Giving a Voice to Our Non-Religious Members
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« on: September 20, 2017, 10:40:43 pm »

Well, there's a lot that could fly under this banner.  At what age did you distance yourself from organized religion?  In what faith were you raised (if you care to share)?  Do you consider yourself today an atheist, agnostic, freethinker, secular humanist, several of these, or something different?
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2017, 06:54:17 am »

Well, there's a lot that could fly under this banner.  At what age did you distance yourself from organized religion?  In what faith were you raised (if you care to share)?  Do you consider yourself today an atheist, agnostic, freethinker, secular humanist, several of these, or something different?

Well, since everyone seems quiet here, I'll go.

I was born into a Southern Baptist church in Los Angeles. My dad was Catholic, but I was baptized Protestant. I never truly got to understand all the ritual in mass but I appreciated it growing up -- it was almost magical, the images of the bleeding Christ touched you the way the words of the preacher did in my other church.

Looking back, I never really believed.

James Baldwin wrote in one of his many books about going up for baptism not because he heard a calling but because it was expected and time was ticking. Church was like that for me, I did what was expected rather than act from belief.

As I grew older I read. I don't exactly know when I knew for sure there was no god, no afterlife but I ran with it. I accepted full responsibility for my life and my choices and I couldn't have born again more free.

Over the years I've wandered into churches. I was in Laos when I got news that my father passed away. It was the first time I experienced death, so I sought out a church and found no solace. I was in India for an extended time and went to a church to pray (I had long been an atheist by this point); I was looking for a connection to something familiar. I found nothing.

Truly, I'm not really an athest. I don't espouse any belief, there simply is no god. Period.

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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2017, 07:16:28 pm »

Thanks for responding, cteavin.  Like you, I can't give an exact "moment of clarity" when I first moved at least as far as agnosticism, but perhaps in my late 20s.

These days, I sometimes consider my self an "agnethiest" -- a bit of a nonsense term, or at best, an amalgam of agnostic and atheist, lol.

However, when I'm in a mixed group -- good friends and perhaps some I am meeting for the first time -- I generally use the term "secular humanist" if the occasion arises.  SH seems to cause less consternation and knee-jerk fear than "atheist," most likely because half of them can't define it!

After 15 years of parochial (Lutheran and Presbyterian) kindergarten, elementary and high school indoctrination, I realized, a decade later, that I would benefit from reading books and essays to strengthen my critical thinking, though I won't leave a long list here -- perhaps that's another thread!

For anyone curious about the central non-religious voices of an era, the two-hour, 2007 roundtable by The Four Horsemen of Atheism -- Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennet and Harris -- will, at least, stir one's thoughts:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNP4MUWWSVw

Recently, I joined the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which could be of interest to people of belief and non-belief, as long as they value (here in U.S.) the constitutional separation between religion and government.  One of their best-known members is former SNL regular Julia Sweeney, who has performed plays, written articles and made appearances that help show we are not a bunch of dour, self-defeating nay-sayers, and actually doing a lot of "good without god."

In a bit of foreshadowing, in 2012 she rallied against allowing employers to deny health coverage based solely on their own moral and religious beliefs...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIp2M_tMXzk

...which are exactly the protections President Trump rescinded (along with LGBT protections) only a few days ago...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-trump-religious-rules-birth-control-lgbt-20171006-story.html

While the Tribune article is focused on birth control, a logical extension would be, if you worked for a Christian Scientist, they could conceivably rescind all your health coverage, as they don't "believe in doctors."

That's my novella for today, but again, welcoming anyone else with a related story to tell, real-life experiences and anecdotes, etc. ...!
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 01:20:24 am by (Hidden) » Logged


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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2017, 07:24:22 pm »

At what age did you distance yourself from organized religion?  In what faith were you raised (if you care to share)?  Do you consider yourself today an atheist, agnostic, freethinker, secular humanist

I was not raised to any religion. "figure it out for yourself" was sortof the motto.

My mother and father don't adhere to any religion. My grandmother is a serious (but not intrusive) christian. historically (from grand-generation backwards) my family is a mix of different degrees of protestants and catholics. my grandfather was in name and spirit catholic but was also very aware of and warned of the epic hypocrisy of the institution of the church.

as a child i sometimes went to church with grandma. eventually i decided it was not worth the time and a big show over nothing and church organisation as nothing more than a social club.

it is my opinion that organised religion tends to obscure the better spiritual message in ritual and authority of clergy. and that any truth that was in holy scripture (if you accept that it was once the word of god) has been translated, twisted and dogmatised by mere mortals for their own ends for millenia.

that is: an atheist/agnostic who is a good person is better in the eyes of whatever god/s that may/not exist is more worthy of heaven than someone who does evil despite or in the name of their god.

and that being a good person because it is simply right, rather than out of a fear of judgement and punishment by/or as an appeal to appease a deity is a higher duty than to follow the clergy's word.

any cause/word/dogma can be twisted against its original purpose and religion is neither the sole representative of that, nor exempt from it "because faith".

if i end up at the pearly gates rather than the timeless void upon death, despite being non-religious; i think i could give god a good debate to let me in Wink

---

If i have to assign myself a religion or philosophy, i would say it's a blend of humanism and daoism. the daoist influence being something akin to: "there is the way, that which is natural and without effort, that which is; "don't worry; be happy", everything happens for a reason, because it must be, because of everything that has ever happened in the universe which is unknowable, just follow the natural order."

the natural order being "what i instinctively feel/know is right".

i think this philosophy would work well for anyone who is not legitimately a psychopath. psychopaths on the other hand need a fear of punishment to be decent because they have no empathy. be that from god or civil institutions.

i feel most people KNOW when they have done something wrong. even dogs know to an extent. and i think religion as a whole gives more reasons to excuse BAD behaviour and outright evil that no good person would otherwise bear on their conscience, than it does give reasons for good.

a sad reality.

and if there is a god, i would like to think of it as "a universal consciousness", an entity that experiences my consciouness, yours, my dogs, everybody and everything. in that way, to maximise the experience of "god's life", we should maximise the experiences of all our fellow man. A gain for me at the expense of another is no net-win for god. God sees 1-1=0 and beholds both the pleasure and the suffering and my win is cancelled by the loss of others.

as an extention of this (and to throw in some gay theme because hey... its a gay site), i had an idea that one of the reasons i prefer sex with men over women i that i can intuitively emphathise with men far better than women on the account of being one, while on the other hand i find womens attitudes and feelings quite unpredictable and sometimes outright confusing. i can put myself in his shoes, and when we fuck or otherwise intimate, i can almost feel the act from both sides at once if i put my mind to it; and that's seriously amplifying and arousing to me; almost like fucking myself xD if god exists, that's what he sees/feels. to raise sex between two, as masturbation of the one who is all.

一は全、全は一.

we need to get away from zero-sum games and look for "benefits as a whole" and make everybody's life better. and to be honest, that's a core message in pretty much every religion.

---

as a side anecdote, i think there is a gap in spirituality-experience vocabulary that is not bound to one specific religion. english/germans/etc tend to discuss abstract spiritual experiences in inherently christian vocabulary. arabs tend to do it in islamic vocabulary. chinese buddhist or daoist... etc.. because we have no words for the abstract spirituality without an association with a specific religion. religion is awkwardly tied to culture and language for mainly historic and popularity reasons; and that sometimes the different vocabulary used to describe personal experiences that is otherwise devoid of specific-religion meaning can be an artificial barrier.

i had a very extreme migraine once that i could only later describe as "having been fucked by god". collapsed on the stairs unable to move being oppressed by extreme pleasure and pain simultaneously in a pool of sick and stripped of my will hend down by the weight of the universe while feeling like i was attempting to comprehend the reality of everything. what insight i may have gained from that experience was unforunately robbed from me by the particularly cruel sense of divine comedy in epiphanic amnesia. my human brain cannot comprehend. something special happened then though; and i'm still not sure it was actually a migraine (certainly wasn't like the others)

i have no other way to word what happened appropriately without using the word "god". but i don't think it was religious in any sense. yet by using this wording, i believe it will help both religious AND nonreligious people alike at least get "as close as possible" to a vague sense of what happened.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 07:39:36 pm by (Hidden) » Logged
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