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Wednesday, September 14, 2005 

What the %*@# Do I Know?

Part of being a former Mormon/current agnostic is becoming comfortable with the fact that you just don't "know" that much. I used to "know" things... like that God existed and Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that families are forever. I don't know that now--but that hasn't really changed who I am--so whatever the afterlife holds, I think I'll be okay with it.

Last Saturday night we had some people over for a game night and a friend of my brother-in-law was talking about his religious beliefs (Catholic) and why he was sticking with it and not going to another religion. He said, "Did you know that Jehovah's Witnesses believe in 3 heavens and Mormons believe in 7?" Now, both of these statements are false and and I don't even know where this guy came up with it. I set him straight on the Mormon front, and apparently the Jehovah's Witnesses believe that if you aren't saved (and you've got to be one of them to be saved), you just get anihilated and cease to exist.

While I was looking that information up, I glanced over what other Christian denominations believed, started reflecting on the various beliefs of the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Hindus. Everyone who believed in these religions believed that they knew what was going to happen to them after they died. The thing is... you only find out once you get there, and then it's too late.

Now, before you start lecturing me with, "I'm glad I don't have to wait to find out... I already KNOW," I'm going to say "Good for you!" If you know and you're happy and cool with it... rock on. Just keep in mind that all of those Greeks who built Temples to Athena KNEW she'd be watching out for them. Maybe you really have the "right religion," but you won't really know 'til you get there.

I did a comparative study of near death experiences and religion in college. What I found is that only two religions officially teach of a life after death, Mormons and Catholics.

Some MEMBERS of other religions said, "oh sure I believe that." Several flat out said, "no way, and it's sinful to discuss it." A few just believe that our essence floats up and joins all the other essences.

Only one, ours, has definite and clear beliefs. These belief of ours also are similar to the near death reports of people who've written books on the subject, almost dead on, in fact.

I'm a believer.

Maybe I understood you wrong, but Iwas under the impression that nearly all Christian denoms taught of an afterlife. The SBC does, I know. We talk about it all the time in church. The Baptist Faith and Message explains Christ's Second Coming, and the resurrection of souls to dwell in Heaven with God forever, or to be condemned to eternal Hell. Is that not considered an afterlife? I think it is.

And this is a very Socratic way of viewing the world. 'I know more than most men, because I know I know nothing at all.' It's true that the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Hindus, Buddhists, etc. "know" they're right about everything; who would follow a religion they didn't feel was right? But that's the main point of these kinds of religion: everything's based on faith and not wisdom. I don't claim to know everything about Christianity and God, but I have faith, and when you think about all the things humans don't know, faith is a good way to live through this life without always getting depressed or upset about everything.

And while I do not believe in the Mormon idea of afterlife and Heaven and Hell, I do believe the SBC teachings as true and Biblically sound. And I'm not going to waste my life trying to discover the secrets of God or the afterlife, but simply live with the faith I have in a God who will take care of me and be merciful when I meet Him later.

"Part of being a former Mormon/current agnostic is becoming comfortable with the fact that you just don't "know" that much."

And getting comfortable with the fact that you just don't "know" is freeing. I've never felt so at peace with death before.


Wendy (former mormon/current agnostic also)

It's funny...Kaycee (and Wendy) find comfort in the "not knowing."
Am I such a busy-body that I just HAVE to know? ;) Kidding, of course, as there is MUCH I don't know.

I think most (not sure if ALL) Christian faiths believe in some sort of afterlife or heaven...not just Mormons and Catholics. As far as officially teaching of this? That, I'm not sure...

I think Annie called it though. It is FAITH...the belief in something not seen that makes the difference in how you believe or even WHAT you believe.

Interesting...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Annie, I totally agree. I have had this "life after death" discussion a thousand times with friends (who were of ALL religions). It comes down to faith. And it's been pointed out a few times lately, and again by Annie, if you didn't think you were choosing the correct religion, why bother?

Kaycee, this is one of your most honest posts. Sometimes those of us posting at VSoM will comment more on what we used to believe, or on what we're supposed to believe (I take care of the "supposed to believe" part on Mondays), but the whole point of this is to comment on WHAT WE BELIEVE RIGHT NOW AT THE STAGE WE ARE AT, and I think you have done that beautifully. I am beginning to understand the stage you are at better and without judgement, and I appreciate your view. Right on, baby!

Um...that's not to say that I don't love the journey of how we all got here to this stage...what you all used to think of things...I'm just trying to say I love the honesty.

I think most people fully accept some kind of afterlife. But there are discrepencies in what some churches officially teach, and what their members activly believe, the afterlife being one of them.

I could be wrong, but I think what is meant by annegb, is that the Mormon and Catholic religion are the two that I'm aware of that have a pretty concrete idea of what the structure of heaven is.

Most people believe they will return to God but don't know what that exacly entails.

I think its fair to say none of us really knows what we will be doing once we are there, although we have some general ideas, but there are as many mysteries to those ends as there are ideas of what we will be doing.

K and Wendy. I agree with what you say re: death although I guess I do feel like I know, I know that there is nothing more after this and that brings comfort and freedom to me as well. After life? Interesting discussions I guess, but I love that the entire focus of my life now is this life, here and now and how I live it for today.

Wonderful post K.

Alice-

how do you "know" that there is nothing more after this life?

I "know" this isn't really a philosophical blog, but perhaps we should clarify what we mean when we use the word "know". To me, knowledge and belief are related, but distinctly different. Saying that you believe something to be true is different from saying you know it to be true, to me at least. I doubt there are many people out there who can claim to "know" (as in absolutely 0% chance of mistake) that their religion is the one true religion. But I bet there are some. Most people would fall into the "belief" category, I'd think.

I think "know" is being used synonymously with "a perfect faith". Faith after all is how our beliefs impact our actions. If we believe in agnostism, mormonism or any other "ism" we act on those beliefs. Faith is the active participation in that belief. It is the knowlege of things unseen and the belief in things without evidence.

Knowlege changes us. If we learn something that means that knowlege has changed our behavior. Similarly, excercising our faith demonstrates what we believe we know to be true.

LOL, I thought you misspelled demons. No, hon, they might talk about it from the pulpit, but it's not part of their official doctrine. I know, I checked out 30 books from the college library.

But many oh, born-again Christian religions, the ones I contacted here, found it sinful. One man and his wife both got on the phone and really lambasted me for even discussing it.

Oh, yes, that is what I meant, the Catholic literature, the books on doctrine, and Mormon ones, define the after-life. Plus all the Catholics I talked to just accepted it as a given. Very peacefully and comfortably so.

The Baptist minister I spoke to said, "yes, I believe that, but I don't know what it is." He was very gracious.

You agnostics, I love the idea of saying, "I don't know" because it releases you to just do the best you can. Have you read "The Christian Agnostic" by Leslie Weatherhead?

I have about fifteen books about near death experiences, I got into it when my son committed suicide, I think 2 are by Mormons. But those who have studied this scientifically refer to Mormonism as the one religion which freely discusses the topic. Not criticizing anybody else, just a comment. And it's true. We all have stories about the spirit world. It's just a given to me.

The established religious leaders I spoke to were very kind, but cautious, except the priest, he said, "oh yeah." It was the sort of off the wall religions, the ones called oh..."charismatic church of Christ" which meets in the basement of the coffee shop, which didn't want to discuss it.

So maybe that was misleading in my comment. I didn't mean to put down anybody's religion.

ps. my real name is not Anne, but my baby sister's name is Annie, it's my favorite name.

I apologize in advance, as I should use italics to quote, but I'm kinda technologically illiterate...

annegb said...
I did a comparative study of near death experiences and religion in college. What I found is that only two religions officially teach of a life after death, Mormons and Catholics.

Whoa! Just about every major world religion that I know of teaches about an afterlife. (Some strains of Buddhism and Judaism are slightly shady on the subject.) How did you do that comparative study of religion?

annegb said...
I know, I checked out 30 books from the college library.

But many oh, born-again Christian religions, the ones I contacted here, found it sinful. One man and his wife both got on the phone and really lambasted me for even discussing it.

The Baptist minister I spoke to said, "yes, I believe that, but I don't know what it is." He was very gracious.

The established religious leaders I spoke to were very kind, but cautious, except the priest, he said, "oh yeah." It was the sort of off the wall religions, the ones called oh..."charismatic church of Christ" which meets in the basement of the coffee shop, which didn't want to discuss it.

This is me again. I just wanted to clarify that your research consisted of:
1. talking to some born-again Christians
2. talking to a baptist minister
3. talking to a pentecostal priest

Yup, that pretty much covers all world religions.

You're not the only one who believes in an afterlife, honey.

Also, I find it hypocritical of you to make judgments of other people's faiths based on limited interactions with them. It seems like whenever I point out the flaws I see in many Mormons or in Mormon culture peolpe scold me for leaving the church "because of the peolpe" and not "the doctrine."

I do ultimately think that they have a point, which is why I suggest annegb research some actual doctrine instead of making the claim that only Catholics and Mormons teach of a life after death, which is simply preposterous.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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