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Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones Dork
3/16/22 2:10 p.m.

I'd assume most people start of being raised with some sort of religion in the house, yet there are many "non believers" out there.  Why? What happened to make you go down a different path from those that stayed with religion? Was it a certain event or just a gradual thing?

What do you think happens after death? Does death bother you?

Patientzero
Patientzero Dork
3/16/22 2:19 p.m.

I never believed any of it as a kid.  Now that I'm an adult I'm so far removed from it that I actually forget at times some of the things people believe.  Everyone is free to believe what they want without judgement as long as it's not hurting someone else.  I try to just be a good person but I don't believe in a "God".  I don't know what happens when you die.  I open to the idea of anything given some proof.

Wayslow
Wayslow Dork
3/16/22 2:22 p.m.

 I was raised in a nominally Anglican household. I attended Sunday school and was confirmed. After confirmation my parents let me decide if I wanted to keep attending church. I did not. They stopped going around the same time as I was the youngest and I think they felt that they had finished with that part of our lives. I came to be an atheist sometime in my teens. No specific reason.

 I didn't exist before I was born and I'm ok with not existing after I die. As far as I know we only have one shot, at life, so live it to the fullest and try to leave the world a better place than you found it.

 

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/16/22 2:26 p.m.

My "world religion" class in high school, mostly. 

When I'm dead and my biology quits, I'll stop and go away. I'm just a meat machine. I don't give myself any higher meaning.

Brake_L8 (Forum Supporter)
Brake_L8 (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
3/16/22 2:32 p.m.

It never made any sense to me and I never had an interest in it. As a reader and movie watcher, I lean heavily toward non-fiction and do not have much interest in consuming fictional content. I think my brain is creative, but has limited capacity for various forms of fantasy, if you will.

As I became more self-aware and started living as an out gay man, I also became more aware of how religion has been used to hurt "my people" and community. Things haven't necessarily become "better" in recent years, either. I will fiercely defend anyone's right to believe what they want, but the minute it's used to make me lesser in the eyes of the law, we have a huge problem.

The whole thing does not compute for me. I try to be a good person and live in a way that leaves me happy with how I spent my days if I look back as an "end of life test" sorta thing. Would much rather focus on the here and now, which I can at least somewhat control, than the things I can't.

But you do you, too.

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
3/16/22 2:33 p.m.

I get the feeling that this thread may turn ugly quick, so I'll put my $.02 in now.  I was raised in a Jewish household.  Not orthodox or anything "strict", but definitely practicing.  Went to synagogue every Friday and Saturday.  I never believed, I just didn't.  My parents "forced" me to go until I had a Bar Mitzvah.  The day I had it was the last time I ever set foot in one.  What happens when I die?  I will decompose in whatever spot I'm laid.  End of story.  Does it bother me?  It used to, years ago.  However now, I can truly answer that by saying no.  I've had a wonderful life and hope to have more wonderful days to come, yet am not bothered by the concept of those days ending.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin MegaDork
3/16/22 2:34 p.m.

I don't think I ever believed any of it from the start.  I mean I am sure I did at some point, but I questioned it all at a very young age.  No one event, just gradual I guess?  I hated church/sunday school from as far back as I can remember.

When I am dead, I will cease to exist.

 

Brake_L8 (Forum Supporter)
Brake_L8 (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
3/16/22 2:40 p.m.

I will add, I am eternally grateful to my parents, who took me to church to expose me (Episcopalian) for a few years when I was like... ages 5 to 10. We moved and had to find all new everything, and they asked if I wanted to keep going. I said no, they said okay, that was that. 

CrustyRedXpress
CrustyRedXpress HalfDork
3/16/22 2:50 p.m.

Petition to lock both threads. 

I think most of us have good intentions for these discussions but they always end up generating more heat than light.

IIRC discussing religion is also specifically against forum rules. 

I love you all very much, thank you.

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
3/16/22 2:51 p.m.

I think it was being exposed to more belief systems and no longer just associating with people of the same or very similar denominations as I was raised in.

I realized that being a good person and belonging to the faith I was raised in were independent. There are good people of every faith or of no faith. There are okay people of every faith and no faith. There are bad people of every faith and no faith.

I've realized more over time that it's actions that matter. Beliefs only matter when they help guide action.

I strive to do the best job I reasonably can. Respect others. Try to leave this world a little better than I found it.

Whether there's any afterlife or anything doesn't change that. So I don't need to concern myself with what comes after this life. Just using what I know I have the best I can.

RevRico
RevRico UltimaDork
3/16/22 2:52 p.m.

My daycare, preschool, and kindergarten were all at a Methodist church. My family was itself fairly non religious, half Presbyterian, half Catholic, none practicing. The church was just a mile from home so it made childcare convenient. 

I was three years old the first time a doctor looked me in the face and said my dad was going to die. At the same time, I had the people at daycare/preschool going on and on about how God takes care of the good people and punishes the bad people. Well to a three year old, your dad is one of the best people you know, and that kind of started my push away from the church.

As I got older, into my teenage years, I started seeing people taking their religion to extremes, even among classmates, so I started studying and reading about religions and their histories.

Did you know there are over 30 THOUSAND types of Christianity in the world and hardly any use even 10% of all the books of the "original" bible? Did you know the "King James version" was commissioned by King James to be edited from the original texts to make the atrocities he was committing seem "positive in the eyes of the Lord" to his subjects? 

Digging deeper into things, chasing down old texts, I learned that more than a few of the "main" stories of the Abrahamic religions were the same stories from religions thousands of years older, just with different names. Essentially adopted and edited for the "modern" times, and shortly after I turned my back on the "big 3" pretty much forever.

This pushed me to researching different takes. Buddhism, Hinduism, proper old fashioned paganism, Roman and Egyptian religions where a lot of the Abrahamic stories came from originally. I found while I could see agreeable ground in the eastern religions, the idea of subscribing to any actual organized religion just sat wrong with me. The idea of devoting my entire life to something I would never meet, talk to, or see, on the chance of something positive happening after a lifetime of negatives, it just doesn't work for me. 

If we want to go by books and teachings, I would be considered a LeVayan Satanist. That doesn't mean I worship the devil or call on demons to do my bidding, but by the book and the dogma, I look after myself and my family above all else. As long as the things I do feel good, provide for my family and don't negatively affect others (directly) I am good. As far as what I put down on a survey or census? Just none. 

 

I do not fear death, I don't believe in an afterlife the same way I don't believe in a pre life. It's only logical if there is an afterlife, there would be a prelife, but only Hinduism and the ancient religions really touch on that with reincarnation, without calling for weekly attendance, a tithe of 10% of the gross earnings of the household, wearing or not wearing silly hats, and requiring the forgiveness of unforgivable crimes(yes, there is a very specific group in mind for this last item). 

 

I find faith to be a crutch for a lot of people, or like an uno reverse card they keep in their pocket. I think the idea that any sin or crime can be forgiven just by asking is a fantasy, and it raises far more questions than it answers.

 

Most of my thoughts come around to the selfishness and ego of humanity itself. To think in this massive universe, we are somehow the only "intelligent" species, put here by a specific creator to toil away for them, as a special project or pet, it's not logical, it doesn't make any sense at all, and I really would need to argue that if that truly was the case, the original sun worshippers at the beginning of humanity were world's closer to appeasing that higher power than any modern religious person or religion, especially with the way religion has been weaponized the last thousand years or so. 

 

But the complexities, but the statistics, there would HAVE to be a creator. No. What was there before the universe? What IS the universe? What will come after it? 

We as a species are not smart enough to even recognize the things we don't yet know or understand, so I don't think we can really judge if there is a higher power or not. If there is, the odds are not in humanities favor of it being how we have described at all throughout history, from sun and wind gods, to multi limbed beings with flying machines, to a great bearded white guy. I understand that holding that belief anyway is considered "faith". 

I understand some people just need that to feel belonging, to feel that their 50-80 years here, barely even a blip in earth time let alone the universe itself, matters and makes a difference. I don't understand why they feel or want that and I'm in no position to judge, I just don't feel it at all. 

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/16/22 2:56 p.m.

I've never been to any church services other than weddings & funerals, and I didn't attend my first one of those until I was in my 20's. I didn't know any kids my age until kindergarten, and it wasn't until around 4th grade that I started hanging out with any of them outside of school, so church/religion just seemed like a quirky thing that some families did. 
 

However, when I was a teenager & Geraldo Rivera came out with his whole "Your child may be a devil-worshiper if..." and then all the churches in our town had a big meeting about "me" due to the rumors started by several people regarding my weirdness, that sealed the deal for me right there. 
 

I do see spirituality as having the potential to help people who may be struggling, but I think mental health treatment/counseling may be at least as effective for many of them.
 

I've also seen how the clergy can use their influence to manipulate their congregation, especially those who are more vulnerable, and wish there was a better way to combat that. Then I look at the $1M+ churches & wonder why they feel the need show off their wealth vs. actually using that money to help others. 
 

I know plenty of deeply spiritual people who are simply amazing souls, but I've also known some truly not-good people who feel their attendance every Sunday is enough to offset their continued bad actions towards others. 
 

So just like so many other things in life, spirituality & religion may be a wonderful thing for some people, or it may be just as bad as any other vice for others.  
 

For me personally, I just don't really care. Life is life, death is death. If the choices I make in life happen to impact whatever may come afterwards so be it. I think following the "don't be a dick" mantra is good enough for me. 

Driven5
Driven5 UberDork
3/16/22 2:59 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Im just a meat machine.

There is a significant probability that you're not even that... Where religion/creationism and science/evolution meet, is the simulation hypothesis.

mtn
mtn MegaDork
3/16/22 2:59 p.m.

I'm a struggling Catholic. Why struggling? The organizations running it mostly. And that isn't limited to Catholicism, I think basically every single organized religion I've studied has had some... issues... that make me wonder. 

I also hate the convoluted arguments needed to support a specific position. Again, this is true for multiple religions, and not just the Abrahamic religions. If it takes a theologian an entire lecture to explain to me why two men who love each other having sex is immoral, and you're allowed to cherrypick support from the Bible (but only if it supports you and your actions, you can only take some of the bible literally and its only what I say), and make all sorts of interpretations that there is no way you're able to make... Well, something is off and not adding up. 

I hate the hypocrisy of separation of church and state... But my church is allowed, just not yours.

My wife and I are raising our daughter Catholic, if only to teach her about her her family's culture. But that could change. 

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
3/16/22 3:17 p.m.
RevRico said:

I do not fear death, I don't believe in an afterlife the same way I don't believe in a pre life. It's only logical if there is an afterlife, there would be a prelife, but only Hinduism and the ancient religions really touch on that with reincarnation, without calling for weekly attendance, a tithe of 10% of the gross earnings of the household, wearing or not wearing silly hats, and requiring the forgiveness of unforgivable crimes(yes, there is a very specific group in mind for this last item). 

I've heard one great analogy around this that actually made sense and that I found rather lovely. Heard this from a Buddhist nun:

The physical world is like the surface of the ocean. We are just waves. We last a short period of time. We are both definitely here, but only exist because of the rest of the ocean surface around us. We come up and we will eventually fade away. But ultimately everything that was still is, even though everything has changed. The ocean remains the ocean. The wave we were was just water that is still there, even though the wave is gone.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
3/16/22 3:22 p.m.

I remember one of my first thoughts on introduction to religion being "wow this stuff is crazy, but obviously very important." I probably tried to believe when I was a kid, but I never heard the voice or felt the presence of a god. As I got older and my religious learning continued, I mostly found more and more reasons to question it rather than answers.

The reasons I don't believe are more philosophical than scientific. I have some questions I'd really like to discuss with theists without pissing them off, and I expect I could get a range of different answers:

- Why does God want to play hard-to-get these days? Way back when it was all parting rivers and fire from the skies we're told, and now doesn't seem to want to leave any evidence of his existence.

- What's up with the moral horror show of eternal damnation? Should teenagers who take their own lives in a moment of incredible depression be put in hell right next to Hitler and Stalin? Shouldn't even Hitler be let out of hell after, say, a hundred years for each person whose death he enabled? Two hundred? He'll be in there a quadrillion times longer than that. I've heard some preachers try to walk this issue back and others challenge that walk-back. Maybe I'm just trolling with this one.

- Is God being totally hands-off with the world, leaving it to run itself on apparently nothing but the laws of physics? If not, I want to know why we don't have more genocidal dictators and less apparently awesome people dying from heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. If he wants to play hard-to-get, well great news, nobody can track that E36 M3 anyway. From my personal experience it seems that devout Christians and their families are getting the lion's share of weird random health problems. Similarly, since he's all-knowing and all-powerful, why not do things like send a little zap of space radiation at the first COVID19 virus to evolve in a bat so we don't have this pandemic? Nobody would have to know.

- For Christians specifically, just how damned are people raised in non-Christian cultures? Say you're born to a Muslim family in Somalia, you believe in The Prophet Mohammad super hard, one day when you're a teenager, some missionary risks his freedom and/or life to come to your door, and you appreciate the effort but you're not interested, and that was your only real contact with Christianity. Just how much of a chance did you really have? Also what was that guy who tried to introduce Christianity to the Sentinelese thinking, from a religious standpoint? They were all getting free passes to heaven by default from my understanding, since they had no chance to learn about Jesus. Was messing with that really good?

- I still don't get the point of "challenging" all of us with a needlessly crappy existence. Do we all have to run a particular course in this ant farm for some reason and if so, why is so important for us to all do our part in this awful dance number to achieve this end state? Seems like a an omnipotent and omniscient being should be able to find a better way to achieve the same outcome.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, when I'm dead, I expect it will be like the thousands of years before I was alive, and it shouldn't inconvenience me in the slightest.

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
3/16/22 3:31 p.m.

My answer to the title question would have been very different 25 years ago.  I was raised in a mildly Methodist household and never thought much about going to church.  Then, as an independent-thinking college graduate, I was notably anti-Christian.  I called Christians the "Fish Cult" for those fish decals you'd see on cars.  You know the ones. 

Then, life happened.  You meet people, you lose people, you gain wisdom and experience.  You grow.  Everyone's path is different.

Edit:  Oh, yeah.  I just wanted to throw this in:  What Jesus gives us is hope.  People need hope, and a lot of people don't have it.  I would say that a loss of hope is probably the biggest social crisis we have today, and you can't get hope with money, drugs, sex, or rock 'n roll. 

Beer Baron
Beer Baron MegaDork
3/16/22 3:37 p.m.

I will also add that after various stuff in high school and feeling betrayed by and a bit bitter towards the Christianity I'd been brought up in, it was actually the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, that helped me reconnect with and appreciate what was positive about Christianity.

I just no longer needed to belong to a church to take the lessons I found valuable from each philosphy I was exposed to.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
3/16/22 3:44 p.m.
CrustyRedXpress said:


Petition to lock both threads.

Why?  I won't sign that petition.  I think that people are capable of discussing things like adults and should be allowed to do so until they conclusively prove that they can't.  I have seen nothing in this thread that indicates it is going to get ugly.

Of course I am neither owner nor moderator of this forum, and therefore only have whatever voice they choose to grant.  This forum is not a public park.

That being said, I do think about things other than cars, and I am not likely to continue hanging around a forum where cars and maybe the weather are the only approved topics.

 

Erich
Erich UberDork
3/16/22 4:02 p.m.

I was raised Lutheran but never really believed in the afterlife parts of the bible. I believe some of it - Jesus was one heck of a teacher and I think he's a worthy ideal to strive for. 

I work in Oncology, and it's honestly really hard for me to see much intelligent design dealing with this day in and day out. Evolution and genetics makes a lot more sense to me.  It does bother me a bit that I'm sentient now and someday I won't be, but I can't conceive of an alternative.

RossD
RossD MegaDork
3/16/22 4:05 p.m.

Religions are made by people. If there is a maker, it has nothing to do with the current crop of cults that are popular now. How many hundreds of thousands of different version of religions have existed since the dawn of time and everyone thinks theirs is the "one". Laughable really. It just shows how egocentric people can be.

I grew up catholic. Sitting in sunday school in eighth grade and they told us that if a non catholic wants to marry a catholic, they take a 2 week course and they are in. I said I am out. I dont need to sit here for another 4 years if I can get it done in just a few days.

I will say that I think religion serves as a great source of community and do help a lot more on a local level. 

Also, morality does not have anything to do religions. I dont need a fear or the promise of an afterlife to know how to treat my fellow humans.

When I die, I will be dead. Just like a tree or a rat or a bug. 

Nobody ever walked on water. Nobody was ever resurrected. But people have found useful insight in these stories and if they need to believe in them to find them helpful, then by all means do so.  

I plan on having my children versed in bible stories. Its a large part in our society and culture and to leave that out would do them a disservice. 

"The difference between a cult and a religion? In a religion, the cult leader is already dead."

How religions do harm: Allow pedophiles to continually hurt their own people. Look at mega churches and the pastors with private jets as the little old lady gives her last dime to them to be saved by a ghost. Wars based on religious differences. The word heathen or heretic has been used to allow religious people to do horrific things to their fellow man.

Its just not for me and my immediate family, but you do you and we can still be friends and neighbors and share a meal! 

We even had our kids baptized to appease others.

I really dont want to offend others with my beliefs, they are just what I believe right now. I dont foresee it changing, however, I do retain the right to do so at anytime. LOL.

Cheers.

Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter)
Adrian_Thompson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/16/22 4:11 p.m.

I was raised Christian, Church of England or episcopal here in the US.  Was even 'Confirmed' as a teen.  

Why am I now an atheist?  Simple. I grew up, learned critical thinking, and started observing the world around me. There isn't a single shred of evidence to suggest any higher power, let alone one described by any monotheistic religion around today.  Heck, at least with some of the old pagan religions there was evidence of something, that big old disc of light in the sky may not be a benevolent (or malevolent as the mood takes them) deity, but it's at least there and doing something.  


In my 52 years on the planet I've grown more and more horrified at what people do to each other in the name of religion.  Inter religion (different gods) is bad enough, but the three Abrahamic religions all supposedly worship the same fairy and they've spent centuries trying to kill each other.  Then even worse inter sects fighting (Suni vs Shia, Catholic vs Protestant, etc.).  It's a E36 M3 show that if people really believed in what they claim to would never happen.  
 

Then in this country we pretend to have a separation of church and state, yet we've got states barring atheists from political office and an increasing number of laws trying to impose religiously based views on the populous. Increasingly restrictive access to abortion, pushing back on teaching evolution, allowing government money to go to religious private schools, etc.  it's sickening.

And don't get me started on the utter total berkeleying bullE36 M3 that passes for Christianity for a certain sub set in this country, who seem to think that Jesus and god are some kind of right wing white guy and use that as an excuse to keep the oppressed down, because that's what their doing while hiding behind the all encompassing 'good' of their twisted version of who Jesus was.  Tell me exactly what the historical Jesus would have had against free healthcare, free and equal education, women, or ethnic minorities?  He would absolutely have been 100% behind all of that.  So if you don't want all of those things, stop pretending to give a E36 M3 about some fairy in the sky.

I honestly believe the invention of religion is the single worst thing that's happened to humanity, and certainly the cause of more premature deaths than anything else in human history.  And it gets even worse if you take the supposed religious texts as literal rather than allegorically which they should be.  I don't believe you can have true morality if you abdicate responsibility to a 'higher power'.  Each individual needs to take responsibility for their own actions rather than hide behind a fairytale.

P.S. yup, I am a meat sack that will eventually stop functioning and that will be that.  I wasn't here before, and I won't be here after.  Make the most of your time here peeps, and learn to love thy neighbor, not just the ones who look and sound like you.

914Driver
914Driver MegaDork
3/16/22 4:27 p.m.

I am what I am and follow the guidance of my God, but isn't this subject as fisticuff inducing as politics?

Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter)
Paul_VR6 (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
3/16/22 4:29 p.m.

It's all bullE36 M3, though some of it may be helpful. cool

Raised catholic and by maybe grade 5 it started seeming a bit fishy. That never got better. Oddly my mother has doubled down and is baptist. If it helps her get through her day, great. Just don't expect me to understand any of it at all. Raising my kids generally non religious though through a mostly christian cultural lens, because of where we are in the world. 

At this point I am an atheist and if I'm wrong, I doubt the creator is vengeful. laugh

Duke
Duke MegaDork
3/16/22 5:05 p.m.
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