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The Appeal Of Atheism?


Mudcat

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I am not an atheist (I am LDS), but I am a skeptic by nature, and tend to lean more toward the rational and less toward the emotional. I think that I understand in some part the mindset of many atheists.

I really think it boils down to what a few have already said here. It's not that atheism appeals to them more, it simply seems to them to ring true, where God's existence does not. I can't blame them terribly. There are lots of things that can push someone in this direction. The Problem of Evil. Directly contradictory conclusions based on the same (or very similar) type of personal spiritual experiences. Lack of direct evidence for God's existence. Conflicts between science and literalist interpretation of scripture. Looking coldly at the globally available evidence, I myself believe that there is less likelihood that God exists than there is that He does not. For me, faith involves belief that isn't truly justified by rationality alone. Some people just can't do that. I can. I don't think those folks will be condemned by God for simply following a sincere conviction.

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If there was a God, and that God was able to prevent suffering, yet did not do it, how can one find a God worthy of fealty in that?
Because one needs to understand the bigger picture: that this life is the blink of an eye in eternity. God does know the beginning from the end but he also allows us to have our agency and to gain experience which helps us to understand suffering and its consequences as well as all the good and beauty in the world. It's that old theme of opposition in all things, which atheists hate. I actually understand that without the LDS view of man being able to progess and become as God this probably doesn't make much sense. However, if one has a higher goal than playing harps through eternity then actual experience is a necessity. One can go to school to become a doctor but he doesn't become a great doctor until he has actually practiced for many years and learned by experience and putting into practice all the book knowledge.
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I had a conversation with an old friend today.

He confessed to me, that he doubts his faith in Christ.

He is very seriously considering atheism.

I don't understand the appeal of this ideology of a "cosmic accident" that made us all, which seems to be a part of the concept.

It has never made sense to me.

So for those that have seen friends become atheist, those that are/were atheist, those who have considered being an atheist, those understand why they aren't atheist and those who just wanna say something about it..... I ask you, why are there some people who think this makes sense and why do you think it makes sense to them/you?

Respectfully,

Mudcat

I don't think "appeal" has anything to do with it. The atheists I know just looked at the physical world and came to the conclusion that there is no God. I don' t think they are making a conscious choice to join a school of thought for the benefits it will bring them spiritually.

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I had a conversation with an old friend today.

He confessed to me, that he doubts his faith in Christ.

He is very seriously considering atheism.

I don't understand the appeal of this ideology of a "cosmic accident" that made us all, which seems to be a part of the concept.

It has never made sense to me.

So for those that have seen friends become atheist, those that are/were atheist, those who have considered being an atheist, those understand why they aren't atheist and those who just wanna say something about it..... I ask you, why are there some people who think this makes sense and why do you think it makes sense to them/you?

Respectfully,

Mudcat

Hi Mud,

Atheism doesn't have "appeal". Nobody seeks it out as a belief choice to feel good or happy. It is simply the most plausible explanation for our existence. Just like the earth is round, the sky is blue and 1+1=2. It is the most reasonable explanation for why things are. Naturalistic explanations for things can be tested and observed, Supernatural explanations cannot.

Atheism is not a choice, it's a realization.

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For the sake of argument I'll pretend to have lost my faith in any God. Where would I go? Atheism has a many holes in it as Theism. Agnosticism seemed to be the only rational way left. I tried that for several years, without much satisfaction. So for me it is Mormonism, and on the off chance that my Atheist friends are right. In the Abyss I wouldn't know any differently anyway.

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I don't understand the appeal of this ideology of a "cosmic accident" that made us all, which seems to be a part of the concept.

I ask you, why are there some people who think this makes sense and why do you think it makes sense to them/you?

This is a simple problem. You are looking at it as though religion were a more rational a decision. In the end it is all simply a choice of belief and faith. Atheism often is a more rational choice, does this make it the correct choice? No. But, the same question is asked by the atheist of the theist: I ask you, why are there some people who think this makes sense and why do you think it makes sense to them/you? I feel that religion is the more difficult choice of the two, atheism does not require hope. Hope is a statement of desire for the improbable. Hope is something that in this world often leads to pain and frustration. If a person is not strong enough hope is beat into apathy, apathy results in atheism, imo. Hope is required for faith, faith is required for religion.

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I don't understand the appeal of this ideology of a "cosmic accident" that made us all, which seems to be a part of the concept.

It has never made sense to me.

So for those that have seen friends become atheist, those that are/were atheist, those who have considered being an atheist, those understand why they aren't atheist and those who just wanna say something about it..... I ask you, why are there some people who think this makes sense and why do you think it makes sense to them/you?

Respectfully,

Mudcat

As others have noted, your first step would be to understand that not everyone "chooses" an ideology based on its "appeal". Even LDS recognize that an ideology has to make sense (hence the many arguments that the LDS ideology is the most logical, answers the most questions, is the most consistent etc.)

Ultimately, it comes down to the evidence and the methodology for interpreting that evidence. If your the ideology of Mormonism (or Christianity) is incompatible with the evidence your friend sees, or fails his methodology for interpreting that evidence, there isn't any you could (or should) do, other than to to try change the evidence he sees (i.e. make sure he is aware of the best evidence for your beliefs), and try to steer him towards a methodology that is favorable to Christianity (or theism).

Good luck.

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I ask you, why are there some people who think this makes sense and why do you think it makes sense to them/you?

The first question, why atheism makes sense to me, is that I see no evidence for God, and the evidence that is offered is, as far as I can tell, fallacious.

The second question is perhaps more difficult. Why atheism is appealing? I don't know that it is necessarily appealing-truth (or at least truth as far as we can perceive it) is not always appealing. Truth is empowering in that it allows us to view the situation as it is and to then make choices based on reality and not fantasy. For example, if I was given a terminal diagnosis, that would not be appealing to me but if according to the best science available it appears I will in fact die soon I would be foolish to disregard it. Knowing such a thing may not be appealing, but it allows me to take care of the things that I need to in order to prepare for that event. Now if after the diagnosis I set things in order with my family and decide to pretend like I'm still going to live another 30 years that is a choice I can make to deal with reality-but at least I have information which allowed me to get things in order.

Such is the case with atheism. Certainly the idea of living forever is appealing as well as believing God will rush to my aid in this life when I need him. But I see no strong evidence of such things. Recognizing there is no evidence of God makes me realize that the problems of this world are only going to be fixed by myself and my fellow human beings. It makes me realize that religious rules are just inventions of men and that they consequently deserve the same scrutiny and evaluation as all laws and social practices. It makes me realize that while I can't completely rule out the existence of a life after this one I am only sure of my current existence and that I should therefore make it as good as possible for myself and for my fellow human beings. It has made me realize that my emotions are not tied to some spirit being punished with guilt and unhappiness for disregarding religious rules and rewarded with joy and happiness for obeying them but that we have evolved positive emotions when we maintain positive relationships with fellow human beings and negative emotions when we put ourselves in conflict with other human beings. It has made me realize that dogma and 'special knowledge' kill meangingful discourse which is needed to resolve conflict and find solutions to human problems. It has made me willing to learn the scientific theories that explain the origins of life, earth and the universe and allowed me to experience the awe of such processes. All these things have empowered my ability to experience life to it's fullest.

Now who knows, someday I may choose that the lack of appeal of how I perceive reality persuades me to embrace the idea of eternal existence and a benevolent God. But I'm grateful that my atheism has persuaded me that by doing so I am not logically constrained to embrace any of the dogma associated with those concepts outlined by any of the numerous religions which would confine my ability to reasonably approach my own decisions and judgments.

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I don't know that atheism has any sort of "appeal", it just seems to be a rational position. Like SilverKnight stated: "It is a realization". It sort of dawns on you as the most apt explanation of our world (concerning the question of supernatural agents or not) and our place in it. It isn't all that enjoyeable a realization when you once held cherished beliefs and entertained the reality of a personalized God and savior figure.

Now, I have to confess to being agnostic, and not atheist per se, but concerning the God of Mormonism, Judeaism, Islam and of Christianity in general, I am solidly atheist. Meaning, God may exist, but it is NOT the God that religions have anthropomorphized and personified with human characteristics and traits and placed in the sky made in the image of man.

I imagine or intuit that if God does exist, such a force or consciousness would transcend our ability to understand that being or essence in any complete way. Kind of like a cell in our body somehow contemplating that it is part of a human body with trillions of cells with thousands of different purposes and that the human body combined has a mind with higher thought processes unknown to the cell, which body is merely part of a larger world and universe, and then understanding the infinitely more complex set of interconnectedness of those higher orders (galazies, clusteres of galaxies, etc). Maybe God is just that wholeness as some sort of interlinked totality?

Something might exist, but it is not the human phantasm of a God passed off via the institutional organizations of the world that we call religion.

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fattim85 is correct. The primary appeal of atheism is pride.

"I am able to accept unpleasant truths that others are incapable of facing."

"I have made an intellectual and rational choice where others allow their emotions to influence them."

"I can accept that I am not immortal or special as the religious believe they are."

"I haven't been fooled by myths and traditions that are only valued because they are old, as others have. I have grown beyond the choices of my parents to make my own."

"Others are foolish to blindly accept the actions of the 'invisible sky bully' as moral when they clearly are not moral. No moral god would allow the suffering that exists in the world, and anyone half-intelligent can see that."

"My dedication to moral laws is superior because I know they won't be enforced by some god in an afterlife. Unlike you I don't believe there is a safety net, so I have to work harder."

"I can find more of worth in human life than you can because I believe this is all we get."

"I can see the humor in the cosmic joke of our existence where you cannot."

In short the appeal is "I see clearly where others stumble."

In my experience, for atheists freedom from moral judgement is usually a very distant second motivation to pride.

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You "see" God everywhere. God is so obvious to you. I applaud that. But have you thought about how God is not so obvious to so many billions who have suffered so terribly over the course of human history?

I would agree that people suffer. Mankind at large, does many horrible things.

God has given mankind the power to choose, and many of our choices are poor.

Many of those that do suffer, are Christians and most don't loose faith because they are suffering. The founder of Christianity suffered for all of us. Human suffering is our own doing, not God's. I don't see how the fact that bad things happen, implies their is no God.

I have slight Deistic leanings in that I have no grounds to say that any sort of God does not exist, however, it one did it does appear to have gone on vacation after setting the world or universe in motion.

I don't think that he has taken a vacation at all. If you could remove the beliefs that surround God from the world, how would it be a better place? Would we be more moral, kind, etc....? God moves in very big ways and very small ways.

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I thought that this was a theist's position. I don't have any answers, but religions tell me they do.

Some chose their religion out of pride as well.

Most religions have generally appealing aspects to their philosophy, however, and these can also be motivations to join. There isn't anything instrinsicly appealing about believing life is short, brutal, and largely senseless.

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Atheism doesn't have "appeal". Nobody seeks it out as a belief choice to feel good or happy. It is simply the most plausible explanation for our existence. Just like the earth is round, the sky is blue and 1+1=2. It is the most reasonable explanation for why things are. Naturalistic explanations for things can be tested and observed, Supernatural explanations cannot.

Atheism is not a choice, it's a realization.

It seems many seem to share this same perspective. There is no appeal....its just reality(at least to some).

I would submit, that its the starkness of that reality that has its appeal.

People have run the probabilities of humanity emerging spontaneously and the numbers stager me.

Ultimately for the athiest there is no First Cause, simply an infinite regression of events, of which we are the benefactors.

Its well beyond me how somehow the fact that all this 'stuff' is here does not lend itself as evidence that something caused it to be here.

I can't comprehend how this philosophy is more logical, or even as logical as the presence of a creator.

I suppose my thread is more of a rant for me than anything else. I am simply upset about the decisions my friend seems to be making, because I can't comprehend the logic of them.

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Some chose their religion out of pride as well.

Most religions have generally appealing aspects to their philosophy, however, and these can also be motivations to join. There isn't anything instrinsicly appealing about believing life is short, brutal, and largely senseless.

No, there isn't much appealing about believing that life is short brutal and largely senseless, it just looks that way.

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It seems many seem to share this same perspective. There is no appeal....its just reality(at least to some).

I would submit, that its the starkness of that reality that has its appeal.

People have run the probabilities of humanity emerging spontaneously and the numbers stager me.

Ultimately for the athiest there is no First Cause, simply an infinite regression of events, of which we are the benefactors.

Its well beyond me how somehow the fact that all this 'stuff' is here does not lend itself as evidence that something caused it to be here.

I can't comprehend how this philosophy is more logical, or even as logical as the presence of a creator.

I suppose my thread is more of a rant for me than anything else. I am simply upset about the decisions my friend seems to be making, because I can't comprehend the logic of them.

You seem to be of the opinion that we choose our beliefs (doxastic voluntarism). I believe that most atheists would disagree. I also disagree.

As far as what is logical, I would point out that not all theists believe that God is the ultimate First Cause. Many LDS do not, including myself. What is more logical about God's uncaused existence than an infinite regression?

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I had the pleasure of an Evangelical friend of mine who was "fellowshipping" me at the time inform me that my dear Mormon mother was now roasting in the flames of hell on account that she never worshipped the real Jesus. Nice! That was not one of the more brotherly kindness moments in my journey.

Just wanted to say that I also don't believe your mother is automatically in hell just because she was Mormon, and I'm sorry an evangelical treated you that way. I believe it's possible for a person to be saved even if they have some things wrong about Jesus. See C.S. Lewis's Calormene warrior account if you're unfamiliar with this idea among evangelicals.

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fattim85 is correct. The primary appeal of atheism is pride.

"I am able to accept unpleasant truths that others are incapable of facing."

"I have made an intellectual and rational choice where others allow their emotions to influence them."

"I can accept that I am not immortal or special as the religious believe they are."

"I haven't been fooled by myths and traditions that are only valued because they are old, as others have. I have grown beyond the choices of my parents to make my own."

"Others are foolish to blindly accept the actions of the 'invisible sky bully' as moral when they clearly are not moral. No moral god would allow the suffering that exists in the world, and anyone half-intelligent can see that."

"My dedication to moral laws is superior because I know they won't be enforced by some god in an afterlife. Unlike you I don't believe there is a safety net, so I have to work harder."

"I can find more of worth in human life than you can because I believe this is all we get."

"I can see the humor in the cosmic joke of our existence where you cannot."

In short the appeal is "I see clearly where others stumble."

In my experience, for atheists freedom from moral judgement is usually a very distant second motivation to pride.

It is the perceptions of an atheist, of what they think it means or entails to be a believer. Or maybe at one time they saw themselves the person they are describing.

We all have pride, to say the primary appeal of atheism is pride is to miss the mark entirely. Though, I would say that a primary result of atheism is that you become your own god/goddess.

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You seem to be of the opinion that we choose our beliefs (doxastic voluntarism). I believe that most atheists would disagree. I also disagree.

Thats a new term for me. I'll have to look it up to see if I qualify as one. I do believe we choose what we believe, though I feel in matters of faith, the Holy Spirit lends influence in many cases.

As far as what is logical, I would point out that not all theists believe that God is the ultimate First Cause. Many LDS do not, including myself. What is more logical about God's uncaused existence than an infinite regression?

For one an infinite regression doesn't make sense. If time lies behind us in an infinite series of events....then if would be impossible to be here. An infinite amount of time would had to have transpired first.

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fattim85 is correct. The primary appeal of atheism is pride.

"I am able to accept unpleasant truths that others are incapable of facing."

"I have made an intellectual and rational choice where others allow their emotions to influence them."

"I can accept that I am not immortal or special as the religious believe they are."

"I haven't been fooled by myths and traditions that are only valued because they are old, as others have. I have grown beyond the choices of my parents to make my own."

"Others are foolish to blindly accept the actions of the 'invisible sky bully' as moral when they clearly are not moral. No moral god would allow the suffering that exists in the world, and anyone half-intelligent can see that."

"My dedication to moral laws is superior because I know they won't be enforced by some god in an afterlife. Unlike you I don't believe there is a safety net, so I have to work harder."

"I can find more of worth in human life than you can because I believe this is all we get."

"I can see the humor in the cosmic joke of our existence where you cannot."

In short the appeal is "I see clearly where others stumble."

In my experience, for atheists freedom from moral judgement is usually a very distant second motivation to pride.

Jason is correct. The primary appeal of theism is pride.

"I am able to accept unpleasant rules that others are incapable of facing."

"I have made an spiritual and rational choice where others allow their logic to influence them."

"I can accept that I am immortal and special as the religious believe I am."

"I haven't been fooled by science that are only valued because they seem logical, as others have. I have grown beyond the reason taught in my education."

"Others are foolish to accept reciprocity as moral when it clearly is not moral. No moral system would allow men to marry men, and anyone half-intelligent can see that."

"My dedication to moral laws is superior because I know they are enforced by some god in an afterlife. I believe, so I have to work harder."

"I can find more of worth in human life than you can because I believe this isn't all we get."

"I can see the humor in the cosmic joke of our apparent science where you cannot."

In short the appeal is "I see clearly where others stumble."

In my experience, for theists happiness from comforting beliefs is usually a very distant second motivation to pride.

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For one an infinite regression doesn't make sense. If time lies behind us in an infinite series of events....then if would be impossible to be here. An infinite amount of time would had to have transpired first.
How can we tell that an infinite amount of time has not transpired before the present?
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Jason is correct. The primary appeal of theism is pride.
As I said, some do indeed chose their religion out of pride. Not usually for quite the reasons you put together here, though.
In my experience, for theists happiness from comforting beliefs is usually a very distant second motivation to pride.
Are you really making this claim, or merely parodying my earlier statement. I feel mine was accurate.
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fattim85 is correct. The primary appeal of atheism is pride.

Based on my limited interactions with atheists (including many on this board), I can't say I've noticed any more pride than among the theists. And the atheists I've known in person don't seem to be especially prideful, but it's an admittedly small sample.

I don't see the act of disbelief in a god to be prideful by nature, or somehow benefiting prideful people in ways that theism doesn't offer. Since pride is found in the comparison (and finding yourself to be superior), it seems to me that a Church that teaches its members that they are the chosen few, destined to become rulers and gods, and that all other people must either believe like they do or be cast off, offers much more to a pridefully inclined person than the idea that there is no God.

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For one an infinite regression doesn't make sense. If time lies behind us in an infinite series of events....then if would be impossible to be here. An infinite amount of time would had to have transpired first.

The statement that I have bolded is inaccurate. Implicit in this statement is the assumption that the beginningless series of events must in fact have a beginning.

Here's another objection of mine that I'll recycle here for you. Assuming you believe that God is absolutely omniscient, and that at least some of us mortals will have an infinitely long future in immortality, then an actual infinite must exist in God's mind. In a similar vein, even if you posit that God is timeless, do you believe that God has acted only a finite number of times (i.e. performed only a finite number of actions during His existence)? If so, then why? He is an infinite being. If not, then His knowledge of those actions are again an actual infinite.

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