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I felt in this diary I would share my experiences with religion and the lack thereof.  Sorry if it's a bit long, but I wanted to make sure I had enough details in there.  Hope you enjoy, and can take something away from it.  

The first churches I remember going to were middle-of-the-road Baptist.  Southern Baptist Association baptist.  I was saved somewhere from five to seven years of age and began to study the Bible.  As I grew older my mother began taking me and my brothers to a Pentecostal Assemblies of God church, the kind where people "spoke in tongues" at every worship service, and many were "slain in the spirit."  It was this church which would give me a rather strong dislike for spirituality.  On three separate occasions in my late elementary school years, I went forward with others to be prayed over to recieve the "anointing of the Holy Spirit," which is when one is so overcome  by the spirit of God they fall to the floor.  I had a real hunger for spiritual experiences, and was eager for this one.  I went to be prayed over expecting a strong spiritual force that I would be unable to resist that would bring me to the floor.  Instead, each time the pastor layed his hands on me he was pushing so hard I put out a supporting foot to keep myself upright.  If God wanted to lay me out, I reasoned, then there was no need for the person praying to apply force.  If this was real, God wouldn't need any help, he's got that all powerful thing going for him.  I remained a Christian, but these experiences left a sour taste in my mouth, and began to make me question the legitimacy of all spiritual experiences.  
    A few years later, in my Junior year of High School, my family had returned to Baptist churches.  The various churches we attended had hosted several Christian apologeticists who had greatly interested me in their use of logic and evidence to defend and prove the Christian faith (Though in retrospect, while some were reputable, others used extremely questionable science).  As a child I had always held science and logic in high regard, and had been reading as many Issac Asimov books as possible (even the non-fiction, he's a beautifully clear writer) since reaching high school.  I figured that if Christianity were true, the facts should bear it out, so I ended up buying many of the apologeticist's books and read many of them all the way through.  After extensive study I did not find undeniable proof. In fact, several books merely made conclusions after initially assuming that the Gospels were completely true, which wasn't what I was looking for.  I wanted proof of the truth of the scripture itself, not a character study of Jesus.  I found that while much of the evidence did not disprove Christianity, it didn't do much to prove it either.  It was rather up in the air from what I could find. I have done more studying since, but this is how it seemed at the time.
    It wasn't evidence that made me leave Christianity however. It was ethics.  The idea of Hell, as it is presented in the more fundamental churches, just didn't work in my mind.  I couldn't mesh the idea of a loving God, who cared for each and every person, with the concept of Hell.  An eternity of unimaginable suffering, not because someone was a bad person, but because they either hadn't heard of Jesus, or didn't have that saving moment.  I saw good people who weren't Christians, and horrible people who were, and I had to question the justice of it.  Plus, if Jesus took all our sins on the cross, then we're all saved, by the nature of his sacrifice.  What difference would believing it make?  I can disbelieve in gravity all day long, but I still won't be able to fly.  So my senior year I deconverted, spending a little time as a Theist, then a Deist, and ending up as an Atheist with an interest in Humanism.  
    I stayed an Atheist for quite some time.  I was dealing with college, and dropping out of college, relationships, and picking up the pieces from relationships. I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about religion except how to dismantle it, and I didn't think about spirituality in general, because I associated it with dogmatic religion, oppression, and especially hallucination and self-delusion.  I had dealt with a lot of guilt while I was a Christian (puberty will do that in a fundamental church), and I had very few good memories other than some of the social aspects.  Then, last year, I lost my job, and had a lot of time to just sit around, and eventually I ran out of the video games that had filled all my spare time.  I was single, out of things to occupy myself, and unemployed.  Thus, I ended up with a lot of time for introspection.  I wasn't really depressed, but I was very unmotivated.  I had tried self-improvement for it's own sake, but I was lazy and I tend to put other people's needs over my own, so I myself wasn't very good motivation.  
    I found a book on the art of Hearth Magic while perusing at a bookstore, and something about it clicked for me.  I bought it, read it through and found a connection to the concepts of making housework a spiritual act.  I began to realize that it wasn't spirituality in general I disliked, and that had hurt me.  It was a specific dogma within a specific religion.  I then bought a few books on Wicca for a solitary worshipper and found a completely different concept than I had expected.  The books I read presented a belief system that was rather freeform.  The books encouraged research into the nature of the God and Goddess (The dual deity concept itself was something I didn't expect) through reading mythology and other books on Wicca to form a personal understanding of them.  It discussed experimentation to find the expression of spirituality which would be most effective personally.  I was encouraged to create my own rituals, but was also given a basic framework and examples, which I needed. And importantly, it gave me a reason to take care of myself, to improve myself, and inspiration to start more creative hobbies and ideas for projects.  I don't know what I'll believe in another ten to twenty years, but Paganism helped lift me out of my malaise.
    Atheism simply didn't work for me, that's one of the main points I wanted to make.  I still have nothing but the utmost respect for science, and my current spirituality doesn't interfere with that.  There's no dogma I have to believe that would oppose any scientific knowledge, merely a spirituality that brings me a feeling of kinship with nature itself, and an understanding of the forces I can't see, but feel all around me.  It has brought me fufillment and motivation, where atheism gave me nothing except freedom from my oppressive religious background.  It was a good transition phase, but I do not think I could have lived my whole life within it.  
    I have no doubt that naturalism works for some people.  I do not doubt Christopher Hitchens when he says he in incapabale of belief, nor others when they say the same thing.  However I would point out that for others of us, we are incapable of non-belief.  I cannot be in nature and not feel something powerful and spiritual within it and me.  I hope this can provide some bit of understanding, and perhaps a bit more acceptance among us.  Blessed be.

Originally posted to PaganKos on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 09:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets and Spiritual Organization of Unapologetic Liberals at Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for telling us your story. (12+ / 0-)

    There are moments when the body is as numinous as words, days that are the good flesh continuing. -- Robert Hass

    by srkp23 on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 09:07:35 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for sharing (15+ / 0-)

    this.  There are many paths for people and you seem to have found one with heart that fits you.

    CitizenX: "If the republicans were in charge GM & Chrysler would be dead and Osama bin Laden would be alive."

    by TomP on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 09:12:53 AM PDT

  •  Your path is a lot like mine (12+ / 0-)

    I came up Southern Baptist, moved into Atheism through high school, and discovered Neo-Pagan spirituality after leaving home. I've always been a student of any and all religions/philosophies, but Paganism was the one that really spoke to my heart.

    "The problem with Internet quotations is that many are not genuine." - Abraham Lincoln

    by Jaxpagan on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 09:15:22 AM PDT

  •  Blessed be back at you. (22+ / 0-)

    One of my best friends is Wiccan, and it gives her great comfort.

    I fall into the "incapable of belief" category, but I do think that we all need a higher purpose to get us up in the morning.

    Mine is an ill-defined humanism:  The belief that somehow, despite all the evidence, this universe is a better place because we are in it, and we can work toward increasing the good and beauty that humans bring while decreasing the ills and ugliness.

    Good luck on your continued journey.

    Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

    by Actuary4Change on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 09:15:33 AM PDT

  •  Interesting story (7+ / 0-)

    Reminds me a little of my brother, who went from xian to skeptic to pagan, although I don't know his motivations for that last part. I think he's just trying to get more in touch with his heritage, but I could be wrong.

    I don't know how one could reconcile 'research' into god-concepts with respect for science, though. A belief system, however freeform, that is not based on credible evidence, is not a scientific investigation.

    The idea of being capable of belief, or not, or being capable of non-belief...from the story it seems as if the diarist claims to have stayed an atheist for 'quite some time.' Does this mean they were 'incapable of non-belief'? Or that they didn't like it, and prefer to hold some sort of belief? That's a lot different.

    For my part, as an ex-xian I think I understand the appeal of belief, the sense of certainty and meaning. Having had some interesting 'experiences' I think I understand how compelling personal experience can be, even if it is false. But I treat these beliefs like any other, and I'm not going to believe in things just because I want to.

    I'm finding a lot of things funny lately. But I don't think they are. -- Ripley

    by tytalus on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 09:25:25 AM PDT

  •  Great story of thought and discovery (10+ / 0-)

    I think your story is a wonderful example of an actual, ongoing process of exploring spirituality. You expose the simplistic notion that someone must decide between science and religion and completely reject the other.
    As well as the concept of the unthinking, slavish religious person.

    I applaud you(YEAH!) and thank you for your post.

  •  Thank you for this (10+ / 0-)

    I believe there are many different paths.  You wrote beautifully of yours.

    Peace, Hope, Faith, Love

    by mapamp on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 09:27:54 AM PDT

  •  What's that old saying? (12+ / 0-)

    "Religion is for those who fear hell.  Spirituality is for those who have been there."  That's kinda how I see it, anyway.

    Continued success on your journey.

    I used to be Snow White...but I drifted.

    by john07801 on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 09:41:42 AM PDT

  •  Heh. Reverse for me. (7+ / 0-)

    I was raised agnostic, became an atheist at age 11, converted to evangelical Christianity at age 13 but maintained liberal political beliefs, and then converted to Paganism around 26 or so. Nice.

    "This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it." -- Keith Olbermann

    by allergywoman on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 09:42:12 AM PDT

    •  So you won't tolerate any one with the (0+ / 0-)

      wrong attitude questioning your faith, will you?

      God is the problem, not the solution.

      by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 09:59:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I won't tolerate jerks of any religious faith, yes (10+ / 0-)

        Nor will I tolerate atheist jerks. I'm an equal opportunity anti-jerkist. :D

        "This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it." -- Keith Olbermann

        by allergywoman on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:10:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why, then, did you uprate this? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          vgranucci
          Okay, Sam (4+ / 0-)

          Recommended by:
              trashablanca, tardis10, Timaeus, allergywoman

          why are so many atheists fucking assholes like you?

          I'm just asking a question.  :doe eyed innocence:

          I'm finding a lot of things funny lately. But I don't think they are. -- Ripley

          by tytalus on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:12:36 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Because it's exactly what Sam's doing (8+ / 0-)

            to people on here. You can't tell? He's getting back what he's giving. I have no problem with that. Why do you?

            "This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it." -- Keith Olbermann

            by allergywoman on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:15:57 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Questions are bad! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              radmul

              How dare you ask us questions!

              God is the problem, not the solution.

              by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:21:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Because the site rules (6+ / 0-)

              seem to suggest that all insults are inappropriate; there does not seem to be an exception for reciprocal insulting. Or threefold return, for that matter.  :)

              After observing the conversation, though, I think I will use up my remaining donuts on some of Sam's posts here. The disruption seems real enough.

              I'm finding a lot of things funny lately. But I don't think they are. -- Ripley

              by tytalus on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:31:10 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't see it as an insult. (5+ / 0-)

                I see it as showing him, graphically, what he's doing to theists here and mischaracterizing/distorting as simply "asking questions."

                "This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it." -- Keith Olbermann

                by allergywoman on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:37:22 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I never insulted anyone (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                radmul

                I only questioned your beliefs.

                It seems you consider anything but unqualified acceptance of your religion as insult.

                God is the problem, not the solution.

                by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:37:40 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Here's the rules on HRs if you care to know. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JTinDC
                Do not troll rate people for expressing a contrary opinion, so long as it is expressed in a civilized fashion. The exceptions are for conservative talking points or debunked or false information; this isn't a site for conservatives, they have entire swaths of the internet in which they can regale each other with their reality-impaired fantasies.
                Do not troll rate someone you are actively having a fight with. If you are in a heated argument with someone, you should not be judging whether or not what they say is trollworthy. Leave it to others to decide what behavior is or isn't over the line.
                Do not give positive ratings to people having fights in the comment threads. It is insulting to a diarist to hijack a portion of their comment threads in order to have a fistfight between two or three users. It is insulting to the rest of the community to have to scroll past a fight dozens of comments long in order to get back to the topic at hand. If the fight is off topic or otherwise egregious, it should be trollrated in order to remove it from the thread, but there are almost no circumstances in which users should be rewarded for having a fight. Behavior like that isn't worth positive mojo -- don't do it.
                The exception to the normal troll rating golden rule of "rate the comment, not who makes it" is for people so disruptive to the community that they need to be quickly autobanned. This is a very difficult threshold to reach, and is reserved almost entirely for freepers or other trolls here only to disrupt. "Troll rate on sight" is not intended to be used against anyone but the most obvious and egregious of trolls -- if your definition of obvious and egregious is not the definition used by the rest of the community or by the site administrators, expect your rating ability to be suspended.

                God is the problem, not the solution.

                by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:41:29 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Incomplete (6+ / 0-)

                  I know where they are. I have read and re-read them lately when considering some of your posts, sir.

                  To Troll Rate something has exactly one meaning. When you Troll Rate something, as a trusted user, you are stating that the comment should be made invisible to all site users. You're saying that the comment is so bad -- so disruptive or damaging to the community -- that it isn't worth even a debate, but should be deleted from the discussion as being simply inflammatory, simply off-topic, or simply a lie. Remember that, because that is the only use of the troll rating. It is an editorial vote to delete a comment from the conversation. Conversely, there is one particular reason troll ratings should never be used: to express disagreement with a poster's opinion.

                  I have lately HR'ed some of your posts citing disruption or inflammatory remarks, and at times off topic, and occasionally I have defended them when I thought they were on topic and not particularly disruptive. I'm definitely not HR'ing you out of simple disagreement, because I generally agree with your sentiments.

                  I'm finding a lot of things funny lately. But I don't think they are. -- Ripley

                  by tytalus on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:51:29 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  This is a diary on the glories of paganism (1+ / 2-)
                    Recommended by:
                    vgranucci
                    Hidden by:
                    Actuary4Change, oysterface

                    and I asked simple straight forward questions on paganism.

                    How is that worthy of a HR?

                    If paganism is worthy of discussion then questions on paganism are worthy of discussion.

                    God is the problem, not the solution.

                    by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 11:15:50 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  No, you didn't do that. (6+ / 0-)

                      You made assumptions about their paganism based on your personal experience, rather than ask the diarist about their practices.

                      The disruptive and inflammatory effect of some of your posts is evident. That was worthy of the HR, I thought. I could be wrong, and if so then I will pay the price for my lack of vision.

                      I'm finding a lot of things funny lately. But I don't think they are. -- Ripley

                      by tytalus on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 11:37:40 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  No (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        vgranucci

                        I asked the diarist about his practices. For that you HRed me.

                        I have spoken to other pagans and former pagans who have told me about nude rituals, and magic wands.

                        There was a diary here on the DK about the rabbit moon and what kinds of spells worked under a rabbit moon.

                        Face it you just get pissed when someone questions your religion.

                        God is the problem, not the solution.

                        by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 12:23:33 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Again (5+ / 0-)

                          you haven't demonstrated that you know the diarist engages in any particular practices, beyond having spoken to other pagans. I suppose you also think all xians eat bland crackers and cheap wine at church? Perhaps not?

                          Do you have any magic wands? (1+ / 10-)

                          What moon are we in now?

                          Which spells work best when you take your clothes off?

                          You make these assumptions, after reading a diary with remarks like these:

                          It discussed experimentation to find the expression of spirituality which would be most effective personally.  I was encouraged to create my own rituals, but was also given a basic framework and examples, which I needed.

                          Your first question could be seen as honest, but with the rest included, it fails. Just as you have made the assumption that I have a religion to be questioned, or to get angry about, apparently based on my disagreement with you. It is an interesting phenomenon.

                          I found enough in the diary to ask questions about what was said, rather than make up silliness about dancing skyclad. For me, that's part of the fun about mocking religious beliefs. They're absurd enough without embellishment. It's like Sarah Palin getting mad when she's quoted verbatim.

                          I'm finding a lot of things funny lately. But I don't think they are. -- Ripley

                          by tytalus on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 12:36:45 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  Your not sure you should HR me (0+ / 1-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Hidden by:
                        irishwitch

                        but oh well everybody else is doing it so why shouldn't you?

                        God is the problem, not the solution.

                        by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 12:25:27 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  You are beyond the pale. (5+ / 0-)
                      Do not troll rate people for expressing a contrary opinion, so long as it is expressed in a civilized fashion.

                      No, Sam, you are not expressing yourself in a civilized fashion.

                      What would change this:
                      Couching your questions and comments in ways that are not offensive.
                      Actually listening to what other people say, and reacting to it.

                      Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

                      by Actuary4Change on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 01:18:13 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

          •  Allergywoman already explained my comment (6+ / 0-)

            well, but I will add this: I was laying out a mirror.  I was mirroring Sam's falsity back at him.  It's the same trick as when somebody on Fox news asks questions in the vein of "Will Obama's socialism destroy America?"

            Hey, it's just a question, right?

            You and I know it's not just a question.

            It's tearing down, but without being honest about it.  And if Sam is really the Defender of Reason he advertises himself to be, he won't mind the question a bit.  He'll give me a reason-based answer.

            I don't believe that it is very open minded or inquiring to dismiss other people's experiences out of hand.  Ask questions, sincere wanting to learn questions, sure.  And if at the end of asking your questions, you don't find the other person's experiences valid for you, then you can just say - that doesn't add up and move on.  There's no reason to brow beat somebody for being different than you.  Isn't that one of the things we hate about Fundies? That they brow beat and play mean psychological games with people because they can't deal with somebody being different than them?  Why would it then be okay for a non-believer to turn around and do the same thing to a believer?

            •  I get the general idea (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              zett, vgranucci, allergywoman

              as I mentioned to allergywoman. It's just hard to read a loaded question like 'why are so many atheists fucking assholes like you?' as not calling him a 'fucking asshole.'

              As for personal experience, well, I disagree, and I think believers dismiss the skeptic's personal experience out of hand. I dismiss it for a reason; it's personal, not easily verified, often impossible to. Not very credible. I could probably write a diary about it that no one would read.  :)

              I'm finding a lot of things funny lately. But I don't think they are. -- Ripley

              by tytalus on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 11:04:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oh, I was calling him an asshole, too. (6+ / 0-)

                I was mostly hoping he'd "get it" but I don't think he will: I now see where he goes into diary after diary and belabors the point.  He even dropped an anti-religion comment in twigg's  totally unrelated diary - I read it just a minute or two ago.  That's trolling.

                I don't doubt that many (probably most) believers do dismiss skeptics' personal experiences out of hand.  And, that is totally wrong and intolerant.  I don't.  I'm curious about other people's experiences and want to hear them, if they can express them without putting down others. And sometimes, even when they do.  I've had to grit my teeth and read more than one diary on here, then just say to myself: that's their story and it's valid.  They have a reason to express it in a snarky or angry way.  You, zett, have felt snarky or angry in your life...you have to learn to take it as well as dish it out...

                I wonder, though, why do people's personal experiences have to be verified? I can see the need for it if they are saying their experience proves some particular point about the whole world, but if they are just laying it out there to say the world is full of variety, the world does not operate in black-and-white...why the need for verification?

                •  I'd have to ask what that means (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  vgranucci, allergywoman

                  The world is full of variety? The world does not operate in black-and-white? I'm not sure I should trust my first impressions. Is the first a claim about the supernatural? There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. Is the second a denial of the seemingly predictable laws and theories discerned by science? Should I drop a tennis ball and not expect it to fall? Not without good reason.

                  I agree, to the extent that when people use personal experience to make claims, that the personal experience argument is insufficient.

                  I'm finding a lot of things funny lately. But I don't think they are. -- Ripley

                  by tytalus on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 01:25:17 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  If a person makes for any allowance (5+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    mapamp, codobus, SLKRR, vgranucci, allergywoman

                    that more goes on in the world than they currently understand, that means they are advocating senseless junk like a tennis ball won't go down if it is released? Really? The 2 automatically go together?

                    I'm saying that reason and emotion and imagination are all important parts of being human, and it is not a good thing to dismiss any of those aspects.

                    It's a first principle with me to not dismiss things out of hand with no investigation.

                    •  They were questions (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      vgranucci, allergywoman

                      As indicated by the ? mark.  :)  I wouldn't ask about such 'senseless junk' had I not experienced such viewpoints directly. But the problem isn't really a claim to lack of understanding. It's a claim of understanding. It's the idea that more goes on in the world than science can explain, but they get it.

                      As for first principles, I put the burden of evidence on the claimant. I could spend my entire life investigating claims of the supernatural and never, ever run out. I tried that for awhile and realized I would never see the end of it. So I do dismiss things out of hand, regularly. I have no choice. The next mind-boggling story about some weeping statuary had better be a good one for me to spend time investigating it.

                      Go ahead and laugh!  :)  But I have met people who take that sort of thing very seriously.

                      I'm finding a lot of things funny lately. But I don't think they are. -- Ripley

                      by tytalus on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 02:45:29 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Material does not equate to predictable (6+ / 0-)

                    I would say that brains do not operate in black an white and people experience the world in a variety of ways.

                    There are more things in human interactions than science can discern.  (You might add as-yet to this sentence, but I think that brains are so complex, and societies full of interacting brains so exponentially complex, that we will never come to a truly scientific sociology due to limits of time and ability to accurately measure the state of the variables we are interested in)

                    In other words, a dropped tennis ball will always fall, and I know that because it is simple, but many systems are chaotic (google mathematical chaos if you don't know where I'm going here) which makes them impossible, in practice, to predict accurately.

                    Faced with such a world, many things must guide our behavior.  If some people choose to find some of their guidence in ways that they call sprituality, then I'm not going to argue.

                    I'll only argue when their sprituality starts guiding them to behave in ways that I do not like.

                    At heart, Sam the troll is asserting a plausable proposition:  

                    The best way to defeat the right-wing behaviors that we disagree with is to undermine the sprituality that encourages them, and to do this, we must undermine all sprituality.

                    I completely disagree with this proposition, but I would be interested in debating it with him if he were capable of reasoned discourse.

                    Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

                    by Actuary4Change on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 02:24:49 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Sam, (7+ / 0-)

        I know you'll be banned soon, but before you are, I'd like to say this, as a fellow secular humanist:

        The hatred in your heart will consume you if you don't learn to let go of it. Whether before or after you're banned from Daily Kos, I hope you find the peace of mind you're clearly lacking now.

        We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

        by raptavio on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 02:37:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Pretty funny (10+ / 0-)

    I guess it's fine if atheism doesn't "work" for you. The beauty of science is that it's still true whether you choose to accept the conclusions or not.

    Just another day in Oceania.

    by drshatterhand on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 09:50:02 AM PDT

    •  Um... (6+ / 0-)

      ...I don't think the diarist expressed any "disbelief" in science. He was expressing a belief that science and spirituality can be compatible. Something that I agree with as well.

      I can't stand absolutist either/or arguments regarding science/religion.

      •  Belief, sure (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gsenski, BYw, vgranucci

        I would be more impressed if they could demonstrate such compatibility, but I didn't see any of that.

        I'm finding a lot of things funny lately. But I don't think they are. -- Ripley

        by tytalus on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 11:13:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There have been many studies (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mapamp, codobus, irishwitch, vgranucci

          Of the brain function of people having mystical experiences and/or meditating.

          If you are asking for spiritual beliefs to be provable, then you are confused about what spirituality is and what it means to people.

          Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

          by Actuary4Change on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 01:22:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That may be (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mapamp, codobus, gsenski, BYw, vgranucci

            I may be confused about what spirituality is and what it means to people. I understand that some believers think prayer can heal, for example. But I haven't seen any evidence to suggest it actually does, even after it was used on me once. I know it made the people doing it happy, or at least less stressed out.

            I'm finding a lot of things funny lately. But I don't think they are. -- Ripley

            by tytalus on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 01:31:38 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There is some evidence (5+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              codobus, mapamp, irishwitch, SLKRR, vgranucci

              That prayer helps the person who prays, which I can believe, as it can operate through stress reduction.

              You are right that there is no evidence that God or anything else hears a prayer and acts to change the world.

              OTOH, I do think that pure reason is insufficient for living.  Reason can only work with facts and assumptions.  I do not see any facts that imply that our human lives make any difference in the Billion year scale of the universe.  If I want to have a reason to get up in the morning, I must assume that it does matter somehow.  I do not treat making that assumption as a spiritual experience, but I will never mock those who find a spritual way to get to the same place.

              Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

              by Actuary4Change on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 01:51:02 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Funny thing is.... (7+ / 0-)

    Humans are not rational, and it's all about "belief".  Figure out what that is and you might find the solution to the problem of consciousness.  

    And if you thing you're purely rational then tell me what the square root of 189347 is. Try to remember all those rules, try to remember all the steps in the computation.

    No, we are not Spock, we are not computers.   Whatever we do, it is very different from anything that might be called "rational".  

    Worth thinking about.

    •  No, reason is a good thing. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tytalus, JTinDC, radmul, gsenski

      Humanity tried that spell thing and science and reason just seems to work better at the little things, like medicine and understanding the universe around us.

      God is the problem, not the solution.

      by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:23:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree, reason is a good thing, but (7+ / 0-)

        reasonableness is also a plus.  I'd much rather have a polite conversation with someone I disagree with, than an unpleasant conversation with someone like-minded.  I prefer to keep my atheism non-confrontational.  Your style is the same as the zealots who try to push their religious beliefs on others who are not interested.

        ...enjoy every sandwich... ~Warren Zevon

        by oblios arrow on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:57:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well you know we all have our preferences (0+ / 0-)

          and I don't blame you for keeping your atheism to yourself. Life is certainly easier that way.

          But I perceive an urgency about religion because of its impact on environmental issues, in particular climate change.

          It would be great if we had a century or two to deal with the issue of religion is public policy but we don't.

          So full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes is the only option on the table as far as I know.

          God is the problem, not the solution.

          by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 12:31:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  God said (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mapamp, codobus, vgranucci, Wee Mama

            "be good stewards of the earth"

            Of course I don't believe that, but many Christian Environmentalists do.

            I agree that Fundamentalist Apocolyptic Christianity seems to cause people like Michele Bachman to live as if we will not be needing the world in 25 years, but I'm not going to trash all spirituality because of it.

            Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

            by Actuary4Change on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 01:32:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If only most "Christians" were like you (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              OllieGarkey

              but unfortunately they aren't.

              God is the problem, not the solution.

              by Sam Wise Gingy on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 01:24:07 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I have many devout friends (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Wee Mama, codobus

                I'm guessing that any Christian that is good and tolerant is so repelled by you that they flee, so you create your own world where the only Christians you see are the ones who are as obnoxious as you.

                Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

                by Actuary4Change on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:44:58 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Is the bible itself fundamentalist christianity (0+ / 0-)
              I agree that Fundamentalist Apocolyptic Christianity seems to cause people like Michele Bachman to live as if we will not be needing the world in 25 years, but I'm not going to trash all spirituality because of it.
              "If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them."
              -Leviticus 20:13

              Is god a Fundamentalist Apocolyptic Christian? It's actually in the book. God commands it.

              This is the problem that we're trying to illustrate to you. You can say that Christians should ignore the "kill homosexuals" part, and emphasize the environmental part. A lot of Christians believe the opposite. Neither of you has the authority to say the other is wrong.

              When we stop putting leaders from the past up on pedestals and ignoring their flaws, we can start seeing our present leaders for what they really are.

              by PhillyJeff on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 10:46:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm talking about is, not ought (0+ / 0-)

                I'm not telling Christians what they ought to do.

                I'm merely saying that there are many people who take much of the good that is in the Bible, and ignore the bad.

                I judge people by their actions, not their beliefs.  If they want to oppose equal rights for GLBT, then I am against them, wherever they say their motivation comes from.

                If they want to pass laws that protect the environment, then I wm with them, whether they think that they are acting for the Christian God, or for Gaia, or for the good of our children.

                Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

                by Actuary4Change on Sun Jun 12, 2011 at 10:24:16 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  And creating and using the Atomic Bomb (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mapamp, codobus, xgy2, irishwitch, vgranucci

        I'm sorry Sam, but you have, irrationally, decided that everything that is good is the fruit of reason and everything bad is the fruit of religion.

        You are the Taliban of Atheists.

        Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

        by Actuary4Change on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 01:29:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good point (0+ / 0-)

          So please tell me what has religion done for humanity lately?

          Presuming this question is acceptable to you.

          God is the problem, not the solution.

          by Sam Wise Gingy on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 01:25:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I see it (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            codobus

            Motivating many acts of kindness and charity every day.

            I see it offering comfort to people who are sick and dying.

            I see it as one vehicle for an ongoing promotion of the values of tolerance and forgiveness that we should all strive for.  I do not deny that in some cases it is the exact opposite of this, but where you think that erradicating religion would leave only the good behind, I think that the evil that religion does would find as easy an expression in the absence of religion as it does with it.

            Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

            by Actuary4Change on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:52:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  While humans are not naturally rational (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xgy2, tytalus, mapamp, codobus, SLKRR, vgranucci

      We have invented rational thinking and some of us can use it, in limited fashion, to do quite wonderful things.

      Rationality is a very good thing.

      I just don't think that we can expect too much of it.  It cannot, IMHO, be sufficient to give purpose to life.  I find my purpose in ways that do not have anything to do with what most people think of as religion or sprituality, but for those that do, I have no problem with it.

      Of course if the fruits of someone's religion make them want to trample on my or my friend's rights, then I will fight their actions by all means at my disposal.

      Numbers are like people . . . Torture them enough and they'll tell you anything.

      by Actuary4Change on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 01:27:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Rationality can be a very good thing (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        codobus, irishwitch, mapamp, vgranucci

         Rationality as expressed in the scientific method or mathematical proof is a very useful tool.  Used properly it has allowed us to overcome many of the limitations of the human condition, but  questions of human rights and wonderful inventions like the atomic bomb make one wonder if it too does not have its limitations.  I don't have anything against rationality,but I worry about moral nihilism.  

    •  435.14020728955856855139547628434 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vgranucci

      The rational thing to do is pull out a calculator.

  •  Mine was largely the same path (7+ / 0-)

    However, my road has lead me to what I've seen as a combination between Secular Humanism and a hodgepodge of Eastern mysticism and various martial arts disciplines.

    Whereas energy can never truly be destroyed (only transferred), on subtle levels, energy can also be harnessed.

    People, much like energy, are constantly on the move. Growing in one direction or another, yet there's always the ability to improve oneself. That's a part of evolution. The changes are subtle and take quite a bit of time, but the change is there.

    It's up to the individual. So long as one does the most good for themselves and their fellows. To exist at all is to do so within a context, not within a vacuum.

    Well, that's my take on things, any way.

    And yours bears just as much merit as anyone's. Just keep doing whatever good in the world that you can.

  •  What kind of spells work against (4+ / 5-)

    global warming deniers and other stupid superstitions?

    God is the problem, not the solution.

    by Sam Wise Gingy on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:35:46 AM PDT

  •  Well, this is odd. (16+ / 0-)

    I'd like to thank everyone for the many kind comments, I've been pretty busy today and I don't really have time to keep tabs on my comments.  But consider yourself appreciated (:

    It's strange to have hidden comments (I assume) on one's own diary, that one can't read because they aren't a TU.  The number says 100, but I can only see about 30 O.o

    Your wise men don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick - Jethro Tull

    by codobus on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 10:40:33 AM PDT

  •  T&R'd. Thanks for sharing your story. (12+ / 0-)

    I'm sorry that our resident "religion sucks" troll had to muck up the comments (and as klompendanser points out, sometimes  TU status is highly overrated, 'cuz we "get" to see the troll-rated comments).  

    Yes, some of us are incapable of nonbelief.  I'm incapable of nonbelief, as I found out in my own life.  One of these days I'll diary my story.

    Blessings to you.

  •  Thank you for sharing your story (9+ / 0-)

    I was in an Assembly of God church for a number of years too.

    I was bothered by a lot of the same things, and even more and wound up quitting and was very down on church for a long time.

    I did eventually find another church- a progressive one.

    Thank you for sharing. I enjoy these personal story diaries.

    Some people are working every day on concrete issues of jobs, wealth, power and justice. And some people are discussing Osama bin Ladin's civil rights or who is "deracinated" - Citizen K

    by joedemocrat on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 11:00:30 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the diary... (7+ / 0-)

    I always find it interesting to read about the spiritual paths others are on when presented kindly and respectfully.  

    I see a lot of similarities between your path and mine.  Though the specifics are different, the overall trend seems to "echo:"

    Atheism simply didn't work for me, that's one of the main points I wanted to make.  

    Add me as another vote for "pragmatic spirituality."  

    Tipped and rec'd.

    Article 196. Health is the right of all and the obligation of the State, guaranteed through social and economic policies that provide... universal and equitable access to programs and services for its promotion, protection, and recuperation.

    by SLKRR on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 11:16:26 AM PDT

  •  Tipped and recced, by an atheist. (8+ / 0-)

    Basically, I'm fine with anyone else's religious beliefs right up until the point they try to force those beliefs on someone else.  Frankly, if it works for them, great -- just leave me out of it.

    I disagree with your beliefs, but unless you ask me to, I'm not going to go into great detail exactly why.  But, by that same token, I'm not going to go to any great lengths to find out why you believe what you believe.  Not in this forum, at any rate -- I've had many discussions on this subject.

    Basically, this comment is only here to show that not all atheists go around belittling those who they happen to disagree with.  I obviously think my position is the correct one -- otherwise, I wouldn't hold that position.  Y'know, pretty much like anyone else who holds any position.  

    :-)

    Additionally, I probably wouldn't have read the diary if it hadn't generated so many hidden comments -- so maybe we've actually found a positive aspect of trollery: bringing in readers that might have passed it over otherwise.

  •  Atheism isn't something that you try on (5+ / 0-)

    It's a result of a process of rational thought.  

    I didn't wake up one day and think, "Well, I think I'll try lacking a belief in a supreme deity today!  Won't that be swell?!"  

    No.  

    Instead, it has been a path that started at a simple question of whether I actually believed the dominant opinion that a God exists.  

    Through years of reading, listening to debate, and really, truly thinking deeply about how I felt about the concept of God, I came to the conclusion that I wasn't only an agnostic, but that I was more of an atheist than agnostic.  

    Whatever definition of atheism or agnosticism one chooses to use may impact where I fall on the spectrum.  

    The key point is that I came to the conclusion based on a rational thought process that developed over years of introspection and learning.  

    The thing that finally got me is how I watched so many liberal people pick and choose a more appropriately liberal sort of spirituality.  They chose a la carte from a menu of buddhism, Paganism...  

    In my mind, this was clearly putting the cart before the horse.  The idea that you must have spirituality, and it's just a matter of finding the one that fits your ideology is distasteful to me.  

    If I were ever to become religious, I'd want to come into it in an honest way- epiphany.  I don't want to feel the need to seek some greater being or cosmic vibe unless one presents itself to me.  

    In my opinion, the sort of thinking that leads liberals to seek a more liberal spirituality is the same kind of thinking that leads liberals to use water (homeopathy) and call it medicine.  It's not the medicine that matters, it's the idea of taking something that fits your personal, political, and moral ideology.  

    "This guy has swallowed his integrity whole, and you can just see it." Sam Seder comment on Chris Christie

    by otto on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 04:08:14 PM PDT

  •  I really enjoy (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SLKRR, mapamp, vgranucci, codobus

    reading about spiritual journeys.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 05:20:17 PM PDT

  •  DNA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mapamp, vgranucci

    I grew up Seventh-day Adventist, then discarded religion but did not necessarily call myself an atheist so much as became agnostic. Then I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail which suggested that instead of being a supergod of some kind, Jesus was married and had children and "lives forever" in those children and being "saved" is to follow his rules, and to live in "heaven" is to live in the castles his descendants used to rule the lands, and to "believe" is to be loyal to his descendants. So I concluded that Christianity is a political party for all the descendants of Jesus, through the fisher kings to Constantine to Meroveus to Charlemagne to William the Conqueror to Edward Longshanks and all their descendants who are pretty much all Europeans and European-Americans alive today. So I found Jesus in my genes and God is DNA. Which is pretty much the same as paganism that teaches the god in every man and goddess in every woman, with Jesus and Mary Magdalene being one of the many couples of history. And that is my message to mankind from Athena. Amen.

    Grin.

    Veritas vincit totos tyrannos
    per est Terra nunquam inversum.

    by Surazeus on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 07:46:03 PM PDT

  •  I see a contradiction here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sam Wise Gingy
    I still have nothing but the utmost respect for science, and my current spirituality doesn't interfere with that.  There's no dogma I have to believe that would oppose any scientific knowledge, merely a spirituality that brings me a feeling of kinship with nature itself, and an understanding of the forces I can't see, but feel all around me.

    To me this says you think imaginary forces are real and not just a mental construct that exists in your head. What we imagine is useful, but cannot be said to exist outside a thought construct.
    I've made plenty of use of mental constructs doing tai chi, but I now know that there isn't any real chi moving through my body.

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