8
   

Why you became an atheist

 
 
jeeprs
 
  2  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 01:52 am
Unlike a lot of disenchanted Christians, I have no background with it, other than having gone to an Anglican school and going to chapel twice a week. I decided not to get confirmed - to be honest, I think it all looked like hard work - and my father didn't object in the least. So I never had any experience with angst-ridden hypocritical screwed up clergy, or anything of the kind. None of my family or anyone around me was Christian. Australia tends to be much less overtly Christian than the States (as I understand it). At the time of leaving, I thought nothing much of it. I think I have always been inwardly spiritual, but always in a very solitary way.

The first Catholics I had contact with was in my mis-spent youth. At the time I was smoking an ounce of dope a week and trying to be a guitar player. I had applied for unemployment benefits and they offered me one of the standard jobs they offer to people who want the dole, on the grounds that if you turn it down, they are allowed to refuse you. So I came to be a general wardsman at the emergency department of a Catholic teaching hospital, the Mater Misercordae. It was presided over by a senior teaching nun, Sister Mary Louis. I saw a lot of life in that job. Long periods of complete boredom interspersed with sudden emergencies and heart-breaking personal tragedies. Many of the younger sisters were nuns too. Some seemed neurotic, repressed and unhappy. Some seemed serene in the midst of chaos. Sister Mary Louis impressed me a lot with her ability to empathize completely with patients in states of mortal distress, while always maintaining the espirit de corp. There was definitely a spiritual power around those nuns. (My wife underwent major surgery in the same hospital, which has since been upgraded, 5 years ago. I felt it again then.)

I stayed 9 months. After that I hitchhiked to Satyananda's Yoga Ashram out in the bush and stayed there for 6 months. There is a very odd sort of epilogue to that story, also, but I have already said enough. But it was one of my first exposures to Yoga philosophy and non-dualism.

These were two of the formative experiences in my spiritual outlook. I don't fit nearly into the theist-atheist divide (which is very Western) but am definitely nearer the former.
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  2  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 05:50 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:
I agree totally we believe or we don't. Some people have a desire to some people don't. I've literally tried to not believe. I work in a field that requires a non-Christian timeline to function, and yet here I am still deeply religious.

On desire: I think I probably qualify - that I do wish I believed. But its extremely important for me to be honest with myself, as I see it is for you. For any idea or 'truth' I work very hard to make distinctions between:
  1. What I wish or want the case to be
  2. What I believe the 'truth' really is
  3. What I know (or can firmly assert with confidence)

#1 Represents my emotional or personal desire.
#2 Is where I evaluate the situation and try to come to a "likely" result
#3 Is where I put on my critical thinking hat and only return a result if I feel REALLY confident that I have enough information to responsibly 'judge'.

Whether or not there are any gods (of any kind) gets played out this way:
  1. I wish I could look upon creation/myself and take comfort in knowing that there is purposeful design, a plan, an afterlife that rewards justice and honesty. If I could find any reason to buy in to this belief, I would.

  2. That this is all there is; that religion and spirituality is simply a narcissistic way for our minds to avoid the reality of a temporary and corporeal existence; trying to grope our way towards any personal meaning.

  3. I haven't enough facts to ascertain whether or not there are any gods or truthful basis for notions of spirituality and mysticism. I simply don't know

I think its important that we all - to some extent or another - make such distinctions epistemologically.

Thanks
P.S: I'm curious about your field of work and the "non christian timeline" - care to clarify?
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 06:37 am
I know that wasn't addressed to me but I can't resist.

First, the reason I got into philosophy was as an alternative to simply 'believing'. I had kind of 'spiritual inclinations' and experiences as a child. None of them fitted into the Christian framework, although I am not anti-christian.

But the point is there is an alternative to belief, Platonism in particular. It is meticulously rational, yet also spiritual. To me this is the real tradition of Western philosophy, much of which has now become anti-philosophy.

From the Amazon description of Keys to Gnosis, Dr Robert Bolton.
Quote:
"For a long time now, religion in the West has been polarized between a democratic kind of faith meant for simple believers, and divine mysteries so high that hardly anyone can claim to know much about them. The vital connecting link between them, that of metaphysical religion, is all but lost..." (From the Introduction.) There are many books that seek to answer the fundamental questions of life: Who am I? Does life have a purpose? How should I live? Dr Bolton's book brings to these universal questions an extraordinary degree of metaphysical insight. It contains in highly condensed form a veritable library of traditional wisdom, offering a systematic reconstruction of our understanding of the soul and its relation to archetypal reality. Its starting-point is the fact that increasing numbers of people seem to lack spiritual and material power over their own lives. Modern man feels like a victim. But true power, real freedom, is closer than we think. Our mistake lies in accepting a false view of the self, and neglecting the metaphysical dimension that gives access to eternity. Dr Bolton's book offers a crash-course in liberation. It can liberate us, specifically, from a common sense idea of reality which is profoundly false, and which holds us in unconscious slavery to time and appearances. The book defends the capacity of the human mind to obtain objective insight, despite the obfuscations of postmodernism, and represents a bold development of the Platonist tradition associated with St Augustine, Plotinus, and Proclus. "This book is like a diamond: a diamond placed not in a necklace, but at the business end of a drill. It is up to us to use the drill to penetrate reality. Writing the book was a great achievement. Reading it invites us to make the achievement our own."
.


gungasnake
 
  0  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 07:05 am
Quote:
Why you became an atheist?



Ignorance. I grew out of it shortly after I learned to read...
0 Replies
 
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 07:49 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:

First, the reason I got into philosophy was as an alternative to simply 'believing'. I had kind of 'spiritual inclinations' and experiences as a child. None of them fitted into the Christian framework, although I am not anti-christian.
That sounds familiar. As a child I believed that there was something behind everything.... like everything you can see is a veil and something more real is hiding. I really don't know how I got that idea, but I think it was related to odd experiences like dreams coming true, and all the other "things people don't talk about" as I called them. So I was primed to understand the flaws in conventional notions of time and space.

Then as I grew older, I never developed a clear sense of identity. I learned to look through other people's eyes to know how to comport myself. So a duality pervaded my outlook... the superficial me and the unformed me down inside. The superficial me has an old habit now of changing vantage points... seeing the world as others around me see it. It has to do with understanding the underlying emotion. As it turns out emotion is contagious... call it empathy. Understand how another person feels, and everything else follows.

The underlying me has an outlook that I could describe this way: life is a dream. But there's no dogma to this. So when people say "God" I tap into what they mean by the word. My experience is that it has many meanings. If a person says there is no "God" again... there are many meanings.

Aristophanes has Socrates saying "There is no such thing as Zeus." The emotional language here is multifaceted. It's a complex of emotions, some of which are directly conflicting. But then, for me, every story is made of directly conflicting truths. The yin/yang symbol says it all.

I read a book called The Tree of Gnosis. It was an argument for what I think is called structuralism. Gnosticism poses a challenge for religion experts in terms of its origin. There was a point when religion experts...a lot of the German, came to the conclusion that its origin must be at least 10,000 years ago somewhere in Central Asia. The author's point was that this is the same as saying "we don't know." Maybe its origin is the structure of the mind.
0 Replies
 
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 10:06 am
@Khethil,
Descriptive and restorative native american linguistics, archaeology, and ethnography. To have any credibility in the field you have to toe the party line of Bering migration, while at the same time respecting all native traditions stories and cosmologies.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 10:16 am
@GoshisDead,
That's the knub of religion; most humans have a need to believe.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 10:28 am
@cicerone imposter,
Indeed most humans do. I've come to terms with it.
0 Replies
 
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 10:40 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:

Descriptive and restorative native american linguistics, archaeology, and ethnography. To have any credibility in the field you have to toe the party line of Bering migration, while at the same time respecting all native traditions stories and cosmologies.
Is it true that some languages don't have words for "me" or "mine"?
GoshisDead
 
  2  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 11:28 am
@Arjuna,
This will get way off topic.

The possessive seems to be universal. There are some languages that do not have words for mine, but those ideas are expressed in affixes and other grammatical structures. I have worked on languages that express it in the abscence of a grammatical structure which functions as a structure itself. In the language everything is possessed and if there is not a possessive prefix the object mentioned is by default my/mine. To rectify things that are nobody's they use inclusive and exclusive 'our' prefixes. The inclusive our by default means everyone's who is within ear shot of the speaker, which by extention means everyone period.

I do not know of a language that does no have the pronoun I/me. I wrote my master's thesis on pronominal systems, and am fairly certain that it is a necessary category in human language to separate first from second person. 3rd and 4th person are progressively more iffy and shifty.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 11:35 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna wrote:
Why you became an atheist

Because it's the only thing that makes any freakin sense. Smile
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 11:41 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:

I do not know of a language that does no have the pronoun I/me. I wrote my master's thesis on pronominal systems, and am fairly certain that it is a necessary category in human language to separate first from second person. 3rd and 4th person are progressively more iffy and shifty.
Damn! What are the chances of meeting an expert in something that fascinates you? So in Cherokee there's a word for woman, and if you add a "la" at the end, it means "my woman." But how do you know it doesn't just mean: a woman who's special to me... as opposed to possession?
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 11:43 am
@rosborne979,
rosborne979 wrote:

Arjuna wrote:
Why you became an atheist

Because it's the only thing that makes any freakin sense. Smile

You gotta go with whatever makes the most freakin sense. What's the alternative?

Cool movie: The gods must be crazy.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 11:54 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna wrote:

rosborne979 wrote:

Arjuna wrote:
Why you became an atheist

Because it's the only thing that makes any freakin sense. Smile

You gotta go with whatever makes the most freakin sense. What's the alternative?

Exactly Smile
Arjuna wrote:

Cool movie: The gods must be crazy.

That was a great movie. I saw it in the theater when it came out. The sequel was pretty good as well.
0 Replies
 
GoshisDead
 
  2  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 12:14 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna wrote:

GoshisDead wrote:

I do not know of a language that does no have the pronoun I/me. I wrote my master's thesis on pronominal systems, and am fairly certain that it is a necessary category in human language to separate first from second person. 3rd and 4th person are progressively more iffy and shifty.
Damn! What are the chances of meeting an expert in something that fascinates you? So in Cherokee there's a word for woman, and if you add a "la" at the end, it means "my woman." But how do you know it doesn't just mean: a woman who's special to me... as opposed to possession?


It very well could, the genetive(possesive) is a grammatical category, it reforms a function. The meanings can be flexible.
Just this morning I was walking in the hallway and heard a fellow speaking to a coworker. He said "how's my little girl?" to a lady to whom he was not related. In this case he was inquiring about his friend's daughter not implying at all that his friend's daughter was his in any significant way, only that he had significant affection for his friend's daughter.

The possessive category can extend possession past what it is directly associated with. The fellow inquiring about the special girl. I would have to have a few interviews with people who use this as a means of inquiry, but off the top of my head I would say that there is an expression of possession in all intances of using the possessive. It may be either a matter of degree or a matter of substitution. By substitution when a person says my girl or my woman in the man that that fellow did he is substituting that word for the sentiment of friend or someone for whom he hold special feelings. Much as the terms "my man" or "my dawg" are used.

Some have argued that the possessive term can be seen as the referring to possession of feeling towards that which is being possessed grammatically, as possession is really a term for restricting access to or excluding parties from. Possessing land and bio-objects are social constructs. Possessing people the same. No one can literally possess something, the only thing they can literally possess is the feeling that they have towards it. Its our sense of possession, not our actual possession that inspires the action that a person takes to either gain possession and maintain it at whatever cost. hence the possibility of possessive use of my lady as degree.
Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 02:21 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:

It very well could, the genetive(possesive) is a grammatical category, it reforms a function. The meanings can be flexible.
Just this morning I was walking in the hallway and heard a fellow speaking to a coworker. He said "how's my little girl?" to a lady to whom he was not related. In this case he was inquiring about his friend's daughter not implying at all that his friend's daughter was his in any significant way, only that he had significant affection for his friend's daughter.

So it's flexible. That makes sense. The man conveys a warm emotion... without saying it, he's created the understanding that he has connection... it may be a joke that he is the child's parent, but the joke suggests something that probably wouldn't translate if he said it straight out.

That's another thing that fascinates me about language... how directly translating poetry can make the meaning disappear.


GoshisDead wrote:

Some have argued that the possessive term can be seen as the referring to possession of feeling towards that which is being possessed grammatically, as possession is really a term for restricting access to or excluding parties from. Possessing land and bio-objects are social constructs. Possessing people the same. No one can literally possess something, the only thing they can literally possess is the feeling that they have towards it. Its our sense of possession, not our actual possession that inspires the action that a person takes to either gain possession and maintain it at whatever cost. hence the possibility of possessive use of my lady as degree.
This makes me think: if what you literally possess is yourself, then possession could be seen as an expansion of identity. When I say the house is mine... I'm saying the house is part of me. So it could be that possession stems from the most fundamental aspect of rationality: what's me versus not-me.

Last question: I know a German person who's fluent in both Russian and English. She had read War and Peace in both German and Russian. She said the meaning changes because of the nature of the languages. To explain, she said in English we say "I am cold." In German they say "I have cold" and in Russian it's "the cold is upon me." So because of that, she said the novel has a psychoanalytic character in German. We're seeing the subconscious forces at work.

Whereas in Russian, the characters are more like marshmallows amid tempestuous forces... their own feelings are upon them in the same way a rainy day comes upon one. You don't own the rain.

So if its true that language captures a certain kind of experience of life, how do you capture the experience of hunger-gatherers?

And thanks!
GoshisDead
 
  3  
Reply Thu 2 Sep, 2010 02:50 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna wrote:

So if its true that language captures a certain kind of experience of life, how do you capture the experience of hunger-gatherers?

And thanks!


The real answer is that you really can not erase bias from translation. All the various personal, literary, economic, geographic, geo-physical, socio-cultural, etc... influences on the evolution and current incarnation of a language and its speakers render it very difficult. Couple that with the cases, in your example, of literature and poetry and the atypical structures used with them compound the translation problems.
0 Replies
 
failures art
 
  1  
Reply Mon 27 Sep, 2010 02:41 am
I don't think I became an atheist as much as I realized I was one, and had been one. When I had this epiphany, I also acknowledged that it wasn't recent; that I had for a long time been an atheist. Determining a single point in time when something changed is impossible for me to determine.

A
Realized
T
0 Replies
 
north
 
  1  
Reply Tue 28 Sep, 2010 11:33 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna wrote:

Epicurus was a Greek philosopher who lived around 300 BC.

His outlook was this: follow the path that creates the greatest sense of well-being. He had a scientific and egalitarian outlook. He had a beautiful garden and encouraged people to see that whatever gods there may be do not concern themselves with us.

He was opposed to overindulgence because of the unpleasant bloated feeling that follows. He avoided politics or any other pursuit which brings turmoil. He preferred to live in seclusion surrounded by friends.

Superstition brings turmoil. To struggle with faith that God came from heaven to save us by allowing himself to be tortured to death... although he didn't actually die... this is stressful stuff.

Releasing it all and adopting a naturalist perspective brings a sense of peace. Epicurus would approve.

He wouldn't approve of philosophical investigations regarding what we actually know... if those investigations left us with unnerving questions. His view would be that the proper way to handle unanswered questions is to ignore them and embrace the equilibrium of the spirit which comes from knowing that your outlook has freed you from superstitious fear.

Epicurus would be disappointed (but not in a stressful way) with the fact that many people who grow up with naturalist outlooks eventually convert to some religion. I was considering recently how many of my religious friends are examples of this. Why would they choose to embrace superstition? Why would they choose a path of fear and turmoil over the peaceful well-being of the naturalist?

Because they found peace and well-being in religion that didn't exist for them otherwise. I think it's the conversion that brings peace. It doesn't actually matter in which direction you convert... either way, the conversion eliminates something that was stressful. And that relief is what gets the attention.



because all religions subjugates Human Beings

that attitude by religions , toward Humanity , I deplore
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 29 Sep, 2010 04:04 am
I became an atheist just to piss people off online.

As EB noted, there sure are a lot of atheist threads lately. It's getting tedious.
 

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