I recently attended a church service due to my christian friend's goading.(Long and somewhat depressing story, point is: not my idea.) I entered expecting the usual BS that churches give, maybe a couple of things that would provide a good laugh. Unfortunately, the preacher there is VERY good at his job. I fell victim to the pathos and i hate myself for it. I am still an atheist, but I've been I don't want to use this word, but it fits, infected with irrational doubts. I "feel" something, i dunno what to call it. I do not believe in god, i do not want to believe in god, i don't even like the idea of god. My brain still tells me the same stuff and i follow it, but i am concerned that this could develop into something worse. Does anybody know of a good solution to this problem? And don't go and just insult me or call me weak minded, i got enough of that from the guys over at atheist America.

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My advice?  Delve into the rational.  Find those things that interest you about science and how the world really works and follow them.  

I'm a recovering catholic myself (in fact I just had to go back and un-capitalize that word) and whenever I start feeling those twinges of catholic guilt creeping back in, I go read something rational.  I read things like the Skeptics Annotated Bible, or Pharyngula, or if I'm not in the mood for reading I'll do youtube searches for speeches by Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, etc.  or if I'm just needing a good uplifting out of that black hole of idiotic mind-virus induced god guilt, I'll sit back and enjoy some comedy like Tim Minchin, Eddie Izzard, or the like.

Hope that helps.


Um, wow... i didn't expect the first response to be so helpful, but yeah that just makes me feel so much better and it's good advice too. Thanks.

Glad I could help.

This isn't ridicule, just a tool.

Look at both figures and realize that what you feel for each has no bearing on what you think about them as being real.

I would suggest writing everything down that you remember from the sermon.  I strongly suspect that it is chalked full of good material along with some junk.  After writing down all that you can remember, try to label the different parts with their level of veracity.  Also try to take notes on how you felt about certain lines.  Be as honest as possible.  You will probably learn something about what makes you tick.  Once you identify your emotional buttons they will be yours to use and not someone else's.

Like an actor, a good public speaker is suppose to be able to convey emotion and inspire the audience. Its a common human trait, we feed off the emotions of others. That's why a comedy is more funny when you watch it with friends. Or a horror movie is more scary when you watch it in a theatre. You can use this technique in any performance art. Feelings are real, doctrine is not. 

Also read Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan. Also study some basic psychology, it amazing how we cannot trust ourselves. 

I know the feeling you're talking about.  I've had it several times, even as an atheist.  It didn't change my belief, but I have to admit that I liked it.  I've even done the teary-eyed walk up to stage to get saved more than once, even though I knew I didn't believe a word of it.  In Gina Welch's book In the Land of Believers,  she calls it "Feeling X".   I think her book really nailed what it's like to be an atheist in church.  I recommend it.

I don't know if anyone said this yet but its just the play on human nature it seems, everybody wants to feel included in something, anything really, even a group of atheists;) but I like to think of preachers as really good salesmen, if they can find your hook they will exploit it.

as you said, you fell victim to a pathos.

The best advice I could give is reflection, it helps to start with asking yourself things like "OK, what made me atheist?" or "why did I become atheist?" and work from there.

Consider that you remarked on the preacher being "VERY good at his job". Think about that for a while, and think about other psychological practitioners, for example Derren Brown. He is an atheist and keen to tell people that what he does is trickery, misdirection etc. No doubt the people who go to his shows, despite hearing him say this, might be compelled to believe that he has supernatural powers.

We know these people are good at manipulating minds - just take a step back and appreciate their skill. It requires no fall into belief if you can see the show from outside the box...




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