Atheist, theist, deist, or simply not Christian?
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31-01-2013, 12:03 AM
RE: Atheist, theist, deist, or simply not Christian?
Quest, after rereading your OP, I see I kind of missed exactly what you were asking. All atheists who were once believers I think came to their conclusions in roughly the same way. Some took longer than others, depending on the level of indoctrination, current active involvement in the church when the real questioning began, and other factors.
I guess for me it was a matter of perspective. I grew up as a pastors kid all my life, but after I moved away from home I took a sabbatical, so to speak, from the church. I was still rooted in my faith, still a firm believer, but a bit of a wild child.
After my twenties I settled down a bit, had a kid and decided to get serious about the church again. But something in the back of my mind was bothering me. The distance from the church gave me a new perspective on the whole thing once I decided to really start thinking about it again. So I studied and investigated.
Lo and behold my surprise when I started learning everything about the Bible and the early church that I was never taught in Sunday school.
I guess that distance and perspective made it easier for me to step away. It didn't take years, about six months is all, really. I looked into the whole spiritual but not religious thing for about a week, but that just made no sense. If I'm gonna believe in something, I gotta know what it is. Just being spiritual is fine, but it holds no real meaning to me. It bears no influence on my day to day life.
When my wife asked me, "so you just don't believe in any god at all?", my reply was that I now have no model for god. How does it benefit me to believe in something that I can't pin a coherent attribute to?
So I left it at that. The world makes much more sense when viewed naturally. Chaos and randomness controlled by the physical laws of the cosmos. It's a beautiful world and I don't have to have an answer as to why, I'm lucky enough to get to enjoy it for the short time I'm here.
And that's god enough for me.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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31-01-2013, 12:07 AM
RE: Atheist, theist, deist, or simply not Christian?
weird aliens created the world thing---->atheism----->Shamanism (don't make fun of me please).

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.

You cannot successfully determine beforehand which side of the bread to butter.
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31-01-2013, 12:10 AM
RE: Atheist, theist, deist, or simply not Christian?
I am so making fun of you right now. Shy

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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31-01-2013, 12:27 AM
Re: Atheist, theist, deist, or simply not Christian?
Always been an atheist (for the most part) never been any proof to convince me otherwise. Simple as that
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31-01-2013, 05:36 AM
RE: Atheist, theist, deist, or simply not Christian?
(31-01-2013 12:07 AM)Xinoftruden Wrote:  weird aliens created the world thing---->atheism----->Shamanism (don't make fun of me please).



I plan to make relentless fun of you. Drinking Beverage

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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31-01-2013, 07:44 AM
RE: Atheist, theist, deist, or simply not Christian?
Thanks everyone. I do appreciate your kind words and I'm glad you can see I'm not trying to force my dogma on anyone, in fact, I'm simply on a search for an answer or two and don't really think I (or I hope I don't) have a dogma.

When I was knee-deep in the evangelical world, I had a sticker on my car that said "God said, I believe it, that settles it." Today, I chuckle at that place I was for so long because it seems so unwilling to stretch or unwilling to open up to anything outside of my dogma (I guess, by definition, that's dogma).

But I think I've seen (not necessarily in this post, but somewhat) an inversion of this thinking. Something along the lines of "I can't see it, I don't believe it, that settles it." This just kind of shuts the door on any potential for my observations being limited, either by available measurement tools or by what our mind is looking for as proof. I just don't want to be on either side of that approach to things. Hopefully someone calls me out if I do end up there (or if I'm there now).

I do appreciate the answers though and I'm happy the responses have been positive. I'm very grateful for a resource like this and I'm thankful there are people who are willing to ask questions and who don't settle for the simple answers.
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31-01-2013, 10:07 AM
RE: Atheist, theist, deist, or simply not Christian?
For me (and for many others out there), the change was not so much a "leap" as it was a gradual transition.

1) I believed in God in the truest sense. I did not question.
2) I believed in God in the truest sense, but I began to have doubts about minor things in my doctrine.
3) I basically told God that I'd be taking a break from our relationship so that I could get my thoughts sorted out.
4) I systematically confirmed that all religions - aside from my own - were certainly false.
5) I applied this same scrutiny to my own beliefs. They quickly slipped away as a result.
6) I believed that there was an intelligent force out there somewhere, but that it was not of any Man-made religion, and it was likely indifferent to us. (Deism)
7) I claimed die-hard Agnosticism. The "I don't know and you don't know so it's pointless to talk about!" kind.
8) I realized I lacked a belief in God altogether, and accepted the fact that I'm an atheist.
9) I began to actively oppose religious doctrine and faith-based belief systems. (Anti-theist)

What's worth noting is that at almost every transitional period along that timeline; I believed that each stage was to be the last. When I was a deist, I felt that I was content. I even took a measure of pride in being completely seperate from religious belief(s), but maintaining a sense of spirituality. (I thought it was "profound" in some way Rolleyes ) Then, when I claimed a misguided sense of Agnosticism, I believed that I had taken the most rational position. I believed that theists adhered to blind faith in God's existence, but I also believed that atheists adhered to blind faith in God's non-existence. (I thought Atheism was a claim or belief, at the time)

Save for the time when I was slowly letting go of my faith; at each point, I thought I had reached the end of my journey. But I kept learning and kept thinking and kept searching. Thus, my journey continued. And perhaps it continues to do so - even if I can't imagine where else there is to go from here. Who knows.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
Ridi, Pagliaccio, sul tuo amore infranto! Ridi del duol, che t'avvelena il cor!
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31-01-2013, 10:23 AM
RE: Atheist, theist, deist, or simply not Christian?
Hola! Welcome and good luck on the issues related to having a job in the faith-based community. My story is actually very similar to yours, so I'll try to hit the high points if you are interested.

I grew up in the bible belt in southern middle Tennessee. We went to church sparingly for the first 8 or so years of my life until 2 deaths in the family suddenly made everyone a bit more religious, and then we went most every Sunday until I was about 13. That was the age where I was given control over whether or not to go, and my cousins and I opted to stay home and play video games. Anyways, my hiatus from church may have actually prolonged my "deconversion" if you will. Because it was out of sight and out of mind. I stopped asking questions and stopped worrying about all the inconsistencies and problems raised by the bible and christian teachings (like the whole notion of going to hell if you don't believe and the existence of A LOT of people currently and in the past who did not convert). The next phase occurred my senior year of high school when I began to date a young lady who was a regular church attendee. I worked 6 days a week at this point and was unwilling to give-up my only day off (Sunday) to go to church with her, but I opted instead to leave work early on Wednesdays ( Thumbsup ) to go to youth services ( Dodgy ) and spend time with her ( Thumbsup ). So it was in my favor to go. I can't recall any specific sermon I ever heard, except one. One by the youth minister that spring semester my senior year when he told us how he was mad, angry in fact, at his grandmother. How can you be mad at a woman who (through my experience) makes you your own pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and your birthday while the other grandmother keeps the freezer stocked with Popsicles free for the taking? (as long as you gave her a big hug and kiss first) He was mad because he would never get to see her again since she killed herself and that meant she was in hell. I was horrified that anyone could be mad at someone else for such a selfish reason, especially when it was over that person's DEATH! It only got worse when he kept telling more and more details (to teenagers and pre-teens mind you) about how she was clinically depressed, got help with medication, made the mistake of thinking she was cured and stopped the medication, and then jumped off of a bridge. That story could have potentially been a positive for kids by teaching them how to look for signs of depression and a lesson on how NOT to stop any medication cold-turkey without consulting your physician first and making your family aware of your decision. Instead, it was used as a scare tactic for HELL!! I was so fucking mad I could barely stand it. But, I couldn't really say anything since it was the south and my whole family would have just rationed it away one way or another (some would have said he was wrong, others would have agreed, blah blah blah). That was pretty much the beginning of the end for believing the bible as is and the final nails in that coffin where cemented within the next year as I began my education in geology at college. And so I dabbled in other spiritual ideas for the next few years as I tried to maintain some type of belief in an afterlife (I wanted immortality since I was deathly afraid of death thanks to Christos). I thought I was trading my crazy beliefs for more rational ones, until a conversation with a friend during my 4th year of college got me to actually discuss my beliefs. Then I realized that all my talk of reincarnation and a "force" in the universe, were just as unfounded and irrational as a virgin-born carpenter who became a zombie 3 days later. The next day I asked myself a question I had been avoiding for a decade or more, do I believe in god? I remember I said 'no' out loud. As if I needed to hear myself say it. I felt instantly better, because I wasn't lying to myself, because the weight of a requirement to be good was gone and I could just be good because I enjoyed it. I haven't looked back since. I went and bought "The God Delusion" almost immediately and read it very quickly. I found podcasts like Seth's and The Atheist Experience, I found Hitchens and Randi and other online debates. I joined this forum and continue to ask myself questions about my beliefs daily, because I refuse to become just another sheep in the fold ever again.

“Science is simply common sense at its best, that is, rigidly accurate in observation, and merciless to fallacy in logic.”
—Thomas Henry Huxley
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31-01-2013, 10:31 AM
RE: Atheist, theist, deist, or simply not Christian?
(30-01-2013 05:43 PM)Quest Wrote:  Quick background: New to the forum. I've got an INCREDIBLY similar background to Seth Andrews (I just finished his audiobook). hauntingly similar. However, I didn't inherit my Christian "faith" but "accepted" it at 18. I've been practicing that for 25+ years. About 4 years ago, a simple question put me on a journey of discovery. At a "small group" gathering someone asked "What if all are saved?" This was so foreign to me, I didn't know what to think. I had spent all of my years "in the faith" just drinking the Kool-aid and never asking many tough questions.

After copious amounts of information being sifted through, I affirmed, I was a believer in Universal Reconciliation. Long story short, this opened up a LOT of doors in my mind to think outside of the Christian box. I was liberated but told I was a heretic. Today, I've converted and I'm happy to say I'm no longer a heretic but rather an Apostate. Progress! I still work for a Christian ministry and I can't really "come out" yet, so even this post is a risk. Not sure who trolls here.

So, my question... It seems most on here and most, in general, Atheists came to that place after rejecting the idea of God as presented in the Bible and by evangelical Christians. But, I don't see much discussion on how you have made the leap from believer to Atheist and didn't stop at Theist or even Deist. It seem, to me, most have said "All that stuff in the bible is crazy. There must not be a God." (Incredibly summarized, I realize).

So help me out here (I'm not looking for a battle), tell me how you leapt over or moved through Deism or Theism. I'll be around to interact and I look forward to it. For the record, if I were to be forced to put a label on myself, it would be deist or agnostic theist (or deist). Though, I would be inclined to follow the thinking of Soren Kierkegaard who is quoted as saying "When you label me, you negate me." Confused
Welcome to the forum. Cool

For me, once my Christian faith fell apart, I eventually realized there was no evidence to support any of the worldly religions. From there, asking myself what reason there would be to think there might be some deity not yet conceived of by humans, I couldn't find one reason to believe there is one. So I concluded there probably is no deity at all.

That was also underscored when I came to understand just how large the universe is. I mean 1 light-year is about 5,878,499,814,186 miles. Our viewable part of the universe has a radius of about 47 billion light-years. So that's a diameter of 94 billion light-years! And the universe is even bigger than that. How small are we in that universe? The earth itself compared to the universe isn't even as large as an atom is compared to us. Why would any god create us so small? Or care about something so small? So what about a god who didn't create us, but created the universe? Really? He/she/it created something that large? It would have to take a hugely powerful and enormous being to create something as large as the universe. It seems likely that we would know (not merely believe in) about such a being one way or another. What about a god that is simply out there and didn't create anything? Well, why would that be "god" and not just another species in the universe? The whole idea of any god just doesn't make sense.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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31-01-2013, 05:12 PM
RE: Atheist, theist, deist, or simply not Christian?
Welcome to the forum, Quest. I hope you enjoy your stay. Smile

(30-01-2013 10:58 PM)fstratzero Wrote:  I'm what you'd call a gnostic atheist.

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