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post #21 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valkyrie9 View Post
Well, I was raised in a very fundamentalist-type of Christian sect. Up until I was about 18-19, I just accepted what I was told and believed it was true. But then my eyes started opening, particularly regarding the terrible things that happen to humankind. Children starve, are abused and murdered, killed in wars, etc. I could not reconcile that reality with what I had been taught about God, namely that he was (1) all-powerful, (2) all-knowing, and (3) loving.

I cannot see a loving parent allowing their child to be hurt or killed if they both knew something was about to happen to them, and had the power to stop it. I have been told that the Biblical view of human suffering is because Satan challenged God and said that humans with free will would sin. God then effectively said, "I think you're wrong, but I'll give you a chance to prove it."

Ultimately, that casts humanity into the role of pawns in a universal game of Truth or Dare. If that is the case, I refuse to worship a being who could be so callous.

That's where my faith broke/shattered. Once that happened, I started looking objectively at the arguments for God's existence. (Or the devil's, for that matter.) I believe the arguments are weak, and I can see far more logic in a lack of a god all together.

Since you asked.
EVERY SINGLE THING IN THIS POST. I don't know that I'm agnostic... I suppose that's where I am at this point, but I do think that there is something out there... I just don't feel that I have a handle on it / have found it yet.
post #22 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by inkslinger View Post
I could have written a lot of this.

I was raised in the Lutheran church for most of my life. My parents began attending when I was 3-4. I went to Lutheran school from K-8th grade. Went to church every Sunday, youth group every Wednesday, vacation bible school and Lutheran summer camp every summer. It was our life, but I was always, ALWAYS skeptical. From a very young age I asked *too many* questions in Sunday school & youth group. I had a lot of guilt, I felt like a bad person for questioning any of it. I've just always kind of felt that organized religion was created to placate the masses. Sure, there could be a god/goddes/creator, I don't refute that. I just don't know. I've been going through a personal religious crisis for a few years now. I still feel insane amounts of guilt because I don't know what I believe. We attend my husband's Baptist church, which I really have a huge problem with.
When you are immersed in religon your whole life and it is a way of life with the family it is difficult to pull away from that. I am lucky in that my husband feels the same. We don't agree on everything but this issue we do. I just took a philosophy class for school this summer and it really edged me closer to the agnostic/atheist perspective than ever! (though probably not what the professor was intending!) My eyes were opened at how far I have come when we all had to debate each other about the existence of God and many people would get so defensive and upset. Some literally said it never occured to them to think any differently than their religion. In your case it is tough because of having to go to your husband's church. It can be painful and cause loss in our life to pull away from religion. I ended up moving away from my family (across the country) and that helped a lot in keeping them at bay with the religious stufff. However we did get grilled about the baptism thing, which we did not do. In your case, you may feel like you have to go along with the family thing for now, but there is nothing saying you can't explore your own beliefs on your own, whether through reading or discussion or whatever. And you are always FREE to THINK whatever thoughts you wish, no one can take your freedom to think and question away.
post #23 of 48
I am an agnostic and have always been. I used to say atheist before I understood the difference. I think agnosticism is the only honest way to be. I actually call myself a militant agnostic: I don't know, and neither do you. There is no way to know, and it is not important anyway. Religions are made up to make people feel better about death. What is important is that life is short and to make the most of it. Period. Not spend up time concocting ridiculous fantasies of a life beyond death in order to avoid acting in the present. And then to use your fantasies to control other people. There very well may be a life beyond this one but I'll worry about that when I get there!
post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post
pretty sure I was born an atheist. I mean, how can you possibly be born any other way?
:

I think my father believes in God, without ever really having thought about it, and I think my mother believed in some sort of higher power or energy but was skeptical about traditional religion. But they pretty much never talked about it. We didn't go to church, and I assumed people who did were kind of weird. There were times when I was young when I thought I believed in God, but I mostly never took the idea too seriously.

As a junior in high school, I decided I was an agnostic, because it seemed clear that there was no way for anyone to know for sure whether or not God existed. Eventually, I realized "atheist" was a better word for me, because even though I might not be able to know for sure there isn't a God, I don't see any good reason at all to think there might be. If I had been raised on some lonely island far from the rest of the world, among a group of people who never mentioned the concept of God, I'm pretty sure the idea of God would never have occurred to me.
post #25 of 48
I was raised in a very strict fundamentalist sect where they believed in an armageddon scenario where only they would survive, and where they practiced shunning of people who turned away from the religion. I went through a very hard time in my life and when I would pray to god for help, I didn't get any. After leaving that religion, I still prayed. I asked for guidance in choosing the right path to take, and I still didn't feel god, nor did I get any help or direction whatsoever from him. It was like I was just talking to myself. When I asked people why god wouldn't help me, they would inevitably blame it on something I was doing wrong (e.g. you are aren't praying right, you don't have enough faith, etc.). So I would then ask how I could remedy the thing I was doing wrong, and they would be stumped and not know what to say. Someone here once who told me that once someone taught her how to pray right, she was then heard by god. I PM'ed her and asked her to please tell me what she had learned. She told me she would get back to me on it and never did. All of my inquiries ended up that way - with people just not answering my quesitons. In the end I was told that I just had to believe and then I would believe. I just didn't understand that, and so, I gave up on god. I don't exactly identify myself as an atheist, or an agnostic, but I basically feel that god either does not exist, or does not care about me. I would prefer to think that god does not exist, because I can't imagine why he would not care for me after putting in years of hard religious work for him. I think it is possible that some sort of "god" exists, but not in the way that he would have anything to do with our lives at this point - but I find that to be pretty unlikely.
post #26 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom View Post
People overwelmingly take on the religion of their society. If god were some genuine, universal entity, and not a social construct, we'd see much more universal religious beliefs and practices.
Very well said. Thanks.
post #27 of 48
I used to say I was Christian because I just thought that everyone was. In truth, I've never been a believer. I've tried many churches and none felt right. I kind of felt like that was something bigger than me, but not a concious something making decisions and what-not, but just something. So, I couldn't say I was an athiest. When I learned what agnostic is, I grabbed onto that. But really, I'm an athiest. I have no part of me that believes in God. I think that there are great things in each religion, but I want no part of an organized one. I do attend a UU church though just to be surrounded by likemindedness.
post #28 of 48
(warning, LOOONG)

First off, I'll repeat that I dislike the term atheist, and I don’t use it when discussing my personal beliefs. My beliefs are much greater than a “lack of belief “in something such as a God; I am no more an atheist than I am an a-unicornist. I refuse to buy into a term that defines me as my rejection of someone else’s belief system.

I was raised a Christmas and Easter Christian – my dad was/is Anglican (church of Ireland) and my mother mainstream Methodist. Neither had strong ties to faith or religion; church was something you did out of obligation, not interest, so as soon as the obligation ended, so did their attendance. I did attend Sunday school now and again when my mom felt it would be “good for me” but often she would object to something I was learning so pulled me out again.

On the other hand, my grandmother, who lived with us was a fire and brimstone Methodist (yes they have those), who saw God as the ultimate disciplinarian. “God hates you when you don’t listen to me!”, “you need to wear shoes, or God will strike you down!”, “ When you are mean to me, God is watching!”. Yeah, not exactly the sort of religious up bringing to encourage an active relationship with a deity…

So I considered religion one of those things “good people” did when they felt like it or something to get children to behave, but not something I felt particularly called to.

I went to a catholic university, where I found students my age were actually interested in pursuing their faith, going to mass or other religious celebrations because they wanted to, not because they had to. We had “res Jez”s – resident Jesuits, who were available at all hours for really interesting conversations about theology, philosophy, ethics. Every student was required to take two semesters of theology and two of philosophy – I took a class called “the Problem of God” which I loved – it was an open discussion from a variety of religious experiences about religion. But being an atheist was still seen as "anti-religion".

I renewed my interest in religion by attending an Episcopalian church. I found in my attendance a place of calm and peace that allowed me the space to contemplate spirituality and faith, ethics and morality. However, there was one major problem. I found myself censoring the thoughts in my head when it came to statements of faith.
It first started with the power of prayer and belief in miracles. Then the divinity of Christ and the trinity. And then in the end, belief in a supernatural God.

I found this self censorship to interfere with my ability to think clearly about faith and spirituality. It made me feel like a liar surrounded by good, trusting people. So I thought, I guess religion is just not for me.

Fast forward over 10 years. I met my husband, a devout atheist. With him, we were able to discuss the ethics of belief – what things in life are worthy of faith and what are worthy of requiring evidence, and the definition of evidence. I realized that my weak belief in a deity was more a belief of convention and avoidance of social stigma rather than true belief, and that something as all important as a deity required more than that. I didn’t want to believe because it was the path of least resistance, but rather because I actively and firmly believed. Hence my "atheism" vs agnosticism - after all, you can't prove a negative, right?

However, this newfound understanding of my beliefs made me even more clear that I could not have any relationship with religion. After all, isn’t atheism the anti-religion?

I found the UU church about 5 years ago, and absolutely love it. I struggle with the non-creedal elements at times, but I love the fact that I can be religious AND be true to my beliefs.
post #29 of 48
I've just never believed in "god" or any other deity. Seems absolutely ridiculous to me.
post #30 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
(warning, LOOONG)

First off, I'll repeat that I dislike the term atheist, and I don’t use it when discussing my personal beliefs. My beliefs are much greater than a “lack of belief “in something such as a God; I am no more an atheist than I am an a-unicornist. I refuse to buy into a term that defines me as my rejection of someone else’s belief system.
Thank you, yes, this is what I was trying to say up thread as to why I identify as agnostic, not atheist.
post #31 of 48
This might be long too.

For the record, I also don't like the word atheist - though, I use it. I find people tend to incorrectly understand the word as anti-theist. As in I'm against their Gods and religion. Whereas I'm not against anything. I just don't personally hold a belief in God or other higher power.

I was raised Catholic. Growing up, I never really thought about religion much. Other than the fact that I disliked going to church, and I disliked what the Catholic church was teaching. I even went to Catholic school - I have to say, those religion classes that were mandatory went a long way in making me an atheist.

In my senior year of high school, I realized that I felt absolutely nothing when it came to the concept of "God." I never felt the need to pray, or a need for someone to watch over me or a need for spiritual guidance. I never really "got" faith.

Then, I switched over to paganism for awhile. About a year. But, that also didn't seem like a good fit. Again, I didn't feel the need for a higher power.

In college, I took some history courses that described the spread of Christianity. And I realized how darn similar the old pagan beliefs were to Christianity. I just remember thinking to myself "wow, there is no God. Some people just took a bunch of old legends and stories and re-designed them into Christianity." It all seemed very political and economic in terms of motivation.

Once I realized I definitely didn't believe, I found it incredibly freeing. My life was my own. No one was around judging me or telling me what to do or asking me to do their will or telling me when to have sex and when not to have sex or telling me not to use birth control, etc. (all concepts I was taught in my religion classes).

On top of my history classes, I took some philosophy and logic courses ... and it was like a light bulb lit up for me. Everywhere, in all areas of my life, I looked for facts and proof before I agreed that something existed. Why would I make an exception in any other area? So, I stopped making an exception and realized that (for me) God existing wasn't even remotely factual.

It's been 8 years since that time, and I haven't changed that outlook.

I also feel like I have a lot more curiosity for life. The answer isn't "God did it, and it's his plan which we shall discover eventually." The answer is - I don't know. Life is this incredible, amazing, gigantic mystery and I'm really enjoying pondering the answers.

I guess all those elements combined led to my atheism, and have led me to stay there.
post #32 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor View Post
This might be long too.

For the record, I also don't like the word atheist - though, I use it. I find people tend to incorrectly understand the word as anti-theist. As in I'm against their Gods and religion. Whereas I'm not against anything. I just don't personally hold a belief in God or other higher power.

I was raised Catholic. Growing up, I never really thought about religion much. Other than the fact that I disliked going to church, and I disliked what the Catholic church was teaching. I even went to Catholic school - I have to say, those religion classes that were mandatory went a long way in making me an atheist.

In my senior year of high school, I realized that I felt absolutely nothing when it came to the concept of "God." I never felt the need to pray, or a need for someone to watch over me or a need for spiritual guidance. I never really "got" faith.

Then, I switched over to paganism for awhile. About a year. But, that also didn't seem like a good fit. Again, I didn't feel the need for a higher power.

In college, I took some history courses that described the spread of Christianity. And I realized how darn similar the old pagan beliefs were to Christianity. I just remember thinking to myself "wow, there is no God. Some people just took a bunch of old legends and stories and re-designed them into Christianity." It all seemed very political and economic in terms of motivation.

Once I realized I definitely didn't believe, I found it incredibly freeing. My life was my own. No one was around judging me or telling me what to do or asking me to do their will or telling me when to have sex and when not to have sex or telling me not to use birth control, etc. (all concepts I was taught in my religion classes).

On top of my history classes, I took some philosophy and logic courses ... and it was like a light bulb lit up for me. Everywhere, in all areas of my life, I looked for facts and proof before I agreed that something existed. Why would I make an exception in any other area? So, I stopped making an exception and realized that (for me) God existing wasn't even remotely factual.

It's been 8 years since that time, and I haven't changed that outlook.

I also feel like I have a lot more curiosity for life. The answer isn't "God did it, and it's his plan which we shall discover eventually." The answer is - I don't know. Life is this incredible, amazing, gigantic mystery and I'm really enjoying pondering the answers.

I guess all those elements combined led to my atheism, and have led me to stay there.

I completely relate to your post.
post #33 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Contrariety View Post
I simply never believed the religious propaganda being fed to me. Even as a young child, something seemed very off to me, and it just didn't add up.
Yep, that's me. I was driving the Sunday school teachers nuts even at age 4. My parents tried to make a believer... sometimes using fear and force. And still it didn't take. I raise my kids as nothing... just a nod to the seasons.
post #34 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Contrariety View Post
I simply never believed the religious propaganda being fed to me. Even as a young child, something seemed very off to me, and it just didn't add up.
: I was brought up to believe in a god but we never went to church, never prayed, saying grace, etc. I knew as a small child that religion was not for me. I remember in grade school saying the pledge of allegiance, I would always skip the "one nation under god" part b/c I didn't feel right saying it. I would sleep over at friends houses and their parents would say grace at the table, I wouldn't bow my head. I was 5 years old here! I guess it's safe to say I was born an atheist.

FTR, my father recently outed himself as an atheist as well. He knew I was an atheist forever and we were watching "The Colbert Report" and he was interviewing an agnostic man and Colbert said "so you are an atheist without b@lls" My dad said that is when he realized that it was time to get b@lls and admit that he was an atheist. My brother is Christian and religion is something we do not talk about. My dh's side is strict Catholic but my dh is an atheist as well. Everyone said I converted them
post #35 of 48
I was raised by an athiest mother (who was mildly disdainful of religion) and a father who I guess I would characterize as a "Just-In-Case Catholic."

My father took me to church every Sunday, but he never talked about God or Jesus or religion. To my knowledge, he never prays or even reflects on God or spirituality. If asked he would certainly say he believed and was a Catholic, and I don't think he would be lying. But God does not seem to be a part of my father's life really, just more like a distant uncle or something that he'll send cards to once in a while. As a result, I grew up kind of thinking of God kind of like Santa Claus, something we pretend to believe in maybe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Galatea View Post
I am an agnostic and have always been. I used to say atheist before I understood the difference. I think agnosticism is the only honest way to be.
I too always called myself an athiest until a few months ago and my DH explained to me what an agnostic was. I had heard of agnosticism but I guess I had some stuff wrong about it. It's funny, while DH is very spiritual and is not an agnostic at all, he also said that he really respected agnosticism and that it (in his opinion) was probably the only defensible position.

I suspect there's something greater going on out there but I have absolutely no idea what it is, and don't feel that any religion fits what I think. I have some real struggles with the way Christianity is practiced, and feel there are very, very few true Christians out there. Most seem more interested in following the letter of the law, going to church as society requires, having a bumper sticker and so on - but not really loving their neighbor, not really giving up wealth to help others, not really turning the other cheek.

I also have problems with the idea of a personified God. I know many religions say that we are made in His image, so naturally it would follow that He and we are somehow similar in some ways. But I just don't see it like that. It's not even the problem of seeing Him as a man, because I have the same problem picturing God as a woman. I just don't think it's like that at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Valkyrie9 View Post
But then my eyes started opening, particularly regarding the terrible things that happen to humankind. Children starve, are abused and murdered, killed in wars, etc. I could not reconcile that reality with what I had been taught about God, namely that he was (1) all-powerful, (2) all-knowing, and (3) loving.
Oh, I relate very much, and I've written on MDC before on my struggles with this. At some point I felt like I had near PTSD dealing with this (though nothing like that had ever happened to me personally).

The one thing that makes me think it maybe will turn out ok is that there is indeed, as people say, a greater plan. That God lets these horrible things happen, but He does it because it will all be ok in the end. Not just punishments and reward, but true fulfillment.

I don't know if I believe it or not, but that's what I keep mulling over. My best friend from high school was raped (probably repeatedly) by her father and she did not ever get the help she needed. She died by her own hand at age 22. I had a lucid dream and she came to me, and she was fundamentally different: completely and totally content, at peace. It was very strange because "at peace" was not at all even a small part of her character when I knew her, so I don't know how I could manage to imagine her that way. Assuming that I truly did commune with her in my dream (as opposed to it all being my imagination), it all did work out ok (to say the least!!) for her in the end. I don't know what the deal was, but there was no part of her that was sad or hurt or angry anymore. When I think of all the children out there, I hold on to this hope - fervently.
post #36 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by angie7 View Post
I remember in grade school saying the pledge of allegiance, I would always skip the "one nation under god" part b/c I didn't feel right saying it.
My dd does this too!
post #37 of 48
I think I was always an atheist. Well, I'm more of a pantheist, but whatever...It just never felt right to me, the god thing. I don't want to be condescending, but my brain and sense of logic wouldn't let me believe in god. Really, there's more evidence for he existence of Sasquatch and the Lock Ness monster than there is for the existence of God. But if someone has faith in unicorns or mermaids, they are seen as wack-a-doos. To me, faith in god is the same thing. I always perceived faith as a dumbing down.
post #38 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by ramama View Post
I think I was always an atheist. Well, I'm more of a pantheist, but whatever...It just never felt right to me, the god thing. I don't want to be condescending, but my brain and sense of logic wouldn't let me believe in god. Really, there's more evidence for he existence of Sasquatch and the Lock Ness monster than there is for the existence of God. But if someone has faith in unicorns or mermaids, they are seen as wack-a-doos. To me, faith in god is the same thing. I always perceived faith as a dumbing down.
I totally identify with your statement. Im an INTP and logic rules my life, my brain, everything I do. Evolution,science=logical, creation, an omnipotent, all loving, kind, and just god considering the state of humans worldwide + the fact that there are so many religions that say they are the correct ones=very unlogical. I came to that conclusion when I was about 19, when I got away from home and actually had time and space to think. having faith in a singular god is to me completely illogical and I can't understand for the life of me figure out why people believe. The only answer I've come up with is that they are afraid to ask the hard questions, actually look at the answers. That or that they will not go against the grain, rock the boat, etc. Too conformist.

eta, sorry for the lack of cohesion and the typos, very early, brain is not on....
post #39 of 48
I've bowed before the "gods" of reason, logic, and scientific proof for as long as I can remember. Even as a young child, I felt that the answers provided by religious figures held no more weight than any other myths. It wasn't until my teenage years that I realized there was an actual term for the my beliefs (Secular Humanism), but that's what they've always been.
post #40 of 48
This is not at all to debate anyone here, since this is an athiest/agnostic thread and I'm one of you guys!

But it's interesting, it's logic that makes brings me to agnosticism (rather than remaining athiest). I do not feel God in my heart at all, but the logic leads me to believe there may be something to it. (But, for me, definitely not a guy with a beard! lol).
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