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SeaLioness:
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.

Mike Cl:
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.

Baruch:
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

Blackleaf:
Helloooooh god. Text wall. Okay, short attention span. You can do this.

*Opens YouTube in another tab*

In five minutes.


--- Quote from: SeaLioness 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).
--- End quote ---

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.


--- Quote from: SeaLioness on September 03, 2019, 10:27:14 PM ---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.
--- End quote ---

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.


--- Quote from: SeaLioness on September 03, 2019, 10:27:14 PM ---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.
--- End quote ---

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


--- Quote from: SeaLioness on September 03, 2019, 10:27:14 PM ---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.
--- End quote ---

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.


--- Quote from: SeaLioness on September 03, 2019, 10:27:14 PM ---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.
--- End quote ---

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.


--- Quote from: SeaLioness on September 03, 2019, 10:27:14 PM ---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.
--- End quote ---

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.


--- Quote from: SeaLioness on September 03, 2019, 10:27:14 PM ---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.
--- End quote ---

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


--- Quote from: SeaLioness on September 03, 2019, 10:27:14 PM ---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.
--- End quote ---

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


--- Quote from: SeaLioness on September 03, 2019, 10:27:14 PM ---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.

--- End quote ---

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.

SeaLioness:
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).

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