Over the years I have slowly given up any sort of faith I had -- I was raised Christian but quickly felt a disconnect with that. For a long time I was quite spiritual and had a more Buddhist sensibility. But over the last 8 years I have embraced atheism and it feels most honest to me. I have tried and tried inside myself to find some "higher being" but that being never has responded (I don't mean has not followed my commands, I mean...responded in any way with a feeling or anything else).
In my gut it makes no sense that any higher being could be in charge and be all powerful but allow so much cruelty to happen to the innocent in this world.
But, it's hard to find comfort in life as a 100% secularist. I am thinking of joining a Universalist church which embraces atheists...Ha!
Anyone else out there like me?
My experiences with IF have made it clear that the "feelings" and senses we get that there may be someone else in charge or that anything happens for any reason at all is pretty bogus.
Yes, I began my journey back to faith at a UUC. (kids ment)
April 27 2012, 1:21 PM
Actually, that's not quite accurate: I was a neo-Pagan for several years, but just felt as though I liked the structure and institutional familiarity of a more mainstream church. I ended back up at the UMC I grew up in, but that was more about the individual churches in our area than the denominations. Currently I'm a member of a Metropolitan Community Church, but have been attending a Baptist (!) church, as our church is too small to have a nursery, and my twins aren't old enough to participate in Sunday school. Hope to return to my home church before too long.
Yes, "it's hard to find comfort in life as a 100% secularist" really sums it up. If nothing else, the community of other people guided by compassion and positive ideals can be a big help when going through something as trying as IF.
Sometimes I feel drawn to Buddhism and the concept of compassion for others (I'm vegetarian, almost vegan for a similar reason). But I do think Jesus existed, as did Buddha, Lao Tsu, Mohammed, etc. I think they were all spriitual teachers.
I like a lot of new age/spiritual teachings (think Wayne Dyer who has a quote about not being Christian but instead trying to be Christ-like). I beleive that there is a heaven (or paradise as they say in Islam). Aside from that, I don't know where I stand or what I will want to teach my children someday ...
I came from a Christian background, for some portion of my childhood and adolescence was fundamentalist, then tried a variety of churches, then visited some synagogues, went to some Buddhist meditation meetings, went to a Universalist Unitarian church for a few months, even tried "goddess" spirituality until one day I thought how ridiculous it was that I had pictures of women and angels all over my room. Hmmm.
My husband is still deeply religious and I am not. It's hard, and now there is a question in my mind about the children we finally have at long last. But the process of getting them here is exactly what destroyed my faith.
I wish no offense to anyone here, but, all the various religious ideologies now just seem absurd to me and I wonder how anyone could believe them. A virgin birth? Why? The Greek influence is very strong in that story, which is why I first started to doubt it. God asking his devout follower Abraham to slaughter his only son as proof of his love for God? Why would a loving God do that? I could go on but will stop there. The problem of suffering and evil is the main issue though. All the other stuff that seems hard to believe, I could put down to man's clumsiness in trying to capture the essence of God. But a God who would stand by while people are raped, tortured, murdered, or left to die a horrible death from cancer or whatever, wars, natural disasters, pestilence, or even just the relentless crushing disappointment and pain that many people live with throughout their lives. None of it makes sense to me.
But your comment about it not being satisfactory or comforting to be an atheist also hits home. That's why I never tell people I'm an atheist and actually haven't even admitted it to myself, really. I don't want to be an atheist.
Sorry for the downer!!!! I know I will never recover a belief in God. It's just gone, along with my eggs.
You articulated all my feelings so well (please don't read if you are religious)
April 27 2012, 4:54 PM
Your journey sounds like mine, especially the embarrassing goddess pics...
The theodacy part is the real clincher for me. And it started well before IF -- seeing so much pain and unfairness in my family with mental illness, natural disasters, freakily horrible deaths and pain. Stillborns, children born with diseases which will take their life in a few months...it is incredibly insulting to me when people say things are "meant to be" or that God has a plan we do not understand.
Sorry if I offend, but honestly, either God is either not very powerful (so, what kind of God is that?) or he/she is a real bastard and either chooses not to intervene or is like a child punishing people for not doing what he wants them to do. Either kind of God is pretty sucky.
Perhaps I will try the Universalist church. I DO believe in the power of love and faith (in people and love and good) and that is what draws me to such possible community.
as I said below. my best friend thinks the Virgin Birth is crazy sounding. I am Christian. Go figure. It works. Primarily because the beauty of Unitarian is that everyone IS accepted. It was perfect for our wedding. I got my spirituality in, (which involves alot of Native American too) it was important to honor my husbands Jewish background.
I do know that in my friends church (Unitarian) they have support groups, meditation groups, service groups, everything a religious Church has if you will.
Think of it like 12 Step Program, where "Higher Power" can be the energy of the group of people together. I am a HUGE believer in whatever works for the individual. At this point and time, my husband is looking into Hinduism. Good for him!
The Unitarian-Universalist Society is perfect for atheists. Depending on the company around me, I either say that I am a "non-practicing atheist" (since I do enjoy Christmas), or I say I am Unitarian. Some people really get turned off by the word "atheist." For example, I would never tell my immediate supervisor that I am an atheist.
I reread my post and realized it sounded as if I was saying the terms were interchangeable. Of course they are not! What I meant was, if you are unsure of whether you believe or not, it sounds less off putting to say you are agnostic than to declare that you are atheist.
Obviously someone who is really "unsure" is by definition an agnostic rather than an atheist. I'm 99% sure I'm an atheist but I say I'm an agnostic because it is received better by people who get upset over those kinds of things.
I am a Christian my husband on a quest, my best friend is Atheist. And, yeah, we can alll get along and thrive. LOVE IT.
Now for me, I need the extra "umph" if you will of a total Christian experience. But it has never been an issue to go to service and hang with my peeps. My husband and I were married Unitarian and it was perfect.
You know, this is something I grapple with as well. I attend the Unity Church on a quasi-regular basis. I was brought up Christian, I guess, not very strict. We were always allowed to have open discussions at dinner, etc. and encouraged to be "thinkers". I believe Jesus was a wonderful person and a great spiritual teacher, but I have always thought the concept of hell was pretty ridiculous. And the virgin birth, Adam & Eve, etc. Like others, I don't mean to offend, just being honest on this topic.
When I lived in New York, I attended the 5th Ave Presbytarian church and it was wonderful. The Pastor there gave sermons that still inspire me today. When I wonder what the **** God, the Universe, whatever - is doing with all the stuff going on in the Congo, Syria, and just everyday life, I think back to one of his sermons:
There was a famous reporter working somewhere in Africa, and he witnessed a tremendous amount of torture and suffering. On a particular night, he went back to his hotel and was raging outloud, and pulled out his journal to write. He raged aloud "God! Why DON'T YOU DO SOMETHING". And then quickly wrote in his journal - "I did do something...I made you". As Steve Job's has said - the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who actually do. This is true.
That said, I have no idea how any of this works, but I do believe in being good, honest, and active. I believe I have a contribution to make and I feel compelled to do so. I feel an inner push to do it. Maybe it's God, I sure hope so!
I could write a lot more, but that's my brief $0.02.
Long story, but I converted from Catholicism to Judaism but I am basically a humanist. I practice yoga, so some of the philosophies of the yogis fit well for me as well. For me, IF didn't influence my faith/beliefs. I have always sort of been this way...attracted to religion and simultaneously put off by doctrines that don't fit with my true beliefs. Some of the most compassionate and kind people I know are atheists or agnostics or humanists. You don't need to believe in God to have a "holy" life!
I became a Christian when I was nine and regretted it by the time I was 14 as my mum followed me into the church and became overly protective and strict. I swayed back and forth with Christianity until I was about 25 and then became pagan. I am now completely open to all possibilities. There is a drummed in fear that I could be wrong about there not being a god being that I spent so long in the church, so it's always in the back of my mind. I sometimes wonder if we are just god's snow globe on his desk and he just shakes it up every now and then to see what might happen!
I keep coming back to paganism loosely, just because it acknowledges all beliefs and is just respectful of others and the world. We can't hold a higher power responsible for the world. The natural disasters are just the worlds way of renewing it's self and all the human pain in the world is caused by free will. Sadly, the only way the world will ever be a wonderful place to be is if we all follow the same path and belief system, but then we would just be slaves and robots so I choose to embrace everyone and their belief systems and try to have a positive outlook on life. At least until IF brings me down a notch that is!
I like that quote about not being Christian but being Christ like. If he did live on this planet, I'm not sure I could believe that he is in fact the son of god, but he certainly was one hell of a revolutionist. If I can look back on my life and say that I followed his teachings, I think I'd be pretty proud of myself.
Last Christmas, DD asked what is was all about. It was a very long conversation of me saying...... The Christians believe that blah blah blah.....
She then asked what a Christian is. I have always been honest with her about everything, so I told her the general idea and answered any questions she had, but I won't let my mum take her to church. If she decides that she wants to follow that path when she is older, that is her choice, but I don't want her coming home from Sunday school with my mum upset because mummy and daddy aren't going to heaven.
I went through a time of really hating Christians (no offence intended) and as I was a leader for many years, I know how to answer most questions with non committal answers. I don't hate god, but I will never set foot in a church again unless it's for a wedding or funeral.
Having said that, if it works for someone else, I'm more than happy for them. I want DD to grow up accepting of all people regardless of age, sex, race, sexual orientation or religion. I pride myself on being non judgemental and I hope to instil this in DD.