To become an atheist

Discussion in 'Religion & Philosophy' started by Bjarki, Jan 23, 2010.

  1. Bjarki

    Bjarki Registered Member

    Why do people become atheists, that is the question.

    1. Let's presume we all encounter the same things in life, that we experience the world in a similar fashion.
    2. There are 4 stances we can take regarding the existence of the 'supernatural' in our daily lives:
    A) that of mysticism (the belief that there is an additional dimension to life, to which we all belong and through which we can come face to face with the 'divine').
    B) that of religion (the supernatural is fully independent from me, autonomous, personalised in the figure of God or gods).
    C) that of agnosticism (there could be an additional dimension to life, but I'm not sure).
    D) that of atheism (there is definitely no such thing as a supernatural dimension; there is no God).

    3.Thus, the difference between religious affinities is primarily a matter of interpretation: do I, or do I not, call this experience religious? And if so, is it a sign of God?
    4.These questions cannot be answered scientifically. It is possible to speculate about them, but no definite answers can be given.

    If this is true, then on what grounds do people opt for atheïsm?

    Is it a radical rationalism that drives them to acknowledge only these things which are rationally approachable?
    In that case they would miss out on a significant portion of life: the metaphysical, the unconcious emotions, the spiritiual, the mind, the transition of death and the afterlife.. or such simple things as love, happiness or meaning... the things we call 'irrational'.

    In my opinion it's no coincidence the vast majority of the people turn atheist in their teenage years. That's the age when they become critical (which is further fuelled by education). It is also the age of rebellion, both against their own father ánd the Father in heaven, as well as the 'conservative' elements in society like the church and the elderly.
    Another element that comes into play is the feelings of guilt caused by the clash between external moral systems and the agressive and sexual tendencies within.

    Naturally, these motives apply mostly to boys, which might explain the apparent lack of female atheists.
    Girls do show some signs of resentment and anger towards their parents and society as a whole, but it is less focused on their father and on moral. Boys tend to view God primarily as a lawgiver and thus as a moral guide, while girls tend to have a more affective relationship with God (and are thus less likely to feel His moral pressure and hence there is no explicit need to become a(nti)theïst.

    Many adults, particularly later in life, turn to religion again, or at least, value it higher than adolescents do.

    Those turning to atheism on rational grounds may think they do so on 'scientific evidence', but this is not true. Science has absolutely no evidence of the non-existence of the transcendental sphere.

    The real motives might perhaps be more in line with:
    - The need for complete (rational) control of their own life.
    - The natural inclination towards resistance, towards overthrowel of the father and the authority in society.
    - The distrust of feelings (and the subsequent shame of being an 'emotional' person).
    - The distrust of pseudo-science (and everything beyond the scope of science).
    - Hostility towards the church or believers (terrorists and the like).
    - The desire to rid oneself of the burden of moral restrictions (particularly those related to sex, anger, jealousy, etc. etc.).
    - Jealousy of believers (turning agnosticism into outright rejection).

    A similar list can be made about religious people and perhaps even about people with mystical preferences.
    The only rational alternative to atheism seems agnosticism, as it leaves the possibility of both the existence and non-existence of the divine. However, one might question it's practical value..

    Is there still enough ground left to consider oneself an (unbiased) atheist?
    Sim likes this.

  2. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    Most atheists are agnostic. Jsyk.

    "None of us would seriously consider the possibility that all the gods of homer really exist, and yet if you were to set to work to give a logical demonstration that Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, and the rest of them did not exist you would find it an awful job. You could not get such proof.

    Therefore, in regard to the Olympic gods, speaking to a purely philosophical audience, I would say that I am an Agnostic. But speaking popularly, I think that all of us would say in regard to those gods that we were Atheists. In regard to the Christian God, I should, I think, take exactly the same line." -Bertrand Russell
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  3. Merc

    Merc Certified Shitlord V.I.P. Lifetime

    Your discussion is flawed from the beginning. Assuming everyone encounters the same things and experiences in life is just like saying, "Let's assume we're all clones of each other." This does not work when talking about something as socially complex as religion as it is bias since religion relies on people being just that: sheep (or copies of one another).

    I personally think you've hit on the main reasons why people become or claim to be atheists. It's a case of either hostility towards religion or just a pompous sense of knowing. I consider myself entirely apathetic because I can't prove anything one way or the other thus I see no point in believing. Of course, people will give you the weak argument of "Wouldn't you rather believe and be wrong than not believe and be wrong?" which doesn't really work.

    I do not however like this "distrust of feelings" sentiment that you suggested Bjarki, as if religion is something people "feel". If that were true, than every religion is technically right if all you have to do is 'feel right'. Also, this notion of having no morality is also a very rude and pompous attitude. Religion is not the sole source of morality. As a matter of fact, it does a good job of distorting and ruining morality. Take Christianity for example, killing is bad, right? Then how come it's okay to kill those that don't believe the same things as you?
  4. EllyDicious

    EllyDicious made of AMBIGUITY V.I.P. Lifetime

    being an atheist means to deny the existence of God.
    being an agnostic means to not be sure about the existence of God.

    i fail to see how an atheist claims to be agnostic at the same time. if you deny something you don't have to be doubtful about it because you made up your mind it doesn't exist so you don't have to wait for a verification..
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  5. ExpectantlyIronic

    ExpectantlyIronic e̳̳̺͕ͬ̓̑̂ͮͦͣ͒͒h̙ͦ̔͂?̅̂ ̾͗̑

    It's not my fault that language is used like it is, but it is. The word "atheism" is rarely ever used by atheists to imply certainty about gods not existing. We even differentiate between "soft atheists" (aka "agnostics") and "hard atheists" (the kind of atheists that agnostics mean when they say "atheist").
    One of these days maybe I'll do a psychoanalysis of agnostics, and figure out why they seem to do everything possible to distance themselves from those darn atheists (even though they are atheists), but not today. Today I eat pizza and then sleep.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  6. Bjarki

    Bjarki Registered Member

    You're taking my sentence too literal. My point was that I do not believe there is a difference between what religious and atheist people encounter in the world. There is only one real world that everybody interacts with in their own way.

    Science teaches people to be objective, that is to leave their subjective feelings out of the equation. People are afraid to rely on their intuition, on their feelings, when making judgements regarding the validity of a belief.

    I concur, but the difference is that religious people have someone else to judge over them, God.
    While it is true that Atheists must still hold true to the law, however, the law applies only to their outward behaviour and not to their inner thoughts. Their inner thoughts are subjected to an internal censor, which is entirely of their own making. Thus, they are 'boss' in their own heads, which is much more satisfying than being subjected to an 'alien' judge.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  7. Bananas

    Bananas Endangered Species

    Aren't we all athiest to begin with?

    I like to look at it the other way around and feel as if you arre approaching the question from the wronfg angle. To except A, B, or C we must first be given** the knowledge that we will then go onto base that exceptance on, but D does not require accetance it is the standard.

    Its also not that atheists are not exposed to this informaton or choose to reject it, when an atheist is given this information they usually understand and interpret the very notion of the supernatural as little more than human creative innovation that has become prescriptive to our abstract thought. In other words its all in our heads ... in reflection on our own anthropology our species has grown stong because we can take our dreams and ideas and make them a reality. Religion is just a by-product of this ability and A,B & C are the results.

    **I stress given, many a religious path is planned out from birth by our parents.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
    Sim likes this.
  8. Bjarki

    Bjarki Registered Member

    I think we're using different definitions.
    The one you're referring to is what I call agnosticism. My definition of atheism stresses the anti-theism: the hostility towards religious beliefs or the outright rejection of such (based on presumed evidence).
  9. Sim

    Sim Registered Member

    I agree your premise of faith as "default" is flawed. We are all born as atheists, and only some are brought to faith as a child through the means of indoctrination and brainwashing by grown-up people they trust.

    This article -- Losing my religion | Hypersyllogistic -- explains the inherent irrationality of faith very well:

    There is really not much to add. There is not the slightest evidence for the existence of God, and thus there is no rational reason to believe in God. Atheism is not a state one has to "turn to", it's default. Only completely irrational superstitions lead us to believe there is such a thing as "the divine".
    Bananas likes this.
  10. Bjarki

    Bjarki Registered Member

    Not atheism is default, but agnosticism: the neutral stance. Atheism implies resistance, anti-theism (at least in my division of religious affinities).
    Furthermore, I was brought up with catholicism. Becoming non-theist was a choice I had to make myself, thus it was me who had to come up with the arguments.

    What we call divine or supernatural is exactly that which isn't rationally or scientifically provable.
    God and all of the metaphysical objects go beyond our understanding (Kant). It's therefore complete irrational to ask believers to prove their faith in a rational manner.

    No, the human concept of God does not equal God itself, claiming such a thing is pure blasphemy. Just because the concept is flawed doesn't mean its object is.

    Furthermore, if something is illogical, does it necessarily mean it doesn't exist? Quantum-physics are pretty illogical too, yet the world is governed by them.

    That's true. God can not be approached through reason. Just like you can't rationally understand the meaning of life or know where we come from and where we will end up.
    These questions can never be answered rationally, scientifically. We can only speculate about them.
    This is why most older people tend to turn back to religion, because these kind of questions occupy their mind and no matter how hard they try, reason cannot provide the answers. Thus people turn to religion, philosophy, literature or art to try and come to an 'inner' understanding of these things.
    Reason, rationality, science... they are all limited to the visible world, the things we can prove or disprove, but that's it.

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