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09/10/2009 12:22:20 PM · #1
I was discussing religious opinions yesterday with a co-worker. He has a college assignment in sociology, to interview someone of a totally different faith / belief. Since he is christian & I'm agnostic, he chose me. Its cool, because we are so vastly different in some ways (skin color, national origin, religious views), yet very alike in others (children, spouses, job).

I jokingly told him that I'd research a hard-core atheist online & use lots of quotes, just to make things interesting in his class (his courses are at a christian college). I thought his reply was very telling, in that he immediately assumed my answers would include satanism. When I replied "But atheists are not satanists", he was totally confused. Even bluntly stating "Atheists don't believe in a god, why would they believe in a devil", he just could not make that connection. We still thought it would be funny to include, but his answer got me to thinking...

As we talked, I mentioned a friend out on the west coast who grew up with NO religion in her upbringing. She has become a very bright, happy, intelligent & talented woman. Yet my co-worker was baffled by the idea of being in a place where religion isn't constantly prevalent (as it often is, here in the southeast U.S.) The look of shock and bewilderment was impossible to miss on his face... and that had me thinking even more about my own beliefs.

Have you had any interesting 'revelations' during a religious conversation, or learned of some faith based knowledge that surprised you? Feel free to discuss. :)

*I know religious conversations normally get heated, so I just started this in the rant section.
09/10/2009 12:24:39 PM · #2
Should have put it in the Personal Life section. JMO.
09/10/2009 01:16:15 PM · #3
I find this interesting. At the very least, it shows just how much influence our geographic region has on the way we think about the world. On a deeper level, it highlights the inability of many people to understand belief systems other than their own - in fact, the near cluelessness that alternative beliefs can even exist, and that people who have them can possible be good, happy people.
09/10/2009 01:37:08 PM · #4
i want to follow this thread. i have a very unique family situation that has beliefs that seem to have altered based on location. but another factor influencing beliefs or lack of, seems to stem from the stability of the individual, or how often has a person moved and how many other influences they allow in their lives. this is interesting.
09/10/2009 01:38:32 PM · #5
I am a christian so I very much believe in god. However I do not have a problem with people that are pagans, muslims, agnostic, or even satan worshipers. I believe that it is an individual choice whether yo believe, don't believe, or believe something different than me. I find it a little much to say you don't believe what I do so you're going to hell. Generally I try to stay away from religous conversations because it does seem to get too heated too quick. This post seemed slightly safer. We'll see if it stays safe...LOL
09/10/2009 02:12:06 PM · #6
Originally posted by cowboy221977:

We'll see if it stays safe...LOL


I'm pretty sure it won't.

I find that a christian college asking students to interview people of completely different faith is a great idea! It's the best way to open minds to show that someone, somewhere might believe some different than you and neither of you are either more right or wrong than the other, just different.
09/10/2009 02:24:10 PM · #7
Originally posted by merchillio:

Originally posted by cowboy221977:

We'll see if it stays safe...LOL


I'm pretty sure it won't.

I find that a christian college asking students to interview people of completely different faith is a great idea! It's the best way to open minds to show that someone, somewhere might believe some different than you and neither of you are either more right or wrong than the other, just different.


Most schools aren't so ass backwards now a days, in that they offer plenty of openminded classes regarding other religions. I know my college did, based on some thing that the pope said about accepting any religion that is good in nature or something.
09/10/2009 03:23:54 PM · #8
Originally posted by rossbilly:

Have you had any interesting 'revelations' during a religious conversation, or learned of some faith based knowledge that surprised you? Feel free to discuss.


Revelation: It's hard to evangelize online. It's easier to do it by example.

BTW, I read the title wrong. I thought it was, "An unexpected religious conversion..." I kept re-reading looking for who was converted to what.

09/10/2009 05:40:43 PM · #9
Originally posted by briantammy:

i want to follow this thread. i have a very unique family situation that has beliefs that seem to have altered based on location. but another factor influencing beliefs or lack of, seems to stem from the stability of the individual, or how often has a person moved and how many other influences they allow in their lives. this is interesting.


if you don't mind, would you share the situation you've mentioned above?

come to think of it, i grew up baptist... the more i traveled, the more people i met, the more i realized i didn't agree with any particular religion.

09/11/2009 12:02:31 AM · #10
Originally posted by rossbilly:

Originally posted by briantammy:

i want to follow this thread. i have a very unique family situation that has beliefs that seem to have altered based on location. but another factor influencing beliefs or lack of, seems to stem from the stability of the individual, or how often has a person moved and how many other influences they allow in their lives. this is interesting.


if you don't mind, would you share the situation you've mentioned above?

come to think of it, i grew up baptist... the more i traveled, the more people i met, the more i realized i didn't agree with any particular religion.


i don't really mind. I've always found the topic of "belief" interesting. I suppose that if I was raised in an environment with little change from generation to generation, I might accept things as they are giving little thought as to why. But I wasn't.

My father was raised in a Baptist environment in rural Ohio, and Mom as a Catholic in a French/Canadian influenced coastal city of Maine. My siblings and I were raised catholic by mom for 17 years in Maine. We moved to Ohio and a couple years later a "conversion" to Baptist took place. Then we were all (7 kids) suddenly Baptists. If you have an understanding of Baptist and Catholic beliefs then you might appreciate the complexity of the situation.

I don't want to get into details because i still really don't understand and it would take too long but this upbringing has lead me to struggle with what "belief" really means. I understand how someone could believe as a Baptist does and I understand how to think and believe like a Catholic. I know sincere followers of both faiths. By my understanding of "belief", a believer doesn't need to ask many questions. He just believes and is ok with it. I think those that ask the most questions are unbelievers or they are unsettled in what they think they believe. And that to determine what you or anyone believes you just need to see what they do, as it will match what they really believe.
09/11/2009 12:15:58 AM · #11
ive had revelations just sitting thinking about religion. usaully about how i cant seriously beleive that people actualy believe in it. it always shocks me. it doesnt happen often though, usually when im bored and driving somewhere.
09/11/2009 01:39:21 AM · #12
Originally posted by briantammy:

I think those that ask the most questions are unbelievers or they are unsettled in what they think they believe. And that to determine what you or anyone believes you just need to see what they do, as it will match what they really believe.


I agree with you that people's behavior will match their true beliefs, but I disagree with equating a questioning approach to lack of dedication. There's a lot to be said about understanding each other. Religion is something that has a great impact on the conduct and goals of an individual. To ask questions and understand where somebody else is coming from does not mean you have any doubts about your own beliefs. It is possible to understand and accept as others believe without ever having an intent to change your opinion.
I am firmly rooted in my beliefs, but I have a genuine interest in theology of all brands and have done a good amount of reading. For me, the more diversified my knowledge became, the more interesting religion became. There are so many misunderstandings due to mis- or under-education about our fellow human beings that are rooted in religion, and to truly be a citizen of the world, one must overcome these barriers.

I, too, have had a discussion with a believer wherein they couldn't grasp that I didn't believe in anything in the sense that they did. They kept asking what it was I believed in and what it was I supported, or how they didn't understand where my morals came from if not from religion. It's an interesting discussion.
An interesting college course I took was called The Philosophy of Religion. I was already pretty familiar with the texts we went over in the course before hand, but they were still interesting. What I got the most out of, however, was the discussions of concepts we would have, and the manner in which different people of different faiths approached and critiqued each piece. It was interesting to see how one's beliefs greatly dictated what each person would consider a hole in an argument, or a critical flaw, or even be able to see these problems. The other interesting thing was how, after analyzing and searching for flaws in the texts, people would reflect on their own beliefs in the same manner, something many had never done.
09/11/2009 02:31:36 AM · #13
Originally posted by spiritualspatula:

Originally posted by briantammy:

I think those that ask the most questions are unbelievers or they are unsettled in what they think they believe. And that to determine what you or anyone believes you just need to see what they do, as it will match what they really believe.


To ask questions and understand where somebody else is coming from does not mean you have any doubts about your own beliefs.



I totally agree with you here, but i meant to refer to questions you have about your own beliefs and not that of others. If you, for instance associate with a particular group and have questions regarding their traditions and beliefs then i consider this unbelief, not that there's anything wrong with that, as you can't believe in something you don't understand.
09/11/2009 02:53:43 AM · #14
Originally posted by briantammy:


...... as you can't believe in something you don't understand.


<joking>
Wife.
(You believe her, but do not understand.)
</joking>

Message edited by author 2009-09-11 02:54:09.
09/11/2009 03:06:46 AM · #15
I read this thread. And now I got Ziggy Marley "Love is my Religion" Stuck in my head.
09/11/2009 08:30:41 AM · #16
Originally posted by briantammy:

as you can't believe in something you don't understand.


Surely this should be reversed: belief is applied precisely in situations where one does not understand (otherwise we would "know" not "believe").
09/11/2009 12:02:09 PM · #17
Originally posted by Matthew:

Originally posted by briantammy:

as you can't believe in something you don't understand.


Surely this should be reversed: belief is applied precisely in situations where one does not understand (otherwise we would "know" not "believe").


ahh. this is why i find this topic so interesting. I wonder if most of the social problems in the world wouldn't be solved by perfect understanding of one another. That tower of babel.

If i told you i had $10,000 here at my house and i said you could have it if you came over to get it, would you come and get it?
If that was all i said you probably wouldn't. You don't know me, i might be lying, i might be just trying to prove a point. I think your actions match your belief. You probably wouldn't travel to my house without more assurance.

that's what i meant. if you wanted to clarify your understanding about this you would ask me more questions, like "are you really that rich? have you done something like this before? can i have your mom's phone number? etc. You still wouldn't "know" for sure but you may start to "believe" it was true and if you did believe it your actions would show it.

this is what i struggle with in religion. this is my understanding of "believing" which in my head is different than blind faith.
09/11/2009 01:04:33 PM · #18
*hops in car to collect $10,000*
09/11/2009 01:15:39 PM · #19
back to OP:

I am surprised by the nationalism of American Fundamentalist Christians (by which I mean many different groups of conservative Christians), because the Bible which they are so fervent about taking literally says nothing about loving one's country. I'm also surprised by the Conservatism of these Christians in general, because I find so many tenets of Conservatism to be inconsistent with Christ's teachings. These include: warmongering, leaving the poor to fend for themselves, tribal loyalty, protecting the interests of the rich and powerful and disregard for the environment (this last one is finally being considered by some Christian groups).
09/11/2009 02:27:36 PM · #20
Originally posted by posthumous:

back to OP:

I am surprised by the nationalism of American Fundamentalist Christians (by which I mean many different groups of conservative Christians), because the Bible which they are so fervent about taking literally says nothing about loving one's country. I'm also surprised by the Conservatism of these Christians in general, because I find so many tenets of Conservatism to be inconsistent with Christ's teachings. These include: warmongering, leaving the poor to fend for themselves, tribal loyalty, protecting the interests of the rich and powerful and disregard for the environment (this last one is finally being considered by some Christian groups).


I guess I'm in the catagory you listed above, although my background is Brethren/Anabaptist(non resistance, etc.). Personally I feel that my support and obedience to the government should be secondary to the teachings of Jesus. While I recognize the right of a secular government to go to war and protect its citizens, i'm uncomfortable with the cozy relationship between Conservative Christian groups and "patriotism". I respect the govmt and the military but I'm hardly going to sing their praises or "rah-rah" a war effort.

Regarding the poor-- In my experience, the members of the church have been very active in helping the poor. Certainly the "don't work, don't eat" ethic is strong but that hasn't stopped anyone that I know from providing assistance to those that need it. I havn't been exposed to the conservative movement of the southeast...
09/12/2009 12:46:58 PM · #21
Originally posted by mpeters:

Regarding the poor-- In my experience, the members of the church have been very active in helping the poor. Certainly the "don't work, don't eat" ethic is strong but that hasn't stopped anyone that I know from providing assistance to those that need it. I havn't been exposed to the conservative movement of the southeast...


Yes, some conservative Christians will actively help the poor in their actual lives, but then support a politics that abandons the poor.

I can relate to what you said about patriotism. I think there are other Christians who justify patriotism by saying that the United States is specially chosen by God. Some call us the Lost Tribe of Israel.
09/12/2009 01:17:10 PM · #22
Originally posted by posthumous:

Originally posted by mpeters:

Regarding the poor-- In my experience, the members of the church have been very active in helping the poor. Certainly the "don't work, don't eat" ethic is strong but that hasn't stopped anyone that I know from providing assistance to those that need it. I havn't been exposed to the conservative movement of the southeast...


Yes, some conservative Christians will actively help the poor in their actual lives, but then support a politics that abandons the poor.

I can relate to what you said about patriotism. I think there are other Christians who justify patriotism by saying that the United States is specially chosen by God. Some call us the Lost Tribe of Israel.


I figured you were mostly referring to Conservative's support for the GOP and its policies.
09/12/2009 01:58:17 PM · #23
I beleive in whats right and wrong. Why does there have to be a so called "god" behind it. We all know what's right and wrong.

How many different religious figures are there?
Why haven't I been smited for not worshiping one of them?
If I was clever enough.. I could probobly make up a new religion tommorow.
There is no invisable presence that surrounds us and protects us.
There is no heaven or hell..
Our intelligence just makes us smart enough to make up such things.
A dog isn't thinking about going to heaven or hell.
The dog is good because I taught him to be good.
I am good because someone taught me to be good.
Hitler was bad because someone taught him to think badly.
Terrorists are bad because they have a warped sense of good and bad.. due to bad

everyone lives by the same general rule.. of right and wrong.. they all just want to put a stamp on it.. that says it's the "christian" way..or the "muslim" way...etc. I think it's all silly.
09/17/2009 11:43:05 PM · #24
Originally posted by mpeters:

Originally posted by posthumous:

back to OP:

I am surprised by the nationalism of American Fundamentalist Christians (by which I mean many different groups of conservative Christians), because the Bible which they are so fervent about taking literally says nothing about loving one's country. I'm also surprised by the Conservatism of these Christians in general, because I find so many tenets of Conservatism to be inconsistent with Christ's teachings. These include: warmongering, leaving the poor to fend for themselves, tribal loyalty, protecting the interests of the rich and powerful and disregard for the environment (this last one is finally being considered by some Christian groups).


I guess I'm in the catagory you listed above, although my background is Brethren/Anabaptist(non resistance, etc.). Personally I feel that my support and obedience to the government should be secondary to the teachings of Jesus. While I recognize the right of a secular government to go to war and protect its citizens, i'm uncomfortable with the cozy relationship between Conservative Christian groups and "patriotism". I respect the govmt and the military but I'm hardly going to sing their praises or "rah-rah" a war effort.

Regarding the poor-- In my experience, the members of the church have been very active in helping the poor. Certainly the "don't work, don't eat" ethic is strong but that hasn't stopped anyone that I know from providing assistance to those that need it. I havn't been exposed to the conservative movement of the southeast...


I'm going to echo mark and say that there are many Christians who do not go for the conservatism that comes with some groups. I would place myself squarely in that camp.

To the OP's post, I would perhaps put the shoe on the other foot. Reading between the lines it sounds like Ross was having a very hard time understanding the position of his friend. It sounds very much like he can't fathom it. I'm not saying this is bad or trying to stir up crap, but I'm just saying it's a two way street. The believer can see two worlds; this one and another. The atheist (and perhaps, but not necessarily, the agnostic) can only see one. What you were trying to get your friend to do, perhaps, is akin to asking a person with normal eyesight to pretend they are red/green colorblind. It would be very hard to do so with any amount of reality. You can't divorce from your mind something so ingrained as "seeing green".

Message edited by author 2009-09-17 23:47:03.
09/17/2009 11:45:26 PM · #25
Originally posted by Intelli:

I am good because someone taught me to be good.
Hitler was bad because someone taught him to think badly.


I like the direction of the thread as it is, but this is too rich to pass up. We all know we don't always act good. I don't. You don't. So is that because you choose to do bad or because someone taught you to think badly?
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