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Archive for Saturday, August 25, 2007

Is remaining agnostic the same as rejecting God?

August 25, 2007

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God accepts me, even with my faith reservations

John Brewer, member, Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence, 1263 N. 1100 Road:

Agnosticism is a relatively recent term. To me it signifies a refusal to claim any special knowledge of salvation or cosmic purpose. Thus, agnostics do not reject God on principle, as atheists do, but neither do we embrace a confession of faith, such as the Apostles' Creed.

We still hunger for meaning and connection, and so some of us actually go to church! We don't find any Bible stories about agnostics for the same reason that we don't find Bible stories about the Internet. That doesn't make agnostics any more or less heretical than the Internet, but it does call for acknowledging the changes that have come about within liberal religion in the last century.

The advent of human rights movements such as feminism challenged our traditional understanding of God's ordained roles for men and women or for people of different races. More recently, the "open and affirming" movement has welcomed persons of previously stigmatized sexual orientations into both church membership and clergy. It has taken imagination and courage (two very traditional religious values).

None of these persons reject God, even though they may reject some aspects of traditional Christian culture. The trend toward inclusiveness might be summed up in Charlotte Elliott's hymn: "Though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come." When I enter into a spiritual celebration of whatever wisdom tradition, I believe that God (whoever God is) accepts me just as I am, even with my agnostic reservations about religious truth.

- Send e-mail to John Brewer at jbrewer@sunflower.com.

Harboring doubt in face of evidence equals denial

Stephen Koberlein, senior pastor, Lawrence Heights Christian Church, 2321 Peterson Road:

In man's eyes, an agnostic is someone who believes that it is impossible for us to know God, or they are skeptical or noncommittal about God's existence. But the question asked is from God's vantage point, not man's.

According to Psalm 14:1, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" Agnostics might argue that without denying the existence of God, they just believe they have no evidence. But throughout both the Old and New Testaments, God makes it quite clear that we can know him and have proof of his existence.

In Romans 1:18-20, the Apostle Paul wrote, "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."

Paul went on to explain in verses 21-24 that while these folks claimed to be wise, they became fools. Then, verse 25 reads, "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen."

God has already given us everything we need to know him. From his majesty revealed in the beauty of the created world, through his inspired Scripture, to that still small voice calling out to us, if we remain doubtful, skeptical or "on the fence," we are, in God's eyes, rejecting him.

- Send e-mail to Stephen Koberlein at steve@lawrence-heights.org.

Comments

Tom Shewmon 6 years, 7 months ago

LD, "The Church" was a new-wavish band from Australia, remember "Under The Milky Way" from the late 80's----good tune. But I don't think that is the answer your'e looking for.

Oh, and Ag, no smuggling, silly, what happens in Mexico---stays in Mexico. Maybe you should get out and have some fun for a change. Just don't ever go diving with a tequila hangover--not fun!

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EasyTiger 6 years, 7 months ago

Ag: Nice to see another former Roman Catholic find some things in Buddhism he couldn't find in Catholic School and Church. I've found that the over-bearing and disrespectful method of teaching young Catholics has a way of backfiring later in life. I always remember wanting to believe, feeling I must or should believe, but having dificulty with the math of it all not quite adding up. I had all but abandoned religion altogether until I had a chance encounter with Buddhism. I've been happier ever since. Cheers!

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Agnostick 6 years, 7 months ago

No thanks, right_coyote... I'll not follow you to Mexico. Smuggling is a crime.

--Ag

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Tom Shewmon 6 years, 7 months ago

"As excpected, you can't go through a thread without such soul-stirring words as "agenda": "secular": and the like." -Person who neither denies nor confirms existence of God because of insufficient evidence.

Much like not being able to refrain from words like 'extremist'. You want to see extremist? You wanna see extreme? Come tag along behind me in Mexico sometime----you'd probably start crying. Extremists? Ha!

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Confrontation 6 years, 7 months ago

Have you ever known someone before he became a pastor, and now you shudder to think that hundreds of people think he's special and follow his words? Just wondering, because I have.

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Tychoman 6 years, 7 months ago

No, being agnostic isn't the same as rejecting God. It's acknowledging that we're only human and that it is impossible to understand whether there is or isn't a God or all-powerful being.

It's not being lazy, RT, way to be the resident jackass of the forum. AGAIN.

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Agnostick 6 years, 7 months ago

I can guess what some of you are thinking:

"You're wrong. The Bible says..."

Well, that's what the Bible says to you. A Muslim, a Jew, a Hindu, they'll all, on some level, make the same argument: "Our way is correct--everyone else is wrong."

Brewer nails it in the first paragraph: I don't reject the existence of God, I reject the notion that any one religion has cornered the market.

Marion, that's some decent writing at 9:43am. Strong coffee this morning? ;)

americorps, good point about churches and their obsession with money and power. Looking back at the past 2,000 years, there's a good argument to make that the Roman Catholic Church was very innovative in this area. Sort of the "WalMart of spiritual oppression."

cait48, I can understand your disinterest of organized religion--but on the other hand, if one of them really speaks to you, and you feel comfortable with the "message," and the "community"... why not invest in it (time and money), especially if it helps you get through the day? Or the rest of your life?

Many times, on these forums, I'm equally disheartened by both the "theocrats," and the other extremists who look down their noses at people who have religious beliefs.

Started this response with a few words for right_thumper, and I'll end it with more: You, Pilgrim, and othe other right-wing extremists may chide me for "sitting on the fence," but let me assure you, it is NOT indecision or laziness or apathy or anything of the sort. The Middle Way is a central teaching of Buddhism. I've never felt more fervent about anything else. The Three Jewels, the Four Noble Truths, The Eightfold Path... I feel more at home with these ideas than I ever did with the Bible, or the Apostle's Creed.

Does this mean I'm rejecting God... or that I'm just talking to God in a different way?

You have your opinion, and I have mine. ;)

Agnostick (really, I suppose, more of a "Freeform Deist") agnostick@excite.com http://www.uscentrist.org

P.S. I was never a perfect Catholic or Christian--I don't expect to be a perfect Buddhist, either.

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Agnostick 6 years, 7 months ago

Well, right_thumper, I can't "straighten out" much of anything, least of all you. As excpected, you can't go through a thread without such soul-stirring words as "agenda"... "secular"... and the like. That fetish has a firm hold on you, doesn't it? Well, have faith! Even Whitney Houston has supposedly put down the crack pipe, so maybe there's hope for you yet.

All I can do, really, is talk about my personal experience.

I was born and raised in a rather strict Roman Catholic family. Went to church every weekend, went to a kindergarten run by a bunch of nuns, never saw the inside of a public school until we moved to a different community, right before I started 6th grade. Had a Catholic school been an option in our new community, I'm sure I would've been subjected to another 2-6 years of brainwashing. Thankfully for my folks, I suppose, there were still evening religion classes one or two nights a week.

I didn't really resent any of this at the time--but most of it never really felt "right." I continued going to church for a few years, after I moved out on my own, but that was mostly "residual training," rather than because I actually wanted to go.

I'll never forget, however, the first big crack in the "armor" of my Catholic training. You'll probably laugh your arses off at this, it's such a cliche... but it was a rock song, of sorts, that I first heard at 15 years old... that really got me thinking...

http://web.mit.edu/scholvin/www/harrison/c309.htm#3

I really thought about this. "Why can't this be the truth," I thought? "Why can't all these different deities and religions just be different ways of God communicating to all these different types of people?"

[more]

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Cait McKnelly 6 years, 7 months ago

I guess I'm not an agnostic because I do believe in God. I just don't believe in organized religion. Almost every branch or cult believes their way is the only way and if you don't believe in their way you will go to hell. Well here's a kicker; I don't believe in hell and I don't believe in "Satan". Yes I believe there is good and evil but I believe we are responsible for our own actions, not some horny guy with a forked tail.The only real sin we commit are the sins we commit against each other. The God I believe in could care less if we committed a sin against him/her/it. Mainly because it's not possible to do so. It's kind of like life after death. What if there isn't anything there? Well if there is, nice, but if there isn't I'm not going to be in any position to care about it so I'm not going to worry about it. It's not worth it.

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Tom Shewmon 6 years, 7 months ago

"The agnostic suspends judgement, saying that there are not sufficient grounds either for affirmation or for denial."

Where is our resident Agnostick today? I would think we could all get the absolute from Agostick.

Oh, Agnostick, straighten this out for us all.

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americorps 6 years, 7 months ago

In my opinion, much of the issue rises from the Church, taking the definition of God out of our hearts and into their hands.

I see no problems with agnostics...many of them are simply rejecting the churches who left God years ago for power and money.

Others have legitimate questions about the nature of God

None of that makes them bad people.

I do not think God looks at faith like the churches do. It is not a legal contract where you have to prescibe to philosophy a b and c to get your reward, whatever it is..

It is an attitude that we give to each other, it is the thought that counts.

Be just and fear not... Pretty much sums it up for me.

Group a says you have to be baptized, group b says you have to go to church on saturdays and group C says you can't eat shellfish to be worthy of God.

Utter nonesense, you just have to try and be good because you want to be.

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Tom Shewmon 6 years, 7 months ago

I like sourpuss' breakdown. I don't read the bible or stare at pics of GWB. I do what I do and do not belabor the issue. Sourpuss has it right---'tis or 'taint....sourpuss---I like it!

The agenda junkies have to label....they label me---I stir their emotions. They can't handle it. I fight abortion as an agenda too.....get it off the front page. Have some respect. God says---it's your life, here it is----so don't ponder and sit the fence and apply words and phrases and categorize every body and everything. Phelps and his crowd are nuts---they don't belong in the discussion. And the thumpers----let 'em thump.

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BABBOY 6 years, 7 months ago

Right-thinker:

Go back to your room, read your bible, and continue staring contently at your picture of George W. Bush. You will fell better and can leave the agnostics a lone.

Marion, I think made some interesting points.

I was wondering about those who want to save souls, why put this crap in the paper about trashing those who are uncertain? Do you think attacking them will draw you near to them? Why don't try to spread the word of God -- love each other as you would love your god -- verses the old your going hell BS? I know -- you can help it. Go find right-thinker -- hang out with him and read the bible, stare at George Bush's picture and go fight abortion or something.

Let me spell out, I find that old crap so lame and weak. Why don't actually try to help somebody and I bet finding God will find its way naturally.

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Sigmund 6 years, 7 months ago

Is it the same? Gee, I don't know.

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EasyTiger 6 years, 7 months ago

Right Thinker: I rather have troubled deciding than have some religion decide for me. I could turn your argument right back on you. People who buy into religion have an issue with knowledge, probably not the brightest bulbs in the pack. Sort of like, "Life is too scary and confusing and trying to come up with my own answers is too hard. This religion thing's been crammed down my throat all my life, I think I'll defer the hard questions to them, instead of discovering any truth on my own."

How bout that buddy? Religion makes otherwise thoughtful, rational, and strong human beings weak, irrational, and submissive. And you are Exhibit A. Instead of having your own political thoughts, you just defer to the Republican Party. Instead of having your own spiritual thoughts, you simply defer to the church. Grow up.

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sourpuss 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm worse than a non-believer or an agnostic... I simply don't care if there is a god or not. Wouldn't change a thing I do. When it comes to the meaning of life, we all just pick our stories. No one has any proof of anything save that we get at least one trip through, and that we are often worried through most of it. So go eat some ice cream, watch some birds fly around, make a kid laugh, and don't worry about God or anything else for a few minutes.

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smitty 6 years, 7 months ago

speaking of science....evolution to creationism.....science vs religion.....

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=070824121653.65mgd37f&show_article=1

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smitty 6 years, 7 months ago

then there is science to help with the mystic experiences

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6960612.stm

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Tom Shewmon 6 years, 7 months ago

So if you don't have proof, and you don't care, don't believe it---BFD, I don't care---who cares----so let's give it a name to further promote secularism---just because we don't know.

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kugrad 6 years, 7 months ago

Since both Psalms and the book of Paul were verifiably written by men, no proof is provided of God making anything clear about his existence as claimed by the author of the second article. God did not write those words, nor are they quotes from Jesus.

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Tom Shewmon 6 years, 7 months ago

It seems to boil down to agnostics have an issue with knowledge period----probably not the brightest bulbs in the pack would be my guess. Sort of like, "I don't know, can't decide, so here is an arbitrary label to get me off the hook and make me feel better about myself."

Ya'll are one terrific bunch.

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smitty 6 years, 7 months ago

Well stated Marion.

Mother Teresa did the work of a trinity/god she doubted exists.

http://in.reuters.com/article/topNews/idINIndia-29140020070824

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 7 months ago

I also get tired of the fanatics who say their "god" is the only "god". Did anyone see the CNN special "Gods Warriors" this week. They all scared the stuffings out of me.

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gl0ck0wnr 6 years, 7 months ago

Suggested read: "god is not great" by Hitchens. Even if you disagree, you'll certainly be more informed by Hitchens than by these two local yokels.

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Nick Yoho 6 years, 7 months ago

Marion, your pretty smart for a righty,lol.Well said.

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EasyTiger 6 years, 7 months ago

Well Mr. Stephan Koberlein, you can take your scripture and shove it buddy. Nice bible verses calling non-believers fools. Sounds awfully convenient for those claiming God exists. Cuz ya know Mr. Koberlein, IF God exists, and despite your claim otherwise you don't know anymore one way or the other than I do or anyone else, I'm guessing he or she gets pretty pissed when people go around shoving words in his or her mouth and claiming him or her all to themselves. What's more immoral, rejecting God, or creating him from thin air to fullfil your own self-serving purposes and then calling other people fools for not believing what you believe? You are a spiritual swinder, a proselytizing religion peddler, and a liar. Go to hell.

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Marion Lynn 6 years, 7 months ago

Well, here is the thing as I see it................................................

Look at a tree, a rock or a stainless steel bolt.......................................or a puppy.

The reality is that we cannot "create" any of those things from thin air, from the ground up; we might be able to put together the component parts but we cannot create those parts.

This of course means that something greater than ourselves did.

Now the wicket starts to get sticky; we have absolutely no idea who or what did, regardless of what a myriad of prophets, seeers, scholars and wingdings of the centuries have told us.

We do not know, we cannot know, inspite of those things which some claim to "know in their hearts". "Knowing a thing in one's heart" is like spitting in the wind as all the heart does is pump blood.

Religions are constructs used to try to explain the unexplainable; ways to make us comfortable with the unanswerables and to shield us from our fear of death.

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storm 6 years, 7 months ago

The god on the legal tender is the best. That other one that sent his only begotten son to another planet to be tortured then be killed - that god is definately into child abuse.

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purplesage 6 years, 7 months ago

A person becomes agnostic. St. Augustine's ancient observation seems appropriate, to the effect that, "You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are are restless until they find their rest in You."

My observation is that people who refuse to believe have, generally, two kinds of objections. On the one hand, there is a moral reason, some habit or choice or situation that they perceive Deity would disapprove which keeps them at a distance. On the other hand, there are questions of theodicy, somehow questioning God for events in the world at large or in life more personnaly which have disappointed or disillusioned an individual.

The Creation is an evidence of the Creator. The inspired Word is more specific. The Living Word, Jesus, is God's fullest self-disclosure. He is the question.

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yourworstnightmare 6 years, 7 months ago

"i beleive in god"

I can't resist.

Do you believe in "I before E except after C"?

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yourworstnightmare 6 years, 7 months ago

"It has taken imagination and courage (two very traditional religious values)."

Hardly. Imagination and courage? These are the values that religion allows one to escape and put aside.

"Agnostics might argue that without denying the existence of God, they just believe they have no evidence. But throughout both the Old and New Testaments, God makes it quite clear that we can know him and have proof of his existence."

What a load of circular thinking. Reality exists, therefore god exists. Resting the evidence of god's existence on the natural world and human nature are risky, but resting it on a poorly written 2000-year-old fairy tale is just setting yourself up.

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i_tching 6 years, 7 months ago

There is no god to reject, obviously.

Agnostics and atheists put emphasis on their embrace of the scientific and rational investigation of reality, rather than on notions of rejecting mythology, religion, or gods and goddesses. This embrace, as opposed to rejection, might explain some of the recent explosion of interest in atheism and the best-selling books of Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and Hitchens.

Religious fundamentalism, however, involves an often violent rejection of science, rationality, and respect for other people.

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