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Atheism and Denial


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#1    solaries

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 08:35 AM

I grew up in a family that had/has many atheists of varying conviction.  As they grew older that changed.  Once anyone reached about 65 years old they were full fledged believers.  Doubts started arising throughout their 50's.  Late 50's, early 60's they would have developed beliefs but not necessarily aligned with Religious institutions.  By 65 or older they were in Church, reading bibles, praying, etc.

First question for atheists here is whether they think that once they face their own mortality, they'll turn to religion.  Like they say, there are no atheists in a foxhole.

The other thing I'm wondering about is whether atheism could be a form of denial.  When you are young and healthy and you have your life ahead of you, you can afford to turn your back on spirituality and revel in narcissistic intellectualism.  Once you're confronted with your own mortality and you can't be in denial about your own death, you are forced to look deep within you and find your sense of spirituality.


#2    Sir Wearer of Hats

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 08:41 AM

well given at least two high profile Atheists I can think of - Carl Sagan and Christopher Hitchens - died as Atheists happy in the thought tha death was an end, I think that like every other group on the planet Atheists come in all stripes and varieties.
They are, after all, human (except Richard Dawkins, eho is a robot death machine sent from the future).

I must not fear. Fear is the Mind-Killer. It is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and to move through me. And when it is gone I will turn the inner eye to see it's path.
When the fear is gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

You may think you're cool, but you'll never be as cool as Peter Capaldi with an electric guitar, on a tank, playing the Doctor Who theme.

#3    VC-10

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 08:51 AM

View Postsolaries, on 12 July 2012 - 08:35 AM, said:

I grew up in a family that had/has many atheists of varying conviction.  As they grew older that changed.  Once anyone reached about 65 years old they were full fledged believers.  Doubts started arising throughout their 50's.  Late 50's, early 60's they would have developed beliefs but not necessarily aligned with Religious institutions.  By 65 or older they were in Church, reading bibles, praying, etc.

First question for atheists here is whether they think that once they face their own mortality, they'll turn to religion.  Like they say, there are no atheists in a foxhole.

The other thing I'm wondering about is whether atheism could be a form of denial.  When you are young and healthy and you have your life ahead of you, you can afford to turn your back on spirituality and revel in narcissistic intellectualism.  Once you're confronted with your own mortality and you can't be in denial about your own death, you are forced to look deep within you and find your sense of spirituality.


I was fanatically atheist in my 20s, then pro pagan in my 30s. Now at age 44, I've mellowed and am a devout believer in science and spirituality.


#4    ZaraKitty

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 08:55 AM

I believe in spirituality to an extent, I don't think the universe is as cold and hard as we think, heck I don't even think time exists outside the human brain but I'm damn certain there is no god.

Religion is a form of control, indoctrination to control the masses, there is nothing spiritual to be had there.

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#5    Rlyeh

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 09:33 AM

So those who accept their mortality believe in an afterlife (survival after death, immortality), and yet the Atheists are the ones in denial?

Sorry am I reading this reading this right?

Edited by Rlyeh, 12 July 2012 - 09:38 AM.


#6    Sir Wearer of Hats

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 09:40 AM

Although SunGod has appropriated the quote for his crusade, but I do like Einstein's "science without faith is blind..." quote. ironic really, given that Einstein was also an Athiest ( or at least agnostic).

I must not fear. Fear is the Mind-Killer. It is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and to move through me. And when it is gone I will turn the inner eye to see it's path.
When the fear is gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

You may think you're cool, but you'll never be as cool as Peter Capaldi with an electric guitar, on a tank, playing the Doctor Who theme.

#7    Gary Meadows

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 10:23 AM

This idea boils my blood. The fact is that some of us just don't need this crutch you call god. Death is just death. Some of us do not fear it. That is what makes us different.

~Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while -and do whatever you want all the time -you can miss it.~

#8    Rlyeh

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 10:38 AM

To reassure yourself death isn't really death speaks so much more about denial.


#9    Habitat

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 10:42 AM

View PostJeffertonturner, on 12 July 2012 - 10:23 AM, said:

This idea boils my blood. The fact is that some of us just don't need this crutch you call god. Death is just death. Some of us do not fear it. That is what makes us different.
Oh, I don't think you'd need to look too hard to find things much, much, much more grievous to get irate about than other people's religious beliefs, unless of course you are on a crusade to save the world from what you see as wrongheadedness. I'd say it is pretty well wall-to-wall out there in all sorts of stuff other than religion, but for some mysterious reason the atheists zero in on religious belief like a heat-seeking missile. How to explain that, other than just maybe they are faux atheists bravely fighting against a side of themselves that is nagging and niggling from within.

Edited by Habitat, 12 July 2012 - 10:43 AM.


#10    Arbitran

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 10:44 AM

View Postsolaries, on 12 July 2012 - 08:35 AM, said:

I grew up in a family that had/has many atheists of varying conviction.  As they grew older that changed.  Once anyone reached about 65 years old they were full fledged believers.  Doubts started arising throughout their 50's.  Late 50's, early 60's they would have developed beliefs but not necessarily aligned with Religious institutions.  By 65 or older they were in Church, reading bibles, praying, etc.

First question for atheists here is whether they think that once they face their own mortality, they'll turn to religion.  Like they say, there are no atheists in a foxhole.

The other thing I'm wondering about is whether atheism could be a form of denial.  When you are young and healthy and you have your life ahead of you, you can afford to turn your back on spirituality and revel in narcissistic intellectualism.  Once you're confronted with your own mortality and you can't be in denial about your own death, you are forced to look deep within you and find your sense of spirituality.

Firstly of course there are atheists in foxholes. The reason there are fewer of them than the religious crowd is simply due to the fact that there are more religious people than atheistic ones.

Anyway, to get to the point. I have observed similar patterns myself; this does not seem to be based entirely on a view of mortality however: it is likely that a large part of it is due to the fact that those of us who are older are more likely to have grown up in more overtly religious societies, whereas today, with the rise of secularism and the perpetual advancement of science and human knowledge, atheism and general areligion have experienced a drastic increase.

Atheism certainly isn't about denial: it's simply a reaction to the claims made by religion and supernaturalism. Really, most of atheism is simply pointing out to theists that their claims are evidence-less.

Edited by Arbitran, 12 July 2012 - 10:46 AM.

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

#11    karmakazi

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 10:52 AM

View Postsolaries, on 12 July 2012 - 08:35 AM, said:

I grew up in a family that had/has many atheists of varying conviction.  As they grew older that changed.  Once anyone reached about 65 years old they were full fledged believers.  Doubts started arising throughout their 50's.  Late 50's, early 60's they would have developed beliefs but not necessarily aligned with Religious institutions.  By 65 or older they were in Church, reading bibles, praying, etc.

First question for atheists here is whether they think that once they face their own mortality, they'll turn to religion.  Like they say, there are no atheists in a foxhole.

The other thing I'm wondering about is whether atheism could be a form of denial.  When you are young and healthy and you have your life ahead of you, you can afford to turn your back on spirituality and revel in narcissistic intellectualism.  Once you're confronted with your own mortality and you can't be in denial about your own death, you are forced to look deep within you and find your sense of spirituality.


There is really no definitive answer one way or the other.  Yes, some people who are atheists while they are young because they do not wish to be religious (or may even be rebelling against religion) probably are not as much convinced that there is no god but WANT there to be no god.  In their cases, they do not fully give up the belief in god and return to it at an older age when they are ready to "reconcile" with the religion that has always been in the back of their mind.

In those cases, it would be a form of denial.  I've known a few people like that but they are the exception rather than the rule for atheists.  Most atheists base their atheism on lack of evidence rather than an emotional rebellion against god or their parents.

There is no greater risk in life than doing nothing.

#12    Sir Wearer of Hats

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 10:58 AM

View PostJeffertonturner, on 12 July 2012 - 10:23 AM, said:

This idea boils my blood. The fact is that some of us just don't need this crutch you call god. Death is just death. Some of us do not fear it. That is what makes us different.
mate, if my belief in what you call an invisible sky faerie drives you to such anger, you need a new hobby.

I must not fear. Fear is the Mind-Killer. It is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and to move through me. And when it is gone I will turn the inner eye to see it's path.
When the fear is gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

You may think you're cool, but you'll never be as cool as Peter Capaldi with an electric guitar, on a tank, playing the Doctor Who theme.

#13    GreenmansGod

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 10:59 AM

My Dad was an athiest until the day he died. I know, I was there.  He was also a WW II vet, so he was the athiest in the foxhole.  I ask if he ever prayed while he was in the army, he said he was too busy saving his life for that. I never heard him question his conviction.  He was also a very moral man.  I think he really valued life, because to him this was it, so make the best of it.

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#14    ChrLzs

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 11:05 AM

I find it fascinating that rather than talk about things like actual evidence that would prove either side right or wrong.. the OP offers an unsupported anecdote about his/her interpretation of their own sphere of 'experience', and is all about how people s/he knows get afraid of death as they age...

Yes, belief in God does seem to increase with age, statistically, but in what way does that make the whole idea of a God more likely?

Could it be that the older you are, the more dated was your science education and the more out of touch you are with current beliefs and knowledge?

I'm not trying to insult anyone - after all, I'm in that 'older' category (certainly well over half way..) and am an atheist.  I find it rather insulting to have that associated with the OP's claimed "narcissistic intellectualism".  I'd just call it plain intellectualism... :P

Personally (if we are allowed to have insulting opinions on why..) - I think it is because these folks haven't achieved all they wanted in life.. so they need to reassure themselves that there will be 'something more'.  (I'm only partly joking..)

Perhaps we should have a UM poll, that'll settle it one way or t'uther..

Q. for Habitat -was it an atheist who posted this thread?

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#15    Gary Meadows

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 11:07 AM

View PostWearer of Hats, on 12 July 2012 - 10:58 AM, said:

mate, if my belief in what you call an invisible sky faerie drives you to such anger, you need a new hobby.
It is not your beliefs that make me angry. It is being told that I am just "in denial" about my own beliefs.

~Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while -and do whatever you want all the time -you can miss it.~




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