Confessions of a Lapsed Atheist
#1
http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/...theis.html

Quote:Do you believe in God?  Really?  And you're willing to admit it in public?

Oops. Sorry, for a moment I slipped back into the arrogant Atheism of my youth.

Before my parents had children, they decided to raise their kids in a secular home.  We had gifts at Christmas time and chocolate covered matzoh during Passover, but there was no religion and certainly no God.

When I was in grade school, God was just a kind of nondescript character who popped up in Little House on the Prairie books from time to time.  He seemed like a decent enough fellow, but was more or less a bit player who didn't have much to say.

After my grandfather died when I was seven, his Baptist minister lifted me up in his arms and told me, "It's all right, Grandpa's with God now."  At that moment, I could feel my dress was hiked up in the back and all I could think about was pulling it back down.  But later, I asked around and discovered that God was our Heavenly father, whatever that was supposed to mean.

I figured, who better to ask about my Heavenly father than my earthly father, but when I did he laughed.

He wasn't amused in a "kids say the darnedest things" kind of way.  He was laughing derisively at the idea that my mother's family believed in God.  And thus began my introduction to Atheism.

There are people who call themselves atheist who are simply nonbelievers, and then there are the big "A" Atheists for whom Atheism is almost a religion.  This quasi-religious doctrine isn't neutral on the existence of other religions; rather, Atheism is a virulently anti-theistic creed characterized by sneering contempt for religion and a profoundly dogmatic bigotry toward people of faith.

Want to know how Atheists see the rest of us?

I grew up learning from my father that Atheism is rational, and therefore, religious belief is irrational; Atheism is defined by logic, religious faith by fantasy; and science is real while religion is make believe.  Faith, I was taught, requires a willful stifling of reason.

The Torah, the Gospels, the Qur'an?  All woefully inaccurate, laughably inconsistent fictions used to encourage belief in an illusion for the purpose of social control.

My curiosity in religion surfaced again in seventh grade when several of my friends were planning Bat Mitzvahs.  Surely my friends weren't ignorant enough to actually believe in God, were they?  The answer was no.  For most of these Reform Jews, this celebration marked the official end to the tedium of Hebrew school. Most of their families were Ethical Culturists with a recreational interest in preserving their Jewish cultural identity.  In other words, they too were Atheists.

By the time I reached high school, having had little contact with religion, I was convinced that people of faith were credulous and unenlightened.  They gravitated toward soothing tales of God and afterlife to help them deal with their own mortality.  At best, I considered belief in God an anachronism, a quaint vestige of days gone by, on par with superstitions about wicked thoughts causing birth defects.

At my extremely liberal college, I was exposed to even more militant Atheism.  It was there that I learned the mere whiff of religiosity is worthy of denigration.  Many of the people I met approached religion with something between disdain and loathing, and considered all religious belief a form of fanaticism.  Christians in particular were characterized as knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing fundies (and that was in polite company.)

Fortunately my mother taught me enough manners that I kept my bias to myself.

In this new environment, my Atheism was more than evidence of good reasoning, it was a socially desirable badge of intellectual superiority.  Make no mistake: Atheists think they're smarter than you.  Atheism isn't simple skepticism.  It is a certainty that believers are wrong, and by extension, intellectually inferior.  Religion, especially Judeo-Christian religion, is nothing more than a crutch for dupes.

But Atheists aren't content to leave religion as a mere object of ridicule.  They want it cleansed from public life.  And enlightened as they are, they've come up with quite the pretense for justifying the righteousness of their bigotry: they are defending the vision of our Founding Fathers from a dominionist conspiracy to establish Christianity as the state religion.

You see, for liberal Atheists, the only thing worse than religion is the Religious Right, a term they use to encompass all Christian conservatives.  And what better way to siphon fuel from the Religious Right than to convince Americans that the government is perpetually on the verge of becoming a theocracy?

And so, they accuse local governments of trampling the Constitution in the name of God and they find subliminal Christian iconography in political ads.  They wring new meanings from Thomas Jefferson's notion of separation between church and state, and condemn our country's motto and the status of Christmas as a national holiday.  But above all, Atheists stoke fear among religious and nonreligious alike that conservatives view government as a tool to force religion down your throat.

Pope-slandering buffoon Bill Maher, something of a patron saint among Atheists, has called religion "the ultimate hustle." Last fall, Maher's fellow liberal Chris Matthews, a self-described Catholic, roundly criticized Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for talking about prayer in a "secular environment" and complained that she made the Republican Party look more like a church tent than a big tent.  In March, Matthews complained, "Why does everything sound like the '700 Club' with this Party now?" Such examples of anti-religious bias can be found every day on cable news, network television, and in the pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post.

As my politics strayed right of center after college, I realized I wanted no part of that Maher/Matthews worldview based in elitism and the ridicule of others.  I made the transition from Atheist to atheist to agnostic, and have since discovered why it is often said that religion is experiential.

There was a time when I would have preferred any manner of torture to admitting the possibility of a higher power.  These days, I'm proud to say I lost my faith in the Atheist creed.
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#2
I'm glad he acknowledges what most Atheists refuse to accept - their unbelief (which in itself is a form of belief) is in fact a quasi-religion.
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#3
I grew up atheist -- most of my family was of the opinion that religion in its various manifestations is a form of control by the powerful. I first went to a "church" at age 15 with a girlfriend. So I was pretty hostile to religion, especially Christianity throughout high school and college. I referred to myself as an evangelical atheist and enjoyed taking every opportunity to debate with unwitting Christians about the wrongness of their beliefs.

So I think there are a few different possibilities for people who grow up in this sort of way. Some are essentially indifferent to religion. Others put quite a bit of thought into the religious question and treat atheism as a quasi-religion. This latter group, in which I would place my former self, are very close to coming to the truth because they are thinking about religion. For my part, I was very interested in comparative religious studies and philosophy. After studying every other major (and some minor religions), I realized that I had never given much actual thought or study to Christianity (since I grew up in the American south, my primary frame of reference was evangelicalism, which I detested as anti-intellectual and overly emotional).

In the midst of a debate on the eve of my wedding, one of my uncles asked me some particular question about Christianity, and it occurred to me that I knew all about what every religion believed, but I didn't really know what Christianity believed.  About three weeks later, I passed by the local Catholic Church and wondered what they were up to since I knew it to be the oldest manifestation of Christianity. The next Saturday, I went to the Vigil Mass. And the following Thursday, I began RCIA. I was baptized the following Easter.  My wife became Catholic the next January.
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#4
Most atheists seems to have a particular disdain for Christianity I've noticed. Is that a Western Civilization thing, since Christianity has long been the main religion? Or is there something else? Just curious.
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#5
For me personally, my disdain for Christianity was rooted in two things: (1) the ridiculousness of evangelical Christianity manifested mostly in its emotionalism and (2) a rebellion against the majority view.
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#6
(03-19-2016, 11:34 AM)ermy_law Wrote: For me personally, my disdain for Christianity was rooted in two things: (1) the ridiculousness of evangelical Christianity manifested mostly in its emotionalism and (2) a rebellion against the majority view.

With #1, I do tend to think that evangelical Christianity definitely does not help the cause. Whenever you hear some ridiculous thing that someone who claims to a Christian says or does, it's almost always an evangelical (or at the bare minimum a Protestant). Just recently there was a guy who allowed a lion to attack him because he thought that the lion would stand down because God gives man dominion over all animals. These are the kinds of ridiculous things we have to contend with.  It also doesn't help when people who are considering Christianity see the Catholic Church as this weak and broken institution with effeminate priests, added with the sex abuse scandals and whatever else. The Orthodox isn't even on the radar of the average Westerner and then you're left with Protestantism. 

With #2, I've always laughed at this one when atheists talk about it. Sure the majority of people in the US call themselves Christian or at least say they believe in a God, but how many of them actually live in a way that reflects their belief? Most people who call themselves Christians are practical atheists/agnostics.  When it comes to younger people, many say they're Christian just to not upset their parents. It's a mess. Modern culture is completely structured around secular atheism. However, atheists still tend to think that they're rebels of some sort... Devout Christians, if anything,are the true rebels of the area. Atheists are no different than the rest of the crowd.
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#7
It sounds like the author is a woman and grew up in a secular Jewish home. So did I. I didn't even have a bar mitvzah though. It actually took a trip to Israel to awaken any sort of spirituality in me. I might have considered myself an agnostic before (who occasionally made denigrating comments about religion in likeminded company). After my few years with Orthodox Judaism ended, I became a much more intentional atheist and found myself getting sucked into the culture. I saw myself going down a path I really didn't want to be a part of, but I really struggled with finding belief again.

I suspect this not too uncommon -- someone is pressured to accept the skeptical view all while yearning to believe but finding none of the answers they need. I agree with the author that religion is experiential and you have to force yourself out of the iron tower of "rationalism" to see the world in a new way. I wish that we could do more to young people in such situations...
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#8
"Evangelical Christianity"  (actually "non-denominational" Protestantism") has probably put more intelligent, serious Atheists off from belief in God more than anything else-that and liberal Catholicism.

Truly it is an embarrassing, shallow spectacle; far removed from any imaginings of the sacral and solemn character of Christ and the Apostles.

False, and exaggerated smiles, loud-in-your-face confrontational showing off how much faith they have, contemporary rock music on stages they call "altars" jumping around with their hand waving.  "Preachers" in business suits or casual wear pacing back and forth without a hint of meekness or humility in their voices or demeanor.  The obvious disconnect between the whole culture and tone with anything resembling historic and Apostolic Christianity. Nothing resembling holiness or the sublime.

Although some Atheists do end up converting to non-denominational Protestantism, which is strange.



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#9
(03-21-2016, 05:46 PM)BC Wrote: "Evangelical Christianity"  (actually "non-denominational" Protestantism") has probably put more intelligent, serious Atheists off from belief in God more than anything else-that and liberal Catholicism.

Truly it is an embarrassing, shallow spectacle; far removed from any imaginings of the sacral and solemn character of Christ and the Apostles.

False, and exaggerated smiles, loud-in-your-face confrontational showing off how much faith they have, contemporary rock music on stages they call "altars" jumping around with their hand waving.  "Preachers" in business suits or casual wear pacing back and forth without a hint of meekness or humility in their voices or demeanor.  The obvious disconnect between the whole culture and tone with anything resembling historic and Apostolic Christianity. Nothing resembling holiness or the sublime.

Although some Atheists do end up converting to non-denominational Protestantism, which is strange.

And of course there's a clip to go with your apt description.

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#10
(03-21-2016, 06:54 PM)Sir Charles Napier Wrote: And of course there's a clip to go with your apt description.

^Jewish Sasha Baron Cohen (Borat) could not resist such an easy opportunity for mocking Christ, to the scandal of all who
unfortunately and mistakenly see the above as a legitimate expression of "Christianity." 
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