HOW IS AN ATHEIST CONSCIENCE FORMED?


#1

The conscience of a Christian is formed by Christian values taught to a child and reinforced throughout life by his family, his church community, and to a certain extent people in other church communities, not to mention the courts of law.

How is the conscience of an atheist formed from childhood onward?



#2

I would think it’s not. It’s probably whatever society tells them is right and wrong. Don’t know though since I’m not one.


#3

[quote=Carl]The conscience of a Christian is formed by Christian values taught to a child and reinforced throughout life by his family, his church community, and to a certain extent people in other church communities, not to mention the courts of law.

How is the conscience of an atheist formed from childhood onward?


[/quote]

I would guess by the reinforcement of whatever imago, or authority figure, one would look up to.

Shalom!

Gil


#4

[quote=Carl]The conscience of a Christian is formed by Christian values taught to a child and reinforced throughout life by his family, his church community, and to a certain extent people in other church communities, not to mention the courts of law.

How is the conscience of an atheist formed from childhood onward?


[/quote]

In nomine Jesu I offer you peace Carl,

I have always be taught that our conscience is informed by the Holy Spirit, at least as much as we are open to it. Clearly, what we are taught in life that is true to it will that much more incline us to it’s instruction.

With regard to those who reject instruction by the Holy Spirit, I can only guess, that they are left to their own limited devices to decern truth darkly.

Peace, Love and Blessings,


#5

When God created us He formed us with a God given conscience.Every athiest knows there is a God. Of course they will deny it. Its that they have not found Him because of all the lies and smoke that satan has instilled in thier mind. :eek:


#6

[quote=SPOKENWORD]When God created us He formed us with a God given conscience.Every athiest knows there is a God. Of course they will deny it. Its that they have not found Him because of all the lies and smoke that satan has instilled in thier mind. :eek:
[/quote]

Yes you are right. When I was an agnostic/atheist my conscience was formed by a vague amalgamation of the media, society, school and a sketchy adherence to the Ten Commandments. Its amazing how quick persons can become objects and selfishness takes over when there is no moral code (Given by God) to submit your conscience to.


#7

I was raised atheist. My parents were secular humanists and as such held to specific ethical standards. They didn’t think you needed God to guide correct thinking and morals. Basically I was taught it was wrong to lie, steal, cheat, hit people, or brag. It wasn’t based on any Biblical teachings. The authority was “right vs wrong.” I was told these things were wrong and as a child I simply followed my parents’ lead.

Lisa N


#8

LISA

I was told these things were wrong and as a child I simply followed my parents’ lead.

Interesting. Were your parents’ parents also atheists, or did they get their values from Christian upbringing?

What I’m trying to elicit in this forum is a history of moral values for the individual atheist and/or atheists collectively.

In your case, could you have some tenuous Christian upbringing just by the fact that somewhere back in time the teachings of Christ were impressed upon your ancestors and passed on by later generations of atheists, whether or not they were articulated as Christian?


#9

I was raised by atheists. As a teen, I labeled myself agnostic. Finally, I became a Christian because it was proved to me that God did exist. That is a long story by itself, but proof, I think means a lot to all Atheists.

As a child, I admired my Dad. I thought my Dad was right about everything. So, when he’d argue with Christians and tell them how ridiculous it was to believe in a place called Heaven or God, it made sense to me that these things didn’t exist because we could not see them or prove that they did exist. Death was simply death just as it is for any animal. So, I didn’t believe I would feel anything after death and I lived most of my life thinking there was no such thing as sin since there was no God.

However, I think some Christians really push Atheists away by having the attitude that Atheist are bad people. I had Christian Morals such as do unto others. My Mom said this many times to me. AS a Human with emotions, I could understand that I should treat others fairly and with love. I had Christians ask me if I worshipped the devil. I thought that was so ridiculous. IF I don’t believe in God or life after death etc. because of no proof of it, then why believe in the Devil!

I think Atheists may be able to be reached if people approached them with the idea that they misunderstand the Bible by interpretting it too literally and that evolution can be believed by Christians without denying that God created everything.

I think atheists grow up thinking Christians are simple minded and know very little about science and therefore, they dismiss what many Christians try to explain to them. Also, I think Christians use too much terminology that an atheists can not understand. For example the comparisons of light and darknes. It meant nothing to me until I was baptized. Only then could I see the darkness that I left or should I say only then could I see the light. These phrases sound ridiculous to an atheist, so I think they should be avoided. An atheist needs to be approached with things they do understand and then build from there in my opinion. Many atheists may want to believe in God as I wanted to, but until I had some proof of His existence, I couldn’t believe. Perhaps if someone would’ve talked to me about Love instead of Adam and Eve, then I may have progressed to Christianity sooner. I think it is best to avoid arguments such as when the earth was formed or who was the first human being because that is not the heart of Christianity. I think a discussion of Love would best represent a Christian and perhaps an atheist wouldn’t label them as simple minded. I pray that most atheists, don’t have to see to believe, but allow themselves to open up their minds until their hearts are eventually led to Jesus through baptism.

By the way, people who posted that atheists know God exists are wrong. I did not know. I do believe that “God is with everyone”. No one is abandoned, but a human may not know this. After all, we are human and limited in our understanding and our minds/consciences are formed as we grow and our parents have such a great influence on us. I person may not know that God exists, just as some people don’t know that birth control is wrong or that pre-marital sex is wrong, or homosexuality. It sometimes takes a long time for us to feed our minds with the right stuf to eventually understand things that made no sense to us. Most of what a Christian could say to an Atheist will not make sense, so I think a person has to go very slow and avoid arguments about the Bible. Simply thinking about Love and where it comes from, since we can’t see it either, might be a good starting point for some.


#10

a TRUE atheist doesn’t have any conscience. any activity that doesn’t cause legal troubles is ok with him. my parents are not quite pure atheists.


#11

[quote=WHATIF
]But you did know because this is the way God created you.Its just that you couldnt see it.Like I said your mind was filled with doubt,lies and smoke. These are instilled by the enemy.Why is it that even the blades of grass praise God? Why is it that even the rocks will praise God.Thats because God is in control. :confused: God Bless.
[/quote]


#12

By his authority figures’ examples, his own recognition of moral choice, and his experiences.

Kind of like every other human being’s conscience.

Athiests aren’t aliens.


#13

Athiests aren’t aliens.

No, but they seem to be alienated from the main flow of humanity.

Some of the remarks above have been helpful and insightful to me. I do believe atheists have a conscience, because I believe God gave them one. In Catholic theology it’s called the natural law.

The teachings of Moses and Jesus were revealed to waken in us the moral law that humanity had been made blind to through centuries of idolatry since the dawn of creation.

I just want an atheist to explain to me the moral basis (authority) for the formation of conscience. Suppose there was no religion anywhere in the world. Suppose everyone was an atheist. How would we know what is right and what is wrong? What would be the ultimate rule(s) that would guide an atheist, and how could the atheist know that these rules were the best possible rules?

I have yet to hear an atheist answer that question except in simplistic terms … for example … do what your parents tell you to do.

What if your parents are mean spirited and destructive people?


#14

[quote=Carl]LISA

I was told these things were wrong and as a child I simply followed my parents’ lead.

Interesting. Were your parents’ parents also atheists, or did they get their values from Christian upbringing?

What I’m trying to elicit in this forum is a history of moral values for the individual atheist and/or atheists collectively.

In your case, could you have some tenuous Christian upbringing just by the fact that somewhere back in time the teachings of Christ were impressed upon your ancestors and passed on by later generations of atheists, whether or not they were articulated as Christian?
[/quote]

My father’s parents were not very ‘churchy’ although they were not the militant non-believers their son became. Oddly two of his sisters became quite fundamentalist as adults, one converted to Mormonism and the other became a 7th Day Adventist. Both very very strictly adhered to the teaching.

My mother’s parents were VERY religious although they were farmers and I suspect didn’t go to church often. Cows to milk and all that. They loved Billy Graham and always listened to his radio broadcasts as well as other radio and TV preachers.

I think my parents as scientists had an abundance of hubris and thought that organized religion was for knuckle dragging dunderheads. We were kept away from all religion as kids and my parents would literally never leave us alone with our grandparents lest they “indoctrinate” us with “that drabble.” I didn’t have any religious friends so it’s really quite odd that I felt a real pull to become a Christian and am in the process of converting to Catholicism.

I truly believe that God communicates with us and some people listen and others don’t. I was always rather intimidated and afraid of religion and religious people but I always felt a strong pull to learn about God and Jesus and what we were supposed to do with our life. I didn’t become a Christian or join a church until I was about 40. I sort of worked my way “up” as I told our priest, starting with Unitarianism which really isn’t church, then to a liberal Methodist church during which I participated in a three year program at an Episcopal church that was focused on spiritual direction.

After drifting along and becoming increasingly disenchanted with Protestantism I luckly attended a retreat where one of the leaders was a converted UCC, now Catholic. It didn’t occur to me you could BECOME Catholic and I was of course under all of the false impressions that society imparts on us. I asked her a lot of questions and after a couple of really heated discussions about life issues at the Methodist church I left and contacted the closest parish about converting. I knew this is where I belonged. I just wish I’d woken up to reality sooner.

Hope this is the info you needed.
Lisa N


#15

I’ll modify my previous post a little bit.
atheists may have conscience for a while, but when tempted, they quickly lost it


#16

I am not an atheist, but there are some in my family and I have some atheist friends. I find that many of them use empathy, or treating others as you would like to be treated. As Christians we might call it the Golden Rule. Most of the atheists I know personally are very kind and caring. They are not evil, devil-worshippers.

In fact, most of the atheists I know are very educated, and law abiding. I think it has to do with socio-economic level.


#17

LISA

Hope this is the info you needed.

Lisa, thanks for your thoughtful review of your ancestors’ religious or non-religious convictions.

Your parents appear to have been strongly influenced by the ethical values of your grandparents, who were traditional Christians. I wonder how many children of non-religious parents have rediscovered their ethical roots in Christ. Might this tendancy of reversion account for the fact that atheists as a percent of the population do not increase very much from from one generation to the next?


#18

[quote=Carl]I just want an atheist to explain to me the moral basis (authority) for the formation of conscience. Suppose there was no religion anywhere in the world. Suppose everyone was an atheist.
[/quote]

It is rather simple. Humans live in groups - families, clans, nations, communities, herds, I call that a society for my reasoning. A society can only work, if certain rules are obeyed, like not to kill other members of that society. Basically what one does not want to be inflicted on oneself, should not be inflicted on others. That is such a simple principle, that even a caveman can understand that.
I even say that humans are genetically imprinted with social behaviour. You may call that “natural law”. Doing something wrong, i.e. harmful to the society and thus directly or indirectly to yourself, gives you a bad feeling.
Authority is not needed to lay the foundation of a moral system, authority is needed to uphold it.

BTW everybody is born as an atheist, what kind of religion one follows later depends on in what country, in what family, and in what environment you live. Oh, and on what kind of missionaries you meet in your life.


#19

Thank you, that you have said that.
If I had, it would have been way too arrogant. :wink:


#20

Well as a believer I disagree. I suspect we are BORN to seek God. There have actually been studies indicating we may well have a “God gene.” So maybe we are born believers but are swayed AWAY from Him by our skeptical and secular society. I think that is every bit as plausible as your suggestion.

Several people here have given their story of being raised by athiests or if nothing else raised without any organized religion yet always felt a pull to seek God and become closer to Him. My parents were HOSTILE to religion. My joke was the word God was only said in my home right before “d*** it.” Why would I become a Christian, working toward becoming a Catholic? I had a hostile family, never went to church, didn’t have religious friends, was kept away from my religious grandparents and never met a missionary…

Sorry your dog don’t hunt.

I am not suggesting atheists are not ethical moral people. Most of the ones I knew were very solid citizens. I grew up around scientists and I tend to generalize them as worshipping the god of science or knowledge. So they are believers in god, it’s just not the same god. There really are very few if any athiests, but most of them don’t recognize what god they worship.

Lisa N


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