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So I am new at all this. I am going through a phase where I am unsure if I am still a Christian or not. I don't believe in the bible but I believe in a higher power... I just so happen to stumble across this and was curios. I always thought that atheist were the ones who worships the devil and wore black and danced around at night casting spells on people. That is what I was taught. Boy was I wrong. I have been friends with an atheist for like 10 years and just found out LOL.

Anyways, I have 3 amazing children. They are not baptized because I want them to make that decision for themselves. Yes, it did throw a big rock in the water when I put my foot down on that. But they believe in God and Jesus. When asked how babies are made I told them God took a little of mommies heart and a little of daddies heart and made a baby and put it in my belly. When my nephew died 1 day shy of being 3 months I was asked, mommy why did he die? As hurt as I was I said well sometimes God needs baby angels. So every year we write messages Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas, etc. on balloons and let them go in the sky so he can see them in Heaven.

Now that I am on the fence on if I am still a Christian or not, I have no idea what to do about my children. Do I pull them away from it all? We don't go to church because I don't believe I HAVE to go to a church to praise God. But how do I interfere with what my children believe? Should I just keep doing what i'm doing and let them decided when they get a little older or what? My whole family are Christians and God comes up a lot. My family stays out of religious discussions with me because I always have something to say to contradict what they are talking about.

 

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Bob, your adult mind talks of getting doubt wrong and campfire yarns. Parochialism limits its reach and you ignore the effects of nuns' errors and yarns in kids' minds. In short, Catholicism has left you with as much empathy as a stone.

What brings me here?

I quit Catholicism for agnosticism in the 1950s when there were no supports such as that offered by sites like this. Studying math and science helped me free my mind of the superstitions an RC education had implanted. I found work I liked that also paid well; was happy and felt no need for an encyclopedic knowledge of agnosticism. My life experience supports my conclusion that religion succeeds only when believers are unhappy.

I have the company of hundreds of veterans but few are agnostics/atheists/etc. TA is a source of information and discussion here provides some of the mental stimulation I find necessary.

I was once as rigidly Catholic as you are and don't buy your explanations. Catholicism and myopia, if not synonyms, are synonymic.

No, I actually don't ignore the effects of that one nun's errors on kids.  I find that reprehensible.  In a few cases where such things have lingered I've taken the nun/priest/lay person to task.  In two cases I had the person removed from their youth ministry position.  In all cases, I've worked with the kids to correct the error.

I will fully admit that I am a post-Vatican II Catholic, having grown up in the renewed Church.   My experience with nuns in that environment was entirely different than what you describe.  They were, as a group, both more caring and far better educated than my lay teachers.  In fact, as those nuns faded my younger siblings occasionally had lay teachers who got somewhat goofy.    I was actually taught computer programming in the early 70s by a nun who also served as an associate professor at the local college.

I have run into the occasional odd adult Catholic in your age range who was the product of something like what you describe.  Folks for whom a pedantic, shallow version of the Baltimore Catechism became Holy Writ for some reason.  Perhaps "indoctrination".  So I don't discount your experience, I'm sure it was genuine.

It was, however, not normative.  Most of the adult Catholics in your age range that I know are ordinary folks with much the same opinions and notions as what I share here.  In fact, the more contact that they had with Catholicism (ex. attending a Catholic college) the more they tend to be what I would consider genuinely faithful and knowledgeable.  So I'll admit that within some elementary schools (and no doubt some families) we didn't do a good job.  I will fully admit that in a Church as large as ours we have some nutters, some failed teachers, some bad eggs, some embezzlers, some arrogant pricks, some pedophiles.

They're just not the norm, nor do they accurately represent the teachings of the faith.

I will fully admit that I am a post-Vatican II Catholic, ....

Perhaps wrongly, I understand Vatican II as having begun in the early 1960s with John 23.

Unless a successor has announced Vatican III, you can claim to be a post-Vatican II Catholic, provided that you ignore John 23's successor's "closing the window" and the present Vatican's response to the Nuns on the Bus.

In fairness, the present Vatican did recently scold two Congressional Republicans, Paul Ryan (for his budget) and Speaker John Boehner. They appear to have ignored their scoldings.

Vatican II was a council, not an epoch.  It was convened in 1962 and ended in 1965.

So doubt is only ok if you come back to Jesus?

If doubt leads you away from Christ, then it is not ok or healthy.  

This makes no sense at all.

God punishes you for using your reasoning faculties while at the same time, hides himself and demands that we believe without evidence.

For if there was substantial evidence, there wouldn't be so much doubt going around.  Or so many passages in the bible discussing doubt

Come to the dark side, Dr. Bob.  Things make more sense here.  No rationalizations or acrobatic apologetics necessary.

If doubt leads you away from Christ, then it is not ok or healthy. 

Why would you say that?  Doubt is doubt.  God doesn't punish you for using your reasoning faculties.   At the same time, all of us as individuals and groups often think we are using our reasoning faculties when in fact we are just getting things wrong, or not fully understanding, or not aware of other data, or are just caught up in our own biases or desires.

So there's a balance.  It's good to use one's reasoning faculties.  It's good to question, and doubt, and explore, and investigate.  It's also good to be humble, to listen to others, to build on the knowledge of the community, to doubt our own reasoning as much or more than the consensus of many good and intelligent people over time.  

My own reasoning wouldn't lead me to General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics.  I absorbed those things over time in prolonged study within a community.  It required that I set aside my own reasoning and "common sense" a fair bit, in order to take up and fully appreciate what the physics community meant by those things, rather than just dismiss them as fairy tales.

It's true, there's an extent to which religion in general and Catholicism in particular emphasizes respect for and being part of a community as much or more than individualism.  I think that's because we've had a lot of experience on how individual rationality isn't always that rational.  There's a lot of just plain nutters out there, who would benefit if they set aside their own "doubts" about climate change or other things long enough to actually listen to and understand what the scientific community or others are saying on the topic.  Instead, they seek out odd blogs and small echo-chamber groups as "evidence" for their own idiosyncratic views.  

I see that sometimes within my own faith; I see it a lot within our fundamentalist brethren.  My question is whether you recognize any of that here?

Well, first, we'd have to know if you believe in Hell.  If you do, then nothing you said makes any sense about doubt or reasoning.  

If you don't believe in Hell, then what you said doesn't matter either way because it is exactly what an atheist would also say.  

"Catholicism in particular emphasizes respect for and being part of a community as much or more than individualism."

Catholicism also harbors child rapists, do not forget that.  The sense of community is a sense of their OWN community, not that of others.  I could go on and on but nothing you could ever say about Catholicism - nothing at all - can make up for the disgusting and atrocious behavior it exhibits in regards to it's own internal child rapists and molesters.  It's a cult of secrecy and weird practices.  With funny outfits and immoral teachings on all things.  

One of the hard parts of being an occasional visitor here, @Dustin, is that far too often my posts result in a hijack of the underlying thread.   So let's let this one return to @Savannah's topic. 

If you want to start a topic on views of Hell, or whether it's really honest to dismiss all Catholicism because we have had members who were rapists (or all American democracy because we have had torturers and genocidal leaders, or all scientists because we have had some who falsified data, or... ), then feel free to spin one off.

Hi Bob,

My own reasoning wouldn't lead me to General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics.  I absorbed those things over time in prolonged study within a community.  It required that I set aside my own reasoning and "common sense" a fair bit, in order to take up and fully appreciate what the physics community meant by those things, rather than just dismiss them as fairy tales.

Once again your analogy to the world of Physics does not stand up. I will agree that we need to “think” differently when it comes to understanding General Relativity when we are used to viewing the world through the Newtonian model. We can grasp the concepts of Quantum Mechanics even if no-one fully understands it, (to paraphrase Feynman). However even down these strange rabbit holes we do have observable data that can be reproduced in order to help us understand, such as the double slit experiment. We can use Bayesian theory to advance our understanding of QM by changing our views when experiments tell us something new. We can now use wave theory to decide Schrodinger’s cat is either dead or alive based upon observation rather than in both states simultaneously. That is the beauty of the Scientific Method.

There have been no signs for the existence of any God, ever. Anything that has ever been offered as evidence has turned out to be nothing but a tired and worn out argument or a purely subjective opinion.

….or not aware of other data, or are just caught up in our own biases or desires.

Exactly Bob. You have no data for your God. All you ever offer us is your own opinion of what emanates from the theological echo chambers of Catholicism. I have asked you on various occasions over the last year or so to define your God to us. The one that you never seem to doubt the existence of. Yes, we all suffer from biases and look to get them confirmed more often than we allow them to be challenged but you seem unwilling to allow yours to be scrutinized whereas Savannah and others have been more than candid with theirs.

So who is this God Bob that you appear to have data for? Will you share it with us? If not, will you be honest enough to admit that you have no data and that it is all just faith based? If you wish to suggest that your faith is a “reasoned faith” then please allow us to see what you have used to reason your way to God.

Finally, and this is not meant to be a facetious question, even if it a first sounds that way – what distinguishes your form of Catholicism from that of your “fundamentalist brethren”?

Hi @Reg. If you like, let's spun this off somewhere else, so that @Savannah's thread isn't trampled.

Ok will do so Bob. I will post a separate topic soon.

Why would you say [doubt is only ok (with Christians) if you come back to Jesus]?  Doubt is doubt.  God doesn't punish you for using your reasoning faculties. 

One might say that because it's reasonably true.

The vast majority of Christians in the United States say you must believe in Jesus and the gospels to be spared the fires of hell. This is the mainstream view: upon death, the Jesus crackpots get lollipops and everyone else gets the furnace.

  • The Princeton Religion Research Center estimates that 6 in 10 Americans "completely agree that the only assurance of eternal life is a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Since the PRRC estimates that 8 out of 10 Americans regard themselves as Christians, then about 75% of Christian adults hold some doubt about inclusivism [the belief if is not necessary to believe in Jesus and the gospel to be saved]." (source)
  • According to the Barna Research Group, among adult Americans: 86% believe that "eventually all people will be judged by God, 57% believe that good people will go to Heaven, 39% believe that those who do not accept Christ as savior will go to Hell, and 46% agree and 47% disagree that all good people will go to Heaven. (source)
  • Billy Graham - The Amsterdam Affirmations - (Used as a definitive handbook of Christian teachings by evangelicals throughout the world)  6. God loves every human being, who, apart from faith in Christ, is under God's judgment and destined for hell.
  • The Islamist point of view varies on the specifics, but in general God tortures non-Muslims in the afterlife forever.
  • The Catholic Church, to its rare credit, teaches a form of inclusivism: "Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God's grace as nothing be condemned. Our attitude to our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love." (The Church equates good treatment of others with acceptance of God's grace.)

Overall, it seems that you'd damn well better believe, because God dishes out one hell of a punishment to the doubters, Bob.

My own reasoning wouldn't lead me to General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics. 

Agreed. Your powers of reason (if not your honesty) are rather sub-par, Bob, and certainly not in the same league as an Albert Einstein or a Max Planck.

For instance...

I absorbed those things over time in prolonged study within a community.  It required that I set aside my own reasoning and "common sense" a fair bit, in order to take up and fully appreciate what the physics community meant by those things, rather than just dismiss them as fairy tales.

...the natural sciences may be counter-intuitive, difficult to understand, or poorly understood in some cases, but none require you to abandon reason in order to fully grasp their meaning. If you dispute this, show me which scientific theory has no reasonable basis, or one that is based on cognitive deficiency or irrationality.

It's true, there's an extent to which religion in general and Catholicism in particular emphasizes respect for and being part of a community as much or more than individualism. I think that's because we've had a lot of experience on how individual rationality isn't always that rational.

An indictment of religion and especially Catholicism for rampant irrationality is rather stunning coming from you, Bob...

There's a lot of just plain nutters out there, who would benefit if they set aside their own "doubts" about climate change or other things long enough to actually listen to and understand what the scientific community or others are saying on the topic. Instead, they seek out odd blogs and small echo-chamber groups as "evidence" for their own idiosyncratic views. I see that sometimes within my own faith; I see it a lot within our fundamentalist brethren. My question is whether you recognize any of that here?

...but that you falsely implicate atheists for doing what religious actually do is no surprise at all.

Sure, Bob. We recognize that fundies, Catholics and religious assert claims on all sorts of bad "evidence".

But which 'views' do you claim atheists hold on insufficient evidence? Which science supports the God claim that are we not listening to, or not understanding, in a way comparable to the massive body of scientific evidence that must be ignored or misunderstood to be a climate change denier?

Be specific, Bob. If you don't support the point you haven't made one.

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