So lately, I have been discussing my views with my boyfriend because he's one of the very few I can open up to about being an atheist (due to living in the bible belt and having many religious friends). When it comes down to our difference in views, we begin to butt heads a little because he seems to lean towards the Christian view of a god being the cause of the universe and has no logic to support his argument. I will ask, then who created God or what could his origin possibly be? And he will say nothing, just that God was the beginning of everything. Then he will try to backpedal and say "only IF there is a god would this be the case" but it's obvious he believes it or really wants to. He grew up with a dad who was Jehova's witness and a Catholic mother so he was influenced probably a lot more than I was as a child by religion. I know it can be difficult to let those ideas go but what bothers me is that he defends the ideas with no logic. He even defends the bible as being a good guide to life, NEVER HAVING READ IT. I have, as I was forced to attend confirmation classes, and I suggested he do so before we discuss it. He says he won't. I love him but this is so frustrating. Obviously I feel it is easier to have a relationship with someone who is agnostic than a religious person, but does anyone have suggestions for how to have these conversations without letting the differences come between a couple? I really appreciate any advice.
Sounds like your BF isn't really agnostic, he's just a lazy Xtian. Not saying he is bad, or lazy with work and such, but he isn't interested in religion. He might have tried to convince himself to think this way because he is into you and knew it would be ideal (for you) if he didn't believe. He doesn't care enough about religion to give it any thought and it fine reverting to his upbringing as a fall back.
Ask him to read the bible, if you need to, insist on it. If he reads it through and goes, "Holy shit, that is batshit crazy! How do these people swallow this crap?" you know he's a keeper.
If he reads it and says, "Well, that Jesus guy was pretty rad, but that other stuff is pretty rough." there is hope.
If he reads it and is like, "Oh, that's what mom and dad were talking about, I get it now." run for the hills, he might be a sociopath.
As Ricky Gervais puts it, an agnostic is basically an atheist. What makes one agnostic is determined by their answer to the the question, "Does god exist?". To which they would say they "do not know" as opposed to an atheist's answer "simply no". If you twitch the question a little bit and ask, "Do you believe god exists?" to which they can't answer they don't know because that would be non-sensical. So they would have to say they don't believe in god and that ultimately makes them atheists.
Perhaps he's in an early stage of agnosticism, and "IF" so, it may take more nurturing/coaching to help encourage the type of analysis, and detachment from what he was taught as a child. I would continue asking logic based questions, and be patient (if you can). Additionally, consider the following:
I hope this helps
Hi Talia! I just read your post and I think there is an issue with what your boyfriend identifies as his belief concerning a god. If he believes in a god then he is a theist (if I mis read your post and am confused sorry). I copied and pasted a few things directly from Huxley himself (the person who coined the term Agnostic).
This is Webster definition of Agnostic:
"a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God."
synonyms: skeptic, doubter, doubting Thomas, cynic;
Huxley describes how he came to originate the term "agnostic" as follows:
"When I reached intellectual maturity, and began to ask myself whether I was an atheist, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; a Christian or a freethinker, I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until at last I came to the conclusion that I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations, except the last. The one thing in which most of these good people were agreed was the one thing in which I differed from them. They were quite sure that they had attained a certain "gnosis"--had more or less successfully solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble. And, with Hume and Kant on my side, I could not think myself presumptuous in holding fast by that opinion"...
"Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle. That principle is of great antiquity; it is as old as Socrates; as old as the writer who said, 'Try all things, hold fast by that which is good'; it is the foundation of the Reformation, which simply illustrated the axiom that every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him, it is the great principle of Descartes; it is the fundamental axiom of modern science. Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be the agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him."
Thank you for putting up with this long winded reply. I read the other replies on this thread and I wanted to give you a little bit more concrete evidence on what agnostic is and how it came about if you already did not know. I
From what I can see, what you are frustrated about is not the question of existence of god/ creator, but his unscientific thinking method. If you can accept that aspect of him, there might be a future; if not, don't waste your time on trying to change him, only if a person wanted to change and opened to reasoned discussion can he change.
If he was truly agnostic I think he would just not care one way or the other concerning a god idea. he is still clinging to that fear of death and leaving it open to possibility. While you could just concentrate on what is positive between you and the values you share, it is difficult to hear someone you care about talk nonsense. I use logic, but approach many of these things with humor. I don't think there is an easy answer to this within a relationship. I have lost my tolerance for for magical thinking.
I try and take a position of acceptance of other's beliefs - I do not try and change their points of view and let them know that they won't likely change mine. You should not have to explain or support your views on an ongoing basis. There is a point where the relationship may break down as he needs to have the same respect for your points of view. You both need to accept that neither of you, nor anyone else, will ever see or interpret the worth through each of your sets of eyes - its not about right or wrong, because neither of you is right in each the other's POV, It is about accepting the truth of what each other believes. If either of you press and try to change the other, someone will be "wrong" and it will lead to ether a break up, or one of you falsely accepting the other's beliefs or bottling up the acceptance and hiding your real thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. That is not healthy.
For an "agnostic", this guy is certainly an apologist for things Christian. Are you sure he's not just saying that he's agnostic to be with you?
The bottom line is that if a person is in a relationship with someone s/he respects, s/he doesn't try to "convince" them to change their worldview. If he can't drop it, he doesn't respect you. Get out.
Neither of you have any proof for either of your convictions... It is just how each of you view what you conceive to be most possible in your mind. Maybe just agree to disagree. Even with the theory of the big bang ....what was before It? Maybe it is just something our human brains can not imagine. Maybe there is some entity controlling things. Maybe there is a big nothing. Maybe there is just some loop process with no beginning and no end.
As for the bible he should read it before he defends or condemns it in my opinion. I do believe there are a few good points in the Bible. But as a whole it is NOT worth worshipping and living my life by.
I'd say don't make it a problem unless there really really is one. You say he is agnostic not theistic. Well that's OK then! If all he's saying is:
"only IF there is a god would this be the case"
Yeah IF. - It's not as if he's saying there unquestionably IS. But you go on to say:
"but it's obvious he believes it or really wants to."
Actually you might be wrong there. As an atheist don't you think you need proof rather than assuming things? Well you ARE assuming this because you don't have proof. Christians say things like "But it's obvious..." & that's exactly what you've assumed here too except with a different issue.
I'd say let him be. If he wants to believe in a God you cannot demand that he doesn't because you cannot choose what you want can you? Demanding he agrees with you isn't any different from a Christian demanding you should want to believe what they believe, so it's pretty hypocritical from that perspective. Count yourself lucky that he's agnostic rather than an out & out theist!
I think having respect for each others differences is important. And not rolling your eyes out loud. I think when you reach a point of utter frustration that being able to say "We'll have to agree to disagree" can be important and save you from an actual fight.
I am married to a religious wife (Christian) for the past 18 years. Our marriage survived my loss of religion and I do attribute that to the fact that we are deeply in love. We chose not discuss issues with the intent of exposing fallacies. I already know what she believes and she understands my lack of belief. There is no need to try to make the other unhappy because we chose not to base our relationship on religion and instead focus on every other factor that we do have common ground on. This has allowed us to both be happy. Whenever questions come up, it is with the express understanding that the person asking only wants clarity on the issue and nothing more. I support her going to church and tithing. Fortunately we never had children so the issue of raising children with or without religion has never come up. I would suggest that you also focus your relationship on what you have in common. Don't try to change each others minds, instead try to understand what the other thinks. You don't have to agree with them, but it will let you also find out if they are honest and if you are truly compatible for the long run.
Movement from being an agnostic toward atheism is largely a matter of courage and maturity. Over time most agnostics finally get the courage to admit that they are atheists. Don't argue, but ask questions which allow the person to clarify their own thoughts. Give him time and space. He will get there.
Does he know that he really doesn't know? If he believes without realizing that he doesn't know, then he isn't actually an agnostic; rather, he's a theist with doubts, which isn't the same thing. If he realizes that he doesn't know - and can't know - yet still believes it, then I guess he's an agnostic, but it is an odd philosophical position.
Yeah - find something else to talk about. Being an atheist is about as meaningless as being a fan of a particular TV show - doesn't need to be discussed that often. Less is more there are other things to discuss where you two likely do agree - the recipe for a great conversation.
It's one thing to get into a good debate about these issues. But once it starts turning into an argument or causes disruptions in your normal day to day lifestyle, then its time to look at your priorities on what matters most. Even non theists buck heads to a degree on things.. not everyone is going to feel the same way so you may need to just agree to disagree on some of these issues. It's tough coming out of a cult based background like your BF. He was misguided & those ways of thinking brainwashed him so its going to take time. Question is, are you invested enough to take the time to either accept it or is vice versa. Just some things to think about.
"only IF there is a god would this be the case" ???? He either believes it is or he doesn't believe it is. He sounds to me like a closet theist. Try asking him, if there is no evidence for a God why would you make an assumption that there is one. If he answers he doesn't and there is no justification for this belief then he's agnostic. If he answers in any other way you've got yourself a closet theist who is afraid of losing you if he comes out. Just a hunch.
Be aware that he is a cult survivor and will probably always have a pull toward the cult's belief system, and he will be struggling to live an authentic life. It's good he has a loving partner who can gently listen to his feelings and cheer him on as he recovers. If he decides to go back to the brainwashers, get couples counseling quickly before they convince him he doesn't need it! If he continues his healthy recovery, the two of you can play some fun games once in a while, like "who got guilted the most?" as you swap horror stories of mind and life control. Or marvel together at how much fun you are having now that you are free of dogma restraints, right?
It sounds as though he's either a lapsed Christian, or an agnostic held up by a feeling that he -should- believe in the god he grew up with. I would be curious to know what he thinks about the existence of other gods. I would also be curious to know how one of your conversations goes if you bring into it an agnostic who truly believes that the existence of god or gods is unknown and probably unknowable.
If he really is agnostic, I imagine he'll give the existence of other gods serious thought, and eventually shed his lingering theism. If he's really a Christian, I imagine he'll reject the possible existence of other gods, which might actually strengthen his Christianity.