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Old 04-08-2003, 02:47 PM
MegaDave MegaDave is offline
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Religon vs. athesim vs. agnostic

Now, before you read on, know that I am starting this only out of curosity, not out of any want to cause trouble.

I have a friend named Jeremiah, who has been my friend for longer in my life than he hasn't, literally, and I am almost 30. So we know each other quite well, and we have done a lot of crazy stuff together.

About 4 months ago, Jeremiah (or Shaggy as I call him) "found God". After being baptized, spending the weekend at some kind of religious retreat, and going to chruch every Sunday, suddenly Shaggy is a totally different person. We can't speak to each other without him telling me all about God. I have even noticed that he now prefers to spend time with other "religous" people, other than me, or his other usual longtime friends. Keep in mind that prior to 4 months ago, we had probably spoken about God and religon probably twice in 15 years.

This has got me to thinking... Why is it that religous people are so convinced that there way, and only there way is correct? I am somewhere between an atheist, and an agnostic, in that I don't belive in any particular religon, but I don't totally discount the possibility of a "higher being".

I almost feel it is a tragedy in that Shaggy is now a different person totally. I would almost call him delusional at times, at least in comparison to say a year ago, or 10 years ago. Why do religons require that you alter every aspect of your life to conform to some notion of piety that you can never acheive?
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Old 04-08-2003, 02:57 PM
tdn tdn is offline
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Re: Religon vs. athesim vs. agnostic

"If you want all the answers, talk to a newly ordained priest."
--Longtime priest, who has none of the answers

I think that for many people, a newly found religion is like a shiny new toy. They have to show it off, and can seem somewhat obsessed with it. Nothing wrong with that -- I'm the same way if I get a new book or a new techno toy. But that, combined with the fervernt and judgemental nature of religion, is an especially obnoxious combination.

Give it some time for the newness to wear off, and I'll bet your friend is back to normal.
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Old 04-08-2003, 03:00 PM
SisterCoyote SisterCoyote is offline
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Religious != christian.

I, for one, am religious, and do not believe my religion to be the One True Way.

Just FYI.
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Old 04-08-2003, 03:04 PM
skankweirdall skankweirdall is offline
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Re: Religon vs. athesim vs. agnostic

Quote:
Originally posted by MegaDave
Now, before you read on, know that I am starting this only out of curosity, not out of any want to cause trouble.

I have a friend named Jeremiah, who has been my friend for longer in my life than he hasn't, literally, and I am almost 30. So we know each other quite well, and we have done a lot of crazy stuff together.

About 4 months ago, Jeremiah (or Shaggy as I call him) "found God". After being baptized, spending the weekend at some kind of religious retreat, and going to chruch every Sunday, suddenly Shaggy is a totally different person. We can't speak to each other without him telling me all about God. I have even noticed that he now prefers to spend time with other "religous" people, other than me, or his other usual longtime friends. Keep in mind that prior to 4 months ago, we had probably spoken about God and religon probably twice in 15 years.

This has got me to thinking... Why is it that religous people are so convinced that there way, and only there way is correct? I am somewhere between an atheist, and an agnostic, in that I don't belive in any particular religon, but I don't totally discount the possibility of a "higher being".

I almost feel it is a tragedy in that Shaggy is now a different person totally. I would almost call him delusional at times, at least in comparison to say a year ago, or 10 years ago. Why do religons require that you alter every aspect of your life to conform to some notion of piety that you can never acheive?

I'll give you a short overview of my situation. I was raised a Catholic, later rejected, became and agnostic, later became an athiest (a militant athiest at that), then a religious revelation and rebirth. I am now a Southern Baptist. So as you can see I've been all three things you mention. The only thing I can tell you is that the conversion experience to a believer is like nothing else you could imagine. At the moment of my conversion I literally felt like a new born, cleaned and pressed with someone holding me in their arms as if I was an infant. Most amazing experience I've ever had in my life and I wanted to share it with everyone. I wanted to learn all about my new life so I could live it to it's fullest. This is where your friend is. I've since learned to temper my enthusiasm with the world. I'll still share, if you want to hear it. If you don't I'll move on, because someone else needs it. I'm just a beggar telling others where I found bread.
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Old 04-08-2003, 03:13 PM
Badtz Maru Badtz Maru is offline
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Some people can turn on parts of their brain that make them feel loved, important, and peaceful, by use of certain thought patterns. These thought patterns can be brought about by stuff like chants, prayer, music, and other things that religion frequently provides. Some people are more susceptable to this effect than others, and it looks like your friend was hooked.

Don't worry for him, though, he probably feels great and the added confidence, sense of well-being, and feeling of membership in a community may end up doing him some good.
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Old 04-08-2003, 03:15 PM
MegaDave MegaDave is offline
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I understand what you are saying "Skank", I just cannot understand the position. I have never had anything in life (except maybe my wife and kids) that made me feel like I have to make sure every person w/in earshot has to hear how I feel about it.... every couple of minutes.

Someone else said the word "obsessive", which I think is apt. I was also thinking "cult-like". Not that christianity is the same as those wierdos in California (Heavens Gate?), but there are some similarties in basically all religons, including cults, and I think that some are more prone to preach to non-belivers than others (I think this is called "witnessing"), but you don't ever hear atheist out there saying "If you don't belive in us, or our belifs, then you will be punished".
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Old 04-08-2003, 03:38 PM
skankweirdall skankweirdall is offline
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The punished part worries me Dave, I don't know who or what group your friend has fallen in with though. One thing to distinguish a cult from a religion is that typically a cult follows after a leader, not just like a Minister or Pastor though. The cult leader may preach anything but it is him that the followers are attracted to and not the message. Christians have been maligned as a cult especially in the early formative years, some would still say so, but that is another debate.
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Old 04-08-2003, 04:15 PM
MegaDave MegaDave is offline
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well don't pretty much all religons state that there is some sort of punishment for straying from the divine path, e.g. hell, eternal damnation, etc. etc.

What I meant was that the "God fearing religions" like christianity and baptist, and all of those try to sway you to there side of the argument by saying that you will be "saved" which is basically the only way that you can avoid hell. So in essence, they are saying, believe like us or be punished for all of eternity.

Whereas, my belifs, and those with likeminded belifs, don't say that you are going to be punished, and we don't ever try to force our religon on someone else, which is something that is all too common with chrisians, baptist, presbyterian, etc.
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Old 04-08-2003, 04:26 PM
kniz kniz is offline
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Quote:
[i]originally posted by MegaDave[/b]
but you don't ever hear atheist out there saying "If you don't belive in us, or our belifs, then you will be punished".
First off it isn't as easy as that. All atheists are not alike or I guess you could say "believe" the same thing. Some atheists think it is a personal thing (live and let live) and others think they have a calling to convert everyone to their way. These atheists can't threaten you with going to hell, so they resort to saying nasty things about religion and telling religious people how dumb they are. Personally, I prefer being told I'm going to hell.
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Old 04-08-2003, 04:36 PM
skankweirdall skankweirdall is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by MegaDave
well don't pretty much all religons state that there is some sort of punishment for straying from the divine path, e.g. hell, eternal damnation, etc. etc.

What I meant was that the "God fearing religions" like christianity and baptist, and all of those try to sway you to there side of the argument by saying that you will be "saved" which is basically the only way that you can avoid hell. So in essence, they are saying, believe like us or be punished for all of eternity.

Whereas, my belifs, and those with likeminded belifs, don't say that you are going to be punished, and we don't ever try to force our religon on someone else, which is something that is all too common with chrisians, baptist, presbyterian, etc.

Dave, the so called punishment is eternal separation from God. What Christianity basically teaches is that the only way into eternal life with God is through acceptance of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Without accepting that in your heart you are "doomed" (for lack of a better term) to spend eternity separated from God. This is described as hell. The various references to fire and burning are descriptive of how your soul will feel when you are separated from God permanently. Remember how I said I felt like an infant being taken of in someones arms? The connotation is that since God is love, you will spend eternity without any love at all.
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Old 04-08-2003, 06:22 PM
altoidsgirl altoidsgirl is offline
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Religion is a confusing thing, I think that anyone that says that they have it all figured out hasn't looked into everything. I am a religious person, but I am not convinced that just because someone believes slightly different things than me that they are going to burn in hell. Or that my ideas are completely right. I know what I believe and that's good enough for me.
I think that the first response was probably accurate, give it some time, he'll find a way to have his beliefs and his life.

Oh, and by the way..to the person who was talking about Christians, Baptists, and Presbyterians..Baptists and Presbyterians ARE Christians, they're not different religions, just denominations.
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Old 04-08-2003, 06:29 PM
vl_mungo vl_mungo is offline
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Re: Religon vs. athesim vs. agnostic

Quote:
Originally posted by MegaDave
I am somewhere between an atheist, and an agnostic, in that I don't belive in any particular religon, but I don't totally discount the possibility of a "higher being".
That would make you an agnostic rather than an atheist.
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Old 04-08-2003, 09:07 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
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Re: Religon vs. athesim vs. agnostic

From just what you've written here, I have no idea whether the new religious life your friend has found is dangerous and tragic, or if it's extremely good and healthy for him, or somewhere in between. It sounds like your main problem with it is what it has done to your friendship, which is perfectly understandable, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad for Shaggy. (In fact, if you were a bad influence on him, it would be a good thing that his religion is separating him from you—not that I'm implying that that's the case.)

You might feel somewhat the same way if he had just gotten majorly involved in a new hobby that you had no interest in; or if he had fallen in love with The Most Wonderful Girl In The Whole World and was spending most of his time with her and her friends, especially if (1) you believed, rightly or wrongly, that she was bad for him, or (2) you didn't get along with her due to a clash in personalities, or (3) you were jealous. His new orientation may or may not be permenant, but at least the gaga, can't-understand-why-everybody-else-isn't-as-excited-as-he-is stage will fade.
Quote:
Originally posted by MegaDave
This has got me to thinking... Why is it that religous people are so convinced that there way, and only there way is correct?

I almost feel it is a tragedy in that Shaggy is now a different person totally. I would almost call him delusional at times, at least in comparison to say a year ago, or 10 years ago. Why do religons require that you alter every aspect of your life to conform to some notion of piety that you can never acheive? [/B]
That's a pretty broad brush you're painting with there. Even if it is the attitude Shaggy's taking, such narrow-mindedness is hardly characteristic of all religious people! In fact you may even be engaging in a similar narrow-mindedness yourself (eg. calling him "delusional" because he believes or acts differently from you). If you're looking down on him and his new friends, it's understandable if he's avoiding you.

Or maybe his is just as brainwished as you seem to think. Like I said, I can't tell from what you've written here. I'm just throwing out shoes; if any of them fit, feel free to wear them.
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Old 04-09-2003, 09:53 AM
MegaDave MegaDave is offline
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I have been thinking about wether or not this is all my problem and not his.... but that isn't really my main concern, he an I have gone through times before where we haven't seen much of each other, as long as a year when I traveled alot on business. My trouble is with the way it changed his very nautre, almost overnight. He says that he looked to god to find happiness, which at the time he needed because he just had some personal problems he was dealing with.... but when i look at him now, i don't think he is all that happy... since he started this whole thing, he seems almost exaggeratingly melancholy.... i just don't want him to get sucked into something that turns out to be empty....

maybe just because i can't fathom having that much faith in something so my natural response to it is to automatically think it is unworthy in some way....

maybe i am just a dick
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Old 04-09-2003, 11:07 AM
elfje elfje is offline
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no, the symptoms you described happened to an ex bf of mine.
He had just accepted he was an alcoholic, and decided to do something about it. After the first few meetings of AA, he turned to god, as it's included in the 12 Step programme. After that, things went really fast: he had a spiritual awakening, finally saw the big picture, his own role in life in the world. Saw the consequences of all his actions, relived all the shit he put other people through...
He also tried to "12 step" me, he projected all his problems on me, and then told me how to go and live my life, told me in great detail what was wrong with me and how I could "fix" myself.

Once you've had a spiritual awakening, it's hard to turn it back off. You've finally got a huge conscience, your Super Ego is taking over. It's hard for me to put my finger on it, but it does change you. It makes you see more things, observe more things, experience more "pain" because you feel more empathy, you feel other people's pain, whereas before you wouldn't have cared.

tdn is right, in saying that the novelty will wear off. The reason that he prefers being with likeminded people at the moment, is because this is a profound change in him, and he feels the need to talk about it, to people who understand what he's on about.
You may inderstand, but you do find it strange, and I think that disappoints him, or even hurts him.

I have no advice to give on how to go about restoring your relationship (the BF and me broke up, obviously, since I describe him as an ex), but I thought i'd be able to explain a little how your friend is feeling.

good luck
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Old 04-09-2003, 12:04 PM
kabbes kabbes is offline
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Re: Re: Religon vs. athesim vs. agnostic

Quote:
Originally posted by vl_mungo
That would make you an agnostic rather than an atheist.
No, it makes him a weak atheist.

A common misunderstanding, but quite a simple one. Agnosticism is actually nothing to do with whether you believe in god or not. Rather, it is a belief that the nature of a God is fundamentally unknowable. As such, you can be an agnostic deist or an agnostic atheist. Think of gnosticism and theism as two axis on a belief graph.

Theism, or deism, is a belief that God(s) exists. The lack of this belief is a-theism or, more commonly, atheism. You don't have to firmly believe in the absence to have an absence of belief and the absence of belief alone is enough to make you a-theistic.

However, the difference between believing in the absence and having an absence of belief is judged important enough to be differentiated, which is why the former is known as strong atheism and the latter weak atheism.

Our friend here is a weak atheist. Whether or not he is agnostic, we cannot say on this evidence.

pan
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Old 04-09-2003, 11:23 PM
lekatt lekatt is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by elfje
no, the symptoms you described happened to an ex bf of mine.
He had just accepted he was an alcoholic, and decided to do something about it. After the first few meetings of AA, he turned to god, as it's included in the 12 Step programme. After that, things went really fast: he had a spiritual awakening, finally saw the big picture, his own role in life in the world. Saw the consequences of all his actions, relived all the shit he put other people through...
He also tried to "12 step" me, he projected all his problems on me, and then told me how to go and live my life, told me in great detail what was wrong with me and how I could "fix" myself.

Once you've had a spiritual awakening, it's hard to turn it back off. You've finally got a huge conscience, your Super Ego is taking over. It's hard for me to put my finger on it, but it does change you. It makes you see more things, observe more things, experience more "pain" because you feel more empathy, you feel other people's pain, whereas before you wouldn't have cared.

tdn is right, in saying that the novelty will wear off. The reason that he prefers being with likeminded people at the moment, is because this is a profound change in him, and he feels the need to talk about it, to people who understand what he's on about.
You may inderstand, but you do find it strange, and I think that disappoints him, or even hurts him.

I have no advice to give on how to go about restoring your relationship (the BF and me broke up, obviously, since I describe him as an ex), but I thought i'd be able to explain a little how your friend is feeling.

good luck
INteresting and informative post.

I always looked upon "conversions" a little different. They do not have to be religious, but could be conversions to different forms of political systems, secular groups or most anything, including science. I have seen people converted to science.

I think these are learning experiences, as you said, they see more things, looking deeper into the well so to speak. If they continue to learn they will move on through the conversion into another and another until wisdom of the path teaches them to learn without being "taken over" by the knowledge.

If you are not experiencing "aha's", "eureka's", or conversions you are not learning very much. Life is not divided into little boxes of science, religion, nature, politics, etc., it is an integrated whole. It takes a lot of these experiences to reach the plane of wisdom.

Love
Leroy
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Old 04-10-2003, 01:34 AM
tracer tracer is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by SisterCoyote
Religious != christian.
Especially in the convoluted alternate-reality world of this Jack Chick tract.

"You religious?"
"No, I'm a Christian!"

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Old 04-10-2003, 02:04 AM
Blalron Blalron is offline
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I was religious at one point in my life, briefly, but eventually I sucumbed to reason.
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Old 04-10-2003, 08:08 AM
elfje elfje is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by lekatt
INteresting and informative post.

If you are not experiencing "aha's", "eureka's", or conversions you are not learning very much. Life is not divided into little boxes of science, religion, nature, politics, etc., it is an integrated whole. It takes a lot of these experiences to reach the plane of wisdom.

Love
Leroy
thank you

you are right, you have to have an Aha! Erlebnis, it's the actual shock of the insight that gives you a mental kick in the butt. If it's a gradual thing, you won't even notice you've "changed" until people start pointing in out to you.
And yes, it does take constant work, I agree. It may be hard to turn off at first (the conscience, I mean) or indeed, impossible, but the concentrating on oneself, the disecting of ones character and afterwards building up again, is very hard work, and in the end, very hard to keep up. Most people have a tendency to let things "slide" again, after a while, after all, it's not nice being faced with your own imperfections day in, day out.

You are right again in saying that knowledge isn't boxed in per subject (if only!). It was, in fact, seeing and discovering the connections between each and everything, and to see how literally everything is connected to everything else, in one way or another, that made it so fascinating for me.

As my mother told me, the beginning of all wisdom is to know you know nothing
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Old 04-10-2003, 04:46 PM
braces_for_impact braces_for_impact is offline
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I agree that it may well be the novelty of the new religion that is affecting your friend. People have 'religious experiences' from a wide variety of reasons, and they can often be very convincing to some people. Also, the social factor that the new religion provides cannot be overlooked.

As a friend, all that you can do is be supportive, and perhaps this may pass. Of course, if his constant "witnessing" is getting in the way of your friendship, then you may want to share your concerns with your friend. You have as much right not to have to hear it as he does in saying such things. I forgot who said (and I paraphrase) "My freedom ends where another's begins." Very true words. Be respectful and non confrontational about it, but also stand up for your belief, or your lack of it so you can continue to be honest with yourself. If you just don't buy it, then you can't help it. Belief can not be turned on and off like a faucet.

I am an atheist myself and I have a friend whom is a Seventh Day Adventist (Christians with a sort of bent towards the end times and all that) and I have to handle my friend with the "kid gloves" on, so to speak. Some of the ideas that his religions fosters are complete nonsense, while his religion shows him how to ignore the obvious in real life. I have seen my friend suffer needlessly because of religion, but I still respect his choice. I tell him of my opinions, and I respect his. I do not however, let him continue in certain false ideas that have been put into his head by his particular religion, but I correct him and try to explain things in a non confrontational way. I say this because if you become a threat to his religion, he may walk away from the friendship altogether. People become very touchy when their world views are challenged, especially if they draw comfort from it.
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Old 04-10-2003, 05:40 PM
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I have always found religious people who did not try to convert others, either actively or passively, as odd to say the least. If I were suddenly to have a great insight into the meaning of the universe and learn that if many of the people I cared about didn't change their ways then they were doomed to some real nastiness for all eternity, I would be all over converting them. It would seem horrifically selfish not to. Athiests who actively try to convert, on the otherhand, I have notices tend to be jerks trying to belittle others.

I have alwasy been onvious of those who know why we are here and what the meaning of life is, wish I did.

As to the meaning of agnostic, kabbes, you are right in your definition, but how the others who have posted use it is an equally valid definition. A quick dictionary search gives us:

"One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism."
or
"One who supports agnosticism, neither affirming nor denying the existence of a personal Deity, a future life, etc."

I should know, I am one. The only non-religion. It takes as much faith to say you know there isn't a God as to say you know there is.
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Old 04-10-2003, 05:47 PM
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When I did a search on atheism, though, I found nothing about what you call weak atheism, only the definition of strong atheism.

Oh and I would have to disagree with the "eurekas". My own philosophy follows closer to the quote by Asimov:

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" (I found it!) but "That's funny ...""
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Old 04-10-2003, 08:31 PM
Lilairen Lilairen is offline
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Quote:
I have always found religious people who did not try to convert others, either actively or passively, as odd to say the least. If I were suddenly to have a great insight into the meaning of the universe and learn that if many of the people I cared about didn't change their ways then they were doomed to some real nastiness for all eternity, I would be all over converting them.
Would you be less perplexed by religious people who don't happen to have religions that include "if you don't change your ways you're doomed to some real nastiness for all eternity", and in fact find the whole doomed-for-all-eternity thing unconvincingly melodramatic?

Note that there are religious paths -- including some forms of the Abrahamic monotheisms -- that have no claims to absolute truth; there are religious paths that specifically include and embrace plurality; and there are religious paths that forbid proselytising (one reason I've seen being that it's an insult to other people's intelligence).

Evangelical Christianity is not the archetype of all religions.
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Old 04-10-2003, 10:10 PM
Blalron Blalron is offline
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Athiests who actively try to convert, on the otherhand, I have notices tend to be jerks trying to belittle others.
Religious people who try to enforce their morality on others, or who try to convert me to their religion, are fair game to be candidates for my atheistic conversion attempts.
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Old 04-10-2003, 10:43 PM
Shaolinrabbit Shaolinrabbit is offline
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Dave, I think your friend is just at a turning point in his life, and it's really only the first of two. At thist jucture, he believes a whole range of new truths, and has been 'born again'. So, he is like a baby in terms of the world around him, trying to spread the wonders of the Holy Spirit on everyone he sees, because he has found something he believes is good. You should be honored that you friend cares about you enough to ruin an otherwise flawless reputation by trying to convert you.
Of course, I can't lie to you, it can destroy firendships. It has many times over. However, this change precedes a second, more harmful change. How your friend reacts to others in this period of his life, and how he learns to see the world with his new insights will color him for quite some time. He's going to learn that much of the world does not appreciate his pressing message as much as he did, and that can either destroy his faith, or strengthen it.
Ultimately, he will either cool off, and become a relatively normal Christian person(We can be lovable ), he will wall himself off from those who do not believe, and whom he sees as mocking or oppressing him, or he will lose his faith as rapidly as it came upon him, and remain an atheist for quite some time.
A good point to discover, to help you determine which path he is on now, would be to find out if he thinks science has lied to him because of a vast conspiracy of atheists. Christians in this area are far less likely to return to normal, except by the same strange process that caused them to find God in the first place. If he's still scientifically sound, you have a good shot at simply waiting for the white hot love for all man to cool slightly, into the calm meditative Christianity we know and love. If not, send him to the SDMB.

That's a little more than 2 cents, but what the heck.
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Old 04-10-2003, 11:16 PM
lekatt lekatt is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by elfje
thank you

you are right, you have to have an Aha! Erlebnis, it's the actual shock of the insight that gives you a mental kick in the butt. If it's a gradual thing, you won't even notice you've "changed" until people start pointing in out to you.
And yes, it does take constant work, I agree. It may be hard to turn off at first (the conscience, I mean) or indeed, impossible, but the concentrating on oneself, the disecting of ones character and afterwards building up again, is very hard work, and in the end, very hard to keep up. Most people have a tendency to let things "slide" again, after a while, after all, it's not nice being faced with your own imperfections day in, day out.

You are right again in saying that knowledge isn't boxed in per subject (if only!). It was, in fact, seeing and discovering the connections between each and everything, and to see how literally everything is connected to everything else, in one way or another, that made it so fascinating for me.

As my mother told me, the beginning of all wisdom is to know you know nothing
Yes, I think old Socrates said something like: "True knowledge is knowing that you know nothing."

From a position of ignorance one can learn it all, but the expert learns nothing.

That's my quote for what it's worth.
__________________
"I want to know God’s thoughts… the rest are details" .
— Albert Einstein
  #28  
Old 04-11-2003, 05:47 AM
kabbes kabbes is offline
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On the subject of definitions of agnosticism and atheism, I can only say this: it comes down to the usual question of the acceptability of an evolving language trumping the true meaning of words. "Agnostic" has come to mean "I don't know" - but only by repeated misuse. And now that misuse is entering the dictionary as a standard definition. It happens a lot, but sometimes in doing so it obliterates previously useful definitions. So we don't have to like it.

This fact remains: "Gnosticism" refers to a particular philosophy, involving the belief that one could ascertain the true "meaning" of God. The absence of such a philosophy became known as "a-gnosticism". This is a tight definition.

Similarly "theism" refers to a belief in God(s). The absence of such a belief, whether that swings all the way to a belief in an absence or not, became known as "a-theism". This is also a tight definition.

The words are being corrupted. I choose to fight this by educating whoever I can as to their original - and true - meanings.

pan
  #29  
Old 04-11-2003, 10:58 AM
il Topo il Topo is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by kabbes
On the subject of definitions of agnosticism and atheism...
The words are being corrupted. I choose to fight this by educating whoever I can as to their original - and true - meanings.
One problem is that unless you find a truly objective and definitive source, you often have theists writing the definition of atheistic terminology. For an extreme example, if you look for the definition of "atheist" on a religious site, it is ALWAYS the "positive belief that their is no God" definition (what many atheists refer to as "strong atheism") becuase that definition is easier to understand and defininitely easier to refute (and hate) than the "I have no evidence for any gods, so I will behave as if there aren't any until such time as such evidence presents itself" (the weak atheism of lack of belief).

Too bad there isn't an unambiguous and unique term for the positive denial of all gods, such as "anti-thiesm". The "strong" vs. "weak" atheistic terminology created in some online atheistic communities has not yet reached the mainstream, and so is not understood by most theists.

Lesson learned? Atheists/Agnostics/Religionists need to carefully define their terms before discussing these issues. Many arguments need not be had, and we can all cut to the chase more quickly once we have our terms defined. We can't assume we are all using the same definitions.
  #30  
Old 04-11-2003, 10:59 AM
il Topo il Topo is offline
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Re: Re: Religon vs. athesim vs. agnostic

Quote:
Originally posted by tdn
"If you want all the answers, talk to a newly ordained priest."
--Longtime priest, who has none of the answers
tdn, I like that quote. Do you have a source? Or is it your own?
  #31  
Old 04-11-2003, 12:39 PM
gex gex gex gex is offline
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Quote:
originally posted by MegaDave
About 4 months ago, Jeremiah (or Shaggy as I call him) "found God". After being baptized, spending the weekend at some kind of religious retreat, and going to chruch every Sunday, suddenly Shaggy is a totally different person. We can't speak to each other without him telling me all about God. I have even noticed that he now prefers to spend time with other "religous" people, other than me, or his other usual longtime friends. Keep in mind that prior to 4 months ago, we had probably spoken about God and religon probably twice in 15 years.
This sounds like something out of one of those "How Can You Tell Your Child Is On Drugs" pamphlets.
  #32  
Old 04-11-2003, 01:08 PM
scotandrsn scotandrsn is offline
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MegaDave-

The only insight I have to offer into your situation is to recount my own.

I grew up in New England, where I was confronted as early as age seven by my classmates regarding my religious beliefs. At the time they were married, my mother was an ex-Mormon and my father an ex-Christian Scientist. I was raised without any concept of God (in fact was trained to treat the concept with disdain) and only encountered religion directly when I visited my grandparents on weekends. Being raised to be a contemptual atheist is not the best plan, given that the kid has to spend their whole life interacting with people who belive fervently in their religion.

(Freaky: some bible pushers just came to my door. See my point?)

Anyhoo, I was sitting inmy high school English class one day, feeling VERY depressed over the fact that my summer girlfriend and I were not going to be able to maintain a long-distance relationship (sigh), when suddenly I had a "bolt from the blue". I was suddenly on top of the world, feeling very much at peace. What's more, for the rest of the day I felt like I could "see into" people, especially people I didn't like, suddenly understanding the workings of their personalities as though they had been laid before me on a blueprint. I have never been able to describe in words what I felt I came to understand that day. I began to develop a strange mystical ordering of the universe (I had no God, remember). This euphoria lasted for a couple of days, then faded. I believed then that it could not have come from within myself (like I knew enough to say for sure), but must have come from some outside source. Maybe someone dropped a tab of acid in my soda, who knows?

Some time later, I was dating a Christian, and we had many arguments over our religious differences. She finally talked me into reading the New Testament, to understand her point of view. From the first pages of Matthew, I realized that this person was speaking from the same euphoric place that I had dwelled in ever so briefly. I immediately converted, and fell in with a bunch of like-minded classmates, attending church, bible study sessions, the whole works.

The experience feels so right, you immediately focus on what's wrong with the rest of the world. My family refers to this period in my life as "The two years when you never laughed". The hardest hit was my lifelong friend, a Jew. He was very hurt by me embracing a religion that tended to reject him, and even my assurances that I was still his friend came from the sickeningly pious place of being his friend IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT HE WAS TOTALLY WRONG. Our friendship eventually survived this ordeal.

During this time, I found that the Christian explanation of things left me with more questions than answers. Once I entered college, I had the objectivity to realize that while I had entered Christianity to become a better person, I had become only insufferable. I went from being a "born-again Christian" to a "dead-again Atheist" after much reflection.

Since then I have had a number of experiences for which I have no explanation (such as people coming to my door wanting to discuss the bible just as I'm sitting here writing this). I have moderated my position to the point where I consider myself an agnostic, in the original sense of the term, which is "One who does not claim to know". I find that those who do claim to have all the metaphysical answers are usually deluding themselves about some aspect of the world that does not fit with their beliefs.

We have moments in our lives when the universe suddely seems to fall into place. I think we need these moments to keep ourselves comforted in the face of uncertainty. My guess is your friend believes he has found the solutions to some unanswered questions in his new religious pursuits. He may in fact find those answers, or he may come to think, as I did, that sometimes it's better to remain open-minded.

Good luck.
  #33  
Old 04-11-2003, 01:23 PM
MegaDave MegaDave is offline
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I have been reading all of your responses and learned a couple of things. Firstly, I would say that I am probably an agnostic like scott their in which i do not claim to know. I lean more towards the no god, science path, but I try to keep an open mind.

I have tried religon several different times, the most recent being only in the middle and last part of '02, when we went consistently to church for about 6 months, before I realized that I was only doing it because someone else wanted me to, not because I wanted to, so I stopped going.

I have confidence in my friendship with him, and I think that it will make it through this "enlightend" time of his, although I find it very, very odd.

I think I am too anylytacal (sp?) to be religous. I tend to always think "There is no way that that could happen, Moses could not have parted any sea, as that violates the law of physics when describe as it is in the bible", or some other such stuff.
  #34  
Old 04-11-2003, 01:59 PM
Foolonthehill Foolonthehill is offline
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Megadave;
What this shows is that no matter how long you "know" somebody, you don't really "know" them at all.

Strong/weak a-theism? You either believe or you don't.
If you have doubts; then you still believe, but you are not sure in what.
  #35  
Old 04-11-2003, 04:40 PM
il Topo il Topo is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Foolonthehill
Strong/weak a-theism? You either believe or you don't.
If you have doubts; then you still believe, but you are not sure in what.
You don't see a difference between "I don't positively believe in any of the gods presented to me so far by any of the various religions," and "I positively believe there are no gods at all"? Doesn't one require a jump in logic from the other? Doesn't that jump in logic make it a different logical position?
  #36  
Old 04-11-2003, 05:47 PM
Foolonthehill Foolonthehill is offline
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il Topo;
"I don't positively believe in any of the gods presented...," this statement implies that if the correct god(s) were presented you would believe. This is not atheism.
Atheism is not believing in any god. No orderly creation of the universe(s), (and its inhabitants), regardless of source.
  #37  
Old 04-11-2003, 07:45 PM
Apos Apos is offline
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Quote:
When I did a search on atheism, though, I found nothing about what you call weak atheism, only the definition of strong atheism
I find that a little hard to believe.

on "atheism"
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&l...TF-8&q=atheism

Even just the first four sites that come up I am familiar with, and all either explain or exclusively defend the use of atheism to mean "weak atheism"

You might have also tried on "weak atheism"
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&i...q=weak+atheism

Religious tolerance.com in particular notes:
"-Atheism can be the positive belief that there is no deity.
-Atheism can be the absence of a belief that there is a deity."

That certainly supports the idea that atheism should be defined broadly, which would allow it to encompass both usages, rather than simply to accept the first one.

Also, the negationof BX is ~BX. It is not B~X.

Quote:
"I don't positively believe in any of the gods presented...," this statement implies that if the correct god(s) were presented you would believe. This is not atheism.
I am an atheist. If a compellingly real god was presented, I would "believe."

Quote:
Atheism is not believing in any god. No orderly creation of the universe(s), (and its inhabitants), regardless of source.
I don't think you understand the meaning of the first sentance, if you think the second sentance is a direct and inevitable implication.
  #38  
Old 04-11-2003, 10:03 PM
Foolonthehill Foolonthehill is offline
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Apos;
"If a compelling real god presented..."
If you're an atheist, you know that no god exists. You don't imply that one could possibly exist. If you think there is a possibility, no matter how remote, than you are not an atheist.

"I don't think you understand the meaning of the first sentence..."
I do not believe in any god, not just the popular versions of divinity. There is no external order, no design, no active or passive creation.
  #39  
Old 04-12-2003, 09:58 AM
il Topo il Topo is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Foolonthehill
il Topo;
"I don't positively believe in any of the gods presented...," this statement implies that if the correct god(s) were presented you would believe. This is not atheism.
Then what is it? It certainly is not theism, and it is not agnosticism since it remains open to the possibility of knowing a god. Most atheists I have run into are this way; they would be very surprised to find out they are not atheists.
Quote:
Originally posted by Foolonthehill
Atheism is not believing in any god. No orderly creation of the universe(s), (and its inhabitants), regardless of source.
That's exactly what is described above. Both weak and strong atheism are inline with that. Neither believes in any god, etc. Strong atheism goes further, and affirmatively states that no one is capable of presenting any evidence that a god exists because in fact (they believe) no gods exist.
  #40  
Old 04-12-2003, 02:51 PM
Apos Apos is offline
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Quote:
If you're an atheist, you know that no god exists.
I don't know any such thing. I'm not even sure how one could know such a thing.

Quote:
You don't imply that one could possibly exist. If you think there is a possibility, no matter how remote, than you are not an atheist.
I don't believe I'm an antelope. But, anything is possible. So I guess I believe I'm an antelope?
  #41  
Old 04-12-2003, 06:14 PM
flight flight is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Apos
I find that a little hard to believe.

on "atheism"
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&l...TF-8&q=atheism

Even just the first four sites that come up I am familiar with, and all either explain or exclusively defend the use of atheism to mean "weak atheism"
I guess I didn't make myself clear. I did not search the net, but rather looked up the words in several dictionarys. The ones I looked in had apparently never heard of weak atheism, they called it agnosticism. After searching several other locations I found a dictionary that gave as a second meaning your definition of weak atheism. Of course they gave the same definition to agnosticism. It seems that the general usage of atheism is strong atheism and agnosticism is weak atheism. The concept you use for agnosticism is rarely considered.
  #42  
Old 04-12-2003, 08:38 PM
Apos Apos is offline
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As you note, dictionaries tell you nothing more than popular usage. What happens when that usage has been taken over by slander? The dictionary also notes that atheists are "wicked." Should we take that at face value as well? Indeed, many dictionaries are still recovering from the time when everything had to be defined in such a way that it was impossible, by definition not to believe in god (atheists, you see, only "deny" God, a definition that itself implies that there is a God to deny). God is defined as "the creator of the universe" but other supernatural things and beliefs are "the belief that..." or "what some believe to be"

If you want to find out what atheists are, I suggest you ask atheists.
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