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What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheist?

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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby ProfWag » 22 Jun 2010, 22:22

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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby Indigo Child » 23 Jun 2010, 01:13

It is not uncommon for an atheist to pray in the time of crisis. I am sorry to hear about both your
parents passing away last year. This must have been hard.

I don't think atheists really exist anyway. I think they are just rebels against religion, and end
up throwing the baby(god, supernatural, soul) out with the bath water(corruption in religion, superstition,
rituals, crusades, inquisitions etc)

The fact of the matter we are born with a deep belief in god, supernatural and the soul. We know
this even before we learn about these things. Why is that? Well, because its hardwired into us. Why
would nature hardwire something into us? Well, clearly because it corresponds an to actual truth within
nature, which we all know deep down.
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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby really? » 23 Jun 2010, 07:53

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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby really? » 23 Jun 2010, 08:02

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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby Indigo Child » 23 Jun 2010, 10:08

The supernatural, religion and god persists to this day and age because these are hardwired into us
by nature. Review the articles I posted earlier, scientific and cross cultural studies show that children
are born with a propensity to believe in god, believe in intelligent design, believe in soul. Humanity
has believed in these things since time immemorial. Atheism is a modern invention.

The view that we are born with complete blanck knowledge is wrong. We are born with all kinds of a priori
things like a propensity to seek out order, a propensity to seek out what is right and what is wrong, a propensity
to seek out knowledge and develop abstract concepts like numbers, infinite, wholes, geometry, arts, poetry etc, a propensity
to believe in perfect being. A propensity for self-expression. Every human culture on the planet has a sense of these things
and develop their own concepts of these universals. This knowledge does not need to be taught, it is innate. Hardwired
into us.
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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby Scepcop » 23 Jun 2010, 18:38

“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby ProfWag » 23 Jun 2010, 19:10

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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby caniswalensis » 26 Jun 2010, 05:45

A great question Skepcop, and a fair one. I do think that your theory is too much a a generaliation, but I am sure there are cases were it is accurate.

There was no big life changing event that made me into a skeptic & an atheist. Rather, it was a long slow process. There were milestones to be sure, but they were small steps in a long journey. Like my transformation, this post also promises to be a long journey. You may wish to pack a lunch for it. :)

I feel the only good way to explain how I reached the point I am at today is to tell you some things about my life. I know you won’t mind because I am a fascinating individual and even the most trivial detail of my existence is intensely interesting to the average person. :lol:

I grew up in a household that were nominally Baptists. We did not attend church regularly, but it was pretty much accepted by all that the Christian God did indeed exist, and the bible was basically true in all important details.

My parents divorced when I was eight, my mother got custody of my brother and I. We three all lived together in the house that my mother and father had bought when they married. The reason I mention that is that we three were all believers in the supernatural & paranormal. We all read the same books, and discussed such topics together at length fairly often. I think that I actually outstripped the others in the amount of reading I did as I grew into a teen. I read the Amityville horror when it was first published in paperback, and stayed up until three am on a school night to do so. I was so freaked out when I finished that I am surprised I was able to sleep at all! I recall being a jittery exhausted mess the next day at school. Lol The point I am getting to is that I grew up in an environment where the paranormal was accepted and I could indulge my interest in it all I wanted. This was the 1970’s and there was no shortage of reading on the topic.

In 1973, when I was nine years old, I heard that an amazing person named Uri Gellar was going to be on the Tonight Show with Jonny Carson. I heard that he possessed amazing powers like bending objects using only his mind. I eagerly tuned in to watch him perform his feats, and was disappointed when he failed. At the time, his failure held no real significance for me. I took him at his word that he was simply not “strong” that night. It seemed reasonable to me.

As I grew older, I developed a curiosity about how such things as ghosts and psychic powers might really work. I wanted to know the nuts & bolts of it, as it were. I started to do more side research some of the ideas that were being presented in my regular diet of paranormal reading, but did not have a lot of success getting answers.

I enlisted in the US Navy at age 18, and ended up as a gas turbine mechanic on the destroyer U.S.S. Thorn, DD 988. Living in larger cities, I had access to larger libraries, and thus much more reading material. I was still an avid reader on paranormal topics, and I was still hunting for answers. All the time my list of questions was getting longer.

In an effort to find those answers, my reading became more diverse. I had been trained in mechanical engineering by the Navy’s advanced technical program, and had gained a good understanding of troubleshooting techniques. This may have been one of those milestones, as it gave me a new way to look at my questions. I started to read more about science, logic, critical thought and similar subjects.

Eventually I decided that I did not want to reenlist, and when my time was served, I was honorably discharged from the Navy I was now in my early twenties, and I was thinking a lot about who I was, what my place in the world might be, and was generally developing in my outlook on life. I was still as interested in the paranormal as ever, and it was during this time that I came to realize a few things:

There is a difference between evidence and proof.
Not all evidence is equal.
It is just not possible to objectively know the truth about some things.

These are basic concepts, and may be obvious to others, but they each represent a milestone in my intellectual development. Though basic, their implications are enormous, and they still inform my basic mental outlook to this day.

As I continued into my adult life, I began to question not only the workings of reported paranormal phenomena, but for the first time in my life, the reports themselves. I recalled an episode from our teen years; my brother and I made a hot air balloon and launched it one warm summer night. Little did I realize we were also launching ourselves on the path to dreary, boring enlightenment. That balloon, glowing in the night sky, caused a UFO scare in our town. Reading of it in the paper the next day, we were amazed at the extraordinary abilities that the eyewitnesses bestowed upon our little balloon. Naturally, we immediately built and launched three more! By the time the “invasion” was over, we had racked up a respectable amount of press coverage and enough amazed eyewitness reports to give Area 51 a run for their money. All that from a couple of little balloons. We attached little significance to it at the time aside from the fun of a prank well played, but I did have this nagging little thought; the eyewitnesses had been completely convinced that our balloons had flown in formation, shot missiles, done impossible acrobatics and flown away at incredible speeds. How could they have been so wrong, and yet believe so strongly in what they were saying? I thought about it a lot. It had always seemed outrageous to say that all the people who made reports of strange goings on were lying or crazy or stupid. Now I saw that there was another choice. Normal, honest & smart people make perceptual mistakes very easily. It is part of the human condition. In fact it almost seems like we want to be fooled. It was a powerful realization. Definitely one of those milestones.
Another very important concept came into my sphere of study about this time. It was the idea of the null hypothesis and the understanding that it was the most logical fallback position to hold in cases of unproven claims. This important concept, combined with other logical principles, may have been just about the final piece of the skeptical puzzle for me. I was about twenty five now, and had been having doubts about my favorite paranormal subjects being true for maybe a year; little nagging doubts that I shove to the back of my mind. I was still a believer, but somehow it didn’t all seem as clear to me anymore. Things from my past, such as Uri Geller’s Tonight Show appearance, took on a new light.

It was then that I took a job as a wood carver at a prestigious furniture manufacturer. We made very fancy, handmade stuff with a high price tag. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that we had a couple cases that retailed for more than my first home cost me. I sat at a bench all day every day and carved flowers, scroll work, etc. into wooden furniture parts. It had a certain Zen quality to the work. I had a lot of time to think doing that job. Tap, tap, tap went my mallet. Click, click, click went my brain. After a couple of years of thinking, turning over what I knew in my mind, thinking about what I had read, I came to a point where I realized that I just did not really believe in the things I once had. It was not an easy thing to admit to myself. I had loved the paranormal my whole life, and still did. But if I wanted to retain my intellectual integrity, I had to confess that I did not have any objective reason to believe in these things anymore. I believed in them because I wanted to. They are attractive concepts and even the scary bits tend to have a comforting flipside. It was hard to let go. Very hard. But I asked myself what type of person I wanted to be. I wanted to be a person that had clear vision and to live my life with the greatest possibility of making sound judgments. Not just about the paranormal, but about all things. So I let my beliefs go.

I was a skeptic.

It was shortly after that the inevitable happened. With a freshly opened mind, I turned to my religious views. These were even more difficult to look at critically then the paranormal. While certainly not a devout person or a practicing Christian in any way, the moral weight of all that we are taught from our earliest days was a nearly impossible load to throw off. I do not think I need to detail the sort of things I mean here. Suffice it to say that the one question we must never ask is “what if there is no god?”

I screwed my courage to the sticking point and asked myself just that. I was forced to answer that I did not really know enough about my own religion to answer that. I began to read the bible like I never had before. I devoured it. I talked with others about it. I (gasp) went to church. I will not be specific here, but simply say that in my quest for the divine, I found only man. I found all his traits; wisdom & folly, Love & hate, compassion & cruelty. I did the unthinkable and admitted I did not believe in the god I had been schooled to believe in since I was an infant. I was not an atheist though, not yet. I went on a veritable rampage of theological study. Over the next few years, I read about all the major world religions, and some smaller ones like Wicca. By the time I was thirty, I had found much beauty, much wisdom, and little that I felt pointed to a true understanding of the universe and our place in it. I certainly found no deity.

I was an atheist.

…and now here I am in my mid-forties, Happy and content, trying to make the most of my one chance at doing things right. I still read about the paranormal, still listen to other’s experiences with demons & gods.
It’s a pretty good life. I try to live it in accordance with some of the wisdom I have picked up during my studies. My goal would be that if I am wrong, and there is a deity out there somewhere, when I am done with this world I will be told: “well, you were too blind to see me, but you did the right thing anyway. Not out of fear or awe, but because you thought it was right.” 8-)

Regards, Canis
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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby Indigo Child » 26 Jun 2010, 08:41

A very fascinating and entertaining read. It gave great insights into your thought process.
However, I do just want to make one critical point. It is what I said earlier to Prowag, it
is based on a generalization from a few experiences. So you cause a small UFO craze in
your home town with balloons, therefore this means that people who see UFO's are seeing
ordinary things and distorting them. There is nothing new here, we know that most UFO
reports are misidentification of ordinary phenomena, but we also know there are many cases
which cannot be explained at all, other than by the fact that they are genuine UFO's. I have
mentioned two such cases in the thread, "Debunking UFO fallacies" However, there are literally
dozens upon dozens I could cite.

I think this is where your claim that you aligned yourself to critical and objective thinking fallls
short. As I do not regard it critical to generalize something and not look at the complexities of
it.
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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby caniswalensis » 29 Jun 2010, 00:08

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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby Indigo Child » 29 Jun 2010, 00:35

Thanks Canis,

I am not sure I see it as an advancement in your thinking. It certainly is an advancement
over believing something uncritically, but then to arrive at the opposite view point, not
believing is just as uncritical. If one honestly reviews the evidence either for god or for
the paranormal, one at most would be agnostic about it.

It sounds like you are somewhat agnostic on the UFO phenomenon now. Now, technically, the
few cases that are not explainable, are only not explainable in terms of conventional explanations.
It is clear, however, in some of these cases these are physical flying aircraft, but they do not belong
to anybody on earth and plus they violate our science. The simplest explanation then is they are ET.

It's a really a case of putting two and two together. Which I find, in general, skeptics struggle with.
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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby ProfWag » 29 Jun 2010, 01:16

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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby caniswalensis » 29 Jun 2010, 01:32

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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby ProfWag » 29 Jun 2010, 01:52

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Re: What event in your life turned you into a Skeptic/Atheis

Postby Eteponge » 29 Jun 2010, 04:48

"I think Eteponge's Blog is a pretty cool guy. eh debates Skeptics and doesnt afraid of anything."
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