Chapter 13: Atheism

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Atheism is probably the oldest form of belief held by humans. I thank Pavlos Marcos (Avatar name) for some of my edits to this chapter.

Chapter 13: Atheism

Atheism is essentially a belief there is no God, no deity that is influencing the world. An atheist holds this belief.

Some atheists hold the belief there is nothing beyond what we can see, detect, or measure. The physical universe is all there is.

Some atheists are dedicated to attacking traditional religious views about God as some sort of human like being somewhere who sees everything, knows everything, demands people hold certain beliefs. Many religious people shake their heads they do not believe in that kind of god either. Other atheists attack all forms of religion.

For many people who grew up with traditional beliefs about God, atheism serves as a bridge to a deeper kind of spirituality. When they let go of those beliefs, erased those ideas about God from their belief system, they created space to consider a different kind of God, a God of being and becoming. For strict atheists, these beliefs and experience of a deeper spirituality are seen as a delusion.

I put these kinds of judgements as being in the same category as male doctors who refused to believe PMS was real. Many people refuse to accept that other people can have experiences they did not have. “If I did not see it or feel it, it does not, can not exist.”

It is possible that atheists are right and I am wrong, but it is easier for me to believe in the Holy Mystery than it is to believe all of my experiences and the experiences shared by others are coincidences and delusions. Just as too many people want a God they can understand and manipulate, that affirms their beliefs and actions, I see atheists wanting reality to be a physical reality they can understand, measure, and test.

Atheism is essentially a non-belief and many or most people who do not believe in any kind of deity describe themselves as humanists or secular humanists. Functional atheists are religious people who behave as thought there is no god and they are found in all religions.
 
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BetteTheRed

Resident Heretic
Pronouns
She/Her/Her
Hmm...this gets us into "non-theist" versus "a-theistic" beliefs, which are, in English, the same thing.

I identify, as much as I can nail it down, as agnostic, non-theist, possibly pantheist but more probably panentheist, anti-dualist, and confused about the dissonance between "the trinity plus Satan plus all those angels, etc." and monotheism. I work, as I can, with metaphor. I probably should have been Jewish, but it didn't work out that way. In almost ultimate irony, I serve as the chair of the Faith Formation & Christian Education Team in my congregation.

And I have had a limited number of "inexplicable" experiences (four, in my lifetime, to my mind), two related to deceased loved ones, two just inexplicable "deeper joy than I thought life could produce" moments, one around a cat, one around a bridge.
 

jimkenney12

Well-Known Member
There are many mysterious experiences reported by people that challenge attempts to make claims about what may be beyond our normal experiences. There are stories about people born with amazing talents or knowledge that were possessed by someone who had died before the birth of these people. I had a conversation with a woman who claimed to have had visits of a sort by her deceased husband. One woman I visited regarding her child's brain cancer recounted a near death experience she had. She was not a religious person. If her two year old daughter had not lost her sight due to cancer in her optic nerve, I would never have paid her a pastoral visit. There is Jung's collective conscious. Stark atheism might be right in the end, but I find that hard to believe.
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
Only atheists deny non physical items of concern (Anis)?

I know people that swear by the holy ghost that they do not believe in anything beyond physicality! And to preserve this they go to extremes to displace being hospitable to the alien ... like thought that is unbelievable when you're established and well fixed!

More to fret as an expression of concern (Anis gone on)! The power of denial is mortal and limiting ... way out contemplations ...
 

Mendalla

Metalhead ape rockin' out
Pronouns
He/Him/His
Hmm...this gets us into "non-theist" versus "a-theistic" beliefs, which are, in English, the same thing.
Denotatively, yes. Connotatively, though, I think it's become a bit more nuanced. "Non-theistic" tends to be more "no God is necessary for what I believe" (e.g. Buddhism) which is not as strong as "there is no God, no matter what anyone thinks", which how most self-described atheists would swing. Which is why I don't describe as atheist. I'm agnostic (God could exist but I don't personally have faith in that) and currently live as if I was an atheist for the most part. The idea of a God, especially a pantheistic or panentheistic one, makes a certain kind of sense and appeals to me on many levels. I just don't find any reason in my experience of life to believe that there actually is such a being.
 
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Mendalla

Metalhead ape rockin' out
Pronouns
He/Him/His
There are many mysterious experiences reported by people that challenge attempts to make claims about what may be beyond our normal experiences. There are stories about people born with amazing talents or knowledge that were possessed by someone who had died before the birth of these people. I had a conversation with a woman who claimed to have had visits of a sort by her deceased husband. One woman I visited regarding her child's brain cancer recounted a near death experience she had. She was not a religious person. If her two year old daughter had not lost her sight due to cancer in her optic nerve, I would never have paid her a pastoral visit. There is Jung's collective conscious. Stark atheism might be right in the end, but I find that hard to believe.
All of which is anecdotal and subjective. Others encountering those same stories might posit a purely naturalistic explanation for them.

And Jung's collective unconscious has nothing to do with a God, but with a body of shared human experience leading to shared experiences. In Jungian psychology, as I understand it, God is another archetype, or a manifestation of one. God's reality outside the human imagination is not a given. Though I am no expert and haven't really looked into Jung in a long time.
 

jimkenney12

Well-Known Member
These were alternative explanations for those experiences, not as support of any kind of God or spirit.
 

BetteTheRed

Resident Heretic
Pronouns
She/Her/Her
What totally struck me, during my two spiritual experiences that weren't connected with the death of a beloved, was the most overwhelming feeling of the "artificiality of boundaries". I was not me, not the cat, not the bridge; it was a seamless unity that was totally overwhelmingly wonderful.
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
Will God ... Love ... take your thoughts away in an instant of when you might see stars? Now that is an unconscious psyche to elaborate on ...

Many cannot see this dark spot because of obscurity ... an obtuse vision from one side of the divination line ... divine humii?
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
Then there are psychopaths that cannot see when they are being led by their own kind ... thus dark Rays penetrating the light zones ...

So much more to contemplate out there when many find contemplation contemplable as it interferes with their desires? Get out of here ...
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
That feeling part of everything is a wonderful experience.

How to get that feeling? Thus one does the wrap around like the warm winds ... ruddy, or Ruben as we do to carry it ... torched?

That glow in the dark ... imagine all the firepits below the surface fasci nations? There are those that just cannot handle fire ... or pyre!

Then there is the Spanish form of persuasion ... The Last Tango! There it fades ... the place of Dunne ...
 

jimkenney12

Well-Known Member
Not easy to force. A bit like a mix of corn starch and water. Soft when touched softly, hard when pressed. A person just needs to let it be. Good item in the Broadview about that kind of experience
 

Luce NDs

Well-Known Member
Not easy to force. A bit like a mix of corn starch and water. Soft when touched softly, hard when pressed. A person just needs to let it be. Good item in the Broadview about that kind of experience

You meant the lighter .... gentile touche ... golden?
 

chansen

Pleasant Enough
Atheism is essentially a belief there is no God, no deity that is influencing the world. An atheist holds this belief.
That's "strong" atheism. The nuanced "weak" atheist position is that they simply don't believe there is a god or gods. Personally, I'm a bit between the two. Having been presented and challenged with many different versions of gods and reasons to believe, I find them lacking in extreme ways and pretty much convincing me that those versions of those gods don't exist. Is there something out there? Maybe, but the examples and arguments provided are pretty terrible.


Some atheists hold the belief there is nothing beyond what we can see, detect, or measure. The physical universe is all there is.
You're thinking of "materialists". The Venn diagram is going to have some overlap, but it's not a circle.

I think there are certainly things we can't see, detect or measure. Yet. This gets reinforced every time we see, detect or measure something new. Pretending that progress has reached an end is pretty presumptuous.


Some atheists are dedicated to attacking traditional religious views about God as some sort of human like being somewhere who sees everything, knows everything, demands people hold certain beliefs. Many religious people shake their heads they do not believe in that kind of god either. Other atheists attack all forms of religion.
You're thinking "anti-theist" here, which I am as well.

Anti-theists hold that the influence of religion, at least in our time, is a net negative on society. On balance, I think it is. It is difficult to measure, but I cite the effects of religions on government, the effects of cults, the marginalization of those who believe or love differently than the majority as reasons. I acknowledge there are religions who are not responsible (any more, at least) for these things, but note that these faiths are in decline compared to the faiths that bear moral responsibility for the ills of religion.


For many people who grew up with traditional beliefs about God, atheism serves as a bridge to a deeper kind of spirituality. When they let go of those beliefs, erased those ideas about God from their belief system, they created space to consider a different kind of God, a God of being and becoming. For strict atheists, these beliefs and experience of a deeper spirituality are seen as a delusion.
I suppose if you release rigid, dogmatic beliefs you can have more expansive, flexible ideas about God and spirits, but I'd hesitate to call that "atheism".

I think if you see a group speaking in tongues or placing trust in a faith healer, yeah, you're watching mass delusion at work, in a very destructive way that is worth opposing. If you see someone walking though a garden and they see fairies, go for it. There are delusions worth mocking, and delusions that are personal and maybe a bit loopy, but whatever.


I put these kinds of judgements as being in the same category as male doctors who refused to believe PMS was real. Many people refuse to accept that other people can have experiences they did not have. “If I did not see it or feel it, it does not, can not exist.”
Goes both ways. I think, as a means of convincing someone about the validity of religious claims, something you experience and someone else can't is a useless way to do it. That's been called closed-mindedness, but it's just basic common sense.

If you enjoy your experience, great. If you use that personal experience as a tool to recruit others to your faith, you're gonna have a bad time.


It is possible that atheists are right and I am wrong, but it is easier for me to believe in the Holy Mystery than it is to believe all of my experiences and the experiences shared by others are coincidences and delusions. Just as too many people want a God they can understand and manipulate, that affirms their beliefs and actions, I see atheists wanting reality to be a physical reality they can understand, measure, and test.
When you grow up around people who believe, you can't be all too impressed when you think you're having visions of what you've been hearing about your whole life. Muslims have visions of Muhammad (but sadly, can't draw them later). People have visions of spirits and things they want to be true.

I don't have dreams about my calculator, even though I love my calculator (it's an HP48, and when it dies I'll be inconsolable).

I don't agree about atheists wanting a reality that they can fully understand and test. I think we work toward understanding, but actually fully understanding would suck, because what then? What of the dog that finally catches its tail? We need questions. We need answers to seek. If we had them all, scientists everywhere would turn to alcohol and drugs. And you know they'd make the good stuff.


Atheism is essentially a non-belief and many or most people who do not believe in any kind of deity describe themselves as humanists or secular humanists. Functional atheists are religious people who behave as thought there is no god and they are found in all religions.
I think you're describing "functional atheists" as people who don't believe in your version of god or do what you think your god commands you to do. They may be doing exactly what their god wants them to do, or at least what they believe their god wants them to do. So in that way, you're a "functional atheist" to them, because you're doing their god a disservice with your beliefs.
 

jimkenney12

Well-Known Member
Thank you chansen for you comments. Functional atheists is usually applied to people who claim to agree to the claims of their faith, and then act contrary to their faith claims, behaving as though they are not accountable to any kind of supreme being. This term is most often applied to Conservative Christians.

I believe theism means belief in a deity and atheism linguistically means no beleifg in a deity just as asymmetrical means no symmetry. Am I wrong?

Should I rewrite chapter 13?
 

chansen

Pleasant Enough
Thank you chansen for you comments. Functional atheists is usually applied to people who claim to agree to the claims of their faith, and then act contrary to their faith claims, behaving as though they are not accountable to any kind of supreme being. This term is most often applied to Conservative Christians.

I don't know that they do. They hate who they are supposed to hate. They have scriptural backing, as do you. There is no "right" here, as the bible allows for many different interpretations. And they openly tell more "progressive" believers that they are atheists or believe incorrectly (and that's a generous description of what they've said).

You don't have to rewrite anything. You have my comments, and I think you're wrong about some things and explain my reasoning. Do with that what you will. I wasn't around for when you first presented this but I've been meaning to respond for a while now and took the time today because I'm trying desperately not to do real work.

I'm a tad disappointed in Pavlos if he advised you earlier. I wish we had a god so that god could smite him.
 

jimkenney12

Well-Known Member
Than you chansen. I was and am feeling done with that book. I will probably add a note at the beginning of the chapter that a declared atheist / antitheist found several of my comments to be wrong.

As for functional atheists, many of them do not particularly hate anyone. They just go about their daily lives continually acting as though their claimed beliefs have no connection to what they do.
 

chansen

Pleasant Enough
I see what you're saying, and I suppose I'm thinking of more extreme (if increasingly popular) cases.
 
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