addressalign-toparrow-leftarrow-rightbackbellblockcalendarcameraccwcheckchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-small-downchevron-small-leftchevron-small-rightchevron-small-upchevron-upcircle-with-checkcircle-with-crosscircle-with-pluscontroller-playcrossdots-three-verticaleditemptyheartexporteye-with-lineeyefacebookfolderfullheartglobegmailgooglegroupshelp-with-circleimageimagesinstagramFill 1light-bulblinklocation-pinm-swarmSearchmailmessagesminusmoremuplabelShape 3 + Rectangle 1ShapeoutlookpersonJoin Group on CardStartprice-ribbonprintShapeShapeShapeShapeImported LayersImported LayersImported Layersshieldstartickettrashtriangle-downtriangle-uptwitteruserwarningyahoo

The Denver Atheists Meetup Group Message Board General Discussion › Your thoughts on reality-based relating as an apostate?

Your thoughts on reality-based relating as an apostate?

Felicia D.
user 24810032
Denver, CO
Post #: 21
Greetings infidels,

I would greatly appreciate your input on something that’s increasingly been on my mind since finding the secular world a couple years ago. Many former believers have shared their backgrounds of painful fall-out after becoming atheists. They've also felt deep gratitude for liberation, as do I, but I often wonder if there are others who experience the following:

As an apostate, do you feel a profound urgency to get real with people, not just concerning religion, but in relating day-to-day, building authentic friendships, promoting social justice, denouncing woo-woo, etc, etc? Do you express this universal honesty in your personal relationships? How do you feel now about playing politics in casual or professional settings? After decades of suppressing individual expression and conforming for acceptance, how comfortable is it to be the “new you” who doesn’t pretend? Is it daunting or lonely at times? Was it sobering to realize that simply speaking your mind caused so many people to leave, even those from childhood? Did some adjust and eventually agree to disagree? Do you wish you had handled certain relationships differently? What made it possible to acknowledge other viewpoints and show compassion when you wanted these in return? Did your reality-based worldview intensity lessen or is it now much harder to relate to mainstream people? Are you more hesitant to trust and open up to new people in general? Who or what helped you most to relate genuinely during your early freethought/speech years? Do you feel fully engaged in society as a freethinker and speaker?

Sorry for so many questions! I kept thinking of more and probably wouldn't stop if I didn't post this already.

Many thanks for your time and thoughts when you have a chance,

Felicia
Dave
user 9546933
Denver, CO
Post #: 36
Well... yes and no.
A former member
Post #: 8
Hi Felicia - I appreciate your thoughts.

"As an apostate, do you feel a profound urgency to get real with people, not just concerning religion, but in relating day-to-day, building authentic friendships, promoting social justice, denouncing woo-woo, etc, etc?"

First of all, I never think of myself as an apostate, because I rejected Christianity as a 10 year old, before ever really buying into it (my parents were 'passive' protestants, who didn't push it real hard). As for "getting real", I can't imagine that there's any other way to "get", except in settings where it might be unnecessarily provocative - like perhaps at work, with certain family members, etc. It is neither necessary nor wise to go around spouting your beliefs when unsolicited - even when solicited, I always use restraint. I don't need to convert everyone I know. As for promoting social justice, well, I think we should all do this (I'm what the repubs like to call a "Liberal" - I'd call it free-thinking humanism). Again, there are times and places for taking up the torch (the work place usually is NOT one - except with trusted colleagues - and for many people family gatherings are also not). The same applies to "denouncing" the idiots, Fox News, etc. People should be free to believe what they want, until or unless their beliefs infringe on the ability of others to do the same. So, the most important thing is what happens at the ballot box, and in actions and work people can do to enlighten the benighted.

"Do you express this universal honesty in your personal relationships?"

See above. If it's not appropriate to say something that is going to inevitably be provocative, don't say it. Just refrain from any 'soap-box'-ing. On the other hand, if there is an policy, practice or habit, etc., at work or within a group - something that seems socially unjust, religiously biased, etc., then one *ought* to speak up. But obviously, doing so can endanger one's employment. I worked for years with low-income folks of all races/ethnicities and conditions - unemployed, homeless, under-prepared students, etc. My humanism required me to stand up and advocate for these people when I saw something that was creating an unnecessary barrier, or was otherwise prejudicial towards their needs and plight. So, I became known as a "trouble-maker" in staff and larger meetings, etc. Dangerous, but I knew that I was right and that they couldn't fire me for essentially doing my job. Sadly, most people work in environments where morality and fairness just don't enter into the picture.

"How do you feel now about playing politics in casual or professional settings?"

Not sure what you mean? Do you mean openly discussing politics? See above. I wouldn't do it, if it's unlikely to do any good and will create some bad will.

"After decades of suppressing individual expression and conforming for acceptance, how comfortable is it to be the “new you” who doesn’t pretend? Is it daunting or lonely at times?"

It is uncomfortable in certain settings, but who else can you be but who you are? If being religious requires people to stifle their true selves, then there is another good reason to reject it. On the other hand, one does not have to be dogmatic or intolerant about it - that's a big part of what we object to about religion. So, if one is not a bombastic spouter of "ir-religiosities", one can get by without extreme alienation. This does, however, require one to find others of like-mind. If you're married or involved with someone who is religious, it does NOT mean that you have to part ways. My son is an atheist, but his long-time girlfriend, probable future wife, was raised and still effectively is Christian. But she's pretty open-minded, as long as he (and we) don't insult her or ridicule her beliefs. I think the best strategy is to always show people that we 'atheists/humanists' or "decent" and moral people (and of course, if you're struggling with the apparent "moral" challenges of atheism, I refer you to the writings of Sam Harris and many others).

"Was it sobering to realize that simply speaking your mind caused so many people to leave, even those from childhood?"

If they can't handle it, that's their problem, obviously. But you don't need to rub your new thinking in their faces. If they reject you simply because you have these ideas, then what can you do? I can only reject their attitude and actions. And, yes, that can make for loneliness. But one can't be real friends with people who think like that, imho.

"What made it possible to acknowledge other viewpoints and show compassion when you wanted these in return?"

Being open-minded and showing that to others, is about the only way to get it in return. But if Christians (or believers in other religions) can't be compassionate, except to those who share their dogma, then...isn't that why we're NOT Christians or religious (among many other reasons)?

"Did your reality-based worldview intensity lessen or is it now much harder to relate to mainstream people?"

It's always been harder for me to relate to "mainstream" people. But I don't believe, contrary to some survey numbers, that most people in America are dogmatically religious. Religion is a default for many people. And in my circles (people who are educated, artistic, mostly highly trained professionals, etc.) there is almost nobody who is religious. But as I say, I've been an atheist almost as long as I can remember (although I used to call myself an agnostic - which can be a good strategy for 'getting along').

"Are you more hesitant to trust and open up to new people in general?"

One should always be a little circumspect about who they open up to. Your personal thoughts and beliefs are really nobody's business but yours, as should be those of others. As I say, it's only when people's beliefs start to impinge negatively on other people's freedom that one needs to speak up.

"Who or what helped you most to relate genuinely during your early freethought/speech years?"

Mainly my older brothers, but also certain friends along the way.

"Do you feel fully engaged in society as a freethinker and speaker?"

More or less, yes. I am who I am. If you really want to know what I think, I'll tell you! But I am not interested in 'counter-proselytizing'.
Felicia D.
user 24810032
Denver, CO
Post #: 22
Mike,

Thanks for your thoughtful and detailed reply. I'm envious freethought has been an almost lifetime status for you! It would definitely seem to make a person more understanding and accommodating of different belief systems. I totally agree that people can believe anything they want until those beliefs infringe on the freedom of others.

To put it succinctly, the challenge I’m having post-spirituality is that my general bullshit tolerance has gone waaaaayyyy down. And when it comes to religion, which is so damaging to human dignity, I absolutely confront beliefs at opportune times, but not believers. Unfortunately, these beliefs are so intertwined with their identity that many cannot separate the two.

Hopefully there will be an equilibrium in time. Or I’ll find a more productive outlet for my anti-theism! Either way, thanks again for your feedback.

Felicia
A former member
Post #: 9
Hi Felicia - having a low tolerance for general bullshit is how we ALL should be, imho. Our society is floundering in superficiality, narcissism, materialism and adamantly self-imposed ignorance. Finding peace and happiness in such a world is an ever-increasing challenge, what with the paralysis of government and uninformed public opinion (scandalous in such an allegedly enlightened society). The cliché'd phrase "ignorance is bliss' is apropos. Apparently, you have reached a point in your life where too much awareness has made it impossible to keep your "head in the sand", as it were, (another apt cliché) any longer. I salute you for that, but can't deny that joining the "real" world is not for the faint of heart. However, the only way to understand the "real" world and have any impact in it, is to shed illusions and groundless dogmas.

You asked me in your greeting if I am "pantheism and paganism supernatural or nature-based". I've been through phases where I thought I might be any or all of these - not paganism in the sense of actual polytheism ("sky gods", "river gods", etc.), but more of a quasi-mystical to nature-ism. But I could really believe in a humanly conceived "supernatural" anything. I'm "science-based", and I mean, of course, always doubting and remaining open-minded.

People often say that "science is a religion, as well", to which I say "ONLY to those who are dogmatic about science" (closed to new information - a decidedly unscientific mindset). In any case, science does not offer the 'comforts' of religion, e.g. life-after-death, total belief in a purpose and meaning of existence, etc. The only comfort I get from a scientific p.o.v. is the awareness that the universe/existence (whatever meaning and purpose it might impart) cannot be encompassed by human consciousness - it is grander and more mysterious than we can boil down in some kind of human belief system. That means almost anything is possible (though one can never "believe" without evidence), which actually gives me hope. I can look around at the world and know that it is ultimately beyond final analysis, and that for me, is like "God". On that basis, I believe that we need to always keep trying to understand, but must never consider the process complete. If one is going to have "faith", let it be faith that the the "world", existence, etc., is beyond our "ken", and thus WE have to decide what is moral and immoral....WITHOUT some alleged "holy book" or "prophet" to validate us.

This doesn't mean that our morals are merely relative, and thus have no weight. As with everything in a post-religious life, it's not going to be clear and easy. We all have to be "philosophical researchers", seeking understanding of ourselves and the universe. I firmly believe in what you might call "good", but it's not the religious kind of "good versus evil", black & white kind of thing. I'm sort of an existentialist on this, and there are mountains of relevant books and articles. I quickly 'googled' around and found this brief item, which is a good example (esp. starting in the 5th paragraph of his letter): http://www.patheos.co...­
Something rings true for me about his thoughts on "empathy, compassion, conscience, lovingkindness"....and human happiness and rationality.

Anyway, I doth blather on.... ;-)
M
Powered by mvnForum

Our Sponsors

  • Secular Hub

    The Secular Hub is a brick and mortar location for secular people.

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy