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Pearl
08-30-2012, 04:00 AM
Forgive me if this is the wrong forum for this question, but I was not sure where else to put this.

I will be ePublishing my first book very soon and while I am very excited, I am also worried. My MC is agnostic and did not enjoy her Catholic upbringing. I knew when I created this character, she would not be a firm believer in God. I'm not quite sure why, but it seemed to fit.

Which is kind of odd because I do believe in God. I consider myself spiritual but not religious. Although I was raised Catholic, I do not complain about it. What I've written is a total contradiction to what I believe.

Granted, at one point in my book, the MC does go to a church to pray because of what she is going through, but that is it. But overall, I feel like a total hypocrite for having created an agnostic character. Like I said, it made sense when I began writing, but now its a contradiction to my beliefs.

No, my book is not a commentary on faith - though I have a feeling the sequels may head in that direction to some degree.

Am I a hypocrite? Am I a fool for having done this? I could've made the MC a casual believer who never really gave faith much thought. I am not able to change that because I already sent copies of my eBook to blog reviewers. I also wonder how my readers may react. What if I have to explain that I actually do believe in God despite my agnostic overtones in my book? Wouldn't that baffle people?

I guess one reason why I made the MC agnostic was because it made her more appealing to the man she is dating who is secretly a vampire. He tells her that her doubts would make her accept being a vampire because she has no God to answer to. But then, I mention how the original vampires came about later on, and it basically describes them being transformed by their tribal gods. So, maybe my book is actually a subconscious commentary on religion and faith. Funny how I didn't realize it until recently. :/ I saw it as a commentary on abusive relationships, which it is first and foremost. Even my beta readers and editors did not point out the subtle religious commentary.

Anyway, do I really need to explain myself to anyone, if it comes to that? I just feel like I've contradicted myself big time and it doesn't make sense.

thothguard51
08-30-2012, 04:16 AM
I was raised catholic but I have not been a practicing catholic for 40 years.

My world and characters beliefs are far out of main stream Catholicism. You know the type of fantasy world where there are multiple gods, multiple beliefs in good and evil and even how sex is viewed. I have been very careful not to portray any of the religions on my world with those of known earth based religions.

Still, a few of my beta readers tell me my catholic upbringings still shows through in spots. I am OK with that because they say they did not feel preached too, or that the writers beliefs intruded.

As to your character going to church to pray when she is agnostic, well, so long as you show her reasons and don't show this as a moment of the writer proclaiming there was a higher calling, I wouldn't have a problem. There is an old saying, there are not atheist in a fox hole and in times of trouble, even atheist have sought the help of authorities they do not believe in...

Good luck with this...

Pearl
08-30-2012, 04:21 AM
As to your character going to church to pray when she is agnostic, well, so long as you show her reasons and don't show this as a moment of the writer proclaiming there was a higher calling, I wouldn't have a problem. There is an old saying, there are not atheist in a fox hole and in times of trouble, even atheist have sought the help of authorities they do not believe in...

Good luck with this...

For the church scene, she goes there because she's going through so much pain and fear. The MC was walking down the street and so happened to pass a church and felt the need to go in and pray. Nothing happens, her problems are not solved and she leaves the church disappointed. Definitely not preachy there.

The last part you mentioned about atheists turning to what they don't believe in, even one of my editors said his uncle is like that.

HarryHoskins
08-30-2012, 04:43 AM
I also wonder how my readers may react. What if I have to explain that I actually do believe in God despite my agnostic overtones in my book? Wouldn't that baffle people?



There is a technical, literary term for those who mistake the opinions and beliefs of characters in a novel for those of the author. The term is idiot.


__________________

Pearl
08-30-2012, 05:03 AM
OK, lol. Thanks!

I guess I'm wondering all this because some writers put their beliefs into their characters. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon comes to mind as well as Anne Rice.

RichardGarfinkle
08-30-2012, 05:52 AM
Nothing whatsoever wrong with having MCs whose views are different from those of the author. It's a sign of good characterization to be able to pull off someone who sees the world and acts in it differently from the way you do.

But the agnostic in a church and the no atheists in fox holes. That might be a problem because that idea is offensive to many agnostics and atheists.

Consider this, suppose your main character were Catholic. Would you have her in a moment of crisis go into a mosque or a synagogue? And would you not expect people to find that dubious in the character.

The reason it would be a problem for such a character is that a Catholic would be presumed to have their own ways of dealing with a crisis and wouldn't turn to another religion for answers.

Most atheists and agnostics have their ways of dealing with crises that don't involve religion.

To make your character realistic you should thoroughly explore these venues. Otherwise your character will be a Straw Atheist.

If you need some perspective on this read some of the threads in the atheism forum. The subject is addressed several times.
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=134

Pearl
08-30-2012, 06:02 AM
The reason why she goes to the church is because she's seeing things that are supernatural (the vampires) and it makes her briefly wonder if maybe there is a God out there. But when she does pray and nothing happens, it all ends there.

Siri Kirpal
08-30-2012, 06:08 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I don't have any problem with it. Dorothy Sayers was a devout Christian (C of E) whose main character is the agnostic, but church-going, Lord Peter. Yes, I know, it's a different genre, and she wrote 80+ years ago, but still...If it works, it works.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Pearl
08-30-2012, 06:53 AM
Hey RichardGarfinkle,

Your post made me rethink that church scene. Originally I wasn't so sure if I should include it at all, because religion really has little to do with my book. But that beta reader I mentioned before told me he felt it was a powerful scene. I never knew his beliefs, BTW, but I never got the impression he was religious or anything.

I left it at that, but now I want to take that scene out. It has no place in my story and could turn-off some readers. You have a point, and I should've realized this a long while ago. I feel quite naive. I guess I was focusing on making the abusive relationship commentary as realistic as possible that I overlooked that part when I should not have.

I'm going to see if I could re-send my copies to those bloggers who are going to review my book.

Thanks!

RichardGarfinkle
08-30-2012, 01:20 PM
Hey RichardGarfinkle,

Your post made me rethink that church scene. Originally I wasn't so sure if I should include it at all, because religion really has little to do with my book. But that beta reader I mentioned before told me he felt it was a powerful scene. I never knew his beliefs, BTW, but I never got the impression he was religious or anything.

I left it at that, but now I want to take that scene out. It has no place in my story and could turn-off some readers. You have a point, and I should've realized this a long while ago. I feel quite naive. I guess I was focusing on making the abusive relationship commentary as realistic as possible that I overlooked that part when I should not have.

I'm going to see if I could re-send my copies to those bloggers who are going to review my book.

Thanks!


Happy to help. One writing suggestion, not for this book, but for your later works: There will likely be times where you can't see what one of your characters would do in a situation. Under those circumstances writers often unconsciously default to what they would do.

When that happens I find it's a good idea to think the scene through very slowly considering each aspect of the character's personality, experience, and how they handle things. Doing that I, at least, can find my way through scenes with characters who think and act completely differently from my own ways.

One of the side effect benefits of AW, by the way, is that if you look over old discussions in various boards you can find a lot about a wide variety of perspectives which gives you a wider range of experience to draw on in creating characters.

Dawnstorm
08-31-2012, 07:06 AM
Hey RichardGarfinkle,

Your post made me rethink that church scene. Originally I wasn't so sure if I should include it at all, because religion really has little to do with my book. But that beta reader I mentioned before told me he felt it was a powerful scene. I never knew his beliefs, BTW, but I never got the impression he was religious or anything.

I left it at that, but now I want to take that scene out. It has no place in my story and could turn-off some readers. You have a point, and I should've realized this a long while ago. I feel quite naive. I guess I was focusing on making the abusive relationship commentary as realistic as possible that I overlooked that part when I should not have.

I'm going to see if I could re-send my copies to those bloggers who are going to review my book.

Thanks!

Hi. I'm an atheist, and (perhaps even more so) an agnostic. I've been raised by Catholic parents, and I'm still, on paper, a member of Roman Catholic church. I'm voting against taking out the scene, since I feel it makes sense, especially since you said:


The reason why she goes to the church is because she's seeing things that are supernatural (the vampires) and it makes her briefly wonder if maybe there is a God out there. But when she does pray and nothing happens, it all ends there.

That sounds utterly plausible to me.

Now, Richard is right about being careful, but so far I see no signs that that's what's happening.


Consider this, suppose your main character were Catholic. Would you have her in a moment of crisis go into a mosque or a synagogue?

This comparison isn't really fair. There are two aspects that apply to whether you go praying: one is personal and pertains to faith, and another is cultural and pertains to what you've seen work for others (or what you've been told works). I can see atheists wavering and reverting to childhood habits in times of crisis, without actually changing their beliefs.

I myself was praying as a carryover habit. If you'd asked me, I'd have called it a superstitious habit and laughed it off. I'm firmly entrached now, in my habits, and doubt anything could make me pray. But the character in question sounds younger, and also she's been called an agnostic ("you can't know whether there's a god or not"), so a just-in-case prayer also makes more sense.

As I said, the cautioning is important. I'd hate to be preached to. But I don't think the analogy's fair, because, while the character may be acting out of belief, she's not acting out of culture.

I might change my mind about the scene if I actually read it. I can't know that. But so far it sounds like a fairly plausible episode to me.

Joanna_Kaary
08-31-2012, 07:33 AM
I believe religious writers can write about non-religious MCs and vice versa, just like non-racist writers can create racist characters, non-serial killers can create serial killers, etc.

I also found it interesting how you noticed the subtle commentary on religion just now. I love stories with multiple "layers" of symbolism, especially when the writer doesn't make it too obvious, which you clearly didn't do. I think it even fits with the main commentary on abusive relationships because can't religion be similar to an abusive relationship? Something that is supposed to be about love and strengthening a person gets twisted into a means of controlling them and causing pain... Your book sounds quite interesting, and that's coming from someone who's usually not a fan of vampires ;)

Roxxsmom
08-31-2012, 08:09 AM
I don't think there's any reason to feel hypocritical for having a protagonist with different beliefs from your own. We all write characters who are different from us in many ways (our work would quickly get dull and repetitive otherwise).

Having a non-religious character go into a Church and pray when the chips does not seem implausible to me. People try different coping strategies when they are under stress, and a person who is not religious might return to a ritual that comforted comforted her at one time in her life (or try to cover all her bases in a spiritual sense) when they are under stress. Others don't (in spite of the popular saying, there sometimes are atheists in foxholes).

It's how you present her situation, emotional state and thought processes as she does this that will determine whether or not the behavior seems "in character" or not.

RichardGarfinkle
08-31-2012, 10:23 AM
Dawnstorm and Roxxsmom are right in their perspectives. And the scene can make sense for the character. My primary concern is that no atheists in foxholes is not only inaccurate it's a stereotype sometimes used to look down on atheists.

The implicit assumption is that atheism cannot survive crisis. That atheists are, in effect, just playing a mental game or are being egotistical and they'll learn better when trouble comes along. From that perspective the scene reinforces the stereotype.

And it is a problematic stereotype, because it's dismissive. It carries a condescending paternal, "you'll learn better" attitude.

Of course the scene can be done and may be right for the character but the scene fits a paradigm that has serious problems. Such scenes can be written but they should only be written if they are right for the character and the story and if they are handled with awareness of the stereotype.

Chasing the Horizon
08-31-2012, 12:46 PM
I also wonder how my readers may react. What if I have to explain that I actually do believe in God despite my agnostic overtones in my book? Wouldn't that baffle people?
I'm still giggling at the idea of my future readers trying to guess my religion from my work. They'll have me pegged as an agnostic-polytheistic-Jewish-atheistic-Christian-hedge witch-humanist. :D

I'm actually a hard polytheist in real life, and could easily write this as the Absolute Truth since I write fantasy, but what fun would that be? I already know what I believe. It's way more fun to explore other possible beliefs.

As for having an agnostic pray in a church, that seems completely reasonable to me. After all, agnostics believe in the possibility of a god. I've known a few agnostics who occasionally went to a church or synagogue simply because they felt like it. Especially since praying doesn't fix anything, I'm not sure how it could be interpreted as being offensive or preachy.

Max Vaehling
08-31-2012, 01:14 PM
There are two "authorities" you need to answer to when you're writing a novel, and God isn't one of them. The two are your plot and your characters, and your mission is to stay true to them. Your faith must not drive your decisions here, or you'd be writing a pamphlet instead of a novel.

That church scene isn't really a problem, I think. Since your character was raised a Catholic, that whole "in case of belief crisis, go to church" thing is probably hardwired into her. A lot of agnostics are really just people with questions religion couldn't answer for them, not devoted non-believers per se. (Not me, I'm an agnostic because I don't have any questions I need religion for. But I'm not offended by the notion of an agnostic who's been raised catholic, er, evaluating her options.) Not arguing in favor or against the scene here (that question should be decided from the pülot perspective), just saying it could work.

So far, so textbooky. Now here's where it gets interesting:

So, maybe my book is actually a subconscious commentary on religion and faith. Funny how I didn't realize it until recently. :/

Well, if that is so, you may want to explore it. Get to the truth of it. Maybe it'll make your book better, maybe it'll give you a chapter to cut in revision, maybe it'll just help you understand the character better. Either way, it can't hurt much.

Max Vaehling
08-31-2012, 01:15 PM
I believe religious writers can write about non-religious MCs and vice versa, just like non-racist writers can create racist characters, non-serial killers can create serial killers, etc.

As villains? :D

RichardGarfinkle
08-31-2012, 02:16 PM
Suppose rather than becoming agnostic the character had converted to another religion. Then a scene where by habit the character goes back to the religion they originally had. Such a scene would be a big deal either as a matter of character development or as an authorial judgement between the two religions.

It would be a big deal because either implicitly or explicitly the story is asserting that the character finds something of guidance and understanding lacking in their second religion so they go back to the first. This becomes a matter needing resolution in the story one way or another. It becomes a plot thread.

The OP does not describe the MC's going to the church as this level of plot or character concern. To do it as a throwaway scene implies that, of course, agnostics take refuge in religion during crises. That is perpetuating the stereotype.

The situation can be resolved by taking the character's agnosticism more seriously. The same level of seriousness that would come in a crises where two religions have ways to follow can occur between a religion and agnosticism or a religion and atheism.

The problem with the scene is its throwaway, no-atheists-in-foxholes nature. Making it more than this can work as well.

Maxx
08-31-2012, 08:07 PM
My primary concern is that no atheists in foxholes is not only inaccurate it's a stereotype sometimes used to look down on atheists.



A lot of things strike me as entertaining about the tale of somebody who "sees vampires" and wonders if whether -- if there are vampires there might be an all-loving God who beats people up after they are dead. Surely if the author wants vampires they can also have any kind of all-loving God that they want. Which brings up the question of whether there would be any atheists in a world with a huge heirarchy of monstrous beings. After all surely if there are
dozens of different kinds of undead beings wandering around sucking blood and eating brains and being supernaturally much more powerful than people -- surely given all that there must be an all-loving God who beats you up after you're dead. I mean it only stands to reason that if a supernatural monster eats your brain, a more powerful supernatural being will torture you for eternity.

However, the de-atheized atheist who loses their atheism on seeing some horrific brain-eating and blood-sucking, might be inclined to Join some Holy Order, take vows of poverty silence and obediance, seek Absolution once an hour, wear a wet-suit of Holy Water, festoon themselvs with religiously potent items, purchase immense quantities of masses for their soul, flagelate themselves and pray unceasingly while working hard to erradicate the dozens of different kinds of undead beings. Surely just wandering into church and giving up would not be what a de-atheized atheist would do. Spiritual Warfare is the de-atheized athiests modus bellorandum. A de-atheized atheist would never give up until the last of the horrible creatures was erradicated and they themselves had risen to supendous heights of enlightenment among the ranks of the highest
Angelic Beings.
So, I just don't find one quick trip to church to be very convincing as a response to seeing some vampires.

Dawnstorm
09-01-2012, 03:46 AM
Suppose rather than becoming agnostic the character had converted to another religion.

You're doing it again. Atheism is not a religion. Atheism does not offer new rituals and habits to counter the old ones. Conversion is changing the club, so of course suddenly wearing the old club's colours is a big deal. Becoming an atheist can involve changing the club (say, I'm now a "secular humanist"). But it can also mean just dropping the game. If you don't replace old habits with new habits, engaging in old habits is much more plausible. It's not a big deal.

I agree that praying in times of trouble fits the stereotype. And maybe the stereotype applies to Pearl's story. But from everything she said here I just don't worry. Here's how I see it:

1. Existance of vampires shakes MC's world view.
2. MC tries praying.
3. Doesn't work.
4. Business as usual.

Sure, there's an instrumentalisation of religion in there; there's the potential that - if she'd gotten what she wanted - she'd have gone back to the fold. If I were to write the story to explore that element, I'd have her get what she prayed for. That would be a very interesting story.

As the story probably goes in another direction, I'm fine with downplaying the scene. It's in line with the importance I assign to such an event. If I were to subcribe to your line of "The problem with the scene is its throwaway, no-atheists-in-foxholes nature," I'd be assigning disproportional importance to the event (just the amount of importance that the Catholics around me want it to have).

I think that's why your caveat bothers me a lot more than the threat of a dismissive stereotype. I'm aware what Catholics might make of this, but I'll deal with this when I get to it. If I treat every instance of habit-relapse as a big deal, I feel like my inner Catholics dictates how I view the world. That's much worse, to me. Praying is sacred to the religious; to an atheist it's the equivalent of hugging a teddy bear. A layer of confusion doesn't change that.

I'm not sure I explain myself well, but your religious analogies bother me a lot more than Pearl's scene.

RichardGarfinkle
09-01-2012, 05:02 AM
It's true that atheism is not a religion but becoming atheist is not just a negative thing. One of the stereotypes is that of lost faith. Many atheists have found other ways of dealing with the world.

Ritual and faith are not the only mental processes that let people deal with problems. To take up that view is to accept the idea that atheists have no means of dealing with crises which was my main point.

While atheism is not a religion, most atheists have, from other sources, such as philosophies, mental discipline, hard nosed practicality etc means of dealing with the same kinds of difficulties in life that religions provide to the religious.

The point of my analogy was to delineate that conversion to other religions is taken seriously as a positive act, but turning atheist is seen as nothing but a negative act. There are a great many atheistic ways of understanding and paths of moral action and scenes like this can be seen as dismissive of such ways.

Pearl
09-01-2012, 05:44 AM
Thank you to everyone for their perspectives, I truly appreciate it.

Clearly, the church scene is a controversial one and could've been taken either way. Some would be bothered, others wouldn't have minded. I guess when I wrote that scene, part of me was wondering if the MC would question her agnosticism after knowing vampires exist and seeing them do things humans cannot do (being super strong, speeding around a room in a nanosecond). After all, that would be proof of the supernatural, right?

But whenever I think over the scene, I wasn't so sure if it belonged, mainly because I felt like I was going in Anne Rice territory. Her vampires question the existence of God, morality and damnation. While I never had any intention of doing just that with the follow-ups to this book, I was aware the MC will probably seek out a benevolent higher being since she knew pretty well that evil forces existed. That was a direction I knew I didn't want my book to go in. I wanted my story to be a commentary of abusive relationships (which are between partners, not religious organizations) and question what would the modern world be like for vampires. Of course, we all know some of our ideas take lives of their own. But I really didn't want to explore faith in this story.

I am so kicking myself right now. I should've realized this before, but like I said, I focused on the abuse commentary rather than faith.

You know what? I'm going to leave it alone. Leave that scene in. Not everyone will be pleased, but no writer could please every reader - it just doesn't work that way. Some of you have said some skeptics do have moments where they return to the rituals and beliefs of their upbringing during times of stress, and I feel the MC had a good reason to pray in church even if nothing came of it. As I write the sequels, I will be as careful as possible not to be explore faith because there are other issues to look at.

Thank you again everyone!

P.S. Keep in mind, the MC is agnostic, religiously apathetic. She had a strict Catholic upbringing and doesn't want to bother with religion anymore. She never pondered the thought of God's existence, she just doesn't care.

aruna
09-02-2012, 03:36 PM
I think it's right that you left the scene in. Not having read the book, it seems to me to be not only a plausible reaction, but a likely one.
And you really can't please everyone, especially where religion/faith comes into play.
Good luck!

Dawnstorm
09-03-2012, 03:02 AM
Sorry for being late in replying. The board was slow for me lately, so I decided to wait.


It's true that atheism is not a religion but becoming atheist is not just a negative thing. One of the stereotypes is that of lost faith. Many atheists have found other ways of dealing with the world.

Ritual and faith are not the only mental processes that let people deal with problems. To take up that view is to accept the idea that atheists have no means of dealing with crises which was my main point.

I didn't mean to say that ritual and faith are the only mental processes that let people deal with problems. Actually, that would go counter to my the point was trying to make.

What I'm saying is this: if you grow up with religion you store the rituals you go through in your personality as habits. Getting rid of faith, though, is not the same thing as getting rid of the rituals. Old habits die hard. Even if you need to distance yourself from the rituals for a while, because you associate them with the faith you don't want to have anything to do with, you don't necessarily get rid of the habit; you just don't engage in it, because not engaging in it is a meaningful activity. But in a time of crisis you may well turn to the rituals again - if your new habits have not yet fully formed. That is entirely independent of your faith status, no matter what you might fear, or what religious people might try to tell you.

Other mental processes might go on in parallel; but ritual is just a left over habit from the days of faith. People knock on wood, even though they don't believe that actually works. Someone's been observed to invoke the Flying Spaghetti monster to start his car (no, he didn't really believe). Ritual can be comforting, and if you - in addition - remember a life of faith, there may be an added level of confusion. None of that need be serious, though.

That's why I, as an atheist, appreciate this scene as a throwaway scene, especially if it does not have major metaphysical consequences.


While atheism is not a religion, most atheists have, from other sources, such as philosophies, mental discipline, hard nosed practicality etc means of dealing with the same kinds of difficulties in life that religions provide to the religious.

The point of my analogy was to delineate that conversion to other religions is taken seriously as a positive act, but turning atheist is seen as nothing but a negative act. There are a great many atheistic ways of understanding and paths of moral action and scenes like this can be seen as dismissive of such ways.

Yes, but those are primarily ways of understanding the world and acting in it. The atheist label is something extraneous, and it's only because of the dominance of theism that the label is relevant at all. If you're a naturalist, for example, try to call a Roman Catholic an anaturalist for believing in God and see how far you get. The term "atheist" (whether you embrace it or not) is something negative, in that sense. It describes what you're not. You're not going to tell me that a nihilist has much in common with a secular humanist. Yet, they're united by that label.

Unless you oppose the term to "theist", it's meaningless. Saying that a praying atheist is potentially offensive is pretty much supporting the idea that differentiating yourself from theists is an important fact of your life, even if it isn't. Or - in the case of the present character - has never been absolute.

And now I'm at this line:


P.S. Keep in mind, the MC is agnostic, religiously apathetic. She had a strict Catholic upbringing and doesn't want to bother with religion anymore. She never pondered the thought of God's existence, she just doesn't care.

I didn't want to bring that up, because that's another can of worms, but now that it's out in the open:

An agnostic can be but isn't necessarily religiously apathetic. (For those interested, there's actually the term apatheism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apatheism); personally, I'm not sure how many terms we need to describe our relationship to theism, but that pretty much shows how big a deal not believing in God [or not believing hard enough] really is.)

There are several questions here:

- Do I believe God/gods exist/s?
- Do I think you can ever know whether God/gods exist/s?
- Do I care about either of the prior questions?

In theory it's possible to be an agnostic theist: I don't believe I can ever know whether God exists or not, but I care very much, and I choose to believe.

This is me:

- I don't believe God exists (atheist),

- but I don't believe we can ever know that with certainty (agnostic).

- Since we can never know whether God exists or not, my belief that God doesn't exist is inconsequential.

- Other people's certainty that they know God exists bothers me more than the possibility that God actually exists, so my agnosticism is stronger than my atheism.

- If no theists are around, none of this matters (I'm just myself).

My agnosticism is not an expression of not caring about religion; it's an expression of being bothered by the fact that (some) people choose to use faith as a source of knowledge. Agnosticism, to me, isn't "I don't know whether God exists," it's "I can't know whether God exists, and neither can you?"

All of this is quite confusing; so when it comes to characters I'd say "Actions first, labels later."

Also: about vampires:


After all, that would be proof of the supernatural, right?

Wrong. If vampires exist, I need to revise the way I think the world works. People are wrong about major issues all the time. No biggie. As an almost-naturalist I find it easy to adjust. (I'm not quite a naturalist because I have trouble with explaining consciousness in naturalistic terms.)

Pearl
09-03-2012, 05:40 AM
Forgive me for being confused, but I always thought agnostics were undecided if there's a God or not. I've known a few agnostics and that was how they described their beliefs. None of them said "I can't know" if there is a God or any sort of higher being.

Dawnstorm
09-03-2012, 06:41 AM
Forgive me for being confused, but I always thought agnostics were undecided if there's a God or not. I've known a few agnostics and that was how they described their beliefs. None of them said "I can't know" if there is a God or any sort of higher being.

Don't worry, I'm confused myself. I overshot a bit.

Not all agnostics think that whether or not deities exist cannot be known. Some just think we currently don't have enough evidence.

However, the "not knowing" isn't simply personal. If they just personally didn't know, for example, they could think like this: "I don't know whether God exists or not, but the priest knows, and he's an expert in spiritual matters, so I'm going to believe, too."

In normal conversations, it's impolite to corner people like that, so agnostics won't push the matter, and you - the believer - won't tell them to believe the priest because he's an expert and knows better.

Think of it like this:

- I personally have never seen a platypus. Thus I don't know if the platypus exists. There are people who have seen one, though. There are pictures, etc. Thus I think there is evidence that the platypus exists. I'm not agnostic about the existence of the platypus. I know it's there.

- I personally have never seen aliens on earth. I do not know whether aliens have visited earth. There are witness accounts, pictures, etc. But I do not accept them as conclusive evidence. I think that we do not currently have sufficient evidence to say whether aliens have visited earth or not. So I'm agnostic about aliens having witnessed earth, but only "temporarily", because I think that it's principally possible to discover evidence for aliens on earth.

- I personally have never witnessed God. Lots of people claim to have such experiences, but they're non-conclusive to me. I believe that we do not have any evidence for God. And - so far - I'm agnostic about God in exactly the way I am about aliens having visited earth. But, unlike with aliens, I don't think there can be evidence for God. The arguments for that are pretty complex and it's not like I've thought them through to the end. But I do think that if there is such a thing as a God, humans are not equipped to understand the concept. Proving or disproving god is a waste of time, and so is believing.

Likely, your friends don't go as far as I do, and they stop at the "aliens level". But I'm pretty sure they'v passed the "platypus level". That is, they not only don't personally know whether God exists or not, but they think the knowledge is of a type that doesn't let them accept the priest's authority.

Sorry for being confusing. I hope this helps you through the mess a bit more.

kuwisdelu
09-19-2012, 09:06 PM
Forgive me for being confused, but I always thought agnostics were undecided if there's a God or not. I've known a few agnostics and that was how they described their beliefs. None of them said "I can't know" if there is a God or any sort of higher being.

There are some of us agnostics out there who have pretty strong beliefs about God, Gods, and spiritual matters. Lots of us aren't just "undecided."

blacbird
09-22-2012, 10:55 AM
Re: the thread title.

Are you your MC?

caw

kuwisdelu
09-22-2012, 12:10 PM
Re: the thread title.

Are you your MC?

caw

I can't answer for the OP, but in my case, yes.

RichardGarfinkle
09-22-2012, 02:23 PM
I can't answer for the OP, but in my case, yes.

As in memoir, author insert, or just a general tendency to base your main character on yourself?

kuwisdelu
09-22-2012, 07:02 PM
As in memoir, author insert, or just a general tendency to base your main character on yourself?

The latter.

"Write what you know" and all.

Pearl
10-05-2012, 12:49 AM
Re: the thread title.

Are you your MC?

caw

Not at all.