How has being an atheist made you a better person?

Sapient
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How has being an atheist made you a better person?

So I created a video to respond with my thoughts.
 
I just came off the top of my head and didn't take too much time to think about it, and I know I left a lot of room to improve on what I've said, so I'd like to hear from you. How has being free of theism made you a better person?
 
Or if you think you're not a better person, please explain how you've changed if at all. I directed youtubers to this thread, so if you're a viewer of youtube and want to put your thoughts down in text, please feel free, and welcome aboard.

Here is my video response on the issue, although the jist of what I say is that I think more clearly now.

 

 

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JanCham
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Atheism saved me.

Well, I've been on the chat rooms from time to time but I guess this is a good place to really talk about myself.  I'm a bisexual male with some transexual tendencies (though one of them not being cross dressing).  I'm a self discribed "Dike in a mans body" with a mix of femyness on top of it.  Okay... so what does that have to do with religion?  The answer is pretty obvious, just read Levidicus and you get the picture.  My family is still pretty myopicly dedicated to the Souther Babtist religion and hopelessly close minded.

I don't have to illustrate it too much, I imagine everyone here has in some way felt utterly different from their peers.  Ever since I was young I had these questions that couldn't be answered.  Why was I attracted to masculinity?  I still like girls, but I also find myself attracted to some men as well, and overly feminine women are somthing of a turn off to me. Now I understand it pretty well thanks to the feilds of psycology and sociology, but religion only gave me two messages... you are wrong and there is only ONE way to be right.

How it made me a better person?  Atheism was the start, it was Humanism and having more concern for the living breething tenants of earth than some invisible sky god.  People were no longer "them" or "it" they were my brothers and sisters... all of them, not just a small group that happen to agree with me.  I felt free to take the road not taken as Robberf Frost said once in a poem.  It freed me in knowing that Nature was not a Dogma, it was a once in a lifetime chance to find happyness.  Quite simple.

To go beyond your limits you must first find them.


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i dunno wat to believe...i

i dunno wat to believe...i think if ya take any religion too seriously ya turn into a nutjob....its made me accept the world and whats beyond it as it is, i know gods not watchin me and i no im not gonna burn in hell or whatever...im not scared of whats to come after death....ah i dunno, i think its good that atheists have their own individual set of moral codes, they dont need a book to tell them whats right and wrong

''you don't belong where the humans eat''


Fateless7
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How Being Atheist Made Me a Better Person

Hi Sapient,

I'm fairly new to the forums and I just made my way over to the "theist-free" zone. Great question!

I have been a skeptic since birth, raised in a theistic environment, but I never accepted the Christian god. My family went to a Lutheran church for a short time when I was young, where I was often taken away from the sermons and put in the nursery after asking my mom a lot of questions (Mom! Why did God do that???). During preschool, I was already making sarcastic comments about God to other children. A kid once approached the fence surrounding my house as I was playing in my yard. He asked if he could come in because he didn't have any friends. Thinking quickly to decide how I could get rid of this stranger, I made my first sarcastic religious comment: "But, God is your friend, right?"

Shortly thereafter, I was offered a Biblical coloring book by my father, which I refused to accept. I had refused to accept Christianity based on my observations of its violent nature. It just seemed very suspicious and very man-made.

I grew up as an atheist who didn't know of the word atheism until I read, "Atheism: The Case Against God" during high school.

The benefits of growing up as a self-made atheist were fantastic. I never had to live under the illusion that I'm not in control of my life or that "God" is the reason why all things happen; both are dangerous assumptions that lead to severe consequences. When you become an atheist in this way, surrounded by theists who disagree, it also then empowers you reject other irrational beliefs and behaviors. You already know that the popularity of an idea does not equal its merit.

My life as a rational teenager was therefore very enjoyable. I was able to focus on creative endeavors and reject the mindless activities that my theist friends engaged in-- although some of these people were my best friends, I am sure they regret the decisions they made under peer pressure. My atheism rendered me immune to peer pressure.

Another benefit of becoming an atheist at an early age is that I did not learn to deceive myself in the way that most Christian churches require one to.

At the end of high school, two of my best friends were being pushed in the direction of marriage by their respective religions (one Baptist and one Mormon). Strangely enough, it was I, the atheist, that both of them came to for advice. I advised against it in both cases, most notably towards my Baptist friend who clearly had an eye for other women. Of course, his church teaches that such problems are merely normal "temptations" one should deal with in prayer.

Both friends later divorced.

My mormon friend, still disregarding my warnings about religion, married and divorced a second time. I feel bad about this because he was known in high school as one of the most talented and successful students; he has allowed his church to rule over his life and they have stolen it from him. But I guess he made the choice to let them.

Another benefit of being an atheist is that I can allow myself to make progress as a person, to change things about my life when I find it is reasonable to do so, whereas most theists cling to permanent beliefs that cannot be changed in light of reason. I became vegetarian years ago and have recently become vegan due to the information I have recently learned about factory farming. In addition, the lengths that people go just to drink a cow's breastmilk is ridiculous. Why are we drinking the breastmilk of other animals?

"Because God gave us animals to eat!"

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I had been an ignorant Christian. And when I think of all the things I would not know, and the person who I would not be, and the progress I would not have made, it horrifies me... I would have been the living dead.


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Well, although I was raised

Well, although I was raised to be a Christian, I never really believed Christianity to be true.  There were just too many reasons to not believe and not enough reasons to believe.

Eventually I got to a point in my childhood where I started to worry, "What if I'm wrong?"  After all, if not believing in God is the ultimate sin, and God actually exists as described by Christianity, then all of us kind, peace-loving atheists are destined to be eternally tormented in hell for offending God's ego.

But, what I realized is that I was forcing myself to censor and fabricate my thoughts out of fear.  It didn't seem right to me that any good entity would intentionally create such an unhealthy mental condition in people, so I decided that even if God was real, I would rather burn in hell for eternity than pledge blind obedience to a sadistic egomaniac.

As soon as I made that decision, I was once again free to think and learn without fear that my thoughts would be held against me as sins.  As a result, I've been able to better understand myself, human nature, the nature of the world, and the nature of thought.  There's still a lot more to learn, and I'm sure I'll die before I'm finished, but not having to constantly worry about censoring my thoughts and forcing myself to believe in God has been so freeing that my life has much more value and is much more interesting as a result.


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By accepting and taking

By accepting and taking responsibility for my own actions. I've been forced to be honest with myself which is very hard to overcome, especially if you've played the role of the apologist for long.

By not continuously shoving judgement upon myself for something I might have done wrong according to the bible I found that I am FAR more confident in what I am doing.

Atheism hasn't caused me to be immoral in the slightest.

Atheism has led me to be way more open-minded and mature about topics like homosexuality and sexuality in general.

 

Change isn't something that happens overnight.


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Becoming an atheist has made

Becoming an atheist has made me a better person in many ways, I'm no longer willing to accept somthing based on faith. I always hated that about Christianity. I no longer have the arrogant thought of the entire universe was created for our little planet and the guy who created it cares about every little thing I do....thats too much pressure for one person. I have accepted the reality that this is my ONLY life and I can seriously take responsibility for my own actions and not just ask god to forgive me for every thing. If I do somthing wrong, I simply don't do it again, not put myself in position to do it an unlimited ammount of times because I'd have unlimited pardons.

"If something bad happened to you today, don't blame the devil, God is just taking a weed break, he'll fix it later."
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Man, thats a tough question

Man, thats a tough question for me.

 

Ive always been non-violent, "never raised a fist in anger, unless outright attacked." even as a kid.

I have never "mean" teased anyone, or if someone came to my door and was hungry, Ive fed them.

 

I don't think this is due to my belief system, I just think Im have a good deal of compassion for others.

You know, just wired that way.

 

I will say I am a much happier person, since I don't live my life in fear of some religions deity.

 

I live my life, to please myself, and I am the man "I" wish to be.

I don't act, or pretend, to please some fairytail deity.

Maybe that is the whole point of this thread.

 

What makes an Atheist a better person?

Because "They choose" using free will, to be the best person they can be. (not because they are threatened into it.)


Slayne
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I think never having been

I think never having been anything other than an atheist I cant really say how its made me better. But I can tell you I have always had inner-strength and never once needed an imaginary friend. and that includes when I was on my deathbed with brain hemorages I am fine now.

If God didn't want atheists than we wouldn't exist..


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in many ways i am a better person but others i am the same

hmm  this is kinda hard to answer  i personally am the same person i was before just simply lacking and accepting i am a atheist  so i dont feel like i am a better person just a inlightend person   i am a better person in regard to the fack i dont waste my time praying or going to church to pandering to  their wishes and beliefs which i didn't believe in and i am a better person because i feel i want to help others see just how silly there fiction savior really is  and i am also a better person because i am true to my self i am not hiding anymore and truley a liberating and inspiring  event in my life was the day i came out as a atheist  so in all yes i am a better person in many regards  

Evolved Morality


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Knowing that I'm not

Knowing that I'm not condemned to hell for my sexual orientation has freed me of a depression that's troubled me for years. I've never really believed in the bible, but I always felt like that was some lacking in myself rather than a legitimate belief. Now that I have taken the time to investigate the validity of the bible and feel confident in my conclusions, I'm a much happier person. I also think that until I became an atheist I was quite a selfish person. I only ever gave to charity if someone approached me and I felt guilty to say no.

 Now I give to the charities that are important to me and I do it willingly and feel good about it too. I feel motivated to do some voluntary work, probably in the realm of gay youth groups or some such thing. I think this comes down to the fact that I always felt like the only motivation to do good deeds was to score points with god, and that just felt wrong. Now I know that this is the only life we get and I should do whatever I can to make this life better for other people as well as myself.

I don't fear death anymore, which is so wonderful. I've also learned to be careful in how I phrase things. I try harder now not to stereotype, or make blanket statements without evidence to back it up. Becoming an atheist has also motivated me to better educate myself. I look at some christians trapped in their own ignorance and I just don't want to be like that.

 So yeah, becoming an atheist has had a profound affect on my life and I am incredibly grateful to people like Kelly and Bryan for putting their message out there. The debate they had with 'the way of the master' was a stepping stone towards me becoming an atheist.


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I don't think I'm

I don't think I'm necessarily a better person.  I feel better about myself.  I know I'm not a sinner and I don't feel like I'll go to hell for having naughty thoughts.  Atheism has made my life better by allowing me to believe in myself, to be comfortable with being human, being material, and not owing anything to imaginary powers. 

Atheists agree: Adults should not have imaginary friends.


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I can say that being an

I can say that being an atheist makes me care more about what happens to this planet.  Most religious people that I have come across seem to have the attitude of "well im going to heaven so i dont care what i do to this world".  I've come to think of this world as a rare and beautiful place in the universe and want to do all I am capable of as a human being to take care of it.  I would care anyway about what I do to this planet while im here because I understand more people will have to live in it in years to come.  On the other hand I think that if religious people were not so sure of their after life that they might care more about what they do to this planet. 

Doubt is the root of all wisdom. - Unknown

Knowing will come from the practice of understanding - Myself


FreeThoughtMake...
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I'm better and/or different

I'm better and/or different since I've recognized myself for being probably what I've always been is (an atheist) now is I'm a LOT less gullible thank I used to be, I question thinks even more, I'm more of a skeptic (taking most things with a grain of salt if not 2), don't pray anymore lol, it's grown my interest in even talking about religion or lack thereof. I uh............ think that is for the most part it, I don't worry about sleeping in on Sundays, I see things even more for a what they are kind of way, I think for the most part that's it.

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Religion at BEST - is like a lift in your shoe. If you need it for a while, and it makes you walk straight and feel better - fine. But you don't need it forever, or you can become permanently disabled.

---George Carlin---


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I would say that yes, being

I would say that yes, being an Atheist has made me a better person. It has allowed me to be open minded and think without mindlessly accepting anything.


oreogasm
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I think i'm better in the

I think i'm better in the way that I feel more peaceful... before I was an atheist, [which was at least 3 years ago.. i'm 17 now and I gradually started changing when I was 14] I was so uncertain about the world. I was scared of dying and scared that I had accidentally blasphemed and was going to go to hell for something I didn't remember/knew I had done.. etc.. I understood very little about the real world and was pretty closed minded. I've went to [two] christian schools in alabama my whole life [still attending, actually. i'm a senior though, so its almost over], so i'm still in that angry stage where I feel I've been brainwashed from birth.. but I feel that I want to learn a lot more now that i've taken my religious boundaries away.

hmm.. that might not make sense. oh well, thats how I feel.

Smiling


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Hmm let's see.. 1.I'm not a

Hmm let's see..

1.I'm not a crazy closed minded freak anymore.

2.I don't think"oh well they're going to burn in hell"

3.I I have ALOT less nightmares

4.I'm not scared of dying anymore

5.i explore new things,meet new and interesting people who before I would have shunned,listen to cool secular music,get to drink,can date non-christians without 'sinning'..

6.I care more about the enviroment and earth.before I just said"It's gona get destroyed when jesus comes back anyway'

I'm just a better,more accepting person all round 

 

Psalm 14:1 "the fool hath said in his heart there is a God"-From a 1763 misprinted edition of the bible

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This is getting redudnant. My patience with the unteachable[atheists] is limited.

Argument from Sadism: Theist presents argument in a wall of text with no punctuation and wrong spelling. Atheist cannot read and is forced to concede.


mindcore
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Atheism Made Me a Better Person

The day I became an atheist I had already come a long way.

I stopped believing in the bible, I stopped believing that God could exist outside of nature. I was a pantheist, but I still believed that nature somehow had a mind.

I just thought that this was the only possible god, so I went with it.

I had embraced humanism as the source of my ethics. E.O. Wilson was my hero, and I thought the brain was the soul.

But... it is possible to think that the brain is the soul,

and then hypocriticallly when I feared death I dreamt of the afterlife.

Officially I did not believe in the afterlife in my last days as a theist, but in private I still did.

When I first walked away from faith it was an emotional  crisis.

I was terrified.

It was a post-theist depression.

Then I realized that because life was finite I realized that it was so valuable.

I started treating my wife like any minute could be the last that I ever saw her, ever.

I love my wife so much the idea of being with her for ever is the only reason I want to have an afterlife.

I started taking all my goals a lot more seriously, I started thinking about how to make the most of life, and doing it.

Atheism is life affirming. 

Your life is a love story!


Kedoremos
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A: ...

I joined just now so I could respond to this query. You know... since un-converting[sic] to atheism I've spent a lot of time thinking about what's right, what's wrong, who's good, who's evil, and who/whom decides those things if anyone. 

I've decided that there is no right or wrong. There is no good or bad. There's only the social/societal norm and the status quo.

Has becoming an atheist made me a good person? Yes but not for the same reason you're thinking. I've redefined what's good to meet precisely with what I am.


AlexTheAtheist
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Being Atheist has made my

Being Atheist has made my whole world make sense. I no longer fear death, I no longer am afraid of going to hell. I'm a lot more motivated to do things in my life, and I know I'm being truthful with myself. For a kid, that's a huge relief, and a major burden off of my shoulders.

Living life to its fullest, without the need for a "God" Laughing out loud
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Becoming an Atheist has made my world make sense, but the people in it less and less so.


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I just joined this forum, so

I just joined this forum, so I suppose this would be a good thread to start. I have been an atheist from a very young age - since six years old or so. I was raised in a largely atheist family in a largely secular country, religion never being an important component of my life. To the extent that atheism has made me a "better" person, it has shown me the finer aspects of lucid thought and ratiocination, though not entirely by itself.

Bearing in mind that I have not read everything written here and apologizing in advance for repeating previous comments, let me also just address the connotation that "better" could mean morally superior, which is how some people addressed the original question. I do not think that atheism has made me a better person morally or anything; in fact, people often conflate morality and atheism when they are separate - though related - issues. Atheism should have a very restricted scope: discussing the existence, or inexistence, as it were, of supernatural entities and other theistic concoctions. Getting bogged down in ethics is a secondary and quasi-irrelevant project. As a liberal, I derive my ethics mostly from liberalism. I am perfectly content to treat atheism as an ontological philosophy that says something about the way the world is - or something about what the world lacks (gods and goddesses) - rather than what the world should be like or what it needs. Of course, atheism could also be a lack of belief in deities, but that's a sideshow for my argument. Nevertheless, atheist ideas could have more intellectual appeal if they were properly limited: focusing on the evil of religion does not prove that deities do not exist, if that's what one was trying to prove anyway. Instead, focus on the pertinent nomological claims, empirical data, and eschew all the hokus pokus about social engineering. Now, don't get me wrong, I want a world devoid of religion, but I would pursue that end under the sociopolitical context of liberal ideology, not atheism. Those of you who are not liberals, of course, might opt for some other path, but hopefully you understand my point.

"The greatest conquests, the ones that leave no regrets, are those wrested from ignorance." - Napoleon


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I've become  more

I've become  more confident, honest with myself and trusting of my perception and ideas.

It's helped me to better understand the minds of others; thus become a better listener, thinker, debater and person.

I've never submitted my mind to theism completely, but as a proud atheist and free-thinker, I've learned what's truly important in life: love, family, happiness & a sense of self. I don't live in anxious fear that someone is watching me, I live for me and those I care about.

*Our world is far more complex than the rigid structure we want to assign to it, and we will probably never fully understand it.*

"Those believers who are sophisticated enough to understand the paradox have found exciting ways to bend logic into pretzel shapes in order to defend the indefensible." - Hamby


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In every way. I have

In every way. I have cultivated reason and impartiality as an art, and it has liberated me from irrational prejudice.

“It is true that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. It is equally true that in the land of the blind, the two-eyed man is an enemy of the state, the people, and domestic tranquility… and necessarily so. Someone has to rearrange the furniture.”


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The best part

 I have been an atheist since my late teens, but I only came to identify myself in such a manner in the past few years. I was motivated largely by Sam Harris's book, The End of Faith and by the seeming resurgence of medieval thinking in the the form of evangelical Christianity so heavily courted by the Bush Administration.

The transition was not instantaneous because the the condition of belief or disbelief is not binary, like god's existence. While only one or the other condition can exist for god, one's belief can occupy a shadow world of half states, quarter states, infinite states. It is a continuum, not an either/or. Thus, my lack of belief was accompanied by an increased understanding of the nature of belief itself.

This is one of many good consequences of my atheism. Understanding that belief is not absolute, and that certainty is impossible is humbling. It is this understanding that nothing; no knowledge, no theory, no truth is absolute, that compels one, seemingly automatically towards rational discourse. It compels one to seek a non violent solution, and to regard the certainty that drives so much of the violence in the world with skepticism.

It created in me, not only a tolerance of diverse thought and opinion, but a true appreciation for the concept of 'free thought' in all its 'endless forms most beautiful', as it were.

Yet, in spite of my love--my passion--for free thought, diversity, reasoned discourse, and the full spectrum of human experience that I gained for the mere price--a bargain really--of my belief in god, these things are not the change I value the most.

No. That honor goes to the badges.


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How atheism has affected me.

My first post!

Very brief religious history:

1. Until about the 3rd grade, religion didn't really play any notable part in my life.

2. At that time parents had a bit of marital trouble, and SURPRISE!, we started going to a small town non-denominational church.

3. From 3rd grade to 11th grade, I was a committed Christian, learning about, believing in, etc, god.

4. I began to question the existence of god as a senior in high school.  That "questioning" period lasted about 2-3 years, until I finally came out and declared that I don't believe in anything supernatural

I am definately a "strong atheist".  I believe that absolutely nothing is supernatural, that everything can be explained, even if humanity doesn't yet know how to explain it.  This gives me an enormous feeling of freedom.  That feeling is a huge value-add to daily life.

Furthermore, I try to do "good" for the sake of itself, not because I think it would please a god or gods.  I think that is morally superior to doing "good" because of religious reasons.  Although, I have certainly met Christians who seem to be very "good", not judgemental, and not always trying to spread their religion to others.  But most of them do.

I studied Christianity hard and remember most all of it, so I am fairly knowledgable about biblical things, hence, whenever I get involved in any kind of religious argument (which I really try to avoid - honest) I am not popular amoung the Christians.

I am now 34 years old and am just starting to actively study the history of Christianity more - for the sake of being able to better explain to people why I don't believe.  It has gotten more important since the birth of my daught 5 months ago, as my wife's parents really wanted to have her baptised.  Now, normally, I might allow something like this to take place for the sake of keeping life harmonious (for example, when we visit them, we all go to church, I'll even sing the hymns, etc.  although I don't pretend to pray), but baptism was crossing a line.  For one thing, John the Baptist said "Repent and be baptised" which leaves no question to me that the person being baptised must have some knowledge about what is happening to them.  If my daughter, when she is older, wants to be baptised, I'll support her, but at 5 months old, it's insane, and I wanted no part of it.  Luckily, the church wouldn't do it anyway if the parents were not members.  Whew!

Also, I would now like to take this opportunity to renounce the "Holy Spirit" ala Mark 3:29:

 

I renounce the Holy Spirit!  The Holy Spirit can lick my balls!


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in all honesty, because I'm

in all honesty, because I'm an atheist, I see the world as it is, not like some religious folks I know. Yes, it gets lonely without a supernatural big brother, but what is the problem of turning to other people for comfort? Atheism has taught me how to be a human being, and that is something I'll always have with me.


Cheers!

A species cannot advance technologically past its social state, lest it destroy itself in the fires of its own creation.
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Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
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Ethically inclined...

If anything about rationality makes me a better person, it's that I have to take responsibility for my own life. If I do good, I get to pat myself on the back, if I do bad, I can only try to make amends, and learn.

 

I get annoyed at the implication by the theistically challenged that some how, religion, and specifically their personal sect has the patent on ethics. Demonstrably, they do not.

LC >;-}>

"The term 'atheist' sort of bugs me, I don't believe in Big Foot either, but 'Anti-Saquatchianism' just doesn't flow..."

Christianity: A disgusting middle eastern blood cult, based in human sacrifice, with sacraments of cannibalism and vampirism, whose highest icon is of a near naked man hanging in torment from a device of torture.


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  It has allowed me to

 

 

It has allowed me to strive towards making a better world. When i came to the sudden conclusion that I had lost what little faith I had, partly due to the up bringing in a hispanic household [Although years later I would also find out that my father too was a man of no faith in any superstitions or fictional characters and even dispised the idea of having fictional characters insult the capability of the human mind]

Once free of this stronghold, I knew that millions of other kids must feel the same way as I did, maybe even adulst [I was 11 at the time] So I set out in trying to find them. While on my search and even till this day I set a goal to myself and it is one I happened to see in a quote recently but fail to remember exactly as is. The author as well. That is to leave this world a better place than it was when I came into it. With the complete terror excreted from the Abrahamic religions I see hope for a better world. With the advancement of reason through scientific discoveries which little by little crumble the cookie that is religion I see more and more people rising in a call to arms for a better society. One free of religion.

I hold this belief close to my heart.


Pathogen
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The programming is hard to shake, sometimes.

I was raised Mormon and grew up to be very involved in that church.  I left by the age of 24 because I finally came to the conclusion that that particular church most certainly wasn't true.  In fact, I found it very corporate in structure and almost soul crushing, not life affirming.  But I didn't stop believing altogether until recently when it felt like I could finally peel the last layer without fearing eternal damnation.  Even then, though, I still get a pang of regret knowing that I've taken a step that's leaving friends and family behind that won't or can't understand my position.

But how does this conclusion about myself make me a better person: now I act for good for the sake of being good, and not born out of some desire to receive an eternal reward or disappointing god.  I treat time as much more precious to me.  I recognize that it's finite, and therefore I have a greater obligation to be good to people around me.  I have a much greater need to give back, be a volunteer, and help the less fortunate.  People's suffering is not longer part of god's plan.

I've been able to unshackle my mind with nonsense and focus on doing positive things that make a difference.  Most importantly, I've gained thirst for knowledge that I've never had before.  I hope this insatiable feeling never goes away.  I spend a lot of time reading up on science, watching videos at TED.com, conversing with friends, watching the science channel, and still studying religious texts to better understand how I could have come under the charm of such falsehoods.

Overall, I'm at peace with myself.  But I'm not content with where I'm at.  In fact, I hope I'm never content.  I always want to feel like I could have done more until the day I die.  That's the only way to live.

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Nordmann
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Atheism (and I share Sam

Atheism (and I share Sam Harris's dislike of the term for the same reasons as him) does not make one a better person. At least not per se.

 

It can - if it is something acquired intellectually by a person - play an integral role in that person being more realistic, less judgmental, more inquisitive in a search for truth, and in many other ways contribute to a more satisfying experience overall as one tackles with universal issues should one be inclined to do so. It does not, in my experience, automatically make a person more moral, more intelligent, or in any way a "better" person using the normal subjective criteria for applying such a term to an individual.

 

Having read through this thread I am struck by the suspicion that those who indeed think of themselves as a "better person" on the grounds of their atheism are almost all people who have endured (and thankfully survived) immersion in a society in which behavioural constraints and mental deportment are predicated on superstition presented as fact. The fact that they have managed to extricate themselves, sometimes from the most invasive and potentially destructive (in terms of the ability to discern truth at all) brainwashing techniques, is heartening to read for one such as myself who retains a faith (used in the correct sense) in the human mind's ability to circumvent the traps that it itself creates in its drive to satisfy its curiosity about its perceived environment.

 

The individuals themselves also unanimously express a sort of relief at having "made it" out of this control-freakish milieu to which they were subjected (normally completely involuntarily) and into a "new" state of mind in which the shackles imposed by superstition have been stripped away, leaving them to rely on their own intellectual resources. This - rightly - is seen as a huge step forward in terms of their personal development, even if it has led to difficult (and sometimes painful) changes in their social interaction with family, friends etc. Put simply; despite the social disadvantages that may have occurred on the basis of their decision, they "feel" better for having made it.

 

But they are not better people. They are the same people, who - for better or worse - have abandoned superstition in favour of rational thought.

 

This statement might sound condemnatory in itself, or at least sound dismissive of the many people who - with admirable courage - have taken a huge step towards intellectual honesty in their relationship with their world. But I make it for a very good reason.

 

The concept of "better" lies at the heart of my problem with the premise of this thread. The word is applied normally in order to grade things in order of goodness, quality, usefulness, advantage or health. In other words it has two types of application - one objective and the other wholly subjective - and without qualification is open to complete misinterpretation or (and the here is the crux of my complaint), wilful misappropriation. And where have we all found the latter being used as a crucial element of control technique? Exactly!

 

If, as individuals, we have all consciously chosen to abandon the irrational precepts fed to us as fact by others then it is down to us, as individuals, not to foster the techniques that these others apply in their behaviour, their social interaction, and most importantly in the arguments they employ against realism. Religious belief is itself predicated on the concept of "better". It encourages subscribers to believe themselves better people - both as individuals and collectively - simply on the basis of holding those beliefs that they have been taught, however irrational some of them might be and in many cases for the very reason that they are irrational. Just as Sam Harris correctly warns against using the term "atheist" as a handle by which religious people can (incorrectly) make broad assumptions about our personalities and our views often in order to demote our knowledge to the status of their beliefs, so is it very necessary not to adopt the language and attitudes that they employ - often unconsciously - in deconstructing what we have built by way of argument. Calling ourselves "better" is therefore playing right into their hands, even if it is meant - as I am sure the original poster here meant it - in terms of the individual's assessment of themselves as happier people overall for having embraced realism.

 

A question such as "how has atheism made you a different person?" might have elicited more or less the same responses, and may even have been equally subjective in its interpretation, but to me would have constituted less of a danger in respect of supplying ammunition to realism's detractors. The last thing we need is to be considered as "smug" in our self-satisfaction at having made a correct decision as we have all of us seen exhibited - often nauseously - by religious believers of all shades.

 

In fact this is one area where an atheist correctly applies the notion of belief, and where religious people invariably and incorrectly apply certainty. They are sure (based on no good evidence) that their views make them better people. We can only believe that our views contribute to something similar since the evidence, by its nature incomplete but at least rationally assessed, suggests it.

 

Put another way, matters of subjective feeling do not lend themselves to scientific proofs, but we are realistic enough not to ascribe factual status to our subjective feelings. Both in terms of our individual development and as a collective alternative to irrationality, that is what makes us different - not better.

 

A "better" question was required, you might say!   Eye-wink

 

I would rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy


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Atheism and a bug

I've only started identifying myself as a full-fledged atheist since autumn of 2007. Things have gone uphill for me, particularly when it comes to my battle with inherited depression. Being a Christian, I found, compounded the problem, and all of its stipulations only made me feel more and more depressed.

Also, I figured I'd toss in that I haven't received a single notification e-mail from the registration form, nor from the forgotten password form.


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compartmentalization is a powerful thing

I do not think I am "better" person for being an atheist. At least if we're talking about ethics. If we're talking about rationality, of course I'm more rational since agnosticism or atheism are the peak of religious skepticism.

 

But ethics - that is something else. I have seen people with religious beliefs do truly amazing things to help mankind. I have seen them engage it acts of deep self sacrifice, and with great personal joy, with the pure goal of improving the lot of others. Atheism doesn't make people more ethical. The Church of Satan is atheistic. Postmodernists who take uncertainty to an absurd extreme are often agnostic. And Ayn Rand type Objectivists are often selfish dickheads. I'll take a religious person who compartmentalizes their supernatural beliefs into intellectual limbo, thus going forth to do good for people in this life over a damn Objectivist any day.

Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help. Only if we help shall they be saved.


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How has being an atheist

How has being an atheist made you a better person?

  ... For one, sharing a peaceful relaxed uncomplicated appreciation of multiple orgasims! ... Umm, to generalize, what is "better", is pretty darn humanly obvious ain't it? ... or is that giving us humans too much credit?

For me, atheism is a personal victory. In this time we live, I've come to seriously feel vocalizing my atheism, regarding theism, as generally helpful and needed, if "adequately" and caring-ly done. Hit and run messages of simply saying, "No God", are not of much help, but better than nothing ... yeah, the god of abraham is worse than idiotic.   

"Gawed", defined as, nature, all existence, the eternal infinite cosmos of universes, transitions, all connected oneness, thermodynamics, has no "hate", I can fan-tom, as expressed in common religious theology, except for the fact that we humans are also a seemingly unique "thingy". This bi-bull religion gawed crap only makes me laugh out of frustration. For god sakes anyone, no joking, tell me what the heck isn't gawed.   

Caution: Life is dangerous to itself! Life unnecessarily hurts!?!! What a we a gonna do friends?  Geezz, sometimes I HATE "writing". Can we ever toss our swords? We need stay focused on our young.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=mulipul+orgasims&btnG=Google+Search

  

 

 

 

 


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Well having been an atheist

Well having been an atheist all my life I can't really say what good qualities in me are because I don't hold a believe in a god. But I guess one that is worth mentioning is open-mindedness. Being an atheist means to me that if I can justify some opinion as rational to myself then it's not an opinion worth holding on to. And since there isn't a good explanation for why gays shouldn't be who they are nor why different races should be viewed down-up on, I have to accept them. ^^ 

Also I find myself getting more out of philosophy when I can leave to think about something on a clean slate: I don't (read: try not to) have any pre-ideas about something before I've had the time to really ponder it. 

 

PRKL!


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I AM hot for you, TaoTao ,

I AM hot for you, TaoTao , as you say,

"I've had the time to really ponder it."   YUP

Just saying,  yeah ..... I want more LOUD atheist girls ! Thanks  for showing up .... so turn it up ..... invite your girl friends,  let's all get it on .....       

 


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I AM GOD AS YOU wrote:I AM

I AM GOD AS YOU wrote:

I AM hot for you, TaoTao , as you say,

"I've had the time to really ponder it."   YUP

Just saying,  yeah ..... I want more LOUD atheist girls ! Thanks  for showing up .... so turn it up ..... invite your girl friends,  let's all get it on .....       

 

 

Hah! I guess I can be proud. Laughing out loud Just come to Finland. We have a lot of out-spoken bitches out here. :'D

PRKL!


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morality and atheism

The people i went to school with, were always amazed when they figured out i was an atheist. I got the usual you need to go to church, and the funny look and walk away. They were suprised because i'am probably the most moral person, when i was in highschool.

My morality steams from my views on humanity and life,  i don't see this life as pointless like most christians would say i see it as without no god or heaven, being alive is wonderful, and the new experiences of each day make life more great. I don't have a god or a religion to hold me to some boundaries, and i have no threat of hell in my life, so i can do good for its own sake, without fear of repruccusion.

 

I have more morality than most i know because i have no theistic dogma to give me a guideline of morality.


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I am a much better person

I can't believe this. I just spent the last hour typing an essay on this... and my fucking gay laptop decided to click the thinkpad thing and I hit backspace and went back a page... it deleted the WHOLE FUCKING THING... I will type it later. I have a pretty awesome story to tell. :'(

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how it's changed me

not really sure. I've come to the realization that having beliefs or none most likely will not change me, for better or for worse. never really liked to go to church anyway. too repressive.

"The longer you live the higher you fly,
the smiles you'll give and the tears you'll cry,
all you touch and all you see,
is all your life will ever be."
-Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon.


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showLargeAd();

showLargeAd();

How has being an atheist made you a better person?

   To know, WITH ZERO DOUBT , "I AM GOD AS YOU"         HI Jiggles Vibe   

 


Jiggles Vibe
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back to you

Hola.


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Josh, OUCH. I suggest using

Josh, OUCH. I suggest using a desktop text document to type long replies etc, then copy paste it into RRS .... and as you write, stop occasionally and make a copy of the text document as you go. Then delete the extra copies etc. I save all such writing in  RRS folders ..... then I regularly burn to CD, and send to a second hard drive, because 

 Shit Happens !      yeah, you know ....  


skywolf
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i r an atheist i r an atheist

it stopped my bullshitting my logical scientific commpassonate human self and made me think about my family (that is all humans) i realized that i am an ant on an ant farm and while my life is important the ants that are starving and sick need my little ant help so i ant away all day like a little ant should but i hope and work someday for an and utopia where my little ant children have made the staring ants full of food and the sick ants are healthy again oh and i don't donate time or effort to a non ant entity that doesn't exist so i have become more ant than the ant that i was and my goodness ants sure have noticed (ps do not drink lots of mountan dew before posting on a website it won't stop !!!!)

 

note how come my little  pic in the corner don't say atheist?

mohammed is mr poopy pants allah is a cootie queen and islam is a lint licker
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skywolf
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and

you have pretty blue eyes

{note to self lower mmountan dew intake }


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Me an ant too. ...."you have

Me an ant too.

...."you have pretty blue eyes" .... well thanks .... you is very handsome yourself.


 


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No more excuses

I am new here--in fact, this is my first post in the forums.  To stay on point I would have to answer the question not so much by saying how leaving a belief in god has made me better as a person but how a dogmatic belief truly made me worse.  When I believed, when I wandered into church every Sunday and Wednesday I had a ready explanation (and at times, excuses) for why things happened the way they did.  As I got more involved I started to alienate my family and friends (didn't they know that my ceaseless concern for their soul allowed me to make righteous judgments?) and it got pretty bad.  If my behavior and attitude were out of line I had god as a ready excuse and reason.  "Hey, I just love you enough to be honest, to tell you the state of your soul."  Translated, that meant, I can be the worlds biggest A-Hole but it's OK because my being an A-Hole is temporary, god's punishment is eternal.  I still shutter a bit when I think about that, think about those days and how I treated people. 

Fortunately for me (and some would argue, for the rest of the people in my life) I no longer feel compelled to tell everyone what they should believe and more to the point--how they should live.  I don't need excuses to paint the world with shades of reason and I don't feel nearly as motivated to be right as I do to be happy. 

There is a line of thinking out there that goes something like this: "You'll never meet a happy atheist."  Truth for me is that I was not a happy believer.  Part of that had to do with never really believing intellectually in what I was being told but the other part of that was that in a state of dogmatically blinded belief, nothing had to even out.  Pain, suffering, cruelty--just part of god's grand plan.  Well, as Robert Ingersoll would say; "That just won't do." 

Today, life makes sense.  If a Tornado wipes out an entire town, it makes sense.  It makes sense because storms are born out of physics and the weather they produce, not from an all-loving god just trying to teach people a lesson about "what really matters."  It allows me to relate to people who are suffering by addressing their needs, not their souls.  Praying for people does not fill a cupboard with food or put clothes on the backs of their children.  By demystifying events, but understanding that in crisis people need human comfort as much as anything I have been able to stop looking for reasons why the tornado hit and instead start looking for ways to help those affected. 

"Ah, but then doesn't life lack wonder?" someone might be inclined to ask.  No, if anything it increases wonder and amazement and allows me to view things as impossibly beautiful by interpretation and personal preference by way of randomness, as opposed to design.  No one has to tell me that there is beauty in a sunset because it is one of god's miracles.  I find beauty in it preciously because it does not take a miracle, just the imagination rendered meaningful by way of sight.

I hope this wasn't too rambling for a first post.  It's  good to be here.

 

-Drew


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Way cool Drew07, thanks for

Way cool Drew07, thanks for posting .....


thoughtcrime
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do gooder atheist

 My name is james burgett and I am an atheist. I am also a cnn hero,CBS calls me an environmental crusader and (this is embarrassing) a saint of e-waste on current tv.

  I am also a cult escapee. my family was grabbed by a new age cult in the 80's and 90's . I left when I was 14, I,ve been on my own ever since.

   I have done more for humanity and the planet than any bible thumping nutjob that posts here and I do it out of empathy and concern rather than toadying to a fictional skybeard.

   But a bible fondling neolith would judge me and find me wanting, based on a crude interpretation of a poorly translated work of fiction that most of them have never actually read. (and in direct contradiction of some of the more famous teachings in said book)

   I HATE faith as a concept and submit that intelligent design demonstrates neither.

  I have amounted to more than any other member of my family and the only difference that i can see is that they have lives filled with delusional bullshit, while i do not.

 I even think that those who profess faith are immoral. If you do good because you expect reward or fear punishment you are not making any moral decision. You are responding with a conditioned response no more moral than a cat using a catbox to avoid punishment,  If you can do good without expecting a prize then you have my respect otherwise you are just toadying up to power. (and fictional power at that)

  Adults take controll, children need guidance and have invisible buddies. If you let your invisible buddy controll you what does that make you? A stupid child?

 


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thoughtcrime: "I even think

thoughtcrime: "I even think that those who profess faith are immoral." ////

   Thank god for atheism. Nice to read ya thoughtcrime .... 10 - 4 , loud and clear 

 


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i find this whole topic rather queer.

I personally have not experience a moral change from becoming an atheist. the only change may be in how i perceive the world. I think general all atheist at some point quit seeing the world as so black and white. now will it make you more or less moral No, i don't believe it will. Your morality is not based on your belief system as much as you'd like to think its more based on your upbringing. If you were raised in a society that saw nothing wrong with rape or pedophile you'd consider it to be okay right in your eyes. now weather you subscribed to that tribes religion, and thought it was okay to rape because of that or if you didn't subscribe to that tribes or any tribes religion would not change your belief rape was okay its what you were raised with its what you know its unquestioned a fact of the world. Luckily we are raised in societies today which realize rape is a horribly wrong thing. now weather or not your religious should not change your opinion if rape is right or wrong you know its wrong its been integrated in you since birth you can see the harm in it. that's why on a moral basis i don't think atheism changes you at all your still just as moral. i think the only real change anyone can point out atheism has made in their life is this. That they have realized their morals are based on their on convictions from past experiences and personal knowledge and there is no use of a make believe character to tell them how to live their lives. I apologize for my many grammatical errors its 1:30 a.m. where I'm at and I am about to go to bed.

As we look at the wonders in this world man ponders where did they come from, and when knowledge of that is gained man ponders what set the processes into motion.

Its easy to see how god was a quick solution to both these problems. But now as we gain more knowledge and come closer still to answering the unknown let us look to science, and cast off childish beliefs in a creator. For if everything needs a creator who created him.


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Yep, pollracker, as you say

Yep, pollracker, as you say "and there is no use of a make believe character to tell them how to live their lives." ////

  I was born and raised atheist, so I am no expert .... Never been on the other side.

  Thanks for posting. You are forgiven !

Hey, I would however suggest lots of paragraphs in your writing, as it makes it easier to review. The "edit" button under your post is a cool tool. You can EDIT !    Thanks for caring and being here  .... Me GOD ! .... exactly as YOU ....