How to defend myself as a newly agnostic person?
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13-05-2017, 01:36 AM
How to defend myself as a newly agnostic person?
I've recently come out of the religious hole I was stuck in and this may come off as a naive question, but I'm new as an agnostic, and I'm no good at explaining things to people, even if I know it when I'm nervous and scared to talk about it.

Trust me, I've been reading atheist-written articles on the Internet in the past couple days and I'm learning more by watching atheist YouTubers talk about it, and I, myself, am too nervous to even grasp at what I'm saying. What if a theist asks me if I'm religious, and I say, "No, I'm agnostic," then say in their religious defence of why I should be a Christian? I'm nervous enough as it is about it and I was lucky that I have two friends who can understand my point of view without judgement, and I get scared in my mind as to what I should say if I can't just leave the conversation.

I'm getting jittery just writing this post! I can't imagine a real life situation where someone could be polite as I would be to them and accept my answer with a look of appall (especially if they know me!), or they want to ask me for my reasons to give up religion, and have nothing to say in my nervousness.

Just in case, how should I explain why I'm agnostic and defend how I feel about my thoughts of theism respectfully without starting a heated debate? I don't want to lose my friends or cause a scene, or worse, burn bridges over it! Just how do I explain my defence of why I don't believe in what they're saying if they insist on it? I'm not likely bold enough to say in a sharp tone, "I'm agnostic. Deal with it."

Let me elaborate, like if they would ask me a question regarding religion (let's say a stranger with a religious pamphlet, for example), or worse, in a situation where a friend is questioning me why I decided to go the other direction other than the deity one they believe in, and are upset with me. I'm getting even more jittery now.

Guys, can you help me out here, please? I just need to prepare for the future. I'm still in my confused state of mind here and I don't know what I'm even believing, and forgive me if this post is bad or has poor grammar. I'll delete it if necessary and I'm just too nervous over a situation that has never happened (yet, or hopefully not at all.)

I hope I make sense here. The Internet is the only way I can voice out this concern since I'm still hiding my thoughts from people about it. I'm still confused about my own thoughts, let alone come up with a defence.
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13-05-2017, 02:31 AM
RE: How to defend myself as a newly agnostic person?
You're best defense would be to simply tell the truth. You have never seen any reliable evidence or heard any rational arguments convincing you that any god(s) exist. It is not your responsibility to come up with arguments to defend your position. The burden of proof rests upon those who make positive assertions: the theists. Consider
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13-05-2017, 02:39 AM
RE: How to defend myself as a newly agnostic person?
Also, see post #48 in the discussion, "How come I'm not an atheist?" Thumbsup
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13-05-2017, 03:20 AM
RE: How to defend myself as a newly agnostic person?
(13-05-2017 01:36 AM)cantfixme Wrote:  Just in case, how should I explain why I'm agnostic and defend how I feel about my thoughts of theism respectfully without starting a heated debate...

You're not "required" to explain why you've chosen agnosticism, nor defend your thoughts about theism. You simply say to anybody—who's graceless enough to enquire of your personal religious non-beliefs—that you're now an agnostic, after having spent a lot of time weighing up your options, and that it's very much a personal choice.

And yes; true friends will, ultimately, have to like it or lump it. If they do happen to reject your agnostic belief, then they were never good friends to start with, and their rejection will mark them as true hypocrites anyway.

I'm a creationist... I believe that man created God.
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13-05-2017, 03:51 AM
RE: How to defend myself as a newly agnostic person?
I like the bumper sticker that says, "I don't know and neither do you."
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13-05-2017, 04:04 AM
RE: How to defend myself as a newly agnostic person?
Probably a good way to go about it would be to say,-I'm not religious because I don't take any religious belief seriously. Just point out that you are not obligated to believe in ridiculous things like talking snakes and leave it at that.

You don't have to engage in a conversation if you don't want to, you don't have to even respond if they trot out apologist excuses for why the bible isn't ridiculous.

Pascal's wager is the most likely exchange you would have with someone that believes and it's not even an argument for the existence of god, it's just a veiled threat.

You can counter that they will be sent to Hades for not believing Zeus.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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13-05-2017, 04:41 AM
RE: How to defend myself as a newly agnostic person?
and remember, the "choice" is in which terminology to use to describe how convinced you are by other people's claims.

I would choose not to use any noun to describe my religious beliefs to other people. If someone asked me IRL "are you an atheist?" I'd probably respond by trying to have a two-way discussion with them about epistemology and religious history. If I get the impression that they can't handle that, then there's no need for me to tell them anything. Or I might just tell them whatever they want to hear to make them go away Drinking Beverage

If we came from dust, then why is there still dust?
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13-05-2017, 05:06 AM
RE: How to defend myself as a newly agnostic person?
This has been mentioned before but I think it's worth repeating:

You are under no obligation to explain anything, to anyone, at any time, regarding your personal philosophy.

Now, sometimes it makes sense for you to do so when it's done in an atmosphere of intellectual stimulation and learning. That's what philosophy classes are for, and arguing well with smart people who disagree with you is a good way to hone your own beliefs. (Another good way is to actually argue in favour of the opinion that you don't hold.)

But there's an important caveat here: Such arguments are not meant to change someone's mind. In fact, closely-held beliefs are often even more strongly held when they're put up to scrutiny and found lacking (see The Backfire Effect). Those sorts of arguments are only worthwhile when they're conducted to examine one's own beliefs. Doesn't matter if those beliefs are religious/agnostic/atheist/political/social.

Besides, nobody is expecting you to argue with the steely sharpness of Hitchens or Krauss or Dawkins. (Nobody else can, and probably never will.)

All that said, if you feel backed into a corner, best come prepared. Look for A Practical Study of Argument by Trudy Govier. Should be available in your local library.
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13-05-2017, 05:08 AM
RE: How to defend myself as a newly agnostic person?
Just shoot anyone who gives you any shit. Some of them will learn from that.
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13-05-2017, 05:37 AM (This post was last modified: 13-05-2017 05:52 AM by julep.)
RE: How to defend myself as a newly agnostic person?
I think it's perfectly appropriate for you to avoid conversations about religion until you've done your thinking and reading and solidified your position. There's no pressure to evangelize as an agnostic. Remind yourself that you don't have to engage.

If a stranger tries to give you a tract, either say "No, thanks" and keep walking or take the tract and keep walking, and throw it away once you're out of sight. Or keep it, read it, and figure out how to take apart the arguments in it. You don't have to stop and have a conversation. (I never do. I save my arguing for the internet.)

If it's a friend who already knows you, this topic probably won't come up. Nothing about you as a person has changed; if your friends and you didn't discuss religion before, you probably won't now. I understand that moving away from religion feels like a seismic change, but it doesn't alter your personality or most things about you. However, if the friend scenario does happen, you can always change the subject or come right out and say that you don't want to talk about religion at this time.

If a generic theist that you don’t know well asks if you're religious, you can say that's a personal question and refuse to answer.
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