I'm taking a world religions course. This isn't in an attempt to see if I can detach my retinas via eye-rolling but in a sincere effort to know the opposition. When someone asks how I can say no religion works for me I want to be able to give an answer.

I still live in Texas though, so every single religion touched upon is compared to Xtianity. The class is 90% Xtian, there are 3 atheists and a Buddhist, but the rest all smugly remark on the folly of n religion to their own. It's irritating.

Day 2 of the class was the worst though. After insisting that atheism was a religion the professor proceeded to attack the tendency for the non-religious to defend our faithlessness. Then that girl (Let's call her Virginia) said she thought it was stupid that we announce we do not believe in gods. Virginia said we should keep it to ourselves, after all, as adults we don't believe in Santa, but we don't go about declaring it constantly.

Except... that isn't really true at all. Do you remember when you stopped believing in Santa? You told your friends, or maybe one of your friends told you, and suddenly the truth swept over the playground. Some kids would argue that their parents insist that Santa was real, while the whistle-blowers would be chastised for revealing the truth before the other kids were ready to know it. Sometimes there was the threat of disbelief equaling a gift-less winter. Parents would try for another holiday of innocence with movies and stories that reinforce the obvious existence of the Jolly Watcher. Yes Virginia...

Fast-forward a year later and the fact was that lack of Santa-faith didn't end the songs gifts or family gatherings eased the reality. No Santa, but the holidays were still good.

The playground is a bigger place for us now, but the reaction is still the same. Anger, denial, accusations, threats of gift denial. No Virginia... 

Why are we compelled to tell others that we don't believe? What are we hoping to gain by wearing our faithlessness where others can see it?

For me, it's a throwback to those playground days. No, someone isn't watching every thing we do, but there is still good, there are still songs and happiness but those should be enjoyed without fear. The rewards and punishments come from real things, either our parents or civil authority or ourselves...but not the imaginary.

I share because I believe that the truth is good, it is freedom, it is a gift without a judge.

Views: 1323

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on September 30, 2013 at 1:18am

"  Well ok - so what is the atheist response to working through the human condition then? Does it have one?  "

Atheism is the word for disbelief in gods. There really should not be a word for it. We have no word for non-astrologer. No word for non-alchemist. No word for non-leprechaun-ist. 

What is the 'non-alchemist response' to working through the human condition? There is none. The question has no meaning. People behave based on what they believe, not what they don't believe.

Many atheists are also Humanists or Humanist-like. Yet there is no club to join, no governing body, no set of rules. Others might reject the idea of being Humanists and say they're Freethinkers, or just simply being themselves, doing the best they can.

When someone says she is an atheist, from that statement you know nothing about what she believes. You know exactly one thing she does not believe.

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on September 30, 2013 at 1:36am

She's either a troll or more obstinately ignorant than Ken Ham.  Either way, she has her conclusions and is sticking with them.

Comment by Simon Paynton on September 30, 2013 at 2:53am

@Heather - "she" is not a troll. 

@Angela - I agree, there's no spirituality in atheism.  Recovery from a psychic collapse is both a spiritual and a psychological matter imo. 

Comment by Pope Beanie on September 30, 2013 at 3:05am

@Angela, theism doesn't prescribe how to live. You'd find dozens of different answers, if you asked them how they've learned (or not learned) to handle the human condition.

I'm sure there are atheistic "ways of life" (like humanism?), but I haven't felt the need to look into them, yet. Maybe I'll read that manifesto thing.

Comment by Simon Paynton on September 30, 2013 at 3:39am

In his book "Flourish", Martin Seligman describes five elements to wellbeing: 

positive emotion; engagement (when you are engaged in an activity and it "takes you away", you are "in the flow"); meaning (connectedness with wider social structures and things greater than yourself); positive relationships; and accomplishment.  To these, I would like to add "optimism".  Another definition of happiness is how rapidly we are meeting our goals. 

@Angela, would you say that recovery from psychic collapse means working towards these things? 

Comment by Simon Paynton on September 30, 2013 at 3:43am

This is a little bit long, but it's worth reading.  It's from an interview: Spiritual Awakening - Steve Taylor, UK

"Lilou - What is your view, and what is for you spiritual awakening?  

Steve Taylor - Well, spiritual awakening is a transformation in the way you perceive the world, it's a transformation in your relationship to the world, and it's an expansion, an intensification of consciousness so that you perceive a wider and more intense reality.  And it's a transcendence of separateness, the sense of separateness which human beings often experience.  It's a transcendence of separateness into connection, into a greater sense of connection with other people, a greater sense of connection with nature, and a greater sense of connection with the whole cosmos.

Lilou - And for you to experience spiritual awakening, we have to go through suffering, unfortunately - it's part of the process?  

Steve Taylor - Not necessarily.  I did a lot of research on the triggers or factors which bring people into spiritual awakening - as a psychologist I did this research - and it was partly a result of my own experiences too, my own experience of spiritual transformation and spiritual awakening.  But I did find that the major factor in spiritual transformation did tend to be intense turmoil, intense psychological suffering.  That's not to say it was the only factor, but it was the most intense, the most prevalent factor.  I interviewed 70 or 80 people who'd undergone spiritual transformation, and the vast majority of them, maybe 70% of them, all underwent a period of very intense turmoil.  So it's people who'd been suffering from severe depression, people who suffered from bereavement; bereavement was a very big factor, people whose loved ones had died, and also very negative life events like divorce or losing your job, that kind of thing.  Those are the big factors so it would be several years of turmoil or a short very intense burst of turmoil.  What was happening there was that the turmoil would somehow break down the normal sense of self, the normal sense of ego, with all its roles and all its attachments would fall away.  Suddenly there'd be a space inside the person's being, they would become literally empty because the normal self would fall away, and it was almost as if a latent higher self would emerge and fill this empty space.  

That's not to say it's the only factor, I also encountered people who'd undergone spiritual awakening in a purely accidental way, where there were no apparent factors, and also people who'd been through many years of intense spiritual practice, intense meditation or following a spiritual tradition like Buddhism.  So there's a variety of ways, but turmoil and trauma does seem to be the main factor."

I'm still transcribing it, there's more good stuff. 

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 30, 2013 at 8:22am

@Angela, RE:

"The process taps into the psyche - where we are all - for lack of a better word - religious. Why do you think that is?"

I think the process you describe taps into the psyche because that's where we all live, not "where we are all religious." If you lack a better word, perhaps you should wait until you find one, before commenting --

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 30, 2013 at 8:51am

@Angela, RE:

The religious person says to himself - 'I know the truth'.
The atheist person says to himself - 'I know the truth'.

I think that atheists are more like the religious than they will admit.
Because its only that you think you know the truth that keeps you going - and life is about holding on to something that helps you keep moving forward. Its all religion. Its all a belief system.
Thats where I see the similarities.

As you might suspect, I disagree - the atheist says, " I may never know what the truth is, but as the evidence comes in, I will piece however much of it together as I can, in the time I have to live."

Comment by Pope Beanie on September 30, 2013 at 9:16am

I may never know what the truth is

I know there's some rule about writing in the singular, but I'd emphasize we're not talking about one truth, or "The Truth" here. Different people come up with different truths, although we do have a lot of questions and answers in common.

Comment by archaeopteryx on September 30, 2013 at 9:20am

@Strega, RE:

@Angela - I must have missed a post or two here - why is it that you are stating that belief in religion is natural with such conviction?

Clearly, as was mentioned in another discussion, she is pointing back to Jung, who stated he believed religion to be inherent in the human psyche.


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