User Tag List

First 1234 Last

Results 11 to 20 of 50

Thread: Agnosticism

  1. #11

    Default

    I was also raised a Christian, and I believed in god as a child. It comforted me to think about cherubic winged angels and that people we loved were in heaven.

    Education (and voracious reading) "ruined" any religious leanings I might once have harbored.

  2. #12
    Senior Member Shimpei's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    MBTI
    ISFJ
    Enneagram
    9
    Socionics
    ISFx
    Posts
    339

    Default

    I identify myself as an agnostic Christian.

  3. #13
    shoshaku jushaku rivercrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    MBTI
    type
    Posts
    1,555

    Default

    I see great value in the agnostic questions you pose.

    If I hadn't had the experiences I've had, I would probably be agnostic.
    Who rises in the morning, looks in the mirror and says, "I think I will do something stupid today?" -- James Hollis
    If people never did silly things nothing intelligent would ever get done. -- Ludwig Wittgenstein
    Whaling is illegal in Oklahoma.

  4. #14
    RDF
    Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    Anyone here consider themselves agnostic, or at least see value in the agnostic approach to the 'big' questions?

    I've been wrestling with the question of God on an almost daily basis for 21 years. For the last couple of years I have debated online. To my disappointment I find both theists and atheists take a similar approach: if you're not for me you're against me. I have been accused of being a wolf in sheep's clothing, having a Judas complex, having an imaginary friend, and many other slams that make assumptions about my mind, experiences and motivations. If they are that willing to settle on false assumptions about me (them being a human just as I am), then why should I trust their assumptions about issues that lie at the edge of human perceptions? I see more parallels in the thinking of the strong atheist and theist than between those and the agnostic. These are some assumptions they share:

    1. The human mind has the capacity to determine the nature of all things.
    2. The answer to this question is simple and obvious.
    3. Those who do not share our conclusion are flawed (evil vs. stupid) and the world would be better off without them.
    4. Certain questions are considered off limits.
    5. It is based on a system of dismissal.[

    Humility of thought is the quickest path to truth from what I can tell. The ability to examine the limitations of the human mind is a necessary first step towards growth. Agnosticism is not a reluctance to choose sides, it is not a desire to not offend, it is not a lack of desire to explore the topic. It is a different mental process altogether. It focuses on examining assumptions, withholding judgment, approaching all aspects of the question and the people who hold them with respect. It is a willingness to ask questions, the process of formulating questions that lie at the boundary of human perception. It is a willingness to accept that not only can we not find every answer, but we are also unable to ask every question.
    Hi Toonia,

    I'm about as firmly atheist as they come. For me, the matter is settled once and for all. But I honestly don't care what anyone else believes. Both of my wives were/are believers and I was married both times by priests. I have no problem going to religious services. I can co-exist with religion and believers just fine.

    But I've been an agnostic in the past. In my early 20s I hadn't previously had much exposure to religion one way or the other and so I had to label myself an agnostic until I could at least investigate further. And back then, proselytizing believers were a pain in my side. They came down on me harder when I was an agnostic than they do today now that I'm an atheist. They saw agnosticism as a non-position and pushed hard to make me take a side. As an agnostic I found it difficult to push back just as forcefully, so my debate position was always a bit weak. Now that I'm an atheist, on the other hand, proselytizers see me as sort of a lost cause; and I feel more justification to get in their faces if they start pushing me.

    By contrast, atheists never bugged me much a few decades ago when I was an agnostic. Activist atheists mainly worked through the court system and stayed away from direct proselytizing, or at least that seemed to be the ethic in the old days.

    But that seems to have changed in recent years. There was a manifesto a few years back by some minor atheist activist calling for atheists to publicly ridicule religion. His position was that religion had made inroads in the broad public by ridiculing evolution and putting forward their own brand of junk science; so the manifesto insisted that atheists had to be more forthright and public in their attacks on religion if only to defend legitimate science. So in recent years I have in fact seen atheist acquaintances becoming more vocal and doing some proselytizing themselves. And like the believers do, I expect the atheist activists are coming down hard on the agnostics in particular and pushing them to take a side.

    So I sympathize with the agnostic's position that they're getting it from both sides. I've gotten the impression myself that the younger atheists can be as dogmatic and pushy as believers.

    Getting back to the OP:

    In a way, it sounds like you're trying to create a belief framework or a camp that's as defendable as the religious and atheist camps. You may not see it that way, of course. But as an agnostic I sometimes tried to convince proselytizing believers that my agnosticism was built on a framework of beliefs or suppositions that were at least as legitimate as the beliefs that underlie their religion. I never had much success with that, though. Proselytizers were convinced that agnosticism was a non-position, and there wasn't much I could do to convince them otherwise. Ultimately I just had to shut down the debate and tell them I needed to find my own answers.

    By the way, your five assumptions are framed in language that defines why believers and atheists are necessarily wrong: Atheists and believers are close-minded, atheists and believers think that anyone not like them is evil, etc. But I don't think they carry much punch. It doesn't take much to sidestep accusations like that. I think you're on stronger ground at the very end of your message where you're defining yourself and defending your own beliefs. Unless you're trying to do some proselytizing yourself and convert people to agnosticism, it's usually safer to defend than to attack.

    But in my experience, there really isn't much that agnostics can do by way of arguing with proselytizers. Most proselytizers have it in their head that agnosticism is a non-position, so they really don't even bother listening to you no matter what you say. In my experience, proselytizers are basically just attack dogs looking for the shortest path to your throat.

    So good luck with your predicament, especially if you're hearing from proselytizers on both sides. Other agnostics will respect your position, as will plenty of non-proselytizing believers and atheists, but I don't think you'll get much traction with proselytizers on either side.

    FL

  5. #15
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    MBTI
    isfp
    Enneagram
    4w5 sp/sx
    Posts
    8,595

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    By contrast, atheists never bugged me much a few decades ago when I was an agnostic. Activist atheists mainly worked through the court system and stayed away from direct proselytizing, or at least that seemed to be the ethic in the old days.
    You are so lucky!

    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    But that seems to have changed in recent years. There was a manifesto a few years back by some minor atheist activist calling for atheists to publicly ridicule religion. His position was that religion had made inroads in the broad public by ridiculing evolution and putting forward their own brand of junk science; so the manifesto insisted that atheists had to be more forthright and public in their attacks on religion if only to defend legitimate science. So in recent years I have in fact seen atheist acquaintances becoming more vocal and doing some proselytizing themselves. And like the believers do, I expect the atheist activists are coming down hard on the agnostics in particular and pushing them to take a side.
    I miss Carl Sagan like you wouldn't believe.

    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    In a way, it sounds like you're trying to create a belief framework or a camp that's as defendable as the religious and atheist camps. You may not see it that way, of course. But as an agnostic I sometimes tried to convince proselytizing believers that my agnosticism was built on a framework of beliefs or suppositions that were at least as legitimate as the beliefs that underlie their religion. I never had much success with that, though. Proselytizers were convinced that agnosticism was a non-position, and there wasn't much I could do to convince them otherwise. Ultimately I just had to shut down the debate and tell them I needed to find my own answers.
    I may be doing that, I'm not sure. What I am attempting is to simply find other intelligent people to discuss the issue with who are free from agendas and dogmatic conclusions. I would love to have new angles presented, encounteer new questions, have old questions challenged. The process of refining one's questions is my ideal. I still have most of my original questions because the answers provided by atheists do not address what I am asking. I'm pretty clear on the basic arguments from atheists and agree with them completely IF their assumptions are correct. I find few of their assumptions to be relevant to my question. I've had Martoon skim over some of these discussions because I know how logically he thinks. He generally concludes that I am attempting a completely different discussion from the one the atheist is involved with.

    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    By the way, your five assumptions are framed in language that defines why believers and atheists are necessarily wrong: Atheists and believers are close-minded, atheists and believers think that anyone not like them is evil, etc. But I don't think they carry much punch. It doesn't take much to sidestep accusations like that. I think you're on stronger ground at the very end of your message where you're defining yourself and defending your own beliefs. Unless you're trying to do some proselytizing yourself and convert people to agnosticism, it's usually safer to defend than to attack.
    I agree and my list is the result of frustration with my experience, with the people I have happened across.

    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    But in my experience, there really isn't much that agnostics can do by way of arguing with proselytizers. Most proselytizers have it in their head that agnosticism is a non-position, so they really don't even bother listening to you no matter what you say. In my experience, proselytizers are basically just attack dogs looking for the shortest path to your throat.
    This thread is in one way a search for non-proselytizers since they are apparently quite rare.

    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    So good luck with your predicament, especially if you're hearing from proselytizers on both sides. Other agnostics will respect your position, as will plenty of non-proselytizing believers and atheists, but I don't think you'll get much traction with proselytizers on either side.
    You are right.

    My background is religion. I was not a nominal Christian, I experienced it completely. I've had a relationship with God, I have loved and even felt to have glimpsed something greater than myself. These experiences were most meaningful when alone in nature. I was also brought up in the structure of a church. I believed its teachings. I took Bible classes throughout my education. I have since realized that some of what I was taught was clearly false. Having that experience makes me ready to defend with respect the integrity of a human being who believes something false. The scoffing and disrespect from atheists angers me. Superstitions should not be treated as fact, but the people who hold them should be treated as human. I found that my mind was less in sync with religiosity and my drive towards investigation was met with suspicion and rejection. I spent time online looking for reasonable debate. I have been profoundly disappointed in the close-mindedness of the atheists I have encountered. They impose an arbitrary definition of god and proceed to prove why it can't exist. There is no interest in asking questions about the nature of all things. The question isn't whether there is some little wizard who exists outside of the universe with a wand that creates matter. Of course that's false. Why would someone assume that we would be viewing God from the outside, as though he is an external object? What if we were viewing God from the inside? What would It look like then? If there were a God, Its relationship to the universe would likely be beyond our comprehension, but It could be woven into the fabric of it. The more arbitrary parameters we place on the concept of God, the less likely the idea is to exist. How can we even debate this question without a way to define "god". How can you prove/disprove that something exists when you don't have the capacity to define its parameters? Wondering if there is something greater than ourselves, a degree of sentience and awareness that is an infinite as time/space, is not the same exploration as trying to defend the existence of an orbiting teacup.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

  6. #16
    RDF
    Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    [...] My background is religion. I was not a nominal Christian, I experienced it completely. I've had a relationship with God, I have loved and even felt to have glimpsed something greater than myself. These experiences were most meaningful when alone in nature. I was also brought up in the structure of a church. I believed its teachings. I took Bible classes throughout my education. I have since realized that some of what I was taught was clearly false. Having that experience makes me ready to defend with respect the integrity of a human being who believes something false. The scoffing and disrespect from atheists angers me. Superstitions should not be treated as fact, but the people who hold them should be treated as human. I found that my mind was less in sync with religiosity and my drive towards investigation was met with suspicion and rejection. I spent time online looking for reasonable debate. I have been profoundly disappointed in the close-mindedness of the atheists I have encountered. They impose an arbitrary definition of god and proceed to prove why it can't exist. There is no interest in asking questions about the nature of all things. The question isn't whether there is some little wizard who exists outside of the universe with a wand that creates matter. Of course that's false. Why would someone assume that we would be viewing God from the outside, as though he is an external object? What if we were viewing God from the inside? What would It look like then? If there were a God, Its relationship to the universe would likely be beyond our comprehension, but It could be woven into the fabric of it. The more arbitrary parameters we place on the concept of God, the less likely the idea is to exist. How can we even debate this question without a way to define "god". How can you prove/disprove that something exists when you don't have the capacity to define its parameters? Wondering if there is something greater than ourselves, a degree of sentience and awareness that is an infinite as time/space, is not the same exploration as trying to defend the existence of an orbiting teacup.
    I hope you don't mind, Toonia, but I'm going to gently sidestep the actual discussion of whether one can realistically even believe or disbelieve in a God in the first place. The OP asked for open-minded agnostics for that debate, and that's not me. Personally, I wanted some closure on the question of God's existence, and I researched hard until I got it (by my lights).

    I was just interested contributing my experiences with proselytizers (which was also a big part of the OP). Having been both an agnostic and a (non-proselytizing) atheist, I figured I could contribute something on the subject of obnoxious proselytizers. But I'll stop there.

    FL

  7. #17
    RDF
    Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    [...] The scoffing and disrespect from atheists angers me. Superstitions should not be treated as fact, but the people who hold them should be treated as human. [...]
    I'm not sure if the following is a derail or in fact right on target. But as a firm atheist, I don't see any problem getting along with Christians. Basically, I just don't talk with them about religious beliefs. For example, my two marriages:

    Hard-core atheists are hard to find in the general public, so I always took it for granted that I would end up with a believer as a partner. So I always put my atheism on the table early along whenever a relationship seemed to have promise. And it never seemed to be a problem. If it's early in a relationship and the relationship is going well, then people don't usually get too hung up about religious differences. Most people are willing to wait and see.

    My first wife was Catholic, and when it got time to talk about marriage ceremonies she was a little disappointed that we couldn't do the Catholic rites of marriage since I wasn't baptized or catechized. But I told her that if it was REALLY important to her, I could convert to Catholicism. The rites meant nothing to me, so there was no harm in undergoing them. It would just mean that I had to lie when asked if I believe in God and all that.

    But the offer alone reassured my first wife considerably. Catholics are used to the idea of just going through the motions without having a whole lot of belief. They even routinely accept family friends and neighbors who divorce and get excommunicated (and remarry outside the faith). IOW, marriage is a can of worms for Catholics even at the best of times, and there's a lot of leeway for divergence in practice.

    So my first wife was reassured, and she opted for a nondenominational ceremony instead of asking me to convert. She didn't seem to worry about whether we might be split up upon death (she to Heaven and me to Hell). I think she figured she would wait and see where we were at when we were a little closer to death. Like many modern Catholics she was kind of weak on the faith anyway. Again, Catholics learn to compartmentalize their faith and put up with a lot of inconsistencies. It's called "cafeteria Catholicism": you pick and choose what doctrines work for you. Other than that, we just didn't talk about religion much.

    My second wife was raised in a moderate Protestant faith and turned kind of New Age Christian over the years. She is much more serious about her beliefs than my first wife; but her New Age beliefs tell her that rites don't matter so much as actions or intentions. IOW, she believes that a good-hearted atheist has more chance to reach Heaven than a lying, cheating Christian. She figures I have a better chance to be in Heaven with her than her two Christian ex-husbands, so ultimately there's no problem from her point of view.

    She and I REALLY don't talk about religion. She's very serious about her beliefs and frankly she doesn't want to hear my views. But she respects that I'm serious about my own views too. If she's in the company of Christians and wants to talk about faith, I keep my mouth shut and don't bug her about it. If I'm in the company of atheists and we talk about atheism, she doesn't bug me about it (though I'll self-censor a bit and remind the others to respect the fact that there's a believer present).

    Anyway, that's my experience of being in relationships with believers: There's no big conflict there if we just respect each other's beliefs and keep our mouths shut. I'm perfectly able to be around religious things without launching into a rant; and from my experience, it seems that Christians are generally able to rationalize my presence if I'm otherwise a pleasant-enough person to be around.

    But maybe that's an old-school approach. As I mentioned in my previous post about proselytizers, the culture wars seem to be heating up a bit in the last few years; so maybe it's tougher for younger folks to co-exist with others from a different background. Hard to say; all I know is my own experience of things.

    FL

  8. #18
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    MBTI
    isfp
    Enneagram
    4w5 sp/sx
    Posts
    8,595

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    But maybe that's an old-school approach. As I mentioned in my previous post about proselytizers, the culture wars seem to be heating up a bit in the last few years; so maybe it's tougher for younger folks to co-exist with others from a different background. Hard to say; all I know is my own experience of things.
    You are an exceptional person.

    My position is such that I'm not really certain what I will teach my children. That thought haunts me a bit. I do believe in compassion and that acts of kindness are their own reward. Heaven isn't a necessary motivator. I plan to give my children many opportunities to act out of kindness.

    Whenever I have two sides shouting in my ears, I tend to withdraw and reject the topic. That is how I approach politics - non involvement. The question of god is more personal for me. It is tied up with my fascination of the universe. I hear great minds like Carl Sagan and Einstein make comments that resonate deeply with me. I realize I don't know much and want to learn, but not with the goal of a conclusion necessarily. I can't relate very well to leaders like Richard Dawkins. I'll be on board with much of what he says, but there is that element of personal agenda that makes me more interested in his formative experiences and emotional framework.

    There isn't much room for an agnostic that I have found. It isn't a choice for me. It is simply admitting where I actually stand. It reflects the whole of how my mind works. There is no black-and-white, but a continuum of greys. Nothing is certain, but exists with degrees of probability.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

  9. #19
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    MBTI
    FREE
    Enneagram
    594 sx/sp
    Socionics
    LII Ne
    Posts
    42,333

    Default

    I'm not sure about the atheist side of things, but I saw a definite "revival" type shift in the Christian kids in the mid/late 90's until now, who tend to be more fervent and outspoken about their faith.

    (Not even necessarily aggressive or mean-spirited. But simply more outspoken and willing to push on people and take their particular beliefs seriously in a way that reflects itself in changes in outward behavior.)

    You see it reflected in the growth of the "worship music / praise" industry in the last decade and in the teen abstinence movement, among other things... this sort of "Christian idealism" that was not as extreme as the hippie idealism I perceive was rocking the 60's... God is the answer, He makes sense for these kids to build their lives around, God has some standards that must be met in terms of personal holiness, and other philosophies do exist and can be talked about but they certainly aren't true; that's how the kids are entering into the conversation.

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    My background is religion. I was not a nominal Christian, I experienced it completely. I've had a relationship with God, I have loved and even felt to have glimpsed something greater than myself. These experiences were most meaningful when alone in nature. I was also brought up in the structure of a church. I believed its teachings. I took Bible classes throughout my education. I have since realized that some of what I was taught was clearly false. Having that experience makes me ready to defend with respect the integrity of a human being who believes something false. The scoffing and disrespect from atheists angers me. Superstitions should not be treated as fact, but the people who hold them should be treated as human...
    That was me too. Sigh.

    And I had the same conclusion. I know what it is like to be a human being trying to do my best to figure something out to the best of my ability and still make my life actively mean something even if I do not know all of the answers. It gives me empathy and patience with others, since I know that I myself am still a work in progress.

    And it always angered me to see people disrespecting each other over things like this, rather than truly trying to gauge where each other was and trying to make allowance.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  10. #20
    RDF
    Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    You are an exceptional person.
    Thanks! But it's probably more about my generation and upbringing than any merit on my part. I don't tend to swim against the tide.

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    That is how I approach politics - non involvement.
    Amen!

    I used to follow politics closely, but nowadays I just tune it out.

    Some of my acquaintances say they could never marry or even live with someone who has different political beliefs than them. That just seems counter-intuitive to me. How crazy are you when you reach the point where you let politics get in the way of sex?

    FL

Similar Threads

  1. Zen and philosophical agnosticism
    By Octarine in forum Philosophy and Spirituality
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 10-13-2011, 11:31 AM
  2. Beating A Dead Horse, vol. 345: Atheism, Theism, Agnosticism and Sheep
    By LEGERdeMAIN in forum Philosophy and Spirituality
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: 10-27-2009, 02:01 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Single Sign On provided by vBSSO