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Laura Corin
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Oh, a lot of theistic people believe their moral values come directly from God. Where do atheists think their moral values came from?

 

Heh. My mother nagged me a lot. Also I was a girl guide and made a promise, and even a kid knows a promise is meant to mean something. Other moral values come from my inner voice that preaches a bit of optimism and idealism. Then there's the values we needed to have lasted this long as a species and the desire to avoid the pain of consequences.

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Oh, a lot of theistic people believe their moral values come directly from God. Where do atheists think their moral values came from?

Many people have an innate sense of right and wrong. My morals come from a lot of places but the most simple is that I don't want my actions to cause other people to hurt. I think everyone deserves the basics in life which is a roof over their head, food, clothes, access to medical care and a good education. I use as little resources as I can because there is only one planet and using to much means others go without. There are things we can do to use resources more efficiently so we use less. I also think all living beings are connected in a way and that other beings are also sentient. I think the intelligence that humans have is a gift and does make us special but it doesn't mean we can obliterate other species. People do bad things but they don't do bad things because of original sin or because of the devil. They do them because their frontal lobes are not as developed or because they are looking out for their own needs or because they are easily led by others who are bad etc. Some people just never develop an innate sense of morality that comes from within. The bible might have some good rules to live by but there is also stuff in there like about not believing in a God or being in a relationship with the same sex that really isn't related to right or wrong.

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The behavior of other Christians wasn't really part of my deconversion except tangentially. I started looking at the claims of Christianity and whether they measured up to what I saw in my life. I saw that overall Christians behaved similarly to non-believers (for better or for worse) and yet they claimed there was a deity who wanted them to be better people and would help them to be so if they asked (or if they studied their Bibles more or prayed more etc.)

 

However, I saw no evidence that they had any help in being better - they ended up behaving just as well or poorly as someone who didn't ask, read his Bible, or pray. I concluded they probably weren't getting any supernatural help.

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Oh, a lot of theistic people believe their moral values come directly from God. Where do atheists think their moral values came from?

 

I think human morals, where they exist, come from altruism, which has widely recognized evolutionary benefits on the individual, clan and species levels.

 

I think human "sin," where it occurs, comes from unrestrained selfishness and favoring impulse and ego and vulgar instinct over reason and relationships.

 

As a species, I think humans are about as moral-immoral, on balance, as our cousins the chimpanzees. They love, they share, they protect, they work, they murder, they rape, they spite, they fight, and then it all goes around again. Ditto for people.

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I'm curious. Were you always there? Or did you believe at one point and then quit believing slowly? Or was it a clean, quick break?

 

I just wonder because when I look at the scale I think "Oh, just admit it, say you're a 7 (or 6.99999) and get over it." Maybe it's not been long enough for me to shake off almost 20+ years of serious trying to believe, but I can't quite bring myself to go that far. In a way, I think it would be a huge relief.

 

I'm as curious about what leads former religious people to atheism as I am about atheists who become believers.

I'd put myself at about a 6.5. I once would probably have called myself a 1. Though if I was being truly honest with myself even at the time, probably 1.5. I spent a long time "sliding" when I stopped reading my bible, stopped praying, stopped attending church, or at least a lot less often. But I would have told you I was "spiritual but not religious". The actual break from "I'm a struggling believer" to "I don't think I can call myself a christian anymore" really happened fairly quickly, though I couldn't pinpoint an exact moment. A year ago I was probably a 2. Around Christmas, probably a 5.

 

 

Ok, another question on this apparently year old thread (that I just discovered last night).

 

How many of you are atheists directly because of how Christians have behaved, things they've said or done, that started you questioning, or things they said or did that caused you to no longer believe?

 

Obviously if you never believed or doubted for other reasons this doesn't apply to you but I am curious because I know Christians have caused people (including myself), to stop going to church, or a specific church, and this thread made me wonder how many have fallen away from God Himself because of other people.

 

 I wouldn't say it's "directly" because of other christians, but that definitely impacted the beginning stages. I stopped attending church because I couldn't stand the hypocrisy, the judgement, and well, a lot of it. The final stages of my questioning were seriously jump started by what I didn't like seeing in other christians. If we really want to be specific, it was a conversation with a fellow christian about gay marriage that got me "fighting for the other side" and I was surprised at how disgusted I felt toward christianity.

 

But I would not say I "fell away from god" because of others. I fell away from christianity because I stopped believing in him. If it just came down to other christians and I still believed, I would still consider myself a christian. Though many christians feel you have to be super connected with a church and do all the right things to be christian, I never felt that way even when I believed. So the people turned me away from the people and their actions and made me question what I really believed in. Changing what I believed in is what brought me away from god.

 

 

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Question: If you knew you were to die today, say within the next hour, would it worry you?

 

To leave my kids and husband behind? My friends? To lose the rest of what I would have hoped to be a much longer life? I would't worry for myself because I believe death is the end except for memories of us and our works, though I would regret, perhaps despair, at not having a chance for more. But my kids, that's what would be foremost in my mind.

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Question: If you knew you were to die today, say within the next hour, would it worry you?

 

Yes I would worry. I would worry about my kids growing up without a mom. I would worry my youngest wouldn't remember me. I would worry for my DH and the financial burden of funeral arrangements and child care. I would be sad about missing out on the rest of their lives. I would not worry about what would happen to me after death.

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Question: If you knew you were to die today, say within the next hour, would it worry you?

Just a heads up.

This IMO is way out of line.

You don't know people here yet and have no idea of what people are or have dealt with.

 

When I was a teen, the only reason I didn't attempt suicide at a couple of points was because of fear of an afterlife. I CRAVED nonexistance.

 

At this point...no...I wouldn't worry. I'd feel really sorry for my son and husband. I think the trauma to my son in particular would be tough. I wouldn't want to leave him. I don't fear death though.

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Worry for me?  No.  I'll admit I would be sad.  I love life.  Life is good.  I love my children and dh and would love to have many years with them.  That would make me sad.  But I wouldn't worry for me.

 

I would worry for my children, my dh, about how they would fare and deal with the grief, dealing with everyday life, adjustments.  At the same time, I know they would be okay in the long run.  They would have a lot of family support.  

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Oh, a lot of theistic people believe their moral values come directly from God. Where do atheists think their moral values came from?

I think religion provides a framework of rules particular to that religion, but I don't think the rules are morals. Whether or not an individual uses birth control or drinks or eats pork or dances or prays in a proscribed manner--those aren't moral issues. Moral issues are usually pretty clearly right or wrong and are societally driven. Within that of course are exceptions. Murder is a moral wrong, but self-defense is an exception.

 

I don't find that religious people are any more moral than non-religious people.

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Just a heads up.

This IMO is way out of line.

You don't know people here yet and have no idea of what people are or have dealt with.

 

When I was a teen, the only reason I didn't attempt suicide at a couple of points was because of fear of an afterlife. I CRAVED nonexistance.

 

At this point...no...I wouldn't worry. I'd feel really sorry for my son and husband. I think the trauma to my son in particular would be tough. I wouldn't want to leave him. I don't fear death though.

 

Are you saying that my question may prompt someone to suicide? That hadn't occurred to me.

I had suicidal thoughts back in the day also. I wasn't thinking along those lines here though...

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Question: If you knew you were to die today, say within the next hour, would it worry you?

 

 

On October 15, 2013, I was struck by a driver doing in excess of 80 miles per hour on a side street. I had 3 broken ribs, a punctured lung, fractured hip, fractured back and a concussion. Before I lost consciousness and while I waited in seeming silence, I knew that it might be "IT". The BIG it.

 

I reviewed my life. I thought of my family (Dad, sisters), kids (3 teen agers), groups of people in different communities (work, 12 step, poker). I felt a peace, an okay with it all if it was the END. At the conclusion of the review and the realization that I was okay if it was the end, I then lost consciousness.

 

So, um, while I don't want my kids to have the trauma of a Mom who dies young and while they are still young, I am not worried.

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Are you saying that my question may prompt someone to suicide? That hadn't occurred to me.

I had suicidal thoughts back in the day also. I wasn't thinking along those lines here though...

No. I'm saying you have no idea what individuals here are facing.

You can't put suicidal thoughts in someone's head. They're there or not.

 

I don't get the sense that you're coming from a place of trying to understand. It feels much more like you're trying to have a "gotcha" moment.

 

I'm saying that there have been times in my life when I have craved oblivion and nothingness.

There have been times when if I knew I'd die in the next hour I'd have been so incredibly grateful.

I'm thankfully not there anymore...but you don't know what anyone is dealing with individually.

You may want to read some more before posting on controversial topics.

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As others have said, I would be worried about my loved ones.

 

But, I wouldn't be worried about me.  Dead is dead.  I'd be done.  I have it in my living will to be cremated and have my ashes ploughed into the next Spring field of flax on the farm.  Then, I get to be part of a beautiful flower in an ocean of blue loveliness. 

 

No worries with that.

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Question: If you knew you were to die today, say within the next hour, would it worry you?

I'd worry about my unborn baby, my DH for dealing with everything and everyone alone, and how it would affect my kids. And I really wouldn't want people cleaning out my email or drawers.

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I want to add one more thing.  I think what is actually being asked is we would worry that 'maybe it's all true, what about eternity, salvation'.

 

I don't live any differently now than I did during the entire time I was a practicing, faithful Christian.  I'm not perfect, obviously, but I try my best to live right, to be a compassionate, caring, honest, responsible person.  The only thing that has changed is I finally owned up to the fact that I don't literally believe the Christian story.  If there is a god that would condemn me/others to eternity in hell for honestly not believing a very unbelievable story (or those raised in other religions), it's not a god I would call all loving and merciful. I'm trying to think how to word this, but all I can say is that is not a god I could respect let alone worship.

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No. I'm saying you have no idea what individuals here are facing.

You can't put suicidal thoughts in someone's head. They're there or not.

 

I don't get the sense that you're coming from a place of trying to understand. It feels much more like you're trying to have a "gotcha" moment.

 

I'm saying that there have been times in my life when I have craved oblivion and nothingness.

There have been times when if I knew I'd die in the next hour I'd have been so incredibly grateful.

I'm thankfully not there anymore...but you don't know what anyone is dealing with individually.

You may want to read some more before posting on controversial topics.

I thought of the question a couple of hours ago. I genuinely wanted to know, so I came back to the forum and asked. I can't be expected to have read your mind that the question would be inappropriate, and I don't even know if everyone else here agrees with you either. If they do I am more than happy to remove it. I have been reading the threads here for months, and I don't see how that could have made me realise this question is inappropriate for this thread. I have been involved in plenty of controversial discussions on other forums, so have had experience with that. Some people are also easily offended, and I can't take complete responsibility for that as neither can I expect someone else to. Or else we would never say anything to anyone, ever.

 

I appreciate and respect the responses that were given so far. I don't know where you think I'm heading with the question for a "gotcha" as I hadn't even thought that far. I was more curious about a comment on another thread where the person said she was happy to be placed in the ground and for that to be it. I don't relate to that thinking, thus my curiosity.

 

The most I was assuming is that most people would like more time. And like to raise their own children. I was also reflecting on my own thoughts if this was my scenario.

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I have a question. I recently saw this lecture by an atheist bloke who wrote several books about atheism. He said he was annoyed that people said "well, that will be the thinnest book in the world then" when he was preparing to write the first. Apparently atheism is about more than not believing in a creator. That was new to me. I don't think atheism is about anything else than not believing in God. Am I wrong?

 

Yeah, sorry, that's wrong.  :)

 

The word "atheism" is derived from the Greek "a," referring to being without, and "theos" referring to god or gods. Atheism is simply a lack in the belief in a god or gods. Full stop. 

 

Atheists may share other beliefs and ideologies. These books would be exploring these beliefs and ideologies. 

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A neighbor went to Sweden? to go to a 1 week long atheists conference. I have no idea what they covered in that time and have never remembered to ask her. 

 

I would love to take a week to go to an atheist conference! I've attended one locally, and it was one day, but man was it full of information. There were speakers from many different academic and social backgrounds offering concrete information. I took part in the largest homeopathy awareness campaign. I drank enough homeopathic remedy to kill a horse. We all did. And yet, here we are. ;) We heard from researchers sharing with us some of the latest data regarding human development and the development of morality. This article summarizes some of the things we learned:

 

For instance, they found that: 18-month-olds can understand preferences in other people which differ from their own ("I might want one thing, whereas you want another" - the beginnings of empathy!); babies understand the relation between a statistical sample and a population; and young children use statistical evidence and experiments to determine cause and effect. You might enjoy reading the article to see how Alison and her colleagues conducted these studies.

 

Alison summarized the studies as follows: "when children play spontaneously (‘getting into everything') they are also exploring cause and effect and doing experiments - the most effective way to discover how the world works."

 

This is pertinent to atheism because it offers a credible, reliable, falsifiable alternative to religious explanations (like "sin").

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Oh, a lot of theistic people believe their moral values come directly from God. Where do atheists think their moral values came from?

 

Ooh, I mentioned something about this in my last post! ^^^

 

What a coincidence.

 

:)

 

 

Here's a talk by neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky which addresses this very thing in about 20 min: http://www.ted.com/talks/robert_sapolsky_the_uniqueness_of_humans

It's freakin' fascinating.

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I thought of the question a couple of hours ago. I genuinely wanted to know, so I came back to the forum and asked. I can't be expected to have read your mind that the question would be inappropriate, and I don't even know if everyone else here agrees with you either. If they do I am more than happy to remove it. I have been reading the threads here for months, and I don't see how that could have made me realise this question is inappropriate for this thread. I have been involved in plenty of controversial discussions on other forums, so have had experience with that. Some people are also easily offended, and I can't take complete responsibility for that as neither can I expect someone else to. Or else we would never say anything to anyone, ever.

 

I appreciate and respect the responses that were given so far. I don't know where you think I'm heading with the question for a "gotcha" as I hadn't even thought that far. I was more curious about a comment on another thread where the person said she was happy to be placed in the ground and for that to be it. I don't relate to that thinking, thus my curiosity.

 

The most I was assuming is that most people would like more time. And like to raise their own children. I was also reflecting on my own thoughts if this was my scenario.

 

For goodness sakes, if that's the context for your question then provide it along with your question next time. I'm not in the least surprised you've been involved in controversial discussions in other places if this is your style.

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 People do bad things but they don't do bad things because of original sin or because of the devil. They do them because their frontal lobes are not as developed or because they are looking out for their own needs or because they are easily led by others who are bad etc. Some people just never develop an innate sense of morality that comes from within. The bible might have some good rules to live by but there is also stuff in there like about not believing in a God or being in a relationship with the same sex that really isn't related to right or wrong.

 

I agree. In general, humans are hardwired for empathy.  A lack of empathy can be a presentation of natural neurology, but, then again it could be that some people do not lack empathy, but fail to use it automatically. We don't know the details, there is a great deal yet to uncover, but thus far there is no more evidence for a condition like "sin" that affects people and inspire choices than there is evidence for reincarnation or the use of magic. 

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Oh, a lot of theistic people believe their moral values come directly from God. Where do atheists think their moral values came from?

 

Irrespective of beliefs of theistic people, morality is a combination of several factors - higher brain capacity in animals giving rise to empathy and a sense of justice and a need for rules for living in harmony in a social setting.

 

We humans have for a long time believed that we are unique among animals in our capacity for language, thought, problem solving, love, grieving over lost loved ones, sense of humour, etc. Research on animal behaviour is slowly but surely proving us wrong in almost every instance. Not to say that the human brain is not marvelous and incredible, but rudimentary aspects of all our capacities can be found in animals.

 

Your example of dogs showing a sense of justice is interesting. I had not heard of that study, but there was a very similar study done on monkeys and video below demonstrating that study is hilarious to watch.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL45pVdsRvE

 

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I was more curious about a comment on another thread where the person said she was happy to be placed in the ground and for that to be it. I don't relate to that thinking, thus my curiosity.

 

The most I was assuming is that most people would like more time. And like to raise their own children. I was also reflecting on my own thoughts if this was my scenario.

 

Won't we all like more time? Even a religious person who believes in an afterlife, who believes that death would mean going to a "better place" would still like more time here on earth to spend with kids, to travel, to read more books and watch more movies.

 

Of course we all would like more time, here right now, to make a difference in the lives of the people we love and to make our existence count.

 

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Question: If you knew you were to die today, say within the next hour, would it worry you?

 

 

 In the context of being placed in the ground and for that to be it, or in the context of an armed robber coming into my house and I know before the hour is up I'll be shot?

 

Death is, for most people, a naturally repulsive concept. We have an instinct for survival, an instinct to thrive. Death is what we avoid, it's why we don't walk through fire, walk on precarious high ledges, or eat poison. It's one of the reasons we teach our children to be obedient and to keep themselves safe. Anyone who has faced serious, debilitating depression, or has known a loved one who has, will know this instinct doesn't present itself in the same intensity in everyone, but for the most part of course we don't take death lightly. We don't ignore that which threatens our life. Perhaps you're unaware of the implication of your question - that atheists cannot have a respect for life, even their own, if they do not have a respect for the deity believed to have granted life. This is a false, and frankly, silly proposition. It's silly because if you were to pay attention objectively, you'd readily note that the very values you have as a believer are the same values most nonbelievers have - a desire for close, social bonds, being safe, secure, feeling valued, seeing justice, empathy towards those who suffer unjustly, a desire to be free to be creative and pursue knowledge, and all kinds of things. To wonder if atheists worry about death is to wonder if they have basic human thoughts and feelings. Perhaps that's not what you meant to ask. Perhaps you meant to ask if we fear judgement after death, or fear the end of experiences? To both these questions I would say no. I fear judgement from Yahweh as much as I fear judgement from Rhadamanthys, Minos and Aiako (which I imagine would be equal to your worry about them judging you).

 

Do I fear the end of experiences? Yes and No. If you look at the video I linked a page or two past, it will explain how one of the necessary criteria for something to be enjoyable is to know it is temporary. We value something because we know it won't last forever, and that makes it that much more a treasure. I rather enjoy most of my experiences, I look forward to new ones. But as Christopher Hitchens once exclaimed, can you imagine being invited to a party that lasts forever and you were not allowed to leave? Furthermore, you were required to enjoy yourself the whole time? Egads! Although, I will admit that being able to rule the world (Revelation 5:10), starting with judging the very angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3), might be pretty cool if everyone gets along. Bickering and differences of opinion as to how to rule one another with the same authority to rule the world might be tricky. I'd be curious to see how that is worked out, but I would very much appreciate an exit strategy at some point, kwim?

 

Ultimately, the idea of living forever is not just silly to me, but unpleasant. But no, I'm in no hurry to take my final bow now. What about you? If you found out today there was no heaven, no judgement, no immortality for you, would you worry?

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I think religion provides a framework of rules particular to that religion, but I don't think the rules are morals. Whether or not an individual uses birth control or drinks or eats pork or dances or prays in a proscribed manner--those aren't moral issues. Moral issues are usually pretty clearly right or wrong and are societally driven. Within that of course are exceptions. Murder is a moral wrong, but self-defense is an exception.

 

I don't find that religious people are any more moral than non-religious people.

 

Right here with you. I do not agree with people who say they don't believe in the claims of the bible, but respect it as a book of moral value. I fail to see any moral value in that book, but I do see example after example of rules and expectations particular to that religion. 

 

And congratulates on the wee little one fermenting in your belly!

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Question: If you knew you were to die today, say within the next hour, would it worry you?

 

I'd be sorry for words unsaid, futures unseen.  I'd dread any pain possibly associated with dying.  But I wouldn't fear death itself.  

 

I saw my atheist father in his last weeks, and my brothers and sisters were with him when he died.  He was completely reconciled to death.

 

L

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Irrespective of beliefs of theistic people, morality is a combination of several factors - higher brain capacity in animals giving rise to empathy and a sense of justice and a need for rules for living in harmony in a social setting.

 

We humans have for a long time believed that we are unique among animals in our capacity for language, thought, problem solving, love, grieving over lost loved ones, sense of humour, etc. Research on animal behaviour is slowly but surely proving us wrong in almost every instance. Not to say that the human brain is not marvelous and incredible, but rudimentary aspects of all our capacities can be found in animals.

 

Your example of dogs showing a sense of justice is interesting. I had not heard of that study, but there was a very similar study done on monkeys and video below demonstrating that study is hilarious to watch.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL45pVdsRvE

 

 

I find it hard to believe anyone doesn't think animals are not thinking/feeling creatures. If you own dogs, you know they are.  When we had to put down our older dog, the younger dog, who had never been away from her his whole life, went into deep, deep mourning.  It was terrible.  I felt so bad for him, because he missed her so much and didn't really understand why she wasn't there.  When I was pregnant with Han Solo, one of our dogs was incredibly protective of me and slept right up against my stomach every night.  When one of our dogs got sick, the other stayed with her at all times, and worried over her.  They cry when they hurt or are upset (we heard loads of crying and whimpering when our dog was in mourning), and they think stuff out. Our new dog (9 month old Yorkie), knows what she's not supposed to do, but wants to do it anyway.  She waits until she thinks we're not looking, then runs off to do whatever.  If we call her name or catch her in the act, she runs and looks at us like "I wasn't doing anything!"  What about the dog who waited at the train station for his master to come home after the guy died?  What about the military dog who laid on top of his handler's coffin during the entire funeral and had to be practically dragged off so they could lower the coffin into the ground?  Humans aren't the only ones with feelings, and we're not the only ones who have a sense of right and wrong.  We may have more self control over our sense of right and wrong, but they certainly have one, and it comes from nature, not a book.

 

That video is hilarious, BTW.  

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In the context of being placed in the ground and for that to be it, or in the context of an armed robber coming into my house and I know before the hour is up I'll be shot?

 

Death is, for most people, a naturally repulsive concept. We have an instinct for survival, an instinct to thrive. Death is what we avoid, it's why we don't walk through fire, walk on precarious high ledges, or eat poison. It's one of the reasons we teach our children to be obedient and to keep themselves safe. Anyone who has faced serious, debilitating depression, or has known a loved one who has, will know this instinct doesn't present itself in the same intensity in everyone, but for the most part of course we don't take death lightly. We don't ignore that which threatens our life. Perhaps you're unaware of the implication of your question - that atheists cannot have a respect for life, even their own, if they do not have a respect for the deity believed to have granted life. This is a false, and frankly, silly proposition. It's silly because if you were to pay attention objectively, you'd readily note that the very values you have as a believer are the same values most nonbelievers have - a desire for close, social bonds, being safe, secure, feeling valued, seeing justice, empathy towards those who suffer unjustly, a desire to be free to be creative and pursue knowledge, and all kinds of things. To wonder if atheists worry about death is to wonder if they have basic human thoughts and feelings. Perhaps that's not what you meant to ask. Perhaps you meant to ask if we fear judgement after death, or fear the end of experiences? To both these questions I would say no. I fear judgement from Yahweh as much as I fear judgement from Rhadamanthys, Minos and Aiako (which I imagine would be equal to your worry about them judging you).

 

Do I fear the end of experiences? Yes and No. If you look at the video I linked a page or two past, it will explain how one of the necessary criteria for something to be enjoyable is to know it is temporary. We value something because we know it won't last forever, and that makes it that much more a treasure. I rather enjoy most of my experiences, I look forward to new ones. But as Christopher Hitchens once exclaimed, can you imagine being invited to a party that lasts forever and you were not allowed to leave? Furthermore, you were required to enjoy yourself the whole time? Egads! Although, I will admit that being able to rule the world (Revelation 5:10), starting with judging the very angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3), might be pretty cool if everyone gets along. Bickering and differences of opinion as to how to rule one another with the same authority to rule the world might be tricky. I'd be curious to see how that is worked out, but I would very much appreciate an exit strategy at some point, kwim?

 

Ultimately, the idea of living forever is not just silly to me, but unpleasant. But no, I'm in no hurry to take my final bow now. What about you? If you found out today there was no heaven, no judgement, no immortality for you, would you worry?

 

For everyone who answered my question, thankyou. I had only meant for it to be a simple question. I had deliberately made it "if you would die in the next hour" to bring the idea of facing death closer - rather than a far future event that may happen when we die of old age. It's similar to how when we are young we feel as if we are never going to get old. But it happens. I just wanted to bring the question closer to home as if we had to deal with it right now. I could have added that it would be a non-painful death so that the dying or suffering part wasn't a part of the question.

 

For myself, if I found out that there was no heaven, no judgment, no immortality I would feel like this life was all a big waste of time. Sorry. But even if I've done wonderful things and helped people in amazing ways, those lives would all end as well and ultimately mean nothing. I guess there is immediate here and now satisfaction, but not long term. I don't know, I guess I can't relate to what you are all saying. How you are fine with it. And maybe you will tell me that I'm too selfish or something for thinking this way.

 

Obviously I believe I have a soul. So when others don't believe they do then I wonder who or what they think they are even in this present life. (Sorry, not sure how to word that better.)

 

Now that I've had children, in this stage of life I feel like time is flying past and it will all be over before I know it. In the wink of an eye. It's not something that can be held onto.

 

I could try to rationalise that living for ever would be terrible, but I trust that aspect to God. If he is an awesome God who made this world with all of its beauty and wonders, then I can only expect that he could make awesome adventures for all of eternity. And those adventures would be like nothing we could ever imagine now, beyond our limited imaginations.

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For myself, if I found out that there was no heaven, no judgment, no immortality I would feel like this life was all a big waste of time.

 

I can understand that feeling, because many of us, and certainly I have believed at one time that the vastness of the universe and the complexity of life had to mean there was an overarching "purpose and meaning". Realising that my belief was based not on objective evidence but rather my desire for it to be so helped me in fact to create meaning in the present moment.

 

But even if I've done wonderful things and helped people in amazing ways, those lives would all end as well and ultimately mean nothing. I guess there is immediate here and now satisfaction, but not long term. 

 

I would hope to leave the world a little bit better than I found it. Other than that I do not need a grand plan for the reason for my existence.

 

I can understand the desire others have to find a greater meaning revealed, for life and pain and suffering to all finally make sense, to think of ourselves as pieces in a jigsaw puzzle and to want to see the final picture emerge.

 

This desire, IMO, reveals both the insatiable curiosity and the hubris of humans. Considering the size of the universe, we are insignificant specks and yet we believe that somehow our existence has some meaning. Millions of animals are born, they live, they die and over a period of time they become extinct. Do their lives have some ultimate meaning? They have meaning for us humans and they probably have meaning for themselves and their friends and families. That is all that matters in the vast scales of space and time.

 

Obviously I believe I have a soul. So when others don't believe they do then I wonder who or what they think they are even in this present life. (Sorry, not sure how to word that better.)

 

Neuroscience is offering fascinating insights into the human brain. We really don't know half of what there is to know about how the brain works and how our sense of self is formed. Altering brain function can alter your personality and alter your memories, so I do not believe in the concept of an immutable "self" even when we are alive, much less when we are dead.

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I would hope to leave the world a little bit better than I found it. Other than that I do not need a grand plan for the reason for my existence.

 

...

 

This desire, IMO, reveals both the insatiable curiosity and the hubris of humans. Considering the size of the universe, we are insignificant specks and yet we believe that somehow our existence has some meaning. Millions of animals are born, they live, they die and over a period of time they become extinct. Do their lives have some ultimate meaning? They have meaning for us humans and they probably have meaning for themselves and their friends and families. That is all that matters in the vast scales of space and time.

I think about this a lot... and wonder in the vastness of space and time how many life forms like or unlike ours have been born, lived their entire existence and petered out... or suddenly flashed out due to some interior or exterior force. Would their existence mean nothing? I personally don't think so. We get the time we get to do the best we can. Contemplating that is simultaneously humbling and empowering.

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I think about this a lot... and wonder in the vastness of space and time how many life forms like or unlike ours have been born, lived their entire existence and petered out... or suddenly flashed out due to some interior or exterior force. Would their existence mean nothing? I personally don't think so. We get the time we get to do the best we can. Contemplating that is simultaneously humbling and empowering.

 

I just happened to notice the quote in your siggy:

 

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love. ~Carl Sagan

 

Beautiful and relevant I think.

 

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Oh, a lot of theistic people believe their moral values come directly from God. Where do atheists think their moral values came from?

 

Have you ever looked at this question from the perspective of an atheist?

 

If you did, you might think about the following.  If God doesn’t exist, neither does any divine inspiration for religious morals.  So, in that case, where does the moral teachings in the bible and other texts come from?  Again, not from God, by assumption here.  Therefore, the moral positions that religions promulgate are actually human inventions or discoveries (depending upon your point of view).

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I am always curious about this too and even religious people who have always been religious. It hard for me to understand total belief without ever having any skepticism or doubts.

Which is why I'm fascinated with neuroscience and love reading about it.

 

 

I have a question. I recently saw this lecture by an atheist bloke who wrote several books about atheism. He said he was annoyed that people said "well, that will be the thinnest book in the world then" when he was preparing to write the first. Apparently atheism is about more than not believing in a creator. That was new to me. I don't think atheism is about anything else than not believing in God. Am I wrong?

I just wanted to say that I love the word, bloke. Wish it was used here regularly where I live.

 

 

Oh, a lot of theistic people believe their moral values come directly from God. Where do atheists think their moral values came from?

 

Evolution. A number of books out there that explain it.

 

Question: If you knew you were to die today, say within the next hour, would it worry you?

 

You're asking if I'm worried that I'm wrong and will suffer the consequences, specifically hell. Nope. Not in the least little tiniest bit. I do not have the slightest doubt that I'm wrong and so am not worried about my afterlife. There is none. It will be the same for me as before I was born.

 

I would be worried for my family having to live with grief and for my children to grow up without me.

 

But worried for my soul? No. No such thing.

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I don't want to die yet, as I haven't raised my children and lived a natural life span. But I don't worry about answering to some deity, wondering if it is going to kill me or not once I die.

 

In fact, I find the entire idea enraging. Why would anyone want to spend eternity with a deity who was simultaneously torturing loved ones? (Or whatever it is that this god is going to do to those who don't make it in - the Bible has a few different options and only the universalist one is humane.)

 

No one deserves eternal hellfire. I think we are all doing the best we can and if we could, we would do better. If a loving god existed, it would know I tried to believe but ultimately couldn't. A loving god would welcome me with joy, not kill me, knowing I did the best I could. If that's not good enough then so be it. I think that sort of deity is a monster, and I would die fighting it. Personally I don't understand how anyone could love and worship a deity capable of acting in such a way. Imagine singing praises to this god while your non-believing child is suffering at the hands of the same deity. Or anyone suffering for that matter. Ugh.

 

Edited to say that I actually grew up in a faith tradition that didn't believe in eternal hellfire. God would just either kill you or take you to heaven. If you were dead, you were just dead until the 2nd coming at which point God would raise everyone and either kill them again or take them to heaven depending. Somewhat better than the eternal hellfire thing, though I think at least some Biblical writers did think the eternal hellfire was real. Regardless, I'm glad I left it all. I don't worry about my kind, delightful, ethical non-believing children and what is going to happen to them any more than I worry about myself.

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No one deserves eternal hellfire.

 

Well, I have to disagree with you here. I believe there are some people who deserve eternal hellfire. Monsters who harm children are the first in line who should be thrown into the lakes of fire in hell.

 

I wish I believed in hell.

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Teannika, I think all your questions, comments have been totally appropriate and I'm OK with the thread sort of being "dialogue with some atheists" as much as "ask an atheist."

If I found out I was going to die in an hour, I would FREAK the hell out. But not because I've been procrastinating or because I should have gone to church, just because life is already too short. My plan is to live to be 100 on the dot and dying later today would be quite disruptive.

But seriously, part of my journey in life has been learning to appreciate the present, live in the moment while still appreciating the past and the future. I don't need something better to come later. I try to love the flowers as they bloom, and the moments as they come, and be radically content in this here and now. The hereafter, as some imagine it, is (as you say) to much for our little minds to contemplate. Why would I waste my time on earth, which is so short and limited, pondering a mystery that cannot be unlocked by sheer force of will or any duration of spiritual quest?

[i had a three-paragraph rant here about what I would say to god if I had to meet him in an hour, but discretion is the better part of valor, so I'm leaving it out.]

When my son asks about death and we discuss how we don't want to die, my husband always says, "It's just like how it was before you were born. That didn't feel bad, so why should death?" We tell him it's OK be scared, but the important thing is to live rightly and happily and well in the now.
 

I don't know why I am posting this picture, but thinking about the morality of animals and then about death brought it to mind.

 

chimp-thumb-608x404.jpg

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/29/the-story-behind-national_n_338120.html

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That's my bad. Sorry. I came back to remove my question from my post, but too late.

 

I would love to see an "Ask a True Christian" thread. I think that would be really interesting because I think a lot of people would have questions.

Thanks. I'll go back and edit my post.

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...For myself, if I found out that there was no heaven, no judgment, no immortality I would feel like this life was all a big waste of time....

 

I used to feel that way. I used to think believing in god and there being more after death gave my life purpose and meaning. Now I realize it was a false cover. I could say god gave my life purpose and meaning, but what purpose? To bring more people to believing in him? What exactly does that accomplish? There was no actual meaning or purpose for me. I find that my life actually has much more purpose now. Now I know this is it. There is no eternity to save the good stuff for. This life is alll we get and we need to make the most of it.  That has helped guide my life much more than believing in god ever did.

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For myself, if I found out that there was no heaven, no judgment, no immortality I would feel like this life was all a big waste of time. Sorry. But even if I've done wonderful things and helped people in amazing ways, those lives would all end as well and ultimately mean nothing. I guess there is immediate here and now satisfaction, but not long term. I don't know, I guess I can't relate to what you are all saying. How you are fine with it. And maybe you will tell me that I'm too selfish or something for thinking this way.

 

This is one of the concepts about religion that does bother me the most. The idea that life isn't valuable except for preparation for afterlife. Essentially, it gives the appearance of being a cult of death, if that makes sense. It's the kind of ideology that inspires World Vision to throw so many employees, volunteers, and supporters under the bus to appease the more vocal, powerful Christian conservatives. It's the kind of ideology that inspires people to ignore the horrifying things people do to one another, because this experience is understood to be temporary. It's the kind of ideology that encourages people to pool resources around legislation of sexual practices rather than scientific discovery. 

 

People tend to think atheists get all up in arms about religion because they're mad at a god, or mad at those who follow a god. People think atheists get offended at things like saying "bless you" after sneezes, or that they want to force everyone to say "happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," or impose a gay agenda in the public schools. In my experience, atheists get offended at the propagation of anti-scientific thought, stalling progress, coercing public policy to appeal to outdated moral codes based on a culture irrelevant to our own. We are offended at the targeted indoctrination of the young, poor, and uneducated (inspiring  anti-intellectual fear-campaigns that are stunningly accepted in public education and media "news"). We are angry about legislating religious beliefs into a nation created specifically to be secular in nature. These things don't stem from this idea of life being temporary, but the idea that life is temporary accepted as a fact, becomes support for these ideas. 

 

 

 

 

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For everyone who answered my question, thankyou. I had only meant for it to be a simple question. I had deliberately made it "if you would die in the next hour" to bring the idea of facing death closer - rather than a far future event that may happen when we die of old age. It's similar to how when we are young we feel as if we are never going to get old. But it happens. I just wanted to bring the question closer to home as if we had to deal with it right now. I could have added that it would be a non-painful death so that the dying or suffering part wasn't a part of the question.

 

It would have helped if you had been clearer with your wording of the question.  I'm sure that all of us here, atheists, agnostics, non-believers, have been asked that question by a Christian more than once, and yes, it was a question with a specific point.  I know because it's a question that I asked of non-believers myself in the past in an effort to really get them to think seriously because it is so easy to put death out of mind.  You know, there aren't any atheists in a foxhole.  Truthfully though, there are atheists in the foxhole.

 

 

For myself, if I found out that there was no heaven, no judgment, no immortality I would feel like this life was all a big waste of time. Sorry. But even if I've done wonderful things and helped people in amazing ways, those lives would all end as well and ultimately mean nothing. I guess there is immediate here and now satisfaction, but not long term. I don't know, I guess I can't relate to what you are all saying. How you are fine with it. And maybe you will tell me that I'm too selfish or something for thinking this way.

 

No need to be sorry about sharing your honest thoughts.  My honest thought is that is probably the saddest thing I've ever read.  Probably as sad as you find my perspective.  Whether there is an afterlife or not, my life life has had great meaning.  I've lived, I've touched lives, I've loved with passion, I've passed on to my children not only my genetics, but my passions, concerns, love, perspectives.  In turn, everyone I've touched, will touch someone else.  My children will grow up, have children of their own, and some of what they pass onto their children will come from me.  I have a one yr old granddaughter.  I see 'me' being passed on in different way.  In fact, when I think about, it absolutely awesome the way one human can touch one other person, then that person touches another person, and on and on.  It doesn't end with my death.  It's not dependent upon there being an afterlife.  It's the beautiful, awesome community of humans doing nothing else than being human.

 

Obviously I believe I have a soul. So when others don't believe they do then I wonder who or what they think they are even in this present life. (Sorry, not sure how to word that better.)

 

A pretty awesome human as I said above.  I'm not trying to come off sounding arrogant, really.  Every human on this planet has amazing potential, and that potential lives on.

 

Now that I've had children, in this stage of life I feel like time is flying past and it will all be over before I know it. In the wink of an eye. It's not something that can be held onto.

 

Very true.  I can't hold onto it, but I can live it, fully, in the present knowing that what I'm doing is absolutely very important.

 

I could try to rationalise that living for ever would be terrible, but I trust that aspect to God. If he is an awesome God who made this world with all of its beauty and wonders, then I can only expect that he could make awesome adventures for all of eternity. And those adventures would be like nothing we could ever imagine now, beyond our limited imaginations.

 

Eternity.  It's truly unfathomable.  What about those souls that will be spending that same eternity in hell, while you're enjoying a beyond imaginable adventure, all because they believed slightly differently than you?

 

 

eta:  Gads!  My quoting skills suck.  How do you break apart a post into individual little frames.  I need a very basic posting tutorial.  Probably aimed at a 3rd grade level would be good.

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eta:  Gads!  My quoting skills suck.  How do you break apart a post into individual little frames.  I need a very basic posting tutorial.  Probably aimed at a 3rd grade level would be good.

To clean up a post - 

In the posting box, click the little square up on the left above the bolding "B" button.  It toggles between a more-or-less "what you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) version of your post and a version that shows the underlying formatting tags.  Play with it by clicking it a few times and you'll see how it works.

 

The code is pretty easy - the text of quotes are surrounded by quote tags, which look like

(quote bunch-of-other-stuff) at the beginning of the quote, and 

(/quote) at the end of the quote

EXCEPT - instead of parenthesis () they have square brackets []

 

By making sure the quote tags are around the parts you want to quote, and not around the part you don't want to quote, you can fix your post to show the way you want it to.  Toggle the WYSIWG/tags button to the WYSIWG version to make sure it's the way you want it to be, toggle back to the tags version to fix any errors, etc.

 

Looking at the tags can also help with fixing text that has gotten strangely small, etc.

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I'm always puzzled by the "where do you find meaning in life" question they ask every year at the doctor's office for my physical. Umm....life? I know what they're getting at with the question, but to me life seems pretty darn meaningful. It's not like I stumbled into the pit of despair when I left my Christian faith behind.

 

If anything, life post religion for me has gotten better, more peaceful, more meaningful, more enjoyable. Sundays are now my favorite day - far more restful than they were before. In the morning is also a great time to go grocery shopping. :0)

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