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It doesn't sound like you have very good reasons for doubting your faith. Simply finding things you personally disagree with (imagine a scientist rejecting evolution because he personally dislikes the idea of natural selection), or discovering that faith is associated with embarrassing people (which kind of makes you a snob, looking down your nose at fellow human beings), are not good reasons to turn agnostic. The only legitimate reason to turn agnostic would be to become convinced that human reason is too limited in its sphere of validity to pronounce on the God question-and that already presupposes that human reason is pretty powerful!
Christianity stands or falls on whether God exists, and if so whether He raised Jesus from the dead. All other issues have no direct bearing on the truth of Christianity.
I agree with this in the main, However, we're emotional beings first. Oftentimes, our "beliefs" are more what we would like to have true rather than what we really find true. We build strong, emotional walls around propositions that that help fit us into a fellowship in which we feel comfortable. As long as the emotional ties run stronger toward staying in than getting out we'll continue to "believe."
However, sometimes strong contrary emotions charge up to our fortress walls and give them a battering. When those emotional walls begin to come down that can open us up to contrary possibilities that we hadn't given proper consideration before. As I often say, to be able to think outside the box we often have to be knocked outside the box.
So, while your caution is wise--and we must be careful--even dubious motives can sometimes lead to us finding the truth, in that they cause us to think in directions that had been off limits to us before.
Dammit, John, this board is not for dragging people back into the cult! If you like Webmdave that much, go over to the Lion's Den. Stay the fvck out of our support group. Would you crash an AA group waving around bottles of vodka?
Christianity stands or falls on whether God exists, and if so whether He raised Jesus from the dead
Then it falls.
There is no evidence for god.
There is no evidence of a resurrection.
Additionally, there is no reason for a cross/resurrection since there was never a "fall of man" or "original sin."
There is at least one more reason to become agnostic, and that is to understand that one simply does not know whether there is a god, based upon the singular lack of evidence found to support its existence.
To insist that there is only one reason is to employ a false dichotomy.
Well, John, since all other stories of people coming back from the dead are in the realm of myth, I'm going to proceed on the assumption that the Jesus story is mythical too. I don't consider the Gospels to be credible accounts of real-life events, and I know of no neutral contemporaneous accounts of the adventures of Jesus.
or to just look at the obvious lack of evidence and overwhelming proof that none of the Abrahamic religions are true.case in point. Watch the Hittite documentary on youtube. Yet another case that demonstrates you simply cant trust a single thing the bible has to say about history.
If the Bible said the sky was blue, I'd go outside and look.
Mallory, ......welcome to open-mindedness. I remember my days of being an Agnostic.I had one foot in reality, and one foot in "well gee, maybe there IS a God who really does love me even though I never hear from him".
I am certain that you must be horrified by the condoned ( by God ) rapes in the bible.....Fathers selling their Daughters....Concubines being cut up into little pieces .......animals being slain needlessly ....innocent men, women, children & babies murdered just because they were born into the wrong tribe...."God's" recommendations as to how to treat slaves.....and the list goes on and on.
Here is my suggestion. There is a wonderful book called "The God Delusion" by Professor/ Scientist Richard Dawkins. You won't be the same person after you have read it.....and as to what you said at the end, you can tell your friends ="I have read the Bible, now I ask YOU to read this one book, if you want to understand me"...........Best of luck !
I wouldn't recommend Dawkins. He commits any number of basic fallacies, erects legions of straw-man arguments and the book is peppered with historical and other inaccuracies. I would actually recommend David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. It is the best case for agnosticism I have come across (even though ultimately I find it unconvincing). It is eloquent, generous and thoughtful.
No True Believer would recommend Dawkins because he pokes more holes in your dogmatic bullshit than you can find in a screen door.
I don't recommend Dawkins because he's so embarrassing as a thinker. I am happy to recommend skeptical critiques that are intelligent and well-informed. Hume's Dialogues is one. More recently I would recommend Graham Oppy's Arguing about Gods or J.L. Mackie's The Miracle of Theism.
Nope, that's OK. I don't need any more convincing that God isn't real, but I appreciate the suggestions.
I don't recommend Dawkins because he's so embarrassing as a thinker.
I think you had better show some better credentials than your ramblings here to show that you are capable of determining who is a qualified thinker.
I think JDW is just trying to pull the teeth out of what he considers to be our weaponry, before we employ it.
I am sure we will use similar tactics when he makes spectacular claims for his god and his saviour.I, for one, will want to know what "greater works than these" he has performed recently as demonstration of the credentials for his saviour's truthfulness and trustworthiness.
Wow! I just read this post after several days and hundreds of posts over on Wizenedsage's post "If God died..."I don't feel so bad now that I have been placed into the same boat with one of my all-time heroes and hugely respected "THINKERS" of our time...Dawkins!Thanks for the compliment John David!Sheesh! Next you'll be saying that Stephen Hawking is naïve' and credulous because he is an Atheist also!John David Walters, you are the prime example of compartmentalization! Talk about naivete' !!WOW! You are some piece of work!XPD
Did you know Mr. Walters, 9 out of 10 Americans believe in God...9 out of 10 members of the American Academy of Science...DO NOT!Just sayin......
XPDan,......yes ! And these are some of America's most intelligent people.....meanwhile in Buttcrack Kentucky, the majority of folk believe in talking snakes ( and also HANDLING snakes ) and raising people from the dead, turning water into wine and driving demons from pigs.....just to mention a few absurdities.
Which will be why JDW majored in Religion at Princeton, and attended a couple of "science" courses.
Well, since we're trading book titles. May I recommend one for you to consider.
The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (Perennial Classics) Paperback, by Eric Hoffer (Author)
The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements is a 1951 social psychology book by American writer Eric Hoffer that discusses the psychological causes of fanaticism.
I don't get it.. It doesn't sound to me like you (or others here) are open minded at all. What if based on observation and thinking someone decides to remain an agnostic or some other path. In your mind they do not have their feet in reality. But how do you know that? You don't, which is what Bertrand Russell purposes in his works.
Fundamentalist Atheism is as bad as Fundamentalist Christianity.
Where in your world of "reality" does the story of Lawrence Anthony the elephant wisperer fit in?
You guys ignore a lot of what goes on in the world because you have as much of a "faith" based fundamentalist view as the Christian. Get mad about that if you want. The result functions the same way.
Mallory, Welcome to the path to reality. You are so very fortunate to be together (more or less) with your guy in the journey out of the faith.
There is no need to hurry things. Many of us deconverts are or have been agnostic. It's a perfectly honest position to take ("I just don't know, but I have real doubts.")There are many articles and resources around here for you to read and think about. If you want to talk about any specific issue, just say so and someone will be glad to direct you to a resource, discussion, etc about it. Of course just doing your own, clear thinking is the best thing of all.
As for telling your Christian friends, just be honest with your doubts. Tell them what those doubts are. Then be prepared for a bunch of inadequate, pat answers from them. If you shoot down those pat answers though, you are very likely to find them becoming hostile. Just a warning. It's happened to many of us.Honesty is the best policy here, but it doesn't promise to be a totally smooth path.
BTW among your responders so far, John David Walters is dead right that the whole things stands or falls on the existence of god and the resurrection. For the former you may want to read the recent article on the main page here entitled "If God Died, How Would We Know?". For the latter I suggest you try reading the four gospel accounts of the resurrection and try to harmonize them (e.g., Was the stone rolled back before the women came to the tomb, or did they see it get rolled back as they arrived?)
At this point you don't need to tell your christian friends anything if you don't want to. Maybe other than "I'm not going to be in church for awhile, at least". Or maybe "I'm working out some questions, and I need to do it on my own." Your beliefs about religion are your own business. Also, if you do decide that you want to stay with religion after all, you won't have burned any bridges.
I do recommend staying away from churches while you are figuring things out. They are set up to use every trick in the book, from peer pressure to emotional manipulation to threats, to get you to stay faithful. If believing requires a weekly brainwashing session, what does that say about the worthiness of those beliefs?
Now is the time to go read any book that your church recommends that you avoid. And you might want to learn more about the actual history of christianity (not what they claim about it at church) to put things in better perspective. Before jumping all the way to Dawkins, you might want to start with some Bart Ehrman. Or try Bertrand Russells' essay "Why I am not a Christian", only 15 pages, available as a .pdf here: http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/u...
Take your time, explore your questions for yourself, and hang around here for interesting conversation. You don't have to decide immediately about any of this.
Thanks for linking this, Ubi. I just read it, and I will be passing it on to a couple other people that might find it useful.
Rejecting Fundamentalist Christianity is not a direct path to Fundamentalist Atheism. OR it shouldn't be.
You should feel fee to be a real "Free thinker" and explorer and observe the world and make up your own mind about how it all works based on what you see and experience for yourself.
That has not lead to Atheism for me.
I take it, then, that you believe there is some creator god out there somewhere?
no not necessarily. atheism goes beyond that and ridicules any concept of any possibility of there being any mystery or mystical nature to reality. I have not found that to be true. that does not mean there is an overarching super parent in the sky. i think it is very demeaning and arrogant to treat people in a way that assumes they must come to your conclusions or they are deluded somehow.
As an agnostic atheist - there are very few fundamentalist atheists - I would like to say that I do not ridicule the concept of there being any mystery or mystical nature to reality.
I will, and often do, ridicule the proponents of ridiculous, circular, wishful thinking arguments, designed to convince the gullible that there actually is a deity out there who is concerned enough about people that he deserves to be given your time, money or resources.
As an agnostic atheist, I am prepared to examine any evidence you or anybody might have to suggest that there is mystery or mystical nature in reality. Please bring it on for examination.
My ground rules are simple:The Bible, nor any other "holy" book of any religion, is not a source of evidence;Opinions are not evidence;Arguments which claim to be able to deduce or infer the existence of this mystery or deity may not rest upon assertions, assumptions or presuppositions which are not supported by evidence.
Do you consider these rules to be fair?
If you do not, please explain why not.
If you do, and you have evidence to support your claims of mystery or mystical nature in reality, please feel free to present them here for examination and discussion.
If they are found to be convincing, you will have discovered a fellow believer;If they are not convincing, you will not.
Let the evidence roll...
what does belief have to do with it?
It really does not matter to me what you "believe" as long as you have made an honest unbiased observation of experiences in your own life or others lives and come to your own conclusions about them based on thoughtful, considerate and informed (as much as possible) analysis.
As an example of mystery.. the many cases of the interaction between humans and other animals that seem to defy known material forces. Or the documented cases of strange connections exhibited between twins, or parents and children.
Take for example the very mysterious case of Lawrence Anthony and the herds of wild elephants that traveled for 12 hours to visit the home of the man who had saved their lives (and many other animals) even though there should have been no way they knew he had passed.
I don't say you have to believe anything or accept a specific interpretation of anything. But to say there is no evidence at all of connections and perhaps forces we cant currently understand or measure is (imho) the height of folly.
I actually agree with a lot of what you are saying, and found the article you presented to be interesting; though, just for the record...psychology is not science.
What more can someone claim to an unexplainable experience? Well, they really can't claim ignorance...and, yet...they really can't claim comprehension either. A middle-ground would be to claim wonder, I suppose.
I think, it's folly to reject such an experience...just as much as it's folly to adamantly claim/declare causal factors manifesting that experience.
"...seem to defy known material forces."
Is known not the key word here?
If it is unknown, that is probably because there is no verifiable, repeatable evidence of it.Alternatively, it may become known in the future.To assign reality to it on the basis of not knowing seems to me a little foolhardy, especially if that "reality" is then used as the basis of a belief system, as is the case in all religions.
Atheism, is not a belief position---it's a non-belief position...it does not belong to the class of theism or anti-theism.
One can hardly be a [fundamentalist] within a class that is completely open to infinite belief possibilities, with the common singular exception of theistic belief.
Just because one is a non-theist, doesn't make them an anti-theist, or an anti-mystic---it's logically possible for a non-theist to adopt a mystical view of reality.
==========Perennialism within the Philosophy of Religion: "The Perennial philosophy (Latin: philosophia perennis),[note 1] also referred to as "perennialism", is a perspective within the philosophy of religion which views each of the world’s religious traditions as sharing a single, universal truth on which foundation all religious knowledge and doctrine has grown."
"A major proponent in the 20th century was Aldous Huxley, who "was heavily influenced in his description by Vivekananda's neo-Vedanta and the idiosyncratic version of Zen exported to the west by D.T. Suzuki. Both of these thinkers expounded their versions of the perennialist thesis", which they originally received from western thinkers and theologians.
According to the Perennial Philosophy the mystical experiences in all religions are essentially the same. It supposes that many, if not all of the world's great religions, have arisen around the teachings of mystics, including Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tze, and Krishna. It also sees most religious traditions describing fundamental mystical experience, at least esoterically."
Religion in this context, refers to one's mental "binding" to mystical belief---whatever, and however, that belief is formulated (most times, its poorly constructed and unintelligible).
A religious experience isn't necessarily a cultish experience; though, if one is religious, while simultaneously idolizing (not merely being a fan) a particular object...they, are a an idolator, a group of like idolators are cultic...whether or not, the object of their cultic veneration can be physically produced or not.
It's not the conclusions that are of import to a lot of people...its the method they credit, and the claim they make about their conclusions---in a greater social setting.
"no not necessarily. atheism goes beyond that and ridicules any concept of any possibility of there being any mystery or mystical nature to reality."
Strongly disagree. Atheists might very well ridicule X, Y, and Z about the "supernatural" and those who claim to be tapped into it, but Atheism, itself, is merely a lack of belief in "God"/gods. Nothing more.
As far as "mystery", any Atheist who claims there's no mystery to the world would essentially be claiming omniscience, and, well, I've never encountered an Atheist who claims omniscience, regardless of how outspoken or "fundamental" they might be about their Atheism. In fact, most Atheists I've encountered have zero problem saying "I don't know" when it comes to the question of how we and everything else got here, whereas, it is Theists who'd much sooner say "God did it!" before they confess that they don't know something about life's greatest questions. The irony? "God did it!" isn't an explanation until/unless you know how he/she/it "did it".
"I have not found that to be true. that does not mean there is an overarching super parent in the sky."
But unfortunately, most(all?) of the Christians who stumble in here do believe that there is such a parent in the sky, and worse, they believe that we must all bow down to and respect this parent, when in fact, we've never seen this parent face-to-face......ever. Yes, we are to believe in and obey this no-show parent based on things like a 2000 yr-old book, and the supposed "effects" of this no-show parent. This should, they insist, be evidence enough.
"i think it is very demeaning and arrogant to treat people in a way that assumes they must come to your conclusions or they are deluded somehow."
Demeaning and arrogant? Theists are at least free to reject our POV without threats of bodily harm. Can the same be said when we reject their POV? Answer: No.
I maintain a nonbelief in anything for which there is no evidence, and ESPECIALLY for something that is as logically absurd as biblegod or any other deity that humans have dreamed up. I will be more than willing to entertain the possibility of a deity when evidence to support the idea of one is presented. And by evidence, I mean more than warm fuzzy feelings or rehashed Aquinas "proofs" or that stupid Pascal's Wager (which can be applied to ANY god anyone has ever dreamed up, including Cthulhu and the FSM.
When it comes to demeaning people, I target those assmunchers who come here with a hard-on for us heathens and tell us that we are all going to hell for not believing in their God or that THEIR version of God is the right one or that we didn't DO Christianity right. The ones that... well if you've been here long enough you know the ones I am talking about. If not, stick around a bit and you will see soon enough.
Mallory do you really think that book full of ridiculous stories written by bronze age goat herders is really the inspired word of God? Talking snakes, talking donkeys, men wrestling with God at night, the sun stopping, endless ridiculous stories regularly torn apart by atheists. Then there is the genocide, rape, murder, blood sacrifice, incantations, belief in witches and evil spirits. We know Noah's flood never happened and much of the history was borrowed from other stories.
As John has said, in the end do you really believe that a man/god died and was resurrected to forgive your sins?
oh for goodness sakes Mr. Walters! Being embarrassed by idiots on street corners shouting religion is an EXCELLENT reason for NOT being a christian as well as dropping what ever religion you were raised in. It's not being a snob; it's being embarrassed at such revolting behavior. If being christian is all that wonderful, then there's no need to shout about it.As to what to tell your religious friends. Sorry, but there's nothing you can tell them that won't either make them angry or shun you for the remainder if your life. Therefore, I suggest you begin finding new friends who think as you do. I have learned over the last 30 years that is about the only answer possible when you lose your faith.
I live in the lap of fundamentalism and still have to be careful to whom I tell the truth, but have found enough new friends who agree w/me about religion that I'm no longer lonely.you have my sympathy and the sympathy of most of the rest of us. Then, there are those like Mr. Walters who still want everyone to cling to something that makes no sense what so ever!
it looks like you have made the terrible mistake of choosing someone you love over Jesus. Unfortunately.. this means you are now going to get slaughtered with the rest of us if its the end times.. then resurrected so you can be tortured forever.
Jesus don't take to kindly to anyone not obsessing over him beyond everything else every second of the day.
It cant be helped, its because he loves us so much.
Hellbindercda, do you actually believe those statements?
I think he's being sarcastic.
Oh, okay, thanks. I kinda figured he was, but I'm not good at recognizing sarcasm.
Sometimes what we believe isn't really a choice, its what your internal gut instinct tells you.....I was raised in a Christian home and but always had doubts and questions - I didn't choose to think like that, but I did. I always wanted to have "the faith" that my peers have but never did. Examine the inner most parts of your heart and go with what it tells you.
With regard to the street preachers, I chuckled recently when someone said, "If God were real, wouldn't he pick a better marketing team?" On the other hand you can find many warm, wonderful, ethical, and generous spirited Christians whom it would be an honor to consider as soulmates. In fact, as a former Evangelical, I still do, because I now think of spiritual kinship being based on how we live, and in that regard there are people of all faiths and of none who I seek to emulate. Keep following your questions and love and compassion where they lead. I agree with those here that it is ok to reveal as much of your journey as you feel ready to open up.