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View Diary: Today I'm 50. Here's what I've learned. (187 comments)

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  •  {{{commonmass}}} (5+ / 0-)

    A big hug to you for valuing the "specials." They indeed make life more interesting. However, not everyone is as well equipped or motivated as you to make life with them work. Your husband must have been one fabulous person, and he was lucky to have you. My condolences on his loss.

    You're right: a lot of atheists are bitter and angry. But I lean toward the notion that a true atheist is neither. What is there to be angry about? Yet I have met many angry people who claim they are atheists who I would say are actually angry believers. Once you make peace with your beliefs, whatever they are, how can there be anger?

    Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead. ~K. Vonnegut

    by Greek Goddess on Wed May 15, 2013 at 11:35:00 AM PDT

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    •  Well, I think a lot of that anger is misdirected (8+ / 0-)

      A lot of it belongs directed towards specific individuals who abused religion and in so doing so, abused the person who is now angry and resentful.

      I am lucky that my involvement in organized religion was my choice (and in my case, it's a career choice as well--I'm "pious for pay" I like to joke but it's ONLY a joke) and that I was never oppressed by it as a kid or young adult. But people DO get oppressed by it and when you've been harmed by religion, it's easy to call every single theist a perpetrator. I get it.

      So I think you're very right, GG. Once you make peace, well, you should have peace. Some people aren't satisfied with peace, though. You're lucky. So am I.

      I resent that. I demand snark, and overly so -- Markos Moulitsas.

      by commonmass on Wed May 15, 2013 at 11:45:04 AM PDT

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    •  I think - wonder - if ... (7+ / 0-)

      ... the "angry atheists" are actually more disappointed than angry.

      I was angry @ age 14/15 when the minister lied to me about dancing in confirmation class.  What drove me was an "I'll show him!" attitude since the movie The Ten Commandments had come out not long before and I'd heard/read it was based on the Bible and there was dancing in the movie..., so....  I then read the Bible a chapter a night until I got to "then Miriam, sister of Aaron, with her ladies took up their timbrels and danced..." right after they crossed the Red Sea.  I showed that to the minister at the next class and if looks could kill I wouldn't be writing this.  I showed him for a liar in front of the whole class.

      I finished reading the whole Bible..., and read it cover-to-cover a second time in my early 20s (altho, given my life-long genealogy hobby that I've had longer than you've been alive, it may be surprising that I skipped most of Numbers the second time; the begats wore me down).  Then I went on to read a whole bunch of other books over a series of many years, lots of history, added anthropology, archaeology as side interests.  Then I got to When God Was A Woman by Merlin Stone, read the works she cited in her bibliography, went on to do more reading like that (checking bib sources and reading their books, etc.).

      So, my atheism was a process that took over two decades.  I didn't become an atheist on a whim.  I really wanted to believe, tried to believe.

      But I'm still disappointed that I can't believe in all the good parts of the cotton-candy fantasies of a heavenly afterlife and such.  I get why unquestioning belief is attractive and so easy, but I'm not a child and don't believe in the fairy tales either.  I also don't understand why the modern religicos who beat us over the head with their brand of bigoted beliefs think they can claim their prejudices as the only 'true religious belief.'  It makes no sense and doesn't fit into my wish for a pretty fairy tale cotton-candy religion that's good for/to/with everyone and no innocents are ever harmed by evil people in the process of adopting a religious belief.  [In my wishful thinking religion, no one died in a cruel manner on a cross for the sake of religious belief because no one should suffer for any reason in my dreamy version of religion.  No one would be tortured, burned at the stake, etc., in the name of religion.]

      I've said before that "I'm a wishful atheist."  I suppose that's true.  Sad endings and certain realities make me disappointed which leads me to be angry, especially when I know even some realities could have happy endings "if only...."  I want happy endings for everyone.  I love, love, love stories with happy endings.  Chalk it up to my being a dreamy Pisces who loves fairy tales and happy endings....

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Wed May 15, 2013 at 02:53:27 PM PDT

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      •  I'm an atheist, & I couldn't disagree more with #2 (4+ / 0-)
        Belief in gods is a testament to the spectacular limitations of the human imagination.
        That ancient humans had the capacity to conjur up things that did no exist in order to explain things that did...is exactly a testament to the spectacular lack of limitations of human imagination.

        Now if the diarist meant "current" as in

        Current-

        Belief in gods is a testament to the spectacular limitations of the human imagination.
        That I would agree with. However, the original formulations (long before the Greeks) were testaments to human intellectual capabilities...representing a much greater intellectual leap than from that to atheism.

        Comparing different religions & concluding none make sense, is a much easier intellectual task than the one undertaken by our unknown ancestors who first posited the existence of the supernatural.

        The Americas greatest political dynasty...the Kaan

        by catilinus on Wed May 15, 2013 at 04:53:49 PM PDT

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        •  Interesting point, cat. (0+ / 0-)
          That ancient humans had the capacity to conjur up things that did no exist in order to explain things that did...is exactly a testament to the spectacular lack of limitations of human imagination.
          No reason science wouldn't fit into this concept--much of what explains the natural world is unseen, after all. One could argue that early humans used the tools they had at the time to formulate their explanations, much as later humans used later tools (microscope, telescope) to formulate theirs.

          Of course, no discussion of the spiritual experience of early humans is complete without a debate about the concept of the bicameral mind, but suffice it to say that your argument is provocative, and I'd love to continue it in an atheist-oriented diary.

          Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead. ~K. Vonnegut

          by Greek Goddess on Thu May 16, 2013 at 02:14:12 PM PDT

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      •  The Bible, I firmly believe, is a dangerous (4+ / 0-)

        document. It should never be "read", only studied.

        I resent that. I demand snark, and overly so -- Markos Moulitsas.

        by commonmass on Wed May 15, 2013 at 07:17:34 PM PDT

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      •  Good points, NonnyO. (0+ / 0-)

        I remember feeling sad when I realised I was an atheist because the myths are so beautiful: someone loved you enough before you were born to die for you; someone is constantly watching out for your safety and wellbeing; all you have to do is ask and whatever you want will be provided for you. It's not easy grasping that the universe is amoral, that suffering and violence and death can be random and merciless, that when life ends we cease to exist. But once I understood these things, the peace I felt truly passed understanding, ironically.

        Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead. ~K. Vonnegut

        by Greek Goddess on Thu May 16, 2013 at 02:39:18 PM PDT

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