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Thread: Atheism/Agnosticism General Discussion #1

  1. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by echidna View Post
    I honestly didn't know the definitions of the terms, and I wasn't really interested anyway.
    Oh well. I hope you got some benefit from the info, and if not, I'm sure someone else will find it useful


  2. #38

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    The info was great Suse, but I more came in here for a general chat about agnosticism rather than talking about definitions.

  3. #39

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    What would you like to chat about echidna?

  4. #40
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    I have prayed in my lifetime. I have never prayed to have more money though, or better health or anything like that. I have only ever prayed (to the general ether, since my beliefs don't fit into any particular religion) for the strength to bear what is happening, and to date my prayers have ALWAYS been answered.

    Suse the terminology was helpful, thanks. What amuses me slightly is that i too am scientific and in science there are MANY more questions than answers. Even a small look at particle physics reveals many strange effects which cannot be explained in any way that fits in with our understanding of the laws of physics. The more we know, the less rigid the "laws" become. So how the "scientific" approach of knowledge rather than faith remains is somewhat mysterious. The existence of a higher power cannot be proved, but if one already believed the proof would be all around. A non-believer accepts no proof and a believer needs none.

    Even quite simple things which we all feel we have a strong grasp of remain incredibly mysterious. Look at our treatments for cancer. Cut it out, poison it, irradiate it. Because we don't know WHY cancer begins, and thus we cannot figure out how to STOP cells turning cancerous. The best we can do is cut them off after the event. Even with cervical cancer - we now know and can vaccinate against the strains of a virus which make it far more likely that cervical cells with become malignant, but we cannot prevent it once the infection is present!

    I suppose i am reluctant to denounce anything unproven just because it is. Once the world was flat.

    Bx

  5. #41

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    How do you talk about festivities without them being religious? Such as naming ceremonies, civil weddings, funerals (of those who aren't religious), and of religious holidays?

    I don't go to church at christmas or easter, I spend my time with my family. My DD doesn't know what santa does either. I will tell her he's the christmas man who makes everyone happy, and its nothing to do with presents.

    Do you raise your children in a non-religious way? I hope to take DD to service every now and then when she is older, for her to understand, and choose to learn more if she wishes.

  6. #42

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    Do you raise your children in a non-religious way?
    Absolutely. I am a big Christmas fan, but to me Christmas is all about the tree, the food and the presents. The religion part is, to me, just something that is an interesting little facet that I acknowledge but don't really participate in. I love Christmas carols though, and ironically, one of my faves is "O Come all ye Faithful".

    Now, on to my point - I have always believed I would show the boys about the religious side of Christmas as an historical/other people thing (as in "this is what some people believe, we don't, but some do"). And I am big on introducing the boys to the wonders of Christmas, so I bought them a Wiggles Christmas DVD.

    But when it actually came down to the religious parts of it (and boy, there is a lot of religion in that DVD!) I found I felt really uncomfortable in showing it to Flynn. I just couldn't let him watch "Away in a Manger"!

    I realised that I am all for my boys being exposed to other firm ideas on religion once they are already atheists like me and their dad. (On that point their dad is definately atheist, I sway slightly towards agnosticism, though not much). But I do not feel comfortable with the boys having any exposure to religious stuff aimed at them, as children, because I don't want them sucked in to it before I can get a chance to show them how their dad and I chose to live.

    And funnily, in typing this, I have realised I now completely understand religious types wanting to send their kids to religious schools. Its the same thing, isn't it? We want our children to share our beliefs. I guess the religious parents want their children to believe in god so they can be "saved" and all, or get into a better level of heaven or whatever, but essentially we want the same thing.

    I suppose i am reluctant to denounce anything unproven just because it is. Once the world was flat.
    Hoobley, I am a bit like you on this one, but my staunch-atheist husband would come out with he wouldn't believe anything without proof. Sounds like its arguing in circles, huh? My DH generaly says he would completely believe, support and accept a person who says they went out into a field and met an angel who gave them the word of god in a book, but has little time for someone who professess to have "faith". I gotta say that my shaky agnosticism gets even shakier, and usually after a long discussion I end up more towards atheism.

    I hope you got some benefit from the info, and if not, I'm sure someone else will find it useful
    I did Suse. IMO definitions and positions in this debate are quite important, because you are essentially arguing from a position of rationality and "proof" rather than more vague notions like faith and belief. I think it is only when someone has really defined their position that they have any hope of defending themselves against a fully worked out theological argument.

    Atheism, on the other hand, is either non-belief in a higher power (known as 'weak' atheism) or denial of the existence of a higher power (known as 'strong' atheism).
    I hadn't actually thought much about this before now. I guess, despite all my ramblings previously, I am actually a strong atheist? Cause I sure as hell don't think that there is an intelligent "design" or grand plan for all of life. I am open to the idea of connections between things and people that we can't current see or recognise, but not in a higher power.

    I cheekily have a back up plan. I was very religious as a child as a result og being preyed upon by my religious ed teacher when my father was dying of lung cancer. The whole class used to pray for my dad, and I started going to Sunday school and learning bible verses. But my RE teacher stupidly gave me the baby-down version of Christianity - it was all "Jesus loves little children", pray and you shall receive, if you are good god will protect you. Well, that all was quashed when my dad actually died. I remember standing outside, when I was about 12, crying at the sky syaing god if you are there show me and I will believe. Well, there was nothing, so that was my "awakening" just as religious people often talk of that moment when they believed.

    But back to my back-up plan. I was once religious. If the apocalypse comes, and god shows him/her/itself, I will repent and believe. Then I will be the prodigal daughter! I will be welcomed into the fold. And if I remember my bible story correctly, the prodigal son got to sit at the head of the table, while the son who had been good all along got the leftovers....

    My atheist DH says I am a fraud for even thinking about a back-up plan LOL!!!

  7. #43

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    How do you talk about festivities without them being religious? Such as naming ceremonies, civil weddings, funerals (of those who aren't religious), and of religious holidays?
    Our wedding was completely non-denominational. Our celebrant was actually a family friend and we sat down with him and clearly explained that we did not want the mention of God anywhere in our ceremony. It justs did not fit in with our beliefs. So in lieu of prayers and Bible versus we sat down and chose some poems and readings that we felt DID fit in with our beliefs. It's funny because while doing this I didn't know much about Humanism and hadn't done any research, but re-reading our wedding ceremony I can see that it is all still in line with my beliefs. The only person who had a tiny comment to make was DH's mother who is Catholic. We didn't let it affect us and I think our guests just understood that our ceremony didn't involve God - and nothing was said. But in my opinion (and I am biased!) it was one of the most meaningful and loving ceremonies because we shaped every single word around us, not God.

    As for Naming Ceremonies, this is what we will be doing for our children. DH is baptised a Roman Catholic and I imagine that in the future we will come up against his mother when we announce that our children will not be baptised. This isn't a discussion I haven't had to have with anyone before - but I am preparing for it!!

    In regards to funerals, my Grandfather was very specific in his will that he did not want a religious ceremony. Like me, he was a Humanist and even wrote a book in his day. There were some beautiful versus and passages from that which he had highlighted. Unfortunately, my Uncle, a born again Christian, had other ideas and got up on the podium on the day and read The Good Samaritan (sp?). Because of this, and the lack of respect he showed for my Grandfather, we have not spoken to my Uncle in over 2 years. I think it's definitely possible to have a meaningful funeral without the mention of God, although I can imagine many people attending the funeral feeling uncomfortable with this.

    We celebrate religious holidays like anyone else does. Although these holidays generally mean getting together as a family, eating lots of food, drinking lots of good wine and enjoying each others company. The religious aspects of Christmas and Easter don't even play into my thinking and this is natural for me because that's how I was raised.

  8. #44

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    The religious aspects of Christmas and Easter don't even play into my thinking and this is natural for me because that's how I was raised.
    This makes me think of my SIL - when she was five and went to school she asked her dad "Is Santa Claus like Jesus Christ - someone other people believe in but we don't?" LOL!!

    From the mouths of babes.....

    Amysarah, that is awful about what your Uncle did. My mother wants a non-religious ceremony and I imagine I will face the same thing from her family when the time comes.

  9. #45

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    I lost all that I was typing because I hit some button. It took some text, I asked DF what to do and he said to ctrl+z and that took the rest of it! So never do that! And then we had an argument and then he kicked me off his pc! So thankfully I have a laptop.

    Its horrifying to see someone put their beliefs into a ceremony dedicated to another individual who had opposing beliefs! I know of my father's and DF's wishes but I'm not sure if their ceremonies would be religious.

    I chose to not have DD christened because I want it to be her choice. I am going to raise her neutral, and take her to services if she wants, but its not up to me. I don't think it's bad if parents raise their children to believe what they do. It would be very difficult to raise children to believe something that you do not share.

  10. #46
    paradise lost Guest

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    Hmm, i am clearly, despite my lack of belief in a specific Godhead, not much of an athiest, nor particularly agnostic!

    Religious education...? Ceremonies and holidays i am honest about. Christmas ISN'T about trees and presents, it's about the birth of Christ and i present it from that POV. I talk to DD about it as a possibility because it is one. I don't paint it as truth, but i let her know others believe it to be so. Likewise Easter, Hanukkah, Eid and so on (luckily i have many friends of many religions). If she wanted to go to Church, Synagogue, Temple or Mosque then i would take her and if she wanted to stay for a service i would stay with her. My job as i see it is to support her learning and i aim to do so without too much direction because i believe that every person's relationship with Eternity (or god or destiny or the Beyond or WHATEVER they believe in, even if it is permanent and final death) is so personal that interferance from others isn't helpful. If she were to grow up to be a devoutly religious person who believed strongly in a Faith i wouldn't be disappointed or sad. I want her to find fulfillment and for many many people religion is a strong factor in that.

    Funnily enough my mum wasn't religious, but she did have a bible reading in her funeral service, which she had planned out before she died (she had plenty of warning). She had a humanist service but at some point in it she had a reading from the bible, from revelations, about god wiping away all tears and taking pain and suffering away. She wrote in her plan "Though i haven't been to church since i was a child, I know many of the people i know ARE religious, and those that CAN be comforted, in whichever way you can, SHOULD be." She never subscribed to the "religion as a crutch" POV many non-religious people do. As she saw it we all have to find our way to happiness in this life and the route isn't important, the happiness is.

    Bx

  11. #47

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    I was also raised neutral - however, I worshiped my Dad as a child (still do!) and would sit for HOURS with him while we would read National Geographic magazines and he would teach me about history and the world. I sort of followed his lead in everything and when it came to his views on religion, I absorbed that. As an adult I have been able to clearly define my beliefs into a sort of structure where I can make sense of different aspects of life.

    I was always given the option of attending RE at school and occasionally went to church services with my Nanna (Dad's mother) when we visited her at Christmas. But I was a very independent child, a thinker, and was able to look at these things free from influence. I can't really remember a time that I ever did believe in a higher power (apart from Santa, tooth fairy etc).

    With my children I will teach them about religion, about the siginificance of holidays and the need to have tolerance to all cultures and beliefs. I can't see myself sending my kids to a private school because most are religious. I will educate them with regards to religion, however, the belief aspect will not come from me.

  12. #48

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    With my children I will teach them about religion, about the siginificance of holidays and the need to have tolerance to all cultures and beliefs. I can't see myself sending my kids to a private school because most are religious. I will educate them with regards to religion, however, the belief aspect will not come from me.
    That pretty well sums it up for me, too. But that said I will wait until I feel they are old enough to distinguish between "fact" and "belief" before exposing them, consciously, to religious faith. For this reason I would be against my children attending RE in early primary school but ok with it once they are older (in fact I think that RE is very important for anyone to be a well-rounded person in a multi cultural society.

  13. #49

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    Just thought I would revive this thread. I am finally reading Dawkins' "The God Delusion" and absolutely loving it. I think I am starting to come around to atheism rather than agnosticism and it feels wonderflul! I will post more later (I will try to summarise chapters) but just thought I would share the love

  14. #50

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    Bump!

    Anyone out there?

    I still haven't been saved

  15. #51

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    Agreed. The bible does not provide a moral compass for me - in fact the old testament scares the daylights out of me - and neither does a religion or church. Morality existed before god did.

    Roryrory, isn't 'The God Delusion' great? Have you checked out Hitchens?

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