I know what led me here, and I also know that my original premise was faulty. I came here (atheism) straight out of Christianity. I hadn't, at that point, read any other religious texts. I just went on hearsay (mostly from my friends/family that were Christians) that all the other religions were false. When I figured out theirs was as well, it was pretty much right to atheism. Now, I'm backtracking and studying as many other religions as I possibly can. I know I'm right, as an atheist, but it just got me wondering:

How many of you out there are still studying other religions?

I do it constantly, both to become more well-rounded (not EVERYTHING in all those religious books is bullshit, just most of it), and to know how to debate against any type of theist I come across. I know a lot, if not most of you, have read the bible... But who here, like me, has read or is reading the Koran, the Vedas, I Ching, the Dhammapada, etc.? I talk to a lot of atheists who can virtually destroy one of the aforementioned religions, but they seem content with what they've learned. When I make an attempt to teach them more, I get something along the lines of "Who cares? Religion is all crap anyways!" I don't get it. Isn't that the same close-mindedness that we fight to discourage? Is atheism becoming a trend, which is sprouting mindless followers (thinking S.E. Cupp, if she actually IS an atheist) of it's own?

Maybe I'm fucking crazy (no comments on this line, please), maybe I've just got too much time on my hands, but it sometimes seems like I'm alone in my quest to learn as much as I can about my passion.

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I only study religion is so far as it affects the other things I am currently interested in. I don't however actively seek out information on 'other' religions (like reading their 'holy' books); frankly I find it to be a waste of my time. I'd rather spend the bulk of my time researching and seeking to understand the universe to the best of my and current science's ability (or on things relating to teaching pre-kindergarteners).

Really for me it all boils down to one simple thing: proof. Is there testable empirical proof that your god exists? If there isn't then I'm not particularly interested and I'm not going to waste my precious time debating ad nauseum with that person either.

I find it really arrogant and insulting that practically ever theist I have ever discussed religion with wants me to reconsider the same arguments I have already considered over and over again or wants me to read their religious text. What makes any person think that 'god of the gaps' (as only one example of the arguments I hear over and over again as if they were novel)is going to be any better of an argument for the existence of god today than it is going to be tomorrow. What makes them think that reading only one book again or for the first time is going to change my mind on everything? If that were true I wouldn't be where I am today I'd be at my local Catholic Church (since that is the religion I was 'born' into.)

Even after all I've said I don't consider myself closed minded; but neither is my mind so open that my brains fall out. I'm cautiously receptive to new information/arguments and willing to change my mind/views when ample evidence is presented.

Anyways... if you find actively studying religions and reading their texts to be intellectually fulfilling then I really think that's an awesome thing. The rest of us atheists who don't find it intellectually fulfilling are really in debt to you for providing us with your information through google searches when the topic/contents of 'holy' books are necessary for an argument. :)
Lol. Love ' my mind isn't so open that my brain falls out'. What an apt descriptor for those who are so easily sucked into believing something. Thanks for the great figurative language. Hope you don't mind if I use your phrase from time to time.
As I was just brushing my teeth getting ready for bed something else popped into my mind. I find it rather insulting (or at least insensitive) to imply (as some seem to have on this thread) that because an atheist never studied a variety of religions means they didn't become an atheist for 'wise' reasons. Or that because an atheist didn't study religions their atheism is somehow lesser than that of atheists who have studied religions. Should it really be expected for a person to have studied religions; it that person for all intents and purposes was raised atheist or was one like me who was always an atheist even though I tried really hard to believe? I almost feel as if we have a lite version of no true Scottsman going on here.

Or perhaps I misinterpreted or read a little too much into some of the posts. Anyways I hope at least what I am trying to get at here is understood.

Good Night all....
I agree. All it takes for a person to become an atheist is a basic understanding of science.
The only valid reasons I see for studying religion would be academic. Such as understanding their place in society from both a historical and sociological point of view or even in terms of finding the best methods to deploy in order to control large numbers of people without violence.
Science shows us all religions are bullshit demonstrating that there is no requirement for the supernatural nor is there evidence of such.

The only other reasons I could see study of religions taking place are:
1. to understand it in order to quote it back at believers, pointless if you know a little science since there is nothing a religious person could quote that could not be refuted by simple logic and evidence. I do not need to have read any of the religious texts regarding the giant spaghetti monster to know it is bullshit.
2. To find the one true religion.
Bullshit since there is no true religion

Thats it.
I only read the bible occasionally to sharpen my sense of logic by finding flaws. I spend my time reading any and everything; and I'm fascinated with politics and propaganda, sciences and my dog. But I have never been deep in anything but . . . wine.

 It's funny but it was not until I left religion that I became interested in understanding it. All of it is a bunch of crap but I like ancient Egyptian religion it's no more unbelievable than the rest. Seem's most people when they become atheist do become more interested in religion. I guess we all have our motives for studying religion but mine is not to win an argument. I guess I'm jealous that some one can tell such an unbelievable pile of crap and for some reason people eat it up. I'd like to invent a religion I'm pretty sure I can do a better job. lol. In my religion women would be treated as queens. Any smart man knows you are sure to win if you keep the women happy.

Much of our culture and past is rooted in religion. The study of religions is a valid, and, to be honest, wholly remarkable field. The important part is to view this field of study as a form of archeology. It's useful to understand who we are and where we came from, but if you try to live your life by these ancient ways, then you'll be that weird backwards guy who does everything the old fashioned and difficult way that messes everything up for the rest of us.

When I was falling away from Christianity and believing in god, I initially thought to myself, "What do I replace this with? I need to find out what belief system/religion fits me best."

And then I realized I don't NEED any religion. We humans don't need to believe in anything.

Our baseline is the observable, testable world and universe around us. Nothing more. There is NO reason to think there is a supernatural realm just as much as there is no reason for us to believe that intelligent purple creatures made of titanium live on a planet 22 light years away. If, while living life and observing what is around us, we find evidence that leads to the possibility of something supernatural, then I'm all for further testing and examination of that.

Until then, just be and live the best you can and do the best you can for the most people possible until the time comes that your consciousness disappears and the organic matter in your body stops functioning.

Every group has lots of mediocre members who simply blend into the whole, and a few bright stars like yourself that shine. No member is useless, or a waste of space/time/resources, but a few are worth the extra effort to raise up higher. I love to learn, but I try to vary my field as much as possible, from science to ancient crafts, to religion, to fiction, to odd skills, even occasionally to languages, but I never get far in many. I get too bored with it. But I very much admire those who can take a more limited range of learning and thought and progress it much farther. Yes, Atheism is becoming trendy, but that's a good thing. It means it's spreading, and it means more of those special people will take it and make it soar.

I'm studying the religions because I want to deconstruct them back to their essence and then rebuild that essence in atheist terms.  It turns out that the essence is morality.  This job is now done.  Along with the essence are a lot of other trappings, such as: culture, social gathering, a charismatic founder (oh dear), an organization, and, erm, followers.  The essence is so abstract that it seems meaningless to most non-religious people, and although it's the highest and most beautiful mystery of mysteries, it's hard to get worked up over a biological principle and a "sacred diagram".  Interestingly, all the currently-religious people I've explained it to recognize it straight away. 

Totally understand where you're coming from. Since admitting to myself I'm an atheist, strangely enough I've been obsessed with religion. 

I guess I feel obliged to understand exactly what it is I'm rejecting, to see if I'm missing anything.  

Although in my experience most religious people aren't extremely concerned with the veracity of their beliefs, almost all define themselves by them. I find this fascinating- you can understand a facet of a person just by reading about their religion.

A lot of churches are thrilled to have people ask about their theology. ASK, not debate (different thing for a different time). Subtle, simple questions are powerful, too, in leading a person to reevaluate their beliefs.

I've learned a lot from speaking with my Christian friend.  She was the one who inspired me to check out religion in the first place, because of her admirable moral qualities.  When she says that praying to Jesus made her flu get better, I can easily relate to this in terms of the atheist religion I've worked out, and appreciate where she's coming from.  She's supplied me with some quotes from the Bible and saved me the trouble of hunting for them.  The Bible is so damn long.  The Dhammapada on the other hand is short and nicely organized. 


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