Jump to content

Menu

Ask an atheist


Laura Corin
 Share

Recommended Posts

Then why do anti-theists target Christianity with their ire, over other religions?

 

The anti-theists and outspoken atheists you hear likely speak English. Statistically speaking, Christianity is far more likely to be better known and personally familiar to those in your society than Islam, Hindu, etc. If, for example, Pagans began to collect into a political force and demand (with success!) their superstitious beliefs be taught along side actual science, you can be assured those of us outspoken anti-theists will not be quiet about it.

;)

  • Like 9
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Then why do anti-theists target Christianity with their ire, over other religions? Are you sure they don't find anything particularly toxic about Christianity VS Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca?

 

Is it so simple that it's a matter of cultural background and a "right" to speak critically of ones own pedigree?

 

I am not anti-theist, I just don't believe in any of the deities. If you ever hear me venting on a religion, it will be Christianity because that is what surrounds me: my community, my family, my homeschooling group. The only other religions I've had any encounter with is a couple Jewish families and some Buddhists. Neither one cares whether I believe or not. My bil is an atheist Buddhist. If I lived in a predominantly Muslim country, you might hear me venting against that particular religion on occasion. I have more personal issues with Christianity because that is the religion that has hurt my family, not that I have more theological issues with Christianity than other religions. If I vent on a religion, of course it is going to be Christianity because I live in the middle of it. When it comes to religious teachings, there are other religions that bother me more than Christianity.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem of evil is part of why I became atheist so maybe I can address that question. It's not that I believed in an evil god and then rejected that god, it's that I found the arguments used to try and salvage a loving, all-powerful god to be inadequate to explain the suffering we see in the world. In the end, they ignore the most plausible answer given the state of the universe; that there isn't a loving deity in charge. In my own experience that was heavily religious, that answer was simply never seriously entertained as a possibility. All efforts went towards reconciling ( inadequately IMO) a loving god with the reality of the world and the question was never seriously asked, "Given the data we have, what is the most likely explanation?"

  • Like 10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem of evil is part of why I became atheist so maybe I can address that question. It's not that I believed in an evil god and then rejected that god, it's that I found the arguments used to try and salvage a loving, all-powerful god to be inadequate to explain the suffering we see in the world. In the end, they ignore the most plausible answer given the state of the universe; that there isn't a loving deity in charge. In my own experience that was heavily religious, that answer was simply never seriously entertained as a possibility. All efforts went towards reconciling ( inadequately IMO) a loving god with the reality of the world and the question was never seriously asked, "Given the data we have, what is the most likely explanation?"

 

Right. It's not about whether an evil god is more likely than a loving god. It's all about ignoring the obvious.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the record I don't target Christianity over all other religions. I feel the same about all religions that promote violence in its sacred text. I don't have a grievance against religions such as Buddhism or Jainism because their philosophy is not an "us against them"

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For the record I don't target Christianity over all other religions. I feel the same about all religions that promote violence in its sacred text. I don't have a grievance against religions such as Buddhism or Jainism because their philosophy is not an "us against them"

 

 

I can certainly respect this though I think most of the Abrahamic faiths would argue that their sacred texts don't promote violence outside of self-defense but, as discussed earlier, people choose to do as they wish and then try to back it up with religion. I think most of us would agree that Buddhism promotes non-violence and yet, many acts of violence have been perpetrated by Buddhist monks using religion as a motivation (Burma/Myanmar and the Tokyo Sarin attack are the first that come to my mind). When I was searching for a faith and left Christianity, I came very close to Hinduism at the time and it is a religion which I would consider quite peaceful and does not at all promote 'us versus them' and yet history has seen some major crimes against humanity committed in the name of Hinduism as well.

 

I only wanted to point this out because I hear that 'Buddhists never kill anyone' or that kind of thing quite a bit and sadly, even Buddhism is not free from people manipulating their faith to serve their own twisted cause. As many have said in this thread, religion is an additional 'group' to add to the other ways that people differentiate amongst themselves and the way they treat each other.

 

Please forgive me for not keeping this to an atheism question. Thank you again for all your answers!

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Except in the state of Alabama, where I affirm the first question people ask you when you meet them is, "Are you for Auburn or for Alabama?"

 

(That my truthful answer remained, "Neither", sometimes killed an introduction deader than a mummy.)

 

 

In Raleigh, the first question is whether you root for State, UNC, or Duke. We found that it wasn't possible to remain neutral.

 

I can't remember ever being asked where I go to church unless the subject of faith/religion had already somehow came up in the conversation.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

In Raleigh, the first question is whether you root for State, UNC, or Duke. We found that it wasn't possible to remain neutral.

 

I can't remember ever being asked where I go to church unless the subject of faith/religion had already somehow came up in the conversation.

 

 

Go Blue Devils! :D (I went there.)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

I do wonder about Christmas music though. I just wonder how someone can sing a song such as "Oh Holy Night" when they don't believe in it. I don't find it offensive, I don't think, just curious. At my mother's funeral, an acquaintance (mother of a friend of mine), vocal atheist, who often commented negatively about religion, sat right behind me and sang the hymns quite loudly and forcefully. I had other things to think about then, but it was a bit troubling to me. Of course I never asked her about it! I am quite sure she did not mean to be mocking; she had grown up in the church and maybe she liked the song, though how could she when she proclaimed to hate the church? I couldn't sing a song that proclaimed God as evil.

 

 

Funny you should mention this. "O Holy Night" is my favorite Christmas song. It was when I was a practicing Catholic and continues to be now in my atheist life. I think it's a beautiful song. I love the emotion that the words and lyrics express. It really doesn't matter that I don't "believe" it. I don't "believe" everything I sing. The song still moves me.

 

I recently attended the Catholic funeral of my uncle. I sang every hymn, knelt when I was supposed to, said most of the prayers, because I know what to do and that's just....what you do. I was there to comfort my aunt and I wasn't going to stand almost in silent protest by not doing what I clearly know how to do simply because I don't believe any of it anymore. It wasn't about me and my beliefs, or lack thereof. I did not take communion out of respect for the Catholics there. Some know that I no longer believe what they do, and more importantly that I certainly haven't been to confession, which you're supposed to do before you accept communion. I couldn't have cared less, but I didn't want to be offensive.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that this is partly a function of where the atheists you have come across live and whom they bump into. There is also the extent to which some Christians feel duty bound to proselytise - which gets under many atheists' skins - which is not the case in all other religions.

 

But, as others have said, many atheists are not critical of religion. They just don't believe in a god.

 

To give you a flavour of how religion works in the UK and why I can't be enthusiastic about being anti-any-god: look at the way that politicians behave. From my observation - correct me if I'm wrong - being a person of faith is seen as important for US politicians. Speeches are often framed in terms of a god, and there is a bit of a fuss when suggestions are made that someone might not be churchgoing, or might not go to the 'right' church (please, let's not go into the specifics of this - I don't want to derail the thread).

 

In the UK (despite the official religion) religious practice is considered private, and religiosity is seen as possibly off-putting to the electorate. This is the most famous example.

 

Given that religion is largely in the background here, I really don't have much to fight against and no impulse to do so. I was a lot more grumpy when I lived in China and most of the other expatriates were missionaries.

 

L

 

 

 

It is much the same way here in Canada. People of faith abound, but they do not use their faith as a tool for political purposes (at least not without getting their hands slapped for trying to do so).

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it is a general philosophical question not intrinsic to atheism, then why is the problem of evil so often cited by atheists as proof of god's non-existence, or, given as the linchpin for loss of faith? The problem of evil has been cited in this very thread for those purposes.

 

 

 

Where in this thread has that argument been made by an atheist? It seems you are fixated on this idea you have that atheists are atheists because of the "problem of evil." This idea is patently untrue, as so many have tried to point out to you. "Problem of evil" is a theist argument, not an atheist one. Most atheists are not at all interested in "proof of god's non-existence." Most atheists recognize the logical truth that one cannot prove a negative and that the burden of proof is solely upon the believer. Believers seem terribly concerned with "proving" their god(s) existence to atheists as if that is somehow going to convert them. That is such a fruitless and wasted pursuit, however, as atheists don't just disbelieve the existence of your particular god, but rather disbelieve any posit of any kind of god whatsoever.

  • Like 10
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It appears to be quite common, and actually, I think this line of thought appeared somewhere on this thread too. "If there was a God, then he wouldn't have allowed the Holocaust to happen", is something I have heard many times. I think this is what people are getting at.

 

 

My father (Anglican) rejected God for this reason, but I don't think he was ever an atheist (though I've gone back and forth on this). His sentiment was more akin to Ivan's giving back of his ticket, if anything, and he was never less than forthright with or on anything other than good terms with his minister.

 

Now, I wouldn't *want* to believe in a god that could have prevented, say, the Holocaust or the prolonged suffering of a child and chose not to, but since I don't believe in any gods, the point is moot, no?

 

(edited slightly for clarity)

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, it is called the problem of evil because it is a problem for anyone claiming that there is a loving, all-powerful, intervening (even if only on occasion) deity. It is not a problem for atheists because they aren't trying to reconcile the claim that there is such a being with the reality of suffering.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can certainly respect this though I think most of the Abrahamic faiths would argue that their sacred texts don't promote violence outside of self-defense but, as discussed earlier, people choose to do as they wish and then try to back it up with religion.

 

Respectfully, I disagree. The Jewish and Christian scriptures contain all kinds of references to the legal application of capital punishment (death) for certain "crimes." Please note, these "crimes," are things we would consider light (like disrespect to parents), or emotionally painful (like adultery), and certainly victimless (like blasphemy). These behaviors were absolutely responded to with capital punishment, and the entire society thought that was only right and just (by evidenced by the fact the society not only participated, but taught their children to do the same for generations upon generations, for centuries and centuries).

 

The Jewish and Christian scriptures include death sentence for for people who don't listen to church authority (Deuteronomy 17:12); witches (Exodus 22:17); homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13;Romans 1:24-32); fortunetellers (Leviticus 20:27) kids who hit their dads (Exodus 21:15); kids who curse their parents (Proverbs 20:20; Leviticus 20:9); adulterers (Leviticus 20:10); non-Christians (Exodus 22:19; Deuteronomy 13:7-12; Deuteronomy 17:2-5;Romans 1:24-32); atheists (2 Chronicles 15:12-13); false prophets (Zechariah 13:3); the entire town of one who worships another god (Deuteronomy 13:13-19); non-virgin brides (Deuteronomy 22:20-21); and blasphemers (Leviticus 24:10-16). Note, please, there are no (as in none, not one) scriptures that address punishment for child rape, although formal laws that address selling a child as a bride, under what condition beating a slave to death is an innocent act, and the systematic rape of women victims after battle, can be found in various places.

 

These are not benign beliefs. That people don't take them literally today doesn't change the fact that they have been taken literally for centuries, and that they are still considered "divinely inspired." That is, this is the "mind" of the god you suggest doesn't promote violence.

 

I'm sure with a little time I could find similar examples in the Qu'ran, but I think my point has been made.

 

I think most of us would agree that Buddhism promotes non-violence and yet, many acts of violence have been perpetrated by Buddhist monks using religion as a motivation (Burma/Myanmar and the Tokyo Sarin attack are the first that come to my mind). When I was searching for a faith and left Christianity, I came very close to Hinduism at the time and it is a religion which I would consider quite peaceful and does not at all promote 'us versus them' and yet history has seen some major crimes against humanity committed in the name of Hinduism as well.

 

]I only wanted to point this out because I hear that 'Buddhists never kill anyone' or that kind of thing quite a bit and sadly, even Buddhism is not free from people manipulating their faith to serve their own twisted cause. As many have said in this thread, religion is an additional 'group' to add to the other ways that people differentiate amongst themselves and the way they treat each other.

 

Please forgive me for not keeping this to an atheism question. Thank you again for all your answers!

 

 

I would not consider Buddhism a peaceful religion for these very reasons. This is one reason I identify as an anti-theist and not just anti-Christian, or even anti-Abrahamic religion. I think people (here at least, if not in the United States in general), identify Buddhism with pacifism simply because that's the version we see today. It's part of the Buddhist tradition, but not the whole part. Self-sacrifice and care for the vulnerable is part of the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish traditions, but not the whole part. Theist belief, in my opinion, opens up the floodgates of justifying violence in the name of belief that must be ultimately accepted by faith. There's no justification for that, in my own opinion, given the knowledge we have today.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I apologize if this has already been addressed; I wasn't following this thread earlier and I don't have the patience to read all the pages to see. What I wonder is what does an atheist think about supernatural experiences or occurrences? Not that I think they are happening all over the place, but I do believe that at least some phenomena are supernatural.

 

My dh just had a conversation with a guy who told him about an experience he had when he had cancer. A pink orb of light came into his room and all his pain vanished. The man could not speak of it without weeping. He repeatedly emphasized that he has never been a religious man and he doesn't know what he experienced, but it's safe to say he 100% believes he had a supernatural experience.

 

Do atheists think, "Oh, that's a bunch of bull..." anytime they encounter a story like this? Or do they say, "Bizarre...I wonder what that could have been?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Respectfully, I disagree. The Jewish and Christian scriptures contain all kinds of references to the legal application of capital punishment (death) for certain "crimes." Please note, these "crimes," are things we would consider light (like disrespect to parents), or emotionally painful (like adultery), and certainly victimless (like blasphemy). These behaviors were absolutely responded to with capital punishment, and the entire society thought that was only right and just (by evidenced by the fact the society not only participated, but taught their children to do the same for generations upon generations, for centuries and centuries).

 

The Jewish and Christian scriptures include death sentence for for people who don't listen to church authority (Deuteronomy 17:12); witches (Exodus 22:17); homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13;Romans 1:24-32); fortunetellers (Leviticus 20:27) kids who hit their dads (Exodus 21:15); kids who curse their parents (Proverbs 20:20; Leviticus 20:9); adulterers (Leviticus 20:10); non-Christians (Exodus 22:19; Deuteronomy 13:7-12; Deuteronomy 17:2-5;Romans 1:24-32); atheists (2 Chronicles 15:12-13); false prophets (Zechariah 13:3); the entire town of one who worships another god (Deuteronomy 13:13-19); non-virgin brides (Deuteronomy 22:20-21); and blasphemers (Leviticus 24:10-16). Note, please, there are no (as in none, not one) scriptures that address punishment for child rape, although formal laws that address selling a child as a bride, under what condition beating a slave to death is an innocent act, and the systematic rape of women victims after battle, can be found in various places.

 

These are not benign beliefs. That people don't take them literally today doesn't change the fact that they have been taken literally for centuries, and that they are still considered "divinely inspired." That is, this is the "mind" of the god you suggest doesn't promote violence.

 

I'm sure with a little time I could find similar examples in the Qu'ran, but I think my point has been made.

 

 

 

I would not consider Buddhism a peaceful religion for these very reasons. This is one reason I identify as an anti-theist and not just anti-Christian, or even anti-Abrahamic religion. I think people (here at least, if not in the United States in general), identify Buddhism with pacifism simply because that's the version we see today. It's part of the Buddhist tradition, but not the whole part. Self-sacrifice and care for the vulnerable is part of the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish traditions, but not the whole part. Theist belief, in my opinion, opens up the floodgates of justifying violence in the name of belief that must be ultimately accepted by faith. There's no justification for that, in my own opinion, given the knowledge we have today.

 

 

Ah, I see. You're right, I thought more of promoting violence in war/killing people of other faiths terms, I didn't think of it in terms of capital punishment mentioned in scriptures but once you pointed that out I understood what you meant.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I apologize if this has already been addressed; I wasn't following this thread earlier and I don't have the patience to read all the pages to see. What I wonder is what does an atheist think about supernatural experiences or occurrences? Not that I think they are happening all over the place, but I do believe that at least some phenomena are supernatural.

 

My dh just had a conversation with a guy who told him about an experience he had when he had cancer. A pink orb of light came into his room and all his pain vanished. The man could not speak of it without weeping. He repeatedly emphasized that he has never been a religious man and he doesn't know what he experienced, but it's safe to say he 100% believes he had a supernatural experience.

 

Do atheists think, "Oh, that's a bunch of bull..." anytime they encounter a story like this? Or do they say, "Bizarre...I wonder what that could have been?"

 

 

This is one of those questions that will bring different answers. The only thing we atheists absolutely have in common is that we don't believe in any deities.

 

I personally believe all supernatural "experiences" have an explanation, even if we don't know yet know what that is (in most cases it's related to the functions of our amazing brains). I do however, know some atheists who believe in other-worldly type stuff.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I apologize if this has already been addressed; I wasn't following this thread earlier and I don't have the patience to read all the pages to see. What I wonder is what does an atheist think about supernatural experiences or occurrences? Not that I think they are happening all over the place, but I do believe that at least some phenomena are supernatural.

 

My dh just had a conversation with a guy who told him about an experience he had when he had cancer. A pink orb of light came into his room and all his pain vanished. The man could not speak of it without weeping. He repeatedly emphasized that he has never been a religious man and he doesn't know what he experienced, but it's safe to say he 100% believes he had a supernatural experience.

 

Do atheists think, "Oh, that's a bunch of bull..." anytime they encounter a story like this? Or do they say, "Bizarre...I wonder what that could have been?"

 

 

Like many have said previously, there is no one, common belief system among atheists. That said, many that I know, myself included, would say that this, along with the White Light many relating near-death experiences refer to, would be part of the brain's natural processes that occur while healing itself or shutting down.

 

I'd also say that some (myself included) don't necessarily completely discount all "supernatural" occurrences, but I don't really consider them to be "supernatural". Rather, I think in many cases things that we see are functions of physics and energy, as we know it works, and not fully understanding the extent of it yet. For example, I posted earlier that while I don't believe in reincarnation, per se, I do think it's possible that the energy that makes us who we are can stick around after our bodies die and make appearances in different ways. I don't think there is divine direction, or that it's my Uncle Chester trying to make contact; rather, I think that since energy doesn't die, it's not out of the question that a body of energy could remain for some period of time after one dies, and that the explanation is scientific (albeit one I can't fully explain) and not supernatural at all.

 

I'm sure others will chime in, too.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest inoubliable

I apologize if this has already been addressed; I wasn't following this thread earlier and I don't have the patience to read all the pages to see. What I wonder is what does an atheist think about supernatural experiences or occurrences? Not that I think they are happening all over the place, but I do believe that at least some phenomena are supernatural.

 

My dh just had a conversation with a guy who told him about an experience he had when he had cancer. A pink orb of light came into his room and all his pain vanished. The man could not speak of it without weeping. He repeatedly emphasized that he has never been a religious man and he doesn't know what he experienced, but it's safe to say he 100% believes he had a supernatural experience.

 

Do atheists think, "Oh, that's a bunch of bull..." anytime they encounter a story like this? Or do they say, "Bizarre...I wonder what that could have been?"

 

 

I'd say "I'm so glad that you're here."

 

Questioning another person's experience with a life-and-death situation with massive amounts of pain involved isn't a thought process I'd have. I wouldn't think negatively about their experience, no. I also probably wouldn't wonder too much on it, either. If that person asked me what I thought I'm sure I'd be honest and say "Not sure, man. The mind can do some crazy things when you're in pain or scared." I'm not a neurologist. KWIM?

 

I'm also only one atheist. ;) Others may have different takes on it.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I apologize if this has already been addressed; I wasn't following this thread earlier and I don't have the patience to read all the pages to see. What I wonder is what does an atheist think about supernatural experiences or occurrences? Not that I think they are happening all over the place, but I do believe that at least some phenomena are supernatural.

 

My dh just had a conversation with a guy who told him about an experience he had when he had cancer. A pink orb of light came into his room and all his pain vanished. The man could not speak of it without weeping. He repeatedly emphasized that he has never been a religious man and he doesn't know what he experienced, but it's safe to say he 100% believes he had a supernatural experience.

 

Do atheists think, "Oh, that's a bunch of bull..." anytime they encounter a story like this? Or do they say, "Bizarre...I wonder what that could have been?"

 

 

I think supernatural things can exist regardless of how I feel about religion. To me they aren't the same thing.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Jewish and Christian scriptures include death sentence for for people who don't listen to church authority (Deuteronomy 17:12); witches (Exodus 22:17); homosexuals (Leviticus 20:13;Romans 1:24-32); fortunetellers (Leviticus 20:27) kids who hit their dads (Exodus 21:15); kids who curse their parents (Proverbs 20:20; Leviticus 20:9); adulterers (Leviticus 20:10); non-Christians (Exodus 22:19; Deuteronomy 13:7-12; Deuteronomy 17:2-5;Romans 1:24-32); atheists (2 Chronicles 15:12-13); false prophets (Zechariah 13:3); the entire town of one who worships another god (Deuteronomy 13:13-19); non-virgin brides (Deuteronomy 22:20-21); and blasphemers (Leviticus 24:10-16). Note, please, there are no (as in none, not one) scriptures that address punishment for child rape, although formal laws that address selling a child as a bride, under what condition beating a slave to death is an innocent act, and the systematic rape of women victims after battle, can be found in various places.

 

These are not benign beliefs. That people don't take them literally today doesn't change the fact that they have been taken literally for centuries, and that they are still considered "divinely inspired." That is, this is the "mind" of the god you suggest doesn't promote violence.

 

I actually don't believe it's true that people believed in those literally for centuries. The "rules" of the Old Testament were wiped away by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His death fulfilled the Old Covenant and created the New Covenant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Covenant

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Like many have said previously, there is no one, common belief system among atheists. That said, many that I know, myself included, would say that this, along with the White Light many relating near-death experiences refer to, would be part of the brain's natural processes that occur while healing itself or shutting down.

 

I'd also say that some (myself included) don't necessarily completely discount all "supernatural" occurrences, but I don't really consider them to be "supernatural". Rather, I think in many cases things that we see are functions of physics and energy, as we know it works, and not fully understanding the extent of it yet. For example, I posted earlier that while I don't believe in reincarnation, per se, I do think it's possible that the energy that makes us who we are can stick around after our bodies die and make appearances in different ways. I don't think there is divine direction, or that it's my Uncle Chester trying to make contact; rather, I think that since energy doesn't die, it's not out of the question that a body of energy could remain for some period of time after one dies, and that the explanation is scientific (albeit one I can't fully explain) and not supernatural at all.

 

I'm sure others will chime in, too.

 

 

I like the "energy theory" you're talking about, but the bolded part elicits another question for me. What do you think of mediumship or when a person does believe they are contacted by Uncle Chester?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have enjoyed reading this, and I'm jumping in to respond because I finally got to the end! :party: (At least temporarily.)

 

My father (Anglican) rejected God for this reason, but I don't think he was ever an atheist (though I've gone back and forth on this). His sentiment was more akin to Ivan's giving back of his ticket, if anything, and he was never less than forthright with or on anything other than good terms with his minister.

 

Now, I wouldn't *want* to believe in a god that could have prevented, say, the Holocaust or the prolonged suffering of a child and chose not to, but since I don't believe in any gods, the point is moot, no?

 

(edited slightly for clarity)

 

 

I go the other way with this one. I say, well, I don't believe there is a god. However, if there were an omnipotent god who allowed terrible things like that to happen, I wouldn't worship him/her/it anyway.

 

(Edited for less intensity. :) )

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I like the "energy theory" you're talking about, but the bolded part elicits another question for me. What do you think of mediumship or when a person does believe they are contacted by Uncle Chester?

 

 

I think I don't know! I know many people who truly believe they've had contact, and I've personally had some experiences I cannot explain. My husband is convinced there are spirits in our house, and that we were "visited" by someone he knows while on our honeymoon. I've witnessed the same things he has and don't have an explanation but I tend to believe it's just something else of this world, something scientifically explainable, that just hasn't been explained YET. And I don't think it has anything to do with any deity.

 

Also, I think people often hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see, and that many so-called "mediums" take advantage of that, which to me is just disgusting.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, I see. You're right, I thought more of promoting violence in war/killing people of other faiths terms, I didn't think of it in terms of capital punishment mentioned in scriptures but once you pointed that out I understood what you meant.

 

 

But the faith has, since its inception, been a promoter of violence in war/killing people of other faiths. Consider the Crusades (all of them), the Spanish Inquisition, the kidnapping of Native American children to be forced to adopt the culture and religion of their conquerors, Mother Teresa gathering millions upon millions of dollars in donations and yet refusing to help a single, addressable medical issue. People suffered and died for her faith, the sense of divine approval she felt for allowing (allowing, as if it was a gift!) people to suffer because that's pleasing to the god of the her faith. Orthodox Jews are becoming more and more aggressive towards non Orthodox Jews in Israel, and are allowed to practice barbaric, unhealthy ritualistic behaviors that have a history of killing infants. Your own religion is responsible for the mind set that convinces people, who by all accounts are otherwise loyal to their families and societies, that it pleases your god to take out as many infidels as possible.

 

I totally understand what your likely response is to all this - these are examples of people who practice their faith "wrong," or take it to a violent extreme. To which I would remind you that there exists no measure of the "right" way to practice any of these faiths. This "compass" does not exist. One is convinced by virtue of personal faith (subjective emotional cues) that they are pleasing and honoring their gods. Because there is no "right" way to practice the faith, there is no "wrong way to practice the faith. For the same reason you dismiss them as missing the real point of your faith, they accuse you of the same. Does that make sense?

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I apologize if this has already been addressed; I wasn't following this thread earlier and I don't have the patience to read all the pages to see. What I wonder is what does an atheist think about supernatural experiences or occurrences? Not that I think they are happening all over the place, but I do believe that at least some phenomena are supernatural.

 

My dh just had a conversation with a guy who told him about an experience he had when he had cancer. A pink orb of light came into his room and all his pain vanished. The man could not speak of it without weeping. He repeatedly emphasized that he has never been a religious man and he doesn't know what he experienced, but it's safe to say he 100% believes he had a supernatural experience.

 

Do atheists think, "Oh, that's a bunch of bull..." anytime they encounter a story like this? Or do they say, "Bizarre...I wonder what that could have been?"

 

 

Mostly the latter, though on some cases the former. I believe that sometimes people see or feel what they want to see or feel rather than what is really there. I believe that human senses are fallible. I believe that people lie sometimes. I also believe that we do not fully understand the human body, or the world around us. I'm sure stuff happens, all the time, that no one can really understand with our current understanding of science. I just don't think that I need a deity to explain it. Just as a deity is not actually necessary for the earth to revolve around the sun. Things that we once attributed to deities, we now understand in scientific terms. But other things, which we still don't understand, some still attribute to deities. I don't buy it, personally. I think that there are still things that we just don't understand. Maybe someday we will.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do atheists think, "Oh, that's a bunch of bull..." anytime they encounter a story like this? Or do they say, "Bizarre...I wonder what that could have been?"

 

 

I love reading about stuff like that. They are such cool stories!

 

I'd prefer not to believe in supernatural stuff, but I've had a few experiences that make that position unworkable. I wouldn't say I believe, because that is too strong a word but I am obliged to hover around "not disbelieving."

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I apologize if this has already been addressed; I wasn't following this thread earlier and I don't have the patience to read all the pages to see. What I wonder is what does an atheist think about supernatural experiences or occurrences? Not that I think they are happening all over the place, but I do believe that at least some phenomena are supernatural.

 

My dh just had a conversation with a guy who told him about an experience he had when he had cancer. A pink orb of light came into his room and all his pain vanished. The man could not speak of it without weeping. He repeatedly emphasized that he has never been a religious man and he doesn't know what he experienced, but it's safe to say he 100% believes he had a supernatural experience.

 

Do atheists think, "Oh, that's a bunch of bull..." anytime they encounter a story like this? Or do they say, "Bizarre...I wonder what that could have been?"

 

 

I love supernatural stuff. I am kind of like Mulder about it, I want to believe. Although I am now agnostic, I have been atheist before and have never lost my love and wonder for supernatural stuff.

 

I would love if scientific reasons could be found for ghost sightings and hearings. I also think that energy left behind can currently explain some of it, but not all. I am not super educated about it, just enjoy reading about it and watching shows like Ghost Hunter. :) I also love plenty of fictional shows that deal with the supernatural. :)

 

I am also extremely skeptical! So, I love it, but I'm not all gaga and loosing my brain over it either. I just find it very interesting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I apologize if this has already been addressed; I wasn't following this thread earlier and I don't have the patience to read all the pages to see. What I wonder is what does an atheist think about supernatural experiences or occurrences? Not that I think they are happening all over the place, but I do believe that at least some phenomena are supernatural.

 

My dh just had a conversation with a guy who told him about an experience he had when he had cancer. A pink orb of light came into his room and all his pain vanished. The man could not speak of it without weeping. He repeatedly emphasized that he has never been a religious man and he doesn't know what he experienced, but it's safe to say he 100% believes he had a supernatural experience.

 

Do atheists think, "Oh, that's a bunch of bull..." anytime they encounter a story like this? Or do they say, "Bizarre...I wonder what that could have been?"

 

 

For my part, I'm no longer persuaded a "supernatural" exists. We may not have explanations for everything, and we likely never will, but that shouldn't be confused with a "supernatural." After all, we couldn't explain epilepsy a thousand years ago, but that doesn't mean it was demons.

 

We do know cancer remissions happen spontaneously. We don't yet know under what conditions these remissions are likely to begin, but when we do, there will be medical advancements in that regard and the idea that "God heals" will go along the wayside like it did with epilepsy.

 

You might find this video interesting in that it offers some insight into how researches explore what the organ of the brain can do under certain circumstances.

 

http://youtu.be/y02UlkYjSi0

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like the "energy theory" you're talking about, but the bolded part elicits another question for me. What do you think of mediumship or when a person does believe they are contacted by Uncle Chester?

 

 

At the risk of sounding nutty, I don't completely discount it, but I also think anyone using it to make money is a huge fake.

 

ETA: Thinking John Edwards here and others like him.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

But the faith has, since its inception, been a promoter of violence in war/killing people of other faiths. Consider the Crusades (all of them), the Spanish Inquisition, the kidnapping of Native American children to be forced to adopt the culture and religion of their conquerors, Mother Teresa gathering millions upon millions of dollars in donations and yet refusing to help a single, addressable medical issue. People suffered and died for her faith, the sense of divine approval she felt for allowing (allowing, as if it was a gift!) people to suffer because that's pleasing to the god of the her faith. Orthodox Jews are becoming more and more aggressive towards non Orthodox Jews in Israel, and are allowed to practice barbaric, unhealthy ritualistic behaviors that have a history of killing infants. Your own religion is responsible for the mind set that convinces people, who by all accounts are otherwise loyal to their families and societies, that it pleases your god to take out as many infidels as possible.

 

I totally understand what your likely response is to all this - these are examples of people who practice their faith "wrong," or take it to a violent extreme. To which I would remind you that there exists no measure of the "right" way to practice any of these faiths. This "compass" does not exist. One is convinced by virtue of personal faith (subjective emotional cues) that they are pleasing and honoring their gods. Because there is no "right" way to practice the faith, there is no "wrong way to practice the faith. For the same reason you dismiss them as missing the real point of your faith, they accuse you of the same. Does that make sense?

 

 

Yes, I understand what you mean. I disagree, of course, but I can understand your interpretation and you've done a good job explaining your views. :)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I understand what you mean. I disagree, of course, but I can understand your interpretation and you've done a good job explaining your views. :)

 

 

Thank you. It's been a pleasure to discuss this, and that has been in no small part to the contribution of you and people like you who are participating in an understandably emotionally rich topic in such a way as to maintain the topics at hand rather than respond emotionally and defensively. So I would like to take this time to thank you (and others).

 

:)

  • Like 12
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For my part, I'm no longer persuaded a "supernatural" exists. We may not have explanations for everything, and we likely never will, but that shouldn't be confused with a "supernatural." After all, we couldn't explain epilepsy a thousand years ago, but that doesn't mean it was demons.

 

We do know cancer remissions happen spontaneously. We don't yet know under what conditions these remissions are likely to begin, but when we do, there will be medical advancements in that regard and the idea that "God heals" will go along the wayside like it did with epilepsy.

 

You might find this video interesting in that it offers some insight into how researches explore what the organ of the brain can do under certain circumstances.

 

http://youtu.be/y02UlkYjSi0

 

 

I understand how not being able to explain something does not make it "supernatural," but what I find very interesting is the emotional response of people who have had unusual encounters. A person who had a NDE, for example, who radiates peace and is not afraid of dying, or a person who has a "spiritual experience" and turns their life 100% in a different direction. I've witnessed some such things directly and it convinces me that *something* is at play there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Thank you. It's been a pleasure to discuss this, and that has been in no small part to the contribution of you and people like you who are participating in an understandably emotionally rich topic in such a way as to maintain the topics at hand rather than respond emotionally and defensively. So I would like to take this time to thank you (and others).

 

:)

 

 

Thank you guys for making this thread and answering. I think of this a lot like the evolution thread where many were disagreeing vehemently with evolution but were surprised to learn that it does not mean that men were monkeys. If you're going to disagree with something, at the very least you should know what you're really disagreeing with. I think if someone has strong faith then their faith should be strong enough to withstand learning what other people actually believe. This thread has dispelled some misconceptions for me and I definitely feel I have a better understanding of atheism than I did before. As for not getting defensive, honestly, although you're anti-theist and certainly said some critical things of different faiths, you've still been more respectful in tone than a few of the theists on this forum have been so I really can't complain ;).

  • Like 8
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I understand how not being able to explain something does not make it "supernatural," but what I find very interesting is the emotional response of people who have had unusual encounters. A person who had a NDE, for example, who radiates peace and is not afraid of dying, or a person who has a "spiritual experience" and turns their life 100% in a different direction. I've witnessed some such things directly and it convinces me that *something* is at play there.

 

 

I get that, but of course their experiences are still biased based on what they know. For example, if I had one of those experiences and it would somehow transform me in the way you cited, it would not be unlikely that my story would include something of the "pearly gates", or an angel, or that a close, dearly departed relative would have been there, because those are the stories I grew up with. I doubt that I'd be suddenly converted to Hinduism.

 

I also don't discount their experiences, but I also believe that naturally ascribe what we "know" to new experiences, but there's nothing wrong with that. I think that these types of NDEs are great, frankly. Most people fear or are uneasy by death because no one really knows what happens. To be able to take the fear out of the process for when it ultimately does happen is beautiful, I think.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kind of funny but I coincidentally just came across a thread (it was on the bottom of a thread under similar threads) asking what religion members on this board were and quite a few of the atheists on this thread answered still as Christians (WishboneDawn, Ishki, Joanne (?) ) This prompted me to wonder whether many of you have more recently self-identified as atheist or if it was a matter of doubting for a long time but still considering yourselves a believer in Christianity until more recently or you just used that in name only?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I understand how not being able to explain something does not make it "supernatural," but what I find very interesting is the emotional response of people who have had unusual encounters. A person who had a NDE, for example, who radiates peace and is not afraid of dying, or a person who has a "spiritual experience" and turns their life 100% in a different direction. I've witnessed some such things directly and it convinces me that *something* is at play there.

 

 

Oh I truly understand. These can be powerful experiences, but a powerfully emotional experience isn't support of a supernatural reality. The emotional response to such an event - and let's be clear, these NDE are real experiences, in that, the brain really is perceiving certain stimuli - isn't a credible explanation because an emotional response is purely subjective. If, on the other hand, there was objective data to confirm what subjective interpretation suggests, that would be interesting. But it doesn't. Instead, we're learning more and more about how the brain works and it's effects on our perception. In turn, we're learning how our very sensory perception works. It's all fascinating, in my opinion, but not indicative of a supernatural reality "breaking through," for lack of better words, our natural reality.

 

Or...

 

Feeling joy and fearlessness after NDE is no more evidence of a supernatural reality than feeling joy and fearlessness after drinking to excess is evidence of the superior state of being drunk.

 

;)

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I wonder is what does an atheist think about supernatural experiences or occurrences?

 

I personally think it's almost all hokum. If I am a 6 on the atheist scale, I am a 6.8 on the supernatural scale. I think people feel a lot things and experience a lot of things and I totally believe they felt what they felt and genuinely think they saw what they saw, but I think ghosts, out-of-body experiences, ESP, fairy folk, angels, horoscopes, phrenology, reincarnation, and the whole lot of it is complete bunk.

 

That said, if going to a psychic helps you resolve something, by all means. I would no sooner discourage you from that path than I would dissuade you from trying a juice cleanse or acupuncture. Everyone needs their process and they have a right to spend their money as they see fit. Whatever works for you is A-OK, it's just not my cup of tea, you know?

 

Which is to say, I think the human mind is VERY powerful, and I'm all for taking multiple paths toward activating in service of your goals: prayer, mediation, placebo effect, supernatural fantasy, et al.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually don't believe it's true that people believed in those literally for centuries. The "rules" of the Old Testament were wiped away by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His death fulfilled the Old Covenant and created the New Covenant. http://en.wikipedia....ki/New_Covenant

 

 

But people still take many of these things literally and act on them.

 

As far as atheism because of "evil", I do know several people who turned from Christianity/Judaism because of this. It didn't make them atheists, but it was one of the issues that made them question their faith. For me, I kinda agree. I couldn't believe in a deity that called on me to kill babies of my enemies or insisted that I would burn in eternity for marrying a non-whatever, etc. But those are small matters in the bigger picture for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually don't believe it's true that people believed in those literally for centuries. The "rules" of the Old Testament were wiped away by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. His death fulfilled the Old Covenant and created the New Covenant. http://en.wikipedia....ki/New_Covenant

 

 

The old "rules" were in effect for centuries (arguably longer than Christianity). Your belief that certain rules were wiped away by the sacrifice of Jesus isn't a shared belief throughout Christendom. The fact that witches were killed specifically within the privilege of the law, because the bible presents God's opinion on such matters, as late as the 17th century, suggests your opinion is the relatively late player in the game. Further, children and women are still, currently, accused and punished for the "crime" of witchcraft by Christian believers throughout the world. Today. This is a gruesome, horrifying reality that has been lent credibility by the fact that most Christians believe, teach, and evangelize the idea that there is a supernatural reality that includes evil forces (Satan, demons, evil) that can and does affect people.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

...or a person who has a "spiritual experience" and turns their life 100% in a different direction. I've witnessed some such things directly and it convinces me that *something* is at play there.

 

 

I have been there. I have had a spiritual "Aha" moment that made me turn my life 100% in a different direction. But I have now reached a point in my journey where not only do I not feel the need to hold onto those religious beliefs anymore, but also can see how some of the ideas I professed were wrong.

 

I think of spiritual understanding as peeling the layers of an onion. Each layer just takes you deeper and deeper into understanding. You cannot access inner layers until you peel the outer ones and everyone finds the "truth" in the layer that they are in.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My dh just had a conversation with a guy who told him about an experience he had when he had cancer. A pink orb of light came into his room and all his pain vanished. The man could not speak of it without weeping. He repeatedly emphasized that he has never been a religious man and he doesn't know what he experienced, but it's safe to say he 100% believes he had a supernatural experience.

 

Do atheists think, "Oh, that's a bunch of bull..." anytime they encounter a story like this? Or do they say, "Bizarre...I wonder what that could have been?"

 

 

My usual reaction would be: I wonder what brain quirk caused that? Brains are strange, mechanical systems and they do produce oddnesses: deja vu is the most common. Someone who is ill or under stress is more likely to have an odd phenomenon, I would think (I'm by no means an expert).

 

I would not, of course, be rude about someone's beliefs if they were giving him comfort.

 

Laura

  • Like 6
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have issue with Christianity because that's what is shoved down my throat.

 

The woman knocking on my door isn't pushing anything but the Christian god.

 

I'm "ruining" my kids because we don't celebrate the Christian holidays. No one comments about us not celebrating Jewish/Muslim/pagan/whatever holidays.

 

In places I've been, people get offended that I don't believe in the Christian god, but don't care about others.

 

I learned a bunch from a wonderful Muslim woman who gladly answered questions and left it at that.

 

I've never met a Jewish person pushing their beliefs on me. I was able to ask questions, thank them and move on. That can't be done with Christians; it's always a push and battle and they have to strongly prove their "right-ness." (Not intending to generalize, just personal experience)

 

Prime example.

We are backstage at a dance recital and two super religious girls decide what a great idea it would be to all join hands and do a prayer circle. So they start "lord, jesus christ, bless us this day......."

Okay now wait. First they are assuming that everyone there believes in both without asking. Why? Because they have been trained to believe that they are right and everyone MUST believe the way they do. Did they even pause to try and make it general? No. My girls just rolled their eyes. Anyone not christian would be offended by this and I was. It was not a religious venue or event. Keep it to yourself.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kind of funny but I coincidentally just came across a thread (it was on the bottom of a thread under similar threads) asking what religion members on this board were and quite a few of the atheists on this thread answered still as Christians (WishboneDawn, Orthodox6, Ishki, Joanne (?) ) This prompted me to wonder whether many of you have more recently self-identified as atheist or if it was a matter of doubting for a long time but still considering yourselves a believer in Christianity until more recently or you just used that in name only?

 

 

I was a Christian my entire life until the last few years. It has only been in the last year that I finally accepted I was no longer a believer. I still identified as Christian until this last year, just a really liberal, progressive, God as the ground of all being, Karen Armstrong sort of Christian until I finally stopped kidding myself.

 

I told someone the whole process was like clinging to a branch over an abyss and watching the roots of the branch pop one by one. But then after the last root comes out you look down, realize the drop is actually nothing, land easily on your feet, shake out those poor hands that were clinging so tightly and so unnecessarily, and walk off to put your energy elsewhere. Life is good.

  • Like 18
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kind of funny but I coincidentally just came across a thread (it was on the bottom of a thread under similar threads) asking what religion members on this board were and quite a few of the atheists on this thread answered still as Christians (WishboneDawn, Orthodox6, Ishki, Joanne (?) )

 

I thought Orthodox6 continues to strongly identify as an Orthodox Christian.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The old "rules" were in effect for centuries (arguably longer than Christianity). Your belief that certain rules were wiped away by the sacrifice of Jesus isn't a shared belief throughout Christendom. The fact that witches were killed specifically within the privilege of the law, because the bible presents God's opinion on such matters, as late as the 17th century, suggests your opinion is the relatively late player in the game. Further, children and women are still, currently, accused and punished for the "crime" of witchcraft by Christian believers throughout the world. Today. This is a gruesome, horrifying reality that has been lent credibility by the fact that most Christians believe, teach, and evangelize the idea that there is a supernatural reality that includes evil forces (Satan, demons, evil) that can and does affect people.

 

Actually I am an atheist too. It's not my belief. I'm just putting some context around the oversimplified claim that the Judeo-Christian God is a God of violence and retribution. Those horrors are in the Bible, but so is the cure for them.

 

No one can doubt that many horrifying things have been, and are, done in the name of the Bible. But the Bible itself is more complex than "gotcha" quotes might make one believe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was a Christian my entire life until the last few years. It has only been in the last year that I finally accepted I was no longer a believer. I still identified as Christian until this last year, just a really liberal, progressive, God as the ground of all being, Karen Armstrong sort of Christian until I finally stopped kidding myself.

 

I told someone the whole process was like clinging to a branch over an abyss and watching the roots of the branch pop one by one. But then after the last root comes out you look down, realize the drop is actually nothing, land easily on your feet, shake out those poor hands that were clinging so tightly and so unnecessarily, and walk off to put your energy elsewhere. Life is good.

 

WOW. I am standing over the abyss and the bottom looks so far that I am scared that the fall might kill me. Roots have been snapping for the last ten years, yet I cling all the more strongly to what I have left. I don't want all the roots to snap; I don't want to fall into the abyss. I am terrified of it. I am going to keep clinging to the tree, but I just couldn't let your post go by without thanking you. Your analogy is perfect and I thank you for it.

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those horrors are in the Bible, but so is the cure for them.

 

Respectfully, I disagree. The "cure" is only there after the "disease" has been sold.

 

No one can doubt that many horrifying things have been, and are, done in the name of the Bible. But the Bible itself is more complex than "gotcha" quotes might make one believe.

 

 

The bible is very complex indeed, but why are should we assume these unattractive aspects are merely "gotcha" quotes and not an accurate window into the history of the religion and the belief of the community?

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...