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CoolCat7

Depression Support Thread For Atheists And Atheist-Friendly Members

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I've decided to create this topic especially for DF members who are open to the idea that there may be no God, and how that view affects their lives and their depression/anxiety/mental illness. I am defining "God" here as the traditionally-defined religious deity as portrayed in the holy books of the three main Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) who is omnipotent.

I am probably DF's most outspoken Atheist right now, and I have noticed that whenever I talk about my views here, I get several PMs from members thanking me for my posts (obviously they don't feel like they can openly post their support), and usually a few members who believe in God seem to take my views as a personal attack although I have never mocked anyone's views and am from a very religious (Catholic) background myself. I certainly acknowledge some of the benefits of religion and I have friends I respect who are very religious and have quite similar moral beliefs to mine. But I want some place free from stigma where those of us who don't believe in the supernatural (or who, like me, have some spiritual views but refuse to commit to the view of a deity we don't find credible) can talk out our issues without being judged. Many atheists with depression feel judged by their familes or community, have been told they are going to Hell or otherwise stigmatized.

Atheism is different from being "non-religious" or agnostic in that we are not undecided. We believe that there is likely no God, at least not as traditionally defined. Many of us believe there is no afterlife or any supernatural beings. Being non-religious or agnostic is socially acceptable in most circles, but being atheist is not, as proven by the fact that even here on DF, members don't feel they can be openly Atheist. Perhaps they are tired of being told that their depression is caused by a lack of belief, or that they are going to Hell. Many non-believers are stigmatized or harassed by their families or communities.

I am including some excerpts from the forum rules, to give us all, including me, a reminder: (note the highlights added are mine).

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Religion Forum Rules This is a room to explore the relationship between your Depression, Religion and Spirituality. It is an opportunity to discuss how your beliefs have helped you on your road to recovery. To give equal time, this room also provides an opportunity for non-believers to discuss their personal issues and how they relate to their depression.
Share the comfort and solace you have found in a Higher Power. Examine and discuss ways to strengthen your faith.
There are many beliefs relating to spirituality and faith. This is a place that welcomes & respects contributions from every member who contributes to a topic that relates to their beliefs.
AT ALL TIMES, it is necessary that we write in a way that shows consideration of and respect for the beliefs or non-beliefs of other members.

This is NOT a forum for members to debate religion or to hold purely religious squabbles.
Please remember to keep your posts focused on personal support only; This Forum is not meant to Proselytize or to be anyone's Pulpit!


Depression is at the heart of the topic in EVERY post in this Forum.
We are a Forum with a PRIMARY GOAL of dealing with Depression in various ways.

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Great thread Lauryn, thank you for posting this!

I suppose I consider myself more agnostic than atheist, but I don't give the label a ton of thought. Basically, the belief that there is most likely no "God" or supreme higher being has affected my life with depression pretty significantly. Where to start? I think it's a lonely life in some respects for the non-religious; not to say that religious people don't experience loneliness, because of course they do. But I think you have to not believe in a higher power before you can really understand the sense of existential isolation atheism can bring.

This has of course affected my views on death very strongly as well, both in terms of suicidal ideation and dealing with grief.

I would say more but I'd like to hear how others respond first... I'm having trouble articulating some of my feelings on the topic :) I hope this thread stays strong, it's a very interesting discussion idea.

Cheers,

Henri

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Thank you for posting this.

Perhaps they are tired of being told that their depression is caused by a lack of belief

Absolutely! When religious family members equate (clinical) depression with atheism, it drives me insane.

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Henri, I know what you mean about existential loneliness/isolation. Although for me, because I was brought up in a very dogmatic belief system, I always felt this to some degree, that I was "apart" or outside the system. Also my mother had been Anglican (converted to Catholicism when she married my father, but she was religious and my father really was not, plus of course he left the family). So I grew up without a lot of traditions that kids from fully Catholic families would be used to, like the rosary. Also many beliefs such as the idea that birth control was wrong. So when I later encountered this type of thing, it seemed so alien to me. Some of the things I heard in church (and in my Catholic youth group such as when the priest said a kid from my high school who'd committed suicide was going to Hell) seemed so illogical and cruel that I started investigating the history of the church and the bible.

But it was when I considered the idea of no afterlife that I really felt the existential loneliness. Strangely the possibility of no afterlife was one that I accepted just a few weeks after arguing vociferously against it with an acquaintance who practiced Zen buddhism. I said "Then life is meaningless. What is the point? There's no justice or reward." Later I thought about what this means - no justice in the hereafter means we have a greater burden to seek justice in this world, for instance. The idea of Heaven or Hell never made sense to me anyway.

I always considered myself agnostic because I do hold some spiritual beliefs. But it was reading Richard Dawkins' _The God Delusion_ that made me declare myself an atheist. He makes some really good points about why atheists should come out of the closet. I've read studies that show being an Atheist carries more stigma (in America) than being gay.

afflicted, yes - I've heard that too. My mother said I'd be so much happier if I believed in God. Yet this is not borne out in her own life.

But also, I don't disbelieve things because they make me happy or not. I disbelieve them based on evidence of likelihood. I wish I could believe in a loving deity (not the deity I grew up with). I wish I could believe in an afterlife where the wicked are punished and the good are rewarded. These are certainly possibilities, but the very fact they are *so* desirable makes them questionable to me. Would people still fervently believe in these, if they were not true?

So, I still wish for some things. I am open to the possibility of a higher power or consciousness (depending on the definition). I am open to the possibility of an afterlife. But I am open to the possibility that none of this stuff exists at all and that it's all made up. There's a lot of compelling evidence to support this view.

As for suicide, it was my atheism, in part, that held me back. Because if there's really *nothing* after death, that's not the same as peace or rest. I might as well live another day, try again and again, to see if I can make any meaning with my life. Or what if certain religions are correct and we experience reincarnation? (which in some ways makes more sense to me). If we don't complete our lives, would we return to our starting point? Or what if rebirth is random? It seems to me that there are many, many people worse off than me, especially in third-world countries, through absolutely no fault of their own.

I don't necessarily believe any of it. But I feel I should consider all the possibilities of *all* religions, not just the one I grew up with.

So, how does one, as an atheist, practice spirituality? Buddhist philosophy has helped me a lot because there is no god, at least not as defined in other religions. Also the writings of Ekhart Tolle are very inspiring and comforting to me (although I don't like his uses of certain religious quotes where his interpretation is pretty different from the standard interpretation and no justification for this is given, but that's a minor quibble.)

Most of the time I'm at peace with my belief that the traditional God is highly improbable, and that "I just don't know" if there's any kind of god or afterlife.

It's in my times of weakness and depression that all the fears creep in, that I will be tortured in Hell (for what? What horrendous crime have I committed other than not believing in something that is, to all my reasoning and investigation, not at all likely?) That is a horrible feeling. Whereas my husband who is an atheist doesn't worry about that stuff at all (he is a former Catholic too).

Also to me, being an Atheist can be a statement of belief in Humanism and the idea that humans can (and are obligated to) solve our problems. That no God is going to swoop in and save us from overpopulation, environmental degradation and corruption. Someone here on DF complimented me on how much I care about justice. Part of that is that I don't believe we can sit and wait for Divine justice.

I do believe in most of the values of religion, including humility. To me, saying "I don't know" is the ultimate humility. Basically Tolle is my spiritual leader, so I don't believe in feeding one's ego.

Anyway, I'm writing a lot here so will let someone else have a chance.

So glad to hear from my fellow infidels!!! :Coopwink:

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My atheism, help led to my anarchism and helped led me to existentialism. In a sense, my atheism helped to cause my depression and helped to find something of a tolerable solution. The more I work from this framework the easier things have become, to the point where with some exceptions mostly financial related, I am in the best place I have ever been in my life mentally. This process took me a few years and some of you all met me at the beginning of it.

My view is basically this.

What we do in our lives is totally in our own choosing to the extent choices can be made.

There is no, supervising mandate to our lives other then own free will.

There is no grand scheme, in which I suffer or not suffer. Things happen as they will happen not for any reason.

I should live according to what evidence dictates, where it be economic, or religious, or cultural. And be happy with those conclusions as much as possible.

Its living by these things that most of my issues of depression, with the help of medicine have gone away. I may relapse for a few days here or there. The longest of that was a week. But mostly I get back on track rather soon.

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That's awesome Valk0010i. Good for you!

I wish I could be fully comfortable with my views emotionally (as I am intellectually). My father was Bipolar I and I do feel much of my depression is biological - the depression was there when I was religious, and was there now I'm not.

I do have some residual guilt (the famous Catholic guilt) in feeling like I can only be a deserving person if I am constantly helping others. That I have to somehow redeem myself or prove myself or work off bad karma - even though I have done nothing in this life to deserve such feelings. I have done almost nothing really bad (unlike my husband who spent his youth breaking into houses and stealing, although he was never violent).

But I think most of that feeling is probably the emotional abuse I was subject to, and being told a gazillion times how selfish I was even when I was far less selfish than others my age. That along with the Caholicism was a somewhat deadly combination. Oh, and some of my feelings of "badness" arises from sexual guilt over minor stuff like "pressing my own button." Which I now know is ridiculous, and in fact trying to *stop* myself is what led to some mental sexual obsessiveness and, in my view, is what for many people like Catholic priests (who of course abstain from regular sex but also were taught to abstain from self-satisfaction), perverts normal sexual urges into something worse. I'm just glad I didn't grow up in the days of Internet p*rn since I can't imagine the guilt over viewing such things.

Anyway, I do love the company of other Atheists and those who practice non-traditional spiritual paths. Zen meditation was a bit much for me since I'm a type A personality (40 minutes of sitting doing (and trying to think of) absolutely nothing and I was ready to climb the walls), but I find Tai Chi very meditative. Also I've attended Pagan events and found a huge sense of peace there (many pagans, in my experience, do not literally believe in a bunch of different gods but see it as more metaphorical, and as a way of revering female divinity as well as male).

I personally am skeptical about the existence of anything supernatural, however I still enjoy magic and divinity as metaphorical. Casting "white magic" spells for instance-- which I did once with a practitioner of Wicca-- can be a powerful psychological tool, like a self-fulfiling prophecy.

Edited by LaurynJcat

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Thank you for posting this. I am an Atheist and I often read that the most depressed people and those with a background of abuse or unsteady family environment usually lack religion. It is something that is considered even from the medical professionals as a sign of being damaged I guess.

Ok. I haven' read the full topic as I am going to bed but I will tomorrow. Thanks again for posting it :)

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As for suicide, it was my atheism, in part, that held me back. Because if there's really *nothing* after death, that's not the same as peace or rest. I might as well live another day, try again and again, to see if I can make any meaning with my life. Or what if certain religions are correct and we experience reincarnation? (which in some ways makes more sense to me). If we don't complete our lives, would we return to our starting point? Or what if rebirth is random?

To me, death is no different than before we came to be. Just as you say, it is not the same as peace or rest because that assumes a being can "feel" or process what it means to be in that state.

As for the concept of reincarnation, I guess it depends on how you look at it. Our remains "dissolve" back into the earth and the materials are reused in some form or another. Maybe fuel for plants or other living things - a renewal. I know this isn't what you're thinking, but it's an alternative perspective to the idea that we have spirits that are transported to some other time or being, so that we are "reborn" randomly or otherwise.

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I think I became an atheist in the HOPE there is NOTHING after death. I honestly don't want to live an eternity with the memories I have from this life and I would like even less to believe in reincarnation. I do not have some positive view of the feature. Unless something happens things will get worst and the chance of me being any better in my next life are close to zero.

I hope this topic doesn't get closed because of this discussion.

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That's interesting about depressed people from a background of abuse being more likely to lack religion. I actually think that's because we may have become suspicious of authority figures from an early age. At least I think that's what it is for me. Of course, that was only the beginning.

Many, people I've known with depression *come* from a very religious background, and sometimes extreme religious views were used to justify the abuse.

Also just having something really, really terrible happen to you (and praying and praying for any sign from God and none comes) can probably create skepticism. I have a friend from Israel and she says that many Holocaust survivors and their families became atheists and thus Israel has a high percentage of atheists who still identify as Jewish (culturally and genetically) but don't believe in God.

As far as general speculation/beliefs in religion or an afterlife, I like the Buddhist story where the Buddha discourages his followers from metaphysical speculation at all, by saying that it's like being shot by a poisoned arrow and then demanding to know who sent it and why before attending to the arrow itself and how to get it out. He considered that learning to live with peace and compassion, in this world, is more important than what happens after. A very refreshing point of view to me as a Westerner. Now I'm not pushing Buddhism and in my view many branches have the same problems as other institutionalized religions (and Jainist roots led to beliefs in punishment or reward based on reincarnation), however reading the basic philosophies and the Buddhist scriptures was extremely interesting and helped balance my western views.

Edited by LaurynJcat

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Ohh don't get me wrong, there is a biological component to how I think. I am still on 1200 mg of lithium and probably will be for life. My way of dealing with life has stopped in its tracks what the medication couldn't.

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absent that's an interesting point about hoping there is nothing after death. Do others feel this way? I definitely find it hard to believe in any kind of static emotion or state given that everything we know about the universe indicates that change is constant.

Einstein considered himself an agnostic (although he would fit the definition of an atheist in that he didn't believe in a traditional God as portrayed in religious writing, a personal God, or a being who punishes or rewards his creatures). Einstein also said that he didn't believe in the immortality of the individual. I find the idea that someone persists after death as hard to believe as well, given the structure of the human brain that is needed to express personality, and that enormous personality change can happen in people with brain damage, so that they literally behave like a different person.

I'm not sure what I hope for, though. I try not to spend a lot of time thinking about it. Of course ideally I would wish for a paradise as that's what I was taught (or an Elysian fields to use an image from Classical mythology). But I cannot conceive of such a thing. And it seems to me that if brilliant minds like Einstein, Hawking, Sagan and Dawkins can't figure out how such a thing could be likely, then how can I?

It makes a lot more sense to me that after I die, I would cease to exist, same as before I was born.

Oh, and someone in another thread mentioned Pascal's wager, namely that you should choose to believe in a God since if there is nothing after death, you'll be no worse off, but if God does exist, the consequences for not believing could be Hell. This seems to assume that God will not be able to discern if you believe just because you fear the possible consequences of not believing. Also it includes no definition of God (which religion is right? They can't all be). Anyway for anyone here who was taught to fear Hell, as I was, there are several excellent refutations of Pascal's wager out there. Richard Dawkins just posted one on Facebook.

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Pascal's wager is incomplete, which is why it is not actually a fair wager. You have to know all the variables to make an informed decision on a bet.

1) There is a god. I believed. I am rewarded in the afterlife.

2) There is no god. I believed. Doesn't cost me anything, because I'll be dead anyway.

3) There is a god. I did not believe. I'm in trouble when I die.

It's missing:

4) There is a god. I did not believe. God forgives me when I die.

5) There is no god. I did believe.

Instead of spending my years on earth trying to understand the human experience, I allowed something that does not exist to explain it for me. By necessity, that means my understanding and acceptance of the human condition is limited, because I didn't go seeking my own answers.

6) There is no god. I did not believe.

I sought my own answers as much as possible and, despite the confusion and fear and uncertainty this led to, whatever contentment I experienced and whatever understanding I gained was because I earned it.

Edited by Lifeintheslowlane

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I come from a tormented background. I can barely speak of the first 20 years of my life without a rage building up inside me so profound that I have to end the conversation immediately.

I had faith in something until the age of 20 or so. Not organized religion, but Jesus and God. I suppose going to public school for many years when there still was a Lord's Prayer said every morning influenced me, because my family was not religious.

I suppose this faith helped me cope with my tormented life as long as I lived in a bubble.

However, I started reading critical analysis of the bible and realized that it could be used to support almost any position. Then, I realized there was a level of suffering in the world that some people experience that goes beyond a 'test' or a 'learning experience'. There are levels of anguish in this world that no deity with any benevolence could possibly allow to occur if they had any control over the planet. Every parent needs to let their children grow through the slings and arrows of childhood, but no parent can allow mindboggling abuse to go on and do nothing. If we are god's children, god has failed us. Not the other way around.

I was angry at god for many years, even after I started discussing atheism. Now I'm not angry at god as I'm pretty sure there isn't one. Whatever anger I let out is venting, not something I take truly seriously.

I'd prefer not to have to even use the word 'atheist', as it pre-supposed I'm supposed to have any opinion at all about god. I have no real opinion about Zeus and Thor, although I have an opinion about what they represent about humanity in metaphorical terms. So why do I need to have a real opinion about whatever gods are considered by religious people to actually exist?

Edited by Lifeintheslowlane

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Well to me atheism simply means without theism. But I know there are a lot of different interpretations of the word.

I completely agree with you, lifeintheslowlane, about suffering - my belief is that no omnipotent deity would allow the amount of suffering some people endure without intervening in some way. I dislike platitudes like "Everything happens for a reason" or "God won't give you more than you can bear." I do understand people find those sayings comforting because they want to believe nothing unendurable or unreasonable will happen to them. But for me, it means that God intended for the abuse in my childhood to take place, or at least failed to intervene. And even if I *personally* am able to overcome the suffering i endured/endure, I know that many people are not-- people who can't speak for themselves because they are withering away in hospitals, mental institutions, prisons, and cemetaries.

It also means that if I experience something that IS more than I can bear, since that has been declared impossible then I must be exaggerating my suffering, or morally flawed in some way.

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This is a really interesting discussion, thanks everyone.

I also want to bring up something about how modern-day "movement Atheism" alienates a lot of women/women of color/people of color, but I'm so tired I can barely coherent a thought :P Maybe I'll just leave that here as a placeholder, lol.

OK I will elaborate with one thing - many of you may already be familiar with the PZ Myers/Richard Dawkins internet drama that happened recently, wherein Dawkins berated a young woman for feeling uncomfortable after being propositioned in an elevator. It's a very specific incident but I think if you examine the Dawkins supporters' behavior during that time, it's fairly clear to see why a lot of women for one stay away from the Atheist community as it exists online.

Just a thought... discuss or not... :)

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I was pretty irritated when a 2011 article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reported that atheists were among the least trusted groups; the only comparable group that didn't differ statistically from atheists were rapists. I can't say whether their scientific method was sound or what sort of statistical power their study had, so grain of salt.

Anyway, here's the Mark Twain quote, which may have been grossly mangled over time or just misattributed, but it's a nice thought anyway: "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it." I took some kind of comfort from that after having struggled with existential dread.

I've never been 'in-touch' with an atheist movement. I'm not even sure what that means. I had one atheist friend growing up. Where I live now, I've only met one person who also freely identified as atheist, out of a whole lot more people. I do live somewhere with strong Catholic roots, though. Does anyone else here know any non-internet athesists?

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I was pretty irritated when a 2011 article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reported that atheists were among the least trusted groups; the only comparable group that didn't differ statistically from atheists were rapists. I can't say whether their scientific method was sound or what sort of statistical power their study had, so grain of salt.

Anyway, here's the Mark Twain quote, which may have been grossly mangled over time or just misattributed, but it's a nice thought anyway: "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it." I took some kind of comfort from that after having struggled with existential dread.

I've never been 'in-touch' with an atheist movement. I'm not even sure what that means. I had one atheist friend growing up. Where I live now, I've only met one person who also freely identified as atheist, out of a whole lot more people. I do live somewhere with strong Catholic roots, though. Does anyone else here know any non-internet athesists?

Actually that study was done at a university near me-- the chosen participants were religious churchgoers (the researcher was atheist). The scenario was that if somebody hits your car in the parking lot, would you trust this person to leave a note? Then it said the person who hit your car was either a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, an Atheist, or a rapist. The religious folks gave the Atheist the least amount of trust, along with the rapist.

Interestingly, the study found that if participants were reminded ahead of time about the existence of secular laws and ethics, they were more likely to give the Atheist a bit more trust, but not the rapist.

The funny thing is that statistically, the person least likely to leave you a note is a young person (no doubt because their insurance would take the biggest hit). I doubt religion would come into play.

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I know many Atheists. Perhaps it is the region I live in- Atheists aren't considered outcasts. The majority of my friends are Agnostics or Atheists.

I majored in Religious Studies at University, and I'd say half the people I encountered in the course were religious, and the other half were devoted Atheists. I took RS because it is an interest way to study people.

I have to say, that when travelling to the U.S., I encounter a much different group of people. There is a much richer religious community in the States than where I am from.

The religious people that I get accosted by in my community are Muslims. Every time I take a taxi, I get verbally chastised and accosted by the mainly Muslim drivers trying to convert me to Islam. It's pretty annoying. I don't have a lot of patience for people trying to force their belief systems on me. I don't do it to others, and want the same respect in return.

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This is a really interesting discussion, thanks everyone.

I also want to bring up something about how modern-day "movement Atheism" alienates a lot of women/women of color/people of color, but I'm so tired I can barely coherent a thought :P Maybe I'll just leave that here as a placeholder, lol.

OK I will elaborate with one thing - many of you may already be familiar with the PZ Myers/Richard Dawkins internet drama that happened recently, wherein Dawkins berated a young woman for feeling uncomfortable after being propositioned in an elevator. It's a very specific incident but I think if you examine the Dawkins supporters' behavior during that time, it's fairly clear to see why a lot of women for one stay away from the Atheist community as it exists online.

Just a thought... discuss or not... :)

That's very interesting, Henri. I didn't hear about that.

Another prominent atheist (the Amazing Atheist, TJ Kincaid, from youtube) has a history of getting himself into trouble with women, both by bashing feminism (his definition of it) and by once saying that rape survivors should "get over it" -- the context was that he was talking about "survivors" as having been through horrible experiences like torture or prisoner-of-war camps, not "someone gave you d**k when you didn't want it." Other prominent atheist bloggers and YouTubers were quick to condemn his remarks.

My personal opinion (broadly generalized) about these of remarks from certain atheist men is that they just. don't. get. it. Most atheist males would psychologically have low levels of Authoritarianism, or be "anti-authoritarian." They would tend to be left-wing, either from working class backgrounds or educated in the arts or social or life sciences. They would also tend not to be rapists or sexual abusers/harassers. I've noticed that left-wing guys from working class backgrounds tend to feel that issues of socio-economic class are more important that gender issues. They see that a lot of feminists are from very privileged backgrounds (this has been the case throughout history with feminism for several reasons). So... some of these atheist/left-wing/working class guys think that things like feminism just detract from real issues. Plus because they judge male behaviour by themselves, they think women are over-reacting by being afraid of guys in elevators or on the street, or getting irate at being looked at. Because *they personally* would not be a threat to a woman. Despite the various sexist, insensitive remarks made by TJ Kincaid I would completely trust him in an elevator with my 14-year-old niece. In fact if he saw someone else bugging a woman, I think he would intervene. The guy just shoots his mouth off and that's his charm and his downfall.

I'm not excusing him, or Richard Dawkins for their remarks. Dawkins is a declared anti-feminist --but his view of feminists comes from the Women's Studies department at his university, women who are highly privileged academics and go around bashing the rest of the university for being sexist -- saying that science is a masculine invention and denies "women's ways of knowing" etc. So he gets a chip on his shoulder about feminism rather than seeing those academic feminists as one of end of a very broad (haha) spectrum.

Anyway, that's my explanation for the small but significant number of atheists that I've seen make anti-feminist or sexist remarks. However, I think many atheist men are also pretty feminist, especially the ones who've personally witnessed sexism.

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I totally stopped becoming interested in the new atheist movement after awhile. I don't even watch the atheist experience anymore. I don't read pz meyers blog anymore. I guess the reason is because I don't feel the need to convince or be convinced anymore. And there also seems to me to be more interesting questions like the meaning of life, and how to live properly in a godless universe.

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That's awesome Valk. Unfortunately in me it's so deeply ingrained to doubt myself and my own goodness, thanks to my depression, my former religion, and my mother's twisted views on child-rearing based in part on outdated Christian morality about the nature of children (the scope of that is too big for this topic but for anyone interested there's a book _For Your Own Good_ by German psychiatrist Alice Miller.).

I find it incredibly tough to live without doubting my decisions, even knowing the rock-solid ethical and historical background I based them on. Really the only thing that gives me real spiritual peace is the writing of Ekhart Tolle and similar philosophies. Also the ethical precepts of Humanism. In fact I consider an ethical system like Humanism to be essential for Atheists. What do you guys think?

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That's awesome Valk. Unfortunately in me it's so deeply ingrained to doubt myself and my own goodness, thanks to my depression, my former religion, and my mother's twisted views on child-rearing based in part on outdated Christian morality about the nature of children (the scope of that is too big for this topic but for anyone interested there's a book _For Your Own Good_ by German psychiatrist Alice Miller.).

I find it incredibly tough to live without doubting my decisions, even knowing the rock-solid ethical and historical background I based them on. Really the only thing that gives me real spiritual peace is the writing of Ekhart Tolle and similar philosophies. Also the ethical precepts of Humanism. In fact I consider an ethical system like Humanism to be essential for Atheists. What do you guys think?

I find myself deriving my ethical views from existentialism. Like Sartre's Nausea, or Camus's stranger, I sort of hold those authors in the same vein you hold Tolle I think.

I think I stopped caring mostly because I got bored. Like how many variations on the ontological arguement can one read before they have a understanding of the arguement? Every single version I have read has sounded like they are assuming their initial premise. The premise being that a god can even exist given known facts. Sure its not likely that one could exist, but if one did the evidence on the whole would be vastly different. Or they assume that perception and imagination can be reality talking about perfection and the like. 50, 100, verisons of that seems like thinking ad nausem. I have simply just done my thinking on the subject, my view are subject to change, but I am not actively seeking out new information anymore because I don't really see the need after my prior investigation and consideration of the subject.

I think something that helped me, is giving up the idea of a rock-solid position. The existentialism is a humanism lecture by sartre is a good short description of my ethics.

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Have any of you felt persecuted in real life for wearing your beliefs on your sleeve? I felt like I hit a pretty solid glass ceiling at my last job, which was very strongly grounded in a Christian ideology - and was quite open about it, but no one 'came after me', so to speak. I ended up quitting for other reasons, so it's moot for me anyway. Other than that, and a grandmother expressing conern for my immortal soul (in a gentle manner), no one has really bothered me.

A good number of people have seemed a bit thrown when we have a discussion and I say "atheist". Kind of like I'm suddenly a foreigner. Could be just where I live as there is a strong religious background here. It feels a bit isolating.

I think humanism provides for a robust discussion and a platform for self-examination, but I think that most people will, regardless of knowledge of a source of moral authority (whether philosophy or divinity) act in a human way, including both the good and the bad. I don't regard any as essential for day to day living.

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