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  1. #1
    The Pacifist Wargamer Quick's Avatar
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    Choice of Change of Religion

    Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I know, right off the bat, that there is an amazing incendiary potential in a thread like this, but I think it could be worth something. Additionally, it would answer a question that has weighed on me for some time.

    This question is for those of you whose religion or lack thereof is different from what it was when you were a child, or different from your families': If you were raised in a certain ethical/spiritual/philosophical household, but you have since switched or dropped-out altogether, why did you do so?

    Please pardon me for my bluntness, but I must re-iterate that I am here concerned with switchers. For example, "I was born Lutheran and I am currently Lutheran" does not really apply to this question.

    As for myself, I was raised in a household without religion. I was not at home for very long, but long enough to grow up as a non-religious person. (Note, this does not mean agnostic or atheist, just non-religious) When I was around twenty years old, I had read a book on Buddhist philosophies and they intrigued me. After a few years of further study, I decided that the Buddhist system of ideals was something that put an appropriate framework around how I perceived the world. What ultimately "sealed the deal" for me was when I was told the most reasonable answer to the question, "Why should one aspire to be a good person". Simply, it was to be good for goodness's own sake.

    Since then, my personal ethical system has been that of Buddhism in the Theravada tradition, and Aristotelian ethics as laid out in "Nicomachean Ethics".

    How about you?



    WHFB: Dwarfs || WH40k: Imperial Fists, Necrons || WM/H: Trollbloods || BFG: Necrons

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  3. #2
    Wave Man Kahoolin's Avatar
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    Cool question. I was raised a catholic, and went to catholic school all my life. My mum is a big catholic, my dad is agnostic.

    At around age 13 I started reading books about zen as I was interested in Japanese martial arts. I started out learning to meditate for martial arts (at this stage I had been practicing kenjutsu/kendo for about a year), but when I read the basic buddhist tenets in my little zen book I thought they seemed very reasonable. Instead of the catholic style "don't lie or you'll go to hell" I was reading things like "right speech means knowing that sometimes it's right to hold back the truth so as to spare another's feelings. Causing unnecessary hurt is worse than lying." It made sense, and seemed real. Very little of it was illogical, whereas to me (as a 13 year old) a great deal of christian theology seemed illogical. When I asked my mum/teachers/priests about these inconsistencies they said "you have to have faith." This is a very unsatisfactory answer for a kid who just wants to know why something doesn't make sense. They may as well have said "just because!" and it really turned me off christianity.

    I just really liked the whole idea of an ethical system without the need for god. It made everything neater and more realistic for me, and made me more resolved to be a better person which, if god is real, I'm sure he approves of

    This is not to say I think god doesn't exist, I just don't think he's a necessary part of the universe for me. He is a non-question. As Quick said, I like the idea of humans striving to be the best they can be because it's the right thing to do.

    I didn't want to hurt my mum's feelings so I had a big talk with her about how I didn't really like alot of the things in catholicism and I would like to stop going to church because I wasn't sure I believed. I told her I would go to christmas and easter mass with her as these are big family occasions, and she was very happy. She was a bit upset I think about me rejecting catholicism but was accepting of my choice. She now respects buddhism a great deal after we talked alot about it.

    I have since found many things in buddhism I don't agree with/believe in, and have studied other religions pretty extensively. I have come to the conclusion that no religion is self-evidently true and more importantly, there's no reason you need a religion. I have taken the ethical rules of buddhism and try to follow them in my daily life, but I do not believe in reincarnation, nirvana, or anything like that. I meditate only to relax and focus my mind. So I guess you can say I really am zen, in the original sense of it being a non-dogmatic formless practice, not really a religion at all.

    Long explanation but there you have it... catholic to zen in 12 years!
    Last edited by Kahoolin; January 4th, 2006 at 23:38.

  4. #3
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    Interesting thread indeed!

    I was raised in a mixed household myself. My mother is very religious but rarely speaks of her beliefs except whenever the conversation happens to touch upon Christianity, whereas my father has never mentioned religion at all in my presence and doesn’t seem to be awfully interested in going to church. I was baptised and later confirmed in the National Church of Denmark, which is Lutheran, and at the time I did actually define myself as a Christian even though there were some parts of the religion I simply couldn’t seem to get my head round.

    I have later abandoned Christianity, to the grief of my mother. It wasn’t because I found another religion more attractive to my beliefs, but rather that I couldn’t in good faith (ha ha) continue to practise a religion I felt I had somehow outgrown. I suppose I had become too disillusioned with the world in general and Christianity in particular to believe that it had anything to offer me but a false feeling of security. In many ways I also found it too ignorant and old-fashioned to support me in a modern world like ours, or at least I felt that my personal opinions were so different from those of other practising Christians that I couldn’t relate to them at all. Now I only go to church for family events like baptisms and weddings, and that’s only for the sake of tradition. I fully understand and accept that others might see something in Christianity that I for some reason did not, however, and I am not one to tell others what to believe in and not.

    I haven’t since found another religion to turn to, although not for lack of looking. I considered going Pagan for a while, just for the heck of it, but didn’t feel like replacing one illusion of the world with another. I have remained more or less agnostic, open-minded but undecided. Science has had a great impact on my life, and led me to believe that the world as we see it is nothing more than a mental construct created by our brain from information gathered through five imperfect senses; religion is nothing more than biology working through psychology, an evolutionary means to survive the existential fear that followed in the wake of increased intelligence and eventual self-awareness.

    Religion according to science is just a trick played on our self-aware egos by the subconscious mind, and sometimes I’m fairly sure that only by freeing ourselves from such beliefs can we finally conquer our base animalistic nature and transcend to a higher level of understanding and knowledge of science and of ourselves. And then sometimes I wonder if biology is really all there is to us, and I get this feeling that we might in fact have a soul, an essence, something more than just organic parts and pieces ticking away like a giant clockwork until something breaks and that’s that.

    Because of my inability to decide which is the truth, I have simply settled for the option of leading a good life for my own sake and others’; I don’t believe I need a god to enforce my moral beliefs since Nature deigned to equip me with a fine complementary set consisting of a conscience and an intuitive understanding of ethics, but if a god does exist I doubt He’d complain about the way I’ve led my life (unless of course said god happens to be one in favour of human sacrifices, in which case I might have a slight problem.)

    And now I think this post has become too verbose, so I’ll stop now. I hope I’ve managed to make just a bit sense in spite of my ramblings.

    ~Grephaun.
    Last edited by Grephaun; January 5th, 2006 at 01:50.
    "Girls are nice and cuddly on the outside, and freaky on the inside." ~ Lost Nemesis.


  5. #4
    Pathfinder Edicius's Avatar
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    My familiy's Irish Catholic, so I was raised to be a devout Catholic. Catholic schools, church every sunday, I was even an alter boy (never molested thankfuly).Untill I was arounnd 12 I never really questioned the dogma. I just beleived what I was told and left it at that.I forst started questioning my faith right around the time we moved to America to stay. I guess it was because of all the big things going on in my life or just the nature of adolescence, but something kinda switched off in my head and I just couldn't blindly accept things as true anymore without finding things out for my self. I don't think there's a specific point actualy, it was more of a gradual decline due to a large number of factors, but eventualy I lost all faith in the Catholic church and thier teachings.That sort of lead for a lack of faith in religions as a whole and for a while I was an Atheist, but I've expereinced too many things to honestly believe there's not some unseen forces out there somewhere working beyond our reach. I have gravitated back towards Christianity a little, but overall I'm still trying to figure out what my own religious beliefs are. I'm 23 now and still not sure what I believe in.I'm sure I'll figure it all out eventualy, at least I hope I do.

  6. #5
    LO Zealot Ezekiel1990's Avatar
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    This involves my dad and my aunt (on his side) rather than myself.

    Both grew up in the same Jahova's Witnesses household. My dad chose not to join them, and his sister did. He stayed agnostic his whole life. His sister, however, left the JW's after a while. Now, my dad's other sisters and mother won't even speak to her anymore (as is the JW rule), but they still wanted to see her children. My dad (and our family) are the only family members who support her.

    I think it is absolutely disgusting that anyone would find religion more important than family, and to shun someone for leaving a religion is equally disgusting.

  7. #6
    The Pacifist Wargamer Quick's Avatar
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    Interesting responses, guys. Keep 'em coming.

    The reason I ask, is because a friend and I were having a discussion and I mentioned that perhaps a theoretical solution to discord between religions (without abolishing them altogether, or combining them all into one) would be to have children raised without religion, then allow them to choose their own faith.
    My friend retorted that without religion, the children may stand a better chance of being raised in ethically lax environments, though. (She's not religious, she was playing Devil's Advocate.)

    Any thoughts?


    WHFB: Dwarfs || WH40k: Imperial Fists, Necrons || WM/H: Trollbloods || BFG: Necrons

  8. #7
    Wave Man Kahoolin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quick
    My friend retorted that without religion, the children may stand a better chance of being raised in ethically lax environments, though. (She's not religious, she was playing Devil's Advocate.)
    I'm not sure about that. They would still have TV, the internet, their peers, the entire wieght of their culture telling them what was acceptable to do and what wasn't. I have many friends who grew up non-religious (Australia is a very secular nation) and they are no more morally corrupt than anyone else.

    In fact in my expereince, if anything, its the religious kids who turn out bad. If you think the ultimate reason you shouldn't do something is because God says you can't, as opposed to "there might be social consequences" what happens when you one day realize God may not be there after all? Bam! instant moral deviant. I can think of three people I know who have or who have had serious drug problems that used to be religious and were raised christians. Of course this doesn't happen to everyone, but it takes a fair degree of moral enlightenment to behave well when there are no percieved consequences.

    But society and other people are always there. There's no arguing that they don't exist (well, unless you are an uber-skeptic) even if you oppose them.

  9. #8
    God's nutcase Xerxes's Avatar
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    I was raised in what I call "kiddy" Christianity, got dragged along to a C of E church to sit and fidget in the pews for most of it (which my parents have declined to keep up). This eventually sunk into my system as a get-out clause, God will forgive me so I can do anything.

    After a few years of this (accompanied by getting viscious) I went atheist/agnostic for quite a while depending on my mood (my quote from high school was "I think there is a God, I just don't like him") thanks to the science I got pumped at high school. Then, for some bizarre reason which I still don't fully understand, I went Pagan, and was to be so for about half of my Sixth Form.

    Things started to swing quite a bit when I got there, though; our philosophy teacher was an ordained Baptist minister, and clearly knew his stuff. My main grudge against Christianity was that it made no sense or had no intellectual dimension at all, and that slowly got eroded by the Rev. By the end of Year 12 I was having regular bouts of self-doubt and crises of faith, which now I look at it were very weird; I was talking to my room-mate (a muslim) about whether Paganism or Christianity was right.

    Over that summer I went to the Orkney Isles fir a week, and found a car boot sale. In amidst all the children's books was a slim blue volume entitled "the truth that leads to Eternal Life". I bought it, determined to slag it of if it was Christian, possibly listen to it if it wasn't. It turned out to be a Jehovah's Witness publication, with a fair bit of fire and brimstone. Things just went click in my head (it's the only way I can describe it), it just made sense, even though there were large bits of it that I still disagree with (particularly the no consuming blood bit). After that I shifted around, explored some of the issues and was baptised by the Rev in May 2004.

    After that, I've continued to grow in my faith, becoming more or less fundamentalist (enduring numerous comments from my dad about being a suicide bomber), to the point where after university my life is going to be my faith. Not ordained ministry, but I'm planning to head out to Africa or somewhere like it as part of an aid mission.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ezekiel1990
    I think it is absolutely disgusting that anyone would find religion more important than family
    Why? Why does proximity matter regarding morality and such? Surely doing good in the world is more important than family, and as you may have guessed, I believe that religion fills that niche.

    And as for the whole "if God exists he'll understand", why bother to have religion at all then? Why not just all kick back, sin until we die from some various malady and rely on God to sort it all out, when we've done nothing that he's asked us to do? What I'd understand from that is that such a person wants no part of God, and so will be given what they want, separation from God (Hell).

  10. #9
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    I must agree with Robotnik on this one. I don’t think non-religious homes must necessarily have lower moral standards than religious ones; like Robotnik, I’ve often found that those displaying the least understanding of supposedly Christian virtues such as love, tolerance, and forgiveness, are actually hardcore Christians themselves. :shifty:

    I was raised in a semi-religious home myself and have gone to Christian schools, although the education I received alongside the daily prayers and psalms was second to none when it came to science and biology, but I was never told that I should or shouldn’t do something because God favoured or disfavoured such behaviour. Rather, my parents explained to me that my actions have consequences beyond myself, and I must live my life with understanding and acceptance of the individuals around me. True compassion in my opinion requires empathy, and true love for one’s next can’t be gained from a book or a set of rules. Someone saying ‘I won’t kill you because then I won’t go to Heaven’ is to me not very reassuring; I would rather that people acknowledge my worth as a human being and right to life than that they refrain from killing me simply because they fear punishment; similarly, the Christian virtue of ‘loving thy next’ seems strangely hollow to me considering that people should only love their next because God demands it, rather than out of genuine compassion for another human being.

    I personally like the idea of children being raised without religion and then being allowed to choose their own if they so desire, but I don’t think that is actually possible; most religious families will naturally impart their religious views onto their children, and children are very impressionable. I think the best thing we can do for children is to teach them tolerance and understanding of others and to encourage their natural curiosity and desire to explore the world around them. If I ever get children, I won’t tell them what to believe and not; they’ll be free to choose that for themselves. I’ll only teach them about respect and love, understanding, tolerance, acceptance, and forgiveness; those are the most important lessons any parent can teach their child in my opinion.

    ~Grephaun.
    "Girls are nice and cuddly on the outside, and freaky on the inside." ~ Lost Nemesis.


  11. #10
    The Pacifist Wargamer Quick's Avatar
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    My friend was, of course, just playing Devil's Advocate. (For the non-English speakers, to play "Devil's Advocate" is to deliberately take a contrary position in a debate, regardless of personal beliefs. It is a good exercise to help a person strengthen their argument.)

    The basis of her comment was, that all of Western society, regardless of an individual's belief structure is, ethically, Judeo-Christian. She argued that, even minus the talk of God, we are all raised religious. Even simple stuff that we don't even think about is affected my a Judeo-Christian ethical structure. For example, nudity: a man or woman appears naked, we try to be polite and avert our eyes. Even Scandinavian people, who are supposedly about as cool with nudity as Westerners can be, still recognize that someone is naked and they are polite about it. The crux of this is the Judeo-Christian shame derived of being seen naked.
    Another example is monogamy: a woman who maintains multiple partners or a man who maintains multiple partners strikes Westerners as somehow odd, because the Western Judeo-Christian ethical paradigm maintains that humans are monogamous creatures.

    All of these ethics, she argued, were relgious in nature, and thus, roughly equate to religion itself.


    WHFB: Dwarfs || WH40k: Imperial Fists, Necrons || WM/H: Trollbloods || BFG: Necrons

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