Atheism and Quality of Life? [Kill Em With Kindness]

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Atheism and Quality of Life? [Kill Em With Kindness]

 

 

Can you live a quality life as an atheist?

I know atheism, skepticism, critical thinking and/or science will help you to be successful, because you will not be as heavily deluded by 'superstition' as a radical religious person might.  That's great.  You can live a healthy life somewhat free of manipulation and exploitation, and that is desirable.  You won't waste your money on tithing, nor will you waste your time on brainwashing activities like meditation or praying in tongues.  Even though an atheist might have more money and free time than a hard core religious person, what does he do with it?  Just spend it all on yourself and your immediate friends for fun? 

Doesn't atheism lead you to live a shallow and selfish life?

What motivation does an atheist have to develop virtues?  To reach out to those who are lonely, poor and weak?  What motivation does an atheist have to live a rich and meaningful life?

It has been my experience that the atheists I see and hear only care about their own success and about being right.  They don't see much need to be courteous, kind, compassionate, generous or considerate.  Their lack of belief seems to rob them of their need or ability to develop their human nature. 

What motivation does an atheist have to develop his intuition to reach out to strangers with care and love?

I hope this doesn't all sound incoherent and incomprehensible.  I am saying that Christians have a substantial need to live a quality life, because their beliefs tell them they need to reach out to the weak.  They need to generously give their money, their time and their lives to save people from hell.  They are motivated to cultivate their virtues/spirit/soul to reach out and persuade other peoples souls.  They have to show courage to do missionary work, they have to develop their charisma and love to draw strangers into their churches and they have to make their churches fun so they can entertain families and indoctrinate them.  They go out and evangelize and donate things.  They broadcast their messages on TV, Radio and at any public event.  Their beliefs, although they might be wrong, encourage them to live strong, committed and challenging lives.  I just don't see any intensity like that from Atheists.  Even if the Christians are wrong, they believe they have an extreme inner wealth (holy spirit, love, peace, salvation etc) and they live their lives accordingly.  They give a lot of themselves and live intense lives, because they are convinced they have so much on the inside (or at least some of them do and that is very admirable in my sight).  

 

Here is my story:

I am currently recovering from 11 years of hyper spiritualism.  I have been studying skepticism, science, JREF and atheism for about 6 months now.  That is why I say I am recovering, because now that I have learned more about skepticism I have severely lowered the intensity of my beliefs and practically stopped my practice of a spiritual life style.  Instead of believing the Bible, I believe that 'I don't know'.  I also am demanding evidence to prove any of my assumptions before I put any weight on them.

 

I figured I would ask some questions in this forum, because the RSS is committed to 'ridiculing' religion and hopes to discredit religion to such a degree that no one would want to be associated with it in the future.   It kind of seems like the opposite approach to Christianity as I know it.  Christianity reaches out to people with virtues, then brings guilt, a solution and then discipline and guidance.  Christianity seems to have a winning formula and produces better humans from what I can tell.

 

Are there any virtuous, honorable and amazing atheists?

If there are, then why aren't there more of them?

I know this post could seem kind of random or rude, and that is not my intention.  My world is kind of upside down, so I was hoping to get some feedback.  I am not interested in arguing with anyone.  I just wanted to get some responses and think about them.  I was an atheist as a kid, then became a born again Christian because of the love I experienced from the people and the 'church / system'.  Now that I have left the Christian life, I am glad to learn what was right and wrong, but it is sad to see that most people won't develop virtues unless you convince them of religion.  Its sort of a weird trade off.


Renee Obsidianwords
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Hi Sneakyweasal and welcome

Hi Sneakyweasal and welcome to the forums! I see this is your first post, hope you plan on sticking around  Smiling

I am only going to address the first question as I think we need to set a standard with that question that can carry over into the other questions.

Can you live a quality life as an atheist?

The idea of “quality of life” varies from person to person. Living a quality life could mean working to make ends meet and have a loving family or living by oneself and dedicating time to volunteerism or it could mean partying all night long and sleeping all day…. Everyone has a different idea of quality.

-What is the ‘benchmark’ for quality?  What does it look like?
 

 

Slowly building a blog at ~

http://obsidianwords.wordpress.com/


Desdenova
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sneakyweasal13 wrote: Can

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

 

Can you live a quality life as an atheist?

I know atheism, skepticism, critical thinking and/or science will help you to be successful, because you will not be as heavily deluded by 'superstition' as a radical religious person might.  That's great.  You can live a healthy life somewhat free of manipulation and exploitation, and that is desirable.  You won't waste your money on tithing, nor will you waste your time on brainwashing activities like meditation or praying in tongues.  Even though an atheist might have more money and free time than a hard core religious person, what does he do with it?  Just spend it all on yourself and your immediate friends for fun? 

First up, I have to ask exactly what you mean by ' quality life '. Whose standards of quality do you use to judge?

Secondly, I don't really have as much free time as I would like. What free time I have to invest in recreation, like now, is usually at the expense of sleep. Every great once in a while I have time to waste at work, maybe 5 minutes, but then it is back to the grind stone.

I spend my money pretty much like everyone else does. The $20 I don't drop into a donation box at church really doesn't amount to much in the place I live.

And for the record, I do meditate. It has to do with centering, calming, and relaxation, not religion.

 

sneakyweasal13 wrote:
Doesn't atheism lead you to live a shallow and selfish life?

What motivation does an atheist have to develop virtues?  To reach out to those who are lonely, poor and weak?  What motivation does an atheist have to live a rich and meaningful life?

It has been my experience that the atheists I see and hear only care about their own success and about being right.  They don't see much need to be courteous, kind, compassionate, generous or considerate.  Their lack of belief seems to rob them of their need or ability to develop their human nature. 

 My motivation is the knowledge that the life we have now is all we get. Compassion comes from empathy, which religion holds no monopoly on. As an atheist, I no longer fear an invisible presence watching my every move, leaving me free to develop real morality as opposed to the coercion that many theists pretend is morality. I am finally liberated to explore and develop my human nature rather than deny it as most religion does.

As for atheists only caring about their own success and about being right, let me explain something. I live in the Arctic circle in order to provide adequate health care to some of the most amazingly ignorant, illiterate, racist, cruel, Christians I have ever met. I do this because, despite their shortcomings, these natives have gotten the short end of the stick for several hundred years, and because virtually nobody else is willing to live in such a harsh environment to provide health care for them. Most of the doctors, nurses, and support staff that work here are temporary, some staying as little as 3 days. I have been here for one month shy of a year.

 I don't see the Red Cross up here, and I don't see a single one of the villages 10 churches offering to provide them with a damned thing except for a plate to drop their money in. If I were here for the money, I would be jumping at the senior administration position available to me. As it is, I know that I am more effective in middle management where I am doing hands on work than I would be in a lofty position that pays triple my current salary.

 

sneakyweasal13 wrote:
What motivation does an atheist have to develop his intuition to reach out to strangers with care and love?

I hope this doesn't all sound incoherent and incomprehensible.  I am saying that Christians have a substantial need to live a quality life, because their beliefs tell them they need to reach out to the weak.  They need to generously give their money, their time and their lives to save people from hell.  They are motivated to cultivate their virtues/spirit/soul to reach out and persuade other peoples souls.  They have to show courage to do missionary work, they have to develop their charisma and love to draw strangers into their churches and they have to make their churches fun so they can entertain families and indoctrinate them.  They go out and evangelize and donate things.  They broadcast their messages on TV, Radio and at any public event.  Their beliefs, although they might be wrong, encourage them to live strong, committed and challenging lives.  I just don't see any intensity like that from Atheists.  Even if the Christians are wrong, they believe they have an extreme inner wealth (holy spirit, love, peace, salvation etc) and they live their lives accordingly.  They give a lot of themselves and live intense lives, because they are convinced they have so much on the inside (or at least some of them do and that is very admirable in my sight).  

 

I am sorry, but it sounds to me like you are saying that Christians go out of their way to suck others into the fold. I know that you don't see it that way, but it really is how it reads ( ie; reach out, missionary work, make church fun, indoctrinate ). As an atheist, I see this as cult activity, akin to brainwashing. Even the so called humanitarian soup kitchens are all too often just an excuse to force someone into listening to a sermon. And what exactly is the greatness in missionary work? Some of the cultures that Christianity has destroyed, including the Inuit culture, had it's own religion prior to Christian intervention. The Christians brought them sexually transmitted disease, alcohol, polio, and smallpox. After disease decimated the population, Christians rounded up the native children, placed them in Christian orphanages, renamed them, forbade them to speak their native language, and forced Christianity upon them. After the damage was complete, the priests moved on, leaving a disenfranchised, cultureless population to fend for themselves. Some of these people have never recovered. Alcoholism and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome are prevalent here, a direct result of Christian intervention. This is a race that for several thousand years managed to live under the harshest conditions on the planet without any modern technology. Thanks to the destruction of their culture and history, several of them manage to succumb to hypothermia every year even though they have heat and Colombia coats.

 

So I am pleased to say that atheists do not engage in such activity. What some of us do do is try to educate people. We try to reverse the damage inflicted by the self righteous religious zealots and try to prevent their nonsense from spreading.

 

 

sneakyweasal13 wrote:
Are there any virtuous, honorable and amazing atheists?

If there are, then why aren't there more of them?

I know this post could seem kind of random or rude, and that is not my intention.  My world is kind of upside down, so I was hoping to get some feedback.  I am not interested in arguing with anyone.  I just wanted to get some responses and think about them.  I was an atheist as a kid, then became a born again Christian because of the love I experienced from the people and the 'church / system'.  Now that I have left the Christian life, I am glad to learn what was right and wrong, but it is sad to see that most people won't develop virtues unless you convince them of religion.  Its sort of a weird trade off.

What makes you assume that atheists are not virtuous, honorable, and amazing? Better yet, what makes you assume that theists are? Can you honestly name any Christians that are virtuous, honorable, and amazing? Islamics? Baha'i? Wiccans?

Below is only a partial list of noteworthy atheists. I am sure that hundreds could be added, possibly even thousands. As for why there aren't more of us, it seems obvious. Atheists are a minority. Asking why there aren't more virtuous, honorable and amazing atheists is like asking why there aren't more virtuous, honorable and amazing people named Smedley Grince. There are Precious few of either.

Douglas Adams, noteworthy for his non fiction book on endangered species Last Chance to See.

Terry Sanderson, noteworthy for gay activism.

James Randi, noteworthy for the James Randi Educational Foundation.

Philip Paulson, noteworthy as the Presidential Medal of Freedom holding civil rights leader.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, noteworthy for her advocation of women's rights in Islamic countries.

William Moore, noteworthy for his lone protests against racial segregation.

Peter Kropotkin, noteworthy for his book, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, which refutes social Darwinism.

Richard Fenyman, notable for winning the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, notable as a Nobel laureate in Physics.

Paul Boyer, noteworthy for a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Paul Dirac, note worthy for a Nobel Prize in Physics.

Vitaly Ginzburg, noteworthy for a Nobel Prize in Physics and the Wolf Prize in Physics.

Francis Crick, noteworthy for his part in the discovery of DNA, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Susan Greenfield, noteworthy for her research of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's.

Stephen Hawking, noteworthy for being Stephen Hawking.

Ernst Mayr, noteworthy as a historian of science, biologist, naturalist, author.

Michael Shermer, noteworthy for his work to advance skepticism and critical thinking.

Harold Kroto, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

E.T. Hall, debunker of the Piltdown Man hoax and the Shroud of Turin.

Carl Sagan, noteworthy for his uncanny ability to make science sexy and understandable to the masses.

Richard Dawkins, noteworthy for his defining the Meme theory of replicating units of concept transmission, and due to his recently discovered ability to cause fundamentalists to spontaniously combust.



 

It takes a village to raise an idiot.

Save a tree, eat a vegetarian.

Sometimes " The Majority " only means that all the fools are on the same side.


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Renee, You asked what the

Renee,

 

You asked what the benchmark of quality of life is to me.  I would say that the highest quality of life is lived by those who have exposed themselves to the most harsh living conditions, for the greatest cause which requires them to develop themselves and their virtues to the highest possible extent and then to share that life with others.

Before I became a christian I noticed that 'believers in God' were the most determined people I knew who desired to share their zeal for life with others.  They were the most subtle, charismatic, loving, caring, disciplined, healthy and compassionate people I could have ever possibly met.  Meeting them was like meeting humans amongst zombies.  They were convinced that they had the greatest wealth ever bestowed on mankind (salvation from Jesus) and lived with great zeal and fervor attempting to share and implement this excessively abundant but non-physical substance (love/holy spirit).  Their lives were electric, inspiring and real in a way that I had never imagined to exist.  They were on a clear path of refinement and sophistication and were working together in a militaristic sort of harmony in order to accomplish their ultimate goal (bring salvation to the lost).  They displayed the greatest boldness and courage by saying the most radical things and working with the most dangerous people.  Now I am specifically referring to the people I was hanging out with.  They were probably some of the most radical Christians alive (missionaries and such).

Now why is that 'quality of life' important to me?  Well number one, I have been around this and lived this.  It is the absolute most engaging and convincing thing that exists, in my opinion.  It is the ultimate human experience.  I liked it, I want to keep it and I want to share this with others.  The problem is that I have become convinced through skepticism that the Bible is based on a lot of fantasy and uses brainwashing principals.  I came to the conclusion that I did not have the ability to uphold such a life style, began questioning things and realized that religion in my opinion is a sort of fabricated story to force people into a mind set and lifestyle that has the possibility to bring about the most rich and varied human experience.  I also figured that I would rather live my life (which I am very pleased with) free of fantasy and manipulation by religious authority figures or the church system.  The problem is that I am coming to the conclusion that I will kind of be alone, away from all the religious zealots.  At least I will be free I guess.

I guess I am answering my own questions.  Atheists don't have a radical all encompassing world view or pressure put on them the way Christianity does.  Therefore atheists are not forced to develop themselves personally to the fullest extent the way Christianity does in its extremes.   Atheism might be realistic, logical and/or rational but those qualities build a very static life.  The absolute abandon of extreme religion develops an entirely different sort of life.  That different life is what hooked me, held me and consumed me.  From what I can tell atheism, agnosticism, science, hedonism and the like produce a much more regular sort of person.  I always wanted to live an exceptional life, hence I was eventually sucked in by religion.

 

See I am wondering where I might be able to find others who can share my life experience who aren't necessarily Christians.  I guess the closest possible match would be actors and/or artists, but that would be a bad match. 

 

Thanks for all your feedback.  I couldn't sleep last night and cranked this post out.  It is more a sort of journal, but I appreciate you guys helping me hash out some of my inner thoughts.  My whole 10 year religious life did a real number on me.  I have just been trying to process it all for a while. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Feedback on some of your comments

 

 

Hi Desdenova,

You said the $20 you don't drop in the offering basket wouldn't make a big difference.  That's my point.  Christians are commanded to give 10% + of their income every month.  That does make a difference to the church and to yourself.  The fact that you don't, won't or didn't give 10% of your money away shows that you have 10% more money for 'YOURSELF' in comparison to a Christian.

I understand non-religious people also 'meditate', but I meant the more sinister version of meditation which is designed to brain wash you.

You mentioned the fact that you are now free as an atheist to develop real morality and your human nature.  Which is good in and of itself.  In atheism your morality doesn't need to be based on the fantasy that there is a surveillance camera in the sky that will send you to an eternal detention center when you die for breaking its made up rules.  Also you can explore your sexuality or cage fighting skills without any guilt.  You can fully develop your human nature and morality.  Trying to be funny there.  But I am talking more about virtues.

I find what you are doing in Antarctica commendable.  Your account was well put and well written. 

You compare religion to cult activity and brainwashing.  You put the terms in a completely negative light, but there might be a positive side to cult activity and brainwashing.  They develop certain characteristics in people that are appealing to the masses.  I was swept off my feet by the fruits of christians brain washed life and cult activity. 

 

As to virtuous, honorable and amazing Christians, I say yes I know many.  Sure they might be enraptured by a fantasy, but they are too old and too incapable of realizing this fact.  Their illogical / fantastical beliefs are so profound and meaningful to them that they motivate them to live exceptional lives.  If they stopped believing they would loose out on their greatest experience.  They don't care to develop critical thinking skills, or to throw away their fantastical beliefs, because they know that their radical beliefs give them the context to live their exceptional lives.  Rationality, logic or facts are less important to how they feel.

The only slightly interesting non-christian religious person I could kind of think of would be Gandhi or the Dalai Llama.

As for the list of atheists you placed in the post, it kind of reinforces my current beliefs.

Here is what I have observed about a few of these people.

Dawkins is rude and condescending.

Christopher Hitchens is a rude alcoholic.

Michael Shermer is interesting, smart and professional.

Stephen Hawking is smart.

James Randi is an educator.

And many of the others appear to be academics or political activists.  None of them strike me as figures that have put much effort into dealing with people one on one.  They are professors, researchers, pundits, political activists.  They don't work with people one on one, the way priests, pastors, missionaries and evangelists do.  They are not focused on spreading their human love through their charisma and art from what I can tell.  They are not living exceptional human lives, but are merely smarter and more successful than others.  They don't strike me as sophisticated, refined, loving people of virtue, of honor, justice or of some amazingly courageous nature.  They are intellectuals who read books.  They haven't developed themselves to reach the essence of who people are.  Atheism doesn't encourage you to do that, so these sort of people don't attempt it.

Oh by the way, I just thought of some things I / the Bible consider virtues:

 

Love, gentleness, kindness, meakness, humbleness, compassion, encouragement, courtesy, respect, showing honor, being thankful, praying for your enemies, going the extra mile, tithing, sacrifice, practicing self control, sharing, serving orphans and widows, speaking without cursing or swearing, turning the other cheek so on and so forth.

Those are difficult to carry out and I don't see those practiced much by the list of people above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Desdenova wrote:Can you

Desdenova wrote:



Can you honestly name any Christians that are virtuous, honorable, and amazing?

 

 

Ken Miller-Biologist and science advocate

George Lemaitre-Astromoner/priest

John Polkinghorne- Physicist/priest

Freeman Dyson- Physicist

Karl Gibberson- Physicist

Gregor Mendel-Conducted Gene experiments

Francis Collins-Head of the human genome project

JRR Tolkien-Author Lord of the Rings series

Max Planck-Physicist

Martian Luther King-Rights advocate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Citation needed for Collins,

Citation needed for Collins, Cpt.

 

And it's 'MARTIN' not 'Martian'.

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


Desdenova
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sneakyweasal13 wrote:Hi

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

Hi Desdenova,

You said the $20 you don't drop in the offering basket wouldn't make a big difference.  That's my point.  Christians are commanded to give 10% + of their income every month.  That does make a difference to the church and to yourself.  The fact that you don't, won't or didn't give 10% of your money away shows that you have 10% more money for 'YOURSELF' in comparison to a Christian.

I think you mean that some Christians are commanded to tithe 10% of their income, namely Catholics, but by no means all Christians. It also costs the average Christian about $5 to drive to the nearest mall. It costs me about $1,000 to fly there. I pay from 100 to 300% more for anything than the average American does. A 120 sheet spiral notebook costs me $15 to buy it locally for instance. If I order it online I still have to pay postage on it, wait 3-5 weeks, and hope that it arrives undamaged. So I am probably not the atheist to be asking this question to, because I would like to know what the Christians are doing with that extra 80-270% more money than I have.

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

I understand non-religious people also 'meditate', but I meant the more sinister version of meditation which is designed to brain wash you.

Not my cup of tea. But as for my free time, today being Sunday, I will spend a lot of time with my wife, a lot of time playing with our pup, I will hike to the store and spend about $300 on groceries to last us the next three days until my bush order gets here, I'll play around online a bit, help clean the house, wash dishes, and time permitting, read the latest issue of Skeptical Inquirer.

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

You mentioned the fact that you are now free as an atheist to develop real morality and your human nature.  Which is good in and of itself.  In atheism your morality doesn't need to be based on the fantasy that there is a surveillance camera in the sky that will send you to an eternal detention center when you die for breaking its made up rules.  Also you can explore your sexuality or cage fighting skills without any guilt.  You can fully develop your human nature and morality.  Trying to be funny there.  But I am talking more about virtues.

I am afraid that the concept of virtue is subjective, dependent on culture and time. To resort to religious examples,  the Crusader from the Fourth Crusade would have been considered the apex of virtue at that time. Today he would be executed for rape, murder, torture, arson, and other crimes against humanity.

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

I find what you are doing in Antarctica commendable.  Your account was well put and well written. 

Wrong pole, but thank you.

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

You compare religion to cult activity and brainwashing.  You put the terms in a completely negative light, but there might be a positive side to cult activity and brainwashing.  They develop certain characteristics in people that are appealing to the masses.  I was swept off my feet by the fruits of christians brain washed life and cult activity. 

That is not an uncommon feeling, but it depends less on the actual message than on the unity. Eric Hoffer's classic examination The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements demonstrates how such feelings of camaraderie can be generated in a political, religious, or secular group. In fact, his own words sum things up much better than I ever could.

     "  A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not
by its doctrine and promises but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties,
barrenness and meaninglessness of an individual existence."

This is not bad in itself. The danger comes from the fact that a movement can shift gears, even goals, in the blink of an eye. Mass movements are interchangeable. A harmless mass movement like some religions can become violent witch hunts in the drop of a hat. That they are appealing to the masses really isn't so much that they are necessarily good, but because they have a unifying agent, giving the masses something greater than themselves to believe in. National Socialism would be an example. Evil doctrine, unified Germany.

 

 

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

As to virtuous, honorable and amazing Christians, I say yes I know many.  Sure they might be enraptured by a fantasy, but they are too old and too incapable of realizing this fact.  Their illogical / fantastical beliefs are so profound and meaningful to them that they motivate them to live exceptional lives.  If they stopped believing they would loose out on their greatest experience.  They don't care to develop critical thinking skills, or to throw away their fantastical beliefs, because they know that their radical beliefs give them the context to live their exceptional lives.  Rationality, logic or facts are less important to how they feel.

The only slightly interesting non-christian religious person I could kind of think of would be Gandhi or the Dalai Llama.

I notice that you failed to actually name any virtuous Christians, even though you insist that you know many. You also seem to equate feelings to virtue, but feelings can be intense and negative, such as with the case of the Hillside Stranglers. Strong emotions does not virtue make.

Ghandi was known for his joy in giving enemas to teen aged girls. The Dalai Llama began his new age message of peace only after being ran out of his brutal theocracy. Neither of them are what I would consider virtuous.

 

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

As for the list of atheists you placed in the post, it kind of reinforces my current beliefs.

Here is what I have observed about a few of these people.

Dawkins is rude and condescending.

Christopher Hitchens is a rude alcoholic.

Michael Shermer is interesting, smart and professional.

Stephen Hawking is smart.

James Randi is an educator.

And many of the others appear to be academics or political activists.  None of them strike me as figures that have put much effort into dealing with people one on one.  They are professors, researchers, pundits, political activists.  They don't work with people one on one, the way priests, pastors, missionaries and evangelists do.  They are not focused on spreading their human love through their charisma and art from what I can tell.  They are not living exceptional human lives, but are merely smarter and more successful than others.  They don't strike me as sophisticated, refined, loving people of virtue, of honor, justice or of some amazingly courageous nature.  They are intellectuals who read books.  They haven't developed themselves to reach the essence of who people are.  Atheism doesn't encourage you to do that, so these sort of people don't attempt it.

Are you familiar with the personal lives of any of those people? Did you ever watch the passion Sagan displayed on Nova? Are you saying that civil rights for blacks and women is not virtuous? Do you think that forcing a homeless man to listen to a sermon in exchange for a bowl of soup and a sandwich is more important than curing Alzheimer's? Do you find education to be sterile and lacking in virtue? Sorry, but I strongly, vehemently disagree.

I must also insist that I did not name Hitchens, and have to wonder why you bring him up. I was showing examples of atheists that I saw as contributing to society.

It is also both insulting and a display of ignorance to insist that the atheists I named are unsophisticated, unrefined, unvirtuous, and dishonorable. As abrasive as Dawkins can be, have you ever caught him in a lie? Can you accuse Sagan, Fenyman, or Hawking of being ineloquent ( ie; lacking sophistication and refinement )? Are you saying that civil rights leaders Terry Sanderson, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and William Moore weren't courageous? What world are you living in to claim that each and every one of these people have not lived exceptional, distinguished lives? I am beginning to suspect you of trolling, sir, and find it contemptable. I am sorry that Paul Dirac never forced anyone to listen to a physics lecture in exchange for lunch, but your criteria has a distinctly religious bias to it. You equate virtue with what the Bible calls virtue, ignoring any incredible contributions by atheists that fail to fall within that myopic range of criteria.

 

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

Oh by the way, I just thought of some things I / the Bible consider virtues:

Love, gentleness, kindness, meakness, humbleness, compassion, encouragement, courtesy, respect, showing honor, being thankful, praying for your enemies, going the extra mile, tithing, sacrifice, practicing self control, sharing, serving orphans and widows, speaking without cursing or swearing, turning the other cheek so on and so forth.

Those are difficult to carry out and I don't see those practiced much by the list of people above.

I see as much love and gentleness in atheists as I do in theists. To use myself as an example, I used to be a hunter. As an atheist, I find that I can no longer bear the thought of taking a life, even that of an animal. The mere thought of causing them suffering nearly brings me to tears.

I have met meek & humble atheists, as well as not so humble ones. I have met far more in your face, sanctimonious Christians.

Encouragement is a touchy one. A lot of Christians encouraged others to burn people at the stake. Not sure I could call that a virtue.

Being a product of southern upbringing, I strive for courtesy, and not just because it kept me from getting shot. Courtesy is an unfortunately dying trait, but it still survives. But since you bring it up, I have a hard time believing that every one of those rude drivers, people that cut in line, let doors close in your face, refuse to acknowledge a greeting, and numerous other discourtesies I have encountered in my life are all atheists.

I respect a woman's right to choose what to do with her body. Many Christians don't. I respect a persons right to choose no religion. Many Christians don't. I respect intelligence, informed decision, and higher education. Many Christians don't. I respect a woman's equality. Many Christians don't. I respect a couple's desire to be married regardless of their gender. Many Christians don't.

Honor is subjective. What is honorable for you may not be for me.

Being thankful is also subjective. I am thankful to be alive, for having a compatible partner, for having found a freezing and starving puppy to raise and love, for the rare but increasing friendly smile I get from a native that is genuinely happy to see me.

Prayer is a tool of religion, not atheism. I try to not make enemies in the first place.

I have went the extra 4,000 miles, literally.

I fail to see tithing as a virtue. Does the Vatican really need more money since they aren't sharing what they have anyway? Does the televangelist that comes out wearing an Armani suit, gold rolex, and 5 diamond rings really need my money? Like prayer, this is a religious behavior that has nothing to do with bettering oneself. I could respond by insisting that refusing to believe in a god was a virtue, then scold Christians for failing to be virtuous.

I practice self control far better than my former Baptist peers. I drink in moderation. Haven't had a sip of alcohol in months, in fact. I remember Baptists, myself among them, getting plastered night after night. I remember the Catholic kids joke " Where you find four Baptists, you'll find a fifth! ".

I have never turned away anyone asking for help. This goes back even to my Christianity.  I have routinely stopped for hitch hikers, even going so far as to take them home and feed them. I can't turn out a stray, be it two legged, four legged, or no legged. I think that counts as sharing.

Ironically, most of the people I provide health care to are orphans, albeit adult ones.

I refuse to see cursing or swearing as a bad thing. At most it can be argued ineffectively that it demonstrates a lack of grammar. I had rather hear every four letter word a person can muster than a single racial slur. The F word hurts no one, the N word is a way of dehumanization. I think your religion has blinded your sense of virtue here.

Turning the other cheek is one that Christians love to bring up, but seldom employ. I have seen Christian America take up arms on the most spurious of evidence more than once in my 40 odd years of life on this planet. Most of the time they aim those arms not at the enemy, but at the object of convenience or oil. On the flip side, I admit seeing atheists turn the other cheek as well. But then again, it is a lot easier to turn the other cheek when you are a majority rather than a minority.

It also bears mention that I see less atheists in prison, significantly less even when taking our minority status into consideration, than Christians. Less violent crime and less divorce as well. Are obeying the law and respecting the contract of marriage not worthy of the title of virtues?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It takes a village to raise an idiot.

Save a tree, eat a vegetarian.

Sometimes " The Majority " only means that all the fools are on the same side.


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darth_josh wrote:Citation

darth_josh wrote:

Citation needed for Collins, Cpt.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Language-God-Scientist-Presents-Evidence/dp/0743286391

 

Quote:

And it's 'MARTIN' not 'Martian'.

 

oops, can you fix that?

 


deludedgod
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Quote:From what I can tell

Quote:

From what I can tell atheism, agnosticism, science, hedonism and the like produce a much more regular sort of person.  I always wanted to live an exceptional life, hence I was eventually sucked in by religion.

It might produce a more stoic and thoughtful life, but stoic thoughtfulness is not exactly interchangeable with being regular. In fact, in today's world, it is quite an irregular trait. If you want to live an "extreme, radical life", take up white-water rafting or become a stunt pilot. What you described sounds a lot more like drug addiction.

You said it yourself. Surely you would not wish to surrender your most precious asset in favor of living an "extreme, radical life"?

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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Cpt_pineapple

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Desdenova wrote:



Can you honestly name any Christians that are virtuous, honorable, and amazing?

 

 

Ken Miller-Biologist and science advocate

George Lemaitre-Astromoner/priest

John Polkinghorne- Physicist/priest

Freeman Dyson- Physicist

Karl Gibberson- Physicist

Gregor Mendel-Conducted Gene experiments

Francis Collins-Head of the human genome project

JRR Tolkien-Author Lord of the Rings series

Max Planck-Physicist

Martian Luther King-Rights advocate

 

Yeah, but none of them ran soup kitchens, force fed their religion to unsuspecting natives, or reached out with love like priests, ministers, etc, so they don't count. They are also as lacking in love, honor, virtue, grace, refinement, culture, and respect as all the atheists I mentioned. Nope, not a one of them radiate the apparently visible glow of nuggety love and goodness  that our OP has called for. In using his standard of " They are only good if I say so. ", I've got to condemn them all as self serving, greedy, materialistic, uncompasionate, heartless nobodies.

Nice try. Thanks for playing. Eye-wink

It takes a village to raise an idiot.

Save a tree, eat a vegetarian.

Sometimes " The Majority " only means that all the fools are on the same side.


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sneakyweasal13

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

Renee,

 

You asked what the benchmark of quality of life is to me.  I would say that the highest quality of life is lived by those who have exposed themselves to the most harsh living conditions, for the greatest cause which requires them to develop themselves and their virtues to the highest possible extent and then to share that life with others.

Before I became a christian I noticed that 'believers in God' were the most determined people I knew who desired to share their zeal for life with others.  They were the most subtle, charismatic, loving, caring, disciplined, healthy and compassionate people I could have ever possibly met.  Meeting them was like meeting humans amongst zombies.  They were convinced that they had the greatest wealth ever bestowed on mankind (salvation from Jesus) and lived with great zeal and fervor attempting to share and implement this excessively abundant but non-physical substance (love/holy spirit).  Their lives were electric, inspiring and real in a way that I had never imagined to exist.  They were on a clear path of refinement and sophistication and were working together in a militaristic sort of harmony in order to accomplish their ultimate goal (bring salvation to the lost).  They displayed the greatest boldness and courage by saying the most radical things and working with the most dangerous people.  Now I am specifically referring to the people I was hanging out with.  They were probably some of the most radical Christians alive (missionaries and such).

Now why is that 'quality of life' important to me?  Well number one, I have been around this and lived this.  It is the absolute most engaging and convincing thing that exists, in my opinion.  It is the ultimate human experience.  I liked it, I want to keep it and I want to share this with others.  The problem is that I have become convinced through skepticism that the Bible is based on a lot of fantasy and uses brainwashing principals.  I came to the conclusion that I did not have the ability to uphold such a life style, began questioning things and realized that religion in my opinion is a sort of fabricated story to force people into a mind set and lifestyle that has the possibility to bring about the most rich and varied human experience.  I also figured that I would rather live my life (which I am very pleased with) free of fantasy and manipulation by religious authority figures or the church system.  The problem is that I am coming to the conclusion that I will kind of be alone, away from all the religious zealots.  At least I will be free I guess.

I guess I am answering my own questions.  Atheists don't have a radical all encompassing world view or pressure put on them the way Christianity does.  Therefore atheists are not forced to develop themselves personally to the fullest extent the way Christianity does in its extremes.   Atheism might be realistic, logical and/or rational but those qualities build a very static life.  The absolute abandon of extreme religion develops an entirely different sort of life.  That different life is what hooked me, held me and consumed me.  From what I can tell atheism, agnosticism, science, hedonism and the like produce a much more regular sort of person.  I always wanted to live an exceptional life, hence I was eventually sucked in by religion.

 

See I am wondering where I might be able to find others who can share my life experience who aren't necessarily Christians.  I guess the closest possible match would be actors and/or artists, but that would be a bad match. 

 

Thanks for all your feedback.  I couldn't sleep last night and cranked this post out.  It is more a sort of journal, but I appreciate you guys helping me hash out some of my inner thoughts.  My whole 10 year religious life did a real number on me.  I have just been trying to process it all for a while. 

 

Can you continue to spread joy, love and compassion to others without religion? It seems to me that you are seeking a group of people to help you with your quest... perhaps it is as easy as doing for others which in turn will inspire others to do the same...without organized religion.

Are  you asking - "what would motivate an atheist to care enough to get involved"?

I can't speak for others but bringing a smile to the face of another person through a joke, a note, a hot meal, a listening ear... that is motivation enough for me. It would suck to feel 'forced' or to hear like 'the bible says it is the right thing to do' or 'win a free trip to the afterlife!'

Smiling

 

Slowly building a blog at ~

http://obsidianwords.wordpress.com/


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sneakyweasal13 wrote:Can you

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

Can you live a quality life as an atheist?

Yes, of course. What makes you think you can't?

Quote:
Even though an atheist might have more money and free time than a hard core religious person, what does he do with it?  Just spend it all on yourself and your immediate friends for fun?

Atheists are just like everyone else. They just don't believe in one thing. God. Why do you assume that believing in 'God' automatically turns you into some sort of altruistic superhero?

God belief, in and of itself, does not inherently make you a better person or live a 'quality life'. Atheism, a lack of belief in 'God', does not inherently make you a worse person or live a lower 'quality life'.

Where are you getting the idea that it is otherwise? Seriously. Where did you get this idea? I propose that you likely got it from the common perception that atheists have no morals, are selfish and mean, etc. etc. etc. This is pure propaganda. It is similar to the vilification of Jews or Blacks by racists. This is another idea that was planted in your head by the culture around you, a culture -- I might add -- that is dominated by theists.

Quote:
Doesn't atheism lead you to live a shallow and selfish life?

No, of course not.

Quote:
What motivation does an atheist have to develop virtues?

What motivation does a theist have to develop virtues?

Also, define 'virtues'. Is it a virtue to blindly donate money to a church in the hopes that somehow that money will be put to good use? Or is it a virtue to see through the lies and propaganda to notice that the most religious neighbourhoods also tend to be the poorest, and it's always the preachers that are well-off while the poor go to church and donate what little money they have?

Personally, my motivation to develop what I consider 'virtues' is the realization that this is the only life I will ever have, and I would do well to live it to the best of my abilities. This is why I relentlessly educate myself, so that I can understand reality as clearly as possible. This I consider a virtue.

What motivation does a theist, especially a Christian, have for relentlessly educating themselves? Who cares, if all you have to do is 'believe in Jesus' in order to get the most awesome reward of heaven in the end? Why bother learning? What does it matter? Just live the lie in bliss! Screw the world and bliss out on Jesus! Doesn't sound very virtuous to me, and yet... we see Christians tend to be the most anti-intellectual of all Americans. They tend to be most ignorant, and *proud* of their ignorance.

Quote:
  To reach out to those who are lonely, poor and weak?

Again, you are assuming that atheists do not reach out to the lonely, poor, and weak.

But aside from that, I will answer your question as if it applied to the rationalist atheists like myself and many others here on RRS.

Personally, I find that I am most able to put my skills to the best possible use if I spend my time working on *educating* people, on confronting dangerous dogma in public, and on developing a better secular philosophy which I am promoting here on RRS and also on YouTube. I could spend my time doing the more immediate acts of charity, such as collecting money door-to-door for some charity, or whatnot. But that is not my style. That is not what I'm good at. What I'm good at is the more intellectual side of things. What good is putting a band-aid on an open wound if the patient is going to die of infection? I'm the guy spending his time looking for the cure to the infection.

I spend my time developing systems. I'm a computer programmer by profession, and that's what I do best, designing systems. Systems of thought, systems of politics, systems of argumentation and discussion, systems of ecology and sustainability, etc. I'm a systems guy. My best effort comes from me spending time working on that aspect of things.

Society is severely fucked up. I don't know if you realize that, having recently come out of fantasy-land. But here in reality, we have serious problems that need to be solved, and our society is the *cause* of 99% of these problems. *Somebody* has to work on fixing society if 'reaching out to the lonely, poor, and weak' is going to have *any* meaning at all. What good is it if we're all singing "Cumbayah, My Lord" while 50% of the world's species go extinct and the planet turns into an oven? Humans could easily be one of those species that go extinct.

Quote:
  What motivation does an atheist have to live a rich and meaningful life?

Again, you are assuming that theists have some special abilities that atheists don't have. What motivation does a theist have to live a rich and meaningful life? None, as far as I can see. The theist *forgoes* the search for meaning. They think they've found it in 'God'. But what is the meaning of God's life? The theist has no answer. The theist doesn't have any idea what the meaning of life is.

Define 'rich'. Is it rich to just bliss out while the world falls apart? Is it rich to be content and happy when serious work needs to be done?

The problem with fantasy is not that it makes you feel good. It's that it makes you feel good when in reality you should be dissatisfied with the way things are. It leads to complacency and apathy. "Who cares? Why bother? Jesus will save me anyway!"

I could easily take heroin or some other drug and be happy all day long. In fact, that's largely what religion does for people. It's a fix. "Just gimme a little bit more of that loooove. Ahhhh. Thank you Jesus! Here's my $20 and I'll be back next week for my next fix." Or maybe the person needs a fix every day, or every hour. It's a drug like any other. Our mind works by neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that affect the functioning of the brain. Release some endorphins, and the pain goes away and the bliss sets in. Release some serotonin and the confidence kicks in and you feel great! It's all drugs. Some beliefs, such as Christianity, trigger releases of certain kinds of neurotransmitters, and that's where you get the good feeling. But it's just a fix.

If you are in a shitty situation, it doesn't help anything if you feel all happy and complacent. You need to change things. Don't run from reality, face it with full knowledge.

Quote:
It has been my experience that the atheists I see and hear only care about their own success and about being right.

Perhaps that is just your subjective judgment of them. Perhaps your judgment is based on your own personal biases, and you simply don't *see* the good in atheists. Perhaps you don't appreciate the same values that they appreciate.

Quote:
  They don't see much need to be courteous, kind, compassionate, generous or considerate.

There are times to be courteous, and there are times to be bold, in-your-face, and confrontational. Perhaps the atheists simply see the severe *damage* that silly irrational beliefs cause in this world, and they feel a need to *challenge* these beliefs publicly for the betterment of the entire world. What could be more compassionate than facing personal ostracism for the betterment of the world? The atheist is saying "I don't care if you reject me, the truth needs to be spoken."

Quote:
Their lack of belief seems to rob them of their need or ability to develop their human nature.

What is it about belief in a non-human deity that unleashes one's 'human nature'? This seems completely bizarre to me.

Human nature is not all fuzzy and warm. That is fantasy. Reality can be cold and impersonal. Sometimes those who see reality need to wake up those who live in fantasy with a cold splash. There is nothing inhuman about that. In fact, it is a very human thing to do.

Quote:
What motivation does an atheist have to develop his intuition to reach out to strangers with care and love?

Again, you are assuming theists have some special quality that atheists don't have. Atheists have intuition, care, and love too. What makes you think they don't? Are you believing the theistic propaganda, again?

Let me explain this more clearly. You live in America (presumably), where the majority are theist, and it is often looked down upon to be an atheist. There are other countries, such as Denmark, Sweden, Holland, and more where the majority are atheist and it is often looked down upon to be a theist. These countries have lower crime rates, lower sexually transmitted disease rates, better social services, donate more per capita to third-world countries, and are generally nicer and have a higher 'quality of life' than America.

That is a fact. Can you face that fact, or will you run from it? Atheists in these countries are demonstrably more 'human' than theists in America. How do you explain that? Why do you suppose that is?

Why is it that wherever there is a promotion of ignorance and intolerance, there is some sort of dogma, usually religious, behind it? Why is it that the Catholic church preaches that condoms are evil to people in Africa, where AIDS is the number one killer? Do you think it is because these theistic Catholics are using their 'intuition to reach out to strangers with care and love'? Or could it be perhaps that they are deluded by their intuition, self-deceived into believing they are loving and caring, while really they are being genocidally stupid?

See, that's the thing about intuition. Actually, I'm a great fan of intuition. It is a wonderful, powerful thing. But it is not infallible, and unfortunately, most people who rely on intuition do believe that it is infallible. "God will tell me what to do!" just means "I trust my intuition without any doubts as to its fallibility." This leads to tremendous *real* evil that is *fantasized* to be good.

So, I personally develop my intuition. I find it very useful for understanding other people and for developing creative ideas. But I do not trust it with faith. I doubt it. I criticize my own intuitions. I constantly question my assumptions and motivations.

How many theists do that? How many theists doubt themselves on a continual basis, rather than just occasionally? How many constantly test their assumptions and motivations? You claim that atheists don't 'develop' themselves, and that leads to them living 'static' lives. I claim the opposite! For how can a theist truly 'develop' if they do not examine themselves carefully for their own flaws? You can only fix a problem when you are aware of it!

Quote:
I hope this doesn't all sound incoherent and incomprehensible.  I am saying that Christians have a substantial need to live a quality life, because their beliefs tell them they need to reach out to the weak.  They need to generously give their money, their time and their lives to save people from hell.  They are motivated to cultivate their virtues/spirit/soul to reach out and persuade other peoples souls.  They have to show courage to do missionary work, they have to develop their charisma and love to draw strangers into their churches and they have to make their churches fun so they can entertain families and indoctrinate them.  They go out and evangelize and donate things.  They broadcast their messages on TV, Radio and at any public event.  Their beliefs, although they might be wrong, encourage them to live strong, committed and challenging lives.

"Although they might be wrong." What revealing words. It really turns the whole paragraph on its head. They are highly motivated to do good things... although they might be wrong. Let's for a minute entertain the idea that they are wrong. What if they are wrong about their idea of 'what is good'? Then what you have is a group of people who are *highly motivated* to do things that are *not good*.

Can't you see the danger in that? Can't you see the consequences of that that we are currently facing? The people who are responsible for the economic meltdown were highly motivated to pursue greater and greater unregulated profits, which they were convinced was a good thing. But they were wrong, and we end up with an economic meltdown.

George W. Bush was highly motivated to invade Iraq to capture those WMDs that he *just knew* were there, but he was wrong, and we end up with a terrible and costly war, both in dollars and human lives.

Christians are highly motivated to deny homosexuals equal rights because they just know that God hates fags. But they are wrong, and we end up with pointless and damaging discrimination.

The list could go on. It doesn't matter how highly motivated you are if your motivations are are built on a broken foundation! The Scientologists are highly motivated too. In that group you will find people who are filled with vigour and vitality, who are seeking to save the world, who reach out to strangers, etc. etc. If that is what you are looking for, why don't you join the Scientologists? Oh, that's right. Because you know the Scientologists are wrong and that what they are doing is not actually helpful but harmful.

Quote:
I just don't see any intensity like that from Atheists.  Even if the Christians are wrong, they believe they have an extreme inner wealth (holy spirit, love, peace, salvation etc) and they live their lives accordingly.  They give a lot of themselves and live intense lives, because they are convinced they have so much on the inside (or at least some of them do and that is very admirable in my sight). 

You will find many highly motivated atheists on this website, on Margaret Downey's website. On Richard Dawkins' website. On Pharyngula. In Humanist associations.

You will even find intense atheists in religious organizations. You will not know they are atheists, because they have to hide their non-belief due to fear of ostracism.

There are millions of atheists in the US. Approximately 10% of the population. You know dozens, if not hundreds. They may not be 'out'. You may think they are Christian. But that is merely because of the discrimination against atheists, that they don't feel comfortable expressing their non-belief in a culture dominated by self-righteous theists.

Go to Denmark or Sweden, or any other country where it isn't taboo to be an outspoken atheist, and you will see copious evidence of atheists living intense, full, meaningful, yadda yadda yadda lives.

 

Quote:
Christianity seems to have a winning formula and produces better humans from what I can tell.

Ha! That's a laugh. I guess it crucially depends on what you define as 'better'.

That's enough for now. To summarize: You are wrong on so many levels I could go on for hours and hours. Your judgments are largely based on your learned stereotype of 'atheists are terrible people, and you shouldn't ever want to be one or know one.'

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sneakyweasal13 wrote:Can you

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

Can you live a quality life as an atheist?

I know atheism, skepticism, critical thinking and/or science will help you to be successful, because you will not be as heavily deluded by 'superstition' as a radical religious person might.  That's great.  You can live a healthy life somewhat free of manipulation and exploitation, and that is desirable.  You won't waste your money on tithing, nor will you waste your time on brainwashing activities like meditation or praying in tongues.  Even though an atheist might have more money and free time than a hard core religious person, what does he do with it?  Just spend it all on yourself and your immediate friends for fun? 

What is quality of life if not a self assessment of ones own existence?

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

Doesn't atheism lead you to live a shallow and selfish life?

What motivation does an atheist have to develop virtues?  To reach out to those who are lonely, poor and weak?  What motivation does an atheist have to live a rich and meaningful life?

It has been my experience that the atheists I see and hear only care about their own success and about being right.  They don't see much need to be courteous, kind, compassionate, generous or considerate.  Their lack of belief seems to rob them of their need or ability to develop their human nature. 

Nope.  Why would I need a god to develop virtues?  Are you suggesting that god is the only reason to help the lonely, poor and weak?

Meaning in life is determined by the individual. 

Can you give me a linked example of an atheist that only cares about their own success?  Since you use the word "they" you must have more than one so please proved all of them.

Empathy is why I care about other people.   People who doesn't care about anyone are usually called sociopaths, I don't need a god to not be a sociopath.  Are you suggesting you need a god or you don't care about other people? 

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

What motivation does an atheist have to develop his intuition to reach out to strangers with care and love?

I hope this doesn't all sound incoherent and incomprehensible.  I am saying that Christians have a substantial need to live a quality life, because their beliefs tell them they need to reach out to the weak.

A quality life defined by the Christian?  Or by the bible? Still unsure how this isn't arbitrary.  Why exactly should I need to be a christian to reach out to the weak and poor? All I need is empathy and an understanding of social dynamics.

sneakyweasal13 wrote:
 

They need to generously give their money, their time and their lives to save people from hell.  They are motivated to cultivate their virtues/spirit/soul to reach out and persuade other peoples souls.  They have to show courage to do missionary work, they have to develop their charisma and love to draw strangers into their churches and they have to make their churches fun so they can entertain families and indoctrinate them.  They go out and evangelize and donate things.  They broadcast their messages on TV, Radio and at any public event.  Their beliefs, although they might be wrong, encourage them to live strong, committed and challenging lives.  I just don't see any intensity like that from Atheists.  Even if the Christians are wrong, they believe they have an extreme inner wealth (holy spirit, love, peace, salvation etc) and they live their lives accordingly.  They give a lot of themselves and live intense lives, because they are convinced they have so much on the inside (or at least some of them do and that is very admirable in my sight). 

They can scream at the top of their lungs that they are helping people from going to hell, but if they cannot prove that then they are not really helping people just are just asserting it. 

 

I don't see how this is admirable?  Its like saying I have magic powers and you used to have a disease that was going to kill you but I got rid of it with my magic powers?  Now am I living an intense life?  Or do I have to go on the radio and TV?

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

Are there any virtuous, honorable and amazing atheists?

If there are, then why aren't there more of them?

I know this post could seem kind of random or rude, and that is not my intention.  My world is kind of upside down, so I was hoping to get some feedback.  I am not interested in arguing with anyone.  I just wanted to get some responses and think about them.  I was an atheist as a kid, then became a born again Christian because of the love I experienced from the people and the 'church / system'.  Now that I have left the Christian life, I am glad to learn what was right and wrong, but it is sad to see that most people won't develop virtues unless you convince them of religion.  Its sort of a weird trade off.

Give me an example of virtuous, honerable and amazing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_&_Melinda_Gates_Foundation

 

Sounds made up...
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sneakyweasal13

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

 Doesn't atheism lead you to live a shallow and selfish life?

 What motivation does an atheist have to develop his intuition to reach out to strangers with care and love?

 Are there any virtuous, honorable and amazing atheists?

If there are, then why aren't there more of them?

Why aren't there more virtuous, honorable, and amazing theists?  If even a decent percentage were all as righteous as they claim religion leads to be then this world would be a very different place.

I'm an atheist and a former Peace Corps volunteer who has also worked with immigrant communities in the U.S.  I have 2 sisters, both theists of different degrees.  The evangelical christian has been entirely unwilling to help with the care of my mother and grandmother over the past several years.  They have lived with me - the unrepentant atheist - for the past several years.  (disclaimer: Grandma died last month so I can't claim to be caring for her anymore, but had been for years. ) 

The whole premise that theists are somehow more moral or ethically motivated in life than atheists is false.  I would imagine that who a person is and what they've experienced will do far more to motivate charitable actions than some sort of abstract philosophy - theist or atheist. 

 

"I am that I am." - Proof that the writers of the bible were beyond stoned.


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Well being an atheist no

Well being an atheist no more makes you a wonderful person than being a christian bads you automatically a bad one. No sure what comparing good atheists versus good chrisitans really acheives anything.

Quite simply there is no reason for you to be alive however there any many many reasons to live. It can be kids (no thanks), partner, sport, nature, science, being deluded into believing in a middle eastern death cult (christianity, islam is shit of course but only chrisitianity puts death and torture at is very fundamental core).

I'm not against adults believing in any old crap they want to, what I am against is people whose  purpose in being alive is so deluded they threaten my existance in the only world and life we have.

Children of course are a different matter anyone that brainwashes kids into a life of eternal fear and hatred (ie is brought up as a fundi christian) is no better than a paedophile and in fact in some cases causes more damage

 

 


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sneakyweasal13 wrote:  Can

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

 

 

Can you live a quality life as an atheist?

I know atheism, skepticism, critical thinking and/or science will help you to be successful, because you will not be as heavily deluded by 'superstition' as a radical religious person might.  That's great.  You can live a healthy life somewhat free of manipulation and exploitation, and that is desirable.  You won't waste your money on tithing, nor will you waste your time on brainwashing activities like meditation or praying in tongues.  Even though an atheist might have more money and free time than a hard core religious person, what does he do with it?  Just spend it all on yourself and your immediate friends for fun? 

 

Doesn't atheism lead you to live a shallow and selfish life?

What motivation does an atheist have to develop virtues?  To reach out to those who are lonely, poor and weak?  What motivation does an atheist have to live a rich and meaningful life?

It has been my experience that the atheists I see and hear only care about their own success and about being right.  They don't see much need to be courteous, kind, compassionate, generous or considerate.  Their lack of belief seems to rob them of their need or ability to develop their human nature. 

Some of the most generous countries in the world as far as giving are Scandinavian. Hmmmmm..... they are also some of the most atheistic as well. I could say the same thing for christians. I know many christians who would rather go out and buy a new entertainment system or new car than to give to the poor. Calling the atheist community callous to the plight of the poor is ridiculous. That being said there is no requirement for an atheist to give or be generous, other than the fact we are all in this life together. I don't believe in kharma as a supernatural concept, but I believe that doing good to others is a way to help everyone (including ourselves).

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

I figured I would ask some questions in this forum, because the RSS is committed to 'ridiculing' religion and hopes to discredit religion to such a degree that no one would want to be associated with it in the future.   It kind of seems like the opposite approach to Christianity as I know it.  Christianity reaches out to people with virtues, then brings guilt, a solution and then discipline and guidance.  Christianity seems to have a winning formula and produces better humans from what I can tell.

Good people will do good and bad people will do bad. It doesn't take belief in a god for human beings to do good things. How many innocent people had to die in Iraq for our war there to be considered an evil act? At the onset of the war most christians were in the pro-war camp. However, as casualties on both sides escalated many changed their view. If someday democracy does establish itself in the middle-east then does that make the new gulf war a "good" act?

The problem with defining good and evil as anything other than a concept is that these terms are just too subjective. The bible can be used to justify any position anyone would want to make. Personally, I don't see that religion makes any one person better than another. As for the RRS ridiculing religion, I find no problem with poking holes in someone's concept of god(s). If a muslim insists mohamed rode to heaven on a winged horse why shouldn't I ridicule that idea? Most christians have no problem with ridiculing an idea such as this, so why is there a disparity on the side of atheists? 

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

Are there any virtuous, honorable and amazing atheists?

If there are, then why aren't there more of them?

I know this post could seem kind of random or rude, and that is not my intention.  My world is kind of upside down, so I was hoping to get some feedback.  I am not interested in arguing with anyone.  I just wanted to get some responses and think about them.  I was an atheist as a kid, then became a born again Christian because of the love I experienced from the people and the 'church / system'.  Now that I have left the Christian life, I am glad to learn what was right and wrong, but it is sad to see that most people won't develop virtues unless you convince them of religion.  Its sort of a weird trade off.

There have been many amazing and virtuous atheists. Bill Gates gives tons of money to charity every year. Katherine Hepburn was an amazingly talented actress and an avowed atheist. Just hang in there and accept that you have come to a point of honest scepticism in your life. Many of us were once believers so you are not alone.  

"Always seek out the truth, but avoid at all costs those that claim to have found it" ANONYMOUS


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Quote:Even though an atheist

Quote:
Even though an atheist might have more money and free time than a hard core religious person, what does he do with it?  Just spend it all on yourself and your immediate friends for fun?

Well, yeah, basically. Some people also donate it to various charities.

I suppose this is somehow less productive in your mind that handing it over to the church so they can buy nice oak pews and extravagant priestwear?

Quote:
What motivation does an atheist have to develop virtues?  To reach out to those who are lonely, poor and weak?  What motivation does an atheist have to live a rich and meaningful life?

...The same motivation as anyone else?

What, the threat of burning forever makes you 'more virtuous', somehow? Way to use that noggin'.

 

We are 'motivated' to act as social creatures that look after each other (to certain degrees) because we evolved as social creatures. Misery breeds misery, and many of us don't enjoy living miserable lives. Some people will be more altruistic than others, but that standard system variation for you.

Quote:
It has been my experience that the atheists I see and hear only care about their own success and about being right.  They don't see much need to be courteous, kind, compassionate, generous or considerate.  Their lack of belief seems to rob them of their need or ability to develop their human nature.

Yes, well, the ones they display in that slideshow in your mega-church every weekend aren't exactly representational of the global atheist population. Sticking out tongue

Quote:
I hope this doesn't all sound incoherent and incomprehensible.  I am saying that Christians have a substantial need to live a quality life, because their beliefs tell them they need to reach out to the weak.  They need to generously give their money, their time and their lives to save people from hell.

This is doublethink.

You've invented a monstrous fate to convince people of, and then pretend that 'saving' them from your fictious horrors is virtuous (and, of course, you can convince yourself through this same framework that anyone not out to rescue people from The Great Burning Place Underneath is sinister - no matter what their actual lifestyle is)

Quote:
They are motivated to cultivate their virtues/spirit/soul to reach out and persuade other peoples souls.

More doublethink.

Quote:
They have to show courage to do missionary work...

...The same missionary work tht involves going to Africa and convincing people that they will burn forever if they use a condom, thus exacerbating an overpopulation problem and AIDs epidemic of catastrophic proportions?

Virtuous indeed.

Quote:
they have to develop their charisma and love to draw strangers into their churches and they have to make their churches fun so they can entertain families and indoctrinate them.  They go out and evangelize and donate things.  They broadcast their messages on TV, Radio and at any public event.

None of the above are positive things. Brainwashing people, convincing them to blow money on pseudoscientific junk & handing-out little booklets on what should make you feel bad about yourself is sick.

Quote:
Their beliefs, although they might be wrong, encourage them to live strong, committed and challenging lives.  I just don't see any intensity like that from Atheists.  Even if the Christians are wrong, they believe they have an extreme inner wealth (holy spirit, love, peace, salvation etc) and they live their lives accordingly.  They give a lot of themselves and live intense lives, because they are convinced they have so much on the inside (or at least some of them do and that is very admirable in my sight). 

By this same standard, Joseph Stalin is one of the most admirable men to have ever walked the face of the Earth.

Quote:
I am currently recovering from 11 years of hyper spiritualism.  I have been studying skepticism, science, JREF and atheism for about 6 months now.  That is why I say I am recovering, because now that I have learned more about skepticism I have severely lowered the intensity of my beliefs and practically stopped my practice of a spiritual life style.  Instead of believing the Bible, I believe that 'I don't know'.  I also am demanding evidence to prove any of my assumptions before I put any weight on them.

Step #1 is to try and eviscerate your preconceptions. Lay out everything that you currently see as being just plain 'the way it is', axe it, and start all over again. You have to rebuild your paradigm from scratch.

This will be rough, brutal work, and perhaps it's not fair for you to have to do this (if you're like most people, it was not your own direct fault for being indoctrinated into religion), but it is a necessary requirment for skeptical thought...

Quote:
Christianity reaches out to people with virtues, then brings guilt, a solution and then discipline and guidance.  Christianity seems to have a winning formula and produces better humans from what I can tell.

...And this is why. Doublethink.

You've been taught that the way to altruism is to invent evils, or otherwise label something as 'evil', and then 'save' people from that evil. The resulting 'saved' humans you've already cemented into your paradigm as being somehow 'better'.

 

You need to thoroughly re-examine this core structure of your currect perception. What makes a person 'better' than another? What makes a thing 'good' or 'evil'? Are there exceptions? How do you know that 'saving' a person from 'evil' things is always the best course of action?

Quote:
Now that I have left the Christian life, I am glad to learn what was right and wrong, but it is sad to see that most people won't develop virtues unless you convince them of religion.  Its sort of a weird trade off.

No. You're just still applying the dogmatic doublethink to the world.

'Leaving the church' involves more than just not going to service every Sunday. It demands rethinking all of what you were told about 'virtues'. People with religion only seem more virtuous because you still have it in your mind that doing 'X' is evil and doing 'Y' is good and preventing people from doing 'Z' is courageous.

Again, you need to re-examine your thought process.

Quote:
"Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."

- Leon Trotsky, Last Will & Testament
February 27, 1940


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 To be perfectly honest, I

 To be perfectly honest, I get really insulted when people suggest that somehow my life is missing something, or that I'm "emptier" than someone else because I don't have some kind of invisible watchdog.  I mean, fuck me for examining my own life and desires without a filter of what somebody else thinks will make me happy!

As it turns out, I have a fucking awesome life, and gee golly whiz, it turns out that because I'm human, just like everyone else, I also have compassion for my fellow man.  See, one of the things I love (and am very good at) is cooking.  So sometimes, especially around holidays, I organize a team of a few people and cook a nice dinner for the local homeless shelter.  It's awesome.  They get better food than they usually get.  I get the satisfaction of helping out my fellow human beings, and guess what.... I like cooking!  Isn't that awesome?  I figured out how to be a good human just by um.... being human.

Imagine that.

Fuck this discussion.

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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that's your opinion

What do you mean by quality of life? My life is great, I do the things that I love to do, I have a happy family, a great and beautiful daughter, I work hard and I have great friends that have stuck with me through thick and thin.  That for me is a quality life. Why would you think I spend it all on fun? I wish I spend it all on fun sure, but I send my daughter to a good montisorri school, I work hard so that my wife doesnt' have to and gets to spend more time with my daughter, I share with my friends when they are in need. So yes I have more money not because I don't give to church but because I have invested my money in a wise manner. With that said that 10 percent I don't give to the church i use for the local economy,  buying from local farmers and local business if I can.

Do I help others of course when I can, I donate to the sick kids hospital and to MS foundation. I help with at risk youth and with getting gang members out of gangs. With that said that is still far better than giving it to the church, which uses it's money for itself first and then for the poor. I rather give it to something far more meaningful than a organization that has and still does promote hatred and ignorance, hatred towards gays and others of different sexual orientation, religious beliefs (or non religious beliefs) and ignorance towards science and the world around us. This also from a religion that it's followers after the tsunami hit south east asia, demanded that people convert to christianity before they received any aid or food. Great virtue there.

So I do not live a shallow and selfish life, not to me I don't since it is all a matter of perspective, christian lead shallow and selfish lives as far as I can see. They don't do good to do good, they do it to please a good and get into heaven. I do it because I want to do it, because I personally believe that it give more to society to help others in my society than to lead a selfish life, but I cannot help out everyone, I help out those that I can and that's it, and hope that others will follow my lead. Those are my reasons for reaching out towards others.


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sneakyweasel13 wrote:It has

sneakyweasel13 wrote:
It has been my experience that the atheists I see and hear only care about their own success and about being right.  They don't see much need to be courteous, kind, compassionate, generous or considerate.  Their lack of belief seems to rob them of their need or ability to develop their human nature.

 

I'm interested by how you phrased this: "atheists i see and hear." Does that mean you don't actually know any? It seems poor strategy to make a generalization about the qualities possessed or not possessed by people you've never met. If my conclusion is incorrect, let me know. But the atheists I know have all of the above qualities. Especially Tom. I don't see Tom a lot, but from time to time, he will take the time out of his busy schedule caring for his elderly mother and his brother to call me up simply to encourage me. I always feel great after talking with Tom. He's very charismatic and uplifting. He's a lot of the positive things you find lacking in an atheist. He's my contribution to the virtuous, honorable, and amazing atheist list.

 

I'm glad you had such a good experience with the Christians you have known. I can't say my experience has been the same. I grew up in the Christian church, and I have known Christians who were great people and those that were not. And I have known Christians who were great to certain people and downright mean to others (which makes it very hard for people on the inside to see them as anything but great). Some are charismatic, some are not. Some tithed, some did  not. Some helped the poor, the weak, etc., some did not. One of the things that always struck me was that Christians never really seemed different from people who weren't Christians. There were some great Christians and some great non-Christians. Perhaps the more non-Christians you meet, the more you will find that to be the case.

 

I find it interesting that you dismiss Richard Dawkins from the list of virtuous, honorable, and amazing atheists, because you find him "rude and condescending." Jesus was also rude and condescending.

Rill


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sneakyweasal13 wrote: Can

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

 Can you live a quality life as an atheist?

I have been an atheist since November, 2007.  I have made amends to past wrongs, becuase I felt the burden of hurting others that I didn't feel as a Christian.  I became acutely aware of how important honesty, transparency, and being fair with everyone truely is.  I have established better relationships, and have been told by various people I interact with that I have a strong character.  I took the dedication time to the Bible and speaking in tongues, and crying out for forgiveness and put it towards REALITY.  As such, I lost 80 lbs and kept it off, I now have an athletic build, and I've paid off all my credit card debt.  I did this in just over 12 months.  Who knows what the next 12 months can be?  It wasn't all gravy though, life is a bumpy ride.  I don't have faith in God, but I have faith in reality, and honestly; reality works.

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

Doesn't atheism lead you to live a shallow and selfish life?

After a couple months of dealing with a mild form of nihilism, as depressing as not living forever is, I found the ultimate value of life.  .  I made amends to those I've wronged in the past (10 years ago and so fourth), and have devoted my life to being an honest person.  Because I no longer hold myself accountable to a God who forgives me when I repent, I now hold myself accountable to the human race, and also much more conscience and empathetic towards others.  Because I no longer get fake forgiveness from a fake deity, and see that what I do effects others on a much more finite scale, I have been living my life sooo much better, and without guilt! 

 

edit: I was much more selifsh as a Christian; I put my personal time with a deity and the deities rules above all others; even if it caused discomfort or pain to others.  Many of my Christian friends still do this.  Spending all that time in selfish prayer, selfish bible study, and feeling better about it by asking for forgiveness and paying tithes.  Preaching to everyone that their sinners and giving a blind eye to what they REALLY need in their lives.

As an atheist, let me quote to you a Christmas Card from a fellow friend (who is actually a wiccan, but celebrates Christmas minus the Jesus part)

"Matt, Thank you for everythign this past year. You've been a truly great friend to me and I am so grateful that you are a part of my life. Here's to many more adventures next year"

/edit

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

What motivation does an atheist have to develop his intuition to reach out to strangers with care and love?

 

According to "Beyond Tomorrow" (science Channel, december episode)It's been scientifically proven that all humans get a certain "high" off of being charitable.  I don't think the religion label depicts whether we give or not, I think it's something hard-wired.  It feels good to give something to another, especially if you know it makes them happy!  So an atheist doesn't develop "his" intuition, it's already there.

sneakyweasal13 wrote:

Are there any virtuous, honorable and amazing atheists?

Our founding fathers (USA) were deists,  deists don't believe in a God that judges them either so their honor wasn't being used from a religious context, but from being human.  Yeah, they were completely secular, with no belief in an active God at all, but just a belief that some God of some sort (not the Christian one, mind you) made the universe and walked away.  Morally speaking, it's the same as atheism because there is no accountabliity to a deity, but to fellow humans.

 


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Thanks all.  I feel like I

Thanks all.  I feel like I am done with this thread. 

 

I agree that a lot of the founding fathers were deists or at least not born again christians.  They lived good lives and did a lot for the free world.


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Hello, sneaky weasel.I

Hello, sneaky weasel.

I stumbled across this site and your questions.  I read it and the 2 responses so far.  I am not an atheist but a Christian so perhaps my comments will not be welcome here.  Nevertheless the discussion is interesting so I'll risk it.  Does quality of life vary so much from human to human?  or do roughly the same types of things make people happy?  In 1937, some researchers set out to find what makes humans healthy and happy by tracking 268 Harvard University students.  In 2008 after 42 years, the director of the study, a Dr Vaillant, was asked what he had learned about human happiness.  He replied that Relationships are the key to happiness.  "Happiness is love - full stop" he said (Dr Vaillant cited in ODJ Sep - Nov 2010 published by RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids.).  It is a very small sample size so one can not to generalise from this study alone, but you could perhaps google the subject to see if there are any other relevant studies out there.  However, if Dr Vaillant is right in his conclusions, your best bet for happiness would be in pursuing quality relationships (with others as you no longer believe in God).  But it seems you are interested in more than happiness, you are interested in living a good life - what Christians usually call holiness.  You could let your conscience be the guide, I suppose, but your question implies more - where do you find the motivation to follow it?  Your question reminds me of a question put to Jesus in Mark 10:17-22.  Know it?  Check it out! Personally, I think this is the answer for theists and atheists alike, but then I would wouldn't I?  Keep Searching!  : )  Betty


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Happiness is two kinds of ice cream

 http://kids.niehs.nih.gov/lyrics/happiness.htm

I've always liked that song from the musical, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."

There is a whole portion of Penn State dedicated to figuring out what happiness is all about (see http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/Default.aspx).

Among the conclusions is that people seem to benefit from positive interaction with other people.  Clearly, some churches/synagogues/meetings/etc provide this kind of positive interaction for those who attend.  It is not clear at all, however, that those are the only places to find positive interaction and it seems quite likely that it is true, as the song says, that happiness is just walking hand-in-hand.

It seems like the question of happiness extends far beyond religious issues and, for the most part, is not dependent upon them.  It seems to me like the more interesting question is the reverse:

Why aren't atheists sad?

Whether it is a delusion or not, theists (for the most part) believe that they are destined for great things generally regardless of what they do while they are alive (I am supposing that few theists stay theists if they are bound for whatever they consider not hanging with god(s)).  Atheists, on the other hand, are committed to the concept that there is nothing past death.  One way that theists handle the problem of death is to, basically, say it doesn't exist.  How do atheists handle that event and the attendant sadness (whether from someone else's death or the anticipation of one's own)?

I'm sort of a "theist wanna be" in that it would be nice to have a loving presence with whom I'd spend eternity with all the people I love, but I find the proposition hard to swallow.  So, rather then convert me to theism or atheism, I'm curious to hear how atheists deal with the sadness of death.  And, I accept that it is OK to say, "Hey, death is just sad and there is no way around it."

 


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bfish wrote:Why aren't

bfish wrote:

Why aren't atheists sad?

Whether it is a delusion or not, theists (for the most part) believe that they are destined for great things generally regardless of what they do while they are alive (I am supposing that few theists stay theists if they are bound for whatever they consider not hanging with god(s)).  Atheists, on the other hand, are committed to the concept that there is nothing past death.  One way that theists handle the problem of death is to, basically, say it doesn't exist.  How do atheists handle that event and the attendant sadness (whether from someone else's death or the anticipation of one's own)?

I'm sort of a "theist wanna be" in that it would be nice to have a loving presence with whom I'd spend eternity with all the people I love, but I find the proposition hard to swallow.  So, rather then convert me to theism or atheism, I'm curious to hear how atheists deal with the sadness of death.  And, I accept that it is OK to say, "Hey, death is just sad and there is no way around it."

 

I know very few christians who aren't sad when a loved one dies.  Even those who insist the loved one has "gone on to a better life".  And I have yet to meet anyone who rejoices when their loved one dies.  Maybe there are people who do - don't know.

No one gets out of here alive.  Death just is.  And so I live my life as best I can, finding what peace and happiness I can find where I can find it.  I'll be sad about dying later - maybe.

I'm not young - 60 years.  And I have had many loved pets die, dearly loved relatives and friends die.  You allow yourself time to grieve and then you get on with your life.  One foot in front of the other.

As for dying myself, I don't remember not being born, why should dying be any different?

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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"Quality of life" issues

"Quality of life" issues while some attempt to attach them to labels, have nothing to do with labels, other than society uses them to justify their status in a given society.

You can say for example, that the quality of life for a Jew or Christian or gay man living in Iran is going to be harder because they live in a society that does not favor them. But the "label" of Muslim is only the cause of it being harder on the minority in the sense that they falsely assume their quality of life as being superior based on the "Muslim" label.

But the reality is that any human can have a positive outlook even being a minority or having less in a given society.

I once met the son of an uber rich guy at a bar. He bought everyone at the bar a round of drinks. You would think his "quality of life" would be good considering the family he comes from. But he spent the evening crying in his shot glass and beers in misery about the lack of closeness to his rich dad who didn't understand him and was constantly judging him. All that money and he was miserable.

I'm dirt poor by comparison but know by comparison to people in third world countries who have it far worse, that my "quality of life" is far better.

Being a Christian does not make Christianity the inventor of "quality of life". Richard Dawkins, Kathrine Hepburn, and Bill Gates are atheists, so if monetary success is the measure of "quality of life" than atheism should be the default position.

The reality is that "quality of life" is not an invention of a label and is also not based solely on economic factors.

You can even discuss "quality of life" when it comes to doctor's decisions they make with their patients.

A good doctor will give the patient the choice of long term/ short term benefit/risk and allow the patient the choice of how much pain they are willing to put up with.

I for example, would not want to be kept alive, even if I could be, and was aware of my surroundings, if I became a vegetable. Others may be willing to tolerate that and that would be an individual choice. So in their minds their "quality of life" would not be bad enough to call it quits.

Me, If I became just a talking head had to spend the rest of my life depending on others, TO ME AND TO ME ALONE, I would not see my personal "quality of life" worth it.

"quality of life" is not an invention of any label and is not dependent on monetary factors alone.

 

 

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