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Atheists and those who found God late

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#1 BadCat

Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:40 PM

A couple of things recently have made me wonder about something, and what better place than EB to ask the question?  laughing2.gif

Whenever a religious thread comes up on here there are atheists who throw around offensive terms like imaginary friend and invisible sky fairy.  And I have also seen on here quite a few religious folk over the years suggest that atheists are immoral and/or hellbound.

I have never believed in God.  I was agnostic for quite some time as an adult but then applied myself, came to a decision, and became an atheist.  I went through a period of thinking how daft "those religious types" are and being a bit rude with the invisible friend comments and such.  But then I settled into my atheism and became much more understanding and respectful of those with faith.

So my question is this:  Have you found that your new found atheism, or your new found faith, has made you feel a bit superior to those who clearly don't share your amazing insight into the world?  Have you been rude or strident to others as a result?  Have you since mellowed a bit or are you still in the strident phase after 10 or 20 years?

I suspect it's a fairly common phenomenon to be all self-important and "I've discovered the truth" and then mellow but I thought I'd ask in case I'm actually just an ultra-special little snowflake.  tongue.gif

Edited by BadCat, 14 January 2013 - 12:41 PM.

#2 Beanbag Grinch

Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:46 PM

I find occassionally I envy those with faith.  Because it would be nice to have an invisible friend to moan to when I've ****ed my life up.

But, by the same token, I find a lot of strength in the fact that I ****ed it up, so I'm going to fix it.  Quite self-empowering.

I've never been a strident atheist.  I know a lot of people of faith through choir, all very lovely people.  I do find myself doing an internal rolleyes.gif every now and then with some of their reactions to repertoire, yet I'm expected to sing songs about god with no dramas whatsoever.  It's a small hypocrisy, but it's there.

#3 Expelliarmus

Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:50 PM

I have noticed that some people don't need their faith/decision/realisation to be new to be strident, rude and self important. One of the people I attend church with grates my nerves every time she gets up to teach a lesson because she's been 'in the truth' for 36 years (or something like that she tells us monthly how many hours and minutes since she found God but I've tuned her out) and she's just so superior and smug and pities those who've not found the path. It's irritating.

And she's a self righteous SAHM pushing smugface. *shudders* There's always a way to bring up the sanctity of motherhood and how making that ultimate sacrifice to be there for your children is the pinnacle of life and how we are all so much better than the rest of the world who don't think it's important.


#4 Riotproof

Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:51 PM

I think it's a bit rude to refer to someone else's "god" as an invisible friend. It's not something I would have done even in my most rebellious teen/twenty years even though I find some bits really hard to relate to.

That being said, the older I get, the more I realise it's not "god" that I have the issue with, it's the pedantic rules and the package deal aspect. I was raised a Catholic, which does colour my view a lot. I cannot bring myself to identify with a institution that will not acknowledge past mistakes nor will change.

#5 EsmeLennox

Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:53 PM

I find myself bristling and making comments about 'invisible beings' when I see people being told certain things are 'God's will' or when atheists are being treated in a derogatory way. I suppose I react when I am provoked. Probably not the most stellar behaviour, but there you have it. I generally don't mind other people's beliefs and I am quite tolerant I think, but there are some things that will see me react.

#6 matt1972

Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:53 PM

I find that I feel superior to anyone whose beliefs are strengthened by the denigration of another's beliefs. Other than that I find no reason to argue with others about what they believe whether it is in concert with my beliefs or not. I probably would have spent more time arguing if the internet was a form of mass communication during the 80's.

#7 BadCat

Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:54 PM

I do that too Jemstar.  Tell me I'm going to hell and watch the fur fly.  laughing2.gif

If someone is up for a full on argument then I can be as strident and revolting as the next person.  The thing is I don't feel that need to be rude in a civilised conversation about religion anymore.

Edited by BadCat, 14 January 2013 - 12:56 PM.

#8 76 others

Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:59 PM

I am an atheist and I believe I have always been respectful of others beliefs and I do get quite angry when others don't respect my lack of belief or respect that other people have a righto to their differing beliefs.
I have seen mocking by atheists and I have seen mocking by people with belief. But the worst culprits I think are newly found religious people. I worked with a born again christian and she used to bring me pamphlets all the time and challenge me ALL the time and she used to leave notes for me saying "God loves Gloriosa" and bless me every time she left my presence.
I also used to go to TAFE in an area with a high Muslim population and I used to get challenged with why I celebrate Christmas if I had no beliefs and this one woman would not let it go and accept that I see it as a family day with lots of food and presents and it had no religious meaning to me.

These above examples are the tip of the iceberg for religious people I know trying to challenge my beliefs whereas I would never do that to them other than my rebuttals to their questioning.
I am vocal about the separation of the church and state though. I believe that it shouldn't be shoved down our throats because to me it is a story with no merit. I don't believe that we should live by, what is to me, a fairytale. If other people want to live by it and it helps them, that is awesome, but leave me out of it!

#9 76 others

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:02 PM

QUOTE (Jemstar @ 14/01/2013, 01:53 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I find myself bristling and making comments about 'invisible beings' when I see people being told certain things are 'God's will' or when atheists are being treated in a derogatory way. I suppose I react when I am provoked. Probably not the most stellar behaviour, but there you have it. I generally don't mind other people's beliefs and I am quite tolerant I think, but there are some things that will see me react.

Yes this is me too. I get outraged when I see others being expected to abide by religious beliefs and religion is used as an excuse for bigotry/sexism/racism/etc. I can't think that I would be mocking though as it puts you down to their level.

#10 LookMumNoHands

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:03 PM

I'm a true, never to be talked out of, atheist.

I became a born again Christian at 19, and came to my own decision by 21 that I didn't believe.

I try to never enter into religious discussions at all, and have never felt superior.

I will quite openly tell people of faith to keep their opinions to themselves though, but never rudely.

#11 76 others

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:06 PM

Oh and I get snippy when people assume no religion=no morals as though religion and morality go hand in hand. I still wouldn't mock though although I have been tempted to a lot these days.

Edited by Gloriosa, 14 January 2013 - 01:07 PM.

#12 I'm Batman

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:10 PM

Do religious people really expect us to believe in some master power when sh*tty things happen. Its in his plan? Its in his plan that children are abused by those who trust them and they people die for the most ridiculous reasons?

The world is cruel. When I say invisible friend its because they are expecting to much, I ask them why do they think there is a god, what proof do they have?

What do I feel about the current big religions, I feel they are the ones who won throughout history, if it went another way we could have been another religious base altogether.

I have heaps of time for real spirituality, I have time for the sense of community care and kinship religion provides, I don't have time for entitled judgemental dingbats who says things are gods will, when terrible things happen.  No I cannot suspend my logic to say this is a merciful gods will. **** him and his mercy, hes a big fat troll if thats his idea of mercy.

#13 Elf Ianthe

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:21 PM

I'm not strident at all as a Christian generally. Because I didn't believe for 31 years. So it would be pretty hypocritical of me to not be able to see other people's POV because it was mine for a period of time.

I have never thought that atheists had no morals-that's a long bow to draw. In fact I think that most Christians don't think themselves as morally superior at all, in fact they think they are sinful and not worthy.

I think people can be awful,objectionable and offensive whether they have faith or not.

I'm Batman-the premise of Christian faith is that God made a good and perfect world and that we as humans have buggered it up. But that one day it will be righted. But for now we live in this imperfect world. I often think that people who do believe there is a God want to blame God for the crap and not credit him for the good. And we do all have a responsibility to make the world as good a place as we can.

Can I ask what you mean about the religions that won throughout history? What religions won out over other ones? And in what way? Because there are a lot of 'old' religions that are thriving in many different parts of the world.

#14 LookMumNoHands

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:21 PM

I'm Batman - that's pretty much what I think too. I just don't say it out loud!

#15 Beanbag Grinch

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:39 PM

My intelligence, internal compass, heart and soul are my own. They exist in a vacuum. I don’t belong anywhere. Just to myself.

I love this.

#16 I'msoMerry

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:41 PM

I really think everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just cant stand it when people judge a whole group based on some misguided people within that group.

There is bad and good, for want of other adjectives, in every group of people.
People often make judgments against the Christian faith openly and without fact to what the Bible actually teaches. If anyone treated the Koran or openly insulted the Muslim faith in such a way there would be so much outcry.

I am a Christian by choice. I never feel the need to judge others for their choice. I have been friends with people from all sorts of religions and cultures and would never dream of insulting any of them because of their personal life choices.

#17 LookMumNoHands

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:47 PM

Quill, I love you original.gif

#18 Elf Ianthe

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:51 PM

I think Quill should start her own religion.

#19 giggleandhoot

Posted 14 January 2013 - 01:56 PM

Is 33 late? I don't think i was an Atheist as such before hand..just undecided on my path. I don't judge anyone no matter what they believe. I had my reasons for being called to the church and god. Though saying about the not judging..i found more people were accepting of you being an Atheist..then now people kind of squirm when i say we now go to church etc..many of my family laughed at us. So I find the judging goes the other way.

#20 Rainbow Lemur

Posted 14 January 2013 - 02:10 PM

I think my position was largely shaped by friends who believed deeply and but who never tried to convert me whatsoever.

They came from difference belief systems but there was a common core and I really respect who they are and that they are true to themselves.  

So I could never mock what they believe.  

But I have never suddenly "seen the truth" so perhaps that forms part of my attitude.

#21 76 others

Posted 14 January 2013 - 02:27 PM

QUOTE (silentmoose @ 14/01/2013, 03:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

TBH the word 'respectful' gives me an eyetwitch nowadays, since it tends to be bandied about so often by religious people complaining because their religion isn't regarded as sacred by people on the outside looking in.  Once upon a time, it used to mean that you didn't try to force people to change their beliefs one way or the other, and that was totally reasonable. These days, however, it seems to mean 'I will never for one moment give you reason to think that you're not the special, special snowflake you are and 100% correct due to your specialness'.  Then, you get nontheists shutting up and sitting down in the hope of getting a pat on the head and a cookie for never rocking the boat, because science forbid one should ever be perceived as 'disrespectful' or 'intolerant'.  When you're accustomed to being accommodated 100% by society, a 2% drop is clearly persecution.

See, for example, publicly-funded religious organisations whining about oppressed they are because they're required to treat all humans as though they're, you know, human.  See further the same organisations (almost) successfully lobbying the federal government to allow them exemptions from anti-discrimination laws, because the idea of having a queer in the building hurts their special religious fee-fees and that totally trumps any other concern.  But no, I should be 'respectful' of that, because it's religious! And special!

It's also quite easy to sit up on one's pedestal and sneer at the uncouth plebs when you have no skin in the game one way or another, eh matt1972?.  When you're not the one whose rights are curtailed by a supposedly secular government because the dominant religious narrative of the dominant culture regards you as an abomination.  It's easy to say that people are 'entitled to their own opinion' when said opinions don't affect you in the slightest.

I won't approach people on the street and tell them their beliefs are ridiculous - and I probably won't bring it up in conversation unless you ask me directly - but when religious beliefs are considered perfectly adequate reasons to treat some people as less than people, damn straight I'll have a lot invested in pointing out the flaws in religious reasoning as a whole.  And I don't feel the need to be quiet about that, or pretend that it's just some nice, happy intellectual exercise with no consequence.

Oh, and I used to be very religious.  Right up until I realised that I myself was capable of moral reasoning, which was something no one had ever bothered to tell me.  Or wanted me to know, perhaps. I'm less openly derisive of religion than I used to be, which I'd say is about 50% no longer being able to spare the time and energy, 30% mellowing in my old age, and 20% not wanting to feed the persecution complex.

This is my feelings about this too. But I still won't lower myself by mocking because it would discredit me and the message will get lost in outrage of the mockery. I expect to not be mocked, so I will not mock. But I am getting very very sick of people with a belief system thinking that we all must abide by their beliefs and think they have a right to tell others how to live.

Science forbid- LOVE IT!

#22 I'm Batman

Posted 14 January 2013 - 02:40 PM


People blame our government or others all the time for lacking compassion. I find it hard to believe that a good and merciful good if real could allow the things to happen that do. There is no way. The whole basis of our societies is to  progress our living conditions. Unconditional love with conditions?

#23 PrizzyII

Posted 14 January 2013 - 02:48 PM

Quill for God.  biggrin.gif

#24 SuboptimallyPooks

Posted 14 January 2013 - 02:50 PM

I think a lot of people's positions on this one are shaped by experience. I was never pressured into one belief system or another, never felt bullied, and was encouraged to explore freely if I wanted to, or not. My parents were always firmly agnostic. My sister went hardcore Atheist and I went 'liberal' Christian (you know, church with a gay minister and volunteer work with asylum seekers, etc.), then I pulled away from church but stayed sort of "generally spiritual" with a Christian philosophical, social justice bent, in that, pick and choose, touchy feely way some people get. You know. I have a relationship with God, yet 'religion' just didn't fit right for me.

Had I a really sh*te experience with religion, perhaps that would have changed things, because I've always been a bit too hung up on justice wink.gif. My dad had a lot of time for Judaism and Islam, to a point, but was quite sneering about Christianity, Catholocism in particular.

He had been beated repeatedly as a child so as to not write with his left hand (hand of the devil or some sh*t). His nephew was stillborn and the church refused to bury him with baptised relatives. His ex wife had been forcibly adopted from her unwed mother into a Catholic home, and when they divorced she asked him to lie to say he was gay so the marriage would be annulled. His gay friend got spat on, literally spat on by a supposed "good Catholic" woman- he had been her accountant for 20 years, they swapped Christmas presents and he watched her kids grow up, and when she discovered he was gay, she spat on him. So dad was pretty unhappy with me steering towards Christianity but he was surprised to see the diversity within it. When my dad met my minister once, he said he didn't want to seem disrespectful but he felt the church had done so much bad, he had no time for it. My minister laughed and agreed, saying he thought sometimes the most Christ-like response people made was to reject the church as they knew it. He was a pretty cool minister.

Have I ever gotten really strident? No, but I've never gotten really certain, either. I just read and think and listen and meditate and reflect and somewhere in all that, I get a sense. That's all it is, I just get a sense and some ideas.

I'm fairly tolerant of people's intolerance towards religion to a point, because I understand it often comes from a place of rejecting the horror done in its name, and sometimes from personal hurt. But I do still try to push a case that religion in itself isn't the problem. It's a*s*holes who are the problem original.gif

#25 Mitis angelam

Posted 14 January 2013 - 02:56 PM

What I find odd is the misconception a lot of people have that I am out to convert them.

Not only am I not, either professionally or personally, out to convert anyone, but a) I don't think it's possible for me to convert someone, and b) I don't think it's ethical to try!

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