It is not possible to be a religious atheist! No dogma, no litany, no hymns, no acquiescence  to some higher power. 

the definition of religion: 

Noun:

  1. The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.
  2. Details of belief as taught or discussed.

As Chris Ruegg stated: 

"Atheism is a stance on a single issue: the belief or non-belief in a God."

 

Atheism is not a belief in a superhuman controlling power, it is not a personal thing, it is not a belief and it is not taught;  It is thought. Critical thinking brings one to the realization that we live from birth to death,  that when death occurs, it is a change of form from skin, bone, blood, organs and consciousness to atoms. Change! That is what death implies and there is no notion of a mansion or seeing loved ones.

Life has no imposed meaning or purpose, therefore, what we experience, how we live, how we relate, how we reason and think critically comes from within. Each one of us gives meaning and purpose to our lives. There is no god, personal or otherwise, and our bodies and senses inform us about our function as part of the living universe. Homo sapiens have a consciousness and that, too, ends upon death. What lives on are the memories of those who love and know us. That is all. 

History is full of evidence of the sanctions against such thinking: 

Hypatia of Alexandria

What Was the Charge Against Socrates?

There is also abundant evidence of critical thinking for future development: 

Books by Alvin Toffler

R. Buckminster Fuller, Making the World Work

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Replies to This Discussion

Who was it that said all babies are born tabula rosa? I'm losing my memory! That's how I think of atheism actually, we're born atheist. The fact that we're taught religion instead of critical thinking as children, we're disciplined instead of being allowed to experiment and explore, well... it's child neglect and abuse. Control through fear and intimidation from the cradle to the grave.

Tammy, YES! EXACTLY! Now that we understand that, we are open to all possibilities. The person we are is to be discovered and defined by our selves. Oh! that feels so good! We don't have to look to others to define us, that is our job.

Now if we could just get the next several generations to understand that childhood self-discovery is precious, think what our world could be.

I just spent the last seven days with my daughter's family, two granddaughters and two great-grandsons. What a joy! We walked in the woods and named plants that we could eat and ones that would make us sick. We found a pile of timber that had been cut down for fire suppression. we got sticks and drummed on those rotting logs. What beautiful sounds they made. The dogs chased squirrels and rabbits, a skunk came around, we tried to identify the different trees in the forest and we told ghost stories after dark. It was pure joy seeing the world through the eyes of four year olds and up to teenage. I am profoundly proud of this little family living on a farm.

That's how time with grandparents should be spent! Joy and discovery time.

Some time back on another board, an atheist friend of mine proposed that atheism is a DEDUCTION, made by a given individual as the result of thought and consideration of the facts (or lack thereof) surrounding religion and how reality is observed to work.

I rather liked his take on things, so I thought I'd offer it here.

I like that, Loren. 

Deduction: 

the act or process of using logic or reason to form a conclusion or opinion about something, 

the act or process of deducing something, 

a conclusion or opinion that is based on logic or reason 
"Our deduction was based on the information given to us at the time. It was a logical deduction."

Spider Robinson has (often) said that the main thing he learned from reading  Heinlein's juvenile novels was:

"Always make up your own mind.  Before you make up your mind, think it through. Before you think about it, get the facts, or as many as you can." 

(As far as I know RAH never said that exactly; I have copies of all his books, but can't find those precise sentences...but the feeling is there.)

The first time I read the buybull all the way through, I was still a believer.  I was looking for answers...help that I had been taught was in there.  I was so astonished and appalled by what I had read, that I went through it a second time, and by the end I knew it was fiction.  BAD fiction. 

And I was an atheist from then on.

I wish I had had access to Heinlein when I was in elementary school, it might have changed my life....made me work harder in math and science.  But my body had other ideas; I fell in love with figure skating, had a wonderful time as a chorus girl for a few years, and have no regrets.

Except that it took me almost 10 years to get the religion "monkey" off my back.  But I had to do it myself...atheism is not something that can be "preached."  As far as I know.  You might be able to drop a few facts into a conversation, or a debate, but everybody has to decide for themselves. 

The sad thing is that True Believers think they know everything, and don't need to learn the fun stuff like archaeology, paleontology, and cosmology.  (I wonder how many fundies watched thye Transit of Venus across the face of the Sun Tuesday.  It was so exciting listening to those guys at Keck Observatory talking about the history of astronomy and a whole range of other subjects!)

 

Actually, Heinlein DID say that:

What are the facts? Again and again and again -- what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what "the stars foretell," avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable "verdict of history" -- what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
-- Robert A. Heinlein

That would make a great t-shirt for those of us 'not so out' atheists in the south! That's a great quote thanks!

That's from Time Enough for Love - the "Notebooks" section.  I was looking for his advice to younger readers in the "juvenile" novels he wrote in the late 1940s and 1950s.  Especially "Always make up your own mind."  Kids need to know that, and feel comfortable with it, as early as possible.

I have said that time and again, I wish I hadn't been so mired in stupidity and had taken more of an interest in science and math. I do however think you're absolutely spot on about atheism not being something that can be preached, until you're ready to be responsible for yourself in the fullest sense, you're not ready to accept the truth, you need that crutch.

I think though that those of us that discovered our atheism later in life probably have a sense of having earned our own truth rather than it being our 'default' position, we are a little more prideful and outspoken than say someone who was raised in a logical, critical thinking environment. That can be a good thing, but it also makes us obnoxious at times, I too can be accused of that over-zealousness... I got myself in some trouble with the family that way on a few occasions when I was still angry and it was all new and shiny...  but I think once I calmed down and decided I didn't want to convert them, that it didn't really matter to me what they thought and I could still love them, it wasn't being untrue to myself to love them though they were religious, a few of them actually wanted to 'discuss' my beliefs and felt comfortable enough with me to admit their own.  I get what you're saying about the 'True Believers' though, they're definitely the most insecure of the lot and the most dangerous, those are my neighbors, I don't discuss 'anything' with them for fear the bastards would burn me out of my house!

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