I would like to talk to Johnycomelately,emiler, paradigmsearch and who ever else is cool headed enough to talk about said archetypes. God or what have you, what it is to be an atheist or agnostic or what it is like to be a theist or what have you. But not so much along those lines as, discussing it in an intelligible manner, without insulting one anothers respective positions.
I would like to address the issue of how religion has had an effect on your life, even if you're not religious. How an atheism has had an affect on your life, even if you are religious.
Why is it so important to have a place or group affiliation? Why is it important to have a doctrine? Why is it important not to have a doctrine? What is the reason for believing as you do, religious or non?
Thanks for inviting me to contribute. I hope I can add something of value to the discussion.
I grew up in a small town in Sussex, UK. The church where I was christened was the church where my Dad was christened, and where he and Mum were married. It's a church which is about 1000 years old, built from the local stone - flint - and is the typical parish church that you expect to see in England, with a graveyard and very old graves surrounding the church.
It was and still is a "high Anglican" church, observing much of the paraphernalia of a Roman Catholic church, e.g., incense, candles, genuflection, etc. At the time it was something I was expected to join in, but now I see it as a play act. Nothing much of substance although it was entered into genuinely.
Later in life, when I was in the Royal Navy, I joined up with evangelicals and became, or was ushered into, the "born again" concept. Went along with it for a few years, then got to "know" a bit of my sexuality. This had been a big, ignorant, unknown area of life for me. No sexual encounter with a female, ever; only a rare enjoyable bit of fun with a boy of my own age; basically a virgin, wet behind the ears.
I got to know, somehow, that I fancied guys. Gradually I became familiar with other people who had the same desires and interests. Got to know the word "gay," for the first time. Did not associate it with a healthy sex life. I had heard about "queers" or "brown-hatters" as they were known in the Navy. Did not regard myself as one of "them." However, I DID get the understanding that the church I belonged to had nothing good to say about queers. I came round to understanding that they would regard me as one. So, attending the church then became sort of uncomfortable for me; a false acceptance by them; felt I did not really belong. Had a little bit of counseling from a senior figure who put "the fear of God up me!" I had to leave the church (my own choice and decision) because the inner workings of myself I could not, and had no wish to change.
(Sorry, this feels like it should be my own Hub, it's getting so long.) Anyway, when I got to Australia in the mid-70s (35 by then) I met up with a church which fully accepted gay people. That was wonderful - I had some friends at last! After 4-5 years of that, I felt that it was not for me. Will not go into details on that, because it will sound like I am blaming others, and that would be very wrong of me. It would lead to a false impression.)
I left the church, looked into Siddha Yoga (Muktananda) which was a breath of fresh air for me, spiritually, and found lots more understanding of religious concepts and practices. It has allowed me to inquire, listen, chew over ideas and come to some enlightening understandings about the world.
The christian background gave me, I like to think, a good moral basis. Yet I don't like to see the christian church as having a monopoly on morality. It was a start for me and prompts my "humanity" even today.
I no longer believe that it is a "god" in reality that I am speaking to. Instead, it's an image of myself which is being addressed, nurtured and propagated. It's made in my own image! This is the area of my "atheism." Might add some more discussion at a later date, but this is sufficient for now.
Interesting story... I'm an artist, so I know alot of "brown hatters" if you will, No offense... I don't see any problem with being gay, which was one of the reasons I left the church myself. Not that I'm gay, I just see no purpose in discrimination.
I left the church because they were prejudiced to everyone I knew, they preached hell for my buddhist and hindu friends. They preached damnation to my gay and atheist friends, treating all minorities as if they were less than human. The last time I ever truly spoke to priest was in college, Of course he was Lutherin and wasn't all that bad.
I wouldn't say that christianity contains nothing but negativity, it's the pack instinct I chose to leave behind. I don't like religion, not for the doctrines, more so because of the people. The funny thing is, I love people. I love being around people and talking to them, I just hate being asked to or told that I should join a crowd, as if it is important to fit in or have a place.
I saw the extremes of the crowd, in every crowd I ran with. I tried to fit in among the other humans, but I find they are more like the other animals.
I was born into a traditional catholic family. My mother is a strong believer and father a believer, but more like an agnostic. So I was brought up as a Christian and had Sunni believes during my childhood and I read the bible fully then. But by the time I started my undergraduate studies I've doubt about the teachings, like heaven and hell, absolute morals and so. So I started studying religion more. I studied Hindu and tried Islam. What I found out was all are similar and was using euphemisms for death, just a way km confront the basic fears. I studied science but there to there were some "missing links". So now I'm neither a theist nor atheist.
I have no problem in anybody having any religion, eveni if it is the most idiotic, as long as they can keep it to themselves. I'll not in and ask anybody to be an atheist, but I'll ask anybody who ask me to believe in them to give logical and valid reasons.
And I don't give a damn about experiences as I know brains, including mine, are biased and can be easily tricked!
I'm not elaborating for the dear that this'll be like a hub and hence boring
I was hesitant to respond because Jonathon Janco pointed out the obvious in another thread. I post a lot. I should really stop, but since you named me in the OP….what the heck.
I don’t think religion really had a negative effect on me. My dad was quietly religious. He strived to do the right thing at every juncture; but he didn’t chalk it up to anything other than an apparent belief that a higher power was watching. I guess he wanted to make God proud. I don’t remember either of my parents reading the Bible and they certainly didn’t expect us to abide by the bs at the church. We had to go, but we weren’t expected to agree with anything anyone said.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know if there is a God watching, but I really do think a part of me believes. I strive to do what I consider to be the right thing; whether anyone else goes along with it or approves. I do suffer extreme remorse when I fall short of that goal.
As to your question about group affiliation…I don’t know why anyone thinks group affiliation is important. I think they do it so that they don’t have to live to a standard. The lowest common denominator applies.
And doctrine, to me, ignores the fact that we don’t have facts. It’s simply an attempt to create a consensus. It doesn’t make it true, or right. But, I think people simply want to think they know something and they need it.
I believe as I do because it is what makes sense to me. I think we are all in this reality together and anything less than aspiring to a standard of putting the needs of others on the same level footing as my own; and their needs above my wants is only fair. I figure, if God exists, that’s what he is asking us to do by not giving us any proof that he exists. I see religion as the most defiant stance against the possibility that God exists. More so than atheism. Because religion screams that there is a God and then they ignore every valuable lesson and piece of advice in the books they claim to be scriptures.
I wasn't invited to comment, but I am, anyway. lol. Both my parents were devout Christians, but my dad rarely attended church. On the other hand, my mom went a couple of times a week and was an elder in the Presbyterian Church. I don't attend church on a regular basis, but I'm a Christian. To me, being a Christian means trying to emulate Christ's actions and follow His teachings of tolerance, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, kindness, etc. I don't believe one has to attend church or even adhere to a specific church's doctrine in order to do this. Faith, to me, is personal. My faith has helped me get through some tough times, and I TRY to use it as a guide for living my life. Of course, I often fall short.
From my experience, most churches don't preach this. And some of those who are the most ardent church-goers don't try to live the way Christ taught. BTW, I'm not including my mom in this group. She was the kindest, most compassionate, most altruistic person I've ever known.
I was not invited by name, but felt compelled to answer. One of the definitions of Christian is one who believes that Jesus is the Messiah; I believe that. Another definition of Christian is one who has accepted that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and their personal savior; These are beliefs that I hold. Another definition of Christian is one who believes that God will come down and trample into the ground all my enemies; I do not agree with this and don't hold it as truth. There are many different definitions of Christian. I believe that my path to God is through Jesus. Am I right just because I believe it? I will find out on or about Judgment Day.
When I went to church as a child, before I was baptized, I had the good fortune of being guided by a preacher of the Church of Christ, Garney Atkinson, and my Grandmother Griffith.
I remember Grandmother Griffith telling me that, although The Church of Christ was where she felt she was closest to God, The Church of Christ was not the doorway to Heaven, but, that Jesus was the her to reaching God. I follow that path freely. Many people who believe in a higher power or creator seem to feel discomfort giving that higher power a name. My Grandmother was not one of those people.
Mr. Atkinson also taught that the way to God was through Jesus, not a church or denomination. Denominations can change there name or amend their doctrine at any time. Jesus is constant. Jesus has only one name, but many titles. I believe that through Jesus is my path to God. I cannot and will not force that path on anybody. I will not threaten anybody with Hellfire and Damnation if they don't follow the same path. I will, however let every one know what I believe in, and that the same path is available to them if they only ask Jesus into their hearts.
Sorry if my previous post was a bit too long-winded and maybe a bit off-topic. It was more like a life story, and that is probably not the object here.
To the question of what and how has religion affected my life-course, there are a couple of things which come to mind.
First, looking back to the early church experience, then the evangelical episode, then the jump to a church which accepted gay people, the common factor was the need for companionship and camaraderie. Not having had a good friendship-based childhood, it was wonderful to be amongst people who gave me attention and the sense of belonging.
Funny then that it would be the experience of religion as practised by surrounding "christians" that would turn me against it. Going out and trying to "tell" individuals who seemed to have problems that I had the answer to everything and that thing was "god" -- this I came to see as to hypocritical and self-obsessed. I had the authority! Yet in most circumstances, facing the same individuals, I would not have said boo to a goose!
Also, I saw no companionship coming from those fellow christians, outside of the business of the religion. The conclusion was that I was somewhere at fault in not being able to relate. Yet the religious stuff was empty for me. So, many questions came up about the basis of my beliefs, and little by little it became obvious I could not be a christian. There seemed to be much more of interest and likely progress for me outside of the church.
The choice was most certainly the correct one for me because it took away the constraining ropes of conformity which the christianity put around me.
(Every time I type in "christian" or its related words, I get a red underline prompting for a capital letter at the front. I will NOT bow to conformist pressure!)
I left because I felt I was expected to participate, something I rarely do, even with my closest friends. To me it seemed that there was a pressure to see things as others did, there was no debating to be done. All of the conversations were one sided and I could find few that have truly suffered in life, I had no one to relate to... Those were my christian years...
So I tried a number of different routes, trying to find a true spiritual path. I found that all boasted the same result, though that few worked universaly, at least within the body of the belief.
I'm neither believer or non, I have understandings, none of which tend to work for realistically.
Having read the other posts, I thought I'd post a response. Sorry it's a bit long, but you are free to stop reading now.
My mum always believed in God, though never went to Church. My dad was never interested. At the age of 8, my parents split up, so my dad was pretty much off the scene from then on. My mum would talk about the importance of believing in God, but that was about it.
In high school, my friend was a "born again Christian" and over a period of time filled my head with the idea that if I didn't make Jesus "my own personal saviour" I would spend a "lost eternity" without God, aka politically correct speak for "go to hell". At the age of 15, I signed up as it were though out of a basis of fear.
Over the next 25 years I continued in the beliefs and doctrines of the Pentecostal Churches, yet despite my training as a university degree qualified engineer taught to question everything to see if any proposition could be backed up by solid evidence, such questioning was discouraged in the Church, and to my shame, I unconsciously went along with that state of mind. That's not to say that I didn't feel rather unsettled by some of the doctrines, such as eternal torment in hell, tithing, and this constant pressure to be "pressing on into God". The latter one was continually driven hard as unless one was pressing on, one was said to be apathetic, or in danger of backsliding.
I was also uncomfortable about Church attitudes to those who didn't believe. At best they were under the deception of Satan, at worst, 2nd class citizens who wallowed in their sin. There was also the assumption that every 'unsaved' person had deep problems, and only if Jesus filled the hole in their hearts could they ever be a full and happy person. None of this bigotry seemed to fit the friends I knew outside of the Church though.
Three years ago, I woke up. I had a significant falling out with my Pastor over the subject of the Christian tithe and I argued that it was completely unbiblical. Same with another study I did on the Church's teaching on death and hell. So I left, and have never looked back.
I still believe in God, and I do pray, but gone is the constant weight of guilt that I'm not living up to expectations. I am free to be me and free to think for myself, and I cherish my 'unsaved' friends. Did Christianity change me? Though my belief in God has been through many ups and downs, after 28 years, I don't think being a Christina has made a single significant difference to my life or who I am as a person.
By the way, I just hate the terms "own personal Jesus", "being saved" or "pressing into God", or ay other label the Church likes to pigeon hole people with; i see them as just sanctimonious clap trap with little basis in scripture. I believe that Jesus is God come in the flesh to teach us and make Himself a sacrifice for all humanity, but thereafter, i pretty much have departed from Church doctrines.
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