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Why are Atheists...Atheists?

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posted on May, 23 2008 @ 12:49 PM
This thread is not about bashing atheists, but to make an attempt to understand them! ATS has had a big influx of evangelical Christians, a large group of them within the last few months. This may be possible with atheists also, but I don’t know. Is it possible that the former are just louder and more tenacious?

I thought that it was necessary to bring this thread up – due to all the mud slinging, and name calling, that we have been reading lately between; primarily the two groups.


1. I am not a religious person. I am not Christian, nor atheist, nor any other labeled group. But I am a spiritual person that happens to believe in the existence of God.

2. If we can end this debate over the validity or existence or non-existence of God, this would probably make a lot of us happier. You cannot disprove, or prove, the existence of a higher power! To believe either way requires faith. Agnostics believe that and so don’t take a stand either way. My husband calls agnostics: codependent atheists. But that is another story.

I can say that I have had personal attention from God that he has introduced himself to me, and I would be telling you the truth. But, I do not expect many of you to believe that. That is fine with me.

I have been inundated with atheists all of my life – both in my nuclear family and extended family. I think that I have come to understand them fairly well. That is not to say that we can converse without some heat at times. But it helps if we can understand one another.

Here are my thoughts as to why atheists become or choose to be atheists:

Atheist through traumatic events: Many atheists I have found have given up the idea or belief in God due to a tragic event in their lives. My father was an atheist all the way up to three months before his death. Before he died was the only time I heard him question his beliefs regarding the non-existence of God.

His history: he was left on the kitchen floor of his home at the age of 2, dressed only in diapers when his mother took off with his older sister, never to be seen or heard of again! He was left with a father that was emotionally unavailable. Dad’s only recourse besides taking it out on a dog – perhaps, was to believe that there could not be a God, because why would God allow this to happen to a little baby boy?

He fought in hand to hand combat against the Germans in WWII in France. There is that old saying; “There are no atheists in a foxhole or dugout.” I will never know if he remained true to his beliefs while under fire.

Another atheist member of my family lost her son in a motorcycle accident while driving under the influence and hit a parked car at 80 miles an hour. She did not have fuzzy, cozy feelings about God anyway (being an academic), but after that incident, she became a staunch religious atheist. She and her husband joined a skeptics group that meets regularly. They read their magazines and promote their literature to anyone (often in demonstrably angry ways) who will listen. Remind you of anyone??

The stand they take is in believing that there must not be a God, because look what happened to them! Their only way to get even is to; denounce God. There is no other recourse; they cannot turn him in to Child Protection Services. So they often spend an inordinate amount of time talking about a God they don’t believe in. By denouncing him they can subvert some of their anger.

I can say; I understand where they are coming from.

Atheist through academia: I have met many in this category. Many of my family members would subscribe to this origin. Some of my in-laws will openly admit that academia is the only route and that science is what they adhere to. (I might add: their God!) I understand it though. They need to replace God with something!

They are all professionals ie, lawyers, doctors, judges etc. To put it plainly and simply; in their eyes it is just not “cool” to believe in something as corny as God. It is by far too rudimentary for their tastes. Something they associate with the lower elements of society…the uneducated, non-evolved masses. Man is far too intelligent of a species to look to a higher power, and certainly is not in need of one. Academia is certainly the advocate of this thinking, and even promotes it.

Atheist through religion: When I left religion a few years ago I decided to go to many ex- (fill in the blank) religious forums. What I found stunned me! But why it should, I don’t know. I would say that probably 80% of those that left religion became atheists! They threw the baby out with the bath water. If religion was wrong, God must be wrong also. To this day I find that most cannot detach God from religion. The two were so enmeshed they cannot separate them. Religion in essence became the God! So they tossed him out.

Many of us have been the brunt of abuse from religion and have suffered shame and guilt being thrown at us. For many of us this would include: the stalwart Christian soldiers with their ever so loving tactics, LOL! It is truly no wonder that many include God in that inventory.

Atheist through hedonism: The; “I don’t want to be judged for what I do or don’t do,” category. They don’t want big brother and that includes the big one in the sky – looking over them. So we will pretend that “HE” doesn’t exist! They live now, get all one can out of life, with no Godly repercussions, or healthy boundaries. They just want to “feel good” and will go to many lengths to do so, and don’t want to be judged for it. Those that are honest, will own their own consequences. They just don’t want God dragged into the equation.

Some of these individuals will alter their beliefs if forced to enter recovery programs. I watched many staunch atheists change after experiencing Godly interventions – experiences that could not be answered through science (the God of science proved to be too fickle).

Dolly Parton once said; “I have known a lot of atheists, but I’ve never known a happy one!”

I cannot say that I agree with that entirely. I have known some that were comfortable in their skin. But I will say; that in my experience I have seen a thread of anger that seems to permeate them as a whole. But then again, that is my experience…and I have to say; in many ways I cannot blame them!

Many of you will have your thoughts, and I welcome them. Just remember, this is not a thread for mud slinging and name calling! Let’s be grown up about this.

[edit on 23-5-2008 by MatrixProphet]

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 01:18 PM
I'm far from religious but i don't really think i'm athiest either.If i had to call myself anything it would be a realist.I've read the bible(s) and they are nothing more than books to me.I've read the old testament,the new testament and the satanic bible and have yet to find any of them to be worth the paper they are printed on.They are full of contradictions if anything.

Everybody needs a crutch.For some people it's alcohol and drugs and for others it's religion.If anything religion is one hell of a hustle but nothing more and if anyone has any proof otherwise i would be more than happy to listen.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 01:22 PM
reply to post by xXMakaXx

If i had to call myself anything it would be a realist.

Yes, I call myself that also. Once I left religion I realized I had a lot of choices. But I could not drop the God thing as he had made himself too evident in my life, otherwise, who knows! I could be calling myself atheist also if it weren't for divine intervention.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 01:38 PM
It's crazy how many people actually believe though.Here's something that struck me as funny awhile back.

I was discussing apparitions with someone and they rolled their eyes and said "you don't seriously believe in that do you".I expressed that i did and then asked them if they were at all religious and they responded that they were and went to church every sunday.So i said "What,it's ok to believe in your ghost but not mine"?

It was amazing how quickly they were offended and were so adamant that religion was real and everything i believed in couldn't be.Their only shred of "proof" was an incomplete book of "scriptures" full of BS and contradictions yet i was wrong for believing in something i have actually SEEN.

I get a good laugh at these people.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 01:45 PM
I am an atheist. Two years ago I went to bed praying and woke up an atheist, as I sometimes think things through in my sleep I must have pondered the idea of God without bringing in the brainwashing stuff from our society and used only logic and of course woke up an atheist.

I do believe the bible has a lot of history and legend mixed into a brew of hatred and contradicitions. The bible says one thing in one book and then completely contradicts itself in another book. It's confusing and meant to be so.

I'm always amazed at the people who will survive something awful and give their luck at surviving as a proof that God was looking after them. LOL If God who controls everything had something to do with the survival then he must have sent or allowed that horror to come down on their butt in the first place. LOL

I do believe there was a Jesus in history but I do not believe he was God's son. He was someone who due to his mother's lies to keep herself alive as well as her child's (don't forget they killed unmarried pregnant women back then, so what woman with any sense would not scream god inpregnated her to stay alive) of course might have actually believed himself to be God's son which ultimately brought him to his death.

There is no God, never has been and never will be! .............................................................................................................................................I'm still here! LOL

[edit on 23-5-2008 by goose]

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 01:45 PM
When you experience something profound, often it is hard to put into words.

We all can suffer from contempt prior to investigation at times!

I just don't like the God Box. The reality of most - putting God into a tight box with a lid. And anything that does not fit their definition or into their equation regarding God, cannot be right in their eyes.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 01:47 PM
reply to post by goose

I respect your opinion. We agree on many things but the result.

Thank you!

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 01:50 PM
I am an atheist and I think I come from some sort of combination of academia & religion in what led me to this conclusion.

That is, I think the tools of academia got me questioning things (that I was questioning anyway, and had been early on.), but my negative experiences with religion and my ultimate feeling that the majority of times it is used to maintain the status quo, as a tool to keep people subjugated, and to encourage people that focusing on being happy in this world is unimportant, and that they must focus on an afterlife which may or may not exist.

There is a school of thought that says that all religion tends toward fundamentalism, and I worry that it's true. Even without that, I feel belief in the afterlife and the higher power often keeps people from fully enjoying themselves, fully exploring their opportunities, and often results in a problematic amount of self-negation because it's the "moral" thing to do.

So 1. I don't find the evidence compelling that it's the truth, and 2. I don't find the evidence compelling that the belief is necessarily good or healthy.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 01:50 PM
So what is it that "athiests" believe in?I've always been a little confused by that.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 01:53 PM
I see Atheism as the yin to the yang of organized religion.

Religion does not always equal spirituality, and I think that the stance of anti religion is based largely on that. Some believe that the person makes the god not the other way around.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 01:56 PM
I know more agnostics than atheists. And many who claim to be atheist when you start talking to them about the subject and avoid labels actually turn out to be agnostic as well.

The few true atheists I know are atheists because they can find no proof of God or the Divine. They are highly logical, and feel they can find a natural (scientific) explanation for the beauty in the world, and animal and human intelligence, and they simply have not come across a reason sufficient in their estimation to believe in a supernatural force.

The key word here is proof. I think if they were presented with evidence that could not be explained with nature or science alone, they may reconsider. (They are highly logical, first and foremost, and it is illogical to ignore solid evidence) Religion, however, is generally speaking based on faith and belief, no proof needed and none offered.

They are "show me" types of people, and they tend to be as critical of scientific claims as they are of religious ones. They do not just randomly believe the claims of scientists either without some hard data to back it up.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 02:05 PM

There is a school of thought that says that all religion tends toward fundamentalism,

Actually the term fundamentalism "Originally applied to the Movement of American Protestantism that arose in the early part of the 20th century in reaction to Modernism and that stresses the infallibility of the Bible not only in matters of faith and morals but also as a literal historical record....any strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles." -Websters

My understanding is that it also can be applied to any religion that leaves or breaks away from its parent religion, which would apply to most.

So you would seem to be right!

As far as your thoughts; again we agree on much of it. I felt much more freedom when I left religion and then could get to know a God on different footing. When I left religion out of the picture I got an entirely different perspective. Religion IMO is binding!! We get back to the God Box - again!

I appreciate being able to talk on it, and thank you for your thoughts!

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 02:09 PM
reply to post by LockwithnoKey

Religion does not always equal spirituality, and I think that the stance of anti religion is based largely on that.

Oh, ditto, ditto on that! It took me a long time to realize that. I am anti-religious because that was my experience.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 02:14 PM
reply to post by Illusionsaregrander

They are "show me" types of people, and they tend to be as critical of scientific claims as they are of religious ones. They do not just randomly believe the claims of scientists either without some hard data to back it up.

Thank you for that explanation. I agree. Do you find that some are just naturally fence straddlers? There are agnostics and then there are passive agnostics.

I know on ones that plain and simply don't want to rock the boat, which to me lacks conviction. Be an atheist, or one who questions, or take a stand for God. Just take a stand for something!!

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 02:25 PM

Originally posted by goose
I'm always amazed at the people who will survive something awful and give their luck at surviving as a proof that God was looking after them. LOL If God who controls everything had something to do with the survival then he must have sent or allowed that horror to come down on their butt in the first place. LOL

It also seems to imply that God did not care about those who did perish.

It's similar to when professional athletes thank God when they hit homeruns or make a good play or win a championship. While I understand the impetus, what seems to come out is the implication that "God likes me better than you."

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 02:27 PM
Not sure where I fall along the continuum of religious to athiest, but "hopeful agnostic" seems to work for now.

I fell away from organized religion I think due to 2 primary reasons:

1. Church used to bore me to tears. My mom made us go, and as such, as soon as I was on my own and able to stop going, I bailed hard.

2. The utter hypocracy that exudes from what...90%? or so of the so-called "religious" people I know. If you go to church, and tell people that you're religious, and then at some point I catch you behaving in a very un-Christian like manner, that's it. You're on the list. (or off the list, depending on whether your selling or buying.)

See, it's not so much "The Higher Power" that I have a problem with, it's his typical followers.

They all talk the talk, but so few walk the walk.

"God, I hate religious people" -Deputy Jones, Reno 911

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 02:32 PM
There also seems to exist a confusion of a creation "God" or intervening "God" vs. a force, an order, natural presence of flow, what have you.

As mentioned above, if one removes the labels and discusses the simple opinions and observations, many atheists are not that much different in core belief than religious followers or agnostics just use a different approach.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 02:56 PM
I really have no idea what to call myself. My beliefs don't really stick into any category.

I grew up in church. I went to church every day because I also went to the school at the church. I was always thinking about everything I was told, literally while everyone else was reading their bibles like they were told, I was sitting there thinking about why they made us read the bible.

I was about 15 (I know alot of people think that's to young to make up your mind, but I did) when I realized something. I would sit there and watch all these people going to church, and serving their god, and that's when it hit me. I should not have to be exactly like them. We are all completely different human beings, and yet the church people would tell me that I have to look and act like something that i'm not. I realized that while I was questioning every single thing they told me or made me read, I was much happier than they were.

Questioning your faith is a huge no no in the church. Once you start to question these things that your taught, you become an outcast.

This experience made me realize that this god that they devoted their entire lives to could not possibly exist. I was differnt than they were, so why exactly should I base my life on a book or god, that says everyone has to act like this and do that?

That was the homerun for me. I was different. I was not going to lead my life without questioning everything.

I am not saying that there is no higher being or anything (there has to be something out there) but if this "god" wants me to bow down and follow him based on faith, than I can't do that.

Why you ask. Because my brain was not wired to believe in something I can't see. Why would this god make me with a brain that finds it extremely hard to believe in something I can't see?

If a god wants me to have faith, than he should have created me differently.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 03:10 PM

Originally posted by MatrixProphet
ATS has had a big influx of evangelical Christians, a large group of them within the last few months. This may be possible with atheists also, but I don’t know. Is it possible that the former are just louder and more tenacious?

If evangelical Christians seem more vocal on ATS compared to atheists it could be because our beliefs come under attack and scrutiny more than any other belief or religion. My observation, of course. Christianity at least comes under more criticism than atheism. Therefore, we speak up to clarify misconceptions, answer questions, and to refute propaganda. Atheism doesn't come under as much fire because it's kind of hard dissecting a belief in nothing.

As for the question in your title, it seems you answered similarly with how I was planning to answer so there is not much more I can say. I can't agree with everything you said but this is one rare occasion where we agree more than usual.

posted on May, 23 2008 @ 03:23 PM

Why are Atheists...Atheists?

I believe I can answer that with a quote.

I contend that we are both Atheists, I just believe in one fewer God than you
-Stephen Roberts

Now, let me ask you a question, why are you not a Humanist?

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