What it means to be an atheist
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15-11-2010, 09:25 PM
What it means to be an atheist
I want to gather a collaboration of the minds here of different specifics that define atheism to you. For instance:

To me, atheism is an emphasis of individualism. Without a metaphysical being to play scapegoat to your actions, beliefs, and morals, you and only you are responsible for everything that is you. As an atheist, you aren't given a moral mandate behind which to hide your racism and homophobia. Instead of holding a sign that says "God hates fags" you are forced to take responsibility and hold up the more accurate sign of "I hate fags."

And knowing how improbable an afterlife is forces you to accept how brief and fragile life is, encouraging you to enjoy every minute you're alive. There's no reason for hate or stress or worry, because none of those superficial waste of emotions will matter when your existence has faded into nothingness. People say that no afterlife is a dreary and depressing thought, but what's depressing about getting a taste of life, making the best out of it, then ceasing to exist.

And we already have experience in what it feels like to not exist. It's how it felt before you were born, nothingness. So why would we think anything different for after we die and cease to exist again?

(P.S. If this isn't making any sense it's because I had a calc and a physics midterm today so my Improper Integrals and my Faraday's Law of Induction are running together in my head in a sea of madness, fueled by mountain dew and running on a 32 hour sleep deprivation... and no I'm not a kid, I'm 28)

"Ain't got no last words to say, yellow streak right up my spine. The gun in my mouth was real and the taste blew my mind."

"We see you cry. We turn your head. Then we slap your face. We see you try. We see you fail. Some things never change."
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15-11-2010, 09:49 PM
RE: What it means to be an atheist
I agree with your points.
I was talking with one of my Christian friends about a month ago and he was saying how he was having some issues. I wont go into details, but he basically said that he might have done these bad things he did because of devils. All I could I could think was 'really? devils? Why don't you try owning up to your actions and changing yourself from within instead of blaming it on something that has no basis for existence?"

Not having a scapegoat, such as devils, allows you to grow as a person. And not answering every scientific question with a 'God did it' response and actually learning how it works allows you to grow as a person. Accepting that you'll cease to exist, that this is your only life, allows you to die with no regrets about how you've lived life.
Basically, when it comes down to it, not relying on religion allows you lead a more fulfilled life.
I'm not saying every religious person leads an unfulfilled life, but I think it's much easier to do so as an atheist.
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15-11-2010, 10:28 PM
RE: What it means to be an atheist
I assume you're wanting more than just a dictionary definition "Atheism = no belief in a god" and want more "How does atheism impact my life". Smile For me...

Atheism is choosing reality over fantasy. I struggled throughout my life thinking "Do I really believe in this god? Why don't I on a realistic level? Why do I feel like it's just another story? It must be Satan. I won't be deceived. I'll trudge through it." Atheism is tearing open that burka that narrowed my vision, as Dr. Dawkins eloquently put it, and allowing me to associate reality with reality and fiction with fiction. It allows me to approach life not with a "How do I want life to be" and more a "How life really is" attitude. That might sound like a negative characteristic, but it really is clear and liberating.

Atheism is not bound to ancient human "morals" (if they can even be called that). I'm not to be put to death if I sleep with the man I love. I'm free to discuss with others within my belief set about our differences without having to worry about both sides believing their opinion is a mandate form heaven. I'm free to change my opinions or beliefs without feeling like I've displeased some stalker in the sky because it wants me to only think about it, and the way it thinks.

Atheism is a gateway to knowledge. By acknowledging we just really don't know how everything started (or if it did start), we're open to more creative testable hypotheses as to how/if it did. Instead of relying on a textbook that has only seen revisions that completely ignore the fallacies within it for almost two thousand years, the words of our "god", nature (which is the closest to a creator we can get), are the pieces of evidence we find in our cells as DNA, in our Earth as fossils, in our atmosphere as weather, in our cosmos as light, and in our universe as its vastness.

Atheism is the closest I can get to an unbiased world view, looking at reality through glasses absent of the colours a god may tint them with.

Atheism rejects the reasons my family opposes me and my brother abandoned me.

Atheism gives me no reason to treat people with kindness, showing me that altruism might really be possible.

I think that's what atheism is to me. It's... clarity. That's how I can describe it best. Smile

"It does feel like something to be wrong; it feels like being right." -Kathryn Schulz
I am 100% certain that I am wrong about something I am certain about right now. Because even if everything I stand for turns out to be completely true, I was still wrong about being wrong.
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15-11-2010, 10:56 PM
RE: What it means to be an atheist
I think one of the greatest things about being an atheist, for me, is that it is humbling. I don't know the answers, and that's okay. Unlike a lot of atheists here, I was never raised to be a theist; so I've never "known" the answers. Not knowing something gives me the wonderful opportunity of searching for an answer. The fact that there are innumerable unanswered questions enabling us to search for answers is exhilarating! I wouldn't have it any other way.

And the worldview is, in my opinion, much, much more "magical" in reality than anybody could ever dream of in any religion. (Oh why is Hamlet's line to Horatio ringing in my ears? "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio/ Than are dreamt of in your philosophy". Kind of ironic in this context though.) Anyways, we are made of the same stuff as other animals, as plants, as water, as the earth, as the stars... It's amazing and wonderful; and I feel very sorry for people who are too close-minded to open their minds just long enough to experience the absolute wonderment that comes with contemplating the world. Or just the serenity of contemplation itself. Okay, now I'm getting too poetic Tongue Perhaps that's a sign I should go to sleep?

"Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker." - Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula
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15-11-2010, 11:44 PM
RE: What it means to be an atheist
I agree with the post above by SecularStudent. To me, being an atheist means I am forced to be honest with myself and embrace humility. I don't know all the answers (Shit, I hardly know any of them) and that's okay. When I thought I was a believer, I didn't know the answers then either. Neither did anyone else.
Being an atheist makes me feel more accepting of humanity because I know that no matter what brought us here, we all arrived the same way. Likewise, in the end, we will leave in the same way. There are no special rules or double standards among us just because of religious doctrine. To quote the character GYSGT Hartman from Full Metal Jacket, "Here, you are all equally worthless."
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16-11-2010, 02:24 AM (This post was last modified: 16-11-2010 02:39 AM by No J..)
RE: What it means to be an atheist
(15-11-2010 10:28 PM)LeviTimes Wrote:  Atheism gives me no reason to treat people with kindness, showing me that altruism might really be possible.

Atheism gives me a reason to treat people with kindness. If I treat others like shit, they will treat me like shit, and I will have no one to blame but myself.

I agree with almost everything I have read in this thread so far. I think that what appears to be altruism is actually an evolutionary adaption for the building of bonds to strengthen survivability. Of course, if altruism actually existed, that would be very good.
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16-11-2010, 05:18 AM
RE: What it means to be an atheist
To me atheism is a rather practical way of life.
How can religion make my life better? what proof is there to make me believe? how can that alleviate my stress/fatigue?
To quote phillhelenes:
"God damn you sell it to me!"

Besides that atheism has allowed me to accept and learn about science, as I've always wanted to do.
I find reality to be much more beautiful once you understand what you're seeing.

Hey brother christian, with your high and mighty errand, your actions speak so loud, I can't hear a word you're saying.

"This machine kills fascists..."

"Well this machine kills commies!"
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16-11-2010, 10:05 AM
RE: What it means to be an atheist
When discussing this issue with those who are theists, I think it's important to note that while theism may cause people to behave in a particular way, atheism does not cause moral behaviors. It also doesn't allow them nor disallow them. What it does is it frees one from the constraints of what theism allows and disallows AND causes. When one has no objective rules of behavior, then subjective morality is all that is left, and then we become no different than pack animals. The thing is, pack animals behave morally.

Elephants, chimps, wolves, dolphins, penguins; all instinctively know how to treat one another.
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17-11-2010, 02:20 AM
RE: What it means to be an atheist
But humans "NEED" to be taught. Oh, the IRONY!
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20-10-2011, 02:59 PM
RE: What it means to be an atheist
The very nature of free thought provides openness and acceptance. That notion itself, is unacceptable to a Theist, who must at once answer to an all knowing, all powerful entity who demands worship and threatens punishment.
A Theist lives for, and answers to, another / An Atheist lives for, and answers to, the self. A HUGE responsibility.
Taking responsibility for one's own actions is a basic tenet of Atheism.
The ability to reason.
An honest attempt at empathy.
Independence is a main attribute of an Atheist. And I suppose reason, responsibility, and empathy, are always at the top of my list of Atheist guidelines for that independence. ... if I were to have such a defined thing.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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