T Nation

Have You Always Believed As You Do Now?

Question for believers, and for agnostics/atheists:

Have you always seen the universe as you do now, or have your beliefs changed over time?

I have a theory that there are a lot more believers -> agnostics/atheists than there are agnostics/atheists -> believers.

But maybe I’m overgeneralizing from my own experience. I was a devout Christian for 35 years before becoming an agnostic.

i was raised an atheist, and had a conversion experience in my early 20’s (abt 10 years ago). I have found that being a christian convert can be a very different experience than being raised christian.

[quote]forlife wrote:
Question for believers, and for agnostics/atheists:

Have you always seen the universe as you do now, or have your beliefs changed over time?

I have a theory that there are a lot more believers -> agnostics/atheists than there are agnostics/atheists -> believers.

But maybe I’m overgeneralizing from my own experience. I was a devout Christian for 35 years before becoming an agnostic.[/quote]

I’ve always been religious but don’t care for organized religion. It should be personal and based on experience.

I’ve also become WAY more tolerant of gay people and black people. Live and let live.

[quote]forlife wrote:
Question for believers, and for agnostics/atheists:

Have you always seen the universe as you do now, or have your beliefs changed over time?

I have a theory that there are a lot more believers -> agnostics/atheists than there are agnostics/atheists -> believers.

But maybe I’m overgeneralizing from my own experience. I was a devout Christian for 35 years before becoming an agnostic.[/quote]

I think it depends upon the age group - I find that by the time people are in their 30s, they’re re-assessing their “atheism” in various ways and I see a lot more former “atheists” professing a faith. That’s the reverse of my experience regarding teens/20s, where they were often raised “Christian” and are falling away.

My feeling is, God is always trying to get your attention; one way or another, he gets it.

As for myself, I was raised Anglo-Catholic; and I fell away for many years; had a series of harrowing near-death experiences and, suddenly and almost without my willing it, found myself on the rock solid ground I grew up upon; and am now far more devoutly Anglo-Catholic than I ever was as a child.

[quote]forlife wrote:
Question for believers, and for agnostics/atheists:

Have you always seen the universe as you do now, or have your beliefs changed over time?

I have a theory that there are a lot more believers -> agnostics/atheists than there are agnostics/atheists -> believers.

But maybe I’m overgeneralizing from my own experience. I was a devout Christian for 35 years before becoming an agnostic.[/quote]

I don’t see the world/ universe in any way like I used to, and yet it led me to the same place.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
I’ve also become WAY more tolerant of gay people and black people. Live and let live.
[/quote]

That’s good to hear, HH. Along the same lines, I’ve found myself becoming a lot more tolerant of believers. If someone’s belief system brings them happiness and peace, good for them.

[quote]forlife wrote:
That’s good to hear, HH. Along the same lines, I’ve found myself becoming a lot more tolerant of believers. If someone’s belief system brings them happiness and peace, good for them.[/quote]

This. I’ve found myself going from outright hating believers to being overly agnostic on them. If it makes them happy, how is it my business to give a shit?

Now I only really care if they’re trying to insist something factual isn’t, or vice-versa.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
I’ve always been religious but don’t care for organized religion. It should be personal and based on experience.
[/quote]

HH, you should read C.S. Lewis’ essay, “The Poison of Subjectivism.”

[quote]Beowolf wrote:

[quote]forlife wrote:
That’s good to hear, HH. Along the same lines, I’ve found myself becoming a lot more tolerant of believers. If someone’s belief system brings them happiness and peace, good for them.[/quote]

This. I’ve found myself going from outright hating believers to being overly agnostic on them. If it makes them happy, how is it my business to give a shit?

Now I only really care if they’re trying to insist something factual isn’t, or vice-versa.[/quote]

Just to clarify - genuine faith has very little to do with “finding happiness” or “peace” or whatnot. Common misconception, and I think it’s worth pointing out.

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
Just to clarify - genuine faith has very little to do with “finding happiness” or “peace” or whatnot. Common misconception, and I think it’s worth pointing out. [/quote]

Even if your faith doesn’t bring you happiness and peace, it’s none of my business what you choose to believe in. I don’t agree with your beliefs, but I fully support your right to believe whatever makes sense to you.

[quote]forlife wrote:

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
Just to clarify - genuine faith has very little to do with “finding happiness” or “peace” or whatnot. Common misconception, and I think it’s worth pointing out. [/quote]

Even if your faith doesn’t bring you happiness and peace, it’s none of my business what you choose to believe in. I don’t agree with your beliefs, but I fully support your right to believe whatever makes sense to you.[/quote]

I’m not so sure what you’re saying is true - as stated. IF you mean by “none of your business” that the State has no right to intervene, then I agree.

If, however, you mean that what your fellow man believes is “none of your business” in the sense that it doesn’t matter to you and that you should not engage with your neighbor on these issues, then I disagree.

What each of us believes is terribly important; and one of the most important aspects of being “civilized” - indeed, it’s perhaps the definition of community itself - is that we are in dialogue about what we believe, and why.

[quote]katzenjammer wrote:
I’m not so sure what you’re saying is true - as stated. IF you mean by “none of your business” that the State has no right to intervene, then I agree.

If, however, you mean that what your fellow man believes is “none of your business” in the sense that it doesn’t matter to you and that you should not engage with your neighbor on these issues, then I disagree.

What each of us believes is terribly important; and one of the most important aspects of being “civilized” - indeed, it’s perhaps the definition of community itself - is that we are in dialogue about what we believe, and why. [/quote]

What I meant was that I have no right to condemn others for their personal beliefs, even when I strongly disagree with them. I agree that discourse is a good thing, but only when it is mutually respectful. Unfortunately, particularly when it comes to religion and politics, discussions generally degrade into stubborn declarations rather than constructive debates.

Admittedly, there is a fine line on tolerating other belief systems when those beliefs interfere with the freedom of others. As long as people don’t expect others to believe as they do, I support their right to believe whatever they want.

My family didn’t start going to church until I was in elementary school. Was always pretty much a Christian. Got big into the church in my late teens. Now I still have faith in God, but am no longer hard line religion. My beliefs are somewhat Unitarian/deist.

…good to see you back on the forum, forlife. It has been a process of years before the dime dropped, and the questions i had drifted off in the sunset…

I was raised a lazy christian. Considered it seriously for a few years of uni and now I’m an atheist. Religious debates and the like seem boring now and such questions no longer bother me.

Views have changed over the years. Raised catholic, lost my faith to a degree, came back to it. Always had the core beliefs but the details have changed over time.

Mu family is supposed to be catholic, some of them practice regularly like going to church and having crosses all over the house and stuff. I actually still wear my Army dogtags, and they read Roman Catholic even though I don’t practice any religion.

Anyway, I do believe in a higher ‘something’, I don’t think it’s a ‘God’ as in the contemporary view. I think it’s more of an infinite universal energy, or infinite universal force, or something along those lines that we will never come close to understanding.

Either way, everyone finds god and religion their own way, on their own terms. Whether it be agnostic, athiest, christian, unexplainable universal energy, etc… It’s pretty useless to judge someone because of what they believe in.

Yeah, I still believe in Santa; the Tooth Fairy; an omnipotent, omnipresent, all-loving, parent-like deity that awaits me in Heaven…

For the sake of my own hope in humanity I hope you still don’t believe like you did when you were a child.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
I’ve also become WAY more tolerant of gay people and black people. Live and let live.
[/quote]

I don’t know why I’m surprised by this.

I grew up going to Catholic Church (with on parent) and being “Jewishy” with the other (divorced).

I guess I would say I’ve always been agnostic, but the agnosticism I have now is very different than the totally confusion as a child, or the borderline atheism I experienced as a teenager.

I devoted most of my higher-education to religion and philosophy, so the perspective changed drastically, but still agnostic.

I assume something similar happens to adults who were raised in an organized religion, I assume they either a) drift away (don’t think about it much) b) live with/ignore the cognitive dissonances as though they were a child (don’t think about it much) or c) come to some level of peace and acceptance of the cognitive dissonance organized religion requires of them, and have a more “mature” spirituality than they did as children.