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Agnostic/Atheist Support Group

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theseseatsRtaken posted 4/29/2017 16:46 PM

but I've come to believe that no one's out there, or at least not listening. And also why would he/they/whomever answer one person's prayer, and not anothers? I can't justify that in my head

Ricky Gervais does a great bit in which he pretends to be an insurance company calling their direct hotline to God in ordet to check whether he was responsible for a volcanic eruption that is resulting in claims. If its an 'Act of God' - they arent liable. So God says it was him, and then the insurance bloke asks 'What about [insert distater here]..?' and he replies.... 'Oh no sorry that couldnt have been me - i was in Africa that day giving AIDS to babies'....

Your prayer question opens this same pandoras box. Although with somewhat less of a stab to the supposed moral superiority of a personal God. Why indeed would he care about one prayer and not another? Why care about any? Why would the theory of creation denote a personally invested and interested God who is offended by the people having unconventional sex but not by slavery?

A conundrum to be sure!


peachy posted 5/5/2017 01:29 AM

Hi everyone, sorry to bust in like this. I'm a long-time lurker, new member, and would like to say (?) atheist. For a bit I was interested in following Pagan religions but it was more for the overtones of loving and embracing nature, and spirituality within nature, rather than any deity. I no longer follow Pagan purely because I thought it was interesting, but certainly nothing I would devote myself to 'religiously.'

Otherwise I have never been religious and never struggled with that. I have never believed in gods or afterlives. I am younger than most here and am actually in my early-early 20s. Now that I reach adulthood I am dealing with issues that, as a child, were inconceivable.

I should preface by saying I have diagnosed depression that has caused me much trouble. I work with animals and have lost two furry family members in the last year, including last week where my three year old furry-best friend has suffered kidney failure. In my senior year of high school a close friend committed suicide. I have since developed a terrible, paranoia-ridden fear of death and loss.

I remember praying once, when the 16-year old dog I grew up with was passing away in my arms at the vets. I thought, how is it possible that something so beautiful, that has brought so much joy, can just disappear? Since then I have struggled so hard to reconcile with death. In some ways I wish I could believe, could find some comfort from thoughts of an afterlife. But I just cannot. And now my fears of death and losing loved ones intersects with fear of people who have meant so much to me just ceasing to exist.

Has anyone felt the same way? Wished they could find solace in religion but just cannot?

Partoftheclub posted 6/8/2017 13:31 PM

Hello nice to find this group!

MissesJai posted 6/8/2017 13:33 PM

Long time lurker of this specific group. So glad you're here and Ricky Gervais is the best!

sisoon posted 6/8/2017 16:22 PM

Also, Mark Twain explains why some prayers are answered and others not in Letters From The Earth.

I was about to say, 'Go to your library,' but I searched, and the full text is available on the web.

TheAmazingWondertwin posted 6/28/2017 15:51 PM

Just saying howdy and glad to see an i can relate forum for this.

Love Ricky gervais as well.

Raised a lazy Catholic and lost any semblance of faith after trying to rejoin the church as an adult.

Questions not answered and too many convenient "explanations" for misery that don't fit.

Done a lot of reading- mainly Dawkins and an endless amount of social and religious history. Once you see other viewpoints, cultures, etc. At least for me... It just doesn't make sense.. an all powerful personalized version of a diety? For me... It seems as if religion is more about controlling a population than having any real mystical powers.

However, as with most athiests, I am unable to share with co workers or friends.. unless I truly trust them. I can understand how my views seem to be an insult, if you Will, to their beliefs.

I'm not an angry atheist taking offense when people wish me well or offer prayers. I will accept positive energy in whatever form people wish to offer it. It's just a little lonely not being able to share.

HardenMyHeart posted 7/1/2017 23:49 PM

I'm not an angry atheist taking offense when people wish me well or offer prayers.
I actually looked up the definition of prayer and one of the definitions has a non-religious context: "an earnest hope or wish"

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with offering or accepting prayers even if you are not a religious person. All that really matters is the intent of the prayer.

[This message edited by HardenMyHeart at 11:54 PM, July 1st (Saturday)]

movingalonginme posted 7/18/2017 23:09 PM

Prayer is a nice thought. But it's really a lottery ticket when you don't take any actions to make your desires come true.
I don't believe in God, but I do believe in the idea behind God helps those who help themselves.
So long as prayers aren't hurting anyone else, who cares?

SISOSIG posted 8/5/2017 13:36 PM

Hi everyone.

Not posted for a while - I've been working on some stuff...

I'm not sure if this is the place to post this but I though maybe someone could help. I'm working though the steps of SANON and co-dependents anonymous and I'm having real trouble with the higher power stuff. I am a scientist. I really do not believe in god - any god - or any higher power. I believe we are all made of atoms coming together in the immense universe which makes us special on one side and insignificant on the other. I don't believe in destiny, things happening for a reason or something guiding my life. I wish I did... It would make it much easier...

Anyway, does anyone know what I can use to replace the higher power/god bit in the steps. I'm fine with understanding I have no power over a problem, but not that someone or something will know what's best for me and guides my life so I have to trust it...

I'm always tempted to think that I'm in charge of my own life but I don't thins that works with the 12 steps programmes...

SisterMilkshake posted 8/5/2017 19:37 PM

This group isn't very active, is it? I feel we must be the very laid back agnostics/atheists here. Actually, it has been my personal experience that I have only met laid back atheists. We aren't about indoctrinating others to our way of thinking.

The prayer thing. It is an easy way that most understand or can relate to when saying it.

When I accepted that I was either an agnostic/atheist, or whatever I am labeled, I felt funny thanking others for prayers. I was grateful, but did I believe in prayer? Was I being inauthentic by saying thanks for prayers? Would I be insincere if I said I would send my prayers to others? I came to feel as HardenMyHeart has shared:

"an earnest hope or wish"
Also, what the AmazingWonderTwin has shared:
I will accept positive energy in whatever form people wish to offer it.
Exactly! And, hopefully be able to give the positive energy back without having to feel that you aren't being someone you are not. Because...this:
It's just a little lonely not being able to share.

SISOSIG, that is a dilemma. I haven't worked any 12 step program so I'm not completely sure how that works with the "higher power" thingy. However, would it help you to use the universe as your "higher power"? Some of my Christian friends/family use the expression of "giving it up to God" or "turning it over to God". In my mind that means giving up control and realizing that we have no control.

To me it is kind of up to the "universe" because there is no way for me to know any of the unique experiences/traumas/tragedies that are going to happen to me and it is just kind of the way I make choices, other people make choices, the way nature makes "choices", and how they will all coincide with each other and yourself. It is so random. I feel the "universe" is powerful and amazing. We are really at the mercy of the universe. But, it is not an entity. I can see how religion is so helpful because this universe thing is so overwhelming. At least, to me, it is.

SISOSIG, I am sorry started to ramble. Hope you understand what I am trying to express here. How are you doing? I just read your profile. I am so sorry. You are in a tough situation. How is your job going? Hope it is going well. Sending you virtual hugs ((((SISOSIG)))) and prayers.

HardenMyHeart posted 8/6/2017 01:29 AM

SISOSIG, so sorry for what you are going through.

I'm fine with understanding I have no power over a problem, but not that someone or something will know what's best for me and guides my life so I have to trust it...
But you do have power over certain problems. The trick is to let go of the outcome regardless of the problem you work on. It is the attachment to the outcome that makes you suffer. For most people, losing control of the outcome causes anxiety and/or anger, due to a fear of being exposed as not being good enough.

My wife's affair was a catalyst for me to change. Like you, I have no belief in God or any type of metaphysical universe where some omnipotent accountant is keeping track of everything I do. However, I suffered so badly as a result of my wife's affair, I set about seriously researching the following 2 spiritual questions:
1) What is suffering?
2) What is happiness?

The answer to these questions may seem obvious on the surface, but some of the deeper answers I discovered were very profound to me. In my research, I found that it was very important to be spiritual in some way. When I say "spiritual", I do not mean finding some organized religion. It basically means to never stop asking yourself: What gives life meaning? As a scientist, you're always digging to figure out the meaning of life (how things work), but it is equally as important to understand the meaning of what you do. In other words, how does what you do help people and society? In this respect, even your mistakes can be beneficial.

After doing much research on happiness, suffering, and spirituality, using western psychology books, I realized I still found gaps in what I was seeking. Even though my marriage was fully reconciled from the affair, I still suffered from severe anxiety. In addition, I wanted to never have to worry about the fear of another affair, especially after realizing I have no control over my wife's actions (or anyone for that matter).

During my research, I began meditating daily to help with the anxiety. It was through the meditation I began to learn about Buddhist teachings and philosophy. What was nice about Buddhism is that it did not force a specific belief system on you. You could be an atheist or a nihilist (like me) and it did not matter. And so, I have been studying Buddhism now for many years, although I do not call myself a Buddhist. I have found these teachings to be a psychological godsend (pun intended) to me. It has helped tremendously with my anxiety, and I no longer worry about my wife's future actions, whatever they may be. Our marriage is strong and doing very well right now.

My advice to you is to become a more spiritual person, but think outside the Judeo-Christian sandbox that Western Society places you in. Be open to the 12 step program as well. See what they have to teach. If what they say works, then great! If not, then keep seeking answers. You probably won't believe this, but you currently have all the wisdom you need to become a happier person. You just need to find that wisdom.

[This message edited by HardenMyHeart at 1:46 AM, August 6th (Sunday)]

SISOSIG posted 8/6/2017 08:08 AM

Thank you so much for your help. The update of the situation is that he has moved out to temporary accommodation (I couldn't live in the same place with him anymore) and we are sorting finances ready for the divorce.
I (we) am still coming to terms with what happened and the loss of my family and my best friend. Therapy and the groups are helping but it's a long process... Job is going well so far. It keeps me busy!

I thought about the Universe or Nature as a higher power, but it's these step that I have a problem with:

- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

In my opinion it is the work I do and the decisions I make that will change me. I'm not going to hand that over to something or someone else. I don't have control over some things, but I do over others and I should do something about it. Maybe there is another way of interpreting it, but I can't see it at the moment.

The meetings really help and listening to other people and the realisations they reached helped me reach some too. Not just with my STBXH but in other relationships in my life. But I've been reading and trying to work on myself and the books are full of God talk and handing it over as the steps above.

Unfortunately meditation for me is a trigger as it was something WH share with one of the OWs. But I'll look into Buddhism. It's quite difficult to find spiritual books that don't imply believing is some sort of higher power like god, or beings of some sort... Maybe I need to create some sort of filter but reading the word god all the time starts to annoy me after a page or two...

(thank you for your answers!)

[This message edited by SISOSIG at 8:09 AM, August 6th (Sunday)]

HardenMyHeart posted 8/6/2017 14:03 PM

It's quite difficult to find spiritual books that don't imply believing is some sort of higher power like god, or beings of some sort.
I would recommend the book, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron. The author is a Buddhist nun. She became a Buddhist because of infidelity in her marriage. The book comes recommended here on SI as well.

ETA:

Unfortunately meditation for me is a trigger
This is actually a good reason to start meditation. Triggers should not be avoided or feared. They teach us much about ourselves, especially our fears. As daily meditation progresses, it becomes more than just a relaxation technique. The mental discipline begins to train your mind to better deal with delusions, such as fear and anger. The mind learns to stay focused on a particular train of thought, rather than constantly jumping around from thought to thought. As a computer scientist, I found a more disciplined mind was helpful in my daily work, as well as dealing with day to day problems. I used to lie awake at night and my head would swirl with seeming endless problems. I am pleased to say, I now sleep very well and feel better able to deal with stressful situations.

[This message edited by HardenMyHeart at 2:53 PM, August 6th (Sunday)]

onlytime posted 8/6/2017 14:35 PM

Those were the same steps that I struggled with as well SISOSIG and one of the things that turned me off of 12-step recovery.

I took the same approach that HardenMyHeart did with the Buddhist teachings, and second the recommendation of When Things Fall Apart.

SISOSIG posted 8/10/2017 15:43 PM

I found a couple of websites with 12 Steps for atheists. They are AA but ca easily be adapted.

This one made be chuckle http://aaagnostica.org/2015/07/26/rewriting-the-12-steps-for-atheists/

And this one is straight to the point with the key words
http://www.12step.com/articles/12-step-programs-for-atheists

Working on them :)

DaddyDom posted 9/9/2017 01:54 AM

Hi all,

This is my first time posting in this particular thread and just wanted to say hello. It is nice to see others with similar opinions and ideas. I recognize many of the names here as people I've read or spoken to and respect, but I wasn't aware they had similar lifestyles.

It is funny, so often, people of faith describe how their faith comforts them. I feel the same way about my LACK of faith. I feel connected with the world and with life on a real, honest basis. When I succeed is because I put in the effort, there is no need to credit God as if there were some mystical being out there using me as their pawn and feeding me a breadcrumb. When I fail it is mine as well, not the will of a spirit. I own my failures and learn from them. They are mine alone. To me, the knowledge that at I am a person and in control of my own fate comforts me. How out of control and helpless it would feel to be under the thumb of a god that pulls your strings like a puppet.

I've seen some posts here recommending Pema Chaudry, what a wonderful resource! I can recommend her as well. She has a lot of nuggets of depth and introspection, but also a sense of humor and humility.

Nice to meet you all.

-DD

SisterMilkshake posted 3/5/2018 11:18 AM

*WARNING BIG FUCKING RANT AND VENT*

And this is why I don't believe there is a god. Or if there is, he doesn't give one fuck about us. People tell me how great, how loving, and caring he is. How he watches over us. (10 fucking years of religion class everyday in Catholic schools) FUCK THAT SHIT!

My beautiful, sweet natured, hilarious, precious 5 year old grandson has just been diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma. I am devastated, brokenhearted, so worried and sick with anxiety. My daughter is amazing. She is being so strong and positive.

But, how can anyone expect us to believe, to have faith, in some benevolent supreme being who loves and cares for us to allow a 5 year old to suffer in this way? Just. How. The. Fuck?

A reason for everything and testing us? FUCK THAT SHIT! Nobody needs to be tested in such a way. It is beyond cruel. How can I believe there is some god that is good but that is just fucking cruel? Maybe he is real, but why would I want to praise someone who allows this kind of suffering (and all the suffering) that goes on in this world?

I just can't. It is illogical. My poor, poor baby.

h0peless posted 3/5/2018 11:36 AM

I'm so sorry, so sorry, SMS. That's awful news.

SisterMilkshake posted 3/5/2018 15:51 PM

Thanks, hopeless. It truly is the worst news.

sisoon posted 3/5/2018 15:56 PM

Oh, SMS, with an 8 year old GS, I can just begin to imagine how awful that news is. I just won;t let my imagination go any farther than that.

I'm so sorry for your kids and your GD, and for you and your H.

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