Author Topic: Holding my tongue /w religious friends...the idea of "worship" (atheists only)  (Read 12245 times)

Nick_Miller

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 763
Does anyone belong to a local atheists/nonbelievers group? If so, what do you get from it?

I was a member of one for about a year. I think I mostly wanted a feeling of validation that comes from knowing others share similar beliefs, especially when nonbelievers are so outnumbered in the US. I probably went to about 7 or 8 meetings.  Some of the folks were nice enough, but others were very odd. (The group lumped in atheists with "freethinkers" which apparently draws some rather...eccentric...folks.

We usually had a meal and then listened to a speaker. The problem for me was that I didn't feel the speakers did a lot to deepen my position. I kept thinking, "Okay, yes I have already thought about that, and I agree." They were 'preaching to the choir' pretty much. :)  It was also VERY white and VERY male, which is okay I guess, but I prefer more diverse groups. If it weren't for a few ponytails, you might have confused us with a GOP group.

Maybe part of it is that people who are willing to declare themselves atheists are naturally less tribalistic to being with? Perhaps a 'herding cats' sort of thing? I don't know. I'd be interested in hearing others' experiences.

There is a very large and active atheist community where i live.  That said, I've tried to go to more than one meeting of a group here and gave up after the second time.  The first time I literally sat there without anyone making any effort to introduce themselves to new people (I wound up talking to a woman and guy who were both there for the first time as well while the more established members spent time talking to eachother).  The second time I made more of an effort to meet people but simply didn't hit it off with anyone.

I don't think it really has to do with whether or not we're as tribalistic as theists.  The thing that seems to make it so tough is that there is nothing that we all share, aside for a lack of a belief.  But you can't really build a community on that.  It's like trying to build a community of people who are all not lawyers.  What do they really have in common other than a single negative trait?

I wish there were a clearer solution for it... no idea what it might be though.

I agree about the lack of common positive bonds. In my dream world, there are little intellectual salons that pop all over the place, places where people gather on Sundays to discuss scientific discoveries, discuss books and philosophy, etc., and where afterwards everyone has a meal and socializing time. Basically a secular replacement for all the socialization opportunities that churches offer. So it wouldn't be centered around "We aren't religious;" it would be centered around learning and sharing ideas. But I don't know how viable it would ever be unless it qualified as tax exempt or something, and I know nothing about that.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 08:04:12 AM by Nick_Miller »

MrDelane

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 515
Does anyone belong to a local atheists/nonbelievers group? If so, what do you get from it?

I was a member of one for about a year. I think I mostly wanted a feeling of validation that comes from knowing others share similar beliefs, especially when nonbelievers are so outnumbered in the US. I probably went to about 7 or 8 meetings.  Some of the folks were nice enough, but others were very odd. (The group lumped in atheists with "freethinkers" which apparently draws some rather...eccentric...folks.

We usually had a meal and then listened to a speaker. The problem for me was that I didn't feel the speakers did a lot to deepen my position. I kept thinking, "Okay, yes I have already thought about that, and I agree." They were 'preaching to the choir' pretty much. :)  It was also VERY white and VERY male, which is okay I guess, but I prefer more diverse groups. If it weren't for a few ponytails, you might have confused us with a GOP group.

Maybe part of it is that people who are willing to declare themselves atheists are naturally less tribalistic to being with? Perhaps a 'herding cats' sort of thing? I don't know. I'd be interested in hearing others' experiences.

There is a very large and active atheist community where i live.  That said, I've tried to go to more than one meeting of a group here and gave up after the second time.  The first time I literally sat there without anyone making any effort to introduce themselves to new people (I wound up talking to a woman and guy who were both there for the first time as well while the more established members spent time talking to eachother).  The second time I made more of an effort to meet people but simply didn't hit it off with anyone.

I don't think it really has to do with whether or not we're as tribalistic as theists.  The thing that seems to make it so tough is that there is nothing that we all share, aside for a lack of a belief.  But you can't really build a community on that.  It's like trying to build a community of people who are all not lawyers.  What do they really have in common other than a single negative trait?

I wish there were a clearer solution for it... no idea what it might be though.

I agree about the lack of common positive bonds. In my dream world, there are little intellectual salons that pop all over the place, places where people gather on Sundays to discuss scientific discoveries, discuss books and philosophy, etc., and where afterwards everyone has a meal and socializing time. Basically a secular replacement for all the socialization opportunities that churches offer. So it wouldn't be centered around "We aren't religious;" it would be centered around learning and sharing ideas. But I don't know how viable it would ever be unless it qualified as tax exempt or something, and I know nothing about that.

I love this idea.  I guess the thing is these groups sort of exist now, just not in a specifically non-theist way.  There are philosophy groups, specific science based groups (astronomy, biology, etc).  Again, these are groups that are bound together by a positive trait.

I think this is why we see so many atheist groups try to lump in things like "free thinkers" or the like.  The problem is that atheists are all over the place in terms of beliefs, worldviews, etc... we just all happen to not believe in one thing.  It's one of the great frustrations with being an atheist... I know what I'm not, but that doesn't mean I know exactly what I am... or who 'my people' really are.

This got kind of heavy for a monday morning.

wenchsenior

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1879
Does anyone belong to a local atheists/nonbelievers group? If so, what do you get from it?

I was a member of one for about a year. I think I mostly wanted a feeling of validation that comes from knowing others share similar beliefs, especially when nonbelievers are so outnumbered in the US. I probably went to about 7 or 8 meetings.  Some of the folks were nice enough, but others were very odd. (The group lumped in atheists with "freethinkers" which apparently draws some rather...eccentric...folks.

We usually had a meal and then listened to a speaker. The problem for me was that I didn't feel the speakers did a lot to deepen my position. I kept thinking, "Okay, yes I have already thought about that, and I agree." They were 'preaching to the choir' pretty much. :)  It was also VERY white and VERY male, which is okay I guess, but I prefer more diverse groups. If it weren't for a few ponytails, you might have confused us with a GOP group.

Maybe part of it is that people who are willing to declare themselves atheists are naturally less tribalistic to being with? Perhaps a 'herding cats' sort of thing? I don't know. I'd be interested in hearing others' experiences.

Never been part of a group, but a lack of belief is a pretty weak tie. A meeting of Catholics, even outside of Mass, will be guaranteed to have shared experiences, ideas, etc. It's hard to form a coherent group when the only thing you have in common is something as small as a lack of belief in something, since that doesn't necessarily come with matching experiences or preferences.

Exactly. 

Also, why would I want to join a group devoted to discussing something that is of no practical interest or application in my life, and which I normally feel no need to even think about except when confronted with evangelizing individuals, or the direct consequences of religiously supported politics?  Would Christians typically join groups devoted to their nonacceptance of the reality of unicorns?

However, I also wonder if there is a particular set of personality characteristics in the secular crowd that is more common.  Perhaps introversion and some others?  Certainly, I don't have a 'joiner' personality at all, and am often more comfortable on my own than in many groups.  I think my brain interprets more people = more potential threats, rather than more potential safety.  I assume this is hard-wired, though I'm not sure.   I remember being incredibly uncomfortable as a kid during school pep rallies b/c the unified crowd behavior of chanting and cheering struck me as creepy.  And there's some research indicating that peoples' general political alignment is more a function of inborn personality traits than argument or experience.  It seems possible the same is true for belief in supernatural things.

wenchsenior

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1879
Does anyone belong to a local atheists/nonbelievers group? If so, what do you get from it?

I was a member of one for about a year. I think I mostly wanted a feeling of validation that comes from knowing others share similar beliefs, especially when nonbelievers are so outnumbered in the US. I probably went to about 7 or 8 meetings.  Some of the folks were nice enough, but others were very odd. (The group lumped in atheists with "freethinkers" which apparently draws some rather...eccentric...folks.

We usually had a meal and then listened to a speaker. The problem for me was that I didn't feel the speakers did a lot to deepen my position. I kept thinking, "Okay, yes I have already thought about that, and I agree." They were 'preaching to the choir' pretty much. :)  It was also VERY white and VERY male, which is okay I guess, but I prefer more diverse groups. If it weren't for a few ponytails, you might have confused us with a GOP group.

Maybe part of it is that people who are willing to declare themselves atheists are naturally less tribalistic to being with? Perhaps a 'herding cats' sort of thing? I don't know. I'd be interested in hearing others' experiences.

There is a very large and active atheist community where i live.  That said, I've tried to go to more than one meeting of a group here and gave up after the second time.  The first time I literally sat there without anyone making any effort to introduce themselves to new people (I wound up talking to a woman and guy who were both there for the first time as well while the more established members spent time talking to eachother).  The second time I made more of an effort to meet people but simply didn't hit it off with anyone.

I don't think it really has to do with whether or not we're as tribalistic as theists.  The thing that seems to make it so tough is that there is nothing that we all share, aside for a lack of a belief.  But you can't really build a community on that.  It's like trying to build a community of people who are all not lawyers.  What do they really have in common other than a single negative trait?

I wish there were a clearer solution for it... no idea what it might be though.

I agree about the lack of common positive bonds. In my dream world, there are little intellectual salons that pop all over the place, places where people gather on Sundays to discuss scientific discoveries, discuss books and philosophy, etc., and where afterwards everyone has a meal and socializing time. Basically a secular replacement for all the socialization opportunities that churches offer. So it wouldn't be centered around "We aren't religious;" it would be centered around learning and sharing ideas. But I don't know how viable it would ever be unless it qualified as tax exempt or something, and I know nothing about that.

I love this idea.  I guess the thing is these groups sort of exist now, just not in a specifically non-theist way.  There are philosophy groups, specific science based groups (astronomy, biology, etc).  Again, these are groups that are bound together by a positive trait.

I think this is why we see so many atheist groups try to lump in things like "free thinkers" or the like.  The problem is that atheists are all over the place in terms of beliefs, worldviews, etc... we just all happen to not believe in one thing.  It's one of the great frustrations with being an atheist... I know what I'm not, but that doesn't mean I know exactly what I am... or who 'my people' really are.

This got kind of heavy for a monday morning.

I like the salon idea as well. But I think that b/c I mostly associate with biologists, I get an element of this in my own socializing; thus, I don't feel the lack that much.  In fact, we all have to make an effort to try not to talk shop all the time and force ourselves to talk about books, music, movies, sports, etc.  We almost never discuss religion (except tangentially related to politics) b/c the vast majority of my social circle doesn't believe or care about it at all.  Occasionally there will be a group member that wants to rant about religion, usually associated with frustrating politics.  But I find that this can be kind of tiresome, even though I find religion mostly ridiculous.  Again, it's b/c being an atheist means that I just don't care about religion that much, and don't usually want to discuss it unless I'm considering its sociological/cultural influence as part of a broader conversation.

OP, I would suggest seeking out science-based groups if you want that type of social stimulation.  Or just hobbies that are likely to attract a good mix of secular types.  It's odd the kinds of things that attract a very secular mix.  In our town, yoga studios do (yoga is looked down on by the evangelicals that make up the bulk of the population around here), as do groups centered around playing Irish and traditional music (a lot of hard core lefties and secular types there), and the home-brewers (a lot of free thinkers and chemists).  And of course scientists (the majority of my social group). It greatly helps to have a university nearby, even a super-conservative university like the one in my town.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2019, 09:00:06 AM by wenchsenior »

El Jacinto

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 39
But with each individual claim there is no middle ground, you either accept a claim or you do not.
"You always own the option of having no opinion." - Marcus Aurelius

"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." - Rush

RetiredAt63

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9830
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada

I like the salon idea as well. But I think that b/c I mostly associate with biologists, I get an element of this in my own socializing; thus, I don't feel the lack that much.  In fact, we all have to make an effort to try not to talk shop all the time and force ourselves to talk about books, music, movies, sports, etc.  We almost never discuss religion (except tangentially related to politics) b/c the vast majority of my social circle doesn't believe or care about it at all.  Occasionally there will be a group member that wants to rant about religion, usually associated with frustrating politics.  But I find that this can be kind of tiresome, even though I find religion mostly ridiculous.  Again, it's b/c being an atheist means that I just don't care about religion that much, and don't usually want to discuss it unless I'm considering its sociological/cultural influence as part of a broader conversation.

OP, I would suggest seeking out science-based groups if you want that type of social stimulation.  Or just hobbies that are likely to attract a good mix of secular types.  It's odd the kinds of things that attract a very secular mix.  In our town, yoga studios do (yoga is looked down on by the evangelicals that make up the bulk of the population around here), as do groups centered around playing Irish and traditional music (a lot of hard core lefties and secular types there), and the home-brewers (a lot of free thinkers and chemists).  And of course scientists (the majority of my social group). It greatly helps to have a university nearby, even a super-conservative university like the one in my town.

I get my social needs met with groups that are directly aligned with my interests (in retirement the professional stuff has dwindled).  I would not be interested in a group meeting of agnostics/atheists, because why bother?  Now, let me get together with a bunch of biologists, and life will be fun.

wenchsenior, interesting that Irish music shows up as secular in your area - here all the Irish Dance competitions get hosted in the Catholic High Schools, and of course many of the dress embroidery design elements are old Christian ( things like variations on the trinity knot).  But no-one ever actually discusses religion, there are more important things to talk about at a Feis.   ;-)

Kris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3452
But with each individual claim there is no middle ground, you either accept a claim or you do not.
"You always own the option of having no opinion." - Marcus Aurelius

"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." - Rush

LOL -- I was getting ready to gag at the idea that I agreed with Rush Limbaugh for once. :D

MrDelane

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 515
But with each individual claim there is no middle ground, you either accept a claim or you do not.
"You always own the option of having no opinion." - Marcus Aurelius

"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." - Rush

LOL -- I was getting ready to gag at the idea that I agreed with Rush Limbaugh for once. :D

Glad I wasn't the only one. :)

Cassie

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4755
We went to some Freethinkers meetups and some very odd people.  Also spiritual people would show up and leave when told the group was not spiritual at all. Lots of confusion about what the group was by the name. We probably went about 6 times before deciding it wasn’t for us.

shenlong55

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 379
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Kentucky
Quote
Further, when it comes to accepting or rejecting a proposition there is a third option.  That of neither accepting or rejecting it.

Eg: you propose there is an odd number of gumballs in the jar.  That proposition simply is.  I do not have to accept or reject it.  I can simply hold no opinion on the proposition at all.

I respectfully disagree, and I'm happy to let it go after this because I'm fairly certain I'm being way too pedantic and everyone else has lost interest in this (but just to be clear I find this deeply fascinating and appreciate that your thoughtful reply is making me reexamine what I wrote).

"There is an odd number of gumballs in the jar" is a truth claim.  You either believe that or you do not.  If you 'hold no opinion' on that proposition then you are not accepting it by default, because at that point 'PKFFW does not believe there are an odd number of gumballs' is a true statement (or, to my earlier point, "PKFFW is not convinced there are an odd number of gumballs"). 

Again, not believing that claim does not mean that you believe there is an even number of gumballs (or, not being convinced they are odd does not mean you are convinced they are even).  It also does not mean you have ruled out the possibility of them being odd, it simply means you are currently not convinced that the number of gumballs is odd and therefore do not accept the claim "there is an odd number of gumballs in the jar."

But you either believe it is odd or you do not believe it is odd.
You are either convinced it is odd or you are not convinced it is odd.
I still don't see a middle ground, so long as we are dealing with only one proposition at a time.

EDITED TO ADD:
I think the illusion of a 'middle ground' comes up when someone does not accept (or rejects) two opposing propositions.  For example, when someone does not accept both "there is an odd number of gumballs" and "there is an even number of gumballs." They are not convinced of (or do not believe) either proposition, and because they are polar opposite claims it creates the illusion that there is a third option between acceptance and non-acceptance.  But when dealing with only one proposition at a time the possibility of a third option seems impossible.

I find that people generally have a hard time distinguishing between "does not believe there are an odd number of gumballs" and "believes there are not an odd number of gumballs", so I try to be extremely explicit any time I am dealing with this distinction.  That's part of why I call myself agnostic and not atheist.

Khaetra

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 527
Does anyone belong to a local atheists/nonbelievers group? If so, what do you get from it?

I was a member of one for about a year. I think I mostly wanted a feeling of validation that comes from knowing others share similar beliefs, especially when nonbelievers are so outnumbered in the US. I probably went to about 7 or 8 meetings.  Some of the folks were nice enough, but others were very odd. (The group lumped in atheists with "freethinkers" which apparently draws some rather...eccentric...folks.

We usually had a meal and then listened to a speaker. The problem for me was that I didn't feel the speakers did a lot to deepen my position. I kept thinking, "Okay, yes I have already thought about that, and I agree." They were 'preaching to the choir' pretty much. :)  It was also VERY white and VERY male, which is okay I guess, but I prefer more diverse groups. If it weren't for a few ponytails, you might have confused us with a GOP group.

Maybe part of it is that people who are willing to declare themselves atheists are naturally less tribalistic to being with? Perhaps a 'herding cats' sort of thing? I don't know. I'd be interested in hearing others' experiences.

Never been part of a group, but a lack of belief is a pretty weak tie. A meeting of Catholics, even outside of Mass, will be guaranteed to have shared experiences, ideas, etc. It's hard to form a coherent group when the only thing you have in common is something as small as a lack of belief in something, since that doesn't necessarily come with matching experiences or preferences.

Exactly. 

Also, why would I want to join a group devoted to discussing something that is of no practical interest or application in my life, and which I normally feel no need to even think about except when confronted with evangelizing individuals, or the direct consequences of religiously supported politics?  Would Christians typically join groups devoted to their nonacceptance of the reality of unicorns?

However, I also wonder if there is a particular set of personality characteristics in the secular crowd that is more common.  Perhaps introversion and some others?  Certainly, I don't have a 'joiner' personality at all, and am often more comfortable on my own than in many groups.  I think my brain interprets more people = more potential threats, rather than more potential safety.  I assume this is hard-wired, though I'm not sure.   I remember being incredibly uncomfortable as a kid during school pep rallies b/c the unified crowd behavior of chanting and cheering struck me as creepy.  And there's some research indicating that peoples' general political alignment is more a function of inborn personality traits than argument or experience.  It seems possible the same is true for belief in supernatural things.

I am very much an introvert and too don't have that 'joiner gene'.  When I am looking for a group I don't focus on being an Atheist but more on the activities.  Many of the groups I belong to are online (including this one) and with the exception of a couple most ban religious talk (the others are mostly full of Atheist/Agnostic folks so there's not much religion talk to begin with).  I live in a very religious area (12 churches within one mile of my house) so actually going out and joining groups that don't have religion as a focus is quite hard.

robartsd

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1919
  • Location: Northern California
In my dream world, there are little intellectual salons that pop all over the place, places where people gather on Sundays to discuss scientific discoveries, discuss books and philosophy, etc., and where afterwards everyone has a meal and socializing time. Basically a secular replacement for all the socialization opportunities that churches offer. So it wouldn't be centered around "We aren't religious;" it would be centered around learning and sharing ideas. But I don't know how viable it would ever be unless it qualified as tax exempt or something, and I know nothing about that.
No reason you couldn't form an educational non-profit group with a mission promote the discussion of
  • . The non-profit could have general meetings open to everyone and provide a meal and social space to attendees at the end of the meeting.

John Galt incarnate!

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 148
Does anyone belong to a local atheists/nonbelievers group? If so, what do you get from it?

I was a member of one for about a year. I think I mostly wanted a feeling of validation that comes from knowing others share similar beliefs, especially when nonbelievers are so outnumbered in the US. I probably went to about 7 or 8 meetings.  Some of the folks were nice enough, but others were very odd. (The group lumped in atheists with "freethinkers" which apparently draws some rather...eccentric...folks.

We usually had a meal and then listened to a speaker. The problem for me was that I didn't feel the speakers did a lot to deepen my position. I kept thinking, "Okay, yes I have already thought about that, and I agree." They were 'preaching to the choir' pretty much. :)  It was also VERY white and VERY male, which is okay I guess, but I prefer more diverse groups. If it weren't for a few ponytails, you might have confused us with a GOP group.

Maybe part of it is that people who are willing to declare themselves atheists are naturally less tribalistic to being with? Perhaps a 'herding cats' sort of thing? I don't know. I'd be interested in hearing others' experiences.

Never been part of a group, but a lack of belief is a pretty weak tie. A meeting of Catholics, even outside of Mass, will be guaranteed to have shared experiences, ideas, etc. It's hard to form a coherent group when the only thing you have in common is something as small as a lack of belief in something, since that doesn't necessarily come with matching experiences or preferences.

Exactly. 

Also, why would I want to join a group devoted to discussing something that is of no practical interest or application in my life, and which I normally feel no need to even think about except when confronted with evangelizing individuals, or the direct consequences of religiously supported politics?  Would Christians typically join groups devoted to their nonacceptance of the reality of unicorns?

However, I also wonder if there is a particular set of personality characteristics in the secular crowd that is more common.  Perhaps introversion and some others?  Certainly, I don't have a 'joiner' personality at all, and am often more comfortable on my own than in many groups.  I think my brain interprets more people = more potential threats, rather than more potential safety.  I assume this is hard-wired, though I'm not sure.   I remember being incredibly uncomfortable as a kid during school pep rallies b/c the unified crowd behavior of chanting and cheering struck me as creepy. And there's some research indicating that peoples' general political alignment is more a function of inborn personality traits than argument or experience.  It seems possible the same is true for belief in supernatural things.

Researchers also found that one's political alignment is related to which side of their brain dominates.

Left-brain dominant individuals tend to be conservative while those who are right-brain dominant tend to be liberal.

JanetJackson

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 540
  • Location: United States
    • How I actually made $50 just for taking a survey and being in the healthcare marketplace
Me alone (and presented as a big run-on sentence with poor editing because I'm rushed):

I believe religion, mythology, and any other type of "worship" came about as a unique and honestly successful endeavor to continue the human species. 

I think, at our level of intellect (and ability to use tools to kill each other and ourselves with), without some of the facets of religion in much much harder times than the present, we would have wiped ourselves out completely- either through murder, disease, or self destruction (mass suicide, whatever). 
Religion gave us something to build successful morals upon.  Many of the morals are misguided, but the formative ones that kept us from killing each other and cannibalizing during the depression era worked out to keep us feeling just guilty enough not to be barbaric and fully eliminate ourselves.  Yeah, I know we ate each other on the settler trails though, but as religion 'firmed up' especially in the US, I think we killed each other less.  Because we "aren't supposed to do that because god won't give us the prize if we do".

That being said, I guess I am thankful for the very basic structure of religion, although I don't believe in it at all.

I think we create the things that we NEED to believe in so that we have a reason to keep living.  Sometimes that's on a large scale like religion, sometimes it's on a small scale like me needing to believe that my dog loves me.  Ya know?

My pet peeve is how the language of religion is built into the government and paraded around while still advertising that we have a separation of church and state. 
Take 'In god we trust' off of our currency, etc.  It's absolutely ridiculous.
Take religion colored glasses off of school taught history and teach it as facts.  The same with science. 

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 12348
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Does anyone belong to a local atheists/nonbelievers group? If so, what do you get from it?

I was a member of one for about a year. I think I mostly wanted a feeling of validation that comes from knowing others share similar beliefs, especially when nonbelievers are so outnumbered in the US. I probably went to about 7 or 8 meetings.  Some of the folks were nice enough, but others were very odd. (The group lumped in atheists with "freethinkers" which apparently draws some rather...eccentric...folks.

We usually had a meal and then listened to a speaker. The problem for me was that I didn't feel the speakers did a lot to deepen my position. I kept thinking, "Okay, yes I have already thought about that, and I agree." They were 'preaching to the choir' pretty much. :)  It was also VERY white and VERY male, which is okay I guess, but I prefer more diverse groups. If it weren't for a few ponytails, you might have confused us with a GOP group.

Maybe part of it is that people who are willing to declare themselves atheists are naturally less tribalistic to being with? Perhaps a 'herding cats' sort of thing? I don't know. I'd be interested in hearing others' experiences.

Never been part of a group, but a lack of belief is a pretty weak tie. A meeting of Catholics, even outside of Mass, will be guaranteed to have shared experiences, ideas, etc. It's hard to form a coherent group when the only thing you have in common is something as small as a lack of belief in something, since that doesn't necessarily come with matching experiences or preferences.

Exactly. 

Also, why would I want to join a group devoted to discussing something that is of no practical interest or application in my life, and which I normally feel no need to even think about except when confronted with evangelizing individuals, or the direct consequences of religiously supported politics?  Would Christians typically join groups devoted to their nonacceptance of the reality of unicorns?

However, I also wonder if there is a particular set of personality characteristics in the secular crowd that is more common.  Perhaps introversion and some others?  Certainly, I don't have a 'joiner' personality at all, and am often more comfortable on my own than in many groups.  I think my brain interprets more people = more potential threats, rather than more potential safety.  I assume this is hard-wired, though I'm not sure.   I remember being incredibly uncomfortable as a kid during school pep rallies b/c the unified crowd behavior of chanting and cheering struck me as creepy. And there's some research indicating that peoples' general political alignment is more a function of inborn personality traits than argument or experience.  It seems possible the same is true for belief in supernatural things.

Researchers also found that one's political alignment is related to which side of their brain dominates.

Left-brain dominant individuals tend to be conservative while those who are right-brain dominant tend to be liberal.


I find it hard to reconcile left brain tendency towards analytical and methodical thinking with support of Donald Trump, climate change denial, and religion.

PKFFW

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 380
@MrDelane you make some good points.  I'm not sure I agree with all of them but certainly find them worth thinking on.  Perhaps it is simply a matter of terminology or perhaps not.

But with each individual claim there is no middle ground, you either accept a claim or you do not.
"You always own the option of having no opinion." - Marcus Aurelius

"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." - Rush
Yes, it is a choice, absolutely.  However, choosing to hold no opinion on a matter is as fundamentally different to choosing acceptance or rejection as choosing one to the other is.

El Jacinto

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 39
@MrDelane you make some good points.  I'm not sure I agree with all of them but certainly find them worth thinking on.  Perhaps it is simply a matter of terminology or perhaps not.

But with each individual claim there is no middle ground, you either accept a claim or you do not.
"You always own the option of having no opinion." - Marcus Aurelius

"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." - Rush
Yes, it is a choice, absolutely.  However, choosing to hold no opinion on a matter is as fundamentally different to choosing acceptance or rejection as choosing one to the other is.

I wasn’t necessarily making an argument. The first quote just reminded me of that song by Rush.

But looking at it, those two quotes do kind of sum up the two different sides. Atheists may be waiting on evidence before forming an opinion, and Christians might say that it is the same as choosing not to believe, in that you would still theoretically be going to Hell.

MrDelane

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 515
Ran across this article this morning and it reminded me of this thread. I live in such a bubble (by which I mean most of my friends and coworkers are atheists) that it's sometimes easy to forget that we are still very much in the minority in terms of representation:

"In A Congress Full Of Firsts, Still No Open Atheists"

Hard to believe that it is 2019 and that vast majority of our elected officials still have to (at least pretend to) believe in gods.

tyort1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1993
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Me alone (and presented as a big run-on sentence with poor editing because I'm rushed):

I believe religion, mythology, and any other type of "worship" came about as a unique and honestly successful endeavor to continue the human species. 

I think, at our level of intellect (and ability to use tools to kill each other and ourselves with), without some of the facets of religion in much much harder times than the present, we would have wiped ourselves out completely- either through murder, disease, or self destruction (mass suicide, whatever). 
Religion gave us something to build successful morals upon.  Many of the morals are misguided, but the formative ones that kept us from killing each other and cannibalizing during the depression era worked out to keep us feeling just guilty enough not to be barbaric and fully eliminate ourselves.  Yeah, I know we ate each other on the settler trails though, but as religion 'firmed up' especially in the US, I think we killed each other less.  Because we "aren't supposed to do that because god won't give us the prize if we do".

That being said, I guess I am thankful for the very basic structure of religion, although I don't believe in it at all.

I think we create the things that we NEED to believe in so that we have a reason to keep living.  Sometimes that's on a large scale like religion, sometimes it's on a small scale like me needing to believe that my dog loves me.  Ya know?

My pet peeve is how the language of religion is built into the government and paraded around while still advertising that we have a separation of church and state. 
Take 'In god we trust' off of our currency, etc.  It's absolutely ridiculous.
Take religion colored glasses off of school taught history and teach it as facts.  The same with science.

Re: the utility of religion in human survival, I agree.  We're so incredibly tribal, and we naturally only can fit about 300-500 people, max into our "I know you personally and you're one of us" tribe.  Religion allowed us to expand our definition of "one of us" to thousands and thousands of people.  It's no coincident that more sophisticated (and inclusive) religions thrived right around the time that cities started forming.

But even before that, religion was useful because it was man's first attempt to explain the world around him.  Of course, we have a much better method nowadays (science), but back in the day, religion was our attempt to understand and interact with a rather mysterious world. 

dustinst22

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 621
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Huntington Beach, CA


Re: the utility of religion in human survival, I agree.  We're so incredibly tribal, and we naturally only can fit about 300-500 people, max into our "I know you personally and you're one of us" tribe.  Religion allowed us to expand our definition of "one of us" to thousands and thousands of people.  It's no coincident that more sophisticated (and inclusive) religions thrived right around the time that cities started forming.



Sounds like you've also read the excellent book "Sapiens".

tyort1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1993
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Denver, Colorado


Re: the utility of religion in human survival, I agree.  We're so incredibly tribal, and we naturally only can fit about 300-500 people, max into our "I know you personally and you're one of us" tribe.  Religion allowed us to expand our definition of "one of us" to thousands and thousands of people.  It's no coincident that more sophisticated (and inclusive) religions thrived right around the time that cities started forming.



Sounds like you've also read the excellent book "Sapiens".

Indeed I have.  Great book.  I also would reference a few other things that've influenced my thinking in this area, specifically a few "Great Courses":  Religions of the Axial Age; Big History (The Big Bang, Life on Earth, the Rise of Humanity); Exploring the Roots of Religion and Biological Anthropology (An Evolutionary Perspective).  All of them are well worth checking out.  Nothing informs clarity of thought better than perspective.  And these give great perspective on the origin and history of religion from a non-theistic viewpoint.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 11:32:37 AM by tyort1 »

YttriumNitrate

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 423
  • Location: Northwest Indiana
Hard to believe that it is 2019 and that vast majority of our elected officials still have to (at least pretend to) believe in gods.

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful." - Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

Some things just don't change.

tyort1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1993
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Hard to believe that it is 2019 and that vast majority of our elected officials still have to (at least pretend to) believe in gods.

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful." - Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

Some things just don't change.

Oh man, this whole thread was worth reading, just for this one quote.  That is AWESOME.  Thank you!

RetiredAt63

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9830
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Hard to believe that it is 2019 and that vast majority of our elected officials still have to (at least pretend to) believe in gods.

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful." - Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

Some things just don't change.

Oh man, this whole thread was worth reading, just for this one quote.  That is AWESOME.  Thank you!

It explains a lot.

MrDelane

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 515
Hard to believe that it is 2019 and that vast majority of our elected officials still have to (at least pretend to) believe in gods.

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful." - Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

Some things just don't change.

True.  Good point.

dreadmoose

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 160
  • Location: Canada
  • Compounding
Re: Holding my tongue with religious friends...
« Reply #275 on: January 10, 2019, 03:45:15 PM »
I'm agnostic and find your list of questions condescending. I get that's your point, you find the whole thing silly and beneath you, but you could have actual conversations with religious people instead. Be genuinely interested in what drew them to this church or that temple, how it enhances their lives, and yes, what drawbacks they might see with the church structure or discrimination or whatever. Or even whether they have doubts. You'll never get to that point if you start with "YOU REALIZE YOU'RE AN IDIOT RIGHT???"

Thank you for writing this.

More people trying to understand other people honestly could only lead to a better world. The intellectual higher ground appears self-sabotaging, if you need it you've probably already lost it.

I would put Evangelical Atheists near the top of my annoyance list.


MrDelane

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 515
Re: Holding my tongue with religious friends...
« Reply #276 on: January 10, 2019, 04:19:55 PM »
I'm agnostic and find your list of questions condescending. I get that's your point, you find the whole thing silly and beneath you, but you could have actual conversations with religious people instead. Be genuinely interested in what drew them to this church or that temple, how it enhances their lives, and yes, what drawbacks they might see with the church structure or discrimination or whatever. Or even whether they have doubts. You'll never get to that point if you start with "YOU REALIZE YOU'RE AN IDIOT RIGHT???"

Thank you for writing this.

More people trying to understand other people honestly could only lead to a better world. The intellectual higher ground appears self-sabotaging, if you need it you've probably already lost it.

I would put Evangelical Atheists near the top of my annoyance list.

Well, I think we all agree that it's possible to genuinely try to understand other people honestly while at the same time disagreeing with their beliefs.
And I don't think Nick would disagree with that.  But the whole point of his original post was that the list of questions were things he couldn't say to his religious friend. I assume he couldn't say them out of the obvious conclusion that they would be offended by them (as MonkeyJenga rightfully pointed out, they are condescending).

I took this whole thread as a vent of things he'd love to say, but won't say out of patience, respect and civility.
I see nothing wrong with that.  We've all had moments like that, whether it be about politics, religion, or something else entirely.

I fully expect that most of my religious friends have moments where they probably wish they could just ask me "How can you be so blind?? How can all this come from nothing? Just look at the trees!!"

I guess my point is, of course the original post is condescending... that is the entire reason it was posted as something that cannot be shared outside of certain circles (which is why the title says "atheists only").
Everyone vents every now and again.  It doesn't mean we don't respect other people or that we are not genuinely interested in understanding each other.
I love my family, but it shouldn't come as a shock that I've probably said some hyperbolic (and even mean) things about them to my spouse every now and again.
I would never say those things to them because I love them and respect them.  But yes, there are times that I vent about things that frustrate me.  And there are other times that I am more patient and caring.
I assume we all go back and forth between our own extremes, depending on the day.

That said - seeking genuine understanding as to how we each came to our views does not in any way require that differing views be seen as equal.
I'm genuinely curious as to how 'flat-earthers' came to their belief, but I'm not about to view their position as equal to those who accept that we live on a spheroidal planet.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2019, 04:27:44 PM by MrDelane »

tyort1

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1993
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Denver, Colorado
Re: Holding my tongue with religious friends...
« Reply #277 on: January 10, 2019, 05:40:04 PM »
I'm agnostic and find your list of questions condescending. I get that's your point, you find the whole thing silly and beneath you, but you could have actual conversations with religious people instead. Be genuinely interested in what drew them to this church or that temple, how it enhances their lives, and yes, what drawbacks they might see with the church structure or discrimination or whatever. Or even whether they have doubts. You'll never get to that point if you start with "YOU REALIZE YOU'RE AN IDIOT RIGHT???"

Thank you for writing this.

More people trying to understand other people honestly could only lead to a better world. The intellectual higher ground appears self-sabotaging, if you need it you've probably already lost it.

I would put Evangelical Atheists near the top of my annoyance list.

I was raised as a Christian, trust me I have a FAR better understanding of a Christian's beliefs than they do of mine.  Maybe the Christians could bend over backwards to understand my viewpoint instead of vice versa (which is what you people saying "respect others viewpoints" mean). 

dreadmoose

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 160
  • Location: Canada
  • Compounding
Re: Holding my tongue with religious friends...
« Reply #278 on: January 11, 2019, 04:05:21 PM »
I'm agnostic and find your list of questions condescending. I get that's your point, you find the whole thing silly and beneath you, but you could have actual conversations with religious people instead. Be genuinely interested in what drew them to this church or that temple, how it enhances their lives, and yes, what drawbacks they might see with the church structure or discrimination or whatever. Or even whether they have doubts. You'll never get to that point if you start with "YOU REALIZE YOU'RE AN IDIOT RIGHT???"

Thank you for writing this.

More people trying to understand other people honestly could only lead to a better world. The intellectual higher ground appears self-sabotaging, if you need it you've probably already lost it.

I would put Evangelical Atheists near the top of my annoyance list.

I was raised as a Christian, trust me I have a FAR better understanding of a Christian's beliefs than they do of mine.  Maybe the Christians could bend over backwards to understand my viewpoint instead of vice versa (which is what you people saying "respect others viewpoints" mean).

I'm sorry that this came off as a personal attack, it was not meant as such. I was raised Catholic and am now agnostic so was not hoping to take a side other than the acceptance and mutual respect I believe we all owe each other.

I don't think either side should be forcing their views on each other.

dreadmoose

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 160
  • Location: Canada
  • Compounding
Re: Holding my tongue with religious friends...
« Reply #279 on: January 11, 2019, 04:09:23 PM »
Thank you for writing this.

More people trying to understand other people honestly could only lead to a better world. The intellectual higher ground appears self-sabotaging, if you need it you've probably already lost it.

I would put Evangelical Atheists near the top of my annoyance list.

Well, I think we all agree that it's possible to genuinely try to understand other people honestly while at the same time disagreeing with their beliefs.
And I don't think Nick would disagree with that.  But the whole point of his original post was that the list of questions were things he couldn't say to his religious friend. I assume he couldn't say them out of the obvious conclusion that they would be offended by them (as MonkeyJenga rightfully pointed out, they are condescending).

I took this whole thread as a vent of things he'd love to say, but won't say out of patience, respect and civility.
I see nothing wrong with that.  We've all had moments like that, whether it be about politics, religion, or something else entirely.

I fully expect that most of my religious friends have moments where they probably wish they could just ask me "How can you be so blind?? How can all this come from nothing? Just look at the trees!!"

I guess my point is, of course the original post is condescending... that is the entire reason it was posted as something that cannot be shared outside of certain circles (which is why the title says "atheists only").
Everyone vents every now and again.  It doesn't mean we don't respect other people or that we are not genuinely interested in understanding each other.
I love my family, but it shouldn't come as a shock that I've probably said some hyperbolic (and even mean) things about them to my spouse every now and again.
I would never say those things to them because I love them and respect them.  But yes, there are times that I vent about things that frustrate me.  And there are other times that I am more patient and caring.
I assume we all go back and forth between our own extremes, depending on the day.

That said - seeking genuine understanding as to how we each came to our views does not in any way require that differing views be seen as equal.
I'm genuinely curious as to how 'flat-earthers' came to their belief, but I'm not about to view their position as equal to those who accept that we live on a spheroidal planet.

Well put, I agree.

MrDelane

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 515
Re: Holding my tongue with religious friends...
« Reply #280 on: January 11, 2019, 06:30:16 PM »
I'm agnostic and find your list of questions condescending. I get that's your point, you find the whole thing silly and beneath you, but you could have actual conversations with religious people instead. Be genuinely interested in what drew them to this church or that temple, how it enhances their lives, and yes, what drawbacks they might see with the church structure or discrimination or whatever. Or even whether they have doubts. You'll never get to that point if you start with "YOU REALIZE YOU'RE AN IDIOT RIGHT???"

Thank you for writing this.

More people trying to understand other people honestly could only lead to a better world. The intellectual higher ground appears self-sabotaging, if you need it you've probably already lost it.

I would put Evangelical Atheists near the top of my annoyance list.

I was raised as a Christian, trust me I have a FAR better understanding of a Christian's beliefs than they do of mine.  Maybe the Christians could bend over backwards to understand my viewpoint instead of vice versa (which is what you people saying "respect others viewpoints" mean).

I'm sorry that this came off as a personal attack, it was not meant as such. I was raised Catholic and am now agnostic so was not hoping to take a side other than the acceptance and mutual respect I believe we all owe each other.

I don't think either side should be forcing their views on each other.

This exchange brings up an interesting point (to me anyhow). 
One thing that makes these discussions so difficult is that, at least in the United States, when we're talking about believers and non-believers the default situation generally winds up being Christian and Atheist (or Agnostic, as many use the term).  And the vast majority of atheists (that I have run across at least) are ex-Christians of some variety.  This makes open and inquisitive discussion very difficult, because there is usually some amount of imbalance in the dynamic, because you have one person who (usually) has held a belief for the majority of their life and another who once held that same (or similar) belief and abandoned it for whatever reason.

In many ways I have an easier time discussing politics with friends of mine who hold diametrically opposing viewpoints to my own.  Due to the fact that I never agreed with their beliefs previously I don't have a frame of reference for them, I don't understand them, and I don't hold any emotional personal bias against them. I may think they're wrong (and strongly so) but it's not quite the same.

I'm not sure if I'm making any sense... but I think tyort1 said it quite well above with, "I have a FAR better understanding of a Christian's beliefs than they do of mine."  Regardless of whether or not that is actually true, the sentiment feels true to many atheists that I know (myself included).  I know what it meant for me to be a Catholic, but most Catholics I know have no idea what it truly feels like to be an atheist (meaning how we see the world, experience it, etc).

Anyhow... I'm rambling.