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Old 03-26-2012, 01:53 AM
A Link In Time A Link In Time is a male A Link In Time is offline
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Arrow Doubting of Religious Faith

Religion is one of the principal pillars in the lives of hundreds of millions billions of people in this world. Whether it be a monotheistic practice such as Christianity, Islam, or partly Hinduism. Other polytheistic religions portray multiple deities each responsible for providing people with their own blessing such as sunlight, sustenance, or good health.

In an increasingly secular modern world, however, religion is faced with numerous criticism questioning its validity. The more educated people become, the more doubtful of religion they are too. Sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics seem to defy the existence of a God. Certain laws govern the universe and superstitious, primitive people needed to find something to justify these principles, we say to ourselves.

Today, I would like to hear about any personal experiences you've had regarding strong doubts in the nature of religion and even possibly aborting practice completely and switching over to atheism. You will not be judged on the nature of your responses.

At the end of 2010 and throughout most of the last calendar year, I questioned my roots in Christianity and Roman Catholicism specifically. I felt that God had cheated me of certain deserved goals. How could a God possibly be so cruel to a practicing believer? I cursed the name of the Lord in vain and knew that I could no longer continue practicing. Over time, however, I gradually reconciled myself.

Have any of you ever gone through similar life experiences?
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:58 AM
pawptart pawptart is a male United States pawptart is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

We are born atheists, and we become religious.

I can't say I've been truly religious before, although I did at one time believe what my parents had told me--that there was a man in the sky that loved me and one day after my death, I would meet him in heaven and live forever. Even then I doubted such a fantastic story, and that doubt has never been reconciled to this day.

So atheist I stay.
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Old 03-26-2012, 02:20 AM
Double A Double A is a male New Zealand Double A is online now
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

I grew up as a Catholic and, err, became an atheist. My only links to Christianity were through my church (a very weak link, since church constantly struggled to keep my attention) and through a group of friends whose parents were a part of this predominantly-filipino Catholic organization, whose worship sessions I attended semi-regularly. Over time, I drifted apart from these friends as they made newer and closer friends than I, and all of a sudden I found that I had no emotional interest in remaining a Christian.

When you have no emotional interest in remaining a Christian, then you're more open to questioning your religious position. The biggest trigger in my switch to a more intellectual atheism started with my debates in an old religion thread in SD (that was locked by Bravo, boo-hiss). Eventually, I outed myself as a nonbeliever (under the label of "agnostic", which technically still applies to me), and it was relatively smooth sailing from there (though there are a group of Christians for whom I have neutral feelings that I've been trying to avoid for my parents' sake).

Over time, I strove to become more open-minded, skeptical (the two are NOT contradictory) and intellectually honest regarding my position towards religion.

I've made the argument many times before that encouraging open-minded in one aspect of one's life is likely to lead to increased open-mindeness in other aspects of one's life, but up to now I've failed to even acknowledge that I'm living evidence of such a principle. Questioning my position over and over again with regards to religion has led me to question my position over and over again with regards to other things too. I suppose you could say that becoming an atheist gave me a more open mind in general and is one of the things that I'd give myself a pat on the back for.
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:13 AM
theunabletable theunabletable is a male United States theunabletable is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

I was born in an atheistic household, and have developed into... a very atheistic person lol.

The thought that I have developed in an environment that makes me likely to have strong biases against religion is really strong in my mind, though, and I'm not sure how to fight it. I can't find a good way to be certain that I have ruled out all my biases, but I suppose at the least, I've made a pretty large effort.

I attend church fairly often, read the bible from time to time, I meditate (this isn't exactly a necessarily religious act, but it's I guess in the ballpark, at least compared to the general atheist lol,) I try and keep a close circle of religious friends.

I'm still extremely against religion so far, and what it has a tendency to do, but I really wouldn't like to be wrong, and I guess I can't live in good conscience without attempting to be unbiased. Although I suppose I'm just as liable to have biases against religion as everyone else is towards or against it, too. I'm inevitably comparable to the train of thought I'd like to stay away from lol
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Old 03-26-2012, 03:45 AM
Double A Double A is a male New Zealand Double A is online now
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

^As long as you can justify and defend your position to others, then any biases you may have are irrelevant. Biases are only problematic when they close your mind to opposing arguments and evidence.
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Old 03-26-2012, 06:21 AM
GARlock GARlock is a male United Kingdom GARlock is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

Grew up in an agnostic household (ie, only chirstian when it suits them the most), and I guess I still am, though for different reasons. Though I don't have any time for any of the supersticous nonsense, religous texts like the Bible, Quran, and many Buddhist and Hindu scriptures still contain many facinating tales, and good life lessons. Like a ye-olde episode of My Little Pony, if you will.

Interestingly, I have a friend who recently left the Catholic church because he disagreed with many of their practices, and lost belief in supersticious mumbo jumbo the more he studied his passion of Biology and Physics.
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Old 03-26-2012, 07:25 AM
Jaime Lannister Sweden Jaime Lannister is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

I grew up with my mom and sister, both of whom are Christians. But they literally never forced their religion on me. I never went to church with them. I was never read Bible verses, nor did we ever say grace at the dinner table. But, if someone asked me what I was, I'd just tell them I was a Protestant because my mom said that's what I was.

Around the time I got in high school I started saying I was an atheist. It wasn't like I suddenly stopped believing, I just never believed anything in the first place.

I switched between identifying as an atheist and identifying as an apatheist. Which, tl;dr is: Not giving a ❤❤❤❤.

Then last summer, between high school and college, I started to identify as a Pantheist.

So, no, I never really experienced huge doubts in my faith because I've never had faith in the first place. These days I think religion is alright though. I can't really deny that things like "Love your neighbor as yourself" as being anything but pretty good ideas. But there's just no way I could ever believe God created the world in seven days or the Adam and Eve were real people.

Not that I care if people believe that. Whatever tickles your fancy. I don't expect everyone to believe in cosmic consciousness, for example. So long as there is mutual respect for beliefs then I have no qualms with people from other religions and spiritual views.
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Old 03-26-2012, 07:57 AM
Great White North Great White North is a male Prussia Great White North is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

I was born in a Catholic household and raised as a Catholic. In my younger teen years, I experienced atheist rhetoric and became convinced to become an agnostic. I'd never truly had strong religious convictions at that point.

Eventually, a man presented to me a very, very strong case (at least to me) why there was at least plausible possibiltiy of God. After that, I made an effort to really educate myself on religion, and eventually decided I wanted to be a Christian again.
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:14 AM
Golddron Sex Golddron Sex is a male United States Golddron Sex is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

Grew up Roman Catholic, went to church every Sunday (With the occasional exception) from the time I was born until I left home.

I called myself agnostic for a short period of my high school life, but eventually felt called back.

An unfortunate event occurred last year that might have inspired some serious doubt in people actually ended up strengthening my faith more than I could ever have imagined.
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Old 03-26-2012, 08:44 AM
Nesi Finland Nesi is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

I was born in and raised by a Roman Catholic family. I used to be okay with this; didn't question God and the beliefs I was taught, and - though we didn't go to church on every Sunday - all my holidays were/are celebrated in a Catholic way. My family, except for my grandmother who is strongly Catholic, is what you could call passive religion: we keep the customs but don't particularly maintain a religious faith.

When I decided where to continue my studies after primary school, I chose the religious secondary school of the city - not because it was religious, but because it was a good school with prestige. As I was growing up and began to have my own thoughts about such more mature questions as faith, I found it hard to nod at what I was/am taught in this school. The teachers - and the monks who also teach - are the very strong-willed Christians: the "being gay is a sin" type. I couldn't really accept these ideas; the two-facedness of the Church and some of these oh so Catholic people made me become more and more disappointed in religion and I just didn't want to belong such community at all.

I don't consider myself an atheist: I do believe that it was God who created the world, but I don't think he would care about us - this makes me a sort of deist? At the same time I don't question whether Jesus was or was not the son of God, so I don't reject the idea of him truly being the Christ. I certainly consider his words worthy and wise.

However, I find religious and particularly Christian roots very important, at least here, in Europe. There are so many things in our European culture (literature, etc.) that just can't be fully understood without knowing the Bible and the Christian customs; the culture on this continent is heavily based on religion, and this is why I don't think Christian traditions can be overlooked or ignored. I find it important that students learn about the Bible and about Christianity, even if they happen to be non-believers. Jesus' thoughts are definitely very open-minded and enriching, and the Bible itself, especially the Old Testament, is a fantastic literary piece - as well as a holy book, of course.

I am really grateful for the religious education I have received, as I most certainly feel that it helps me analysing and understanding certain literature pieces in a more in-depth manner, for I can recognise references to the Bible, let it be the Old or the New Testament. Religious education is not bad, as long as they don't verse such young adults who are unable to look at issues from another, equally important, point of view.
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:23 AM
Brad Brad is a male France Brad is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

I grew up with my parents and little brother, all of whom are devout Christians. I, on the other hand, have started to distance myself from religion and generally classify myself as an atheist. I grew tired of praying at the dinner table every evening, hearing my father say "these are the gifts God gave you" as he praised me for something, hearing my eight-year-old little brother tell me, "If you are bad you're going to the Devil," etc. My process has been a slow one that started about three years ago. I began to criticize my faith and thought, "Wow... this is kind of outlandish, don't you think?"

Last year, as I was filling out information that would go on my new school's record, I was posed with the "Religion:" blank. I told my father, "Dad, I'm not sure if I believe in God anymore..." He made a stern reply and said, "I don't ever want to hear you say that again. Jesus died for your sins and you are disrespecting His name by saying that." That was basically the catalyst for my atheism, to be honest. I have never been a fan of things being shoved down my throat, and when I realized that Christianity was my entire life, I renounced it. Some people have told me that I'm just going through a phase, and that I'll grow out of my "rebellious atheism" as I grow older. So far, I'm not sure if this is the case.

I haven't told my parents about my lack of religion since my father got mad at me last year. I feel like I'm hiding something incredibly important from them, yet I fear what they'll say or do. Best case scenario: they understand, and while not agreeing with me, they continue to love me and respect me as a person. Worst case scenario: they pull me out of my private school and basically put me under house arrest, taking me to church every Sunday in an attempt to reconvert me. I think it should also be noted that my grandfather is the son of a pastor, and religion is a major part of my family's life. Right now, the cons outweigh the pros for "coming out of the closet", if you will, but I want to tell them before I graduate high school to let it sink in for a while.

Any advice?
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:39 AM
Fraud of the Stal Fraud of the Stal is a male United Kingdom Fraud of the Stal is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

With an increase in background and use of logical (absolute) proof in propositions I have to deal with, I'm less and less inclined to believe things without it, so I have not been religious for a while and I predict I will not be any time soon. However, my skepticism may eventually cast doubt on any denial of religious claims I may have. That is, I will be skeptical of both religious claims and claims that religions are false, and eventually unwilling to believe either without absolute proof.

Doubt and skepticism are golden.
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:10 AM
GARlock GARlock is a male United Kingdom GARlock is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

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Originally Posted by Paul View Post
Any advice?
First of all, are you in Public school or Private school? This is important. High Schools are a rarity here, and I can't remember if they're all publically owned or not.
If private, this can be a little tricky. Your father can, (and most likely will) pull you out if he's given the chance. It's up to you if you want to sacrifice a private education for your beleifs or not.
Secondly, your daddy-o cannot put you under house arrest and march you to church every sunday morning. Doing so would be violating your rights to an education, and violating your rights to safely practice your own beleifs. At best, you'd be taken out of that family and given government funding to your own flat until you're... 21 I think? I'm not too sure on this part, somebody go grab a lawyer. Either way, you'll be fine. At worst, your parents would face prison time, and you and your siblings would go into foster care. There's about a 90% chance of the former though, entirely dependant on how bat❤❤❤❤ crazy your folks are.
Hope this helps~
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:13 AM
NotTakeMirror NotTakeMirror is a male United States NotTakeMirror is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

I'm an agnostic who was raised as a Christian. The main reason is that there is just no solid scientific evidence and being very scientifically minded, I like having some sort of proof. I remember learning about evolution in school, and the theory just made so much sense to me that it threw the God created the world in seven days out of water. The other reason what I was told from my Christian teachings did not match up with my experience of reality. Like if you don't believe in God you'll go to hell. Yet there are some very nice people in this world that don't believe in God and people who believe in God that are still morally corrupt. If God is truly a loving God wouldn't God accept all of us for who we are? Also there is alot of injustice and suffering in this world. There are millions of innocent people killed by things like war, disease or famine while morally corrupt people are allowed to live. Why would God allow that to happen?

Yet, I don't consider myself an atheist either because I can't be totally sure God or some other higher power doesn't exist. To me, evolution explains very well how we humans developed as we did and came to be. Yet when I think of the human body and mind, it just amazes me in it's complexity and how it all works. I think that way of nature too in its majestic beauty. What are the odds that evolution alone would lead up to such a thing? It makes me wonder that there has to be some higher power beyond it all. Also, I sometimes think there is some higher power but not necessarily one that's always loving, which could explain things like all of the evil in this world.

Personally, I would like there to be some God or higher power. Someone who will answer my prayers and help me through difficult times and I would like there to be some sort of afterlife rather than death being the very end of your existence. But just because you want something to be true doesn't mean it is. It still doesn't stop me from praying at times though.
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:21 AM
tallgeese tallgeese is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

Quote:
Originally Posted by Double penetrAtion View Post
^As long as you can justify and defend your position to others, then any biases you may have are irrelevant. Biases are only important when they close your mind to opposing arguments and evidence.
How ironic.


Anyway, I was born into a religious family (Armenian Orthodox) but became what you would call agnostic in early middle school around the age of 12-13. My mother and brother joined me 10 years later but as atheists. I don't like to brand myself with these terms, but for the sake of communication, it is what I am.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:07 AM
Left4Cuccos Left4Cuccos is a male United States Left4Cuccos is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

I was born into a Methodist family. Always liked science fiction, which I think contributed to where I am now, as it fostered my later interest in physics.

For quite a while, I believed that Hell was real... and that I'd be going there. This would keep me up for a while some nights. My father had also set up a system where I had to read the Bible for an hour to be able to play another hour of video games in a day, so my belief in a cruel system was only reinforced, despite the fact that I found the book boring and parts of it completely unbelievable.

In high school, when I took my first biology class and when I finally had good access to a computer and the internet, I became curious about what atheists believed. Maybe I was already a non-believer by that point -- I don't remember. In any case, I read on many websites about the harm that religions and faith can inflict and about the falsities, absurdities, and cruelties in the Bible (because Christianity is the dominant religion in the places the site authors were located). I also read plenty of arguments about why theism (especially Christian theism) is most probably or absolutely false. I soaked this stuff up like a sponge.

My interest in and study of physics, philosophy, and psychology only reinforced these ideas, as they made a lot more sense if at least the interventionist omni-max god of Christianity didn't exist. Of course, the philosophy was useful in general, no matter what else I believed, because it constantly asked meaningful questions of every position and used symbolic logic, which I enjoy very much. It is a very anti-dogmatic discipline.

These days I have yet to be acquainted with a notion of gods that makes sense or can be verified. However, most of my family is still on-board with Methodist Christianity, and I remain in the closet in the presence of all those people except my mother. She and I haven't talked about my being an atheist at all since I was 15 or 16 (about a decade ago), and when we last "discussed" it, she had an entirely wrong notion of what atheism is. I would like my little sister to be a skeptic when it comes to religion, but I think the farthest she's come might be in the belief that certain things in Genesis didn't actually happen (I don't know what her actual thoughts are on this). She prays at meals (as do I -- well, I act like it, anyway -- but that's because I don't think I'd be able to handle the reaction to me outing myself), goes to a Methodist youth group (most of which seems to be fun and games, but there's some Bible study somewhere in there), and wants to back away from any discussions concerning science versus religion.

Anyway, getting away from the history and back to the doubting thing... I think science and philosophy have ruled out any reason to believe in the truth of religious or supernatural doctrines. Perhaps the three greatest questions to ask when it comes to such doctrines are: 1) for supernatural entity X, what is it? ; 2) for said X, how do you know it exists? ; and 3) does current science have anything to say about the things that the existence of X is supposed to address, and does it address why people might believe in the existence of X without it actually existing? My advice is to keep asking these questions, over and over and over.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:23 AM
Ysionris The Byzantine Empire Ysionris is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

I have consistently been agnostic. I was raised in a family where religion wasn't a big issue for us; both my parents were agnostic, and made it clear I could follow any faith I wished. (Ironically, my mother would become religious and my brother would become atheist, although my father and I have remained agnostic.) As a child, I felt no strong compelling to believe in any religion, and equated most of what I've heard regarding even the big religions - Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism - to be in the realm of fairy tales. I've never understood why people believed in it, but never really cared either. I would note that this was a time when I was young enough (elementary school) to not understand that the very tolerant environment where I was raised - San Francisco - was not the standard, and that people around the world were suffering from persecution by the religious everyday; this was why I did not care at the time.

During middle school, I was enrolled into a Lutheran private school. I managed to keep the fact that I was an agnostic from my teachers, although my closer friends knew I didn't actually believe. Not having spent much of my time around religious people before, I was very interested in what they had to say about the Christian God, and hoped this experience would give me some insight on the matter, but was ultimately disappointed after spending the entirety of my middle school years listening to Christians justify religion with more religion based on circular logic. At this point, I simply accepted that matters divine are beyond mortal coil, but Christianity - with its contradictions, hypocrisies, and utter lack of proof - was likely not the representation of what the divine would be.

In recent years, my mother began to believe in Buddhism, and I feel that she has changed for the worse. Superstitions now engulf her life, with much attention paid to fengshui; the door to the shower has to be closed in a specific way. Her belief in Buddhist karma has resulted in victim-blaming that I can't accept; for example, she believes that non-heterosexuality is natural, but is the result of "karmic result of things done in previous incarnations of your life". While Buddhism at least does not have as much proven contradictions with reality (and itself), I still feel that a lot of its philosophies fly against the basics of human decency, and - most importantly - it's not established upon proof of any sort.

I ultimately classify myself as an existential nihilist: I do not believe that life has an inherent meaning, and that life itself is an absurdity that ultimately has no predetermined purpose. We are specks in the universe, here because coincidence happened to allow it, and ultimately largely insignificant in the grand cosmos. However, I also feel that - because of this - we are free to give ourselves value, find our own meanings of life, strive for our own self-fulfillment rather than attempt to conform to some kind of vague, barely-defined standard of a deity who apparently doesn't even take responsibility for the stuff we do despite supposedly being omnipotent, omniscient, and having made us.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:33 AM
Chad Chad is a male United States Chad is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

My grandmother tried to raise me to be religious, but when I look at the Bible, I see a lot of problems that Christians tend to gloss over or ignore when teaching class. Obviously there are some good lessons to teach, but there are some problems too.

Like why the Bible was dictated by Human culture at the time. That's a defense I've heard about some of the immoral things I've seen. God was okay with it because that's the way things were back then? why would current Human culture dictate what god thinks is right or wrong?

Adam and Eve didn't have knowledge of good and evil. Without this knowledge, how could they understand what good and bad were? How could they understand that disobedience was bad? They were basically children, and if every 1-3 year old was abandoned for disobedience, the Human race would be in serious danger.

Yes apparently homosexuality is wrong. of course this is said in the same part of the Bible that encourages genocide and Human trafficking. The only time God is against slavery was with the Jews, and personally I'm not sure why. I guess he wanted Jews to own the world or something, but I don't know why.

And of course there's the idea that anyone deserves an infinite amount of punishment for a limited amount of sin.
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:02 PM
pawptart pawptart is a male United States pawptart is offline
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul View Post
Any advice?
There are two things that I can guarantee will happen.

They'll try to reconvert you. They'll be shocked, hurt, saddened, angry, and I'm sure you can guess the rest. There'll be accusations of all sorts of bad things you think about and do. And I can guarantee you'll hate it.

But, here's the important thing. You'll have the satisfaction of being honest, of living your life the way YOU want to, and not your family. Yeah, your parents will be shocked and hurt for a while, but after a little while they'll see that you still stand up for the same values that they do, you still value human life, and you still are very capable of doing good without God. Eventually, if your parents are in the slightest bit reasonable, they'll come around.

This is exactly how my family treats me. I don't go to church with them on Sunday, and instead I volunteer around town during the week to make up for it. They understand that this is my way of reaching out, and that I still respect theirs.
Last Edited by pawptart; 03-26-2012 at 01:02 PM. Reason: Reply With Quote
  #20 (permalink)   [ ]
Old 03-26-2012, 01:12 PM
Alex Alex is a male Alex is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2004
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Re: Doubting of Religious Faith

I believe in evidence and coherent logical processes. I believe that humans have incredible depths of information regarding cognition, and the nature of delusions.

At the point where you educate yourself on things like subjective validation, conformation bias, and selective memory, as well as children's non-choice in believing 99% of what their parents tell them up until a certain point in life... well, go figure.

I get the question of "why aren't you a believer?" often enough, and there's a very obvious answer.

"Why would I be?"

Edit: What I meant to say was, "I detest religion and dogmatic practices." However, people deserve respect, even if ideas do not.
Last Edited by Alex; 03-26-2012 at 01:13 PM. Reason: Reply With Quote
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