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ZAGWRITER's avatar

Is There Anybody on Fluther that used to be Baptist and now professes to be Agnostic?

Asked by ZAGWRITER (1506points) February 26th, 2011

Please, serious thought provoking and discussion building answers only please. I am not looking to start a fight about my beliefs or the beliefs of others. I do not wish to have this be a flame war. If this happens, I hope that a mod will smite thee with the “forgetting stick” (can you tell that i just watched MegaMind for the first time tonight?).

A person that I consider a friend recently posted on his “wall” in facebook that he considers himself to be Agnostic, or an atheist if you refer to the God of the Bible. He grew up in the church that my wife is in love with, graduated high school from the same church school that my oldest son is in, and yet claims to be this way, after moving his family away to D.C. and attending Georgetown Law during this time. You know, fine. I am not going to judge one way or the other on this one (you know, he who is without sin…). I wish him the best of luck.

My question is: How can one get from point A to point B in a similar situation as the friend of mine? How can someone who was a fervent supporter of all things Christian move on to become agnostic?

If this is you, please describe your thinking process. I am not intending this to be a nasty-gram like so many religion threads on this board become. I am not looking to convert or reaffirm a long-held faith. I just cannot follow the thought process involve.

I really appreciate the time that it took to keep reading this and especially if you decide to participate int what I hope will be an awesome interaction. Thank you very much.

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25 Answers

ZAGWRITER's avatar

Ok second to last paragraph was supposed to end with “involved” and the last line was supposed to begin with “in”. I just didn’t want to edit while people are composing.

Nullo's avatar

People face a lot of pressure to convert to agnosticism in this culture. If you’re not prepared for it, the world can take you by surprise.

Axemusica's avatar

I was raised with parents that tried a few times to get me and siblings to go church on sundays, but they eventually gave up, or something. My father was raised Catholic and my step mother (at the time) was raised I believe Baptist. I remember as a child I used to be all for it (it being, faith{?} I guess), but as I got older I started to question many things. I always thought of there, being a being. Up until I was out on my own as an adult. Then boredom set in and I read a lot. I eventually just came to believe that there just isn’t enough evidence (agnostic) to sustain the belief, as I grew older and started to read more. I was a bad kid and didn’t even finish highschool. So, of course I didn’t read too much during those times.

Either my strange (horribly vague and unexplainable) answer or something happened. Usually death (or maybe even life) often changes one’s faith. Events in one’s life often found to profoundly change their opinion on a number of things.

Why not just ask him though?

Jeruba's avatar

why specifically baptist? why not any evangelical Xtn denomination?

talljasperman's avatar

I found the religion I was in was offensive and the church full of losers… I perceived it as a cult and left…PM me for more info.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I was raised Southern Baptist in a rabidly fundamentalist family.

I stopped going to church when I lived in Asia and found out that the majority of the world is not Christian. I started again when I found the Episcopal church, which I enjoyed for many years.

I stopped completely quite a few years ago now mainly because a light bulb went off in my head one day that said, “This is all bullshit.”

The Bible is bullshit. The churches are full of shit.

I’m gay, and they don’t want me. That’s the one that really sealed it for me.

Am I an agnostic now? No, I’m more of a New Age practitioner than anything.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

Because he was a Baptist, @Jeruba. However, if you have a similar story that you think could provide insight into this discussion, please feel free to post it.

I would ask him @axemusica , but he is in law school and has been what appears to be baiting people into some lengthy arguments. He is of the philosophy (now) that the best way to handle the “bat-sh*t crazy religious nut jobs” (his words) is to “belittle them, not debate them” (paraphrasing his words), so either way, he doesn’t seem to want a genuine discussion from the people who knew him from his time as a Baptist.

Please mods, I would like this discussion to move forward tonight, and not be killed in the “needs to be edited” purgatory. I was sure that I saw longer titles than the one I had here on Fluther before.

Axemusica's avatar

We call that Trolling here on teh interwebs, @ZAGWRITER

Yea, I wouldn’t to talk to anyone that sounds like they’re just baiting for some asinine argument, that’s easier just to shrug off.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

Thank you mods peoples, you are awesome. Thank you for the relatively pleasant responses so far people, you are all awesome.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

@hawaii_jake that is really interesting. Can you elaborate on what is your take on being a new age practitioner? Thank you for your time.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

It really comes from having lived in so many different places all over the world and experienced so many different things. Some of those things were quite spooky. I’ve lived in 7 different countries on 4 different continents. The first place I moved to was Japan, and you could say the scales fell from my eyes. For the first time in my life, I was immersed in a culture that was vastly different from my own. I had to accept them for themselves or go crazy.

Living in London was eyeopening as well. I knew so much about the place that I hadn’t studied or read.

I have always been interested in spiritual things of a New Age variety. I’ve always been intrigued by psychics and mediums and astrology and tarot cards. I’ve had too many weird experiences to discount what I’ve been told.

I think I’ve always believed in reincarnation. Vivid flashbacks will do that. I’ve had flashbacks of names and dates and been able to trace them to real people.

Someone asked me the other day what my religious preference was, and without batting an eye, I told her paganism. I don’t really care what the label is on what I believe. I simply know that I have certain intuitions that have borne themselves out over time.

KateTheGreat's avatar

I have something somewhat similar to this. I grew up in an extremely devout Christian family. I was always the perfect Christian child. As I grew up, I began to look at things in a far new perspective. Once I went to college, I began to learn all of these crazy new things, I met so many new people, and I eventually became an Atheist. Growing up in Christianity, I realized that I was very narrow-minded. It seems when you go out on your own and start taking facts and processing them in your own ways, your viewpoints change.

augustlan's avatar

My immediate family were Disciples of Christ (pretty much ‘straight Christian’), and our extended family were Southern Baptists, so I grew up exposed to both sects. When I was in 6th grade, I read the bible cover to cover and decided that there was no logical way it could all be true. That was the beginning of the end of my belief. As I learned more and more, I believed less and less in the man in the sky. I now consider myself an agnostic with atheistic leanings. I firmly believe that if there is a god of some kind, it is not the god of the Christian bible.

ragingloli's avatar

Not me, but Matt Dillahunty was a Baptist, and while studying to become a minister, he concluded that it is all bollocks, which made him become a fervent atheist.
He is now the host of the Atheist Experience.

Prosb's avatar

Many things can sway faith, at least temporarily. As @Axemusica pointed out, death is a big one. But many things change peoples perspectives on their faith. The process for me went from being in church as a child, and being uncomfortable with the singing, and the stories that didn’t quite add up. I didn’t think much of it though, adults know what’s best.

Later, when I was about 10ish, my uncle Dave said a few words I would never forget when I asked him what he believed in. He said, “Nothing.” I asked him to explain. He said, “I don’t believe in anything, that’s all.” This rocked my world. I had never thought you could be outside this box you were in. The idea of nothing had never occurred to me. I had to give this lots of thought. I came to the conclusion after around a year, that there was little supporting or denying the existence of a god, of any sort.

Years later still when discussions of religion arose in my life, I decided to give it some thought again. After talking with my psychology teacher every morning in my junior year of high school, I found that something without proof of non-existence could still not exist. If that wasn’t the case, anything would be “possibly valid”. Is Santa Claus real? You can’t prove he’s not, so he’s possible. Same with the Easter Bunny, etc.

That leaves us around the point I’m currently at. Discussing my belief and ideas when prompted, and possibly the only guy on the planet who actually opens the door when the Jehovah’s Witness’s come. Ready with a big smile and ready to chat.

Hope that helps you see what might be turning the gears in your friend’s head.

lynfromnm's avatar

My family was baptist and attended a Southern Baptist church when I was young. What I began to find unconscionable was the intolerance of other belief systems and the denomination’s hard-line stance. The Baptists at our church (including the minister) were anti-everything that was not Baptist. They were also intolerant of gay people and to my shock, chose to think evolution was a strategy of the devil. I started getting into hot water by asking questions that, apparently, I wasn’t supposed to ask, such as “why did Jesus think he was being forsaken on the cross? I thought he knew what was going on?” and “If I had done all those terrible things to Job I would be in prison.”

My family stopped attending after trying out several Baptist churches in the area. I tried out a few other Christian denominations before realizing it wasn’t denominations but the basic principles of Christianity that disturbed me – concepts such as sacrifice, the capricious nature of the Christian God and people being rewarded after death for faith in something unproven, people being frightened into good behavior with the threat of hell and the wrath of God.

I began to think of humans as being in control of their lives, accountable to themselves, and utterly amazing in their possibilities. I began to live my life based on my values – that promoting the quality of human life is good, that human uniqueness is a treasure, that respect for each human’s life is at the core of the heights humans can reach. I began to think that there is no one to blame but me if things aren’t going well, and that it is up to me to change that. I began to think that all humans are born with equal rights, and give them up only through their own destructive actions.

I continue to process all of the information and philosophy I can, developing my understanding. I recognize there is much that I as a person don’t know, and that humanity as a whole hasn’t discovered. But for me, it has always been the journey that matters.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I was born Christian. Was baptized, got communion, and conformation. Never truly believed, always questioned everything. I remember around 5th grade when I found out about Santa thinking why is god any different. As I grew I questioned more and more. Church never had the answers to my questions, and a few times I was told id have to leave CCD (sunday school class) if I didnt stop questioning the bible. What I found really pathetic was the fact that I seemed to know more about the religion than the other students in my class that believed in the thing . By my last year of CCD I considered myself a full on atheist. I got conformation because I had to and left the church forever.
I then thought a lot about considering myself atheist and decided it was just about as narrow minded as religion. It takes a great deal of faith to say with certainty there is absolutely nothing out there, so I switched to thinking from an agnostic POV with a strong leaning towards atheism. I cant say for sure that there is nothing but im pretty certain of it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Have you felt such pressure, @Nullo ? I never knew it existed.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I’m with @Simone_De_Beauvoir. I never felt pressure to hide my beliefs when I was religious, though I’ve been pressured quite a bit to hide my lack of belief since leaving Christianity.

@ZAGWRITER You might find this thread interesting.

Axemusica's avatar

Word, @SavoirFaire. There’s nothing I don’t want a stranger to say more than, “Have you let Jesus into your heart recently?” PLEASE SIR, JUST KEEP WALKING.

TexasDude's avatar

Well, I wasn’t a Baptist, exactly, but I was a sort of non-denominational Protestant for a really long time (after my coerced conversion from Catholicism). Now, if anyone asks, I identify as an agnostic (although a more accurate descriptor of my beliefs is a combination of Mahayana Buddhism, Sufism, and some elements of transcendental Christianity).

Honestly, my “conversion” away from church-based dogmatic Christianity to an agnostic pseudo-mysticism was threefold. For one, formal, church based Christianity just bored me. It seemed very sterile, and cut-and-dried, as though it had all the answers and there was no mystery to the universe. The more I read of Eastern and Western philosophers, the more I realized how much I don’t know or can’t be certain of, and I thus began to lose interest in Christianity.

Secondly, I gave up on formal, organized Christianity because of how fake it all seemed. I never felt close to God when I was surrounded by Precious Moments figurines and Thomas Kincaid paintings and goofy prints of a blue-eyed Jesus sitting on a European hillside. The hokey stories the preacher told that he got from chain emails didn’t help. Neither did the assholish hypocrisy of many of the kids in the Sunday School youth group. Sure, the church did charities and sent people abroad to build houses and clean up wells and provide medical care, which was wonderful, but the actual church itself didn’t seem fulfilling. I wanted more.

Third, church just scared me. I didn’t feel the love of God. Only the terror. It just didn’t seem right. (This trend was true in every church I attended).

So with a healthy degree of uncertainty, I took what I liked from various religions and philosophies and ran with it. I call myself agnostic because I’m really not sure of anything.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

Thank you @Prosb and all. I totally can see what you mean @Nullo . GA all around!

twothecat's avatar

I grew up baptist with all the Sunday school lessons. It’s not that I no longer believe, I’m just not sure. I believe in God, but I have a hard time believing he would really have us all burn in hell for eternity for not believing in his Son. I just hope and pray the creator of the universe isn’t that mean.

kittykrumley's avatar

I grew up in a Baptist family, that strictly went to church and followed the Bible. I had no other choice or option. I looked up to my parents, and believed EVERYTHING I was told,so essentially, I believed what the church was telling me. It wasn’t until I grew older, and was able to experience life on my own that I began to listen to my inner truth. This was a truth that no one spoke to me, no one preached it to me, and I did not read or seek it out.

Through my own personal experiences I have found inner peace and contentment, something I never had growing up in the Baptist lifestyle. I was not given the option of free-will as a child, and did not realize how deeply affected I was until I lived on my own. I can finally say I am enjoying my life, and not living in fear anymore.

reijinni's avatar

I’m not a Baptist, but i used to go to a Baptist church. I stayed home to spend more time with the TV. I’ve thought about returning, but every time I hear a preacher speak, I keep my butt at home. And people have wondered when will I join, and i kept telling them ‘no’. Until they come up with something that I agree with, I’m not joining their lame cult.

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