Until recently I was an agnostic, perhaps a little hesitant to declare myself an atheist as most of my family and friends are devout Christians. I get along well with them all, and even celebrate christmas (as a solstice celebration when the long winter nights start to become shorter.) I personally have no problem with people believing what they will as long as they don't dictate to me what I should believe. (I also try my hardest not to laugh at them or insult them for their beliefs no matter how deluded I believe they are.) I used to have long philosophical discussions with my brother who although religious was very open minded and was able to discuss the universe as if God did not exist. Sadly he died a few years back and those discussions were stopped. (I occasionally see an article or come across something in life that I wish I could share with him. But it is not to be. So the memories will have to suffice.) So after I discovered this site, I began to read some of the more interesting commentary and was intrigued and pleased that some of those discussions reminded me of those early morning discussions with my brother. I am looking forward to posting here, and maybe in some small way filling the gap that his loss has left in my life. I don't want to appear as some sort of whiner, so I should just point out that I have a full and happy life. And when time permits (I care for my multihandicapped son 24 hours a day) I will enjoy once again discussing this wonderful and surprising universe again.
I am glad to be part of a site that discusses Atheism. I am a retired teacher, motorcycle mechanic and lifelong Philosophy student. I have never believed in religion, or for that matter any ideology. As a Philosophy student I have been more interested in epistemology than any set of beliefs. I identify freedom of thought with the discipline of not indulging in the impulse to indulge in idealism and making a conscious effort to employ empiricism.
As a motorcycle mechanic, I experienced an epistemological metamorphosis. I realized projecting onto the world how I thought the world should be was futile since the universe was a material thing and no more capable of understanding ideas that a stone. If I wanted to be a successful mechanic I had to learn to use measuring tools and become empirical. The only way to understand the the universe was through observation.
I was also attending university and found my desire to live empirically out of step with the many ideologies that were popular on campus. I wasn't interested in political or social ideals any more than I was interested in religious ideals. For me, Atheism is part of empiricism. It is more abstract and fundamental than a different set of ideal; it is a difference of epistemology.
This has made me feel somewhat isolated in a society where most people identify with a religious, political or social ideology. The philosophers I can identify with are the Encyclopedists. Diderot spent about a quarter of a century gathering knowledge and became a connoisseur of knowledge. He went through the epistemological metamorphosis I mentioned. Unfortunately his contemporary, Rousseau, had much more influence, since most people could relate to his ideals of Romantic Primitivism.
I increasingly meet other non believers and am glad to see increasing discussion about the nature of Atheism. I hope the spread of the epistemological metamorphosis brings about an era of increased intellectual freedom and awareness.
Dr Meaden, for the past month my wife and I have been very ill, she moreso than me. This past Wednesday I had to drive her to the local hospital emergency room. She was hallucinating up until yesterday, and the cause seems to be some greenish black mold that oozed from behind the hot and cold water handles in our bathtub.
For my part I have been experiencing extremely vivid dreams in which my father, who died 3 years ago, is back with the family. These have been full multimedia dreams much more vivid than I have ever experienced. It seems that I too have been poisoned by the mold in the bathwater.
The symptoms also included fever, chills lethargy etc. Now that we understand the reason for all this we are taking means to correct it, I will be sorry to see my dad go back into the Void but I will be able to take a more active role in this forum.
Thank you Terry for the warm welcome. *BIG HUG* Also, please forgive me for taking so long to respond. I'm looking forward to interacting with others here and perhaps making some friends. I've lived in the Bible Belt all of my life, so I could use some sanity! Much warmth and kindness to you and your loved ones.
No Idea What I am resonding to I thoutht it was to some doctors email that was sent to me???? What a nightmare and a general Pain I the ass!!! I have a bvery busy Day tomorrow would like the powers to make my Journey into the FREE THINKERS To Be Much Easier for Me!!!!!!
Thank you Dr. Meaden, for commenting back! It seems that since I have wasted so much of my life on nonsense (I had doubts but suppressed them) I am having trouble getting over the anger I sometimes feel. I visit my father and he has church blaring on the television, my nieces and nephews are constantly talking about how great god is. I login to Facebook and those people who are otherwise intelligent continue to post Christian propaganda and prayers to each other. If I'm honest with them then I lose friends and family. It is so frustrating - I am surrounded! There is no way it can be this bad in the UK, lol! I guess I need to find a happy medium, a way of dealing with the ignorance and to be more understanding. I often wish I lived in a secular society such as Canada, Sweden or Australia. I'm a realist and I can't see any possible way for the masses to ever give up their superstition (the fear of death is behind it all). Please tell me how you deal with it! I know that most Christians are decent, loving people so I don't want to come off as haughty or sanctimonious (which I have a tendency to do). I often wonder how men like Thomas Paine, one of my heroes, dealt with it. It was assuredly harder then. I know that science will continue to provide answers for that which only religion previously provided and eventually the bath water will be emptied only to find there was no baby there to begin with. But even then people will hold tightly to religious faith and maybe humanity will never extricate itself. I wish people could start living for LIFE instead of death and then maybe we can alleviate the suffering and injustice for far too many!
Thank you, Dr. Meaden. It is so nice to be able to connect with like-minded people, thank you! I'm in VA surrounded by bible-thumpers and do not know even know ONE atheist. It is so frustrating because I was a Christian for many years. No matter how I try to reach other Christians they just won't hear what I'm saying. The problem is they never read their bible, the book they base their whole life upon. I read it several times and that's exactly why I became an atheist :)