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A Question About The Value Of Belief


JoeFriday
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I recently deconverted around three months ago, guess you could say I'm taking a break from god belief since then.

 

So much has happened, the estatic joy of no longer having to believe horrible things or try to reconcile the impossible has faded. I'm sorry to see it go, and to have it replaced with the cold reality of having no belief and knowing that relaying what I'm proud of, (my working out of what is true) will horrify some people that can't begin to understand me, while I completely understand them. I'm 22, a virgin, and just learning how I should live, not just following someone else's ideas about right and wrong.

 

I'm left now wondering what is the value of belief. I have seen the value of rationality/atheism. The beautiful clarity of no mental blockage.

 

But I guess what I'm really wondering is, if the experience of God is really just in my head and I created it,

 

by no longer having "spirituality", praying, having faith, praise, etc. Am I cutting off part of myself?

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I recently deconverted around three months ago, guess you could say I'm taking a break from god belief since then.

 

So much has happened, the estatic joy of no longer having to believe horrible things or try to reconcile the impossible has faded. I'm sorry to see it go, and to have it replaced with the cold reality of having no belief and knowing that relaying what I'm proud of, (my working out of what is true) will horrify some people that can't begin to understand me, while I completely understand them. I'm 22, a virgin, and just learning how I should live, not just following someone else's ideas about right and wrong.

 

I'm left now wondering what is the value of belief. I have seen the value of rationality/atheism. The beautiful clarity of no mental blockage.

 

But I guess what I'm really wondering is, if the experience of God is really just in my head and I created it,

 

by no longer having "spirituality", praying, having faith, praise, etc. Am I cutting off part of myself?

Yes you are, the part that was programmed into you.

it is the conditioning of the church that has you thinking that the ideology of God is apart of you, believe me brother.... its not. It just takes some getting use to.

Greydon Square

Grand Unified Theory

www.soundclick.com/greydonsquare

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by no longer having "spirituality", praying, having faith, praise, etc. Am I cutting off part of myself?

 

I wouldn't go so far as to say you're "cutting off" or losing a part of yourself that you've had for a long time so much as you're replacing it with something else...such as the ability to think, reason, and question things without any psychological restraint, the feeling of total self-reliance, and the realization that your life is yours and yours alone and will be as grand and glorious as you will it to be. Welcome aboard.

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I agree with Greydon Square and Entgegen. Welcome, Joe Friday! A friend in AA told me that in her first year of not drinking, everything was so exciting - it was such a lift not to be in the thrall of alcohol. After a while she realized that she'd been using alcohol as a cover-over for issues in life. Those issues didn't just go away - she had to live, relate to people, make tough decisions, just like everyone else. She said that's the tough part, when some recovered alcoholics actually fall off the wagon, realizing that not all tough stuff in life is solved when they stop drinking. Feeling bummed out over the fading of early excitement, missing some of drink's pleasant blurring effect, etc. calls for self-knowledge.

 

I wonder whether things are a little bit analogous when we get out of the addiction that is religion. It's exciting at first to be free of all its falsehoods. I wonder whether we miss some of its consolations - loss of a sense of ideals and of security. I'd guess it takes the steps of maturity at that point to put together a truly stronger set of internal two-by-fours, but it's ultimately more real and satisfying.

 

If this analogy has any validity, I hope it helps encourage you to just be happy that you've freed yourself of a lot of useless stuff, Joe F, and to cut yourself slack as you construct a life and a self based on reality.

 

Gee, I envy you that you're where you are at 22. You're way ahead of where I was!

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Gee, I envy you that you're where you are at 22. You're way ahead of where I was!
Same here. I wish I could be 22, a virgin and aware of the hoax.

Boy, me too! I was in two years, with 21 to go at that point..

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Am I cutting off part of myself?

 

Not really, but it probably feels like it. You are definitely cutting off some shackles that felt like a part of yourself.

 

Spirituality is a handy package of answers for all of your questions. Why am I here? God. Why did this thing happen to me? God. Why are bumblebees yellow and black? God.

 

Lack-of-spirituality (/atheism) doesn't come with a bunch of ready-made answers. It isn't a worldview like Christianity, Islam, etc. You can't answer every question from lack-of-spirituality.

 

In my own experience, I became extremely cautious about these all-encompassing systems. I don't need a neat, little package for all of my beliefs. Some atheists (e.g. Objectivists) find comfort in all-encompassing systems, but I am much more comfortable cheery-picking pieces of a worldview together (much like Christians do within Christianity when they pick a little Calvinism, a little dispensationalism, a little annihilationism, etc.).

 

One of the most meaningful books I read in my early "apostasy" was Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus. It is really a collection of essays. In his first essay he says, "There is only one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy."

 

Camus believed that when faced with a vast, uncaring, purposeless universe, people usually choose one of two options: (1) a leap of faith into a religion or (2) suicide. Religion made life bearable because it made the suffering of this life temporary with eternal bliss to follow.

 

Camus believes there is a third option. Fatalism is too strong a word, but it's not too far off. He makes an analogy using the Greek legend of Sisyphus. Sisyphus was condemned by the gods for a rebellious act (the act depends on which version you read). His punishment was to spend eternity pushing a stone up a hill only to have it roll back down when it got to the top [you may have noticed my avatar].

 

Camus said that he believed that Sisyphus was happy. He believed this because Sisyphus did not have the option of hoping for something better in the future. His "punishment" was eternal. Neither was suicide an option for him since he was already in the afterlife. Camus believed that Sisyphus was forced to accept his rock as his rock, his life as his life. It was okay because it was what was.

 

Religion, said Camus, is the source of unhappiness for most people. It makes them think there is something better. Their real life (i.e. the only life they really have) looks miserable by comparison to their imagined life. They cannot accept the absurdity of what existence really is. They are miserable with what is because they hope for something better.

 

Only by accepting your life as your life, can you be okay with it. Imagining it could be better brings misery.

 

My wife hates this philosophy, but it helps me. I don't buy into existentialism as a system, but I like how it speaks to this one issue.

 

I'm 22, a virgin, and just learning how I should live, not just following someone else's ideas about right and wrong.

 

Except for the virgin part, I wish I was where you are at when I was 22. :grin:

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What I've found out for myself, as an atheist, is that rationality and reason are spiritual aspects. To be able to look at my fellow humans and not see some desert god's property, but as these incredible individuals on a journey to an unknown destiny has allowed me much greater empathy and understanding.

 

I know the conventional wisdom says that without Biblegod we'd all descend into chaos and destruction, but that's just not true. People invented morality, not imaginary gods. We are naturally social, moral animals.

 

Some of the greatest evil in our history has been perpetuated by religion, and some of our greatest progress has been made by non-believers. And vice-versa. Religion at best is a wash as far as morality goes.

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Welcome JoeFriday,

 

I personally felt alone when I left. I didn't know what to do because my whole life was built and based on Christian principles, I still feel like I hardly fit in. I just found this site/community not long ago myself so hopefully you can find connection with people here as well to some degree.

 

I've learned that there are many different experiences people have with Christianity. Mine for one, (which seems very rare) was an excellent experience with Christianity. For me I feel sad that I was compelled to leave, but I also know that I can never go back. I was in no way stung by the Church and I would say not really super disappointed in God, I just had misconceptions of what to expect. I am here now primarily because of a new perspective of challenging my faith as in "why do we have or need religion in the first place?"

 

Like it's been said, it's really to facilitate an emotional weakness in all/most humans. We're all emotional and find it difficult to deal with the unknown and death and the meaning of life. Most people find comfort in stories that have elaborate details of realms and worlds and "realities" that make us feel better about these things, but they are after all, just stories. And to the people that need it, it fills a purpose.

 

In my opinion, people that are ex-Christian or just ex-faith at all realize the reality that there is nothing after this life and there is no purpose set for our lives by some higher thing. I personally like to feel that it's a superior way to think but it's just different. I don't condemn people for believing in something, because I know what it was like when I did as well. I wasn't stupid, I wasn't trying to be malicious, I just wanted to follow the "truth"; and I thought I had it. Now I know better. But I know what you mean how you fully understand them, but they can't understand you. It's like you basically have to show them everything you've learned, in the same way you learned it.

 

Ttyl

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Welcome JoeFriday!

 

Wow, a newbie, only three months old. It's a strange and good feeling to have the experience of being born-again ... again, or maybe it should be un-born-again. It's the true tabula raza.

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Like MrMalone, I did not leave Christianity because of bad experiences within it. Foot...literally 49 years (I'll be 50 in a couple of weeks) were spent in it...full dunk. My exit was kind of accidental...in that I started out looking for a way to prove to my son that "It was all real"...

The exit, while freeing, certainly leaves a lot of holes in the walls, though. And, you don't know if you should cover them with new pictures, or fill them with putty...or just leave them there, until "the answer" bounces off your cranium.

You trudge along in your new freedom...and wish for the thrill you found in "waking to reason"...and begin to question if you're "really awake", or simply side-slipped into another dream.

I was talking to another Ex-C the other day...who told me that...even though he's totally forsaken the church (and Christianity), he still prays/speaks (in tongues) every day...as it provides a smooth transition into meditation.

The biggest bonus you have now...regardless of the fact that you haven't found your Land-Legs yet...is that you now know...you...are responsible...for you.

Hey...if you wait another eighteen years...they might make a movie about you.

Good Luck.

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  • 5 years later...

I recently deconverted around three months ago, guess you could say I'm taking a break from god belief since then.

 

So much has happened, the estatic joy of no longer having to believe horrible things or try to reconcile the impossible has faded. I'm sorry to see it go, and to have it replaced with the cold reality of having no belief and knowing that relaying what I'm proud of, (my working out of what is true) will horrify some people that can't begin to understand me, while I completely understand them. I'm 22, a virgin, and just learning how I should live, not just following someone else's ideas about right and wrong.

 

I'm left now wondering what is the value of belief. I have seen the value of rationality/atheism. The beautiful clarity of no mental blockage.

 

But I guess what I'm really wondering is, if the experience of God is really just in my head and I created it,

 

by no longer having "spirituality", praying, having faith, praise, etc. Am I cutting off part of myself?

 

I do not think so. In fact, I think it is the opposite. You, for the first time are possibly finding yourself, your true-self, the one beneath the programming, indoctrination, the place deep within yourself, inhabitted by the most horrifying monsters of all, the shadow self, as Jung put it. I think it is necessary to confront these monsters, defeat them and travel onto the "holy land" or true inner self, the place beyond belief induced subversion. It is scary to leave the comfort of a belief system, where all your meals were prepared for you, but now it is time to begin preparing your own meals, venture the seas of unfettered truth on your own terms. You are becoming you. In my three volume series, I refer to the change, using Christian theological motifs, those being, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. It is a process which is painful, scary, but those difficult things in life are often the most rewarding. Stick at it. You are doing good.

 

I leave you with a quote from the Indian philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti:

 

Through experience you hope to touch the truth of your belief, to prove it to yourself, but this belief conditions your experience. It isn't that the experience comes to prove the belief, but rather that the belief begets the experience. Your belief in God will give you the experience of what you call God. You will always experience what you believe and nothing else. And this invalidates your experience. The Christian will see virgins, angels and Christ, and the Hindu will see similar deities in extravagant plurality. The Muslim, the Buddhist, the Jew and the Communist are the same. Belief conditions its own supposed proof. What is important is not what you believe but only why you believe at all. Why do you believe? And what difference does it make to what actually is whether you believe one thing or another? Facts are not influenced by belief or disbelief. So one has to ask why one believes at all in anything; what is the basis of belief? Is it fear, is it the uncertainty of life - the fear of the unknown the lack of security in this ever-changing world? Is it the insecurity of relationship, or is it that faced with the immensity of life, and not understanding it, one encloses oneself in the refuge of belief? So, if I may ask you, if you had no fear at all, would you have any belief?

 

 

 

[1] Jiddu Krishnamurti. The Urgency of Change. Harper and Row. (1977) Pg. 98-99.

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Ha! Did you realize you just resurrected a 6 year old thread? Doubt any of those guys are still around......

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I hated being 22 for these same reasons, Joe. It feels like there's a hole. One thing that helped me a lot at your stage was reading Joseph Campbell's Myths to Live By. Good perspective. You just have to make new friends who have their shit together, the rest will come. The hollow feeling passes.

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Guest wester

There is a purpose. The purpose is to improvise, innovate, jam, rock and roll,dance around and enjoy the party. Have a nice day.

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