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Author Topic: "Coming out" as an atheist  (Read 5836 times)

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Paul

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"Coming out" as an atheist
« on: August 16, 2008, 07:01:32 AM »

I've regarded myself as a weak atheist for a very long time (and talk about it almost to a fault), but only recently did I start reading up about it and meeting other people who are also unbelievers. When we got on to talk about the subject, it was clear that people like myself who had made their atheistic position known and not had a single word said against it (even by my Catholic parents) were apparently rare. One person in particular described revealing his lack of belief in a God(s) as traumatic as coming out as gay (which he is) - with some people shunning him as a result, although his parents were church goers but not very committed Christians. I can only imagine what it would have been like have to reveal yourself in Bible Belt states or Sharia countries with laws against apostasy...

I'd like to hear from other atheists or agnostics about their experiences in revealing their views for the first time, or anybody with a view on the matter.
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Johnny

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2008, 08:37:22 AM »

I used to pray.

I used to mostly pray asking god to watch over my family and make sure they're ok and safe.
I felt a connection. I felt safe.
i think it was just the mind over matter scenario that was happening there


I never went to church though.
I always felt uncomfortable, I think deep down, I have never really believed in the bible or anything, that's why i always felt so out of place.


anyway, i finally admit to myself that i really don't believe and never have.


i tried to pray shortly after that but the prayer seemed hallow.
i was just talking to myself no one else.
it seemed pointless


i haven't done it since.


I suppose I have more of a scientific view on the universe.
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Indja

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2008, 11:22:03 AM »

I find it hard to believe that anyone is 100% atheist. I mean, surely any belief in anything beyond the physical world would counteract that? So acceptance of stuff like justice and unfairness and love or whatever would mean that you (meaning like "one") aren't really an atheist. You might not of found a religion that incorporates whatever it is you do believe in, but that doesn't mean you don't believe in it.

Or you know, whatever. *reverts back to sullen teen mode*
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CeeGBee

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2008, 12:28:14 PM »

In my own experience, the vast majority of people who label themselves as "atheist" have
actually just rejected organized religion.  I think it's great that the term "agnostic" is finally
getting a little exposure, since it is a much better descriptor of most situations.

To further insert my own opinion of my own observations, most "atheists", the ones who insist
that they really really really don't believe in any sort of...  well, anything, tend to be bitter bitter
people just looking for attention, and if it's an argument, so much the better.

Whatever you believe, I hope it works for you.

I believe I'll get some more tea and maybe a waffle...
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imaginary friend

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2008, 12:35:52 PM »

I've been an "out" atheist since the age of 12. :glasses9:

If religion helps you center yourself and get you through your day, cool. Just don't try to sell it to me.

jdfu!

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2008, 02:53:01 PM »

I've found that most atheists and theists share several frustratingly common traits.
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The Angel Raliel

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2008, 02:55:09 PM »

A belief in nothing  is the same as a belief in something........ I prefer to remain open minded and explore all possibilities
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fishbulb

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2008, 03:07:07 PM »

Oh, I remember that day very clearly. I was 15, and had announced I did not believe anymore the day before. The relaxedness with which my parents absorbed that message should have started my inner alarm, but I thought I was lucky and it wasn't a big deal, until a priest entered the house and looked at me and started praying and sprinkling holy water all over me, while my father held me and my mother wrung her hands in the background. It was hilarious, really. However, it did not change my mind.
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The Angel Raliel

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2008, 03:08:13 PM »

did you manage to puke any mushy peas over the priest?
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fishbulb

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2008, 03:10:17 PM »

I tried, but I was just doing that head swivelling thing so it landed on the night stand.
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The Angel Raliel

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2008, 03:11:31 PM »

oh well.... I hope you managed to get a few insults out in ancient mesopotamian, anyway
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Paul

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2008, 03:25:36 PM »

I find it hard to believe that anyone is 100% atheist. I mean, surely any belief in anything beyond the physical world would counteract that? So acceptance of stuff like justice and unfairness and love or whatever would mean that you (meaning like "one") aren't really an atheist. You might not of found a religion that incorporates whatever it is you do believe in, but that doesn't mean you don't believe in it.

Or you know, whatever. *reverts back to sullen teen mode*

Some points:

1) Atheism is a position defined solely about belief in the existence of God or gods, and it is still technically possible to believe the supernatural/afterlife etc. and still be an atheist. Buddhists do not believe in a Creator/Personal God, yet they do believe in a reincarnation-based afterlife. However, most modern atheists don't believe in the supernatural/spiritual, for the reason outlined in 2).

2) My reason for not believing in the existence of a God is the same reason that you (hopefully) do not believe in unicorns... There is no evidence for it, and the ideas I have heard for his existence can be refuted, require some level of suspension of reality or are just beyond the boundaries of common-sense. Since most religions and cults have some sort of supernatural/faith-based position, I put them in the same level of improbability as a God or other transcendental creator being.

3) Saying that atheists and agnostics, since they believe in love, justice and fairness cannot possibly be atheist is something I find a bit offensive. It is a bit like saying - "human beings cannot possibly be moral/compassionate/loving without God (or some sort of divine reward/retribution), so it is impossible that one can disbelieve God and have good deeds/character." This is just totally untrue, as secular humanists and brights will tell you.

In my own experience, the vast majority of people who label themselves as "atheist" have
actually just rejected organized religion.  I think it's great that the term "agnostic" is finally
getting a little exposure, since it is a much better descriptor of most situations.

To further insert my own opinion of my own observations, most "atheists", the ones who insist
that they really really really don't believe in any sort of...  well, anything, tend to be bitter bitter
people just looking for attention, and if it's an argument, so much the better.

Whatever you believe, I hope it works for you.

I believe I'll get some more tea and maybe a waffle...

Agnosticism relates to what is knowable (i.e. with 100% certainty), not what is believable. I take the view of weak atheism, also known as agnostic atheism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnostic_atheism), which is supported by people like Richard Dawkins and Bertrand Russell i.e. -

I cannot be 100% certain that a God may not exist somewhere in the universe or beyond (agnosticism), but on the balance of probability God most likely does not exist (atheism).

As an example, I cannot prove 100% that leprechauns/Father Christmas/Loch Ness Monster/Tooth Fairy exists, but I can safely rule them out as believable beings.

The philosopher Bertrand Russel illustrates the point using his Celestial Teapot metaphor -

Quote from: Bertrand Russel (taken from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celestial_teapot)
If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

W.R.T. what you said about atheists you have met using it to be bitter individuals, I can say that I have never met any open atheist like that (although I agree that some like Richard Dawkins are quite arrogant). I wpuld say that it is the opposite - atheists believe that this life is the only shot we have, so we'd better get on with making it as happy and productive as possible.

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fishbulb

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2008, 03:26:42 PM »

I did, no worries. I'm sure he regretted that day for years to come. Especially after he apparently had some magical pull on herds of wild goats and sheep and camels who wanted to nibble his crotch. He just could not get rid of that smell of freshly picked clover in the testicle area, no matter how much holy water&soap he used. It became a real nuisance and in the end he was fired by the Vatican. They don't like their churches muddy, you see, nor their bibles eaten.
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Indja

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2008, 03:43:06 PM »

Some points:

1) Atheism is a position defined solely about belief in the existence of God or gods, and it is still technically possible to believe the supernatural/afterlife etc. and still be an atheist. Buddhists do not believe in a Creator/Personal God, yet they do believe in a reincarnation-based afterlife. However, most modern atheists don't believe in the supernatural/spiritual, for the reason outlined in 2).

2) My reason for not believing in the existence of a God is the same reason that you (hopefully) do not believe in unicorns... There is no evidence for it, and the ideas I have heard for his existence can be refuted, require some level of suspension of reality or are just beyond the boundaries of common-sense. Since most religions and cults have some sort of supernatural/faith-based position, I put them in the same level of improbability as a God or other transcendental creator being.

3) Saying that atheists and agnostics, since they believe in love, justice and fairness cannot possibly be atheist is something I find a bit offensive. It is a bit like saying - "human beings cannot possibly be moral/compassionate/loving without God (or some sort of divine reward/retribution), so it is impossible that one can disbelieve God and have good deeds/character." This is just totally untrue, as secular humanists and brights will tell you.

First off I'd like to apologise for any offense I caused - I'm not the most articulate of people, so sometimes what I mean doesn't quite mesh with what comes out. I certainly didn't mean to offend you - sorry!

I think the application of the word "God" is sort of misleading. When/if I talk about "God", I don't mean a big beardy bloke in the sky, or any kind of creationalist/interventionalist power - I just find it's the easiest word to use when I'm trying to define what I'm talking about. The God that I believe in is just the goodness in people. I truly believe that everyone is essentially good, and is born with an innate understanding of right and wrong as well as a desire to do "right". From this stance, to say that there is no evidence for it is just not true - the evidence is everywhere, in everyone. When I said that belief in love and stuff means you're not an atheist, it's because for me, God is love and justice and fluffy puppies and fairy-dust.

On second thoughts, I think I'm applying my own beliefs a little too broadly... Y'all should just ignore me until I learn how to function in the real world ^.^
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The Angel Raliel

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Re: "Coming out" as an atheist
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2008, 03:45:26 PM »

This is what I mean about atheism being a religion......
just go ahead and believe whatever you want as long as you are open to the idea that you may be wrong
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