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Atheism has its disadvantages when it comes to battling depression -

For example, I'm an atheist myself. That makes me believe that mankind has come to be from evolution and 'survival of the fittest', not from genesis. We prevailed because of superior brain power and in the process eliminated a few other species because of our own greed - eg. dodo.

Thinking in the perspective of 'survival of the fittest' can be very demoralizing. It makes you think that all the depressed people like us are meant to be wiped out one day by the mentally stable and superior people. How?

Imagine there are two guys - one mentally stable and with a better personality, and the other with depression and social anxiety. Now imagine that a girl had to chose one of them to spend the rest of her life and have babies with. Obviously she would choose the mentally fit person. And we all know that depression has genetic roots. The offspring of the new couple will in turn have mentally fit children (assuming that the girl is herself mentally fit)

Moral of the story - Depression is a big turn of when you're out to pick up girls. I admit there is personal experience involved in my thinking, but I also draw up this theory by observing others unrelated to me in any way.

At least the theory of genesis makes you think that 'God sent me here for a purpose. I have a role to fulfill, I just have to find out what it is'. There is no safety net like this for atheists.

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It may be possible that research in DNA will allow us to change genes that cause any kind of disability including mental. Then everyone will be a superior person. Hopefully, it will also change the way people treat others to a more positive way. There may not be faith but there can always be hope. Best to all.

Lillian

Atheism has its disadvantages when it comes to battling depression -

For example, I'm an atheist myself. That makes me believe that mankind has come to be from evolution and 'survival of the fittest', not from genesis. We prevailed because of superior brain power and in the process eliminated a few other species because of our own greed - eg. dodo.

Thinking in the perspective of 'survival of the fittest' can be very demoralizing. It makes you think that all the depressed people like us are meant to be wiped out one day by the mentally stable and superior people. How?

Imagine there are two guys - one mentally stable and with a better personality, and the other with depression and social anxiety. Now imagine that a girl had to chose one of them to spend the rest of her life and have babies with. Obviously she would choose the mentally fit person. And we all know that depression has genetic roots. The offspring of the new couple will in turn have mentally fit children (assuming that the girl is herself mentally fit)

Moral of the story - Depression is a big turn of when you're out to pick up girls. I admit there is personal experience involved in my thinking, but I also draw up this theory by observing others unrelated to me in any way.

At least the theory of genesis makes you think that 'God sent me here for a purpose. I have a role to fulfill, I just have to find out what it is'. There is no safety net like this for atheists.

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Lillian,

Changing genes? Its a bit futuristic, but even if something like that does get invented - everybody would first rush to cure cancer and diabetes and other stuff like that.

Mental illness always falls last. It's a fact that psychiatry is the least developed medical field.

Also, I think changing mental genes is like sort of intruding upon people's personality. If you removed all the moody and shy people and replaced them with smooth talking casanovas, it would sort of upset the balance. I'm not saying its bad though, only interesting.

One more thing, if God really existed and this universe was his creation, he would get really angry if we started to mess with people's minds. Sort of like messing with free will, isn't it?

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Definitely futuristic but I am a fan of Isaac Asimov. While we are dreaming, we can somehow work it out not to change personalities too much. I agree we should rush to cure cancer, diabetes, etc., but I would include mental illness right up there, too. God doesn't seem to get angry when little children are ******** in Bosnia and little children starve to death in Africa so I don't know why he would get angry if we messed with people's minds. Sorry, a bit angry there myself. Best to you and to all.

Lillian

quote name='interferon' timestamp='1310308669' post='775715']

Lillian,

Changing genes? Its a bit futuristic, but even if something like that does get invented - everybody would first rush to cure cancer and diabetes and other stuff like that.

Mental illness always falls last. It's a fact that psychiatry is the least developed medical field.

Also, I think changing mental genes is like sort of intruding upon people's personality. If you removed all the moody and shy people and replaced them with smooth talking casanovas, it would sort of upset the balance. I'm not saying its bad though, only interesting.

One more thing, if God really existed and this universe was his creation, he would get really angry if we started to mess with people's minds. Sort of like messing with free will, isn't it?

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Thanks LaurynJcat, that's just the point I was trying to make. We all go through the stage of realising how horrible death is, it 'feels' cruel to us. It's especially hard when you're suffering with depression. Our emotions take over and our heads don't get a chance to work through anything rationally. It's taking a step back and thinking through things without letting our emotions get involved that helps us get through these awful thoughts. Death was scary to me at one point but it was the time I spent thinking over it rationally that helped me get over it. I don't fear death at all now.

As for what you said about the possible evolutionary advantages of depression, I also spend a lot of time thinking about that. Homosexuality is still present even though gay people don't procreate. If procreation was the only thing to influence the evolution of species then there'd be no such thing as homosexuality. If there were no advantages of depression in our species then there'd be barely any depressed people around. I certainly don't see us depressives going extinct. ;) It was Richard Dawkins when discussing memetics who spoke about the advantages of homosexuality. Just like you said about sensitivity, it's for those same reasons that evolution favors those characteristics and why we're all still here today discussing the matter. Hugs to you too! :)

Hi all.

Just wanted to say that as a big fan of Biology, I see the natural selection/ evolution cycle quite differently. I don't think it is "cruel" for animals to eat other animals (and I am vegetarian BTW). Animals are not capable of deliberate cruelty the way humans are. The "survival of the fittest" has evolved because it's the best, most efficient way for genes to perfect themselves. If there is no "Creator" there's no ill intent behind it - just a system. A system that is beautiful in its efficiency and complexity.

As an example, I was reading a biologist's view of smaller cat species (including domestic cats) "playing" with their prey (which has sometimes been seen as "cruel"). The biologist explained that cats in the wild would be vulnerable to being bitten and/or scratched by prey animals, and the bite becoming infected and wounding or ******* them. So the cat's "play" is an efficient method of making sure the prey is stunned before giving them the ******* bite. And of course the fact there's no "cruelty" involved can be seen when cats play even with inanimate objects - it's instinct. Even housecats fed from birth by humans will engage in hunting play.

Everything has to die. Dying of old age and/or illness and/or famine involve no less suffering than being eaten. Suffering and death are an inevitable mirror of pleasure and birth -- one cannot exist without the other.

Personally I am vegetarian due to human-created evils like factory farming and slaughterhouses -- not because I believe eating animals to survive is ethically wrong. Also, I believe most humans are healthier on a vegetarian died and there's a lot of evidence that humans were never meant to eat large quantities of meat like the typical American diet where some people eat meat 3x per day.

Of course the wonderful thing about humans (in which we can be seen as the "peak" of evolution) is that we are capable of self-awareness and compassion. We can act not just to reduce our own suffering, but that of other animals. For instance we can give our pets wonderful lives free of suffering even at death.

Just thoughts. This is such a great discussion and I'm so glad you're all here, fellow Atheists!

Hugs, Lauryn

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Atheism has its disadvantages when it comes to battling depression -

For example, I'm an atheist myself. That makes me believe that mankind has come to be from evolution and 'survival of the fittest', not from genesis. We prevailed because of superior brain power and in the process eliminated a few other species because of our own greed - eg. dodo.

Thinking in the perspective of 'survival of the fittest' can be very demoralizing. It makes you think that all the depressed people like us are meant to be wiped out one day by the mentally stable and superior people. How?

Imagine there are two guys - one mentally stable and with a better personality, and the other with depression and social anxiety. Now imagine that a girl had to chose one of them to spend the rest of her life and have babies with. Obviously she would choose the mentally fit person. And we all know that depression has genetic roots. The offspring of the new couple will in turn have mentally fit children (assuming that the girl is herself mentally fit)

Moral of the story - Depression is a big turn of when you're out to pick up girls. I admit there is personal experience involved in my thinking, but I also draw up this theory by observing others unrelated to me in any way.

At least the theory of genesis makes you think that 'God sent me here for a purpose. I have a role to fulfill, I just have to find out what it is'. There is no safety net like this for atheists.

I feel It's to build the Kingdom of God and that is it. Not to just go to school, get a job, make money, procreate and then die. Were all here NOT based on coincidence.

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Gay people are procreating today via surrogate gestators and sperm donors. You can certainly understand everyone wanting to have their own children. Modern medicine is a wonderful thing. Best to all.

Lillian

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True, it seems like with modern medicine "survival of the fittest" may be less and less relevant when it comes to homo sapiens. As well, we've grown the technology to be able to alter our environment to a great degree, rather than having to adapt to it.

In my truly humble opinion, I feel that in most cases depression and homosexuality have both genetic and environmental components. Perhaps there are indeed genetic factors that predispose one to more thinking and less "fight or flight" behaviors - those could certainly manifest themselves in the tendency, if nurtured from an early age, toward more compassionate thought - as well, if not surrounded by supportive, nurturing parents or friends in an open, accepting environment, depression or other disorders could result.

I feel that believers do have a built-in edge when it comes to depression. To have faith that you are loved by the creator of the universe and serve a higher power along with seven billion of your closest friends would serve as a powerful support system.

I've re-embraced Buddhism for a different reason. I fully appreciate how we can examine ourselves in terms of thoughts, the origins of our ideas and beliefs, and how through practice and meditation we can control our ideas, thought patterns, and reactions to maintain calm, health, and spread karma instead of simply passing along the day-to-day passive-aggressiveness of the modern world.

Just my $0.02.

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I am not a Buddhist but I do practice meditation and do find it very calming. In fact, I am just about to the place where I actually feel "out of my body." I have found I can do this at the dentist or even having my skin cancers removed and feel no anxiety, at all. Best to all.

Lillian

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I'm what you might call a militant agnostic;

Rule 1: I don't know if there's a God

Rule 2: Neither do you.

Effectively that encompasses atheism anyway, or non-theism, whatever people feel comfortable calling it. I've never kept it secret, but I doubt most people would even know as it hardly comes up and my opinion is we should all accept and tolerate others and their beliefs.

I've grown up being encouraged into religion but never really believed and constantly questioned the logic of it and it's followers. I'm still noticing how difficult it is to overcome the indoctrination though as we're always so impressionable as children. I've had some abuse for my beliefs and so depending on how ignorant and harsh they were being my responses have varied from politely mentioning the peace, love, and tolerance they're supposed to be showing and sorely lacking - to outright telling people where to shove it.

I have no problem discussing things with the religious, but it's generally pretty pointless and eventually gets me down, especially as it's a subject I've already mulled over sufficiently to draw my conclusions, and it honestly doesn't matter either way if there is or isn't a god, I'm still living my life the same way.

I guess I'm more an Apathetic Agnostic Atheist, but I have my own 'weird' moral beliefs and am generally assumed to be a good christian boy. HA! Not too sure how it's affected my depression. Believing in nothingness after death has removed all fear of it, and actively encourages suicide, but likewise believing this is the one life I get encourages me to stay and do something with it. In the end I guess it's more down to what I see around me, and as the vast majority of the world is religious I guess it wouldn't be unthinkable to blame it for the horrible mess we're in - but it's probably just human nature to be a complete selfish s*** and religion in the end makes no difference either way.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I feel that believers do have a built-in edge when it comes to depression. To have faith that you are loved by the creator of the universe and serve a higher power along with seven billion of your closest friends would serve as a powerful support system.

Yeah, totally agree. I wish I could believe-- I know my life would have been easier had I had not only the support system of billions of others (heck, I'd settle for millions), but God the omnipotent and omniscient. But I just can't. It makes no sense and because it makes no sense and because I have no impetus or anything ingrained in me that favors belief, it just ain't gonna happen. I tried. I prayed. I was baptized. No God, no miracle, no nothing. The world is not a miracle-- for all the beauty you see, there's an equal measure of ugliness. Tell me how God can allow innocent little children to starve to death or die in terrible pain of diseases, or be killed casually by fate or some of the rest of us-- any rationale you give, whether it's original sin or God's plan for the world or it all comes out for the best, does not wash with me.

I just finished Michael Shermer's "The Believing Brain," where he argues that we start with the belief, and our perceptual filter system looks for evidence to support it-- also, that we have a natural, evolutionary drive to (a) look for patterns in our world, and (b) to look for agents that are the cause the patterns. He gives the example of being a primitive man in the African savanna who hears a rustle in the tall grass. Is it the wind, or is it a hungry lion? From an evolutionary perspective, it's better to assume it's a lion and act accordingly. So for millenia, the explanation for patterns in the world was God. You want rain, or your kid to survive a traumatic injury? Pray to God. Science has eroded this, since so much can be explained without needing to resort to "God made it and that's all I need to know." I'm in the middle of Jesse Bering's "The Belief Instinct," which actually cuts closer to the built-in edge ratboy refers to for believers-- that we (well, other people, apparently not I) developed an instinct for belief because it helps us. So far, it reads like Bering is opting for "if you believe in it, then at some level it must be true," which to me is circular.

But I have no doubt that I would not be posting on a depression board, if only I could have believed in a God who cared for me. It is the overarching sense of the solitary battle that has worn me down over the years.

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Excuse a struggling believer for chiming in just for a moment, and no, I'm not here to try and convince you of anything. I am a respecter of beliefs (and/or knowledge). Especially since I find it so hard to define my own.

However, the current question of whether belief gives those with depression (and I'll add anxiety to that) an edge intrigues me, because in my case (and I can only speak for me) my faith only compounds/complicates my depression and anxiety.

Depression and anxiety make me question my own long held beliefs which sends me further spiralling. I've never lost it completely, but its come close.

Regardless, I only say that to say that I'm not sure it one can make the general statement that belief gives the believer an edge when dealing with mental health when in fact at times it can present its own difficulties.

Just my .02. :smilingteeth:

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Excuse a struggling believer for chiming in just for a moment, and no, I'm not here to try and convince you of anything. I am a respecter of beliefs (and/or knowledge). Especially since I find it so hard to define my own.

However, the current question of whether belief gives those with depression (and I'll add anxiety to that) an edge intrigues me, because in my case (and I can only speak for me) my faith only compounds/complicates my depression and anxiety.

Depression and anxiety make me question my own long held beliefs which sends me further spiralling. I've never lost it completely, but its come close.

Regardless, I only say that to say that I'm not sure it one can make the general statement that belief gives the believer an edge when dealing with mental health when in fact at times it can present its own difficulties.

Just my .02. :smilingteeth:

Hi azzy, and I appreciate your .02. I'm curious-- what are you thinking and feeling with regard to your faith at these times? (these are just some guesses) That God has forsaken you? That you don't have enough faith? You're being tested?

A definition of "faith" that makes sense to me is "to know without logical proof." That's what I think of when I think of faith being a (potential) bulwark against depression-- that you know a loving God cares about you, that you have a purpose in life (and yeah, for me those two are related-- I've stumbled through my life seeking some sort of purpose, deeply envying people who can take Rick Warren's book and apply it literally to their own life).

Existentialism is about as good as I can do, but there's not a lot of emotion involved with it.

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Hi azzy, and I appreciate your .02. I'm curious-- what are you thinking and feeling with regard to your faith at these times? (these are just some guesses) That God has forsaken you? That you don't have enough faith? You're being tested?

A definition of "faith" that makes sense to me is "to know without logical proof." That's what I think of when I think of faith being a (potential) bulwark against depression-- that you know a loving God cares about you, that you have a purpose in life (and yeah, for me those two are related-- I've stumbled through my life seeking some sort of purpose, deeply envying people who can take Rick Warren's book and apply it literally to their own life).

Existentialism is about as good as I can do, but there's not a lot of emotion involved with it.

Let's see if I can make this make some sense. During periods of acute anxiety, I question my faith. It begins like this "Don't worry, have faith" - because when I'm not anxious I believe in a God that loves me and that I have a purpose in my life. But as soon as I say that, the what-ifs start. So it goes from "Don't worry, have faith" to "But, what if have faith in something that really doesn't exist?" Then I argue with myself about it ad nauseum until the anxiety lessens, and my mind calms down.

For me, in the beginning, before I knew what anxiety was, I accused myself of not having enough faith. Now I realize that my doubt has nothing really to do with faith, but everything to do with GAD. Knowing that makes me more hopeful, but doesn't make the questions go away. Like you said, faith is something you can't logic yourself into, and my anxiety ridden mind does just that. It tries to logic its way into something illogical, which is fruitless.

By admission, I am a highly emotional person, even when "healthy" of mind and body. So when I'm healthy, faith makes sense to me on a highly emotional and intuitive level. I can point to experiences in my life when I have seen what I believe to be the hand of a loving God. However, when anxious, it seems I go to the extreme opposite. And yet, somehow I still cling to it even during my intense doubt. I often say during those times that I don't have enough faith to NOT believe.

There are people in the world to seem to have "God" experiences daily. They have the "peace that passes all understanding". I can honestly say I've never felt that peace. I am jealous of those people. Sometimes I think that if I could have that feeling just once, maybe I wouldn't struggle so much.

The one thing I can say, is that I have never felt foresaken by God. I have been angry with God and I tell God that. I figure God said I had to love him, he never said I couldn't get mad at him. Heck, I get mad at my family and I love them.

It also irritates me to no end that some people have told me that I just needed more faith and I wouldn't be depressed or anxious. To which I say, you don't tell a person with Diabetes to just get over it. They fail to remember that this is an illness like any other.

Thanks for the questions, and hearing me out. :hugs:

Edited by lindahurt
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Hi, I've been wanting to purchase 'The Believing Brain' too. I think it's important people read such books. Even believers.

I feel that believers do have a built-in edge when it comes to depression. To have faith that you are loved by the creator of the universe and serve a higher power along with seven billion of your closest friends would serve as a powerful support system.

Yeah, totally agree. I wish I could believe-- I know my life would have been easier had I had not only the support system of billions of others (heck, I'd settle for millions), but God the omnipotent and omniscient. But I just can't. It makes no sense and because it makes no sense and because I have no impetus or anything ingrained in me that favors belief, it just ain't gonna happen. I tried. I prayed. I was baptized. No God, no miracle, no nothing. The world is not a miracle-- for all the beauty you see, there's an equal measure of ugliness. Tell me how God can allow innocent little children to starve to death or die in terrible pain of diseases, or be killed casually by fate or some of the rest of us-- any rationale you give, whether it's original sin or God's plan for the world or it all comes out for the best, does not wash with me.

I just finished Michael Shermer's "The Believing Brain," where he argues that we start with the belief, and our perceptual filter system looks for evidence to support it-- also, that we have a natural, evolutionary drive to (a) look for patterns in our world, and (b) to look for agents that are the cause the patterns. He gives the example of being a primitive man in the African savanna who hears a rustle in the tall grass. Is it the wind, or is it a hungry lion? From an evolutionary perspective, it's better to assume it's a lion and act accordingly. So for millenia, the explanation for patterns in the world was God. You want rain, or your kid to survive a traumatic injury? Pray to God. Science has eroded this, since so much can be explained without needing to resort to "God made it and that's all I need to know." I'm in the middle of Jesse Bering's "The Belief Instinct," which actually cuts closer to the built-in edge ratboy refers to for believers-- that we (well, other people, apparently not I) developed an instinct for belief because it helps us. So far, it reads like Bering is opting for "if you believe in it, then at some level it must be true," which to me is circular.

But I have no doubt that I would not be posting on a depression board, if only I could have believed in a God who cared for me. It is the overarching sense of the solitary battle that has worn me down over the years.

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You have a very healthy way of thinking, Azzy. It's interesting to see the same conclusion drawn from a different perspective. You're brave for admitting to your doubts in the first place. There are lots who would force those thoughts so far into the back of their mind that they wouldn't ever voice them. It's not a bad thing to be questioning your faith at all. Your anxiety obviously comes from feeling somewhat fearsome about what those doubts could mean though (all completely normal.) Especially since your beliefs are long held... it would be especially difficult to deal with that doubt. I imagine it would cause a lot of anxiety. It's good to question everything. Whatever conclusion you come to then, would at least have been tested and questioned... so maybe you can find peace in the thought that you've come to that conclusion thought a lot of thinking and not through just letting your 'faith in faith' alone carry you to that conclusion.

It's good to question everything, just remember that. :)

Hi azzy, and I appreciate your .02. I'm curious-- what are you thinking and feeling with regard to your faith at these times? (these are just some guesses) That God has forsaken you? That you don't have enough faith? You're being tested?

A definition of "faith" that makes sense to me is "to know without logical proof." That's what I think of when I think of faith being a (potential) bulwark against depression-- that you know a loving God cares about you, that you have a purpose in life (and yeah, for me those two are related-- I've stumbled through my life seeking some sort of purpose, deeply envying people who can take Rick Warren's book and apply it literally to their own life).

Existentialism is about as good as I can do, but there's not a lot of emotion involved with it.

Let's see if I can make this make some sense. During periods of acute anxiety, I question my faith. It begins like this "Don't worry, have faith" - because when I'm not anxious I believe in a God that loves me and that I have a purpose in my life. But as soon as I say that, the what-ifs start. So it goes from "Don't worry, have faith" to "But, what if have faith in something that really doesn't exist?" Then I argue with myself about it ad nauseum until the anxiety lessens, and my mind calms down.

For me, in the beginning, before I knew what anxiety was, I accused myself of not having enough faith. Now I realize that my doubt has nothing really to do with faith, but everything to do with GAD. Knowing that makes me more hopeful, but doesn't make the questions go away. Like you said, faith is something you can't logic yourself into, and my anxiety ridden mind does just that. It tries to logic its way into something illogical, which is fruitless.

By admission, I am a highly emotional person, even when "healthy" of mind and body. So when I'm healthy, faith makes sense to me on a highly emotional and intuitive level. I can point to experiences in my life when I have seen what I believe to be the hand of a loving God. However, when anxious, it seems I go to the extreme opposite. And yet, somehow I still cling to it even during my intense doubt. I often say during those times that I don't have enough faith to NOT believe.

There are people in the world to seem to have "God" experiences daily. They have the "peace that passes all understanding". I can honestly say I've never felt that peace. I am jealous of those people. Sometimes I think that if I could have that feeling just once, maybe I wouldn't struggle so much.

The one thing I can say, is that I have never felt foresaken by God. I have been angry with God and I tell God that. I figure God said I had to love him, he never said I couldn't get mad at him. Heck, I get mad at my family and I love them.

It also irritates me to no end that some people have told me that I just needed more faith and I wouldn't be depressed or anxious. To which I say, you don't tell a person with Diabetes to just get over it. They fail to remember that this is an illness like any other.

Thanks for the questions, and hearing me out. :hugs:

Edited by lindahurt
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Hi, jumping in here to answer the original question ...

I in no way think that my depression or BPD was caused by my lack of faith (I am an atheist and harbour no beliefs whatsoever). Of course it's somewhat connected to both my conditions, just like the rest of my opinions and personality features are, but it's not a definining criterum. I don't think that atheism makes depression either worse or better - for me, it's just the way I am.

But I, naturally, respect all other opinions and all religions. It's a personal choice which I presonally simply refuse to make.

Elly

Edited by lindahurt
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You have a very healthy way of thinking, Azzy. It's interesting to see the same conclusion drawn from a different perspective. You're brave for admitting to your doubts in the first place. There are lots who would force those thoughts so far into the back of their mind that they wouldn't ever voice them. It's not a bad thing to be questioning your faith at all. Your anxiety obviously comes from feeling somewhat fearsome about what those doubts could mean though (all completely normal.) Especially since your beliefs are long held... it would be especially difficult to deal with that doubt. I imagine it would cause a lot of anxiety. It's good to question everything. Whatever conclusion you come to then, would at least have been tested and questioned... so maybe you can find peace in the thought that you've come to that conclusion thought a lot of thinking and not through just letting your 'faith in faith' alone carry you to that conclusion.

It's good to question everything, just remember that. :)

Oh, I have no problem asking questions, even of my faith. You are right, questsions are not a bad thing. Even when it comes to faith it is a good thing to ask questions. Because, as you can see, we all have different answers. The only thing I have to disagree with in your post is that my doubts don't cause my anxiety ... meaning it isn't the root cause of my anxiety disorder. Though the doubts can exacerbate (sp) my anxiety.

I would much prefer for my doubt to come along when I have a rational mind. Then the questions can be asked more calmly.

Thanks for responding! I'm glad I made some sense.

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Very interesting article. It is very hopeful for me to know there are clergy who are atheist or agnostic. As far as we have come from early civilizations who questioned what made thunder and lightning, I think religions are going to have to rethink their beliefs to continue to appeal to a modern society exploring outer space.

Dutch clergyman who says there probably isn't a God in the usual sense of the word-- he wrote "Believing in a Non-Existent God."

I thought it was an interesting article.

Edited by lindahurt
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi everyone,

This is the first forum to strike my interest. Hence, this s my first post. I'm an atheist as well and feel religion (specifically protestant Christianity) was one of the major factors in causing my depression. Hope no one minds if I use a blatant allegory to explain myself:

Suppose you grow up all your life being told by your parents that your father- your "real" father is Superman! Superman loves you like any father should a son and is always watching out for you... or at least that's what you're parents tell you. And hey, you really have no reason not to trust your very kind parents. After all, they wisely explained that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny weren't real before you could deduce it for yourself. So why not trust them when they say Superman actually is real. Your parents tell you all sorts of wonderful things about Superman. That he can heal sick people, That he can walk on water, that he can raise people from the dead. They even tell you that he can help you achieve your goals in life. Before you know it, you're off to college knowing full well that Superman is by your side. Then things get tough. You try to pray to Superman for help but you never hear his answer. After a few years, you desperately want to Superman's help, or even just to hear his voice. So you start going a little crazy. Before you know it, the friends you made during college all abandon you and all while Superman remains silent. Your parents wonder why you're so sad. They suggest that maybe it's because you've done something to displease Superman or that you simply need to be patient and adhere to Superman's timing. Just thinking about Superman at this point drives you crazy. The only thing you want from Superman at this point is to have things make sense. At last, one day, some random British professor on YouTube suggests that Superman is "Quite possibly the most unpleasant character in all of fiction." You could not agree with him more. And it feels like a giant splinter gradually being pulled out of your mind, a "Superman-shaped" splinter. He was the only thing that didn't make sense.

Now take every reference I made to "Superman" and replace it with "God". Of course, this is still far from going into specifics but I've written my piece for the moment.

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Hi everyone,

This is the first forum to strike my interest. Hence, this s my first post. I'm an atheist as well and feel religion (specifically protestant Christianity) was one of the major factors in causing my depression. Hope no one minds if I use a blatant allegory to explain myself:

Suppose you grow up all your life being told by your parents that your father- your "real" father is Superman! Superman loves you like any father should a son and is always watching out for you... or at least that's what you're parents tell you. And hey, you really have no reason not to trust your very kind parents. After all, they wisely explained that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny weren't real before you could deduce it for yourself. So why not trust them when they say Superman actually is real. Your parents tell you all sorts of wonderful things about Superman. That he can heal sick people, That he can walk on water, that he can raise people from the dead. They even tell you that he can help you achieve your goals in life. Before you know it, you're off to college knowing full well that Superman is by your side. Then things get tough. You try to pray to Superman for help but you never hear his answer. After a few years, you desperately want to Superman's help, or even just to hear his voice. So you start going a little crazy. Before you know it, the friends you made during college all abandon you and all while Superman remains silent. Your parents wonder why you're so sad. They suggest that maybe it's because you've done something to displease Superman or that you simply need to be patient and adhere to Superman's timing. Just thinking about Superman at this point drives you crazy. The only thing you want from Superman at this point is to have things make sense. At last, one day, some random British professor on YouTube suggests that Superman is "Quite possibly the most unpleasant character in all of fiction." You could not agree with him more. And it feels like a giant splinter gradually being pulled out of your mind, a "Superman-shaped" splinter. He was the only thing that didn't make sense.

Now take every reference I made to "Superman" and replace it with "God". Of course, this is still far from going into specifics but I've written my piece for the moment.

Your post reminded me of two songs: "My Hero" by the Foo Fighters, and "Superman Song" by the Crash Test Dummies. I dunno. Guess I'm speaking in lyrics today or something. Check them out!

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Cakewalker, I feel much the same way you do. I had a recent experience that really amazed me. Someone told me that they had lost their cat. They had their church members pray for the cat's return. In two weeks the cat did return and the church members said their prayers were the cause of this. Now God is going to return a cat and not save children from starving to death in Africa?

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I find that people are very respectful of others beliefs on DF which is really refreshing. I too was very spiritual growing up and now am agnostic leaning more towards atheism. I guess there is something about being a staunch atheist that I can not relate with especially when it becomes about making people of religious convictions look foolish which is completely unfair in my opinion. For me it doesn't matter whether you are a believer or a non believer so long as you respect other beliefs. I also really appreciate it when religious people except science as well, but again I am compassionate to the fact of how important and strong the notion of faith is to believers.

I am wondering why you can't respectfully say your views to your family without having to be on the defensive? I know that when I told my family and friends I felt even better! I understand that it might be too much trouble though! :)

I am pretty much on a good day a agnostic atheist, but I am finding more if anything emotional satisfaction in more deistic thought. I survived about 7 years as a christian with OCD about religion, so I firmly believe that any mental problems would happen regardless of religion. Do I ever worry about people interpreting it as a negative way of thinking sure, but then again I remind myself, people would probably say untrue things of that vain about say islam. Quite frankly I am beyond giving a flying cluck about it, I will never tell my family what I believe because I hate being on the defensive. If anything being a nonbeliever has a small comfort. You don't have to worry about it being rooted in sin or something like that.

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