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#199873 - 01/17/08 05:07 AM Re: Questions on hope for the non believer. [Re: BJK]
theatrekid Offline

Registered: 06/03/07
Posts: 702
Loc: oregon
Bryan and Memory what you guys have said really makes me sad. We shouldnt have to hide our beliefs or be ashamed of them. every day science shows us more evidence that our beliefs are accurate, and yet we hide like we are carrying a secret that if showed to the world would ignite a fury that is yet unknown to mankind.

they used to say the world was flat. but they were proved wrong

they used to say we were the at the center of the universe, wrong again.

they used to say Darwin was out of his mind that there was no evidence to support his claims... but then DNA was discovered and the fosil record to back him up so they were wrong again.

Science can never completely prove that a god doesn't exist. Science can prove that we are each independent organisms here because of natural selection and a whole hell of a lot of luck. Science has given us the opportunity to look farther into the heavens than every before. We are constantly learning more about our universe and how it works.

Religion offers us no such proof. those that believe in there faith do not depend on proof, that is okay for them. but Bryan and Memory for people like us the Skeptics there is nothing wrong with asking for a little bit of evidence.

Instead of looking to a church and a belief in god for support we instead have to turn to ourselves and each other to find hope and inspiration in the world. A world that i think godless or not is a very beautiful place.

just my thoughts, Christopher

#199892 - 01/17/08 07:33 AM Re: Questions on hope for the non believer. [Re: BJK]
weapher Offline

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 60
Loc: Oregon
BJK and MV

my gut dropped and I was filled with compassion when I read this post. I am sorry for the burdens that you both carry. I understand your situation and am ashamed at the position the "Christians" put people such as yourself into. Please know that we are not all that way...that is the difference between grace and condemnation.

May you be shown Grace today.


Originally Posted By: BJK
Originally Posted By: MemoryVault
(Posted some of this in a PM -- taking the plunge to go public. While I find it relatively easy to be out as a gay man, coming out as an agnostic is much much more frightening.)

It was easier for me, and much less shameful, to admit that I was sexually attracted to boys than it was to admit that I don't believe in God.

Facing the struggle makes you strong.

#201078 - 01/24/08 02:44 PM Re: Questions on hope for the non believer. [Re: theatrekid]
froggy12 Offline

Registered: 11/12/06
Posts: 527
Loc: Marlboro, MA 01752
That's how we learn things, sharing our thoughts and experiences with others. We are indeed brothers in arms, fighting to survive and then go beyond, to learn how to live, not exist.

You could say that god/God is a creation of humanity to explain the unknown; to give some meaning to the unexplainable. If it works, fine. If not, keep on searching.



#201637 - 01/27/08 03:24 AM Re: Questions on hope for the non believer. [Re: froggy12]
blueshift Offline

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 1242
Loc: infinity
Hey, Theatrekid, awesome subject! Glad you started this thread. I hope it's still active and continues to be!
A brief intro here, since i'm new on the scene and since it's, in a way, relevant to my post here. I'm 42, though i look a bit younger as you can see by my avatar.
I am a survivor of CSA and also was raped by someone with a gun who broke into my house four years ago.
I have suffered all my life from chronic depression and, since the most recent rape also suffer from PTSD.

The last time i prayed to a God was during the CSA and the complete lack of response as well as so much that didn't make sense to me about the Christian beliefs i had been taught caused me to start looking for other answers to life's big questions. In junior high i got interested in yoga and the Vedantic philosophy, then about ten years ago i started getting into Taoism and Zen.

I've really struggled with depression and have attempted or attempted to attempt (if that makes sense) suicide quite a few times and was nearly successful a couple of times.
I still suffer from depression as much as i ever have, but when i use the word "i" in this sentence, i only mean part of me. You may notice i never capitalize the pronoun "I" as it is supposed to be accept when beginning a sentence. Part of that is that my PC has a broken shift key which makes capitalizing it all the time a hassle. Another part of it though, is that i like to reserve the I for when i am referring to what i consider the real i. The big one. The I. Hopefully i will be able to explain this so it makes sense.

What i'd like to share as my primary source of strength and spirituality as an atheist is a state of awareness i call "minusmode" which is my term for a greatly diminished sense of self, or rather, false self. There are other terms for it but i coined my own because of the myths involved with so many of the other terms.

A passage in the Tao te Ching says something like "Misfortune comes from having a body. Without a body, how can there be misfortune?" It's my belief that what Lao Tsu meant by this was that it's all wrapped up in the body-identification self.

This is the self that is "separate". If you look up the word "separation" in the dictionary you will get a synonym that means the exact same thing....whatever that is, and that synonym, if you look it up will give you another synonym that means the exact same thing and look it up and the definition leads you back to the word "separate".

The truth is that even though we all use the word, it really has no meaning of it's own. What we're referring to has to do with the silly notion that non existence exists.
Even though, by it's own definition, it can't exist, we all go about, believing, not only that it exists, but that it gets between everything and everyone and "separates" them.

If you really think about all this, none of it makes any sense what so ever.

Here's the real truth (according to me, and those who believe as i do): existence does not "separate". It differentiates between visible and non visible. It is the non visible existence that we think of as this non existence that "separates" but it isn't non existence, it's non visible existence and it is part of us as much as the visible existence is.

We think of ourselves as being only this solid visible existence that is everything from our skin inward and everything outside our skin as other. But our bodies couldn't function if hollow parts of it, (lungs, heart, digestive system) were not also the invisible existence as well. So, just as the existence you call your body differentiates between bone tissue and muscle tissue, between solid and liquid, it also differentiates between solid visible and non solid non visible existence.

Seeing things from this point of view, you realize that there is no outer boundary of you where you end and this somehow existing non existence's all you!

If you realize this you realize that you are never and never have been "alone" because such a state is only possible if you believe that non existence exists.
You might say the down-side of looking at things this way is that you are no longer divided apart from the f* ing assh*les who abused you, and that is true, you are them as much as you are you but the
good news is that it's all in how you choose to look at it.

For me, even though i know that (and this is where the capitalization works) I am as much my abusers as I am me, i just choose not to focus on that. Instead i just like to realize that I am the parts of the universe i find beautiful and lovable and focus on that. Another thing about this realization is that, though it may be mind-blowing at first, (it was for me anyway,) it's not one that changes everything once and for all. The awareness of this reality tends to come and go as you get wrapped up in the affairs of being the same self you have always been.

In my head there is an imaginary control panel with pretty shiny buttons. When i've had enough and feel like i want to die i go this panel and find the one with a minus sign on it and push it. This is my way of telling my mind that i've had enough of this "me" business and that i'm ready for a break. Then i begin to meditate, stilling the activity of my mind and cultivating the awareness of the fact that i really don't exist at all least not separately from all else, and, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly the i disappears and i / I begin to experience just existing without any i to worry about keeping happy. There is great relief and freedom there in "minusmode".

This is not a happiness pill. The i still is depressed, but at the same time, the degree to which I experience this depressed i is the degree to which i/ I focus on it.

If you're not quite able to wrap your mind around this concept, i would suggest reading "The Book" by Alan Watts. He can explain it better than i can.

Sorry this is so long.... if i could say it in fewer words i would but this is the best i could do.

My Story
My Art

#202408 - 01/30/08 02:02 AM Re: Questions on hope for the non believer. [Re: blueshift]
Still Offline

Registered: 02/16/07
Posts: 7011
Loc: FEMA Region 1
I've got a question:

When did CSA become a "Christian issue?" And dont tell me it was the catholoic church scandals...cuz that's not what you are debating here.

Why dont we blame the IRS for not protecting us. I mean they take tons of our money from us every year...why aren't we pissed with them for our CSA?
In fact....I'll make this its own post...cuz I'd really like to see the explainations.

Edited by Robbie Brown (01/30/08 02:25 AM)

#203520 - 02/04/08 05:18 PM Re: Questions on hope for the non believer. [Re: Still]
VLinvictus Offline

Registered: 12/05/07
Posts: 273
Loc: NY
I know I probably shouldn't get involved, but I cannot resist a discussion on religion and belief \:\)

As a Jew, I suppose the question of the existence of God is not as big a deal for me as it is for those from a Christian background. Whereas Christianity has traditionally been defined by belief, Judaism is more defined by action. As long you DO the right thing, there's a substantial leeway in what you can believe. It pretty much boils down that you have to believe that YHWH is the Jewish God and the only God for Jews -- whether you believe YHWH actually exists is pretty much up to your own preference.

I do not believe in a "God" as in a personal, omnipotent Being "in another dimension with voyeuristic intention, well-secluded, seeing all." What I do know, though, is two things:

1.) the world around me, in all its pleasure and pain, arouses in me a sense of awe and wonder.
2.) the practices of my religion, to the degree that I observe them, provide me with structure and purpose for my life, inspiration for right action, and a sense of connectedness to other people past and present and a sense of belonging to something greater than me.

Extrapolated from this -- and influenced by reading of such diverse authors as , Marx, James, Kaplan, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Heschel, etc. -- I say that I believe the following:

1.) Everything that exists is part of a single, organic, internally interrelated totality. We are all connected and dependent upon each other and everything else. We are all in this together and every single person, animal, and thing has its role and place in the system of the functioning and unfolding of the universe.

2.) Existence for its own sake is a joy. Life, despite its pain, is the highest good. That which promotes and sustains life, that which inspires the human mind to work for the qualitative and quantitative betterment of life, that which makes life worth living and human life human -- that is God.

3.) It does not matter whether this God can be said to have any objective existence or is just a projection of the human mind onto the cosmos -- since all things are one, there is no meaningful difference between the two propositions. God is all in our minds, but our minds are part of the stuff of which the universe is made and share in the same miracle of existence that all things enjoys, and so any language that speaks of God as being something separate from nature and humanity is meaningful only because the human mind (which evolved based on the dichotomy of self and other) can't comprehend anything otherwise.

4.) All things are one an all existence is a single organic whole, a system in which all parts must work together. The human mind, though, is (AFAWK now) unique in being self-conscious and believing itself to be a separate individual entity. This individuality masks the fundamental reality that at the bottom line, at the most basic quantum level, all things are of the same one substance. Individuality leads to creativity and reason and emotion and all of the good things of human nature, but it also gives rise to selfishness. This, coupled with the ignorance -- either inadvertant or willful -- of the true reality that all things are one and dependant on one another, allows for choices that are contrary to the harmony of existence, that create strife and turmoil, and works against the promotion of life.

5.) The road to fulfillment then is in action that tends toward harmony with existence and the promotion of life and works against division and discord and the destruction of life.

So, my beliefs would probably get me labelled as "pantheist" or "panentheist" or even "agnostic" or "atheist" but that doesn't really bother me. I'm not hung up on labels. But I do not expect or believe in any intervention from a divine parent figure nor do I pretend to have any clue what awaits us in the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns -- but to which we all have one-way tickets.

Nevertheless, the awe and wonder I derive from life and the universe and the ethical commitment to the triumph of life that I feel is imperative in the very nature of existence help me find a source of strengh, inspiration, and consolation within myself and other people. The rituals and symbols of my religion help maintain a sense of community and commitment to this ethical ideal and give a structure and support to the rhythm of life.

You could say then that I don't actually believe in "God," but it all depends on what that word is supposed to mean. I think there is a mythic value in religious language and symbolism and so "God-language" can be revaluated to reflect whatever a person's actual belief may be. That's probably why I identify as a Reconsturctionit Jew.

I don't mean this as a debate or as a criticism of anyone, just to show that there is a range of opinions and things need not be either all or nothing. God both does and does not exist. \:\)

Edited by VLinvictus (02/04/08 05:37 PM)
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
~ Oscar Wilde

#204063 - 02/08/08 03:26 AM Re: Questions on hope for the non believer. [Re: VLinvictus]
theatrekid Offline

Registered: 06/03/07
Posts: 702
Loc: oregon

My father grew up in NYC in a very Jewish home but my mother grew up Christian. So my parents decided that i should discover religion all on my own because the two of them could never agree on what to teach me. Anyways my dad would agree with alot of what you said.

especially this sentence "I do not believe in a "God" as in a personal, omnipotent Being "in another dimension with voyeuristic intention, well-secluded, seeing all."

I am ashamed to say that i do not know very much about actual Jewish beliefs I have read my dads old copy of the Torah and am familiar with the stories but am clueless to how they are actually interpreted. which i am sure varies very widely from person to person. anyways good post. i really like what you said good post thank you for sharing.


#204067 - 02/08/08 03:43 AM Re: Questions on hope for the non believer. [Re: bp83]
Trish4850 Offline
BoD Liaison Emeritus

Registered: 10/15/05
Posts: 3280
Loc: New Jersey

That was beautiful and I thank you. Never in a million years could I come up with the "why" of my thought process without sounding like a moron. I'll be borrowing your words in the near future. Thank you.

ROCK ON............Trish

If you fall down 10 times, Stand up 11.

#210010 - 03/11/08 06:13 AM Re: Questions on hope for the non believer. [Re: VLinvictus]
blueshift Offline

Registered: 01/21/08
Posts: 1242
Loc: infinity
Thanks VLinvictus! I too am ashamed to say i know little about the jewish faith, but you seem to think exactly as i do about life and God and spirituality. Pretty much everything you said, i couldn't agree more. \:\)

My Story
My Art

#372262 - 10/13/11 03:59 AM Re: Questions on hope for the non believer. [Re: theatrekid]
cris40ky Offline

Registered: 06/20/11
Posts: 188
Loc: KY, US

I really should have read this through before "bumping" it up for renewed discussion. I'm sorry I did it.

This, I thought, was a discussion about how Atheists find hope. It turned into a debate about whether or not there is a god. Not what the original poster was looking for or me either.

Edited by cris40ky (10/13/11 04:47 AM)
Edit Reason: read the whole thread

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