Little question from an agnostic's point of view


#1

So I was talking to my agnostic htb (as you may be familiar with :slight_smile: )and he basicly said:

“i dont want religion for myself because in terms of how i think, i only see evidence of god and jesus in the collective human need that they should exist, beyond that i see nothing to prove their existence and for me it almost seems a laughable concept that people funnel into churches each sunday or whatever day they meet to pray and worship something they cant possibly know anything about, if there is anything to know.”

how to i respond to that WITHOUT quoting scripture or anything with christianity. Keep in mind that we started talking about Summa Theologicae when we were first dating and while that was somewhat satisfactory to him since it was just focused on the general proof of existence of God and no mention or influence of religion in the arguments, he still had trouble believing it. I need somewhere to go to have him see the true existence of religion and not just blame it on some psychological factor that some humans need, without it being influenced by already established religions.

And he brought up another thing:

“how you’re brought up predisposes you so much toward what you feel, and if that’s the case, religion and faith are based on thought processes and learned behavior rather than an actual supreme being”

I don’t even know how to respond to that one :stuck_out_tongue:

Help me out guys! Thanks!


#2

Well what it sounds like what he’s saying (I don’t know for sure, just a general feeling I get from agnostics) is that “God is unknowable.” Now, since the nature is something we cannot understand without His showing us, how could he (your htb) know that God is unknowable? The only way your htb could know this is if he was personally revelated to that this is true! Start with that.


#3

The eyewitness of the disciples of Jesus, who saw His miracles and later were martyred for their belief, is powerful indeed. They would not have consented to die for a lie, and they could have known definitively whether the Christian faith was a lie or not. They either saw Jesus walk on water, cure the sick, and turn a basket of food into enough to feed a multitude, or they didn’t. They testify by blood that they did indeed witness the miracles, that Jesus is indeed the Son of God.

beyond that i see nothing to prove their existence and for me it almost seems a laughable concept that people funnel into churches each sunday or whatever day they meet to pray and worship something they cant possibly know anything about,

This statement is logically false. If God exists (and it cannot be proven that He doesn’t) then He would be able to reveal His Truth to His creation. Thus, it is false to say that we “can’t possibly” know anything about divine truth. That we necessarily cannot know about God is to say that God necessarily does not exist which cannot be shown. Therefore, there is no basis in making such a claim.

if there is anything to know."

Indeed.

how to i respond to that WITHOUT quoting scripture or anything with christianity. Keep in mind that we started talking about Summa Theologicae when we were first dating and while that was somewhat satisfactory to him since it was just focused on the general proof of existence of God and no mention or influence of religion in the arguments, he still had trouble believing it. I need somewhere to go to have him see the true existence of religion and not just blame it on some psychological factor that some humans need, without it being influenced by already established religions.

I can’t help you here. Belief comes from faith, and without faith one cannot believe. The argument I laid out previously regarding the disciples’ witness should be persuasive and powerful, but it is not logically demonstrative. If you want to convert him, pray for him.

And he brought up another thing:

“how you’re brought up predisposes you so much toward what you feel, and if that’s the case, religion and faith are based on thought processes and learned behavior rather than an actual supreme being”

Here is the argument laid out semi-formally:

  1. Upbringing has a major effect on how you think (We’ll accept this as self-evident for the sake of argument, but this is not definitive)
  2. If (1) is true, then religion and faith are based on thought processes rather than divine truth

Now, it should be easy to see that (2) does not strictly follow from (1). There is no obvious material implication by which to link the two statements. There seems to be a missing argument in the middle, if this argument is to even be coherent.

Let me clarify. There are two possibilities offered for why a person would believe in a claim (here, religion): either the claim has objective truth value which the believer has somehow perceived, or the belief is simply a feature of his thought process, of how the human mind works.

Now, (1) assumes the existence of thought processes. Therefore, it is now logically possible that thought processes are the origin of religion. However, the possibility of Divine Revelation has not been disproved. The conclusion of the argument you presented seems to arbitrarily rule out the possibility of Divine Revelation, and assume that religion is solely the product of thought processes. This commits the fallacy of begging the question.


#4

peterkreeft.com/topics/gods-existence.htm
He makes great arguments for the existince of God from pure reason.


#5

My husband was brought up without any religion. He was an atheist when I met him, then agnostic. Now he’s Catholic :thumbsup:. I think that upbringing has something to do with belief, maybe makes it easier to accept but doesn’t dictate whether you can ever believe (that takes humility).

Wasn’t C.S. Lewis an atheist/agnostic? You might try reading Mere Christianity and other writings by him. Maybe St Thomas is too much all at once for a non-believer.


#6

WOW Miles, Love the argument. It’s really helpful. I’m definitely going to bring the disciple thing as part of my main argument, b/c even he would see that people would either have to be nuts or see something truthful to do what the disciples did.

Great answers from everyone.

wisdom, was your husband atheist to begin with or did he fall away from the faith? Just a question b/c my htb was raised with no religious background whatsoever. HIs parents wanted to give them an “open” background. but b/c of this, he claims that he has never felt that need for God and he feels perfectly fine, making a point that how you are raised predisposes you. I was looking into CS Lewis and while I’ll still give it to him to read, I know that Lewis was brought up in religion even though he left it later on and then return. So in his argument Lewis was already “predisposed” to believe.

hmmmm


#7

hmmm this seemed to move to apologetics. I also had this in family life too b/c it had to do with my htb…it’s alright being moved here, but in the process, it erased some awesome responses from the former forum :frowning:


#8

I was raised on secularism and materialism.

I was drinking from age 12, stealing from age 8. and doing drugs from age 15. I was first arrested at 15 in our middle upper class neighborhood. I was in Boys Town for my high school years. As a child, I went to church once or twice with my neighbors who were very kind, but I would rather have sex with them than go to church. I was homosexual from an early age.

After a few more years of terrible living, I was asked a question one day by a pastor. He asked, if I were to die that day, where would I go? I said “straught to hell” and started crying uncontrollably. I knew intuitively that I was going to hell, and it took no one else to tell me that. I also knew somewhere deep down inside that there was something much bigger than me out there. The pastor asked me if I wanted to go to heaven, and I said yes, crying more uncontrollably. He asked me if I believed I was a sinner, I said yes, and he told me about Jesus having died for our sins on the cross and that this is how much He loves us, that He would actually lay down His life for us, and then rise again, showing us we have power over the grave. I said a prayer asking Jesus to come into my heart and life, and I have never cried this hard, feeling the relief and forgiveness that immediately came upon this broken young man, sitting there in that jail cell with ten other guys in orange jumpsuits, bawling my eyes out. And at that moment, I could care less about heaven, because the desire to drink left me, and drug, and homosexual desires, and sttealing, were all taken from me in the blink of an eye! Nothing else could even begin to suppress these desires, but Jesus Christ, the Living God, removed them from me and reversed my whole moral thought process in the blink of an eye.

It is odd, that when looking at pictures of my childhood room at age 10, I see this sacred heart of Jesus statue on my dresser that I had prurchased for .25cents at a garage sale. I had remembered drawing a picture of the crucifixion at about age 5 from a brand new bible I had found in a drawer at our house. Today I get to make beautiful crucifixes for a living.

You see, I was always drawn to Jesus Christ and His loving sacrifice, even before I really knew who He was, or what He was all about. No one had to tell me, I was drawn. a few years back, as I was reading John, I came across this passage in John 12:32-33 where he says that he will draw all men unto Himself through His being lifted up from the earth, the way in which he would die.

so I can see today that I was drawn by his crucifixion, His sacrifice.

Heck, people in no man’s land are drawn to God without ever being shown anything about God by anyone else. It is intuitive. we drown it out with the materialism, sex, drinking, cars sports, temporal happiness. but death is the great equalizer, and when each person lies on that death bed, then they will truly understand the concept and reality of God, either before they die, or after.

peace, Justin


#9

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