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Was It Hard For You Too?
Posted: 12 October 2006 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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When I first really, seriously accepted the fact that I was going to die and there wasn’t going to be a heaven waiting for me, I broke out into hives for a week, and for about a year afterward, I was really depressed trying to figure out the existentialist’s dillemma problem (I hope I got my terms right - the “what’s the point of living if there’s no afterlife?” problem?) But eventually, I guess I just got over it - I don’t suppose there’s really a good alternative but Paul Kurtz’s philosophy that you only have one life to live, so why waste it? It sucks that I spent that much time on religion, but what am I gonna do? I can’t change the past - but I can change the future. Instead of dwelling on what I lost or could have done, I just had to decide to work on what could be done.

On the note of feeling anger at the people who shoved their religious dogma down out throats, I think that it’s best to focus the anger on solving the problem. The reason why we get angry is because something immoral or unjust has occurred, so the best way to get rid of it is to do what you can to rectify that injustice. I think the reason why some people get over it more quickly than others is that some people seem to find something they can do to fix the problem, whereas others don’t and feel like something bad is happening and there’s no way to stop it, although this is mostly just speculation ^^;

So, I guess that what’s worked best for me is to focus the emotion on action (including furthering my own education on the subject), to try to find the areas where we can make progress, and start from there. I hope you find something that works for you, too!

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Posted: 13 October 2006 07:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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I grew up in a fundamentalist church.  Many people in my family worked as ministers within the church, including my father for a while.  I was personally being groomed to become a minister. 

  My faith slipped away over a number of years, primarily due to a natural inclination toward rationality, a fascination with knowledge (especially science), and a willingness to question anything in search of truth.  By the time my doubt about the existence of a deity became strong enough for me to accept the self-given label of non-believer, I was away at college and due to an overdeveloped inclination toward independence, had already distanced myself from my family. 

  Because limited contact allowed me to avoid the issue with my family, my initial difficulties were due to my friends.  I had long before left the fundamentalist christian circles and for a few years had developed close friendships among the more liberal, educated, and alternative crowd.  We talked for hours about science, politics, philosophy, etc.. Although most of them despised organized religion as authoritarian, exclusive, and irrational, most had not rejected the concept of the supernatural.  I became a Pariah even among these more “open minded” social groups.  You would think those outside the mainstream (especially here in the south) would be more accepting, but you often find that those who proclaim tolerance suddenly recoil and become aloof when they realize that you find their alternative mythologies, alternative medicines, ghost stories, conspiracy theories, and superstitions as unreasonable as they find more orthodox unsupported claims.

  It seriously limited my inclusion in both conversation and eventually most of my social circle due to our inability to relate on many deeper issues.  They seemed uncomfortable with the parameters I placed upon reality such as: plausibility determined on an evidentiary basis.  As our interests diverged and I began exploring skeptical and atheistic literature and associated interests the differences became more pronounced.  No animosity developed, but it did lead to some isolation which I hope will be temporary but present circumstances must change first.  Still, I cannot deny my conclusions because I believe they are reasonable and honest.  And being stubborn, I choose isolation over interaction as a means of maintaining my integrity yet not exposing myself to the most serious social consequences.

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"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear."
-Thomas Jefferson

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Posted: 16 October 2006 02:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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[quote author=“SeculiTerminus”]When I first really, seriously accepted the fact that I was going to die and there wasn’t going to be a heaven waiting for me, I broke out into hives for a week, and for about a year afterward, I was really depressed…Yeah, I admit the idea takes getting used to, but it’s only because all your life you’ve been raised with the wrong idea.  Once it occurs to you that animals don’t expect an afterlife, it’s easier to ask yourself, “well, then why should we?”

On the note of feeling anger at the people who shoved their religious dogma down out throats, I think that it’s best to focus the anger on solving the problem. The reason why we get angry is because something immoral or unjust has occurred, so the best way to get rid of it is to do what you can to rectify that injustice.

The way I look at it is they weren’t deliberately trying to screw me up—they just taught me what they believed.  So why be angry at them?  And there’s no God to be angry at, so the only thing left is to be angry at the social institution of organized religion.  But on the other hand, this institution actually does a lot of good in the world (accidentally, as it were, since they profess to believe in essence that this life isn’t worth bothering with).  So yes, do what you can to change things, but realize that you can’t really change the big picture until people’s attitudes change.  And meanwhile, don’t get yourself in a funk worrying about it!

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Posted: 28 October 2006 08:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Some excellent responses!  Thank you! 

There’s a part of me dieing to argue/test my new found reality with others.  Have you ever just wanted to pick a fight with a believer just for the mental workout and self-affirmation?  Where can one go to continue their journey into reality-based thinking?

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Posted: 29 October 2006 02:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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[quote author=“mcelreb”]There’s a part of me dieing to argue/test my new found reality with others.  Have you ever just wanted to pick a fight with a believer just for the mental workout and self-affirmation?  Where can one go to continue their journey into reality-based thinking?

There were times when I felt that way.  One time a coworker strode in with the claim that “there’s no such thing as an atheist,” but I was sooooooo ready for him, maybe even a little loaded for bear.  We’re the best of friends.  We are closer for having had that discussion.

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Posted: 29 October 2006 03:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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[quote author=“mcelreb”]There’s a part of me dieing to argue/test my new found reality with others.  Have you ever just wanted to pick a fight with a believer just for the mental workout and self-affirmation?

Understandable, mcelreb, but I do think we should ‘pick our fights’ carefully. Nothing wrong with making your beliefs clear to others and being ready to defend your position if asked.

[quote author=“mcelreb”]  Where can one go to continue their journey into reality-based thinking?

Well, I’d certainly urge you to pick up some of the recent books on atheism and religion by people like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, or oldies but goodies by Bertrand Russell, Robert Ingersoll, Tom Paine, etc.

There are also wonderful publications like CFI’s Skeptical Inquirer and Free Inquiry magazines. These are wonderful, thought-provoking reads that can keep you on the cutting edge of what’s going on in the group and in society.

And there are also other organizations like the Skeptics Society, the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), Freedom from Religion Foundation, etc., etc. I’d suggest hooking up with one or more of them, and finding out if there’s anything going on in your area.

And stick around the forum! I’d say that’s one of the best ways.

:wink:

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Posted: 30 October 2006 12:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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I’ve been only bisexual to my family for years and had just assumed they knew I was an atheist.

Until a few weeks ago when my mother assumed, while turning away some Jehovah’s witnesses and I happened to be there, “This is a catholic house.”  Oops…?

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Posted: 30 October 2006 03:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Hmmm ... maybe a good time to have a talk with Mom?

:wink:

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Posted: 31 October 2006 04:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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I did.  Soon as the preachy J’sW jackasses were gone, I crossed my arms and went, “No, I’m an atheist!”

She’s just like, “well you know what I mean, my house and I talk to god on the way home from work and your father and I were raised catholic and… oh well they’re gone.”

Me: “lazy”

“shut up”

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Posted: 01 November 2006 12:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Well, at least you guys are on the same page, which may be all you can expect for now.

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Posted: 01 November 2006 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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A friend of mine when we were younger was brainwashed by his grandparents into believing in God. Once he got old enough and through my own comments on the subject he eventually realized the truth about it.  I remember his before/after transformation and it was as though he couldn’t beleive he’d believed in it. That’s how it works after all.  You are not conscious of the poor judgement and lack of critical thinking when you are a believer in God.  It’s only after you shed that belief do you understand it.

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Posted: 04 November 2006 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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[quote author=“rogerflat”]...
That’s how it works after all.  You are not conscious of the poor judgement and lack of critical thinking when you are a believer in God.  It’s only after you shed that belief do you understand it.

Which, of course is the believer’s que to say “the devil has blinded you” or, “God has ‘turned you over’ to darkness”. There’s no getting through them it seems. Unless they are able to “make the leap from faith” as your friend, and I, and many others have.

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Posted: 10 November 2006 09:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Ask them if they’ll feel joy in Heaven knowing you’re suffering in Hell.  Will god simply remove the memory of you from their soul-minds? 

Your family will come around.  They need time to come to terms with rational thought.

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"I’m probably wrong."

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Posted: 10 November 2006 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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[quote author=“PleaseStopMyBrain”]Ask them if they’ll feel joy in Heaven knowing you’re suffering in Hell. Will god simply remove the memory of you from their soul-minds?

That’s pretty clever, PleaseStopMyBrain!

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