I have an extended family that is very relaxed religiously.  There are Catholics, pagans, Buddhists, Deists, Agnostics etc.  However while everyone is supportive of everyone else, when I say I don't believe in any of it, I get a somewhat incredulous reaction.


It seems that at the very least you are suppose to believe in something.  A cosmic conscience.  A spiritual connection. It can be vague, and in my family it is very vague for the most part, but vague or not 'something' has to be there.


Now none of my family believe in intelligent design.  These are all well-read smart people whom I love dearly. They like facts and science.  And yet, to them, there has to be 'something' out there.


I think the thought of oblivion after death is scary to most people.  At the very least they want to become part of the great cosmic awareness, whatever that may be.  They want their 'hearts to go on.' 


When I die, I acknowledge to myself that the chemicals and molecules that make up my physical existance will go on in some form, but I don't expect my 'spirit' to hang around or be absorbed or whatever.  That this doesn't bother me seems weird to many people and my own family is included. 


I see most clearly in the Pagan faction of my family that what religion really is comes from a desire to control the uncontrolable.  To make things work out in some magical way to your benefit.  Prayer is the same as an incantation, ritual circles are the same as Sunday mass.  It is all trying to make the world work the way you would like it to, and not having to accept that you really only have control of yourself and your actions and reactions to the world.


Mind, you I am not a critical person.  I don't tell the people I care about that they are, in my opinion, wasting their time and energy because that would just be rude. 


But when I do say, that there are not angels or ghosts, gods or goddesses, cosmic awareness etc.  I get the unmistakeable incredulity of "but something had to start it all.."


Lay people know so little of science.  Taking the words of science such as quantum, does not make fuzzy spritual feelings more cogent. Talking about quarks and spirits in the same argument doesn't work.  I really wish people could get over that old feeling of needing 'something'  and live their lives as best they can everyday.

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I have a coworker who has said before that "even atheists believe in something." I'm beyond sick of this attitude, that people think they know my beliefs better than I do.

I'm not bothered by the thought of oblivion after death; in fact, I find it more comforting than the idea of an eternal afterlife. I wish people would see that we don't need their pity or judgement for feeling this way.
Belief in God adds a layer of complexity to the already-complex scientific explanation of the universe. However, science can't (yet) rule out God's existence as a prime mover. Quantum fluctuations . . . prime mover . . . both lack proof in equal measure.
I don't need 'proof'. Science doesn't have to 'rule out God's existence'. People who believe in God have to prove such an entity exists. And from what I read, that isn't very likely. Stephen Hawking says (parapharsing) the 'prime mover' is physics. That is an authority I think has some credibility.
Authority is the operative word here, Cathleen. Certainty . . . authority . . . 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. I'm talking about rational integrity. NOBODY has evidence or proof either way. According to other discussions, here on TA, atheists don't claim certainty/authority . . . only the preponderance of evidence.
Well I am a realist as well as being an athiest and I am certain from reading I have done that there is no 'proof' that a diety exists ergo, no deity.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion and other discussions on TA may say there is 'only the preponderance of evidence'. I however personally have no need to speculate.

My Dad, an attorney, would say that the preponderance of evidence is enough to get a conviction.

My conviction is that there isn't anything.
In the scripture God of any religion, I do not believe in it.

Also, you cannot exclude a general God, or even a deistic God, just out of plain arrogance.

We know to little to say there is no God, but we know too much to believe in the God of any of the known religions.
And what it seems you are saying is people can believe in God with no evidence at all but if you don't happen to believe in anything, you have to hedge your bets and have rational integrity to allow a 'very probably isn't but might be.'

With my family, that would be more than enough. At least I do not have a problem that way with my family. They would listen, ask questions and challenge but in a spirit of interest.

I don't think they would necessarily be convinced, but you could comfortably sit at a table with any of my family (except most of my husband's side).
It is just that they need or want something ....more.
I;m not bothered either by the thought of nothing after death.
It only makes me want to work harder to accomplish what I want before I die.
It's just the unknown that people are afraid of.
it's odd. it seems that you can beleive in whatever crackpot religion you want, but the second you say you dont have a religion, you're automatically the weird one.
People are too used to it.
I get a somewhat incredulous reaction.
I hate that people view skepticism as a veneric disease. Not believing is the safest option when facing uncertainties of such magnitude.

but vague or not 'something' has to be there.
What if there is nothing there. That is a possibility even if our limited experience tells us something else. It depends on how you define "something" and "nothing".

That this doesn't bother me seems weird to many people and my own family is included.
They are too used to the idea. Also, they, like everybody else, are affraid to die. Religion and belief in the metaphysical makes the perfect distraction.

there has to be 'something' out there.
Something we do not understand. Why believe in something we do not understand? It is best to abstain from believing until you understand it sufficiently enough.

They want their 'hearts to go on.'
I want that too. I just acknowledge it is uncertain and I do not invent stories to satisfy myself.

religion really is comes from a desire to control the uncontrolable.
And the desire to know the unknowable, to be sure about the uncertain to do what you don't. Religion is full of contradictions.

I don't tell the people I care about that they are, in my opinion, wasting their time and energy because that would just be rude.
Depends. If you tell your old relative that lived his/her life believing in it, that would be cruel. If you do not point out the obvious to your best friend that has his whole life ahead of him, and it is being blocked by religion, then I think you do not care about him enough. My best friends are all theists, yet I talk freely about this matters without considering them rude, and they limit the impact of religion on their life ( even though not becoming atheists ). To minimize the damage of ignorance and bigotry on your friends is what a friend should do. Depends on the severity.

"but something had to start it all.."
Depends on how we define "something". Our limited experience tells us that something has to create something. So THIS something has to be created BY something. The question remains, who created the FIRST something ( who created the creator, who created the crators creator, etc. ). Our experience is not the meassure of reality. We have to obbey reality. Quantum mechanics is not at all intuitive, but that's how reality IS. We have to observe it and deduct a conclusion. Quantum mechanics allows something to be created from nothing ( 0 = 1-1 ).

Taking the words of science such as quantum, does not make fuzzy spritual feelings more cogent.

Talking about quarks and spirits in the same argument doesn't work.
Religion and magic can be "understood" by any person that knows a language. It is the simplest thing to understand. Quantum mechanics and most branches of science require an enormous amount of knowledge and understanding. Reality is hard to understand. It is easy to invent your own reality to which to live your life by, but, if you may have forgotten, whatever you do, you still live in THIS reality. You have to adapt according to it, and not according to yours.


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