I have been an atheist for quite some time now. This is partly as a reaction to the nasty side of religion, which I have witnessed. It is also as a reaction to the rejection of science, which many Christians take pride in. The Intelligent Design argument used by creationists, which I know goes against the facts, has had the result of turning me away from religion. Also, the fact that there is no evidence for God, and I am a person who needs evidence, has not helped.
I have therefore spent months, trying to convince myself that I am a happy atheist. However, I know this is not true. So, I am in the strange position of not believing in God, but wanting to, and have even started praying to the god I don't believe in, asking him/her to help me to believe.
So, does anyone have any suggestions as to how an atheist can force himself to believe in God? It may seem strange, I know it is to me, but I realize that I was happier believing in a God, because it gave me a purpose greater than myself to believe in. Perhaps there are some believers out there, who are former atheists, but because of some experience changed their minds.
This is my opinion!
Most Atheists are ... mostly because they know that "RELIGION" does not have any "RIGHT" answers.
>>>> according to how they interpret their bible.
Yep ! just cause religion goesn't tell the story right ??? there must NOT be a God of which they speak ????
Is that about how it goes ????
Wow, OK. There is nothing I, or anyone else, can say to you that will not in some way or another reflect their own beliefs.
Keep that in mind when you ask for advice on this kinda stuff.
With that said, it doesn't have to be a Christianity vs. Atheist kind of thing. There are literally hundreds of different religions with viable viewpoints. Secondly, although cherry-picking is frowned upon by purists doesn't mean it is wrong (it just confuses THEM). Study philosophy, religions texts, science books etc... hell study the food pyramid if you think it will help. If you read something that seems to "click" as right, then run with it. Move on until the next thing "clicks". Chances are you will eventually find a faith/nonfaith/personal philosophy whatever where most viewpoints seem right. your study of that source should probably be more in-depth. Remember, though, you never HAVE to believe every single thing that every single person of your "group" believes.
In the end, only you can decide what feels right, what guides you, and what enlightens you. Your faith should be as unique as you are.
Maybe you might want to look at what it was about the previously held belief in God that made you feel happier than you do now. Maybe the previous concept of the Christian God you held before wasn't right and just needs an adjustment in how it is viewed for you to reach an acceptable level of belief. One might also look at other things as well, that might fill that "void" you seem to be currently experiencing.
This is not a simple question to answer, unfortunatly. And you are going to get many variances in the answers you receive. The best advice I can offer is to look within yourself and find what it is that will return you to that "Happy" state. God can be so much more than just what many of us are lead to believe. But who, what and how we view or believe in this "God" is a personal view and while others may see things similar to how you view things, there is rarely a complete agreement.
And there can be a happy middle ground between science and facts, and what we hold to be spiritual "truths" within ourselves.
A partial lobotomy should work.
You can always do what all the believers do. Pretend one of the majik books actually makes sense. You know - "Islam is a religion of peace, but the penalty for leaving the faith is death," or "there is no hatred in the bible - god hates homosexuality not homosexuals."
Then - once you have cast out all doubts and changed any contradictions into "paradoxes us poor sinners cannot grasp because god works in such mysterious ways," you are good to go. Pick your denomination and start spreading the word.
Or - you could do what many atheists do and create a purpose for yourself that is bigger than you are. There are loads or wrongs to right, abuses to prevent etc.
I don't think you can force yourself to believe. Some of us are just cursed with logical minds that will not accept fantasy as reality.
Check out "The Believing Brain," by Michael Shermer. We evolved to believe with no evidence and peer pressure has been applied your whole life - whether you are aware of it or not.
I don't know why believing in a god or not is even an issue. It is impossible to prove there is or is not a god and so as an atheist I have to accept that such an unlikely thing is never the less just possible.
Whether your god is a white bearded old buffer floating up in the clouds, or some more fluid idea of the whole universe 'being' a god - or as most Chinese seem to believe, that the unknown should be considered in some way.
Having a non-belief or a belief in a god (or any other way of packaging the unknown) does not mean buying into any of the strange contortions that are religion. You could do what many non-believers do who need 'something' and become mildly Buddhist and 'improve' yourself spiritually - or just accept that you need a god and keep it to yourself in your own way.
Belief in a god or whatever does not necessarily mean you MUST to go out and bomb people, throw stones at gay people, become mindless or forcefully de-educate yourself.
I have read a lot about the discovery that the human brain is unique, in that it has a part, which specifically evolved to believe in God, so perhaps this is why such a belief seems innate in many people, and the rejection of God unnatural. Also, whilst I am fascinated by science and believe in its discoveries, unlike many religious people, who feel a need to reject them, so any religious or spiritual belief for me, would have to include science. My recent interest in quantum physics, might be a way of combining religion and science. This field of science is mysterious and might even be described as having magical properties, yet it is also a very accurate science, and has been proven to relate to the physical world. I see some areas of scientific discovery, which although not specifically pointing to a god, don't rule one out. For instance, until the 1930s, it was accepted by science that the universe had always existed, so this was seen as ruling out the idea that it was created. Now though of course, the Big Bang, which is the best theory science has for the origins of the universe, shows that it did actually have a beginning.
I also agree that religion is manmade, and so it is possible to take from it what one chooses. Perhaps it might be even possible to combine different religions, and create my own idea of God.
I sent you a private message. (and no, it wasn't an attempt to convert)
I also agree that religion is manmade, and so it is possible to take from it what one chooses. Perhaps it might be even possible to combine different religions, and create my own idea of God.
= = == = == = ==
ME Man made religion Yep.
combine diferent religions down to one God ? More than kilely!
Where do I find private messages? I have looked at my account and profile, but cannot find anywhere for private messages.
Was that private message "jump !" "jump !" "jump !" "jump !"
Sorry, that little scenario flashed before my eyes of loads of people all looking up at the guy on the ledge and chanting .
That's admirable that you're keeping an open mind. I was in a similar position as you a few years ago. I would just say that not all conceptions of G-d are the same. There are many belief systems that can resolve both what you feel and know.
I suggest starting off by taking count of what you really believe.
The problem, is that deep down, what I really believe is that it is illogical that a god could exist, but it is not what I want to believe. I think I may end up being a god-believing atheist.
This is how my best friend (who happens to be the most brilliant man I've ever met in my entire life) dealt with the intellect vs. God thing. I hope I am explaining this right because the man really does work on a level that is 40 IQ points above mine.
His definition of God is something close to a personification of the collective consciousness of all sentient species. This personification is the hub of thoughts, feelings, and morals of his all thinking things. As such, it is the same God among all religions and also is, in part, the God of the natural order that human beings arose from. The natural order predated God and formed God, but humans brought him/her/it to life and now draw from its collected knowledge.
Sort of an evolving God...
He does a much better job of explaining it...
I'm not saying to accept his theory... because his ego doesn't need the title "prophet" attached to it. The point is, he found his own path to a version of God that he could live with.
I didn't need anything quite so complicated when I converted to Christianity. I needed a role model that would forgive so I could learn to forgive. I needed role model who helped others, so that I could be a nicer person. And I needed them to have gone through a butt load of hardship so I could relate.
Had I had other needs, I probably would have looked to another faith. But then again, I believe that all Gods are the same God and different religions worship different aspects of him/her/it.
This was really nice. Thank you for sharing it.
Yes, you might. Nothing wrong with that, of course.
Sorry if I am taking this issue too lightly. It is early in the morning between coffee's.
Most people I know of various religious and non-religious backgrounds end up with Buddhism when they get older. Not the whole chanting thing usually but the meditative kind that revolves around peace and harmony with the 'universe' or a god if you like. I tend toward this after totally rejecting Catholicism after an intensely Catholic childhood, in my case it is about enlightenment - although that is unlikely to come while I am still alive and kicking, but it is the journey that counts
I know that even Susan Blackmore, an atheist, who has interpreted her out-of-body experiences as a product of the brain has turned to Zen Buddhism.
I find that most thinking people reject the idea of a god as too simplistic answer to deal with the unknown - the idea that any such thing would require people to bow down to it, kill animals, kneel for hours while certain 'special' people perform strange rites, wail from the top of towers etc etc as patently ridiculous. This does not mean that we don't have a spiritual part of us that needs to be considered, especially as that spiritual part contains such things as defining what is good and bad for (unknown) reasons that might benefit others who we do not even know (such as planting trees that only our children will see).
Or of course you can listen to the background babbling of the so-called religious with their poison chalice always ready for you.
Thanks, I have checked my email and it has received your message.
I have taken the quiz, and the religion listed at number 1 for me is The Society of Friends (Quakers). This makes sense, as I was a Quaker a few years ago.
Mine was New Age 100%, followed closely by Mahayana Buddhism 88%, Unitarian Universalism 86%, Taoism 83%, New Thought 82%.
Mine were: Unitarian Universalism (100%) Secular Humanism (98%) Liberal Quakers - Religious Society of Friends (91%) Mainline - Liberal Christian Protestants (76%)Theravada Buddhism (74%)
I am not really surprised by the results for me. I know that the more "christian" type beliefs that I have would fall more under the UU beliefs that any other.
If I would have guessed by your posts, I would have thought liberal Christian would have been among your top 5. But you know what they say about assumptions so I try not to make them unless they are blindingly obvious. You usually have pretty even-sided posts so I never really drew a strong conclusion about you
Melissa's quiz for anyone who would like to take it.
Pretty insightful. My results:
1 Reform Judaism (100%) - this is actually what I am
2. Liberal Quakers - Religious Society of Friends (91%) - A friend I very much respect has converted to Quakerism
3. Mainline - Liberal Christian Protestants (90%) - I respect them
4. Unitarian Universalism (87%) - Naturally, lot of respect for them
5. Bahai (77%) - Surprised by this, b/c they are not particularly gay-friendly
Mainline - Conservative Christian Protestant (30%) - Ummm...yup! No surprise there, although I don't call these groups "mainline" (they are evangelical)
I can kinda see the Bahai faith in you. The rest of their principles line up pretty well with the vibe I get from you. Their views on homosexuality, I always thought, never quite lined up with the spirit of the whole "human unity" theme, but they are more sort of condescending about the whole thing rather than exclusive... if I had to guess, they are probably the next "hold-out" to change policy.
Other than that, I would say it was fairly accurate for you
Mine was okay, the secular humanist thing kinda threw me a little bit but I have to assume it's because I don't really care about the definition of God rather than any particular disbelief in him/her/it.
Yes, maybe. What little I know of the faith seems pretty positive. I like that they have an optimistic vision of the future and a goal in mind. Incidentally, I had a friend I respected in high school who was Bahai. He was a bit cool to me being gay, but was a bright, thoughtful person otherwise. Yes, maybe they will come around on it. I've found, though, that the newer the religion, for some reason, the more resistant they are to modernizing (maybe because the older forms are so ridiculous at face value, that they had no choice but adapt if they wanted to survive).
Which, of course, makes me wonder how impressionable I am. I've thought for a long time that the very many Jews I knew throughout my life were a big part for my conversion to Judaism. They really were "a nation of priests" to me.
Interesting on your secular humanist bit - I think they do factor the "relative importance thing" quite a bit into the calculation. I don't believe I always follow the standard line on Jewish beliefs, but often those are both of low importance to me and within Judaism itself.
I thought it was interesting, though, that from #3 to last place, I had various forms of Christianity along the spectrum...definitely runs counter to the perception among several in these threads that there is only one Christianity.
LOL, it wasn't my quiz... I'm not affiliated in any way I just don't like posting links in the forums. Its a silly little quiz not to be taken too seriously but it does give generalities. Its lacking a little on the traditionally non-Anglo religions... which are worth looking into.
- If there's aloving God why is there so much suffering and evil?
- If the miracles of God contradict science then how can a rational person believe they are true?
- If God really did create the universe then why does science believe in unquided processes of evolution?
- If God is pure love then how can he allow the killing of innocent children?
- If Jesus is the only way to heaven then what about all the people who have never heard of Jesus?
- If God really does love his creation then how can he send so many people to hell because they didn't believe what he says is the truth?
- If I still have doubts, can I call myself a Christian?
I can answer these questions logically and fully to my satisfaction. So can many others. And it is not based on what I have been taught from "religion" or "church" or from family.
Charles Templeton, a strong Christian (who worked with Billy Graham) became an athiest because he could not reconcile these questions and others like them. He died, apparantly still an athiest, but incredibly sad because he truly and passionately missed his friendship with Jesus the Christ.
These questions are so hard to answer or reconcile with rational intelligence and keep many, many people from taking a logical look at what the answers are. And there are intelligent, rational answers -- not just fairy tales about soft5 and fuzzy stuff.
Read about Charles Templeton. Read "The Case for Faith" by Lee Strobel. Then read "The Case for Christ", also by Lee Strobel. These two books are based on his research of legimate research performed by acknowledged historians, and his interviews with scientists and philosophers (some once atheists, now Christians) who provided him with cold, hard facts and scientific studies.
I will not argue this post. If anyone (especially you, Holmes) want more information, please email me privately.
May God Bless your search for truth for you.
I don't think conversion rituals are important, what matters most is your deep faith on God and following his commandants, whatever religion you follow.
Holmes221b, you came up with a real brain twister, here. I'm not sure if I should thank you or curse you.
If I had been through the experiences you've had and nothing else significantly positive, I might be similarly turned off of religion. I shudder to think that I would be "trapped" in such an experiential box -- unable to see more than just that.
But even from a very young age I have examined things critically -- religion, science, myself and everything else. I have looked for patterns and possibilities. I have imagined things not seen -- reasons why things might be the way they are. Using my penchant for mathematics and logic, I have imagined programming code that could have resulted in the universe the way it is, or reasons why gravity exists, or even imagined how to program the meanings of words in multi-dimensional concept space.
Desire can be a strong motivation. Desire for understanding. Desire for closure or a fully-integrated worldview. Does God really fit in any of these?
As far as all those other so-called Christians with their abusive, judgmental attitudes, forget them! Don't let their idiocy be the reason for any change in your life, except perhaps to avoid being contaminated by their poison (ego). As far as their "creation science" and other forms of delusion (ignoring the object of science's study -- reality), they are shallow, lazy interpretations of a book that has so many interpretations, one has to realize that either, (1) there is nothing of value in the Bible, or (2) the true value is hidden and requires humble study to find it.
I have had a lifetime filled with spiritual experiences -- out-of-body excursions, memories of past lives as vivid as any memory this lifetime, and the creation of instantaneous miracles that defy the laws of science. I may not be the smartest guy on planet Earth, but I'm no slouch when it comes to science, mathematics and logic. I used 3D matrix math to build an astronomy software program I sell on the internet (www.SpaceSoftware.net). I've won first-place honors for my essay, "Outsiderness in the Scientific Community" ( http://www.ancientsuns.com/fwd/rcm/other_writing.html ). This is not to brag, but just to give you a little context. Two of my favorite books are "Calculus Made Easy" by Sylvanus P. Thompson, and on the subject of astrophysics, "Stars: Their Birth, Life, and Death" by Iosif S. Shklovskii.
I have approached the Bible with my artist's imagination and creativity (I was also a Hollywood artist with film credit), and with my critical skills of logic (my bachelors degree in computer information technology was achieved summa cum laude). If there is any truth in this book (the Bible), what would it look like?
So, I started with the assumption that some specific biblical facts were real and literal -- like Jesus walking on water and Moses parting the sea. How could these even happen? If Jesus and Moses were only Homo sapiens, then this would seem impossible. Physical matter cannot rewrite the laws of physics. This would imply that something greater than physical reality was at work. Could the individual have this potential? Would it be proper for the individual to exercise that ability if they had it? Or would the individual need to ask for such miracles through God?
I also asked some tough questions about Genesis. How can Genesis be compatible with the findings of science? Well, I found an answer! It is both startlingly simple and reveals some interesting facts which, if proven by science, could reshape the way we think about us humans.
The bottom line, though, is that each person has their own individual journey. Only you can change your path. Choose wisely. Don't believe everything you hear... take it all with a "grain of salt." The truth of it all may be quite different from the literal apparency.
Listen to your head, but follow your heart. Never turn away from your heart and you'll find your way.
Having asked a similar question, to this one on an atheist's site, I have had one person suggest that my question was insincere, and that I had as my mission the conversion of atheists, because I am not an atheist as stated, but somehow a religious person in disguise. Why must people always be so quick to label people? To me, it is perfectly possible to be an atheist, yet still question if there might be a god, just as when I was a believer in God, I always had a doubt that my belief may be wrong. I don't think it at all unusual to have such questions. However, it seems that to some atheists, I am not atheistic enough, just as some religious people, look down on other believers, because they are not religious enough. It seems independent thought is considered a bad thing, on both sides of the argument.
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