Reasons for being an Athesist?


#1

Many Christians can work up an intense response for their belief in God plus accompanying explainations for his existence.

What is it that stops you the Atheist from believing in God, any god? Is it Christianity inparticular? Is it war, suffering and sickness etc.

I don’t claim to have an earth shattering faith in God myself, maybe the size of a mustard seed, but I just can’t work myself up to the absolute profession of certainty that there is NO God. I’m also curious to know if there are certain life experiences that bring on a refusal of God and if it is a common thread among non believers. I hold no bias, believe me. I only pose the questions out of a pure desire to know. Of course believers are encouraged to chime in with opinion as well.


#2

Well, threads on atheism are prohibited. This thread may or may not have gone into that territory. Another way of asking this without gracing that limit is “Reasons for not being Christian” or “Reasons for not being religious.”

As humans, our pathways to where we are in life varies. So I can only speak for myself. I once was a religious individual. I was raised as one. At some point in my life I decided to do some investigation of my own as I thought that my parents having raised me in a specific religious tradition to be a rather weak justification for why I had it (or even dubious once I considered how my Ancestors came to know Christianity). I embarked on my own journey with full confidence that I would find some justification. I found that there were quite a number of social benefits of being a Christian, but I couldn’t find anything convincing. I asked questions to other Christians but found the answers both unsatisfying and unconvincing. For those Christians that would reply to my questions it seemed that they really were not sure of the truth of what they were following but said they were following anyway to be safe. During this journey I wasn’t even aware that my confidence in Christianity was eroding away. It wasn’t until some one tried to convince me to buy some Christian themed Christmas cards that I came to the realization. “You should by the cards, they are Christian themed.” I thought for a moment and realized that I no longer met the criteria for what I recognized as being Christian. So I responded to the person “I’m not Christian.” I made the decision to be honest with myself and others. I continued to go to Church for a while after that. But I no longer sang the songs that the others did nor did I put up any display of Christianity. After a while going seemed pointless. I went less and less until Church became a place I only go to for funerals and when my parents really beg me to come for some special event.

That’s pretty much it. There was no traumatic experience, no pondering of the “problem of evil.” But a gradual attrition of how Christianity fit into my life.

That was about 14 years ago. I currently remain unconvinced. For now I’ve taken the position that Christianity isn’t for me. It’s helpful and a good fit for other people, but not me.


#3

Thank you for informing me about prohibitions on Atheism. I wasn’t aware and hope the thread continues. If a moderator thinks I have done wrong I’ll be happy to rephrase the question. Again I was honestly unaware. Thanks.


#4

At most the moderators may lock the thread. They tend to be pretty forgiving though. There’s also a prohibition on Evolution. While it is mentioned as a tangent to other discussions it’s not allowed to be a main topic. You might want to check out the thread on these prohibitions just to ensure that I’ve not mis-communicated anything.


#5

Looks like I better rephase this pronto.


#6

The problem nowadays is that people don’t take the time to study the Bible and try to understand truth, mainly because they don’t have the time to or they don’t want to and this is why when Christians today are faced with questions about their faith they can’t give appropriate answers.

I recommend listening/watching the free TV podcasts from Andrew Wommack on:

awmi.net/

As not only will it strengthen your faith but also answer most of your questions regarding Christianity.

For example most people today believe in some form of evolution even people who call themselves Christians, the video/clip below will explain why evolution is impossible to exist and also gives reasons for being an Athesist!! (Just watch the vid for October 15)

awmi.net/tv/2012/week42


#7

There are none. None that are convincing.


#8

Here is a story that is interesting from another person here on CAF.

I left the church for 11 years and became the president of an Atheist group. I was miserable. I thought that since I was a good and moral person I didn’t need the church and it’s silly rules. I could simply police myself and live a good life. I was wrong. I disintegrated into all sorts of sin, lost my morality (what little I had of my own) and the misery pain index of my soul skyrocketed. If I had to rate my pain on a scale of 1-10 I would say I was pretty much at 9. I was empty, dissatisfied, and tearing Christians apart and making fun of them ceased to amuse me any longer. I was bankrupt spiritually. When I finally went to a mass I cried my eyes out in the back row. It is still a work in progress as I went to Confession, was restored to the Church, but still wrestle with horrible guilt that I left. It’s NOT WORTH IT.

Here’s a suggestion: Get on your knees and just simply tell God what you wrote here. Be honest, just talk to Him like a friend and dump all those questions on God and ask that He direct you to the person with the answers. Too often I jump to looking around at people FIRST. Whenever I ask God to direct me to the right people, I literally trip over the amount of helpful people God brings to me.

Then call and schedule an appointment with a priest. If it’s hard to articulate type it up and read it to the priest. Tell him honestly that you are struggling, thinking of leaving, and need help. Chances are you may be able to totally clear up your issues and questions in an hour or less.

If I had done this instead of stomping off and insisting that I was right and the Church was wrong, I would be so much further along in my Christian walk than I am now.

By the way, the woman I “tore up” about her faith was on Facebook. I found her, profusely apologized, asking her to forgive me for my horrible anger and that I wanted to just say I was sorry. She friended me, and we are talking and she is praying for me. I cried. That was the most amazing way that God worked yet. I prayed and asked God first to let me find her and I did almost instantly.


#9

[quote="mymamamary, post:7, topic:311837"]
There are none. None that are convincing.

[/quote]

Holy Mother Church disagrees with you then. It is the Year of Faith commemorating the 50th anniversary of Vatican II so I am trying on CAF to draw attention to the wealth of knowledge contained in the documents of the last ecumenical council. The Second Vatican Council, in analyzing contemporary atheism, indicated that the word "atheism" covers quite different realities:

"...The word atheism is applied to phenomena which are quite distinct from one another. For while God is expressly denied by some, others believe that man can assert absolutely nothing about Him. Still others use such a method to scrutinize the question of God as to make it seem devoid of meaning. Many, unduly transgressing the limits of the positive sciences, contend that everything can be explained by this kind of scientific reasoning alone, or by contrast, they altogether disallow that there is any absolute truth. Some laud man so extravagantly that their faith in God lapses into a kind of anemia, though they seem more inclined to affirm man than to deny God. Again some form for themselves such a fallacious idea of God that when they repudiate this figment they are by no means rejecting the God of the Gospel. Some never get to the point of raising questions about God, since they seem to experience no religious stirrings nor do they see why they should trouble themselves about religion. Moreover, atheism results not rarely from a violent protest against the evil in this world, or from the absolute character with which certain human values are unduly invested, and which thereby already accords them the stature of God. Modern civilization itself often complicates the approach to God not for any essential reason but because it is so heavily engrossed in earthly affairs...believers themselves frequently bear some responsibility for this situation. For, taken as a whole, atheism is not a spontaneous development but stems from a variety of causes, including a critical reaction against religious beliefs, and in some places against the Christian religion in particular. Hence believers can have more than a little to do with the birth of atheism. To the extent that they neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion...In her loyal devotion to God and men, the Church has already repudiated(16) and cannot cease repudiating, sorrowfully but as firmly as possible, those poisonous doctrines [of atheism]...Still, she strives to detect in the atheistic mind the hidden causes for the denial of God; conscious of how weighty are the questions which atheism raises, and motivated by love for all men, she believes these questions ought to be examined seriously and more profoundly...She courteously invites atheists to examine the Gospel of Christ with an open mind..."

**- Gaudium et Spes (PASTORAL CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD), 1965 **

While objectively atheism as an ideology is sinful, in that it rejects God, subjectively on the personal level there are a great many issues which the church recognises can make a person turn to atheism without thereby incurring sin ie their conscience is in error. In other words its an error but not wholly unintelligible.

Even Catholic mystics underwent periods of de facto atheism when they doubted the existence of God, during a dark night of the soul. Consider Saint Therese of Lisieux:

*St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church, describes herself as having extreme doubts of God’s existence. She called the atheists of the time her brothers and sisters and imagined herself dining with them. *

“Having known the painful ordeal of religious doubt and even the night of faith, Thérèse united herself in mysterious solidarity with non-believers. Convinced that all human beings have the right to know themselves loved by God, she wanted to reach them all”. - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State (1991).

Thérèse of Lisieux directly confronted anguish in the face of death. The atheist's questions about the existence of God and of an afterlife became her problem when, in her trial of faith, she was suddenly submerged in an abyss of anguish and there experienced the distress of nothingness. She was deprived of what she calls "the joy of faith"; she could not "enjoy this beautiful heaven on earth."21 She entered a place of deep darkness that surrounded her and threatened to overwhelm her. She seemed to hear the darkness say: "You believe that one day you will walk out of this fog which surrounds you! Advance, advance; rejoice in death which will give you not what you hope for but a night still more profound, the night of nothingness."22

(continued)


#10

Tauler described this almost atheistic sense of doubting the existence of God as part of the dark night experience which leads to ultimate union with God:

"...And on this path God takes back from him everything that he had ever given him. Then and there the person is left so completely to himself that he loses all notion of God and gets into such a disstressful state that he cannot remember whether things had ever gone right for him, so as not to know any more if he were ever on the right path, whether he has a God or not, nor does he know if God does or does not exist, or if he is alive or dead and whether he is the same person; and he suffers such incredible pain that this whole wide world is too confining for him. A very strange sorrow comes over him that makes him think that the whole world in its expanse oppresses him. He neither has any feeling for nor knowledge of God..."

**- Johannes Tauler (c.1300-1361), Catholic mystic & Dominican **

The Second Vatican Council recognized that by not always showing the true face of God, believers may have contributed to the rise of atheism (cf. Gaudium et spes, n. 19; CCC, n. 2125) and the Catechism quoting this tells us:

*2125..."Believers can have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God and of religion." *

I think that this would be a good moment to reflect on Venerable Pope Paul VI words about atheists in an encyclical (referring to many of the communist regimes then in place in the world):

"...The Church can regard no one as excluded from its motherly embrace, no one as outside the scope of its motherly care...Its catholicity is no idle boast. It was not for nothing that it received its mission to foster love, unity and peace among men...We are firmly convinced that the basic propositions of atheism are utterly false and irreconcilable with the underlying principles of thought...In these circumstances dialogue is very difficult, not to say impossible, although we have today no preconceived intention of cutting ourselves off from the adherents of these systems and these regimes. For the lover of truth discussion is always possible...Though We speak firmly and clearly in defense of religion, and of those human, spiritual values which it proclaims and cherishes, Our pastoral solicitude nevertheless prompts Us to probe into the mind of the modern atheist, in an effort to understand the reasons for his mental turmoil and his denial of God. They are obviously many and complex, and we must come to a prudent decision about them, and answer them effectively. They sometimes spring from the demand for a more profound and purer presentation of religious truth, and an objection to forms of language and worship which somehow fall short of the ideal. These things we must remedy. We must do all we can to purify them and make them express more adequately the sacred reality of which they are the signs. We see these men serving a demanding and often a noble cause, fired with enthusiasm and idealism, dreaming of justice and progress and striving for a social order which they conceive of as the ultimate of perfection, and all but divine. This, for them, is the Absolute and the Necessary. It proves that nothing can tear from their hearts their yearning for God, the first and final cause of all things. It is the task of our teaching Office to reveal to them, with patience and wisdom, that all these things are immanent in human nature and transcend it. Again we see these men taking pains to work out scientific explanation of the universe by human reasoning, and they are often quite ingenuously enthusiastic about this. It is an enquiry which is all the less reprehensible in that it follows rules of logic very similar to those which are taught in the best schools of philosophy. Such an enquiry, far from providing them, as they suppose, with irrefutable arguments in defense of their atheism, must of its very nature bring them back finally to the metaphysical and logical assertion of the existence of the supreme God...They are sometimes men of great breadth of mind, impatient with the mediocrity and self-seeking which infects so much of modern society. They are quick to make use of sentiments and expressions found in our Gospel, referring to the brotherhood of man, mutual aid, and human compassion. Shall we not one day be able to lead them back to the Christian sources of these moral values?... We do not therefore give up hope of the eventual possibility of a dialogue between these men and the Church..."

**- ECCLESIAM SUAM, ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PAUL VI , AUGUST 6, 1964 **


#11

I missed this before. But I wanted to point out that many that call themselves “atheist” also don’t make the absolute declaration that there is no God (or that there are no gods). There seem to be a wide variety of semantics in how this word is used. It’s usage ranges from those that declare “there are no gods” said with high confidence (also known as “strong atheist”) to those that say they don’t know whether or not there are any gods, but live as though there are none for now (agnostic atheist). What they all have in common is that they do not have the conviction of the existence of any gods. Note that under this usage atheist and agnostic are not mutually exclusive terms and tha tone could be an “agnostic Christian.”


#12

Interesting that the church recognises the variety of “atheisms” concealed under the outwardly neat-sounding definition of the term :thumbsup:


#13

Thanks for sharing your post above. I thought the words of The Second Vatican Council et al were rather enlightening to some of the Catholic perspectives. It looks like there was an indirect reference to “Ignosticism” in there as well (a position for which I wasn’t sure if I should mention it or not).


#14

Thank you brother/sister Sapien. On “ignosticism” - I have honestly never heard of it before so this is likewise most enlightening for me! :thumbsup:


#15

[quote="ThinkingSapien, post:11, topic:311837"]
I missed this before. But I wanted to point out that many that call themselves "atheist" also don't make the absolute declaration that there is no God (or that there are no gods). There seem to be a wide variety of semantics in how this word is used. It's usage ranges from those that declare "there are no gods" said with high confidence (also known as "strong atheist") to those that say they don't know whether or not there are any gods, but live as though there are none for now (agnostic atheist). What they all have in common is that they do not have the conviction of the existence of any gods. Note that under this usage atheist and agnostic are not mutually exclusive terms and tha tone could be an "agnostic Christian."

[/quote]

I can understand your point about "agnostic Christian" although I think there are those that would vehemently disagree. I have encountered many (soft) "atheists" who when pressed say they cant 100% rule out a deity. I think many atheists are agnostics save the hard core bunch (which are prevalent).


#16

That’actually sounds like something a Computer Science student said when he documented his loss of faith on YouTube. It was in a video that he did that was dedicated to definitions.

His words:

[quote="Evid3nc3]…However, I have never met an atheist that when pressed would identify as a strong atheist. Rather every atheist I’ve ever seen address this issue identifies themselves by the definition that I’ve been using, which is simply a lack of belief in God. Which means that these atheist are not claiming to know God does not exists. They’re not even claiming to have good evidence that God does not exist. They simply are not persuaded by the arguments that theist have presented…In my experience basically all atheist are agnostic, and most agnostic are also atheist since they almost never have a positive belief in God…
[/quote]

He does identify himself as an “atheist”.

I left some of what he said out. The following link will take you 6 minutes and 14 seconds into the relevant video where he starts to discuss this. The relevant clip is about a minute and a half long.
youtu.be/S-BQVmvulmQ?t=6m14s

I think many atheist would agree! Can’t say that I’ve met any of the “hard core bunch” (or if I did, I wasn’t aware of it). Most that I have met might be better described as apatheistic. In other words religion is simply not seen as something of importance to them. People of this disposition tend not to stand out religiously since religion is not a topic in which they have enough interest to bring up in discussion. The one’s I know were only identified after they were pressed to say something on a religious topic.


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