Need advices, I'm starting to have doubts in my atheist convinction
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03-09-2016, 04:51 PM
RE: Need advices, I'm starting to have doubts in my atheist convinction
(03-09-2016 03:54 PM)Sturm Wrote:  Thank you all very much for your comments and welcoming !

(03-09-2016 01:35 PM)DLJ Wrote:  Having said that, I suspect that your instinct is right and that her 'pattern-recognition' software is putting two and two together to make five... she's counting the hits and ignoring the misses so that these coincidences form a pattern.

That's also what I think, that she sees what she pays attention to, because she wants to see the things that comfort her idea of communication with someone who is deceased. On good days, when I'm confident about my conviction, it seems clear to me, and I don't question this explanation, during those days I feel quite good. Then, there are other days when I think "what if that's not just coincidences", and doubt brings fear, because my conviction is not as strong as I would like. It's good to read your message, you reached the same conclusion than me (when I'm in those good days), it's conforting in a way, thank you !

(03-09-2016 01:51 PM)Pragmatix Wrote:  My father gave me "the God Delusion" for my 21st birthday, but has subsequently embraced protestant Christianity - primarily since his new wife is an avid church goer. It seems people in a romantic relationship will often succumb to their partner's beliefs. I view it as a sign of weakness in my father, and we recently fell out big time because of my arguing against his new found, appeasing Christianity. I lost all respect for him. Perhaps I could have been kinder but it just seemed so pathetic. He said "I don't believe 100% but I think it substantially viable", or words to that effect. He'd do/say/think anything to stay in his wife's bed. I'm sorry, but it's just weak in my mind. Don't compromise your intellect - you'll get more respect from fellow realists that way, and who values the respect of delusional theists anyway.

That's why I came here, because in my case, I don't want to change my mind, I don't want to believe. In my case, I don't want to please her by adopting her beliefs, and I didn't adopt her beliefs, but those beliefs, to which I'm now confronted all the time, put a strain on me and I really hate being in a situation of doubt. That's maybe a weakness from me, but I'm the first one to be disappointed about it. When I think about who I was 10 years ago, extremely confident about my conviction, I so much wish to be that person again.

(03-09-2016 01:54 PM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  It's a bit amusing (not at your expense, though!) to see someone having this issue with non-Christian beliefs, as that's the usual flavor of "but what if they're right; they sound so confident about it!" stories we hear, here.

To all people who want to maintain their rational minds in a superstitious world, I recommend reading Carl Sagan's book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, which covers everything from alien abductions and religious mysticism/magic to how to spot patterns of bias which lead to pseudoscientific ideas (or what we call "woo" or "woo-woo"), in the Baloney Detection Kit, which can be found online if you don't have time to read the whole book.

I think I would have less problem being challenged if she believed in god in a christian way, but I think the new age is much more insidious, because it is largely accepted. There are tons of youtube videos, each one with a serious sounding voice explaining things about "consciouness", most of the time using scientific language to make it more serious. I never watch those videos to be honest. Even though I used to be a scientist (I studied biology), I don't have the knowledge in physic to decide if those things are likely to be true or not. So I simply decide not to pay attention to them, the problem is the attention is brought to me when she watchs those kind of video.

Thank you for the book recommendation, I am definitely adding it to the list of "must read" to confort my conviction

(03-09-2016 03:20 PM)morondog Wrote:  It... sounds like you hadn't particularly thought about your atheism before - you'd just taken it as given.

I'd suggest learning some principles of critical thinking. In most people they're innate, but can be subverted by e.g. a course of brainwashing of sufficient potency. Wikipedia probably has an article to start you off.

Thank you for the advice ! Each time my girlfriend brings some supernatural idea, first thing I do, is not to accept it, but to find a rational explanation for it. I have always done that, we often have arguments about that, because she thinks I'm stubborn to not see stuff. I actually have looked a lot on the internet about it, reading a lot of things from skeptic.org and other websites, about the cause of religions, superstitions, rational explanations about things that people claim to be supernatural, it comforted me when I had doubts. But even doing that, and even with my mind which is normally very rational, being confronted to that all the time is very difficult, especially when she seems so confident... I hate having to think "what if she is right and all this is not coincidence", but I can't help it.

(03-09-2016 03:28 PM)jennybee Wrote:  I have a few resources that will help get you back to rationality. These three books are amazing: The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day by David J. Hand, How We Know What Isn't So: Fallibility of Human Reason in Every Day Life by Thomas Gilovich, and The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies-How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them As Truths by Michael Shermer. Also really good--this video by Andy Thomson on Why We Believe in Gods:

Thank you very much, I'm adding those to my list ! I hope reading them will make me stronger in resisting ideas that are irrational but that I can't disprove.

@Leela
Thank you for your comment ! Sorry it took me a while to answer the other messages and I need to leave the computer for now. I will edit my post later to reply to your comment. Thanks again !

There is also a book from 20 years ago or so called Why people believe weird things. or maybe it was strange things. He was well worth eading
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03-09-2016, 05:00 PM
RE: Need advices, I'm starting to have doubts in my atheist convinction
I suggest the following.
Read The Iliad by Homer.
Then read the bible.
Then perhaps The Aeneid by Virgil.

See if you believe any of these stories.

The Iliad is a great read. The bible, not so much. IMO at least.

Virgil is wonderful as well.

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04-09-2016, 12:07 AM
RE: Need advices, I'm starting to have doubts in my atheist convinction
(03-09-2016 05:00 PM)Banjo Wrote:  The Iliad is a great read. The bible, not so much. IMO at least.

The real question is "which one plagiarized the most material?".

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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04-09-2016, 02:49 AM
RE: Need advices, I'm starting to have doubts in my atheist convinction
By the way I think you're approaching this backwards amigo. You don't start with a belief that you want to hold and then desperately shore it up, you start with an open mind and as your brain throws up hypotheses or other people make claims you test them to see which ones are valid. You hold beliefs at any time - things like the belief that the sun will rise tomorrow. Some beliefs we know to be untrue. Things like that father Christmas delivers gifts to children on Christmas eve. So... the question is how do you tell which? That is where critical thinking tools are needed. But you don't start with the desperate desire to believe that father Christmas does *not* deliver presents, you start with "Well maybe he does, let's evaluate whether that is a reasonable belief".

The thing is, religious people long ago realised they couldn't meet the testability criterion in any meaningful way, so they did two things:
a. they substituted "miracles" and so forth as some kind of "test". i.e. if I pray to Thor and then vanquish my enemies, that means that Thor is a strong God. What they did was they *changed* testability from "Can your God satisfy this test that I devised?" to "My God exists because of this unrelated correlation/causation thingy that I can use to pull the wool over peoples' eyes, including mine depending on my degree of piety and/or stupidity".
b. When people noticed that God often fails tests e.g. "God promised me that what I pray for, I will get, but I prayed for a goat and I got a mud pie", they made their Gods kinda *untestable*, i.e. God is unseen, he lives (waves vaguely skywards) up there somewhere, he causes natural phenomena like Earthquakes (until recently not a well understood phenomenon), he has some fancy "plan" that means that prayers don't have to be answered right now.

Another thing to appreciate is that belief is not a choice. Your brain decides what it believes, and even if you want to believe something really badly, you can't force yourself to believe - well you can kinda, but it's cognitive dissonance. If you saw your best friend murdering cats, you couldn't ever after forget that he did that, and believe that he was actually just stroking them vigourously. You don't have a choice in that belief.

So to me the key with these new agey beliefs, if they bother you, is to think about them. Don't go "maybe it's true". Think hard about it. Assume it's true and ask yourself what that implies. Ask yourself if it's a bit ridiculous.

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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04-09-2016, 04:51 AM
RE: Need advices, I'm starting to have doubts in my atheist convinction
(04-09-2016 12:07 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  
(03-09-2016 05:00 PM)Banjo Wrote:  The Iliad is a great read. The bible, not so much. IMO at least.

The real question is "which one plagiarized the most material?".

I believe the Iliad predates the bible.

I may be wrong. But in Athens the Jews had little influence at that time.

NOTE: Member, Tomasia uses this site to slander other individuals. He then later proclaims it a joke, but not in public.
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04-09-2016, 05:00 AM
RE: Need advices, I'm starting to have doubts in my atheist convinction
While everyone is trying to sound helpful here, yes doubt is a good thing. Unfortunately atheist websites do get hit and run posters who pretend to be skeptics. It makes my Spidy sense tingle when this one of the first posts.

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04-09-2016, 05:02 AM
RE: Need advices, I'm starting to have doubts in my atheist convinction
(04-09-2016 05:00 AM)Brian37 Wrote:  While everyone is trying to sound helpful here, yes doubt is a good thing. Unfortunately atheist websites do get hit and run posters who pretend to be skeptics. It makes my Spidy sense tingle when this one of the first posts.

"Hit and run"???

Are you on about guns again?

Tongue

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04-09-2016, 05:49 AM
RE: Need advices, I'm starting to have doubts in my atheist convinction
Thank you all very much for your replies !

(03-09-2016 03:42 PM)Leela Wrote:  First off, as DLJ said, there is nothing wrong with "what if I'm wrong" as long as it doesn't turn into a Pascal's Wager argument ("you should better belief this because what if you're wrong" kinda).

Now for the rest, generally I would always ask myself: Do I want to believe this because it makes me feel good or because there is scientific evidence supporting this thing? That was pretty much how I argued myself out of it because everything that comes after that, is simply looking stuff up on the internet.
If you don't mind your gf or whatever believing in that stuff, then you can simply do that just for yourself.
Also about agnostic and atheist position. You do realize that those are neither mutually inclusive nor mutually exclusive, right? Atheism is about belief or the lack of it while Agnosticism is about knowledge ar the lack of it. So saying "I don't know if reincarnation is real but I don't believe that it is" is an absolutely valid point of view.

And last but not least, the thing that I always offer in such more complicated cases. If you feel like going into depth about any details, feel free to pm me, I am happy to help as much as I can or at least to point you towards good ressources.

Normally, I only believe in things that are supported by scientific evidence. The problem is not belief, but doubt, because I don't really believe in those things my gf believes in, because it's not proven, but it brings me doubt. I mean, I can't help thinking that it is not because something hasn't been proven scientifically that it doesn't exist, and so, when a lot of people believe in it, when there is almost a kind of accepted culture around it, it brings doubt. I know, I also have counter arguments for what I just wrote : I can't disprove the existence of unicorns, it doesn't mean they exist, I'm aware of that, I keep telling me this. But I'm kind of victim of the amount of people believing in afterlife, a lot of people believes in it, it's not a valid argument, it shouldn't affect me, but it does. It never affected me before, but living with someone who brings new age subjects all the time, and having those beliefs right under my nose has created the doubt in me.

I used to not mind my gf believing in those things, as long as it was a small part of her life and not the main interest in her life. Now she surrounds herself with people sharing those beliefs, she constantly want to look for it, watching videos, reading, etc about it. It has become the center of her life. It bothers me a lot, first because in a lot of cases, I see rational explanations in what she believes to be supernatural, and it's impossible for me to argue her out of it. Second, because her convictions force me to think all the time if I believe in them or not, why I don't believe in them, why I should believe them, and so, my mind is exhausted about trying to defend itself again those beliefs. Recently I reached a state of being back again to my original conviction, I felt good again, but when she brought the subject about her certitude that she was speaking with a deceased friend, it made me falter. Even if I manage to argue myself out of it, I fear the next time she will come up with a weird idea I won't be able to argue against, or next time she will watch a video full of pseudoscience that my lack of knowledge in physic won't be able to detect as pseudoscience. So in a way, now it really bothers me that she believes in this stuff.

Sorry, I might have use the wrong terms about atheist and agnostic position. What I mean, is that I previously believed that everything could be explained through physical laws : no god, no afterlife. By agnostic I meant that I opened myself to doubts about it, "is there something more" ? It's a position that doesn't suit me, because if I start thinking "maybe there's an afterlife", it changes the way I see life with my original conviction (from valuable, it turns to useless, and I can't live thinking that). I could live with it if I was think "maybe there's an afterlife but I don't believe in it", but I'm more thinking "maybe there's an afterlife but I don't know if I believe in it".

I'm sending you a PM right away Smile

(03-09-2016 04:46 PM)Born Again Pagan Wrote:  I went thru a New Age phase in my life. I had answered prayers and started to see auras etc... I was an independent contractor and I was told I should pay 10% of my income to the church. but couldn't afford it, buy the time Sunday came around I didn't have that much left, or not enuff that I figured I could give it away. SO one Friday night I stopped by the church after having earned only $220 for the week and slid $22.00 thru the slot in the door. Getting back in the car my cellular rang. It was a man I had done work for in the past and he wanted to know if I could do a job for him the next day Saturday, he'd pay me when I finished. So by Sunday I had earned another $300.00 to pay tithe on. And Saturday driving away from that job another contractor I had not heard from for quite a while called me and put me and my 3 guys to work starting Monday for a job that lasted several weeks. Remembering these stories brings the doubt back to my mind fore sure. I had my proof and yet later walked away from it!

Thank you for sharing your story. Was there anything that made you walk away from it later ? And thanks for the book recommendation, I looked for it on the internet, you had the right title "Why People Believe Weird Things" by Michael Shermer, I'm also adding it to my list (now I need to decide which one to start reading first !).


(03-09-2016 05:00 PM)Banjo Wrote:  I suggest the following.
Read The Iliad by Homer.
Then read the bible.
Then perhaps The Aeneid by Virgil.

I read Liliad when I was a kid (at school), I liked it a lot ! But as I said, I don't have any problem with christian belief, the bible, etc, it never brought the doubts in me, because the more details there are in a belief, the easiest it is for me to see the nonsense. I have much more problem with vague beliefs, especially when they come enwrapped in pseudoscience or when a bunch of coincidences happening in the life of someone I live with seems to support them.

(04-09-2016 02:49 AM)morondog Wrote:  So to me the key with these new agey beliefs, if they bother you, is to think about them. Don't go "maybe it's true". Think hard about it. Assume it's true and ask yourself what that implies. Ask yourself if it's a bit ridiculous.

Thank you for your reply, I totally understand. I know I'm approaching the problem backward, now I have my belief back and I don't want to doubt it, that's why I fear being victim of confirmation bias, because I think that maybe my belief comforts me and thus I'm denying "evidences", seeing in them only coincidences. Thinking about the doubts, that's what I tried to do, I spent about a year considering everything my brain could gather to make my mind about it. Of course, not all the new age beliefs brought me doubts, only a few of them, the vaguest they are, the more difficult they are to argue against. The problem was that I never managed to disprove those beliefs, but I reached the conclusion that they were very unlikely, because we didn't need them to explain the world and also because I could not integrate them with current knowledge in biology. But, I didn't manage to disprove them, and here is my weakness, because I think it lets open the door to doubt again if more elements are added to challenge me. In the present case, I had concluded that I didn't believe in afterlife, because it didn't make sense, but the person whom I spend 20h a day with brings again the subject forth, with conviction, and coincidence that makes me wonder "are those indeed coincidence like I think or is it me wanting to see coincidences because I don't want to believe". I really wish I had a stable mind like all of you, I thought I did, I would give anything to have that feeling back again.
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04-09-2016, 05:56 AM
RE: Need advices, I'm starting to have doubts in my atheist convinction
(04-09-2016 05:49 AM)Sturm Wrote:  I read Liliad when I was a kid (at school), I liked it a lot ! But as I said, I don't have any problem with christian belief, the bible, etc, it never brought the doubts in me, because the more details there are in a belief, the easiest it is for me to see the nonsense. I have much more problem with vague beliefs, especially when they come enwrapped in pseudoscience or when a bunch of coincidences happening in the life of someone I live with seems to support them.

I never read or heard of that book.

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04-09-2016, 06:24 AM
RE: Need advices, I'm starting to have doubts in my atheist convinction
(04-09-2016 05:56 AM)Banjo Wrote:  
(04-09-2016 05:49 AM)Sturm Wrote:  I read Liliad when I was a kid (at school), I liked it a lot ! But as I said, I don't have any problem with christian belief, the bible, etc, it never brought the doubts in me, because the more details there are in a belief, the easiest it is for me to see the nonsense. I have much more problem with vague beliefs, especially when they come enwrapped in pseudoscience or when a bunch of coincidences happening in the life of someone I live with seems to support them.

I never read or heard of that book.

Sorry, misspelled it, I meant "L'Iliad" by Homer (I used the french title, sorry for the confusion !)
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