Thanks for the posting this adam! He’s got some brilliant points there, everything I’ve believed but not been able to articulate quite so deliciously
First a little background, I was born and raised Catholic and up until 2 years ago I was devout and firm in my beliefs. When I went to college all of this changed because what do ya know I started thinking for myself! At this point I am an athiest and I wanted to talk to everyone on here about the problems I have with Christianity and see if people agree/ disagree.
As I started thinking about religion and what exactly I believed in, the main fallacy that has shaped my atheism is this. If God created the entirety of existence, and he is benign, then to me the idea that we must please him in every way we can imagine on Earth just to get into a heaven that he created, so that we can be with him and serve him always seems very tedious. You see, my problem with God is not whether he exists or not, it is that we must lead a tiresome existence to constantly please him. The idea that we would have to skip out on an entire other part of life for God is unnerving to me. Especially because if he did create the universe and all things in it, why would he ask us to not partake in just a few of his creations? ie. the forbidden fruit in the garden of eden. God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit, but he also created the snake that tempted them. It is because of this that I have turned from religion and believing in god in general. I will live for myself, and since I know I am a good person and there does happen to be a heaven, I will most likely get in. If not then fuck it all the cool people are gonna be in hell anyways!
The way I see it is this: If you’re a good person, but are denied entrance to heaven (if it does exist) based solely on the grounds of a disbelief in the ruler of heaven, then that ruler is extremely petty and selfish and therefore does not deserve to be called God.
we exist as as a piece of god, god is the collection of everything. you don’t need a church for that. Your church is everywhere that you can help expand your mind,and to help others expand their minds and to care for things that can’t fend for themselves.
agreed with mario.
all religions explain the same thing, they just have different takes on it. The ‘live life to serve God’ thing exists in other religions as well, like Hare Krishna for example.. I read a bit about that last year and basically it’s that everything you do in life is for Krishna – you’re always thinking of him.. and my interpretation of that is that Krishna is just your higher self. you can meditate to speak with that ‘being’.. the one that whispers to you, like the silence underneath that Tolle speaks of.. if you live by those principles you’re fine.
I was born Catholic, and although I understand and see the good in it, I think they missed something, they don’t have it entirely right and there are a lot of things I don’t agree with. To be closer to getting it right I think it’s good to look at many religions and belief systems, and integrate them; see how they speak of the same thing and how they make a whole.
definitely with you on that Mitch. I was an active Christian as a child and teen-ager. During my Jr year of HS our social studies teacher did a one-month study on comparative religions. the primary impact on me was to show me that every religion is the same core concepts with different packaging, and ever since then I’ve been finding my own way. much more liberating (and fun) this way!
I’ve lived most of my life as an athiest; my parents were never really religious. They made my sister and I go to church a few times, but mostly just because it’s proper to do that on days like Easter. The more I think about it though, the more I realize that it is important to have a spiritual relationship; whether or not organized religion can satisfy that role is a personal decision. I think that, in essence, all worship serves the same function, and it should be up to each individual to piece together information from introspection, and even other religious texts and philosophical doctrines, to make a belief system that makes sense to him or her. Personally, I think of myself as a sort of non-denominational Christian. I believe that the Old Testament was written to portray times of darkness where life had very little value, and this is supposed to contrast where the New Testament where all of us are saved by Jesus’ crucifixion. I think fundamentalism is a bunch of bullshit, and people get so caught up in it that they miss the actual literary value of the bible; we’re humans and we make mistakes all the time. No matter what fucked up shit we do in life, it’s totally okay because we’ve already been forgiven. We should celebrate the fact that we’re already forgiven for anything bad we may do by living as hard as we possibly can, not by trying to be God-like. Being perfect simply isn’t in our nature, and that’s okay.
And that’s how I look at it; sorry for the wall of text.
very nice, i agree with most all of you and it seems we agree with each other haha. Indeed every religion is the same with just a little different spin on each one, and the thought that wars were started over this little different spin is appalling to me. I wish I could have a rational discussion about this with any religious person, but I fear it would quickly become irrational. Anyways, I am not sure you really need that spiritual relationship with anything. I mean if you don’t believe in a god, then there is nothing to have that relationship with. The way I look at it is you should have something similar to a spiritual relationship with yourself, but I wouldn’t think of myself as a piece of god. To know yourself intimately is the ultimate goal and when it is reached, that is pretty much the same as being spiritual.
@ allie, rambles are appreciated!! I think I will turn pastafarian or worship santa claus pretty soon, they seem legit. I find no harm in being spiritual or religious, as long as you aren’t crazy about it and endlessly try to put it onto other people. Religion is definitely power hungry, I’m not sure why Catholics seem to think the pope is a political figure or something. and @ mitch, i guess that makes sense. In that sense God is everywhere, even if there is no supremely higher being than us somewhere. @ alex Some of the ways I try to connect with myself are listening to music in depth and finding lyrics that really that speak to me, and also thinking about all of the actions I did on a certain day and contemplating their meaning. ie-why I did what I did, and why I felt the emotions that were attached to the action.
I have the same story as some of you, born Christian, etc. but have changed my views. Currently, I don’t really identify myself as anything, just as searching for the truth. I don’t exclude the possibility of God and the afterlife or even evolution and the big bang or whatever, however because it is impossible to prove at some point it’s going to have to boil down to some kind of faith as to what you believe.
Take, for example, a generic looking water bottle. If you were to set that water bottle in the middle of all 6+ billion people in the world sitting in a circle, every single person would have a different view of it. Some may see on the label nutritional facts, others the brand name, other words, dents, dots of water, etc. There are infinitely many ways in which that water bottle could be divided and viewed, yet we’re all looking at the same bottle. It’s simply your perception of it and the angle you are viewing it from.
I think that is kind of how humanity searches for the truth. We’re all looking at the same thing, but everyone has their own unique viewpoint, shaped by their experiences, thoughts, and justifications for why they believe what they believe. However we shouldn’t limit ourselves to one viewpoint. It’s more logical to try and view the truth from every angle to get a more complete understanding of what we are all searching for.
In my personal experience God made everything, so there is no flaw. Only the natural chaos of the creation. LGBT individuals, religious, atheists, people of any colour skin etc. Everyone is how they have been made exactly. Faith is about more then adherence to any kind of rule made by man, at least IMO.
I have the utmost respect for atheists however. It takes a lot of internal fortitude to fully believe and resign oneself to nonexistence after death. But at the same time I see atheism as a heavily moral choice as well. If there IS no God, no higher power… Then we have thrown away opportunity by wasting time fawning over religion when we could have been supporting and helping each other, organizing better forms of government, health care, food production optimization… the GDP equivalent of the Catholic Church over the last ten years alone would feed everyone in Africa for a generation.
WOW! I am new to this site..but I love this subject! Religion is touchy…indeed…but what people fail to realize is that people are creatures of association. When we are raised to believe one thing…it is incredibly difficult to change our trains of thought. I was raised in the Christian faith and pulled my claim to the religion when I learned to look at things from a neutral standpoint. I won’t claim to be an atheist because I believe there is a force that unites everything on this planet. A life force if you will. Now I don’t get into the deal of worshiping anything for arguments sake. However!! After studying a little more about the philosophy behind the Christian faith and breaking it down to terms I can understand. If the God i was taught were my friend..I would tell him he was being a douchbag to the people he created!!!
I like the way you think.
I was never raised in a religious background, so I have had the privilege of taking an objective view on it. I made my own theories about God and what he/she/it is. Personally, I believe him to be just a word for all energy, whether on this plane or another.
Religion has been distorted by people centuries ago to force the general population to follow orders and behave or “be damned to hell” or something along those lines. It has worked pretty well up until the last couple hundred years though.
One problem I have noticed with Christianity is that it contradicts itself. Christians had long bloody crusades for a city, murdering (sin) for a piece of land called jerusalem (Idol worship? Sin.) In the bible somewhere it says “cursed is he who stays his blade from bloodshed” yet also “though shall not kill”… Anyone see the contradictives?
Fact is, nobody really knows for a fact what he is, and if he is indeed benign and forgiving as they say he is, he’ll accept all but the most wicked into heaven anyways.
It is interesting reading everyone’s opinions. I also, was raised in a strict Catholic family. In the past few years I have opened my eyes, mind, association of people, etc to see a different world. I am currently struggling with my beliefs and do not know which path to follow. I do believe that people who have strong faith in God will get to their heaven..or whatever you believe. I also like having the comfort of knowing/believing in a God and knowing that I am not alone. I know it will be a personal decision but it is nice to know that many others with similar background feel the same way.
I grew up in a Catholic family, but don’t practice a religion as an adult. The biggest turn off for me is the dogma that comes with religion. You have to do this and not do that to gain eternal life. Makes little sense to me. The God that I have grown to know doesn’t judge but offers support. I think we are all moving back to our eternal selves after this life – we are here to learn and grow. The only judge is ourselves.
Besides that I am very much a believer in the ancient alien/astronaut theories out there and I think many of our ‘gods’ and ‘angels’ in the stories that come from ancient books revolve around extraterrestrials.
That being said I believe very much in a God and angels.
Anyone else want to comment on that?
I grew up in a catholic family but my immediate family didn’t practice at all. I have always had a strange feeling about the topic and due to that I defaulted to agnosticism at a young age. In hindsight I believe I opted for agnosticism out of lack of personal conviction or mental fortitude. At that young age I just wasn’t equipped to deal with there being no higher power. I have long since abandoned agnosticism and been an atheist for quite some time.
It gives me great comfort to accept my place in nature and the universe in believing that I am not better then everything else. I am a tiny part of an unfathomably complex universe and I like that thought a lot. I love the freedom of knowing I am not destined for some inexplicable afterlife because I possess the psyche to make decisions that can condemn or exalt my “soul”. Since I have shed the burden of such thoughts I have become much more confident in my place in the world which has in turn, made me a much kinder, considerate, complete human being. There’s still a lot of work to be done to improve, though, and I welcome it!
@ Adam Mac You honestly took the words out of my mouth, including being raised Catholic. Word for word I feel the same way (I might have even had a more vehement reaction because I went full atheist and HATED everything to do with the Church) with the exception that I do believe in a higher connection of all beings that could be seen as God-like. Whether that is a Jungian subconscious or Brahman or something else doesn’t really matter, I do believe there is a connecting force of some kind and for me Buddhist and Hindu notions about this seem to make more sense.
But honestly your entire second paragraph- I wish more people could see it that way. Having a moral code should come from within, you shouldn’t need any sort of arbitrary outside force telling you whats right and wrong, that’s just an excuse and it’s really weak. So is the concept of sin and the catholic idea of forgiveness via confession. How can a Catholic murder who confesses his crime be forgiven and accepted into Heaven when a loving, righteous, non-believer be turned away? That’s not any type of God I would want to believe in. This is why I believe moral non-religious people have the purest of intentions. They do good because they intrinsically know its right, and no one had to tell them or scaring them into doing it. They aren’t trying to protect their immortal soul from hell, they are reaching out and making a difference because they want to.
@ Adam Mac and Brittany: thank you for your wonderfully written responses
I have a bitter opinion of religion, mostly Christianity. The people I grew up around used their God and their faith to shirk responsibility for their own pitiable situations in life. I grew up in a church of whiners, complainers, manipulators, and hurlers of stones. Given, these types can be found anywhere. But in my opinion, religious communities are the fly paper that accumulate the worst kind of needy, judgmental, hateful people. That is too much broken in one space for me to stomach.
I personally do not dislike people who are religious. But I cannot see religion as anything else but a tool for manipulation and brain-washing, a dangerous side-step from reality.
But of course, to each his own. I respect each and every person’s ability and right to choose for themselves their own path and beliefs. And I relish my ability and my right to choose to surround myself with people who are positive, accepting, generally happy, open-minded, and morally sound (governed by their own intrinsic knowledge about what is right, to paraphrase Brittany :) )
I grew up in a family where church was a given, or rather, a christian was what you HAD to be. Religion always seemed forced to me. To the point where I wasn’t even premitted to investigate other religions. Which seemed really contradictory to the mythos of christianity and to the teachings of my grandfather, who was a Baptist Reverend for the better half of his life. He took the time to find his own truth (which was christianity) by comparing his beliefs with those of other religions. He read the Koran, the Torah, the Bhagavad Gita, and he found for himself that his personal truth was God, Jesus, and the crucifixion.
So when I started at college, even though I still lived at home, I began to investigate the spiritual world. I took comparative religion classes and joined a group called the Frostburg Pagan Association. Contrary to the name they were devoted to discussing and presenting practices from all religions from Buddhism to Scientology. And I will never forget my “Modern Physics and Ancient Eastern Metaphysics” course. Amazing.
While reading and learning, I came across a few books and concepts I’d love to share.
Tao of Physics – Fritjof Capra
The Gospel of Thomas
A Brief History of Time – Stephan Hawking
The Tao of Pooh – Benjamin Hoff
Quantum Questions – Ken Wilber (pay close attention to Einstein’s “Cosmic Religious Feeling”)
The Meaning of It All – Richard P. Feynman
Needless to say, I’m not a Christian any longer. And in my searching I have found many things that have led me to a conclusion that I see many members are already leaning towards; what I like to call a “Unified Soul”. Science tells us that our Universe is made up of around 2 dozen dimensions. But we can only experience the four dimensions of space-time, at least so long as we have not become truly enlightened. My own personal truth is that in those remaining 20 dimensions we will find that everything is intertwined and connected, that we do not exist separately, not from eachother, and not from the trees and rocks, and not from the stars and the heavens.
Carl Sagan had once said “We are made of the stuff of stars”. Well, I say we ARE the stars.
Brittany, that second paragraph really hit the nail on the head.
I do agree with you too, m., although I differ in the opinion that religion has nothing to offer except manipulation and brain-washing. It is certainly true that religion has unfortunately largely been used for such purposes, but I do think the concept of a religion still has its place. A religion can create a sense of community, which is important in today’s disconnected world. I think the original purpose of religion was to spread the good word of love and acceptance and all the good moral stuff. It’s like the Internet – a great tool for lots of really good things, but in turn a really great tool for brainwashing, misinformation and the spread of hate.
There is another recent thread here talking about government. I think we need a lot less government by rules that don’t apply themselves well to (in my view) many people much of the time. If we all lived by a good moral code, we wouldn’t need so many rules and laws infringing on our ability as humans to be free and be safe for ourselves and others of our own accord. In that sense, a “religious” code would be more helpful and less counterproductive than a rule-of-law government. In theory. In practice, we’re not there yet, particularly with the misguided religions that occupy such an important place in this world. I hope that made sense..
I respectfully disagree with Mitch on his opinion of religion’s original purpose. Contrary to it being started to spread love, a moral code and acceptance, I believe it was created out of necessity for survival.
Groups were largely nomadic and tribal and in brutal competition for game, fertile land, etc. I think (not without some support of ancient history) those who saw that they needed to unite to survive, saw that uniting the similar beliefs of such groups was the best way to bring them together. Not until this was accomplished would it be possible for a code of law to be created. Religion was an apparatus used to unite early peoples by intelligent and ambitious leaders and law came after. I think it was way more pragmatic and utilitarian then it was anything else. So, I think religion did a great thing in the early formation of civilization. I think it served that purpose well. Now it can go away as far as I’m concerned.