If I were an atheist

Discussions about holding onto your faith and beliefs, whether by staying LDS or by exploring and participating in other churches or faiths. The belief in any higher power (including God, Christ, Buddha, or Jedi) is true in this forum. Be kind to others.
Cnsl1
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If I were an atheist

Post by Cnsl1 » Sun Dec 12, 2021 8:25 pm

Like most of you, I've often heard people (especially Mormons) say things like "if I didn't believe in the church, I'd be an awful person" or "I don't know where I'd be without my testimony" like having a belief in the truthfulness of the gospel was the only thing keeping them from being a liar, cheater, carouser, chaser of wild women (or men), drug user, or bank robber.

Just makes me scratch my head. Really??

I'm not an atheist, but if I was an atheist, my day to day life wouldn't change one bit.

I'm pretty sure I'd even still celebrate Christmas.

Now, I should probably qualify my answer somewhat because when I stopped believing things I used to believe about the church, I did have slight changes as to what I drank and wore, and how much money stayed in my account at the end of the month, but I'm still happy to say that my dealings with my fellowmen, how I treated others, and how I lived day to day didn't change.

Also, that pleasant feeling I sometimes had that I used to call the Spirit or the holy ghost, still seems to come around about s often, if not a little more often. There's probably such a backlog in the spirit world with so many Mormons bailing, that the holy ghost hasn't got the memo that I no longer believe, so I'm getting all this free comforter service. I didn't even have to read my scriptures!

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wtfluff
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by wtfluff » Sun Dec 12, 2021 9:22 pm

To miss-quote a famous magician athiest:
  • "I rape, pillage and murder exactly as much as I want to - which is none."
(In answer to "how do you not become an awful person without a belief in a god?)
Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. -Frater Ravus

Keep the company of those who seek the truth - run from those who have found it -Václav Havel

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Hagoth
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by Hagoth » Sat Dec 25, 2021 8:18 am

There is nothing more terrifying than someone who does bad things to other people because they are certain it's what God wants them to do.

I have a difficult time even answering the question of whether I am a theist or an atheist. I am willing to believe in God as much as God is willing to manifest him/her/itself to me directly without an interpreter. If you don't think God is powerful enough to do that I don't have much to say about your theism. I feel like I have had glimpses, but what I have experienced doesn't fit any of the books or money-collecting institutions.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

Cnsl1
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by Cnsl1 » Sat Dec 25, 2021 8:41 am

I believe because I want to. I'm maybe 50/50 on my certainty, but I like the concept of a creator, a higher collective power that connects us. I love the concept of some sort of life after death, so that's what I hope for and choose to believe in. I also like the idea of prayer and/or meditation to help connect to us to something bigger than ourselves.

I also like to talk to God now and then, and every once in a while she'll answer.

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Hagoth
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by Hagoth » Mon Jan 03, 2022 4:21 pm

Cnsl1 wrote:
Sat Dec 25, 2021 8:41 am
I believe because I want to. I'm maybe 50/50 on my certainty, but I like the concept of a creator, a higher collective power that connects us. I love the concept of some sort of life after death, so that's what I hope for and choose to believe in. I also like the idea of prayer and/or meditation to help connect to us to something bigger than ourselves.

I also like to talk to God now and then, and every once in a while she'll answer.
That is a great, honest response, Cnsl1. Imagine if everyone approached religion with this kind of openmindedness. It would be a very different world.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Angel
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by Angel » Fri Jan 07, 2022 6:59 am

I've made peace with any afterlife scenario. The atheist scenario - conservation of mass and energy - it would all just get mixed back together in the end. It is the ultimate union/connection, everything and everyone mixed together in the end, life pulled from the giant mixing bowl - literally united in one heart and one mind.

If there is a God, They would need to be perfectly just and loving, the perfect teacher to pull everyone together in the end - so no worries there.

If there is some other powerful being who is not perfectly just and loving, no need to please such a being. Cast me out of the presence of anything that is not powerful enough to 'save' everyone, I won't have anything to do with them, will not participate in any hierarchies.

Perhaps there are multiple kingdoms - multiple rulers as here on Earth. We are already experienced in that so nothing new under the sun.
“You have learned something...That always feels at first as if you have lost something.” George Bernard Shaw
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Hagoth
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by Hagoth » Sun Jan 09, 2022 11:18 am

Angel wrote:
Fri Jan 07, 2022 6:59 am
If there is a God, They would need to be perfectly just and loving, the perfect teacher to pull everyone together in the end - so no worries there.
Unless he really is the twisted, vengeful mofo of the Bible.

Most religions like to believe in the kind, loving, understanding God. The only way they can do that is to claim that Jesus is the same person (either via the Trinity or Mormon incarnation) and he somehow outgrew his nastier Old Testament self.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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Angel
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by Angel » Mon Jan 10, 2022 8:31 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Sun Jan 09, 2022 11:18 am
Angel wrote:
Fri Jan 07, 2022 6:59 am
If there is a God, They would need to be perfectly just and loving, the perfect teacher to pull everyone together in the end - so no worries there.
Unless he really is the twisted, vengeful mofo of the Bible.

Most religions like to believe in the kind, loving, understanding God. The only way they can do that is to claim that Jesus is the same person (either via the Trinity or Mormon incarnation) and he somehow outgrew his nastier Old Testament self.
It seems like genuine power would only be possible with genuine love and respect. I'm not worried about any spirit who is not loving as I do not see how they could have any real power.
“You have learned something...That always feels at first as if you have lost something.” George Bernard Shaw
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Cnsl1
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by Cnsl1 » Sun Jan 16, 2022 1:38 am

I used to posit that the reason the Old Testament Jehovah was such an angry badass mofo God was that he didn't know what it felt like to be human and he had no sympathy.

The New Testament Jesus is a kinder, gentler God, a one of us God, a God who knows what stickers feel like when you step on them. He's chill now.. just love everyone, folks. Love your neighbor, even the dumb ass who borrowed your truck to move his couch two blocks and brought your truck home two days later with less than a quarter tank of gas.

Great theory... until I read the D&C.

Jesus! Are you only nice when you're here? Are you like that cousin who talks crap about everyone on social media but at the reunion she's all nice and saying how much she loves everybody and how we should totally get together once a month, but then you don't hear from her again until grandpa dies?

While I've stated that I believe because I want to, I should add that I'm definitely polytheist because I believe there are multiple gods in charge of various things, especially sports related. For instance, I'm pretty sure there's a foul ball God who will nudge the occasional home run to the wrong side of the foul pole, and I think he just does this for the hell of it, cuz no praying or fasting or blessing of bats seem to effect his randomness in any way. The first down God, on the other hand, will respond to both sideline prayers and good play calling, which is how it should be of course, because faith without works is just a three and out.

Amen

Cnsl1
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by Cnsl1 » Mon Jan 17, 2022 5:51 am

I should add that much of what I write is just for fun, and I didn't really say everything that I said.

But let's explore polytheism for a bit from the traditional Mormon perspective.

Since the traditional perspective is that we can eventually become gods (or goddesses) with our own eternal increase and worlds without number, and since most of us grew up with the assumption that "as God is man may become", and because BY addressed that natural question directly, affirming that yes indeed, God does have a God, then can't we say that Mormons are polytheists, even though current prophets avoid that issue and former prophets have said there is only ONE God with which we have anything to do with?

I kinda like the idea of a grandpa God, and a grandma Goddess, and I bet they are really cool. And I can imagine if they were allowed to give advice and influence nowadays that things would be a lot different.

Father, stop giving them Marijuana edibles! I've told them it's bad for them.

Aw, a little bit is not going to hurt them. They're only mortal once.

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alas
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by alas » Thu Feb 17, 2022 7:23 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Sat Dec 25, 2021 8:18 am
There is nothing more terrifying than someone who does bad things to other people because they are certain it's what God wants them to do.

I have a difficult time even answering the question of whether I am a theist or an atheist. I am willing to believe in God as much as God is willing to manifest him/her/itself to me directly without an interpreter. If you don't think God is powerful enough to do that I don't have much to say about your theism. I feel like I have had glimpses, but what I have experienced doesn't fit any of the books or money-collecting institutions.
I am kind of like this in that my experience doesn’t fit any of the books or those collecting money while claiming to have some special connection to God. But then I think this is real common, because when we as individuals compare our personal experience we find a lot in common and most people’s experience doesn’t really fit any organized religion. For example, when I prayed about going inactive, “God” told me pretty clearly that it was probably best for me. And today, I overheard a conversation where a man was telling another man that most active Mormons have a problem discussing things with him (or anyone who has left the church. Then he explained further that he had a church leader swindle him and although he has tried to get over it, attending church was really painful, so he prayed about it and the answer was that he should leave. I have heard this same “answer to prayer” several times, almost as often as the church approved, “God led me to this church in answer to prayer.” It is as if God doesn’t have one church, but leads people to where they can be happy and best show love to others. And for some people that seems to be Mormonism, but for others, it is somewhere else.

I could name dozens of examples like this, but none of them help me know what kind of intelligence is ruling the universe, because “ruling” isn’t even the right concept.

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Hagoth
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by Hagoth » Fri Feb 18, 2022 8:17 am

alas wrote:
Thu Feb 17, 2022 7:23 pm
For example, when I prayed about going inactive, “God” told me pretty clearly that it was probably best for me.
Do the voices in our heads come from an exalted man on a throne trillions of miles out in space or are they more local, like right there in our head where we perceived them?

I know exactly what you're saying, alas. Despite my desperate attempts to get the right answers, "God" told me directly in prayer, via classic burning bosom/stupor of thought, that the Book of Mormon is NOT true and that Joseph Smith was NOT a true prophet, that Mormonism is NOT the OneAndOnlyTrueChurch. I kept ignoring those answers in anticipation of getting the right answers, but they never came.

I blamed my own unworthiness.

Eventually I had to accept that either God was actually giving me news I didn't want to hear, or the void of God's silence was being filled in by something else. I eventually concluded that my reluctant conscious mind was just catching up to my suppressed subconscious realizations. Either that or a universal Something was telling me to get on with my life and stop looking for ghosts that aren't there. And, really, there's no way to tell the difference.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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alas
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by alas » Fri Feb 18, 2022 9:01 pm

Hagoth wrote:
Fri Feb 18, 2022 8:17 am
alas wrote:
Thu Feb 17, 2022 7:23 pm
For example, when I prayed about going inactive, “God” told me pretty clearly that it was probably best for me.
Do the voices in our heads come from an exalted man on a throne trillions of miles out in space or are they more local, like right there in our head where we perceived them?

I know exactly what you're saying, alas. Despite my desperate attempts to get the right answers, "God" told me directly in prayer, via classic burning bosom/stupor of thought, that the Book of Mormon is NOT true and that Joseph Smith was NOT a true prophet, that Mormonism is NOT the OneAndOnlyTrueChurch. I kept ignoring those answers in anticipation of getting the right answers, but they never came.

I blamed my own unworthiness.

Eventually I had to accept that either God was actually giving me news I didn't want to hear, or the void of God's silence was being filled in by something else. I eventually concluded that my reluctant conscious mind was just catching up to my suppressed subconscious realizations. Either that or a universal Something was telling me to get on with my life and stop looking for ghosts that aren't there. And, really, there's no way to tell the difference.
I have had experiences that whatever the voice was knew stuff no human could have known, so, a voice from outside myself, and it was clearly different than normal thinking. But those experiences are rare, or maybe I am only crazy some of the time. Not the above experience so much as others. The above could have just been stuff bubbling up from my own mind. But I believe there is some kind of intelligence outside of ourselves that can communicate with us. But most of what Mormons learn to interpret as the Holy Ghost, is just our own emotions. I also think there is communication between people, but it is next to impossible to learn how to control it. There is a lot I don’t understand, so I won’t try and talk you into believing my version of things.

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Hagoth
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by Hagoth » Sat Feb 19, 2022 7:48 am

alas wrote:
Fri Feb 18, 2022 9:01 pm
....But I believe there is some kind of intelligence outside of ourselves that can communicate with us. But most of what Mormons learn to interpret as the Holy Ghost, is just our own emotions... so I won’t try and talk you into believing my version of things.
You don't need to talk me into anything, alas. I think we're talking about the same things viewed from different scenic overlooks.

After I rejected Mormonism my shields went up regarding anything that sounded "spiritual," but now I have come to accept that spirituality is real and essential, and that some of it probably extends outside of our skulls, but I don't think we have the tools yet to determine whether that can be explained by an external cosmic consciousness, or the weirdness of particle fields or, more likely, something that we cannot comprehend even when it's staring us in the face. I am inclined to believe that the cosmos possesses some kind of larger consciousness, but not of the exalted-man-on-throne variety. Whatever it is, I think it is Nature, rather than supernature. I also think having spiritual experiences is one of the most important aspects of being human.

The big unnecessary leap that we make when we are religiously indoctrinated is to shove any spiritual experience into the church-approved box without allowing ourselves to appreciate it for its own simple beauty. Here's the universe giving us a wonderful gift but we will only accept it on our own terms. Look at that beautiful sunset; it gives me this wonderful feeling that tells me God must be real and that He made the earth in six days and formed Adam in the Garden of Eden from dirt and ribs. When we sing Joseph Smith's First Prayer in sacrament meeting I get that same feeling, so I know God and Jesus actually visited Joseph in the grove, and therefore the Book of Mormon is true and Russell Nelson is God's mouthpiece.

A true cosmic consciousness would be unrecognizable from anything you could put on a cathedral ceiling or in a temple film, and probably weirder than we have the capacity to even comprehend. I think "God," if such a thing could be painted in fresco, would probably look more like the arabesques on a mosque dome than the old man on the Sistine ceiling.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

dogbite
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by dogbite » Sat Mar 26, 2022 5:29 pm

Oh wait, I am an atheist.

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SaidNobody
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by SaidNobody » Sun Apr 17, 2022 9:48 am

wtfluff wrote:
Sun Dec 12, 2021 9:22 pm
To miss-quote a famous magician athiest:
  • "I rape, pillage and murder exactly as much as I want to - which is none."
(In answer to "how do you not become an awful person without a belief in a god?)
The problem with this sort of thinking is like saying, "If I didn't believe in science, I could still enjoy all of the benefits of science."

You can believe what you want, but most of the social magic that keeps us together is religious-based. The story of Gulliver's Travels has a section where two kingdoms warred over which end to crack their eggs. 10,000 years ago, this would have been the condition of humans. People split over marks on their skin, and ideas as simple as whether to, bless and break, or break and bless.

You can be moral, but morals were more or less developed by people who believed in God. We already see that people who marry for love don't hold fast like people who marry for God. Kids become more and more messed up as family structure crumbles.

It isn't new to be atheist, but you cannot point to a single major atheist social group that has survived even 200 years.

Cnsl1
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by Cnsl1 » Mon Apr 18, 2022 10:08 pm

SaidNobody wrote:
Sun Apr 17, 2022 9:48 am
wtfluff wrote:
Sun Dec 12, 2021 9:22 pm
To miss-quote a famous magician athiest:
  • "I rape, pillage and murder exactly as much as I want to - which is none."
(In answer to "how do you not become an awful person without a belief in a god?)
The problem with this sort of thinking is like saying, "If I didn't believe in science, I could still enjoy all of the benefits of science."

You can believe what you want, but most of the social magic that keeps us together is religious-based. The story of Gulliver's Travels has a section where two kingdoms warred over which end to crack their eggs. 10,000 years ago, this would have been the condition of humans. People split over marks on their skin, and ideas as simple as whether to, bless and break, or break and bless.

You can be moral, but morals were more or less developed by people who believed in God. We already see that people who marry for love don't hold fast like people who marry for God. Kids become more and more messed up as family structure crumbles.

It isn't new to be atheist, but you cannot point to a single major atheist social group that has survived even 200 years.
I'm not a contrarian, but if I were a contrarian, I think I'd still say your argument reeks of religious bias and strawmen.

Are you trying to say that atheist can't sustain a social group? Are you suggesting that philosophy and psychology and evolution had little to do with morals and mores and social order? Are you intimating that marrying for love just doesn't get things done as well as marrying for god?

Are you saying it is sacriledge for an atheist to act in a socially acceptable manner? Or that to do so while denying a belief in a supreme creator master of the universe is heretical?

And before you answer.. I'm probably not going to read anything very long.. so you'll probably be writing it mostly for yourself. And that's cool. I do that too.


Two Gods walk into a bar...
But the bartender is an atheist.
One of the Gods orders a World Peace, but the bartender says she doesn't know how to make that, so she gives the God a beer instead.
The other God asks the first, "So, how is it?"
The first God shrugs. "Mild barley, but it could work."
So the second orders the same.
After a minute the bartender says, "I can't believe you bastards. I thought this was a joke."

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SaidNobody
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by SaidNobody » Wed Apr 20, 2022 5:31 am

Cnsl1 wrote:
Mon Apr 18, 2022 10:08 pm
I'm not a contrarian, but if I were a contrarian, I think I'd still say your argument reeks of religious bias and strawmen.

Are you trying to say that atheist can't sustain a social group? Are you suggesting that philosophy and psychology and evolution had little to do with morals and mores and social order? Are you intimating that marrying for love just doesn't get things done as well as marrying for god?

Are you saying it is sacriledge for an atheist to act in a socially acceptable manner? Or that to do so while denying a belief in a supreme creator master of the universe is heretical?

And before you answer.. I'm probably not going to read anything very long.. so you'll probably be writing it mostly for yourself. And that's cool. I do that too.
I just finished my bathroom remodel. I was hoping I didn't reek of anything.

As for the strawmen, the Gulliver's Travels analogy was to share the idea of how petty humans can be.

Morals, in general, bind us together. But morals shouldn't be confused with ethics, which are more corporate-based. Like, it's moral to steal, but is it immoral to take more staples from the supply closet than you need? Some companies don't care. Or maybe it is unethical for a boss to have sex with an employee, but if they are free to choose, is it immoral? Atheists often confuse morals with ethics, but they are not the same. The 5 commonly identified pillars of morality, 1)Freedom from harm, 2)Fairness/Equality, 3)Authority, 4)Sanctity, and 5)Honor. Ethics are guidelines, usually with punishment for violation.

Oh, and remember you might not read this, so yeah, just fun.

1) Freedom from harm is a natural instinct to protect the people of a group. Like kids standing up to a bully, or people against a tyrant. But the people must be part of your group, in your mind. If all humanity is in your group, great, but when bullets are flying and people are starving, your group is usually in the foxhole with you.

2) Fairness is also tried in with natural instinct. Where things often become unfair is when one person convinces others that the unfairness is somehow fair. Like, "God made us Lords and you peasants, so that's fair." The Chain of Being, an idea that pulls in authority, still influences us. Basically, God gave power to the King, Emperor, Leader, etc, and he empowers his vassals, they empower the stewards, and they manage the people." Even things that don't seem to tie into God, do.

3) Authority is a major issue. I remember in my hometown the phrase, "It's the priesthood's right to rule." But among commoners of Europe, a major issue was "who is the rightful ruler." God gives authority to the Queen of England, and the people follow her government because she still represents that power. Most people have decided that the majority and law should hold authority, but that is not how we got here. People supported a king because God had appointed him.

4) Sanctity is a major part of morals. If people do not agree with you about what is sacred, they are very quickly not part of your group. Groups come in many layers and sizes, but if someone doesn't agree that you have freedom of speech, a right given by God, they are quickly not one of your group. If someone thinks eating babies is OK, they are not among your group (I hope.) Pillars 1, 2, and 3 have a natural energy source, but if it doesn't jive with pillar 4, there is no 1, 2, and 3. Sacred is everything from flag worship, temples, books, thoughts, and usually a God. But mistreat the sacred and you're out.

5) Honor is important, and I cannot really do it justice. But all of the other pillars touch 5. If you are forcing someone to be honest, ie, with ethics, are they really honest? If you are unfair when you can be, are you really fair? Often, people tie their honor into an idea that a higher power is holding them accountable. I've heard people say, "If I don't get caught, then I didn't do anything wrong." Honor makes this untrue, as you are always watching. But often, that starts as God is watching.

Cnsl1
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by Cnsl1 » Thu Apr 21, 2022 1:18 am

I find it fascinating that your primary source to support your .. it's hard to really call it an argument.. let's say opinion.. regarding what morality is, or what morals are, and how atheists don't know the difference between ethics and morals, comes from a social psychologist who self-identifies as an atheist. Haidt would probably disagree with your conclusions a little bit.

You say that "Morals were more or less developed by people who believe in God" but quote an atheist's work on what morals are, then break down his points by apparently suggesting that God created lots of the injustices of power over time.

I'm baffled.

People tend to assume that members of out groups are more alike than they actually are. So, Christians might assume all atheists confuse morals and ethics, don't understand moral philosophy, and eat babies. Similarly, Democrats might assume that everyone who likes Trump is a dumbass, gullible, fact-defying, gun-toting, unethical white person. The out-group homogeneity effect is a real thing. And some people who like Trump don't have any guns.

My original post was ... I'm not an atheist, but if I were an atheist I wouldn't be much different than I am right now.

I might, however, be slightly smarter. Atheists average about 3 IQ points higher than religious folks. It's probably that question about swallows!

dogbite
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Re: If I were an atheist

Post by dogbite » Thu Apr 21, 2022 1:35 pm

SaidNobody wrote:
Wed Apr 20, 2022 5:31 am


3) Authority is a major issue.

4) Sanctity is a major part of morals.

5) Honor is important,
3. Respect for authority is what you seem to describe, But I rather reject it. Authority politically should be granted by the people and withdrawn by the people. The people imbue you with a certain authority capital, which can be used up if not renewed by your actions towards the people. This lack of capital tends to get people removed from authority in free societies

Authority as someone who is reliable about a topic is a different thing which goes more to one's inability to personally test out all propositions.

4 Sanctitiy is mostly nonsense imho. And it's counterpart disgust is usually useless too. Just look at how these issues have been used in Racisim, LGBTQI, TBL and so on.

5. Honor is a toxic sludge pit. Honor is imbued by the society and impugned by the society, usually devolving to might makes right, honor killings, drive by acid attacks... Dignity is far more useful as that is within one's self. Look up the difference between honor cultures and dignity cultures. Stark differences.

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