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Agnostic/Atheist Support Group

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didwhat posted 6/9/2007 21:04 PM

Count me in. As far as I can see people have choice and are responsible for their own actons. Unfortunatly, others are often in harms way through no fault of their own.

Guess I believe in physics....

rivenheart posted 6/10/2007 06:00 AM

The absence of belief in faeries is not a belief. The absence of belief in Santa Claus is not a belief. Everyone's born an atheist. However, atheists and agnostics are often also humanists, and humanism *is* a belief system.

I suppose I see atheism then not as an absence of belief, but as a conviction (belief) that there is "nothing out there." Some atheists will assert this: There is no god. Perhaps this is different than saying "I don't believe in god." If atheism is the latter, then I'm definitely an atheist. If it's the former, then I can't be sure I am. This is why I often feel that I'm an agnostic: I don't believe in god as I've seen absolutely nothing to convince myself that a god exists. But can I say with conviction (all the time) that there is no god at all? I dunno. I've never seen any evidence myself of black holes either, but they probably do exist. Bad analogy, because a scientist could probably show me (if they had enough patience to explain simply), why it is that black holes are believed to exist. But I think I've made the point: I can only say I have no reason to believe in god. But I'm not confident enough in my own knowledge of the vast universe to say that I believe in the absence of something like a god.

Maybe we need a three words. One that covers people who actively believe there's no god. Another for those who simply don't believe one way or the other. And agnostic can still refer to those who just claim "not to know" as the word literally indicates.

ladyvorkosigan posted 6/10/2007 08:41 AM

I think that if you aren't indoctrinated into a religion before you really have the cognitive skills or memory of the time before your indoctrination to think differently, you get the absence of belief thing, more. Because you know you simply lack belief. There's no reason to believe in a deity. But if you were indoctrinated...well, the mind changes depending upon how it's trained. Then, you probably have a harder time shifting to understanding the absence of belief. You don't remember when you were an atheist. You were soaking in religion from earliest memory. Of course you can't remember. So you're more likely to both perceive "atheism" as a belief rather than a belief-free state, and, if you are an atheist now yourself, treat and perform your atheism as a belief. It's what you were trained to do. But it's the ingrained religiosity that's bringing your sense of religiosity to the atheism, nothing innate in the atheism itself. It's like if you and I both find ourselves standing outside a thorny hedge surrounding a castle. You used to be on the other side of the hedge. I was always outside the hedge. Therefore it's natural that you have scratches that I don't have. It's also natural that you think of yourself as being in a specific outside-the-hedge place, whereas I think of myself as where I am. I have no outside vs. inside to tangle with.

Now of course a big question is, with the hedge analogy, do we think in terms of whether I'm standing on the castle side of the hedge - which implies the castle is what we're both moving toward and you started out farther out than I did - or whether I'm standing on the non-castle side of the hedge, which implies that the castle is what you're moving away from, and *whatever undefined space is out there* is where we're both going.

<benstiller>Did I just *BLOW* your *MIND*??!!</benstiller>

A lot of people decide they're atheists after exploring many actual belief systems. I think you described upthread (someone did) moving through several Christian faiths, then exploring some Wiccan stuff, etc. So atheism that is the end result of a search for *something* to believe in does look - and is performed - a lot like belief. But it's because the person themselves has entered atheism from a believer's mindset, rather than from a belief free mindset. Their atheism will always be influenced by the fact that their mind was shaped by religious belief.

I am seriously one of the few atheists I know who has always been belief free. I'm also one of the few atheists I know who isn't angry at religion. =) I think of religion as a lot like football. I have no interest in football. I never cared about football. I went to a few games in high school, but don't care about it. However, I'm *fully aware* that there are millions of people who are all about football. I don't care. I only start to care when something I'd rather watch gets pre-empted by a football game. Or when traffic jams due to football games inconvenience me. Then I'm pissed. When the inconvenience ends, I return to not caring.

So that's my relationship with religion. I don't care about it. I have been to a few churches a few times. I know many people are really into it. I don't care. I only start to care when something in my life begins to be displaced because of someone else's interest in religion.

[This message edited by ladyvorkosigan at 8:49 AM, June 10th (Sunday)]

Skye posted 6/21/2007 14:42 PM

I am so bad. The doorbell just rang and there were two adorable young male missionaries standing on my doorstep.

Needless to say when I said I don't believe and they should try another house, they were wide-eyed. Of course they asked why don't I believe. I wasn't going to go into it so I just said I don't think there is any point in god. They then made the mistake of asking, "is their any point in life?" I answered, not most days. I think I ruined their day!

Maybe they will have better luck next door.

misto1976 posted 6/21/2007 15:10 PM

Nice to see this thread! Just a question for all of us "evil non-believers" after you found out about A and life was haywire did you ever consider believing, going to church and all that?? Did you ever just think it would make it easier on you?

25wimsey posted 6/21/2007 16:02 PM

No, never thought of going to church after d-day--no matter how haywire everything was (and still is sometimes), that route just didn't occur to me. Why do it? Wouldn't make it any easier for me to blame a god or pray for everything to change or anything else I can think of. Sort of like "there are no athiests in foxholes", were you thinking? If I thought of things in those terms, of making things easier for instance, it was only that there WAS no way to make things easier, just myself slogging through whatever was necessary, to find my answers or peace or whatever through my own work, in myself, and with the help of H and MC of course!

setecastronomy posted 6/21/2007 16:06 PM

It was a little difficult finding an MC and an IC who wouldn't push the whole Judeo-Christian thing on me.

Anyone have any familiarity with something like "Retrouvaille" for non-believers or something similar?

Interesting reading:

Skye posted 6/21/2007 16:24 PM

I'm with 25, no way did I believe god was going to make infidelity go away. For me his infidelity was just another example of why there is no god.

I have always told each of our MC's/IC's that I don't believe so that sets the tone right from the get-go.

Just an aside, but I find that we, as clients, need to set the tone of therapy. I believe we know what we need and it is imperative that we let the therapists know that.

groundhogday posted 6/22/2007 08:00 AM

Hi, another atheist here (never baptised or christened, and no intention of doing so).

It's easier here in the UK. Religion is seen as a very personal and private issue, and if someone brings it up in general conversation they tend to be treated as if they've farted in public. We do have fundamentalists, of course, but in the circles I was brought up in, there was no assumption of any particular religious belief. I've not come across a single IC or MC here that's mentioned religion, and I would find it highly offensive if they did.

So until d-day, religion wasn't an issue in any way. My MIL's prime interest in life is her catholic faith, but it didn't intrude in our life. However, it has since turned out to be a major influence both before and after the affairs. Her neglect of her children in favour of religion meant that she didn't notice that WH was being regularly abused at his catholic school, where he was sent to be amongst her faith rather than go to the local school with his own friends. That abuse led to terrible self-loathing and destructive behaviour.

Her inability to deal with things directly, but to instead place them in the hands of god, meant she showed me no support after the affair, other than saying she was praying for me. I was devastated...I really expected more from her. And since H has been diagnosed with a mental illness, I know she's been praying for him, but hasn't picked up the phone once to call him and ask how he's doing, or show any support.

I don't know how to approach someone who shows so little interest in those around them unless it's via their faith. If I visit her, she cries when she tells me how disappointed she is that her children don't go to church every day. And keeps telling me to join the church, because it will give me everything I need.

At times, I wondered whether to join the church simply to get her to pay more attention to her son. She shows strong favouritism to her one grandchild who is astute enough to play along, and is quite nasty to the others that show no interest.

I have no idea how to deal with someone of any strong religious faith because it's outside my experience. If anyone has ever mentioned religion to me I've tried to hide my feeling of ... embarrassment for them, I guess? ... and changed the subject. I could do with some better way of dealing with what I see as a totally alien concept.

misto1976 posted 6/22/2007 10:30 AM

In answer to my own question. No, I have never considered going to church or anything of the religious nature since Dday but I did joke about it to the dismay of most of my friends lol. I have caught myself going by a church and thinking to myself, hmm, maybe it would just be easier to go to church and then I stop myself and ask, how would that make anything easier?? Pretending to believe in something that I know I cannot believe? Nope, I'll just keep trudging through with own beliefs and deal with things as they come at me :)

beach posted 6/22/2007 10:34 AM

I have a question for Atheist.

My elder friend called me last night and told me that her 80 y/o husband passed away yesterday morning. I knew her husband had stroke and was ill for a long time and was transferred to a nursing home recently. She said he was Atheist and there will be no announcement on the paper and no funeral for him. He will be crimate and a service will be held for only immediate family.

Would it be appropreate to mail just a sympathy card and no memorial money?
Thanks in advance.

PS: my background. I am from one of Asian countries and my root is Buhddism and only believed our ancestors. When I got married, H's grandparents wanted me to join their faith. I was baptized to Lutheran, because of my kids. But I went to the weekly worship service until both of my kids are done with confirmations. I have never felt like belong to the church either. Anyways, I haven't gone to church for three years.

[This message edited by beach at 10:35 AM, June 22nd (Friday)]

25wimsey posted 6/22/2007 11:44 AM

Beach, my opinion is that sending a card expressing sympathy for the gentleman's wife and family is totally appropriate. You are showing them support in a time of loss, not endorsing any religious belief or talk of an afterlife.

Memories of the loved one are still here with those left behing--sympathy with that loss is comforting.

Sometimes people will appreciate donations to a charity or health organization that is related to the cause of death. But it is in no way required.

beach posted 6/22/2007 11:58 AM

Thank you 25w!!

I will get a card that is not religeous one.

setecastronomy posted 6/22/2007 12:37 PM


I'm with 25wimsey on this. Funerals aren't for the dead. They're for the living.

Sympathy is good. Empathy is good.

beach posted 6/22/2007 14:22 PM


Funerals aren't for the dead. They're for the living.

I agree and that makes sense.

kissoff posted 6/23/2007 13:04 PM

[This message edited by kissoff at 10:07 PM, June 23rd (Saturday)]

25wimsey posted 7/7/2007 18:38 PM

Saw a funny cartoon in the "Funny Times"--two clean-cut, Mormon-looking types are handing out a pamphlet to a man whose door they knocked on--the man is holding it and is saying, "But this pamphlet is blank!", and one of the mormon-types says, "We're atheists".

Funny to look at and read--hope the humor comes across in my poor explanation!

Skye posted 7/8/2007 10:12 AM

I got it. I got it.

Inchoate posted 7/8/2007 14:56 PM

Strangely, I never noticed this thread before.

I am an atheist by LadyV's definition in that I never believed, and did not consciously reject religion. It just wasn't part of my worldview, and the only reason I had to articulate a "choice" was because I grew up in the South. I never really "got it" and certainly didn't acculturate to a religious mentality.

Strictly speaking, I'm agnostic, because I'm unwilling to claim that I know anything about the underpinnings of reality, beyond what I can derive logically or through my senses. But many agnostics are questors, and while I suppose I have my spiritual side, I am not questing for "meaning" outside of what I already know.

I'm not angry with religion, either, though I find plenty of religious people angering and destructive. I also find plenty of non-religious people angering and destructive. It's been my observation that mean people use their religion to be mean, and nice people use their religion to be nice, you know?

I am not offended when people use religions forms of expression when their intentions are good. Feel free to bless me when I sneeze, and to pray for me. I appreciate all kind thoughts. Please do not, however, try to convince me that I'm just "lost," or, worse yet, that without an appeal to an external authority, I can have no genuine morality or goodness.

I am always disappointed and more than a little surprised when people express confusion about how the big problems of life can be resolved or survived "without God." To the point where I don't know how to respond to such statements, without sounding bigoted. I always want to say, "Well, the same way you do--I think, I read, I consult the opinions of those I respect, I challenge my thoughts with other points of views, and keep myself open to helpful wisdom."

Skye posted 7/11/2007 08:03 AM

Inchoate, I like the way you differentiated being angry at religion vs. religious people. Zealots of any form are not easy to like.

I have often wondered how truly good religious people reconcile their beliefs with the beliefs of the truly bad believers. I suppose it has to do with faith, which I can't even begin to put my little brain around.

I don't have any trouble explaining my non-belief. But, wow, do believers have problems understanding. Quite frankly, it would be nice to think I have no responsibility for anything--a bigger something out there is at fault.

Inchoate posted 7/12/2007 08:10 AM

Quite frankly, it would be nice to think I have no responsibility for anything--a bigger something out there is at fault.

Word to that!! Yes, it would be very nice if I could blame Satan, or something. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at handing off my responsibility in general, and certainly not to supernatural agents.

In a more serious vein, it gives me fits and mental pain to see people suffering in non-obligatory ways, and attributing it to "God's plan for me." Is God's plan that you be a doormat? I also have a very difficult time reconciling a God deserving of my/any reverence with one who deliberately metes some of the horror I see in the world (and yes, I know all the arguments...I just don't like them).

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