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Author Topic:   Problems with being an Atheist (or Evolutionist)
Otto Tellick
Member (Idle past 2449 days)
Posts: 288
From: PA, USA
Joined: 02-17-2008

Message 36 of 276 (538318)
12-05-2009 3:04 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by CosmicChimp
12-10-2008 11:45 AM

Re: What is unique about religion? Everything
From the OP:
Stile writes:
I would like this to be a thread where people can voice whatever it is they think is the weirdest or hardest part to being an atheist.
From CosmicChimp:
CosmicChimp writes:
... in the church setting you have the participation of the group of church members whereas in the nature scene it is to me more of a personal experience. That feeling of group participation is by no means any small effect and not to be underestimated.
That is an understatement. What sets the atheist or agnostic PoV apart (making it "harder" or maybe even "weird" in some sense), is the fact that it cannot appeal to "resonant group experiences," such as chanting or singing in unison, for any sort of substantive support of its position (public demonstrations by atheist mobs parading in the streets notwithstanding -- and how many of those have ever happened?).
With the possible exception of certain forms of Buddhism (not all forms, mind you), the sharing of rhythmic activity (chanting, singing, dancing, clapping, stomping, various other ritualized behaviors) has been a mainstay of all religious practice, and when it "succeeds" (from the religious PoV), the individual has a sense of experiencing something exceptional that cannot be experienced otherwise. I suspect that for many people who profess having first-hand "religious" (revelatory) experiences, this sort of activity is the foundation for those experiences.
Atheists and agnostics generally don't do this. While this does not mean we are denied such sensations entirely (we do still experience awe and wonder and stirring, inspirational emotion), our experiences of this sort tend to be more isolated, and perhaps even less frequent, relative to those who actively pursue this sort of thing through various group rituals.
This places atheists/agnostics at a kind of disadvantage, in terms of professing the profundity of our own experience. The "religious experience" as invoked by group (or mob) behavior has a reality to it that many can witness directly. An individual's inspiration, occurring in isolation, is harder to substantiate.
Another related "difficulty" for the atheist is that dreams and hallucinations cannot count as any sort of evidence with respect to their content. If I had a dream this morning about someone offering me a job, this does not count in any real sense toward my prospects of actually getting a job. The fact that dreams and hallucinations happen is instructive and interesting and deserves whatever research we can do to understand these things better, but we can't put any stock in their content, as is routinely done among religious believers.
Edited by Otto Tellick, : small grammar repair

autotelic adj. (of an entity or event) having within itself the purpose of its existence or happening.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 16 by CosmicChimp, posted 12-10-2008 11:45 AM CosmicChimp has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 37 by RAZD, posted 12-05-2009 9:12 PM Otto Tellick has seen this message but not replied

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