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Agnostic/Atheist Support Group

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Kierst13 posted 11/19/2013 14:14 PM

Also wanted to comment on atheists not having morals. I consider atheist morality to be the truest kind, since we are expecting no reward or punishment.

I have thought long and hard about right and wrong and feel that I have a strong moral code. Not just avoiding hurting others but actually trying to contribute to their happiness.

I am necro-posting that quote from Catlover from last Spring.

I hate when people act like I am amoral because I do not have a Biblical world view or derive my morals from a book. I do not need a book to tell me what is good vs. what is hurtful.

Why is it assumed one book is "truth" and therefore I am incapable of knowing right from wrong?

My STXH has always gone to a Protestant church and look where it got him (and me).

h0peless posted 11/19/2013 14:55 PM

Hi Kierst!

I worry about people who think goodness comes from an outside power. Do they only behave themselves because they're afraid of some sort of punishment? The threat of coal in my stocking was never enough of a deterrent to me as a child. I still derived great pleasure from misbehaving. True goodness is intrinsic.

Tearsoflove posted 11/20/2013 18:24 PM

I never noticed this thread before but it was nice to see that I finally fit into some sort of group, I guess.

It's certainly interesting to be a non-believer in a Christian community in the Bible belt. It's been even more interesting to watch my non-believing children try to navigate through it.

I think what allows us to function where we are without a great deal of strife is that we respect the religious beliefs of others. For me, even though I find the concept of God completely illogical, I also can see where believing could be comforting and uplifting for those who are able to have faith in unproven parables and stories that often defy logic. I do, however, appreciate the Bible and other religious books for the historical perspective they provide. I don't try to argue points with religious people because I do have a great deal of respect and it's very unusual for the beliefs of others to have an affect on me. I don't, however, have any issue with telling people that, while I respect their beliefs, my beliefs or lack thereof are none of their business. Basically, I think we are all trying to navigate through life's joys and difficulties and we all have to do so in the best way that works for us.

As for punishment and reward, well I've often told people who have asked what moral code I live by, that I try to live by the Golden Rule because I only have this one life to get it right and for as long as I live, I have to live with myself.

There are always going to be people who judge and try to convert me to the "right way of thinking." I always try to remember that they really believe they are doing me a service in trying to change my mind. I also try to remember that for most religious people, their belief frequently comes with the requirement to bring the word of God to others. And, yes, I do still capitalize God and bow my head when people pray. Not because I believe in God but because I believe it is respectful of those who believe. My human code requires that when I'm in the presence of others with beliefs and customs, that I show respect for that. So far, I've found that most people are respectful in return. When I encounter someone who is not, I remember that in every area of life there are some good and some bad. Just as there will sometimes be atheists who use their lack of religion to excuse inappropriate behavior, there will sometimes be religious people who use their religion the same way. I simply don't allow my encounters with the few to color my view of the many. And I still believe that most people, regardless of religious beliefs or lack thereof, are good at heart.

[This message edited by Tearsoflove at 6:31 PM, November 20th (Wednesday)]

ascian posted 12/23/2013 07:48 AM

In the spirit of the season: Happy Festivus, and a Merry Decemberween to all.

StillGoing posted 12/24/2013 17:35 PM

heartbroken_kk posted 12/25/2013 12:48 PM

Happy day! Up here in the northern hemisphere, on the west side, it's 70 degrees, sunny, and bike riding weather. The days are getting longer even tho winter hasn't really started yet.

I'm free of gifting guilt and enjoying a morning of serene aloneness.

There's more than one way to skin a holiday!

((Hugs to all))

NotDefeatedYet posted 12/26/2013 20:21 PM


I worry about people who think goodness comes from an outside power. Do they only behave themselves because they're afraid of some sort of punishment? The threat of coal in my stocking was never enough of a deterrent to me as a child. I still derived great pleasure from misbehaving. True goodness is intrinsic.

The conundrum of being an atheist police officer... Many of my co-workers don't believe either. It wasn't for the service in a higher power that lead many of us into this field.

Ascendant posted 3/22/2014 18:46 PM

Trying to revive this thread...need a common perspective on some stuff.

strengthandhope posted 3/23/2014 01:24 AM

Thank you, Ascendant for reviving. I have been a reader and recent participant and did not know this thread existed....

I identify as agnostic. I feel comfort in figuring through this life left to my own logic, experience and wisdom. The reason I do not say I am atheist is because I do not have all the answers, just as I believe people of faith do not have all the answers. I know I can figure things out and I am not afraid to face this journey with the truths I know to be true to me.

My brother has been in AA for about seven months. He is also agnostic/atheist (we never got into it that deep!) one of the things he struggles with is the belief in a higher power. I have told him that a higher power does not implicitly mean a belief in God...it is a belief that you can be something better than you are. YOU (or the best you that you can be) is the higher power. That is not as easy to grasp with someone that has lived a life without structured faith.

In my personal journey, logically I cannot just "leave it in the hands of God" or trust that "He has a plan". Mostly because I was not raised that way, and also I think it takes away personal responsibility. No matter what circumstances we go through, it is up to us as to how we respond and conduct ourselves, even in moments of depravity and confusion.

I do think that most people can attain a "spirituality" that is undefined. To me, that means reflecting on how you got "here" and where YOU want to go....and having the fortitude to make it happen. It is very empowering to embrace that type of freedom. It is also daunting. YOU have to do it as a WS or a BS.

As far as sin goes...I do believe in sin. It is doing something you know is wrong and doing it anyway. By that definition, every one of us sins every day. I know I shouldn't smoke, yet I do. I know I shouldn't lie to mom and tell her I "missed her call" and the truth is I just didn't want to talk...etc. These little sins can be forgiven and passed off easily. But we know there are big sins that will come back in another form. We know that our past actions will somehow appear in the future.

It is not easy to be agnostic/atheist in this world for many reasons. We are not any less than those of faith, nor anymore wise, etc. It is a different path.


Ascendant posted 3/23/2014 08:18 AM

Yup. I feel you on all those fronts, S+H-

My brothers kind of struggled with the same issues....they were working a program while not being particularly religious, and it does require a little bit of mental gymnastics to find a way to get their beliefs to still allow them to work their program from the mental side of things.

I think it's been a little trickier for me with this infidelity, because I'm a little more...mmmm.....defined in my beliefs. So again, like you said, the whole "Let go and let God" aspect doesn't really do a whole lot for me in terms of life.

I recognize that at it's core it basically means to recognize you have zero control...but once you remove the plan or intervention of some deity from that worldview, then it boils down to this: If I have no control, then who DOES? I understand that I can only really control me, and each person controls themselves as well....but if we're all just pinballing around out here, doesn't that mean that we can and do affect others when we collide?

I dunno. Just come thoughts. The book Codependent No More was kind of helpful to me, but it lightly mixed in some religious aspects that I was able to work around but then the religious tones became more overt and the answer to every question became "let go and let god" and I found it somewhat unsatisfying.

tesla posted 3/23/2014 08:35 AM

Popping in to say hi.
Atheist here from a family of very religiously devout people. They don't know I'm an atheist which is for the best.

Ascendant posted 3/23/2014 08:37 AM

Atheist here from a family of very religiously devout people. They don't know I'm an atheist which is for the best.
Yeah? They'd be pretty unaccepting of it, Tesla?

Have you found your struggle with infidelity to be different than others with a more religious viewpoint?

ETA: I made up a word. I do that sometimes.

[This message edited by Ascendant at 8:38 AM, March 23rd, 2014 (Sunday)]

tesla posted 3/23/2014 09:01 AM

They would still accept me but it would be different...because I would be going to hell. And it would make them sad and they are the type that would blame themselves.

When D-day hit and I started moving through the D process, everyone I told IRL comforted me by saying that this stuff happens for a reason and that there is a plan. When everything started falling in place for me and it became apparent that ex-shat's new life was a miserable farce, it was confirmation for them that God works in mysterious ways and that he had rewarded the good and punished the bad.

I think people need a story to fit their lives into and religion, a higher power that takes an interest in us mere mortals-- helps create that story line.

I like a good story too.
But I have come to the conclusion that this drive to make sense of the bad things, make sense of death is our survival mechanism.

I think what helped get me through the infidelity/divorce stuff was that ultimately, I want to enjoy this life since this is all I got. So many times the question "why is this happening" and "why did he do this" popped in my mind. And as much as I would like to ascribe answers involving higher power machinations, I can not. Why did this happen? Because it did. Now what am I going to do?

catlover50 posted 3/23/2014 11:16 AM

Hi all! I am one who actually has a pet-peeve around "everything happens for a reason". Most of the time I just let it go (as I do "our prayers go out to you", "God bless America", etc that pass as conventional wisdom in our society), but occasionally I challenge someone on this statement.

Child abuse? Rape? Genocide? The Holocaust? Or, hmmm, infidelity? Really?

Or just the fact that your car got sideswiped in the parking lot? Okay, you say, you needed a new car...et voila! So how did that come about exactly? What "power" caused your car to be there and caused the other car to hit you? How did that power get manifest?

It's actually pretty creepy to me to imagine a power micromanaging everything in our lives. Not to mention I can't really agree with many of his/her choices! I would much rather take my chances with my own world view, which is that shit happens and we should do our best to make the most of the time we have, and be kind to one another.

outside4me posted 3/23/2014 14:43 PM

Many thanks for bumping this thread and getting it active again! I'm a hopeful agnostic, and I'm okay with not knowing. I've always found religion to be where things get all F'ed up. I used to think, "Hey, if it teaches you to be a better human being, then more power to ya. Just don't proselytize to me and tell me what to think." I studied primitive science and religion, psychology of religion, Joseph Campbell's many works, comparative religions of the world, etc. I guess you could say I've been to the puppet show and have seen the strings. That said, I don't begrudge anyone their faith.

Before I proposed marriage to my born again christian wife, I was totally forthright on my agnosticism. Although core belief structures weren't simpatico, she stated she was cool with where I was at (as I was with her). Truth be told, I figured a born again christian would never break her marriage vows and it was kind of an "insurance policy" against infidelity.

About 6 months after marriage, she drastically changed her behavior and spent 80-90% on on FB with a born again fellowship group, and almost no time on our marriage or me. Proclaiming herself a bride of Christ (wait a minute, I thought you were my bride?), denouncing this world and everything in it (I'm part of this world, so I guess I suck too). She would just root for the rapture and make those proclamations to her born again FB community. Once during a tiff I mentioned that if she spent less time with her rapture buddies and more time on the marriage we wouldn't be in this mess. Oh man did she go off! After the dust settled I asked why she married an agnostic, and she replied that she felt God wanted her to bring me to Christ, and it was her mission to change me. I figured if I was going to get any time with the wife and have any common bond, I better jump in her pool. I honestly went into it open minded and wanting to believe. Well, after I made the turn and started attending church she initiated an EA with another one of her born again FB friends, and carried it on for over a year. Once again, this is after I started attending church. On DDay I asked her if she had done anything at all to help bring me to Christ... "no, nothing". This didn't make any sense to me. Why the affair after I started attending church? "I guess I was impatient."

The hypocrisy is jaw dropping.

HUFI-PUFI posted 3/23/2014 15:20 PM

Boutside4me - The hypocrisy is jaw dropping.

But this is also true for those of us who are avowed agnostics or atheists. Many of the A/A community are still spiritual people who embrace a wide variety of belief systems that encompass a structure of morality and ethics. And more often than not, that belief structure supports the concepts of personal honesty and integrity along with a belief in the sanctity of marriage. Many of us here in this thread are from the WS community and that means, many of us were also guilty of hypocrisy. We talked the talk but did not walk the walk.

As I read your post, I wonder, why are you holding her up to a standard of behavior that is unrealistic? Was her faith supposed to be her armour against her FOO issues, her need for validation, her poor boundaries? I don't think its fair that you hold her up to a standard that many atheists and agnostics could not meet either. I think that your wife's decision to have an affair is separate and distinct from her faith in God.

Boutside4me - Why the affair after I started attending church?

The affair has nothing to do with you starting to attend church. The timing of that is purely coincidental. She started her affair due to her brokenness and not her religious beliefs.


Boutside4me - Truth be told, I figured a born again christian would never break her marriage vows and it was kind of an "insurance policy" against infidelity.

Are you saying that prior to you getting married, you actually thought that her religion was going to prevent her from being tempted by or starting an affair? Why would her "born-again status" make someone like you, who feels that he has seen the "strings behind the puppet show" feel that way? If you had truly seen the "puppet strings", then you should have been aware that religions are a man-made construct and as such, they are vulnerable to good and bad natures inherent in humankind. Religious belief does not give everyone a supernatural armor against the temptations of the flesh and your studies should have made that apparent to you.

HUFI

HUFI-PUFI posted 3/23/2014 15:51 PM

catlover50 - I am one who actually has a pet-peeve around "everything happens for a reason". ... What "power" caused your car to be there and caused the other car to hit you? How did that power get manifest? ... It's actually pretty creepy to me to imagine a power micromanaging everything in our lives.

Let me start off with saying that I am a humanitarian agnostic (a rather simplistic 2 word description for a infinitely complex issue) and am not trying to bash you but ....

I think that you should know that anyone who tells you his faith actually has a doctrine that "everything happens for a reason" is wrong. Christian doctrine and scripture does not ascribe to God the responsibility or blame for every terrible thing that happens in life. People who believe that are latching onto the "soundbite"instead of listening to the whole damn boring speech, to parahrase a wee bit.

catlover50 - I would much rather take my chances with my own world view, which is that shit happens and we should do our best to make the most of the time we have, and be kind to one another.

I find it interesting that you use the phrase "my world view" to describe your religion! And I say "religion" because there is a debate that feels that atheism is a religion in its own right. http://www.strangenotions.com/is-atheism-a-religion/ or http://creation.com/atheism-a-religion

While I don't find the idea of a determinialistic world very appearling, I also don't feel that a world where "shit happens" to much more appealing. What is shit and why does it happen? Are you trying to say that the duality of good and bad exists within all people and may or may not result in varying actions that will result in unknown reactions that might or might not impact me?

HUFI

StillGoing posted 3/23/2014 16:58 PM

Atheism is not a religion. People who push that idea generally do so because they have an agenda. Atheism is nothing more than a statement regarding belief in the supernatural.

An atheistic belief system would be Secular Humanism, possibly even Objectivism, some forms of Buddhism.

Pushing atheism as a religion is a way to attack people who are not yet sure what they believe and are in a transitional place, or are not comfortable declaring absolutes. Atheists do not make absolute statements - saying "There is no god" is a summary comment that has an implicit catch rule after it "Unless there happens to appear some evidence to convince me." We don't add that shit to casual or even most formal conversation because it's assumed - or should be.

I think it is perfectly acceptable to hold someone accountable to their professed belief system. What is unfair is giving them a free pass on their stated commitments because others may not view those commitments in the same light. There are atheists out there who just plain don't give a shit. As far as I am concerned they can judge the Puritans all they like. The Puritans were the ones spouting off about predestination and witches. They are the ones who have a set of beliefs to adhere to. Using those beliefs as a shield to hide behind and avoid judgement is, well, hypocritical.

When a faith professes infidelity as one of the worst crimes a body can perpetrate, to the point that the one nice guy out of the whole bunch who ate the biggest shit sandwich the universe ever coughed up so the rest of the world wouldn't have to actually says in so many words "Fuck you" then that is a standard they set for themselves, and the position from which they preach and judge and criticize. The whole plank in the eye shit.

I'm an atheist. I'm a secular humanist. I am not perfect and if someone were to call me out on things I may be pissed about it but they'd be damned well right to do so, because it's a standard I believe people should adhere to. It doesn't matter if a Christian meets those standards - they have their own, whether anyone else can or not.

As for predestination being wrong, while I agree, you'd get yourself tied to a stake and burned a couple hundred years ago. Puritans were a Calvinist sect. The forerunners to American Protestantism were very much predestination folks. The idea is permeated in this society.

In regards to the links, some of the logic there is absofuckinglutely ridiculous.

“Are You A Christian?”

A prima facie or “at first glance” case for the claim that atheism can be seen as a religion can be found in the answer an atheist might give to the question “Are you a Christian?”

When presented with this question, an atheist may reply, “No, I’m an atheist.”

On the other hand, if he was instead presented with the question, “Are you a Jew?” he might again reply, “No, I’m an atheist.”

If he had been asked, “Are you a Buddhist?” or “Are you a Muslim?” or “Are you a Hindu?” he might well give the same answer: “No, I am an atheist.”

This suggests that being an atheist is analogous to being a Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Muslim, or a Hindu.

And that, in turn suggests that atheism is analogous to Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism.

In other words, atheism, too, can be seen as a religion.

Lets replace the word "atheism" with "a sock" and see if anyone notices.

“Are You A Christian?”

A prima facie or “at first glance” case for the claim that a sock can be seen as a religion can be found in the answer a sock might give to the question “Are you a Christian?”

When presented with this question, a sock may reply, “No, I’m a sock.”

On the other hand, if he was instead presented with the question, “Are you a Jew?” he might again reply, “No, I’m a sock.”

If he had been asked, “Are you a Buddhist?” or “Are you a Muslim?” or “Are you a Hindu?” he might well give the same answer: “No, I am a sock.”

This suggests that being a sock is analogous to being a Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Muslim, or a Hindu.

And that, in turn suggests that a sock is analogous to Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism.

In other words, a sock, too, can be seen as a religion.

That is the kind of simplistic bullshit that is purely agenda driven. The author plays definition games with religion and then hammers his argument into that box. By redefining the word religion he gets to work atheism in there as he sees fit. So by reframing the word religion as:

In this piece, I will use the term “religion” as follows:

Something is a religion if it has a position on the divine and/or the afterlife.

By “the divine” I mean God or the gods.

He gets to restructure the argument to become unassailable.

If, instead, we consider religion for what it actually is - a set of beliefs, ethics, ethnic cultures and world views - then no, atheism is in no possible way a religion, because atheism just says "I don't believe in the supernatural."

There are atheistic religions - Secular Humanism and some forms of Buddhism are immediate considerations - but nobody ever goes there. Nobody ever argues those. Nobody ever says "Humanism is a religion" because it doesn't push an agenda.

Frankly, the arguments against Atheism are about as ridiculous as arguments against Theism. "THEISTS ARE ALL CRAY CRAY YO" (stealing that from SM) is just, well, fucking ridiculous. It covers a massive canvas. Because in it's basic and broadest sense, it means "Yeah there is probably something out there." That includes Puritans and Jedi. Theism itself is not a religion, either. It's a broad definition of a position in regards to the supernatural. If the author of that article wants to propose the idea that Theism is a religion - the position that Insert Deity Here exists - then that would be a pretty fun read because it would be one wild fucking ride.

Tred posted 3/23/2014 17:15 PM

Don’t listen to your head, it’s easily confused. Don’t listen to your heart, its fickle. Listen to your soul, God doesn't steer you wrong.

Interesting tag line for an agnostic/atheist. It's all I'm saying.

outside4me posted 3/23/2014 19:04 PM

HUFI-PUFI:

You're right: I was naive to think that folks with religion would automatically "walk the walk". I think that we should all be held accountable for our actions, and I've lived my life accordingly. The Golden Rule. I don't think its an unrealistic expectation that others pay me the same courtesy, whether they have religion or not. I just figured those that follow the christian doctrine would be more likely to do so, that's all.

In the words of Dennis Miller, "Of course that's just my opinion, I could be wrong."

Sincerely though, thank you for your input. I'll take it into consideration. In the words of The Dude from The Big Lebowski, "Well that's just, like... your opinion, man."

ETA: you typed my username wrong 3 times... U mad, bro?

[This message edited by outside4me at 7:41 PM, March 23rd (Sunday)]

HUFI-PUFI posted 3/24/2014 07:22 AM

outside4me - ETA: you typed my username wrong 3 times... U mad, bro?

I apologize 3 times for the typo error in your username ... I suspect the error came from my cut&paste ... I will strive to get it right next time!

Actually, you were right in observing that I seemed angry. It had been quite some time since I posted on this thread (originally sometime back in 2009 I believe) and as I read the whole thread yesterday to get back up to speed, I had noted some comments made that raised my ire a wee bit. Some of that might have come out in my writing this time. My Bad.

HUFI

drowninginsorrow - This thread was started so that like minded people could support each other. It should not to be used to debate or bash other beliefs

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