For context: A good chunk of the people in my life are some form of believer. I come from a significantly Catholic background (homeschooled until high school, attended Catholic high school, went to a secular college but hewed pretty close to the Newman Center my entire time when I was there.) I finally determined that I was no longer a believer at the age of 26. Because of how I was raised and how relatively late in life I changed(relative to when I hear most people in my age group who turn atheist change), a LOT of the significant relationships in my life are Catholic or at least some form of Christian. I’ve told some of these people (immediate family, one or two close friends) about my deconversion but most of the time I have just let people assume that things are still the same with me without correcting them just because it has been easier. I am looking to change that and be more open about where I am. But, I feel the need to prepare myself for the questions that might pop up when people start finding out. So this is mainly a request for a practice run if anyone is up for it. Hit me with whatever questions you feel like asking me and my hope is that I can practice answering in a way that is reasonable and not hurtful, so that when these conversations pop up in real life, I’ll already be ready with an answer that helps people understand why I am where I am without me being too brusque or hurtful.
I will add that you do not need to feel like you need to be “nice” in asking whatever questions you have. In fact, the more you give the kind of off the cuff response you would give if you were talking to me in “real life” as if you were talking to a friend or relative who you just found out was atheist, the better.
I’m a former Atheist.
How Atheist would you say you are? 90%? 60%?
Just want to say that the responses you’ll get here regarding coming out as an atheist might be very different from the you hear in person from people you know.
Reason being possibly is that the people here that are theist in particular Catholic ones might be interested in apologetics. Catholics and non-catholic Christians in real life some of them might not know apologetics.
In the sense of with regards to Catholicism/other forms of Christianity/Hinduism/Judaism/any other major religion 100% atheist. In the sense of if there’s an outside possibility there’s something out there that we don’t fully understand behind everything I’m at 90-ish% sure there’s nothing out there. I reserve the one percent just to be honest and say there’s always the possibility that there’s something out there and I can’t know for certain in the same way there’s no way nobody can be absolutely certain.
That’s fine. I grew up “drowing in apologetics.” My family was a huge fan of catholic answers for a while and a fair amount of the social group I am in is the same way. That’s why I picked this forum.
and I realize I said “I reserve the one percent” when I said 90 ish percent. I am not mathing good at this late hour
Thank you for responding
What makes you one hundred percent with the religions you mentioned?
Do you reject nihilism?
Do you think with your new world view that human life is inherently valuable? Do you believe a human being is more valuable than say a roach?
What makes something wrong? The majority vote?
Who gets to say that something is evil? Isn’t it down to just to Human opinion?
Do you believe that everything in existence came from nothing?
Do you not believe that there is an ultimate source that everything came from? A beginning?
How can anything come from nothing?
Why should someone believe Atheism is correct? What evidence is there? Is there any evidence?
Would you say it’s faith based?
I’m a non-believer with lots of Catholic and former Catholic connections.
Reactions from Catholics are typically low-key with a strong reluctance to engage. I sense many feel that I disrespect them as people, feel contempt for their beliefs and will try to ‘convert’ them (although I have nothing to which to convert them!). Some are also active in suppressing their own doubts and so do not want to discuss anything suggesting there are problems in Catholic belief. Others who genuinely believe Catholic teaching will fear you will spend eternity being physically and spiritually tormented with both physical and spiritual pain. These will either feel a need to engage you in trying to win your soul back or look for a reason not to engage or give up, as the contemplation of hell is so mentally difficult in the case of a loved one.
I’d recommend being as moderate as possible. There is no need to explain your entire philosophy to every one. You could say ‘I’m not practising any longer’ or ‘I don’t see things in the same way’ or ‘we may have to disagree on some things - my views have changed’. Then you can go on to things you agree with. Remember many theists think wrongly that without a belief in God they would go around murdering people and cheating on their spouses and not providing for their children. Until they experience a loss of belief they don’t realise that non-believer have morals too. So they may be genuinely frightened of you and suspect you of having evil intent.
There’s moral and immoral atheists. But from an atheist perspective how can an atheist condemn the actions of another person?
Who are you to tell me that something is wrong?
I mean in the sense of subjective versus objective morality …and if all we are is just evolved animals with no value except what individuals believe.
I’m not saying atheist don’t have feelings and a conscience by the way.
Just hitting me with all the questions there.
My reason for 100% is that from what I have learned of them, while they all are wildly different in what they teach, they all use the same methods to arrive at truth. Tradition. Arguments from authority. Faith. Forms of prayer (although the type of prayer varies.) If the same methods can be easily used to arrive at such wildly different conclusions, they can’t all be true, so unless one of them can come up with a compelling argument outside of those methods, something more solid. I can’t trust it. I remember growing up hearing that Catholicism was based on both faith and reason together, but every time I tried to use reason alone, or follow the classic reason arguments, the logic never really followed and based on what I have seen of the other faith traditions, they all have the same issue.
Nihlism is tricky because there’s the connotation of the word. The idea that life is just meaningless and pointless and bleak. That’s what I’d grown up associating the word with so if you’re going with just that definition yes. If you’re going for the philosophy of nihlism (which is what I am guessing you are going for but I thought I’d cover my bases just in case), I’ll admit to only having a very surface level understanding of it, but from what I’ve heard, it sounds up my alley, in that my understanding of the philosophy is that life has no ULTIMATE purpose but you are able as an individual to choose what it is that will help you feel as though you have a purpose/driving force in your life. If there is more to that philosophy that I am misunderstanding, I would be happy to learn more (and have been meaning to do so), but haven’t gotten to it yet. To give an explanation, when I still believed, ironically I felt more hopeless having an assigned meaning/purpose/duty that I didn’t fit into, because it felt like I had something infinitely important I had to do that I couldn’t possibly measure up to doing especially since I couldn’t figure out what the God I believed in at the time wanted out of me. Now that I am an atheist, and I don’t think I have a pre-assigned purpose, I can just do my best and try to make choices based on what I think I would be best at/fulfilled in doing/useful to the people in my little corner of the world, instead of having the added weight of destiny on my shoulder.
Yes as in you reject it? If so…why?
Do you believe there was an historical Jesus?
For me…correct me if I’m wrong.
Hinduism is based on mythology while Catholicism/Judaism/Islam has historicity.
Hinduism correct me if I’m wrong is more like to me “Believe… Just cause.”
Vs Catholicism where there’s an actual possible historical person that existed. I mean you’ll get some historians that believe Jesus existed versus some that don’t.
Sorry forgot you had more questions,
As far as if human life is inherently valuable/more valuable than a roach-I need to be careful how I say this. Yes. I view human life as valuable and more valuable than a roach. But, I avoid using words like inherently because that implies that someone/something assigned it absolute meaning. I think it’s actually dangerous to assume that we as humanity have that as a universal baseline. I wish we had it as a universal baseline, but I think we just need to look at the history of the world to realize that we “grew into” a place where we largely understand that other people have value. We started out extremely tribal and as only seeing our immediate family/group as inherently valuable and only over ages of interaction have we started to see people as worthwhile because they are people, and if we assume this is a norm, we run the risk of lowering our defenses and failing to prevent atrocities (insert Godwin’s law reference here) because we are counting on a basic innate morality that just is not there. Caring for the other (as in the person outside your immediate tribe/family unit/nation) is a skill that is nurtured, not something that is inherent.
“In terms of what makes something wrong, the majority vote?” I don’t believe in a higher power that hands down universal moral codes. I don’t believe in moral absolutes in the sense that there is some definitive standard by which we could say that Action A is right or wrong. I think when a majority of people get together and take a stand on action A, they set a subjective standard. I as an individual may think that standard is not the best standard. For example, I am gay. So if the society I live in takes issue with my being gay/acting on my inclinations, I may feel pressure to conform to their moral standard. But if my lived experience and observance of the lived experience of other gay people tells me that the group’s reasons for setting up that standard are wrong, and that I am harming myself by trying to follow their standard, I may try to live in contradiction to their standard, partly to be true to myself, but partly also in hopes of changing the standard so that other people who are in the same situation as me do not experience the same pressure to conform that I do. I am hoping to shift the moral conversation.
I remember from when I was still a theist, the idea of no moral absolutes was terrifying. How can we ensure people don’t devolve into depravity if our morals haven’t come from a definitive higher source? Now that I’m on the other side of the coin, I would point out that if there is no God, then there has always been no God, and we have somehow managed to get to this point on our own operating under subjective morality, even if we thought we were operating under absolute morality. And if there is no God, then it is healthier to be honest about the fact that we are operating under subjective morality then to pretend that we are operating under absolutes, because if we think there are moral absolutes that should not be questioned, some horrible things might never get questioned, such as slavery. It’s kind of like who’s going to make better decisions, the sinner who is aware that they are a sinner, or the sinner who is under the impression that they are already a saint? Who is going to make better decisions-the person who is aware that their morals are not based on fixed absolutes and who is doing their best to revise them as needed when they realize their moral standards are not working/harmful, or the person who is under the impression that their moral system is perfect and has no need of updating. As far as who gets to say what is good or evil-we all get a say. We all need to state our case as best we can by living our lives in what we think is the best way and revising our views as needed when we see harm being done, and hopefully if everyone acts in good faith over time we as a human race will become more kind, empathetic, and understanding. The key word is hopefully. There are no guarantees. I have made my peace with that and just intend to do my part to make my corner of the world better.
As to the last three questions: I’m unsure. I’ve heard some noises about multiverses. But I’ve also heard noises about some scientists saying it came from nothing. I’m honestly not sure. But, I don’t feel like this is the trump card I used to think it was when I was a believer. This is that tiny percent that I admit to when I say that it’s possible there’s something out there we don’t understand. But, even if it turned out that there was something supernatural out there, there’s a lot of logical steps that would need to be taken to connect the dots between we don’t know how we got here therefore Hinduism is correct or Catholicism is correct.
If you’re going with just the general connotation of nihilism as bleak and life is hopeless then yes I reject that, just because that version of it is on its face not appealing. But if you’re going for the philosophical nihilism I elaborated elsewhere in the post I think that I am in favor of it in as far as I understand it but I admit my comprehension is still surface level
Thanks for the advice!
Regarding Jesus, at this stage I am not a mythicist. At some point I intend to look up the arguments from the mythicists just to see what they say, but at the moment, I’m thinking there probably was a historical Jesus. But, I will add that just because a historical person named Jesus may have existed, that is not the same thing as saying that Jesus as described in the Bible is accurate. There were a fair amount of rejected versions of Jesus’s life that did not make it into the Bible, and as far as why those versions did not make it into the Bible, it is my understanding that the Church chose which books belonged in the Bible based on divine inspiration, meaning they took on faith which ones belonged in there and by extension as a Catholic I was supposed to take on faith that the choices they made based on faith were correct. So even if there is a little more historical support behind a person named Jesus, there’s still a lot of believing just because the Church said so. Assuming a historical Jesus, that might distinguish Christianity from Hinduism a little bit but it’s tricky because Hinduism is ancient. It’s older than Judaism if I remember right. So in a sense, Hinduism has the weight of history even more on its side just by having been around the longest. If there really is one true religion, why wouldn’t it be the oldest one? Hinduism isn’t even the oldest, it’s just the oldest still existing major religion.