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Author Topic: Do those who leave the Christian Faith to become Atheists/Agnostics miss it?  (Read 7611 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 13, 2010, 07:50:04 PM »

I have noticed that there are several people on this forum who have ceased to be Christians and have become atheists or agnostics. This thread is not about criticizing you nor is about trying to change your mind. I am just curious (and this is curious for curiocity's sake with no ulterior motives) but do you miss being a Christian or do you find your self happier now?
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2010, 08:23:14 PM »

I suppose, to a degree, I feel 'happier', but mostly because I feel more at peace and 'where I should be'.  I was happy as a Christian, but I could never see the 'Truth' in it all, and it just never felt completely natural.  I am not some bitter 'ex-Christian', I simply don't believe in it. 

Are there things I miss?  I do miss some things, but they tend to be more the social aspects of subscribing to a faith, rather than the faith itself.  For example, there is a little community you are no longer a part of.  Those you became friends with you might stay in contact with, but with acquaintances you would see weekly, they tend to leave your life.  In addition, I have lost a few friends over my lack of faith.  Though I suppose they weren't really the friends I thought they were.  But, I have slowly gotten active within the free-thought and humanist community more, so it is beginning to replace the community I lost. 

Do I miss things about the faith itself?  Not particularly.  I didn't view God as overly interventionist, so losing prayer or the thought of divine assistance was never really an issue.  Certain saints were important to me, but good people are good people.  Just as I look fondly on the memory of countless other human beings, I still look fondly on them.  The prospect of death and the afterlife is a question people ask me about.  If I now fear death, and no longer find comfort in 'something else'?  For me, it has been the opposite.  I have (fairly) recently had two people who were close to me pass away, and I have found greater comfort now, about recent and past passing, compared to in the past (as a believer).

I'm sure I'll think of more comments once I post this.  Or if you have any other questions, just let me know.
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2010, 09:31:28 PM »

I suppose, to a degree, I feel 'happier', but mostly because I feel more at peace and 'where I should be'.  I was happy as a Christian, but I could never see the 'Truth' in it all, and it just never felt completely natural.  I am not some bitter 'ex-Christian', I simply don't believe in it. 

Are there things I miss?  I do miss some things, but they tend to be more the social aspects of subscribing to a faith, rather than the faith itself.  For example, there is a little community you are no longer a part of.  Those you became friends with you might stay in contact with, but with acquaintances you would see weekly, they tend to leave your life.  In addition, I have lost a few friends over my lack of faith.  Though I suppose they weren't really the friends I thought they were.  But, I have slowly gotten active within the free-thought and humanist community more, so it is beginning to replace the community I lost. 

Do I miss things about the faith itself?  Not particularly.  I didn't view God as overly interventionist, so losing prayer or the thought of divine assistance was never really an issue.  Certain saints were important to me, but good people are good people.  Just as I look fondly on the memory of countless other human beings, I still look fondly on them.  The prospect of death and the afterlife is a question people ask me about.  If I now fear death, and no longer find comfort in 'something else'?  For me, it has been the opposite.  I have (fairly) recently had two people who were close to me pass away, and I have found greater comfort now, about recent and past passing, compared to in the past (as a believer).

I'm sure I'll think of more comments once I post this.  Or if you have any other questions, just let me know.
Thanks for your thoughtful response. I was just wondering how things change for a person.
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2010, 09:53:51 PM »

Any time.  Most people I know who left a faith for atheism/agnosticism tend to say something similar, about finding peace.  Those who feel a more drastic change usually come from rather negative theistic background.  There is one woman I know who came from a Muslim background, and her health and quality of life has greatly improved since her apostasy.
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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2010, 10:02:53 PM »

I'm trying to grasp your mindset Nebelpfade. When you say that you found greater comfort now. Do you mean that:

A. You no longer fear a punishment from a god because in your mind you have blocked him out.

B. You don't have to block him out because you are convinced that he doesn't exist. "Please explain"

C. He doesn't exist and you have proof of his non existence.

D. If He exists I can't recognize him. So why worry what he thinks.

E. I don't believe in anything except the fact that we die into non-existence and there is nothing after that.
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« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2010, 10:18:39 PM »

For me there are both positives and negatives. One big negative to not being a Christian is the whole afterlife thing. At the moment I just see death as an end of consciousness. We're alive and then--blink--it all goes black. Forever. I sometimes wish that I believed in heaven, so that I knew I would have a chance to see family and friends again, and so that I could live on somehow for that matter. I also sometimes miss the assurance that I had as a Christian. Whatever might have come, whatever might have happened, I could 1) assure myself that God was in control, and 2) believe that my prayers had some impact, and thus I always had some degree of control (do points 1 and 2 contradict each other? that's a discussion for another thread, I think).

On the positive side (of no longer being a Christian), I feel much less guilt about things in my life, which has increased my happiness significantly. I no longer view myself as a sinner, as most people would use that term. I have flaws, I make mistakes, but I only "sin" in the sense that sinning is "missing the mark".  I do not think that I sin in the sense that there are spiritual consequences attached to them. I don't believe in a soul, so how could I believe that I have tarnished my soul? I suppose I am also happier in that I believe I am still striving to find the truth. I would be miserable as a Christian, because I do not believe what Christians believe. I would feel like a fake. I would feel guilty, like I was just playing church, when things like our world view and how we conduct ourselves deserves more respect than that.

I now forge my own path, I am not following the "royal road". That has both positives and negatives. It was nice to know, as a Christian, that I had guidance in the form of saints and holy books and Church Fathers and so forth. Now I'm on my own. I wouldn't say that I'm free to "make it up as I want," though, because I'm still hampered by a nagging want to do what I think is right and believe what I think is true. Schopenhauer said, truthfully I believe, that "a man can do what he wants, but he cannot want what he wants". I didn't leave Christianity because I got mad at God, or wanted to lead an immoral lifestyle, or something like that, I left because I felt that I had to. I felt that if I was honest with myself, and if I was honest with others, I had to admit that I just didn't believe. Maybe some day I will believe again. And I will return in that case. I will bounce like a tennis ball for the rest of my life, for all I know. And I don't really care, either. I would rather bounce back and forth and know that I am being sincere, than stick to one path and know that I was living a lie, not to mention feeling miserable.

There is also a certain exhilarating feeling of freedom when you are on the outside looking in on Christianity. So, overall, I am happier now, though that is mostly because I am being honest with myself. I could become a Christian again 6 months from now and be happier then than I am today. I doubt that'll happen, but I don't deny that it's a possibility. There have certainly been times in the past when I was a very happy--if struggling--Christian.
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2010, 10:38:35 PM »

I'm trying to grasp your mindset Nebelpfade. When you say that you found greater comfort now. Do you mean that:

A. You no longer fear a punishment from a god because in your mind you have blocked him out.

B. You don't have to block him out because you are convinced that he doesn't exist. "Please explain"

C. He doesn't exist and you have proof of his non existence.

D. If He exists I can't recognize him. So why worry what he thinks.

E. I don't believe in anything except the fact that we die into non-existence and there is nothing after that.

The world is the natural world, the world understood by science, and that in and of itself is comforting, no supernatural violations of physics.  You live your life for the betterment of humanity, and once you pass on you will continue to live on in the memory of those close to you and those you inspired.
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2010, 10:48:51 PM »

I'm trying to grasp your mindset Nebelpfade. When you say that you found greater comfort now. Do you mean that:

A. You no longer fear a punishment from a god because in your mind you have blocked him out.

B. You don't have to block him out because you are convinced that he doesn't exist. "Please explain"

C. He doesn't exist and you have proof of his non existence.

D. If He exists I can't recognize him. So why worry what he thinks.

E. I don't believe in anything except the fact that we die into non-existence and there is nothing after that.

The world is the natural world, the world understood by science, and that in and of itself is comforting, no supernatural violations of physics.  You live your life for the betterment of humanity, and once you pass on you will continue to live on in the memory of those close to you and those you inspired.

Nicely said. Do you not view death as a violation to your freedom and do you not love yourself enough to want eternal life?
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2010, 11:09:14 PM »

Nicely said. Do you not view death as a violation to your freedom and do you not love yourself enough to want eternal life?
Oh, I believe two of the greatest things humanity should strive towards are "immortality" (or at the very least, radical life extension) and space exploration/colonisation.  Evolution depends on time and death, so without those things we would not be here.  But we are entering a period where we can take hold of our own evolution and grant us the ability to live extremely long lives and live outside of the cradle (Earth).  An eternal life to explore the secrets of the cosmos would be great, but we just might not be there yet for this generation.  I do so love humanity that I hope that I may add to the body of knowledge that will allow for radical life extension (maybe even my own) and its continued existence.  If I am to die, or live much longer with the help of technology, I hope to have done my part (a simple branch on the mighty tree that makes up life on Earth).
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2010, 11:34:37 PM »

I'm trying to grasp your mindset Nebelpfade. When you say that you found greater comfort now. Do you mean that:

A. You no longer fear a punishment from a god because in your mind you have blocked him out.

B. You don't have to block him out because you are convinced that he doesn't exist. "Please explain"

C. He doesn't exist and you have proof of his non existence.

D. If He exists I can't recognize him. So why worry what he thinks.

E. I don't believe in anything except the fact that we die into non-existence and there is nothing after that.

The world is the natural world, the world understood by science, and that in and of itself is comforting, no supernatural violations of physics.  You live your life for the betterment of humanity, and once you pass on you will continue to live on in the memory of those close to you and those you inspired.

It's funny you mention this. I was just thinking today about the education level of those in my parish as we just had nuclear engineer join our community.
We are chock full of engineers and a biologist and a geologist and people who speak five languages and seven languages..etc. It occurred to me that the level of scientific knowledge within the group of believers that I know ( and have known in the past in another parish) is far far greater than the folks I know who dismiss religion and think of themselves as too smart to believe.

It also seems to me that science has badly lagged behind things our religion has taken for granted. Not that many years ago , the "Rational Person" laughed at anything you would believe in that cant be seen. If it is invisible, it cant be real..... And then the microscope was invented Smiley

And there cant be other dimensions of existence, laughable...until physics caught up and discovered that there can indeed be other dimensions or parallel universes.

And of course, the dead fall into non-existence...until we learned about universally common experiences of near death cases who are revived to tell the tale..

on and on and on
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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2010, 12:04:01 AM »

It's funny you mention this. I was just thinking today about the education level of those in my parish as we just had nuclear engineer join our community.
We are chock full of engineers and a biologist and a geologist and people who speak five languages and seven languages..etc. It occurred to me that the level of scientific knowledge within the group of believers that I know ( and have known in the past in another parish) is far far greater than the folks I know who dismiss religion and think of themselves as too smart to believe.
Don't know what to say besides there are well-educated people on both sides.  Not sure exactly what this proves.

Quote
It also seems to me that science has badly lagged behind things our religion has taken for granted. Not that many years ago , the "Rational Person" laughed at anything you would believe in that cant be seen. If it is invisible, it cant be real..... And then the microscope was invented Smiley

And there cant be other dimensions of existence, laughable...until physics caught up and discovered that there can indeed be other dimensions or parallel universes.
As yes, the random, ad hoc concepts within religion.  Proof religion is true when they are right, metaphorical when they are wrong.

Quote
And of course, the dead fall into non-existence...until we learned about universally common experiences of near death cases who are revived to tell the tale..

Or they are merely hallucinatory?  Neuroscience is still in its infancy; we have to give it some time.


Not really sure what this all has to do with how atheists/agnostics feel after abandoning theism?
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2010, 03:36:32 AM »

I assume there are plenty of atheistic/agnostic websites available for these people who profess such a "faith" (and make no mistake, atheism is belief system predicated upon tremendous faith.) I wonder what keeps these people so active on this forum dedicated to superstition, fideism, and ignorance? I suspect it's because what they profess is not what actually resides in the depths of their hearts. Wink


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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2010, 09:47:51 AM »

Nicely said. Do you not view death as a violation to your freedom and do you not love yourself enough to want eternal life?
Oh, I believe two of the greatest things humanity should strive towards are "immortality" (or at the very least, radical life extension) and space exploration/colonisation.  Evolution depends on time and death, so without those things we would not be here.  But we are entering a period where we can take hold of our own evolution and grant us the ability to live extremely long lives and live outside of the cradle (Earth).  An eternal life to explore the secrets of the cosmos would be great, but we just might not be there yet for this generation.  I do so love humanity that I hope that I may add to the body of knowledge that will allow for radical life extension (maybe even my own) and its continued existence.  If I am to die, or live much longer with the help of technology, I hope to have done my part (a simple branch on the mighty tree that makes up life on Earth).

I wasn't asking about humanity. I was being more direct and asking you on an individual level. Even if humanity and science finds a cure to death. It may not be for ages. That leaves you and me out of it. We are talking about here and now and you and me.
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« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2010, 10:07:16 AM »



Not really sure what this all has to do with how atheists/agnostics feel after abandoning theism?
Agreed. I think that some of the posts by others are a bit off topic now.
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« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2010, 10:08:53 AM »

So to atheists/agnostics, what is your interest in posting on a Christian forum? Don't get me wrong. I do NOT want you to leave at all. I am just curious as to what the interest in the forum is. Is it a general interest in Christian theology? Is it because of the aquiantances that you have made on this forum?
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« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2010, 10:18:34 AM »

So to atheists/agnostics, what is your interest in posting on a Christian forum? Don't get me wrong. I do NOT want you to leave at all. I am just curious as to what the interest in the forum is. Is it a general interest in Christian theology? Is it because of the aquiantances that you have made on this forum?

I wouldn't combine these two groups together. An agnostic is someone who admitting doesn't know where the truth is. Revelation can sway these people. While an Atheist is someone who knows or believes that there is no god.
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« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2010, 11:14:30 AM »

I wasn't asking about humanity. I was being more direct and asking you on an individual level. Even if humanity and science finds a cure to death. It may not be for ages. That leaves you and me out of it. We are talking about here and now and you and me.
I don't see a problem with that though.  Our common ancestors had to perish for us to be able to evolve to this point, death has allowed us to advance.  Maybe immortality will only come once we have evolved into a Homo Novus.  Then I will be like 'Lucy' and numerous other pre-modern humans are to us.

So to atheists/agnostics, what is your interest in posting on a Christian forum? Don't get me wrong. I do NOT want you to leave at all. I am just curious as to what the interest in the forum is. Is it a general interest in Christian theology? Is it because of the aquiantances that you have made on this forum?
1)  Acquaintances/Friends
2)  Assisting with technical issues (whether forum-related or some other aspect of computation)
3)  The odd scientific discussion
4)  Sharing of previous knowledge (I was Roman Catholic for many years and in the Orthodox Catechumenate for some time, maybe I have some information or a perspective would be helpful to some)

I wouldn't combine these two groups together. An agnostic is someone who admitting doesn't know where the truth is. Revelation can sway these people. While an Atheist is someone who knows or believes that there is no god.
There is typically a great deal of overlap, but I agree to a point.  Agnosticism pertains to knowledge, whether one definitely knows or can know that there is a god.  From there, you have theistic agnostics and atheistic agnostics.  Those who don't 100% there is a god but choose to live their life as if there is one, and those who lack a belief in god (believing in a naturalistic universe).  You do get pure theists and atheists, but I believe pure atheism is unscientific in nature and lacks proper scepticism.  I suppose I am a de facto atheist, but I do not claim to 'know' 100% there is no god.
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« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2010, 11:43:40 AM »

So to atheists/agnostics, what is your interest in posting on a Christian forum? Don't get me wrong. I do NOT want you to leave at all. I am just curious as to what the interest in the forum is. Is it a general interest in Christian theology? Is it because of the aquiantances that you have made on this forum?

Here's something I wrote about five months ago, and I pretty much still agree with it...

I stick around for a few reasons. First, I have a long history here (over 7 years), and have become familiar with many of the people. I've been a jerk to many, and they have forgiven me (or at least appear to have forgiven me); that's not something that happens everywhere. Second, it's the best discussion forum I've found, with a great mix of intelligence, post volume, civility, freedom of expression, etc. And third, regardless of my religious affiliation, I am still very much fascinated by Christian history and theology. It might be likened to studying the Greeks: one does not have to be ethnically Greek to appreciate Greek philosophy or culture. Likewise, IMO one does not have to be a Christian to appreciate Christian theology or history. I disagree with a lot, of course, but I also find a lot that is insightful, and whether I disagree or not I find it interesting.
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« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2010, 12:00:40 PM »

Don't know what to say besides there are well-educated people on both sides.  Not sure exactly what this proves.?

I was just giving my personal experience. It seems to me that if Science were anathema to Christianity there would not be so many Scientists who are Christians. At my parish we are wall to wall with such people.



As yes, the random, ad hoc concepts within religion.  Proof religion is true when they are right, metaphorical when they are wrong.?

Sorry.. I don't follow your point exactly. The metaphysics of religion, such things as the existence of beings who dwell in other dimensions of existence and survival of death become more and more reasonable as time and science march on, not the other way around.



Or they are merely hallucinatory?  Neuroscience is still in its infancy; we have to give it some time.

Not really sure what this all has to do with how atheists/agnostics feel after abandoning theism


I understand how those experience can be rationalized away. However, it is now perfectly reasonable for a person to say that they believe in survival of death ...based on the evidence. You couldn't say that a few decades ago..

This has to do with how abandoning religion is rationalized and the comfort one gets from doing so. The claim was made that Science is the security one can find. I am pointing out that more and more  Science dove tails religious beliefs and that many Scientist (the ones I know) see no problem reconciling their profession with Christianity..... Your milage may vary.   
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« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2010, 12:23:59 PM »

I assume there are plenty of atheistic/agnostic websites available for these people who profess such a "faith" (and make no mistake, atheism is belief system predicated upon tremendous faith.) I wonder what keeps these people so active on this forum dedicated to superstition, fideism, and ignorance? I suspect it's because what they profess is not what actually resides in the depths of their hearts. Wink


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Most online atheists are indeed religious, and alot of them like to join christian boards.
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« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2010, 12:32:21 PM »

So to atheists/agnostics, what is your interest in posting on a Christian forum? Don't get me wrong. I do NOT want you to leave at all. I am just curious as to what the interest in the forum is. Is it a general interest in Christian theology? Is it because of the aquiantances that you have made on this forum?

I wouldn't combine these two groups together. An agnostic is someone who admitting doesn't know where the truth is. Revelation can sway these people. While an Atheist is someone who knows or believes that there is no god.

Some Atheists like to call themselves agnostic anyway, and so, to me, ....it's a matter of being a soft or hard agnostic. Also, most atheists I know will simply dismiss His existence. The wet behind the ears atheists will say that they "know" He doesn't exist. But after a few arguments, they will have to fall back to being a hard agnostic and admit that there is no way that they can be 100% certain that He doesn't exist.




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« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2010, 12:36:14 PM »

It's funny you mention this. I was just thinking today about the education level of those in my parish as we just had nuclear engineer join our community.

Although this is a tangent, thought I'd just add some hard facts from the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, which has been a decade-long, massive survey of some 2 million worshipers across denominational lines. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24.4% of adults 25+ have a Bachelor's degree or higher. The U.S. Congregational Life Survey has found that 47% of adults 25+ who regularly attend worship have a Bachelor's degree or higher. Personally, I think that says more about the socio-economic reality of church in the U.S. than it does about intelligence's relationship to faith.
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« Reply #22 on: April 14, 2010, 12:46:04 PM »

(and make no mistake, atheism is belief system predicated upon tremendous faith.) ...I suspect it's because what they profess is not what actually resides in the depths of their hearts. Wink

Not really, and not really.

Most online atheists are indeed religious, and alot of them like to join christian boards.

Not really, and not really.
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« Reply #23 on: April 14, 2010, 01:01:08 PM »

(and make no mistake, atheism is belief system predicated upon tremendous faith.) ...I suspect it's because what they profess is not what actually resides in the depths of their hearts. Wink

Not really, and not really.

Most online atheists are indeed religious, and alot of them like to join christian boards.

Not really, and not really.

Most of the ones I run into are.
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« Reply #24 on: April 14, 2010, 01:14:16 PM »

It's funny you mention this. I was just thinking today about the education level of those in my parish as we just had nuclear engineer join our community.

Although this is a tangent, thought I'd just add some hard facts from the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, which has been a decade-long, massive survey of some 2 million worshipers across denominational lines. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24.4% of adults 25+ have a Bachelor's degree or higher. The U.S. Congregational Life Survey has found that 47% of adults 25+ who regularly attend worship have a Bachelor's degree or higher. Personally, I think that says more about the socio-economic reality of church in the U.S. than it does about intelligence's relationship to faith.
Could it also have to do with the fact that those in Church realize that God wants us to do the best with what he has given us, so many go on to earn degrees?
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« Reply #25 on: April 14, 2010, 01:32:31 PM »

I wasn't asking about humanity. I was being more direct and asking you on an individual level. Even if humanity and science finds a cure to death. It may not be for ages. That leaves you and me out of it. We are talking about here and now and you and me.



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I don't see a problem with that though.  Our common ancestors had to perish for us to be able to evolve to this point, death has allowed us to advance.  Maybe immortality will only come once we have evolved into a Homo Novus.  Then I will be like 'Lucy' and numerous other pre-modern humans are to us.



First I would like to point out that our idea of immortality isn't the same. Your view is based on the possibility of medication or a genetic shift making it possible for man to live longer and not forever because one still has to deal with mortality in this instance. secondly, I would like to point out. That you have given a mechanism of thought to evolution based on mans ability to control it. I don't know whether you realize it or not but you believe that evolution is heading in a direction that you want it to. The "what if", of it is that a negative genetic shift could be as lethal to the human race as it was to the dinosaur. While I put my trust in man to help certain situation. I don't foresee man conquering this enemy on his own.



I wouldn't combine these two groups together. An agnostic is someone who admitting doesn't know where the truth is. Revelation can sway these people. While an Atheist is someone who knows or believes that there is no god.
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There is typically a great deal of overlap, but I agree to a point.  Agnosticism pertains to knowledge, whether one definitely knows or can know that there is a god.  From there, you have theistic agnostics and atheistic agnostics.  Those who don't 100% there is a god but choose to live their life as if there is one, and those who lack a belief in god (believing in a naturalistic universe).  You do get pure theists and atheists, but I believe pure atheism is unscientific in nature and lacks proper scepticism.  I suppose I am a de facto atheist, but I do not claim to 'know' 100% there is no god.


There is a way to Scientifically know god. the concept exists.
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« Reply #26 on: April 14, 2010, 01:47:25 PM »

It's funny you mention this. I was just thinking today about the education level of those in my parish as we just had nuclear engineer join our community.

Although this is a tangent, thought I'd just add some hard facts from the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, which has been a decade-long, massive survey of some 2 million worshipers across denominational lines. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24.4% of adults 25+ have a Bachelor's degree or higher. The U.S. Congregational Life Survey has found that 47% of adults 25+ who regularly attend worship have a Bachelor's degree or higher. Personally, I think that says more about the socio-economic reality of church in the U.S. than it does about intelligence's relationship to faith.

But past the intelligence issue, it is a point of curiosity for me that a mathematician, engineer, biologist, physician or physicist would have no problem with the Christian faith or see it at odds with Science.
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« Reply #27 on: April 14, 2010, 01:57:15 PM »

It's funny you mention this. I was just thinking today about the education level of those in my parish as we just had nuclear engineer join our community.

Although this is a tangent, thought I'd just add some hard facts from the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, which has been a decade-long, massive survey of some 2 million worshipers across denominational lines. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24.4% of adults 25+ have a Bachelor's degree or higher. The U.S. Congregational Life Survey has found that 47% of adults 25+ who regularly attend worship have a Bachelor's degree or higher. Personally, I think that says more about the socio-economic reality of church in the U.S. than it does about intelligence's relationship to faith.

But past the intelligence issue, it is a point of curiosity for me that a mathematician, engineer, biologist, physician or physicist would have no problem with the Christian faith or see it at odds with Science.
I am not sure how believing in God is at odds with science at all.
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« Reply #28 on: April 14, 2010, 02:05:45 PM »

The Platonistic view of Christianity certainly does.
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« Reply #29 on: April 14, 2010, 02:07:29 PM »

It's funny you mention this. I was just thinking today about the education level of those in my parish as we just had nuclear engineer join our community.

Although this is a tangent, thought I'd just add some hard facts from the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, which has been a decade-long, massive survey of some 2 million worshipers across denominational lines. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24.4% of adults 25+ have a Bachelor's degree or higher. The U.S. Congregational Life Survey has found that 47% of adults 25+ who regularly attend worship have a Bachelor's degree or higher. Personally, I think that says more about the socio-economic reality of church in the U.S. than it does about intelligence's relationship to faith.

But past the intelligence issue, it is a point of curiosity for me that a mathematician, engineer, biologist, physician or physicist would have no problem with the Christian faith or see it at odds with Science.
I am not sure how believing in God is at odds with science at all.

There are other suppositions that have been laughed at by people who think they are being Scientific or Rational. For example, a religious person may believe in Heaven. The Atheist would laugh at him " Where is this Heaven located ?... In the Sky ?  har har har"

Not today. What physicist would deny that there may well be other dimensions of existence and other ways to experience time or that it is possible to be outside time?
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« Reply #30 on: April 14, 2010, 02:11:35 PM »


There are other suppositions that have been laughed at by people who think they are being Scientific or Rational. For example, a religious person may believe in Heaven. The Atheist would laugh at him " Where is this Heaven located ?... In the Sky ?  har har har"
On there part, I think that this must come from shallow thinking. There is nothing intrinsically impossible about there being other levels of reality outside of the one with which we are aquianted, realities that function by different laws than the physical ones we know. Of course we would absolutely need Revelation to know of such a reality, because such a "place" would utterly different than our own.
Not today. What physicist would deny that there may well be other dimensions of existence and other ways to experience time or that it is possible to be outside time?
Yeah, I think modern physics is a great subject. It demonstrates that their is more mystery even in our physical universe than was previously held.

But I digress...
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« Reply #31 on: April 14, 2010, 10:05:32 PM »



Are there things I miss?  I do miss some things, but they tend to be more the social aspects of subscribing to a faith, rather than the faith itself.  For example, there is a little community you are no longer a part of.  Those you became friends with you might stay in contact with, but with acquaintances you would see weekly, they tend to leave your life.  In addition, I have lost a few friends over my lack of faith.  Though I suppose they weren't really the friends I thought they were.  But, I have slowly gotten active within the free-thought and humanist community more, so it is beginning to replace the community I lost. 


I wouldn't be too hard on your old friends.  Friendships are a weird thing.  I've moved around to 4 different churches in my adulthood and it is hard to keep up with friends when you don't see them on a regular basis. Of course, there are friends that one is very close to and others aren't quite that deep, but there is something important about regularly meeting together that nourishes any friendship.
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« Reply #32 on: April 15, 2010, 01:44:22 AM »

So to atheists/agnostics, what is your interest in posting on a Christian forum? Don't get me wrong. I do NOT want you to leave at all. I am just curious as to what the interest in the forum is. Is it a general interest in Christian theology? Is it because of the aquiantances that you have made on this forum?
Likewise, IMO one does not have to be a Christian to appreciate Christian theology or history. I disagree with a lot, of course, but I also find a lot that is insightful, and whether I disagree or not I find it interesting.
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« Reply #33 on: April 15, 2010, 05:11:00 AM »

(I was Roman Catholic for many years and in the Orthodox Catechumenate for some time, maybe I have some information or a perspective would be helpful to some)
So you went from RC to Orthodox to atheist?
what was it that caused you to go to Orthodox from RC?
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« Reply #34 on: April 15, 2010, 05:13:38 AM »


The world is the natural world, the world understood by science, and that in and of itself is comforting, no supernatural violations of physics.  
But consciousness is part of the natural world. And our longing for the spiritual. How does one explain the universality over time and culture of religion ?
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« Reply #35 on: April 15, 2010, 10:40:32 AM »

Most of my atheist/agnostic friends say they miss the sense of community the most.
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« Reply #36 on: April 15, 2010, 10:46:34 AM »

Most of my atheist/agnostic friends say they miss the sense of community the most.

That's interesting. My friends who used to be Christians in childhood (mostly Baptist or Methodist, a few Roman Catholic) do not seem to miss the sense of community after they became atheists in their youth. On the contrary, they say that now, they belong to real community, to the community of friends THEY choose, as opposed to the friends who were actually merely members of a particular congregation.

Of about maybe 20-30 or so former Christians turned atheists whom I know, nobody seems to miss anything.
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« Reply #37 on: April 15, 2010, 12:18:51 PM »

But you are talking of those who became atheists in their youth. If one has spent nearly one's entire life as a Christian, it can quite unsettling to have to suddenly start over and to not have the close-knit spiritual community to be there for you. I know, if I were to do this, it would be totally devastating in the social sense, as I have almost no real life friends who aren't connected with church.
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« Reply #38 on: April 15, 2010, 01:47:24 PM »

Most of the ones I run into are.

Fair enough. I've had the fortune or not running into many of them. A motley, intellectually unkempt lot they are, IMO.  angel
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« Reply #39 on: April 15, 2010, 02:02:46 PM »

So you went from RC to Orthodox to atheist?
what was it that caused you to go to Orthodox from RC?
I had explored most of the major, apostolic Christian churches at the time, in search of any sort of 'Truth'.  I found that I couldn't agree with various aspects of Roman Catholicism and found my way to Orthodoxy.  As you can see it worked out quite well.   laugh

But consciousness is part of the natural world. And our longing for the spiritual. How does one explain the universality over time and culture of religion ?
An attempt to explain that which we don't understand?
An attempt to cope with death?
It evolved from simple superstition and rituals (do a ritual before a hunt, the hunt is bountiful, one is likely to continue to do this ritual each time now, a 'goddess of the hunt' might even grow out of this)?
...

It is a fascinating field within neuroscience and there are multiple hypotheses as to how spirituality would have at one time assisted us in our survival, and well, just like all things, it evolves.  Personally I tend to lean towards the hypothesis Gould fielded and which a great deal of study has gone into, but some of the other hypotheses are equally possible (except that VMAT2 hypothesis).
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« Reply #40 on: April 15, 2010, 05:43:57 PM »

  I suppose I am a de facto atheist, but I do not claim to 'know' 100% there is no god.

This brings up the question of Pascal's Wager. What do you think about it?

I must say, Nebelpfade, no matter where you are belief-wise, you've always comported yourself with gracious respect for others here. I have never seen any bitterness from you towards Catholicism when you were an Orthodox catechumen, and I now see none from you towards Christianity or theism.

You've always been fair and respectful, and I salute you for your irenic nature towards others.
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« Reply #41 on: April 15, 2010, 06:44:44 PM »

I wonder if we could turn this around and ask what former atheists/ agnostics here miss now that they are Christians. I might gives some thoughts of my own later.
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« Reply #42 on: April 15, 2010, 07:16:59 PM »

This brings up the question of Pascal's Wager. What do you think about it?
I've never really liked Pascal's Wager.  Faith isn't merely something one can turn on and off like a light switch, either it is true faith or it is not.  If I were to declare myself a theist, it would be a feigned faith (seemingly for the chance at a post-life reward), and if there is a God, surely it could see through my feigned faith.  If I am called to be judged after I pass away, my scepticism was honest and not malicious, I hopefully tried to live a good life, and I will be judged upon that.   Smiley

I must say, Nebelpfade, no matter where you are belief-wise, you've always comported yourself with gracious respect for others here. I have never seen any bitterness from you towards Catholicism when you were an Orthodox catechumen, and I now see none from you towards Christianity or theism.

You've always been fair and respectful, and I salute you for your irenic nature towards others.
Thank you very much for the kind words.  I hold no ill will towards Roman Catholicism nor Orthodoxy nor Christianity, for they all played important roles in my life for a time and have brought me to this point.  I might strongly disagree with various beliefs and mindsets that can stem from it, but I know very well how people can find comfort, peace, meaning, etc. from it.  Though I support a secular state built on humanist ideals, I also support the freedom of religion/belief and view it as one of our many fundamental and cherished rights in the West.  We constantly run into people with whom we strongly disagree with, whether I disagree with someone about faith, social policies, or computational paradigms, I show an opponent on the subject of religion the same respect I would show a University colleague with a competing hypothesis.  
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« Reply #43 on: April 16, 2010, 03:15:21 PM »

This brings up the question of Pascal's Wager. What do you think about it?
I've never really liked Pascal's Wager.  Faith isn't merely something one can turn on and off like a light switch, either it is true faith or it is not.  If I were to declare myself a theist, it would be a feigned faith (seemingly for the chance at a post-life reward), and if there is a God, surely it could see through my feigned faith.  If I am called to be judged after I pass away, my scepticism was honest and not malicious, I hopefully tried to live a good life, and I will be judged upon that.   Smiley

Besides that, Pascal's wager only really works if a single religion is claiming that there will be consequences for those who choose wrong. As it stands, you could just as easily make up Mahommed's Wager, or any other number of wagers, and say that you had better convert to religion X, Y, or Z, "just in case". I really cannot understand why obviously intelligent people think Pascal's wager to be of any value. To me, it's about as worthless as the arguments that go something like: "Well you can't prove/disprove the existence of God, therefore I must be right! Nyah!"
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« Reply #44 on: April 16, 2010, 03:38:54 PM »

This brings up the question of Pascal's Wager. What do you think about it?
I've never really liked Pascal's Wager.  Faith isn't merely something one can turn on and off like a light switch, either it is true faith or it is not.  If I were to declare myself a theist, it would be a feigned faith (seemingly for the chance at a post-life reward), and if there is a God, surely it could see through my feigned faith.  If I am called to be judged after I pass away, my scepticism was honest and not malicious, I hopefully tried to live a good life, and I will be judged upon that.   Smiley

Besides that, Pascal's wager only really works if a single religion is claiming that there will be consequences for those who choose wrong. As it stands, you could just as easily make up Mahommed's Wager, or any other number of wagers, and say that you had better convert to religion X, Y, or Z, "just in case". I really cannot understand why obviously intelligent people think Pascal's wager to be of any value. To me, it's about as worthless as the arguments that go something like: "Well you can't prove/disprove the existence of God, therefore I must be right! Nyah!"

Pascal was a brilliant man, but his "wager" was one of his less brilliant ideas. I reject the underlying premise, which is basically "fire insurance." I'll gamble that I "believe," just in case. The whole idea is antithetical to Orthodoxy, which teaches that the purpose of our existence is to experience God, not simply to find a ticket to heaven.


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