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  1. #11
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by placebo View Post

    For the Religious,

    Do you currently practice the same religion you were born into? Or did you choose it yourself? To what degree would you say religion plays an important role in how you live your life and make your decisions?

    Have you ever considered being an atheist? Or maybe, have you ever questioned the concepts of your religion or aspects of it and how strongly? If you did, what were your conclusions? Could you ever imagine your life without religion? Could you imagine yourself changing your current religion to a different one?
    I went to a Baptist church when I was really young, but I became convinced that God did not exist when I was about 7-8 years old. It became obvious to me that the Bible did not agree with modern science and therefore the Bible was wrong. I was an atheist for most of my life although my dad made me go to church until I was about 12-13. (I was extremely happy when he stopped making me go.)

    I thought that all of these religions seemed pointless, but if any of them were right then Christianity certainly was not. The whole story of why God would come down to die and then come back to life didn't make any sense. However, by the time I got to be in my early 20's I came to realize that science, modern liberal thought, pop culture, etc... didn't really offer satisfactory answers about any questions of real importance, so I started looking into various religions and philosophies. For example I read several different books, and I went to a Hindu temple a couple of times to see what it was like. (My favorite memory from that was giving a ride to this old redneck hitchhiker afterwards while I still had some red dye and rice stuck to the middle of my forehead. Anywho...)

    When I was in grad school I started going to a Bible study with some fellow grad students. I think that is essentially what changed my life. It wasn't anything I learned from the Bible though (we were studying Exodus which doesn't directly have to do with core Christian theology). What affected me is that all of the Christians there had a genuine sense of peace, joy, and contentment about them. Ultimately there are a lot of interesting sounding ideas out there that sound good on paper, but what was convincing to me was something that actually finding something that worked in practice. A couple of weeks after going to the Bible study I knelt down before going to bed one night and devoted my life to God (and Jesus). I felt an immediate transformation inside of me which was totally unexpected. After that I started reading the Bible privately a lot, and eventually I realized that according to scripture what happened to me was supposed to happen exactly like that.

    To both,

    How strong is your commitment to Atheism/Religion? Would you ever try or have you ever tried to convince another of agreeing to your point of view?
    My commitment to my faith is stronger than my commitment to anything else. I tried proselytizing several times shortly after being newly converted. Generally what I found is that people who are already seeking after God appreciate whatever guidance you can give them, while people who aren't just get really pissed at you.
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  2. #12
    Senior Member Eileen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by placebo View Post

    For the Religious,

    Do you currently practice the same religion you were born into? Or did you choose it yourself? To what degree would you say religion plays an important role in how you live your life and make your decisions?

    Have you ever considered being an atheist? Or maybe, have you ever questioned the concepts of your religion or aspects of it and how strongly? If you did, what were your conclusions? Could you ever imagine your life without religion? Could you imagine yourself changing your current religion to a different one?


    To both,

    How strong is your commitment to Atheism/Religion? Would you ever try or have you ever tried to convince another of agreeing to your point of view?
    The religion of my childhood was conservative Christianity. I have chosen to run in progressive Episcopalian circles. Religion is important to me to the extent that it gives me a sense of community and being a part of something bigger than myself. I also would say that my interpersonal ethic has been formed largely through my religious contemplations, though it may the case that I would have this ethic regardless simply because I am who I am.

    I have atheist tendencies and agnostic positions alongside my religious faith. My conclusions are that the point of religion is not fact; it's truth. And I believe that there is truth to be experienced in my faith... not just truth to be gleaned or known--experienced. I have lived periods without religion, and I felt empty and lost without the communion of saints. I understand most of religion to be symbol and metaphor, and I am comfortable with that. I do not know if there is an actual God.

    I don't imagine that I'd switch religions. This one is my context.

    I am personally committed - I go to church, I help with youth, I try to be Christ to others when I can (though I fall). I do not evangelize. I believe that people can find what they're looking for in a variety of ways, including rationalist atheism.
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  3. #13
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by placebo View Post
    How bad is it to steal a bible?
    Which translation?

    Do you currently practice the same religion you were born into? Or did you choose it yourself? To what degree would you say religion plays an important role in how you live your life and make your decisions?
    My spiritual sense is extremely important to me.

    My spiritual path has been from one that was concretely defined (evangelical Christianity) to a much more ambiguous "in touch with the Now" style Christianity, however.

    Atheists wouldn't like it because I'm religious. Conservative Christians would probably dismiss me as an apostate because I am very flexible on issues they are hardline on. I also think life is an unfolding revelation, rather than one that was revealed in totality millenia ago and now you just have to adhere to and defend some hard code.

    The ambiguity is one of the dominating factors of my faith.
    I live in a high degree of faith and doubt simultaneously.
    I believe certain things based on patterns I've experienced in my life -- but I also accept that my perceptions could be incomplete or inaccurate, and I can never prove what I'm choosing to believe.

    That's probably the biggest different between my old faith and the new; the old was more "revelation" based, and you were supposed to let ancient writings and church tradition be authoritative above all other concerns (which I think is why Christians have a rep for chucking their brains at the door -- frankly, the intellect really IS a secondary concern in the search for truth, as well as experience; you really ARE expected in the conservative denoms to follow the Biblical interpretation given as your foundation for truth).

    In reality, I've always been a more experiential moralist who draws spiritual truth from observation and the experience of life (allowing ambiguity because I know experience can be incomplete or even wrongly perceived), and then I'd match up things in the Bible that seemed to fit with those experiences.

    I deviate from the conservative reading of the Bible in issues where I don't think reality and human growth as I've experienced it fits with church tradition. I tried to conform earlier in life and make it fit somehow (lots of intellectual juggling going on) but eventually I gave up, it wasn't going to work.

    Have you ever considered being an atheist? Or maybe, have you ever questioned the concepts of your religion or aspects of it and how strongly? If you did, what were your conclusions? Could you ever imagine your life without religion? Could you imagine yourself changing your current religion to a different one?
    I always internally challenged my faith, so life was very painful because I knew if I exposed my doubt outwardly, I'd lose the people I cared about. (As it was, that's sort of what happened when I finally got strong enough to make changes in my life.)

    I never could be an atheist simply because it goes to the other extreme, for me -- insisting something can't be true. That does not fit with my intellectual mindset, which constantly observes and tests things in the quest for deeper truth. I'm an agnostic at heart. So it's not that I didn't consider atheism (it was an option), I just saw it was unpalatable with my instinctive approach to life.

    I can't imagine changing my overall religion to a completely different one, partly because my bent for psychological healing meshes best with concepts inherent in Christianity (and when I've examined other major religions, they were far less palatable).

    But partly also because it's like being born and raised somewhere and then later trying to disown your heritage.

    I've hated my faith as it was practiced sometimes, I spar with the culture now regularly ... but like it or not, they're still my people and I can never change that. It's part of my life narrative, it formed the basis of most of my early text, and even when I've been disowned from "the family," I still view them as my family and my people. Some things, I think, just get burned into us and stay there regardless.

    To both, How strong is your commitment to Atheism/Religion? Would you ever try or have you ever tried to convince another of agreeing to your point of view?
    When I was younger (teens), I was expected by my denom and the Christian groups I was in to proselytize people my age.

    I hated it.

    Not just because it was embarrassing, but because it felt presumptuous and like a violation of other people's intelligence and autonomy.

    The older I get, the less I proselytize in general about anything. I might argue points sometimes, but not with necessarily the sense that I am right and somehow I need to make them believe what I believe. I'd rather just share my ideas and let other people decide whether to make something of them. It's their life, not mine, and I do not know everything.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

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  4. #14
    Senior Member placebo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nihilen View Post
    There is no such thing as commitment to atheism, and I don't try to 'convert' anyone. But if I'm asked, I give my opinion and I have been pretty convincing to many in my surrounding.
    I was thinking along the lines of militant atheists like Richard Dawkins, but I see what you mean.

    Quote Originally Posted by Trinity View Post
    No different.



    Not much



    Quote Originally Posted by nozflubber View Post
    Spinoza said roughly 70% of what I have to say about God. The rest is still in development, and is considered classified.

    If you want something Holy to knaw on in the meantime, I can offer you DEEZ
    That is pretty brilliant. Also some of my beliefs are similar to Spinoza's on God as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by spirilis View Post
    I guess I already explained what happened above, but I kept having these feelings of God "not feeling right" to me. I think what really threw me off was a few folks I knew who were very fundamentalist christian who took it to an extreme; the neighbor next door who, when I mentioned evolution one time, took me to task considering why I believed in evolution, how creationism was the rule of the house, blahblahblah etc. and so forth. I guess the question was a valid one, but I was not about to denounce everything they taught us in school, especially since it made so much sense to me (and still does to the point that I equate it with "truth"). At that point it dawned on me that Christianity was more like a cult than anything, and it further reinforced my "not feeling right" thoughts about God. Then there was this guy my roommate's ex-g/f brought here one time to try and convince my roommate of Christianity (his ex came from an extremely hardcore strict fundamentalist family), and he took the argument to both of us that we should believe because "if the kingdom of God is true, we wouldn't want to miss out, and there's no downside to believing." Sorry, I might be dumb, but I am NOT stupid. There is one downside: living my life under a lie.

    Nowadays, I understand where the concept of God comes in handy for people--as an explanation for that which we cannot explain but find it useful to fall back upon as a matter of faith. The default position to fall back upon a "God," however, does not naturally come to my mind. To me, it feels like an unnecessarily contrived concept. I am content believing that there is a reason for everything, but I might never know what the "reason" will be. I can accept others' having this belief in God under the pretense that it has utility to them, though.
    That's interesting--a point about your roomate's ex's friend or whoever was making that argument of 'no downside to believing' is that he was arguing Pascal's Wager--that the benefit of believing in God IF there ended up really being a God far outweighed the benefit of not believing in God and if there ended up really being no God. But it's absolutely true that trying to force yourself to believe in something for a prudential reason with no evidence is rather stupid, and untrue to yourself. You also make a good point about people appealing to God as an explaination for the mysteries we don't understand -- the God of the Gaps

  5. #15
    Senior Member placebo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    When I was in grad school I started going to a Bible study with some fellow grad students. I think that is essentially what changed my life. It wasn't anything I learned from the Bible though (we were studying Exodus which doesn't directly have to do with core Christian theology). What affected me is that all of the Christians there had a genuine sense of peace, joy, and contentment about them. Ultimately there are a lot of interesting sounding ideas out there that sound good on paper, but what was convincing to me was something that actually finding something that worked in practice. A couple of weeks after going to the Bible study I knelt down before going to bed one night and devoted my life to God (and Jesus). I felt an immediate transformation inside of me which was totally unexpected. After that I started reading the Bible privately a lot, and eventually I realized that according to scripture what happened to me was supposed to happen exactly like that.
    That's an interesting story (the whole post). The feeling of 'genuine peace, joy, and contentment' in some Christians is really there and I can see how that can have an effect on people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    I have atheist tendencies and agnostic positions alongside my religious faith. My conclusions are that the point of religion is not fact; it's truth. And I believe that there is truth to be experienced in my faith... not just truth to be gleaned or known--experienced. I have lived periods without religion, and I felt empty and lost without the communion of saints. I understand most of religion to be symbol and metaphor, and I am comfortable with that. I do not know if there is an actual God.

    I don't imagine that I'd switch religions. This one is my context.

    I am personally committed - I go to church, I help with youth, I try to be Christ to others when I can (though I fall). I do not evangelize. I believe that people can find what they're looking for in a variety of ways, including rationalist atheism.
    Interesting views, thanks for sharing what religion means to you. There is an interesting difference between what religious truth and what scientific truth is considered among people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Which translation?


    I never could be an atheist simply because it goes to the other extreme, for me -- insisting something can't be true. That does not fit with my intellectual mindset, which constantly observes and tests things in the quest for deeper truth. I'm an agnostic at heart. So it's not that I didn't consider atheism (it was an option), I just saw it was unpalatable with my instinctive approach to life.

    I can't imagine changing my overall religion to a completely different one, partly because my bent for psychological healing meshes best with concepts inherent in Christianity (and when I've examined other major religions, they were far less palatable).

    But partly also because it's like being born and raised somewhere and then later trying to disown your heritage.
    Today's English Version/Good News Bible

    Interesting experiences you had with religion also, thanks for sharing. I can see what you mean by not being able to be atheist because you feel you'd end up on an extreme--I have a similar feel with that.

  6. #16
    ⒺⓉⒷ Eric B's Avatar
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    I was raised in an agnostic household, but influenced by religious older people. By the time I was in my teens, it was so easy to accept evolution and regard the old religious stuff as irrational superstition of people without modern scientific knowledge. Yet whenever I would get annoyed by Falwell, Swaggart or Robertson preaching against evolution and immorality, there would be this nagging sense of something to their religion that wouldn't go away. At 20, I accepted the Bible when I saw in the Plain Truth magazine it's apparent prediction of current world situations prophetically. Yet there were always nagging problems with the "futurist" interpretation of prophecy, such as why it was 2000 years later when Christ said it would be soon, and there was so much lack of hard evidence, such as no more miracles; and just trying to prove it to people who could just point to the lack of evidence, and we could only say "you got to just have faith"; or the cyclical argument of trying to prove the Bible with the Bible. I was eventually convinced into a more mainstream evangelicalism, but this made it worse, as I now had to try to "witness" to people on a premise that God was so obviously real that that is why those who reject Him would go to Hell. (Based on a common interpretation of Romans chapter 1: "they know it's true but are 'holding the truth in unrighteousness'")
    As we moved towards a more charismatic circle; I was just totally turned off by the way they interpret almost everything that happens as God 'doing something', and especially bad things happening being "trials" that you better have good attitudes in (in order to "grow into the image of Christ"); when it really seemed like it was just normal life happening.
    So more recently, I discovered a view based on preterism (the belief that "the end" was past, and referred to the end of that particular age), that not only explains so much of why things look the way they do (like God's supposed uninvolvement), and even suggests that the condemnation seen in the Bible ended with that old age. Now I no longer have the urgency of trying to convince people including evolutionists of God; only to have them rip my faith apart and leave me wondering if it's true. (Hence why I have not been more involved in these debates here. It's such a relief!)


    With all the doubts being cast at God and the Bible, and just about all our arguments answered, (Pharyngula: 34 Unconvincing Arguments for God which answers many arguments I always thought were weak, as well as some I thought were our ultimate proof) the only argument I have left as to why I still believe the Bible is because I sense a genuineness in its grand scheme. While people say generally, that the Bible is just another product of ancient people without scientific knowledge, who used God to explain what they couldn't explain, and also scare people into obedience, and in the process distorted the stories of Moses, the prophets and Jesus (or among some hard-nosed skeptics; invented those figures altogether); it just does not seem that way to me. It reads like people genuinely recording what they saw, and even admitting at times that it was hard to believe (like the Resurrection and some of Jesus' other miracles). While it is derided as just a wishful explanation of life and hope for afterlife; it is a purposed explanation. Man does have a sense of gult for not measuring up to some standard, and the Bible's sole theme is the answer to that problem.

    The site claims to debunk "The Argument from Embarrassment" (that the Bible's inclusion of the shortcomings of its people; another sign of this genuineness) by saying "embarrassing moments can be included in a fictional story to heighten dramatic tension and make the eventual triumph of the hero of the story that much greater", but that is just an unfounded supposition (that he even got from someone else. When Christians appeal to that argument, it includes many instances in the Old Testament, even moreso than the New. You have Noah, Moses, the Patriarchs, et. and this written over thousands of years, so it was not a singlehandedly written "story" that would be scripted like that with the end directly in view. We also point out that in other histories, like Egypts, the defeats and such are left out. the "story" is usually made to make the people look as good as possible all along.

    The main problem is mistaking what this theme or framework really is. Many critics of religion base their assessments on the religions they grew up with, or which have become big, influential, or outspoken. So when you think of "Christianity", the main "representative" in pop-culture is generally the Roman Catholic Church. Then, you have the large mainline Protestant demominations; many of who have liberalized down. Yet you also have those pesky fundamentalists or evangelicals (which have basicaly divided into two camps; "old-line" and "neo", though most don't realize this). You also have smaller sects and cults; some of which have bizarre practices and teachings, and can be dangerous to their own members as well as the surrounding community.

    So people's view of Christianity and the Bible is shaped largely by an amalgam of opposing extremes: conservative forms and extremes, for whom the Bible is about an angry God tormenting man if he doesn't fall into line; and thus, a control through fear tool by the leaders of the church or sect. On the other end of the spectrum, a message watered down to just a message of "peace and love". Since this is the more appealing of the two, the skeptics will generally take this side and say this is what the Bible (and all religion "is all about"), and then chastize the conservatives for not preaching this instead of hate and fear. But at the same time, they then conclude that since you can have peace and love without the Bible, then it is not really needed then; just a useful sentiment that served its purpose to ancient men without scientific knowledge.

    But the Bible's message is more than just peace and love; and the "angry God condemning man", rather than the final answer (as many people have made it out to be) was just the initial condition that set the stage for what is its real message.
    Last edited by Eric B; 12-12-2008 at 08:35 PM.
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