Hi!  I joined because I thought this would be the best place to understand what atheism is.  I am christian. Sort of.  I am but I have a hard time saying so because they seem to be such bad people and I'm certainly not one of those.  I am a christian in the sense that I try very hard to live my life by the teachings of Jesus.  However, if I were ever to speak my mind in church, I'd be  cast into a burning furnace faster than I could say 'God save my soul.'  

I have serious issues with nearly every church I've ever been to.  After all the prejudice and hate and judgement, it can be difficult to hear the message.  I can see where it would be all too easy for most mindless Americans to miss the message altogether and read into it what they will.  Humans have an amazing knack for justifying anything we want.

In an attempt to get back to the root of what I feel religion is supposed to be about, my family attended a Universalist Unitarian church for about a year.  We were sold with the first sermon because they made it clear that they embraced all walks.  The preacher was Jewish.  The congregation was made up of various christian denominations, wiccans, groups I've never hear of and...an atheist.  

The atheist confused the hell out of me and I had a difficult time ever fully hearing another sermon because I was too busy speculating why she was there. I was always told atheists are people that don't believe in God.  Although the people in that room acknowledged many different gods, the one thing we could all agree on was that there was 'something'.  We all left the churches and synagogues and  forests to come together on the one fundamental point that we all knew to be true.  So was this lady an unconvinced atheist trying to see what this god thing was all about?  Were we some grand sociological experiment for her to observe?  It didn't appear so.  She was pretty ingrained with the church and seemed to have been an integral part of the growth of the church for years.  

Without knowing this lady, can anyone here speculate what would possess her to ever set foot in a church of any kind?  

Thanks for shedding light on this.  This actually happened years ago but it's something I often still wonder about.  I was excited to stumble upon your site.

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You seem to have a very sensible view of things. It's nice to know that there are theists who are willing to question their religious tenets. My fiancee is Greek Orthodox but she, like you, rejects all the nonsense like creationism. Her religion is more about community than it is about the supernatural.

What bothers me most is always unquestioning belief (this is not necessarily restricted to religion). Atheism, for me, is part of a wider remit to ensure that everything is analysed and critiqued to determine its likelihood of truth. Without that we have nothing, because we would never know if anything anyone told us corresponded to reality.

Hi Amy, I am unequivocally an atheist. This is not a religion or a doctrine. Essentially atheism is a rejection of religious faith or belief because atheists don't believe in god. I was fortunate enough not to really ever have religion imposed on me. I'm aged 55 and remember well enough how school days were littered with religion. There was no escaping this but my family never mentioned religion. My father died when I was about 5 so I don't really know what his views were. My mother was Jewish and made odd comments now and then but wasn't devout and certainly loved her bacon! Religious interference grew when I tried to join the scouts, I mainly recall endless references to not blaspheming by saying such as..."oh my god", instead we were urged to replace god with grand piano! Later I joined the boys brigade, because we'd moved and my new friends went. In order to play football, which all I really wanted, we had to attend church and pursue religious studies. I wasn't really bothered, one way or the other. I was indifferent and essentially remained that way as the years passed. As an adult I maintained for years that I was agnostic. I'd attend church as required for the usual things, weddings and funerals. I really thank Richard Dawkins - The god delusion for my assertion to atheism. I'm waffling on like this to say I had an unremarkable life re religion and was never indoctrinated which I see as child abuse. Dawkins was the catalyst and I read on all the usual atheist writers, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett etc. Bear in mind my age at the time and I'm ashamed to admit that in my earliest atheist days I actually wondered whether some retribution might be visited upon me now?! Any way I would now say without any doubt that not only am I a non believer, but I am anti-religion and would like to see its demise. To me it is nonsensical and absurd. I cannot understand how any reasonably intelligent person can entertain religion. It is so clearly about exerting control notably through fear. This is how to control the masses. I suspect that many religious leaders use their position as a means to further their own power trip and agenda. You, Amy at least are questioning things, have you read the writers I've mentioned. If not, you should, it might just encourage you even further away?

I've never been an active member of any church ever since my disillusionment. Though I have visited cathedrals, mosques, synagogues, and an ashram. So I cannot shed any light on why she was there but defining atheism is one of the simplest things I can do. Atheism is the state in which you do not believe in a god or gods. It is commonly associated with skepticism. We have no doctrine, no dogma, no scripture, or authority. As such, we are diverse and, as many choose, unguided. Nothing can be done or said "in the name of atheism" and the action of one atheist says nothing of another as our connecting factor is solely a negative one, not a positive one (we don't share any attributes, merely the absence of a particular one)

If I may speculate to address a "sect" I take issue with, she may be a Christian atheist: one who believes in the teachings of the New Testament but not in the existence of Yahweh. This is frankly absurd and concedes that religion may take the position of moral authority when it may not. We must no more believe that the idea of treating others as one wants to be treated was as unheard of in the time of Jesus of Nazareth than we should believe that the prohibition of murder and theft were revolutionary in the time of Moses. The so called Golden Rule, which one could argue is the only moral thing Jesus ever preached, requires no belief in a god, need not be enforced by dogma, and is easily understood by a child without the mention that it came from heaven.

Further study of the New Testament reveals some lessons of more questionable morality. Vicarious redemption is not moral. You cannot die for someone's sins. You can forgive someone. You can accept punishment for someone. But you cannot erase or negate the transgressions of a person and absolve them of responsibility through the barbaric act of human sacrifice. This is scapegoating in its most ancient sense. The idea that Jesus forgives your sins is ridiculous without his divinity, and yet this was his main point. That when sin was committed, his rule was broken, and he was the party chiefly concerned. Should I wrong you, Jesus cannot forgive me; that is for you and you alone. Turning the other cheek and loving thy enemy are not moral practices. Evil should not be allowed free reign and must be stopped. It is man's moral obligation to stop evil, not turn the other way and claim the pseudo-moral high ground of pacifism. And finally, the idea that sinners suffer for eternity is not found in the Old Testament but in the New, This is frankly a horrible idea that everyone should be thankful is untrue. For all the suffering and wickedness of the Old Testament, at least it was temporary. It is not until Jesus that this abhorrent idea of eternal punishment is introduced.

I don't know why she is there, but it wouldn't surprise me if she were a Christian atheist. I've been meaning to post about the subject for a while, but I've been busy. So when this turned into a tirade, I just went with it

Hi Amy and welcome to TA! I cannot speak for this woman you discuss, but can simply offer my perspective on church. I am a single mom, and the idea of going to "church" is appealing in the sense that when you go, you have a community of people around you and your kids. Having a sense of community is something I value as "very important." There's a joke I heard, "What do you call an Atheist with kids?" - Answer: "A Unitarian."....it's probably true.

Anyway, as an Atheist woman that would be the extent of the importance of going to church. To meet other moms with kids my son's age so we can be there for each other.

I don't currently go to any church, but when I have considered it, that would be the reason. Of course I've decided that I value sleeping in on Sundays WAY too much, and that need to "catch up on sleep" has presided over my need to seek a "church community." I continue to look for community in other ways....Great post!

Hi Amy and welcome to TA.

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