Sunday, October 19, 2008

Atheist tag.

I got tagged to do an interesting post.

1. Can You Remember The Day That You Officially Became An Atheist?

No. I'm pretty sure I was born one. I always viewed religion as a curiosity, sort of like bugs.

2.Do you remember the day you officially became an agnostic?

Yes. I started having, rather than the persistent deja vu that plagued my young adulthood, increasingly frequent prophetic dreams. It was kind of spooky.

It goes like this. I dream something very vivid, or get an image while meditating (which I do purely for relaxation purposes), and write it down.

And then later, sometimes that day, sometimes a few days, sometimes months later, the thing I had by then completely forgotten about happens. Initially I always think it's the usual deja vu.

So whenever this happens, I think, huh? That can't be true! So I go back and check my notes.

But it has happened enough times that I started to wonder. And I've had similar experiences with things like Tarot cards predicting that certain types of people would come into my life, and in every case they were very unusual phenotypes, not the sort of thing that could easily be ascribed to random chance.

Do some people have special powers, a third eye, something like that? Am I one of them? I don't know. If I am, I haven't figured out how to use my powers to my own advantage!

So it's totally crazy, and I think I'm pretty objective about it, but it does make me wonder if there isn't some kind of order to the universe.

And I always liked the Gaia hypothesis (learned about it in high school biology class).

I do like the idea that there is some kind of balance. But I don't depend on it. Whenever I catch myself thinking "everything happens for a reason", I have to be honest, it's only when my life is going well. When it's not, I have to admit a lot of shit happens for no good reason whatsoever. Shit just happens.

But hey, plenty of people in my life in need of karmic payback. I would love to believe it was coming, good and bad, that we all get what we deserve even if nobody gets what they want.

3. How about the last time you spoke or prayed to God with actual thought that someone was listening?


4. Did anger towards God or religion help cause you to be an atheist or agnostic?

Nope. I don't think so. But I do think I was looking at the evidence as, I can't believe in an angry or vindictive deity, and I can't believe that an all-powerful being (such as a deity would have to be?) would create or abide by a world such as this. I think from a young age I concluded that, the world being what it is, if there ever was a God, it's dead now.

5. Were you agnostic towards ghosts, even after you became an atheist?

I don't know. So I guess the answer is yes. I've never seen a ghost, but I've met lots of people who have. I've had dreams of people who died, but I never ascribed those to anything other than my own desire to see them again. But that's not to say that I might not see a ghost myself someday. I guess I try to be open-minded, more and more in my old age I've seen things that have made me think that's the only way to be. I'm closed-minded only toward closed-minded people!

6. Do you want to be wrong?

Ever? Or do you mean about religion?

In general, yes I do often go the pessimistic route but hope that I'm wrong.

But on the religion thing, no, unless it really is true that there was an all-loving, all-fixing God who was, I don't know, gone on vacation to another galaxy (in a UFO) and bound to reappear and say, "Oh shit! What happened here? I can't leave you alone for one minute!" And everything would magically improve?

Somehow I doubt it.

I've recently discovered the Eastern religions that believe God is in everyone, and that makes more sense to me. A more humanistic good.

I think all we can do is try to fumble our way through life, and I think for some people religion is like a security blanket. Something to hold onto when everything is scary and we all feel lost and hopeless.

I also think science is a bit of a religion, in the sense that you have to put your faith in our ability, as philosophers and experimentalists, to learn something about life through the methods we have devised. I'm really a relativist at heart, I think we do the we best we can, but a lot of it will turn out to be not quite right in the long run, and that's okay.

But it doesn't mean we should stop trying, does it?

Some days I wonder if my general inability to have faith, to feel faith and execute the program [.\Faith], will eventually extend my general disillusionment to encompass all of science. I guess when that happens, I'll have to quit doing it. Lately my fear is that, if my main inspiration was to help people, and I have lost faith that anything I do will help anyone, doesn't that mean I should choose some other way to improve the world?

I'm also an existentialist, always have been. I think it's most likely that you get one shot, and when it's over it's over, just unconsciousness and the great big black. So I've always had that same sense of urgency that Dr.Jekyll&Mrs.Hyde mentions, what I think of as the "This is it" drive.

Which is probably where my perpetual frustration and impatience stems from. If I thought I had all the time in the world, that would be one thing. I have only this time, this life. So I do what I can.

I tag FSP, Unbalanced Reaction, and Geeka. If you're reading. And it's okay if you don't want to do it, I don't really believe in tag.

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At 12:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wherever the 250,000$ are coming from, the figure is a fantasy. Dear Americans, you may be rich, but not that rich. Median household income is 48,000$, and it appears somewhat weird to define "middle class" as "earn at least five times median income." Unless one had an agenda, but I am somewhat at a loss about what this agenda could be, apart from granting whining rights to almost the entire country.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde said...

Whoa, interesting about the dream notebooks. You totally need to find a way to dream about experiments in semi-predictive fashion. How cool would THAT be? You could go down in history for famous dreams, like whathisname with the snake-swallowing-his-own-tail leading to the structure of benzene dream.

Sadly it's hard to direct dreams, and most dreams I have about experiments are quasi-nightmares. Interesting post, thank you for playing!

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Scott said...

During college, I was in one of those campus Christian groups who would go around telling others about the gospel (as Jesus instructed all his followers to do). I also studied apologetics. I took it very seriously.

Then I met so many people who honestly thought they were Christians but weren't (i.e. they were Christians because their parents were, they were "good people", etc.). I became disillusioned that God would allow all of these people to go to Hell. Some of these "Christians" didn't believe in Hell-how convenient! Some didn't even believe Jesus was the son of God. You get the picture. Just typical red-blooded, holier-than-thou Americans. But not Christians.

So that was my personal schism. Plus I had to go to grad school.

For now, I'm more of an agnostic/nihilist/hedonist. But then again, I guess my whole point here is that in reality everyone else is, too. It's just they like to think of themselves as and be called "Christians" in this part of the world. Or "Jews" if their parents were Jews, etc...But if you put a gun to their head they'd drop their religion as fast as last year's iPod.

Religion might as well be genetic. Maybe a genetic disorder.

I guess the alternative is I'm wrong and it really is true that about 0.01% people out of human history will go to heaven and the rest go to Hell. I'm taking those chances.

At 2:09 PM, Blogger butterflywings said...

I think I've always been an atheist.
That said, I remember getting major props from teachers aged 11 for an essay ending 'nothing comes from nothing' - I got that line from 'The Sound of Music' ffs!
I was already refusing to pray at school at that age, but I sort of thought there must be 'something out there'.
I don't now. Bleak as that is, I'd rather be bleak and logical than believe in crap because it's comforting.
I do have faith in things though...the essential goodness of humanity, that my life will turn out OK...'the triumph of hope over experience' sure but I think humans need that, otherwise we'd commit suicide. Part of me sort of knows it's irrational. But people who see things as they really are - depressed people.
And middle class $200,000?! *snort*.

At 5:07 PM, Anonymous Scott said...

Camus gave some reasons against suicide for rational thinkers but I never understood it very well:

I think I haven't committed suicide because of sheer hedonism. As long as I can afford another plate of Pad Thai or spend another day at the beach, I'm sticking around.


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