Overcoming the FEAR of The Bogey Man: Atheism

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Most Mormons I know, including myself when I was TBM (True Believing Mormon), do not understand what atheism is.

They have the misconception that atheists believe that they know there is no God. And agnostics are fence sitters, not knowing either way.

As a Mormon I held a superstitious fear-based belief about atheism, but not agnosticism.

Mormons have interesting perceptions about atheists. They see Atheists as being deceived by Satan, and have an objective to fight against God as anti-Christs.

They also ridicule rational thinking and objective evidence and elevate emotional thinking as the ultimate means of discovering truth, or feeling the Spirit of God.

Bizarrely, as a Mormon, I believed that atheists or anti-Christs were actually unhappy because of their disbelief. I believed they probably thought of themselves as happy, but actually they were miserable without a belief in Jesus Christ. And even worse, I believed that Satan had deceived them into this feeling of contentment so that they didn’t feel motivated to seek Christ in their lives. Mormons believe Satan wants all people to be miserable like unto himself, so they may think they are happy, but really it is just Satan’s deception and only temporary pleasure, rather than real joy.

It wasn’t until I left the Bubble of Mormon belief, in which fear is propagated by the General Authorities as a means of control, that I realised my fears were not just unfounded, but completely in error and the reality of Atheism is the opposite of what I believed as a Mormon.

Mormons see atheism as anti-theism. Anti-Christ even. Which in Mormonism is the worst kind of stance to hold, because it puts the atheist in complete opposition to God.

But in reality that’s like saying ‘Baldness is a Hair Style’.

Atheism is just a Lack of Belief or concept of God/gods. An absence of belief in God.

Let’s face it, everyone, including the religious, are atheistic towards at least one other god, usually all other gods apart from their own.

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Most Mormons believe agnosticism is different from atheism. Yet actually they are referring to different things.

Most atheists are also agnostics. The terms are not mutually exclusive.

Gnostic/Agnostic refers to degree of certainty of knowledge regarding any subject.

I’m currently agnostic about lots of different things including god.

Theism/Atheism refers to belief in God/gods.

As an agnostic atheist I hold no belief or concept of God/gods. I just don’t know! And don’t feel the need to know.

And there is an ever growing number of non-believers, or rationalists as they sometimes prefer to be called. On the census questions non-believers are classed as ‘Nones’, and it is the fastest growing ‘religious’ category in the Western World.

The longer I experience life outside of religion in general, and Mormonism is particular, I realise that many atheists are very happy people, despite an absence of belief in some all-powerful deity or Heavenly Father watching over them.

I have made friends with some wonderfully caring atheists who are extremely compassionate about their fellow humans yet they have no extra agenda of being kind in order to please a God or to become righteous enough to go to heaven (Celestial Kingdom). They love and care for their families and communities.

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You may find this a shock if you are an atheist, but I did not expect to find that people without religion, particularly Mormonism, could be as happy as I was in the Mormon Church. I was led to believe through the teachings of the Church from a very young age that “wickedness never was happiness”, and a person could only be truly happy by living all of God’s teachings, which are only found in Mormonism.

These are ordinary people who have never ever believed in a God or known any religion, and from the deepest feelings of their hearts they desire to ease the suffering of others, improve the living conditions of the poor and needy, and help make the world a better place for all the earth’s inhabitants. They don’t do it because they believe God asked them to, or because they were assigned to by a priesthood leader. They do these wonderful acts of service because they naturally have love in their hearts. They are innately good people. And they are happy. In fact some of the nicest, happiest people I know are atheists.

Their atheism does not motivate them to do good works. It just come naturally from within.

They have strong morals which are not dependent on any religious belief system, but rather out of a realisation that we all need to work and live together collaboratively for the good of both the individual & society, as well as the natural environment.

This seems to be the way human societies evolved anciently at the dawn of civilisation. With primitive humans working together for the greater good of the tribe etc. Evolutionary anthropologists and sociologists recognise that early human beings developed cultures and societies to protect themselves from the dangers of the raw natural world. These cultures gave an added dimension to an individual. Giving a weak solitary human the strength of the group. The culture bound the group together with a group identity. Helping to overcome the potential conflicts of interests which could develop between individuals whenever large groups of people live in close proximity.

Evidence shows that morals developed as a way for large groups of people to live harmoniously together.

It is believed by some that when religion developed as a means of trying to provide answers to questions about death and other unexplainable phenomenon, before scientific explanations were available, that those moral frameworks also got absorbed into those religious traditions.

Unfortunately, it seems corrupt men used those religions to control vulnerable people. And this still goes on today. Many religious leaders try to exert their influence by persuading their adherents that without religion there would be no morals in the world. Although this may be true in some specific individual cases, when applied to societies in general it doesn’t seem to hold sway, as evidenced by most of European Societies today where secular law is strong and the most irreligious societies actually have the least crime.

The more I experience life outside of Mormonism and spend time with other atheists and secular humanists I appreciate how much the best in human thriving is compromised and crippled by superstitious fear based religions.

The main problem I see with religion is that it subverts the innate moral codes of normal healthy individuals to serve the needs of the Church, which incudes promoting and protecting the religion.

This is done by inculcating subconscious phobias, biases & prejudices into the minds of it’s followers in order to create fear, guilt and shame.

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The religion often becomes the most important thing in a person’s life, which has the potential to hijack the natural humanistic compassion I’ve been talking about.

Sam Harris in his book ‘End of Faith’ talks about these things.

It seems to make sense that morals came before religion as fairly organised societies existed before religion was established, and we know these societies flourished otherwise we wouldn’t be alive.

I regard myself as a Secular Humanist because it seems to be a model of promoting human rights that I agree with.

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As a secular humanist I’m really keen to promote the best in human thriving.

I really don’t think religion does that.

Anything which compromises our innate capacities to live together in altruistic, tolerant, accepting and non-discriminating societies should be ditched in favour of promoting and fostering the best in human potential.

“We are not humans living on the Earth like some incongruous alien species.

“We are part of the Earth.

“Created by the Earth.

The Earth is our Mother.”

We are connected to the Earth. We should live with the Earth and all her other creations in harmony.

This short video about atheism is very inspiring.

I wrote my own surprising realisations about life as a Born Again atheist in another blog post:

Life Has More Meaning As An Atheist/

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LINKS TO INTERESTING SITES ABOUT HUMANISM AND LIVING SUSTAINABLY WITH OUR PLANET:

Humanist Values For The 21st Century

How Humans Can Live Sustainably With Our Planet

This entry was posted in Humanism, Mormon Issues, Religious Epiphany, TRUTH and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Overcoming the FEAR of The Bogey Man: Atheism

  1. Tom Phillips says:

    Excellent post Steve. I remember when first discussing the issues with my wife she said, among other things, “you will probably become an atheist” with a look of dreaded horror. At the time I thought “no way” because as a Mormon I had already discredited atheism.

    Little did I know that allowing reality rather than delusion to be part of my thinking, I would go from Mormon to Christian to Theist to Deist to agnostic to atheist. Like you, I know so many atheists, ignostics and agnostics that, in my opinion, are far more “moral” than many TBMs I knew.

    Also, their good deeds are not due to a commandment or fear of a god, but due to an inherent desire they have to do good. That is a higher standard of morality or ethics than the religious in my opinion. I actually prefer the term ethics to morals because morals seems to be restricted in definition by religious people to sexual activities. Ethics is a much wider issue and not so concerned with what consenting adults do in private.

    Like you Steve, I could not have conceived of being happier than I was as a TBM and atheists had to be miserable with no purpose to their lives other than self gratification. How wrong I was. My life as an atheist is far happier and fulfilling than it ever could have been as a TBM. The truth shall make you free. I choose reality over delusion any day.

    Thanks Steve,
    Tom

    • SteveBloor says:

      Hi Tom,

      I know you have your own amazing journey out of the Mormon Bubble which continues to inspire many thousands of members of the Church who are questioning their faith. Thank you for continuing campaign for truth and openness.

      I agree that ethics would probably be more inclusive, and self explanatory than morals. I suppose I’ve changed my understanding of the term morals myself since leaving the Church.

      Thank you for your positive, encouraging comments.

      Kindest regards,
      Steve

  2. Debrauk says:

    Inspiring and reassuring thoughs as usual Steve, I too felt the same belieiving that atheis can’t be truly happy and if they loose a loved one they must really suffer with their grief ..oh now wrong I was! Since beginning my journey I’ve found that, as I prefer to call it being a humanist, has given me new light and freedom. A life that I never knew.

    • SteveBloor says:

      Dear Debra,

      Thank you for your kind remarks.

      Your experience of leaving the Mormon Church and your amazing strength of character and compassion for others continues to have a positive influence on many people who need hope and courage in their own lives.

      I agree, life Post-Mormon is better than we’d ever been led to believe.

      Kindest regards,
      Steve

  3. Stormin says:

    Great post —— I really enjoy reading your thoughts. Your presentation “almost persuaded me to become an atheist”! Maybe I am on that path. I have been a morbot, researched religion and found too much slavery/etc., and now a believer in a personal relationship with God, without religion. I still believe in being helped, on numerous occasions, from someone greater than myself ——- once I find out that help came from my marvelous subconscious brain I will be fully converted.

  4. Camille Biexei says:

    The Greek roots of the word mean God-less or without God/god. That state truly is a dark and dangerous place for TBMs. For Mormons calling someone godless is about the worst which could be said of them. But, it really is not the same as anti-God.
    I feel much less “godless” now that I have withdrawn from Mormonism than when I was in, largely due to the removal of the Church as god in my life. In that sense, yes, I am an atheist, a confirmed one. And, much happier, far more at peace, enjoying life than when I was still in the LDS Church.
    Thanks for your thoughts, Steve.

  5. Rusty says:

    Great post.
    I too, am an ex mormon now secular humanist. I remember leaving the church two years ago saying I would never be an atheist as my “relationship” with God and Jesus were too strong. But after getting out of the thoughts I was told to have, I found where I feel like myself and everything now makes sense. I still hear people talking about Atheists as being horrible, no moral people and I cant believe it. I think I help people out more now than I ever did as a religious person, and I think its because now I want to instead of having someone assign me to do it. Anyway, thanks for your post and hopefully it can open up even one mind.

  6. Allan Carter says:

    Several people have mentioned how happy they were as TBM. I felt embattled and trapped. It was with great relief that I realized that it wasn’t true and that I was free from it. Life is still life, i.e. difficult at times, but at least I’m free to use my own brains to figure out what is right and wrong rather than trying to justify the absurd dictates of old men claiming to speak for divinity.

  7. David says:

    I can’t help but feel that Christians (of all denominations) are being a little bit naive by interpreting their religion literally.

    Haven’t they ever heard of a metaphor?

    Take the crucifixion of Jesus Christ for example. In Christianity Jesus is said to have been sacrificed so man can be reconciled with God. While a person named Jesus may well have died on the cross the idea is obviously used to put our everyday problems into perspective: Jesus endured an unbearable amount of suffering for our eternal salvation so our ‘problems’ are miniscule in comparison. We’ll never know the pain of dying upon the cross.

    Imo this is a perfectly valid form of ‘self-help’ cleverly disguised with religious language to make it seem real.

    Alain de Botton explores these issues in his book Religion for Atheists.

  8. Lori says:

    I really enjoyed this post. My shelf collapsed this year (uncorrelated reading is quite enlightening!) and it is one of the best things to ever happen to me. I never thought that stepping away from the mormon church would make me a better person, fill me with more love, and help me to feel more spiritual. The thing is, I no longer equate spiritual feelings with a deity, but more just the energy of the earth and of my soul putting me in tune with what will add the most to my life and the existence of human kind in general. I have no idea if that makes sense, but I find it to be very liberating and positive in general. I don’t know that I’d label myself as an atheist at this point in time, but my love and admiration for atheists has skyrocketed this year. It is amazing how limited my scope was while in the mormon bubble; just how many incorrect assumptions I had made about other people before (and I was a pretty open-minded mormon to begin with). Anyway, thank you for organizing your thoughts so beautifully and sharing them. Cheers!

  9. jeremyrmro says:

    Besides the fact that their has been so much evidence that has been found supporting The Bible that even mainstream news has shown it. Their is one thing I don’t understand about atheism ;If atheists don’t believe that their is a God why do alot of them spend so much time trying to fight him?

    • SteveBloor says:

      Hi Jeremy,

      Thanks for commenting.

      The evidence for the Bible which you mention is not conclusive as to its credibility as a record of God’s dealings with humans.

      Rather it is more about real people constructing narratives to explain their experience of life.

      Much of what we thought was written by the actual authors is now being shown to be written by fraudsters in the New Testament.

      Check out the evidence from Bart Ehrman: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misquoting_Jesus

      As for the reasons atheists campaign? The vast majority don’t. They actually don’t even give God or gods any thought. As for those of us who once used to believe and have realised our delusion? There are many & varied reasons we campaign to raise awareness of the futility of worshiping a god.

      Most are genuinely altruistic, just like in Plato’s Allegory of The Cave, once they realise that life can be so much more fulfilling without delusional beliefs in a fictitious supernatural being they desperately want to share that knowledge with their friends.

      Others campaign for rationality in general. Realising that delusional belief can adversely affect a person’s rational decision making processes and subsequently impact on how they behave in society which can lead to discrimination for non-believers, particularly if the believers have law making powers in government. Just think of fundamentalist Islamic states where atheists are massively discriminated against. At one time, in Christian Europe, being an atheist meant you could be tortured, imprisoned or killed for one’s non-beliefs. Atheists’ campaigns for rationality and an end to all forms of discrimination help to benefit all sectors of society.

      I hope this helps you to understand us better.

      Kind regards,
      Steve

  10. Pingback: Humanism vs Atheism | Steve Bloor's Blog

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