January 10th, 2006

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02:03 am - on losing my religion...

Originally uploaded by chrismaverick.
So earlier today, bryguypgh posted a link to an essay defending atheism. Bryon went on to point out that he's agnostic and not an atheist, but that the article still pretty much held. So being intrigued I read it.

It's a good read. Its not really me though.

So here's the deal. While not by any means fundamentalist, I'd say that I was raised in a reasonably religious household. I think mamarayne would say that's a fair statement. I went to church and Sunday school. I went to catechism (classes that are part of the process of being confirmed as an adult in the Lutheran church), but unlike all the other other kids who were forced to go to those classes, I actually paid attention. I mean, I really paid attention. I think I learned a whole lot about the Lutheran faith and Christianity in general. Probably more than most "christians" ever do.

The problem is over the years I've more and more come to the conclusion that I just don't care.

It would be wrong to say I was an atheist. I just don't feel as though I am certain enough about anything to say that there's definitely no God. Certainly not anything metaphysical.

And saying I'm agnostic. That's not quite right either. Because its not skepticism. Its not that I'm unsure if God exists or not.

It really is apathy. I just don't care. At the end of the day the existence or lack of existence of a God really doesn't affect my day to day activity. There are ten commandments. I more or less try really hard to keep like two or three of them and the others I kinda let slide. Its just that I have my own understanding of what is and isn't right and I do those things for me. Not because I am afraid of going to hell. Or hoping that I get into heaven. Or afraid some invisible man in the sky will hit me with a bolt from the blue. Or afraid Santa won't give me a present. I just do things cuz I think they're right. Or moreover because I want to. Its enough for me. I complicate my life enough with my own brain to have to deal with worrying about what external cosmic forces are doing. Either I'm making the right decisions and I'll be judged accordingly, or I'm not and I'm going to hell. Or there's no heaven or hell and it just doesn't matter. Either way, I think it best to go on behaving as I am anyway.

But what if I did believe in God? Wouldn't the same be true? For all you God-believers out there, christian, jew, buddhist, wiccan, whatever, if you suddenly find indisputable proof tomorrow that your religion is wrong, are you really really going to change anything about your core behavior? If it turns out that my prophecies are right, and Jay-Z really is the higher power, are you suddenly gonna be like "fuck... and all this helping my fellow man is for nothing. I'm gonna go out and bust a cap in somebody's ass!" or are you going to assume that HOVA wouldn't want you to go through that, cuz HOVA did that... and try to be good boys and girls anyway? Or are you just not going to think about it and keep on keeping on as you always did and not worry about it?

Isn't that the essence of faith? You believe in some higher power and you're not sure that you're right, and you just kinda believe anyway? If you're sure you're right, then its not faith anymore. It's fact, right? Its all about what you know vs. what you believe in. And I guess that's the thing. Whether the mormons or the catholics or the satanists or the taoists or followers of odin are right, its doesn't matter. What matters is that at the end of the day faith gives you something. And that's what gives people inner strength.

Sometimes, I wish I did have faith in something. Even if I were truly agnostic and the one thing I was sure of was that there was no way to know if there was a God. That simple drive would be something, wouldn't it? And having something to believe in, I think just makes life a little easier. Even if it turns out you're wrong. Sometimes I think, maybe if I tired harder. Maybe If I kept reciting all of the prayers and scriptures and whatnot over and over again, then sooner or later I would start to believe. And you know what, maybe I would. Maybe deep down I already do. Maybe I don't. I honestly don't know. Despite this rambling little rant here. I really don't think about it that often.

Of course the problem with me, is that at the end of day. I really don't care.

But I do care what other people think. Where do you lie in the realm of faith? Do you believe? if so in what? And why? If not, well the why again? I'm pretty interested in getting a wide net of faiths and beliefs here, so even if you just write a couple lines, that'd be great.

To quote the great philosopher, Dennis O'Neil:
"Booze, sex, prayer. Whatever gets you through the night.

Maybe the secret is all three.

(49 comments | Leave a comment)

on losing my religion... - graffiti.maverick

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[User Picture]From: akiramich Date: January 10th, 2006 - 03:07 pm (Link)
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

You fear the Lord because he never ever misses on the five hole...
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 10th, 2006 - 07:52 pm (Link)
I can't get the voice of Mike Lange out of my head "Christ with the breakaway! The savior making his way down the ice with the puck and heeeeee shoots he scores! scratch my back with a chainsaw, because Jesus has left the building!"
From: akiramich Date: January 10th, 2006 - 08:15 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: January 10th, 2006 - 10:22 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: jeremiahblatz Date: January 10th, 2006 - 03:50 pm (Link)
I'm a committed apathist, in that I think that any omnipotent being that requires worship is deserving of pity, not worship. Like, dude, whatever, you can move mountains with a thought, and yet you care what *I* think? You don't need worship, you need a shrink.

The only justifiable explanation of worship I can come up with is the model of the universe explained by Populus. And, you know, I'm just not seeing it. Well, there are other justifications of worship, but in those explanations, the worship is not for the deity, but for the worshiper, and that just brings us back to booze, sex, prayer.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 10th, 2006 - 07:59 pm (Link)
that's actually another problem of mine that I didn't really get into. I don't really like the concept of required belief. Not only should the omnipowerful pretty much be unconcerned with the thoughts of a peon like myself, but I'm just not comfortable with the fact that a god would pick a specific faith and condemn the other 80% of humanity that's devoutly religious but happened to get some of the details wrong.
From: cuddlyd00m Date: January 10th, 2006 - 11:07 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: January 10th, 2006 - 11:55 pm (Link)
From: cuddlyd00m Date: January 11th, 2006 - 05:23 am (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: January 11th, 2006 - 08:37 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: beststephi Date: January 10th, 2006 - 05:20 pm (Link)
I call myself an atheist. But the thought that keeps me from being 100% non-religious is "Where the hell did everything come from?" That's deep, man.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 10th, 2006 - 08:00 pm (Link)
I call myself an atheist. But the thought that keeps me from being 100% non-religious is "Where the hell did everything come from?"

Oh... that was me actually... sorry. I was bored. I'll put everything away when I get home.
[User Picture]From: cuddlyd00m Date: January 10th, 2006 - 05:43 pm (Link)
Given this question, I wish you'd been with us Saturday night at Sharp Edge. We were having an excellent discussion on faith, referencing Thomas Aquinas and Descartes, primarily. I'm in a hurry right now, but I'll try to post some of the salient points later today.

Boy, that sounded pompous. It's really just that my friend David has been reading a lot of that kind of stuff for classes lately.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 10th, 2006 - 08:02 pm (Link)
Please do post when you get to it. I'm quite curious to hear some of the points and counterpoints you had.
From: cuddlyd00m Date: January 10th, 2006 - 11:13 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: January 10th, 2006 - 11:39 pm (Link)
From: cuddlyd00m Date: January 11th, 2006 - 05:29 am (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: January 11th, 2006 - 08:44 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: zare_k Date: January 10th, 2006 - 06:42 pm (Link)
I am a practicing atheist and an avowed agnostic. I summarize my belief as "I don't know and neither do you". I don't think it is actually possible to conclusively prove the existence of God(s) one way or the other.
I nonetheless am a practicing atheist (with perhaps some Buddhist influences and a droplet of paganism) because I have never actively felt anything that I would call divine presence or intervention, nor have I found anything in the various religious texts I've read that struck me as having origins outside of humanity itself.
Mostly, I just don't "get" religious belief. Despite being raised Christian in a liberal and scholarly church (so it's not like the fundies scared me off) I just don't connect with it. Talking with religious people is like talking to people who believe the sky is green. I can't prove them wrong (what they see is as it is) but it doesn't match what I see at all.
Various articulate and religious friends have talked at length about their beliefs, but I don't connect to it at all.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 10th, 2006 - 08:06 pm (Link)
ah... but what does being a practicing atheist entail? I mean, sure you said that you're sure that there's no way to prove anything. That's all well and good, but getting back to my earlier point, do you really feel as though you lead your life any differently than you would otherwise? I don't see you going out to the streets evangelizing the lack of a god. And I don't see you going around killing people who irritate you just because you're sure there won't be any afterlife repercussions. And for that matter, I have a hard time believing you'd stop the fornicating and homosexuality if you suddenly were aware that there was someone upstairs who didn't like it. Or would you?
From: zare_k Date: January 10th, 2006 - 08:54 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: January 10th, 2006 - 10:19 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: jin_aili Date: January 11th, 2006 - 01:58 am (Link)
I am an atheist. I believe that there is no God or gods or conscious higher power. I don't know for sure, of course, that's why atheism is as much a belief as belief in any religion. I also believe that the world has no purpose or meaning or justice other than what human beings (and perhaps other intelligent beings) make up.

I've thought about this quite a lot, especially during the year that I spent (mostly) living in Buddhist monasteries in Taiwan and China. I was an agnostic before that, because I hadn't really thought about it enough to call myself an atheist. It's possible to be an atheist and be Buddhist, which is probably unique among religions. I don't consider myself Buddhist, although I do like a lot of things about Buddhism and generally prefer its practices to those of other religions.

That year I spent in Buddhist monasteries not only made me an avowed atheist, it also made me understnad better why religion is important for many people. Before that, I really saw religion as only a source of negatives in the world (crusades, conservative politics, patriarchy, etc). I had no appreciation for the things it adds to many people's lives. Being deeply involved with nuns and monks, but more importantly, lay people, over that year, gave me some insight into this.

I even am coming around to feeling that religion as practice and as community may be something that I'd want in my life at some point, especially when raising children. Yet I don't expect to ever believe in all the doctrines of any religion.

I guess you really wanted to know why we believe or don't. Well, none of the religions really make that much sense when you look at everything they teach - there's a lot of improbability or silliness. When it comes to huge things like how the world works and how it got started, that is just to huge to be explained. Also, it is obvious when you look around that there is no justice in the world, and all religious have these convoluted explanations for why there really is justice but you can't see it. The simpler answer is to believe our eyes. Finally, the argument mentioned above about how could the other 80% of people who don't share that particular set of beliefs be wrong. No one knows, and it is unlikely that any religion formed by human thought could come close to understanding the secrets of the universe. We're just not smart enough.

My dad was very religious when young, then lost faith and was an atheist for a while, and later had a vision of God (definitely not anthropomorphic) and now believes in a God which is similar to the Christian one. But he isn't Christian - he takes a historical view of the Bible.

I can't imagine that I would ever be convinced like that - if I had a vision, I'd probably think I was hallucinating. Also, I did not grow up religious - my dad himself gave us a very intellectual introduction to religion.

well, I'm rambling ... it seems like most people posting are not particularly religious ... we need some different viewpoints!
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 11th, 2006 - 07:47 pm (Link)
I even am coming around to feeling that religion as practice and as community may be something that I'd want in my life at some point, especially when raising children. Yet I don't expect to ever believe in all the doctrines of any religion.

While everything you said is interesting, that part really sticks out. How would you work that exactly? Practicing a religion without believing it?

yeah, if I saw a vision, I think that'd probably freak me out too... But who knows.
[User Picture]From: marsinthestars Date: January 11th, 2006 - 02:08 am (Link)
I was raised with a grandmother who fully and completely believed that she was going to keep kosher, go to services every Saturday morning, and let her children do whatever they wanted. I also had a mother who fully and completely believed that she should keep kosher in the house to "set a good example" but "sneak" bacon or lobster on the side, when in a restaurant, but who still considered herself an Orthodox Jew. And then I had a father who would show up at services for the High Holy days, and the rest of the year only mentioned God as the reason that I hurt myself, ie: "That's God's way of telling you you shouldn't be kicking the door."

No one really mentioned whether all of this tradition was for God, or how they felt about God, but somewhere along the line I became a complete and total believer. I believe there is a God, I believe that when I pray he/she hears me, and when I talk to God, God listens. I believe that God is not overly concerned with whether or not I keep kosher- but I do keep Kosher, because it reminds me that God is the reason I'm lucky enough to have food. And I believe that I am getting my strength from God everytime that I touch a religious symbol in a time of need.

And I agree with you- it's what gets me through tough times, and that's why I appreciate the sense of religion that I have. But I guess I disagree in that God doesn't take the place of booze or sex; I think God appreciates when I have booze and/or sex to get me through the night as well.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 11th, 2006 - 07:56 pm (Link)
I believe that God is not overly concerned with whether or not I keep kosher- but I do keep Kosher, because it reminds me that God is the reason I'm lucky enough to have food.

That's interesting. Can you explain it a little more? I mean, so you're saying that keeping kosher is an exercise for yourself more than it is for the benefit of the religion. I kind of like that idea I think, but then I wonder if its the way most practitioners feel. And I wonder how exactly that behavior helps you.
But I guess I disagree in that God doesn't take the place of booze or sex; I think God appreciates when I have booze and/or sex to get me through the night as well.

I wasn't saying they're mutually exclusive. In fact, last night when discussing it with beststephi, I even said "and hey, some people have all three."

The real point is that it's "whatever gets you through the night." And yeah, while that could be anything, I guess my point is that if it works for you, then its probably a good thing. Maybe I should move from worshipping Jay-Z to worshipping Carmen Electra's rack. Hmmm... maybe I could worship both. Some day, I will be drunk while banging Carmen Electra while Jay-Z's black album plays on the stereo and I will reach Nirvana.
From: marsinthestars Date: January 11th, 2006 - 08:20 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: January 11th, 2006 - 08:43 pm (Link)
From: marsinthestars Date: January 12th, 2006 - 12:02 am (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: January 12th, 2006 - 12:50 am (Link)
From: ludimagist Date: January 12th, 2006 - 08:32 am (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: January 12th, 2006 - 12:04 pm (Link)
From: ludimagist Date: January 18th, 2006 - 03:16 am (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: January 21st, 2006 - 07:16 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: katieboyd Date: January 11th, 2006 - 03:48 am (Link)
I am usually an athiest.
Everyonce in a while I become inspired into fervor and religiosity and cross the line into agnosticism. At these times I think maybe, just maybe there's some sort of "spiritual" (whatever that may mean)... connection to it all.
However, usually even that just strikes me as the silly rantings of wishful thinking and creative imagination.

I was raised christian, was confirmed, and was quite religious right before I began questioning everything. I never liked the apparent lack of answers, and never came back. I never think of it as "losing faith", but more as "gaining reason" as much as I'd rather shy away from such a phrase for fear of offending my religious friends.

I read that article earlier today and it spoke to me in a way. I do identify with the feeling of ridiculousness religion seems to have. However, it is certainly extreme, and inaccurate as to how many other athiests there are. I wouldn't show it to any of my religious friends, because I know they'd see the exageration and roll their eyes at it.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 11th, 2006 - 08:03 pm (Link)
anecdotally, its pretty easy to say that losing faith is gaining reason. That the more educated you are, the less likely you are to be religious. The base trend seems to be that that's true. But I don't think its really that cut and dry either. I think its goes further down than simple intelligence or education. I think there's a human need for understanding. For knowing the answers. And most people just have to have answers they can believe in. For you, you chose to not believe the answers that were handed to you by the church, and you decided to believe other answers. But really, can do you have any proof of a big bang or of evolution? I mean, you personally? I sure don't. I tend to believe in evolution, but only as a matter of course, I've never really done the research. I just read a book once. I also read a book that said it had proof that the universe was created as is in 6 days. The thing is, the evolution books seem to make better/more realistic sense of certain answers. Like where the universe came from. Other books, like say the bible have other answers, like why there is evil. It all depends on the questions you want to ask, I guess.

I ask my questions to the internet. Maybe my LJ Friends list is my god.
From: katieboyd Date: January 11th, 2006 - 11:20 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: January 12th, 2006 - 12:59 am (Link)
From: katieboyd Date: January 12th, 2006 - 01:11 am (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: January 12th, 2006 - 03:31 am (Link)
[User Picture]From: lacechenault Date: January 12th, 2006 - 06:57 am (Link)
I actually agree with you on most of this....but I don't think I just don't care as much as you just don't care.

but my core belief is I just do what feels right, and try and stay away from those things that make me feel bad....or whatever....it's late.

but there's your few lines.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 12th, 2006 - 12:06 pm (Link)
yep, it was late when I wrote it too. There are all kinds of errors and mis-statements up there.

But anyway, thanx for taking the time to respond.

I'm not sure what you mean by you're not as sure you don't care as much as I don't. Does that mean it bothers you that you aren't sure? If so, why? What do you do about it? If not, what does it mean?
[User Picture]From: pointparker Date: January 12th, 2006 - 08:13 am (Link)

just replying

I didn't click on any links, so I don't think i read your whole post. But you said you're interested in other people's opinions.
I'm catholic, but I basically only believe in god & heaven. I don't think too much about hell because I would just rather not think of it as an option. That's just scary. But any time I question my beliefs I'm always kind of sent a sign.
Like...when i was in a relationship with a person you may know, i was unhappy quite often. It got to a point where I had enough and I prayed to god to make things better or give me a way out. We broke up the next day. Or my cousin was hit by a drunk driver when i was little and my family prayed the entire time to keep him alive even though the damage was VERY bad. My mom says that my uncle said, "You can let him go god. I don't want to see him suffer anymore." She said it was like he wasn't even finished saying the sentence and my cousin flat lined.

I've got a few other stories like that too. So I definitely believe in god. I'm not sure which things I think deem you to eternity in hell or heaven but... well I just try to be a good person. I know there's someone up there when judgement day comes. Hope that didn't sound too stupid or personal. It'd be your fault for asking what people thought anyway.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: January 12th, 2006 - 12:09 pm (Link)

Re: just replying

no, its not stupid at all. Thanx for taking the time to answer.

So are you saying, that for you, faith is based on your personal observance of evidence of the higher power, as opposed to allegorical writings?

What if you were as sure there wasn't. Would it fundamentally change your behavior, or would you still try to be a good person?
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 12th, 2006 - 06:04 pm (Link)

Re: just replying

From: chrismaverick Date: January 12th, 2006 - 11:21 pm (Link)

Re: just replying

From: companymanners Date: July 27th, 2006 - 04:54 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: July 27th, 2006 - 05:39 pm (Link)
well said, and thank you. I like your hard vs. soft distinction. I think I pretty much covered my various feelings on what I believe, don't believe (or in my words don't care about) earlier.

I don't so much have a problem with the belief or non-belief in god, so much as I am of the opinion that the specifics of it don't effect my life in any measurable way (at least the way I choose to live it), and therefore its not really worth worrying about at all. It's sort of like wondering whether or not the universe is infinite. Is there life on other planets. Did OJ do it? None of those things really effect me in even the slightest bit, so it doesn't really matter. The only purpose I see in worshipping a god is that you can use it as a rationale for certain behavior. "God doesn't want me to kill people." But in the end, who cares if there is a god or not. Shouldn't I just not kill people because they don't want me killing them? Stuff like that.

You're cool. If you and any friends aren't busy this weekend and looking for something to do, feel free to email me at mav at elseworld dot com and I'll send you an invite to my jammy jam birthday party that is talked about in several other posts here (it should be fun, there will be live bands, and drinking and prizes to be won... should be pretty exciting). Interested?
From: companymanners Date: July 27th, 2006 - 06:30 pm (Link)

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