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Agnostic/Atheist Support Group

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Jrazz posted 5/2/2014 13:56 PM

Yes it was***. And the "iron spikes" mamas where the babies would hug them for affection, knowing that at some point the spikes were going to come out. And the funnel that they would send little ones down to spend time in isolation to see if it affected their "mood."

Did I mention I fucking hate humans sometimes?

***We watched them in the context of the atrocities that we put fellow beings through to answer these questions, when in truth all you need to to is sit quietly outside their house and observe.

norabird posted 5/2/2014 15:17 PM

I also think that for we humans many of our emotions really are just that - chemical reactions. So it's not really different for animals even if they don't have the overlay of reasoning about those chemicals that turns them into something supposedly 'higher'.

StillGoing posted 5/2/2014 17:28 PM

Yeah people do fucked up shit.

nora, that was one of the justifications people used for experimentation on animals - that their responses were automata and mechanistic. Since they didn't possess souls or minds (in the sense that people believe(d) the mind is an external thing) they:

eat without pleasure, cry without pain, grow without knowing it; they desire nothing, fear nothing, know nothing.

nekorb posted 5/2/2014 21:36 PM


I don't know if I belong here.

I'm recovering from spiritual abuse in the church (ICOC). I considered myself atheist for quite awhile during the height of my PTSD. I'm making my way back to church and God, but...I'm still struggling with it. I cant even really tell you what IT is that I'm struggling with...

I find science and pondering the origins of humanity fascinating. As much as I really think there is a God - whatever that means to each of us, I'm just not sure what that means or who He is.

It was my struggle with church/religion/God and PTSD that contributed to the demise of my marriage.

idk. Can I hang out with you guys?

Jrazz posted 5/2/2014 21:55 PM

Webster's Dictionary defines Agnostic as:

a person who does not have a definite belief about whether God exists or not

I would say that you fit into this for the most part, but I'm interested in your choice to capitalize "He." I'm not sure about what God or god means, but I do feel like there are bigger things at work than we could comprehend.

I think the purpose of this thread is to be able to support each other OUTSIDE of any kind of religion or deity. I'm not sure it's the place to ponder the existence of God, because that inherently lends itself to the kind of argument that is against the guidelines for the website.

You're totally welcome to come hang out - all we ask is that members respect the spirit of the thread and only post as a participating agnostic/atheist (not someone seeking answers in divinity.) I hope that makes sense.

outside4me posted 5/2/2014 22:46 PM

I find science and pondering the origins of humanity fascinating. As much as I really think there is a God - whatever that means to each of us, I'm just not sure what that means or who He is.

It was my struggle with church/religion/God and PTSD that contributed to the demise of my marriage.

Me too, sistah (except the PTSD). Welcome!

[This message edited by outside4me at 10:47 PM, May 2nd (Friday)]

StillGoing posted 5/3/2014 01:03 AM

It was my struggle with church/religion/God and PTSD that contributed to the demise of my marriage.

It sounds like church/religion/God should have been supporting the struggle with PTSD, not been a struggle. Sorry you had to deal with that.

wrt definitions:

a person who does not have a definite belief about whether God exists or not

Meh, I disagree with Websters then and I will go up against anyone they want to bring to town about it.

Agnosticism is a statement about the values of truth and its "knowability" for lack of a better word. Frankly I think it's as arrogant to state that something is unknownable as saying you know what it is. Fuck you Huxley, don't tell me shit isn't knowable, I have Neil de Grasse over there using the word Spooky in relation to Dark Matter and making it stick. Who the fuck knows what we can know or can't know. Anyway.

Labels are just a convenient way to identify. I'm happy to disagree with anyone that wants to tell me that atheism means I have a solid opinion on the existence of the supernatural beyond "I don't have enough evidence to believe that so I don't believe it."

The best part about atheism is that anyone can hang here. It's a neutral state. Like Switzerland. It is Switzerland that.. right? They're the neutral ones? Whatever. It's late.

nekorb posted 5/3/2014 09:00 AM

I'm interested in your choice to capitalize "He."

It's actually a habit that I've just recently adopted....I'm not even sure God is a He or if that's something we as humans have assigned to whatever/whoever god is in our minds. Anyway, I guess I figure if I'm going to err I should err on the side of showing respect.

I don't want to debate the existence of God. I think God means different things to different people, or for some nothing at all, and I'm ok with that. WH is not. I just need somewhere to throw out thoughts and get feedback while I work on my own journey.

I don't get why some people think everyone needs to be having the same journey.

Part of the issue, for me, is that I have a hard time discerning where "balance" exists on this topic.

I love science, I don't want to ignore science and what science is proving to us every day, but I want to somehow incorporate that into what I have experienced in terms of real physical experiences in this world that lead me to believe there is something more.

StillGoing - I couldn't figure out how to put a second quote in here - but my WH basically responded to my having my abuse validated/PTSD/stating I was no longer X religion with the same abuse I was telling him about! His response was, "I don't like that because now I don't know whether or not you are going to hell.".

WH accused me of being controlling - I asked for an example - he said, "you're decisions about God and church make me so anxious that it's all I can think about and it controls my whole life.". I pointed out it was the anxiety controlling him, not me, and he said my choices were causing it, therefore it was me.

Basically what happened was I started to learn about codependency in therapy. I finally got up the courage to talk about the church thing with her and that's when things started going like wildfire for me (towards a more healthy me). And I think he is a narcissist. That sentence above reads to me, "you wouldn't do what I wanted and it was all I could think about.".

I want to go on the record as saying I don't do organized religion.

I do have a church that I like - the pastor there was the only one who would meet me where I was with my PTSD and talk with me and not condemn me for the things I thought or felt. (Not counting my therapist, but you don't have in depth theological discussions with your therapist!)

I'm trying to learn that internal boundary of taking what I need from church, and leaving behind what I don't. Aka not absorbing everything they say as truth just because they said it. I like to ask questions. I like to point out discrepancies and think about why they are there.

I'm ok with not having all the answers.

I want to know where stuff goes when it disappears into a black hole and if there is a whole other universe on the other side or if it's where PODS came from.

[This message edited by nekorb at 9:15 AM, May 3rd (Saturday)]

SisterMilkshake posted 5/3/2014 09:34 AM

Thomas Henry Huxley said:[11][12]

Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle ... Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.

According to philosopher William L. Rowe, in the strict sense, agnosticism is the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist.[2]

A person calling oneself 'agnostic' is stating that he or she has no opinion on the existence of God, as there is no definitive evidence for or against. Agnosticism has, however, more recently been subdivided into several categories. Variations include:

Agnostic atheism
The view of those who do not believe in the existence of any deity, but do not claim to know if a deity does or does not exist.[21][22][23]

Agnostic theism
The view of those who do not claim to know of the existence of any deity, but still believe in such an existence.[21]

Apathetic or pragmatic agnosticism
The view that there is no proof of either the existence or nonexistence of any deity, but since any deity that may exist appears unconcerned for the universe or the welfare of its inhabitants, the question is largely academic. Therefore, their existence has little to no impact on personal human affairs and should be of little theological interest.[24][25]

Strong agnosticism (also called "hard", "closed", "strict", or "permanent agnosticism")
The view that the question of the existence or nonexistence of a deity or deities, and the nature of ultimate reality is unknowable by reason of our natural inability to verify any experience with anything but another subjective experience. A strong agnostic would say, "I cannot know whether a deity exists or not, and neither can you."[26][27][28]

Weak agnosticism (also called "soft", "open", "empirical", or "temporal agnosticism")
The view that the existence or nonexistence of any deities is currently unknown but is not necessarily unknowable; therefore, one will withhold judgment until evidence, if any, becomes available. A weak agnostic would say, "I don't know whether any deities exist or not, but maybe one day, if there is evidence, we can find something out."[26][27][28]

The above is from Wikipedia. I know, the most reliable source for info on the internet. However, I do like what they had to say about agnosticism which is where I feel I fall. I do like to understand what I believe and have a "label" for it, I guess.

norabird posted 5/3/2014 10:01 AM

I'm strictly atheist but I sometimes think I would like to belong to a church--a really good one. A place with a choir and charity work and interesting discussions of our role in the world and what it means to live a good life and what it means that there is so much suffering in the world and sometimes directly in our lives. That seems really useful and lovely. It's when it comes to the dogma--the 'I dunno, maybe your titled (which is healthy for you) means you're going to hell' that I remember why I don't belong. What a useful way to exert control over other people while pretending you have their best interest in mind.

So I think maybe the lines are a little porous. You can believe there is no god and yet be drawn to aspects of faith all the same; and you can think there probably is a god and yet be repelled by parts of faith. I always feel a kind of kinship with Quakers and UUs for instance--even though there isn't a shared faith with me, the approach still seems simpatico to my own belief in non-belief. My dad (and my ex) are the type of atheists who scoffed at everyone who was part of organized religion but that's not the only type of atheism out there and it definitely doesn't apply for most agnostics. Faith/non-faith are mutable too over one's life--people have conversions, periods of doubt and/or periods of faith.

nekorb posted 5/3/2014 10:04 AM

I do like to understand what I believe and have a "label" for it, I guess.

So weird that you said that. I was literally just thinking that part of my issue lies with giving myself permission not to try and fit into any one particular "box" or definition. I think what I think, believe/not believe what I want, and it doesn't have to fall into or be ok with anyone else's definition.

I don't fit into any of the boxes - religious, agnostic, atheist, or otherwise. I'm trying to learn to be ok with that. I think. Lol

Largely what keeps me thinking something is above and beyond us here on earth is my own paranormal experiences. Have others here had paranormal experiences that contributed to your current belief framework?

nekorb posted 5/3/2014 10:32 AM

Norabird- I think what you described (as being potentially what would interest you) sounds like the UU.

I asked WH if we could try a UU church as a sort of compromise, if I could get myself to the point that I could walk in the doors without having a panic attack. His response,"I'm not going to church with atheists.". As if they are some sort if lesser people. It pissed me off. And the UU church I was looking at was about 2/3 his religion!

He never would go or try. He did meet with the pastor with me once. Then when I was thinking about trying it on my own discovered this particular group was largely a social activist group vs pursuing spirituality. That's ok, just not what I'm looking for.

I like the church I go to now because they don't seem bent on being guilt/fear driven in their messages and the messages promote living a good life and contributing positively to the lives of others and the community.

One thing I liked about the pastor at this church Is that he is willing to say, "I don't know". I despise blind faith and rationalizations.

SisterMilkshake posted 5/3/2014 10:35 AM

what it means that there is so much suffering in the world and sometimes directly in our lives. That seems really useful and lovely.
This is where most religions/believers lose me, nora. I can't buy into their "reasons" for everything. That there is a purpose for suffering. I believe I posted this before:
"Epicurean paradox" is a version of the problem of evil. It is a trilemma argument (God is omnipotent, God is good, but Evil exists); or more commonly seen as this quote:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?

Whilst I was floundering with what I believed or didn't, I came across Epicurus. The above paradox was a big light bulb moment for me, it was "YES, EXACTLY!"

nekorb, that is funny. People are different, and that is so good that we are. It would be so boring if we were all exactly the same. This is something I have realized about myself recently. I like to have my feelings and beliefs all boxed up with a label on them. It gives me a sense of control, maybe? I also have realized that I am kind of a black and white thinker, but on some topics I find I am in a gray area. That makes me very uncomfortable.

Have others here had paranormal experiences that contributed to your current belief framework?
I have had paranormal experiences, but I don't relate it to my current belief framework.

[This message edited by SisterMilkshake at 10:37 AM, May 3rd (Saturday)]

nekorb posted 5/3/2014 11:00 AM

have had paranormal experiences, but I don't relate it to my current belief framework.

How do you separate the two?

Although for me, I guess it is as simple as it just points out that there is a lot I don't know or understand, and then I refer that back to my current framework.

Jrazz posted 5/3/2014 11:15 AM

I think that the SI staff just wants to ensure that we use this forum to discuss the struggles that we face with infidelity as 'godless heathens' when we live in a culture where marriage is primarily defined by religious terms as well as recovery, i.e. forgiveness. We should be careful to keep it on our own struggles and not use it bash religious beliefs.

Fantastically put. I meant to say that my last post was "as a member," not staff. Also, I was trying to use the short form definition to indicate that I'm pretty sure wafflers (like nekorb and I) should be welcome.

nekorb posted 5/3/2014 12:43 PM

"Godless Heathens"

Yeah. I find that so offensive. Even when I was godless I knew right from wrong and lies from truth.

My WH says that God (his) wants him to be happy, and OW makes him happy, therefore he is living within God's will/plan for him.


The rationalization that goes on is mind boggling.

I just want to scream that even during my worst bouts of anti-religion and PTSD I was living by a higher moral standard than he has *ever* chosen to embrace.

I will continue to do so.

I am working on getting to a place inside myself where I no longer need WH to approve of or agree with my belief system and how I choose to live my life. It's been really hard, even in the face of his infidelity...lingering codependency that I'm still working on, I guess.

I do know that when I achieve balance, I will know it.

Is forgiveness really a religious thing? I actually feel like it was easier to forgive as a non-believer - that black and white/right and wrong/heaven and hell thing was absent and people were just allowed to be human and make mistakes and if they were remorseful and trying to do better, you forgave and supported them on their journey.

sisoon posted 5/3/2014 13:45 PM

If you're looking for a religion, a British group did a Consumer Reports-type analysis available here:

John Cleese looks like a solid, serious guy, so the analysis has to have at least some validity....

'God' as we know him/her/it was never a powerful concept in China, and yet their ethics are not dissimilar to ours - theft, murder, lying, rebellion against constituted authorities are all violations of ethics and law, for example.

Roger Williams was a committed Puritan, but his charter for his colony (Rhode Island and Providence Plantations) welcomed Catholics, Turks (Muslims), Jews, and atheists as well as Puritans. Despite his commitment to Puritanism, he believed a Good Life was possible for others - even for atheists.

It's really hard to argus that the Abrahamic religions have a monopoly on ethics.

LosferWords posted 5/3/2014 13:56 PM

Is forgiveness really a religious thing?

For me, personally, no. I had to let go of the concept of sweeping and unconditional forgiveness that I grew up with. Janis Spring's book on forgiveness, "How Can I Forgive You" was instrumental in helping me rewire the concepts of forgiveness that I had so long.

Lionne posted 5/4/2014 12:09 PM

I am definitely in the agnostic family. The thing is, I also don't care. Well I do care about the way people use religion as a weapon, otherwise, we simply won't know about the afterlife until after life, will we?

Retrouvaille was a useful weekend. Until. They had lots of helpful tips for communication right up until they ran into a wall. Then they said, pray about it. Seemed a copout to me. Especially since I'm a practicing Quaker which means my prayer is to be silent and wait for "god" or personal insight, or whatever happens. Public prayer is not for me.

A real personal affront is when the word "christian" is used to describe someone who behaves in a moral way. I've noticed the people using it are often nastiest to their neighbors. My dad was Jewish and kind and generous. A Baptist minister, (I used to take myself to Sunday school when I was little, the church was down the street from my house, as was a Catholic Church) told me that my father would burn in hell because of his religion when I was seven. After much panic, my conclusion was that god wouldn't punish him for his upbringing, that a loving god would even forgive "evil" people if they were insane. I found out as a teenager that Quakers still existed and believed as I did, some even holding agnostic viewpoints without being treated differently in their communities.

SAFWH professes to be atheist while being angry at god, mostly because of the drawn out death of his mother. He had much difficulty with the first step of his 12step work being unable to secularize his higher power or accept god as his higher power. A lifetime of Catholic brainwashing is very hard to overcome.
I'm enjoying everyone's POV.

Lionne posted 5/4/2014 12:13 PM

A place with a choir and charity work and interesting discussions of our role in the world and what it means to live a good life.

Just had to comment. Most East Coast Friends' meeting are heavily into social justice and various related "earthly" work. I loved this practical part. But there isn't much singing and I love to sing. You should hear us a Christmas. It's sad.

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