Nobody Chooses To Be Atheist! Disbelief just happens, regardless of intent.

Disbelief cannot be intentional.

Either a person believes in something or they don't.

An equivalent scenario is like a person who grew up believing the Earth is flat.

Then he decides to study science and learns that the Earth is a globe and it explains night and day as well as the seasons, far better than the Flat Earth Theory.

Now he is reasonably certain that the Earth is a globe.

The Flat Earth school mates call him a heretic and no longer accept him into their friendship.

He becomes lonely and wishes he could believe in a Flat Earth again, so he pretends to, hoping to regain his once held belief.

But, this is impossible, because he has serious doubts concerning the Flat Earth Theory, which he finds cannot explain days, and seasons adequately.

So he feels out of place in his old companionship.

So he finds a group in a university which considers the Earth as global, and moves into their fold.

He now has friends, and finally resigns himself to forever being taunted and called a heretic by his previous friends.

This is like my own experience when studying the Bible, led me to disbelief in it and the god within.

I never chose to disbelieve, as I was trying to be a better believer.

Disbelief just happened, and it was almost overnight, while re-reading Leviticus, but doubts arose from the start of Genesis and they were well confirmed by the time I reached Leviticus, I awoke the next morning a disbeliever and no matter how hard I tried, I could never get it back.

In spite of the attempts of those around me to tell and convince me that god is indeed real.

I'm certain many being helped by 'The Clergy Project' have had a similar experience and the discomfort of preaching what they no longer believe, must alarm them greatly.

I'm certain many of them wish they could get their belief and confidence in their position/job back.

But, such is life.

No atheist ever chose their disbelief.

They either never believed from birth like my brother, or lost belief due to rational thought as I did.

Nobody should ever be condemned for something that was never in their control.

No atheist made a choice to not believe, they simply were never given enough evidence for god to create a genuine reason to believe.

Amen!

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I give Jerry DeWitt more credit for my "de-conversion" than most people can imagine. In listening to his testamony I saw that there was really no evidence for religious belief. The Bible as we know it today, and how it came to be, then became total nonsense. There is no supreme deity trying to get in touch with us. It's imagination.

"They either never believed from birth like my brother, or lost belief due to rational thought as I did."

I was born like your brother - with my religion switch fused in the off position. No amount of church, familial influence, or parochial schooling could jar it loose. Trying to explain that to a religionist is an exercise in futility. To them, I'm just not trying hard enough.
I realized that there is no god one day when I was 15 but I was afraid to admit it until I was 26. Before the day I realized that there is no god, I had never thought about whether I believed in any of the religion I was taught. I was raised jewish, nobody had asked me whether I believed in anything I had been taught in the religions classes my prents sent me to. After I realized there is no god bu before I admitted it, Part of my brain still felt really guilty for not doing everything I thought orthodox judaism says you have to do, even though my parents are not orthodox. So,my intuition is that after you realize that religion is bogus, you can become aware that you are able to choose whether you let yourself relapse back into religion or quit believing and following it. The more religious your family, the more likely you are to follow the religion and pretend you believe in it or stay in the closet about your non-belief. Sometimes, like when I go to my family's passover seder or religious events, I feel like everybody there is in a bubble, like blind sheep or operating like a computer while I am outside the bubble, having gained some kind of super awareness or beyond normal level of free will or thinking ability.
A topic related to the psychology of religion I think is rather under-discussed is the guilt associated with doing or not doing the religion you were taught. I think there are a lot of people who, if they could be extremely honest, they would say something like, "of course my religion and all religions is and are a bizarre waste of time or worse and all gods are imaginary, but this is what I have to believe in, practice, teach to other people, learn about, and so on, in order to avoid feeling too guilty about myself due to the possibility of not believing in and obsessing about and teaching the things I was taught to believe in, practice, teach, and so on". My intuition based on experience is that you can become aware that you have a strong urge to do behaviors you know do not make logical or rational sense and people are like computers, computers easily get infected with computer viruses or malware and all people get infected with at least some obsessive-compulsive behaviors and beliefs and often other mental disorders for at least part of their lives. Religions are mental disorders, along with other ways to describe religion.

Michael, I agree, "Religions are mental disorders".

Guilt is a very big part of being in an active religion. They all rely on your feelings of guilt to keep you in line and keep you in "the fold."

I agree, Mike! 

"Guilt is a very big part of being in an active religion. They all rely on your feelings of guilt to keep you in line and keep you in "the fold."

~ Michael Penn.

I read Thomas Kuhn's works that helped me understand my feelings as I shifted from believing in superhuman powers to non-belief. He described the experience of holding one thought or idea on a subject until evidence appeared and revealed that the belief was an error. Cognitive dissonance occurred, as one becomes convinced of the error, and a paradigm shift occurs in thinking. 

Such other shifts occurred for me when I realized that punishment is not as effective in raising children, as my parents believed, as encouragement; when I understood that my role as a female was subordinate to male and that I had the right to live in my home without fear of being beaten by the one I love. 

Kuhn's paradigm shifts made his work memorable for me, Joan, but I don't recall his saying what qualifies a shift as a paradigm shift. Did I quit reading too soon?

I don't know. When I learned of "His 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions I also learned about paradigm shift. This was during the when I studied for my Master's degree and wrote my thesis, "Toward a Theory of Family Violence ..." I may have conflated the two concepts. It was also the time that I finalized my rejection of christian religion. I turned to feminism and goddess religions that continued for a few years.

A priest, Father Tony, at Gonzaga University, where I took my doctoral training, turned me to Beyond God the Father by Mary Daly and I wrote my dissertation, "A Splendid Heresy". 

I was highly influenced by Goddesses in Everywoman: Thirtieth Anniversary Edition: Powerful Ar... by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. now out in its 30th-anniversary edition. She describes using female psychology with archetypical goddesses to describe behavior patterns and personality traits. She also has a book out with male archetypal gods. 

I will have to do a little digging and find out about paradigm shift. 

 Bolen, Jean Shinoda, M.D.

There was a time when the only occupations for women were teaching and nursing. That value has shifted entirely in my lifetime.  

On the History of Teaching and the Value of “Women’s Work”

I like how Ray Cumfart says that atheists still believe in god, and are only pretending not to believe and that all atheists become believers at death's door.

LOL

Evidently Ray has been too busy listening to himself and not taking on board reality.

Need to hang crap on that loon, just for fun.

:-D~

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