Please Help! Confusion, Disturbing Nightmare, and Still Trying to Adjust to Life as an Atheist

I know that what I am about to talk about may not be pleasant to hear about, and I sincerely hope I don't make any of you angry (although I don't know why I should). But recent events have brought about an upsetting problem that I can't shake, and for reasons that will soon become obvious - but I will outline them below anyway - I can't confide in my theist family about this problem... they would not understand and would most likely gain false hope of me "returning to the fold" - I most certainly will not!

Let me begin this way:

I would have thought that after 7 years after I lost my faith, and after 3 years of being an admitted atheist, that I would have settled all the "adjusting period" emotional and social problems that I had... you know... dealing with the confusion of having the thing that you based your life on (devotion to God) disappear, dealing with confusion and uncertainty about what being an atheist would mean for me and my life (besides lacking belief in God - although that may be the most basic definition - we all know that being an atheist in the United States of America has far more practical issues and implications and hard choices about how you will go forward with your life), dealing with anxiety about who to "come out" to and when (if at all), dealing with confusion and new difficulties over how to live in a society that makes no room for non-believers and - even worse - rejects them and sometimes demonizes them, dealing with the friends and family that don't understand, may try to "win you back", may ask you (with that inevitable look of concern and worry) "What happened? Do you hate god? Did you stop coming to church/ stop believing in God because something bad happened? Are you depressed/ angry? Was it something I did? I REALLY want to know if I did something to hurt you so much that you took out your anger at me on God! Do you need someone to talk to, because I know a pastor/ priest/ rabbi/ etc. that I think you should talk to! He/she can REALLY help you in your time of darkness." (What I was thinking at the time: Ummm... my "time of darkness" is for an entirely different reason than you think! It's not something that anyone did! My faith just collapsed and my world is falling apart around me!), also... you have to deal with the friends and family that reject you because they can't deal with your atheism.

I thought I was through all that... now I'm not so sure.

You see... I have been going through a hard time... and sometimes I desperately wish that God was real and prayer worked so that I could have some relief from my pain... even though I am fully aware that all that is a fantasy.

But something happened last night that really got me to wondering whether I am REALLY over my period of darkness and confusion and made me desperate for some advice from fellow non-theists who wouldn't try to do what my theist friends and family would inevitably do - interpret it as a sign that I wanted/ needed God back.

You see, I had a rather disturbing nightmare that I can't shake. When my Christian mother asked what the dream was about, I couldn't tell her... so I lied and said that I didn't remember. In reality... how could I forget?

The nightmare took place at my old church that I grew up in. I haven't been there in a very long time although, the other day, I passed one of my old friends, a youth pastor, as I was driving down the road. She and her husband both smiled and waved at me.

In the dream, I remember that the old church that I had loved so much was decrepit. It was falling apart at the seams bricks missing, the steeple was gone, and the floors inside were dusty and bare. The main pastor and the rest of the staff was leaving the building through the back entrance with grim, pale, sad faces. Some were crying. The reverend told me that the church had gone bankrupt and that it had been sold to a local atheist group. - I didn't know what to make of that - As soon as they were gone, a group of atheists I had never met before - but that seemed to know me - entered the building and started partying, putting up anti-theistic signs and banners all over the church and leaving popped balloons and confetti on the floor. The place was a mess. Everyone was smiling and laughing and inviting me to join in. But I didn't want to. I remember that I sat on the floor of the sanctuary and cried. I was not crying about God, I was remembering all the friends I had made there, all the various fun activities I had participated in over the years, and all the broken, forlorn faces of my friends that had left in silence after emptying their offices. I felt like a piece of my childhood that I kept close to my heart had been destroyed. I wasn't angry at the atheists, I felt confused and sad. I had no desire to join in on the anti-theist party... I just wanted to cry. 

I woke up from the dream feeling disturbed and not knowing what it meant. Can any of you help me figure out what is going on? Have you had similar experiences? How have you dealt with them?

This was just a dream, but it also made me wonder why I would have a dream like that.

Views: 1586

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

If a dream offers some insight, I try to take it. Some dreams I have had offer no traction, others, a web of wierd or funny associations, and others a tempting insight. Sadly, I can offer no insight into 'how' to extract meaning(s) from dreams, but there seems to be a correlation with my own personal experiences and associations. If there is a 'meaning', I suggest that you follow the associations to see where they lead.

I expect that they appear to be 'non-sense' because we do not know how to unpack them, translating the symbolic content to some 'normal' associative language. Example, Lewis Carroll seems to make sense, but it feels to me that we are many times not enlightened by a good cypher. 

I have flying dreams rather often, the last one seemed to consist of showing my wife how my flying practice was going! In the dream, I could now fly just above the power lines, which in retospect seems rather convenient..;p). I still don't know what to make of the bicycle, without wheels. Maybe, I had to learn antigravity/levitation first? Details, details, details.....;p(     LOL

There was one funny dream that seemed to help me understand a piece of matrix theory, but I will not boor you with this nerdy detail.......LOL

I think giving up on the whole subject seems premature, but I think a case could be made for the 'stop trying to make sense out of non-sense!' 

@James - "E.T." was re-shown nationally on TV last Saturday afternoon, did you by any chance watch it? That would certainly account for the flying bicycle (re, the absence of wheels, you're on your own!) --

Yes, damn....LOL!

I suspect, as archaeopteryx is implying, and as I have said elsewhere, that a lot of the baggage in dreams is just echoes of recent events.

Yes, I've had dreams that "just echo" a significant event, but then I didn't realize the whole significance of it (e.g. say, pertaining to a relationship I'm having with someone) until I've recalled a dream about it.

It sounds to me that you're saying that dreaming about a recent event automatically demotes the event to insignificance. Seriously, I've had insights into questions or problems I was dealing with, but only consciously realized the insight immediately after a dream, and sometimes I had to think about the dream (or some may say "analyze" it) before I could connect the dots.

Maybe the problem is that 90% of what one reads (e.g. on the internet) about dreams is pure nonsense. I will agree to that. But I'm in that 10% sometimes that actually makes sense, especially when it somehow feels emotionally significant before that "aha" moment when I realize an insight and can and put it into words.

I'll even go out on a limb here and predict that science will someday be able to detect specific and significant, functional neuro-plasticity as it happens during a dream. It's already possible (e.g.) to detect a specific brain response when (say) someone looks at a picture that means something to them. It often won't mean the same thing to someone else, i.e. it could mean "nonsense" to everyone, except to just one person that has had a significant experience that the picture reminds them of. Now, the same brain response can be seen when that person just imagines the picture, just as other research has shown that a specific brain response can happen (e.g. in mirror neurons) when someone just imagines performing an activity.

Most dreams are not profound. But you won't convince me that by definition, every dream is just nonsense... unless you're just speaking for yourself!

I don't know whether or not it's true, but I once read that Edison slept with a pencil and notepad near his bed, so he could jot down significant details of his dreams before he forgot them.

Many people have reported going to bed with a problem and waking up with a viable solution.

I once read about an author who slept with a pad and pencil by his bed. One night he woke up and wrote something down, sure that he had thought something profound. When he finally woke up and looked at the pad, it said "boy meets girl."

Waking up with a fresh mind often results in useful approaches to a problem. I've experienced that myself. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with dreams.

RE: "I've experienced that myself. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with dreams."

I've no doubt that's true - I can just imagine your dreams --

I'll even go out on a limb here and predict that science will someday be able to detect specific and significant, functional neuro-plasticity as it happens during a dream.

The problem, as I said, is that the content of dreams is available only to the dreamer, and thus escapes any test which could turn it into a fact. This is the contribution of Ludwig Wittgenstein and his analysis of private language. In a nutshell, a language requires two people at least. If one invented a private language, there is no way to know if one is using it correctly. Only if two people (or more) speak the language is there a way to establish common usage and correct misuse. The same goes for thoughts.

It's already possible (e.g.) to detect a specific brain response when (say) someone looks at a picture that means something to them. It often won't mean the same thing to someone else, i.e. it could mean "nonsense" to everyone, except to just one person that has had a significant experience that the picture reminds them of. Now, the same brain response can be seen when that person just imagines the picture, just as other research has shown that a specific brain response can happen (e.g. in mirror neurons) when someone just imagines performing an activity.

I suspect that the brain response you refer to is meaningless in the sense that, beyond noting a response or that something happened, it doesn't divulge any content.

Most dreams are not profound. But you won't convince me that by definition, every dream is just nonsense... unless you're just speaking for yourself!

I think you're misconstruing or missing my point. I'm saying that the so-called "meaning" of a dream isn't a fact. Inevitably, it is just an interpretation you place on it. It isn't the dream, it's the interpretation that has meaning for you. The next day, you could find a different but equally "meaningful" interpretation.

The next day, you could find a different but equally "meaningful" interpretation.

Hasn't happened as far as I remember. But at least we agree that the interpretation can be "meaningful".

So are you arguing that a dream can't even be based on fact? I mean, who cares if the dream itself isn't evidence of a fact, as long as the dream can trigger the dreamer to realize something significant? I never argued that dreams are facts. I argue only that some dreams occur as the result of facts that may not yet be consciously realized.

So are you arguing that a dream can't even be based on fact?

No, that dreams aren't facts, and that interpretations are just interpretations..

RSS

Support T|A

Think Atheist is 100% member supported

All proceeds go to keeping Think Atheist online.

Donate with Dogecoin

Forum

Christian to Atheist. My Testimony.

Started by Toby Briggs in Welcome to Think Atheist. Last reply by captain kingsway 17 minutes ago. 1 Reply

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

Services we love

We are in love with our Amazon

Book Store!

Gadget Nerd? Check out Giz Gad!

Into life hacks? Check out LabMinions.com

Advertise with ThinkAtheist.com

© 2014   Created by Dan.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service