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I'm an atheist who understands christians


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#16    Jinxdom

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 04:32 AM

I have no problem with organized religion what I have a problem with is people who don't think about it. Some things when I think about though are if you are doing good things for other people only because your scared of being damned or going to hell does that really make you a good person? If the only purporse you do something is only to save your soul wouldn't that make the whole point of being selfless turn it in to being selfish? Really seems like you can relate it to a child learning not to stick his hand in fire because it hurts.

If you really think about it I can see why they are pushing people to do good things because of the fake it until you make it psychology.  I started out volunteering when I was younger because of the idea of not being punished but even as I left the church I continue to do so because I now like the experience.

People are sheep so I wouldn't be surprised that somebody wrote the bible to steer people to doing good things and try to give them an idea on how things got started; almost like doing the world a favor. Like everything though after the original founders had passed and other people stepped up and the good intentions became lost and twisted along the way.

Like the tongues what Alienated Being sounds pretty good and makes sense but with people it gets twisted so situations like Bling Zombie said become the truth of it. (Not trying to offend btw)


#17    devilmaycare

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 06:23 AM

The fact that one denies a people's desire to organize into a single spiritual whole has nothing to do with religion or atheism. It is simply ignorance my friend. You exist and so will people's desires to live as one, even if they don't know how.

If you have nothing you would die for, then you also have nothing to live for.

"It is not worth an intelligent man's time to be in the majority. By definition, there are already enough people to do that." G. H. Hardy

#18    Mr Walker

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 08:12 AM

View PostAlienated Being, on 09 September 2012 - 02:49 AM, said:

I believe that it is a human desire to want to feel as though one has a purpose, instead of feeling useless; which we are, when it comes down to it.
Oh come on. I never felt useless or puposeless as an atheist. Like my dad always said to me "You've got a brain . Use it!" So i did; to create purpose or to serve other purposes which I saw as constructive for self or community.
Religion may serve a purpose, but in itself it is not a purpose.  Humans join religions for as many reasons as there are humans but  generally they join to gain the benefits religions confer on them, on top of the benefits spiritual belief confers. eg practical business related reasons; reasons of social place and status;  or just  to belong to a group.  For social reasons and because they actually believe in the religious principles of a religion among many reasons. I suspect most humans join religions because belief and belonging make them feel better and actually be healthier and longer lived. It reduces stress grief and the pains of life, even  in a modern age

Edited by Mr Walker, 09 September 2012 - 08:17 AM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#19    Arbitran

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 08:13 AM

I can sympathize with your story! I have very similar experience. Good to see another fellow ex-Christian atheist!

Try to realize it's all within yourself / No-one else can make you change / And to see you're really only very small / And life flows on within you and without you. / We were talking about the love that's gone so cold and the people / Who gain the world and lose their soul / They don't know they can't see are you one of them? / When you've seen beyond yourself then you may find peace of mind / Is waiting there / And the time will come / when you see we're all one and life flows on within you and without you. ~ George Harrison

#20    Spiral staircase

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 08:22 AM

I can offer another view of tongues from someone who is a scholar although it is his own view. If interested let me know because I won't waste time transcribing it from a book: Magic Power Language Symbol by Patrick Dunn

In one part he mentions that glossolalia is cutting off one stream of thought, that of our regular selves and every day speech, cutting off all they represent, and letting another part of our own minds surface or even the possibility to allow something from outside in.

Also that a word like the has little information but a word like banana has much more but there is a limit to how much information we can process. If we walk into a crowded room where everyone is talking then that is a very rich information environment. Imagine the universe talking to us. It might sound like static. In either case if we can't make sense of the crowded room because of the chatter how can we possibly even grasp a part of the universe?

I also agree partially with Mr. Walker. Mileage varies. If someone is not stable, if they feel they have no purpose, they will not feel purpose in any church or under any system. The fact some people tried atheism and then switched to faith and in cases where the reverse occured all point to the fact that how we feel has more to do with us than with any system we adhere to at any given moment. Those are all aids and symbols that allow deeper parts of ourself to surface and give us a sense of purpose and will to go on.

Edited by Chasingtherabbit, 09 September 2012 - 08:39 AM.


#21    Mr Walker

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 08:50 AM

View PostBling Zombie, on 09 September 2012 - 03:05 AM, said:

So what do I not understand? What part of christianity did I miss out? I wasn't just involved with pentecostal churches, I mentioned that I'd tried them all and I also went to a cathedral school. And I don't think you need to get personal and belittle my OP by calling it 'rather dramatic', thank you.

Well, speaking in tongues and the penetecostal ,movement IS a rather dramatic aspect of christianity. Iv'e attended a number of their services over the years and they scared the pants off me. I'd never surrender control of my mind or body like that. Ive attended and studied over a dozen forms of christianity  and, outside of snake handling, speaking in tongues and being knocked down by the power of the holy spirit Is about the most dramatic form of religious ceremony i know of (well maybe some south american and phillpine flagellants go a little further and those who actually crucify them selves. But otherwise, No,  pentecostal services are pretty out there.

Two mainstream creeds I am familiar with are catholic and anglican. I also am familiar with the baptist lutheran and other groups (presbyterian?) which formed what is called the umiting church in AUstralia Take the anglican. I t is traditional and preaches a social gospel of good works and good governance. While the catholic is a little more mystical in some sections/aspects it is also a practical based church.

The churches i associate with, run schools, factories, printing houses, shops, nursing homes, retirement villages and charities as well as employment agencies under goct contracts. They provide services to people because they see that as part of a christian duty.  The most radical aspect of my local anglican church is its annual strawberry fete where fist fights occasionalyl break out among octogenarians over whose sponge cake is the best.

While penetecostals use modern music and song to attract the young, traditional churches use the old fashioned hymns of praise and glory
Take yourself. If you had gone to a traditional anglican, catholic, or lutheran/presbyterian church as a child , you might have been so bored you left and never went back. You certainly wouldnt have been scared or emotionally challenged. You would have seen very ordinary people doing very ordinary things, except they tended to be more socially aware and  responsible than most people.

Edited by Mr Walker, 09 September 2012 - 08:53 AM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#22    libstaK

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 09:09 AM

View PostBling Zombie, on 09 September 2012 - 03:08 AM, said:

I believe now that I spoke in tongues because my mind wanted me to, I wanted it so much. While trying to receive tongues we were told to say hallelujah over and over again, and this then developed into other words. It was all made up, just to fit in.
So you are not aware of what you are saying?  There is no revelation in the experience for the individual internally?

I have observed a group doing this "speaking in tongues" (it was quite uncomfortable being the only one there not participating) and what I noticed was that they would all speak "in tongues" and then suddenly go silent and one member would say something "revelatory".  TBH I gaped at the speaker on a couple of occassions because the commentary was far from "inspired" imo but it was so long ago I couldn't accurately quote any of them now.  It's a fascinating group psychology in my mind, the way they operated like some unified wave that crested then tapered, someone spoke and the whole process started again.  I wasn't convinced that it was anything more than a deliberately induced "altered state" like children do when they sing nonsense for ages then get hyper and spin in circles or jump about - although children don't act with deliberation.

I don't mean to insult anyone who has had this experience and gained something personal from it, this was just my perception at the time as an observer who did not participate.

It is interesting that you could recognise in hindsight that nothing "life changing" or spiritually fulfilling came of it for you.  I am a christian but of the gnostic variety, I believe the truth shall set us free and truth must be searched for. All that comes before us should be rigourously tested before it can be considered authentic - this requires one to be lucid and minutely aware of what they are thinking, speaking and doing.  Speaking in tongues seems to place a soul in the opposite state where they literally have no idea what they are spouting but are being transported by a wave of sensation instead.

"I warn you, whoever you are, oh you who wish to probe the arcanes of nature, if you do not find within yourself that which you seek, neither shall you find it outside.
If you ignore the excellencies of your own house, how do you intend to find other excellencies?
In you is hidden the treasure of treasures, Oh man, know thyself and you shall know the Universe and the Gods."

Inscription - Temple of Delphi

#23    Alienated Being

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 12:21 PM

View PostMr Walker, on 09 September 2012 - 08:12 AM, said:

Oh come on. I never felt useless or puposeless as an atheist.
Okay, just because you never felt useless, that doesn't mean you weren't. We are all useless in the grand scheme of things. Our very existence is just as meaningless as the other civilizations in this universe. The only objective that we have is procreation.


#24    Mr Walker

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 12:38 PM

View PostAlienated Being, on 09 September 2012 - 12:21 PM, said:

Okay, just because you never felt useless, that doesn't mean you weren't. We are all useless in the grand scheme of things. Our very existence is just as meaningless as the other civilizations in this universe. The only objective that we have is procreation.

Again, come on.!! We define and create purpose. If you want to believe YOU have no purpose, so be it. Its untrue but your prerogative to believe this. In a sense, however, by believeing such a thing you tend to make it more true. if you dont believe you have a purpose or can make a difference, you wont try to, and thus you wont make such a big difference. Believe you can do something and you can, given enough time and resources.

I have many purposes. I change lives for the better. I even save a significant number of them. I make the world a better place for animals. I  make the world a better place for humans. I shape the universe (or at least my little bit of it) as  i desire it to be. I create increased potentialities  in the universe, and I work to defy entropy.

Without me in it, the universe would be a different and lesser place than it is, having had me in it for 60 years.  Thats a fact.  And I've never procreated, LOL. Life isnt just about procreation. It is about being all we can be, learning all we can learn, and doing all we can do. If we all did that, the world, and eventually the universe, would be a far better place.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#25    Alienated Being

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 12:44 PM

View PostMr Walker, on 09 September 2012 - 12:38 PM, said:

Again, come on.!! We define and create purpose. If you want to believe YOU have no purpose, so be it. Its untrue but your prerogative to believe this. In a sense, however, by believeing such a thing you tend to make it more true. if you dont believe you have a purpose or can make a difference, you wont try to, and thus you wont make such a big difference. Believe you can do something and you can, given enough time and resources.
We create our purpose yes, but as I said many times, we serve no real purpose to the universe. To our own planet, yes.. perhaps; but in the grand scheme of things, we are just another species in this gargantuan universe who will die off.

Quote

I have many purposes. I change lives for the better. I even save a significant number of them. I make the world a better place for animals. I  make the world a better place for humans. I shape the universe (or at least my little bit of it) as  i desire it to be. I create increased potentialities  in the universe, and I work to defy entropy.
This is your purpose. Humans, as a whole, serve no purpose in the grand scheme of things.

Quote

Without me in it, the universe would be a different and lesser place than it is, having had me in it for 60 years.  Thats a fact.  And I've never procreated, LOL. Life isnt just about procreation. It is about being all we can be, learning all we can learn, and doing all we can do. If we all did that, the world, and eventually the universe, would be a far better place.
Not at all. The universe progressed along quite well over billions of years without you, and I am sure it will continue along quite well looong after you.


#26    Mr Walker

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 01:35 PM

View PostAlienated Being, on 09 September 2012 - 12:44 PM, said:

We create our purpose yes, but as I said many times, we serve no real purpose to the universe. To our own planet, yes.. perhaps; but in the grand scheme of things, we are just another species in this gargantuan universe who will die off.


This is your purpose. Humans, as a whole, serve no purpose in the grand scheme of things.


Not at all. The universe progressed along quite well over billions of years without you, and I am sure it will continue along quite well looong after you.

You deliberately, or in error misdefine purpose. Purpose is a construct of human level sapience. It exists because we create it.  Even if there were not a single other sapient entity in the universe, as long as humans existed we have purpose and we construct purposes for our world our galaxy and our universe. Why on earth assume we are going to "die off"

We have many options, from self directed evolution into another species( or species) through  simple enhancement  of ourselves. We have the imagination and capacity ot become level 1,2, or 3 galactic  civilizations. Measured by the amount of energy we use (a level one civilization uses all the energy  available on earth including incoming solar radiation. A level 2 akl the available energy from our suns output and other solar sytem sources and a level 3 ALL the energy available in our galaxy Transforming our solar system and even our galaxy is quite feasible. Given enough time we can transform/reshape the unibverse and move beyond it to alternate ones. Nothing is imposible.

The universe will proceed after me but it willl be a dfifernt universe because i lived within it and changed it  for my life span.

A child i educate today or save from  starvation, might be the one who discovers star drives or matter transmission or   human immortality, or how to make humans into other life forms by genetic manipulation. And if not them then one of their children or grandchildren. And even if none of those things happen, I have changed lives and the direction of the future  for many people. I have already shaped the future of the universe The difference is, that I know i have, and  consciously  set our to do so  from childhood, first by changing myself. My father showed me how to imagine and dream, how to shape, plan, and construct realities for those dreams and imagination, by the use of resources and energy, and how to produce a concrete  end result from imagination and directed effort.

The ultimate purpose of entities like humans is to prevent entropy from destroying the universe and to bring about a different, more constructive, outcome. That's a big ask. But we are making the first step, right now, towards this goal.

Edited by Mr Walker, 09 September 2012 - 01:37 PM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#27    TrueBeliever

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 03:08 PM

View PostBling Zombie, on 08 September 2012 - 11:59 PM, said:

I now regard myself as an atheist but my experience with the christian faith was once a huge part of my life, so I can totally understand the views and morals christian follow. I no longer believe there is a god but for a good few years I was extremely devoted and evangelical, so much so that I got caught up in a cult in my quest to be the best christian I could be. The group I got mixed up with believed they were the one true church of the bible, the church that was set up by jesus' disciples, and not part of the false religions of this world. I was convinced I was going to hell if I did not repent of my sin, be baptised by full immersion, receive the holy spirit and follow the church and bible without question. I was brought up by christian parents who were in the baptist church, so I was indoctrinated from a very early age - I just believed it to be true. So when this group came along I praised god for bringing me into his true church, I had been searching for years for a church who followed the bible fully. I was baptised into this church by full immersion (in a baptisimal tank) within the week of hearing the word of god, and was told that I must receive the holy spirit in order to be saved and be a member of the church. The sign of being filled with the spirit was to speak in tongues, and everyone, even the children who had received the spirit spoke in tongues. I was desperate to be saved from armageddon and hell that I automatically accepted all I was told and within a few weeks I was speaking in tongues. I attended the meetings every wednesday evening, twice on sunday (with a break for dinner inbetween) and every friday with the young peoples group. I told everyone I knew that they had to be saved and if they didn't they would go to hell. I knew the bible like the back of my hand and got great comfort from it as I have had more than my fair share of tough times. I had to break off friendships with anyone who didn't follow the church, including family, and was pushed into speaking gods word whenever I could. I was not popular at work because I was seen as a jesus freak, but that just fed my inner martyr so I talked about things even more. I prayed in tongues twice a day, on my knees, and read the bible scriptures that god revealed to me while I was praying. I believed firmly that jesus was to return soon to this earth after a world nuclear war, started by the russians, and I as I was one of the saved I would be taken up to be with him. Then I would join jesus in the huge task of judging every human who ever lived and once the unbelievers were cast into hell with satan, I would live in a new heaven and earth with the lord. All this I was told was backed up by passages in the bible, so to me it seemed unquestionable. I felt special, I was told I was one of an elite few of true christians who was separated from the false religions of this world. I judged people by the word of god and felt justified in doing so. I was a saint.

However, I'm had a nagging doubt and soon began to question the interpretation of some of the scriptures and after much emotional struggle I left the church. Afterwards I was haunted for 7 years, believing I was going to hell and bad things would happen to me, so much so that after a 7 year break I joined the church again! I was so brainwashed, scared, lonely and vulnerable that I saw no other way to live my life. After a further 2 years of constantly resenting the fact I was called by god to be in his true church, and questioning my faith daily, I once again left. As soon as I did I realised to myself just how deluded I had been - I had believed all these things without ever seeing, hearing or experiencing one piece of evidence. Over the years I have accepted that religion is not for me and that actually I don't believe a word of it now. Even if it was true I wouldn't want to follow god as I can't stand the 'love me or I'll kill you' attitude the god of the bible has. It's all fairy tales to me now, and I am no longer scared and waiting for the end of the world, I can enjoy life fully without fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. I feel liberated from the chains that my faith bound me with.

So if any christians on this forum ever think I am disrespecting their opinion, I'm not. I'm just never going to agree with any christianity ever again, or any other religion. I don't believe the bible is the word of god, I don't believe god exists because if he did he would have heard my heartfelt prayers and not let me suffer, and I don't believe in a god who can turn his back on his creation for so long, day after day, with the promise one day he'll sort everything out once he feels mankind has suffered enough. The whole thing just sounds ridiculous to me now!

Feel free to ask me any questions as there's loads more I could say!

I can so relate! I was raised in a fundamentalist christian house and it was HELL! The suffering is something which many believers will either deny or downplay. It's just in their programming. I lived in a small toen in Texas that was majority SDA's...they tried to control everyone right down to not being allowed to mow your yard on Saturday. Itwas like the stepford wives!very oppressive and judgmental and abusive.
  I am so glad you made it to freedom! It can be lonely and it hurts to still see loved ones so destroyed by religious abuse....but I wouldn't trade my freedom of thought now for ANYTHING.


#28    Bling

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 04:24 PM

View PostArbitran, on 09 September 2012 - 08:13 AM, said:

I can sympathize with your story! I have very similar experience. Good to see another fellow ex-Christian atheist!

*hi five*


#29    Bling

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 04:53 PM

I would just like to add this......
In my quest to 'find god' I attended Church of England, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Quaker, Spiritualist, Pentecostal, and Baptist churches. So I know quite a bit of how they all operate. By the time I got sucked into the cult I was so desperate and confused I just went with it, however I wasn't enamoured with any of the denominations, they all had major flaws. I am not an atheist just because I had a bad experience with a cult, I'm an atheist because I have opened my mind to other possibilities and learnt more about science. I questioned the whole story behind the christian faith, the bible and historical events and realised more and more that what I was believing had no concrete evidence and was interpreted so many ways it could never to true. I was looking for something to make sense of my existence but now realise that I wasn't created by a omnipotent being but simply by years and years of evolution. I am part of the human race and that's all I need to concern myself with now.


#30    Spiral staircase

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 06:55 PM

In the end it does not seem you understand Christians at all. You might believe you do but you don't. Unless you believe that the dominant narrative, the popular theme used in describing them, is accurate and the only way to describe them. You simply switched from a view a few have to one that most have but neither is the total truth but both are parts of truth. To think one is a lie and the other is fact is a false dichotomy.

You don't even understand the purpose of tongues except to believe it is mumbo jumbo. Not how it works psychologically. The academic who wrote the book I mentioned before wrote he was not fully convinced they were just making it up. Although he did note that in some instances such as when used in Voodoo ceremonies, glossolalia only occurs once the spirit enters them and that in other places it would seem the person would be making  tongues up as a way to enter that very psychological state of possession.

I can understand if just observing the latter group one would get the sense they are just making it up but the altered psychological state of possession that ensues is a separate component.

What is important here is that you did not feel Christianity, or at least that type, was working for you. So now you have something that hopefully does work. But Christianity worked for others. Ultimate truth is not based just on how you or I feel or if it worked for either of us. If you truly understand Christianity you would respect how it works for others and what actual science has to say about it. You understand others who define Christianity a certain way, that is clear, but you hardly understand Christianity.

All that matters for you is that you have found a place of comfort but it is not necessarily the place of ultimate truth for all just for you. So it doesn't matter if you truly understand Christians or not. I just don't think you should claim you understand them but instead perhaps claim you should claim you understand it is not for you. That would allow a sense of authenticity of your self without extending it to others for whom Christianity works for them.

Edited by Chasingtherabbit, 09 September 2012 - 07:10 PM.





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