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Christopherhays

What keeps people from joining atheism/agnosticism?

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At Christmas dinner today the conversation was mostly about church and missions trips and god. There was probably 30+ of us there and everyone was fully participating in the testimonies and stuff. I actually made some excuse and left early... but what makes the rest of my family so religious? Why am I literally the only one that’s an atheist? Are others atheists too and just afraid to admit it? (I’ve never admitted it to family, but I don’t participate anymore)  it kinda sucks seeing them all spend so much time and effort on religion. If they haven’t seen the flaws yet, is it even possible for them to give it up at this point?

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5 minutes ago, Christopherhays said:

 it kinda sucks seeing them all spend so much time and effort on religion. If they haven’t seen the flaws yet, is it even possible for them to give it up at this point?

 

I just logged onto the forum and your post popped up.  It is REALLY frustrating, isn't it.  Even depressing.   This afternoon I started to make contact with a guy from a church I attended years ago, but when I saw the crap he had posted on his blog, it almost turned my stomach, and I decided to not contact him.   I had forgotten how ridicilous some of that stuff can be. 

 

But I guess it could be worse.  They could be radical jihadists trying to kill us infidels. 

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For the ones that take it all seriously, reality itself is defined by the faith. They really think there is a being in charge, that there is a constant invisible war between demons and angels, that the words in the books of the Bible are true instead of stupid tribal myths that cannot possibly be based in history, and that when we all die we face that god for judgment. They can't see that they are in a cult like any other cult, and our cultures give church a default respect and honor instead of wincing and backing away from it like the Moonies or Manson family. My state has a legislator in the eastern area that is a white supremacist fundamentalist jihadist that wants to kill every male who won't submit to Christian law, and he apparently has a lot of similar believers that put him in office. Even most serious believers don't take things that direction, but they do consider it all real.

 

Most who call themselves believers don't take it as seriously as fundamentalists do. I know gobs of Catholics, Lutherans, and Presbyterians that are believers by default, and it is just something they do as part of their identity and local culture. But it doesn't define reality for them. 

 

The rest of us are not believers, and being not something isn't really a rallying point until the religions become oppressive. 

 

I recently interacted with some Russian Pentecostal believers at a memorial service. Many of them had fond memories of me and my wife helping them adjust to life in America. But a couple of them see us as poison since we reject Jesus now. We were invited to Thanksgiving, but didn't go because it would be really awkward. We don't have anything in common with them now because for them the faith defines 99% of who they are and what they do. It is a constant programming of their minds and emotions, and the ones that see us as the toxic ones are guardians of the cult, and don't want us messing things up. It's a sad thing that we can't relate as humans for very long, but for them everything revolves around the faith. That's how cults stay in control of people, stay in power, keep the money flowing in, and foster new generations of believers to keep the machine working. 

 

But the more we can publicly and privately be real with people about the nonsense of belief, the more people will start seeing through it. 

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4 hours ago, Fuego said:

But the more we can publicly and privately be real with people about the nonsense of belief, the more people will start seeing through it. 

I do agree. But it's hard isn't it? We who reject and react against pressure to convert to christianity have to find ways of politely (but does that work?!) but firmly giving our extimony and sharing the joy and fulfillment that we find in our nontheism. Otherwise we simply will be mimicking fundamentalism, I fear. On the other hand, I know I am not the only one who finds that christians do not wish to engage with these issues.....and we know why, sadly.

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Our entire society in general and religious people in particular get constant, unrelenting indoctrination. Free thinkers must find their way on their own and encounter resistance all the way. We're fighting a huge propaganda machine. Atheists/nonbelievers/freethinkers don't have organizations taking in tax free money and programs to indoctrinate everyone from birth.

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7 hours ago, Fuego said:

For the ones that take it all seriously, reality itself is defined by the faith. They really think there is a being in charge, that there is a constant invisible war between demons and angels, that the words in the books of the Bible are true instead of stupid tribal myths that cannot possibly be based in history, and that when we all die we face that god for judgment. They can't see that they are in a cult like any other cult, and our cultures give church a default respect and honor instead of wincing and backing away from it like the Moonies or Manson family. My state has a legislator in the eastern area that is a white supremacist fundamentalist jihadist that wants to kill every male who won't submit to Christian law, and he apparently has a lot of similar believers that put him in office. Even most serious believers don't take things that direction, but they do consider it all real.

 

Most who call themselves believers don't take it as seriously as fundamentalists do. I know gobs of Catholics, Lutherans, and Presbyterians that are believers by default, and it is just something they do as part of their identity and local culture. But it doesn't define reality for them. 

 

The rest of us are not believers, and being not something isn't really a rallying point until the religions become oppressive. 

 

I recently interacted with some Russian Pentecostal believers at a memorial service. Many of them had fond memories of me and my wife helping them adjust to life in America. But a couple of them see us as poison since we reject Jesus now. We were invited to Thanksgiving, but didn't go because it would be really awkward. We don't have anything in common with them now because for them the faith defines 99% of who they are and what they do. It is a constant programming of their minds and emotions, and the ones that see us as the toxic ones are guardians of the cult, and don't want us messing things up. It's a sad thing that we can't relate as humans for very long, but for them everything revolves around the faith. That's how cults stay in control of people, stay in power, keep the money flowing in, and foster new generations of believers to keep the machine working. 

 

But the more we can publicly and privately be real with people about the nonsense of belief, the more people will start seeing through it. 


I agree with everything you said... but I was once one of those crazy fundamentalist Christians, and I broke away from it. I had as much brainwashing as anyone, but it didn’t work in the end. Idk why I’m the only one. 

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     One of the most common themes in xianity is doubt and using faith to fend it off.  They even use the reports of jesus having doubt, and overcoming it, as some sort of thing to emulate (which, is stupid considering he would have been a god doubting himself but then we get into that being his "human" side not his "god" side and all sorts of elaborate bullshit).  And pretty much so on down the line from there.  They all do it.  Doubt is a part of the system.  And putting aside those doubts is also a part of that same system.  Going to your grave doubting seems just fine and even normal just as long as you maintain your faith (which seems the same as asserting you have faith, because, ultimately, what's the difference?  Who's really going to know?  Only the person themselves and they're taking it to their grave).

 

          mwc

 

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We think of ourselves as rational creatures, but a lot of what we do is automatic, like Pavlov’s dogs.  Belivers who have been indoctrinated since birth don’t see, hear, or understand things as a neutral observer would.  I think about how I used to read the bible; when there was a contradiction or moral outrage, my mind automatically went into “harmonization” mode; “how should we interpret this so it all comes out right?”  Not, “this book can’t be right.”  Or, when prayers are not answered, “‘No’ is sometimes the answer.”  And once you really believe the part about the existence of an invisible god and post-mortem judgment, you are afraid to question.

 

For me, a big part of the falling away process was the negative example of certain people who were supposed to be the best and brightest of the faith.  Also the over-the-top claims of my particular sect; “we are right, and the other 99.9% of christendom down through the ages is and has been wrong.”

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3 hours ago, Christopherhays said:

 

I had as much brainwashing as anyone, but it didn’t work in the end. Idk why I’m the only one. 

 

Some people seem to be born more curious than others.  And maybe somewhere along the way you got the message that it is okay to question things.  I was lucky to have a grandfather (a fundamentalist)  who used to say "everyone has to work out their own salvation", and encouraged me to study the issues for myself.  I guess what he didn't realize at the time was that i would eventually look outside the box of the Church of Christ.

 

There may be others in the group who is a potential thinker.  Is there anyone in the group who is somewhat silent while the discussion is going on?  Or ever questions what is being said?

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12 hours ago, Fuego said:

But the more we can publicly and privately be real with people about the nonsense of belief, the more people will start seeing through it. 

 

 

Today I saw a posting from one of my fundy Russian friends objecting to Jesus being mocked in a video, and calling for down-voting the video so it will be removed because her "lord deserves respect". I'm torn between wanting to say "No, he really doesn't because..." and remaining silent because she won't hear anything that I have to say because she's in "defend the faith mode". I'm more forward with my sister-in-law who occasionally posts things like "5 facts that believers know" where I can deconstruct the "facts" as just claims about characters in stories versus actual known facts. So on one hand I can be open about it, but also try to balance it for when I think they are actually open emotionally and mentally versus in emotional fervor mode. No quick solutions that I've found.

 

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9 hours ago, mwc said:

One of the most common themes in xianity is doubt and using faith to fend it off.

   

And its also fear. They generate fear in folks and then provide the answer to that fear. "Where will you go when you die?" People are afraid of death and Christians exploit that. Then there is the whole "sin" thing; convincing people that they are shitty scum and that there is only one way to resolve that. The list goes on.

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10 hours ago, Weezer said:

There may be others in the group who is a potential thinker.  Is there anyone in the group who is somewhat silent while the discussion is going on?  Or ever questions what is being said?

Definitely not amongst the 10 of us around the same age. I’m going to see my best friend tomorrow. I moved away a few years ago and haven’t seen him since becoming an atheist. He was pretty miserable back in the day. He was always guilty about something, and his dad (the pastor) had crazy high expectations. I had a few conversations of doubt with him growing up but I think the doubt was mostly on my end :( I’m sure he’ll bring up religion and church tomorrow so we’ll see how that goes. 

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A big part of it is that those in religion and cults have been programmed to give a fuck about what those in their in group think of them. Therefore Muslims are invested in what other Muslims think of them, and Christians are invested in what other Christians think of them etc. People fear social isolation. 

You can only walk away when you no longer give any fucks about how high the stakes are in doing so. And they are high in many cases. Marriages and relationships and families fall apart or are divided, and friendships come to an end. Many may remain (and keep their opinions to themselves)out of simple fear of this loss. 

 

Edit: this fear can be an unconscious motivator that prevents people from questioning their beliefs

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5 hours ago, TruthSeeker0 said:

A big part of it is that those in religion and cults have been programmed to give a fuck about what those in their in group think of them. Therefore Muslims are invested in what other Muslims think of them, and Christians are invested in what other Christians think of them etc. People fear social isolation. 

You can only walk away when you no longer give any fucks about how high the stakes are in doing so. And they are high in many cases. Marriages and relationships and families fall apart or are divided, and friendships come to an end. Many may remain (and keep their opinions to themselves)out of simple fear of this loss. 

 

Edit: this fear can be an unconscious motivator that prevents people from questioning their beliefs


Exactly.
 

Once this fear eventually surfaced from my subconcious, my need for my beliefs to be true outweighed the need for comfort and social inclusion.

 

In walking away I lost everything I had feared I would lose... friends, family members, my marriage. 
 

However it was worth the heartache, my kids now have a future free from religious indoctrination and dogma. And I eventually gained a profound sense of peace.

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3 hours ago, LostinParis said:

And I eventually gained a profound sense of peace.

  

^  ^  ^ Yes.

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I’m definitely out of the religion, but I haven’t lost any family or friends because I haven’t told them I’m an atheist. My relationships are a bit hollow, and I can’t really be myself all the time... but I haven’t made any atheist friends so I guess I’m just waiting. Part of my reason for posting this is my desire to see the friends and family I do have free from religion. It would be great if just one could relate. I’ve never made friends easily and I still have allot of cult indoctrination and social setbacks to overcome before I’ll feel like I fit in with the “normal” crowd. 

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26 minutes ago, Christopherhays said:

I’m definitely out of the religion, but I haven’t lost any family or friends because I haven't told them I'm an atheist. 

 

I would avoid use of the term atheist.  In the south that is worse than saying you are an axe murder.  Stick with "not being into religion".  I have even stopped saying I am agnostic.  Many people see them as the same.

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16 hours ago, Christopherhays said:

I’ve never made friends easily and I still have allot of cult indoctrination and social setbacks to overcome before I’ll feel like I fit in with the “normal” crowd. 

I've been out of religion, and open about it, for over 16 years, now; and I still don't fit in with the "normal" crowd.  That's okay.  I don't even like crowds.  I tend to be the quiet wallflower at social gatherings; and that is just as valid as being the life of the party.  Pay no mind to the expectations of others.  Be true to whoever you turn out to be.

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As I look back over my whole life, I know now that I was always searching for ''safety''. Safe from what I knew deep in my heart (even as a child) the suffering and heartbreak that went on in the world... even in my own small, little world as a youngster. I had a turbulent childhood with lots of fighting, drinking, etc. that was very scary to me as a child. There wasn't any talk about hell in the United Church where I spent my childhood. They only preached about the love of Jesus. But I remember thinking when my cat got caught in the fan of a car on Christmas eve day, why would jesus let this happen to me and my sister? We were devastated. Then came family deaths (some at an early age) and I remember so clearly thinking that god made it hard for humans. And I observed suffering all though my teenage years, even though I was having a lot of fun.  By the time I was 21 and went to my first fundamentalist church I was a prime  candidate for the doctrine. The preacher asked if we were really saved? Did we accept Jesus publicly? Did we know for sure we were going to heaven? And I thought to myself, my United Church was wrong. They didn't preach any of this? I had now found the true religion. This was what was missing for me to feel that 'safety' I always wanted to feel. So I accepted the lord as my Savior and thought for sure I finally had 'someone' who would protect me from the suffering in life. Well, you guys know the rest of the story.....

 

The point that I am trying to make this morning is that my friends and family still love the 'safety'' they feel. They refuse to look at the  reality of the world. When I ask them how god could allow such suffering, they always have the right answers. Besides, jesus is coming back to set up a new world, right?  And these were the answers I gave when I was a believer. I remember how much I tried to explain Genesis to my atheist cousin and he thought I was nuts. He told me way back then that this church had me brainwashed. I would not listen to him at all and as much as i loved him, i thought he was 'lost'. 911 was the day i knew I couldn't believe in a sincere way anymore. Why some of us wake up and some don't is still beyond me? But I think it has something to do with 'safety'. I don't have that anymore and i am not afraid to admit that I miss that part of the religious belief.

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12 hours ago, Christopherhays said:

I’m definitely out of the religion, but I haven’t lost any family or friends because I haven’t told them I’m an atheist. My relationships are a bit hollow, and I can’t really be myself all the time... but I haven’t made any atheist friends so I guess I’m just waiting. Part of my reason for posting this is my desire to see the friends and family I do have free from religion. It would be great if just one could relate. I’ve never made friends easily and I still have allot of cult indoctrination and social setbacks to overcome before I’ll feel like I fit in with the “normal” crowd. 

There is no normal. There's only people striving to live up to the image of what is projected as "normal" at any given point in time. Just be yourself. 

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16 hours ago, Weezer said:

 

I would avoid use of the term atheist.  In the south that is worse than saying you are an axe murder.  Stick with "not being into religion".  I have even stopped saying I am agnostic.  Many people see them as the same.

   

^  ^  ^

Some Christians think atheists worship the devil and eat babies. But seriously, "atheist" and "atheism" end in "ist" and "ism" which implies some sort of belief system. But as we know, "nothing" is not a belief system. But Christians will think that anyway.

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5 minutes ago, older said:

   

^  ^  ^

Some Christians think atheists worship the devil and eat babies. But seriously, "atheist" and "atheism" end in "ist" and "ism" which implies some sort of belief system. But as we know, "nothing" is not a belief system. But Christians will think that anyway.

 

I'm so tired of allowing them to make the rules. I believe there is no god as I believe there is no tooth fairy. It's not a positive belief, it's a conclusion one reaches when not given enough evidence to believe the extraordinary claim. So there is no term for one who doesn't believe in the tooth fairy or Santa but not believing in a god rates a special term that can be used as a target. Though I am an A-Santa and A-Tooth Fairy guy, only A-theist is an accepted term. I refuse to fall prey to their semantic game; they coined the term "atheist" and I am not ashamed to say I don't believe in gods and this word makes that clear to them. They will think as they choose, that much is clear.

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On 12/30/2019 at 12:34 AM, Margee said:

Why some of us wake up and some don't is still beyond me? But I think it has something to do with 'safety'. I don't have that anymore and i am not afraid to admit that I miss that part of the religious belief.


I think humans dislike uncertainty. Certainty makes us feel safe and in control. We invented bullshit stories to plug the gaps in our knowledge because the unknown can feel so terrifying. 

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On 12/28/2019 at 1:28 PM, TruthSeeker0 said:

A big part of it is that those in religion and cults have been programmed to give a fuck about what those in their in group think of them. Therefore Muslims are invested in what other Muslims think of them, and Christians are invested in what other Christians think of them etc. People fear social isolation. 

You can only walk away when you no longer give any fucks about how high the stakes are in doing so. And they are high in many cases. Marriages and relationships and families fall apart or are divided, and friendships come to an end. Many may remain (and keep their opinions to themselves)out of simple fear of this loss. 

 

Edit: this fear can be an unconscious motivator that prevents people from questioning their beliefs

 

That's definitely true to an extent. However, as I was losing my faith, I certainly cared about how believers would perceive me, but I had no choice. I didn't choose to discover that Christianity is false. It just happened and the realization dragged me away.

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On 12/29/2019 at 4:24 PM, older said:

   

^  ^  ^

Some Christians think atheists worship the devil and eat babies. But seriously, "atheist" and "atheism" end in "ist" and "ism" which implies some sort of belief system. But as we know, "nothing" is not a belief system. But Christians will think that anyway.

 

The belief system ("ism") goes with the "theism". The prefix "a" just means not. So, in other words, "atheism" means "not a god belief system". Thus, there's no grounds for them claiming that the word "atheism" means it's a belief system. 

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