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Need some help to explain my agnosticism

(11 Posts)
townbuiltonahill Fri 22-Feb-13 20:22:24

T H Huxley on Agnosticism . Hard work, though!! wine wine

MostlyLovingLurchers Thu 21-Feb-13 11:13:18

I don't think the op is trying to change her dm's view, but is wanting to be able to defend her own point of view - of course she shouldn't have to, but that is the situation.

I also take issue with IB saying that there is no point in reading anything if you are already comfortable with your beliefs. Firstly the op sounds a long way from comfortable as she states has changed her view many times and says she may do again. Secondly, it is a very close minded approach to have no interest in what other people have thought and believed, and why they may have arrived at that view. It may introduce you to a way of thinking that would never have occured to you independently, or it may help crystalise an idea you already have, or at least help you understand other points of view. Surely that is one of the reasons why so many of us engage in debate on here even though we may not hold religious or spiritual beliefs?

CheeseStrawWars Thu 21-Feb-13 10:48:12

I wouldn't get into giving her books etc, trying to change her view - you say you "want to give her a reasoned basis to understand why there could be another valid point of view". If you're trying to shift her view from what she currently holds, you're doing the same thing back to her as she's doing to you, and you end up in a to-and-fro debate which misses the point.

The point is more that she needs to recognise you are an adult, capable of independent thought and reaching your own conclusions, and she should respect your right to your own opinions, and to do things your own way.

I suspect that, as you are pregnant, this issue of you being your own person with your own way of doing things needs to be clarified so that she doesn't overstep boundaries with 'telling you how to do things' once your DC arrives. That's more the issue than the "God stuff", I think.

IndigoBarbie Wed 20-Feb-13 22:02:31

It seems like you are pretty comfortable in your own beliefs from your own point of view, therefore: why would you need to read about anything further? If it's to come up with retorts or ways to deal with your Mum/others, that has to come from you soley. If it's to prove to others why you don't hold their's like a total non-argument. You should never have to defend your beliefs to others by proving or justifying yourself one way or the other. Unfortunately, it's sometimes a mindset of those we encounter. Also, by attempting to prove to your Mum that their might actually be another valid point of view, is like battling up against a brick wall - she may never see your point of view because her beliefs are quite probably created by her own experiences. Just as yours are.

Also, the whole thing about trying to prove why you don't believe the same as another only serves to create a further divide and quite probably a circular argument that can not be settled.

I have come up against those who have attempted to 'right me of my wrong beliefs' and I try to remember that they are only attempting to come from a place of their idea of love in their hearts - for me. I hold my own set of beliefs and like you, I live and let live.
Good luck with your Mum, it's only through love, I am sure - no matter how irksome it is. Sending love xxx

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Wed 20-Feb-13 17:14:45

Thanks, will have a nosy!

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 17:04:20

Well, unless she's actively challenging you - "Go on then, explain how the universe began if it wasn't God?" for example - then I would smile and move on. Some things aren't worth the hassle.

But Atheist Universe by David Mills is a superb book (for you, rather than her) and more accessible than Hitchens, I would think.

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Wed 20-Feb-13 17:01:50

mostloving thanks, off to amazon to look for it!

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Wed 20-Feb-13 16:58:49

I suppose i must be a bit stubborn too as I've tried the smile and move on thing but have started finding it irksome ie like I am on the back foot.
I think she tends to dismiss any suggestion that god might not exist, it's almost like she doesn't want to think about it, or even if cogent arguments exist, that there can be no harm in praying, insurance so to speak.
Might have to try the smile and move on thing more

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 20-Feb-13 16:50:10

You could try Christopher Hitchens The Portable Aethiest for some wonderful bitesize reasons for not believing in God. It's a collection of writings by some great thinkers with some additions by Hitchens himself. If you go back through some of the threads on here about god, prayer, creationists etc you will find many well rehearsed arguements on both sides. I'm sorry your mum is finding it hard to afford you the same respect you are showing for her beliefs.

EllieArroway Wed 20-Feb-13 16:36:44

Well - two things.

Firstly, there's no harm in the smile & move the conversation on to something else attitude. Is this possible? That's how a lot of atheists/agnostics deal with their more enthusiastic relatives - and it's fine.

If that's not possible, and you really want to counter some of her arguments, then post what they are and we'll help you come up with responses.

The arguments FOR God tend to be:

Lots of people believe it so it must be true
The Bible/Koran says God is real so it must be true
How else do you explain the world/universe existing? God is the only explanation
I had a experience that can only be explained by God's existence
Science can't prove God doesn't exist
Atheism is very bad - look at Stalin/Hitler

Any of those?

ZombiesAreClammyDodgers Wed 20-Feb-13 16:15:22

So my DM believes in god and I respect her belief. I have at various times believed in god but for some time now have lost my faith both in organised religion and in the concept of the existence of a higher power.
The latter is primarily because I can't reconcile the terrible things that happen day in and day out with the existence of a higher power.
I wouldn't call myself an atheist but definitely an agnostic.
However it's a very personal thing and I certainly don't try to impose my opinions on other people because everyone is entitled to their own set of beliefs.
What I do object to is my mother telling me to believe and to pray which she seems to be doing with increasing regularity now that I'm pregnant, and which is becoming a bit irritating for me.
I'm happy for her to pray for me and truth be told might even one day believe again (though it seems unlikely at this point).
Has anyone read any articles or books that might help me justify my position a bit better? There would be no point in it focusing on Christianity as she isn't Christian, and she probably won't have the patience to read a Richard Dawkins. Anything more bite sized than that? Or any arguments that helped you if you have been in a similar situation?
I don't want to upset her but want to give her a reasoned basis to understand why there could be another valid point of view.

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