My beliefs

Sent in by Daniel P

We all define our gods through our own beliefs. Usually we are given our spiritual identity by our parents based upon there belief system or religion. This is how I received mine, and for a long time, I defined my god with these teachings. My view of life and the supernatural were shaped by an early indoctrination into my parent’s system of religion. As time passed and my experiences with the world grew, I began to question some of those teachings. The questions that arose surfaced in different forms, but the underlying basis for these questions rested on a conflict that stemmed from the increasing disparity between what was my experienced reality and those early religious teachings.

Why do people believe in a god? What evidence is there that a god even exists? These questions and more have plagued my mind through most of my adult life. The lines of demarcation between two foes, Religion and Reality, were drawn years ago. A conflict slowly arose between my experience in reality and my studies of religion. War was the only resolution, as there seemed to be no reconciliation between these two adversaries.

I‘m sad to say, but the conflict is now over, there is a winner. Reality, more specifically, my reality is the sum of my experiences. Experiences bend and shape our view of the world. They help us learn what to expect in situations, and how to deal with and react to instances that occur in our lives. My experience with life produced a stack of insurmountable evidence for the case of a godless universe, while religion produced little proof.

My revelation did not come on a whim, plucked at random with no effort or forethought. I didn’t simply sneeze and open my eyes to the thought of a universe void of the presence of a god. I put my mind to the problem. I devoted considerable time and effort into finding the right path to god and salvation. I sought information from people who knew about such things as religion and god. I tried to be a True Believer and was even baptized a second time just in case it hadn’t been done right the first time.

No matter what I did, I always came back to the question of why my experiences in life failed to mesh with the religious stories I’d been told. Perhaps it was those very stories which began to relax religions carefully assembled grasp on my mind. Stories of great feats of barbaric slaughter of men, women, and children, all performed in the name of God. The bible is full of tales of murder and destruction delivered at the hand of such a god. I was told of the marvelous love of god for me. The kind of love that caused an incredible act of self sacrifice by God for me, and yet he has prepared eternal torment for my soul, the one he loves so much. It doesn’t make sense.

So I sought out stories told in other religions besides the one so liberally applied to me since birth. I read narratives from Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, and others. I waded through tales of magic and miracles, repeatedly finding the assertions from each that their god was the only real god. In my search I discovered something. Each time I looked deeper into a belief system, I found the same claims of miraculous deeds and astonishing power wielded by an active and vengeful deity or deities. This contention of an active god directly conflicted with my experiences with life where, it seemed, there was no manifestation of direct interaction between god and man. I began to understand that at one time Greek Mythology was, in fact, a religion. I took hold of the idea that many gods have come and gone, to only survive as fables and pages in history books.

Upon these rebellious thoughts, the supernatural fell apart before my eyes. The foundational truths I’d been taught in Sunday school exploded in a thousand directions. The egg shell of indoctrination received a crack as my curious beak explored life outside of dogma’s protection. The moment of realization was profoundly clear. I took a breath, and the air was clean. I decided. I put my hands to the hard membrane encasing my forced belief, and after a final look around, I broke the shell. There is no god.

It’s a terrifying feeling, really, not having an all powerful protector keeping an eye out for me. There is a sense of loss in not having the Big Guy around for those times of trouble. There is a blank spot in my psyche now that was once occupied by the idea of god. That idea is gone, replaced by the reality of my situation on this planet among billions of other people. Reality is setting in and I am suddenly quite aware of my own finite existence. Soon, another birthday will roll around, and then another. One day I will pass that birthday where I am closer to death than I am to birth, as I may unknowingly already have. Eventually, I will use my time up and cease to exist. As a normal human, I am afraid.

In as much as it is terrifying, the absence of a god brings freedom. I alone dictate my life. No one invisible is floating around the room. No demons, ghosts, or dead relatives hanging out with nothing better to do. They are all gone, or better to say, were never here to begin with. Each day is a new challenge into the absurdities and pleasures of this life. Every day I live is a day that I have to work with, to shape and bend in the direction I decide to go.

From an early age I was told about a god who could see and hear all. He would write down all that I said and did and thought at every moment in a book that I would later be judged against. Suddenly, my mind was private. The thoughts inside were firmly mine. There were no longer scribes scribbling down every flash of minutia that traversed my brain. No more did I live under the fear of a forgotten un-confessed sin, leading to an eternal barbecue.

Although it took a long time for me to reach the conclusion that religion is a fairytale, the rejection of the god idea was relatively quick. The expression of that conclusion has been more calculated and cautious. The very admittance of this heretical belief would often get a person imprisoned or even executed not to long ago. My thoughts are transcribed in secret to preserve stability in my family.

But at last, I chose to write this down. I controlled the pencil and I held the paper on which it is written. What’s after this life will be answered to me one day, whether or not there is a consciousness left awake and intact to hear the answer. All I know is that life is for living. Since I only get to live once, I choose to live it in reality.

8 comments:

MichelleDesslerFan said...

I wish I had your bravery. I still "believe" but I don't stick my head in the sand like many other "believers". I'm willing to look at the dark spots and shine the glaring light of reason when I need to.

I'll post someday on this site when I gather my thoughts coherently and discuss my "concerns" about God, religion and belief specifically about Christianity.

Jamie said...

Well said...I still believe as well...in a way...I think...

Or maybe I'm just not ready to let go of God.

Either way, I like what you wrote. If I still believe in God, and if I still believe he is a God who "saves", then I also believe that the saving would be for everyone. It's the only way an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God makes any sense to me whatsoever.

And when I say "makes sense" I mean that in the most subjective and emotional way possible.

Lynn said...

I identify with what you've gone through. I had someone tell me something I'd never considered before that really got me to thinking. They told me I was looking in the wrong place and asked me if I'd looked within myself for God.

After all, the Christians teach that we were created in God's image. We came from God. Maybe we are forgotten gods that just need to rediscover who we really are.

The modern day Christians would have us believe that we're evil, "all sinners who have come short of the glory of God". I say..bull shit. If God created us in his image, he created no junk. We are all gods who have forgotten who we are and what we are capable of.

I'm going to explore that possibility for awhile and see where it takes me.

Good luck. I've found a couple of sites if you're interested.
Lynn

john said...

My search for truth caused me to study physical reality among other things. As with religion, the more I studied the structure of reality, the more confused and bewildered I became.

The best science has been able to offer at this moment about reality is that we, and everything that makes up reality began as a single tiny particle. Everything that exists at this moment was then combined in a singular super dense item of energy/matter. Reality began with a sudden unimaginable exposition that released all the energy/matter that exists at this moment. This moment exists and has a traceable history back to a moment billions of years ago when science has detected the beginning or “big bang”.

This tells us that we and everything came from the same tiny object. We are all basically the same thing shattered and seemingly separated into bits and pieces over an expanding infinite universe. The finite released the infinite.

What caused or created the single tiny particle that lead to the explosion and our current being (and of course all that exists now in seeming separation) is considered unknowable by scientist at this time. Some consider that nothing existed before the "big bang" began this universe. Fewer, perhaps, consider that something existed before the "big bang" that caused the event. The predominate opinion of science currently, however, is that anything prior to the "big bang" can never be known and is therefore irrelevant and of no interest to science.

What is generally agreed, however, is that the single tiny particle exploded billions of years ago to become the universe and us as it is at this moment.

Science also agrees that all the matter/energy now in the universe, including us, is interchangeable. The entire universe is constructed of the same basic substance as the basic building unit. The particles or units are called “quarks” at this point by some, “strings” by others. Most, however, would agree that the universe and we are constructed basically in the same "image" or “at a fundamental level everything looks the same and is basically the same except for vibration and pitch”.

It seems that what we perceive from our senses is on a very limited scale of what actual universal reality "is" at any moment. Humanity constructs a limited general reality that is specific only to the human perception and perspective. This becomes the paradigm for humanity at a place and point in "time". While a sub-human primate in the same place and time is constructed of almost identical DNA, the monkey and man perceive the same reality to be very different. The fact that the man, monkey, and the universe were all compacted into a single particle in the beginning, and even though all are still interchangeable basically, so to speak, divisions now appear very obvious and bewildering from the perspective of a scattered “piece”.

It then appears that what we call "a living organism" is in actuality the results of a random process, energized by the unexplainable "big bang” that ultimately resulted in chemical reactions that eventually evolved into such things as intellect and emotions.

So here we sit, our scientists peering through telescopes back over the light years toward the first moments after the "big bang", as we now contemplate concepts like god, no god, love, and war.

No wonder that we humans are bewildered after our curiosity about physical reality has lead to our realization of atoms and particles. Now we can see and hear evidence of the reality of our tiny catastrophic beginning. Now our telescopes confront us with an infinite universe still expanding from the energy of our beginning together.

We witness the infinite universe but experience our individual finite being. Our minds can hardly fathom what we have learned about what is real. Yet it is also a wonder that we contemplate these things at all.

All this results in a fundamental consideration: Either there was nothing before the “big bang” or beginning of the universe and reality as we know it today, or there was something. Either what resulted from the “big bang” is all there is now, or there is something else in addition to the universe now.

I reason that there was something that caused the beginning “big bang” and I reason that there is something other than the limited sense of the universe as we currently perceive it to be.

Words and concepts are indications. The fact that we reason and wonder about such things indicates something rather than nothing.

So I must say that at this moment I believe in something rather than nothing.
What that something might be is a bewildering mystery to me.

I do detect an evolution of human kind toward some kind of understanding about what the “something” or “god” is. At this moment we can only create “concepts” and “models” and give names to what that “something” might be.

I did discover some intriguing considerations about this at a website for “Mystics”. The url is www.mysticshaven.com if you are interested. This site caused me to consider if human kind might be a vehicle for the “something that caused the universe” to have a self-realized presence on earth and the universe.

I’ve always felt that human kind’s destiny is to populate the universe, now I feel that human kind may be evolving into an “image” or representation of the “something” that started it all.

Perhaps we are not “children of god” but we are “somehow invested with something other than Reality. This “something” might be from that which was before the “big bang” and caused the beginning. This “something might be more the substance of “intellect and emotion” rather than matter and energy.

So I too have lost my faith, my faith in reality. I have no where now to look but back to my self and my being.

John

JTFINALLYFREE said...

John I agree with everything your saying! I feel the exact same way. There may be something bigger out there something much more than our primitive minds could ever imagine! What this is is a huge mystery. I have always felt that there may be some type of universal conscience that we all belong to. Something far greater than a jealous biblical god who constantly wants to stick a lightning bolt up our ass or commit mass murder every time we fall out of line or make a mistake!

Steven Bently said...

If you want to manipulate animals you beat them, or prod them, but if you want to manipulate humans and not harm them physically, then you threaten them with imaginary threats to instill fear, then you can control human beings with fear.

It's called religion, you must obey the teachings set up by man to be the word from a big powerful entity god, otherwise you will be thrown into hell.

Religion is manipulation, causes mental damage usually permanent, unless a person can pull themselves out of it.

john said...

Like JTFINALLYFREE, my experience indicates a missing component in the concept that reality is “what you see is all there is”. As hard as I have tried to believe that everything sprang out of nothing, and at random progression accidentally resulting in Einstein and Anna Nicole Smith, I lose faith. I feel we are looking at pieces of a fascinating puzzle without being able to see the combined whole. Perhaps the pieces do indicate something about the puzzlemas a whole, I reason.

Unlike Steven, my experience has been that gentleness and kindness manipulates animals far more effectively than prodding them. As far as beating them, this usually leads to rebellion and hatred. However, I agree that religions use the fear of Hell and damnation as the stick to manipulate the people, and the promise of forgiveness and Heaven as the carrot.

The misuse of something, however, does not necessarily deny its validity. Hazrat Khan noted that there is only “One Truth under whatever religion it is hidden”. If the truth is that there is something that proceeded and is in addition to the universe, as we know it, then religion’s misuse of the information still allows some to penetrate the theology and manipulation, and conceive of “something” beyond the obvious.

It is not the fault of the human we call Jesus today, that his simple message was usurped by the Roman Empire. He said that anyone and everyone can mentally communicate directly and independently with the source of our being. The person that ignores all else and takes up this simple practice in quiet solitude will either be convinced of it’s validity or not. It has to be, and can only be an individual and personal experience. Historically, deity does not speak directly to multitudes…the communication is always one on one within the being of the individual human. After the individual gives the message to us, however, the embellishment and ornamentation begins and the franchisement by organizations and governments take over.

My experience as an indigenous American or “Native” American has taught me the importance of being able to unite a people. My forebearers were part of the effort to unite the clans and tribes to confront the new people who wanted the land. While I’m glad now that my forebearers did not turn away the newcomers, I do understand the need to unite a nation and it’s people for mutual benefit.

I have observed how governments will even replace religion with personality cults like Stalin, Kim Sung, and Castro to unite the people. To be governed a people must be united. To be governed, however, is of great peril to a people.

Even with the abuses by religion, however, there are good reasons to promote morality, charity, good behavior, and loyalty in a society or nation. I am opposed to chaos and the “law of the jungle”. Anarchy has no appeal to me what so ever.

It is when religion teaches a division between the human family that religion fails humanity. When a religion teaches that it is ok for a person of one religion to harm a person of another, then that religion should be abandoned.

The question in my mind is what does this early appearing, reoccurring, and ongoing history of spiritual messages indicate about the possibility of something existing in a manner that preceded and transcends the universe?

Are we experiencing a progressive evolution toward an understanding and increasing communication with this “something”?

rickyusvi said...

john wrote:
“Like JTFINALLYFREE, my experience indicates a missing component in the concept that reality is ‘what you see is all there is’. As hard as I have tried to believe that everything sprang out of nothing, and at random progression accidentally resulting in Einstein and Anna Nicole Smith, I lose faith. I feel we are looking at pieces of a fascinating puzzle without being able to see the combined whole. Perhaps the pieces do indicate something about the puzzlemas a whole, I reason.”

“What you see is all there is” is a straw man set up by theists. Science exists to discover the unknown; this necessarily precludes the idea that there’s nothing beyond what we can see.

Among the things discovered by science are the universal natural laws of physics and chemistry which formed the universe that we see today; and the mechanisms of evolution, discovered by Charles Darwin and others, which show how a series of random events can be directed and honed into living creatures.

The idea that humans arose from a chemical soup by pure chance is absurd on its face. Because microbes clearly do not randomly mutate into humans, the theories of evolution explain how microbes became Anna Nicole Smith over the course of billions of generations of non-random selection of random events. The less-developed science of abiogenesis seeks to explain how molecules built themselves into microbes according to the non-random laws of chemistry.

There are no doubt many pieces of the puzzle yet to be discovered. Science, not religion, holds the best promise of putting them all together.

john wrote:
“Even with the abuses by religion, however, there are good reasons to promote morality, charity, good behavior, and loyalty in a society or nation. I am opposed to chaos and the ‘law of the jungle’. Anarchy has no appeal to me what so ever.”

Well, i’ve got good news, then. Religion is not a prerequisite to morality and civilized behavior. Religion has forever claimed to be the source of morality, but history shows quite the opposite. The causal link that most people have in their minds between religion and morality is an illusion and a non-sequitur, based on millennia of religious lies. One metaphor for deconversion is throwing out the bathwater and discovering that there was no baby.

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