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TABA last won the day on April 9

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About TABA

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  • Birthday September 24

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    West Virginia
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    Life, the Universe and Everything
  • More About Me
    From childhood Catholic to lukewarm conservative Christian. But now the spell is broken. I've come to realize I was probably always an atheist by nature.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?

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  1. This is a topic that I think about a lot, and which Josh and I and some others have discussed from time to time. I think there are growing signs that humans as a species are beginning to move away from theism. That's a tall order, giving up age-old beliefs in deities. But the hits have been coming for centuries now and are accumulating faster just in this new century. The rise of science beginning in the 17th century, the understanding of evolution by natural selection in the 19th, advances in anthropology and archaeology in the 20th and the rapid spread of information and ideas in the 21st. All combined with an increasing rejection of old moral codes associated with religions, especially related to what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms, and especially among younger people. The new atheists were good at making the intellectual case against gods, but they seemed to think that once the evidence was produced, atheism would spread inexorably. But a simple lack of belief in gods isn't enough to fill the vacuum left by religions that guided people in so many aspects of their lives for better or worse. What I find very encouraging now is the growth - mostly in best-selling books or on social media - of schools of thought that DO guide people in living better lives but without any mention of or reliance on the supernatural. I see people, who might be called Life Coaches, gaining large followings, and what they teach covers a broad spectrum with guidance on physical, mental, emotional and "spiritual" health (many of these personalities seem to pop up on the Joe Rogan podcast sooner or later, by the way). The common factor I am seeing is that, while few if any of these movements are explicitly atheistic, god, prayer and complex moral codes are notably absent. So they are tailor-made for those who are inclined to reject the god-beliefs. Among these new influencers are people like Ryan Holiday and other promoters of the philosphy of Stoicism. I'm also noticing an uptick in articles and books on a modern form of Epicureanism. Both these ancient philosophies are often misunderstood because of stereotypes associated with them, but the huge growth of interest in them is one of the hallmarks of our time, it seems to me. And there are many others, some pretty new-age-y, others quite down to earth. Philosophies like Stoicism are not incompatible with theism or even Christianity, and they can appeal to the godly and the godless alike. This can allow them to wean some people away from theism if they can see that the good stuff is in the philosophy and way of life itself, internal to the human being, no deity needed. Making theism obsolete rather than attacking it head-on. So it's likely that a religion like Christianity will be replaced, not by any one philosophy or movement or religion, but by a splintered range of "movements", philosophical schools etc that appeal to various kinds of people. I can even see the social aspects of religions being replaced by regular gatherings of like-minded people, with motivational speakers, classes for kids - and of course food and drink! So I guess what I hope and expect to see flourish goes beyond mere atheism, to the rise of positive life-philosophies that leave theism behind. I think that's the key.
  2. Indeed. Nothing points to the Bible being the product of human minds rather than divine more strongly than the way the OT treats the moral standards of its age as the norm and in line with the will of God. Christians will tell us that what was wrong in 1960 is still wrong in 2019: that God never changes. But they’ll then turn around and explain that the OT was written for its time, not ours, and that God basically didn’t want to rock the moral boat by rejecting slavery. Which is it?
  3. We care. Well I do anyway, so there's one of us at least . Glad you decided not to delete your account and glad you checked in with an update. I like your attitude. You can't go too far wrong thinking like that. Congrats on making those changes in your life!
  4. I'm just glad these kids have you as somebody they can share things with. Maybe the older folks will resent you for it, but you'll have these people who will never forget the support they got from you when they needed it.
  5. I'm sorry you've had a rough time the past few months! There's no denying that religions in general - including Christianity - can provide benefits that are hard to find elsewhere. That's partly why they've endured so long, often well past the point where their historical bases have lost credibility. The sense of community, the belief of there being a higher power watching over things, these are hard things to give up for many people. I've been fortunate, not just in not having had many major crises in my life, but also in somehow being able to derive a lot of joy from life. Not the superficial joy of seeing my team win a game (though it happens a lot: Go Patriots!!) , or receiving the perfect gift, but a deeper everyday happiness in just being alive and experiencing things that are so easy to take for granted. I know people whose circumstances are so similar to mine (financial and physical security, good marriages and family situations, good health) but who seem to rarely if ever experience this sense of joy, happiness or contentment. Why is that? I'm sure some people are blessed with somewhat different brain-chemistry. Or maybe they've somehow adopted a healthier outlook on life. I've often tried to put my finger on it so I could help people who seem like they should be happy but aren't. But it's elusive. I can point to some things that seem to make a difference for me: I make a habit of thinking about the things I'm thankful for, and it's always a long list: the beauty of the natural world, even on my suburban commute to work; the pleasure of sunshine on my face, the love of my dogs, the relative luxury of my middle-class home compared to what the vast majority of humans have had over history. So I guess that cultivating an attitude of thankfulness is one of the keys for me. I often use mental tricks to put setbacks in perspective: so if my car gets totaled and I'm inclined to be miserable because of it, I imagine a scenario where I get the news that my wife has been killed in a crash. Then imagine that after a few minutes I get a call that there's been a mistake: she was actually in a bad accident and the car is wrecked but she escaped with a scratch or two. I'd want to dance in the street, want to tell every stranger the good news... even though the car is still wrecked. After my deconversion I developed an interest in the Greek and Roman philosophy of Stoicism, which has seen a big resurgence lately as more and more people have been leaving religion, and I realized that something like this same technique is one of the key tools in the Stoic toolbox. I'd suggest taking a look at some of the books on the subject that have become popular: Happy (Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine) - Derren Brown The Daily Stoic (366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living) - Ryan Holiday (or any of his books) A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy - William B Irvine I've also dabbled in Meditation and begun to explore modern versions of Buddhism, both of which seem to make a big difference to a lot of people. I don't know if any of this helps at all. Just trying to zoom in on things that have helped me. I hope you can get your mojo back, my friend. And I hope the good people in this community can help you with that.
  6. Ever read Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning"? It's on my list but I haven't gotten to it yet. While I don't think Frankl was an atheist, I understand his focus, like yours, was on building inner strength rather than expecting external, supernatural help.
  7. I think I could turn on god-belief, after a fashion. But that qualifier is key. Between my agnostic atheism and Christianity lie several intermediate stages, which I passed through during my deconversion: Atheism >> Deism >> Theism >> Liberal Christianity >> Fundamentalist Christianity Could I travel backwards along that road? Each stage would be successively harder. As an AGNOSTIC atheist I’m open to the possibility there could be a sentient being behind the universe, but I’d need to know things I don’t currently know to become a deist. The arguments against theism would be hard for me to overcome. I’d have to really WANT to believe in a deity. Maybe if my life were to take a big turn for the worse, I’d start to want to believe in a loving deity watching over me. I think most people ultimately believe in god because they want to above all. Having traveled the journey, I think that - unlike most people - I’ve reached what @Joshpantera calls Intellectual Immunity to theism. This is a very significant position and those who aren’t religious but who haven’t reached intellectual immunity can be highly vulnerable to returning to faith. But even intellectual immunity could be overcome by prolonged emotional stress. The closest I have come is in moments of stress when I find myself uttering a quick silent ‘prayer’ (to nobody in particular) for help. And that happens even while I’m convinced there’s nobody hearing or answering prayer. But if things got really bad in my life I wouldn’t rule out embracing basic theism as a last resort. But I’m a long way from there and I think I’d find other ways to cope. From there to liberal Christianity wouldn’t be that big a step: it would add ritual and community, both of which have a lot of appeal. I can’t imagine any circumstance where fundamentalist Christianity would be an option. Like Josh, I’ve learned too much to accept the dogma and I can’t see what would be gained by embracing it, under any circumstances. Having said all that, I’ve been an agnostic atheist for almost five years now, am highly satisfied in this state and don’t anticipate changing.
  8. Seventy-five years ago today, in the midst of war, Winston Churchill had good reason to be thankful.
  9. I’m getting some mixed messages here...
  10. Happy Thanksgiving! And if you’re not American, well have a good Thursday! I’m thankful for a lot of things, not least this community of fellow travelers. Special thanks to @webmdave for all he’s done and continues to do, and thanks to the moderators for your work in keeping us civilized...
  11. Help was refused? Not quite. https://www.fdrlibrary.org/lend-lease
  12. I would like to think that becoming atheist would reduce one's desire to control others, but people tend to gravitate to either the right or the left, and I think the desire of many on the left to control others is pretty strong too: Don't Eat That, Don't Wear That, Don't Say That, Use These Pronouns, Hand Over More of your Money to the State. I know most of them mean well, but most on the Christian right mean well too. They just have different end goals.
  13. I get the point you're making, LF, but I also like to consider metrics like the fact that the US saved Europe from Nazism (not singlehandedly no: the Canadians, the British and around 45 French people fought also, but it made the difference between defeat and victory). And yes, that was 75 years ago but still today it's not Swedish and NZ flags that the democracy protesters in Hong Kong are waving. Like it or not, for all its many flaws, America still draws people willing to risk their lives to get here in a way that no other country inspires. And I say this an an immigrant myself.
  14. The Salvation Army is “controversial” now? This business of supporting or boycotting businesses because of their religious or political views is exhausting. No wonder the culture has become so polarized. This will not end well.
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