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Tonight, I am going to write one of the bravest things I have ever written, in the cowardly form of writing them for a bunch of strangers on the internet.  Tonight, I will finally admit to myself a truth that I have long thought, and felt, but could never bring myself to acknowledge.  And then I will go back out to my life, and continue to hide who I am, putting a brave face on my coward's heart.

I do not believe in a God.  

This has been a long time in coming, and frankly, I don't know why I haven't allowed myself to acknowledge this before.  After all, over the last few years, I have become increasinly antagonistic towards the words and actions of American Christianity in general, and in the increasing legalism and parcohialism of my own beloved Lutheran Church Missouri-Synod.

It's weird calling the LCMS that any more.  But part of me still loves it.  

Part of me still loves the wonderful old music.  Singing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" on Reformation Day.  "For all the Saints who from their labors rest" on other Days of the Church.  I still weep thinking about trying to sing along to "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" at my Great Grandma's funeral.

 Did you see the part of the London Olympics Opening Ceremony that NBC cut out here in the US;  the tribute to those who died as victims of terrorism?  It was an interpretaive dance routine set against this primal drum beat, as a lone voice sang the hymn "Abide with me."  That's one of my favorite hymns.  In fact, the third verse is perhaps my favorite of all the sacred music I have ever heard.  "Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day. / Earth's joys grow dim; it's glories pass away. / Change and decay in all around I see. / Oh, thou who changest not, abide with me."  It's that verse that I will still cling to.  You see, I desperately wish that I did believe in God.  I would pray to God to give me faith if I thought it would do any good.  

Part of me will still be that little boy who loved being in the kindergarten Sunday School class taught by Grandma, who taught him that Jesus loved him.  Part of me will still remember the Vacation Bible Schools and all the fun there.

Part of me will still remember my "theological training" in confirmation classes during middle school; and at the age of 14, being expected by my family to stand before all of them and God and promise to be faithful even to the point of death.  All the while doubts nagged in the back of my head.

If God was so awesome and all knowing and all powerful, then where the hell was he?  As I grew from a boy into a man and needed guidance, and help in becoming in the adult I was supposed to be, where was his voice for me; that so many of my peers heard for themselves.  When my friends were saying "God wants me to be a teacher," or "God wants me to marry Laura as soon as we get out of high school," my God was silent to me.

And years later he still was, as I struggled to decide what I wanted to me when I grew up.  As I asked my mother, the major relgious influence on my life (and I woman I care deeply about, so please do not insult her here), what she thought I should go into at college, she simply told me that was in God's hands and that I should listen for His voice.  But He never spoke to me.  He never said "my son, I am proud of you and this is what I want you to do for Me."  Perhaps I was naive to think that.  Perhaps anyone that does believe is naive.  I wish I could happy and contended as one of the flock.  But I can't.  I'm too intellectually honest with myself; even if I'm not with anyone else.  

That's not to say that there weren't others in my life that thought God had a plan for me.  Or at least that God had their plan for me.  Oh, how many people thought I should go into the ministry myself?  My mother, my grandparents, no fewer than the five Pastors who I was close to.  My Uncle, who is himself a Pastor; and one of the wisest, kindest, least doctrinal man I know.  

If I were to be a Pastor, I would want to be like him.  He is a true rebel in a denomination founded on a rebellion against dogmatic practices, even as the LCMS becomes ever more dogmatic than the Church it rebelled against.  My Uncle bristles against the increasingly legalistic tendencies of the LCMS, and knows that it must respond to its demographic pressures to survive; the same demographic pressures facing the GOP; the LCMS is becoming too old, too white, and too conservative.  He truly believes in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth; much more than the anti-gay, anti-choice, gospel of wealth bigots who claim to follow Him do.  (And frankly, I love that Jesus.  What a selfless figure.  He gave everything of himself, and demanded nothing earthly in return.  If only we all could be like that.)

Even as I was a member of the Saint James Society in high school, a group designed to identify young men for potential ministry services (there were five of us in that group....one of us actually is a pastor now, but he was always going to be), I knew I would not be on that path.  Even as my pastor in college would arrange for me to swing by our chapel in the middle of campus whenever the two seminary recruiters were in town, I knew I would never be a Pastor; because I wasn't sure I could live a life as a Man of God when I doubted the existance of said same God.

But I loved my time in that that Chapel during college.  Many of my good friends to this day were met as a part of that group.  I never felt more at home in a church as I did then.  Maybe because it was the first time I spent a lot of time with people my age in that setting instead of being expected to be seen and not heard in the finest German Lutheran tradition.

 But after graduation, when I found myself searching for a church home and a nice young Lutheran lady to marry, I found mself a young man in an old man's institution.  Maybe that was when my heart started to turn agains the church as much as my mind already had.  When I realized it was true that the Church provided preschool for the very young, Sunday school for the young, confirmation instruction for the less young, and then nothing until there was a spouse and kids of your own did I really start to sour on LCMS, did I allow myself to be critical of it as an institution.

These last few paragraphs, I just realized, have served as a wonderful distraction for myself to the reality that I, tonight, before you beloved strangers on the internet, have admitted to other human beings for the first time that I am a non-believer.  And it is such a liberating moment for me; freeing my mind of the schakles of legalism, of doctrinate beliefs.  But it is also an imprisioning moment for me, because I can never admit this to anyone out there that I love.  My mother, my remaining grandparents, my sister, many of my friends, would be heartbroken to know that I wrote this tonight.  They would make numerous attempts at saving my soul.

No, it will be easier for me to take the coward's way out.  To admit the truth to myself, but to no one else.  

I was originally going to title this diary "Midnight Confessions of a Closet Atheist," but I thought it would be gauche to use the term "closet" when it has such a powerful connotation to the LGBT community.  But I feel that I will now live my life in such a situation.  I will go out there and act like nothing has changed; that the Bible is the inerrant word of God; that the Small Cathecism is a true and faithful instructor and summary of Christian Doctrine as undersood by the Lutheran Church.  But I will secretly be a non-believer.  Even as I sit in a pew and sing along to the liturgy I know by heart, but believe is being sung to a God that isn't there to listen.

Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 3:00 PM PT: Just got home from work and saw how this diary kinda took off.

Thank you for the recs (long time listener, first time caller) and the advice, both constructive and positive.  

I've always been amazed by the openness of this community, and felt this would be a good place to let this off my chest.  Thank you, all.

Originally posted to The Dave on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 08:53 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets , Anglican Kossacks, Religion Watchdogs, and Community Spotlight.

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  •  Tip Jar (237+ / 0-)
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    David54, teresab, Boris Godunov, Azazello, Jack K, ManOutOfTime, tennegirl, bepanda, Ojibwa, WarrenS, blueoasis, subtropolis, twigg, coquiero, mama jo, Eric0125, Cassandra Waites, skod, Notthemayor, codairem, statsone, pimutant, YaNevaNo, HudsonValleyMark, TFinSF, Bridge Master, Ginsu, Syoho, Wee Mama, ivorybill, not4morewars, The Pollster, TtexwiTyler, angry marmot, ccasas, Bobba Louie, wide eyed lib, raincrow, mapamp, a gilas girl, juca, lineatus, XenuLives, kyril, Transactivist, rexxnyc, enufisenuf, MKHector, The grouch, Boudicia Dark, Kinak, LoreleiHI, ThatBritGuy, side pocket, blue aardvark, Carol in San Antonio, Diana in NoVa, deha, yawnimawke, middleagedhousewife, sympa, tytalus, penguins4peace, rb608, MichiganChet, Nina Katarina, Amber6541, Melquiades, Via Chicago, MarciaJ720, gof, johanus, lulusbackintown, caul, DoobyOne, Apost8, Herodotus Prime, nickrud, AggieDemocrat, Pandoras Box, Its a New Day, SteelerGrrl, rivercard, noemie maxwell, Joy of Fishes, wxorknot, adrianrf, wayoutinthestix, progresso, Vita Brevis, ekyprogressive, gnbhull, myadestes, Ashaman, Loudoun County Dem, livingthedream, MKinTN, Edmund Xu, freelunch, Fiona West, kevin k, marleycat, gfv6800, kestrel9000, karmsy, Fenric, SC Lib, the autonomist, Renee, trueblueliberal, whenwego, madmsf, Angie in WA State, kerflooey, tomephil, spooks51, rosette, Charles CurtisStanley, My Spin, HeyMikey, MarkC, Hopeful Monster, Robobagpiper, Leftcandid, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, StrayCat, walkshills, justrock, Ed in Montana, themank, toom, pasadena beggar, Hirodog, mikeconwell, Clyde the Cat, Prof Haley, rogerdaddy, sandrad23, virgomusic, tharu1, yellow cosmic seed, boobot, Santa Susanna Kid, GreenPA, ebirch1, commonmass, elengul, Smoh, Fishtroller01, Calamity Jean, bnasley, gloriana, Tam in CA, simaramis, sfbob, ruscle, Robynhood too, FG, offred, seefleur, Tim DeLaney, pixxer, slowbutsure, Vayle, science nerd, susans, JosephK74, weck, jhop7, Spirit of Life, Don Enrique, docmidwest, Crabby Abbey, hopeful, high uintas, tejanablue, ardyess, thomask, JVolvo, njheathen, BoiseBlue, Carbon, rat racer, jakedog42, Lorikeet, weaponsofmassdeception, wildweasels, Troubadour, ladybug53, ladelfina, Sylv, 42, No Exit, monkeybrainpolitics, MissMimi, splashy, JDog42, Nowhere Man, blackjackal, carolanne, azrefugee, mujr, Aaa T Tudeattack, oortdust, Texknight, enhydra lutris, antirove, ruleoflaw, pickandshovel, yuriwho, venger, Thinking Fella, Jujuree, slatsg, science geek, Stwriley, joanil, ChemBob, SherwoodB, 207wickedgood, Jollie Ollie Orange, hamsisu, WakeUpNeo, BusyinCA, Mathazar, Progressive Chick, Late Again, chicagoblueohio, koNko, texaslucy, sfcouple, kumaneko, howabout, mcronan, sawgrass727, Alexandra Lynch, Constantly Amazed
  •  Living in reality is a brave thing ... (69+ / 0-)

    ... and good for you! If you value the fellowship and traditions of the faith in which you were raised, there is no reason to feel conflicted. Many, many of the people sitting around you have doubts, and many have no faith at all. You can certainly live your life "as if" the scripture were true.

    But it's not. And allowing yourself to live in the now, seeing reality for what it is, is a brave and honest thing to do.

    There are resources to many to mention - chack out The Clergy Project to see how men and women of the cloth are dealing with their loss of faith. Imagine if you were a professional pastor! How do you make a living when you can't honestly do the one thing you trained all your adult life to do?

    Read some of the entries at FreeThought Blogs, where DK's own DarkSyde posts at The Zinglarity. You may find the open hostility to religion cathartic.

    Read The God Delusion by Dawkins if you haven't already. All of his books are magnificent.

    You can be good without God. You can be great without God. But most of all, you can participate fully in the community of your choosing - whether or not you stay with your church - and a person as honest and sincere as you are should be a valued member. If not, then shake its dust from thy feet and move on!

    I prefer peace. But if trouble must come, let it come in my time, so that my children can live in peace. - Thomas Paine

    by ManOutOfTime on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:11:49 PM PDT

    •  I questioned Church (18+ / 0-)

      and Christianity I think from my earliest days.  Things just did not make sense to me.  Why was it God's Will that someone died in a car wreck but saved the life of another in the same accident?

      Then there are the actual Bible verses.  This is a favorite link I tend to post to show what if we became like the Taliban and interpreted the Old Testament like the Taliban interpret the Qu'ran?

      http://www.biblegateway.com/...

      So, as an adult, I went on a quest - what did I believe and what did I not believe?

      When I finally accepted to myself that I did not believe, I cannot tell anyone here what a huge relief it was.  I was finally OK with my beliefs (or some would say lack of).

      If there truly was a God, would he have sat around and let man destroy his planet?  I think the God in the Bible could but since he is really not there.... he can't fix our problems when he once helped Moses part the waters.....  HELLO?

      Anyhow, if you have doubts about your Faith, chances are, you don't really believe.  That is the one thing I hear from other like-minded people, they never could really accept all the hypocrisy and the doctrines.

      But I, like the writer of this posting, still enjoy some of the "church" that I grew up with (Methodist), but I don't believe and I am just quiet about it.

      -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

      by MarciaJ720 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:29:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Faith is a meaningless term without doubt. (6+ / 0-)
        •  I disagree (5+ / 0-)

          If you have doubt, then you deep down do not believe.

          Why?

          Because doubt means your mind is trying to struggle with inconsistencies and cannot, as far as religion goes.

          For many people, a life-altering event may make them either more religious or flat out a non-believer (God saved so and so or a real God would never let this happen).

          Sorry, but for me, doubt means there is a place in you that knows things just do not add up....

          For me and others, it was sitting in church or Sunday School or maybe even choir when we saw one behavior while being preached to about another.  

          Trust me, my journey, as I stripped doubt out, my own personal relief, like a ton of religion lifted off my back, was so refreshing and, pun intended.... en-lightening (lightening the load off my back, get it, ha ha ha).

          -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

          by MarciaJ720 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:40:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I always wondered why religious people claim (5+ / 0-)

            that their beliefs help them to inner peace. I would be terrified by the thought that an almighty and allknowing being would know and could control, should he so wish, my every thoughts and actions.

            He who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

            by Sophie Amrain on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:13:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

              •  That's ironic considering North Korea's (0+ / 0-)

                State atheism. I suppose Hitchens fancied himself a preferable arbiter of individual moral purpose than Kim.

                It should have been clear to Hitchens that religious people's behavior is not constrained by the specter of celestial reward or punishment, and that construct is largely straw in as much as it denies individuality under his own myopic view of religion. But subjection of other individuals to the self proclaimed moral authority of a particular individual is the inevitable conclusion of atheist moralizing. Hence, North Korea.

                •  You're wrong about moral authority (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Paul Rogers
                  But subjection of other individuals to the self proclaimed moral authority of a particular individual is the inevitable conclusion of atheist moralizing. Hence, North Korea.
                  There's nothing about atheism that requires subjection to an individual's moral authority.  Plenty of totalitarian religious leaders have cited their moral authority as a reason for ruling.  Obviously, atheism doesn't magically make that impossible, but your claim is outright wrong and is just another one of the stupid claims that religious people make about atheists.  Next you're going to tell me I'm an atheist because I hate god.

                  There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                  by AoT on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 11:04:18 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Why did you change my words? (0+ / 0-)

                    I didn't say atheism requires subjection to an individual's moral authority. Try again.

                    And please refrain from the childish outbursts, or just don't respond. And try to offer some bit of rational to substantiate your claim that I'm wrong. Particularly wherein you think atheist moral authority may rest other than in humans.

                    Or why North Korea is not an ironic example, or something other than just disagreeing with something I didn't say.

                    •  I quoted your words (0+ / 0-)

                      and you said that it was an inevitable result of atheism. I'll quote your words again:

                      But subjection of other individuals to the self proclaimed moral authority of a particular individual is the inevitable conclusion of atheist moralizing. Hence, North Korea.
                      This is what you said that I disagreed with.  If you want to walk that back now then it's fine, but don't pretend like you didn't say this.

                      There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                      by AoT on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 10:47:45 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I'm not taking it back (0+ / 0-)

                        The word atheism doesn't appear in my sentence. Atheist appears as a modifier to moralizing. You did not quote me the first time.

                        If morals are humanly derived i.e. atheist, then humans are subjected to human moralizing. It's a prima facia fact. unless you can explain where I erred.

                        Unless the moral authority I spoke of is derived from some other non deity entity. You still haven't explained what you disagree with, only made your changing of my words crystal clear in your reply.

                        I'm trying here but I still have no idea what it is you disagree with.

                        •  It need not be derived from (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          fisheye

                          an entity at all, but instead can come from an ideology that isn't a cult of personality like what you call inevitable.  Just because some people end up following a person doesn't mean we all have to.

                          There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                          by AoT on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 02:24:56 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Ideologies are human constructs. (0+ / 0-)

                            Quite right though, the character of the moralizing is irrelevant, NK's is just an example, I think it's called Juche, Ayn Rands objectivism  another. I'm sure many,including Hitchens', are more palatable than those.

                            If an atheist moral authority exists it must by definition be humanly derived. And a religious morality is just falsly attributed to a diety. And if it's authoritative then others by definition are held to account to it, or subjected to it. If its not claimed to be authoritative then I believe the term morality becomes meaningless and is reduced to a matter of tastes and preferences.

                            The religious keep faith in a morality that supersedes and exists beyond humanity. I just find the argument highly flawed that assumes there is some inherent superiority of an atheist morality to a religious, and Hitchens ironically exposes that flaw in his own argument with his comparison of one particular religious moral authority to a clearly abhorrent atheist one. Especially if what matters is the human condition here on earth and not beyond death, as he supposes.

                            Is Ann Rand's or North Korean Juche morality superior simply because it is attributed to a perceived and self proclaimed absolute authority of 'reasoning', rather than an absolute God? Or what is Hitchens trying to say?

                          •  The problem I see there is that while (0+ / 0-)

                            religious people claim to have morality derived from a higher source, in fact their systems of morality are based on the works and beliefs of people.  That's the same as various atheist ideologies like Objectivism and Juche, which is actually pretty religious in a lot of way, although what counts as religious is a much bigger discussion.

                            Is Ann Rand's or North Korean Juche morality superior simply because it is attributed to a perceived and self proclaimed absolute authority of 'reasoning', rather than an absolute God? Or what is Hitchens trying to say?
                            I don't think it's possible to derive morality strictly from logic and reasoning.  As the saying goes, "there's no way to get to ought from is."  Obviously, systems of morality are a combination of core principles and human interpretation.  All of them are ultimately derived from the thinking of humans.  Anyone who says they've built a moral system based solely on reason is just wrong.  There are always going to be things outside of reason.  For me this is one of the most frustrating thing about a lot of the discourse in the atheist community these days.
                            The religious keep faith in a morality that supersedes and exists beyond humanity. I just find the argument highly flawed that assumes there is some inherent superiority of an atheist morality to a religious, and Hitchens ironically exposes that flaw in his own argument with his comparison of one particular religious moral authority to a clearly abhorrent atheist one. Especially if what matters is the human condition here on earth and not beyond death, as he supposes.
                            I definitely agree.  Atheist systems are not necessarily better than religious systems of morality.  But whether they're better or worse in no way affects whether or not there is a god.  Some religion could have a moral code that is functionally great, and certainly some do, but that doesn't make the moral code or the religion any more true.  The only way that I find atheist moral systems superior to religious ones is that atheist systems don't start from flawed assumptions.  Of course, a great many atheist moral systems do the same thing, objectivism being the most obvious.
                            If an atheist moral authority exists it must by definition be humanly derived.
                            If by 'humanly derived' you mean that humans have to figure out where authority is derived from then I agree, but I don't agree that the claimed source of moral authority needs to be humans.  It could be a set of natural laws, or something else that isn't human.

                            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                            by AoT on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 08:35:47 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Atheism is a group with no dogma. (0+ / 0-)

                            You seem to be under the false impression that atheists must pick a single leader and accept everything they say as the inviolate law of morality.  This is a feature of religion, not atheism.

                            Although there is still celebrity in atheism, there is no doctrine.  This means we usually support a smattering of positions from different thinkers if we happen to like their rhetorical style.

                            Oh, and morality absolutely does change over time.  Slavery used to be acceptable within certain parameters, now the very idea is abhorrent (except for a few religious people who occasionally tell us how it was historically practiced, or at least, how people wanted to believe it was commonly put into practice).  The few people who want to tell us that slavery wasn't really such a bad thing tend to get pretty severe backlash from the general public because our values have evolved.

                            The best we can hope for is having the least-flawed morality possible.  I happen to think that a belief in some eternal, external source of ultimate morality in the universe is just about the worst obstacle towards achieving that goal.

                          •  I was positing my argument from the (0+ / 0-)

                            Point of view of persons claiming moral authority, not from the perspective of others who may or may not agree or 'follow' them. And that choice to follow, as you put it, is neither a feature of religion or atheism per se but a feature of the individual making that choice.

                            So I am not under that impression.

                            If you want to provide some imperical evidence that atheism precludes that dynamic I would love to hear it. I don't know what could possibly be more dogmatic than certain atheist sociopolitical structures developed in the 20th century. Though obviously that does not apply to the infinite breadth of atheist potential.

                            The closest thing imo to institutionalized slavery in the modern world, I would say, is found in manifestations of pronouncedly atheist philosophies, i.e. remnants of communist political structures such as that in North Korea, Burma... I fail to see how such human exploitation is limited to those claiming faith on God. It's imperically unsupportable. I suppose apartheid in south Africa and recent central american regimes could be close religious counterparts to that level of exploitation and abuse.

                            I am not in the habit of telling other people how they think or what they should think. That is also an individualized feature.

                            I don't consider atheists a 'group' in any meaningful way. Nor do I group the religious, there is infinite variation in both. But I do find people like Hitchens to be part of a group which includes a great many religious people who are obnoxiously self rightious and hypocritical, and desperate to impose their world view onto others.
                            And I find the attempt to classify people's characters based solely on whether they have faith in a God about as inane and destructive as any other form of bigotry. Which is why I comment in these threads.
                            It would have made more sense to me to compare the Taliban and North Korea or certainly localized eras of Christian political dominance. But attacking peoples motivations is gratuitous antagonism of which Hitchens was a professional.

                            The struggle between rigid moral standardization and moral relativity is independent of religious orientation. The extremes lead to fundamentalism or anarchy. Certain Oriental atheist moral frames have been as durable as as any religions. I find that durability and the evolutionary process of refining the moral wheat from the chaffe the measure of a social framework or belief system's value. Immoderate and intolerant atheist political structures of the eastern block have crumbled as have religious states through history. We witness the failure of both in the world now.

                            Western liberalism did not not self manifest out of nothing, but developed through rational re interpretation of existing religious doctrine and opposition to economic oppression. and ironically a reincarnation of philosophies borne out of polytheistic societies that predate Christianity.

                            John Locke's treatise attempted to derive a just social order through both an interpretation of Christian doctrine and purely secular rational. Both methods of which conveniently arrived at the same conclusions.

          •  Your attempt to equate belief and faith is flawed (0+ / 0-)

            And it's not a conflation I made. So I don't know what it is you disagree with.

      •  I gave up religion at 18/19 (8+ / 0-)

        while I was taking Geology in college more than 50 years ago - somehow thinking of eternity and  say people who died in infancy, or who were mentally retarded or had horrible handicaps and dogs, cats and other sentient life living forever in whatever state they were in - etc. etc.  Life after death and religion made no sense at all. It is really just wishful thinking in my opinion. An excellent book is an old classic called "Man and His Gods" by Homer Smith.

        I believe in the common sense teachings of being kind to each other, respecting one's parents, not stealing, etc. but one does not have to believe in god to do so.  In fact I suspect that people who are agnostic/atheistic are often more generous/kinder/helpful people and less hypocritical that those who are so called religious.  Having cancer has not changed my mind on this one bit and even though I would like to spend eternity with people and animals that I have loved, I know that is just plain unrealistic.  

        •  I was 11 or 12 (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AoT

            It was the story of Abraham and Isaac.  Why would an all knowing God need to test someone's faith?  He should just know.  If he DOES know, and tests his faith anyway, then he's a huge dick.  If he's not all knowing, and claims to be all knowing in order to intimidate the humans, then he's a liar.   Either way, this kind of supreme being is not worthy of repect, let alone worship.  
            When I turned 13, I was asked if I was ready to be baptised.  I said no.
             I believe the seven deadly sins are deadly because they have a negative impact on the person doing them, not some divine intervention.  
             I believe Jesus turned himself into a huge metaphorical hand pointing towards salvation and peace, and Christianity has spent the last two thousand years worshipping an image of a hand.  

    •  Understand entirely (8+ / 0-)
      "How do you make a living when you can't honestly do the one thing you trained all your adult life to do?"

      This classically-trained organist understands entirely.

    •  Pitch and a hit (0+ / 0-)
    •  I would also recommend (0+ / 0-)

      The Conversations With God series by Neale Donald Walsch.

      Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie Which we ascribe to heaven- Shakespeare

      by GPMOAT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 01:08:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I recommend "Letter to a Christian Nation" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AoT

      over "God Delusion", especially for people you're trying to introduce to these concepts.  Sam Harris hits all the notes clearly and succinctly (you can easily finish the book in a couple of hours) and he's a bit more gentle.  God Delusion is great, but Dawkins is way more combative and throws a lot of haymakers that I've found turn people off.  Those wavering on the edge of the pool need to jump in themselves.  Of course, once you're in the pool, GD makes for great reading.  

      •  I'd second this recommendation (0+ / 0-)

        Most of "God Delusion" is a poor rehash of arguments for or against god.  There's no real depth there except for the chapter on the tornado making a jet plane and why that would disprove god according to the religious argument.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 11:06:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  you're not alone (32+ / 0-)

    There are many other atheists that don't want to hurt their families, or to have to deal with the heavy social cost when their family and friends are heavily invested in religious belief. Not coming out protects loved ones from the terrible fear of a wrathful god.  

  •  Jesus Christ, (21+ / 0-)

    it ain't that big o' deal. I'm not a member of any "faith community" either.
    If you look at all the bullshit religion has caused over the centuries, and is still causing now, you begin to wonder.

    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:18:23 PM PDT

  •  "Closet" is quite appropriate (42+ / 0-)

    Both atheists and gays learn to "pass."  For the most part, we can--in ways that blacks and women can't.    It's a big closet--many of your fellow pew-sitters are agnostic or atheist.    They're pretending too.

    But it's a damned waste that anyone has to.

    America, we can do better than this...

    by Randomfactor on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:41:37 PM PDT

    •  I have always suspected (18+ / 0-)

      that many or most of the priests and ministers don't believe the claptrap they spew as well.  To a greater or lesser extent they are all Elmer Gantrys.

      As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

      by BPARTR on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:45:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I had a good friend who is a priest admit it. (21+ / 0-)

        He said he just stays in for his pension.
        The fact is, that when you spend your whole life spewing this garbage out, you either examine it and come to reality or you continue to lie to yourself.  
        The people who lie to themselves become more and more fervent and insane, because in the back of their minds the truth is gnawing at them.  It's a sad life.

      •  I don't know that I'd go that far, but I do think (23+ / 0-)

        there are a good number of priests and ministers (and rabbis and imams) who have a deep, abiding belief in the underlying message of the bible (old and/or new testaments) without hewing quite so closely to the "This is what God says" aspect.

        There is much in the bible that is a good guide to leading a good life as a good citizen.  There are many called to ministry because their faith teaches them to help their fellow humans.  Years of studying theology and reading the bible leads them to recognize the many inconstancies, and to understand that much of it is allegory or other fiction.  The bible is an ancient document, written in a simpler time - and transcribed from oral traditions.  Understanding that helps one cut through the clutter and get to the essential messages.

        I'm an atheist, have been for most of my adult life (for a while I went back and forth between atheism and agnosticism).  While I do not believe in God and do not need a god to steer my actions in an ethical direction, I do understand that religious faith is a good framework for many people.  In leaving the church, many atheists and agnostics still hold to the good aspects of their upbringing in the faith.  Sometimes I think that those who take their faith most seriously as children are more likely to lose it as they grow older.  They love the topic, study it, read and re-read the texts - which allows them to separate the true message from the dogma.

        •  the values: (mostly) good. The cram-down: bad. (4+ / 0-)

          The whole lecture to believe this and this and this and don't ask question.  It is a recipe for turning the mind off.  Small wonder that politics for most people is about belief.....

          I did recently attend a funeral, and while the coming together to grieve is nice and I can see why alot of people would want to remain in a church for the community, I found the whole sermon detached and irrelevant.  There has to be a better way.

          and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

          by ban48 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:41:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  A bad sermon is on the person giving it. (16+ / 0-)

            One of my best friends died in his 20s, an atheist like most of his friends. His grieving parents insisted on a Christian funeral, which was not in itself a great crime, if that comforts them.

            But the pastor was, let me blunt, a flaming sack of shit. He said one sentence about the deceased, one sentence about the doctor who kept him alive so long despite an inherited immune deficiency, and then went on for half an hour about his own (the pastor's) "personal relationship with Jesus".

            It was this absolute contempt of and boilerplate disinterest in the life and legacy of the deceased, whom we were gathered there to remember, that had his friends very close to leaping from our pews to throttle the human tapeworm in a collar.

            (And I'm still raging mad about this 20 years later, if you haven't noticed)

            Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

            by Robobagpiper on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:21:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  the last few funerals i have attended (6+ / 0-)

              were simply advertisements for the churches in question. The ministers seemed to appreciate having an audience other than their usual choir and took the opportunity to try to convert a few of the non-believers, or those of different faiths.  It was pretty disgusting.  the desceased were irrelevant to them.

              As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

              by BPARTR on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:42:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  The UCC church that I attended in college (7+ / 0-)

          had agnostics and atheists involved without apology.  I was atheist at that time.  I came for the intellectual companionship of people who talked passionately about ethics, history, social issues, and personal issues.  Not that such communities have to have a religious base, but that one did, and it was a special place, formed around a couple who were both brilliant and caring people.  And long-time activists who helped shape my politics.  

          The college-aged youth group was great; I made some long-lasting friendships there. Nobody tried to make a believer of me, or thought I was going to hell.  I did, of course, have to be open to the fact that most people expressed their beliefs and ethics in a religoius frame.

          I'm not connected to any church now, but a friend is involved in a "Welcoming" Methodist church, and atheists are also  part of the community there.  They see themselves as a community formed around commitment to Christian faith, but anyone who wants to participate because they value the community without sharing the theology, or they love singing in the choir, or they like being part of the service missions, etc., is welcome.  There's one older guy who states loudly and often that he's there because he loves the people there, not because he believes in God.  I wonder if he was someone who had to hide his atheism for much of his life, and so feels a particular satisfaction in making clear that he's "out."  In any event, he's a member like any other member.

          I wish that The Dave had the option of being open about his atheism and still keeping an affectionate  connection with the church that's such a part of his history.  But that would require the Lutherans to let go of the fear-based belief that one "must" be a Christian or be damned.

          --------------------- “These are troubling times. Corporation are treated like people. People are treated like things. …And if we ever needed to vote, we sure do need to vote now.” -- Rev. Dr. William J. Barber

          by Fiona West on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:37:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  "...they are all Elmer Gantrys." (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gfv6800, virgomusic, Fiona West

        All of us?

      •  Elmer Gantry... (9+ / 0-)

        At my grandad's funeral I saw one of my dad's cousins. He was late 30's I think, and struggling financially. He was selling phone services at the time, and not making it. He had tried a bunch of the MLM schemes. He was talking about how cush his relatives had it shepherding a flock. He talked numbers. How big a group of Christians you need to make bank.

        He found his flock too, and a more icky facebook stream you could not find.

        Poverty = politics.

        by Renee on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:29:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Religion (12+ / 0-)

          Is the biggest TAX-FREE business in America, collectively speaking.

          People find they enjoy speaking in front of groups, being the leader, etc. and becoming a minister is a fine way to accomplish this.

          I honestly do not know how any man or woman who has studied the Christian Bible can believe in the God of the Bible.

          I believe people should read the Bible starting with Genesis 1, Chapter 1, Verse 1 and read it all the way through.  Picking out Bible Verses to have Bible Study classes with is too easy to miss the broader picture.

          -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

          by MarciaJ720 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:10:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was raised in the heart of midwestern (14+ / 0-)

            fundamentalist Crazy, and at a young age when I was horrified by the prevailing crazy I started off in Genesis. I didn't get past the part where women have to suffer in childbirth because we are sinful. I spent a few years setting down the Bible and then taking it up and starting in Genesis and then setting it down again.

            But the people where I grew up are certifiable. And they have Bible Colleges where you can be "educated" by other certifiable people. And all the people are deeply, deeply convinced of their "niceness". By god, they are nice people. They smile at you. They bring you hot casseroles if you are suffering. And they shame your ass off if you don't go to church or if you get caught being pregnant without the sanctification of a wedding or if you are god forbid gay.

            It is chilling to me, the disconnect between their actions and their self image. Chilling. They see themselves as true Americans, just as they see their churches as the One True Church of Jesus Christ.

            I have a Christmas letter from one of them, the brother of my grandad. Lord. Praising the sweet grace of Jesus that they can be so blessed with all the good people in their lives and the ministry they have and describing the travels as they drive around the country visiting these sweet, sweet people. Praise God, they can hear Rush Limbaugh on the radio wherever they go!

            It boggles the mind.

            Poverty = politics.

            by Renee on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:32:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  When anesthesia was invented (8+ / 0-)
              women have to suffer in childbirth because we are sinful.
              The clergy in Britain raled against using anesthesia for childbirth- after all women were supposed to suffer.

              Then Queen Victoria used chloroform for delievery of Albert-   ( I think).  since the head of the church used anesthesia for childbirth, it was immediately ok with all the bloviating clerics.

              As my father used to say,"We have the best government money can buy."

              by BPARTR on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:47:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Hey, I understand (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Renee, SherwoodB, BusyinCA

              My uncle sat on the board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  I got a letter from him how disappointed he was going to be once he got to heaven and he would not be able to get to know us better because we had not been baptized correctly.

              W.T.F.?

              This is also a man who lost his first family, except one son, to a drunk driver a day after Christmas back in the early 1950's.

              He's been trying to get back to his first family ever since then.  I find it sad that he has done good things but has also Judged so many all along the way.  Instead of getting to know people now in this life, he's just waiting for the next.

              Oh, and his religion does believe in the Rapture and that all will come alive as whole people again (granted, not everyone was born with every body part, but hey.... in heaven you get those parts you were missing).

              Anyhow.....  I don't preach my beliefs on others and I expect the same respect back....

              -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

              by MarciaJ720 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 03:20:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think it is after one has been thoroughly (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BusyinCA

                "preached" that one discovers a distaste for preaching on others… ;-)

                That's been my experience anyway.

                Poverty = politics.

                by Renee on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 05:25:54 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Your uncle has suffered enough. let him have his (0+ / 0-)

                own peace. I had to deal with religious differences when my first wife died. What cemetery to be buried in. What church to have services in. And her father (Jehovah Witness) would not set foot in any church until his wife put the hurt helmet on him.

                Odd thing is, I was already atheist in my heart. I belonged to no 'church' then, and I do not now. I cannot understand how someone can believe in a god so powerful, that cannot understand the faith differences of Catholics and Jehovah Witness, and Jews and others, and still disregards the rest of us.

                It is a weak god that does not respect everyone. And there is no physical evidence at all. Other than Biblical stories, nothing.

                So when I have to go to a church service, I know the words to mumble and the obeisance that must be given. But believe any of it? No.

                Mitt's full of it / Ryan's lyin' -- "Your money and your life."

                by BusyinCA on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:53:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  You can always offer the aetheism test, (0+ / 0-)

        it is real simple:

        The devil comes up to heaven to challenge god.  He says: "Why do you protect and care about these humans?  They should be mine! I offer you a challenge..."

        God, being god and not one to fear a challenge, says simply "state your offer".

        The devil explains:  "I have found an island isolated in the middle of the pacific inhabited but unchanged for 10,000 years.  They have not hear of me or you or jesus or buddha or mohammad or anyone.  Pick any representative you want.  Grant your representative any powers you want.  Heck, go yourself if it pleases you.  I will do likewise.  Whomever the inhabitents chose to worship after 3 days is the winner.  What say you?"

        So, what do you think happens, and are you an atheist...???

        and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

        by ban48 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 04:15:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Since (0+ / 0-)

          there is no devil or god, nothing happens at all. It is a fact is that there is no island in the middle of the Pacific that has been inhabited but unchanged for 10,000 years. If there were a god or a devil they would know that.

          •  The question is a trap. It turns god and devil (0+ / 0-)

            into salesmen that people have to judge.  It points out that people have to judge god before god can judge them.  

            Almost any answer is also a trap - why couldn't god simply banish or slay the devil?  Then you are stuck with might-makes-right, and didn't the romans slay jesus?

            This is also why churches are big on faith & belief and frown on asking questions, because the dirty little secret is that faith is ultimately what people want to believe.

            and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

            by ban48 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 04:02:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  frown on asking questions? (0+ / 0-)

              Read "Living the Questions"

              •  Science = Asking Questions = Evil Librul Plot.... (0+ / 0-)

                and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

                by ban48 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 08:36:09 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  I remember (0+ / 0-)

              when I was in college, I had a discussion with one of my friends, a devout Catholic, that led me to realize the truth of your last paragraph.

              I basically told him I felt that in the biblical story of Adam and Eve, they were set up by God.  After all, if he hadn't wanted them to eat from that tree in the first place, he shouldn't have put it there.  If God is truly omniscient, then he put the tree there knowing that Adam and Eve would eat fruit from it, especially if he told them not to.  Therefore, he put it there knowing they would do something for which he would punish them.

              The response I got was that, well, God gave us free will.  I replied that that didn't really answer my concern.  After all, if God doesn't WANT to punish any of us, or make us go to hell, why did he give us free will in the first place?  The answer given was that God knew we needed free will to be able to love him.

              I then questioned further and asked that if God created everything, presumably that includes the very concept of love, so he could've, in theory, made it so that free will wasn't necessary.  At this point I gave up because it started going in circles.

              No one has ever been able to adequately address the point I tried to make there.

              •  Pascal's Wager is that there may or may not be (0+ / 0-)

                a god, so play it safe and assume there is.  I think most people work off that level.  I find that wager wrong and think the risks of assuming there is a god far outweigh the assumption that there is not, for all sorts of reasons: wasted time living in fear of damnation, shutting down critical thought and accepting dogma, getting it wrong and worshipping the wrong entity (i.e. the island dwellers chose the devil :)  ), or getting to heaven and finding it blows because god picked up an unbaptized baby and threw it into hell and you are supposed to stand by and smile and watch it happen.

                I say f***it, I'll deal with what happens after I die when I'm dead.

                and their contempt for the Latin schools was applauded by Theodoric himself, who gratified their prejudices, or his own, by declaring that the child who had trembled at a rod would never dare to look upon a sword.

                by ban48 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:03:37 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  The worst part about the Garden of Eden story (0+ / 0-)

                is that the tree they ate from was the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They didn't know right or wrong before they ate from that tree which means that there is no way they could have known it was wrong to eat from the tree.  It was essentially an arbitrary punishment because they had no knowledge that disobeying god was wrong.

                There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                by AoT on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 11:13:19 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Even if they did know (0+ / 0-)

                  about the knowledge thing, the message is that wanting knowledge is a bad thing!

                  •  That's the other thing (0+ / 0-)

                    It isn't knowledge in general, it's knowledge of good and evil.  I mean, they had knowledge in general, they knew that they were told not to eat of the tree, otherwise it really wouldn't have been an issue.

                    That's what is so incredibly weird about it.  It's only knowledge of good and evil that's the issue in the garden, not knowledge in general.

                    There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

                    by AoT on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 12:51:53 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

    •  Mother Theresa didn't feel God's presence (6+ / 0-)

      for a lot of her life. She never stopped hoping to feel it, but she struggled with the loss.

      Poverty = politics.

      by Renee on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:30:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  no need to hide who you are (20+ / 0-)

    be true to yourself and you will attract like minded people to your life.

    one of the true signs of mature adulthood is when you stop hiding basic truths about yourself from your parents.

    some people never get there.  I hope you do.

    "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."
    CALL EVERYONE YOU KNOW in OH, PA, FL, NC and TX. Make sure they have the ID they need to vote, and make sure YOU are registered and ready to vote!

    by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 09:42:24 PM PDT

  •  At least you can talk to others online. (17+ / 0-)

    Every time I read stories like this, it reminds me how lucky I am to not have to be in this kind of situation.  I can't imagine how hard it must be.

    It also is quite unfortunate, that people have to hide their non-religious feelings from the religious for fear of exclusion, loss of friendships, and hate.  I hope that one day, you won't have to live in fear of losing your loved ones, so that you can be honest and open with them about what you feel and not have to hide.

    If this isn't an appropriate situation for compassion and tolerance, then when is it appropriate?

  •  I like this diary. (19+ / 0-)

    If there were any way to determine the truth of the matter, I would speculate that probably half the people in the nation, if not exactly of your thoughts and circumstance, are in the same ballpark.  I've just based that my own experience with others over a life time, but I think it's a representative sampling.  Quite a few have doubts or are metaphorical in their beliefs and some of those are regular attendees.

    99%er. 100% opposed to fundamentalist/neoconservative/neoliberal oligarchs.

    by blueoasis on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:15:00 PM PDT

  •  I can't be sure enough to say that. (14+ / 0-)

    I consider myself either an agnostic or a deist, depending on my mood.

    According to deists, God never intervenes in human affairs or suspends the natural laws of the universe. Deists typically reject supernatural events such as prophecy and miracles, tending instead to assert that a god (or "the Supreme Architect") does not alter the universe by intervening in it. This idea is also known as the clockwork universe theory, in which a god designs and builds the universe, but steps aside to let it run on its own.
    So, I'm either not sure there's a god, or I'm sure there's a distant and uncaring God.

    If Obama didn't get Bin Laden because he didn't pull the trigger; then Bin Laden didn't take down the World Trade Center because he didn't fly the planes.

    by Bush Bites on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:16:34 PM PDT

    •  I used to feel that way in High School (9+ / 0-)

      Then my freshman year of college I took a course called "Exploring Science and Religion".  It was required to take a seminar course during the freshman year at the liberal arts school I attended and this appealed to me.  I was essentially and agnostic deist when I went into that class believing fully that religion and science could co-exist.  

      By the end of that class I had come to the conclusion that there was no point to deism.  A deistic god is completely unnecessary to explaining the origin of the Universe and serves no other purpose.  So why bother believing in such a deity?  

      "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said." "The War Prayer" by Mark Twain

      by Quanta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:33:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Superstition? Brainwashing? An inate "feeling"? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pasadena beggar

        I'm not saying it's rational. I'm just saying it's just where I'm at.

        If Obama didn't get Bin Laden because he didn't pull the trigger; then Bin Laden didn't take down the World Trade Center because he didn't fly the planes.

        by Bush Bites on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:15:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Either way, in the words of some famous (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bush Bites

      philosopher or another, who I can't seem to find right now, God lacks existential import.

      There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

      by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:54:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I was 6 or 7 when I made my choice (15+ / 0-)

    to be atheist. The best I can hope for in my spirituality is a galactic community of souls that gets recycled. However, I doubt that is the reality. I think we just die. When my son asks me about it, I tell him I do not know the answer (something I rarely admit), I tell him that you will go up into the stars but in my heart I think we just die. I will freely admit that I do not know. I try to be good to other people because in my experience that is how you win friends and influence people.

    You could be listening to Netroots Radio. "We are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place" <- Me

    by yuriwho on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:27:28 PM PDT

    •  The people who say that they know.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trueblueliberal

      are liars.

      •  I don't think they are liars (0+ / 0-)

        I honestly think they believe what they believe.

        But when confronted with facts vs. religion, their religion, or spiritual side, that "gut instinct" place in our brains, will determine how a person interprets something..... and the spiritual side usually wins.

        Most people I know that are agnostic or atheist have done their research..... Look at what Pew found out.... Who knew the most about religions in general?

        http://pewresearch.org/...

        -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

        by MarciaJ720 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:19:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I know there's no God (3+ / 0-)

        to the extent that I know anything.  I can base that on a lot of things, but all this just leads into an annoying larger discussion about what it means to know and whether that involves proving something or blah, blah, blah.  I can have that discussion if need be, but short version, yes, I do know there's no God and I'm not a liar.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:07:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There is no reason to believe that one exists (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ChemBob, soros, BusyinCA

          That's reason enough, don't even bother going any further.

          (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
          Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

          by Sparhawk on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 04:28:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Rather narrow-minded, yes? (0+ / 0-)

            Just because YOU find no reason does not mean others find no reason.

            •  Science and logic... (0+ / 0-)

              ...are not a matter of opinion.

              (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
              Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

              by Sparhawk on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:24:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  science and logic are silent (0+ / 0-)

                on the question as to whether there is a reason to believe.

                •  Ockam's Razor exists as a concept for a reason. (0+ / 0-)

                  It makes no sense to believe a claim that is not explained.

                  It makes no sense to accept an explanation that has no evidence in its favor.

                  It makes no sense to evaluate the validity of evidence without science.

                  Hopefully this chain of statements is clear.  It is being kept short because I don't believe I need to explain each statement's validity for the chain to make sense to pretty much anyone.

          •  I do have a reason to go further (0+ / 0-)

            And it's a pretty simple one.  I'm tired of people complaining about how we like totally can't "know" stuff about god or whatever.  Knowing something isn't some crazy impossible thing to do.  To say that I know something means that I believe it for justified reasons and it is true.  You can argue about some of the specifics of that, and as someone who got a degree in philosophy degree god knows I have, but saying I know something doesn't mean that I have to prove it.  That's just another trap that religion has laid for us more recently.  I know that the Earth rotates around the sun and I know that there is no god.

            There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

            by AoT on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 11:19:49 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  As I look around and see how nature... (14+ / 0-)

      handles death; I see the "circle of life" every day.  It's okay, to just die.

      "You live as long as you are remembered."  -- Russian Proverb

    •  Yea, me too. I learned quite quickly (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yuriwho, ladelfina, ChemBob, BusyinCA

      that most of the people around me became uncomfortable if I spoke about how silly I thought the whole god thing was.  I learned to just bite my tongue and let those others remain delusional as long as what they were spouting didn't jam me or someone I cared about.
      As for the death thing, I think we just die and get recycled back into the universe.  No biggie.

      "A different world cannot be built by indifferent people." Anon from a fortune cookie I got.

      by coloradocomet on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:16:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  just dying (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      yuriwho, ChemBob, BusyinCA

      The way an atheist lives on past death (everyone really) is by influencing the world around themselves: family, friends, community, environment.   There may be no consciousness, but one's essence can be passed on to the future by changing our world to reflect who we are.

      You have the power to change America. Yes We Can. Yes We Did. Yes We Will.

      by CA Pol Junkie on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:01:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  why do people think it is necessary to "live on… (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        niemann

        "past death"??

        Why isn't one life enough?

        •  I can answer that. (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          yuriwho, ChemBob, niemann, BusyinCA, AoT

          There are two aspects to it.

          Call it ego, call it anything you like, but living on past death is a big selling point of many world religions.

          For all the brainwashing that religions do to young people who grow up into atheists, wanting to live forever is one facet that is hard to let go of.  I know there's no Heaven, Purgatory or Hell, but I'd like there to be some community of souls out there somewhere.  All I'm saying is that I'd like my essence after death to be aware of other positive essences.

          Plus, I really, really, really want to see my brother again.

          The second aspect is that I'd like to know that the positive forces I've put out there into the world don't stop with me but continue on.  Like a Pay It Forward scenario.   My legacy is important to me.

          My contributions to society are history and teaching English to adult migrants.   I'd like to think that my historical work and the stories I've published will be useful and appreciated a couple of hundred years from now.  I want to assist future researchers to see patterns of thought and behaviour that help them understand who they are and what their place in the world is.

          And I like to think that I'm influencing the people I teach by increasing their ability to communicate in the world's most dominant language, which helps them find higher paying and more dignified work.  I hope they will be able to raise happier, more connected and better educated families.  This has the potential to create an unbroken line of success and stronger contributions towards bettering society that can stretch far into the future.

          "He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help." ~ Abraham Lincoln

          by harchickgirl1 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 04:19:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  For myself ... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alexandra Lynch

          ... I think I would prefer not to live on past death.  

          But for me it's not just a simple matter of preference.  It is just that I've had too many undeniable, strange experiences related to death, and have known too many other people who have had them, that I now have to lean toward the position that consciousness is not necessarily limited to the brain and body, and that there is something that goes on after the death of the body.

          In these discussions people so frequently talk about it as if it were always a matter of simple "believing," or "wanting to believe" -- which in many cases I'm sure it is -- when in fact there is often a great amount of experience that goes into holding such a position.

          As I mentioned elsewhere, I've studied near-death experiences for decades, and have personally talked to scores of normal people who have had them.  For them it's not a matter of belief or preference at all;  it's a matter of what they've personally experienced and can no longer doubt or deny.  This has even included a (former) atheist who said, "Boy, I was wrong about that."  

          (As one person said to me, "When these materialist rationalists tell me that I didn't really go there and meet that being, it's like saying, 'You didn't really go to the Grand Canyon on your last vacation.  It was just a vivid hallucination.  Trust me, I know more about it than you do.'")

          For myself, I have to agree with the researcher who said (something like):  "If hundreds of people came to me independently, describing in similar or identical terms a certain bridge in New Jersey, I would have to start assuming, even though I've never been to New Jersey myself, that there really is such a bridge, and that they know what they're talking about."

    •  I find it interesting those who "choose" to... (0+ / 0-)

      ...be an atheist.

      Alternatively, people who "convert" to, say, Judaism because of their spouse.

      I mean, you either believe this stuff or you don't, right? I live in Massachusetts. I guess I could "choose" to believe I live in North Dakota, but that's hardly a position of mental health.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 04:27:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that for some people (0+ / 0-)

        it is a thing you can reason into or out of, and of course the practice of a faith you can do or not do; that's all the external ritual stuff.

        My own theistic beliefs are on the order of "I believe my husband loves me because ten minutes ago he kissed me and told me so."  I know that I stand in a given relationship to a very real deity. But that's something that I don't have to preach on or really get into in most circumstances. If She needs your conscious participation in the plan, She's more than capable of getting in touch with anyone. (grin) I have enough to work on with me.

        When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

        by Alexandra Lynch on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 05:28:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  so sing to the others -- and yourself (6+ / 0-)

    Isn't that what it's all about? Do unto others and all that. If you enjoy it, and your participation might bring joy to those you show up with, why not?

    But all the invoking God stuff -- living a lie! -- i can see will be problematic and i'm not sure how to address that. Both your church and your family life are somewhat foreign to me, so advice i cannot give.

    But i will say this: All that "Listen for the voice of God" stuff really means, "Give it a good think and hopefully you will work it out." Unfortunately, this can often mean that someone trying to work out some issue, and desirable of advice, is basically given the brush-off, intentionally or not. When advice is forthcoming at all, it's gospel & scripture, and more of the same. Not much of a conversation.

    So think about that as you consider the step you've taken here tonight.

    All things in the sky are pure to those who have no telescopes. – Charles Fort

    by subtropolis on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:28:42 PM PDT

  •  I think "closeted" is appropriate (12+ / 0-)

    Granted, we non-believers are not persecuted to the extent that LGBT people are, but the act of concealing who we really are behind a facade of "normalcy" is quite similar.

    I was actually thinking earlier today that there should be a widespread campaign to get closeted atheists and agnostics to come out. I'm certain there are millions of closeted non-believers out there, going to church either to keep up appearances, or simply out of habit.

    Anyhow, welcome to the club, even if you have to stay hidden for the time being.

  •  Sounds painful. (14+ / 0-)

    I have long drifted along the narrow sliding scale between agnosticism and atheism without significant discomfort.  Religion was never a large part of my life and drifting away from what little was there was pretty much an unconscious act.

    But obviously for you this was a large part of your life.  I'm sure that you are disappointed, both in a god who seem not to answer and very likely in yourself.

    You shouldn't be.  I hope in time you won't be.  There's something to be said for trying to live a good life simply because you wish to do so, with no promise of heaven or threat of hell to guide you.

    And there's nothing I find cowardly about keeping this to yourself.  I've always thought religion was supposed to be a personal, spiritual thing anyway; perhaps the lack should be the same.

    So if you enjoy the songs, by all means keep singing them.  If you enjoy the company at church, by all means keep attending.  What harm can it possibly do?

    And that is a principle I wish all religions would adhere to: do no harm.

    "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."

    by Notthemayor on Mon Aug 20, 2012 at 10:47:57 PM PDT

  •  Too bad, really (8+ / 0-)

    One of the great gifts of the modern age of communications and globalization is that ideas about God and religion are not longer exclusively dependent on discrete communities or local social groupings. It is the "secular city."

    This is a great advantage for human progress in terms of religion. We have been stuck with symbol systems and myths, as well as dogmas and cultural norms that are associated with religion, and we mistakenly think that rejecting this complex, which is after all conditioned by history and culture, is rejecting religion and God.

    In fact, every step forward is associated with leaving something else behind. The real problem is this: Religion is meant to help with developing individual and social maturity, but in the present circumstances, we see that the religions that we are familiar with are failing us. So naturally we leave them behind.

    But the thirst for God in some form will remain. I think particularly those who are progressives politically identify with many of the attitudes taught by Jesus and still find it easy to identify with them. Indeed, they think these precepts are the real core of Christianity, and not the theism, dogma or ritual. But whatever value you place at the pinnacle of your ideals for human life, that is where to look for God.

    But then, of course, to find the inner power and purity to live up to those ideals, to come face-to-face with God, so to speak, does require some interiorization.

    It is the great misfortune of the last several hundred years of human development that as a species we are becoming more and more externally oriented, identifying with our physical bodies and minds, their needs and pleasures, etc., as the measure of all things. We call this humanism, but we know that humanity is meant for more than this.

  •  I wish you luck on your journey (15+ / 0-)

    It is a journey I have taken myself. I play the "don't ask. don't tell" game. Except if I do get asked whether I believe in God, I do answer willingly "no." I think I'm lucky because it does not have a negative social consequence for me.

    I'm going to venture to guess with the religious family and friends you are surrounded by, that at least some of them have crowed about how bad the crushing war on "Religious Freedom" is. All you would be doing is exercising your own religious freedom yet you risk your connection with them if you do.

    I lurk on some atheist blogs like pharyngula and Why Evolution is True. There are others of course. And those blogs have a lot of science (particularly biology) and politics.

    My first diary on Daily Kos was about my "coming out to myself" to borrow a phrase. For what it is worth, I've been very happy ever since.

    "In text, use only a single word space after all sentence punctuation." - Oxford Style Manual, Oxford University Press, 2003.

    by shaggies2009 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:03:35 AM PDT

  •  Have you ever read Martin Buber or Paul Tillich? (8+ / 0-)

    They both confront head on many issues you describe you are experiencing. I wish you strength in your journey.

    "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." Winston Churchill

    by Kvetchnrelease on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 03:56:57 AM PDT

  •  Sorry but.... (13+ / 0-)

    Even as I sit in a pew and sing along to the liturgy I know by heart, but believe is being sung to a God that isn't there to listen.

    and its thanks to the millions just like you who go along with all the nonsense, in part because American social life is still handcuffed to religion, and carry on sitting on the pews whilst secretly disagreeing with every minute of services and sermons that the religious power mongers are so empowered. It is because of the silent consent of people like you, and implicit support that silence offers, that the religious right weld so much power and influence, that the Catholic church gets away with all the crap it gets away with, and all the rest of the Religulous Reich uglyness continues on and on and on.

    So, Im sorry if that smarts, but Im one of the less tolerant secularists who brands consenters like you collaborators.Sitting there and playing along just makes you a liar and a hypocrite....and thats gonna take its toll on you mentally and physically.

    Yes, breaking away is hard and in the US means sacrifices and probable stigmtization by people you called your friends, but there is a warm and welcoming community of rationalists out there waiting with open arms. There will be a local free thinker group nearby just waiting for you to show up. Hell, they can probably help you break away completely. But that second step is your to take, and you need to take it.

    Have the courage of your convictions, and stand up and be counted.

    As one of your better Presidents said: To sin by silence makes cowards of men.

    Be a part of the solution, not the problem mate. Stand up and be counted....its a lot easier on the mind when you do.

    Welcome to the real world chum and well done on reasoning your way free!

    Now dive on in, the water is lovely!

    •  Sorry but... (13+ / 0-)

      Churches come in all shapes and sizes, and many would be horrified to learn that you had tied them all to the religious right.

      I wander along the agnostic-atheistic spectrum, yet I am married to a Lutheran (ELCA) pastor. I attend services to support her. I am "silent" in the pews, with the notable exception of singing, because hey, I love to sing, and some of those hymns are certainly fun to sing. Neither are the regular church-goers silent in the pews; many of my wife's sermons have taken the form of discussions, where people in the pews are anything but silent as they give their own interpretations. When people ask me about my beliefs, why I don't take communion, say the prayers, etc, I can explain to them exactly why and what my beliefs are. I can sit in church, be a welcomed part of the community, and not be a liar or a hypocrite at all.

      This is a church that practices tolerance, has no interest in being engaged in direct politics (red or blue, as it should be), and is involved in many different progressive causes in the immediate community. Which is a blue-collar, depressed community without much of their own to begin with. I am currently co-organizing the creation of a massive community garden on some church property. The garden will have many purposes, including education (science-based), healthy, locally-sourced produce for those in need, and space for local community members to have their own gardens. None of those things require you become a member, or even believe in any kind of religion.

      Sorry if that doesn't square with your worldview, but not all churches fit into your hateful conservative box. In fact, your hard secularism is a good deal less tolerant than the faith of many in this community. You could probably call my wife, the pastor, a soft secularist. I would agree that there are many who continue to participate and hide themselves in communities (not just churches!) they don't agree with for the sake of appearances, but to say churches are the problem ignores quite a lot of nuance.

    •  I knew it was nonsense and (3+ / 0-)

      left when I left home.

      But we can't all be brave. Everyone is not ready to break free of the emotional bonds that tie them to their earliest programming, even if we wish they were. Free will is often not much more than wishful thinking.

    •  religious masturbation (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IARXPHD, ladelfina

      so -- the diarist has, supposedly, become an atheist -- yet absolutely NOTHING is going to change

      AND he is getting rec'd and tipped!? WTF?

      i wonder how DK would have reacted if he had said 'today i became a democrat - but i am still going to outwardly support and vote for republican candidates, but, trust me - in my heart i am a democrat'

      WTF!?

      And this isn't meant in any way a slag on the diarist - whatever - i think it better to come out, but whatever he is comfortable with in the end

      but the laurels being heaped upon him by DK is absurd!

      "I want to keep them alive long enough that I can win them to Christ," - Rick Warren, Professional Greed Driven Scumbag

      by josephk on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:07:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And I'm sorry, but I don't see a lot of (5+ / 0-)

      difference between the intolerant judgements of conservative theists and your condemnation of the diarist.

      •  While I don't completely agree with (0+ / 0-)

        the parent comment the main difference is that acting as if you support an institution when you really don't is in most ways the same as actually supporting that institution.  Religions condemn based on mere disagreement, and on top of that often think that the person disagreeing deserves to be tortured forever in hell.  

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:33:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  You can still like Bach (12+ / 0-)

    I still like Bach and I still like good religious music. I've never had religious faith, grew up in a household where nobody went to church, and came of age blessedly free of pressure to believe, so I almost feel unqualified to comment on your diary. I've never missed religion and am happy enough without it.  But I am sure it is so much more difficult to be in the church's close embrace and then leave.  No longer believing in God should be no barrier to admiring and continuing to live what is good about Christianity (or other religions).  

    There's no contradiction in personally losing one's faith but still working to keep the sense of community, generosity and kindness that exemplifies Christianity at its best.  Some of the best Christians I know are atheists, and some of the most intelligent, questioning and subtle thinkers I know believe in God.  One's perspective on whether there is or is not a god is a deeply personal matter that should not cut one off from community or family. I hope that this issue becomes less and less painful for you as time goes on.  

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:18:16 AM PDT

  •  My suggestion... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ccasas, myadestes

    ...find offline interfaith and humanist groups because online discussions tend to get rather fraught, even among people with the best intentions.

  •  Maybe you just don't believe in the (7+ / 0-)

    Missouri Synod version of God.

    The point is, people are supposed to be the hands and feet of God in this world.

    God does not send lightening to strike down evil nearly often enough, so people need to vote and take care of each other.

    Look into humanism and gain strength from what you can see, not imagine.

    This is, of course, the difference between republicans and human beings. - Captain Frogbert

    by glorificus on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:24:50 AM PDT

    •  What does this mean? (6+ / 0-)
      The point is, people are supposed to be the hands and feet of God in this world.
      Why does everyone find an excuse for the obvious.  We define god in loving parent terms, yet believe that a benevolent god would just sit by and allow for wars, starvation of his children, genocide etc...  

      This is such bullshit.  Why the mystery?  If god is a reality, why is he so fucking stupid as to not come down here and straighten things out?   Would you sit by and let your own children kill each other?

      And then we qualify everything....Well, he works in mysterious ways, we cant understand as mere humans.  The excuses are simply bull.  

      •  If you cannot understand the sentence you (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raincrow, fisheye, virgomusic

        quoted, I can't help you.

        You are the one making excuses.

        "I believe more women should carry guns. I believe armed women will make the world a better place. Women need to come to think of themselves not as victims but as dangerous." Anna Pigeon

        by glorificus on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:40:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've yet to hear an atheist describe God as (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          virgomusic

          anything remotely resembling what I was taught about and further developed in my own mind as to Gods nature.

          •  Someone posted an unofficial 'Atheist Creed' (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Tommy Jones the Band

            on the Great Orange a while ago. It sounded very similar to what I've heard christians are supposed to do, except the atheist does it because it is the right thing to do, not out of fear of punishment or an attempt to build up favors.

            "I believe more women should carry guns. I believe armed women will make the world a better place. Women need to come to think of themselves not as victims but as dangerous." Anna Pigeon

            by glorificus on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:15:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sound like reinventing the wheel. Eureka! (0+ / 0-)
            •  Your notion of believers (0+ / 0-)

              as those who do the right thing either out of fear of punishment or desire for reward both paints all religion with hues that belong to only some and shows a rather incomplete understanding of religion.

              •  Just taking what people say as their beliefs (0+ / 0-)

                For the most part, christians eager to talk to atheists about religion bring up notions like that.  That's why so many atheists talk about it.  It is not an atheist notion.  It is what christians often tell atheists they believe.

                "How can you be moral if you don't believe in eternal reward and eternal punishment?" is a common theme they love to talk about.  They also tell each other this, to support a presupposed position that atheism is innately immoral.

                Religious people often claim to understand the sole and only path to a moral life.  This is what leads to extremist religion, and it's what leads one to making statements like that in the first place towards atheism (or other religions being misled by evil spirits).

                A great many christians do not fall into these extreme views, but it is a feature of the system that these things end up this way, not a flaw.  The fact that liberal theology tends to reject these kinds of conclusions has more to do with the fact that liberal theology is okay with science.  The more extreme christians reject science because science is incompatible with their approach to religion.

                If one accepts biology, one can understand that humans are what we call 'moral' because of our heritage as a social animal.  One doesn't need eternal reward of punishment to exist when one can accept that.

                But for the most part, christians who accept science don't often try to convert or talk to atheists.  It's always the extremists who have an interest in doing that, so atheists hear their rationale quite often.  The response you replied to is merely just taking what those extremists say they believe as their word.

        •  If you can't explain it then (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pasadena beggar, ladelfina

          why are you bringing it up in conversation?

          To me it reads like an empty platitude.  And I don't say that to be mean, just to be honest.  This is why you see so many atheists frustrated with religious folks, because you drop stuff like this and then just don't explain it.  If someone does that in politics then we generally don't pay attention to them.

          There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

          by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:02:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Clearly you do not have children (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        niemann, glorificus

        or at least not adult children. You can teach, cajole, even threaten, but ultimatlely children do what they will do. They have free will. Christians believe we are made in the image and likeness of God. Thus, like God, we are free to chose for ourselves. Are the parents responsible for someone who choses to rob a bank? If they taught and modeled kindness, generosity, compassion and service, what more can they do? Leaving aside "church" which is a human institution, if Jesus is the model and is God, which is the essence of Christianity, Is it God's fault we have strayed or is that on us?

        Being an argumentitive sort myself, I imagine you saying, "what about the starving children?" You are correct that they did not chose their station in life. Yet it can be argued that their plight is not God's fault but ours (meaning humanities). We spend a tiny fraction of our nations resources on helping those less fortunate. I think it possible that the world's resources could sustain all her people, if people desired to do so. But in our selfishness we do not. That too is not God's fault, but ours.

        Is God real? I have faith that God is real (most days), but I do not know, that is why it is called "faith".  Faith does not make me good. Only being good makes you good. Faith is not required.

        “Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand; it is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.” ― Wendell Berry

        by epc3 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:19:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I just saw a quote from Christopher Hitchens (0+ / 0-)

          recently on the concept of faith.  "It's called faith because it is NOT knowledge."

          •  the notion of religious faith (0+ / 0-)

            as believing in things that are hard to believe in is a third-grade understanding of faith.  That's fine, so long as you're in the third grade.  Hitchens, and many others, loved to paint all believers as if they're part of the rightwing anti-intellectual fundies, knock down that strawman (easy target) and then pretend something was accomplished.  It is very much akin to the bigotry the Right spews here in the US when all of Islam is painted as "terrotist."  No wonder that Hitchens was such a war-mongering Islamphobic bigot.

            •  You've obviously never watched (0+ / 0-)

              Hitchens debate Christian theologians, or you wouldn't have made the "third grade" remark.

              While I disagreed with Hitchens on the war in Iraq, I find your rhetoric about him revealing in terms of a huge lack of knowledge.  

              The only reason religious "faith" is such a huge complicated mass of intricacies is because theologians have spent thousands of years making stuff up. Someone on here told me that you can't read the bible properly unless you understand Greek and Hebrew and read it with the proper attitude.  

              Of course I read the whole bible..and the whole history of Christianity's founding and all the gospels that didn't make the cut.  It really does kind of get down to a 3rd grade fairy tale, if you think about it.  And much of that was borrowed from the pagans.

              •  ironic (0+ / 0-)

                I find your comments about faith revealing in terms of a huge lack of knowledge.

                •  I was a confirmed Lutheran (0+ / 0-)

                  and as I said, I have studied my former faith system in probably more detail that most Christians ever do. It was that study that eventually led to my atheism. Perhaps I should have also mentioned that the gospels, besides using pagan biographies of resurrected saviors also borrowed heavily from Old Testament writings and Hellenistic philosophies (God as The Word), etc. to create their mythological allegories.  

                  Your remark is rather childish, don't you think?

                  You came on a thread about atheists written by an atheist and saw atheists heavily criticizing what believers believe.  What did you expect?  Your problem is that you took it personally and lashed out based on that false assumption.   You may want to keep that in mind the next time your visit such a comment thread.

        •  Thank you, you summed it up nicely. (0+ / 0-)

          I have learned there are some people here who only wish to read what they write, and I consider them a waste of time.

          I appreciate and am thrilled with your comment, epc3.

          Yet it can be argued that their plight is not God's fault but ours (meaning humanities). We spend a tiny fraction of our nations resources on helping those less fortunate. I think it possible that the world's resources could sustain all her people, if people desired to do so. But in our selfishness we do not. That too is not God's fault, but ours.

          "I believe more women should carry guns. I believe armed women will make the world a better place. Women need to come to think of themselves not as victims but as dangerous." Anna Pigeon

          by glorificus on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 03:15:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  A few thoughts ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        glorificus
        Why does everyone find an excuse for the obvious.  We define god in loving parent terms, yet believe that a benevolent god would just sit by and allow for wars, starvation of his children, genocide etc...  

        This is such bullshit.  Why the mystery?  If god is a reality, why is he so fucking stupid as to not come down here and straighten things out?   Would you sit by and let your own children kill each other?

        Why should we expect a god to do things according to our own personal sense of values and perspective?  I've always remembered a quote that I like:  "The problem is, people keep trying to turn God into a human being."

        Frankly, when people say the above -- (what I call the "there must not be a god because he doesn't heal amputees" argument) -- it reminds me of my niece when she was in her 5-year-old "It's not fair!!!" stage.  She thought she was the smartest, most competent thing around, and whenever she wasn't allowed to do whatever she wanted -- (like running along the edge of the quickly-flowing river, or any number of other dangerous things) -- or whenever reality didn't go the way she wanted ... "It's not faaaaaiiiiirrrr!"  (Or in more adult terms:  "That is such bullshit.")

        She had no concept that adults might possibly have a greater perspective on reality that she couldn't grasp, or that her desires and values weren't actually the center of all creation.

        I belong to no religion, but have studied consciousness and near-death experiences for years, and that has led me to believe there is an incomprehensible something underlying the universe.  

        I like the version of "god" -- (for want of a better term for an inexpressibly, incomprehensibly vast consciousness that encompasses everything) -- that near-death experiencers commonly describe from their own experiences:  It frequently surprises them because is nothing like the rules-obsessed Daddy-figure of mainstream Christianity.  

        Rather, it conveys a view that any secularist, humanist or atheist here would welcome if it wrote diaries on the matter.  In essence, its position is completely about choices and consequences ... a blunt, "Grow up.  Take responsibility.  That's what you're there to learn.  If you want things to get better, you need to do something about it."  (One experiencer even put it this way to me:  "God wants us to live as if there wasn't a God.")  It's pretty much the same tough-love message that lies behind a lot of counseling.

    •  I like this ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TN yellow dog, glorificus

      ... and have been hoping someone else would think to comment on it:

      Maybe you just don't believe in the Missouri Synod version of God
      .

      Why must "God" necessarily equal "the Western Christian conception of God"?  And why must rejecting the latter necessarily mean rejecting the former?

      There are many, many conceptualizations of the divine and spiritual throughout the many human cultures, some very sophisticated and nuanced, some very simplistic and literalistic.  

      It's neither rational nor logical to assume that in the matter of spirituality it must come down to a simple case of "either an invisible old man on a throne counting sparrows ... or nothing."

      •  Humans have created their own versions (0+ / 0-)

        of god since time began. Old Testament eye-for-an-eye god, New Testament gentle peaceful Jesus (HAH!), Shiva the Destroyer, the Flying Spaghetti Monster (I don't know what qualities FSM represents), etc.

        Since I believe the first sentence I wrote, I can choose what I consider important.

        Life is short, eat dessert first.

        "I believe more women should carry guns. I believe armed women will make the world a better place. Women need to come to think of themselves not as victims but as dangerous." Anna Pigeon

        by glorificus on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 03:21:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, what we've created is religions (0+ / 0-)

          --that is, our interpretation and expression of what might be gently described as "spiritual" lives.  We invent the langauge, the symbols, the music and the ritual of expressing that part of our lives. But that's different from creating the thing we're expressing.

  •  I searched myself (5+ / 0-)

    I found the Episcopal Church. But you need to shop around in that one too. I found a wonderful, progressive congregation. For a while I attended meetings at the Ethical Society in DC. They're not everywhere, but a great group.
    Good luck.

  •  You've just amply demonstrated (16+ / 0-)

    that religion does a lot more cultural work than simply accommodating a belief in a higher deity.

    Accepting the rituals of a religion as a social or an emotional comfort without the deep abiding faith is a perfectly acceptable position.

    As is listening to sacred music for its beauty.  I'm not a Christian, but I listen to Handel's Messiah every year.  Just like I'm not a graduate of Notre Dame, but I like to hear their fight song.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:38:25 AM PDT

    •  I wish more atheist and sceptics (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pasadena beggar, Paul Rogers

      would understand this point.  I've seen far to many just be dismissive and say shit like "you just need to get out of your community" as if that's a simple thing to do.  Oh sure, let me just leave everything I've grown up with and all my family.

      There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

      by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:03:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Avowed agnostic (14+ / 0-)

    Atheist at heart, but hedging my bets. ;-) All the crazy out there, I can't find an ounce of faith (either way). It's just easier for me intellectually to view it as above my pay grade and move on.

    But there are days... like last year when my seven-year-old daughter came home telling me she was going to hell because her classmate's over-medicated mother was pounding the Left Behind series into HER daughter's head. Religion in general just seems to have at its core an us vs. them premise which never ends well.

    Great diary, btw. Thanks!

    •  And a mental illness component (4+ / 0-)

      Hence the neeed for over-medication of many of the religious

      An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

      by MichiganChet on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:20:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Many religions explicitly reject the us vs them (6+ / 0-)

      duality. Among them are Buddhism, Advaitva Vedanta Hinduism, Daoism, the Sikh religion, some strands of Sufism, and several varieties of Christianity, most notably the Friends (Quakers) and Unitarian Universalists. Within these traditions, it is also usual to reject the notion of an external God who works miracles. Instead one should look for the divine in oneself. (I got my wife a t-shirt with a Buddha image and the caption "Inquire within".) The ancient Chinese philosophy called Moism teaches Universal Love. "Everyone believes in Universal Love, as practiced by everyone else." Mo, or Zi Mozi, dedicated his life during the Warring States period to defending any country that came under attack. Legend states that no wars were won by the attacker during that period.

      Vedanta teaches "Tat tvam asi", That art Thou. Buddhism teaches that all sentient beings, not just people, have the same inherent nature, which we call Buddha Nature. Even Paul, in the Bible, says, "Christ lives in me."

      Many people claim to hear the voice of God on occasion. Some are hallucinating. Some are confusing their own thoughts with messages from outside. A few do astonishingly cool and valuable things as a result. YMMV.

      Buddhism is often mistakenly described as an atheistic religion. This is not correct. Buddhism believes in however many Gods there are, whether the number is 0, 1, 2, or many in your mind. That is simply not an important question, because any such Gods are also subject to the iron law of Cause and Effect (Karma/Vipaka), and to the Noble Truth that existence is suffering. Certainly this is true for most of the conventional Christian Gods of War, Genocide, Oppression, Empire, and so on that are merely the projections of self-aggrandizing human minds.

      We adapt the expression of our teachings to be able to explain them to people of any belief. In the traditional Buddhist scriptures, Shakra Devanam Indra (Shakra, king of the Gods) frequently comes to the Buddha for guidance.

      God, if any or at all, should not be considered responsible for the idiocies of Her alleged fan clubs. That's on us.

      Hey, Mitt! Thanks for ObamneyCare. http://www.healthcare.gov

      by Mokurai on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:47:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Read what the Dalai Lama says about (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jakedog42

        homosexuality. You may reconsider your admiration.

        I am suspicious of any tradition like Buddhism that takes young children away from their homes to imbed any kind of religious world views in them.  The best things that the eastern traditions has given us is yoga and meditation.  The rest is just the same old imagined garbage, and should be held to the same level of reason, scrutiny and criticism as any other religion.

      •  Not really. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tommy Jones the Band
        God, if any or at all, should not be considered responsible for the idiocies of Her alleged fan clubs.
        Only if S/he does not exist. Otherwise, being almighty, alknowing and all that, S/he is responsible.

        He who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

        by Sophie Amrain on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:04:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  All of those religions have sects that do believe (0+ / 0-)

        what you say, but also have sects that differ.  Really, virtually every religion is a mixed bag when it comes to it's adherents.  There are atheistic sects of Buddhism just as there are sects that worship the Buddha.  There's also hyper-nationalistic sects of Buddhism.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:06:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I reached a similar point by a different route. (8+ / 0-)

    By my high school years, I had become sceptical of Christianity, even my parents' mild and tolerant version. However, when I got a Methodist college scholarship, I felt I had to maintain a facade of belief for a while. I got active in the Methodist Student Movement at my University, and - to my surprise - I found open-minded, socially progressive friends who almost lured me back to the church. But their religion was of a very different sort than your Missouri Synod. We talked about the "death of God" theology, the "Liberation" priests of Latin America, and sanctuary for draft resisters. We road-tripped to hear a lecture by Paul Tillich, and volunteered to help out at a food bank. Christian conscience meant speaking out against war and racial discrimination.
      Like you, I now live in a region of the country where the voice of the church is very different, and I am repelled by its hateful messages. I no longer attend church, and oscillate in my personal beliefs between atheism and a very, very austere form of Deism. ("There may be a Creator, but its nature and purpose can at best be inferred; Such a "God" doesn't whisper in the ear of prophets, inspire infallible holy books, or answer prayers, so we must find our own purpose and moral order.") Like you, however, I don't advertise my beliefs. My wife and children think pretty much as I do, but when a guest or relative wants to say grace before dinner, we bow our heads respectfully and echo "Amen."

    "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be." - Thomas Jefferson

    by Blue Boomer on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:00:16 AM PDT

    •  Diarist, you, wife, M. Borg, David Foster Wallace (4+ / 0-)

      My wife also grew up a Missouri Synod Lutheran, and now considers herself non-Christian, though she thinks there is some kind of animating-creating force more or less analogous to God.

      I grew up Presbyterian, and still practice it. In fact I'm currently on the session (elected governing board) of my congregation. (Presbyterians and the LCMS share a lot of old, old hymns, and like the diarist, I love to sing them.) But I now see Christianity as a metaphorical way of understanding truths that humans simply are not equipped to understand directly.

      E.g., I told my cat that I financed our house with a 30-year mortgage because the interest is tax-deductible. I told her she must ride to the vet's office in the cat carrier that she hates, and get stuck with a needle, because it's good for her in the long run. Everything I told my cat was true, but I don't think she grasped the details. This is not because I'm hiding anything from her; it's because she's a cat.

      That's how I see humans' relationship to God. More or less.

      I highly recommend Marcus Borg's The Heart of Christianity for...well, for just about anybody trying to figure out what about Christianity still makes any difference to a 21st century life and mind: http://www.amazon.com/...

      David Foster Wallace, pretty much the opposite of an intellectual lightweight Pollyanna, struggled with the same questions, and explored several variants of Christianity. Unfortunately it appears his upcoming biography will not shed much light on that aspect of his life. A bit more on Wallace's spiritual struggles here: http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/... One thing Wallace had to say:

      In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.
      From a provocative Esquire article by Shane Claiborne:
      over the past few decades our Christianity, at least here in the United States, has become less and less fascinating. We have given the atheists less and less to disbelieve...

      The Bible that I read says that God did not send Jesus to condemn the world but to save it... it was because "God so loved the world." That is the God I know, and I long for others to know. I did not choose to devote my life to Jesus because I was scared to death of hell or because I wanted crowns in heaven... but because he is good.

      http://www.esquire.com/...

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:20:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wallace's argument in that speech... (5+ / 0-)

        ... reminds me me of the old joke from middle school. "If God is love and love is blind, does that mean that Ray Charles is God?"

        It's a hokey pokey definition that always seems to be a stumbling block in understanding atheism and non-theism. Non-belief in God is not an absence of values. Valuing nature, community, compassion, or the potential for enlightenment does not make those things "God." I really appreciate it when my fellow congregants listen to my path without trying to reframe it as covert theism.

        •  I think you give Wallace too little credit. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TN yellow dog

          Wallace was:

          (a) Brilliant. And I don't mean he was a brilliant philosopher or theologian. I mean he was a polymath, who brought true insight from all aspects of life to questions of theology or philosophy.

          (b) Honestly struggling with what to believe, and inviting us to struggle with him--not trying to construct a justification of what he already believed.

          If you read Wallace's work and still think he's settling for "hokey pokey," AFAIK you would be the first.

          Here is the full text of Wallace's speech containing that "no atheists" quote: http://moreintelligentlife.com/...

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:51:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Brilliant is often brilliantly wrong... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jfromga, ladelfina

            Wallace's argument starts with a ridiculous straw-man caricature of the atheist and concludes with a sloppy comparison between deity and ethics:

            Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship--be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles--is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.
            Which strikes me as misleading in a big way. While I've fought, sacrificed, and think deeply about my ethics, they're not "god," and I'm not certain that we "worship" in the same way.
            •  Please see my comment, "Missing the point." (0+ / 0-)

              In reply to jfromga, below.

              "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

              by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:21:44 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Just because it's spiritual doesn't mean (0+ / 0-)

              it won't eat you alive, either.

              When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

              by Alexandra Lynch on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 05:33:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I will qulaify everything I say (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladelfina, slatsg, venger

        because I have not read anything about David Foster Wallace and his struggles with his faith or Christianity.

        In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping.
        It seems to me that there is a good deal of bad supposition in that statement.   What are people always worshipping in adult life if they are not worshipping god.  Worship by definition is reverence of a divine being, practice of giving reverence to a divine being or extravagant reverence to an object.

        Why do people need to worship at all as a facet of being adult?  Seems to me that the more adult one is, the less reverence matters and the more one puts extravagance aside, the more mature the behavior that results.  

        Seems to me that lots of people put a lot of effort into denying atheism in one way or another.  As if atheists really believe in deities and are just suffering a temporary crisis of faith.

        •  Missing the point. (0+ / 0-)
          Worship by definition is reverence of a divine being, practice of giving reverence to a divine being or extravagant reverence to an object.
          That's not what Wallace meant by "worship." What he meant was that we all pursue some goal, or combination of goals. We all get up in the morning and do something. Or even if we stay in bed and do nothing, that's a choice we have made about our time. Or even if we're quadriplegic, we choose what to think about all day. What do we do, or think about, and why?

          What is our "water?" (Reference to Kenyon College speech.) We can't choose to have no "water." That is what Wallace meant by "worship."

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:20:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Even brilliant people (4+ / 0-)

            don't get to pick a word, take it out of context, and make up a lie about it and what it means.   He clearly put in the context of atheism and worship,  and then what he really meant was nothing to do with gods, or worship?

            I think that asking for a life lived with consciousness, awareness of context, that we are not alone, nor are we all important in and of ourselves, requires absolutely no deities and absolutely no worship.

            •  With all respect, still missing the point. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Larsstephens

              The point is not about the dictionary meaning, or even the meaning in common usage, of the word "worship."

              Nor is the point about whether having sincere moral-ethical principles equates to belief in some kind of divine being.

              The points I am attempting (apparently clumsily, sorry) to develop, using Wallace as support, are:

              (a) Most people commonly assume "worship" is mostly about religious rituals that affirm some kind of religious orthodoxy.

              (b) This is the shallowest form of "worship."

              (c) "Worship" in any sense that ultimately matters consists of what goals one advances with one's actions.

              Please see my comment below, "You don't disagree with Wallace. Or Isaiah."

              "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

              by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:14:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  language (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                slatsg, CBrachyrhynchos

                may change over time, meanings change, new words added, old words fall out of favor.

                But quite frankly,  dictionaries exist for a reason: to give us a common basis for  communicating ideas when we use a word. What  worship as a word means, connotes or denotes, doesn't rest on an assumption, but a definition.  That context is quite frankly religious.

                So much sophistry. To defend the assertion that there are no atheists.   Why do people who are otherwise liberal insist that freedom from belief in god must be explained away, passed off as misunderstanding by those who don't believe, those ignoramuses who just never realize they aren't atheists. Really.

                •  Disctionaries are merely refelctions of common use (0+ / 0-)

                  and you still don't seem to "get" what Wallace and Mike are saying.  Neither of them is trying to explain away "freedom from belief in god."  We all have something that gives, to varying degrees, our lives context, a framework for understanding, informs values, gives meaning, gives depth, gives direction, comfort and passion -- that is, something that plays the role that the notion of god plays in the lives of believers.  Maybe it's science, art, beauty, love, family, money, power, materialism or any one of a host of other options, but we all have our something.  it strikes me that being aware of our something is better than being unaware, but I do know some people who live unreflective lives and bounce blissfully along so I can't say for sure whether awareness is an advantage.

                  •  This is a point that can be made (0+ / 0-)

                    By affirming the roles of religion and atheism in "the day-to-day trenches of adult life."

                    My atheism isn't navel gazing about metaphysics, it has ethical consequences that apply every time I step to the stove to prepare a meal, for example.

                  •  I think we're both in agreement (0+ / 0-)

                    I think we're both in agreement that religion/philosophy should be a holistic practice that involves our day-to-day life. I disagree that Wallace's rhetoric in that speech is inclusive of atheism as a moral praxis.

                    Defending the existence of my moral praxis is less interesting to me than sharing common ground with religious pacifists and environmentalists.

                    •  I practice an orthopraxic religion. (0+ / 0-)

                      It can be practiced by anything from fervent theists who believe in a deeply personal relationship with god to atheists who view the gods we work with as archetypes of the universal human condition. And we had all those in the group that I trained in, too.

                      When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

                      by Alexandra Lynch on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 05:35:42 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  It's the NATURE of those goals that defines paths. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ladelfina
            What is our "water?" (Reference to Kenyon College speech.) We can't choose to have no "water." That is what Wallace meant by "worship."
            Certainly, but what is the nature of those goals? As an atheist my goals are the following:

            * compassion in all things
            * love of nature
            * rigorously examined ethics.

            That I drink from a different well, perhaps using a different color of cup, does not make me less of an atheist. On the contrary. I'm not a new atheist, I'm an old atheist. I'm the inheritor of 2,500 years of deep philosophical thought about morality, ethics, and beauty.

            •  You don't disagree with Wallace. Or Isaiah. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Larsstephens
              As an atheist my goals are the following:
              * compassion in all things
              * love of nature
              * rigorously examined ethics
              Here's a more extensive quote from Wallace's Kenyon College address, linked above:
              There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?"...

              [much omitted here]

              ...in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship--be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles--is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.

              Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.

              They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing.

              And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving.... The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day...

              None of this stuff is really about morality or religion or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.

              The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.

              It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

              "This is water."

              Wallace and Jesus agree that the critical "worship" choice is not (1) intellectual assent to religious orthodoxy of some variety vs. (2) intellectual assent to something like "compassion in all things, love of nature, rigorously examined ethic." Rather, I think the critical "worship" question Wallace and Jesus pose is (a) a life of actions that advance goals one has carefully decided are worthwhile vs. (b) a life of actions that respond to one's primal urges to maintain material security, physical pleasure, and social status.

              Wallace and Jesus would say, I think, that intellectual assent is meaningless bullshit. That either (a) or (b) is true worship. And--Wallace's central point--choosing (a) or (b) is not a choice anyone can avoid.

              Wallace is posing the same choice Isaiah posed, hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, addressing the then-common practice of fasting as worship:

              Tell my people Israel of their sins!

              2Yet they act so pious!
              They come to the Temple every day
              and seem delighted to learn all about me.
              They act like a righteous nation
              that would never abandon the laws of its God.

              They ask me to take action on their behalf,
              pretending they want to be near me.
              3‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
              ‘Why aren’t you impressed?
              We have been very hard on ourselves,
              and you don’t even notice it!’

              “I will tell you why!” I respond.
              “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
              Even while you fast,
              you keep oppressing your workers.

              4What good is fasting
              when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
              This kind of fasting
              will never get you anywhere with me.

              5You humble yourselves
              by going through the motions of penance,
              bowing your heads
              like reeds bending in the wind.
              You dress in burlap
              and cover yourselves with ashes.
              Is this what you call fasting?
              Do you really think this will please the LORD?

              6“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
              Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
              lighten the burden of those who work for you.
              Let the oppressed go free,
              and remove the chains that bind people.

              7Share your food with the hungry,
              and give shelter to the homeless.
              Give clothes to those who need them,
              and do not hide from relatives who need your help.

              "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

              by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:36:57 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Missing the point (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                HeyMikey
                Wallace and Jesus would say, I think, that intellectual assent is meaningless bullshit. That either (a) or (b) is true worship. And--Wallace's central point--choosing (a) or (b) is not a choice anyone can avoid.
                Certainly. My objection is to Wallace's throw-away claim leading up to this. Having defined "worship" to be the existential reality of life, Wallace makes the claim that there's no atheists in life. In doing so, he's equating atheism to some soft of idealized nihilism.

                And that's not my experience of the world. I'm a UUHumanist, I engage in worship-as-ritual and worship-as-ethos. Both of those practices are informed by and compatible with my atheism.

                •  I think we've reached the point of semantics. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Grandpa Dave, Larsstephens
                  he's equating atheism to some soft of idealized nihilism. And that's not my experience of the world...I engage in worship-as-ritual and worship-as-ethos.
                  I don't think that's Wallace's point. Wallace urges us to stop focusing on the question of whether there is or isn't a God that fits some kind of orthodoxy. That's what most people mean by "worship," "religion," and "atheism." Wallace wants us to see that accepting the common definitions of "worship," "religion," and "atheism" leads us to stop thinking before we get to the really important question, which is:

                  What am I doing with my life?

                  Wallace's point is that everybody is doing something with her or his life. We're either serving others; or serving our own ego; or trying to maintain some balance between the two that is, according to some principles we choose, reasonable. Even if we're just doing whatever we're in the mood to do from moment to moment, we're devoting our life to being the master of our own little skull-sized kingdom.

                  Wallace urges us to give this choice--what am I going to do with my life?--the importance people commonly attach to concerns about what they should or should not "worship," and whether they should be "religious" or "atheist." Those labels, says Wallace, are dangerous distractions.

                  "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                  by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:34:36 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I do (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                CBrachyrhynchos

                this type of thinking doesn't require a god or worship of anything.  It doesn't flow from divine anything.  It requires no worship, no reverance, no obeisance to a higher power, etc.

                So maybe Wallace wanted to believe in god and he put it that way.   But nothing about being aware of 'water', context, requires a god.   People try to force the concept on thought, emotions, etc., on others without any  basis for doing it because it is what they want.   Rather the antithesis of Wallace's main point.    

                •  Big point: yes. Small point: no. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  slatsg, Larsstephens

                  You are hung up on whether Wallace thought it important to believe in some kind of supernatural. I don't think Wallace believed that is important. That's why, in Wallace's list of various kinds of gods and religions, he included "some inviolable set of ethical principles"--something that requires no supernatural, no divine.

                  You are hung up on whether Wallace has the right to redefine "worship" to include the purely secular. But Wallace is not being a lexicographer; he is being a poet. (And please, let's not argue about the meaning of "poet." I hereby invoke poetic license.) Wallace is not offering a literal definition of "worship"; he is offering a metaphor.

                  What Wallace metaphorically means by "there are no atheists" is that it is impossible to avoid serving some values. The critical distinction, says Wallace, is not between those commonly labeled "atheist" and those commonly labeled "religious." Rather, says Wallace, the critical distinction is between those who are conscious of the values they serve, and those who are unconscious of them.

                  "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                  by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:48:02 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Bad metaphor (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    jfromga, slatsg
                    What Wallace metaphorically means by "there are no atheists" is that it is impossible to avoid serving some values.
                    It's a bad metaphor because there's over 2,500 years of expression of values by atheists. It's a bad metaphor because there are rich communities of atheists who are united by shared values and activism.
                    •  I think you just proved Wallace's point (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      HeyMikey

                      and underscored his metaphor, rather than disputing it.

                      •  Nonsense (0+ / 0-)

                        I think your interpretation of his speech as a validation of atheism demands ignoring both the statement, "Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism" and his "didactic little story" in the opening of his speech.

                        And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. "Well then you must believe now," he says, "After all, here you are, alive." The atheist just rolls his eyes. "No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp."
                        This is such a cheap and stereotypical little joke. I have little reason to believe that he's saying something the opposite of the claims he rhetorically constructs here.
                        •  Neither validation nor invalidation. (0+ / 0-)

                          Wallace was not interested in either validating or invalidating atheism or religion.

                          Wallace was interested in showing that the challenges we face, and our options for dealing with those challenges, are essentially the same regardless of whether we are religious or secular.

                          I cannot imagine that I can contribute anything else potentially useful to this discussion. I'm outta here, and I wish you peace.

                          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

                          by HeyMikey on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 12:02:22 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                  •  atheism is not the equivalent of having no values (3+ / 0-)

                    the problem with way too many people is that they are so deeply immersed in their 'water' that they cannot talk about life without a religious frame.

                    And I think you missed Wallace's point about the value of thinking, and grabbed a poorly chosen frame of atheism/worship to confirm something you want to believe.  Wallace's point is not about merely the values we serve because that just leaves I as the self-centered id that isn't aware there is a larger world that does not revolve around us, but that we become aware that our values, our perspectives, our thoughts do not define reality, the world all of us live in.  To the extent we become aware and receptive to the lives of others around us,  we make choices to accomodate a larger reality than our personal point of view.

                    One can have an absolutely secular discussion of these ideas without discussing atheism or religion or worship.   One either thinks outside the frame of self or one does not.  To insist that there are no atheists is to choose the frame of self and deny others.  A failure of thought by Wallace's standard.

                  •  When people (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    slatsg

                    When people appropriate chunks of my life to build a metaphor for the sake of a parable about values, do I not retain the right to say that metaphor gets it wrong?

                    It's stuff like this that makes me more and more reluctant to engage with people of other traditions outside of my congregation.

                  •  HeyMikey (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    HeyMikey

                    I admire your gentle tenacity in trying to spread understanding of Wallace.

  •  Me neither (5+ / 0-)

    Although I admit the possibility that some such being might exist, it seems vanishingly unlikely.

    If I'm wrong, whichever afterlife is actually true will sort me out when I die.  That's soon enough.  Most of them seem pretty ok with folks who try to live decently anyway.

  •  I've had an interesting path (7+ / 0-)

    When I was very young, my father had a schism with the Catholic church. My extended family took me to Sunday school for a season or two, but when I proved indifferent, I was allowed to quit. When I was an adolescent, my dad rediscovered his faith, and then we ALL had to start going to church, since he did. Didn't work so well; I began declaring myself atheist. This lasted until I had kids of my own, then I began exploring church, defaulting to Catholicism as it was at least familiar to me. Still, it never really touched me, and I drifted off, now claiming agnosticism.

    Fast forward a little over 10 years. My grandfathers both die, unexpectedly and close in time to one another. This event is the final trigger that caused my gender identity issues to explode with irresistible force. As a part of my transition from male to female, I had to do some deep searching within. Eventually, I reached a point where I had to take a leap of faith that I was doing the right thing, doing what must be done in order to be complete and survive as a true person. Notice that word 'faith.' That word had much baggage for me. I always prided myself on be a rational person, a physical scientist by trade. I had finally gotten to a point where I had to act, on nothing more than a feeling of rightness. This initial leap led me to resume a search for spiritual meaning, which led to Unitarian Universalism at first, and Wicca eventually. I'm currently a 1st-degree student with a coven.

    TL;DR version: All paths are valid, even atheism. However, don't be so sure at ANY point that you've reached a final spiritual destination. Be open to the possibility that you may move or grow in a different direction at some future time.

  •  Hey Dave, I don't believe in a creator God (10+ / 0-)

    and I've looked a lot for God. I was raised Episcopalian amidst an ocean of Texas southern Baptists. I sang in the choir and love all those great hymns. I looked for God with different gurus, swamis, lamas, and tulkus. But finally, it was Chris Hitchens books that persuaded me to finally come out of the Atheist closet. I'm no longer afraid to say, when asked, that I don't believe in a creator God. But I always also state that I love the teachings of Jesus, and I make a big distinction between the established Church(es) and the teachings of Jesus.

    God is a concept in your mind. A very personal and unique concept in the mind of every individual. Why do you think there are so many different religions, sects, and splinter sects? It's because there are so many different minds. I've come to understand that God lives within you as you. Or as Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is within you." Recent brain science has begun to understand that the brain has areas that generate what some may call: an experience of God, an experience of the divine, a higher expanded level of consciousness, ecstatic joy and and feelings of intense love and connectedness to everything, Joy contemplating emptiness.

    If you want to know what god wants you to do, you must listen and question the thought streams in your own mind. God is a concept.

    the Republican brand is totally bankrupt.

    by vlyons on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:04:10 AM PDT

    •  Those "teachings of Jesus" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      venger

      were mostly borrowed from other cultural sayings and remixed and refashioned by whoever wrote the gospel mythologies.  So the credit does not belong to "Jesus".  Hitchens knew that Jesus was not a real person.

      Humans have always had an innate sense of morality which comes from our evolutionary trip of communal living, and our need for survival.  Basically, things go better when you help each other.

      •  Yes what we inherited from our primate (0+ / 0-)

        ancestors is our pack communal sociology. And from even more remote mammalian ancestors is our brain's limbic system, the seat of emotions. But you missed my point about higher states of consciousness being accessible to all normal humans. You can have such an experience in many ways e.g., at a rock show, in athletics, or on a beautiful nature walk.

        the Republican brand is totally bankrupt.

        by vlyons on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:03:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Have you read (6+ / 0-)

    "When The King Saved God", by Christopher Hitchens"?
    An atheist's love letter to the King James Bible.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/...

    GOP: Bankers, billionaires, suckers, and dupes.

    by gzodik on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:08:37 AM PDT

  •  This stanza by Swinburne has always grabbed me (12+ / 0-)

    from the very first time I heard it from my father, when I was a teenager:

    From too much love of living
    From hope and fear set free
    We thank, with brief thanksgiving
    Whatever gods may be
    That no life lives forever
    That dead men rise up never
    And even the weariest river
    Winds somewhere safe to sea.

    That's the penultimate stanza from "The Garden of Prosperpine."

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts in this diary.  As someone remarked upthread, you are not alone!

    I am an atheist and have been from the age of 17.  For a while I belonged to the Protestant Episcopal church and I still like the hymns, The Book of Common Prayer (for its beautiful language), and the idea of the liturgical year.

    I now practice Wicca for the connection to nature and for community.  Atheism is a solitary pursuit.  But  I don't believe in an afterlife.  There are times when I really wish there were such a thing so I could see my parents again and all the friends who've died.  But it's just wishful thinking.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:13:35 AM PDT

    •  I love the Swinburne, I'm gonna diary it one day (3+ / 0-)

      So I'll quote the last stanza, so relevant here:

      Then star nor sun shall waken,
      Nor any change of light:
      Nor sound of waters shaken,
      Nor any sound or sight:
      Nor wintry leaves nor vernal,
      Nor days nor things diurnal;
      Only the sleep eternal
      In an eternal night.

      Is this despairing? Not at all. Consider the alternative:

      There go the loves that wither,
      The old loves with wearier wings;
      And all dead years draw thither,
      And all disastrous things;
      Dead dreams of days forsaken,
      Blind buds that snows have shaken,
      Wild leaves that winds have taken,
      Red strays of ruined springs.

      We are not sure of sorrow,
      And joy was never sure;
      Today will die tomorrow;
      Time stoops to no man's lure;
      And love, grown faint and fretful,
      With lips but half regretful
      Sighs, and with eyes forgetful
      Weeps that no loves endure

      Allow me to roundly second the notion 'You are not alone'.                                     Why else would we be here?

      An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

      by MichiganChet on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:29:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  MichiganChet, that poem has always been one (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichiganChet

        of my favorites.  During a Sacred Drama class five years ago, I got up, wearing a vaguely toga-like garment, and recited the entire thing from memory.  When I finished there was a collective intake of breath from the audience.  

        Sweet is the moment when we can hold a room full of people spellbound!  :)

        "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

        by Diana in NoVa on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:07:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, I am surprised Swinburne is not more popular (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sharon Wraight

          And also i find it impressive that you not only memorized the poem, but were able to get through it without being overcome by the emotion of the verse. It must be rehearsed I guess.

          An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

          by MichiganChet on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 01:40:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, I got through it just fine (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MichiganChet

            I love Swinburne.   Are you familiar with the "Prelude to Atalanta in Calydon"?  Also a great favorite of mine.  Swinburne is so musical, you can practically hear drums and flutes in his verse!

            "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

            by Diana in NoVa on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 04:59:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I haven't read it as thoroughly as I should (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Diana in NoVa

              But I completely agree with his musical style. And he has a way, like Kipling, of choosing the exact right word, like a great musician has an instinct for choosing the exact note, or chord in a progression.
                 As I have said, I don't know why he isn't better known. Surely I must do this diary

              An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head. -- Eric Hoffer

              by MichiganChet on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 12:37:59 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, you must! (0+ / 0-)
                Surely I must do this diary
                My father told me that young rich men in London, coming out of the gaming clubs at night, would shout Swinburne's poetry to each other in the wee hours of the morning.

                Can you imagine anyone's doing that now?

                "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

                by Diana in NoVa on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 06:09:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Rejecing the "Misery synod" (6+ / 0-)

    isn't the same thing as rejecting god.  If I defined god the way they do, I'd reject god too.  The number of people who actually believe in the temperamental toga-clad super Santa in the sky is pretty small and shrinking every day.  That doesn't mean peope are rejecting god. It means they're growing up and developing a more adult, more sophisticated notion of the divine.  

    There is a bit of irony:  As you noted, non-believers often live in a closet "out there" because of the negative reactions they receive from people in their lives, but the same is true, in reverse, for beleivers "in here," who often feel we must keep our belief secret because of the negative reactions we receive from people in our online communities.

  •  oh, i know the struggle well. when you are raised (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    with this very strong background not only in the bible as it was taught to you but the community you were united with, asking questions is completely different than having them. Having them and NOT asking will get you far. Keep your thoughts to yourself and everyone will be just find but when you start asking out loud, then the problems pop up. I have been asking since I was around 11-12 y.o. My parents , being non-practicing, didn't mind it but the rest of the family sure did. But it is what it is and the  more I learn about other religions, the more questions I have. It's an endless journey. I haven't fully given up on God (so my agnostic soul keeps trucking) but there have been times when I was ready to.

    My issues are more with religion than with God. But than I believe God is more of a universe/space creating thing than a dude interested in the soap opera that is the human race. So "my God" is not going to hear my calls because "my God" is busy creating other universes and other planetary objects. I like that we are stardust children and when we die, we go back to that universe the same way we came in, as dust. That comforts me. Yes, it means I'm on my own in this horrid world but the animal kingdom is not a pretty place. Add cognitive thought and free will to that and it's no surprise why we behave the way we do.

    So good luck on your journey. If you do "come out of the closet" (and that term applies to all our little secrets ~ "skeletons in the closet") don't worry. Getting feedback from those true believers is just as worthy as those from non-believers. You can't tell someone their "faith" is wrong. It's what they believe and to me it is a fascinating subject. Well worth the conversation.

    Earth: Mostly harmless ~ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (revised entry)

    by yawnimawke on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:25:37 AM PDT

  •  I never believed and I have never (4+ / 0-)

    wanted to believe.   But I will hum along with a Christmas carol,  some of the songs are nice.  If you like going to church, why not go.

    But also, in a long life with many demands for your time and passion and belief, why give so much of it to something you don't believe in?

    •  You can delete my religious music when I'm dead. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HeyMikey

      You can delete my Bach Beethoven and Pärt from my iPod when I'm dead. I don't need to agree with it intellectually to sympathize with it.

      •  you missed my point (0+ / 0-)

        I may be wrong, but I think that Dave has spent years trying to find faith,  he finds comfort but also, in his search, he has created a false face,  of a devotion, a level of commitment, of faith in something that he doesn't feel.   There is a difference in my mind to enjoying the service, the music and fellowship on a very superficial level,  one likes it, compared to having convinced all around you that you are suited to the ministry and have a calling.

        Many a person listens to great music without even thinking (or knowing) it was first  written for performance in church.  Much of that music has been secularized by the fact that in modern times, most people will be exposed to it outside of a church first. And certainly nothing I said indicated that I would censor music in any way, shape or form.  So your iPod is perfectly safe from me.

        •  I was being purely rhetorical. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jfromga, HeyMikey

          Not disagreeing with you.

          •  then I missed the point (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HeyMikey

            my friends also say I have never met a rhetorical question.  Personality fault.

            •  No problem, I was unclear n/t (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              HeyMikey
            •  You have very much raised the central point. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jfromga
              There is a difference in my mind to enjoying the service, the music and fellowship on a very superficial level,  one likes it, compared to having convinced all around you that you are suited to the ministry and have a calling.
              I believe the problem with Christianity (and I say this as a practicing Christian) is that it's too easy to let our Christianity be dominated by the music, the fellowship, the intellectual-theological questions, and especially the worry about what "rules" I and others should follow. Those are all worthwhile, but they are very much secondary.

              What should be primary is sacrificial love and service--of admitting that we and others are ultimately the same, and putting that admission into practice. Christians, being people, find all manner of ways to distract ourselves from that central truth.

              Please see my other comment on this diary, with a quote from and link to Shane Claiborne's article on sticking to the central truth.

              "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

              by HeyMikey on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:41:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  My congratulations and support to you. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, Tam in CA

    I still remember when I crossed that line.  Like you, I grew up fully immersed in religion; singing in the choir (literally), Sunday school, church youth groups.  I even got the "God and Country" medal in the Boy Scouts.  

    I have found however, that since admitting to myself that I did not believe in the "grey haired grandfather in the sky" god concept, that everything gradually got easier.  Kind of like addicition, the first step is admitting you have a problem.  Once I was able to finally admit I no longer believed, a huge weight was off of me and I became much more comfortable about it.

    For me, it's been decades, and I couldn't be more content with my view of the world and my freedom to question and be objective about all things spiritual.  What I learned in my Christian youth about morality, caring for the needy, treating other people with respect, and personal integrity was great; but I don't need the belief system any more to continue life as an adult.

    Good luck with your journey.

    You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

    by rb608 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:51:36 AM PDT

  •  There is only one god. The truth is here. Read. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box

    His name is Ollie, and he is my back kitten rescue.

    All other gods ( Except for cat's) are lies, and scams.

    There.

    That is all you need to know.

    Now go on and enjoy your life.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:52:16 AM PDT

  •  It's a process. I was raised Catholic and had.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, Angie in WA State

    doubts since I was a teenager.  I did not address these thoughts too deeply in my 20's and most of my 30's.    
    In my late 30's I started reading books from the "New Atheists", Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris etc..

    This helped immensely in crystallizing and specifying my abstract thoughts.  I could now articulate to myself or others how I really felt.

    You can't change the world, but you can change the facts, and when you change the facts, you change points of views, when you change points of views...you can change a vote, and when you change a vote............you can change the world

    by progresso on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:53:54 AM PDT

  •  This is kinda scary....not what you write (8+ / 0-)

    but that it so closely mirrors my own journey.

    I think from my earliest memory of religion, I doubted it but that wasn't going to fly in my family. My grandmother went to Mass every day. My father had been the son who was given up to the Priesthood until Vietnam and his dad's health left him the only son to take care of his family. So he did the next best thing and married and was a model Catholic husband and father. OK he bent the rules when doctors told my mom that another child would likely kill her but other than that....

    I was the model Catholic schoolgirl with requisite contemplation of entering the convent. I'd chase away the "ridiculous" thoughts about really wanting to be a Priest and why couldn't girls and somehow subjugate my innate feminist streak to accept that the Church was the way it was.

    I continued that all the way to college ( Jesuit of course!) by which time I could rationalize the inconsistencies that had always nagged me as simply "faith".

    All the while, Catholic guilt had me fully rooted in hedging my bets and scaring away my doubts about the inanity of all religion. No other religion called to me because once I started looking at Protestant denominations, thing  just got even more confusing. This resulted in some long discussions with my priest the end result being that he agreed and that's why I was meant to be Catholic etc.

    Stuck with it all the way through marriage, birth and baptism of my son, his Communion and Reconciliation and up through  the time he was about to be confirmed. I was, after all, a good Catholic mother.

    We came home from the first confirmation meeting and he said, "I'm sorry, I just don't think I can do it. I'll do it for you if you want but you need to know I'd be a total hypocrite because I just think it's all BS".

    And in that moment, I finally had permission I didn't know I needed to walk away. And I did. From the Catholic church, from religion, from dependency, from guilt ( well OK mostly...they put something in the holy water). And while I still don't know that I'm an Atheist, I do know I am an Agnostic.

    We view "The Handmaid's Tale" as cautionary. The GOP views it as an instruction book.

    by Vita Brevis on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:59:26 AM PDT

  •  It's 2012 How is this possible ? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladelfina

    It seems like it was so long ago that the Christians were dragging women out onto the street corners and burning them alive claiming they were "Witches"  

    Ok, so back then, things were scary, and if you didn't scream out loud that you believed in the Jesus, you pretty much had your head chopped off, or worse.  

    No real sane person would go out in public and admit the Jesus was a scam so one empire could crush another, and use "God" as their reason to kill.

    But, today, we all know there really aren't "Witches" and burning women alive was a horrible "Christian" activity.

    Today, we have every possible tool available to read, learn, understand, question, and then simply walk away from the scam we all know as "Religion"   Unless you live in Alabama, you don't really need to participate and pretend you are a "believer"  Ok.  I take that back.  Many people actually do need to pretend they believe or they too will get burned alive by their fellow "Christians"

    Isn't that crazy, religious fanatics are still as crazy as they were back in the 1700's ?

    Are you one of them; ?

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:03:03 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for coming out, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box, Angie in WA State

    and I know this may be difficult, but have you tried doing so in real life? Maybe start with one or two of your closest friends that you trust before expanding, but I lying to yourself may be worse. But this is your choice, and yours alone.

    In any case, congratulations on your brave decision!

  •  Congratulations and welcome (6+ / 0-)

    We are many.

    Know that spirituality is a hypnotic state of mind. The triggers that religions use to control and make claim to it, such as music, candles, incense, fellowship, and sacraments, are also available for you to use as you wish.

    Religion is an authoritarian hierarchy intended to manipulate the masses through propaganda, faith-based claims of received wisdom, and deliberate misinterpretation of ancient texts often borrowed and adapted from other ancient religions.

  •  coming out as an atheist can be tough (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, My Spin, Randomfactor

    depending on your family and friends

    I had a neighbor tell me he wasn't sure he could speak to me anymore after I told him I was an atheist.

    I regularly attend my UU church tho, and participate in its wonderful community, sing in the choir, serve on committees and on their timebank. And I am not the only atheist there.  

  •  It's a good question, isn't it? (3+ / 0-)
    If God was so awesome and all knowing and all powerful, then where the hell was he?
    It's a question any thoughtful person has grappled with at one time or another. God allows horrible events to strike innocent people? God allows innocent people to suffer unimaginably? Who is this God, anyway??

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:15:08 AM PDT

  •  "In the closet" is fine by me... (4+ / 0-)

    ... gay and an atheist here. I think there are many similarities between an atheist coming out and those in the LGBT community.

    The fear of the unknown - what those people you most love would do if they only knew! I would recommend you to seek out like-minded people, the closet is not a fun place. I also completely understand the desire to stay in the closet - especially to some people.

    The more atheists there are that come out the better it will be for one of the most hated minorities. Because, similar to the LGBT community, when people know someone personally and they are atheist they many times will doubt the rhetoric they've heard all their lives.

    However, everyone's situation is different and only you can decide if coming out is right for you.

  •  Atheist & Buddhist (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State

    They're not incompatible.  The ridiculous fairy-tale of the old guy in the sky should be offensive to any adult.

    •  As offensive as the "fairy tale" appellation is to (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CorinaR, virgomusic, niemann

      people like me?

      The God I believe in isn't "Santa for grown-ups"--would that he were. Like the author, I've never had an experience of God, unlike a good many of my Christian friends. I wasn't born into the faith and wonder if I'll ever catch up, but that's not the point here.

      I am effing sick of the distorted, sneering, smirking implications that I and people like me are stupid children, believing in an "invisible friend" in the sky who'll give us candy and make everything better. F___ you and the rest of your ilk. I'm an intellligent man--perhaps too smart for my own good--and I'm not waiting on God to help me. And just because Chistians believe ourselves forgiven, it doesn't give us carte blanche to act however we please.

      •  I'm this close to HR'ing you for the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Fishtroller01, ladelfina

        "fuck you and the rest of your ilk".

        We're having a civil discussion here.  If you want to be treated like the adult you claim you are, act like one.

      •  Then what, exactly, do you believe in? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladelfina, belexes

        And, no, that is not a sarcastic or sneering question.

        I wasn't born atheist. I was raised Catholic. Now, Catholicism, for all its well-known faults, isn't "Prosperity Gospel". I never heard, "Pray for a car and by golly you'll get one!"

        But I did hear, constantly, that God hears our prayers for serious stuff. But he only answers some of them. But if you had a really serious problem, you could pray for it, and, if God decided to help you out, your prayer would come true.

        You will never know how hard I prayed that my best friend--the most devout, loving, selfless Catholic you ever met--wouldn't succumb to leukemia.

        It didn't work.

        I was 14 when she died (she had just turned 15).

        No fucking candy for me. Just dead friends.

        Take that and add the propensity for "Prosperity" gospels in this country. And, also add that I don't know a single Christian sect that doesn't hold out a particularly prized piece of candy called "heaven".

        So, now, I ask again, what exactly do you believe in? Because if there's no candy involved at all, it's not God. (Not the Christian God, anyway).

        "Maybe: it's a vicious little word that could slay me"--Sara Bareilles

        by ChurchofBruce on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:14:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I believe in a God who's indifferent at best and (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ChurchofBruce

          cruel at worst. How many times have I heard stories akin to "My son was born without a head, but we prayed all night and one grew in"? Less ridiculous was a friend from high school. His wife was diagnosed with liver cancer, and they prayed (as well as did chemo) and the cancer vanished.....until it returned 6 months later and killed her.

          Heaven would be nice (I certianly don't want the alternative), but we all have to slog through life before getting there. I've desperately wanted help on a few occasions, and had a particularly cruel turnout to a situation once. Not "My child died because we couldn't afford  a $2 treatment" cruel, but bad enough. So I have to say that I often think of the Almighty and wonder just who owes whom an apology.

          And yet, I believe God is there. The universe didn't just happen, and I'd assume he's too busy running it to care about my trifling sorrows. If others are luckier, good for them. I still say there's something far greater than each of us.

          •  That's fairly close to Deism (0+ / 0-)

            which, by the way, is completely anathema to Christianity :).

            However, I need to point out that the only difference between that screed and one I could also write is that you are stubbornly clinging to, "The universe didn't just happen."

            Since nobody actually knows the answer to that question, I posit, well, what if it did?

            As for "something far greater than each of us," that could be a lot of things. That could be just a collective group of humans. It could also be--well, my late brother used to say, "I'm completely atheist in terms of the Judeo-Christian Biblical God, but I'm more agnostic about something akin to The Force."

            But, again, The Force is not the Christian God.

            "Maybe: it's a vicious little word that could slay me"--Sara Bareilles

            by ChurchofBruce on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:47:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Correction. (0+ / 0-)

        Your god is not an invisible friend in the sky. He's an imaginary friend in your head.

        "Forgiven" for what? An "orginal sin" that your imaginary god let happen in an old fairy tale?

        How does the murder of an innocent absolve another's sin?

        You really want respect for these ideas?

      •  Unless you're out there correcting (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ladelfina

        folks who constantly are saying that atheists are just angry at God then you have no right to complain when one of us atheists calls religion what it looks like from where we're standing, which is a fairy tale.  Certainly, some people's fairy tale is more abstract and prettier sounding, but that doesn't make it true.

        There revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

        by AoT on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:54:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Religions are man made. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tam in CA

    1) Most are based on the premise that there exists a higher moral authority than thee & me.    

    2) Most act as societal binders of their own particular community (which can be helpful for smallish societies) ...but thereby exacerbating our natural feelings of us and them.   we and "the Other"  (harmful for complex diversified societies)

    People , being what they are...both good & bad, but often power seeking, then USE religion as a tool for good and bad based on this supposed moral authority and the we vs them feelings it reinforces.  

    With a growing global population coupled with shrinking resources and global warming chaos, I hold that most religions are impediments to solutions because they are usually steeped in ancient tribal societal feelings.   Don't know if humans can extend their society of "we"  to encompass all of us on earth, but I'd like to see us try.

    I was raised in a compassionate but non religious home.   I cannot logically envision a god of any sort...and I cannot logically conceive of any sort of life after death.    I do not think that beliefs evolve from logic however, but from cultural acquisition.   Gilbert & Sullivan knew this...and knew that politics often fall into the same cultural brew.

    I often think it's comical – Fal, lal, la!
    How Nature always does contrive – Fal, lal, la!
    That every boy and every gal
    That’s born into the world alive
    Is either a little Liberal
    Or else a little Conservative!
    Fal, lal, la!

    "I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong." Richard Feynman

    by leema on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:23:54 AM PDT

  •  Why feature this in Community Spotlight? (0+ / 0-)

    How does that help Democrats win elections?

    Just askin'.

    •  Because Daily Kos IS a community of more (8+ / 0-)

      than merely political discussion.

      We are:
      Saturday Morning Garden Blogging
      The Grieving Room
      Readers and Book Lovers
      The Community Quilt Project
      Seriously Seeking Cinema

      and a whole host of other Groups on a wide variety of subjects.

      Politics and winning elections is what created Daily Kos - but the  Community aspect of this site is what keeps it alive and growing, year after year.

      Community Spotlight is a place to show diaries to the bigger community which might not otherwise have been read - there are criteria, such as writing quality, which are considered when including diaries in the Community Spotlight. A dedicated team of Kossacks read EVERY single diary written each day to determine which diaries should have a spot on the Spotlight.

      * * *
      I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization
      -- SCOTUS Justice O.W. Holmes Jr.
      * * *
      "A Better World is Possible"
      -- #Occupy

      by Angie in WA State on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:54:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  electing progressive Dems is our Prime Directive (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichiganChet

        If various community-building efforts help elect Dems, great. If not, they belong on the many other popular social-networking fora.

        Gardening, books, quilting, and film are very popular, grieving brings many people together, and these all appeal to a wide swath of American voters.

        Atheism? Not so much.

        Atheists are the most hated group in America:
        http://www.soc.umn.edu/... (pdf)
        http://www.scientificamerican.com/...

        (This is not a personal issue, fwiw. I tend toward secularism myself, am not religious.)

        I respectfully dissent with the decision to feature this diary.

        •  Sending away Democrats to other (3+ / 0-)

          less political websites is not going to be a factor in winning elections.

        •  Then you need to respectfully dissent (3+ / 0-)

          with the decision to feature diaries written by Christian liberals on here constantly analyzing the religious behaviors of the fundamentalist Christians.  It's like the never ending war and does nothing to further the humanistic cause of progressive politics.  It's just more tires spinning in mud.

          I think you have no idea how many atheists there are in these communities and in the US.  Neither do the politicians.  So the more articles people see educating the public on our existence, the better.  It may be that te Daily KOS becomes a vehicle to free the atheists in the nation from their downtrodden status.  Wouldn't that be something any progressive would be proud of?

          •  Fishtroller, back to the history books! (0+ / 0-)

            Just about every step forward this country has ever taken toward social justice has been taken with the religious Left carrying most of the weight.  Religion was a huge part of the birth of the progressive movement.  And, demographically, without the religious Left, progressivism is doomed to political failure.  it's purely a matter of numbers.

            •  Do you think that atheists, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Angie in WA State

              freethinkers and humanists were not standing right next to the liberal religious people?  The dissent was that there shouldn't be a coming out atheist diary on here and I found that disturbing.

              PS- I know my history books well. And I stand by my analysis of the inter-Christianity war going on in this country and that it is counter productive.  The fundamentalist religous right is not wrong on the bible or the theology, they are wrong on the Constitution and the history of this country.  

              Leave religion out of it.

            •  I don't see (0+ / 0-)

              Anyone wanting to exclude the religious left. I do see a post questioning why the words of an atheist should be featured among the interfaith community groups here.

        •  Atheists are the (3+ / 0-)

          fastest growing religious identity.  So maybe it's less about the fact that people hate us than the reality that this is a fast growing segment of the country.

          Should we not have diaries about LGBT issues or coming out stories because there are people who hate them?

          I used to be disgusted. Now I try to be amused. - Elvis Costello

          by gnbhull on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:03:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm a theologian by training. (3+ / 0-)

          I think this diary fits very well the community, it's thoughtful and well-written, and it expresses a view that gives us a chance to think about what "better Democrats" are about with regard to defending the 1st Amendment.

          I agree with the decision to put it on Community Spotlight.  

          If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

          by dirkster42 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:42:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It's possible and good to change peoples' bias (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens, Angie in WA State

          Also, atheists vote.

    •  It depends which elections you have in mind (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gnbhull, Larsstephens

      When you look forward a little, perhaps only ten or fifteen years, the most important trend in US politics is the ongoing decline of the Religious Right as young people fall away ("backslide" in their terminology) and their hidebound elders steadily die off.

      The RR has lost on Gay Marriage. We are past the tipping point. They refuse to believe it, and double down on that, suppressing women, "personhood", racism, Mammonism, and the rest, in ever more shrieking denial as the end draws near, as they reassure each other that they are the Faithful Remnant whom God will lift up over all of their enemies. It is all Cognitive Dissonance, as first documented in the classic When Prophecy Fails, by Leon Festinger, Henry W. Riecken and Stanley Schachter.

      As prophecy goes down for the count, the Republican Party is going the way of the Federalists, the original Party of No during the Jefferson Administration. They never won another national election, in spite of their own shrieking denial, and vanished from history after the War of 1812. There followed a period of one-party government known as The Era of Good Feeling. I'm looking forward to another.

      So anything we can do to help atheists out of the closet, so that they can encourage the others, is essential to winning elections. Just not the current election, which is very nearly decided at the Presidential level. With the Akin debacle, it is widely supposed that Democrats can hold the Senate, and there is some hope that we can retake the House.

      Hey, Mitt! Thanks for ObamneyCare. http://www.healthcare.gov

      by Mokurai on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:08:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  we're a community (5+ / 0-)

      and this happens in the community.

      Thus, its part of the community spotlight.

    •  You can't be serious (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens

      Just sayin'.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:07:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mazel Tov!!! You and I came to opposite (0+ / 0-)

    realizations, from opposite paths, but clarity is clarity, and it is good. :D

    Fwiw I believe we should consciously and deliberately engage ourselves, as early in life as possible, to arrive at some understanding of our sexual and gender orientation, spiritual orientation, the value we place on ourselves, others, social power (money, position, etc.), our beliefs about irreversible decisions such as having and/or raising children, etc.; then be mindfully open to the lifetime of tides that will influence those understandings and even radically change them.

    I hope the longer you incubate your epiphany, the closer you'll come to revealing your truth to the people around you. Those who truly love YOU, not your outer trappings and the way you fit into their lives, will continue to love you, and will be willing to struggle with seeing you (and themselves) in a new light as you do the same toward them.

    When the time comes to live your truth outwardly, remember John 6:44:

    No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him...
    God chooses who is and is not drawn; Jesus voiced no objection to those whom God did not draw to him, simply noted that they exist; and in John 6:65, Jesus passed no judgment on the followers who walked away because they realized they had not been drawn.

    Neither should the people who love you object to your truth, including your church community, who presumably entered an explicit covenant to stand by you in your faith journey -- well, ok, it has evolved in a most unexpected manner, but a pact is a pact. The first commandment of the New Covenant has faded in meaning for you, but if you still hold to the second one, and your church is socially activist, you and your church community may still have much in common.

    And who knows how many others might find the strength to step forward (or at least reveal themselves to you) if you go first? Fwiw, my small, southern Presbyterian USA church took me in -- the proverbial stranger -- without reserve and made a refuge for me even though I was very open about my unitarianism; my affinity for Buddhism (a fully atheist discipline); my consideration of Jesus as a mighty prophet, no more or less "divine" than myself; my disbelief in resurrection, heaven, tales of Jesus' extra-copulatory origins, etc. I found I had company, even (wink wink) amongst some of the clergy (and including one of the most ancient pillars of the church who, when the congregation recited the Nicene Creed, stopped after "I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth," because he didn't believe any of the rest of it). I was on 3 committees before I knew what hit me.

    Of course, it was easier for a church to embrace my unorthodoxy because I engage the Judeo-Christian God as my primary spiritual portal. But it's certainly not unknown for atheists to remain affiliated with a faith tradition. More liberal/unorthodox faiths, such as Quakers and Unitarians, make at least some room for the atheists in their midst, e.g.:

    http://www.nontheistfriends.org/
    http://www.atheistnexus.org/...

    When the time comes to live your truth outwardly, remember John 6:44:

    No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him...
    God chooses who is and is not drawn; Jesus had no objection to those God did not draw to him, simply noted that they exist, then returned to teaching the drawn; and in John 6:65, Jesus passed no judgment on those who walked away because they had not been drawn.

    Neither should the people who love you pass judgment, including your church community, who presumably entered an explicit covenant to stand by you in your faith journey -- well, ok, it has evolved in a most unexpected manner, but a pact is a pact. The first commandment of the New Covenant has faded in meaning for you, but if you still hold to the second one, and your church is socially activist, you and your church community may still have enough in common for you to remain in the fold.

    Whatever your path, I wish you blessings of strength, peace, and richness as you live in your "new skin."

  •  Kudos for admitting your true feelings. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Angie in WA State, Tam in CA, gnbhull

    Hopefully a time will come when you can openly admit to being a non-believer.  

    Personally, I can't get my head around not being able to do so.  It's a completely foreign concept to me. I was fortunate enough to have been raised in an environment that, although full of believers, was not one full of contempt for non-believers.  My family has known for years that I have no use for a religion or a god and respect that approach to life even if they don't believe it themselves (although my dad has admitted to me that he has long had doubts).

  •  As a believer in God (Jewish), I find your honesty (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    niemann

    refreshing. You're a step up from the hypocritical and bigot "believers" who beset us on all sides with demands that we conform.

    "Mistress of the Topaz" is now available in paperback! Link here: http://www.double-dragon-ebooks.com/single.php?ISBN=1-55404-900-8

    by Kimball Cross on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:29:16 AM PDT

  •  Didn't realize this was a big deal (0+ / 0-)

    Assumed that any rational analysis of existence would end up removing this god assumption. Guess there are emotional bags of our upbringing that are hard to shake. Welcome to the culture of life.

  •  Here's the thing for me... (0+ / 0-)

    [this probably contains scientific inaccuracies, but the gist is there...]

    As far as we know, the "big bang" created the universe.  It started from a "singularity".  A (possibly) infinitely tiny point that somehow contained all the mass in the universe (or multiverse?, if that's your thing).  There was no "time" - this thing was just there, in a never-but-always sense.  Then something in it went off kilter and destabilized and the thing exploded like a sun, but with a gazillion to the gazillionth power the energy and intensity.  All this crazy energy and chemicals and particles and stuff expanded out and smashed into each other and formed together to build stars and planets and galaxies and whatnot, all whizzing around with mass and gravity pushing and pulling, and the incredibly amazing universe was born.  

    So what happened before the big bang?  What was the singularity?  How could it just be "there", sort of infinitely/never/forever?  There has to be a reason it got there, right?  Why was it sitting there infinitely/never/forever, and then become unstable and explode?

    How did we get here???

    When I try to wrap my brain around this stuff, there's no good explanation except "magic" or "God".  

    Having said that, I don't really think about God outside of the "origin of the universe" context...

    •  More precisely (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fairlithe, Larsstephens
      In the Beginning there was Nothing, which exploded.
      Terry Pratchett

      Physics has something more to say about the matter. The current notion is that many, many Universes have exploded out of a state with the bizarre name of "false vacuum", and that they continue to do so where we cannot see them.

      You still have the insoluble problem that either this has been going on forever, with no original cause, or it started at some time, with no cause from before that. This God person does not help, but just pushes the same insoluble problem back one step. What caused God? Hindus and Buddhists hold that the God of this kalpa earned its position via karma in a previous kalpa, like several grillion others before it, which also fails to explain how anything got started.

      But none of that matters. The question is not, does God exist? It is whether you believe in other people. Are you going to treat other people as though they really exist, and are not merely scenery in your personal drama, where only that personal drama matters. Something that far too many Republicans are showing themselves incapable of, and even Democrats have trouble with.

      Hey, Mitt! Thanks for ObamneyCare. http://www.healthcare.gov

      by Mokurai on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:27:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Science, specifically advanced quantum mech, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pasadena beggar, signals, Fairlithe

      has gone a long way toward addressing this question.

      You've got the description of the big bang off by quite a bit; the reality is, the total energy of the universe appears to be zero. That is, when you add up all the mass and radiation and motion; and subtract off the energy of attractive force fields like gravity (which is negative), you get zip. This manifests in the curvature of the universe, making it flat.

      As such, the question of "where did the mass come from, and why did it explode" proceeds from a false assumption.

      This book is a recent effort to popularize the understanding behind how particle physics now understands the sorts of spontaneous symmetry-breaking that could spawn a universe.

      Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

      by Robobagpiper on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:28:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So what happened before the big bang? (0+ / 0-)

      Nothing.    There wasn't time.

      America, we can do better than this...

      by Randomfactor on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:31:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  No reason to go on living in the closet. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    venger

    I'm an atheist and if I'm ever asked that's exactly what I tell them.  I have encountered only one person that had a negative reaction (co-worker who refused to speak to me from then on).  Most people really just don't care.

    Life is too short to pretend you're something you're not for the sake of others.  If they have a problem with it, they aren't your friends.  Fuck 'em.

    "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

    by Apost8 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:37:54 AM PDT

  •  Being a "minority" that is able to pass (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mokurai, The Nose, AoT, ladelfina, venger

    Whether it is atheist, gay, socialist, etc, means you will have to continually come out for the rest of your life.

    Moving to Missouri from a secular Bay Area (where I grew up) meant that I was directly asked about my religion on a consistant basis for the very first time.  Mostly because of my ignorance, it came natural for me to say when directly asked if I wanted to try their church etc, "no thanks, I am an Atheist."  But on an ongoing basis I either have to make that declaration again when directly questioned or decide if I am going to pass when someone is flaunting their belief in front of me.

    More often then not,  (and even more so the older I get), i decide to wear my non-belief on my sleeve.  Even though doing so so brought accusations of disrespecting others (even by fellow non-believers), I feel it is important to make it more comfortable for other Atheist to come out, plus it help me quickly weed out those people who would absolutely reject me once they did find out about my non-belief.

    You never know who will show up at Netroots Nation. Will you be there?

    by ETinKC on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:38:40 AM PDT

  •  *THE* most common reaction I get... (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mokurai, The Nose, gnbhull, AoT, ladelfina, venger

    ...when I tell people I'm an atheist is a whispered "I am, too, but I don't dare say that word!"  Again and again and again I've had that happen.

    Seriously, it happens so often that I've started playing a game where if a discussion of religion starts I write "You just told me you are too but don't dare admit it" on a piece of paper and when I tell them I'm an athiest and they give me that response, I hand 'em the piece of paper just to freak them out.

    Somebody once said "I'm such a hardcore atheist that I don't think you really believe, either," and I kinda lean toward that stance.  I'm sure there are some actual believers out there, but I'm pretty sure the vast majority of people are faking it to maintain their social network.  Or they think the others actually believe and they don't want to feel weird and left out, so they go along with it even though, privately, they aren't really buying it.  Or they want to believe and think that if they go through the motions they eventually will.  But I'm pretty sure there are more secret-atheists out there than anyone imagines.  I know people who sing in gospel bands with recording contracts that don't actually believe.

    Maintain whatever connection with the church works for you.  But it's liberating to let it all go, though.  And you don't have to tell anyone you're an atheist if you don't want to... but, if you're a good, polite, moral, happy person, then I'd encourage you to come out with it and be a good example.  I'm always happy to find good people admitting they're atheists, so we're not only represented by miserable cranks on YouTube. :)

    "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

    by Front Toward Enemy on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:39:39 AM PDT

  •  The trouble (8+ / 0-)

    with much of this post and comment thread is the way in which a rejection of religion is spoken of.

    It is a common mode of speaking, so common that many are not even really aware of its implications when they do it, and I do not condemn anyone in this thread for so speaking.

    Nevertheless . . .

    I speak of the idea that if someone does not believe in God then that pretty much sums up his/her position.

    I prefer to think of our stance as that of believing IN something.

    I believe in the real world.  I believe in the process of doubt and study and investigation and skepticism and wonder through which we reach an understanding of the real world.

    I believe that both the real world and our understanding go through a neverending process of growth and development and evolution that is far more bountiful and beautiful that the dull, dead words in a book compiled thousands of years ago.

    I believe in other people, and that through our interactions with others we discover so much and experience such beauty.  I believe that a morality based on caring for others is far more valid than a morality based on some being monitoring our lives, and holding the prospect of heinous punishment over our heads.

    There isn't a name for what we believe because we are far too contentious -- and, frankly, derided by the religious -- to find a name that is as positive and noble as we can be.  But even so, our belief is far too positive to be encompased by simply naming what we do NOT believe in.

    And my hope is that all of you can contemplate that, and take pride in your positive belief.

    In Washington, whenever anyone does something wrong, everyone else gets punished.

    by Noziglia on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:40:47 AM PDT

  •  Congratulations and welcome to reality. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gnbhull, tytalus

    I don't say that with any sarcasm or condescension.  It's not easy to live in reality but it's real.

  •  A crisis in faith is not something to fear (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leftcandid

    Whatever happens because of your crisis, unbelief or even deeper faith, it means that you are examining what you have been taught, accepted (mostly without question) and what brings you comfort. Examining what you think you believe is always important.

    I have had tow times when I turned away ... back when I was young and did wild crazy things to rebel, I wanted to rebel again God as well and always made sure that I did particularly exotic things on Saturday night.  Much to my chagrin, I always found myself going to church on Sunday morning just because I needed it. (I was away from all social pressure and expectations.)

    Recently, about 5 years ago, I wanted to stop believing because it seemed dumb. I had lost faith in organized religion, had almost died, had the creditor hounding me because I had absolutely no income, became insulin dependent with the benefit of insurance. I felt I was worse off than Job. But somehow, it would not let me go, but I came to a deeper, different understanding. I am, without shame or doubt, a believer.

    Wherever you come out, you will be the wiser for examining what you believe. May your journey to integrate, not hide or dismiss, your newly acknowledged unbelief into your life be as thoughtful as your post.

    "Life without liberty is like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought is like a disturbed spirit." Kahlil Gibran, 'The Vision'

    by CorinaR on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:54:59 AM PDT

  •  Speaking as a hard-core irreligious atheist who's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    furi kuri

    engaged to a Presbyterian seminarian w/ deistic tendencies, I'd like to offer this:

    There are all kinds of atheists, and all kinds of ways to interact with the church and congregational community. I personally have no use for religious celebration (though there are still hymns and religious texts that move me), but that's me.

    There's nothing wrong with valuing your congregation, community, and traditions (one of the reasons my fiancée will always be Presbyterian), and not acknowledging the existence of a God - in a real sense.

    But the mind is an engine of metaphor and meaning - and if you need to have a God to remain in your tradition, and to do the work you want to do within it, construct a sense of God you can believe in, and go from there.

    I understand that there are plenty of atheist theologians in European protestant denominations; not by any means a majority, but not the aberration they'd be here. How these folk navigate the rocks between faith and disbelief might be helpful to you.

    Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

    by Robobagpiper on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 08:59:19 AM PDT

  •  Not alone. (4+ / 0-)

    I have made comments here to the fact that I too was in the LCMS at one time.

    Went through the confirmation process and all the while in the back of my mind, and lingering in my heart was the fact that I did not really believe.

    Too many inconsistencies for me to ignore.

    Hard to say what was leading. Either my heart or my head, yet ultimately it lead me to where I am today.

    Along the way (a slow process) I identified as an agnostic, as I never would go as far to say that I actually no longer believed in a god. Any god.

    To thine own self be true. I came to the realization after many years of introspection that the belief system was always preaching the guilt factor. The fear factor. Not to mention the rank hypocrisy among so many followers.

    More questions than answers and that was a thorn in the LCMS side. As a child I was not to question, only to follow and believe. 1+1 was adding up to strange numbers that I could not ignore.

    There is more, a lot more that changed my stance with god that a few short paragraphs will never suffice.
    I am happy with who and what I am and it is what it is.
    Some family members though cannot accept the fact that I do not believe in god and it damn near drives them crazy.

    Being an athiest in America is a brave stance. Outcasts we are and I dare say that the day an athiest is elected to a higher political office is when we will have finally matured as a species.

    As an athiest you will be accused of having no morals, you cannot be trusted, should not raise children and a whole host of garbage that will make your head spin.

    Be prepared and stand tall and remember that not all Christians are jerks, but most jerks who make unfounded accusations will be Christian.

    "We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." Louis Brandeis

    by wxorknot on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:00:15 AM PDT

    •  I was told that atheists (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wxorknot

      do not love their families.  Well, not directly but the conversation went like this:
      "I am a Christian because I want to be able to love my family"
      This person honestly believed that atheist don't love their families or feel anything much at all.

      I used to be disgusted. Now I try to be amused. - Elvis Costello

      by gnbhull on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:10:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Shoudn't be suprised with that asinine view. (0+ / 0-)

        Some people want to believe they are by association with their faith better equipped to love than "others."

        If the person you state needs to be Christian in order to love his/her family, this individual has some issues.

        I am able to love my family without that crutch and I am quite positive most human beings on this blue marble do so without anyone or thing prodding them.

        Love is love. Needs no manual or figurehead to give you that ability.  

        "We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." Louis Brandeis

        by wxorknot on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 01:37:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The scriptures are a fairy tale (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Nose

    I remember growing up and hearing various parables and the gospel and stories for the old testement.  I remember my initial reaction to all of them was that they were fairy tales no different' from the Grimm fairy tales my parents read to me at bed time.  My family was never very religious but we did go to church once in a blue moon and I even attended a little Sunday school.  But on a almost subconscious level I always categorized Christian myths with all other folk tales.

    I remember when it dawned on me that I thought of all these stories as fiction while in middle school.  For a couple of years I tried to believe them like I believe history.  But I it would seem cannot believe a single impossible thing much less six before breakfast.  

    But to be honest, that alone probably would have only been enough to make me agnostic.  What really pushed me to atheism is the anti-science and bigotry that comes from religion.  Dealing with that sort of thinking is so much easier as an atheist.

    For example, if someone cites Genesis as evidence against evolution, being able to simply state without equivocation that Genesis is wrong is much easier than trying to defend Genesis as being merely metaphorical.  

    "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said." "The War Prayer" by Mark Twain

    by Quanta on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:01:26 AM PDT

  •  I'm still culturally Catholic; haven't believed in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gnbhull

    the Catholic-defined God, nor the ONLY SONness of Jesus, for a long time.  God, though--Spirit--yes, absolutely.   In my case, the shackles I broke were those of institutional Church authoritarianism, & the fallacy of insisting in a literal truth to every bit of mythologized narrative history.   And in that way, you are on the same journey, wherever it ends up taking you.

    I wish for your sustained courage to follow your inner truth.  Don't feel cowardly about your wise decision to not tell your loved ones.  You are free to do otherwise in the future if you choose, but there are so many reasons for which you  might feel the time isn't right.  It's OK.

    Before elections have their consequences, Activism has consequences for elections.

    by Leftcandid on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:10:42 AM PDT

    •  Me too (0+ / 0-)

      My family was pretty casually Catholic, mostly Christmas and Easter growing up, but after I left college it became weddings and funerals.  It's been over 5 years since I've set foot in a church and I very much doubt that I'll ever go back.

      I used to be disgusted. Now I try to be amused. - Elvis Costello

      by gnbhull on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:19:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am a former LCMS teacher-now atheist (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Nose, Larsstephens

    Dave,

          I understand very well what you have been going through on your journey.  I am a former LCMS school teacher who went to one of their synodical colleges and was encouraged to go to a seminary instead of becoming a teacher because of my grasp of Lutheran Doctrine. I passed since I had never a desire to become a pastor and I was already struggling with all the standard questions about religion that I thought a Lutheran college and its reknowned professors would help me answer.  Wrong!
           It took me years to understand that I was an atheist after researching archaeology, sciense, and philosophy.
           Recovering From Religion is a good resource to help in your journey.  You might look at belexegeticals for my own trip out of the LCMS-including a critique of the Small Catechism.  Good luck.

  •  Julia in Brideshead (0+ / 0-)

    I have never been taught religion, and have no regrets or fears about it.   I never understood how some people have so much anxiety about it until I saw this in Brideshead Revisited.  

    Religion gives men the strength to do what should not be done.

    by bobtmn on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:22:50 AM PDT

  •  I remember when I "came out" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pasadena beggar

    I had a bad reaction to a new drug while at work one day.  I called my doctor, she said go straight to the emergency room.  The woman signing me in asked "what religion?".  I started to say Roman Catholic, as I had for many decades, and then blurted out "none."  She looked at me kinda funny for a second, and then when on to the next question.  I've never looked back.

  •  Whatever you ultimately conclude (0+ / 0-)

    I am uneasy with your living in the closet. You clearly love your family deeply and dishonesty limits relationships. Furthermore, if your conscience is the spur that drives you from the church, would it not be appropriate to give your loved ones the benefit of your insight.
    On the flip side, there is a lot of room for doubt within faith. As others have pointed out, you are not the only nonbeliever in the pews. And any pastor who is empathetic and accepting of ambiguity should be able to hear your concerns and guide you without judgment to follow your conscience wherever it leads you.

    The founding fathers knew of the mutually corrupting influences of Church and state, wisely sending them to opposite corners.

    by emidesu on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:32:55 AM PDT

    •  Ultimately it is not (0+ / 0-)

      up to you to be easy or uneasy with the diarist's decision.  These are deeply personal issues that everyone deals with in their own way and time.  I'm out and proud as an atheist but that didn't happen overnight.  I played with the concept of "non-theistic" for awhile after I went through the whole agnostic and deistic ideas.  Eventually, I stopped being worried about how people would react because the Mormons in this town sure as hell weren't shy about letting me know what they believed.

      I used to be disgusted. Now I try to be amused. - Elvis Costello

      by gnbhull on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:24:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ummm.... yes, they are my feelings. (0+ / 0-)

        The diarist is perfectly welcome to ignore my comment. Some of us choose to live in the closet in one area or another, but it does limit relationships.

        The founding fathers knew of the mutually corrupting influences of Church and state, wisely sending them to opposite corners.

        by emidesu on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 09:43:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Already a lot of comments here, but... (0+ / 0-)

    Its ok not to believe.

    It doesn't diminish your memories or your enjoyment of liturgical music one iota.

    I feel for you though, having to keep this secret.

  •  Bravo! (0+ / 0-)

    I have difficulty believing that anyone with a working intellect truly, honestly, deeply inside, without-a-doubt thinks there's a god controlling every wisp of wind on this planet.

    Sure, it's nice to think we'll meet our dead loved-ones in a special world somewhere when we die.  Who wouldn't want this to be true?  Societal pressure and fairy tales aside,  it's all a willing suspension of disbelief to me and it aches with intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy.

  •  "outing" will probably happen to you eventually. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ytownohio, Tam in CA, pasadena beggar

    Admitting to yourself that you don't believe what others around you believe is just a first step.  But eventually, given enough time, you will probably not be satisfied anymore with going through the motions to keep up appearances to avoid chastisement by others.  The first step is to admit it to yourself that you don't believe what you're pretending to believe, but it won't end there.  You think you'll be able to continue living "closeted" but you won't.  Not for long.  Eventually it will really nag on your conscience that you are spending a lot of time, basically, lying.  This is the same path that many many atheists have walked before you.  And they all think at this stage, "I admitted it to myself but I don't have to admit it to anyone else.  I can keep it hidden", but eventually that breaks down too.

    I don't envy you.  You have a very tumultuous time ahead of you.  I hope you come out the other end of it with as many relationships still intact as possible, but realize that you will likely lose some, and you should be ready for this outcome.

    •  It's wise to lay the groundwork... (0+ / 0-)

      ...for coming out. If you can build up a support network before you go through the process of telling your family, you'll be better off. I realize this may be impossible depending on where you live, but if you gain some friends first who understand you it will likely be much easier.

      That said, coming out might not be entirely up to you and your desire to keep it a secret. It was not up to me. I just grew tired of the lies and let it out one day. My brain just said enough and then the cards were on the table. I got yelled at by family. Humiliated in some sense. Almost disowned. It wasn't pretty for a while.

      But after working on it for several years, everything is much better. But then again I am dealing with a family of open-minded liberal Catholics. The only real serious rift I still have is one with a VERY strict Lutheran aunt. Go figure.

  •  I was brought up Lutheran Missouri Synod too (0+ / 0-)

    I went to a lutheran school until 3rd grade, then we moved to Oregon and I went to public school.  I read the bible cover to cover in 8th grade and have been an atheist ever since.  My parents are still evangelicals but they say they're nondenominational...but they're still on the extreme end of the conservatism spectrum.

    Atheism is a religion like Abstinence is a sexual position. - Bill Maher, 2/3/2012

    by sleipner on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:35:14 AM PDT

  •  Hi The Dave... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladelfina

    Everything you described is so familiar to many former Christians who realize their atheism.  It's hard. No getting around that.

    Some suggestions:  Read Dan Barker's book Godless. As a former evangelical preacher, he shares the difficulty of loss of faith.  Also watch Julia Sweeny's DVD Letting Go of God.  Her sentimentality over letting go of her Catholicism and finally her God is really sweet and touching.

    I was confirmed as an LCA Lutheran (they are more liberal than Missouri Synod) and also have such fond memories of Luther League, camp, etc.  However, once I read about Martin Luther in my 50's, I was appalled that our great pastor neglected to tell us in confirmation class what a monster Luther was.  I buried my "I Am a Lutheran" charm from my charm bracelet under the tree out back and never looked back.  

    I found letting go of Christianity the easiest, especially after years of reading its history and about its founding. I tried finding my version of God in many other disciplines, but nothing quite fit. That is when I realized that nothing fit because my God was totally imaginary. So I finally let go of that.  The hardest part is letting go of the idea of an afterlife, but there are a lot of very thoughtful atheists who have written on this topic- Greta Christina is one.

    It IS absolutely freeing to let all of it go. It becomes so exhausting to try to continually reconcile life and reality with all those old mythologies.  Just remember that you are not alone, and a part of the fastest growing group in America.  

    And keep writing!

  •  Greetings from a non-hidden Atheist. It is (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sophie Amrain, ladelfina, slatsg, venger

    remarkable to realize that, exploring all those words it is to easy to repeat, that one really, truly, absolutely does not have a god-concept out there that seems real. The images are lovely, and I sometimes so wish they were true. [MLK Jr looking down from heaven to see Barack Obama inaugurated; Charles Darwin looking down from heaven to see how Gregor Mendel's genetics filled out his theory of Evolution by Natural Selection to brilliantly; my little sister (58, but still my little sister) knowing we still think of her constantly and love her...] But alas, this is not to be. Living in the moment, for this life, has its beauty; and honesty to oneself has its own rewards. For one thing, we can keep demonstrating that morality and ethics do not depend on a belief in a supreme being. Welcome to the here-and-now life :)

    "Maybe this is how empires die - their citizens just don't deserve to be world leaders anymore." -Kossack Puddytat, In a Comment 18 Sept 2011

    by pixxer on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 10:59:19 AM PDT

  •  To the diarist (0+ / 0-)

    I have a great deal of sympathy for you.  
    I also feel joy for you that you have seen this simple truth.  

    Thirty years ago I came out to myself as an Atheist -- much as you have here to strangers.  

    As time goes by, you become more comfortable and secure with your knowledge.  Eventually, you realize that being an atheist is the most freeing, loving, gentle state of mind.  And that gives you strength to live -- either quietly if you need to, or openly and graciously if you can.  

    Don't pay attention to the rigid responses from those who think you should out yourself to your friends and family immediately.  You will know if and when to do that.  You are taking small steps now and that's enough.    

    Also remember that while you are closeted, there are others around you who are also closeted, or open-but-just-not-talking-about-it.  You are not alone and you will meet and find other's who share your thoughts.   It takes time.  

    Be gentle with yourself.  Enjoy your new freedom.  

    Love is not tied to god.  

    Love is tied to humanity.  

  •  Not religious either (0+ / 0-)

    And I've struggled sitting still in pews.  Left the Catholic church when I was a teenager.

    I have no idea what happens to us when we die.

    But I believe this-

    We all get one chance on this earth.  Only one. And it's our job to make things better for those whose time on this earth may not be the best.  Give food, medicine and shelter for little people born into impoverished homes so they have a chance to grow up.   Food and warm socks for the homeless shelter for those who have nothing and nobody to care for them.  It is comforting to think that there is a God and an afterlife in which injustices will be made right but because I can't count on that, I believe we just have to fix what we can in the here and now.   The hands of the holy are at the ends of our own two wrists.

    Reason, observation, and experience; the holy trinity of science. Robert Green Ingersoll

    by offred on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:03:00 AM PDT

  •  Welcome to the club n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pasadena beggar
  •  The US (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pasadena beggar, ladelfina

    The US is probably the last developed economy where being an atheist is an issue. For the rest of the world the US looks, to put it simply, fucked up when it comes to religion ... akin to Iran or Saudi in the use of god at every opportunity .... as if some imaginary being actually cared about who won a football game (and tried to influence it) ... heck it must have really busy during the Olympics ... except most Chinese are atheists so how did they do so well .. is god trying to send a message?

    Religion and god are simply inventions of man.

    To have a little fun with atheism and some company check out the Facebook group ... We fucking love atheism https://www.facebook.com/...

    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. - JFK

    by taonow on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:10:41 AM PDT

  •  music (0+ / 0-)
    I still weep thinking about trying to sing along to "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" at my Great Grandma's funeral.
    Is that the same as "I Know that My Redeemer Liveth" from Handel's Messiah? Anyone with any sensitivity to music  might weep at that, no faith required.

    Or are you just a terrible singer?

  •  The real god is here, inside. (0+ / 0-)

    His name is Ollie, and he is my black kitten I rescued.

    Actually he rescued me.  He is my god.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:30:08 AM PDT

  •  You need to see SNL alum Julia Sweeney (0+ / 0-)

    doing her wonderful monologue, "Letting Go of God".  It's fabulous.  It's on YouTube.

    A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism. -Carl Sagan

    by jo fish on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:33:06 AM PDT

  •  Maybe the part that was never conveyed (0+ / 0-)

    was that it's not about laws, rules and regulations.

    God, if s/he exists, isn't like that.

    You can tell from the existence of giraffes and zebras and people and stars and the Higgs Bosan.

    God, if s/he exists, has a tremendous sense of humor that's been ignored/disguised/trampled upon, as well as a limitless sense of compassion and love.

    So, sing the songs, delight in the manifestations of genius and simplicity and chaos.

    And be, in the lives of those around you, the image and the voice and the hand of who you (might) believe God actually to be.

    Even in the dark of night, be the light.

    I must be dreaming...

    by murphy on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:33:09 AM PDT

  •  Good for you and... (0+ / 0-)

    Don't be hard on yourself. We are all basically brain-washed into religions - enjoy feeling awake and at peace for probably the first time in a long time. It's all good. And hey I still absolutely love gospel music so enjoy the tunes :-)

  •  I realized I was an atheist at age 7 (0+ / 0-)

    and I've enjoyed many of the same hymns, etc., that you mention all my life, even while understanding all along that I didn't accept their content as true.

    It's really not that different from reading fiction, which I love. It's called suspension of disbelief and empathy.

    I'm not trying to brag, it's just that I wanted to give you some personal testimony (if you'll pardon the expression) that accepting one's lack of belief in the divine doesn't have to interfere with continued enjoyment of many of the social and artistic aspects of organized religion. If anything, it will open you to finding similar experiences both within and outside of the church.

  •  A great first step... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pasadena beggar

    but I think everyone who "comes out" helps make this a little more accepted and the world just a bit more rational.

    I don't know where you live, but you may want to check out the United Coalition of Reason at UnitedCoR.org. There are dozens of coalitions around the country with hundreds of local groups. You'll find that "You are not alone."

    Whatever you do, I really appreciate the diary and sincerity.

  •  Is There Any Chance That Christianity Is True ? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladelfina

    I was fortunate, growing up in a vaguely religious family (holidays only). As a teen I explored religion at one time but each thing I learned only prompted more questions and I couldn't get decent answers.

    I've always been a reader and even then I sought out books that were pro-religion (various denominations and various religions) and pro-atheism (these were much harder to find).

    The religion books, even the apologetics, boiled down to accepting the religion on faith, which struck me as very weak and even dangerous. You could believe anything on faith, whether it was true or not. The books on atheism centered on reason and logic. So I became a vague atheist. Religion was probably untrue and atheism realistic, but I didn't care too much one way or the other.

    Years later I got a marketing contract with an evangelical organization and, like any time I took on a new client in an unfamiliar field, I set about learning the business.

    I had no preconceived awe. Evangelical Christianity was simply another subject that I needed to learn.

    The project was a big success and I soon found myself specializing in evangelical organizations (Baptist, Charismatic, Pentecostal, and even Jesus Only, Holiness, and a renegade Roman Catholic priest who held the mass in Latin – no mainline denominations, as they had few entrepreneurial instincts).

    Most believers, I was surprised to discover, knew very little about their own beliefs. They knew only a few core doctrines of their denomination or church. They knew close to nothing about the bible – they "believed" it, but had no idea who wrote it, when, how it was decided to include which pamphlets and exclude others, the problems of translations, and on and on.

    Christianity – all religions – are unbelievable.

    Certainly, people believe in them or something they take to be them, but viewed as objectively as possible they can be said to be unbelievable.

    The fact that Christianity – and all religions – are human created by primitive people, reflecting primitive cultures, is inescapable. The errors and contradictions are insurmountable. The inclusion of evil concepts and harmful ignorance make them worse than wrong.

    The writers are unknown (no one knows if guys named Matthew, Mark and Luke wrote the synoptics, for example, and Moses describes his own funeral), the provenance is unknown, the voting for canonization undermines the credibility (voting!), the translations are faulty, and the denominational (as all are) commentaries interpret the poorly written text in different ways.

    Getting away from the bible reveals other conditions that rule out the supernatural.

    i.e. you are the religion that is dominant in the area in which you live – you're a Hindu if you are born in India, a Christian if born in the US, a Moslem if born in Iran, etc. The depth and sincerity of belief is the same in opposing religions. Prayer is talking to yourself – each denomination prayers for guidance on the doctrinal points that separate them from other denominations, and their leaders and followers all get confirmation that their particular doctrines are correct.)

    And on and on and on.

    But it's not the glaring faults that influence people, because they believe by faith.

    The faith-prone aside, the only conclusion I could reach is that Christianity is glaringly untrue. There is not a small shred of possibility that it is true. None. Absolutely none.

    Have a nice day.....

  •  By whatever path you come to embrace... (0+ / 0-)

    ...reality and intellectual honesty.  Welcome Brother.

  •  You need to meet others like yourself (0+ / 0-)

    There are organizations out there for atheists and humanists.  One or more of them might have a local chapter in your area.

    Check out the American Humanist Association, American Atheists, the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Center for Inquiry.  Each of them has a list of local chapters with contact information.

    Also get an account on meetup.com and search for local groups in your area.

    Even if you have to drive a long way to a meeting, it will be worth it.  You will be able to speak freely about what you believe.  Most of the people there will understand your feelings because they've been through the same process at some time in their lives.

    Close your eyes, stop your ears Close your mouth and take it slow Let others take the lead and you bring up the rear And later you can say you didn't know

    by njheathen on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:33:07 PM PDT

  •  You aren't alone (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladelfina

    Many of us spent our childhoods in a "house of worship" of some kind.  The music still gets to me.  The music you learned as a child will forever trigger your emotions.  I simply don't listen to the words when I hear a hymn from my childhood.  Although I tried, I never believed any of what they taught me in Sunday School.  I felt nothing.  My first act as a non-believer came when I was 8.  I went to bed one night and purposefully didn't say my prayers.  I didn't die.  So I tried it again the next night.  I'm still here.  That was 50 years ago, and I haven't prayed since.   Ever.  Embrace your knowledge.  Trust yourself.  My entire family thought the loss of my father would propel me to find solace in a christ I don't believe existed.  What they couldn't know was that seeing my father's casket, knowing his lifeless body was inside, confirmed to me beyond any doubt that my daddy was simply gone.  Seek out like-minded people.  I'd love to read a post from you in the future that sounds unburdened and full of life -- and perhaps with some new friends.  Best wishes to you.

  •  You'll be happy you moved forward (0+ / 0-)

    Of course you'll always remember the person you were, just as you probably remember being excited by Santa Claus as a child, but life gets immeasurably better when its based on reality.

    For what it's worth, when I realized I was an atheist, I was camping on a flood plain in Wales.  It was sort of a big moment, so I left the tent, stretched out, and told myself I really didn't believe in god.  At that moment, an enormous lightning bolt struck the river about 200 yards downstream and nearly deafened me.   Talk about weird coincidences.

  •  Don't feel bad. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tommy Jones the Band

    We don't believe in Zeus or any of the old gods and goddesses, Yahweh is just another in a long line of old gods that aren't necessary for society to function. Just as we no longer sacrifice maidens or children to ensure a crop, we don't have to ask a sky god for his forgiveness or intercession.. Understanding of the nature of the world evolves and
    I, for one, think all of the silly supernatural thinking is a drain and I'm tired of waiting for society to catch up.

  •  Courage (0+ / 0-)

    from another former LCMSer.  Hoping you find a solution with which you can be out and proud.

  •  so i am stupid because (0+ / 0-)

    i believe in god?

  •  My experiences were somewhat the opposite. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tommy Jones the Band

    For some reason, I've always - and I do mean always, like even as a little kid - enjoyed poking holes in religious illogic, and found the fact that other people took it seriously disturbing.  Call it arrogance, call it pride, but I've always just felt like facts are facts and people who can't or won't acknowledge them are just plain stupid.

    Republicans would rather live in shit than be seen working a shovel.

    by Troubadour on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 01:33:48 PM PDT

  •  many people were afraid of coming out as (0+ / 0-)

    non-racists at one point too.

    Come out loud, come out proud.

    REALITY is on your side.

    To be a Republican, you have to believe that our economic problems are caused by the poor having too much money and the rich not having enough.

    by Tommy Jones the Band on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 01:35:07 PM PDT

  •  "God" is you (0+ / 0-)

    "When my friends were saying "God wants me to be a teacher," or "God wants me to marry Laura as soon as we get out of high school," my God was silent to me."

    These people are clearly expressing their own desires, but signing "God's" name to them.

  •  Eh, I'll never understand Athiest. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Larsstephens

    I'm an Agnostic myself. Indeed, from what I've read, it seems the Universe contains more information that it is physically / scientifically possible to process (assuming the speed of light limit holds) So, drawing such big conclusions, seems a bit presumptuous to me.

    On the other hand, it's not as much of a stretch and more experimentally consistent than some theological beliefs.

    •  Atheism and agnosticism are different things (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens

      Atheism simply means to not hold a particular religious belief.  Atheism is defined in terms of what it is not.  It is not theism.

      Agnostic is more a statement about knowledge, whether or not it is possible to have certainty.  There can be agnostic theists, in fact, those are the best kind of theists, the ones who are comfortable with the notion that they could be wrong.

      Know the difference, people who grapple with theism and eventually turn atheist know what these words mean.

      Some atheists are more assertive in how they talk about their atheism, but that isn't a necessary requirement of atheism.  Don't make the mistake of thinking they are the same.

      •  Yes, some of the atheists do tend to come off (0+ / 0-)

        with the same fervor and self righteousness
        as the most fundamentalist of true believers.

        Perhaps that is just human nature, and a reflection
        of how certain behaviors are adapted and utilized
        in the context of the general social and cultural
        or especially dare I say, political, environments en situ.

        Notice the welcomes, and mentions of support groups.
        All of those might be found at an adult baptism or in a
        'camp meeting' revival tent from a hundred years ago.

        I, too, was raised LCMS, but I do not know if I am
        officially a member. Is there a form you must sign to join,
        or conversely, resign? That denominations stance about
        the multi faith memorial at Yankee stadium for the victims
        of the 911 attacks pretty much squelched any interest I
        had in further spiritual inquiries with them. Which is sad,
        in a very real way, as this is my fathers faith, which he
        practices to this day. I think he likes the music, too.

        I remember while attending confirmation classes, just
        into my teens and exploring this whole wondrous world
        as a barely teenager, sitting in the back row of chair
        desks taking a piece of Christmas candy from one of
        my still lifelong friends, who had kept it unwrapped in the
        pocket of his faded jeans. Of course, this meant it had
        a fine layer of sweaty lint attached to it, and as it was
        summer time, had lost most, if not all, of its seasonal
        appeal and flavor. My friend was masking his amusement
        as I slowly yawned it back into my hand and nonchalantly
        flipped it into a hard plastic trash receptacle in the corner
        of the room at the end of the row of seats. Which, naturally
        being empty, rang with all the clarity and dissonance of
        an alarm bell, which only the deaf or the dead could ignore.

        Our teacher, who happened to be the pastor, and spoke
        in that mid western monotone Lutherans are known for,
        and if I recall correctly, talked of how he had come to
        the Lord in the previous century after being run over by
        a team of horses pulling a wagon, asked quite sternly:
        "Who did that?" It was very quiet in there for several
        seconds. Everyone had turned around to look back at
        where the fearsome noise had come from. Eventually,
        I slowly raised my sticky with guilt and candy hand and
        confessed in a cracking adolescent voice "I did, sir."

        After a pause of several seconds, he seriously replied
        "That was a not a very Christian thing to do." What
        does one say to that? There were no other repercussions
        that I can recall, and we all went back to the discussion
        of the Nicene creed, and even though I passed the quiz,
        and took communion not so long after that, I knew right
        then that there was something fundamentally wrong
        with everything about the whole rather trivial scenario.

        Never really had a taste for any type of church going
        after that, much to the dismay of my parental units.
        Though I have seen how others faith affected their
        lives in very real ways, both positively and negatively,
        and respect and understand the tribal and cultural
        traditions that have been relayed from generations
        past, I just try to frame the whole thing as a search
        for meaning and understanding, overlaid with all of the
        passion and drama that humans seem to love so well.

        I do think that NOT being governed by such would
        be a tremendous bit of progress for our species, but
        doubt that our very human need to find order, pattern,
        meaning, understanding, or wisdom, will continue without
        at least some measure of these influences in all of our lives.

        I wish this author peace, and joy
        that passes all understanding,
        and acceptance in their journey,
        and thank them for this story,
        and the spirited discussion it begat,
        along with chance to share a bit of mine.

        Thanks for all of your efforts.

    •  The universe is hard to fathom (0+ / 0-)

      but it does have certain hard and fast rules. An atheist understands this and is therefore able to say that there is no god and are no gods. Period. There are no fairies either, and an atheist can say that too.

      And if and when one shows up, then the evidence will be taken into consideration.

      I flirted with agnosticism until it got too uncomforatable sitting on that fence.

  •  Welcome! (3+ / 0-)

    Atheists are a kind and loving bunch. As my young son says, "We don't need the fear of hell to be nice to people, we just are." The Christian children and their families, however, are often not so kind, so we try our best to keep our lack of religion to ourselves.

  •  You only live once (as you know :) Live in truth (0+ / 0-)

    live out loud.
    People who live a moral life and do the right thing, not because they fear godly retribution and punishment but because it's the right thing to do and they choose to live that way, ARE morally superior.

    Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

    by Catskill Julie on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 06:52:33 PM PDT

  •  religion (0+ / 0-)

    "All religions are man made. Ethics and morality are not dependant on religion, nor are they derived from it. All religions because of their claims of divine exemption are immoral and amoral." ----  God is Not Great......Hitchens.

    •  quoting a war-mongering bigot (0+ / 0-)

      is typically less than persuasive

      •  You've made your opinion (0+ / 0-)

        of Hitchens quite clear, twice.

        In following your comments I've come to the conclusion that you have a good bit of animosity towards atheists, and your continued defense of your belief makes me wonder why you felt it necessary to comment on a diary that was bound to have people being free in their criticisms of faith. No one has attacked you personally, and yet you post in a very personally defensive way.

        You may want to reasses your reasons for posting here...and that is just an OPINION.

        •  Doesn't seem to have animosity. (0+ / 0-)

          Elsewhere in the comments, he's just saying his position is being unfairly represented.  You'd do the same thing in a religious diary talking about atheists.  I probably would too.

          The Hitchens thing, eh..  One could probably come up with a justification to slander just about anyone; nobody's perfect.

          •  Other commenters also noticed (0+ / 0-)

            that he was gleaning criticism out of places where it didn't exist.

          •  I meant to say that he was (0+ / 0-)

            gleaning PERSONAL criticism where it didn't exist. The fact that atheists say that belief in a god is like believing in fairy tales should not surprise a religionist who comes on the thread. He took it as if those comments were directed at him personally.

            •  I didn't see that at all. (0+ / 0-)

              Part of the problem with religion is that people use a lot of the same words in completely different ways.  Faith, soul, god, spirituality, and on and on without ever defining any of their terms.  This quibble looks to mostly be over the terms being used.  Not over anything more substantial.

              To me, the word faith means the ability to accept things without evidence.  People talking about faith usually use it to justify really crazy things.  Ghosts, premonitions, god(s), spiritual healing, psychic stuff.

              All those things are mingled together into one big ball for me when someone uses the word faith.  To me, it's a flashing-red word that appears announcing to me that this person is a credulous fool.

              Most of the time, the person goes on to talk about something in that bundle of nonsense, so the word more or less fits the meaning in my head as long as they don't use it in an unexpected way.

              When atheists talk about faith (and amongst one another) they usually mean the same thing.  And so, I get to see once again that my definition is justifiably sensible.

              But, to others, when they speak about those words, they could mean something else.  I'd rather not try to speak for someone else, but I'll try to give a brief example.

              I heard someone once explain the word faith in a way that seemed to be more analogous to hope.  Hope for a better future, even if there is no sensible reason to think that a better future could exist.  Faith that such-and-such transient pain and senseless tragedy being worth something down the line.  That life, even if it sucks, and will continue to suck for a provable and persistent future, is still worth living.  That the struggles of physical tyranny are worth fighting and suffering and living for.

              In my example, faith was used in this way to describe the plight of slaves in the US.

              That's a use of the word that is difficult to convey, and strange to me.  But there's a good chance that religious people could be using it, or that someone might use a combination of that along with my personal-use definition.  This use of the word faith seems rare, though, even amongst the religious.

              Generally, I try to avoid words like that which are unclear and muddled.  Faith, God, spirituality, soul, etc...

              It's like asking whether or not there's a God.  Generally, it is pretty safe for me to say that no, there is no god.  No spiritual energies, no soul, no spirits or anything like that at all.  The most common definitions of those things I hear are certainly false.  Totally unreal depictions or ideas about reality.

              But if someone defines and thinks of God as 'the energy of the universe', then it's completely different.  It is not wrong.  I don't know how valuable it is, because then it's using a word to mean something so vague that it really doesn't mean anything.  If they want to define a God of the gaps, I can't say it doesn't exist.  The best I can do in that circumstance is say it's an unjustified (and useless) idea.

              Of course, most people who argue that's their definition of God aren't really being honest, and want to then conclude whatever extra junk they like.  But this just illustrates the importance of defining your terms.  Definitions for ideas like soul, God or the like are important.

              Most people who believe in alien visitation make the same mistake the theists do.  If one doesn't believe aliens like to hang out around Earth, then one is accused of asserting that there is no intelligent life in the entire universe.  I have actually been accused of this before

              This is solved by responding to "Do you believe in UFOs?" by asking the believer a simple question.  "What do you mean by UFOs?"

              Same thing with God, soul, etc...

              Arguing about the term before it's defined just leads to pointless arguments and debates which accomplish nothing.  And usually winds up with people accusing the other of being disingenuous.

          •  Thanks Paul (0+ / 0-)

            Don't tell him, but I am an atheist -- in that I don't hold a theistic view of whatever it is we're calling "god."  I just have, apparently, a greater understanding of and appreciation for the varieties of human experience and expression in this regard.

            •  Not really intended as a defense or support. (0+ / 0-)

              I just didn't see you say anything very malicious, considering the usual sort of theist/atheist arguments that inevitably occur.  People just get attached to their personal definition of vague terminology.  (I just wrote a lecture on that topic above)

              For the record, I do find Hitchens to be an excellent and reasoned critic of religion.  Maybe he had other faults (I'm not crazy about second-hand smoke), but I do agree with his anti-theist position.

      •  Is that recommended now? Okay. (0+ / 0-)

        Okay, nobody quote Abraham Lincoln, then.

        I wasn't aware that the perfect were the enemy of the good.

  •  small world, are we kin? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    niemann, Larsstephens

    Spooky how similar your family is to mine. The uncle. Your mom. If we are not blood relatives we share the same small LCMS gene pool.

    Allow my 2 cents?

    People ask, "Do you believe in God?" I realized a while back, my problem with that question is that I honestly don't understand it any more. The more seriously I try to understand the question the less I fathom it's meaning.

    I don't understand the word 'believe' and even if I would, I'm not certain I share the same meaning as you. I know I'm capable of uttering the words 'I Believe' - but am I being honest with myself much less you. Am I playing a mental trick on myself?

    I don't understand the word 'God' either. What is the person even asking? "Could you give me a definition, sir, of this God?" Is there a size or shape or color? Personality? White beard? Just what do you mean by omnipotence? It's trite to repeat, but as soon as a label is put on God, God is limited --even to an atheist--. I honestly and truly want to know, but it seems like a mysterious concept that can't really be verbalized. Language is clearly inadequate.

    But...

    What I DO know is awe and wonder. I can look at the Milky Way on a dark night and be absolutely humbled in awe and wonder at the vastness spread out for unfathomable distances. And I know our galaxy is just the tiniest speck in the Universe. And it's odd, but the Universe seems to quickly grow bigger as we learn more about it - in space. in time, in depth. The more we know the bigger it gets ...funny, eh?.

    The power and glory of it all can leave me speechless. To me, it seems good to be left speechless by awe and wonder on a regular basis.

    I can feel overwhelming love. I'm not unique. It's a feeling we seem to share. To me, it seems important to be left speechless by overwhelming love on a regular basis.

    And the flipside to that? Pain. And sorrow. And despair. We suffer. We all need a helping hand. Look around. Do what you can to alleviate the suffering. Helping hands keep suffering from becoming overwhelming. To me, it seems important to recognize suffering in it's various manifestations and lend a hand in relieving it.

    Mystery. What can I say. Sometimes we just have to shrug our shoulders and admit there is a big fucking profound mystery and that we barely have a clue. To me, it seems important to be left speechless by profound mystery on a regular basis.

    Am I an atheist, agnostic, or believer? What freaking difference does it make?

    What I DO know is: some things are profoundly important to me. Awe, wonder, love, suffering, mystery. Allow me to be speechless rather than debase these things with empty words.

    As someone said once, "What shall we say, shall we call it by a name As well to count the angels dancing on a pin."

    by themank on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:29:55 PM PDT

    •  I especially appreciate this part of your comment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      themank, Larsstephens
      People ask, "Do you believe in God?" I realized a while back, my problem with that question is that I honestly don't understand it any more. The more seriously I try to understand the question the less I fathom it's meaning.
      I can completely relate to this, and can only marvel that so few people seem to have the same problem with the question, apparently thinking it is as clear and objective as day.

      When I was in graduate school I took part in someone's psychological study on religion, and it was full of just such questions as "Do you believe in God?"

      I told the research assistants that I didn't understand the question.  "What do you mean by 'God'.  I can think of ways in which I could honestly answer both yes and no."

      One said, in a mildly mocking way, "Ah, you're a philosopher."

      I said, "No, if this is supposedly a scientific study, I just want you to define your bloody terms."

      As for "belief" I also don't quite know what that means.  I lean toward the position that all we can do as individuals is hold beliefs about things, since -- being monumentally limited -- none of us can know absolute truth.  I lean toward various positions on things, to varying degrees of confidence, based on various amounts of past experience and evidence ... but I never feel fully comfortable saying I know anything.

      (Writing that, I've just now remembered that once in a dream it suddenly occurred to me to wonder if it was a dream or reality ... so I pulled a leaf off a tree and examined it in detail.  There was so much fine detail in it that I realized I couldn't possibly be dreaming it ... that it must be reality.  So I decided that I knew, with full confidence, that I really was riding through the woods in a medieval wagon hunting werewolves.)

  •  There could be a God (0+ / 0-)

    If there was even a shred of evidence that there was any intelligent intervention involved in the evolution of life or the evolution of the universe over time, then there could be one. But we've looked awfully hard, and there isn't even the tiniest shred. Now, a God could be hiding in the ever shrinking gaps left in our knowledge, but my certainty regarding this issue rests on the fact that if there was one then it is extremely unlikely bordering on impossible that they would not have turned up by now. Now not that long ago, we didn't know any of this, so of course we had to believe God did it. How else could "all of this" have possibly happened? It's taking a while for our true situation to sink in, in fact I believe it will take generations,  but eventually, it will.

    We need to figure out what spiritual and ethical values can be derived from our humanity in a world without religion. Well, call me an optimist, because I think the possibilities there are infinite.

    "The only thing we have to fear - is fear itself." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    by orrg1 on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 07:52:37 PM PDT

  •  Welcome to the brave new and uncertain world (0+ / 0-)

    Atheism requires courage and I congratulate you for taking that step. I'd like to share with you the solace I offer to people who have suffered a bereavement - because almost all religions claim to offer a solution to that.

    I always say:

    "Your beloved relative did not suffer in any form for the countless billions of years before they were born. Now after a short and intense life, they have returned to that same state of quiet peace."

    People have no f*****g idea what their cat is thinking, but they're sure they have a God all figured out. — @Wolfrum via web

    by IgnoreAtYourPeril on Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 11:12:12 PM PDT

  •  There is nothing wrong (0+ / 0-)

    With not believing in "God" (whomever/whatever) and appreciating the artistic or philosophical works of people who did/do believe.

    Otherwise, we'd all have to agree on 100% of everything to be happy.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 03:42:52 AM PDT

  •  Welcome to the club. (0+ / 0-)

    The comments above only serve to demonstrate the many different paths people take to arrive at the conclusion that they are atheist.  I don't remember ever buying into the God thing, and I didn't have to go through a jarring change of outlook as I got older.  So I have sympathy with people who stand to lose their family and friends by coming out of the closet.  But closet-dwelling is never a healthy long-term way of life, for anyone.

    When you're ready and have been able to become more comfortable with how you feel, maybe you'll be able to be as honest with those around you as you are being with yourself.

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