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Recently I decided to give up my religion. However I am confused which philosophy or philosopher should I follow to guide me in my life. I assume philosophy is mature and capable of replacing religion as there are many mature Atheists like Richard Dawkins etc.

My question is : As an Atheist which philosopher or philosophy should I follow to help me grow in the world ?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Geoffrey Thomas, wolf-revo-cats, Philip Klöcking Mar 26 '18 at 9:13

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I HIGHLY recommend nihilism. – Garrett Gutierrez Mar 20 '18 at 19:28
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    If you're interested in a coherent philosophy, atheism certainly isn't the way to go. I would seek reconciliation with God as a first step to making sense of your life and the world. – user3017 Mar 22 '18 at 9:33
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    Whatever you want, really. Who says even if God (or anything divine) doesn't exist you cannot pretend He actually does if this leads to more global happiness? Why not lie if it is Good? Can an atheist not appreciate the stories, just as stories? – Discrete lizard Mar 23 '18 at 23:31
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    Philosophy has various views on existence of god[s]. Because none of philosophical beliefs were [dis]proved. Otherwise it would be science, not philosophy. – rus9384 Mar 24 '18 at 1:14
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    Flagging for closure because this is not a personal advice helpline. – MichaelK Mar 25 '18 at 9:33
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I too left religion for atheism.

Unlike you, perhaps, I didn't immediately seek a replacement to fill the void in my life. For those who have not grown up in religion, it is important to realize how religion becomes a part of your identity. When you leave it, it feels like you have lost a part of yourself.

My primary goals when I realized I was an atheist, was to look for the truth, which I've always defined as "that which comports with reality." I began researching epistemology, ethics, law, and general areas of philosophy.

As for my personal development, and what it meant to be an atheist, I realized more and more that the shackles of religion no longer ensnared me--I was free to pursue my own happiness and goals. To a religious person, such a revelation seems sinful, damnable, selfish, and earthly. I found, however, that this meant a life more fruitful and enjoyable.

This doesn't mean I only look out for myself, but it does mean I can decide how much time, energy, and money I put into things; I don't have a holy book telling me how to do that.

I would recommend both the Recovering from Religion website and the Atheist Experience TV Show as valuable resources for new atheists. The first provides some of the community you might be looking for (even if only online/virtual) and the second has excellent answers to many questions posed by atheists and theists alike.

Best of luck!

  • I couldn't find answers to the following questions in the FAQ section : 1. Where do we come from at the time of birth? 2. Where do we go after death? – Dheeraj Verma Mar 20 '18 at 18:32
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    Not all atheists would answer your questions the same way. I would answer them as: my parents had sex and I was born; and I just die--I cease to exist; I don't believe in any afterlife. – TheHonestAtheist Mar 20 '18 at 18:40
  • I mean from where did the first parents came from ? – Dheeraj Verma Mar 20 '18 at 18:50
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    First parents came from an earlier human ancestor, and them from a human-like apes, and on down the line. I would recommend studying the theory of evolution for that. – TheHonestAtheist Mar 20 '18 at 19:04
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – user3017 Mar 28 '18 at 13:10
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If you are looking for a congregation of almost all atheists which provides religious-like activities such a Sunday school, baby naming ceremonies, memorial services, wedding ceremonies and a community nurtured by regular meetings, you should try Ethical Culture. Ethical Culture congregations are located primarily in the northeast from Washington to Boston. The biggest congregations are in St. Louis and Washington. There are also congregations in Texas, North Carolina, Silicon Valley, and a few other places. Check the website of the American Ethical Union for more information. (Disclosure: I am a member of the Baltimore Ethical Society and the AHA).

Some Ethical Culture Societies are affiliated with the American Humanist Association (AHA). Other Humanist related congregations in which atheists can feel comfortable include The Society for Humanistic Judaism, Reconstructionist (Jewish), some but not all Unitarian-Universalist congregations, and some Buddhist groups. Each of these secular congregations has found their own way to make peace with religion, the professed dominant culture in the US and most Western countries.

You might also investigate Humanism, which, for some, is a philosophy and, for others, a big tent encompassing ideas that range from Naturalism to Deism. The AHA is a strong advocate for Secularism; it publishes books and a monthly magazine and it holds an annual conference. In all these venues various non-theistic ideas are discussed.

For reading, I suggest the 2009 book "Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe" by Greg M. Epstein, the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard. It contains a nice Appendix with thumbnail sketches and contacts for over a dozen "Humanist and Secular Resources."

  • I really think advertising other religions is, while intended well is a bit unhelpful (it seems forcing, 'I have to do this, it is the best I can have' as an atheist) and nearly off-topic. – Discrete lizard Mar 23 '18 at 23:52
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    I understand your point. That is why my answer is conditional, mentions a number of options, and provides a resource for further (philosophical) investigation. The border between advertising and informing is very porous. – Stephen Meskin Mar 25 '18 at 2:16
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    I heard a "cri de couer" from the OP, to which a number of people have given religious responses. I tried to provide an alternative path for the OP. If I misheard, then my post should be ignored. – Stephen Meskin Mar 25 '18 at 2:25
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1) I would recommend to any person with a personal philosophical standpoint to read the arguments of his philosophical opponents.

Hence I recommend to an atheist to read part of "Summa Theologica" of Thomas Aquinas. He starts with a clear exposition about the range of faith and reason. In particular, he clarifies the importance of revelation for the axiomativ part of theology.

A modern apologist of Christian faith is "Richard Swinburne: The Existence of God".

2) I recommend to read books which discuss the existence of God from the standpoint of an atheist, e.g., "John Leslie Mackie: The Miracle of Theism. Arguments for and against the existence of God."

3) An alternative to a religious worldview is the worldview of naturalism. Here I recommmend philosophers like David Hume or "Karl Popper: Objective Knowledge"

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I accept Jung's position that even without a deity or supernatural governor, everyone ultimately holds a faith.

If you are trading in your old faith for a new one, it is always better not to define yourself by contrast. Dawkins philosophy of opposing religious thinking completely is ultimately an impossible task. Even structures like science and government involve things that are ultimately faith-based reasoning. (Why do we trust in the existence of universal principles? To what extent do we believe that logic matters? Upon what do we wish to found our notions of value? -- These are issues of choosing a faith.)

So the answer here depends upon what part of your old faith is not working for you, and by what contradictions or weaknesses you are motivated to leave religion. Without more data, moving away from any one thing does not give you a destination. And any complete worldview requires a destination, not just an enemy.

But, choosing rather randomly (between three folks upon whom I rely for a lot of context that I consider faith-based) to my mind, one of the saner explicitly atheist philosophers, who addresses his divergence from traditional beliefs in a way that is not just an escape, but a productive refinement, is Daniel Dennett. He is one of the most prominent spokesmen of the 'Brights Movement', after Dawkins, and he is also genuinely a philosopher, and not just a critic -- so he is less dismissive, attacking and rash than Dawkins.

One of his basic philosophical motivations is to replace the remnants of the 'Cartesian Theater': the idea that the mind and the body are completely separate in any way. This seems like a strange foundation on which to build any sort of global understanding of the world, but it results in a thoroughgoing reorganization of a lot of basic philosophical notions that we all fail to question, and that fit together nicely to explain ourselves without being too dominating.

It takes us closer to nature by emphasizing the continuity of evolution and diminishing the 'miracle' of the 'origin' of the mind. Humanistic traditions often still worship the mind as miraculous after they have decided there are no miracles, which is a counterproductive hypocrisy. Dropping it makes us think about why we adopt the moral standards that we do, and what we might all learn by being less special.

The notion of the parallel nature of all biological processes challenges us to look at our minds in a more realistic way that is not tied directly to our stream of consciousness, more like the way we look at our bodies. Meditation and prayer, setting aside the stream of consciousness and our individuality is then not some kind of sacrifice, mystical goal, escape from reality or feat of casting ourselves upon the mercy of some higher being. It is a natural part of self-exploration that constitutes another, more deeply aesthetic, dimension of natural thought that we neglect when we dwell in the conscious mind.

Theories of meaning that do not descend from human language but upon deeper considerations of how the parallel and serial processes of our minds can construct one another, point out how much life is story-driven and how we impose sequential processes because of our attachment to social cues. This doesn't dissolve our attachment to mythology, but leans back toward Jung, and puts it in context as a necessary part of the way humans think.

  • I'd have to disagree on your meaning of faith. I do not rely on faith at all. Faith, as I've heard it best defined, is believing something without sufficient evidence. As soon as someone has reason to believe something, it is no longer faith. At that point he or she believes based on reason. – TheHonestAtheist Mar 27 '18 at 13:38
  • @TheHonestAtheist The definition of 'sufficient evidence' is at some point justified only by faith. The standards of proof are always upheld by a theory -- if that theory's data is questioned, all your evidence vanishes. If that theory is never questioned, it was never a theory, but instead a dogma. At root, reason is about experience and axioms. Experience is ultimately unreliable, and axioms are faith. – jobermark Mar 27 '18 at 16:13
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Perhaps this has already been said, but especially as an Atheist, you should ask the question:

What does being an atheist have to do with positive belief in anything?

Where with 'positive belief' I mean 'something I believe to be true'. Atheism is a statement of negative belief, the firm rejection of belief in God or Gods and the Divine (often, let's just assume this for now). Why does that mean that you cannot have the same values of Christian dogma, if you rationally think those are good things to have value in? I mean, if God isn't real, then perhaps there is a more down-to-earth reason this stuff has lasted about 2 millennia, other than evil demagogues and dreadful dogma!

A major 'issue' of 'modern atheism' is that is pretending to be a religion of its own. (I blame Dawkins, internet, America and the weird obsession to constantly 'debate' against religion, while 'atheism' is a statement of faith, not of religion (on likely implies the other in the denial, but this is only modern, really))

But really, you are free. Figure out what you want. Forget Dawkins and his lot. This is a good time to think what differs from your religious life and what is better and what is worse. This would be a nice time to learn about different religions (Perhaps you merely had the wrong religion. 'swapping faith' is a fine thing to do once carefully considered) or other philosophy (yes, religion is often a kind of philosophy, hidden in praises of God. As an atheist, you can observe philosophy of religions as you aren't fooled by religious promises) (but please, skip the 'atheism philosophy core'. Start with the classics. Look around this site)

Also, don't be ashamed to return. Most religions have forgiveness and will likely force you to admit that this was stupid (is 'soul searching' stupid? I think it is a learning experience) and just come back. Do not think you cannot return. What you believe is truly your own, and none can take it away.

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Think what is correct according to mind .As everything in this universe is a illusion.

There is not need to trust anyone or believe anyone . Just follow your thoughts , does not even matter if you yourself feel what your thinking is wrong at later point of time.

You have come to this world temporarily , your existence won't matter .

Your just a sequence of atoms in some order that is allowing you to think .

  • nice .......... – Amruth A Mar 22 '18 at 4:49

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