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Is there anything you envy about theists?

Is there anything you envy about theists, or anything that you miss from a time that you were a theist yourself?

Posted: June 20th 2007

George Locke

The main thing that I envy about theists is having religious rituals that make sense. I think that ritual is a great way to deepen one’s connection to one’s spiritual consciousness/what have you, and most religions have rituals that also connect you to other people in your community. I’ve tried meditating and qigong and other things, which have worked pretty well for me, but the lack of external structure is kind of a drag. Providing my own structure is a worthwhile endeavor, though.

My lack of ritual is unfortunate, but it hasn’t kept me from having what I’d call a rich spiritual life, or from having a community of friends.

Posted: September 3rd 2007

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bitbutter www

I have less than fond memories of going to church when I was young but for a while there’s been a 'perfect church’ in my imaginings that I examine when I think about what kind of thing I might be missing out on by not being religious.

This perfect church would unfailingly confer the following benefits to its congregation every week:

  • The re-energising effect of dedicated time for peaceful reflection.
  • The life affirming feeling of being amongst a group of people who show love and support for one another.
  • A chance to be challenged by wise speakers, and to examine the way you’re living your life.
  • Access to an enthusiastic network of people who can work together on projects that have a positive effect on people’s wellfare.

... and it would have none of the stuff that made me so despise going to mass, that made it all seem so irrelevant to me when I was little. Thinking about it, this would be a very un-churchy place in the end—in fact unrecognisable as a church, to me.

I never came across a 'church’ like the one I dreamed up. But if I had I might worry that I was missing out—I might even attend mass there if that didn’t feel too awkward.

But of course these benefits can be found elsewhere too. I’m very glad to live in a society in which books and the internet so capably provide me with most of the elements I need to cobble together a worthy approximation of that perfect church.

Posted: June 21st 2007

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Robert Maynard

Off the top of my head, I suppose atheists don’t enjoy the same level of communal integration that large theistic traditions do by virtue of their numbers. But I was never a member of a church, so I cannot comment on the quality of these groups.

But there really isn’t anything to envy about the theistic vision of the universe, and living in it.

Posted: June 21st 2007

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logicel

One of the happiest moments in my life was when I left my Catholic family home at the age of eighteen and was able finally to come out as an atheist. There is not one single aspect of theism of which I experienced that I miss. Rather, I rejoice almost on a daily basis, that those aspects that were once a part of the daily charade I had to profess are no longer present in my life. It is my opinion that the joys and comforts attributed to theism are vastly over-rated, especially the aspects of it which are purported to give a sense of community and to give comfort in the time of mourning loved ones.

In my experience, it was leaving what I considered the fake sense of community present in my particular religious upbringing for more psychologically satisfying group dynamics found outside of the church that made a strongly positive difference in my young life. The pity for languishing souls, push for charitable actions for the sake of piety, holier-than-thou attitudes, smugness, being sheltered/buffered from reality, certainty in unproven faith, all drove people to act inanely and without a basis in reality for a valid and sustained sense of community. The conflating of religion with community disgusts me, because religion in the majority of situations is a divisive factor, not one for bringing people truly together.

The antisemitism which I witnessed in my family was justified by the ridiculous notion that Jesus Christ was crucified by the Jews. The embracing of civil rights for African Americans during the fifties and sixties, the time in which I was growing up, was in my family fueled by a sense that God wants us to see them as his children, not the reality that all races share genes in common, and we are more alike than we are not. Sometimes, religious people pull off positive actions, but it is usually for the wrong reasons. I only felt wholly moral when I left religion and was able to dictate my actions according to reason and fact.

It was during funerals which I experienced in my youth that I was particularly struck by the ossified approach by the religious regarding grieving—the trite platitudes that priests and nuns would prattle off made grieving and coping with loss harder, not easier. The glorification of pain/suffering and deferring to God’s mysterious plan would make me gag and not offer any comfort whatsoever.

Therefore, it is not surprising that I am an atheist of long standing because theism did nothing to improve the quality of my life. I had no need or desire to wrestle with the contradictions and inanities of religious beliefs so I could eat a few dry crumbs of dubious, short-lived relief.

Posted: June 21st 2007

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Stefan www

To me theism and atheism are not very different at all.

  • I talk to myself in quiet hours too and I get much insight out of it (I just don’t call it prayer).
  • I am part of something bigger, too – the universe, the Earth as a living planet, the human endeavor (I just don’t call it God).
  • Good things happen to me all the time (I just don’t call it a miracle).
  • I enjoy the beauty in the world: Nature, art, the magnificence of life itself (I just don’t call it God).
  • I think I’m thoroughly moral too and I feel the love for all human beings (I just don’t call it God).

To take all of this and force it all into one label to me is poor. And to imagine that this is a being that killed all the babies in Egypt to me is disgusting.

No, I don’t envy theists.

Posted: June 21st 2007

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Seshat

These are questions I have been asked before. The answer is “No” on both counts. It has become far more important for me to be able to see life for what it truly is, rather that what religion says it should be.

As a believer, I needed the constant reinforcement that was found in going to church three or more times a week. This strengthened the worldview taught by my particular brand of Christianity and also strengthened the “us vs. them” mindset so common in religion. To be away from the group was to lessen your ability to serve god.

As an atheist, free of the structured thinking of religion, I do not need that. My world view is no longer based on a book that has it roots in tales told by an ancient nomadic society, but in present-day reality. There is no more “us vs. them”, because there is just “us”, humanity, each of us trying to live our lives the best we know how. Maybe one day everyone will see that.

Posted: June 21st 2007

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John Sargeant www

No.

But I expect you want more than that as an answer.

The point of view I have come to is that to be honest I would rather have a correct view of the universe than a wrong one. So if for me atheism makes more sense than that we can deduce god then I am content.

Posted: June 20th 2007

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