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-   -   My Mormon friend asked me what do I gain by my atheism (http://www.internationalskeptics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=324656)

Cainkane1 11th November 2017 09:57 AM

My Mormon friend asked me what do I gain by my atheism
 
I told him I gain nothing but that atheists feel they possess a hard unpleasant truth that they have come to terms with, no life after death but no guilt feeling about committing some vague harmless "sin".

Do you guys agree?

Trebuchet 11th November 2017 10:02 AM

You're gaining 10% of your income which isn't going to the church. That's sufficient in my book!

John Jones 11th November 2017 10:10 AM

You get to sleep late on Sundays.

dann 11th November 2017 10:19 AM

The only one watching you is the NSA - and that's only when you're online

Giordano 11th November 2017 10:28 AM

I don't live in fear that I might be tortured for eternity because I chose the wrong religion or religious denomination and pissed-off some petty, jealous, vengeful god.

For that matter I don't have to continuously offer up prays of adoration, infatuation, and pitiful begging to keep a vain god happy enough to not smite me or my children in our life time.

sackett 11th November 2017 10:37 AM

Peace of mind.

acbytesla 11th November 2017 10:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cainkane1 (Post 12072000)
I told him I gain nothing but that atheists feel they possess a hard unpleasant truth that they have come to terms with, no life after death but no guilt feeling about committing some vague harmless "sin".

Do you guys agree?

Well one, I didn't 'choose' not to believe in God any more than I chose not believe in fairies, leprechauns or alien abduction. I can't believe in what is patently 'unbelievable'.

As someone who grew up going to church regularly I admit I miss the community of church. I take to heart the teachings of Jesus's teachings to care for our fellow man.

But I don't miss pretending to believe in the ridiculous. I don't miss being ashamed of enjoying a sex life. I don't miss listening to charlatans who want me to pay for their family's next holiday vacation. The Mormon church bankrolled the California Initiative against homosexuality. Never mind that Joseph Smith was a sleazeball con-artist and sexual predator and pedophile.

I'd say there is nothing to gain in not believing a fairy tale, but there is. You gain your critical thinking skills.

Skeptic Ginger 11th November 2017 11:48 AM

Sounds like a version of Pascal's wager. What does one gain by believing in a fantasy?

If you can't convince yourself the fantasy is true, you gain nothing anyway.

The Sparrow 11th November 2017 11:59 AM

I think that he is even asking the question in that way betrays a lot.

Sounds like he is choosing a 'belief' because of an advantage it might give him, rather than for the veracity of it.

It's kind of strange really.

acbytesla 11th November 2017 12:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger (Post 12072113)
Sounds like a version of Pascal's wager. What does one gain by believing in a fantasy?

If you can't convince yourself the fantasy is true, you gain nothing anyway.

A little Ginger. But I do understand the sentiment behind the question.

The one tangible value of religion is community. You're part of something that is bigger than yourself even if it is built on a myth. In a dog eat dog world, it's nice to know that even some perfect strangers have your back. I carried on the facade for many years because owning up to my disbelief meant the loss of my personal support structure. That's a scary thing.

This issue specifically has caused me to wonder at length how society can replace the community of churches and still dump the destructive and false superstitions that are religions. I don't have an answer but I do want a good answer.

fuelair 11th November 2017 12:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cainkane1 (Post 12072000)
I told him I gain nothing but that atheists feel they possess a hard unpleasant truth that they have come to terms with, no life after death but no guilt feeling about committing some vague harmless "sin".

Do you guys agree?

Essentially correct. recognizing truth is good but their is no gain or loss from it.
The religious won't ever know they were wrong. No sudden surprise, just nothing at all.

rjh01 11th November 2017 02:39 PM

You can come up with your opinions without others to tell you what they should be.
Just because a certain opinion was accepted 2,000+ years ago does not mean it is still correct today.

fromdownunder 11th November 2017 02:53 PM

I don't gain anything by being an atheist, but nor do I lose anything. My atheism is such a minor part of my life that I rarely even think about it, except when I am reading threads such as this one.

Norm

Thor 2 11th November 2017 03:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cainkane1 (Post 12072000)
I told him I gain nothing but that atheists feel they possess a hard unpleasant truth that they have come to terms with, no life after death but no guilt feeling about committing some vague harmless "sin".

Do you guys agree?


An odd question that illustrates that uniquely theist idea that you can choose to believe something.

fuelair 11th November 2017 03:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fuelair (Post 12072139)
Essentially correct. recognizing truth is good but their is no gain or loss from it.
The religious won't ever know they were wrong. No sudden surprise, just nothing at all.

aaaaagh there - mea culpa!!!!!

Seismosaurus 11th November 2017 05:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cainkane1 (Post 12072000)
I told him I gain nothing but that atheists feel they possess a hard unpleasant truth that they have come to terms with, no life after death but no guilt feeling about committing some vague harmless "sin".

Do you guys agree?

I think it's an odd question, as it seems to be based on the premise that one should believe whatever is personally beneficial.

For instance, suppose an armoured car is unloading money into a bank. I happen upon it as the guard is inside, leaving a large bag of money untended (I know this would never happen, but it's just a hypothetical).

I could choose to believe that the money belongs to the bank, and that I should leave it alone. Or I could choose to believe that the money belongs to me, and I am therefore perfectly entitled to walk off with it.

What do I gain from believing that it belongs to the bank? Nothing! Nothing at all.

What do I gain from believing that it belongs to me? A big heaping pile of money!

So by your friend's logic, I should believe that the money is mine. Only, of course, there is an actual objective reality, and the money isn't actually mine.

And there isn't actually any evidence that god exists either. What I gain or lose from that proposition is entirely beside the point.

arthwollipot 11th November 2017 05:55 PM

Gain? Why should there be anything to gain?

BNRT 11th November 2017 06:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by acbytesla (Post 12072129)
This issue specifically has caused me to wonder at length how society can replace the community of churches and still dump the destructive and false superstitions that are religions. I don't have an answer but I do want a good answer.

The community of sports teams, bands/singers, political parties, video games, HAM radios, sailing, podcasts and pretty much any other single thing you care to name. There are many types of communities available and a lack of religion means you are free to chooss from many of them.

Trebuchet 11th November 2017 06:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fuelair (Post 12072139)
Essentially correct. recognizing truth is good but their is no gain or loss from it.
The religious won't ever know they were wrong. No sudden surprise, just nothing at all.

Quote:

Originally Posted by fuelair (Post 12072337)
aaaaagh there - mea culpa!!!!!

I'll join any and become a fervent believer in any religion that can guarantee I'll never again type a homophone.

Brainache 11th November 2017 07:05 PM

"Being Atheist makes all sorts of underwear magical."

Dave Rogers 11th November 2017 08:11 PM

I gain no more from being an atheist than I gain from not believing that the Earth is flat. Neither lack of gain is a reason to change either lack of belief.

Dave

Swordfishtrombone 12th November 2017 05:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sackett (Post 12072057)
Peace of mind.

This. There's much unfounded fear and anxiety that comes along with supernatural belief systems - when I realized that I lived in a fully naturalistic world, with no supernatural elements, that took away the fear.

Of course, I did have to come to terms with me, and all my loved ones, being actually mortal, actually with a limited lifespan, and no such thing as an afterlife, but I have come to terms with that, and I have faced loss, and I think I've had an easier time with loss than others around me who do hold supernatural beliefs. When someone dies, they still have to worry about them, or convince themselves that that person is in heaven, or some other ill-defined pleasant place, even if the person who died didn't hold to the tenets of any faith.

I can mourn the loss with the understanding that they are no longer suffering, as they don't exist anymore, other than in the memories I and others have of them; I have no anxiety about it. Nor do I fear ghosts, or malevolent spirits, demons or angry gods. Not even slightly. These things are just utterly implausible to me, so I no more fear any of them than I fear the tooth fairy.

I think that the loss of that unnecessary anxiety and fear is worth something.

Of course, even if there was absolutely no benefit, and only negative personal consequences to accepting reality as it is, rather than believing in things that were not true, I'd still rather believe that which is true, than delude myself.

It's better to find out what the wold is like, without wishful thinking and self deception, as best as you can, as honestly as you can, and then find a way to live with that knowledge, and take the best view of it you can. And personally, I've found that view to be quite good.

alfaniner 12th November 2017 07:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BNRT (Post 12072486)
The community of sports teams, bands/singers, political parties, video games, HAM radios, sailing, podcasts and pretty much any other single thing you care to name. There are many types of communities available and a lack of religion means you are free to chooss from many of them.

Or,
"What do you gain by (not doing) X?"

Lukraak_Sisser 12th November 2017 10:42 PM

Adulthood.
Both on a direct personal level and a philosophical level.

Now, I come from the Netherlands where agnostic is pretty much the normal way of being raised. Officially we were religious, but in practice that ment going to church one time a year or so.
Belief in Jesus/God vanished at the same time as things like Santa Claus for me.

But looking at it now, if I were to become as religious as, for instance, the Mormons, for me I'd be giving up my adult freedom.
Suddenly not my own decisions, but those from a book as interpreted by my 'Elders' would become the basis of my life. I'd have to check with them every time a major decision comes up and defer to them when what I want goes against what they say.
Just like a child.

In the same way you also accept that it is not just you, but the whole of mankind. Everything good only happens because some outside force has decided to give us something. Our actions are pretty unimportant and unable to have any major influence on what is given when. Every achievement, every improvement is a handout.
At the same time, everything bad is, of course, our fault but we have no influence on the punishment or effects.
Again, just like children.

I get the lure of religion. No hard choices, no real responsibility at a deep level. The knowledge that there is some parent figure that has all the answers even if you don't understand it.
But for me, it is stifling. I prefer the grown up version where there might be no right or simple answers, but I am responsible for most of my life and will have to deal with whatever occurs on my own two feet. Yes, bad and good things might still happen outside of my control, but at least for me they are not rewards and punishments but rather they just are.

The Great Zaganza 12th November 2017 10:48 PM

It is a well-known fact that all liberals get money from George Soros.
It seems your friend has discovered that all atheists get money from Richard Dawkins.

The gig is up!

thaiboxerken 13th November 2017 12:11 AM

Atheism gives me nothing, offers me nothing, promises nothing. It is just a state of non-belief.

fuelair 13th November 2017 07:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cainkane1 (Post 12072000)
I told him I gain nothing but that atheists feel they possess a hard unpleasant truth that they have come to terms with, no life after death but no guilt feeling about committing some vague harmless "sin".

Do you guys agree?

You gain nothing, but much more importantly you lose nothing - and since in reality there is nothing to gain you do not waste time and energy in trying to gain it!!!!!

psionl0 13th November 2017 10:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thaiboxerken (Post 12073764)
Atheism gives me nothing, offers me nothing, promises nothing. It is just a state of non-belief dis-belief.

You can give in to temptation and stir up a hornet's nest if you want to. :D

JayUtah 13th November 2017 10:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by psionl0 (Post 12074185)
You can give in to temptation and stir up a hornet's nest if you want to. :D

No such nest need be stirred. The difference here is whether the question should be interpreted as an absolute or relative query. If an atheist considers his reasoning to be essentially a ground-state of thinking, then it's quite proper to characterize it as the absence of relevant beliefs, with the attendant lack of promise, lack of alleged responsibility, and so forth. That would be the absolutist perspective. If, on the other hand, the question is meant to relate atheism to a belief system such as Mormonism -- and I think we can allow that as a possible surmise of intent -- then an explicit rejection of some proffered belief would be the ticket, along with the obvious balance of equities.

Mormonism is a covenantal faith. Quam olim Abrahae promisisti et semine eius, and all that. Mormons believe a specific form of the Abrahamic covenant applies to them, in which they promise to do certain things in return for which God is bound to reward them. The culmination of this covenant occurs in the Mormon temple. This equates to a transactional view of theology. If the Mormon is faithful in all things, he gains a throne of his own. One could consider that the question was intended to determine whether atheism offered a similar transaction. My answer would be, in the relativist sense, that the atheist -- in not practicing Mormonism -- gains the worldly pleasures that Mormons eschew and (as someone said) the peace of mind that comes from being relieved from arbitrary obedience. Utah has an abnormally high rate of suicide among LGBTQ youth, for example, probably for the obvious reasons. I feel atheism wouldn't lead to those underlying causes and would result in a gain of reasonably good people living to adulthood. But "not practicing Mormonism" here would be ceasing to practice Mormonism, not in simply avoiding Mormonism and continuing upon one's previous course of atheism. In the latter sense, the atheist gains nothing because he has always been in that state. Gain achieved by transitioning from Mormonism to atheism is not the same as a gain (or lack thereof) by simply having always been atheist.

Explorer 13th November 2017 11:12 AM

My sister gained something when she became a Mormon, a better social life and a feeling of belonging. This happened when she moved to a new region of the country with her family, and had no friends. If some other religion had knocked on her door first, she may not have become a Mormon.

Segnosaur 13th November 2017 11:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cainkane1 (Post 12072000)
I told him I gain nothing but that atheists feel they possess a hard unpleasant truth that they have come to terms with, no life after death but no guilt feeling about committing some vague harmless "sin".

Why exactly do you think its a "hard unpleasant truth" to come to the conclusion that there is no god?

How many religious people become paranoid about "did I do the right thing to get into heaven or am I going to hell?" The fact that we have rejected the afterlife and are simply making the best of the current world isn't unpleasant at all.

Beerina 13th November 2017 11:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12072030)
The only one watching you is the NSA - and that's only when you're online


For now. As insectoid, and then dust-mote spybots are being developed, they can plant them inside, in vent openings, no freaking problem.

bytewizard 13th November 2017 11:47 AM

Not having to eat those ghastly communion wafers, and eating a beautiful, medium rare ribeye steak on a Friday night. Oh, and guilt free masturbation.

acbytesla 13th November 2017 12:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BNRT (Post 12072486)
The community of sports teams, bands/singers, political parties, video games, HAM radios, sailing, podcasts and pretty much any other single thing you care to name. There are many types of communities available and a lack of religion means you are free to chooss from many of them.

That is all true, but it's not the same thing. There ARE some positive benefits of religion. No one teaches you that you are you are your brother's keeper during a ball game. Or that we are all family or help each other face adversity during online gaming.

I want to destroy religion because it is false, breeds hypocrisy, awards authority to the undeserving and can easily manifest itself in destructive ways. But i also know the value of a church community and miss many aspects of it.

MuDPhuD 13th November 2017 12:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cainkane1 (Post 12072000)
I told him I gain nothing but that atheists feel they possess a hard unpleasant truth that they have come to terms with, no life after death but no guilt feeling about committing some vague harmless "sin".

Do you guys agree?

A-theism is beneficial because it is an accurate view of the world in which I live.

The theist makes decisions about his life based on a misinformed model of reality, in which a nonexistent being makes rules, potentially alters the laws of physics as it wishes, assesses compliance of individual humans, and hands out punishments and rewards to individuals and groups. Any event in the world which the theist views as being related to god, ("God's work", "by god's hand", "gods word"), and therefore interprets in relation to god, his "scripture", or his "laws", is being misinterpreted by the theist.
This is so far off the mark from reality that it clearly results in a misunderstanding of events in the world, and thus in many poor choices.
(As a Dennis put it "You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!")

I benefit because I live in the world we actually have, not the one I wish it to be. I understand that rules and laws are made by men, to serve the common good, that humanity is part of and dependent upon a vast complex ecosystem which has developed over eons and of which we understand only the most superficial details, and that the "matter" of which the world is made behaves according the the principles of physics and chemistry. I understand that my mind is no more than my brain in action, and that it is subject to systematic errors in judgement which must be guarded against in order to behave rationally.

fuelair 13th November 2017 01:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bytewizard (Post 12074296)
Not having to eat those ghastly communion wafers, and eating a beautiful, medium rare ribeye steak on a Friday night. Oh, and guilt free masturbation.

Mormon's are punished by how sticky then starchy their underwear gets after self-pollution!


(Look it up if you can't guess!!!!!)

Thor 2 13th November 2017 02:00 PM

As I mentioned in my previous post, the question implies that a choice is made, in becoming an atheist. This idea of choice to believe, and even become something, is a distinctly and possibly exclusively, religious idea.

Religions, like the abrahamic ones, must have this as a cornerstone of their faith, to maintain any credibility. You choose to believe in God and follow these teachings and you will be rewarded. If you choose not to believe you are going to be punished, big time, in the afterlife - and have your present life shortened if you are unfortunate enough to be born into a Muslim community.

I have heard it said many times, by Christians, that gay people choose to be homosexual, as fault must be squarely laid at the feet of the sinner. To admit otherwise is to concede unfairness.

As an atheist I am able to maintain intellectual integrity. I am not forced to perform mental calisthenics, to justify an irrational stance on some issue. I wonder how the religious maintain it to be honest, when presented with clear evidence that contradicts their faith based convictions. It must cause discomfort.

fuelair 13th November 2017 02:01 PM

Oh hell, enjoy the medical thoughts of the US around 1890 - it's a hoot!!!!!!!


http://www.ldolphin.org/vice.html

RecoveringYuppy 13th November 2017 02:19 PM

Tell him you'll avoid hell because you've refused to believe all the nasty rumors the major religions spread about God.

thaiboxerken 13th November 2017 08:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by psionl0 (Post 12074185)
You can give in to temptation and stir up a hornet's nest if you want to. :D

It is non-belief. Disbelief would be rejection of an assertion despite overwhelming evidence that supports the assertion. Climate change deniers disbelieve. People who reject the notion that the moon is made of cheese are in a state of non-belief.


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