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Ever Been Tempted By Faith?


sethosayher
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I've been through a lot to reach the place I am now. I came from a fundamentalist, evangelical background, became an agnostic in my teenage years and now consider myself an atheist.

 

Lately, however, I've been tempted by religious belief. On so many levels it doesn't make sense, and I know that there is so much wrong with religious belief, but something - I don't know what - prevents me from letting go from this nagging sensation...I can't even really describe. It makes so much more sense logically that God does not exist, or at least probably does not exist, but why do I keep entertaining the possibility of his existence? A few months ago I didn't have this problem, I was secure in my atheism...maybe there's a deeper psychological source to my anxiety?

 

I still attend church because I'm still in the closet about my atheism to most of my friends and family...Maybe I feel it would be easier to think God existed, instead of enduring this facade? Maybe they are deeper, existential questions that would be superficially satisfied by a faith in a higher power?

 

Have you guys ever experienced this? How have you dealt with it?

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Well "a" god (or goddess) of whatever unspecified kind may well exist. It could not be of the interventionist kind obviously, but hey... a decent deity should have no problem hiding from our strange species if it wanted that, no? ;)

 

Now if we refer to the abrahamic monster gawds, that's another case entirely :P

 

Of course, if whatever deity is out there obviously decided to not mess with the observable universe, there's not much of a reason to assume it's really out there... but that would be another topic :)

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Since I became an atheist about a year ago, I've learned a lot about different religions - both young and old. Some deities I like, some I detest. However much I like the idea of a deity, though, I couldn't bring myself to positively believe in them.

 

But then again, I don't want to have a god. I want to a free individual and I want to take the world at face value without thinking that there's something "else" behind it. If there were such a thing as spirit-beings who had limited power and knowledge, let's say for instance like many of the deities of the ethnic religions, I wouldn't mind some cooperation with them.

 

My brain can't even possibly comprehend the scientific reality, which I think is so wonderful beyond anything that any person could imagine, that I could not possibly ask for more. I love the universe and existing in it.

 

IF I had to choose a god though, I'd probably land on Vishnu or Shiva.

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A few months ago I didn't have this problem, I was secure in my atheism...maybe there's a deeper psychological source to my anxiety?

 

I still attend church because I'm still in the closet about my atheism to most of my friends and family...Maybe I feel it would be easier to think God existed, instead of enduring this facade? Maybe they are deeper, existential questions that would be superficially satisfied by a faith in a higher power?

 

Have you guys ever experienced this? How have you dealt with it?

Should I be blunt?

 

Perhaps you're mind is fucking with you since you're living a lie?

 

Pick a life and go with it. Church it up...or don't. Apparently your brain isn't wired to be a poser.

 

mwc

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Guest ephymeris

I can understand the temptation if your social circle is still one that revolves around church and you're actively attending church still. If you keep immersing yourself in that environment, of course it will feel "easier" to return to the fold. I can understand it feels like life is in a free fall while you're deconverting because you realize gawd isn't in control of anything. However, if you don't want to risk being sucked back in, you'll probably have to sack up and cut some ties to the church. Even if you say you don't believe in their faith, you can't compartmentalize yourself that much. You can't voluntarily and actively participate in worship and then protest the faith ony in your mind...at least I couldn't. What you do is really up to what you want for yourself.

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You didn't provide a lot of information about your background, but I'm guessing that if you came from a fundamentalist, evangelical background (which I also did), you could be feeling guilt and that's what's motivating you to return to the church. I don't know if this is true or not, so if it's not, then just disregard this, but I had this same problem yesterday. I was on the bus and I read some church sign and seriously thought about re-converting, and I had cut all ties to my previous church. I haven't been in a church in about 2 years. See, xianity provides the disease (sin) and also sells the cure (forgiveness). If you can find a way to rid yourself of feelings of guilt whenever they happen to come up, and you can recognize that these feelings aren't sin but are things that you should either 1) feel guilty about and do something to fix or 2) they're things that you don't need to feel guilty about, you won't need their "cure". I went down the "get right with god" path before in high school probably for this same reason, and it didn't work then, so I know rationally that it won't work now. But it's not rational. Feelings, by definition, are irrational. It is easier, though, to totally deconvert (if that's what you want to do) when you cut ties with the religion. Maybe you know you're leading a kind of double life and you want to commit to one idea but you know that xianity would be the more socially acceptable option? I don't know. Like I said, this is mostly speculation. Whatever you decide to do, I hope it works out for you.

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I still attend church because I'm still in the closet about my atheism to most of my friends and family...Maybe I feel it would be easier to think God existed, instead of enduring this facade? Maybe they are deeper, existential questions that would be superficially satisfied by a faith in a higher power?

 

Have you guys ever experienced this? How have you dealt with it?

 

 

I went through something similar when I was still going to church post de-conversion. For me, it stemmed from feeling so incredibly out of place there. My family knew, but none of my friends at church did and I felt really alienated from all of them. It was such a sad feeling, because I'd been friends with them since grade school, and suddenly I didn't belong in that world any more. I remember wanting to just go back to believing so that the tension could go away and I could belong again. For a couple of weeks I really tried to go back; I prayed and participated in a bible study. But after those short weeks I realized how pointless it was. Santa Claus is a nice idea too but once you know he's a fairy tale, there's no going back.

 

I'd recommend coming out, like mwc said. Keeping up a facade is so draining! It's always hard to come out at first, but it's much healthier in the long run.

Good luck!

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I'm pretty much in the same situation except from that I've been an nonbeliever for only half a year, so I don't have that much experience yet. I think it's important to realize that we as human is not entirely rational beings. We do get influenced by our surounding. When it comes to christianity, the whole thing is constructed to gain converts and keep them. Had christianity not been so efficient in manipulating with peoples emotions and ther innermost feelings it probably would never have gained the status it have today. I think one do need to be aware of that and not underestimate the force religion has.

 

I read alot about the evidence against christianity eventhough I know by now that christianity is not true. I helps. I think when one is surounded by christians everywhere and under heavy christian influence, I think its important to feed ones 'disbelief', so it don't get strangled.

 

I'm usually quiet honest about my disbelief. I don't think one should keep up a facade.

 

I think the most efficient thing would be to leave church. We do automaticaly get influenced by others emotions and opinions etc. so if one wants to rid oneself of christian influence completly that probably the way to go. But of cause that comes at a price. I'm still in church myself but then I've also deconverted recently.

 

Thats as much I can get to think about. Anyway don't let yourself get sucked into it again!

 

I hope you figure out how to deal with it.

 

Athe bless ;)

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This may sound weird, but I'm not even sure what "faith" is. I was always accused of "not having faith" or "not having enough faith". It was another one of those concepts I just never comprehended.

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  • Super Moderator
A few months ago I didn't have this problem, I was secure in my atheism...maybe there's a deeper psychological source to my anxiety?

 

I still attend church because I'm still in the closet about my atheism to most of my friends and family...Maybe I feel it would be easier to think God existed, instead of enduring this facade? Maybe they are deeper, existential questions that would be superficially satisfied by a faith in a higher power?

 

Have you guys ever experienced this? How have you dealt with it?

Should I be blunt?

 

Perhaps you're mind is fucking with you since you're living a lie?

 

Pick a life and go with it. Church it up...or don't. Apparently your brain isn't wired to be a poser.

 

mwc

 

 

mwc, I like your style.

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You say that now, wait 'til he liquors you up and breaks out the saddle and horse whip.

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I still attend church because I'm still in the closet about my atheism to most of my friends and family...Maybe I feel it would be easier to think God existed, instead of enduring this facade? Maybe they are deeper, existential questions that would be superficially satisfied by a faith in a higher power?

 

Have you guys ever experienced this? How have you dealt with it?

I haven't set foot in a church for anything other than a wedding or funeral for 32 years, and I 'v eonly been a fully declared atheist about 7. I couldn't imagine sitting through that ritualistic bullshit and those freakin' awful songs unless paid WELL. Talk about hell on earth......

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Well, my older son and I did step foot into an Fundamgelical church two years ago, when my grandmother died. The preacher preached on "The Path of Salvation". I can't define it, I'm not even sure I know what it is. When I told my mother I don't have that concept, she was flabbergasted. My son was not too thrilled with it either and had no wish to go back. He was also hoping they would talk about his great grandmother because he never knew her and was disappointed that they did not talk about her. I told him, that is why I told you, when I die, you go find a Humanist Celebrant so you can have a Funeral Celebration and don't let anyone stop you, even if your grandmother outlives me. He's not sure what a Funeral Celebration is, but he is satisfied with what I have to say about it and the promise that he will get what he wants for the funeral and that it will be for him and the rest of the living. I do not want my sons to have any other type of funeral for me and it will be my last gift to them.

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Lately, however, I've been tempted by religious belief. On so many levels it doesn't make sense, and I know that there is so much wrong with religious belief, but something - I don't know what - prevents me from letting go from this nagging sensation...I can't even really describe. It makes so much more sense logically that God does not exist, or at least probably does not exist, but why do I keep entertaining the possibility of his existence? A few months ago I didn't have this problem, I was secure in my atheism...maybe there's a deeper psychological source to my anxiety?

 

I still attend church because I'm still in the closet about my atheism to most of my friends and family...Maybe I feel it would be easier to think God existed, instead of enduring this facade? Maybe they are deeper, existential questions that would be superficially satisfied by a faith in a higher power?

 

Have you guys ever experienced this? How have you dealt with it?

Oh yes, I understand this very well. It's not a matter of doubt. It's not a matter of social habits, "coming out of the atheist closet", etc. I've been exploring the facets of this for a very long time and have a number of takes on it. Pretty much the majority of my posts here are fleshing this out. I suppose I fall somewhere between Sartre and Kierkegaard within Existentialism. I don't believe a *real* being exists that could be identified as God. But this does not mean that what people use the word God to represent is not a valid experience. And what I am referring to is more that expression of the ineffable quality of existence, the impressions we get in response to the experience of awe and wonder to life and the universe, the mystery of existence, of thought, of love, etc. God as the embodiment of these abstractions of our creative genius, a word we infuse with the impulses of our hearts and minds. God is the collective word of human expression.

 

Are there other words? Yes. Why is it difficult to abandon the "belief" in "God" when you know intellectually it doesn't add up to support these various ideas about some God who is an external character we must bow to and sacrifice our young to? Because not everyone in their religious practice approached "God" as some anthropomorphic volcano god. For me, I had to divorce myself from the religion in order to sort out this sense that I originally sought out religion to explain, from the language of it that got tied up into doctrines and theologies, to the religion itself. I had to come to the place where I concluded God was not real. At that moment, it began to free me to frame my understanding in ways that did not deny my heart, nor my heart violate my mind. I believe it is possible to both have faith and be a realist, to bridge that gulf between reason and spirit.

 

So no, there's nothing wrong with you. I've been processing this for many years, and thousands upon thousands of hours of consideration and reflection. From what I've heard you say, you will have to find that road that suits you. Where you've been obviously hasn't been.

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I thank you all for your support. I think that being within a Christian context on a consistent basis must, on some level, be contributing to my current malaise. For the past couple weeks my Sunday School Teacher, a dear friend of mine, has attempted to demonstrate inviolate proof of his literal Christian Fundamentalism in our weekly classes. I ask questions like any inquiring student, but a part of me wants to scream - "How can you believe this nonsense? How can you reconcile these irreconcilable paradoxes? How can you believe this is 100% true, when we don't even have access to the original Christian manuscripts?"

 

But what Antlerman just posted also resonated with me deeply. I cannot believe in a personal deity that manifests himself in the world without seriously contradicting what I know both in my heart and in my mind. I see no God anywhere...not in the concentration camps of the holocaust or even in the splendor of the stars..But the idea of spiritual experiences, the allure of communion with or devotion to a higher ideal...the wonder of consciousness, of aesthetic sense, all these beautiful, awe-inspiring characteristics of our cognition...These things are real! Not supernatural, not paranormal, not existing outside the mind or the physical and material nature of the universe..but within. Religion at times harnesses these energies, and creates beautiful things out these feelings, but the cost of belief in superstition outweighs the benefits. It's better to explore these experiences without a Christian framework, without the hideous and limiting caricature of dogma and theology obscuring the greater, clearer picture.

 

I feel a little better...though I apologize if my above post made no sense, =P

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Guest nonreligiousbelieverinGod

I believe in God but I do not believe in religion. I can read about all kinds of things about God. I can even read religious articles for universal principles but I will not go to the churches because they want to control you. You cannot choose bits and pieces of things that make sense when you go, but they want to you blindly follow everything and they will damn you and call you evil if you do not immediately hail them.

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I cannot believe in a personal deity that manifests himself in the world without seriously contradicting what I know both in my heart and in my mind. I see no God anywhere...not in the concentration camps of the holocaust or even in the splendor of the stars..But the idea of spiritual experiences, the allure of communion with or devotion to a higher ideal...the wonder of consciousness, of aesthetic sense, all these beautiful, awe-inspiring characteristics of our cognition...These things are real! Not supernatural, not paranormal, not existing outside the mind or the physical and material nature of the universe..but within. Religion at times harnesses these energies, and creates beautiful things out these feelings, but the cost of belief in superstition outweighs the benefits. It's better to explore these experiences without a Christian framework, without the hideous and limiting caricature of dogma and theology obscuring the greater, clearer picture.

 

It makes sense to me, sethosayher. The Christian framework I was raised with is a hindrance that I have been trying to deal with for a long time. By the framework, I mean all the theology and dogma of the Baptist church. It is to me definitely false that Jesus is going to save you from your problems or in any way, shape or form. The atonement, the idea that humans are inherently "sinful" and in rebellion against God, etc. - all false.

 

I got interested in Buddhism and eastern religion because it addresses the consciousness and thought, which are real. No need for outside gods to come save you that plainly do not exist. I do find a deplorable amount of New-Age type superstition mixed in with Buddhism but every sort of religious practice seems to have its downside.

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I got interested in Buddhism and eastern religion because it addresses the consciousness and thought, which are real. No need for outside gods to come save you that plainly do not exist. I do find a deplorable amount of New-Age type superstition mixed in with Buddhism but every sort of religious practice seems to have its downside.

 

I got interested in Buddhism in part because my older son decided he was a Buddhist- Tao Buddhist. Whatever that is. The prof said the two are very compatible and he didn't see any problem with my son calling himself a Tao Buddhist. So, I got into the Tao too. The Tao isn't too bad. I find as a humanist, living with a Tao Buddhist isn't so bad. Better than living with my mother who is a Xian nutter to the hilt.

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I feel like quoting the Matrix here...

--

Neo starts to get out of the car....Trinity stops him

 

Trinity : Please Neo, you have to trust me.

 

Neo: ...

 

Trinity : Because you have been down there, Neo. You know that road. You know exactly where it ends. And I know that's not where you want to be.....

--

 

Faith in something bigger can be comforting, but in my heart I know it's all make-believe, because there's no way to know about things we can not directly observe. Going back to the church just makes me sad, I have gone too far, I cannot go back.

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How about:

 

"We are the Borg. Resistance if futile. You will be assimilated."

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