Saturday, July 13, 2013

Doug Doan

Hello and Happy Saturday!

I wish to thank The Wise Fool for his interesting and enjoyable interview! I really enjoyed reading your answers and I thank you for sharing with us TWF!

Today we have a new interview so please welcome Doug Doan. Doug is an Agnostic and I know you will enjoy his interview as well. 

Here Is Doug Doan's Introduction:

 I am a 52 year old divorced man with 3 grown kids who is currently a hotel manager, but has been in several careers including sales, customer service, counseling, and religion. I am an avid fan of the internet; yes, including facebook! I have started several blogs, and enjoy that medium, although I have not been as active lately. I struggle with depression/anxiety and ADHD. Thankfully, they are well controlled with several medications, but they sometimes get intertwined with my religious struggles and it's hard to sort out.


1) What religion do you practice?

I am a serious agnostic. That means I take the issues of life, meaning, and spirituality very seriously, but have not found a religious framework that has enough evidence to be worth believing, and I doubt I ever will; but I'm open to it.

2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?

I spent most of my life, including all my childhood, in a strong fundamentalist/evangelical Christian culture. I went to Bible College and Seminary. I was a Pastor for several years, as well as a Christian Counselor. I even was Captain of the Counselors at a Billy Graham Crusade!

About two years ago, in the midst of a deep depression in which I was getting no relief from prayer/healing I began to wonder whether the whole thing was true or not. This launched me on a year of intensive study of the Bible, Christianity, apologetics, evolution, and the like. At the end of the year I had to admit that the evidence for the Bible/Christianity was way more sketchy than I had supposed. And, I came to believe in evolution, which, in my way of thinking, invalidates the major premise of the Bible (Creation, Fall, Redemption). I have been living as an agnostic for a couple of years now, because the type of problems I found with Christianity exist in most other religions, as well.

3) Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox, conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?

Well, there's the agnostic/atheist dilemma. Some would say that an agnostic is actually an atheist who isn't being honest with himself. It's all in the definition, I suppose. When I think of an Atheist I think of someone who KNOWS there is no god or supernatural force. When I think of an Agnostic I think of someone who hasn't found enough evidence yet to justify a belief in a supernatural being/force, but is definitely still open to the possibility. Some would say that the former is a "hard atheist," and the latter is a "soft atheist." Like I said, it comes down to definitions.

I think there are differences in Agnostics/Atheists in terms of their stance toward religions and religious people. There is definitely a class that would be considered "militant," meaning they are hostile to religion and actively work towards discrediting it and bringing it down. I don't consider myself militant, although the teacher in me likes to share the things I've learned in my journey with others.

4) What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)

As an agnostic I have not found enough solid evidence to prove the existence of an afterlife, although the "Near Death Experiences" are intriguing to study. Personally, I would be pleasantly surprised to find there is an afterlife. If there is one, I don't think it has anything to do with rewards and punishment. That's something man has made up, relatively recently in fact (300-100 BCE).

5) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?

IF there is an afterlife, I imagine everyone will be there.

6) What makes your religion a good fit for you?

I've always had trouble with religious dogma. Much of my spiritual journey has been about trying to find a belief structure that is a good fit for me, and holds water intellectually. Eventually, they all fail. So, as an Agnostic I have become comfortable saying "I don't know." To me, this is preferable to any dogma that must be believed "by faith."

7) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?

I like Sundays because I am free of the compulsion to go to a house of worship!

8) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?

Most of my friends and family are still Christians and we get along well.

9) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?

Yes. In fact I went on a church-hopping journey last year and visited a dozen houses of worship including Buddhist and Jewish.

10) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?

I am hesitant about any religion that attempts to take over any government.

11) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when a making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?

It has an effect in that I am not affected unreasonably by any dogmas in my decision-making process, influencing me to chose things that go against common sense, or my own desires. I am less apt to fear eternal consequences to my trivial decisions. On social issues I am much more open to gay marriage because there is no supernatural law against it. Interestingly, I still oppose abortion for the same reasons I did before.

12) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?

I'm pretty open to my kids choosing whatever faith and mate they want.

13) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?

Definitely not!

14) Who do you think is not a practicing---in your religion? ie who is the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?

There's a long list of agnostics on wikipedia...

Contemporary public figures that are popular today tend to label themselves Atheist, such as Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. Although not agnostics, per se, they do a good job dismantling the Bible, Christianity, and religious belief in general.

15) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.

No. Although I do have a couple of friends who still try to reconvert me.

16) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?

If anything, I feel more "important" now, knowing that my actions and decisions are up to me, not a higher power.

17) Does your religion give you peace of mind?

It gives me less mental confusion since I don't have to make pieces fit that don't fit anymore. However, the Christian myth can be very comforting having a God who is in control, who watches over us, and who is preparing a place for us in the afterlife. It was difficult to give that up.

18) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?

No. Not enough evidence. 

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