General Question

Kelly27's avatar

For those of you that are atheist or agnostic do you have more of a problem with organized religion or the fact that people have faith in a God?

Asked by Kelly27 (1501points) April 23rd, 2009

Some, not all, atheists seem to have some seriously negative attitudes about religion and I am curious if it is more about the organized religion (church) aspect or just the mere fact that someone believes in a God.

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38 Answers

kenmc's avatar

Totally. Believing in something that doesn’t exist is one thing, but a bunch of silly rituals to honor something that doesn’t exist (which can sometimes end up with terrible consequences) can be time-wasting at best, and offensive and harmful at worst.

basp's avatar

I don’t have a problem with anyone believing what ever they want as far as religion and I don’t care how they choose to participate in church. To each his own….
I don’t particularily care for the type of religious zealot who tries to convert everyone, but they are entitled to practice their religion too…

tinyfaery's avatar

Organized religion is the problem, for me. I know why people need to believe. As long as those beliefs do not adversely effect the world or myself, then I have no problem with someone having a personal relationship with a perceived higher power.

Kelly27's avatar

@basp I don’t care much for the people that try and convert others either. I tend to run and hide when they come knocking on my door

basp's avatar

Theycan be annoying, that’s for sure.

adreamofautumn's avatar

Organized religion is my biggest problem. I believe in spirituality, I may even believe in gods/goddesses, but I am not interested in indoctrination which I find most organized religions to be.

augustlan's avatar

Organized religion is a bigger issue for me. I cannot say with any certainty that there is not a god, but I am certain that religion is a man-made construct. A damn harmful one sometimes, too.

benjaminlevi's avatar

I really don’t care what fantastical fictions people think up in there heads, unless they try to convert me.
What I do have a problem with is when people band up in dogmatic groups to try to deny people their rights (or just kill them), ban abortion, go to our schools and replace science curriculums with their lies, and start holy wars. Thats why religion is dangerous, if you have a belief that strong that can be so easily manipulated by the hierarchy of your religion, there really is no depths of depravity that can be reached in the name of god.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

the only problem i have is with organized religion, not the religious folks themselves. it sounds silly. but i can’t generalize all people who partake in religion as ignorant, etc. there are so many people of faith who aren’t narrow-minded, and who don’t blindly follow church.

i just don’t like the idea of people choosing a religion and then their values based on that, and not the other way around. i admire people who have so much faith in something they have no real proof of, but at the same time are capable of thinking for themselves, and accepting of others.

benjaminlevi's avatar

@tiffyandthewall Why do you admire people who disregard empirical evidence? (I’m not trying to be mean, I just do not see why that would make them worthy of admiration)

MacBean's avatar

All of the religious people I’ve met who have given me a negative opinion of religion have been people who were extremely involved in organized church groups and things like that. Spirituality, faith, individual religion, whatever you want to call it, generally (and again, this is just in my personal experience) are positive things and the people who practice/experience them are pretty nice.

But organized religion feels mindless and cultish to me. Sitting in a church with other people makes me feel uncomfortable. Like I’m going to be in trouble if I think for myself. And I’ve actually been to a church where the pastor flat-out said, “God does not want you to think for yourself; that’s what I am here for.” That’s always the feeling I get in religious groups, but that’s the first time I heard anyone state it. I was absolutely disgusted.

benjaminlevi's avatar

@MacBean That’s terrifying, but not nearly as terrifying that people go there every week to listen to that.

What kind of church was it?

Kelly27's avatar

@benjaminlevi Can we not make this one of those threads? You have your opinion on religion, this question is about whether it is organized religion or faith in a God that bothers you not a battle

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

The only thing I have a problem with in Christianity, is when blatant disrespect is shown towards non-Christians from Christians.

Non-Christians don’t want sanctimonious, self righteous pity.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I’m agnostic. The bigger issue for me is definitely organized religion. I have no problem with people that have a personal relationship with whatever god they believe in, who don’t try to brainwash other people or say they’re going to hell if they don’t believe. It’s my opinion that if a religious person feels the need to air their belief in god, they’re only doing it to prove something to other people – not because they actually believe in god.

MrItty's avatar

Neither. I have a problem with people who use their fairy tale beliefs to try to force rules and laws and legislation on me or on other people. You can believe whatever you want, I couldn’t care less. But I don’t share your beliefs, and to suggest that your religion’s rules should apply to me is complete BS.

cookieman's avatar

I have bigger concerns with organized religion than with the idea that there may or may not be a god. As an agnostic, I’m open to god’s existence.

I am deeply troubled by religion’s influence on politics and policy. It feels very unbalanced to me. I don’t understand why science has to fight for attention over religious dogma.

I’m also not a fan of any kind of zealot. Don’t insist I believe in god and I won’t insist you don’t.

Most people I know are either lapsed Catholics or apathetic toward religion – so it never comes up. However, we have two very dear friends who are devout Mormon and we get on swimmingly. Great exchange of ideas, mutual respect all around.

I wish all relationships were like this.

Conversely, what really burns my bagel are people that constantly reference god and Jesus, but when asked basic questions about their religion or the bible, don’t have a clue.

“I don’t know ‘bout any of that, I just know he’s watching out for me. la la la

TaoSan's avatar

I am definitely agnostic leaning towards even if there is a almighty bigger being, WTF would it care about us.

Now organized religion is definitely a thorn in my side. History has proven that religion is nothing but a means to control people and create revenue. It’s all just “herd instinct”, ethnicity or nationality can serve the same purpose.

dynamicduo's avatar

For me it’s a bit of both, but mostly the former (organized religion). Most of my qualms with religion deal with the church having control over people and their lives, as well as people listening and believing instead of thinking for themselves and researching the claims. I have no issues with people having faith in a God, so long as they don’t use this as an excuse… sadly many people DO use it as an excuse for so many things.

At the same time, so long as none of this is pushed in my life, I don’t care what people do with their time. It’s only when people force it on me that I take great offense to it.

Ivan's avatar

The things that anger me are the indoctrination of children and the negative attitudes toward science. Organized religion certainly is a large player in that, but the individual belief in God definitely has an impact. That being said, I don’t have a problem with belief in God, I just have a problem with some of the things that often stem from it.

By the way, none of this is the reason for me being an atheist.

Darwin's avatar

I am an atheist simply because I have never seen any evidence that this sort of magical thinking has any basis in fact. I don’t have a problem with “true believers” at all, although I sometimes wonder what makes them able to believe so firmly in an invisible father in the sky. I also don’t have a problem with the organization of such believers into groups that meet together one or more days a week.

In fact, I attend a church primarily for the social aspects. They don’t have to know what goes on in my head all the time. I must admit, though, this particular church is a very supportive bunch of folks and they focus on things such as financial management, communicating with spouse and family, and various other helpful and commonsense tools for living in today’s world. The fact that they stop to thank the invisible sky god periodically is no big problem.

Where I do have a problem is with folks who think that their belief or their organization gives them the right to tell me what to believe or how to behave. I also have a problem with folks who use their belief or their membership in an organization to do nasty things to other people “in the name of God.”

I also have a problem with someone who does not believe in someone else’s sky being but deliberately seeks folks out to tell them so.

Basically, I believe in don’t ask, don’t tell, just be at peace within your own mind.

Shuttle128's avatar

I’m with Ivan. It’s not a matter of whether it’s organized or individual. It is all about indoctrination and the freedom to make choices based on reasoning. Whether it’s organized or not, I don’t like reason and logic being downplayed in favor believing in a God. There are many people I know that believe in a god that do not dismiss science for their beliefs, and I have no problem with that.

AtSeDaEsEpPoAoSnA's avatar

I respect the wild animal, along with the trained domesticated one. I understand why people go to church, and way others believe in god. And that some choose to believe that we are on our own in this world. I lean heavily towards evelotion, but the possibility of a higher power or a god has not been ruled out. My woman is Baptist, but she has not found a church that she likes yet. I partake when she goes to different churches just to see kinship in others and to see a type of unconditional faith. I don’t push my belief on her, nor does she on me. In no way do I teach her that god does not really exist, or that her lord was just a great man. I show her alot of perspective and free thought. I agree with alot of people on here that you should never push organized religion on someone, or any belief for that matter.

casheroo's avatar

I agree with @augustlan.
My mother raised my brother and I to not believe in organized religion. I think thats why I’m still so confused. The only thing holding me back from calling myself an atheist is fear. weird, i know.

cookieman's avatar

@casheroo: Not weird. I can understand that – it’s the whole ”what if there is a god…she’d be very disappointed in me” idea.

good old catholic guilt

crisw's avatar

“The only thing holding me back from calling myself an atheist is fear.”

You aren’t the only one. Apparently, only about a quarter of nonbelievers in the U,S, call themselves atheists.

aviona's avatar

As long as you don’t proselytize I don’t have a major problem with it.

YARNLADY's avatar

I don’t have a problem with what someone else believes, it just sounds like nonsense to me, but they have what they call “faith” and I don’t.

astrocom's avatar

I’m personally agnostic, for two reasons:
1) Factually, based on my beliefs regarding a potential “higher power” of some kind, which I think are fairly representative (something along the lines of omnipotent and omniscient), it is impossible for humans to know that such a being exists. Such a being would have to intentionally and unequivocally reveal itself to us, and if such a being doesn’t have the intent, (or has intents contrary, such as the preservation of free will, whose existence is a different debate), we have no method of forcing it to reveal itself.
2) I was raised christian, and while certain feelings of mine resonate in Christianity, I can’t bring myself to feel comfortable there, based on various evidence revealed by anthropology, not to mention the fact that my religion (one of the many protestant sects) was an evolution of a religious system (Catholicism) that had served entirely political forces for centuries, and whose very earliest parts of existence and policies came from sources that might not even have been inspired by there own religious text.

I don’t have any issues with those that do believe, at times I wish I had the strength to put aside my concerns and my facts and believe, despite the inconsistencies. At other times I find myself amazed that I ever even considered belief in a system that I find logically and factually incoherent. I honestly find myself more at odds with atheists that claim all of it is silly nonsense (I have certainly experienced deeply emotional events that I would describe as spiritual, and to deny the possibility of a higher power is something I cannot do in good conscience, in consideration of those events).

Conclusion: I don’t have a problem with either, as far as my own belief goes. My belief system has been determined by beliefs I’ve found internally consistent, which conflict with organized religion, and by the fact that I can’t bring myself to fully believe in that which I cannot be sure exists.

On a separate note, I’m perfectly comfortable being agnostic, because I find plenty of logical reasons for a common moral system besides God, and it is on that issue that I have a problem with organized religion. To me specific morals and beliefs need to be determined by an individual, and as a result I find myself opposed to any group that attempts to enforce a strict moral code (though it’s a bit more complicated than that)

hitomi's avatar

The constant misuse of these two labels has been a long standing issue for me. When I say I’m an agnostic a lot of people HEAR atheist and they are entirely different. I have friends that are truly atheists and WE fight about religion because I can’t understand not believing in anything.

That being said, as an agnostic, it is definitely the issue of organized religion. I also hate the things that are done and said under the defense of it being “for god”. I think that there is too much hate and judgment in the world and a lot of people excuse it saying it’s what god wants and I can’t believe in a god that would punish or hate any of his children, no matter what their supposed crime.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

The main problem I have with religion is the horrors that have been done in the name of God or Allah. There have been more people killed in the name of some “God” than most any other way.

dalepetrie's avatar

What bothers me more than either is moral certitude. I believe what I believe, and in fact, I tend to think logically there is very little case for God, but I’m open to the possibility that there are forces in this universe I could not begin to understand…i.e., I don’t know all the answers and perhaps I’m not meant to, and that’s OK. I doubt a being of infinite wisdom would condemn me to an eternity of hellfire for not worshiping Him if I live a life that is good where I don’t harm others intentionally.

To me it’s all well and good to feel that you should live your life a particular way, and it’s OK to congregate and all practice what you preach. It’s when you are insistent that not only are you correct in your worldview (which is let’s face it, arrogant and egotistical as there are so many ways of looking at the world, to claim that you as a mere mortal have all the answers and anyone on Earth who doesn’t agree with you is wrong or even evil, is arrogant), but that everyone else must follow that same worldview, that I have a problem. I have a problem when the laws of your God start interfering with the laws of my government…they should be kept separate, period. The laws of man should be based on observations of cause and effect in the natural world, the laws of God are based on faith…we can’t govern based on faith in something if there is no way to observe the cause and effect of the faith based action.

I say believe what you want to believe, I have no problem with individuals believing anything they choose to…do what feels right. I have no problem with like minded people organizing and creating a force to live out their values, and I have no problem with being empassioned enough to try to spread your values. But you can’t enforce them on me or try to force them down my throat. Organized religion is fine when it sticks to its mission of helping people through their diety, it is at its worst when it declares itself to be right and goes to war with an opposing force (either another religion or the government). I say live and let live, be happy and shut the hell up.

astrocom's avatar

I feel I need to add that the reason I’m comfortable being agnostic in every day life includes the one dalepetrie sites in their first paragraph.

jo_with_no_space's avatar

I merely find that no one prescribed faith as they stand today has matched my belief system closely enough for me to adopt it.

I have no problem with people’s personal beliefs at all. I do however feel that their religious beliefs should not influence things like political decision-making just because they are in a position of power.

mattbrowne's avatar

Dogmatic religions aiming at social control are a huge problem. Examples are Holy Inquisitions, but also present-day theocracies in Saudi-Arabia or Iran or a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

Dogmatic atheists are also a problem, because they confuse fact with belief. They think they know for a fact that something doesn’t exist, while this is in fact only a belief, namely the belief that a deity doesn’t exist. Why is dogmatic atheism a problem? It polarizes and radicalizes society. We can see this happening in parts of the United States. Using terms like ‘silly rituals’ and ‘time-wasting’ can hurt the feelings of religious people and drive them deeper into magic thinking and dogmatism and fundamentalism. This isn’t a good trend and won’t help us deal with the enormous challenges of the 21st century. We need tolerance and open mindedness on all sides. Moderation and humility are key. So here’s my plea to all hot-blooded vocal atheists: Please think twice before you unload your anger and please choose your terms more carefully. Not all religious people are stupid and backward and part of an oppressive horrible organized religion. Atheists who engage in this kind of thinking follow George W. Bush’s black and white, good and evil perception of the world.

I like what @tiffyandthewall said about the subject.

benjaminlevi's avatar

@Kelly27 But I really wasn’t trying to argue, I was just curious

TheKNYHT's avatar

I foresee a day when Atheism will fall by the way side; and any dogmatic religions (mostly the monotheistic ones) such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam will be radically altered to the point of not existing in their present form, but transformed into a homogenistic singular religious form with all (or most) other religions in the world, resulting in a singular one world religion that endorses theistic evolution.

Personally I am pro-Jesus Christ, and anti-religion (I realize to many this sounds like a contradiction, but for those who understand Biblical Christianity, they realize it’s not).

benjaminlevi's avatar

@TheKNYHT I don’t see why everyone would be theistic just because all the religions homogenized.

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