How to become an atheist?

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  • #51
If you do not believe in any particular religion, but you think the idea of god(s) is not unreasonable, then you're agnostic (eg, unsure). This also is not a religion.
That should be "is not knowable".
 
  • #52
DaveC426913
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A true atheist doesn't care about god, but they can and do care about religion,
I absolutely disagree with this, unless it's as meaningless as saying an evangelical christian cares about debating Hindus. An atheist plain and simple just does not believe in a diety. If you want to debate religion, that has NOTHING to do with not believing in supernatural dieties. Please do not confuse the two.
Hang on. The rest of the quote is:
since so many people make their personal/political choices based on religion, so it does have a very real impact on atheists' lives.
Atheists care about lots of things, such as stock markets, hunger and other peoples' religions.

I believe NeoDevin is simply saying that it is not a principle of atheism to dismiss the reality of other people.

There are many ways to "care" about religion that do not involve keeping it as part of ones religious philosophy.
 
  • #53
I became an atheist when I started school at a Lutheran school.

In grade 1 we'd read a chapter of the Bible, and the teacher would tell us it meant X.
In grade 2 we'd read a chapter of the Bible, and the teacher would tell us it meant Y.
In grade 3 we'd read a chapter of the Bible, and the teacher would tell us it meant Z.

Around that time I stopped believing in it all together since they couldn't keep consistency in one school let alone in an entire religion. Well, that and when I was going through confirmation and the pastor showed a true hatred for homosexuals.

"Judge not less thee be judged" indeed...

EDIT: Actually, atheist is a bad label. It's not that I don't believe in a God so much as I don't really care? I can't possibly know so why concern myself with that when there are so much more important things.
 
  • #54
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I absolutely disagree with this, unless it's as meaningless as saying an evangelical christian cares about debating Hindus. An atheist plain and simple just does not believe in a diety. If you want to debate religion, that has NOTHING to do with not believing in supernatural dieties. Please do not confuse the two.
Repeating yourself doesn't make you right, just stubborn.

A Christian would care about Hinduism if there were Hindus trying to get laws passed and policy made on the basis of Hinduism.

And as DaveC426913 pointed out, you took my quote out of context.
 
  • #55
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Hang on. The rest of the quote is:

Atheists care about lots of things, such as stock markets, hunger and other peoples' religions.

I believe NeoDevin is simply saying that it is not a principle of atheism to dismiss the reality of other people.

There are many ways to "care" about religion that do not involve keeping it as part of ones religious philosophy.
Thank you.
 
  • #56
DaveC426913
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It's not that I don't believe in a God so much as I don't really care? I can't possibly know so why concern myself with that when there are so much more important things.
Even I can't accept that. It is an evasion of the question.

If you believe there is a God, it can hardly be unimportant.

I conclude that your argument degrades to you not believing, but not having the courage of your convictions.
 
  • #57
DaveC426913
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Thank you.
On the other hand, I'm pretty sure Evo is not using a trivial definition of "caring"; she means "deeply caring" or "adhering to". I think that was implicit.

But you sort of twisted her meaning by splitting hairs - using a more general definition and then disagreeing with that.
 
  • #58
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Just to clarify terminology:

Theist: Believes in a god of some sort.
Atheist: Does not believe in any gods.

Gnostic: Believes the question of "Is there is a god?" has a definitive answer, and we can know it.
Agnostic: Believes either that there is no definitive answer to the question "Is there a god?" OR that we can't ever determine the answer.

It is entirely possible to disbelieve in god, and also believe that we can never prove a definitive answer (atheist agnostic).

It's also possible to believe in god, but to freely admit that there is no proof, and you're taking it on faith (theist agnostic).

Others believe that there is a god, and they can prove it (theist gnostic).

Others believe that there is no god, and they can prove it (atheist agnostic).

More specifically, agnostic does not mean "Is undecided if there is a god".
 
  • #59
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On the other hand, I'm pretty sure Evo is not using a trivial definition of "caring"; she means "deeply caring" or "adhering to". I think that was implicit.

But you sort of twisted her meaning by splitting hairs - using a more general definition and then disagreeing with that.
If so, then I misinterpreted her. When I read her post, I assumed the more general definition of "being concerned with/about". If he's right about your meaning Evo, then I apologize, and we're arguing over nothing.
 
  • #60
Moonbear
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EDIT: Actually, atheist is a bad label. It's not that I don't believe in a God so much as I don't really care? I can't possibly know so why concern myself with that when there are so much more important things.
Yes, atheist is a bad label for that. Not knowing and therefore not really caring (or giving it much importance) is generally agnostic. People mix up the terms all the time.

There's another option that hasn't really been included yet (unless I missed a post somewhere), and that is those who do believe in a deity, but not any religion. My grandfather was like that. He strongly believed there was a god, but just as strongly felt that if there was a god, he was everywhere, and there was no need to go to special places to worship in special ways...he felt all that was just man-made stories and rituals.
 
  • #61
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I didn't plan to participate in this thread simply due to it being religious in nature, but after reading DaveC426913's post, it sums up my opinion very clearly.

My suggestion is that, when you talk to your parents, be sure to make it clear that you are not challenging their beliefs or rejecting them. You are making a personal decision for yourself only.

And when they try to convince you otherwise, you can be completely passive to their objections, no matter how angry or coercive they get. "I understand your objections, and I understand that you see errrors in my path, but it is a path I must follow." Dont, under any circumstances, engage in an argument. You do not need to defend your position.

The whole point of making this decision is that it is your decision. It is perfectly all right for your parents to disagree with you. It does not weaken you or force you to concede.
It's only a label. I still don't clearly know if i'm atheist or agnostic. All it is is drawing lines in the sand. Some people need to have clearly defined lines when it comes to religion. Others seem to enjoy playing with ideas and occasionally shifting their lines around. For me, I see no need to draw any lines as religion has yet to have any impact on my life, and I have yet to see any need to incorporate it.

You don't have to defend your opinion on the matter whatsoever. The same goes for your parents or anyone else as again, they've made their decision. The only thing that I would recommend saying, if it comes down to it, is that they should just respect your decision. IMO, you should not be worried about a confrontation one bit.
 
  • #62
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Has anyone here been beaten half or near to death for being an atheist? Maybe known someone who has? Read a few news stories about such incidents? I don't doubt that it may have happened, I just doubt that it is very common at all. I don't remember anyone in school making fun of atheists and they'll make fun of you for anything in grade school and high school. I can't say I have heard many people accusing others of being atheists. I can't say I have heard anything worse than "he is lost/confused" when religious people refer to atheists. The only non-theists I have heard anyone complain about are the vocal in your face ones. I'm sure we can all respect that though since most of us have certainly found ourselves annoyed by the vocal in your face theists right?


Most theists in this country think atheism is immoral and will label you as such.

Here's an example of prejudice in school by school officials (very sad):



I'm sure there is more cases like this, and in general for teens trying to brake away from strong family religion and influence can be painful because of this kind of prejudice.
 
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  • #63
lisab
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Yes, atheist is a bad label for that. Not knowing and therefore not really caring (or giving it much importance) is generally agnostic. People mix up the terms all the time.

There's another option that hasn't really been included yet (unless I missed a post somewhere), and that is those who do believe in a deity, but not any religion. My grandfather was like that. He strongly believed there was a god, but just as strongly felt that if there was a god, he was everywhere, and there was no need to go to special places to worship in special ways...he felt all that was just man-made stories and rituals.
I distill it down to this: can I believe in anything supernatural?

One of the things I do in my job is develop test methods. That means I must identify everything that might affect the test result. Then, I control for it.

I can't say that yes I have controlled everything that affects a test result, then turn around and say, well...of course supernatural things can happen.

So are there any PFers who have ever seen something supernatural? I haven't.
 
  • #64
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That should be "is not knowable".
No..."not knowable" is really a poor choice of words, because then all rational atheists would have to call themselves agnostics simply by recognizing the FACT that one cannot disprove the existence of a God.

The difference between atheists and agnostics is that atheists believe there is no god because there is no evidence for god (and all atheists I've ever met also agree that this belief is not fundamentally provable/knowable), whereas agnostics simply choose to defer belief either way, because they are unsure.

That is specifically why I chose the wording I did,

"If you do not believe in any particular religion, but you think the idea of god(s) is not unreasonable, then you're agnostic (eg, unsure). This also is not a religion."

If one considers it "not unreasonable" then they haven't ruled out the possibility as being plausible, which categorizes that class of people perfectly.
 
  • #65
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I absolutely disagree with this, unless it's as meaningless as saying an evangelical christian cares about debating Hindus. An atheist plain and simple just does not believe in a diety. If you want to debate religion, that has NOTHING to do with not believing in supernatural dieties. Please do not confuse the two.
I would also agree with that. It is not best to go and criticize other schools all the time that are different than what you think.

(Atheists picking on some dumb religious people - as I saw on the websites posted in one of the posts - and using those as arguments to prove all religions are bad is simply immature)
 
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  • #66
ideasrule
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It's been interesting to read so many accounts of Christians becoming atheists. It's sad that many of you have had to confront your parents to do so; I can't help but think of how many people don't believe in God but are too afraid to announce their atheism.

I've had it lucky. I grew up in an atheist country in a non-religious family that never even mentioned religion. I didn't even know what religion was until I read about it on the Internet in grade 7! Of course regular visitors here know that I've developed an intense hatred towards it as I read more about it, but that's getting off-topic. I'm curious: did anybody here follow a similar path, learning about religion from the Internet and not from parents/friends?

To lisab: a lot of PF'ers have seen, or thought they saw, ghosts and UFO's. We've had a few discussions in GD and in S&D about lights in the sky, a sudden flash in a room, and what appeared to be the ghosts of Gettysburg soldiers. Perhaps those were nothing more than hallucinations, or perhaps they were due to yet-unexplained physics. I don't think you can say that all supernatural phenomena can be explained with existing knowledge.
 
  • #67
DaveC426913
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I grew up in an atheist country in a non-religious family that never even mentioned religion. I didn't even know what religion was until I read about it on the Internet in grade 7!
Now that is a backstory I would never have thought possible. You must be rare indeed.

What country?
 
  • #68
lisab
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Now that is a backstory I would never have thought possible. You must be rare indeed.

What country?
Haha, that was my reaction too. But I bet lots of PFers who grew up in Eastern Europe had that experience.
 
  • #69
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I would also agree with that. It is not best to go and criticize other schools all the time that are different than what you think.

(Atheists picking on some dumb religious people - as I saw on the websites posted in one of the posts - and using those as arguments to prove all religions are bad is simply immature)
The mere fact that you can say that statement shows that Atheist CAN care about god/religion and stay atheist.

Theres definitely different levels of atheist. Read Richard Dawkins God Delusion he talks about it... I consider myself an atheist but I am definitely fascinated by the idea of God etc. Just because I don't believe in it doesn't mean I can't care (show compassion for the idea) or look into it...

Thats not being atheist that's being ignorant and arrogant.
 
  • #70
No..."not knowable" is really a poor choice of words, because then all rational atheists would have to call themselves agnostics simply by recognizing the FACT that one cannot disprove the existence of a God.
I'm sorry but it is the definition of the word. "A-" without "Gnostic/Gnosis" knowledge; ie, it is unknowable.

People who by their own definition of their beliefs should technically fall into the catagory of agnostic often refer to themselves as atheist because they do not want to be associated with anyone who may actually hold some level of belief in god.
 
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  • #71
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I'm sorry but it is the definition of the word. "A-" without "Gnostic/Gnosis" knowledge; ie, it is unknowable.

People who by their own definition of their beliefs should technically fall into the catagory of agnostic often refer to themselves as atheist because they do not want to be associated with anyone who may actually hold some level of belief in god.
I think we're applying the word knowledge to the wrong thing. It's not knowledge of God/no god. It's lack of knowledge about what ones beliefs are.
 
  • #72
russ_watters
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Why does Al-Quaeda label the US 'infidels', when most are believers(supposing allah and god are one and the same entity)?
I don't know how to put this delicately, so I'll just say it straightforwardly: I have never seen such lack of comprehension of the concept of "religion" before! I realize you came from a society that fed you a lot of propaganda about it, but wow, I've just never dealt with that before. People must at least learn about religion in history class. You got an education that has left you unable to understand one of the most basic drivers of how the world works!

A couple of things:
-An "infidel" is a non-believer in Islam.
-While the religions have similar foundations, they have some significant differences, particularly in the way the beliefs are practiced. Whether those differences are enough to kill over, well, are the religious differences between towns in Ireland enough to kill over? (Catholic and protestant?)
-[more from your other posts] You need to understand that there is a very wide variety of religions and religious people. They are not all interchangeable, as you were apparently taught. Some people wear their religion on their sleeve, others you would never know what(if) religion they are unless you asked.
Is simply typing "Al Quaeda" going to attract attention to this thread from employees at the CIA?
The CIA isn't the KGB, so no.
 
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  • #73
russ_watters
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For the OP, even if you are still living with your parents, at 21, you are old enough to just stop going to church if you don't want to. When asked, tell them whatever you want. If they don't want to hear that you are an athiest, just tell them you don't feel like going. Tell them you got drunk last night and are hung over. At your age, it really doesn't matter.

Note that this should not preclude you from going to church with them on holidays unless you have a serious aversion to the religion. These are as much family functions as religious functions.
 
  • #75
Most theists in this country think atheism is immoral and will label you as such.

Here's an example of prejudice in school by school officials (very sad):



I'm sure there is more cases like this, and in general for teens trying to brake away from strong family religion and influence can be painful because of this kind of prejudice.
Forgot to respond to this when I quoted it in my last post.
This is one girl. One girl who made a point of setting herself apart. A girl who it seems has a rather adamently atheist father. I've heard plenty of similar stories about kids in highschool suffering this sort of abuse for various odd reasons even including that certain people just decided that they did not like this person and wanted to make life hell for them. I've also found that when I meet people in person who claim to have had such experiences in school or work they tend to be oblivious of, or edit out, the things that they did to rile these people up. Its certainly not right that they treated her they way she says they did but I can't help thinking that there may have been better ways of dealing with the situation and attempting to get along.
Also, this would be on the tame end of how homosexuals are often treated. I wonder how a gay kid would have faired at that same school.


I think we're applying the word knowledge to the wrong thing. It's not knowledge of God/no god. It's lack of knowledge about what ones beliefs are.
No. The word agnostic was coined specifically with reference to Gnostic christians who go so far as to believe one can have and experience direct knowledge of god. While the word 'gnosis' more or less means 'knowledge' it is most often used in reference to 'devine knowledge' and 'enlightenment'. So yes, the meaning of the word is directly attached to knowledge of god and not knowledge of ones own beliefs.
 
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