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Belief in an afterlife, but not in a god

I have been a pagan for quite a few years now. The only problem I have is that I’m not sure what kind of classification my “religion” would fall into, and I was hoping you could help me. I believe in an after-life, I DO NOT believe there is a god controlling everything, but I believe that we were created, or evolved, to where we know right from wrong, I also believe that we have a spirit (soul, if you will), and that there is no heaven or hell.

I’ve tried the wiccan thing, and it’s not right for me. My only problem with the atheist movement is that they do not believe in the after-life, and I do believe that there may be a “supreme being” directing our lives, but I’m not one to sit around and waste my life worrying about something that I have no idea about. I really hope you may be able to give me some direction. Thank You!

Posted: March 9th 2010

flagellant www

While it’s interesting to hear that you’ve made up your own religion, I’m not sure that you should expect an atheist to endorse it; we might explain it, but you must not be surprised if we criticize your position rather more than a little.

  • Your belief in an afterlife. What you really mean is that you hope there’s an afterlife. There is not the slightest evidence that there is an afterlife and, indeed, the more evidence we get, the less likely such a desirable possibility seems. And remember: just because the concept of an afterlife is appealing and comforting, that doesn’t make it true. Please do not seek comfort at the expense of truth.
  • You say that the '… problem with the atheist movement is that they do not believe in the after-life.’ Firstly, this isn’t a 'problem’; it’s a strength: we say that, because there’s no evidence, the chances of an afterlife are vanishingly small. Secondly, there’s no atheist 'movement’; there is a great variety of atheism. Among the things that unite us, though, is the undue reverence (and tax breaks) accorded to people and organisations that promulgate superstitious nonsense. Beyond that, there’s a great deal of individual difference.
  • Your belief in the spirit (soul). This is a religious concept which makes no sense. If you have no consciousness after death, what’s the point? When you’re dead that it: 100% finish. Nothing survives your death, except the memory of you (and your 'spirit’) in the minds, pictures, and/or writings of others.
  • Your belief that we were 'created’. Well, other than the physical facts of conception, no creation was involved. We have evolved over many millions of years from 'lower’ life forms. Evolution is true; it happened; believe it. The evidence is overwhelming.
  • About right and wrong. This is all about social norms; please do some serious reading about Ethics/Moral Philosophy. And if you’d like to know why Biologists are the most secular of all academics, do some serious biological reading.
  • You say that you’re '… not one to sit around and waste [your] life worrying about something that [you] have no idea about.’ That’s good. You have no idea about an afterlife, really. Why not drop your 'religion’ and adopt a rational, secular worldview without any superstitious element?

Already, you seem to have managed to dump a lot of the religious claptrap. Why not go the whole hog and resolve to abandon superstition (religion) of all sorts?

Posted: March 11th 2010

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logicel

It sounds like you fit into the deist category.

Excerpted from the Wikipedia article on deism:

Critical elements of deist thought included:

* Rejection of all religions based on books that claim to contain the revealed word of God. * Rejection of reports of miracles, prophecies and religious “mysteries”.

Constructive elements of deist thought included:

* God exists, created and governs the universe. * God gave humans the ability to reason. * God wants human beings to behave morally. * Human beings have souls that survive death; That is, there is an afterlife.

and

“The 2001 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) survey, which involved 50,000 participants, reported that the number of participants in the survey identifying themselves as deists grew at the rate of 717 percent between 1990 and 2001. If this were generalized to the US population as a whole, it would make deism the fastest-growing religious classification in the US for that period, with the reported total of 49,000 self-identified adherents representing about 0.02% of the US population at the time.”

The Wikipedia article also provides links to deist associations and websites in addition to delineating the subcategories of deism.

Happy reading!

Posted: March 10th 2010

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