There are lots of so-called proofs/disproofs of god. But is your disbelief based on reason or at a deeper emotional level?

I was raised in a non-believing family, so god never really made sense to me. Even though the rational arguments either way are intellectually interesting, I'm convinced they have little to do with people believing or disbelieving in god. Or, at least, I can't see that rational arguments alone would convert someone. Is that so?

Alex's Heresies - Embracing a Physical Reality

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Comment by Jo Jerome on November 2, 2009 at 7:57pm
Well like I say, there's an element of both. Intellectually/rationally, I am confident god is a fairy tale because that's what the evidence tells me.

Emotionally, it's not always easy to be an Atheist and sometimes, some places, we outright have to hide it. But for the most part, I take much greater emotional satisfaction in being true to myself, being who I am, and standing up for reality even if I'm in the minority.
Comment by Alex McCullie on November 1, 2009 at 4:34pm
Many active religious people tell me that their belief and participation comes from something different (and deeper, they say) than an intellectual engagement. In fact, I'm criticised by my religious friends for missing the point when subjecting their beliefs to intellectual scrutiny. These friends are usually intelligent and articulate (or, at least I tell them, in other parts of their lives, said with a smile!).

So is the commitment to atheism of a fundamentally different nature to the commitment to religious beliefs, intellectual versus emotional? Should we be talking about the intellectual pursuits of atheism versus theism whereas the motivations for religious belief and practice are something quite different? Many Jewish writers talk of their engaging in Jewish religious/cultural life without a belief in god.

Comment by Jaume on November 1, 2009 at 2:46pm
I believed in both Santa and God when I was 5 yo. It took me a little while to get rid of the latter, but the reasons for both apostasies were identical: a strong feeling these stories were unnatural and nonsensical. I wasn't old enough to indulge into hard rational thinking yet.
Comment by OutlawGirl on November 1, 2009 at 2:06pm
A bit of both for me. There are a lot of rational reasons not to believe in gods. For me looking at the universe is the best reason for disbelief. When you look up at the night sky, at the milky-way, and realize that those stars, those little dots, are other suns surrounded by alien worlds, you realize how small you are. The idea of a god interested in human affairs sounds very silly when you're looking at those stars. If there is such a god, it must be a small god, an earth god. Even if this god was very powerful it could not be omipotent because one would reason that if there is one god there must be many gods presiding over many different worlds and none of them could hold absolute power. This makes for fun speculation, but of course there's no proof at all.
Comment by Jo Jerome on November 1, 2009 at 1:33pm
Beth sez: "Basically, rejection of god was emotional, but reasoning out that there is no god was unemotional."

Thanks. That's what I was trying with way too many words to say. ;-)
Comment by Richard Healy on November 1, 2009 at 12:38pm
I had a fairly insipid religious upbringing so nothing really to rebel against except boredom.

I reasoned myself out of believing in ghosts aged about 12 when I realised it meant surviving your own death. That was the start.

I was very interested in science all through college though never good enough at it to stick through it educational terms.

My only lingering bit of irrationality by the time I get to university was a nascent dualism for mind and body. (i.e it wasn't obvious to me, at first, why Descartes was wrong.)

I was I think by that point a functional atheist agnostic, I'd long stopped being taken to church, and reasoned thus that if god existed he wouldn't want someone like me in their with such huge doubts, but these were largely unexpressed except to say as much. I couldn't say what I doubted because it had never really been put to me as anything specific just rather assumed.

Now was the first time I was confronting actual arguments about dual material natures and gods. (Descartes again) and I just didn't buy it. It was like someone saying 'and *pooff* magic' but again it wasn't like this major revelation, I just couldn't process it anymore, it was like a non functional bit of algebra in an otherwise clear equation. It was ghosts all over again. It just didn't fit.

It's really only later when I started thinking about consciousness and neurology that everything just clicked and I reconciled my views as a materialist.

That left no room at all for gods or demons or ghosts or quasi-real substances of thought.

I then began back-filling several gaps in my education by reading about evolution, geology, physics, chemistry, linguistics (Dawkins, Darwin, Dennet, Pinker etc)

By the time I first heard about creationism I knew it was nonsense and have remained a staunch advocate of science and reason ever since.

So my progression into atheism was really an intellectual one.

The greatest feeling I have for those still bound to religion, is pity. It is so plainly and eminently false.
Comment by B. K. on November 1, 2009 at 12:16pm
My story has two parts to it. First involved a rejection of "god" based on some of the horrible things allowed to happen. People try to explain it away as part of some higher purpose or that "satan" did it. So, their god allows the sexual abuse of children, rape, murder, genocide, slavery, and a whole host of terrible things.

After learning more, I came to the conclusion that there just isn't a god. It took more than college though to get me to this point. This is the result of 30 years of thought, questioning, reading, and talking until I came to a full conclusion.

Basically, rejection of god was emotional, but reasoning out that there is no god was unemotional.
Comment by Marshall on November 1, 2009 at 12:06pm
Just hard cold facts
Comment by Jo Jerome on November 1, 2009 at 10:13am
For me it's deeply emotional in the sense of always questioning, but finally having the courage to come out of the Atheistic closet.

Throughout childhood, it was emotion that kept me in the church. "Mommy and Daddy and all these people can't all be wrong, and why would they outright lie to me, so Christianity must be right." This created deep inner conflict with the logic/ration part of me itching to follow the evidence.

As an adult, I hate to admit but it became almost a matter of pride. "If I admit Xianity is bullshit, then I'm admitting I lived a quarter century believing in bullshit." And I'm a hell of a lot more willing to admit I'm wrong than a lot of people I know, so I can only imagine how hard it is for Theists to hear Atheist arguments.

In the end, it was the emotional need to be true to myself that brought me out of the Atheist closet.

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