I Wasn’t Born An Atheist. I Was Born A None. I Came to Atheism and The Journey Took Too Long.

What inspired this discussion?

What inspired, or fomented, it are the claims I’ve seen here that some were born atheists.

Why so impossible a claim?

Were they wanting to be among the first to board a metaphorical train?

Okay, claim away, and take a seat in a metaphorical first class coach.

For the rest of us, coming to atheism is a personal journey.

Something else inspired it too, an essay by a Chris Reeve titled Science Is A Personal Journey.

More to come. In the meantime, what say you?

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I wasn't born a believer, but my mother and, when we were around her, my grandmother were busily remedying that.  And I took to it early on. 

I did vary from the pattern in one way.  About age ten I decided that, if there was a loving god, then there couldn't be a hell.  I stuck with that apostasy from then on, but I clung to the rest until decades later, when I started critically examining what I believed.  Bit by bit, it fell apart in my hands. 

My present status is that, when it comes to the religion I was taught, I reject it. 

My key reason?  God says "Hey, Abe (Abraham), you and Ike (Isaac) meet me at Sacrifice Rock.  And bring the knife."  Then this perfect being tells Abraham to kill his son as a sacrifice to this god thing.  No way.  So I became an atheist where Christianity is concerned.

On there being some magical wisdom floating out there and making the universe happen?  I very much doubt it, but I'll be an agnostic where that's concerned.

Note that this position took me decades to reach, and could be subject to change in the future. 

But I don't expect it will.

Issue of whether one can be born an atheist depends on how one defines atheist. If one's definition requires abnegation or positive denial then one can not be born an atheist. 

The significance of the assertion...i was born an atheist...is belief requires indoctrination.

It's as simple as this: Either you believe in a god or you don't. In my definition, if you don't believe in any gods, you are an atheist. If you DO believe that a god or gods exist, you are a THEIST.

It requires some learning and a level of understanding to be able to say: "I believe in god X". When you are born, you cannot do that, (say that you believe), in fact with the level of learning and understanding a newborn has, I'd say it's impossible for them to believe, and not just because newborns cannot talk. In that analysis, newborns are atheist by default.

Don't get me wrong, because it's not saying much to call a newborn an atheist, except that he/she is * not a theist *. By the same token, a newborn is not a chess player, a golfer, a liberal voter etc. OK - so what? Well it's just a fact, according to the way I view NOT being something.

Being an atheist does NOT necessarily mean that one declares that NO GODS EXIST, though in many cases it may do. Just that in the case of newborns, I don't see how it can be. They just don't believe, any more than I do, though for different reasons.

There are a few categories of atheist: default, agnostic, hard, apatheist etc.

Gila, you seem unwilling to say a newborn doesn’t know, or has no knowledge.

I don’t see the world as a binary place. There is a gray scale.

{ Gila, you seem unwilling to say a newborn doesn’t know, or has no knowledge.

I don’t see the world as a binary place. There is a gray scale. }

In reply to the above, Tom, that is exactly what I am saying. A newborn has no knowledge, and doesn't know, so a newborn cannot be a theist. It is the lack of knowledge which makes them atheists, as opposed to theists.

I make no claim to babies coming to atheism in a personal journey. We are defining atheism apparently quite differently, and that is OK - you may do it your way, and I'll do it mine.

 However, I suspect that I understand your POV, better than you do mine. There are a number of categories of atheists that have been defined. Included are apatheists, who don't care to think about the matter, (even though they know that the question of the existence of a god or gods is of interest to other people).

You say, Tom that: "I wasn't born an atheist, I was born a none." I find there to be an error in that. The number of people claiming to be nones in censuses and surveys seems to be on the rise. The question usually , (almost exclusively I'd say), is . . . "What is your religion?" The reply none, does not mean that such a person is an atheist. A person can believe in gods, demons, wizards, ghosts and the like, but not affiliate themselves to any religion.

A newborn baby is a none, as well as an atheist. An atheist is a special case of a none, unaffiliated with any religion, due to their non-belief in any god or gods.

Just to confirm, I AM ON BOARD with :-

"A newborn doesn’t know, or has no knowledge.

I don’t see the world as a binary place. There is a gray scale".

However, it is a black and white case of a newborn not having any belief in any god or gods, making them atheists in my definition. Frankie Dapper said it well, above. But if one insists that to be an atheist, a person MUST HAVE KNOWLEDGE and say that they do not believe in any god or gods, then newborns are NOT atheists, by that definition.

There is no intention, nor assumption on my part, that your own current status as a declared atheist, Tom, has not been arrived at via a personal journey, probably a lengthy and involved one.

As a declared atheist myself, that declaration too has been arrived at by way of a lengthy personal journey, and it continues to be such a process. I am not closed minded, and given the right evidence and / or reasoning, I could change my chosen atheistic status. But such evidence or reasoning has not convinced me thus far, so I remain what I term a "CONSIDERED ATHEIST". By that, I mean that I have arrived at, and maintained my self described status as an atheist, through CONSIDERATION of the issues, as far as I am aware of them.

Part of my point is to say that some people ARE atheists without having considered the evidence and reasoning. They then are NOT CONSIDERED ATHEISTS. We might perhaps agree that they would be atheists, without any grounds for it. And finally, Tom, I am not writing, to indicate that you are in any way wrong. By YOUR definition of what it means to be an atheist, you are correct about what you say.

Having said that, it makes me wonder whether you are not seeing all the shades of grey, between the black and white?

Just a post script . . .

Tom, you say that you were born a "None". A newborn is no more capable of declaring themselves a NONE, than they are of declaring themselves to be an ATHEIST.

In both instances, some learning is required, (along with the passage through the necessary developmental stages in life - eg. understanding a language), for a human to declare themselves to be anything. To make a grounded claim to be a Christian or a Muslim or a theist of any kind, requires knowledge, (as you say), so that belief can be established. However, no knowledge is required, to either NOT BELIEVE IN ANY GODS, (atheist) or NOT HOLD TO ANY RELIGION, (none).

IMHO, if there is a problem with a newborn being labelled an atheist, there is exactly the same problem with it being labelled a "none". On the other hand, in my definitions of these categories, a newborn is necessarily BOTH atheist AND none, ie. neither holding to any religion, nor believing in any gods.

Gila, I was born decades ago, and though I was then unable to say I was a none I am now very able to say so.

I had no religion when I was born, I was atheistic. No change i the last 67 years. 

Larry, you say you had no religion when you were born.

Was that areligious, aspiritual, atheistic, or a- something else?

You have to learn to be spiritual, you can avoid being religious, but atheistic is the default until someone starts trying to program you. 

Larry, YOU had to learn to be spiritual; I didn’t.

My Catholic dad sent me to Catholic schools. Should I have refused to go?

I had no knowledge. I was ignorant.

In short, Larry, your answers pertain to you.

Tom - I'm trying to figure whether being a dick is your hobby or your profession. (Results aren't all in, but it's looking neck and neck.)

Viz. your willful misinterpretation of Larry's first statement: You have to learn to be spiritual . . . 

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