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  1. #1

    Atheism a Sign of Mental Illness?

    Ok, I'll come right out and say I'm an atheist, with a distinctive nihilistic bent. I'm young, only a college student, I have my whole life ahead of me and have yet to experience many things, but I fail to see the ultimate purpose of life, "why" we're here, and for years cannot bring myself to believe that some Deity exists and is watching over humankind, or that some supernatural "afterlife" exists in which we'll all be reunited with friends and loved ones and live happily ever after. I was raised Catholic, participated actively in church for years, but something happened to change my way of thinking. When I entered college, a close friend of mine was murdered and it seemed to've been the catalyst for the whole de-conversion process. That, and being exposed to different philosophies, scientific theories, etc. has led me to feel that anything to do with religion or gods is pure fantasy. Of course it would be nice if a loving, heavenly being watched over us and guided our lives, and that at the end of a hard, difficult life on Earth we all go on to some kind of afterlife instead of rotting in the ground--but I've come to the conclusion that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

    I've been wondering if there is something wrong with me, ever since the tragedy occured. I've heard people say that atheists are mentally ill, that since they don't believe in God, they must not believe in anything bigger and higher than themselves, and they're focused on themselves to the point of psychopathy! This is definitely not me. I don't put myself in a position to be akin to a god. This is blatantly false of other atheists I've spoken to, as well. They are for the most part a very intelligent group who see the evils of religious extremism and dogmatism. For the most part they seek to find ways to make the human condition better by studying the various sciences.

    So tell me, is this a sign of mental illness? What are the benefits (if any) of being "spiritual"? What should I do?

  2. #2

    Atheism a Sign of Mental Illness?

    Atheism, pantheism, monotheism - or something else... these are spiritual beliefs. They have little or nothing to do with mental health or mental illness, in my opinion.

    It's a matter of personal experience, teaching, and personal preference, like what foods one likes or dislikes, or tastes in clothing, or movies, or music, or personal preferences as to romantic partners, etc., etc.

    That said, if you are pondering a possible link between your personal beliefs and your personal experiences, including personal losses or trauma, there is almost certainly a link - but I don't think that has anything to do with mental illness.

  3. #3

    Atheism a Sign of Mental Illness?

    Ok, I'll come right out and say I'm an atheist, with a distinctive nihilistic bent. I'm young, only a college student, I have my whole life ahead of me and have yet to experience many things, but I fail to see the ultimate purpose of life, "why" we're here,
    I understand where you are. Have you thought about the anthropic principle vs. randomness in quantum mechanics? The best scientific explanation we have for the Big Bang is quantum undulations that occur at the Planck length. What causes such undulations? Unseen dimensions? Maybe, but doesn't something unseen kind of throw our empiricist epistemology of science out the window? One thing I have determined in cosmology (which is important to the meaning of life) is that for an explanation to be logical, you must either throw out the notion of a beginning and thus accept infinity, or you must dismiss all notions of cause and effect as we know them. The Big Bang is not a terminal model, that is, it doesn't in itself posit whether the bang occured after a collapse. If that is so, then the beginning was not the beginning at all. Hello Intelligent being.

    When I entered college, a close friend of mine was murdered and it seemed to've been the catalyst for the whole de-conversion process. That, and being exposed to different philosophies, scientific theories, etc. has led me to feel that anything to do with religion or gods is pure fantasy.
    Here is a logical breakdown in your thought pattern. When you were a child, you knew death existed and was an invariable end for us all, did you not? Why then, does the death of a friend suddenly change your belief systems? The Christian Bible is filled with scripture on death -- it is part of the life cycle. However, I do agree with you in that if God were benevolent and maintained a logical system of heavenly morals, he would not allow war, death, famine etc.., yet he does it seems.

    I've heard people say that atheists are mentally ill
    Tell them they are mentally ill for believing that others who use their brains are mentally ill. Tell them they are mentally handicapped for imbibing without question everything they were fed on their mother's knee.

    You ask for the meaning of life, and if Plato, Socrates, Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche, Hume, and Husserl cannot effectively answer it, I will not attempt to in this short space. However, one thing is certain: Cogito Ergo Sum, I think therefore I am. We are thinking, cognizant creatures with the ability for reason and logic. We are also evolving creatures who are on a path. Where? Who knows, but a path indeed. Our purpose is to navigate that path for the betterment of our species -- for knowledge, understanding and a higher consciousness.

    Be well, and stay safe young man.

    ---End of Rant---

  4. #4

    Atheism a Sign of Mental Illness?

    See also http://www.psychlinks.ca/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=246

    Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning. Washington Square Press, 1988 (ISBN 0671023373).

  5. #5

    Atheism a Sign of Mental Illness?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pilonea
    Ok, I'll come right out and say I'm an atheist, with a distinctive nihilistic bent. I'm young, only a college student, I have my whole life ahead of me and have yet to experience many things, but I fail to see the ultimate purpose of life, "why" we're here,
    I understand where you are. Have you thought about the anthropic principle vs. randomness in quantum mechanics? The best scientific explanation we have for the Big Bang is quantum undulations that occur at the Planck length. What causes such undulations? Unseen dimensions? Maybe, but doesn't something unseen kind of throw our empiricist epistemology of science out the window? One thing I have determined in cosmology (which is important to the meaning of life) is that for an explanation to be logical, you must either throw out the notion of a beginning and thus accept infinity, or you must dismiss all notions of cause and effect as we know them. The Big Bang is not a terminal model, that is, it doesn't in itself posit whether the bang occured after a collapse. If that is so, then the beginning was not the beginning at all. Hello Intelligent being.

    This is a little confusing--are you saying that God exists because something had to've started this whole universe thing?

    When I entered college, a close friend of mine was murdered and it seemed to've been the catalyst for the whole de-conversion process. That, and being exposed to different philosophies, scientific theories, etc. has led me to feel that anything to do with religion or gods is pure fantasy.
    Here is a logical breakdown in your thought pattern. When you were a child, you knew death existed and was an invariable end for us all, did you not? Why then, does the death of a friend suddenly change your belief systems? The Christian Bible is filled with scripture on death -- it is part of the life cycle. However, I do agree with you in that if God were benevolent and maintained a logical system of heavenly morals, he would not allow war, death, famine etc.., yet he does it seems.

    Oh, I always knew about death, that everyone dies--what changed was my view of death itself. I no longer believe in immortal souls. When you're dead, you're dead. As for God, either He must be evil or incompetent in preventing evil, or, more likely, He?She/It doesn't exist. I was a Deist for a while before my experience with losing a loved one, doubting for some time--but this was the turning point. It isn't like I had a total change overnight--but almost.
    I've heard people say that atheists are mentally ill
    Tell them they are mentally ill for believing that others who use their brains are mentally ill. Tell them they are mentally handicapped for imbibing without question everything they were fed on their mother's knee.

    Agreed!


    You ask for the meaning of life, and if Plato, Socrates, Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche, Hume, and Husserl cannot effectively answer it, I will not attempt to in this short space. However, one thing is certain: Cogito Ergo Sum, I think therefore I am. We are thinking, cognizant creatures with the ability for reason and logic. We are also evolving creatures who are on a path. Where? Who knows, but a path indeed. Our purpose is to navigate that path for the betterment of our species -- for knowledge, understanding and a higher consciousness.

    Be well, and stay safe young man.

    In this case, young woman ;-)
    ---End of Rant---
    Very insightful post!

  6. #6

    Atheism a Sign of Mental Illness?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Baxter
    See also http://www.psychlinks.ca/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=246

    Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning. Washington Square Press, 1988 (ISBN 0671023373).
    Interesting link...I remember reading "The Survivor" by Frankl a few years ago--he's an amazing writer. I'll have to get that book from the library!

  7. #7

    Atheism a Sign of Mental Illness?

    ok, coming from a background where I've been exposed to many different cultures and therefore religions, I can certainly say that atheism or any other religion is not a sign of mental illness. The only people who would ever say so are those who don't know enough about the different types of religions... even someone who is say, strictly Catholic, can respect someone who practices Buddhism... it comes down to being respectful and if your belief is that God doesn't exist, then that's your right to say so. It's not okay to push that belief onto someone else, but the last time I checked an atheist wasnt' t trying to do that, as a Christian or Catholic etc. wasn't trying to do that... you can learn about all the religions and then only truly make up your mind about what you should believe (in my opinion) but that's about it.

    my question is though, as much as we say God should "watch over us" or "not let anything bad happen"... who said so???? "Bad" has always happened... I think it makes it more difficult to believe in God if a tragedy happens etc. but did that ever cross our minds when that tragedy did not directly affect us or moved us in some way? Why can't there be a God w/ the good and the bad? Why does it have to be an all or none approach?

  8. #8

    Re: Atheism a Sign of Mental Illness?

    Hey....here's a slightly different spin on the original question...

    Is there a link between mental illness and religion ? When I've read about psychosis, I seem to remember reading -more than once- that hallucinations often involve evil, Jesus or God???


  9. Re: Atheism a Sign of Mental Illness?

    Nope!, just a point of perception, a belief system. Nothing "wrong" with that.

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