Help with how to live as an atheist

Atheism, secularism & freethought etc.

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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#21  Postby XiledSpawn » Jun 23, 2011 3:32 am

inkaStepa wrote: Nothing seems important to me because "importance" is just an illusion.


Where did you get that idea? things that are important to ponies are very real, it effects who they are, the way they act. I am no psychiatrist by any means, and I say this only out of personal experience, it sounds like you are having an identity crises, or are perhaps just still trying to figure out who you really are, you want answers that only you yourself can give, but can't come to a conclusion on what those answers are. At least that's what it was like for me.


Really sorry to respond and run, but I have to go to work very soon. :(
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#22  Postby inkaStepa » Jun 23, 2011 3:47 am

No thanks for replying. I don't really have any priorities except being healthy at the moment because I do want to live. But with everything else....it's all very overwhelming at least to me.
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#23  Postby Spearthrower » Jun 23, 2011 3:57 am

inkaStepa wrote:I'm not a troll but...I don't know. Nothing seems important to me because "importance" is just an illusion. This has nothing to do with a god at all I'm definately an atheist and not religious. Your right, It has been a year and I'm still lost...I'll go see someone I guess. Thanks.


The real problem is that you were lied to, perhaps unwittingly, by your family and community. They inserted a giant over-arching theme that permeated all aspects of your life. When you inspected those beliefs and found them lacking, you lost your habitually reasoned explanation for the world around you.

The first thing to remember is that the road less travelled might be lonely, but it is far more rewarding. Instead of being given meaning on a plate, it is your obligation to yourself to explore the world around you and to engage in introspection about your relationship with that world. You are, for the fleeting moment of your life, uniquely you; so explore it bravely and resolutely and follow those paths wherever they lead you.

As an example of one thing a 'godless' life gave me. When I was young and brought up in the Christian faith, I was basically taught to perceive all other animals as lesser being, of very little value except to serve us. The age old scala natura, with god, angels, humans, animals, rocks in descending order. Exploration of the reality of the universe tells a very different story. We could spend billions of years exploring the universe and we will never find other organisms so closely related. All lifeforms on this planet are our brothers and sisters. For me, this strengthened my passion to learn about the animal kingdom, and to do something productive about protecting it from the ravages of our modern, technological society.

A narrative given to you might be exciting, but one crafted by you with your own unique experiences and insights is surely far more valuable?
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#24  Postby byofrcs » Jun 23, 2011 4:00 am

Welcome to humanism - where the buck stops with YOU.

You're not alone with those questions of importance of what you do and of purpose and if you've still lost after a year then you've only just started because the problem is that for millenia religion has provided a Purpose-In-A-Box solution that people didn't have to actually think about but once they did then they found that the box was empty. You're at that stage - staring at this emptiness, scratching your head saying WTF ?

But actually you're also part of a secular, atheist, non-religious revolution to fill that void with actual useful and tangible helpful information for others. You're like a scientist or researcher who enters a new world with absolutely no knowledge except the ability to gather knowledge and use that to make predictions. What you discover can help others but remember that there is no manual to your life because it has not yet happened - you write your own life story.

So document what you find and how you have resolved these problems. Be an observer to how these other, the theists, react to you. Think of it like watching an antfarm.
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#25  Postby keypad5 » Jun 23, 2011 4:16 am

inkaStepa wrote:No thanks for replying. I don't really have any priorities except being healthy at the moment because I do want to live. But with everything else....it's all very overwhelming at least to me.


I think RPizzle brought up a good point about values in his post on the first page.

It's really not about living as an atheist or a theist or anything. It's more about having some values and living in accordance with those values. The values that you gravitate to can only be determined by you.

As you mention, you just want to be healthy at the moment. Well, you can start with that value. If you want to be healthy then avoid doing things that jeopardise your health.

Snorting a whole lot of coke, having lots of unprotected sex, binge drinking and smoking are probably things that contradict your value of "being healthy", so don't do them. Not because they're "wrong" or "sinful" or "evil", but because they contravene a value that you've established for yourself.

It may very well be helpful to talk to someone to help you see what values you hold for yourself, or perhaps what values you'd like to embody. Maybe there are lots, maybe there are only one or two. Either way, it's a stepping stone towards living with more personal authenticity and not worrying about other peoples' "right" and "wrong" etc.
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#26  Postby XiledSpawn » Jun 23, 2011 1:16 pm

That is some very good advice from RPizzle, Spearthrower, byofrcs and keypad5, I wouldn't take their words lightly if I were you. However if you ever want to just talk, I'm usually in the IRC that is linked on my signature, I know the Timezones will probably be a little awkward but I usually stay up late anyway. Feel free to stop by, I always find talking to someone comforting, even if it's about nothing important.
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#27  Postby Dudely » Jun 23, 2011 1:24 pm

inkaStepa wrote:I'm not a troll but...I don't know. Nothing seems important to me because "importance" is just an illusion. This has nothing to do with a god at all I'm definately an atheist and not religious. Your right, It has been a year and I'm still lost...I'll go see someone I guess. Thanks.


Daniel Dennet said it best: "Yes, we have a soul. But it's made of lots of tiny robots."

This applies to the idea of meaning and our giving importance to objects and ideas as well. Yes, 'importance' is not an intrinsic property of anything. But that doesn't change the meaning of it.

We are human. We have these wonderful brains that build up fantastic hierarchies and systems inside our heads. These systems can do amazing things: one of which is the production of a soul- that mote of human existence we hold so dear is REAL. It's just not a magic spirit. Importance and meaning are the same way. Just because something is important to you and you know that that is not "real" importance doesn't make it less important!

You must free yourself from the idea that someone else has to tell you what's important and meaningful. You're more than capable of doing it on your own and that doesn't make it any less meaningful.
This is what hydrogen atoms do given 15 billion years of evolution- Carl Sagan

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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#28  Postby HughMcB » Jun 23, 2011 1:54 pm

inkaStepa wrote:I'm not a troll but...I don't know. Nothing seems important to me because "importance" is just an illusion. This has nothing to do with a god at all I'm definately an atheist and not religious. Your right, It has been a year and I'm still lost...I'll go see someone I guess. Thanks.

Ok here's the big secret of living without god (i.e. being an atheist);

You make your own importance in life, your own goals, dreams, aspirations, desires. Your life is in your hands. If you don't know what to do with that, it's not atheism's fault or godlessness' fault.

Being free to dictate which direction your life should take and what makes it important is one of the greatest blessings (irony intended) that being a godless heathen gives us. It's liberation and a gift, you seem to think it's a curse. Perhaps you were too morally dependent on a "God" to begin with, I don't know.

Now your moral responsibilities should lie with those real, material, feeling, empathic creatures around you, not some a contract of being born into slavery to a supreme dictator. I don't see what all the fuss is about, to me it's easy. Be the best person to those you care about, those who care about you. And don't be a dick to everyone else.
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#29  Postby blindfaith » Jun 23, 2011 1:55 pm

personally as a humanist and athiest, family is the most important thing in my life. i get pleasure from taking my kids out and having loads of fun with them, that makes me happy and contented and gives me purpose. my kids having the best childhood i can possibly give them (cash permitting,) is my mission in life right now.
religion,friends, etc come and go, family are for life.

Do you feel good when you do something good for someone else?
of course you do, we have altruistic genes. if doing good makes you feel good then do it, no religion needs be invoked to have the urge to do good, it comes naturally.

you sound like your a bit lost atm and cant find a purpose in life, your only 20 and have many years to find purpose and happiness without religion. its out there, go and find it.
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#30  Postby rJD » Jun 23, 2011 2:15 pm

HughMcB wrote:Be the best person to those you care about, those who care about you. And don't be a dick to everyone else.

And if you occasionally think you haven't done enough for those you care about, or happen to have been a bit of a dick to someone else, put it right if you can, learn from the experience and forgive yourself. Everybody fucks up occasionally.
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#31  Postby Mister Agenda » Jun 24, 2011 4:45 pm

You're young, don't have many committments, and are floundering a bit. Happens to a lot of us. It's not urgent to sort it all out right away. It may take awhile for you to find your direction, in the meantime, why not enjoy meandering a bit?

And if you pay attention to what really makes you happy, you might be surprised.
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#32  Postby Hugin » Jun 24, 2011 11:46 pm

Not sure I can add much, but Epicurus might have some advice. Obviously it's very old, so not everything applies (you'll understand what I mean), and Epicurus was a (poly)deist rather than an atheist, but the gist is still relevant IMHO. I think Richard Carrier writes pretty well on it as well.

laklak wrote:Stop caring what other people think about you, for a start.


This is something I have a serious problem with, for some reason. Getting better at it, but not quite there yet.
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#33  Postby Agrippina » Jun 25, 2011 10:31 am

I don't understand why anyone should have a problem just being human.
Your humanity isn't defined by your religious beliefs or lack of religious belief, the only difference is that atheists don't believe in gods, otherwise they're just human.
Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature.
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#34  Postby Hugin » Jun 25, 2011 8:15 pm

Agrippina wrote:I don't understand why anyone should have a problem just being human.


Maybe it will be possible the day we encounter aliens?
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#35  Postby John P. M. » Jun 25, 2011 9:33 pm

inkaStepa wrote:Nothing seems important to me because "importance" is just an illusion. This has nothing to do with a god at all I'm definately an atheist and not religious. Your right, It has been a year and I'm still lost...I'll go see someone I guess. Thanks.


'Seeing someone' can perhaps be a good idea, but shouldn't be necessary for most. Most of us, perhaps all of us, who have once been religious and became atheists reached that place of having to figure things out anew. As some have already pointed out, we had ready-made-answers-in-a-box then, but now we really have to think things through and come up with reasons and explanations that don't involve gods, or the opinion of gods. Reading about other people's experiences, and discussing the matters may be sufficient help in and of itself.

You say that nothing seems important anymore, because importance is an illusion. I wouldn't say so, I think I'd say that importance is relative; relative to time, place, and the people involved. You decide what is important to you. But some things are almost intrinsically important (if a few assumptions are granted). You probably have warmer emotions for some people than others. They are important to you; you would not be indifferent if they were harmed or killed. From this, you can gather that they, showing similar warm emotions for you, see you as important, and wouldn't want anything bad to happen to you. From this, you can infer that you should take care of yourself, because you would want them to take care of themselves so that they weren't unnecessarily harmed, as this in turn would hurt you. Basically 'the golden rule' in both directions.

The only kind of 'importance' one 'loses' going from theism to atheism would be an asserted eternal and transcendent importance, the importance given a subject or object by an external entity, a god. Certainly, one could say that on atheism, what you do now does not echo into eternity, and so it makes no difference what you do. But that wouldn't be a practical or workable way of thinking about, or doing, things from your own perspective, or for those around you. We live here and now, and what is important is important here and now. I don't think it's any different even if theism is true; what you do here and now with regards to your fellow humans (and animals) and with the things you enjoy would not have any higher importance in eternity.

'God' is really only a higher 'shelf' people put stuff on to get it out of the way. For instance, one takes 'importance', lifts it up, and places it on the 'God' shelf. Morals is another example.
One has then really only heaped it onto another entity, and you may as well heap it onto another person, or group of people, or yourself instead. Whether a God thinks you or what you do is important or not, has no more weight than whether a fellow human, or you yourself, think so. All would be entities with opinions. 'Importance' has real world applications and implications, which hold true under either world view. Being an atheist, you no longer have the high shelf to put potentially troublesome concepts onto, but you're really none the poorer for it. Look at it instead as an invitation to come up with real, substantive solutions and explanations.

If you have no emotions for anyone or anything, and therefore have no 'drive' and can see no importance in anything, not even interpersonal relations, then I think perhaps seeing someone would be a good idea.

I've had a couple of glasses of wine and it's kinda late, but I hope I made some amount of sense still. :cheers:
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#36  Postby Scarlett » Jun 25, 2011 9:38 pm

John P. M. wrote:
inkaStepa wrote:Nothing seems important to me because "importance" is just an illusion. This has nothing to do with a god at all I'm definately an atheist and not religious. Your right, It has been a year and I'm still lost...I'll go see someone I guess. Thanks.


'Seeing someone' can perhaps be a good idea, but shouldn't be necessary for most. Most of us, perhaps all of us, who have once been religious and became atheists reached that place of having to figure things out anew. As some have already pointed out, we had ready-made-answers-in-a-box then, but now we really have to think things through and come up with reasons and explanations that don't involve gods, or the opinion of gods. Reading about other people's experiences, and discussing the matters may be sufficient help in and of itself.

You say that nothing seems important anymore, because importance is an illusion. I wouldn't say so, I think I'd say that importance is relative; relative to time, place, and the people involved. You decide what is important to you. But some things are almost intrinsically important (if a few assumptions are granted). You probably have warmer emotions for some people than others. They are important to you; you would not be indifferent if they were harmed or killed. From this, you can gather that they, showing similar warm emotions for you, see you as important, and wouldn't want anything bad to happen to you. From this, you can infer that you should take care of yourself, because you would want them to take care of themselves so that they weren't unnecessarily harmed, as this in turn would hurt you. Basically 'the golden rule' in both directions.

The only kind of 'importance' one 'loses' going from theism to atheism would be an asserted eternal and transcendent importance, the importance given a subject or object by an external entity, a god. Certainly, one could say that on atheism, what you do now does not echo into eternity, and so it makes no difference what you do. But that wouldn't be a practical or workable way of thinking about, or doing, things from your own perspective, or for those around you. We live here and now, and what is important is important here and now. I don't think it's any different even if theism is true; what you do here and now with regards to your fellow humans (and animals) and with the things you enjoy would not have any higher importance in eternity.

'God' is really only a higher 'shelf' people put stuff on to get it out of the way. For instance, one takes 'importance', lifts it up, and places it on the 'God' shelf. Morals is another example.
One has then really only heaped it onto another entity, and you may as well heap it onto another person, or group of people, or yourself instead. Whether a God thinks you or what you do is important or not, has no more weight than whether a fellow human, or you yourself, think so. All would be entities with opinions. 'Importance' has real world applications and implications, which hold true under either world view. Being an atheist, you no longer have the high shelf to put potentially troublesome concepts onto, but you're really none the poorer for it. Look at it instead as an invitation to come up with real, substantive solutions and explanations.

If you have no emotions for anyone or anything, and therefore have no 'drive' and can see no importance in anything, not even interpersonal relations, then I think perhaps seeing someone would be a good idea.

I've had a couple of glasses of wine and it's kinda late, but I hope I made some amount of sense still. :cheers:


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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#37  Postby Steve » Jun 25, 2011 10:05 pm

inkaStepa wrote: Nothing seems important to me because "importance" is just an illusion.

By its definition "importance" is important. Sometimes it is fine to just sit quietly as nothing of importance needs our attention which can be harder than it seems.

One of my teachers said
One of the best definitions of confusion is doing is what is unnecessary and failing to do what is necessary.
I know I get confused about what is necessary and what is unnecessary all the time.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#38  Postby inkaStepa » Jun 27, 2011 4:36 am

I guess I'm just torn about how to handle things. Earlier I was at a friends house and this girl flicked my hair in my face. If I had done nothing I would've looked like a B to everyone and lost their respect. I don't want to bring more suffering, fear, or hate in the world but I did in exchange for a good rep.

I feel good in life when I'm held in high esteem, or rather am recogfnized for something I accomplished. And when my family is taken care of. Not caring what others think isn't really an option. And where I live, without friends I'm not going to last very long....it's a very anti-intellect place. I hate the way this world is run, but it's like I have no choice but to comply.
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#39  Postby The_Metatron » Jun 27, 2011 5:26 am

I guess you didn't go back and re-read that to see how childish and ridiculous it sounded. You lashed out at someone for hair flicked in your face? Oooh, impressive. So now you've got this wicked reputation for someone who won't tolerate hair. Imagine that shit on the job. I mean a real job. How far do you think that "rep" is going to get you there?

If you think that "Not caring what others think isn't really an option", you are lost. You are not even yourself. Everything you do is based on what the pack of animals does. If this is indicative of your behavior, you don't have to worry much about not fitting in to an "anti-intellect place".
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Re: Help with how to live as an atheist

#40  Postby Agrippina » Jun 27, 2011 5:37 am

Huh??? This has to be nonsense. Upset because they had hair flicked in the face. OMG the times I've had to endure that punishment. How did I survive the awful torture of flicked hair and "anti-intellect" [sic] societies.

I would suggest a very serious session of library visits. Extreme learning and hours of watching documentary channels. There's nothing quite as liberating as some extreme learning. And possibly a road trip a long road trip involving taking jobs waiting tables to finance the road trip and on the trip carrying only some clothing changes and a pile of books. There's nothing quite like libraries, books and travel to remove the torment suffered from being punished by flicked hair.
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