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Wertbag

Christians saying atheism means more

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In my browsing, I've recently seen quite a few Christians who assert that atheism means you fit a whole load of other beliefs into your world view.

The most common seems to be "You don't believe in anything supernatural, therefore you must believe in a natural universe". 

Obviously wrong as atheism says nothing about the supernatural, only about god. There are several atheistic religions which believe in spirits, reincarnation, energy flow and all the related woo, without believing in a god behind the scenes. 

There are Christians who take it a step further and say "because you are an atheist you must believe in the big bang, abiogenesis and evolution" (although the Ham's and Hovind's of the world often jam all of those separate subjects under their definition of "evolution"). In reality the most common answer to the hard questions like where did the universe come from? or where did life come from? Is simply, we don't know. 

Some Christians will act like thats a gotcha moment. You admitted you can't explain the universe once you remove god and therefore prove your whole belief system is wrong. 

This argument sounds solid from their viewpoint but is meaningless to an atheist. Atheism isn't based on these questions, and regardless of what process turns out to be the correct one, it doesn't change the fact that right now there is no good evidence for god, satan, angels, heaven or anything claimed by the heavily debated bible. 

 

You then have the offshoot of this argument, which comes up in discussions about morality "as an atheist you must believe everything is pure matter, and one pile of matter is no more special than another, so there can be no value justified for anything. And with morals being purely subjective, it is impossible to say there is right and wrong". Even just from a gut instinct level this will feel wrong, even if you haven't considered it deeply. How do we know right from wrong? It is taught to us by our parents, by our educators, by our peers and by society. We are told what is acceptable behaviour and what is not, and are aware that our negative actions will be punished in various ways. 

There is no sign of any instinctive morals, with every society and every age changing what they see as acceptable. For the Romans, it wasn't just public executions but a show you would pay to see. Nowdays the practice is considered barbaric. No god given morals stopped those events, and no supernaturally given instincts reined in the inquisition or genocides committed in gods name. 

 

There's at least a couple billion atheists in the world, and trying to shoehorn everyone into little boxes is never going to work. The only thing we share is a lack of belief in god, everything else is up for grabs. 

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They have caricatures of atheists as we have caricatures of them. The difference is, and I can't stress this enough, as Ex-Christians we used to be in their shoes but they were never in ours. It follows that we likely understand them better than they understand us.

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And what Wertbag writes is the reason I avoid saying I am an "atheist." I prefer to say I don't believe, or that I'm not religious. As I've written on this site before, the term "atheist" is often used as a pejorative by Christians and I don't want to give them an opening for inaccurate claims about my world view.

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18 hours ago, Wertbag said:

There are Christians who take it a step further and say "because you are an atheist you must believe in the big bang, abiogenesis and evolution" (although the Ham's and Hovind's of the world often jam all of those separate subjects under their definition of "evolution"). In reality the most common answer to the hard questions like where did the universe come from? or where did life come from? Is simply, we don't know. 

Some Christians will act like thats a gotcha moment. You admitted you can't explain the universe once you remove god and therefore prove your whole belief system is wrong. 

 

I had this in mind when I was debating with Luth-ifer. I knew which direction he'd take. So I made sure to voice early on that christians don't know how the universe came about, they only have this creation myth in Genesis, which, is myth and doesn't disclose anything about the actual origins of the universe. His move was to point at me and claim that I don't know. To which I happy admitted and then hammered home the fact that no one knows, and that's the point! Not science, not religions, not anything. It's an ongoing mystery which neither science nor religion has "solved" or made "known." 

 

We're literally actively seeking out true answers for origins. And there wasn't anything he could do with it. He was stuck where I placed him from the beginning. In order to get out of where I placed him, he would have to prove or substantiate, with credible evidence, that he does know exactly the mystery of origins. The book of Genesis is not capable of substantiating such a claim. So he's dead in the water. All he can do keep pointing out that we don't know either, which, is nonsensical because we're arguing on behalf of an agnostic position. The christian can only prove the agnostic position correct over and over again as they wiggle around trying to escape it..... 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

christians don't know how the universe came about

"You atheists have the ridiculous view that everything just sprang into existence from nothing!" 

"oh? What do you believe?" 

"That everything sprang into existence from nothing!" 

"Isn't that the same?" 

"No! Cos god dun did it!" 

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14 hours ago, older said:

And what Wertbag writes is the reason I avoid saying I am an "atheist." I prefer to say I don't believe, or that I'm not religious. As I've written on this site before, the term "atheist" is often used as a pejorative by Christians and I don't want to give them an opening for inaccurate claims about my world view.

Understandable, but I prefer to be openly atheist so that people are exposed to real people living good lives. Just being in contact with someone who is happy, doesn't swear, doesn't drink, has a nice happy family and a good job is often a clash with the image that preachers try to claim. 

I also like to answer surveys and census forms as atheist rather than jedi, non-religious or other, cos it gives a better indication of the actual size of atheism. To many religious those other terms just mean non-denominational, or a believer but not belonging to a certain church. At least atheist makes it clear that many people disagree with their beliefs. 

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This is the reason that I self-identify as non-theist - which means I do not believe in a god but want to respect those who have created their gods from within their imaginations and who find them helpful.

This morning I had to provide an answer to a person who had a tick box for 'religion'- she had none for non-theist, so I explained what it means, how important it is to me and agreed that she put me down as atheist (no-one else will see it and I'd rather it went into her statistical analysis as 'atheist' than anything else).

 

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I once went through a checkpoint in Belfast and the Gardai asked for my religion.  I stated that I was an atheist. 

 

Their response:  Right, but is it the Catholic god or the Protestant god you don't believe in?

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10 hours ago, Wertbag said:

"You atheists have the ridiculous view that everything just sprang into existence from nothing!" 

"oh? What do you believe?" 

"That everything sprang into existence from nothing!" 

"Isn't that the same?" 

"No! Cos god dun did it!" 

 

Also in that debate, the point was made that atheist's (scientists) don't actually believe that everything sprang into existence from nothing. There's always the issue of pre-existence looming behind the cosmological theories. So it's really just the christians with an "ex nihilo" belief who do believe that everything sprang into existence from nothing. Granted, not all christian's believe that creation ex nihilo is biblical. Some think that it's just an interpretation and incorrect one. Just to clarify that I'm aware of it. 

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8 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

This is the reason that I self-identify as non-theist - which means I do not believe in a god but want to respect those who have created their gods from within their imaginations and who find them helpful.

This morning I had to provide an answer to a person who had a tick box for 'religion'- she had none for non-theist, so I explained what it means, how important it is to me and agreed that she put me down as atheist (no-one else will see it and I'd rather it went into her statistical analysis as 'atheist' than anything else).

 

 

They should just make the choices say "theist" or "not-theist." It means the same thing - not-theist, non-theist, or atheist.

 

But I suppose it would be better represented by just spelling it out and make the choices simple and clear. Because of all the associated baggage, that atheism only means, "not-theist," is lost on a lot of the population. They want to conflate "beliefs" about things in with "not-god belief." And shoe horn non-believers with incorrect assertions associated with new atheism and other similar things. Militant things and what not. 

 

I agree with those who just default to atheist regardless of the confusion, just for the sake of trying to help properly represent how many people out there simply don't believe in god(s). The true number of non-theist's out there probably gets obscured by pussy footing around the issue. And I suspect that there are a hell of a lot more non-theists in the world than what polls have been representing. Even as the polls are showing increasing numbers, they seem lower than what they probably are. 

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8 hours ago, nontheistpilgrim said:

This morning I had to provide an answer to a person who had a tick box for 'religion'- she had none for non-theist,

  

And I wonder why any form to be filled out would ask for religious preference anyway. Outside of a funeral home, whose business is it, anyway?

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2 hours ago, older said:

 

  

And I wonder why any form to be filled out would ask for religious preference anyway. Outside of a funeral home, whose business is it, anyway?

I think it's because I live in one of the most diverse areas of UK. Professionals feel the need to show that they are impartial by producing statistics. I sort of get it although I, too, object to the question. In fact it makes no difference to the way I am treated, so far as I know....the colour of my skin may determine that!😉

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"Christians saying atheism means more"... are either ignorant, or intentionally attempting to conflate atheism with religion or a worldview in order to construct a strawman which they can then easily burn down.

 

Where one can honestly say that being a Christian means more than just believing in Jesus as Christianity has an entire attached worldview. (Admittedly altered for every different sect) Atheism, contrary to incorrect assertions is not a religion or worldview. It simply answers one question: Do you believe in any gods? No? Congrats you're atheist. 

 

I do sometimes make the semantic approach of differentiating between me being atheist (I.e. holding no belief in any gods) and being "An Atheist" which seems to attach identity to it in my mind, rather than just being a descriptor of a position one hold's.

 

For the atheist to get a worldview they have to attach a boatload more than just "atheism". You might attach a naturalistic worldview, a humanist one etc in order to give a complete worldview.

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I'm still pissed that the theists get to make the linguistic rules. The word "atheist" shouldn't even be in use unless we also have to say say "A-Santa Clausist" or "A-Unicornist or "A-Flat Earther."

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You know the word goes back to 450 BC? If vast members of the population were claiming Santa Claus is real we would be aSantaists. It's simply because the vast majority of people believe in God's that the distinction is drawn.

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On 1/15/2020 at 10:08 AM, Wertbag said:

What do you believe?" 

"That everything sprang into existence from nothing!" 

"Isn't that the same?" 

"No! Cos god dun did it!" 

 

I tire of the "something from nothing" argument.

 

How does anyone know that a state of "nothing" has occurred?  The evidence before us strongly suggests there always has be "something".  

 

So the state of "nothing" is not provable.  It has to been assumed.  We should not allow it to be thrown out on the table as an obvious fact.

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Who cares?

 

Why should we concern ourselves with what Christians think? I believe what I believe. No one other than me has license to say what exactly it is that I think.

 

My expressed opinions, beliefs, etcetera, are open for criticism. Absolutely. But I will not have people telling me what I think, and then attacking their idea of what I think. That's just silly.

 

These people aren't worth the time it takes to tell them to shut up. 

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7 hours ago, disillusioned said:

Who cares?

 

Why should we concern ourselves with what Christians think? I believe what I believe. No one other than me has license to say what exactly it is that I think.

 

My expressed opinions, beliefs, etcetera, are open for criticism. Absolutely. But I will not have people telling me what I think, and then attacking their idea of what I think. That's just silly.

 

These people aren't worth the time it takes to tell them to shut up. 

  

This relates to the "You're just angry at God" response we sometimes get. What a presumptuous thing to say! If we said, "You're just sucked into the myth because you are afraid of reality," they'd probably be offended and pissed. For them to say we are angry at God is no different from them to say we are angry at Santa. How can we be angry at something that doesn't exist? What we may be angry with is Christians who have abused us or pushed their religion upon us.

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I haven't filled out a form in decades that ask for religion.  Is Humanism a choice?  That comes the closest to describing what I believe.

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On 1/15/2020 at 10:20 AM, Wertbag said:

Understandable, but I prefer to be openly atheist so that people are exposed to real people living good lives. Just being in contact with someone who is happy, doesn't swear, doesn't drink, has a nice happy family and a good job is often a clash with the image that preachers try to claim. 

I also like to answer surveys and census forms as atheist rather than jedi, non-religious or other, cos it gives a better indication of the actual size of atheism. To many religious those other terms just mean non-denominational, or a believer but not belonging to a certain church. At least atheist makes it clear that many people disagree with their beliefs. 

   

Hm. Very valid point, Wertbag. I think if I were filling out a form I just might put "atheist." But if I was having a discussion with a Christian, I still would avoid using the term "atheist." I agree with Florduh's post about theists getting to make the linguistic rules. It shouldn't be that way, but the reality is otherwise. 

 

My position is I feel the most effective way to communicate with someone is to use language they understand. Anyone who has studied a foreign language knows that there are elements of one language that just can't be translated easily into another. It may take a whole paragraph in the second language to explain a word or two from the first. So for me to communicate with a Christian, I want to use words in a way that fits into their perspective. Yes, it would be nice if we could educate them as to the meaning of the words as we use them, but that introduces another whole element into the conversation and, when attitudes are not that flexible, which we often see in Christians, our communications might not be received in the way we intend.

 

So I like to meet them on their playing field. I've even used religion as a tactic. Some years ago I encountered a neighbor getting ready to dump trash in the field behind our house. He knows it's against the law. I asked  him, "Are you a Christian man?" Him: "Yes." Me: "Remember, God is watching you." He didn't dump the trash.

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👍 and  😁 to olders post.

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On 1/14/2020 at 3:38 PM, florduh said:

They have caricatures of atheists as we have caricatures of them. The difference is, and I can't stress this enough, as Ex-Christians we used to be in their shoes but they were never in ours. It follows that we likely understand them better than they understand us.

 

https://www.reddit.com/r/exatheist/

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59 minutes ago, midniterider said:

 

I just want to comment on this. I read through the first page. Granted, atheist's should not be repeating the christian mantra of, "you were never really a christian." By saying, "you were never really an atheist," to ex-atheists, or simply atheist's who converted to christianity or some other religious belief. That's a good point. If these people used to lack god belief for any reason at all, they were atheists. They didn't have to be smart or understand all of the issues, they just had to lack in positive belief in the existence of gods. 

 

But as I read through the posts, I see that a lot of these people claiming to be ex-atheists aren't well enough understood about the atheist issues they're trying to argue against. So we could say that they show no comprehensive understanding of an intellectually atheist position. Take for instance the guy who commented about consciousness. We discuss that all the time. And it doesn't matter whether consciousness is primary or not. Consciousness is clearly not YHWH either way. If it were, then that would make YHWH the entire universe of living and non-living matter. That's not what YHWH is claimed to be and that's not what biblical religion has stamped as it's belief system. Consciousness is not what this guy thinks it is. If existence itself is consciousness, that doesn't make it a god. It just makes it existence. The universe, us, and everything else. This is still within an atheistic framework, there's no god to point at in the equation. Just the whole. Not some entity of supernatural magnitude. 

 

So this guy, on account of the possibility that consciousness is absolute, converts to religion and starts renouncing atheism online. I wouldn't do me any good to tell him that he was never a real atheist. He may have been. It only means that he didn't believe in god previously.

 

But he shows no sign of being exceptionally intellectual in his former disbelief. Or well understood about the issues concerning god or a lack thereof and the scope to which that focus can entail. Do to an outspoken argument of his own misunderstanding, he took up god belief from an unwarranted platform easily addressed. So at the end of the day, his own lack of knowledge and understanding of a given issue stands at the base of his decision to take up god belief. 

 

To a lot of atheists reading along, it would look as though he and most of the others weren't really atheists previously. That it's just bullshit. Because they speak as though they don't even understand the issues that they're talking about. And in this confusion, somehow got caught up in looking to religion as an answer. When that wouldn't have been necessary or warranted had they just thought things out a few steps further. 

 

So it can be said that they generally don't understand what they're talking about, but were at one point non-believing atheists. That seems like an intellectually honest evaluation given the demonstration and circumstances. 

 

 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

I just want to comment on this. I read through the first page. Granted, atheist's should not be repeating the christian mantra of, "you were never really a christian." By saying, "you were never really an atheist," to ex-atheists, or simply atheist's who converted to christianity or some other religious belief. That's a good point. 

 

But as I read the posts I see that these people claiming to be ex-atheists aren't well enough understood about the atheist issues they're trying to argue against. So we could say that they show no comprehensive understanding of an intellectually atheist position.

 

I'm gonna start calling myself an intellectual agnostic now. :) Granted, that subreddit isn't a good representation, but would  you say that someone who does understand the issues and is intellectually atheist could never become a theist? I'm not that buying that idea. 

 

 

Quote

 

Take for instance the guy who commented about consciousness. We discuss that all the time. And it doesn't matter whether consciousness is primary or not. Consciousness is clearly not YHWH. If it were, then that would make YHWH the entire universe of living and non-living matter. That's not what YHWH is claimed to be. Consciousness is not what this guy thinks it is. If existence itself is consciousness, that doesn't make it a god. It just makes it existence. The universe, us, and everything else. This is still within an atheistic framework, there's no god to point at in the equation. 

 

Consciousness may be the 'all that is' from an Eastern point of view, but that doesn't mean it is all-powerful, no. I think that's what you're getting at and I agree. When I get to considering the universe, us and everything else as being indivisible, then the idea of God and no God, theism and atheism,  kind of becomes null and void to me. Why call the natural, supernatural? Why call anything God? It loses meaning if you accept non-duality. 

 

Quote

 

So this guy, on account of the possibility the consciousness is absolute, converts to religion and starts renouncing atheism. I wouldn't do me any good to tell him that he was never a real atheist. He may have been. It only means that he didn't believe in god previously. But he shows no sign of being exceptionally intellectual in his former disbelief. Or well understood about the issues concerning god or a lack thereof and the scope to which that focus can entail. Do to an outspoken argument of his own misunderstanding, he took up god belief from an unwarranted platform easily addressed. So at the end of the day his own lack of knowledge of understanding of a given issue stands at the base of his decision to take up god belief. 

 

To a lot of atheists reading along, it would look as though he and most of the others weren't really atheists previously. Because they speak as though they don't even understand the issues that they are talking about. And in this confusion, somehow got caught up in looking to religions as an answer. When that wouldn't have been necessary or warranted had they just thought things out a few steps further. 

 

 

They may have not used an intellectual yardstick in their decision to convert. Maybe it just 'felt' better to become a theist.

 

edited to be less nasty and less strawmannish.

 

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On 1/22/2020 at 12:56 AM, midniterider said:

I'm gonna start calling myself an intellectual agnostic now. :) Granted, that subreddit isn't a good representation, but would  you say that someone who does understand the issues and is intellectually atheist could never become a theist? I'm not that buying that idea. 

 

It seems anyone can start or stop believing just about anything. That's why I wouldn't say they were never really atheist or never really a christian. Regardless of knowledge. Of course a lot of people are generally not especially knowledgeable whether it's about their religion or lack of belief. But what I'm saying is that can't be used to argue that they never were atheist or christian. The argument can't really get off the ground in those terms either way. 

 

But here's the problem. I'd like to see some confirmation, by way of demonstration, where someone like any one of us here who are particularly well read and understood about atheism decided to back slide or convert to christianity anew. I don't ever see that sort of thing. I have no documentation of it happening. So I think its very rare based on my experience.

 

And the thing is, I'm looking for it.

 

When christians claim to be converted former atheist's, I pay very close attention to their arguments and thought processes and lines of reasoning. I'm curious about how someone could have gained considerable knowledge and comprehension, and yet choose something christianity despite an overwhelming understanding of the entire landscape of these issues about the bible, and jesus, and god in general. But when they get to talking, and their thought processes are laid out for consideration, well, I see things like what was expressed on the first page of the link. I see that same thing all around the internet where ever it comes up. 

 

For some reason or another, it looks like an emotional situation took over and pushed them towards theistic belief. Despite whatever they may have known. And with the help of all that they reveal not to have known previously. The emotional direction has power in their lack of knowledge about the issues, from what I'm seeing. 

 

On 1/22/2020 at 12:56 AM, midniterider said:

Consciousness may be the 'all that is' from an Eastern point of view, but that doesn't mean it is all-powerful, no. I think that's what you're getting at and I agree. When I get to considering the universe, us and everything else as being indivisible, then the idea of God and no God, theism and atheism,  kind of becomes null and void to me. Why call the natural, supernatural? Why call anything God? It loses meaning if you accept non-duality. 

 

It was Campbell and Watts that really brought the above line of thinking to my attention.

 

Previous to gaining that sort of knowledge and understanding from looking at the big picture, I would have been in the same position of some of these former atheists who went back to theism. Not understanding the big glaring point coming from these pantheistic oriented conclusions. I may have been susceptible to thinking that our lack of understanding the hard problem of consciousness could be evidence in favor of god, for instance.

 

But we both know otherwise. We've thought about it deeply. And we've taken that line of thought all the way down the path to where that path ends. Stated very nicely above. It's not a god anymore when considering the situation from these levels. So by default, it amounts to not-god belief. Non-theism. Atheism. Maybe spiritual minded atheism due to the consideration of pantheistic idealism, but a type of atheism all the same. 

 

On 1/22/2020 at 12:56 AM, midniterider said:

They may have not used an intellectual yardstick in their decision to convert. Maybe it just 'felt' better to become a theist.

 

edited to be less nasty and less strawmannish.

 

Like I said, the whole thing looks to be emotional based decision making and reasoning. It felt good, they went to theism, and then started throwing around straw man type of arguments back at their "former" belief system. Things like the hard problem example. Or making bad statements about evolution is another good example. All they're doing is demonstrating to readers that they don't actually understand the thing in which they are attacking or claiming to have debunked. And that can bring discredit to whatever their cause or purpose may be. 

 

 

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