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Giving up faith for good?
Posted: 05 November 2008 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve been a Christian all my life. For some reason I decided to read The God Delusion this year and I thought I would have an argument for everything Richard Dawkins said. But in reality, a lot of what he presented were valid arguments. After that, I just kept reading books on atheism and religion. Now I find myself somewhere between being a believer and an agnostic. I want to call myself an atheist, but I can’t seem to believe that there isn’t something greater than myself who created me and the universe. I guess after 30+ years, it’s hard to give up the beliefs that you’ve had all your life. I’m wondering if others had the same experiences or how you dealt with the situation. I’m sure this question has already been asked, but your responses are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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Posted: 05 November 2008 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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keralagnostic - 05 November 2008 12:00 PM

I’ve been a Christian all my life. For some reason I decided to read The God Delusion this year and I thought I would have an argument for everything Richard Dawkins said. But in reality, a lot of what he presented were valid arguments. After that, I just kept reading books on atheism and religion. Now I find myself somewhere between being a believer and an agnostic. I want to call myself an atheist, but I can’t seem to believe that there isn’t something greater than myself who created me and the universe. I guess after 30+ years, it’s hard to give up the beliefs that you’ve had all your life. I’m wondering if others had the same experiences or how you dealt with the situation. I’m sure this question has already been asked, but your responses are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Hello Keral.Keep reading books that interest you.I would say not to worry to much about any inner struggle.Just do and believe what you believe.Find the closest thing to inner harmony you can,and go with it.In choosing established,doctrinaire beliefs,just make sure that the end results of such beliefs and practices are doing yourself or anything else no harm.
There is no struggle for truth.Make your own truth and live by it.That’s what we ALL do anyways.In my opinion,getting lost in some agnostic-religious-atheist mystery zone is futile.If you want to keep getting knowledge,then do so.You may find eventually that organized religion,or the idea of a creator is false.Or you could just blend them all together into some sort of mystical science.
I realized that there was no god shortly after I discovered that there was no Santa Clause.I figured it out by extension really.That and sitting in catholic mass,watching rituals which I realized were akin to Aztec Pyramid rituals.(blood,sacrifice,a man nailed to a cross as a symbol for holiness?!?!?)Just go with the flow,and remember,if you actually believe in a creator,I mean actually believe it in your soul,then I would stay with it.It could have some great advantages.I wish I could be a devout something or other,with real,live faith and conviction of belief.

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Posted: 05 November 2008 01:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’ve drifted much more gradually from a vaue deism to a strong agnosticism, and the argument from design (something MUST have made this complicated, interesting, cool universe) was always the one that resonated most with me. Ultimately, I think we can’t know everything absolutely, so to say there isn’t and can’t ever be a god can’t be the defining position for atheism. I prefer to say that I’m pretty darned sure most of the specific myths and stories about particular deitis don’t hold water, which suggests to me they probably all just reflect common human psychological needs rather than any deep truth about the real world, but I don’t feel the need to loudly proclaim an absolute atheism. The worst part of religion is, of course, the absolute sense of conviction it gives otherwise reasonable people in specific beliefs which are manifest nonsense. An open-minded skepticism seems a healthier apporach to me.

And while others can speak to this better than I, I think it is possible to get your “spiritual” needs met without having to adhere to any particular religious dogma. Walks in the woods and contemplation of nature and my daughter give me all the awe and wonder and trasncendant joy I need. Other things may work for other people, but we my point is we needn’t banish “religious” feeling just because we give up on religious ideas. Good luck with your journey.

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Posted: 06 November 2008 04:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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keralagnostic - 05 November 2008 12:00 PM

I’ve been a Christian all my life. For some reason I decided to read The God Delusion this year and I thought I would have an argument for everything Richard Dawkins said. But in reality, a lot of what he presented were valid arguments. After that, I just kept reading books on atheism and religion. Now I find myself somewhere between being a believer and an agnostic. I want to call myself an atheist, but I can’t seem to believe that there isn’t something greater than myself who created me and the universe. I guess after 30+ years, it’s hard to give up the beliefs that you’ve had all your life. I’m wondering if others had the same experiences or how you dealt with the situation. I’m sure this question has already been asked, but your responses are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

I let go of my Catholicism at age 21, some 33 years ago this past Saturday. For me, the origin of things is a great mystery, but not one I’m inclined to try to answer. It’s enough for me to say that we don’t know, and let our scientists try to uncover just a little more all the time.

What I sense from your post, and may be what’s really going on “within you,” is that there are things about your religion that you like. Let’s have a dialogue about this. There probably are some very good things in your religion. I would just urge you to think about them not as beliefs about the ultimates (for example, is there a God?), but as experiences in your life.

Faith is a perfect example. Many traditional religions present faith as a belief. I am born-again Humanist. That rebirth occurred when I learned to see Faith as an action. Seen this way, Faith is acting to open life’s possibilities; acting for good even that we have no guarantee that good will result from our actions. Every scientist employs Faith, seen that way.

I also second what others have written about continuing to read and think. But what may bring the pieces together for you, as they did for me, is understand religion not as something outside yourself but as what’s going on within.

Good luck. I hope we will begin a dialogue that will be helpful to you.

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Posted: 06 November 2008 04:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I began my religious journey at the age of 19 at The Theosophical Society (after dropping out of college) and am a life member, but I miss the great seminars and conventions we had when I was on staff in Wheaton, Illinois. I also joined The Saint Germain Foundation as any theosophist is free to follow any of the religions. I was so appreciative of moving out here to California because in Chicago, they are always encouraging us to make the summertime retreat called “I AM” Pageant and travel was too hard for me from Illinois. For years, I took my young children to the summer event and enjoyed it so tremendously, I can’t even express it. I totally long to be under their “radiation” still as it was a very loving time for me.

My children finally got me out of attending Christian church in our neighborhood and they are too old for me to force into two week vacations at a camp setting. Also, my driving is so lame that 1/2 hour to downtown or 40 minutes to Pasadena, CA is too taxing because it isn’t just once a week. It’s Saturday and Sunday both, plus summers are kind of required.

I’m outcast from them both though because no one will talk to me at the level I can understand since an epiphany in 1995. I thought it wouldn’t be more than 10 years of my sharing this theory on the internet before there was a public outcry concerning “How are we to enact this scenario?” There wasn’t one however and I still labor at sharing a new theory of evolution when I would be so much better as part of the Temple. I was sure that there would be funds to build one, in fact, in the San Fernando Valley, so it would be easier to attend, however without the news on this kind of evolution, I don’t see how anyone will show interest in expanding the group.

If you’d like to consider this theory, maybe there would be some reading you enjoy in one of those groups. Personally, since I joined so young and spent a good deal of my life studying it, I am at the point where I either have to help direct it or just stay out. I guess it’s either/or, one or the other, young or old, so as not to be too selfish. However, you might want to consider that if there is a road to heaven and if Jesus is right about this Higher Kingdom (girasas), then perhaps if we allow them room in our lives, they will “house” us after death for a rare treat. Allowing them room in my life meant purifying, opening to their teachings, etc., and by following that direction, I gave them (girasas) something that maybe most people don’t - a fit receptacle. Steps in their direction are not easy - and who knows, perhaps you wouldn’t like being part of their world after death.

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Posted: 06 November 2008 11:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I’ve come to the personal conclusion that accepting what I find to be true (or what has a seemingly greater probability of being true) ultimately places me to be a greater position for emotional well being in the long run. Having that greater approximation of reality give us a greater chance of manipulating and accepting it, regardless of what we would prefer it (reality) to be. Keeping that in mind, I do pay close attention to beliefs or feelings that my instinct/gut feelings draw me towards because I think those feelings are based on feedback from experience of reality and can provide value toward whatever moves and motivates me in life.

I think an honest skeptic could never be 100% about any conclusion and if the thought of a creator makes sense to you, then I would investigate that further with no shame. Skepticism is more so about the process of finding knowledge and not so much the various beliefs that we land on as we make the journey. If you use your own mind and challenge your beliefs sincerely, then you’ve done the best that you can and should be proud of where you end up wherever that may be.

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Posted: 07 November 2008 04:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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mckenzievmd - 05 November 2008 01:45 PM

I’ve drifted much more gradually from a vaue deism to a strong agnosticism, and the argument from design (something MUST have made this complicated, interesting, cool universe) was always the one that resonated most with me. Ultimately, I think we can’t know everything absolutely, so to say there isn’t and can’t ever be a god can’t be the defining position for atheism. I prefer to say that I’m pretty darned sure most of the specific myths and stories about particular deitis don’t hold water, which suggests to me they probably all just reflect common human psychological needs rather than any deep truth about the real world, but I don’t feel the need to loudly proclaim an absolute atheism. The worst part of religion is, of course, the absolute sense of conviction it gives otherwise reasonable people in specific beliefs which are manifest nonsense. An open-minded skepticism seems a healthier apporach to me.

And while others can speak to this better than I, I think it is possible to get your “spiritual” needs met without having to adhere to any particular religious dogma. Walks in the woods and contemplation of nature and my daughter give me all the awe and wonder and trasncendant joy I need. Other things may work for other people, but we my point is we needn’t banish “religious” feeling just because we give up on religious ideas. Good luck with your journey.

I think I am almost heading to where you are now Mckenzievmd. Sam Harris defined what my curiosity about Religionists have done to my belief system. Therefore now, I am free.

wink

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Posted: 07 November 2008 08:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Oh, yeah, Keral!  I pretty much became an agnostic at the age of 14 the first time I tried to read the Bible from cover to cover.  At that time, I defined agnostic as someone who believes in God, but isn’t sure if he’s the same God described in the Bible.  I kept thinking that I’d be able to find God in Nature, or someplace else.  It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I started to despair of ever finding such a God, but like you I still stubbornly kept believing that there must be something greater than Nature. Eventually I opted for a form of Deism.  Okay, maybe God exists, but unless he answers prayers, for all practical purposes, I might as well behave as if he didn’t.  From there it was a pretty gradual slide into full-blown Atheism.  I hope this helps.

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Posted: 07 November 2008 09:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Prayer has a wide berth and I wasn’t much good at it or at least in getting results either. Meditation did seem able to “plant a seed and watch it grow though” as you try to increase some quality in particular in your manifest life and awareness. The new stuff, though, that I tried recently is more along the order of commands. They are called decrees and there are books and books of them. Perhaps people didn’t focus their prayers accurately enough. The decrees seem fine except there is a great emphasis on dilemmas such as government, disasters, finances, health care, and even youthfulness. The decrees which I found ask for visual “light” shows of energy to accomplish tasks that include “annihilation of wrong” and then there is usually the phrase thrown in with the underlying idea, such as “and get me to do this all myself by coming into me.”

Very modern - 1930-50s - books with a modern sense of issues. I can still pray at a Christian church, since away from the “I AM” Temple, but I miss so much the dynamics of repeating verses that aren’t even on your mind and suddenly you are refocused away from personal absorption into a much larger universe of possibilities. As often as we use by decrees the heart energies of other great beings, they (the verses - said to be spoken by Shakespeare in an ascended form, many of them) don’t neglect to remind us that we still accomplish this with our own heart. It’s a bit of a “don’t forget to join us in this” kind of scenario.

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Posted: 07 November 2008 02:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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My family was not particularly religious anyway, but the family rule was that we had to go to church until we were 11(my mother told me that she did not care if I believed or not, she just wanted me to know what I wasn’t believing in). We had to go to the nearest xian church regardless of the denomination (we were a military family and moved alot). As soon as I got to the age to read Greek, Norse, Roman, Asian etc mythology, and read the bible cover to cover, I was able to make the leap that they were one and the same effort to explain their world. From that time, I was an atheist. I also couldn’t see why a good person who lead an exemplary life, could be denied entrance to heaven, just because s/he ‘didn’t know Jesus’—-that was the icing on the cake of atheism, and one of my primary arguments as a child.

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Posted: 10 November 2008 12:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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asanta - 07 November 2008 02:00 PM

My family was not particularly religious anyway, but the family rule was that we had to go to church until we were 11(my mother told me that she did not care if I believed or not, she just wanted me to know what I wasn’t believing in). We had to go to the nearest xian church regardless of the denomination (we were a military family and moved alot). As soon as I got to the age to read Greek, Norse, Roman, Asian etc mythology, and read the bible cover to cover, I was able to make the leap that they were one and the same effort to explain their world. From that time, I was an atheist. I also couldn’t see why a good person who lead an exemplary life, could be denied entrance to heaven, just because s/he ‘didn’t know Jesus’—-that was the icing on the cake of atheism, and one of my primary arguments as a child.

Asanta,

I agree with all you say except I don’t know why that makes you an atheist. A day today atheist perhaps, as Jackson put it to me, but of course it’s right to be a day today atheist. Of course all the mythology is not true, it’s too silly to even discuss. I hope you can’t see how a bad person who led a terrible life shouldn’t be allowed into heaven either b.t.w

What I think is that to be an out and out atheist, is to believe and accept that what is happening is one giant cosmic accident and I don’t believe or accept it, nor do I think it is likely.

Stephen

[ Edited: 10 November 2008 12:47 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 11 November 2008 07:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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1. If there is a destructiveness in the human being, it would come into play primarily during the last three human races. On an incoming cycle or a descent we busy ourselves creating our world and ourselves and during the outgoing phase of the last 3 races, our jobs change. The job we should be doing would be to learn all we can from the girasas kingdom, gather our angels together for removal, prepare ourselves for a descent through animals again.

Destructiveness is capitalized in the “I AM” Temple. They often equate what is “human” with what is “in err” and we ask with decrees for the destruction of all wrong. But in this process which we are learning we do not just destroy wrong by “dissolving” it into the Violet Flame. Once that action has been performed, we replace it with Ascended Master Light Substance. Now we have built into our being a little bit of a higher being.

The whole issue of destructiveness must be examined by everyone who goes through those doors because it is such a common scenario within the decrees. We are told to destroy wrong, violence, crime, lies, impurity (especially) and when we do decree this way, it seems to me that we are being destructive and fulfilling some kind of inner desire or need. So in what way have I become less destructive than I was before I paired up with the girasas kingdom. I think the secret is that we are targeting “wrong.” And do I even have a secure feeling that I know what wrong is? No. Instead, I trust that when I use the Violet Flame, it will remove what is wrong and I don’t have to decide right from wrong. Instead, I do my decrees and feel that there is a guiding hand through the maze of life.

2. Monotheism and the belief in One God is strong in most Christians, and so you may wonder how these people will bear references to Gods and Goddesses of Mercy, of Light, of Victory, of Purity, of Peace. But the references are there and frequently used. In my own estimation, I find myself using those titles for lack of better ones. Many times without familiar names (in this “I AM” Movement) for all the characters, I liken that they refer to an office or station for Earth’s helping forces.

3. A very difficult lesson that I am reluctant to present to others, due to their reluctance and unwillingness to give it validity, is the need for purity. Even though I personally became vegetarian, don’t drink and don’t philander, I still can’t bring myself to instruct others in this way because they are having so much fun and there are plenty of people who really want to live purely. But the Temple rules are very strict and even with one little cigarette, you might be asked to practice at home for 6 months before attending classes.

1a. One of my thoughts at the time of deciding to quit my associations and branch out into direct contact with people outside the organizations, was that death was coming fast upon me anyway, and that if I died in an auto accident or at the hand of another, at least I had met my death with good intentions. It was the thought that I was working on people - in large numbers and singly - in a way that they weren’t familiar with. People didn’t have any concept of what I was doing to them with the Violet Flame and this didn’t seem right to me. At least now, some people know that I am forcing purification (without their permission) and that this includes a higher kingdom taking up residence in them. At least now, I am not ashamed that I do this because they have been told about my acts in a way that is not simply hidden under the “sacraments.”

[ Edited: 11 November 2008 07:50 AM by Brenda ]
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Posted: 11 November 2008 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I became an atheist at age 11 or 12. The rest of my family still believed in god I knew if I told them I would be going to church. I went down that road alone. At the time I felt bad for not believing in god like I was some how immoral. Now I think just the opposite! I would not obsess about clinging to the idea of god it will probably naturally go away.

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Posted: 11 November 2008 02:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Hi Thrissur,

First off, I appluad your open-mindedness! Dawkins even says that he doesn’t expect to convince many believers because they’re so wrapped up in their own beliefs. You ability to listen and critique something that is obviously very important to you is very comendable! I just wanted to let you know that the humanist culture is a rich one, and one I hope you can embrace with as much goodwill as when you were a Christian.

I myself never went through much of that struggle because I wasn’t a serious believer as a kid. I believed in Jesus and God for a while, but when I found out Santa wasn’t real, I applied the same standards to the Deities. I hope this forum and its participants provide you the answers you seek.

StephenLawrence - 10 November 2008 12:35 PM

Asanta,

I agree with all you say except I don’t know why that makes you an atheist. A day today atheist perhaps, as Jackson put it to me, but of course it’s right to be a day today atheist. Of course all the mythology is not true, it’s too silly to even discuss. I hope you can’t see how a bad person who led a terrible life shouldn’t be allowed into heaven either b.t.w

What I think is that to be an out and out atheist, is to believe and accept that what is happening is one giant cosmic accident and I don’t believe or accept it, nor do I think it is likely.

Stephen

Stephen,

I’m a bit confused by your statement, “I hope you can’t see how a bad person who led a terrible life shouldn’t be allowed into heaven either b.t.w” I think it’s the double negatives that are throwing me off. If you’re saying what I think you’re saying, I’d like to remind you of an atheist comic strip I saw once that had a young woman in heaven. She had been raped and murdered.. Her killer/rapist appeared there the next say, saying just before the execution, he had accepted Jesus.

As for your definition of “out and out athiest” I must insist that the literal definition is the most accurate. Someone who lacks a believe in a deity. Atheism doesn’t affirm any belief, it is simply a lack thereof.

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Posted: 11 November 2008 05:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Stephan, I am an Atheist, I do not believe in ANY form of higher being. I am comfortable in my belief, there is NO day to day vacillation. The previous example of a raped and murdered young woman meeting her killer/rapist in ‘heaven’ because he accepted Jesus before his execution is a prime example of the ridiculousness of the christian religion. I don’t believe in any of them,christian or otherwise. Atheism is NOT a belief system, it is a LACK of belief. When did they come out with a litmus test for atheism!

You are perfectly welcome to your own beliefs, but please don’t define mine!

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Posted: 13 November 2008 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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My Christian experiences ultimately led me down a path towards atheism. I also was a Christian my entire life. I was raised in a Christian family, attended church on a daily basis, went to Chruch camps, went to Passion conferences, all that stuff. I was intended on going to Seminary, becoming a youth pastor. I volunteered at Women of Faith conferences. I was really into the life. And then I started really learning, really reading. I picked up a copy of Bertrand Russells book “Why I am not a Christian”. Eye-opening does not do that book justice. A friend had recommended it to me after a close friend of mine passed away and I was grieving. I read it, loved it, and wanted more. I then started looking into atheism, found tons of authors. I began reading Kant and learning about Hegel and Spinoza. Then I found Dawkins and picked up the Ancestor’s Tale and the Selfish Gene. After reading these, it was kind of like a 360 and my faith just basically evaporated. I was so free after that. For many people, it is a long and painful process, but not for me. I was fortunate enough to be able to look at things objectively, and when you can come to a rationalized worldview in the way that I did it lets you live free of the supposed torments of Hell and keep you from trying to impress the almighty to get into Heaven. To cut this short, you simply have to learn, and keep learning. You will never know everything, and the only way you can decide what you believe is by understanding that everything isn’t as cookie cutter as people would like you to believe. Best of luck to you on your journey.

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” I am a mission-minded atheist because when I look around at the tragedy so rampant in our world, it saddens me to see that the majority of groups aiding those in need are religiously driven. These are people who believe that God tells them to help these people, to further his kingdom. I know that my heart tells me to help these people, simply to further humanity. This goes further than educating about atheism. It deals with educating about loving others.”

Terrence Jackson

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