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Introduce Yourself Please introduce yourself and share what makes you faithless or faithful.

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Old 20th August 2011, 04:47 PM
MatthewM MatthewM is offline
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Default Born again... again

Edit 3: The full article is now published in The Australian Atheist, and so I am now allowed to put it up here.

Hello everyone, just a young, curious and fresh seventeen-year-old atheist here and loving this community.

Raised a Catholic and a member of the variable private school system, I feel like all my life I have had the blinkers thrust over my eyes; compelled to be one of those horses with those silly plastic things attached to their heads. The thing is, though, you just do not know what it is like to not wear the blinkers, or that you are wearing the blinkers at all. Even if you do realise that you are wearing them, you are unaware that you can, or how to, take them off. You accept your view of life as standard and then go about the daily grind. I often just dismissed those who had a view that opposed my own; I scoffed at the people whose ideas I perceived as too ridiculous. It was my upbringing suddenly having to be on the defensive, warding off attacks that threatened to change my cossetted perspective and way of life. Then again, this is something we always do. We always utterly disregard eccentric people, anyone who is ostensibly vastly different to us, as crazy. Undoubtedly this tendency still exists in society – my blank slate of a mind, my tabula rasa, now sees it all the time and I remember.

Yet, thankfully, I persisted. The little niggling voice inside grew so annoying that I could not dismiss it or ignore it any longer. So I thought ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’, and I went all out to discover every single nook and cranny; every little bit of information that I could find to suffice this deep, yearning hunger. Like a starving man from the desert, my quest for the food and water of knowledge has been feverish, ravenous and relentless – it still continues today, and I know that it will never stop. Perhaps this is the greatest passion of all, an insatiable zest for discovering new things and learning about something intriguing. Whether it be discovering a passion for art, particularly Impressionism, and all things philosophy, building upon an already avid drive to read, unleashing a desire to write or a myriad of other interests that would take me too long to detail; atheism has given me a firm grounded base. It is a steadfast humility that constantly reminds me off how little I know, and subsequently continuously adds coal to the fire to keep the passions going endlessly and effortlessly.

Some would say that it really is not that big of a deal, that realising that an imaginary friend probably does not exist could not possibly affect your life in any substantive manner. Perhaps this is right for some; all they need and want to do is acknowledge this basic fact and get on with their lives like before. However, as is the case with everything in life – it is what you make of it yourself. Some look at life as pointless and a waste of time, albeit this is probably only a minority, whilst others have an overt infectious zeal that can render some of these aforementioned people ill. The reality, though, is that most people are stuck into that large grey lump in between these two black and white extremes – not nihilistic and not ecstatic, just “normal”. Personally, I could not resist. I had finally found something that I could truly advocate, speak up, debate and discuss for with all my ability. There are those who wonder why some of us are so “outspoken” and why we have to brazenly parade about “saying what we think”; well, for me at least, I am so passionate about what I think that I just want to communicate it whenever I can. By no means do I go around door knocking homes, not at all, nor do I stand on the street with a copy of The God Delusion asking those passing by whether they ‘have heard the good news of Dawkins.’ Yet, when the opportunity arises and the conditions are right, there is no holding me back.

Perhaps you are thinking: ‘so what? Join the club. You are not the first, and you will not be the last.’ This is true. I am not special because I have discovered this simple truth. Any reasonable and capable person can begin the straightforward process of questioning their beliefs, listening to the plethora of people out there, read the array of books and then come to the same conclusion. Maybe it is also true that I am just a hopelessly optimistic or enthusiastic youth, who will soon be just as cynical as everyone else; paralysed by the feeling that the world is too vast and too complicated, controlled by too many bastards with too much money and propped up by too many people with not enough. I guess it is a very strong possibility that maybe one day when I am much older, seasoned and weathered, this bland pragmatism will finally take over as it almost always does – perhaps it is inevitable. However, my youth is the prime of my optimism and also my innocence. I constantly revel in this ecstatic enthusiasm and it is exhilarating and invigorating when it really gets going. If I can hold this moment, this fleeting instant in time, for as long as I am able to; if I can preserve this fervent energy, keep this flame alight and suck out all the juices until I am a withered old prune then it will be all worth it.

Maybe it is a delusion; a false, illusory dream that I have conjured up for myself. However, as is always the case, I only need to look around me and observe nature to realise that this is not the case. There is no written law of the universe that says I have to do something, be something or act in a particular way. There are so many people living and doing what they enjoy the most until the very day they die; not allowing others and society to tell them ‘now you can grow up’, for one second. I know a sculptor still creating art well into her nineties, and a nonagenarian who still practises medicine – one of my most admired figures and a person who constantly inspires me, George Carlin, was performing his ludicrously funny and unashamedly true acts right into his old age. Cynicism and the curbing of your passions are definitely parts of life, but, like those countless people scrambling to conceal the signs of aging, I wish to prevent it from overcoming me for as long as possible but hopefully with more success.

This letter/article/piece/introduction is an example of this very alacrity of spirit in full force. I was delighted to have been given the opportunity to have my introduction published, something I wrote in the spur of the moment, and so I decided to go all out, add more and really get my thoughts onto the paper. One of my greatest tendencies is that I always write more than the usual amount; I always have a great desire to detail every minute idea that comes to mind so that what I hand up is really a part of who I am. Thus, I could easily have written page upon page outlining all my inner thoughts. However, I know that I cannot do this and that it will be a steady cathartic process. And so, my original introductory post on the AFA forum website has developed into a thorough attempt to describe what actually goes on in that mysterious, confusing and murky place that is my mind. Writing has been the one thing that has allowed me to truly convey my innermost ideas and divulge what makes me the person who I am. It is as if the blank piece of paper is the finest psychiatrist, shrink or best friend that you could have; it knows you better than anyone else, even though it just an inanimate bit of tree remnant. I guess this is the case because the paper is really just you yourself. I hope that whoever read this manages to find some kind of meaning and even draw an iota of the pleasure I received in writing this petty, rambling, stream of consciousness from a young foolish seventeen-year-old atheist.

So what has this whole process actually done for me? Well, many innumerable things that I do not think I even realise at the moment yet will come to understand, as I grow older. But for now, I think I can detail a few things.

I have finally begun to realise what it is like to be alive and a free thinker; to truly appreciate the colour of a water lily; the smell of spring; the elegance of evolution; the sacrifice of supernovae (forget Jesus); the awesomeness of the Large Hadron Collider; the genius of relativity; the spookiness of quantum mechanics and the beauty of the universe - without the overhanging, insipid dulling down of it by religion. By far I do not know everything, in fact, I know nothing and that is what inspires me. I look forward to looking under the rocks to find the answers, to being surprised and being proved wrong. I look forward to the future with unrelenting eagerness and I am so glad that I was brave enough to take those first steps what seems so long ago now, and just begin to live.

Matthew Minas

Last edited by MatthewM; 20th September 2011 at 09:51 PM. Reason: Edit 3: The full article is now published in the Australian Atheist, and so here it is.
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Old 20th August 2011, 05:17 PM
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AFA Admin AFA Admin is offline
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Default Re: Born again... again

Hi MatthewM

This is a message sent to all who find their way to these forums.

We like people, and we like facts too!

We're friendly but we're skeptical, and if somebody calls for proof, it's not an accusation. Only the strong ideas thrive here: we try to respect people. (We do not tolerate personal abuse.)

If you're an AFA member and need your membership status recognised in forum access, please send a Private Message to Admin, including the name on your AFA membership.

You may already have visited these other handy places:
* New Member Information
* Welcome from AFA president
* For those interested in learning, I recommend the Atheism Resource Thread maintained by Fearless.
* And a quick look at our reserved spot for belief-based discussion, Fantasy Island, includes The Great Big List, a sort-of "things we've seen before" for those of faith, and general rules of argument for the forum.

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Enjoy the forums. We hope to see plenty from you in discussions.

Have fun.
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Old 20th August 2011, 05:22 PM
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Logic Logic is offline
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Default Re: Born again... again

Agreed, great intro. I hope you find all the information you are looking for here and more! Welcome.
“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.” -Christopher Hitchens
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Old 20th August 2011, 05:35 PM
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wolty wolty is offline
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Hiya MM. Welcome to the forums.

The Nizkor Project- Logical Fallacies

Atheist: n; A person to be pitied in that he is unable to believe things for which there is no evidence, and who has thus deprived himself of a convenient means of feeling superior to others.
—Chaz Bufe, The American Heretic’s Dictionary
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Old 20th August 2011, 06:27 PM
MatthewM MatthewM is offline
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Default Re: Born again... again

Thanks, writing is a big passion of mine and i just couldn't resist. So much to say and such a little white box to write it all in.
2012 Global Atheist Convention Poster Signed by All Presenters - eBay Listing: http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Global-At.../251931240935?
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Old 20th August 2011, 06:56 PM
Darwinsbulldog Darwinsbulldog is offline
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Default Re: Born again... again

Hi MM,

Yup, I feel sorry for the god brigade, they are missing out on so much.
Just stick to the idea that science tests falsify able hypothesis to destruction.
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Old 20th August 2011, 06:58 PM
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DanDare DanDare is offline
Religion or Reality, choose...
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Default Re: Born again... again

Hi MM,

its great to see the young ones get a jump start early! You have got sooo much ahead of you and its great you wont have to waste it mucking around with second rate mythology instead of first rate science.
"History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government".
-Thomas Jefferson

Burden of proof is the obligation on somebody presenting a claim to provide evidence to support its truth (a warrant). Once evidence has been presented, it is up to any opposing "side" to show the evidence presented is not adequate. If claims were accepted without warrants, then every claim could simultaneously be claimed to be true.
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Old 20th August 2011, 07:53 PM
Imperfectpeta Imperfectpeta is offline
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Default Re: Born again... again

Hello MM, I'm new here too and it's a pretty awsome place to be! I was about 17 when I first started really opening my eyes and learning, and it is a wonderful and amazing road you have taken in your life. Enjoy every moment of it! It just gets better with age!
I've learned that evolution is not just a theory, religion is not the path to truth, and that there probably isn't a God.
Amazing what being able to research the internets can do to your personal world view, eh?
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Old 20th August 2011, 08:03 PM
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4lan 4lan is offline
All aboard!
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Default Re: Born again... again

MatthewM said View Post
By far I do not know everything, in fact, i know nothing and that is what inspires me.
Welcome MM.

Well you know that you could know more, that's one thing and a great start!
Good luck with your discoveries be they in the forums or elsewhere.

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Old 21st August 2011, 09:08 AM
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Praxis Praxis is offline
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Default Re: Born again... again

Welcome MM - glad you found us

I must say I'm very impressed that you have realised already, at 17, that you know nothing. Usually at 17 we think we know everything (I know I did ) and for me (nearly 48 now) one of the greatest pleasures of getting older has always been the growing realisation that the older I get, the less I know. Instead of scaring me, it delights me. So well done on that.

I hope you stick around. And you're in Melbourne? Lovely. Hope you're enjoying this gorgeous weather we're having
I've never been very good at knowing "my place". Well actually I have, it's just never been where you want it to be.
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