Author Topic: New here and trying to figure out things out  (Read 1334 times)

New here and trying to figure out things out
« on: September 03, 2019, 10:27:14 PM »
Hello all. I joined this forum and posted here because I am conflicted and confused and I am either looking for more answers or support (or maybe both).

I don't know if I am an agnostic or atheist or not and the idea of identifying as such scares me for some reason. I suppose it's because I've had religion in my life for my whole life and while I've never "bought in" 100% (although I've come close) I am feeling more distant from it the more I learn.

A little background on me. I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school for a while and even a Baptist college before transferring to a public University. Despite all this, I really never bought into religion much.  I was really more of a science oriented person (evolution was always fact to me) and never really believed everything I was supposed to. I went though periods of going and not going to church for various reasons but was always a lukewarm Catholic at best.

Fast forward in my life and I was married, but it turned bad (not abusive or anything, in the end, it turned out my husband was gay and that's why it wasn't working and that's why he left me). For some reason I turned to the Church then. I guess it's one of those points in your life where you are vulnerable. Some people turn to alcohol, some to drugs, some remake their lives, I turned to religion for some reason.

I was at a low in my life and prayer and the idea that someone "up there" was looking after me gave me comfort. To be fair, the priest at my church at the time was also very sympathetic and a good listener. I focused more on the church and I became a "better" Catholic although I still struggled with things. A prime example, I just couldn't believe that the bread and wine at Church literally became the flesh and blood of Jesus but yet by some miracle still looked and tasted like bread and wine. That seemed too convoluted. The idea of a priest forgiving me for things I didn't even think were sins seemed silly too (although I still went to confession). And I also didn't make my child go to church once she was old enough to stay home alone and told me she didn't want to go to church/didn't believe in the religion.  I told her she didn't have to go if she didn't want to, so she stopped going. That made me a very bad Catholic parent--by church belief I was definitely doomed to hell for that. But I didn't think it was my right to force my daughter to go to church, if they church said she was old enough to be confirmed as a Catholic (basically old enough to take responsibly for her faith) then I figured she was old enough to make her own decisions regarding religion.

Anyway, I am a curious person so over the past few months I started to really question "why" with church beliefs. I am not really sure what sparked that, but I get like that sometimes. I find a topic and start digging into it. So for religion it was why do we believe X and why do we do Y? What's the meaning of Z anyway and who started that tradition?

That lead me down a rabbit hold of sorts.  I found apologetics to be full of double talk, so I went to scholarly resources. I ran across Bart Erhman's books to start. Then I started reading the bible again myself. I watched any secular documentary on religion that I could (any religion). I found one about religion by Richard Dawkins on Curiosity Stream (I can't remember the name) but it really struck a chord with me. Then I found a few others on the origins of Jewish (and therefore the roots of Christian) belief on another streaming service. I was surprised by what I learned though archeological evidence presented in that series. Lately I've been watching someone called Aron Ra and another speaker by the name of Richard Carrier. I like the way they speak, the way they lay out their arguments, and they make a lot of sense to me and I can't disagree with their logic.

For a while during all this, I was still going to church and I actually prayed for faith. Over and over. I begged god to give me faith. Surely god would grant that, right? Nothing happened. No faith. So I stopped going to church. Even my daughter said, "mom, you don't seem religious anymore."

But here's the rub. I really don't know what I am. Technically, I belong to a church (I am on the roster of my mom's church, not my local one). And I support a Catholic charity that helps the poor in Africa (helps to keep their kids in school). I still go to church once in a while for family events/to keep the peace.

But at the same time, I don't believe the Bible is the word of god, just the words of men. I don't have any faith. I don't buy into the "just accept it, it's a mystery" anymore. I don't want to talk to Christians or read apologetics anymore, I want to talk to people in places like this and watch more factual documentaries and read more historical books. So I wonder if deep down, I am just looking for validation. I wonder if I am agnostic? atheist? Maybe just irreligious? I really can't say I am Catholic anymore, because I am not (technically, never believing in the "real presence" in the bread and wine means I never was or that I was just a heretic).

Anyway. I am in a bit of turmoil right now: conflicted as I said before. I don't have a label for myself. I am just kind of... here and questioning. I will probably lurk a lot on these forums. But I wanted to say hello.  Maybe my journey is typical? Maybe you have some advice or words of wisdom for me?

I do know one thing. I've asked myself. If I were brought up religiously neutral (not raised in any religion). Would I choose to be Catholic or even Christian? The answer is no for a lot of reasons. I don't think I would belong to any religion. I think that's interesting to ponder.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2019, 10:41:32 PM by SeaLioness »

Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2019, 11:18:44 PM »
Sealioness--welcome!  Hope you stick around.

I would suggest you stay true to yourself.  And question everything.  You don't 'have' to be atheist, agnostic, christian (or any other religion) or any one philosophy.  I reached a 'spiritual' crisis after my divorce.  I had had a long enough grounding in what I did not want.  I needed to figure out what it was I wanted--and in positive terms, not what I was against.  I went to a church (Unity) to try to help figure it out.  And it did--but not in the way I would have thought going in.   I grew to understand what god was and his/her purpose.  God, as it turned out, was/is a fiction.  And god's purpose is to answer all those unknowns in our lives.  And to be used by leaders to become rich and powerful.  So, it turned out I was (and probably always was, but did not want to call myself that) an atheist.  But that was/is simply a negative term I apply to myself as a shortcut to saying god is a fiction.  That does not define who and what I am.  So, I'd suggest your task is to find the positives that make up 'you'.  Then you won't really even need a 'title'.  But that task is not as easy as it sounds.  But I do wish you luck in your search. 

And do stick around.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Offline Baruch

Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2019, 11:37:38 PM »
Welcome also.  A few helpful points ...

1. There is nothing wrong with what you were
2. There is nothing wrong with what you are now
3. One can't know what you will become, but it will be OK
4. How you are handling your daughter is excellent
5. Sorry you had marital problems, but that is how marriage has always been
6. You have listened to a number of excellent constructive criticisms of religion
7. Christianity is a very complex religious system, not a single religion
8. Therefore unless you grow up and live in a traditional arrangement (see Amish) it is difficult to sustain
« Last Edit: September 03, 2019, 11:54:33 PM by Baruch »
Zampa xiquihto.  Amo nimitzcuamachilia.
Say it again.  I don't understand you.

Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2019, 01:43:49 AM »
Helloooooh god. Text wall. Okay, short attention span. You can do this.

*Opens YouTube in another tab*

In five minutes.

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Hello all. I joined this forum and posted here because I am conflicted and confused and I am either looking for more answers or support (or maybe both).

Hey, dudette. I was in a pretty similar situation when I first got here a few years ago. I had just lost my faith, but didn't know exactly what I was yet. Just knew I wasn't a Christian any more. I found some clarity over time, and sharing my thoughts here and reading what others had to say helped a lot. I'm sure you'll find clarity too.

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I don't know if I am an agnostic or atheist or not and the idea of identifying as such scares me for some reason. I suppose it's because I've had religion in my life for my whole life and while I've never "bought in" 100% (although I've come close) I am feeling more distant from it the more I learn.

Letting go of your religious baggage can be hard. But don't worry. It'll get easier as you get used to the idea. Also, this might be a bit of a nitpick, but agnosticism is actually a type of atheism. Atheism just means that you don't believe in gods. If you're on the fence, you still don't believe, and are by definition an atheist. Atheism has some negative stigma attached to it, so some prefer to call themselves agnostics.

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A little background on me. I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school for a while and even a Baptist college before transferring to a public University. Despite all this, I really never bought into religion much.  I was really more of a science oriented person (evolution was always fact to me) and never really believed everything I was supposed to. I went though periods of going and not going to church for various reasons but was always a lukewarm Catholic at best.

Lucky. I was all in. Made an ass of myself on multiple occasions because of it.

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Fast forward in my life and I was married, but it turned bad (not abusive or anything, in the end, it turned out my husband was gay and that's why it wasn't working and that's why he left me). For some reason I turned to the Church then. I guess it's one of those points in your life where you are vulnerable. Some people turn to alcohol, some to drugs, some remake their lives, I turned to religion for some reason.

I was at a low in my life and prayer and the idea that someone "up there" was looking after me gave me comfort. To be fair, the priest at my church at the time was also very sympathetic and a good listener. I focused more on the church and I became a "better" Catholic although I still struggled with things.

Hard times can have ways of making people turn to what is familiar for comfort. In my case, it had the opposite affect on me. I was already as dedicated as I could be, so I had nowhere to go but down. Unanswered prayers left me with the impression that either God didn't give a damn (and wasn't worthy of my worship) or didn't exist.

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A prime example, I just couldn't believe that the bread and wine at Church literally became the flesh and blood of Jesus but yet by some miracle still looked and tasted like bread and wine. That seemed too convoluted. The idea of a priest forgiving me for things I didn't even think were sins seemed silly too (although I still went to confession). And I also didn't make my child go to church once she was old enough to stay home alone and told me she didn't want to go to church/didn't believe in the religion.  I told her she didn't have to go if she didn't want to, so she stopped going. That made me a very bad Catholic parent--by church belief I was definitely doomed to hell for that. But I didn't think it was my right to force my daughter to go to church, if they church said she was old enough to be confirmed as a Catholic (basically old enough to take responsibly for her faith) then I figured she was old enough to make her own decisions regarding religion.

Good for you. I hate that parents use their positions of power to force their religions on their kids. Unlike most parents, you saw your kid as a person.

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Anyway, I am a curious person so over the past few months I started to really question "why" with church beliefs. I am not really sure what sparked that, but I get like that sometimes. I find a topic and start digging into it. So for religion it was why do we believe X and why do we do Y? What's the meaning of Z anyway and who started that tradition?

That lead me down a rabbit hold of sorts.  I found apologetics to be full of double talk, so I went to scholarly resources.

Yeah, apologists are professional bullshitters. They make stuff up for people to parrot because it sounds good. You can literally find an apologist to support any position and any interpretation you can think of, yet that never makes people stop and think about whether or not their source is reliable.

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I ran across Bart Erhman's books to start. Then I started reading the bible again myself. I watched any secular documentary on religion that I could (any religion). I found one about religion by Richard Dawkins on Curiosity Stream (I can't remember the name) but it really struck a chord with me. Then I found a few others on the origins of Jewish (and therefore the roots of Christian) belief on another streaming service. I was surprised by what I learned though archeological evidence presented in that series. Lately I've been watching someone called Aron Ra and another speaker by the name of Richard Carrier. I like the way they speak, the way they lay out their arguments, and they make a lot of sense to me and I can't disagree with their logic.

Oo. I like Aron Ra. His Systematic Classification of Life series has been very informative for my formerly brainwashed mind.

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For a while during all this, I was still going to church and I actually prayed for faith. Over and over. I begged god to give me faith. Surely god would grant that, right? Nothing happened. No faith. So I stopped going to church. Even my daughter said, "mom, you don't seem religious anymore."

But here's the rub. I really don't know what I am. Technically, I belong to a church (I am on the roster of my mom's church, not my local one). And I support a Catholic charity that helps the poor in Africa (helps to keep their kids in school). I still go to church once in a while for family events/to keep the peace.

Hmm. I'd look into that charity, if I were you. Might not be as innocent and charitable as you think.

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But at the same time, I don't believe the Bible is the word of god, just the words of men. I don't have any faith. I don't buy into the "just accept it, it's a mystery" anymore. I don't want to talk to Christians or read apologetics anymore, I want to talk to people in places like this and watch more factual documentaries and read more historical books. So I wonder if deep down, I am just looking for validation. I wonder if I am agnostic? atheist? Maybe just irreligious? I really can't say I am Catholic anymore, because I am not (technically, never believing in the "real presence" in the bread and wine means I never was or that I was just a heretic).

Anyway. I am in a bit of turmoil right now: conflicted as I said before. I don't have a label for myself. I am just kind of... here and questioning. I will probably lurk a lot on these forums. But I wanted to say hello.  Maybe my journey is typical? Maybe you have some advice or words of wisdom for me?

I do know one thing. I've asked myself. If I were brought up religiously neutral (not raised in any religion). Would I choose to be Catholic or even Christian? The answer is no for a lot of reasons. I don't think I would belong to any religion. I think that's interesting to ponder.

I think most people would not believe if they were not raised by Christians, forced to go to church to be indoctrinated on a weekly basis, or grew up in a bubble where all their peers were Christians. There's a reason churches put so much emphasis on targeting...excuse me..."serving" children. That's how they continue to exist.

Oh. And welcome to the forum. Here. Have a fishy stick.

« Last Edit: September 04, 2019, 02:00:12 AM by Blackleaf »
"Oh, wearisome condition of humanity,
Born under one law, to another bound;
Vainly begot, and yet forbidden vanity,
Created sick, commanded to be sound."
--Fulke Greville

Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2019, 06:22:30 AM »
Thank you for the welcomes! I’ve been lurking around a bit but haven’t chimed in anywhere else. I’ve just been reading. My first post was a bit long. Maybe I should only use my phone to post. I’d get more to the point that way, haha.

Thanks again!

By the way, do the fish sticks come with custard? (Doctor Who reference there).

Online Mr.Obvious

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Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2019, 07:01:52 AM »
Welcome to our little band of heathens. Here's to hoping you'll find what you seek.


Quote
But here's the rub. I really don't know what I am. Technically, I belong to a church (I am on the roster of my mom's church, not my local one). And I support a Catholic charity that helps the poor in Africa (helps to keep their kids in school). I still go to church once in a while for family events/to keep the peace.

You're a person. And that's well enough.
You don't belong to a church. Not even technically. I know what you mean, but no. It's an important thing to keep in mind. You do not ow the RCC fealty, loyalty, money or belief. You are not property. You are a living, breathing, thinking human being.

That being said, while there are church-free alternatives, donating to a catholic charity is fine, as long as they are doing good work. I buy pens from the father Damian foundation. 's cool.

Look, all I feel I should advise you on, is this. Don't worry about the labels too much.  There are clear defenitions for what an atheist is, what an agnostic is, etc. (And we can give them to you, if you want.) But there is no shame in being one. Nor is there any inherent shame in being a theist. I mean, I might think you are wrong in your views, but that doesn't reflect on you as a person, your values and your actions. Those are much more important.

Just don't feel bad for asking questions. And remember that you can't choose what you think and believe. And it would be a pretty petty god if he expected you to change something you can't change.
"If we have to go down, we go down together!"
- Your mum, requesting 69 last night.

Atheist Mantis does not pray.

Offline aitm

Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2019, 07:24:33 AM »
IF there ever was anything that suggested the babble was written by men? Nearly the entire book of Deuteronomy, if I recall, is all about how to pay the priests. A little too damn convenient for me.
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

Offline trdsf

Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2019, 09:29:08 AM »
Since I'm posting by phone I can't do a long and considered post, so until I'm home and at my desktop, this ex-Catholic can relate, and welcomes you. :)
"My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total, and I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution." -- Barbara Jordan

Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2019, 12:55:01 PM »
Sealioness, you don't have to "be" anything. Just be yourself and don't take any shit from anyone who says you have to "be" something.
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2019, 01:36:09 PM »
Hi SeaLioness! You've come to a good place to chat about these things. Many of us were brought up in religious circumstances, and we've come to realize that we don't need the hypothesis of God to explain the world or to relate to other people. I was a Southern Baptist myself, but after I read the Bible the first time I knew it wasn't the word of any God. It took a while for me to jettison my faith in what I'd been told to believe, but I did, and I didn't "lose my faith," instead I gained freedom from the fear of hell. Life is a lot more fun when the fear of hell isn't hanging over us like the sword of Damocles!

There's nearly always someone hear to chat with, so any time you feel like discussing something, we'll be here for you. I hope you can have as much fun here as I do, this is a wonderful group of rascals! :-)
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“Let others pride themselves about how many pages they have written; I'd rather boast about the ones I've read.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

Offline SGOS

Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2019, 04:48:46 PM »
I was indoctrinated into religion by my family, which was Lutheran.  My grandmother who lived with us was a Hell Fire and Brimstone Baptist.  She was the biggest religious influence on my life because of her nightmarish descriptions of divine punishment for rather small offensives that me as a three year old was not capable of avoiding.  Religion started early in my life.  But even at a young age, I was bothered by the fact that when I prayed, there never seemed to be anyone at the other end of the prayers.  My prayers were usually unanswered, and when things worked out well, it was random and haphazzard... like you would expect from chance alone.  There was also the problem that I could not see, hear, or touch the mightiest entity in the universe, an entity that wanted me to love him, but refused to make himself known.

As I got older, I was confronted with much nonsense even greater than what my grandmother pedaled.  I questioned more and more, but was unable to admit I was an atheist.  That was too much to own.  Finally, I was in my early 50s, when I owned up to being an atheist.  I was all along, but could not admit it.  I didn't become an atheist.  It was something I recognized within me that had been there for years.  I didn't want to be an atheist, I just couldn't fit the illogical pieces of religion together.  Why did it take so long?  I would like to say because my training started early and was a horribly frightening experience, but it could be because I was just that dense, I suppose.  But I don't think I'm that dense.  I just can't automatically believe something that is no more plausible than any other mythology.

Welcome to the forum.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2019, 04:58:01 PM by SGOS »

Offline SGOS

Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2019, 04:56:13 PM »
When I was very young, I remember hearing the story of the Emperor's new clothes.  I immediately believed that the story was trying to explain why so many people believed in God.  I kind of amaze myself thinking back on that, and that I could construct my own metaphor out of the story (although "metaphor" was not in my vocabulary).

Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2019, 05:27:24 PM »
It’s interesting to hear how many of you had very religious backgrounds. I wonder if that’s why my faith was never very strong. Of my grandparents, only my maternal grandmother was religious. She was Catholic. My paternal grandparents had no problem telling you that most religion was bunk.  They used to be religious (Presbyterian) but when their infant daughter died and they told my grandmother it was god’s will or something like that she walked out and granddad followed.

My maternal grandfather was supposed to be Lutheran but he never went to church. With my parents my mom was Catholic and I went to church with her and my brother. But my dad never went to church and never belong to any church. He never even talked about god or prayed. But he and I did sit and watch all kinds of science documentaries on PBS while I was growing up! Cosmos and Nova.

I probably did the same thing to my own daughter. That’s why she was skeptical.  I still love documentaries. I watch a lot of history and a lot of science. She told me that she passed the history pretest on something they didn’t cover with a 100% because she watched a documentary series with me on the hundred years war.  She also told me she was the only kid in her class to know all the different hominids from prehistory simply from watching so many documentaries with me. I also let her watch a certain Penn and Teller show with me about stuff that was bunk. 

Thank you again all for the welcome!
« Last Edit: September 04, 2019, 05:32:21 PM by SeaLioness »

Offline Baruch

Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2019, 05:37:58 PM »
FYI - I came to theism as an adult.  My parents weren't religious.  Not until I got married, did I take religion seriously.  And I still do, in spite of disappointments.  I don't know what it is like to be religious from early childhood and then go thru puberty.  All of my rebellion happened before I was religious.

You have to go thru gyrations to process the presence of evil in the world, religious or not.  Theodicy.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2019, 05:58:32 PM by Baruch »
Zampa xiquihto.  Amo nimitzcuamachilia.
Say it again.  I don't understand you.

Offline aitm

Re: New here and trying to figure out things out
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2019, 05:40:56 PM »
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You have to go thru gyrations to process the presence of evil in the world, religious or not.
You have to go thru gyrations to believe in gods that allow evil in the world...especially when they promise to protect you from them and don't.
A humans desire to live is exceeded only by their willingness to die for another. Even god cannot equal this magnificent sacrifice. No god has the right to judge them.-first tenant of the Panotheust

 

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