This group is kind of dead so I don't know if anyone will answer me but I have been an atheist for a few years now and needless to say I feel so very alone in my beliefs so it's a relief to find a group like this so I can discuss here what I can't discuss in real life.
I would like to know how the members of this group came to break free from their respective religion and what was the main turning point that made them wake up and start questioning the validity of their religion?
Also how do you cope with being an atheist in such a predominantly religious country? Did you tell anyone about your beliefs (or lack thereof) ? If so how did they react and did it affect your relationship with them?
I wish I can be open about my atheism and not have the constant threat that someone will harm me because I am a non-believer. I wish I can tell my family and my friends how I feel without the fear of them disowning me or abandoning me or worse.
Do you think there will ever come a day were you can openly express your disbelief here in Egypt without the threat of death hanging over your head?
Have you ever heard about invasive species? They are species that are introduced to an ecosystem that they don't belong to and they become hazardous to the environment they are introduced to.
There is also of course pests. If you have a bug infestation in your house would you still be opposed to exterminating them?
Correct me if I am wrong but I don't think there is such a thing as being to evolved as a species to need animal protein. Humans are omnivores. We evolved to be able to eat both meat and plants. That is what allows us to survive on a plant only diet.
Again if I am being Idealistic I would like to be a vegetarian and I have considered it in the past but the thing is I like meat and I don't like a lot of the alternate sources of protein. So if you are a vegetarian or decide to be one then I applaud you but don't expect the rest of humanity to follow.
I like your definition of spirituality :)
So do you believe in souls and an afterlife or was that just an expression? If you do then can you explain to me more about your beliefs?
I'm sorry if I am being too nosy I am just really curious.
Yea I know you are not trying to change anyone. I didn't mean it that way but you know how online conversations go and how they sometimes come across in a different tone than you intend.
Was it hard becoming a vegetarian?
So reincarnation. I find this concept intriguing but I have a problem with it. If that is really what happens I would like to be able to remember at least some things from a past life. That would be awesome :D
I agree. I have always found the concept of hell to be very cruel. In Islam for example a non-believer like myself or an agnostic like you who might be otherwise perfectly good people the punishment for our disbelief would be eternal hell. Now is that really fair?
Well good luck. I'm sure there will be more soya products readily available in the future.
Do you not like meat or was your decision to become a vegetarian based solely on sympathy for animals? Because if it is the latter then I must say you are a really strong willed person. I can't Imagine myself being able to do the same.
I am really sorry for your loss. It always saddens me to hear about someone's life being cut so shortly.All the missed opportunities and what could've been but it is a sad fact of life that we have to accept.
Forgive me but I don't understand was that in reference to incarnation and remembering a past life or were you giving a reason why people might believe in heaven and hell?
I don't completely understand the quote. Can you explain it to me? and why do you think it is 60% true?
I don't usually seek these kind of movies out but I just had to watch the whole thing and it was just....traumatizing. What really got me was that in a lot of these cases the violence and the cruelty was completely unnecessary other than for the inflicter's own sadistic pleasure.
Another thing that really grabbed my attention was the part where Joaquin said that ignorance only prevailed this long because people don't want to know the truth. It got me because this what I always suspected as part of the reason people cling to religion and I guess it is true in this case too.
I honestly don't know what to say.
Ahh well then I agree with you about the quote and I agree with you about the 60% thing. I am personally not a very motivated individual and I have missed a lot of opportunities simply because I was too lazy/scared/didn't believe in myself/didn't think I could do it. I think that if I has really given it my all I might have succeed. But as I said I only agree 60% too because there are simply some things outside of our control and no matter how hard we try to do something we might never be able to do it.
On an unrelated topic (or possibly related I don't know) Do you think people can honestly and truly change?
Oh and what do you think about owing pets? Do you think it is unfair for the animal in question?
I am glad that you were able to change. I am a little bit cynical. I think it is very hard for people to change even little things about their views or attitude and I don't think that people can fundamentally change themselves so it's nice to hear that you were able to change. Maybe there is hope after all :)
I share your views about pets :) I wasn't able to keep my cats for that long unfortunately. You must take very good care of them. They are really lucky.
I hope your older cat gets better and stay with you for many years to come :)
Hey there. I am so glad you joined us :)
Yes it is very difficult to to find other atheists and agnostic here in Egypt because like you said we tend to keep our view to ourselves for fear of the repercussions if we spoke out. It's not that you are not searching hard enough it is just that we lie about our views to protect ourselves so it is hard to tell who is a real religious person and who is faking. I myself spent about a year debating whether or not I should tell my best friend about my views (sad I know xD). I even take on the role of the Muslim to hide my views and I sometimes go as far as giving religious advice to people :D
It really is sad that we are reduced to anonymously talking on the Internet just to express our views. But oh well you take what you can get and at least now I feel like I am not completely alone. After all misery loves company xD
We haven't talked about why we became atheists.We only talked about the implications of being an atheist in Egypt and me and Monica sort of went off topic a couple of pages back so you don't need to read it all.
About why I became an atheist : well it wasn't just the one thing it was a combination of many things but I guess I can boil it down to two main turning point in my life.
The first was when I was having a discussion with my brothers about God and my little brother was asking question like "If everything needs to have a creator then who created God?". After a while my older brother ended the discussion by saying that God forbade us from thinking about such things because it can weaken our faith. Now I am sure my brother meant well but still what he said made me furious. Thinking is what makes us human.It is what makes me me. It is supposedly the greatest gift God gave humans and he wants to take it from me? To restrict it? Obviously something is very wrong here if he won't even allow us to think about it.
The other thing happened when I was in History class and we were studying the story of Isis and Osiris and I noticed that the myth was very similar to the story of Cain and Abel but even so my classmates kept making fun of the story and saying how stupid must the ancient Egyptians be to believe something so ridiculous. And it really astounded me. I mean the two stories are very similar (at least in my opinion) yet just because the Cain and Abel one was THEIR story suddenly it wasn't so ridiculous. I also noticed the same thing in how Muslims view Christianity vice versa and I came to the conclusion that the only reason we are so sure about the validity of our particular religion was because we were raised to believe so. So I decided that from now on I will look at Islam from an outsider point of view and that's when the whole thing began to crumble in front of me and well i guess it all sort of snow-balled from there :D
OK I am done ranting. Sorry dude you brought it on yourself xD
It is now your turn to rant. Tell me your story then :)
First off, I’m both happy and grateful for getting introduced to both of you guys :)
As I previously stated, I’m in the middle of my final exams and I don’t have much time in hand to set and write a long reply, I hope you’ll understand.
So, starting with Dream:
I think I could easily relate to the part about giving religious advice to other people, especially with my close family members who views me as the most knowing among them regarding Islam! (oh, and I memorize around 3 or 4 parts of Quran too! xD). So I'm very good at playing the muslim role bardo :)).
Also, I had almost the same hesitation about telling my best friends about my views, but I grow tired with the pretending thing, and gladly when I did came out, they accepted me as I am and were okay with my choice (I’m kinda lucky with my friends it seems! xD), and with more time passing by (it has been 4 years now since I left Islam, I was almost around your age - supposing you’re 16 or 17 as Manson’s words imply - when I turned into agnosticism) I get the feeling that it’s not as hard as I have previously thought to be open about your religious views in our society, most people doesn’t really care if you do worship a stone, they just get provoked when you start pointing at the mistakes in their religions, it's like holding a hammer in one of your hands and hitting them every now and then with it: it hurts! (So one simple rule I’ve learned over the past few years, don’t talk with people about their religions, resist the urge to point them at the logical flaws of religions). I know it’s easier said than done, and I know also that my words might imply that we’re living in an atheists-heaven (like Norway or something), but I’m merely talking from personal experience, and it doesn’t have to be applicable all the time, anywhere. Also, another thing that makes me believe it’s not as strange or unacceptable as it was a few years ago, over the past couple of months, I had noticed that there is a rise in the number of people in Egypt who are coming out and discussing their views about religion in public, both online and offline, and I’m not quite sure why (though, one thing that has passed through my mind, the idea that people may have gotten extremely loud about their beliefs after feeling seriously threatened by something: like Islamists rising to power).
An example of what I’m talking about, well, it might not be something mainstream, but could you imagine seeing a press report about agnosticism with it being deputed the ‘growing underground’ religion in Egypt in a ‘kinda’ popular teen-youth magazine, I couldn’t believe my eyes to be quite honest, take a look at Campus’s february issue through the following link to see for yourself (oh, and by the way, I don't usually read campus, I just passed by the article, and I’m just not sure what the page number is but you can keep turning the pages until you see the article titled Agnosticism in Egypt):
I wouldn’t call that ranting, actually, I think you have pointed out two of the major issues we all have with religious people: 1) First, their inability (or blindness) to see logical flaws in their religions although they can clearly point out and notice flaws in religions other than theirs, which reminds me of something I’ve always heard coptic friends saying in situations where there’s someone who’s acting in a hypocritical manner, I suppose it’s a quote of Jesus taken from the bible - not quite sure though, I haven’t read neither the old nor the new testament - which goes like: “لماذا تنظر إلى القشة في عين اخيك و لا تبالي بالخشبة في عينك؟ كيف تقول لأخيك: دعني اخرج القشة من عينك، و هاهي الخشبة في عينك انت؟ يا مرائي، اخرج الخشبة من عينك اولاً، حتى تبصر جيداً فتخرج القشة من عين اخيك”.
2) Secondly, the restriction of using our minds while we think about God, because nothing is like him and such. I can go about this point for days and days, w ba3deen 3andena tab3an fe tar5ena el islamy el 7ekma el 5aleda beta3et: mn tamantaq fa qad tazandaq :D
My turn ba2a, enty elly gebteeh l nafsek xD :P ,,,
Well, I have to admit that it has been a while since I last talked about my beliefs with someone, so I’m not really sure if I’ll be able recall all the major turn points in my own story, but I can give you a brief summary of how my journey towards here went, and then tell you a bit about what are my views at the moment.
About 5 years ago I started suspecting Islam and whether it is a false religion or not, I’d be lying if I said I totally remember why I did, it might have been a combination of things, being a teenager, questioning life and our own existence, wondering if heaven is going to be boring as ‘hell’ - excuse the pun :D - because there’s no achievement there, and various other things of the like.
I clearly remember reading a blog post on - what used to be - the most famous arabic atheism blog (maybe the first atheism blog written in Arabic too, it started on 2007 and blogging wasn’t that popular at the time, and by the way, around one year ago, the blog was hacked by muslims), the blog post was talking about how many personas the Islamic God has, personas here as in ‘having different characteristics that clearly contradict each other, like being just and being merciful’. This might have been the little spark which has ignited my search for truth, and I started reading more and more about Islam (and I already had a great amount of information about Islam from living/going to school in one of the Arabian gulf countries in my childhood). And following that, I’ve read many things about scientific/logical mistakes in both Quran and the prophet’s sayings. One for instance that I believe it can’t be refuted by muslims whatsoever (and one that I could say was a major point in my story), is the verse 46 of Surat Al-Hajj, where it says: “افلم يسيروا في الارض فتكون لهم قلوب يعقلون بها او آذان يسمعون بها، فإنها لا تعمى الابصار و لكن تعمى القلوب التي في الصدور”.
Yes, you’ve read it right, “hearts with which they understand”, I believe it’s quite unnecessary to point where the scientific/logical flaw in this verse lies, but simply, we all know that heart is nothing but an organ that pumps blood into your system, it doesn’t have any kind of thinking activity and the understanding process isn’t done through it all.
Back to my story, I spent about two years feeling skeptical about the whole thing, and then made my decision of leaving Islam and became an agnostic, though, at times I tend to think that Deism suits me better because I like to think that God may exist but if he does then I’m almost completely sure he won’t be the God of Abrahamic religions. I have a lot of reasons for thinking so by the way.
Also, I tend to think that if God really exists he won’t be a personal God (I don’t know if you’ve heard of the term before or not, but basically a personal God is the God who does interfere in the universe and interact with everyday humans’ lives) and rather instead he would be a parting God (in Arabic: الاله المفارق) - a term which was used be muslim philosophers when they were referring to an idea greek philosophers have proposed: “a God who have created people and then turned away from them (hence being called, parting), he simply doesn’t care about us, we’re nothing to him, and he doesn’t even bother sending us prophets or even contacting us”.
So, to sum things up, I tend to spend most of the time believing that we - humans - can’t/won’t know if there’s really a God, or that a God may exist but all religions are man-made and false (and that if God really exists, he is a parting - or at least an impersonal - God).
As for Islam and even though I’m about 95% sure it’s a man-made religion, I still think that Islam has a few bright sides that most people don’t really notice, and I still have lots of respect for Muhammed because he was one of the most influential and intellectual Arabs who have lived ever. You must be a genius to be able to do what this man have done throughout his life (and after his death too).
Oh, Crap! I ended up writing all of this?!! *mesh mesada2* xD ,, ya rab bs makonsh day2tokom bkol el tafaseel elly ana katbtaha de :)
I was planning to write a reply to Manson’s reply, but unfortunately I don’t have more time today, and the next exam I have is the toughest of all my exams, which means I’ll have to use all the time available to study, and the reply will have to wait a bit. Anyways, ed3ooly ba2a :P
You know what they say : atheists and agnostics know more about religion than believers. Well you certainly know more than me anyway.
As I said before, the amount of acceptance non-believers get depends on their environment and who they confess to. For example, if you tell your friends about your views they are more likely to just shrug it off and be cool with it than say your parents. And even though most people won't really do any damage, extremists more than make up for it xD
Yes people are definitely discussing religion and politics more freely nowadays. It is not nearly as freely as I would like to (concerning religion anyway) but it's a start.
I was only able to read some parts of the article but I gotta say I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe it's not so bad after all.
All I kept thinking while reading the Coptic saying was : How ironic. I am tempted to use that but I am not sure that would go over so well (Damn you!)
As for the Islamic saying : What? what the hell does that mean? It sounds funny though xD
Hmmm it seems that there is a consensus among non-believers that " heaven is going to be boring as hell". Which is obviously an oxymoron because everybody knows that all the interesting people will be in hell.
The whole thing about God having multiple personas always irritates me very much. Allah is described as all-forgiving and all-vengeful at the same time. What does that even mean? how are people not questioning this?
About the heart, that is obviously just a figure of speech. Just like the sky falling. Psht! Non-believers !
Seriously though what really gets me is how they try to use science to validate their beliefs but the moment science contradicts them (Which is often) suddenly science is flawed and shouldn't be relied on.
I'm sure that if God exists he won't be the God of the Abrahamic religions and I do entertain the idea of a departing God sometimes but to me a God that turned away from us and doesn't bother contacting us = No God. He might as well not exist for all I care. However, if there is a personal God and he does care about and interact with humans then he certainly isn't showing it xD
You're right we might never know if there really is a God so I tend to apply Occam's razor to this situation like many other situations in my life. For me if there is no evidence of a God then maybe that's because he simply doesn't exist.
Well Mohamed is certainly something to be able to make this whole thing up. Granted many parts are "borrowed" from here than there but you gotta give it to him. He was good. Maybe too good. sometimes I think that maybe he wasn't really faking. Maybe he actually believed what he was saying. Things like that aren't too implausible (I think xD)
I still haven't given the verdict on what I feel about Mohamed, Islam, and religion in general. Are they good? are they bad? would have we been better off without them? I don't know.
Hehe don't worry about it. I made up for it with my super lengthly reply :D I really enjoyed reading it all though and honestly I wouldn't mind reading more xD
M3lesh b2a e7na sha8la wa2tak w enta 3andak emt7anat. Hmm using my super awesome deducing skills I concluded that you are 21, correct? enta fe koleyet eh b2a ? Please don't say engineering. Please don't say engineering. Please don't say engineering.
Oh and BTW rabena m3ak. Isa tegeeb el daraga el neha2ya xD
I just felt the need to elaborate a bit on the part about the Quranic verse I mentioned, because I got the impression you thought I’m trying to make the verse sound flawed when it isn’t, I’m not trying to do so at all. And by the way, over the years I saw many non-believers over the internet ‘men elly bymsko 7agat hayfa w yetlakeeko beeha’ w I know how irritating it is, like people who accuse Quran of having grammatical mistakes, when clearly grammar rules of the Arabic language have only been written down tens of years after the Quran was revealed - if we were to use such word - specifically, around the time Ali ibn Abu-Taleb was a caliph, and obviously you can’t use such argument against muslims anyway, I mean, the Quran was written before any grammatical rules was set, so, actually it should be the reference if we were to talk about grammar.
Moreover, I would have almost said ’Psht! Non-believers!’ as you have done if I ever saw an atheist trying to twist verses’ meanings like I seemed to do :)
But, by giving you such example (and I got it of the top of my head by the way, and to be quite honest, I think it wasn’t the best I could have written), I was trying to point at one of the many examples of errors ‘I think’ Quran has. Let me begin by saying that using a word as a metaphor might be appropriate if you’re writing a regular book, a poem, or something similar, but what I would expect from a God, an all-knowing one ‘kaman’, in what is allegedly his last message, would be stating the scientific fact in an elegant manner without having to change the fact to make the verse sound more appealing, what do I mean by that, well, as we have previously stated, a heart is just an organ used to pump blood into the body’s system, the functions we know about the heart doesn’t include any kind of ‘deciding’ or ‘understanding’ activities, I’d have settled for the idea of that part of the verse being a figure of speech only if the part following it wasn’t: ‘or ears to hear with’. Why? Because if he was talking in metaphorical way from the beginning he wouldn’t have said the second part which describe something real that happen, that we hear using our ears.
To get my point, please try to get your hands on one of the older commentaries (Tafaseer) of Quran, use the internet if you didn’t find any around, you’ll see that most authors of these commentaries didn’t really saw anything wrong with the part about hearts, meaning that they believed (and it’s okay if they weren’t so advanced at the time to realize that hearts aren’t used for thinking, I wouldn’t blame them to be honest) that hearts were the place where all thinking activities happen, and just to make sure, try having a look at one of the modern ones, where it became a bit of problem to such authors, and they started explaining that such word was used only as a metaphor (although, to my surprise, while having a quick look on modern ones at the moment, I found one saying the following: “والآية تدل على أن محل العقل: في القلب، ومحل السمع، في الأذن، فما يزعمه الفلاسفة من أن محل العقل الدماغ باطل، كما أوضحناه في غير هذا الموضع”).
< ezayek ba2a? xD
Also, I think I’d have saw it as a metaphor if it wasn’t said more than once, take a look at this resembling verse from Surat Al-A’raf (number 179): “ولقد ذرأنا لجهنم كثيراَ من الجن والانس لهم قلوب لا يفقهون بها ولهم أعين لا يبصرون بها ولهم آذان لا يسمعون بها اولئك كالأنعام بل هم أضل أولئك هم الغافلون”.
I’ll ignore the fact that he’s talking about us (yes, being like cattle, or even more astray xD) and try to focus on what he said, he’s pointing at different things people use to ‘realize’ - in this case the brain, the eye and the ear - and again he’s stating that these people ‘have’ hearts that they don’t understand with, obviously, he’s talking about them in a real manner (at least that’s my own point of view).
Further more, just try writing ‘العقل محله القلب’ in google and take a look at the results: many people asking if the mind is in the heart, and to make it worse, many muslim clerics claiming so!
I must admit though, the word ‘hearts’ is sometimes used synonymously with ‘minds’ throughout Quran, so, I’d love to take back my word about this argument being non-refutable, and you know what, I might be wrong about the whole thing, I’m just a guy using his mind after all! xD
And back to the last part of your reply:
Well, thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it :) ,, I have a tradition of writing lengthy messages to people ‘asasan’, and I wouldn’t have considered mine long if it weren’t for my limited time (elly 7adretek a5dty meno goz2 zeyada aho! xD).
3moman y3ny, you managed to get my age right :)
bs eshme3na y3ny engineering? I suppose you’re studying engineering (but then my previously assumption of being around 16 or 17 wouldn’t be right, ela tab3an law konty 17 w lesa fe awl sana koliya) w 5ayfa yetla3 7ad m3aky fe el dof3a aw fe nafs el kolaya? what the odds y3ny? :D :P w ba3deen 7ata law engineering mesh yemken yeb2a fe gam3a taniya wla 7aga? 3amatan etmny ya sety, I’m studying Computer Science :)
Hahahhh! Well, the islamic saying is: “من تمنطق فقد تزندق”, it means that whoever uses logic or be rational would become a libertine, it was widely used between muslim scholars to defame philosophers around the time when studying philosophy and logic flourished during the Abssaid caliphate (and I think it has been used ever since in similar cases).
2olely ba2a, enty fe thanwiya 3amma wala fe engineering zay ma ana 2olt? w fe sana kam law fe el gam3a?
Nooooooooo! I was being sarcastic. I thought it was obvious with the whole "Psht! Non-believers" and "The sky will fall" thing. I fail :/
Let me rephrase : I thinks those two are some of the most ridiculous scientific errors in the Quran and mocking how the Muslims will try to cover them up was what I was going for but apparently I gave some of them too much credit. I mean some clerics actually believe that the mind is in the heart? What the eff ?! xD
I actually think you did a great job explaining why it is not just a metaphor. As for the heart and the mind being used synonymously throughout the Quran doesn't necessarily refute what you said. I think an attempt to do so might be considered a Straw Man argument. Then again, I am not the most knowledgeable and there are always many bigger, more ridiculous scientific and logical fallacies in the Quran that we can prey on xD
BTW Muslim scholars are so adamant in their view that the Quran is NOT to be taken metaphorically (Like how many Christians now view many parts of the Bible) which is maybe why the aforementioned scholars really believe that the heart is the seat of the mind. But as science progresses more and more and the mistakes in the Quran are made more clear and people are actually allowed to talk freely about them,mark my words, the scholars will hurriedly claim that "It is all just a big metaphor, guys!!!!" xD
Moving on to more important topics: l2a enta fehemtene 8alat bardo On the contrary, I would love to be in the same college as you 3shan nat2amar 3la 2alb nezam el balad w ne5alehom kolohom non-believes xD. El fekra fe 7war handasa en ana bene w been el Math 3adawa adeema and it doesn't help help that the people I get along with are seemingly all on their way to pursuing a career in engineering. It's a conspiracy! A conspiracy I tell ya !! :D
As for my age, you're close. I am 17 and turning 18 next month. You know what that means, don't you? Driver's license! a5eran :D
Just for future reference you should know that most of what I say a joke so don't talk me too seriously.
P.S. Computer Engineers freak me out. Nah, I am just kidding :D
Or am I? *looks pointedly*