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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi everybody. I am an atheist. I'm probably the only atheist I know. Most people I know are wiccan/pagan or some variation on "I believe in God but I'm not really religious," and while they don't judge or disparage my beliefs I don't think they really get it. The lack of a higher power doesn't make me feel worse. It makes me feel better. If there was a God, he'd have to be either apathetic, incompetent or a total jerk. I feel better believing that such a higher power doesn't exist. If bad things happen, I don't have to feel that God is punishing me. I don't believe in heaven but I don't believe in hell either. I am absolutely free of organized religion, and while it is a social outlet that provides a sense of community and comfort to some, it's also an excuse that has been used far to often to disparage, persecute, and **** people. Really, my anti-organized religiousness is probably stronger than my atheism, which is kind of just....there, in the background, for when someone asks "what's your religion?" However, I do think it's a legitimate form of belief, whether it's a strong belief that no higher power exists or simply a lack of belief in a higher power. It is so ingrained in our society that everyone must believe something, even if your beliefs are "wrong," that it's important people realize that belief in a higher power isn't necessary. It might force religious people to question their own beliefs...and it seems like the religious people who are most at peace with themselves, their beliefs and the world are the ones who have questioned and evaluated their beliefs instead of blindly following what they were told.

And yes, I was brought up as what I term "Catholic when convenient," so there was a conscious rejection of what I had been taught involved. I was actually told, by parents and schoolmates, "you're not an atheist, it's just a phase." I'm trying to bring my own daughter up as agnostic, so she can make up her own mind when she's ready.

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From the experience of growing up gay, southern protestant religion combined with a Catholic education and a violently homophobic father, decades of hearing asinine phrases like "hate the sin, love the sinner," daily hateful vitriol in the media describing me, the person whom I choose to love, and others like us as somehow less than human..... it's left me nearly loathing religion. That a local private religious college wishes to establish a Christian law school frightens and disgusts me. I lost my faith after two long-term partners and scores of friends succumbed to AIDS. God didn't deliver me from five years of narcotic abuse; credit for that feat goes to four years of prison and six of parole. Color me bitterly atheistic with regard to religion.

Edited by Trace
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When I finally made my mind up that I belive in god it was one of the best decisions for me, some may not believe me but it helped me a lot in hard times.

I'd like to ask as gentle a question as possible-- can you "make up your mind" that you believe in anything? I'm trying to understand the process. For me, "making up my mind" involves some sort of evaluation of evidence and weighing of arguments. Was that the process?

You wouldn't be alone in such an approach-- the famous "Pascal's Wager" is just such a logical process. For those readers unfamiliar with it-- Blaise Pascal, eminent mathematician and philosopher, considered the question of whether to believe in God by a cost-benefit analysis. Think of the intersection of each of two possibilities-- I believe in God or I don't believe, and God exists or he (this was France of the 1600s, goddesses were not on the radar) doesn't. Four possible outcomes result-- if you believe and there is a God, you go to Heaven. If you believe and there is no God, nothing happens, certainly nothing bad, your existence stops; if you don't believe and there is no God, well, nothing happens etc.; if you don't believe and there is a God, you go to Hell. Given those four potential outcomes, the smart if cynical choice is to believe.

Needless to say, lots of philosophers and others smarter than me have found all sorts of holes in Pascal's Wager. For starters, to repeat my original question, can you "decide" to believe? Or are you just going through the motions? and will that suffice to please God? (or, for that matter, your soul, assuming you have one?) For another, it's a pretty damned cynical approach to God, because it assumes that God is jealous and petty and bases your eternal justice etc. on whether you believe in him. Oh, wait...that IS the God of the Old Testament, and to a great extent, the New TEstament as well. Doesn't it go something like this? "for whosoever believeth in me shall not perish, but have everlasting life?" In my cynical moments, I believe that to be a totally human construct, born of people who are sufficiently insecure in their own beliefs that they have to convert you and everyone else around them. But I am wayyyyyy digressing.

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Needless to say, lots of philosophers and others smarter than me have found all sorts of holes in Pascal's Wager. For starters, to repeat my original question, can you "decide" to believe? Or are you just going through the motions?

Many people are pretty good at convincing themselves that the things they want to be true, are true.

For another, it's a pretty damned cynical approach to God, because it assumes that God is jealous and petty and bases your eternal justice etc. on whether you believe in him. Oh, wait...that IS the God of the Old Testament, and to a great extent, the New TEstament as well.

Yep. God is a jerk. I have often compared religion to an abusive relationship. People get on their knees and subjugate themselves to someone who mostly neglects them, threatens disproportionate punishment for the tiniest transgression, asks them to do random and pointless things to prove their devotion, and through it all they go around telling all their friends how much he loves them.

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I never thought about it this way but you are right on.

Yep. God is a jerk. I have often compared religion to an abusive relationship. People get on their knees and subjugate themselves to someone who mostly neglects them, threatens disproportionate punishment for the tiniest transgression, asks them to do random and pointless things to prove their devotion, and through it all they go around telling all their friends how much he loves them.

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I hope we can distinguish between being mad at religion versus mad at people who believe in it. We're all imperfect (and let's face it, if we're here, we're all some flavor of depressed). Who knows? Maybe they'll turn out to be right, in which case i'm hoping for a merciful God who'll merely think me foolish for not believing.

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Please remember that everyone is to respect each others beliefs here at DF, we do not judge at all and there are no debates or arguments allowed. It is ok to be angry with religion, but please do not post it here. This forum is a room for discussing how your beliefs and non beliefs affect your depression, not to use it as a bashing post or a pulpit. Please be careful not to say anything that may offend any other spiritual beliefs/religions/non beliefs, as everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and choices.

Same goes for religious people, they are not to judge, offend or preach to non religious members. Respect all round is important.

Trace

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  • 1 month later...

I don't find it morbid at all, in fact I feel exactly the same. I wouldn't want an afterlife or any kind of reincarnation. What this world has to offer is quite enough for me and I am content with it.

This might seem morbid, and could probably be misconstrued(I think we all know what if could be taken as, and that is not my intent).

But I find the idea of nonexistence peaceful, the idea of no afterlife doesn't bother me.

I couldn't agree more with both of you, it has been the greatest asset to me when I have been spiraling down when my therapy has been going poorly or during times I have been having tough times. Knowing everyday counts. and that I have to make the most of every opportunity i have because I only get one shot at it, has given me a whole new level of purpose these last three years! Really glad to know I am not alone in this. Keep strong!

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I wouldn't call myself an Atheist. I do believe that there is a God out there

My belief: There is a God. Treat everyone equally with love, how you would want to be treated. Don't discriminate. Accept everyone. Love the world. If everyone did that, then we would have world peace. I have nothing against any religion. Just keep it to yourself and don't push it on me. Love the world for what it is people, please... :)

Hopefully everyone on this forum is mature enough to read and either accept or not accept others beliefs/religions. I am mature enough to do so. I respect everyone's beliefs and religions. :)

Edited by lindahurt
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I wouldn't call myself an Atheist. I do believe that there is a God out there.

I finally got through the barrier like this: The Bible is actually six books, all shuffled together, and each deserves to be read in its own way:

  1. The history, folklore, mythology, laws and customs of a Semitic people who wandered around the near East around four thousand years ago
    I read this as an interesting history lesson that might have been important at one time, but has no remaining relevance for the this century.
  2. Some remarkably insightful philosophy: mostly on the complex relationship between Man and God,
    I read this (mainly Ecclesiastes and Job) to remind me that it is a complex relationship, and it's important to think critically about it.
  3. A collection of poetry, much of it stunningly beautiful.
    I read the poetry (mostly the Psalms and the Song of Solomon) for the sheer delight, and much of it has real spiritual value for me. (note: The King James version is especially good for this.)
  4. The brief and very biased biography of a remarkable man who lived around two thousand years ago and preached a gospel of love and compassion, and was killed horribly for it.
    So much has been mis-attributed to Jesus' ministry that it's important to read what's really there, and to discern what has been added after the fact. Jesus said many things, but the theme he kept coming back to was love and compassion toward others. That's what I want to read about.
  5. The chronicles of the very earliest days of the movement that would eventually turn into Christianity.
    What was the church like when it was new and raw, when they were making it up as they went, before it was rigidly codified and turned into an instrument of power? How much of that could we re-create?
  6. And somewhere in all these might be the actual words of God.
    But after centuries of mis-translation, editing, and expurgation, who can tell what is inspired and what is just words?

So I do read the Bible and I get a lot out of it, but I also read the poems of Rumi, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and the Buddhist sutras - at least the ones that I can understand. I'll take my inspiration wherever I can find it.

Edited by lindahurt
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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.

Depression makes everything seem unreliable, and I've also had quite a problem sustaining my belief. But I'm of the opinion that you should question your belief: it is vital that you think about it, and you owe it God to examine it fairly but critically. But, if I may respectfully suggest: it's better to ponder the question, "What do I believe?" than the question, "Do I still believe what I was told?". The latter can have only a yes/no answer, but the former can be a way forward.

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ah! Rincewind! good to see a fellow Discworlder aboard (you made me notice this thread)!

okay. agnostic, deist, funny-blue people-ist, conscientious perception-ist...

i was raised on the island nation of Japan where Buddhism (in various forms), Christianity (likewise),

and Shinto (an understanding that All life contains Spirit); so i've never understood how anyone could demand singularity.

not without nullifying their own dictum in the process.

since arriving here in "the Middle", i've learned that Tatanka (Native American version of Creator) took the form of Buffalo;

since becoming a dad, i've learned that my Son created me (i was simply j.... previously).

so far as i can tell, without water and light there is no life (consciousness / perception), so there we are.

("The Turtle moves") peacefuly, +j+

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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.

Depression makes everything seem unreliable, and I've also had quite a problem sustaining my belief. But I'm of the opinion that you should question your belief: it is vital that you think about it, and you owe it God to examine it fairly but critically. But, if I may respectfully suggest: it's better to ponder the question, "What do I believe?" than the question, "Do I still believe what I was told?". The latter can have only a yes/no answer, but the former can be a way forward.

Interesting idea Rincewind! I am a believer myself and I also question things, just as you said. I ask these same things that you were mentioning here in your post, and they are certainly a way forward. They have helped me to develop my life philosophy, the thoughts and views that shape my life and how I live it :)

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ah! Rincewind! good to see a fellow Discworlder aboard (you made me notice this thread)!

okay. agnostic, deist, funny-blue people-ist, conscientious perception-ist...

i was raised on the island nation of Japan where Buddhism (in various forms), Christianity (likewise),

and Shinto (an understanding that All life contains Spirit); so i've never understood how anyone could demand singularity.

not without nullifying their own dictum in the process.

since arriving here in "the Middle", i've learned that Tatanka (Native American version of Creator) took the form of Buffalo;

since becoming a dad, i've learned that my Son created me (i was simply j.... previously).

so far as i can tell, without water and light there is no life (consciousness / perception), so there we are.

("The Turtle moves") peacefuly, +j+

Interesting theory, thanks for sharing :) It is good to know people's inner journey :)

I also like your reference to A'atuin! The great turtle was the one thing that I really got interested in when reading Discworld!! :)

I like the Discworld books, but haven't had a chance to read them all, even though I have them all :)

Nice to see more people who are into Terry Pratchett on here, even if he isn't my super favourite author, I do like his books and stories :))

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and thank you, EvinLejonhjarta.

Sir Terry is indeed one of the greats. Douglas Adams' "Hitchhikers' Guide" is also a continuing reference for me... why not? it's leather-bound, gold embossed...

ironically, your signature contains another: Kahlil Gibran whose collection still gathers dust on my shelf (i now intend on rectifying this anomaly)...

even more ironically, facebook has turned me onto yet another, V Mark Covington, whose work resembles Christopher Moore and the great Tom Robbins (both of whom i recommend to any who seek alternative perspective).

in fact, Tom's last piece, titled "B is for alcohol, a children's novel" may be the best place to start (told my therapist about it just the other day, he seemed intrigued).

if only to see that ours are not the only pair of eyes looking... +j+

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Another atheist here. Was raised catholic, did the catholic school thing from K through 12, stopped going to church in college, as many do. Flirted with Unitarianism for a bit, then realized a few years ago that I don't believe in any gods whatsoever.

I don't think atheism contributes to my depression and/or anger in any way. If anything, I think faith and belief in god (at least as it was understood in MY house as a kid) contributed to it. Unsubstantiated pie-in-the-sky promises, hypocrisy, contradiction, religious wars, being told repeatedly in school not to question church authority, etc. etc. Not a very healthy environment for someone who has a family history of mental illness.

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and thank you, EvinLejonhjarta.

Sir Terry is indeed one of the greats. Douglas Adams' "Hitchhikers' Guide" is also a continuing reference for me... why not? it's leather-bound, gold embossed...

ironically, your signature contains another: Kahlil Gibran whose collection still gathers dust on my shelf (i now intend on rectifying this anomaly)...

even more ironically, facebook has turned me onto yet another, V Mark Covington, whose work resembles Christopher Moore and the great Tom Robbins (both of whom i recommend to any who seek alternative perspective).

in fact, Tom's last piece, titled "B is for alcohol, a children's novel" may be the best place to start (told my therapist about it just the other day, he seemed intrigued).

if only to see that ours are not the only pair of eyes looking... +j+

You're welcome :)

Thanks for the recommendations :) I definitely find it interesting to read other viewpoints :) I know my eyes aren't the only ones out there, and many eyes can see things differently from mine own, which is good. The main thing is to remain compassionate when looking at something or someone :) What we see may not always be something we may want to bring into our own lives, but we cannot get away from the fact that it has meaning for others, so we have to tread lightly on the paths and be kind to all we encounter on them :)

Cheerio :)

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ah! Rincewind! good to see a fellow Discworlder aboard (you made me notice this thread)!

...

so far as i can tell, without water and light there is no life (consciousness / perception), so there we are.

("The Turtle moves") peacefuly, +j+

For those not in on the joke, Terry Pratchett is a British author who has written a long series of often funny, often satirical, always absorbing books set on a Discworld: a mythical, flat world that rides on four elephants, who stand on a cosmic turtle. His books are really worth sampling, but they can be very addictive.

In Small Gods, Pratchett sets forth and develops a interesting thesis: that we have it all backwards. The gods didn't create us, but our belief created and sustains the gods. A god who loses his believers is doomed to shrivel to a "small god," just this side of extinction. I don't actually subscribe to this, but I love this sort of mental play with the relationship between us and God. It makes you realize that there are lots of ways it can be seen, and the canonical Christian view is just one of many.

A god who can't be questioned isn't worth worshipping.

Edited by Rincewind
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thank you, Rincewind, for that clarification let us not forget the "Wee Free Men" (small, blue.... always running around thumpin' folks, screaming, "Ach! Nach Mac Feedle!"

Sir Terry, if i'm updated, has battled cancer and is in remission(?) and has earned his Knighthood from Her Majesty for his imagination and wordplay... that's nothing to sneer at.

another brilliant piece i've always found helpful (well, two, i guess) is Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land" (followed by "JOB: a Comedy of Horrors") for "Thou art God" "As art Thou".

peace, friends. +j+

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  • 3 weeks later...

Religion is always very controversial of course, but I wanted to just share my own views. As an atheist, I worry that sometimes people think my depression may be caused by my lack of belief. No one has ever actually said such a thing to me, but I'm sure there are many believers out there who may think that you can't be happy living a life without god. I just want to state that my lack of belief does the exact opposite. Being an atheist is one thing in life that is a constant for me. I love science and truth and will spend my whole life seeking it. The wonders of the universe enthrall me and I love to learn about it. Are there any other atheists here who feel the same? Do you worry that atheism is misinterpreted as a negative way of thinking?

I don't worry that it is misinterpreted as a negative way of thinking. It IS misinterpreted as such. Granted, I'm not sure if I'm right in my atheism. And at times I do wish for something patently nonatheistic, like reincarnation, or a Christian God to meet after death, or even a psychologist of sorts, where, after I'm dead, I can "debrief"; I can talk about this thing called "life" that I've just been through, and get some answers.

Even amidst my depression, I sit back each day and see that this "life" journey we're all on is a most impressive thing, and who knows why matter has evolved into thinking, feeling humans and animals, but it has. But I'd be surprised if there was a God to thank for it. Guess we'll see. For now, work on today.

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I've always been an atheist, i not only don't believe in god but sincerely hope there isn't one.However at possibly the lowest point of my life i would read the new testament and took immense comfort from it, even brought me to tears numerous times.But i am an atheist.

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Hi guys, I'm an atheist and something has been troubling me lately. Today my doctor told me that I couldn't achieve "true happiness" if I was an atheist. My parents (who are Christian) also told me that I would get over my depression if I started believing in God. Why do people seem to think that atheists can't live a happy life? I understand these people are trying to help me, but what they're saying only hurts me more and makes me seem even more hopeless. Have you guys ever encountered thinking like this and how did you deal with it?

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