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Old 6th December 2018, 08:18 PM   #41
attempt5001
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
I have a hard time understanding what your faith is: On the one hand, you describe yourself as a "critical thinker with open eyes/mind" who is into skepticism, and on the other hand, you talk about an "inevitable (and increasing over the last number of years) tension/conflict" between this skepticism and your faith. However, when you talk about your faith, I notice that you don't really describe your faith. What you describe is your appreciation of your interaction with people of faith.
I'm not sure, but it seems to me that the "tension/conflict" you're talking about might be a conflict between your skepticism and the people you associate with, rather than between two views of the world.
Have you been open about your skepticism? Do you fear how your religious friends, family and acquaintances will react if they find out about it?
If your friendships are as sincere as you claim they are, wouldn't they survive even if you were open about your critical thinking? However, if their kindness and goodness are contingent on sharing the Christian faith, maybe they aren't as genuinely kind and good as you would like to think ...
Thanks for the thoughtful (and insightful) reply dann. I'm hesitant to describe my own faith mostly because it's in transition right now, and therefore hard to articulate. A big part of the tension is that I have removed myself almost entirely from my "faith community" (church) for some time to try to give myself some space for new perspective. Frankly, it's been hard and disorienting, but I know that this is to be expected with a change like this. It's resulting in my rethinking, but not abandoning, my faith. It's also affected some friendships; not overly negatively, but without a weekly scheduled church meeting, it can be hard to keep in touch as regularly.

Anyway, this discussion is actually part of my process of reorienting my faith, which is why I'm grateful for the responses and trying to respond to each.
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Old 6th December 2018, 08:37 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by The Greater Fool View Post
I appreciate your thoughtful answers. I don't mean to sound aggressive, and my questions sincere, so error on the side of charity in the following.

I get exploring objective truth with scientific approach. No confusion here.

But morality, hope, kindness, etc. I'm not seeing a relationship to faith. Do you take subjective truth about any of these on faith (which to me means, without evidence)? I find my choices in morality, hope, kindness have no faith component. Perhaps you are using a different meaning to faith?

Grace is god's favor. This, to me, is a minefield, both in the seeking and finding. Does one make decisions on morality, hope, kindness because god says so to gain his favor? Or does his favor grant special wisdom figuring out the others? Or does grace grant faith? Help me understand your view.

In relation to morality, hope, kindness, etc. how/where does faith come into play? I have those things, and as far as I can tell, faith nor grace enter the equation.

I was a believer in my youth and understand faith, but it never entered morality, hope, kindness choices. In fact, demands of me to accept a any sort of truth on faith never felt right. Even subjective truth, I want the pros and cons. Thus, I'm not getting the tension.
Thanks for the preface TGF. Appreciated and understood.

I think for me (and many people I know), faith has contributed towards a commitment to love, hope, peace, patience etc. Not that I/we wouldn't exhibit those traits otherwise, but faith has encouraged a greater consistency there, particularly in situations when it's tempting to choose anger, bitterness, resentment etc. I credit faith with encouraging me that it's possible to be better than I would otherwise be inclined to be.

The skeptical side of me says "that's just me being the person I want to be and attributing it to faith because of a religious upbringing", but there is tension in that I feel that without faith, I would have struggled more to be that person. Not sure if I'm articulating that very well.
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Old 6th December 2018, 09:00 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Hi attempt5001 (how did the previous 5000 attempts go? ), and welcome. Rather than how your thinking would have been affected, I was was questioning how your “tremendously positive experience“ of Christian life might have been affected in different circumstances. My post was nothing to do with eliminating faith, it was to do with challenging your implication (at the very least) that your “tremendously positive experience“ of life was due to Christian faith/religion rather than merely decent people being decent to others, regardless of their faith/religion, or whether or not they even have any.


Sorry if my tone offended you. It was meant as “straight talk” rather than “hate talk”. After having spent so many years debating on this forum I’ve come to favour “tell it like it is” rather than “let’s be nice”.


Exactly
Thanks for the welcome ynot, and for the follow up. (It felt like ~5000 failed attempts to come up with a unique - and ideally witty - username before I tried this one and figured one out of two was good enough).

I appreciate the clarification about the tone and I understand. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt moving forward that you're aiming for efficient, not offensive.

It's a fair point that my association between positive experience and faith is purely anecdotal and based on a relatively small sample size. And I agree that many kind, decent, considerate people behave in such a way without attributing it to faith. I actually think of "decent people being decent to others" more and more as an expression of faith, not in a particular religion or dogma, but as an acknowledgment of the value of "goodness" beyond just what is immediately beneficial to the individual. It's also interesting how much faith thrives under persecution; perhaps because it contrasts "goodness" with the alternative.
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Old 6th December 2018, 09:04 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by Apathia View Post
I'm a long way from the God belief I had in my Christian youth, and yet I've never lost my Faith. Instead its expansion was integral with my letting go of belief in a parental supreme being.

Faith is our capacity to accept and affirm reality as it is beyond our fantasies of how it is supposed to be. Faith is our solidarity with reality and inter-participation.

I found that the Christian God was not only too small and narrow-hearted for an Open Faith, but carried belief baggage that simply refused to be transferred on my journey.

I don't mind using the word, "God" in a metaphorical way. It has always been that in our faith languages. We just continue to forget that Being transcends any kind of super-existing individual. The Divine is a quality of relationship we have with ourselves, the world, and each other, in which we all are Holy.

In pith: I believe in Grace.
Thanks for sharing your perspective and experience Apathia. I'm not sure I understand it completely, but I am having a hard time articulating exactly what my faith is/means, so I appreciate your efforts to express yours.
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Old 6th December 2018, 09:12 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
The message I received was that his/her positive experiences were attributed to the Christian faith/religion rather than the decency of the people. Perhaps I got that message wrong?
Not an incorrect interpretation, but not totally spot on. I, and many I know well, would say that faith has helped us to be more consistently decent (kind, forgiving, compassionate etc.) That is definitely a big part of why I am very hesitant to abandon it. Not that I think I'll become a heartless jerk, but I feel it's been valuable and helpful.
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Old 6th December 2018, 09:22 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by LarryS View Post
I also grew up in a Christian home, went to parochial schools (Lutheran), whole nine yards. Walked away from it in high school - well maybe galloped away.
Mainly because of what I feel is an over-dependence on faith (in Christianity) - given a reality close at hand - why rely on faith when knowledge and understanding are available?
The role of faith - in my opinion - should be to get one off the couch. Once off the couch and in the game (like training for a marathon), your actions should be rewarded - there should be reinforcing sign posts.
So stop carrying around the faith and look to the reality right in front of you. So, if we assume for the moment God is real, and you have reality close at hand - How would you proceed?
I feel that there's no reason to let go of the faith that got you into the race once you're on your way. For example I want to hold onto a faith that expresses a belief that mankind is capable of responsibly and sustainably governing the earth, while I work towards positive environmental change; and is capable of understanding social justice while working towards eliminating poverty; and is capable of peace and joy and hope while working to end conflict.

I like your idea of faith getting you off the couch. I think it also keeps you going when the race is long as well.
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Old 6th December 2018, 09:33 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by sylvan8798 View Post
These attributes describe my dogs quite well. Well maybe not the "self-control" part, . I came to this forum years ago by way of the '9/11 Conspiracy Theories' subforum, so pardon me if I'm a skeptic on your true motivations, attempt5001. That said, I can somewhat relate to your position. I was never really a believer, although I grew up nominally Catholic. I'm now firmly an atheist, yet I attend the RC church with my spouse, who doesn't know anything about my beliefs (or lack thereof).

The idea of a tension suggests that you are being pulled in two directions and maybe feel that one or the other must eventually win out. Does that concern you? Are you able to get to the absolute core of where your skepticism lies? Or is this not something you have explored in enough depth because you are afraid of what the outcome will be?
No offence at all about being skeptical of my motivations sylvan. Understandable, particularly given my difficulty articulating my own position. I can only assert that my intentions are genuine and thank you and the others who have participated in the discussion for the helpful food for thought and the challenge to think through and express myself more clearly.

Yes, I have some concern about the tension, but I think it's towards a new (though not necessarily permanent) balance point, which has always been part of my faith. It's a more dramatic change than I've had before, but right now I don't feel that one has to win-out entirely. I am still exploring my skepticism for sure, perhaps with some fear, though I would use the word caution It mostly lies with claims towards exclusive access to truth and revelation.
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Old 6th December 2018, 09:37 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Not an incorrect interpretation, but not totally spot on. I, and many I know well, would say that faith has helped us to be more consistently decent (kind, forgiving, compassionate etc.) That is definitely a big part of why I am very hesitant to abandon it. Not that I think I'll become a heartless jerk, but I feel it's been valuable and helpful.
You started your OP by crediting your tremendously positive life experience to Christianity and faith/religion . . .
Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I grew up in a Christian home and have interacted with a variety of Christian people, groups, organizations in a variety of roles throughout my life. With very few (minor) exceptions, it's been a tremendously positive experience; great family, sincere friendships, supportive and caring communities, people's lives changed for the better time and time again thanks to generous, compassionate and selfless expressions of faith. I think I've experienced some of the best that faith/religion has to offer.
It’s reasonable to conclude therefore that by using only “faith” in your post I'm directly replying to, you mean “Christian/religious faith”. This seems confirmed by your concern that abandoning Christianity would be abandoning your faith. For clarity, please confirm that when you only use the word “faith" in your recent posts you still talking about Christian/religious faith. Thanks.
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Old 6th December 2018, 09:43 PM   #49
attempt5001
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
If my understanding of modern physical theory is correct, there is no threshold between them. They are the same thing.





Why Jesus? Why not Shiva? Or Zeus? or Amaterasu?

In fact, why your particular brand of Christianity and not another one; why Protestantism and not Catholicism, or vice versa?

If you want to examine the tension between your faith and your skepticism, perhaps you could look at some of the beliefs you hold -- on both sides -- and see where the evidence leads you.
Thanks for the thoughts xterra. The energy/matter metaphor certainly isn't perfect, but I find it helpful, perhaps precisely because they are ultimately the same thing, (albeit with a massive potential energy barrier between them).

And quite right on the second point. I'm using the image I'm familiar with, but your follow up question is valid and is one of many along those lines I am asking myself at present.
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Old 6th December 2018, 09:52 PM   #50
attempt5001
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
You started your OP by crediting your tremendously positive life experience to Christianity and faith/religion . . .

It’s reasonable to conclude therefore that by “faith” in your post I'm directly replying to, you mean “Christian/religious faith”. This seems confirmed by your concern that abandoning Christianity would be abandoning your faith. When you only use the word “faith" in your recent posts are you still talking about Christian/religious faith?
Yes, but I think that's because it's the only context for faith I have known personally. But when I say I'm exploring or re-orienting my faith, I don't mean I am looking to exchange Christian faith for a different religious faith. I mean I am thinking through what elements of that Christian faith background I value outside of the context of doctrine. (You are doing a better job asking clear questions than I am able to do giving clear answers)
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Old 6th December 2018, 09:54 PM   #51
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Again. Thanks all for the discussion. I will be offline for a bit, but will check back in as soon as I can.
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Old 6th December 2018, 09:57 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
I'll just note that my list was not meant to be comprehensive or dismissive. In looking it over it seemed like I was saying your church group was nothing special. That is really the opposite of what I was trying to convey. The fact that you found a community that works really well for you and your family is nothing to set aside easily. There are lots of good people in the world, but that does not devalue the specific good people you have found in your life. I would cherish that group, even if the beliefs that the group was based on are not so central to your life.

Even Mother Teresa doubted the existence and holiness of God. That us normal working folks haven't nailed that stuff down should be unsurprising.
Meant to reply to this before my last post. Much appreciated DrK. I didn't think your first post was dismissive, but I appreciate the clarification and encouragement.
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Old 6th December 2018, 10:08 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Yes, but I think that's because it's the only context for faith I have known personally. But when I say I'm exploring or re-orienting my faith, I don't mean I am looking to exchange Christian faith for a different religious faith. I mean I am thinking through what elements of that Christian faith background I value outside of the context of doctrine. (You are doing a better job asking clear questions than I am able to do giving clear answers)
You’re doing fine (I've seen plenty much worse).

I don’t particularly like or use the word “faith”, mainly because of it’s theistic associations and connotations. I prefer the word “trust”. Perhaps if you “abandon” theism you might also consider abandoning the word “faith” to avoid any ambiguity (keep the wheat, throw out the chaff). Just a suggestion .
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Old 6th December 2018, 10:09 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
And quite right on the second point. I'm using the image I'm familiar with, but your follow up question is valid and is one of many along those lines I am asking myself at present.

The problem with the image you use is the "baggage," the background and assumptions and years of [I hesitated here looking for a word] acquiescence that accompany the image, the idea.

I thought about putting the following anecdotes in my original comment, but decided to wait to see your response to my "why not" question. But since you understand the point, here goes:

I was with a friend in Colorado some years ago. We were camped in the mountains and came into town looking for a grocery store. I saw a sign and told him to turn at the Presbyterian church.

Being a very devout Catholic, he became quite angry and said, "That's NOT a church!! Churches are Catholic!"

"Okay," I said, "turn at the brown building."

Amusing, right?

Here is the other half. I had another friend who is rabidly fundamentalist. To him Catholics are idol worshippers who should be ...annihilated in some fashion or other. It was never clear to me whether he meant physically or just religiously. It was also never quite clear why he wanted to be friends with me, knowing that I am an atheist.

Our friendship ended when he once again told me his belief was not based on blind faith because he had had a personal experience. When I said that his experience did not give me a reason to believe, he emailed to say that I was calling him a liar -- and concluded with this:

Quote:
As you leave your body upon your death, you will realize then, that you still exist. Fear will overwhelm you, suddenly realizing you should have listened to your Christian friends that only wanted the best for you, and give you an eternal pathway to happiness.

Sadly, you've ignored us all, and Satan will welcome you with great laughter at your stupidity.

I am not accusing you of either of these attitudes, but the assumptions and ideas remain at the base of Christianity. This doesn't mean that other religions aren't equally fallacious, but this is the one you are familiar with.




I will edit this to second ynot's suggestion that "faith" might not be the word you want. To me, faith is believing in things for which there is no evidence.
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:00 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Thanks for sharing your perspective and experience Apathia. I'm not sure I understand it completely, but I am having a hard time articulating exactly what my faith is/means, so I appreciate your efforts to express yours.
I crammed a whole lot into a single post, figuring there would be at least one element you'd relate to.

An important aspect of my Faith is that I trust others to their process. I don't have any teaching to propagate. Blessings on your journey of discovering what Faith means to you. That's the best part of it.

What I wanted to say is that a person can find a spiritual perspective in hir life that doesn't require s/he suspend critical thinking for religious beliefs.
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:04 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by sylvan8798 View Post
I'm now firmly an atheist, yet I attend the RC church with my spouse, who doesn't know anything about my beliefs (or lack thereof).

You probably do this because you love your spouse and don't want to hurt her (based on your sig name, I assume that you're male; I also assume that you're heterosexual), but how would you like to be the one who were cheated in this way? I can only speak for myself, but I would hate it and feel betrayed, except that I wouldn't know, of course, which I would also hate ... if I knew ...
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"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:06 PM   #57
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Welcome to the forum attempt5001,

In answer to your post, one of the things you could do is study the myriad other faiths out there and see if you follow your faith because you truly believe it to be the actual true one, or whether you have been told it's the true faith by your parents and family / friends for the majority of your life.

I am also assuming there are parts of your faith (which seems to be christian from your posts thus far) that you do not follow, like the bits about slavery or stoning unruly children etc. Have a skeptical look at all the commandments in your faith and how many of those go against your moral code. And if so, how can they be coming from a moral god?

My personal take on both of those is that not all religions can be true, but they can all be false and that humanity on the whole is morally superior to anything dictated by the gods of the major religions, which to me indicates that IF there is a god it does not care what we think of it, let alone demand we worship it.
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Old 6th December 2018, 11:16 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
Quote:
Sadly, you've ignored us all, and Satan will welcome you with great laughter at your stupidity.

I am not accusing you of either of these attitudes, but the assumptions and ideas remain at the base of Christianity. This doesn't mean that other religions aren't equally fallacious, but this is the one you are familiar with.

Not necessarily. Some Christians have the attitude you describe: 'I need others to believe; otherwise they threaten my belief, so I feel threatened and get angry with them and would like to see them punished for their sin of not believing.' Others choose to believe that a person't general attitude, their empathy with other people, is what decides if they go to their imagined heaven or hell.
And in my very secularized country, most Christians probably don't believe in a life after death.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 7th December 2018, 12:02 AM   #59
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There have been times when I have acted as if there is a God ... in my extremely abstract way ... and frankly, it probably improved my life. If I prayed for, say, courage in a situation, I would find myself acting with courage. The Serenity Prayer has been useful to me in quite a few situations. There is something about asking for help that seems to change something in me. More than doing affirmations. There are secular explanations of course. I don't pray for any given outcome. Mostly I pray for strength and guidance. I have never aligned with any particular religion - they all seem pretty whack when I investigate further.

Christianity especially makes me twitchy. I've never been able to grasp the essential premise - that Jesus Christ died for my sins. I don't even know how that works. Intellectually, I do better with Judaism or even Islam. Praying to God is one thing but praying through an intermediary? I've never understood why that should be necessary. The trinity also baffles me. I'm supposed to pray to Jesus to be heard by God, but Jesus is really God, which makes him his own son ... it seems complicated.

But what really scares me about religion is this: I can pray for guidance, and feel guided to act with courage, compassion, etc. But Osama bin Laden could ask for the same guidance, and feel called to murder thousands of people by flying jets into tall buildings.

I stop short of calling myself an atheist. Some people here think agnostic is a bogus position, but it seems valid to me. Maybe if I had a Ph.D in particle physics I'd be able to say there is no room for God, but I don't; I have to take Hawking's word for that.
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Old 7th December 2018, 12:05 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
To me, faith is believing in things for which there is no evidence.
Matt Dillahunty - “Faith is the excuse people give for believing something when they don't have evidence”.
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Old 7th December 2018, 12:14 AM   #61
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And to address the OP: I get nothing out of hanging around with Christians; I just feel like a hypocrite because I know I don't believe what they do. If they say they follow Jesus or some such I respect that, but not so much if they've been "saved." I'd probably get along fine with Sufis or Reform Jews, but evangelical Christians not so much.
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Old 7th December 2018, 03:05 AM   #62
Tommy Jeppesen
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Okay, you are a scientist and a skeptic. That is a good start.
Now strip away metaphysics in any sense other than:
I am not the only "thing".
I am a part of a lot of "things"
Some of these "things" including some other "things" and "myself" have qualities, which are not "things" or the property of "things".
That matters to me and that it matters is not a quality of a "thing".

So based on your posts you want, that what matters to you to include others. Hold that at your core - not what reality really is. That what you do, is that it matters and that it includes other humans.

I am an atheist and I am different that some other atheists, because as a skeptic I don't believe in any positive assert of what reality really is independent of the mind. I don't need that, what I need is the same as you - that it matters and that it includes other humans.

Strip away all positive claims of what reality really is independent of you and you will find that, what really matters, is not what reality really is. What matters, is you and other humans.
Then rebuild - I as an individual use religion, because it matters to me, but I aspect differences in that as long as the other human share that other humans matter.

That is how, I as an atheist can hold some religious humans and form a "we". We share that other humans matter in the everyday reality, we are both part of. We can aspect differences in individual beliefs about what reality really is, because we can agree on what matters in practice are ourselves and other humans.
And that is how, I disagree with some atheists and some religious people, because they can decides in all cases of what matters, is, what matters to them. They are all regardless of how they arrive at it with Objective Authority, because down to any single individual, they can judge the other as being right or wrong for any personal beliefs.

I even as an atheist leave that to God. God is the only one capable of that. I don't judge on humans in that sense. I agree or disagree with them, but I don't judge them as individuals for their Objective Worth.
I judge myself and others in an intersubjective way. What matters, is subjective and what matters intersubjectively, is that we matter to each other in general aspects and for the individual differences.

Always keep in mind that no matter what reality is, is not that, which matters. What matters, is that it matters and that is subjective and if you include other humans, it becomes intersubjective. There is the "we" and I think we share that, despite being different, because what we have in common, are faith in humans.
Find that, faith in the good in humans is a leap of faith even for me as an atheist.

That is the core. Faith in that "I" can judge other humans OR faith in the good in all humans despite differences.
It always in practice boils down to ethics; i.e. what matters. That "I" can judge other humans or if "I" believe in other humans.

Now continue your life and I wish you a good life. How ever you believe as long as you believe in the good in other humans, we are a "we".
I will leave, because I have another thread, where I debate some of the Objective Authority believers.

May your faith be with you!!!
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Old 7th December 2018, 06:59 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Yes, but I think that's because it's the only context for faith I have known personally. But when I say I'm exploring or re-orienting my faith, I don't mean I am looking to exchange Christian faith for a different religious faith. I mean I am thinking through what elements of that Christian faith background I value outside of the context of doctrine. (You are doing a better job asking clear questions than I am able to do giving clear answers)
This reply is more the sort of information I was after, so pardon if I move to here. I think I understand where you are. Even asking and pursuing these questions is exceptional, as most folks don't dare think about them.

I am going to read the better questions and better responses than I am capable of along with you. You're a thoughtful person, you'll get where you want to go. Happy trails to you.
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Old 7th December 2018, 07:48 AM   #64
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
You probably do this because you love your spouse and don't want to hurt her (based on your sig name, I assume that you're male; I also assume that you're heterosexual), but how would you like to be the one who were cheated in this way? I can only speak for myself, but I would hate it and feel betrayed, except that I wouldn't know, of course, which I would also hate ... if I knew ...
Actually, I'm a middle-aged, suburban, heterosexual woman. I realize that it would have been better if I had told my then future husband this when we were dating, but then, I've made a lot of bad decisions in my life. I did tell him that I was lapsed. As I recall his attitude was that we can fix that by going to church. Otherwise, we'll leave discussions of my marriage to some other time and place, as they are not relevant to OP's discussion.
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Old 7th December 2018, 08:38 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I also am middle-age, have a family, a Ph.D. and am a critical thinker with open eyes/mind to the world around me. As such, there is inevitable (and increasing over the last number of years) tension/conflict between my faith and my skepticism. The former is both foundational and precious to me, but the latter is also essential to my ability to live life and explore and interact with the world-at-large in a genuine way.
I kind of went in the opposite direction. I was brought up an "apathetic atheist" (atheist but didn't really care one way or the other about the question of God) who is a skeptic, and was involved in the Australian Skeptics in my younger years. Around the age of 30, I started down the track of belief and ended up the middle-aged theist that I am today. I have a thread on this board from a few months ago where I explain why I became a theist.

I'd recommend a book called "The Myth of Certainty: The Reflective Christian & the Risk of Commitment" by Daniel Taylor, which may address some of your concerns.

One thing to keep in mind: a lot of people on this board are what I'd call "fundy atheists". Not that they have a fundamentalist approach to their atheism, but they have their own idea of what God doesn't exist, often based on the Bible (hence the "fundamentalism"), and will argue with you on that basis. You'll probably find that you either agree with them already that the God that they disbelieve in doesn't exist, or they try to convince you that their version of God (that they don't believe in) is the only one worth considering and then rejecting. You might want to try an Apologetics board for a more broad-minded view of ideas around belief.
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Old 7th December 2018, 10:27 AM   #66
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Originally Posted by Apathia View Post
In pith: I believe in Grace.
Grace? She passed away 30 years ago!

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Old 7th December 2018, 11:51 AM   #67
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
You’re doing fine (I've seen plenty much worse).

I don’t particularly like or use the word “faith”, mainly because of it’s theistic associations and connotations. I prefer the word “trust”. Perhaps if you “abandon” theism you might also consider abandoning the word “faith” to avoid any ambiguity (keep the wheat, throw out the chaff). Just a suggestion .
Thanks. Yes, I've thought of switching to using "hope" along the thread here, but there remains a theistic element in it for me so I've stuck with faith, despite the variety of reader-specific connotations it's likely to evoke. I do expect to need to adjust my vocabulary as I continue to work through this though.
(Nicely done with the wheat/chaff analogy by the way)
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Old 7th December 2018, 12:17 PM   #68
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attempt5001, clearly you are making a sincere attempt (sorry; couldn't help it) to come to grips with your changing beliefs and perspectives. Good for you!


As you travel this road, remember that people who don't believe in / lack faith in a god, higher power, something greater, whatever you call it, are not by definition less moral or ethical than those who do believe.


Furthermore, there are religions like Buddhism that don't include the belief in a god like the one in christianity. Or maybe not in a god at all. Again, that doesn't mean they advocate unethical or immoral behavior.


(And the question of moral behavior is a difficult one. For one example, one male, one female as the basis of a family unit is not universal, neither in humans nor in animals. Sex outside of marriage -- what's that? Depends on definitions of marriage, of what counts as sex, etc.)
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Old 7th December 2018, 12:18 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by xterra View Post
The problem with the image you use is the "baggage," the background and assumptions and years of [I hesitated here looking for a word] acquiescence that accompany the image, the idea.

I thought about putting the following anecdotes in my original comment, but decided to wait to see your response to my "why not" question. But since you understand the point, here goes:

I was with a friend in Colorado some years ago. We were camped in the mountains and came into town looking for a grocery store. I saw a sign and told him to turn at the Presbyterian church.

Being a very devout Catholic, he became quite angry and said, "That's NOT a church!! Churches are Catholic!"

"Okay," I said, "turn at the brown building."

Amusing, right?

Here is the other half. I had another friend who is rabidly fundamentalist. To him Catholics are idol worshippers who should be ...annihilated in some fashion or other. It was never clear to me whether he meant physically or just religiously. It was also never quite clear why he wanted to be friends with me, knowing that I am an atheist.

Our friendship ended when he once again told me his belief was not based on blind faith because he had had a personal experience. When I said that his experience did not give me a reason to believe, he emailed to say that I was calling him a liar -- and concluded with this:




I am not accusing you of either of these attitudes, but the assumptions and ideas remain at the base of Christianity. This doesn't mean that other religions aren't equally fallacious, but this is the one you are familiar with.




I will edit this to second ynot's suggestion that "faith" might not be the word you want. To me, faith is believing in things for which there is no evidence.
Thanks xterra. Lots to consider and reply to there. As I mentioned in my reply to ynot, I understand and agree that religious images and words carry strong connotations. For me, those connotations are mostly positive, which makes it hard for me to abandon them completely, even while I allow more room for skeptical thought. I definitely understand though, that for many, these connotations are strongly negative. I'm sticking with the word faith for now. I still believe in, (or at least hope for), things I don't have evidence for, but I appreciate your and ynot's suggestion to reevaluate that from time to time.

I imagine lots of readers here can identify with the stories of your zealous friends. Sorry to hear about the latter anectode in particular, but I can understand it. It's a confusing thing when you are taught that unbelievers are doomed and it's up to you to save them. It can lead people with good intentions to act in foolish desperation. It may well be that your friend cared for you very genuinely, even though the expression of that was so hurtful and counter-effective. Was it a long time ago? People can change
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Old 7th December 2018, 12:20 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by Apathia View Post
I crammed a whole lot into a single post, figuring there would be at least one element you'd relate to.

An important aspect of my Faith is that I trust others to their process. I don't have any teaching to propagate. Blessings on your journey of discovering what Faith means to you. That's the best part of it.

What I wanted to say is that a person can find a spiritual perspective in hir life that doesn't require s/he suspend critical thinking for religious beliefs.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for the encouragement Apathia. I appreciate your positive outlook and kind words and hope for the same for you.
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Old 7th December 2018, 12:27 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Thanks. Yes, I've thought of switching to using "hope" along the thread here, but there remains a theistic element in it for me so I've stuck with faith, despite the variety of reader-specific connotations it's likely to evoke. I do expect to need to adjust my vocabulary as I continue to work through this though.
(Nicely done with the wheat/chaff analogy by the way)
You don't have to throw out the baby with the bathwater (unless the baby is called Jesus)
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Old 7th December 2018, 12:29 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by Lukraak_Sisser View Post
Welcome to the forum attempt5001,

In answer to your post, one of the things you could do is study the myriad other faiths out there and see if you follow your faith because you truly believe it to be the actual true one, or whether you have been told it's the true faith by your parents and family / friends for the majority of your life.

I am also assuming there are parts of your faith (which seems to be christian from your posts thus far) that you do not follow, like the bits about slavery or stoning unruly children etc. Have a skeptical look at all the commandments in your faith and how many of those go against your moral code. And if so, how can they be coming from a moral god?

My personal take on both of those is that not all religions can be true, but they can all be false and that humanity on the whole is morally superior to anything dictated by the gods of the major religions, which to me indicates that IF there is a god it does not care what we think of it, let alone demand we worship it.
Thanks for the welcome and the thoughts LS. Appreciated. One of the events that started me down this path of introspection was reading the bible from cover to cover, (rather than just rereading my favourite bits ), so your point is well-taken.

Regarding "not all religions can be true"; yes, but to what degree do common elements of various religions suggest common truth/insight? Just one of the things I'm contemplating.
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Old 7th December 2018, 12:34 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I'm sticking with the word faith for now. I still believe in, (or at least hope for), things I don't have evidence for, but I appreciate your and ynot's suggestion to reevaluate that from time to time.
That seems the most honest definition of faith. Frankly, I wish more Christians understood it as well as you do. Faith is not thinking you have proof, faith is believing in spite of the absence of evidence.

I don't have faith that my wife loves me, I have evidence. If we had similar evidence that there was a God and that God cared about us, we would not need faith.
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Old 7th December 2018, 12:42 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
There have been times when I have acted as if there is a God ... in my extremely abstract way ... and frankly, it probably improved my life. If I prayed for, say, courage in a situation, I would find myself acting with courage. The Serenity Prayer has been useful to me in quite a few situations. There is something about asking for help that seems to change something in me. More than doing affirmations. There are secular explanations of course. I don't pray for any given outcome. Mostly I pray for strength and guidance. I have never aligned with any particular religion - they all seem pretty whack when I investigate further.

Christianity especially makes me twitchy. I've never been able to grasp the essential premise - that Jesus Christ died for my sins. I don't even know how that works. Intellectually, I do better with Judaism or even Islam. Praying to God is one thing but praying through an intermediary? I've never understood why that should be necessary. The trinity also baffles me. I'm supposed to pray to Jesus to be heard by God, but Jesus is really God, which makes him his own son ... it seems complicated.

But what really scares me about religion is this: I can pray for guidance, and feel guided to act with courage, compassion, etc. But Osama bin Laden could ask for the same guidance, and feel called to murder thousands of people by flying jets into tall buildings.

I stop short of calling myself an atheist. Some people here think agnostic is a bogus position, but it seems valid to me. Maybe if I had a Ph.D in particle physics I'd be able to say there is no room for God, but I don't; I have to take Hawking's word for that.
Thanks for being open about your experiences and thoughts Minoosh. I have also been encouraged by having a prayerful mindset on many occasions. And I've also sometimes been very disappointed when I have prayed for specific things.

Agreed that religious justification is scary and that most doctrine is fundamentally problematic in that it attempts to explain what it also asserts is incomprehensible.

Nonetheless, I value and retain an element of faith as I consider the world around me and my place therein.
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Old 7th December 2018, 12:43 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Regarding "not all religions can be true"; yes, but to what degree do common elements of various religions suggest common truth/insight? Just one of the things I'm contemplating.
Read some Joseph Campbell (The Hero with a Thousand Faces) and Bart Ehrman (The New Testament) as you head down that road. Well written and engaging.
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Old 7th December 2018, 12:59 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by Tommy Jeppesen View Post
Okay, you are a scientist and a skeptic. That is a good start.
Now strip away metaphysics in any sense other than:
I am not the only "thing".
I am a part of a lot of "things"
Some of these "things" including some other "things" and "myself" have qualities, which are not "things" or the property of "things".
That matters to me and that it matters is not a quality of a "thing".

So based on your posts you want, that what matters to you to include others. Hold that at your core - not what reality really is. That what you do, is that it matters and that it includes other humans.

I am an atheist and I am different that some other atheists, because as a skeptic I don't believe in any positive assert of what reality really is independent of the mind. I don't need that, what I need is the same as you - that it matters and that it includes other humans.

Strip away all positive claims of what reality really is independent of you and you will find that, what really matters, is not what reality really is. What matters, is you and other humans.
Then rebuild - I as an individual use religion, because it matters to me, but I aspect differences in that as long as the other human share that other humans matter.

That is how, I as an atheist can hold some religious humans and form a "we". We share that other humans matter in the everyday reality, we are both part of. We can aspect differences in individual beliefs about what reality really is, because we can agree on what matters in practice are ourselves and other humans.
And that is how, I disagree with some atheists and some religious people, because they can decides in all cases of what matters, is, what matters to them. They are all regardless of how they arrive at it with Objective Authority, because down to any single individual, they can judge the other as being right or wrong for any personal beliefs.

I even as an atheist leave that to God. God is the only one capable of that. I don't judge on humans in that sense. I agree or disagree with them, but I don't judge them as individuals for their Objective Worth.
I judge myself and others in an intersubjective way. What matters, is subjective and what matters intersubjectively, is that we matter to each other in general aspects and for the individual differences.

Always keep in mind that no matter what reality is, is not that, which matters. What matters, is that it matters and that is subjective and if you include other humans, it becomes intersubjective. There is the "we" and I think we share that, despite being different, because what we have in common, are faith in humans.
Find that, faith in the good in humans is a leap of faith even for me as an atheist.

That is the core. Faith in that "I" can judge other humans OR faith in the good in all humans despite differences.
It always in practice boils down to ethics; i.e. what matters. That "I" can judge other humans or if "I" believe in other humans.

Now continue your life and I wish you a good life. How ever you believe as long as you believe in the good in other humans, we are a "we".
I will leave, because I have another thread, where I debate some of the Objective Authority believers.

May your faith be with you!!!
Thanks for taking the time to respond with your thoughts and encouragement TJ. If I understand you well, I think we can agree that it's better to be part of a community/society that is committed to valuing and respecting one another, despite fundamental differences in thinking, than one that insists everyone think the same way.

That is a big part of why I chose this forum to have this discussion
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:03 PM   #77
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Originally Posted by The Greater Fool View Post
This reply is more the sort of information I was after, so pardon if I move to here. I think I understand where you are. Even asking and pursuing these questions is exceptional, as most folks don't dare think about them.

I am going to read the better questions and better responses than I am capable of along with you. You're a thoughtful person, you'll get where you want to go. Happy trails to you.
Not a problem at all TGF. Thanks for the kind words and encouragement. I have to admit, I expected a pretty harsh response when I started this thread and have been touched by the kind and thoughtful responses, including the challenges and critiques. It encourages my "faith" in humanity
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:06 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by sylvan8798 View Post
Actually, I'm a middle-aged, suburban, heterosexual woman. I realize that it would have been better if I had told my then future husband this when we were dating, but then, I've made a lot of bad decisions in my life. I did tell him that I was lapsed. As I recall his attitude was that we can fix that by going to church. Otherwise, we'll leave discussions of my marriage to some other time and place, as they are not relevant to OP's discussion.
Thanks for sharing nonetheless though sylvan. Navigating relationships (especially family) is definitely pertinent to the discussion and your experience is no doubt one that many share.
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:09 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
I have to admit, I expected a pretty harsh response when I started this thread
Well I tried
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Old 7th December 2018, 01:11 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by attempt5001 View Post
Not a problem at all TGF. Thanks for the kind words and encouragement. I have to admit, I expected a pretty harsh response when I started this thread and have been touched by the kind and thoughtful responses, including the challenges and critiques. It encourages my "faith" in humanity
You get a pass for your first 100 posts, then...
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