I was an atheist before I became one of JW's, now I'm an agnostic...

by gubberningbody 11 Replies latest jw friends

  • gubberningbody

    I know that people here have gone on and joined other religious groups for community.

    If that makes them happy, then fine.

    It wouldn't make me happy, because I don't care about religious community.

    I have yet to find any religious group of people who are willing to challenge, examine, evaluate and publish in a kind-of "peer-reviewed" fashion what they believe, why they believe it, what's potentially wrong about the various beliefs and what would constitute a necessary and sufficient evidence for rejecting or accepting a given belief.

    Everything should be on the table for questioning or rejecting.

    It's been my experience that most people and groups get together to homogenize and reject, and further that these do so in an illegitimate and morally self-inconsistent manner.

  • drwtsn32
    Everything should be on the table for questioning or rejecting.

    Absolutely. No sacred cows.

    How do you define atheist and agnostic?

  • gubberningbody

    I define an atheist as a person who claims to have definitive knowledge of the non-existence/possibilities of these entities.

    I define an agnostic as one who is quite certain for the moment that he/she lacks the ability to acquire definitive knowledge of the existence/non-existence of such beings.

    I realized that my former atheist position was logically unsupportable, and so made the transition to an agnostic position.

    I used to consider myself a Christian agnostic, now I'm not sure what the former appellation even means.

  • Tuesday

    Most atheists actually just don't believe in God because there's no evidence to support God not that they have evidence showing that he doesn't exist.

  • mindmelda

    I actually believe that God welcomes doubt, debate and skepticism. Why would we have these traits, otherwise? They're also really handy for living with fellow human beings, who require lots of skepticism, of course. But, for mindless unquestioning belief, they're a pain in the ass. So, the two choices are...no belief in God and these are just useful traits in general, or belief in God and he also finds them useful traits. Either way, useful.

    Also, there are plenty of people in the Bible and other Christian writings who God didn't stomp for questioning him, debating him and even doubting him.

    Abraham, Jacob, Lot, Moses,Jonah, Peter, Thomas...all people in the Bible who God allowed to question him; to show disbelief, doubt, lack of faith, doubt and skepticm and amazingly enough, he didn't execute them on the spot. Too bad the WTS can't take a page out of that book!

    If wisdom is also figuring out what you don't know about everything, that means an agnostic is maybe more aware of what he doesn't know than some people, and that makes you pretty wise. *G*

  • gubberningbody

    Tuesday, most "atheists" I've run into haven't done the necessary homework to deserve that gold medal. I see that appellation used in that manner to be a statement not of fact, but of desire. I feel it to be a gross misunderstanding and abuse of the term.

  • gubberningbody

    I agree w/you Mindmelda. I was fooled into thinking it was OK to disagree w/the WTBS. Perhaps this was because I came in at a place and time when liberalism ruled. The elder who studied w/me was wealthy, college educated and pretty calm about every weird or unusual thought. The congregation had a lot of college students. One MS was getting his doctorate in political science. I was told "You have a RIGHT to have ALL your questions answered." I was given the impression that any narrow-mindedness that I might have seen was not representative of the organization, and people like this were not given positions of responsibility.

    All that changed...

  • drwtsn32
    I define an atheist as a person who claims to have definitive knowledge of the non-existence/possibilities of these entities.

    I define an agnostic as one who is quite certain for the moment that he/she lacks the ability to acquire definitive knowledge of the existence/non-existence of such beings.

    By those defintions most who claim to be atheist should call themselves agnostic.

    I completely agree with you that it is not possible to have proof of the non-existence of any gods. In my experience, however, most atheists (myself included) do not feel they have such evidence.

    Strong atheism = gnostic atheism = atheism how you define it.

    Weak atheism = agnostic atheism = atheism how I define it.

    I agree with others who believe atheism/theism and agnostic/gnostic are two dimensions of belief, and are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, both words help define the exact nature of belief:

    The reason I asked how you define those words is because there are several viewpoints on what those words actually mean. Without asking someone to clarify, we can easily misunderstand their position.

  • mindmelda

    I think things were a bit more liberal for a while, late 70s, early 80s and there was a lot of talk about conscience and a progression of thought that might have lead to JWs becoming something a lot more viable and interesting than it is now.

    They'd have to change a LOT of things that I just don't see them changing for me to be interested anymore, but then...they'd be just like any other ecumenical liberal church if they were doing things the way that makes me comfortable.

    I no longer have the belief that a specific denomination can make you believe in God or feel closer to him, but I do think some religions can turn you away from God and some people can facililtate spirituality. I make a huge distinction between religion and spirituality these days.

    Bonne Raitt, one of my favorite performers, used to introduce one of her songs with this quote. "Religion is for people who are scared of going to hell. Spirituality is for people who have already been there."

    I totally agree!

    The WTS is great at facilitating disbelief, or at least, they were for me. I see others here that seem to think the same. They made me doubt God in ways I'd have never done on my own! I was pretty much agnostic for about 3-4 years after becoming inactive.

    Being agnostic is a helluva lot better than being a JW any day, though.

    I've been reading "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown and there's a part where the main female character, who is a scientist (a physicist, to be exact)who believes in God, asks the protagonist, who is a professor of religious iconography and myth, if he believes in God.

    He replies that he's not a church goer, and isn't sure if he believes or not.

    She then tells him that she's not talking about going to church or being a member of a religion. She asks him if he feels connected to something larger than himself when he looks at nature or up into the sky. That's how she defines belief in God, spirituality.

    I'm kind of the same now. Anything that makes me feel connected to something larger than myself is spiritual. That feeling is available almost everywhere, not too surprisingly. Why shouldn't it be?

  • gubberningbody


    I feel that the abuse of language is at the root of many needless confusions and arguments.

    I know that many like to use the word "atheist" for the same reasons that some like to use the words "christian" or "american" - the emotionally evocative nature of the terms for these people.

    If you substitute the term "good" for any one of those terms, you'll see that people who use language in this very plastic amorphous way are much less concerned with a discussion of facts and ideas and much more concerned with their irrelevant feelings.

    I'm opposed to the old maxim "I don't care how much you know until I know how much you care."

    I much prefer "I don't care how much you care until I know how much you know."

    I find that most "atheists" and most "christians" feel too much, think too little, are inconsistent within themselves, their lives, their behaviour and their arguments.

    They also seem to be rather touchy when it comes to having this pointed out to them.

    Back to the term, "atheist".

    The usage of the term suggests that the person has taken up an unassailable position, and that he or she is not open to discussion.

    The natural response to this sort of self-presentation is, "Have you always "felt" this way? What path did you take to arrive at this position? What is your exposition on the impossibility of the existence of these higher entities?"

    What then follows is an affirmation of your suspicions as to the rigid mindset, with a flippant, emotional snarl "Why should I have to prove X? The default position is X." These then reveal the depths of their ignorance of the reasons for these discussions in a manner simply the mirror image of the close-minded bible-koran-talmud thumping fundamentalist.

    Why continue discussing anything with someone like this?

    I suppose if you just want to explore and catalogue emotional reactions on the part of people taking up various positions, this might be worthwhile, but if you're not doing any research along these lines then it seems to be a collosal waste of time.

    Sure, everyone engages in this sort of thing, but after some time a wise person, a person capable of learning will be saturated with this sort of experience and move on to seek alternate stimulation.

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