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Author Topic: If the Western view of God is the leading cause of atheism...  (Read 6647 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 02, 2009, 12:20:15 PM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2009, 12:28:27 PM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).

It was a Marxist state.  Where did Marxism come from?

The first official atheist state was Albania, the majority of which was Muslim.

But I think you are getting to Russia, which, had there been no Peter the so called Great ushering in the Great Western Captivity of the Church, where perhaps would have been no Bolshevik Revolution (whose leaders, btw got their name in Brussels and London, when they congregated).

And btw, the French First Republic was indeed the first such state.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:F%C3%AAte_de_la_Raison_1793.jpg

"The 20th of Brumaire [the religious calendar having been abolished] of year 2 of the French One and Indivisible Republic, the Feast of Reason was celebrated in the former church of Our Lady [Notre Dame]."

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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2009, 02:05:18 PM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).

Atheism certainly has it's foundation in western thought, though I think it's more a natural evolution of theology than a reaction against it. People's gods tend to change as their society changes, pantheism is the rule for most tribal societies, as their thinking becomes more sophisticated they personify these deities, then they start to merge them together either arriving at a monotheism by demoting some of the lesser gods and emphasizing one or take the approach making the gods a sort of demi-gods subjected, like humanity, to some overarching concept as seen in Platonic Paganism and much of modern Hinduism. With the decline of the ancient civilizations and the descent of Europe into the dark ages we saw additional emphasis on personification of deities again and even the supplementing of them with the cults of the saints. As an age of reason was once again resurrected in the west we saw a move towards abstraction again, first with the development of deism, then a reduction of the 'supreme being' to simply reason, and, finally, the dismissing of religious pretenses and modern atheism. Of course, these changes have generally happened in the upper class, they were really the only people at that time who had the luxury of sitting around and actually practicing philosophy, only slowly do the ideas trickle down to the masses, generally first taking hold in urban environments and slowly moving out to more rural areas.
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2009, 02:13:10 PM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).

Atheism certainly has it's foundation in western thought, though I think it's more a natural evolution of theology than a reaction against it. People's gods tend to change as their society changes, pantheism is the rule for most tribal societies, as their thinking becomes more sophisticated they personify these deities, then they start to merge them together either arriving at a monotheism by demoting some of the lesser gods and emphasizing one or take the approach making the gods a sort of demi-gods subjected, like humanity, to some overarching concept as seen in Platonic Paganism and much of modern Hinduism. With the decline of the ancient civilizations and the descent of Europe into the dark ages we saw additional emphasis on personification of deities again and even the supplementing of them with the cults of the saints. As an age of reason was once again resurrected in the west we saw a move towards abstraction again, first with the development of deism, then a reduction of the 'supreme being' to simply reason, and, finally, the dismissing of religious pretenses and modern atheism. Of course, these changes have generally happened in the upper class, they were really the only people at that time who had the luxury of sitting around and actually practicing philosophy, only slowly do the ideas trickle down to the masses, generally first taking hold in urban environments and slowly moving out to more rural areas.

It's an interesting viewpoint, but one that betrays an inherently Western eurocentric point of view. What then is to be made of India, which is still a majority-Hindu country or the Arab world, where secular ideas exist in so much as they were imported during a time of British rule? And I'm not sure if one can say that Chinese and North Korean atheism is of the same character as the Soviet/Western variety...
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« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2009, 02:45:41 PM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).

Atheism certainly has it's foundation in western thought, though I think it's more a natural evolution of theology than a reaction against it. People's gods tend to change as their society changes, pantheism is the rule for most tribal societies, as their thinking becomes more sophisticated they personify these deities, then they start to merge them together either arriving at a monotheism by demoting some of the lesser gods and emphasizing one or take the approach making the gods a sort of demi-gods subjected, like humanity, to some overarching concept as seen in Platonic Paganism and much of modern Hinduism. With the decline of the ancient civilizations and the descent of Europe into the dark ages we saw additional emphasis on personification of deities again and even the supplementing of them with the cults of the saints. As an age of reason was once again resurrected in the west we saw a move towards abstraction again, first with the development of deism, then a reduction of the 'supreme being' to simply reason, and, finally, the dismissing of religious pretenses and modern atheism. Of course, these changes have generally happened in the upper class, they were really the only people at that time who had the luxury of sitting around and actually practicing philosophy, only slowly do the ideas trickle down to the masses, generally first taking hold in urban environments and slowly moving out to more rural areas.

A nice story, but without historical data to support it, e.g. no tribal society is known to have a pantheistic world view (unless for some reason you see animism as the same thing). It's a creation of higher civilizations, those upper classes you speak of.  Roman religion never got very personal, but remained someone animistic.  The Roman Empire in the East didn't have a Dark Ages, but still had a cult of saints, which it inherited from the Apostles.  "Age of reason once again resurrected?" When was it alive?
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« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2009, 02:46:34 PM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).

Atheism certainly has it's foundation in western thought, though I think it's more a natural evolution of theology than a reaction against it. People's gods tend to change as their society changes, pantheism is the rule for most tribal societies, as their thinking becomes more sophisticated they personify these deities, then they start to merge them together either arriving at a monotheism by demoting some of the lesser gods and emphasizing one or take the approach making the gods a sort of demi-gods subjected, like humanity, to some overarching concept as seen in Platonic Paganism and much of modern Hinduism. With the decline of the ancient civilizations and the descent of Europe into the dark ages we saw additional emphasis on personification of deities again and even the supplementing of them with the cults of the saints. As an age of reason was once again resurrected in the west we saw a move towards abstraction again, first with the development of deism, then a reduction of the 'supreme being' to simply reason, and, finally, the dismissing of religious pretenses and modern atheism. Of course, these changes have generally happened in the upper class, they were really the only people at that time who had the luxury of sitting around and actually practicing philosophy, only slowly do the ideas trickle down to the masses, generally first taking hold in urban environments and slowly moving out to more rural areas.

It's an interesting viewpoint, but one that betrays an inherently Western eurocentric point of view. What then is to be made of India, which is still a majority-Hindu country or the Arab world, where secular ideas exist in so much as they were imported during a time of British rule? And I'm not sure if one can say that Chinese and North Korean atheism is of the same character as the Soviet/Western variety...

You're right, I won't deny that it's a relatively Eurocentric view, because it assumes that western society has advanced further than any other society. But I don't think that assumption is too much of a stretch if you compare the evolution of both technology and political structures around the world. I would argue that, organically, India would be about 200 years behind European though if left to their own devices and in some ways it's a shame they weren't, because we've never really seen, on a large scale, the next step of a platonic theology, only of personified monotheism. Though the philosophies of some ancient thinkers such as Diagoras, Critias, Democritus, and Euhemerus suggest a similar path of philosophical evolution. But modern secular thought in India is no doubt largely the result of British influence.

While Chinese atheism is a bit different than what has been seen in the west, I still think it can be effectively argued that it has it's foundation in the writings of Karl Marx who was clearly influenced by enlightenment thinkers, though he differed from them in some important aspects, such as the notion of property rights. As for North Korea...yes, their atheism is different, technically it's an atheist state, but with people praying to the former dictator (and current dictator's father) Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-Il being essentially considered a god on earth by their propaganda, the society is run more like ancient Egypt with a Pharaoh-god.
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« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2009, 03:11:25 PM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).
I think ialmisry touched on the answer by pointing out how Tsar Peter "the Great" brought in his predominantly Western ideas and enforced them upon Russian culture.  If Russia had remained truly Eastern in its world view, would it ever have become atheist?
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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2009, 03:19:00 PM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).

Atheism certainly has it's foundation in western thought, though I think it's more a natural evolution of theology than a reaction against it. People's gods tend to change as their society changes, pantheism is the rule for most tribal societies, as their thinking becomes more sophisticated they personify these deities, then they start to merge them together either arriving at a monotheism by demoting some of the lesser gods and emphasizing one or take the approach making the gods a sort of demi-gods subjected, like humanity, to some overarching concept as seen in Platonic Paganism and much of modern Hinduism. With the decline of the ancient civilizations and the descent of Europe into the dark ages we saw additional emphasis on personification of deities again and even the supplementing of them with the cults of the saints. As an age of reason was once again resurrected in the west we saw a move towards abstraction again, first with the development of deism, then a reduction of the 'supreme being' to simply reason, and, finally, the dismissing of religious pretenses and modern atheism. Of course, these changes have generally happened in the upper class, they were really the only people at that time who had the luxury of sitting around and actually practicing philosophy, only slowly do the ideas trickle down to the masses, generally first taking hold in urban environments and slowly moving out to more rural areas.

A nice story, but without historical data to support it, e.g. no tribal society is known to have a pantheistic world view (unless for some reason you see animism as the same thing).
[/quote]
My bad, it's animism when seen in tribes in Africa, it's pantheism when talked about by new-agers and hippies.

Quote
It's a creation of higher civilizations, those upper classes you speak of.

Or by Blake, if you want to argue that point, though I think his 'pantheism' was more artistic style than theology. I think it'd be fair to classify him as a deist like most of the early 19th century pantheists. They knew the supernatural wasn't the answer, but Darwin hadn't come along to help them figure out what the answer actually was.

Quote
Roman religion never got very personal, but remained someone animistic.

Never got 'very personal' but the deities were personified, at which point the upper classes started moving towards Greek thought and platonic theology, which I already included in my analysis.

Quote
The Roman Empire in the East didn't have a Dark Ages, but still had a cult of saints, which it inherited from the Apostles. 

It had a dark age, especially towards the end, the city itself was always a great beacon of civilization in the midst of a world gone to ruin, but because of this, because the remainder of the Empire fell, it became relatively isolated compared to ancient times, it slowly lost much of its cosmopolitan diversity. Without the influx of new ideas, the city stagnated, it preserved civilization within its walls but could do little to advance it. During the time of Constantine it was truly a cosmopolitan city, every culture of the Mediterranean and beyond was represented in the city, by the time of Leo the Wise, the city had diminished in influence, you had the local populations, Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians, etc. represented, as well as a small Latin community, largely due to the remaining Roman interests on the Italian peninsula and in Sicily and a small German influence due to the Varangian Guard. But by the fall of the city it was almost entirely Greek.

But, I would argue that the cult of the saints was less related to this and more related to the fact that with the adopting of Christianity the platonic theology of Greece was maintained in the East. The One was identified as the Jewish God and the saints simply replaced the pagan deities.

Quote
"Age of reason once again resurrected?" When was it alive?

Amongst the social elite of ancient Greece and Rome. Philosophically we were on the verge of the modern era, but the technology and logistics of the day simply didn't allow for the maintaining of such a large empire in a peaceful state for a long enough period of time.
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2009, 03:21:37 PM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).
I think ialmisry touched on the answer by pointing out how Tsar Peter "the Great" brought in his predominantly Western ideas and enforced them upon Russian culture.  If Russia had remained truly Eastern in its world view, would it ever have become atheist?

The 'what if's' of history. Smiley Perhaps had it not been for the reforms of Peter the Great and the related political unity, Russia would not have withstood Napoleon's invasion, and would have become a colony of the French Empire anyway. Wink
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« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2009, 06:27:34 PM »

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If the Western view of God is the leading cause of atheism... then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

I would also add that I became an atheist even though I was an Orthodox Christian and was familiar with Orthodox views.
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2009, 07:16:00 PM »

I'm not sure why people think that belonging to the Orthodox Church somehow prevents one from leaving the Faith when even Demas, one of St. Paul's "fellow labourers" left the Church (2 Timothy 4:10), and I'm not sure why some think that Atheism is a "modern" or "Western" phenomenon when even the Old Testament talks about Atheists (Psalm 14:1).
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2009, 07:24:18 PM »

I'm not sure why people think that belonging to the Orthodox Church somehow prevents one from leaving the Faith when even Demas, one of St. Paul's "fellow labourers" left the Church (2 Timothy 4:10), and I'm not sure why some think that Atheism is a "modern" or "Western" phenomenon when even the Old Testament talks about Atheists (Psalm 14:1).
Very good points ozgeorge.
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« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2009, 12:52:54 AM »

I'm not sure why people think that belonging to the Orthodox Church somehow prevents one from leaving the Faith when even Demas, one of St. Paul's "fellow labourers" left the Church (2 Timothy 4:10), and I'm not sure why some think that Atheism is a "modern" or "Western" phenomenon when even the Old Testament talks about Atheists (Psalm 14:1).

I started this thread because it was based on a quote by a famous Greek iconographer (whose name escapes me).

The truth is there is no one massive reason why atheists deny God; it has been said there are as many atheisms as atheists. Several apostate Christians I know became atheists for purely emotional reasons. One, on top of that, had severe mental issues. On the flip side I reject the idea that being a man of science also means being an atheist, as I currently work in the scientific field, and some of my scientific/medical heroes are also Christians (Maxwell, Newton, Pasteur, and now, St. Luke of Simferopol).
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« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2009, 12:56:14 AM »

From a different perspective, it has been said that:

"The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." - Brennan Manning

I would say that such would be a poor reason for becoming an atheist, though there might be a grain of truth to it.
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« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2009, 03:33:57 AM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).

The westernization of Orthodoxy. And so alot of bad ideas were transfered.

Latin was the theological language back then and probably still is in some parts. Alot of western ideas went east.








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« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2009, 03:51:29 AM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).

Atheism certainly has it's foundation in western thought, though I think it's more a natural evolution of theology than a reaction against it. People's gods tend to change as their society changes, pantheism is the rule for most tribal societies, as their thinking becomes more sophisticated they personify these deities, then they start to merge them together either arriving at a monotheism by demoting some of the lesser gods and emphasizing one or take the approach making the gods a sort of demi-gods subjected, like humanity, to some overarching concept as seen in Platonic Paganism and much of modern Hinduism. With the decline of the ancient civilizations and the descent of Europe into the dark ages we saw additional emphasis on personification of deities again and even the supplementing of them with the cults of the saints. As an age of reason was once again resurrected in the west we saw a move towards abstraction again, first with the development of deism, then a reduction of the 'supreme being' to simply reason, and, finally, the dismissing of religious pretenses and modern atheism. Of course, these changes have generally happened in the upper class, they were really the only people at that time who had the luxury of sitting around and actually practicing philosophy, only slowly do the ideas trickle down to the masses, generally first taking hold in urban environments and slowly moving out to more rural areas.

I agree with most of what you said here, the onlything I would add is that the seeds of Atheism existed in "some" greek philosophers centuries before the birth of Christ, and so it's not really an evolution in the sense of going to something that never existed before. Instead, I see it as an expansion and development of what existed before in the Naturalist/Materialistic greek philosophers of old.........for a number of westerners of the 17th to 20th centuries were reading these ancient materialist greek and Roman philosophers, and just borrowed alot of ideas..........and so I see it as a mixture of both.

Also you can't generalize all pagan religious systems as just simply being Pantheistic for that's not really true. But I agree with most of what you had to say.








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« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2009, 04:39:48 AM »

I'm not sure why people think that belonging to the Orthodox Church somehow prevents one from leaving the Faith when even Demas, one of St. Paul's "fellow labourers" left the Church (2 Timothy 4:10), and I'm not sure why some think that Atheism is a "modern" or "Western" phenomenon when even the Old Testament talks about Atheists (Psalm 14:1).


The atheism found in the Old Testament didn't cause what we have today. What caused what we have today came from the west. Just like the science we have today came from the west. I'm sure other cultures had science as well, but it didn't cause what we have today in the world we live in. Roman Catholics were playing with Aristotle some 1,000 years ago, and it eventually turned into the animal we have today.

To be honest, the more I read about Paul Feyerabend, the more I find myself agreeing with him. The monopoly that secularism has on modern science today should be destroyed, and crushed into pieces of different variations(ways to do science).









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« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2009, 04:47:07 AM »

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The westernization of Orthodoxy. And so alot of bad ideas were transfered.

Quote
The atheism found in the Old Testament didn't cause what we have today. What caused what we have today came from the west.

What ideas from the west causes atheism, in your view? I ask because most of my reasons for becoming an atheist when I did would have been the same had I lived in 10th century Constantinople (supposing, of course, I knew then what I know now).
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« Reply #18 on: November 03, 2009, 05:57:17 AM »

Quote
The westernization of Orthodoxy. And so alot of bad ideas were transfered.

Quote
The atheism found in the Old Testament didn't cause what we have today. What caused what we have today came from the west.

What ideas from the west causes atheism, in your view? I ask because most of my reasons for becoming an atheist when I did would have been the same had I lived in 10th century Constantinople (supposing, of course, I knew then what I know now).

I don't know if "semi-atheism" is a term, but it's a word I use in trying to describe what I saw in some denominations of western Christianity.

Now, there maybe more than just one reason why Atheism/secularism came to be what it is in our world today. But it probably wouldn't of happened if Protestantism didn't preceed it, and if Rome didn't embrace Aristotle as she did centuries before the Protestant Reformation. And.....And if the west didn't hold Saint Augustine in such high esteem to the point of embracing the theological errors of his later years.......which oddly enough was necessary in order for science to grow out of the western world, as well as for modern atheism to grow out of the western world.

It is my personal belief, that all these things played a role in the formation of modern secularism/atheism.


Recently, I was looking at the belief called "cessationism", and saw that it's not that hard to slip into full blown atheism if you believe miracles ceased with either the death of the last Apostle or with the formation of the canon of scripture.

It's easy to see why certain one time Calvinistic cities eventually turned into Rationalistic strong holds. It's also easy to see why a good number of the descendants of the puritans, eventually became deists, uniterians, universalists........etc.

For you are already halfway there anyway. And recently when I was arguing with a number of different Calvinists......both Reformed and nonReformed, I learned that for some the term "Omni-Presence" doesn't really mean "everywhere", for they rejected the idea that God's presence could exist in creation.

Now this may not be the case for "all" calvinists and Reformed. I don't want to generalize, but it's real easy for me to see someone who doesn't believe God's presence to be everywhere to eventually slide into full blown atheism.


And in the case of France, I would turn to the Jansenists in who were very similar to Calvinists. It is said by some that Jansenism(both religious and political)......in some form.....helped cause the atheism in France.


It's impossible to be an atheist if you are a Panentheist. You can simultaneously be an agnostic and a Theist as a Panentheist, but not really an atheist.










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« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2009, 07:08:39 AM »

jnorm888,

I'm curious as to whether you've read any books by Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Victor Stenger, or Dan Barker, or perhaps the two atheist/agnostic books compiled by S.T. Joshi? I ask because these are some of the authors I've read over the past 4 or so years, and their ideas about atheism, and Christianity generally, don't seem to match up with what you are saying. Now it's possible that I'm just not connecting the dots here, that's possible, but I'm not sure that that is the case.

In my own life, when I became an atheist in January 2006, I had read almost no atheist literature. I had read The Antichrist by Nietzsche, which I thought was rather silly at the time I read it. I had read a few issues of Skeptic Magazine, though that fine publication is as much agnostic as it is atheist. And I had run across a few "Bible contradictions" sites online, which may have been put together by atheists. But by in large, I became an atheist through reading Christian literature, almost all of which was Eastern Orthodox, with a heavy dose of the Church Fathers. Ozgeorge was describing me in a recent post when he said, in part: "Those who 'think their way' into the Church will not remain but will 'think their way' out of it again."

I believe it was Newman who said that "to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant". In my own case, I found that to be deep in history was to cease to be a Christian--Orthodox or otherwise. I don't claim that it always works that way. I know on this forum (let alone in the rest of the world) that there are smarter people than I am, people who know the Fathers better than me, know theology better than me, etc. Nonetheless, for me, it was through my search of the deep wells of Orthodoxy that I became a non-believer. As I said in a post back in 2007: "I didn't deconvert because I read Dawkins or Nietzsche, but because I read Chrysostom and Popovich."

Now, maybe you would speculate that I didn't really understand Orthodoxy. There is the idea that if someone leaves your faith tradition, then they weren't really a part of it or a believer to begin with. Or maybe as ozgeorge said, I simply thought my way out of Orthodoxy. That seemed to be the theory of my priest and wife at the time, who complained, of all things, that I had been reading too many books. The atheists that I mentioned above (Harris, Dawkins, et al.) all took a radically different path than mine. Still, I didn't sense in their books what you are speaking of. But perhaps I am missing something, that's possible.

Quote
It's impossible to be an atheist if you are a Panentheist. You can simultaneously be an agnostic and a Theist as a Panentheist, but not really an atheist.

I'm not sure if this is directed towards me, or you meant it generally. I'm guessing it's directed towards me since I currently have panendeist (with a d, not a th) as my faith or religion. But I'm not an atheist now, and I would agree with you that you couldn't simultaneously be an atheist and a panendeist or panentheist. I'm sorry if I spoke in a way which seemed to indicate that I was an atheist. I meant that when I left Orthodox in the past I became an atheist. Sorry for any confusion on that.
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« Reply #20 on: November 03, 2009, 08:22:47 AM »

jnorm888,

I'm curious as to whether you've read any books by Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Victor Stenger, or Dan Barker, or perhaps the two atheist/agnostic books compiled by S.T. Joshi? I ask because these are some of the authors I've read over the past 4 or so years, and their ideas about atheism, and Christianity generally, don't seem to match up with what you are saying. Now it's possible that I'm just not connecting the dots here, that's possible, but I'm not sure that that is the case.


No, I haven't read any of their books. I only watch and listen to their debates with different people....the last debate I saw was Barker and James White. And that was either September or October.

I mostly read, Dr. Alister Mcgrath, Dr. Peter Harrison, James W. Sire, Nigel Brush, and a handfull of others.

 

Quote
In my own life, when I became an atheist in January 2006, I had read almost no atheist literature. I had read The Antichrist by Nietzsche, which I thought was rather silly at the time I read it. I had read a few issues of Skeptic Magazine, though that fine publication is as much agnostic as it is atheist. And I had run across a few "Bible contradictions" sites online, which may have been put together by atheists. But by in large, I became an atheist through reading Christian literature, almost all of which was Eastern Orthodox, with a heavy dose of the Church Fathers. Ozgeorge was describing me in a recent post when he said, in part: "Those who 'think their way' into the Church will not remain but will 'think their way' out of it again."

I believe it was Newman who said that "to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant". In my own case, I found that to be deep in history was to cease to be a Christian--Orthodox or otherwise.


I have an Orthodox friend who is also a convert who reads alot of atheistic stuff and he's close to where you are. Now I don't know if this has something to do with Apophatic theology or not. I've noticed two different sets of converts. Some like myself who were pretty much ignorant of Apophatic theology and so we came in for other reasons, and those who converted precisely because of Apophatic theology and mysticism.

Now I don't know what you read in Orthodoxy that caused you to be an Atheist, but I never gave up cataphatic theology when I converted. I'm not saying you gave it up, for I really don't know your expereince......I only know my own. Now I am learning more about Apophatic theology, but I really can't see myself only using Apophatic means.

But I can see how an Orthodox Christian can slide into atheism through some statements made in using apophaticism.....like....we can't say even the term "God exist".....and stuff like that.

So I can see that happening. It's just that when I was thinking about atheism I wasn't even thinking about that......my mind was focused on how it happened in the western world and how that form of atheism eventually influenced the east as well as the rest of the planet.

I never really took those apophatic statements seriously, and so I kind of ignored that it could actually lead someone into atheism.




Quote
I don't claim that it always works that way. I know on this forum (let alone in the rest of the world) that there are smarter people than I am, people who know the Fathers better than me, know theology better than me, etc. Nonetheless, for me, it was through my search of the deep wells of Orthodoxy that I became a non-believer. As I said in a post back in 2007: "I didn't deconvert because I read Dawkins or Nietzsche, but because I read Chrysostom and Popovich."

If you still remember how this happened I would be more than willing to listen to your side of the story.




Quote
Now, maybe you would speculate that I didn't really understand Orthodoxy. There is the idea that if someone leaves your faith tradition, then they weren't really a part of it or a believer to begin with. Or maybe as ozgeorge said, I simply thought my way out of Orthodoxy. That seemed to be the theory of my priest and wife at the time, who complained, of all things, that I had been reading too many books. The atheists that I mentioned above (Harris, Dawkins, et al.) all took a radically different path than mine. Still, I didn't sense in their books what you are speaking of. But perhaps I am missing something, that's possible.

No, I would never say you were never Orthodox, but then again, I've only been Orthodox for 2 years now...it will be 3 in April. So who am I to say such a thing? I would love to be Orthodox for the rest of my life, but It would be naive to think that I couldn't change 5,10,15, years down the road. For if such a thing could happen to Tertullian, than such a thing could happen to all of us.

The semi-atheism I spoke of is in the air we breath........well now the air is becoming more and more atheistic. But it's in the air (society, philosophy, theology, work place, school, culture.....etc)

What I was talking about was the western world in general and the atheism I saw that eventually came to be.



Quote
Quote
It's impossible to be an atheist if you are a Panentheist. You can simultaneously be an agnostic and a Theist as a Panentheist, but not really an atheist.

I'm not sure if this is directed towards me, or you meant it generally. I'm guessing it's directed towards me since I currently have panendeist (with a d, not a th) as my faith or religion. But I'm not an atheist now, and I would agree with you that you couldn't simultaneously be an atheist and a panendeist or panentheist. I'm sorry if I spoke in a way which seemed to indicate that I was an atheist. I meant that when I left Orthodox in the past I became an atheist. Sorry for any confusion on that.


I was saying that in general, for I'm a Panentheist, and this is why I said that we could simultaneously be both agnostic and Theistic because of the Essence vs Energies distinction.













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« Reply #21 on: November 03, 2009, 10:41:29 AM »

Can some one please explain to me how accepting Augustine and using Aristotilian language lead towards atheism?  Huh
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« Reply #22 on: November 03, 2009, 11:43:20 AM »

I don't think it's Augustine and Aquinas (I think this is who you really meant when referring to Aristotle?) so much that lead to atheism. Rather it's the idea that God is some divine bully sitting in heaven with a billy club waiting to smite whoever goes out of line slightly.

I would argue rather it's not just the view of God, but the view of man that leads to atheism. If man is his own supreme being, who can will whatever laws of good and evil he sees fit, he has no need for God.

Personally I find the divine billy club-wielding God comforting when these types of people (inevitably) go out of line. I also find him terrifying, but in a good way.
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« Reply #23 on: November 03, 2009, 12:00:53 PM »

Can some one please explain to me how accepting Augustine and using Aristotilian language lead towards atheism?  Huh

Philosophically, I believe they do and I think the 'missing link' is Descartes. The cornerstone of his Philosophy, derived from his philosophical tradition, was to question every belief one holds. Now, I would argue that he never honestly questioned the existence of a deity, which is a large reason why he came to the conclusions he did; but for the development of western thought, his conclusions aren't as important as his methodologies. This is essentially how I came to atheism, eventually I came to the conclusion that the belief in a deity was simply unnecessary to explain my existence and the material world based upon this methodology and my knowledge of modern science. At that point, it simply became silly to hold on to a fundamental axiom what was essentially useless...for psychological reasons it took probably a year for me to fully dispense with any religious belief and I moved through more liberal Christianity, Deism, and Agnosticism before I ended up as an Atheist trying to compromise logic and emotion, but once that logical conclusion was reached atheism was inevitable.
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« Reply #24 on: November 03, 2009, 12:02:41 PM »

I don't think it's Augustine and Aquinas (I think this is who you really meant when referring to Aristotle?) so much that lead to atheism. Rather it's the idea that God is some divine bully sitting in heaven with a billy club waiting to smite whoever goes out of line slightly.

I would argue rather it's not just the view of God, but the view of man that leads to atheism. If man is his own supreme being, who can will whatever laws of good and evil he sees fit, he has no need for God.

Personally I find the divine billy club-wielding God comforting when these types of people (inevitably) go out of line. I also find him terrifying, but in a good way.
Boogey man theology. God was so angry with the world that He sent His Son to be tortured to death so God could vent, and now God feels so much better.  Not much redemption there.

And what comfort do you get from them being wacked.  Do you not understand the Spirit to which you (supposedly) belong?
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« Reply #25 on: November 03, 2009, 12:08:52 PM »

Can some one please explain to me how accepting Augustine and using Aristotilian language lead towards atheism?  Huh

Philosophically, I believe they do and I think the 'missing link' is Descartes. The cornerstone of his Philosophy, derived from his philosophical tradition, was to question every belief one holds. Now, I would argue that he never honestly questioned the existence of a deity, which is a large reason why he came to the conclusions he did; but for the development of western thought, his conclusions aren't as important as his methodologies. This is essentially how I came to atheism, eventually I came to the conclusion that the belief in a deity was simply unnecessary to explain my existence and the material world based upon this methodology and my knowledge of modern science. At that point, it simply became silly to hold on to a fundamental axiom what was essentially useless...for psychological reasons it took probably a year for me to fully dispense with any religious belief and I moved through more liberal Christianity, Deism, and Agnosticism before I ended up as an Atheist trying to compromise logic and emotion, but once that logical conclusion was reached atheism was inevitable.
Interesting, an absurdity as logical conclusion.

Your existence isn't required to explain anything: maybe you don't. It could just be a monkey typing out shakespeare on the internet.  You claim to be a mathematician, what are the odds?
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« Reply #26 on: November 03, 2009, 12:22:41 PM »

Can some one please explain to me how accepting Augustine and using Aristotilian language lead towards atheism?  Huh

Philosophically, I believe they do and I think the 'missing link' is Descartes. The cornerstone of his Philosophy, derived from his philosophical tradition, was to question every belief one holds. Now, I would argue that he never honestly questioned the existence of a deity, which is a large reason why he came to the conclusions he did; but for the development of western thought, his conclusions aren't as important as his methodologies. This is essentially how I came to atheism, eventually I came to the conclusion that the belief in a deity was simply unnecessary to explain my existence and the material world based upon this methodology and my knowledge of modern science. At that point, it simply became silly to hold on to a fundamental axiom what was essentially useless...for psychological reasons it took probably a year for me to fully dispense with any religious belief and I moved through more liberal Christianity, Deism, and Agnosticism before I ended up as an Atheist trying to compromise logic and emotion, but once that logical conclusion was reached atheism was inevitable.
Interesting, an absurdity as logical conclusion.

Your existence isn't required to explain anything: maybe you don't. It could just be a monkey typing out shakespeare on the internet.  You claim to be a mathematician, what are the odds?
I would have to agree with you. I think that those who profess atheism have abandoned reason for fables.
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« Reply #27 on: November 03, 2009, 12:45:18 PM »

Can some one please explain to me how accepting Augustine and using Aristotilian language lead towards atheism?  Huh

Philosophically, I believe they do and I think the 'missing link' is Descartes. The cornerstone of his Philosophy, derived from his philosophical tradition, was to question every belief one holds. Now, I would argue that he never honestly questioned the existence of a deity, which is a large reason why he came to the conclusions he did; but for the development of western thought, his conclusions aren't as important as his methodologies. This is essentially how I came to atheism, eventually I came to the conclusion that the belief in a deity was simply unnecessary to explain my existence and the material world based upon this methodology and my knowledge of modern science. At that point, it simply became silly to hold on to a fundamental axiom what was essentially useless...for psychological reasons it took probably a year for me to fully dispense with any religious belief and I moved through more liberal Christianity, Deism, and Agnosticism before I ended up as an Atheist trying to compromise logic and emotion, but once that logical conclusion was reached atheism was inevitable.
Interesting, an absurdity as logical conclusion.

Your existence isn't required to explain anything: maybe you don't. It could just be a monkey typing out shakespeare on the internet.  You claim to be a mathematician, what are the odds?

'cognito ergo sum'

I may not know what, for certain, but something I identify as me exists and exists in an environment where I can consistently interact with it using the principles of science. I know that what I observe as light travels at a constant velocity in a vacuum, I know that two masses attract each other relative to a certain constant, and so forth. What I observe as light or mass could, theoretically, be figments of my imagination or something implanted in my 'mind' whatever that might be. But, I know that using these principles developed I can effectively and consistency interact with my environment, the only environment that I've ever known and, quite frankly, the only one that even matters. Even if I am a brain in a jar, the outside world wouldn't matter to me, I can't interact with it, I can't observe it, I can't really have anything to do with it whatsoever, so it's completely irrelevant and would be utterly irrational to base either my beliefs or actions on the possibility of its existence.

It is consistency, not purpose, that matters for logic.

Now your existence, on the other hand, is certainly up for debate. Wink
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« Reply #28 on: November 03, 2009, 01:08:21 PM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).

Atheism certainly has it's foundation in western thought, though I think it's more a natural evolution of theology than a reaction against it. People's gods tend to change as their society changes, pantheism is the rule for most tribal societies, as their thinking becomes more sophisticated they personify these deities, then they start to merge them together either arriving at a monotheism by demoting some of the lesser gods and emphasizing one or take the approach making the gods a sort of demi-gods subjected, like humanity, to some overarching concept as seen in Platonic Paganism and much of modern Hinduism. With the decline of the ancient civilizations and the descent of Europe into the dark ages we saw additional emphasis on personification of deities again and even the supplementing of them with the cults of the saints. As an age of reason was once again resurrected in the west we saw a move towards abstraction again, first with the development of deism, then a reduction of the 'supreme being' to simply reason, and, finally, the dismissing of religious pretenses and modern atheism. Of course, these changes have generally happened in the upper class, they were really the only people at that time who had the luxury of sitting around and actually practicing philosophy, only slowly do the ideas trickle down to the masses, generally first taking hold in urban environments and slowly moving out to more rural areas.

Interesting. Based on this "hypothesis," do you believe the world will eventually reject all religion completely?
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« Reply #29 on: November 03, 2009, 01:11:45 PM »

Can some one please explain to me how accepting Augustine and using Aristotilian language lead towards atheism?  Huh

Philosophically, I believe they do and I think the 'missing link' is Descartes. The cornerstone of his Philosophy, derived from his philosophical tradition, was to question every belief one holds. Now, I would argue that he never honestly questioned the existence of a deity, which is a large reason why he came to the conclusions he did; but for the development of western thought, his conclusions aren't as important as his methodologies. This is essentially how I came to atheism, eventually I came to the conclusion that the belief in a deity was simply unnecessary to explain my existence and the material world based upon this methodology and my knowledge of modern science. At that point, it simply became silly to hold on to a fundamental axiom what was essentially useless...for psychological reasons it took probably a year for me to fully dispense with any religious belief and I moved through more liberal Christianity, Deism, and Agnosticism before I ended up as an Atheist trying to compromise logic and emotion, but once that logical conclusion was reached atheism was inevitable.
Interesting, an absurdity as logical conclusion.

Your existence isn't required to explain anything: maybe you don't. It could just be a monkey typing out shakespeare on the internet.  You claim to be a mathematician, what are the odds?

'cognito ergo sum'

Sure about that?  The Buddhists dispute it:
http://books.google.com/books?id=_WduwVbiLSsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=what+the+buddha+taught#v=onepage&q=cogito&f=false

Quote
I may not know what, for certain, but something I identify as me exists and exists in an environment where I can consistently interact with it using the principles of science. I know that what I observe as light travels at a constant velocity in a vacuum, I know that two masses attract each other relative to a certain constant, and so forth. What I observe as light or mass could, theoretically, be figments of my imagination or something implanted in my 'mind' whatever that might be. But, I know that using these principles developed I can effectively and consistency interact with my environment, the only environment that I've ever known and, quite frankly, the only one that even matters. Even if I am a brain in a jar, the outside world wouldn't matter to me, I can't interact with it, I can't observe it, I can't really have anything to do with it whatsoever, so it's completely irrelevant and would be utterly irrational to base either my beliefs or actions on the possibility of its existence.

Yet you decide to deny its existance.  What happens when it knocks the jar over? Shocked

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0_1F0_20mE

Quote
It is consistency, not purpose, that matters for logic.

So as long as it is consistent nonsense, it's logical.  That makes sense.

Quote
Now your existence, on the other hand, is certainly up for debate. Wink
My existence is irrelevant.
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« Reply #30 on: November 03, 2009, 01:13:18 PM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).

Atheism certainly has it's foundation in western thought, though I think it's more a natural evolution of theology than a reaction against it. People's gods tend to change as their society changes, pantheism is the rule for most tribal societies, as their thinking becomes more sophisticated they personify these deities, then they start to merge them together either arriving at a monotheism by demoting some of the lesser gods and emphasizing one or take the approach making the gods a sort of demi-gods subjected, like humanity, to some overarching concept as seen in Platonic Paganism and much of modern Hinduism. With the decline of the ancient civilizations and the descent of Europe into the dark ages we saw additional emphasis on personification of deities again and even the supplementing of them with the cults of the saints. As an age of reason was once again resurrected in the west we saw a move towards abstraction again, first with the development of deism, then a reduction of the 'supreme being' to simply reason, and, finally, the dismissing of religious pretenses and modern atheism. Of course, these changes have generally happened in the upper class, they were really the only people at that time who had the luxury of sitting around and actually practicing philosophy, only slowly do the ideas trickle down to the masses, generally first taking hold in urban environments and slowly moving out to more rural areas.

Interesting. Based on this "hypothesis," do you believe the world will eventually reject all religion completely?
LOL.  Such was the conventional wisdom of the '70s (and before that, much of snob society of the 1800s). Didn't quite work out that way.
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« Reply #31 on: November 03, 2009, 01:26:16 PM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).

Atheism certainly has it's foundation in western thought, though I think it's more a natural evolution of theology than a reaction against it. People's gods tend to change as their society changes, pantheism is the rule for most tribal societies, as their thinking becomes more sophisticated they personify these deities, then they start to merge them together either arriving at a monotheism by demoting some of the lesser gods and emphasizing one or take the approach making the gods a sort of demi-gods subjected, like humanity, to some overarching concept as seen in Platonic Paganism and much of modern Hinduism. With the decline of the ancient civilizations and the descent of Europe into the dark ages we saw additional emphasis on personification of deities again and even the supplementing of them with the cults of the saints. As an age of reason was once again resurrected in the west we saw a move towards abstraction again, first with the development of deism, then a reduction of the 'supreme being' to simply reason, and, finally, the dismissing of religious pretenses and modern atheism. Of course, these changes have generally happened in the upper class, they were really the only people at that time who had the luxury of sitting around and actually practicing philosophy, only slowly do the ideas trickle down to the masses, generally first taking hold in urban environments and slowly moving out to more rural areas.

Interesting. Based on this "hypothesis," do you believe the world will eventually reject all religion completely?

Probably not, baring widespread genetic engineering. There's an evolutionary tendency to want certainty and security and with our current neurological composition I believe there will always be a portion of the population that turns to some form of spirituality, if not organized religion. I do see the eventual death of organized religion and I do see spirituality being something confined to a small minority of the population, though probably not in our life time.
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« Reply #32 on: November 03, 2009, 01:33:26 PM »

Interesting. Based on this "hypothesis," do you believe the world will eventually reject all religion completely?

Unlikely. Aside from the hypothesis being far too Hegelian from a methodological point of view, there is lots of research going on now in evolutionary biology, paleoanthropology and neuroscience that suggests otherwise. J. Wentzel van Huyssteen gave his Gifford lectures on this, which are published by Eerdmans, in case such things are of interest to you.
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« Reply #33 on: November 03, 2009, 01:58:24 PM »

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If you still remember how this happened I would be more than willing to listen to your side of the story.

Actually I'm working on something that would help explain it, but I don't think this would be the best time and place to discuss it. I think there are certain limits to what I should say here, especially being in the "Faith Issues" section. And I don't want to be accused of trying to lead people out of Orthodoxy. For now I'll just say that my problems were with a wide variety of issues, from the usage of certain authorities (Scripture, Tradition, Ecumenical Councils), to the existence of certain things (hell, demons), to other problems I encountered.


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Personally I find the divine billy club-wielding God comforting when these types of people (inevitably) go out of line. I also find him terrifying, but in a good way.

Huh You find such a God comforting because... you believe we'll get our punishment in hell?
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« Reply #34 on: November 04, 2009, 12:17:01 PM »

...then why did an Orthodox country become the first atheist state?

(And yes I do realize some consider the French First Republic the first of such states).
I think ialmisry touched on the answer by pointing out how Tsar Peter "the Great" brought in his predominantly Western ideas and enforced them upon Russian culture.  If Russia had remained truly Eastern in its world view, would it ever have become atheist?

A lot of it had to do with corruption in the Church as well. I think it's important to remember that although the communist state was atheist huge numbers of Russians remained faithful to God. Atheism was forced on the Russian people by a murderous totalitarian regime. That is something categorically different from what we see in modern western societies. I think that is evidenced by the resurgence of Orthodoxy in post-soviet Russia.


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« Reply #35 on: November 06, 2009, 04:21:23 AM »

jnorm888

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If you still remember how this happened I would be more than willing to listen to your side of the story.

Actually I'm working on something that would help explain it, but I don't think this would be the best time and place to discuss it. I think there are certain limits to what I should say here, especially being in the "Faith Issues" section. And I don't want to be accused of trying to lead people out of Orthodoxy. For now I'll just say that my problems were with a wide variety of issues, from the usage of certain authorities (Scripture, Tradition, Ecumenical Councils), to the existence of certain things (hell, demons), to other problems I encountered.


Super Apostolic Bros.

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Personally I find the divine billy club-wielding God comforting when these types of people (inevitably) go out of line. I also find him terrifying, but in a good way.

Huh You find such a God comforting because... you believe we'll get our punishment in hell?
I was thinking about people who are totally depraved. And no, I do not mean that in a Calvinist sense... I mean, "laugh as I murder your family and rape your dog" depraved. "Hitler" depraved. People who are so vehemently disgusting that it gives pause to those who deny traditional standards of good and evil.

Then again, who knows their fate beyond the grave?
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« Reply #36 on: November 07, 2009, 02:17:50 PM »

I would also add that I became an atheist even though I was an Orthodox Christian and was familiar with Orthodox views.
I think that your case is a bit of a special one though. Wink

Anyway, it's not the Orthodox interpretations that keep you from becoming an atheist. But most atheists nowadays have been let down by Western theology. I believe that an atheist has more chances of converting/not leaving if he is closer to Eastern Christianity.

Concerning the OP, I don't think that we can count Russia. That was a "conform or die" dechristianization, not a choice.
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« Reply #37 on: November 23, 2010, 09:50:46 AM »

I would also add that I became an atheist even though I was an Orthodox Christian and was familiar with Orthodox views.
I think that your case is a bit of a special one though. Wink

Anyway, it's not the Orthodox interpretations that keep you from becoming an atheist. But most atheists nowadays have been let down by Western theology. I believe that an atheist has more chances of converting/not leaving if he is closer to Eastern Christianity.

Perhaps, though I think a case can be made in the opposite direction: upon being exposed to Orthodoxy, someone has been exposed to the best version of Christianity there is. If even this version fails, then where has a person to go?
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« Reply #38 on: November 23, 2010, 10:50:50 AM »

In my personal experience, I think there is definitely a correlation between what became of Western theology and atheism.  I was an atheist for a little over a year having abandoned the Protestant Evangelical brand of Christianity, assuming that all there was left was Roman Catholicism.  My problems were much the same as those I read about in the "New Atheist" literature.  Sin, punishment, divine wrath, etc.  I was actually hoping that a coherent atheistic worldview would be readily available to fill that void, so I devoured books by Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens, but was ultimately disappointed so I then veered into agnosticism.  But then I started to dig into history and became convinced of the resurrection and was subsequently exposed to Orthodoxy for the first time, and my whole life changed.

What I find in Orthodoxy is what I always wished existed when I was an Evangelical.

I know people leave the Church for various reasons, but when speaking of this current rise in a vocal atheism, just by looking at their language and context I think it's pretty clear that it's a specifically Western brand of theology they're rejecting.  The God Delusion is pretty much solely attacking Thomas Aquinas.
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« Reply #39 on: November 23, 2010, 11:58:46 AM »

In my personal experience, I think there is definitely a correlation between what became of Western theology and atheism.  I was an atheist for a little over a year having abandoned the Protestant Evangelical brand of Christianity, assuming that all there was left was Roman Catholicism.  My problems were much the same as those I read about in the "New Atheist" literature.  Sin, punishment, divine wrath, etc.  I was actually hoping that a coherent atheistic worldview would be readily available to fill that void, so I devoured books by Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens, but was ultimately disappointed so I then veered into agnosticism.  But then I started to dig into history and became convinced of the resurrection and was subsequently exposed to Orthodoxy for the first time, and my whole life changed.

What I find in Orthodoxy is what I always wished existed when I was an Evangelical.

I know people leave the Church for various reasons, but when speaking of this current rise in a vocal atheism, just by looking at their language and context I think it's pretty clear that it's a specifically Western brand of theology they're rejecting.  The God Delusion is pretty much solely attacking Thomas Aquinas.

If the West is the problem, then why are you Western Rite?
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« Reply #40 on: November 23, 2010, 01:13:32 PM »

...I won't deny that it's a relatively Eurocentric view, because it assumes that western society has advanced further than any other society. But I don't think that assumption is too much of a stretch if you compare the evolution of both technology and political structures around the world....

You found the reason here. Atheism is a product of higher society. It is so because as a society/group becomes more comfortable and educated, the the tendency is to reject everything else. It's a development of : "I'm comfortable, I don't need external comfort. I've learned the world, if I can't 'learn it', it isn't real. 
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« Reply #41 on: November 23, 2010, 01:16:52 PM »

I don't think the Western world is the cause of all issues and sundry.  Roll Eyes There are atheists in the East, as well.
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« Reply #42 on: November 23, 2010, 01:21:13 PM »

If the West is the problem, then why are you Western Rite?

The West isn't the problem, what has become of Western theology is.  

The Western Rite's aim is to bring the Western tradition and expression back to canonical Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #43 on: November 23, 2010, 01:48:25 PM »

I had no idea Asteriktos is/was atheist, are you still as such?
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« Reply #44 on: November 23, 2010, 02:37:04 PM »

Depends on how you define atheist. Over the years I have several times been told I was an atheist when I wasn't, and also been told that I wasn't an atheist when I was. Seems like a fairly unstable word. Though I suppose that would go with my username (if not log in name), now wouldn't it?  Smiley
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