on the matter, just like they respect my thoughts on childrearing and marriage... by not insisting that I adhere to their philosophies. (But maybe you are asking about a younger person?) And although as a[n extended] family, we discuss things like philosophy, childrearing, relationships, and politics on a regular basis, in general no one tries to strongarm anyone into a "new" position.

 

I don't prefer that people refer to my atheism. ; ) I generally don't refer to it myself. It's a non-issue. It would be like someone referring to my knowledge of calculus. It doesn't exist. : )

 

 

Thank you, yes, I was thinking of a teen still at home. I have some relatives that would make it an issue of it for adults too though.

 

Thank you as to the other. I lived in the south for a few years. We really did get the questions "What church do you go to?" as a way of introduction a few times. Not "do you" but "what church".

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Another question. If you were raised with a religious belief and became atheist, how would you have liked your family, especially parents, to deal with it? What did they do right or wrong in accepting your atheism? There's a reason, just not sure the story is relevant to the answers.

 

 

One more. How do you prefer people refer to your atheism? Obviously, it's not a faith system. Does belief system have too many religious connotations? Is there a right word or is simply using atheist or atheism the one correct term?

 

 

My biofather and step father #1 (they were married about 20 years) don't really care as they are not really religious. My mother and her DH of 8 years (stepfather #2) have taken it badly and made it very very VERY clear they are ashamed of me and that I am going to hell. They have taken it to the extent that I am not even allowed to tell people we are related they feel such shame at having a non believer for a daughter. Not to mention horrors I had not 1 but 2 kids out of wedlock and would not marry the first man who would have me so they could at least hide THAT shame of "bastard" grandchildren.

 

I prefer the "really? as long as your happy with it" rather then the seeming hatred and shame. Why would people need to refer to my being atheist? I avoid discussing religion at all costs these days IRL because it seems to be a loaded thing.

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