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A Couple Of Questions

Guest Avery F

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Guest Avery F

Hello everybody,

I have a couple of spirituality-related questions, and I wonder if any of you can help me with them.

The first is this: when people ask me what religion I follow, I say I'm an agnostic. However, there seems to be considerable disagreement about what an agnostic actually is. Some people think it's a person who doesn't believe in a deity, but admits that the non-existence of a deity cannot be disproved. Others think it has nothing to do with religion at all, but is merely the state of being unsure about any subject. My own belief is that it's impossible to know whether a deity exists or not, and that being an atheist or a theist is simply a matter of believing one way or another, without proof. I personally choose not to believe either way, but remain equally open to the existence or non-existence of a deity (or deities). So, what exactly would one call this?

The second is a more personal situation I'm currently dealing with. As I've said above, I'm an agnostic... or whatever it's called... All the members of my immediate family, however, are atheists (or atheistic agnostics, if you want to get technical...). That is, they admit it's impossible to prove whether or not a deity exists, but they choose to believe that one does not. That's fine with me - I don't really care what anyone believes as long as they don't try and push their beliefs on me. The problem is that my family often mocks people who do believe in a deity. I've asked them not to do so, but they have so far refused to acquiesce. My mum in particular claims that religion is a coping mechanism used only by those people who can't deal with the real world. In my opinion, that's rubbish - more than half of the people in the world believe in some deity or another, and I can't believe that ALL of them are unable to deal with reality! I think religion is a valid opinion on spirituality, just as atheism is, and everyone should be able to believe whatever they like. I find the things my family says about religious people hurtful and ignorant - especially since I know a bunch of really brilliant people who happen to be religious, and my family is basically saying they're all weak. So, the issue is, what the bleep can I do about my family's comments?

Jeez, this turned out to be one novel of a post. If you actually read it all, thanks a lot for being patient!

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Guest April63

Well how rude of your family! As a very religious person I'm so... offended! ... Not really. I'm not offended at all. I am saddened that your family acts and believes that way, and I hope that they can find a way to not be so judgmental and to be more more open to the possibilities. For me, I just tend to ignore this type of thing. When people don't understand my beliefs, I try to correct them, but if a person just won't listen or try to understand, I just have to partially ignore it and not let it bother me. I will still talk and try to explain things to that person, but not to the point that I m overexerting my energy for the cause.

As for the agnostic thing, I don't really think the definition of this is to overly important. In some cases, a name is just a label, although in others, it can be more signifying. I don't believe an agnostic is trying to make any statements with the name, unlike a Christian, for example, which may be trying to make the statements of love, charity, and obviously faith in Christ. Although if you insist, I believe you are an example of an agnostic. But you probably could use the word as an adjective and apply it to any particular subject, if it is used without such a context or in the context of faith, it should describe a person like yourself: leaning neither one way or the other.

Hope this helps :)

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Well said April!!

Also, a very good friend of mine always reminds me, You can't control other people's behavior, you can only control/change yours.Soley

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Guest lisa49

Beliefs are a personal thing. Many things as far as empirical evidence are concerned are unknown as well as difficult to communicate, each has individual experience with it. Things like spiritual feelings, the metaphysical, the soul, religious feelings, etc. are not concrete.

No one or belief has a monopoly on morals, ethics, virtue or good. You do not need a deity or religion to be humane and live a good life. You can have dialectic discussion with all sorts of people without taking each other's beliefs personally or let their ideas manipulate your emotions. Since the whole subject is subjective each has an opinion. It is only when physical harm is asserted that conversation has pasted the limit.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest Puppy Girl

I know what you mean- my dad is a "militant atheist", as in, an atheist who thinks non-atheists are being delusional and that everyone should abandon religion in all its forms. I was raised that way, but it never worked for me. I went off to college, got my own opinions (that being open-minded and tolerant of religions is best), and came home for a Thanksgiving break. We were driving across the state to visit relatives, and he started God-bashing. I actually stood up for myself, even though he was being such a jerk about it that I was in tears before I had gotten my point across. He fell silent and seemed confused by my reaction. It seemed to make him think. Now I'm a Buddhist and, frankly, in no hurry to tell him about that.

I don't want my dad to change his beliefs at all, but it'd be nice if he wasn't determined that everyone should believe the same things he does. I think the best you can do with anyone like that is try to explain how you feel, and if they continue on as they always have, just ignore them if they try to include you in future religion-bashing. Some people don't want to listen, and arguing with them gets you nowhere, except more upset.

Hope that helps.

-Puppy Girl

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Guest Avery F

Thanks for replying, everyone. I appreciate your input, because this is sort of a befuddling issue for me to deal with. I've heard all sorts of horror stories about evangelical religious folks hating on atheists, but very few about it going the other way around (probably because it's my family telling most of the stories)... so I'm not sure how to deal with it, I guess.

April: yes, I suppose you're right. I am letting it get to me rather too much. It's just that so many really nice people I know are religious, including my wonderful, very dear best friend, and hearing the things my family says is like hearing them insulting these people personally.

Soley: wise words, certainly - and you know, even though it would be easier at times if one could control the actions and opinions of those around them, a lot of the interest would go out of life :)

Lisa: yeah, I know what you mean, and maybe I am taking it too hard. It's not like my family is threatening to go out and attack religious people, or anything. Still, it's like when some religious folks go around saying that atheists have no morals, because they don't believe in a god - that is to say, it's both totally ridiculous and very insulting, both to atheists and to people who know atheists.

Puppy Girl: I'm sorry your dad is that way, although it's comforting to know that there are other people out there who've had this same problem. It was really great of you to stand up for your beliefs, and I hope it helped your dad re-think his opinion of religious folks. Maybe in time I can help my family to do the same.

Again, thanks for the replies,

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Guest Elizabeth K

Puppy Girl says it like I feel. I have my own spirituality, and I will explain when asked. I am rarely asked - because all want me to believe (or not believe) as they do. SILLY

My partner and I are very different in how we view the idea of a higher power, yet we pretty much see the world in the same way. So it's a matter of a comfort zone. When something good happens, I always say something like 'thank the GOD you don't believe in...' and she laughs.

Actually I believe in a CREATOR, but oooops.... you didn't ask.

Bottom line? It's what get's you through your life, your privilege to believe or not.

Just me


That didn't answer anything! AUGGGGH

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Kia Ora Avery,

Quote "So, the issue is, what the bleep can I do about my family's comments?"

:rolleyes: Why should you 'have' to do anything? The problem is theirs...

And what Lisa said Quote "You can have dialectic discussion with all sorts of people without taking each other's beliefs personally or let their ideas manipulate your emotions!"

Metta Zenda :)

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