In my country it's not a matter of being a believer or a non-believer, but being anything else instead of christian orthodox. So the reaction an atheist will have coming out will be the same as a christian catholic will have. As you can understand, my society is not "shocked" for not believing in any deity, but for not believing in their specific one.
I prefer not to talk about religion with any believer, because the few times I did it I made the other persons feeling depressed and unhappy(as we all know, atheism is not an optimistic belief). So, whenever I'm asked why I don't put my cross after a prayer or why I don't go to church, I just say "because I'm agnostic" refusing to elaborate.
"atheism is not an optimistic belief"? Your statement struck me as odd. I don't feel that way at all about atheism. To believe that some process started all this diversity, and with time and space expanding from some source, the Big Bang, perhaps, and has evolved into all these diverse forms and functions that just astounds me. I feel so lucky to be a conscious person, sharing a very small spark of time on the Earth, and will return to atoms and molecules when my time is completed. There is no end, only change. Some spark started the process, some spark started you and me, and we followed the DNA blueprint to become who we are created to be. It is our job to give a definition of who you and I are. No one has the right to define us or mold us into some creature of their desire. We are perfectly imperfect just as we develop.
We have the responsibility to be all that we are capable of becoming ... nothing more, nothing less. A moral code resides within us and we don't have to go searching for a guru or pope or potentate to define us. We are created Homo sapiens sapiens, meaning we are social creatures, finding safety and comfort in bonding with other Homo sapiens sapiens. If you or I are unhappy, our jobs are to find fulfillment, self-respect, work that comes from our native interests, a loving, healthy community. If, by chance, we get into dysfunctional relationships, it is our responsibility to either make the relationships healthy or build new ones.
The silliness of religion deserves only contempt. The history of religion, I don't care which one you look at, is the root of violence.
"A moment’s reflection attests that religion and violence are often woven together in history’s tapestries. Any number of religions have justified violence under certain circumstances, and others have become caught up in its processes. In the ancient world, Zoroastrianism transformed earlier combat myths into a theology of eternal apocalyptic struggle between good and evil (Cohn 1993: 114), and ancient Judaism forged a confederacy under conditions of war (Schluchter 1989: 185, 200). Early Christianity had its martyrs, and the medieval Roman church, its crusades and Inquisition. As for Islam, the close association between rulership and religion -- together with the principle of jihad (or holy war) as a vessel of reformation -- infuse politics with enduring potential for violence.
"Religion kills. Throughout human history, people have killed in the name of their gods. Emile Durkheim rightly stressed that religion serves to strengthen the bonds of solidarity among those who worship the same god, in the same way. But the flip side of this solidarity is enmity towards those who worship other gods or worship the same god differently. Religious boundaries separate the pure and virtuous ‘us’ from the impure and evil ‘them’. We who worship our god our way are truly human. The Other, who worships other gods, or the same god differently, is less than human and thus killable. Yet while the hostility towards the Other found in most sacred scriptures has often had lethal consequences, one cannot assume that these texts dictate the actual behaviour of believers for all time. Scriptures are constantly being reinterpreted as historical circumstances change. And some conflicts in which sacred texts get invoked may infact have secular causes."
I certainly agree, Joan. That line about atheism not being an “optimistic belief” struck me also.
Did you look at Barbara Walker’s Compilation of Biblical Quotes that I posted a few days ago? Here’re a few beauties.
1. KILLING. (As in "Thou shalt not"???)
The biblical god personally kills a total of 371,186 people, not counting his slaughter of every living thing in Genesis 7. The biblical god also orders the killing of a total of 1,862,265.
Gen. 22:2 - God accepts human sacrifices (including that of Jesus, later).
Ex. 12:29 - God kills all the firstborn in the land of Egypt.
Ex. 15:3 - God is a god of war.
Ex. 21:15,17 - Anyone who strikes or curses a parent must be killed.
Ex. 22:18 - Every witch must be killed.
Ex. 22:19,20 - You must kill anyone who "lieth with a beast," or who worships any god other than Yahweh.
Ex. 31:15 - Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be killed.
Lev. 20:10,13,27 - You must kill adulterers, homosexuals, wizards, and spirit mediums.
Lev. 21:9 - Any priest's daughter who fornicates must be burned alive.
Lev. 24:16 - Blasphemers must be killed.
Deut. 3:4 - God is pleased that his warriors destroyed 60 cities.
Deut. 7:16 - You must kill all the people God delivers into your hands, and
"thine eye shall have no pity upon them."
Deut. 13:5 - Any prophet or "dreamer of dreams," who serves another god, must be killed.
Deut. 13:6-9 - If your brother, son, daughter, wife, or friend tempts you to
worship other gods, "thou shalt surely kill him."
Who the heck sees the above as optimistic? Some kind of ghoul or Mafia don.
It certainly supports Mssrs Hall and Munson’s assertions about religion and violence.
Alex, you should state the name of the country so we get an idea what you’re talking about. My only advice would be to seek out like-minded people so you can be yourself and not have to filter what you say and think so securely.
I question your line, “as we all know, atheism is not an optimistic belief.” We don’t all know. In my opinion, not believing in nonsense is liberating and the essence of freedom. In my belief system, humans will do well to eradicate the last vestiges of mythology, so we can move on to a true spirituality based on humanism.
We’re making progress, but it’s a slow process. Instead of “keep the faith,” say “learn science and how to think critically” so you won’t need to deceive yourself with false hope.
When I said "as we all know atheism is not an optimistic belief" I was thinking about atheist general opinion on death and how horrible it is (at least for me) to believe that one day we just stop being(I know that we still exist as atoms and molecules, but we will have no consciousness).
I must admit that I'm surprised to learn that many people find atheism an optimistic belief.
I'm from Greece by the way :d
Both ends of the emotional spectrum are unfounded in this scenario. If you cease to exist, you don't exist, there is no happy, no sad, it's just non-existence, and as such, it logically should be neutral in one's mind.
What you've written sounds so much like myself I don't even think I need to write a response.
i have been completely open after a few years now. I have been an agnostic most of my life despite having been educated in a catholic school for 14 years. It was not until 5 years ago when I started to read Harris, Dawkins and other authors. That kind of reading made all sense to me.
When you realized religion have been the cause of hate, discrimination and division throut the history you become active atheist, you want people to know what you know.
There is a cost to it, you loose friends and even family members, but if you become rational and knowledgeable enough you can spread common sense. Facebook have been another source of finding like minded friends and I attend meetings of atheist and rational thinkers groups.
Excellent Ed, I had a similar experience. At one point in my life I argued religion with Rudy Guiliani outside Brother Joseph's chemistry class. I just couldn't get past, "God loved the world" so much he sacrificed his only begotten son. What the fuck for? I felt like screaming, so He could appease Himself.
I get mad at this idiotic horseshit just thinking about it. And original sin! What the heck did I do? to deserve to be considered evil.
I got it. I'm going to post Barbara Walker's compilation of Biblical quotes right now. Shows how "whacky and bizarre" the whole thing is. Check out my blog, Rich Goscicki. I'll post it in a few minutes. It's a must read.
being a skeptic (my skepticism was part of what lead me to an atheistic position) is hard. when I started talking about it to people and getting into the subject as others were talking about psudo-stuff, I found myself loosing a lot of what were called friends. and the local atheist community seems lacking and separatist, meetups in tiny out of the way places that are really hard to find. every time I try to get a group together in alameda no one responds. I think we need a bit more "community" in our atheist communities.
any body here from alameda california? ANYBODY?!
I used to work at the Alameda Naval Air Station, but I'm now back in Idaho where I've yet to meet an atheist :(
You're right, we are most of us in really tough positions. Mine come from never having been indoctrinated in any matter of religion or morality. My outlook on life has been naturalism from day 1, which sets me apart from a great many atheists who are Humanists (a majority it seems) who push for goodie-two-shoes and morality as we already know, under the guise that today's multiple moralities are in fact absolute and all derive from one fundamental morality, which I disagree with 100%.
And then, there are skeptics who are faithers, and Humanists who are faithers, and people who believe in the religion of capitalism, Buddhism, still others who believe in the religion of democracy. Letting go of gods is only a very small fraction of what makes up an atheist, even without gods, people still carry their original upbringing value system.
Until atheists let go of clinging to religious views of the world, atheists will continue to vary wildly in belief philosophical systems. Probably 99% of atheists you meet are armchair scientists, people with no scientific training who tout science blindly, on faith, without a critical approach.
Atheists are a very very long way away from forming any community of mind. Rejecting gods, without rejecting all the various sociological consequences of faiths, is just the first step, just like being agnostic is a prep period for becoming atheist.
So what we have while we wait for this multi-generational (just like aboriginal peoples, or Apartheid survivors need multi-generational healing) process to happen is to take haven and speak freely on sites such as these. My home town has a 37% of non-religious affiliation but they all shy away from the word atheist, and pursue games of spirituality... as if some human "spirit" was any more likely than some "god".
Yep, we are a very long way from achieving anything truly different for this planet.
My favourite quote from Dawkins is that it's like herding cats. Atheists generally cling to whichever "good moral code" marked them most as children which means saying one is atheist actually has very little effect on one's views of society. Atheists often say don't throw away the baby with the water... but that's exactly what we need to be doing.
Until that happens, there is no atheism, only a bunch of cat-like atheists.
Sincerely, I wish you good luck on finding a local community of like-minded people. It is a challenging path, cuz internet contacts can only get you so far.