Question from Ron:
Just stumbled upon your site, I am from India, and here questioning the existing of god is like painting a red sign on your back here.
I have been an atheist for as long as I can remember (i.e never went to a place of worship), and my immediate family never imposed on me.
However when I was young I always used to thank or curse a faceless entity in my mind for good fortune or misfortune.
Then when I discovered the atheistic ideology and openly told everyone, I started feeling a sense of estrangement from my family. It has been so ever since (since 7 years).
Lately I have been going through many rough pathches and good times, and I sometimes find myself speaking to the above mentioned faceless entity. But then I right myself calling it stupid.
However how do I get rid of this internal conflict?
Depends on where it’s coming from, and it’s hard to tell that from over here.
If you really did believe in some such entity as a youth, perhaps you still do on some level. There are religious folks who think all atheists are believers in denial, and of course this is nonsense, but nevertheless there are those whose belief persists despite their sincere intellectual acceptance of the unlikelihood of gods. Maybe you’re one of these unfortunate individuals. If so, it likely surfaces in times of stress or great emotion. So face it head-on: has your entity ever answered? What’s it done for you? Is it even an entity worth talking to? And be patient – expect such a subconscious belief, however light, to fade slowly.
If on the other hand you don’t think you ever really believed, and you started praying after a fashion as an imitation of your religious peers (or out of loneliness or estrangement, like some kids invent an imaginary friend) then it’s basically a habit. It probably does you no harm if you know you’re talking to no one, but if the fact that you do makes you uncomfortable then treat it as any other habit that needs breaking; address the root causes (the occasions which cause you to do it), or just find another thing to do.
Human beings are conflicted creatures at the best of times, so don’t feel alone. Belief exists at different levels in different people, and the sooner you plumb your own to find the depth of it, the sooner you can deal with it directly.
“Belief exists at different levels in different people, and the sooner you plumb your own to find the depth of it, the sooner you can deal with it directly.”
Question from Ron: