36
   

Why are Atheists so Scary?

 
 
Twirlip
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:04 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
Actually, most of these demonisations and fairy tales you distress yourself with about atheism seem to me to be smoke-screens for a much more realistically based existential anxiety...about emptiness and meaningless and mortality..."the void" if you will.

That's a fear most of us face (unless, I suppose, so embedded in some religion or other, that we never think for ourselves) and deal with. Part of the human condition and all.

I have never doubted for a moment that that was the ultimate source of sunshine sun's fear; on the other hand, I have never for one moment had any sense that he was trying to distract himself from his fear by means of "demonisations and fairy tales" or "smoke-screens".

So, how might an atheist attempt to soothe someone's fear of "the void"? Or to be more specific, how would you?
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:10 pm
@Twirlip,
if you stare into the void long enough, the void stares back.
plainoldme
 
  2  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:10 pm
Much earlier today, Sunday, the 20th, littlek said something to the effect that most atheists do not try to persuade others to become atheists. I agree. Most atheists are rather quiet about their beliefs or, if you so chose to label it so, their lack of beliefs. A proselytizing atheist seems a contradiction. That alone makes atheists not scary but rather comfortable.
dlowan
 
  3  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:27 pm
@Twirlip,
Quote:
have never for one moment had any sense that he was trying to distract himself from his fear by means of "demonisations and fairy tales" or "smoke-screens".


So...what do you think is the meaning of all the stuff about "atheists don't give to charity, have no love or joy in their lives, are lonely and without human connection, are always angry"?

I'm agnostic, not actually atheist.

I don't think one ought to soothe that kind of existential fear...I think one simply needs to face it and accept the reality of it.

Of course, neither I nor anyone else, I think, does that all day every day! I, for one, am too busy working, playing, learning and thinking and generally distracting myself.

For me, that this brief spark is all there is makes it all way more important, and makes me want to partake of the good in life as much as I can, and to do what I can to give others as much good as I can.

For me, the enormity of suffering experienced by other living things (and my own, when I happen to be suffering) is far harder to deal with than simple annihilation.

I see no reason to fear that any more than I should fear not having been there before I was born!

Of course, the suffering thing is all bound up with the existential anxiety about meaning in the face of all that horror, I know.

I guess I soothe that fear by working in amongst the horror.

Finn dAbuzz
 
  0  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:27 pm
@dyslexia,
dyslexia wrote:

if you stare into the void long enough, the void stares back.


A glommer of Nietzsche - who knew?
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:29 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Probably pretty much everyone, except possibly you and a couple of others.
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:32 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
pretty amazing for trailer trash?
Twirlip
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:35 pm
@Twirlip,
Also (I tried to edit my post to add this, but it was too late):

Which is more frightening?

And (a separate question) which is more true, or real?

(a) A void of meaninglessness?

(b) A supposedly loving God who leaves us, not only to suffer, but to suffer without even a knowledge of His presence?

(And who apparently does some small favours for some people, randomly, occasionally, from out of the blue, while allowing others to be tortured, and die, sometimes as infants? And who allows assholes to preach in His name, and prosper?)

For myself, I think it is (a) the void that is more frightening, but (b) the apparently loving, but certainly abandoning and capricious God, Who is more real.

Of course, I might easily be deluded or deceived on both counts.

But I wasn't brought up to think these things, nor does it come naturally to me; atheism was for me, for most of my life, the comfortable, natural, sane, decent, and moral position. It's been a long and strange road.

I still vividly remember the Christians at my secondary school telling me I was going to Hell, and asking me if it didn't bother me to be just a bunch of atoms swirling in a void. It genuinely didn't bother me at the time, and I told them so. But it bothers me now, inasmuch as I still feel it to be true. On the other hand, I now think that I was deceiving myself, and whistling in the dark.

I'm tempted to go on and on! But this isn't my thread; also, my thoughts about these things are mainly for myself, and I don't think it actually does me or anyone else any good for me to discuss them in a general philosophy forum.

Keeping it as brief as I can then, and turning it round:

Are you sure that the Void exists?

If so, how do you reconcile your belief in the Void with your actual relationships with family, friends, and colleagues, not to mention random strangers on the Net? Do you believe it all to be an illusion, yet somehow find reason to continue with it, and perhaps even bring children into the world to partake of the same illusion? Do you just "make stuff up"? (As theists are often accused of doing.)

(Also have to keep this frustratingly short, because the child I foolishly brought into the world to share its absurdity with me wants to talk to me.) Smile
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:47 pm
@plainoldme,
plainoldme wrote:

Much earlier today, Sunday, the 20th, littlek said something to the effect that most atheists do not try to persuade others to become atheists. I agree. Most atheists are rather quiet about their beliefs or, if you so chose to label it so, their lack of beliefs. A proselytizing atheist seems a contradiction. That alone makes atheists not scary but rather comfortable.

Much like the theists of yore did not have to proselytize atheists in modernized countries don't have to either. The core building blocks of atheism are also the core foundational elements of a child's education. if a child is continuously graded on regurgitating non-theist elements for two decades, it becomes a large part of their self esteem. I'm stupid if I don't get this right, and they are the authorities so they must be right. A proselytization force is not needed and will continue to be less and less needed as the more educated and thus more wealthy people in a nations population lean more and more towards atheism.

As you may have noticed throughout this thread there is a reactionary proselyting happening among the atheists. Although according to the logic of atheism one should not feel the pressure to preach, the nature of human behavior goads even the most timid of people into it, especially in response to perceived slights and ridicule to one of their identity's most precious tenets.

there have been several posts about the resurgence of radical right wing religious orgs. Look on the bright side. Much like the flame that is happening in this thread, their resurgence is likely a reactionary last effort to not relinquish their christian/muslim/jewish/whatever traditions. As long as the justification for atheist belief remains in the public education system, it will be just that, a last stand.
roger
 
  4  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:56 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

If you don't appreciate a poster's "attack" on your atheism you have two very powerful and totally effective responses: withdraw from participation in the thread or ignore the attacker.



That would be advice to others, rather than yourself, right?
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:56 pm
@littlek,
littlek wrote:

Finn, to us god has as much factual validity as unicorns do. There has been no more evidence of a god than of unicorns.


Maybe God is really a Narwhal
Twirlip
 
  4  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 05:57 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
So...what do you think is the meaning of all the stuff about "atheists don't give to charity, have no love or joy in their lives, are lonely and without human connection, are always angry"?

What I think about it is that sunshine sun is often all over the place, and if you want to find fault with him, and even take offence, he'll give you plenty to play with! But I am really surprised that so many people here have found that to be the natural direction in which to take the conversation. (I suppose it must have something to do with that history of having to defend yourselves against fundies.)
dlowan wrote:
I guess I soothe that fear by working in amongst the horror.

That's a good answer.
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:03 pm
@GoshisDead,
[Much like the theists of yore did not have to proselytize atheists in modernized countries don't have to either. The core building blocks of atheism are also the core foundational elements of a child's education] Are you saying that you must become as a child inorder to inter into the kingdom of heaven or are you saying something different?
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:08 pm
@reasoning logic,
I may not have made it clear that I was talking about the fundamental building blocks of the education system as institutionalized in modernized countries.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:09 pm
@Twirlip,
I suppose you are right, re the direction to take on talking about his fear. But.. the absurdity was compelling to respond to.
0 Replies
 
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:17 pm
@GoshisDead,
I do think that you made it clear and I do apologize for pokeing fun at what you said as that was ignorant of me.
The way I see it is that we have to become as a child because as a teen or a adult we have already made up our minds and we think that we have the correct answers. but as a child your mind is open instead of closed to new points of views and you are more willing to consider other points of views, but a adult all ready knows from confirmation bias.
dlowan
 
  3  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:27 pm
@Twirlip,
I, personally would be more than happy if you continued!

Quote:
1. Are you sure that the Void exists?

2. If so, how do you reconcile your belief in the Void with your actual relationships with family, friends, and colleagues, not to mention random strangers on the Net? Do you believe it all to be an illusion, yet somehow find reason to continue with it, and perhaps even bring children into the world to partake of the same illusion? Do you just "make stuff up"? (As theists are often accused of doing.)



1. No, I am agnostic, remember? Wink For all I know there might a whole world thinly veiled from us that is teeming with Jehovahs, the entire Greek pantheon, fairies, pixies, unicorns, the Great Mother Goddess, and every Indian godling, nature spirits from the entire face of the earth and deities various from all the multitudinous planets in the universe and all the possible universes beyond all just busting to make me a glorious eternal life.

I simply see no evidence of that, and believe it more likely that there IS a void. But I kind of like the void.


2. I have no idea why believing in a void should have any effect on my relationships...in fact, as I said earlier (I think) the void makes connectedness and compassion and experience all the more important to mebecause I have the chance to exist (or so it appears.)

Can you tell me what makes you ask that question, because I truly cannot see any rationale for it.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:28 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:

littlek wrote:

Finn, to us god has as much factual validity as unicorns do. There has been no more evidence of a god than of unicorns.


Maybe God is really a Narwhal


I believe the god of narwhals is 99.99% likely to be a narwhal.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  4  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:34 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
So did this part of the discussion move or are we still on this thread? I couldn't tell. Will cross-post if need be.

Finn dAbuzz wrote:

sozobe wrote:

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
If you wish to insist that there is as much intuitive reason to believe in unicorns as there is to believe in God, so be it.

I'm not going to push the matter beyond noting how amazing it is that intelligent people will so often rely on ignorance when it suits them.


You made an important change to what I said. I am not saying anything so general. You clearly find the belief in god to be intuitive. Littlek and I do not -- and you have been asking us about why we do not believe. I think that may be one important piece of it. The intuitiveness that you take for granted does not exist... for us.


Sorry sozobe but you introduced the unicorn analogy. Don't fault me because I responded to it.


I'm not complaining about the unicorn part. I'm talking specifically about the intuitiveness factor right now. I think that's actually really central.

I'll stop saying "we" because I'm uncomfortable speaking at length for littlek and others who seem to think similarly, will take it back to just me.

The idea of A Singular God has never been intuitive to me.

Now, I want to be sure I'm separating something out. I'm explaining my own thinking, after requests for just that. The corollary is NOT that I think that people who believe in God are just as silly as people who believe in unicorns. The analogy doesn't go both ways. It's simply a thought experiment -- since I surmised (correctly) that you don't believe in unicorns, that non-belief you already have can be compared to my non-belief in any gods.

Since you DO believe in God, I have to use an analogy of something YOU don't believe in to demonstrate how inconsequential -- to ME -- this non-belief is.

This does not mean that I think your own belief in your God is inconsequential. Again, I am not anti-religion, and know many intelligent, logical people who are religious. I don't think they are silly or illogical for believing in God (the way I would think they are silly or illogical for believing in unicorns). I think that faith can transcend logic and that the very transcendence can be an important and valuable force in many people's lives.

The context here, though, is explaining my own lack of religion, and how that doesn't trouble me as much as many theists imagine.

And I think that this "intuitive" stuff has actually led to a pretty interesting insight. If a belief in God is seen by theists as universally intuitive, that would explain some of the lens littlek was talking about. If theists assume that we all start out believing in God and then have to cast it off somehow, have to rebel, be turned off, ACT in some way to go back on that intuition, that explains some of the ascription of motive that doesn't always exist.

Quote:
If you don't find a belief in God to be intuitive, that's fine, but don't try and compare it to a belief in unicorns if you don't want to be called on your comparison.


Hopefully the above made this clear, but to reiterate, the fact that I don't find a belief in God intuitive is very much a central point. It's answering your question, without casting aspersions on your own belief. It's not a two-way analogy, it's simply a way of helping you to understand MY mindset on this issue.

Quote:
How did it all start?

You can't answer that question of course, but tell me why "I have no effin clue," is more intellectually compelling than "There must have been a creative force?"


Because I don't see any evidence for a creative force. And I guess more to the point, what difference does it make? If the Big Bang occurred because a creative force said "make it so," does that significantly change anything? As I said in my response to F'art's thread, the line between "wow nature!" and "wow God!" is pretty fine when it comes to just creation -- just the initial spark that led to the Big Bang. I think it's nature, not God, but I'm agnostic... I'm willing to be convinced, one way or another. In terms of belief, of faith, I don't currently think any kind of god had anything to do with it.
dlowan
 
  3  
Reply Sun 20 Jun, 2010 06:35 pm
@Twirlip,
We sure have had some mighty prolific and annoying fundies.

One of them tried to get a bunch of folk over from some fundy forum she was on to try to convert us "because the devil is strong" over here.
0 Replies
 
 

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