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Old 08 Jun 2012, 09:27 PM   #371195 / #1
David B
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Default Are there differences between the atheists who left religion and those who were never religious?

Everyone is different of course, with different temperaments, but in the course of my years on discussion boards like this one, I think I recognise a few tendencies, to which there will of course be exceptions.

For a start with, I suspect that the so called 'post atheists', who in broad terms seem to think that atheists should just STFU about religion, tend to come predominantly from the 'never weres'

Secondly, I further suspect that those most scathing about belief, in the sense that they tend to be very outspoken, to the point and often beyond the point of rudeness, also tend to be skewed towards the never weres.

Thirdly, I think that those to whom arguing against religion is most important, but at the same time tend to focus on attacking the beliefs rather than the believer, tend to come from those who used to be religious themselves.

Or perhaps I'm seeing tendencies that aren't really there, but just reflect my own position

Comments?

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Old 08 Jun 2012, 09:32 PM   #371198 / #2
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Those tendencies make sense to me. Perhaps a poll would help clarify how true they are for our clientele?
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Old 08 Jun 2012, 09:47 PM   #371202 / #3
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I don't have any doubt that the atheists who are angriest about religion are the ones who were themselves hoodwinked by it, at some point in their lives.
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Old 08 Jun 2012, 10:48 PM   #371220 / #4
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Oh I suppose that there are likely some things that would trend differently across the two. I've always been an atheist so my responses are from that point of view.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David B View Post
For a start with, I suspect that the so called 'post atheists', who in broad terms seem to think that atheists should just STFU about religion, tend to come predominantly from the 'never weres'
Not sure how to answer. I am not particularity interested in discussing the logical flaws of religion or the nonsensicalness of it all. I am interested in how religion often leads people to make terribly immoral decisions or profoundly stupid decisions.

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Secondly, I further suspect that those most scathing about belief, in the sense that they tend to be very outspoken, to the point and often beyond the point of rudeness, also tend to be skewed towards the never weres.
As a never was, I can be pretty scathing about the religion but mainly when it comes to the decisions that people make because of it. Usually it would be directed at the people and the actions that those people take that imposes it onto others.

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Thirdly, I think that those to whom arguing against religion is most important, but at the same time tend to focus on attacking the beliefs rather than the believer, tend to come from those who used to be religious themselves.
I tend not to attack the believer except when the believer is acting based on religion to do harm to others or to impose their nonsense onto others. In that case, I'm perfectly willing to attack the person.

In summery, I'm more interested in the detrimental actions that religion will prompt some people to take than the religious beliefs themselves. I've never met a religious belief that ever passed the smell test and so I regard them as nonsense and in the long run, boring.

The actions are not boring and they are often dangerous.
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Old 09 Jun 2012, 12:23 AM   #371233 / #5
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I see some similarities in thought patterns with those who leave faiths; I can usually spot an ex-Catholic from an ex-Baptist, for instance, especially where faith itself is the topic of conversation. Religion is far more than a collection of intellectual propositions, and it leaves deep roots. That's not just true of atheism, it's true of anyone who converts to another faith. Our thoughts and speech are peppered with symbols and assumptions from every stage of our lives, especially those critical first few.
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Old 09 Jun 2012, 02:16 AM   #371257 / #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David B View Post
Everyone is different of course, with different temperaments, but in the course of my years on discussion boards like this one, I think I recognise a few tendencies, to which there will of course be exceptions.

For a start with, I suspect that the so called 'post atheists', who in broad terms seem to think that atheists should just STFU about religion, tend to come predominantly from the 'never weres'

Secondly, I further suspect that those most scathing about belief, in the sense that they tend to be very outspoken, to the point and often beyond the point of rudeness, also tend to be skewed towards the never weres.

Thirdly, I think that those to whom arguing against religion is most important, but at the same time tend to focus on attacking the beliefs rather than the believer, tend to come from those who used to be religious themselves.

Or perhaps I'm seeing tendencies that aren't really there, but just reflect my own position

Comments?

David
Sounds dead-on to me.
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Old 09 Jun 2012, 08:12 AM   #371268 / #7
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I'm in full agreement with David and Jobar.

In particular, as an ex-christian and the black sheep of an extended xtian family, I have a greater understanding of what it means to be under that influence and to think religiously.

It's often easy to scoff at what we perceive as mindless stupidity, but I can vouch for how religious thinking is honest, heartfelt and usually stems from an earnest desire to see good triumph over evil.

The problem of course is that the framework itself is very limited in its distinction between good and evil, and that it often results in evil. It's naturally a matter of perspective, although as an atheist I appreciate having cultivated a broader one beyond the confines of dogma.

When my mom preaches to me and tries to persuade me to give my heart to Jesus, I understand where it comes from and that the sentiment is genuine and heartfelt. So while I hate religion for it having stolen the possibility of me and my mother ever having a true heart-and-mind relationship, it doesn't mean that I don't understand the thoughts and feelings it generates, and how it makes you think.

Someone who has never walked in those shoes would have a hard time grokking it in the same fullness. Nevertheless, when I consider the damage done to my own psyche by religious indoctrination, I consider the 'never-weres' as somehow the fortunate ones. It's not like I can in any way call myself a 'true' or 'better' atheist' because I had to tread that minefield. I would have preferred it if I never had to. That nobody ever has to.
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Old 09 Jun 2012, 09:06 AM   #371286 / #8
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I was born into an atheist family, although that might imply indoctrination, which was largely absent; I got indoctrination enough from school. Nevertheless, I imagine the fact that my family were not religious made atheism a possibility for me when I seriously started thinking about it all in my teens. Does that make me a never-was? I did go through what I would call a superstitious phase, where the indoctrination from school made me fear my parents would go to hell.

I don't respect any religious belief that's ever been explained to me. However, I don't by any means lump all believers into the same box. Some are intellectuals who seem to me to tie themselves into complicated philosophical knots to support their belief; others are just dumb or hopelessly uneducated.

But OTW it's not so much the beliefs that rile me as the status and privilege accorded to religion. So, much more than an atheist, I am a passionate secularist. I have been known to work with religious people towards a common end, and I think it would be stupid not to do so. (One of my best moves was to recruit the then-Archbishop of York as a prominent supporter for a charity I was running. I also recruited Richard Dawkins and The Duke of Edinburgh at the same time. )

At the moment I particularly support the (Wikipedia)National Secular Society and the One Law for All campaign, which are both secular rather than specifically atheist, although run by atheists.
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Old 09 Jun 2012, 09:22 AM   #371293 / #9
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I don't have any doubt that the atheists who are angriest about religion are the ones who were themselves hoodwinked by it, at some point in their lives.
The danger of this kind of generalisation is that it could be interpreted as implying that outspoken criticism of religion is simply based on personal grudge and not really legitimate (i.e. it can't really be justified).

I consider myself an outspoken (though never intentionally "rude") atheist and I don't come from a background of ever having been genuinely hoodwinked.

I feel slightly uncomfortable with the simplistic characterisation of high-profile outspoken atheists in this thread as being driven, at least in part, by anger at having been taken in by religion. Religious belief has caused, and continues to cause great harm and this in itself is good reason why we all should be outspoken.

Chris

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Old 09 Jun 2012, 10:15 AM   #371308 / #10
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As for me, I have a certain sympathy for those who have been indoctrinated into religion and a severe bitterness with those who use religion as a power base. I know what it's like to put my faith in something that I've, from birth known nothing else. I'm sure there are those in this world who haven't had the benefit of being on the opposing side. It is the same mindset that people have of alcoholics that have never been one.

I am an alcoholic even though I've not touched a bottle in over 30 years. If you ever want to know what mental and emotional slavery is like, become an addict of anything. To me faith is just another form of addiction. It becomes the norm and even if you throw it off, you'll still carry residual ideals after the fact.

I might be completely wrong here. I might just be an overemotional person who would see others in the light I do, even if I hadn't been exposed to religion. I don't know, but it feels correct by me. I know I go off a lot, but I do care and I try to look to find even the slightest link to understand people.

I pity those that are lost in the world of religion. I know that they are looking for something and think they've found something wonderful. Sometimes it's really hard to walk away from that security blanket, even though one notices the cracks in the ideals of faith. Many just chalk it up as the error of humans, instead of a flaw in the structure of faith. I think I was just tired of everything and just walked away from everything, because of my family life.

I think that those who haven't ever been inside the fishbowl sometimes have a problem understanding the fish. It doesn't make them any more than what they were even if religion didn't exist. There are good people out there and there are bad. There are, also those people who just don't concern themselves with understanding where others come from and the guilt in that exists on both sides of the religious isle.

What turns my heart cold is those that use the vulnerability of Christians to the suggestions of their leaders to think something outside the realm of religion is inherently evil and must be stomped out. Those people who abuse the faith of those beneath them are the very one's that I think I could easily, without any emotions, walk up and put a 45. into their head and quietly walk away. Those people are the personification of Evil and deserve nothing else.

Paint me crazy if you like, but in my mind, these are the very types of people who begain all the atrocities that religion has ever poured onto the world, and the reason there is so much animosity between believers and non-believers.
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Old 09 Jun 2012, 12:41 PM   #371337 / #11
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For the purposes of this discussion, I'm not sure whether to call my self a Never-Was or not. Personally, I never did believe, but I come from a family of believers, so I've seen that world from the inside. It just never "took" with me.

So, again for the purposes of this discussion only, I don't think I fit the Never-Weres. That group, to me, is more the ones raised in a nonreligious home and environment.

Jobar, I think your distinction of those who feel the most vitriol would be better set as "those who FEEL they were hoodwinked", as not everyone who leaves religion feels that way, by far. But I do agree that those who most feel betrayed - and let's add "damaged", too - tend to have the most anger.
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Old 09 Jun 2012, 07:21 PM   #371412 / #12
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There's no doubt about that, Bree.

There are of course different flavours of religion within a religion, and different people bring up their kids differently. I happen to have been brought up with an industrial-strength christian-nationalist protestant dutch religion. In other words, the fire-and-brimstone-kaffirs-are-beneath-us type of Afrikaaner god-fearing horseshit. The damage I needed to undo over the years went far beyond mere religious dogma, it was an absolutely relentless regime of religio-political indoctrination that was banged into us everywhere we went.

Where the religious aspect is concerned, I have a non-trivial example of the damage it did. Whenever I was in the shower, and somebody turned on the cold tap, and I got scalded, terror-images of burning in hell forever would rampage through my mind. To this day, when it happens, I think back on it, but thankfully in an intellectually distanced, sardonic way. The fear is gone, but the imprint remains, like a badly faded tattoo.

I don't think a never-was could ever truly understand something like that, or hence understand why the hatred for religion runs so close to the bone in people who were forced to walk that particular path.
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Old 09 Jun 2012, 10:49 PM   #371450 / #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David B View Post
For a start with, I suspect that the so called 'post atheists', who in broad terms seem to think that atheists should just STFU about religion, tend to come predominantly from the 'never weres'
I can't comment on averages, but this certainly isn't true for me. And just because I've never been religious, and was raised in a non-religious family, doesn't mean I'm blind. I can see the harm religion does as well as any, and once one is aware of the harm, one isn't very likely to go the STFU method.
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Old 09 Jun 2012, 11:07 PM   #371454 / #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David B View Post
For a start with, I suspect that the so called 'post atheists', who in broad terms seem to think that atheists should just STFU about religion, tend to come predominantly from the 'never weres'
I can't comment on averages, but this certainly isn't true for me. And just because I've never been religious, and was raised in a non-religious family, doesn't mean I'm blind. I can see the harm religion does as well as any, and once one is aware of the harm, one isn't very likely to go the STFU method.
Well, he didn't say that all Never Weres are STFU types, just that most who are STFU types are Never Weres. Bit of a difference, there.
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Old 10 Jun 2012, 06:06 AM   #371504 / #15
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Quote:
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I don't have any doubt that the atheists who are angriest about religion are the ones who were themselves hoodwinked by it, at some point in their lives.
I agree with this. Although I think that might disagree with the OP. I'm not totally sure. I think the ones who focus on religion rather than behavior tend to be the ex-religious. Is Post Atheism really a thing? I used it once as a joke about the nature of needing an ism to associate with. Urp. Maybe I need a new word! I don't know. Anyway, just stfu about religion isn't my perspective. It may be others'. I see it as more that replacing a truth with another truth is no advancement. Anyone who pushes a truth os a preacher to me. I don't care about belief near so much as I care about evangelizing.

And I care very much about proposing values as truths because it leads to an inferior class.
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Old 11 Jun 2012, 06:10 PM   #371857 / #16
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Hmm...
I'm a "never wassa" but in my experience, the most vehement "post Atheist" are also ex-believers.
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Old 11 Jun 2012, 08:18 PM   #371890 / #17
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I don't agree with these generalizations at all. I am a former child/teen evangelical who was heavily indoctrinated, but I don't hate religion. In fact, I think it's impossible to weigh whether the good outweighs the bad or vice versa when it comes to religion. I don't give a rat's ass what people believe. I care how they behave, and interact with their fellow humans. I often distrust religious institutions but I see them differently from how I see individuals and their basic beliefs. Secular institutions can become subject to the same degrees of corruption and hypocrisy as religious institutions. As long as individuals respect my right to believe differently from them and limit the degree of religiosity that they push in the public square, I see religion more as a source of amusement than a source of harm or disdain.

I think we atheists are all very different in our approach, some very harsh and strident, some very tolerant towards the more benign religions and others totally apathetic towards what others belief. I don't think it makes that much difference what atheists once believed, unless they are carrying a lot of baggage around from past experiences. I think it more likely has to do with basic personality types than it does past beliefs or lack thereof.
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Old 12 Jun 2012, 09:59 PM   #372156 / #18
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Separate conversation (derail) moved to new thread.
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Old 14 Jun 2012, 03:51 AM   #372521 / #19
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On further consideration, I would imagine the ones who never had religion to be post atheist types, meaning people who see religion and anti-religion from a third position whatever that is. And I would imagine the ones who escaped religion to be the most anti religion since they were the ones who would feel most lied too.


That's opposite the OP though, isn't it? I can't really use my experience because we don't really have much real live religion out here that you'd notice if you didn't go look in churches. Online, i don't always connect the life stories with opinions.
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Old 14 Jun 2012, 01:49 PM   #372589 / #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BWE View Post

That's opposite the OP though, isn't it?
No.

Quote:
Originally Posted by you
the ones who never had religion to be post atheist types
Quote:
Originally Posted by OP
the so called 'post atheists', who in broad terms seem to think that atheists should just STFU about religion, tend to come predominantly from the 'never weres'
Post-atheism isn't a third position, by the way, it's atheism plus a certain attitude about atheism, along the lines that religion is by and large discredited and doesn't need to be argued against. So the former believers are 1. the ones most familiar with the harm of religion, so they often have a great deal of anger against it, and 2. nevertheless understand it from the inside, and so find it easier to take believers seriously. Whereas people who never believed find it easiest to ignore religion (post-atheism), but when they do pay attention to it, they find it more incomprehensibly stupid than former believers.
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Old 14 Jun 2012, 02:49 PM   #372598 / #21
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Thanks trendkill. It made sense that way but I couldnt parse the op right.
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Old 14 Jun 2012, 03:02 PM   #372600 / #22
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I suppose I left religion when I was around 15. I am now retired. But was I ever really religious? I went (was sent) to church and Sunday School, said my prayers and accepted that the stories were true without ever thinking about them. Then I came across the contention that God could not be all loving and all powerful - as I had been taught. I began thinking about faith and then discovered the contradictions in the bible - the supposed inerrant word of God. The dam broke. I doubt whether I ever was religious in other than the most superficial way.

Did I leave religion? Or was I never there in the first place?
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Old 14 Jun 2012, 04:34 PM   #372610 / #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trendkill View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by BWE View Post

That's opposite the OP though, isn't it?
No.

Quote:
Originally Posted by you
the ones who never had religion to be post atheist types
Quote:
Originally Posted by OP
the so called 'post atheists', who in broad terms seem to think that atheists should just STFU about religion, tend to come predominantly from the 'never weres'
Post-atheism isn't a third position, by the way, it's atheism plus a certain attitude about atheism, along the lines that religion is by and large discredited and doesn't need to be argued against. So the former believers are 1. the ones most familiar with the harm of religion, so they often have a great deal of anger against it, and 2. nevertheless understand it from the inside, and so find it easier to take believers seriously. Whereas people who never believed find it easiest to ignore religion (post-atheism), but when they do pay attention to it, they find it more incomprehensibly stupid than former believers.
It's too bad I didn't get to define post atheism because I take a third position. I never seem to be able to find a good label. Not for lack of looking though.
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Old 14 Jun 2012, 06:08 PM   #372633 / #24
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It's too bad I didn't get to define post atheism because I take a third position. I never seem to be able to find a good label. Not for lack of looking though.
Spiritual Atheist?
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Old 14 Jun 2012, 07:17 PM   #372656 / #25
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No. Someone who tries not to use words to limit my ability to experience maybe. Atheism isn't a useful term except as a comparison to theism. I just can't seem to find an ism which fits my outlook. Always a bridesmaid. Never a bride.
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