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The Trouble With God, Even In Alternate Spiritualities


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I would like to still be able to believe in a God, one more to my liking, but for the same reason I left Christianity, the cruelty of God according to the Bible, I can't accept any version of God. If there is any God at all, he must still be a cruel being, for the same reason that the Christian God is cruel, ie. the existence of suffering. How could it be explained away if there's a benevolent God? How could I love and worship any God who allows it to exist? Whenever I start to feel inclined towards any other type of religion or spirituality, this obstacle stops me going further.

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After coming out from xanity, I have thought about this as well, and have come to the conclusion that there is no god, nowhere, and that the material world is it. I know others here do not agree, and that is fine, each to his/her own beliefs. Why? Where is the proof? its as simple or as complicated as that. Good luck with your search for the truth.

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It is simple, many people who follow other religious paths do not view their deities as person-gods but rather as constructs to embody an idea. Many pagans I have spoken to believe in the concept of the divine, and also agree that various pantheons are only representation of ideals to help focus our minds. Then you also have polytheists who believe there are multiple gods that are neither all-knowing or all-powerful and certainly not all-good.

 

I personally do not think that my gods are all-knowing(I do not think they know the future) or all-powerful(I do not think my gods can directly intercede in the world). The next obvious question is why worship a god that is does not possess all-powerful traits. The answer, like many things having to do with religion, is personal preference.

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It is simple, many people who follow other religious paths do not view their deities as person-gods but rather as constructs to embody an idea. Many pagans I have spoken to believe in the concept of the divine, and also agree that various pantheons are only representation of ideals to help focus our minds. Then you also have polytheists who believe there are multiple gods that are neither all-knowing or all-powerful and certainly not all-good.

 

I personally do not think that my gods are all-knowing(I do not think they know the future) or all-powerful(I do not think my gods can directly intercede in the world). The next obvious question is why worship a god that is does not possess all-powerful traits. The answer, like many things having to do with religion, is personal preference.

 

Interesting Sleepless, but can i ask why would a god exist? What purpose would he/she/it have if as you state they cannot be all powerful? isn't that more like a race of aliens looking down on us in a begin manner? I am quite fascinated by the idea that some people think there has to be something 'else' outside of this material world?

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Why would a god exist? I suppose I had never thought about it. Yes, I know this is a taboo statement here but my reasons for leaving Christianity were moral in nature as were some of my reasons for choosing Wicca. I suppose the best answer I can give is that I believe spirits feed off of different energies and/or emotions, including deities.

 

I believe that my gods control the seasons and nature. I believe that they want us to work with them and worship them(perhaps they feed off of worship) and because of this they need us as much as we need them. In a serious case of cognitive dissonance I also understand that I cannot (and therefor will not) prove any of my assertions.

 

Some people do believe that the gods simply observe us or just do not care. I think that my gods love me, but as I already said, they either cannot or will not intercede in the world. I should mention that sometimes when I do witchcraft I ask my gods to watch over me and to be present. I also occasionally ask them to give me better results in exchange for a sacrifice. I say occasionally since I use my own energy for most of my Craft because I feel it would be unethical to continuously ask for help.

 

I think your last question was a statement and not a question. I would also like to add that I am a solitary Wiccan and my beliefs(as far as I know) are not covered by any tradition.

 

EDIT: I would also like to add that I am happy to explain my beliefs as well as I can but I do not want to debate about my beliefs. This particular forum is not meant for debate and since I do not feel the need to assert that my beliefs are objectively or intrinsically true I do not feel there is a need to debate whether they are. To me they are subjectively true and that is enough.

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Why would a god exist? I suppose I had never thought about it. Yes, I know this is a taboo statement here but my reasons for leaving Christianity were moral in nature as were some of my reasons for choosing Wicca. I suppose the best answer I can give is that I believe spirits feed off of different energies and/or emotions, including deities.

 

I believe that my gods control the seasons and nature. I believe that they want us to work with them and worship them(perhaps they feed off of worship) and because of this they need us as much as we need them. In a serious case of cognitive dissonance I also understand that I cannot (and therefor will not) prove any of my assertions.

 

Some people do believe that the gods simply observe us or just do not care. I think that my gods love me, but as I already said, they either cannot or will not intercede in the world. I should mention that sometimes when I do witchcraft I ask my gods to watch over me and to be present. I also occasionally ask them to give me better results in exchange for a sacrifice. I say occasionally since I use my own energy for most of my Craft because I feel it would be unethical to continuously ask for help.

 

I think your last question was a statement and not a question. I would also like to add that I am a solitary Wiccan and my beliefs(as far as I know) are not covered by any tradition.

 

EDIT: I would also like to add that I am happy to explain my beliefs as well as I can but I do not want to debate about my beliefs. This particular forum is not meant for debate and since I do not feel the need to assert that my beliefs are objectively or intrinsically true I do not feel there is a need to debate whether they are. To me they are subjectively true and that is enough.

 

Thank you for replying. I wasn't after a debate, I was/am interested in why people think there are gods. I have no problem with anyones belief system.

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Why would a god exist? I suppose I had never thought about it. Yes, I know this is a taboo statement here but my reasons for leaving Christianity were moral in nature as were some of my reasons for choosing Wicca. I suppose the best answer I can give is that I believe spirits feed off of different energies and/or emotions, including deities.

 

I believe that my gods control the seasons and nature. I believe that they want us to work with them and worship them(perhaps they feed off of worship) and because of this they need us as much as we need them. In a serious case of cognitive dissonance I also understand that I cannot (and therefor will not) prove any of my assertions.

 

Some people do believe that the gods simply observe us or just do not care. I think that my gods love me, but as I already said, they either cannot or will not intercede in the world. I should mention that sometimes when I do witchcraft I ask my gods to watch over me and to be present. I also occasionally ask them to give me better results in exchange for a sacrifice. I say occasionally since I use my own energy for most of my Craft because I feel it would be unethical to continuously ask for help.

 

I think your last question was a statement and not a question. I would also like to add that I am a solitary Wiccan and my beliefs(as far as I know) are not covered by any tradition.

 

EDIT: I would also like to add that I am happy to explain my beliefs as well as I can but I do not want to debate about my beliefs. This particular forum is not meant for debate and since I do not feel the need to assert that my beliefs are objectively or intrinsically true I do not feel there is a need to debate whether they are. To me they are subjectively true and that is enough.

 

Thank you for replying. I wasn't after a debate, I was/am interested in why people think there are gods. I have no problem with anyones belief system.

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I know that we were not debating and you raise valid questions. I know I have talked to you in chat several times about my beliefs, but I wanted to make clear to any third parties that I am not trying to say that my path is right or wrong or that I think everyone should be Wiccan.

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All of the deities in Tibetan Buddhism are representations of qualities of the enlightened mind. They are not Gods in the western understanding of that term.

 

It all comes back to your mind. You are the world. It seems obvious to me that how we look at the world makes a great deal of difference. I want to work with my mind and my perceptions - that is why I am a Buddhist.

 

Outwardly it may appear that the various deities are prayed to and worshipped, but really its just honoring what is already there, the Buddha nature in everyone. I suppose that if there is some sort of God approaching mystical western perceptions, it is the Buddha nature(Tathagatagarba), which is said to be timeless, changeless and absolutely clear. This is seen only in meditation - there is no kind of peer-reviewed scientific proof available.

 

Sleepless Ghost - the statement you made is not of a taboo nature here. It was an honest one, and I appreciate it. I am sure others do as well, who will not write here.

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the existence of suffering

I am less concerned with the fact that life often entails suffering than I am impressed by the fact that life has prevailed.

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the existence of suffering

I am less concerned with the fact that life often entails suffering than I am impressed by the fact that life has prevailed.

 

 

Then clearly Legion you haven't suffered anywhere near enough :P

 

I am also impressed by the fact life has prevailed considering how fucking terrible human beings are to each other. I suspect though you meant from some scientific basis.

 

I have discovered I an an entity that is not interested in any kind of worship.

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I dabbled with deism for a while, but I imagined that a god that could create the universe, but didn't care enough to stick around was kind of a dick. Who knows, maybe he is. Lately I have taken a more of a pantheistic view of the universe. I know for certain that the universe exists, and that it is a pretty amazing thing. I don't know for sure what lies in the great beyond, provided there is a great beyond, but through my pantheistic views, I feel conected not only to a galazy far far away, but to the people around me, and the world in which I live. Ultimately, I think that is the point.

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I would like to still be able to believe in a God, one more to my liking, but for the same reason I left Christianity, the cruelty of God according to the Bible, I can't accept any version of God. If there is any God at all, he must still be a cruel being, for the same reason that the Christian God is cruel, ie. the existence of suffering. How could it be explained away if there's a benevolent God? How could I love and worship any God who allows it to exist? Whenever I start to feel inclined towards any other type of religion or spirituality, this obstacle stops me going further.

 

I suppose that everyone would like to believe that there is a "someone" or "something" responsible for our lives, but ultimately, we are responsible for ourselves and have to make our own decisions in life and accept the consequences, good or bad, for those decisions.

 

Why love or worship any invisible being? It's delusional and limiting.

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I suppose that everyone would like to believe that there is a "someone" or "something" responsible for our lives, but ultimately, we are responsible for ourselves and have to make our own decisions in life and accept the consequences, good or bad, for those decisions.

 

Why love or worship any invisible being? It's delusional and limiting.

 

 

This concept was a bit troubling to me at first, but then it was freeing. For the first time in my life, what course my life took was mine to decide.

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I would like to still be able to believe in a God, one more to my liking, but for the same reason I left Christianity, the cruelty of God according to the Bible, I can't accept any version of God. If there is any God at all, he must still be a cruel being, for the same reason that the Christian God is cruel, ie. the existence of suffering. How could it be explained away if there's a benevolent God? How could I love and worship any God who allows it to exist? Whenever I start to feel inclined towards any other type of religion or spirituality, this obstacle stops me going further.

 

Unless reality is an illusion, then none of this is real and pain is an illusion. I honestly think that's the case sometimes.

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I suspect there are Gods in part because of my experiences. Whether they "really" exist independent of my own mind is a good question. I suspect they do, but I can't be sure and won't go so far as to outright assert it.

 

Where is the proof? its as simple or as complicated as that.

There is no way to have any solid proof of this, really. Nevertheless, it is still possible for people to have rather convincing experiences.

 

BTW, I quite like the ideas in process-relational philosophy and process theology.

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As many here, science is my friend. I have often wondered that if an afterlife existed, if there wasn't a perfectly reasonable scientific expanation that we just haven't discovered yet. A laptop comuter was possible in Salem Massachusetts during the witch trials (battery power of course). If it were possible for me to go back in time (and for all we know it is) and stand in the town square with my HP notebook and fire it up, I'm pretty sure that a bonfire with my name on it would be erected right quick. Advanced science appears to be supernatural to the less advanced.

 

That being said, if an afterlife exists, to me it is logical to think that it is an extention of the universe in which we live. Then again, maybe we just stop existing. It's fun to speculate as long as we don't let it control us or become our reason for truly living now.

 

 

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I suspect there are Gods in part because of my experiences. Whether they "really" exist independent of my own mind is a good question. I suspect they do, but I can't be sure and won't go so far as to outright assert it.

 

Where is the proof? its as simple or as complicated as that.

There is no way to have any solid proof of this, really. Nevertheless, it is still possible for people to have rather convincing experiences.

 

BTW, I quite like the ideas in process-relational philosophy and process theology.

 

Multi, I wonder if you might subscribe to the idea of local Gods. I don't know if they exist independently of the mind or not (probably not) but I wonder because of my own experiences if some places are not inhabited by local deities. This is a very old idea in the history of man. The Romans and the Tibetans, among others, had that in their religion. You get a strong impression sometimes of some place not being quite right. Then other places you feel very happy in. I just wonder.

 

Darklady - there is no "proof" that a scientist would accept.

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I would like to still be able to believe in a God, one more to my liking, but for the same reason I left Christianity, the cruelty of God according to the Bible, I can't accept any version of God. If there is any God at all, he must still be a cruel being, for the same reason that the Christian God is cruel, ie. the existence of suffering. How could it be explained away if there's a benevolent God? How could I love and worship any God who allows it to exist? Whenever I start to feel inclined towards any other type of religion or spirituality, this obstacle stops me going further.

 

In my religion, there are three main branches of thought.

 

- The gods are literal, but do not have omnipotent power over humans, can only affect those who call on them and very minimally

- The gods are metaphors for what they represent. I.E. Odin is wisdom, Thor is strength, etc.

- The gods are metaphors, but represent a real spiritual force. I.E. Love and wisdom being ghost-like spiritual bodies.

 

I'm a combination of all three, mostly the second two, I more just don't care if they exist as physical "man in the sky" people. Any of these three ways can account for the evil in the world, because none of them can act independently from the actions of humans, and none of them give the deities omnipotence.

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Multi, I wonder if you might subscribe to the idea of local Gods. I don't know if they exist independently of the mind or not (probably not) but I wonder because of my own experiences if some places are not inhabited by local deities. This is a very old idea in the history of man. The Romans and the Tibetans, among others, had that in their religion. You get a strong impression sometimes of some place not being quite right. Then other places you feel very happy in. I just wonder.

I suspect they can, though sometimes those feelings can be functions of other things about the place that you can actually point to. There is a reason the Romans had a concept of the "genius loci" and that this idea has been picked up by the modern discipline of landscape architecture.

 

And yes, it's a very old idea that exists (or used to exist) in numerous cultures throughout the world. Either local spirits or, in some cases, deities that chose a particular location as a local haunt, which might then become the site of a shrine or temple.

 

I have had one personal experience in particular which strongly suggests to me that the latter might occur. It involved some very compelling events including the presence of a newborn fawn. There's still a chance that it could all be a series of coincidences, but the cumulative impression it leaves on me is that something more than that happened.

 

Darklady - there is no "proof" that a scientist would accept.

That's it exactly.

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I would like to still be able to believe in a God, one more to my liking, but for the same reason I left Christianity, the cruelty of God according to the Bible, I can't accept any version of God. If there is any God at all, he must still be a cruel being, for the same reason that the Christian God is cruel, ie. the existence of suffering. How could it be explained away if there's a benevolent God? How could I love and worship any God who allows it to exist? Whenever I start to feel inclined towards any other type of religion or spirituality, this obstacle stops me going further.

 

I guess this depends on whether you're going to believe in a God based on reason, or because you WANT to believe (X-files moment! :woohoo:).

 

Based on the order, structure, and beauty of the universe, I believe there is SOME sort of creator or "God" or Watchmaker (as I prefer to call it). However, I don't believe it's always been around, I don't think it can read my thoughts or hear me "pray", and I do not think it's a kind creature. Frankly, I don't think it gives a shit one way or the other. Personally, though I have no proof or even logic to back it up, I think we were a science experiment. It wanted to make a universe that "worked", and it succeeded admirably.

 

I'm not a praise-and-worship kind of person, especially when I can't actually KNOW that what I'm worshipping is real.

 

Are you a reason person, or a feeling person? They're both valid. But just be aware of your reasons for believing in a God.

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I would like to still be able to believe in a God, one more to my liking, but for the same reason I left Christianity, the cruelty of God according to the Bible, I can't accept any version of God. If there is any God at all, he must still be a cruel being, for the same reason that the Christian God is cruel, ie. the existence of suffering. How could it be explained away if there's a benevolent God? How could I love and worship any God who allows it to exist? Whenever I start to feel inclined towards any other type of religion or spirituality, this obstacle stops me going further.

Though people probably won't agree with me, I believe the 'invisible man' that people imagine is out there is just a projection of yourself. It's like when a child has an imaginary friend and pretends it's speaking back to him, but it's really the child speaking to himself. The same way with God, people imagine the invisible loving man comforting them, giving them hope, alleviating loneliness, etc but it's all coming from themselves. They don't want to believe that because they're told that they're helpless sinners in need of a savior.

 

I have a need for a God too, so I believe in it pretty much the same way as before, in that God is great, God is love, God is my provider, etc, except that it's me. Most people don't like that idea though and think you're just saying 'I am God' as if you're some wacko, but that's just because they're intimidated. People like to believe they're shit and hate anyone to claims otherwise. You can see that self-hatred in religions and in arrogant atheists alike.

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I have a need for a God too, so I believe in it pretty much the same way as before, in that God is great, God is love, God is my provider, etc, except that it's me. Most people don't like that idea though and think you're just saying 'I am God' as if you're some wacko, but that's just because they're intimidated. People like to believe they're shit and hate anyone to claims otherwise. You can see that self-hatred in religions and in arrogant atheists alike.

 

I think I kinda get what you're saying. After I quit believing in any deity, sometimes it hits me that there is no cosmic justice, no karma, no supernatural law giver. And then I feel afraid and sad, small and helpless. I'm trying to get myself to think in more humanist terms, though. Like you say you see God as you; I'm trying to see the gods of the various cultures at the... "spirit" of humanity or something. So instead of looking down on belief in deities as mere human inventions, I like to think of them as... a dramatic expression of humanity trying to understand ourselves and our world.

 

I read a book about (Buddhist??) meditation a while ago, and in the section about prayer, they'd start with you imagining the god(dess) as an other, then as this god(dess) loving you and giving you their strength/virtue, then finally you're supposed to imagine the god(dess) floating over your head and being absorbed into you (or something like that). The whole idea of prayer was unappealing to me at the time, but lately I've been rethinking it. I can see it working out as more of a way to imagine what you want to become, and doing something almost like self-hypnosis to convince yourself that you can become the idol you are looking up to. So instead of the Christian god that remains an "other" that you're supposed to grovel in front of, the idea of striving for enlightenment is the idea of becoming one of/with the gods/enlightened humans. It's an awful lot like self-help literature that tells you to deal with intimidating circumstances by doing dry runs in your head, and being sure to imagine successful endings. Done properly (ie, not in the Christian sense of groveling), I think that sort of "prayer" could be quite empowering.

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I read a book about (Buddhist??) meditation a while ago, and in the section about prayer, they'd start with you imagining the god(dess) as an other, then as this god(dess) loving you and giving you their strength/virtue, then finally you're supposed to imagine the god(dess) floating over your head and being absorbed into you (or something like that). The whole idea of prayer was unappealing to me at the time, but lately I've been rethinking it. I can see it working out as more of a way to imagine what you want to become, and doing something almost like self-hypnosis to convince yourself that you can become the idol you are looking up to. So instead of the Christian god that remains an "other" that you're supposed to grovel in front of, the idea of striving for enlightenment is the idea of becoming one of/with the gods/enlightened humans. It's an awful lot like self-help literature that tells you to deal with intimidating circumstances by doing dry runs in your head, and being sure to imagine successful endings. Done properly (ie, not in the Christian sense of groveling), I think that sort of "prayer" could be quite empowering.

 

Yes, this is a description of the visualization or creation stage of Vajrayana Buddhism. Yes, it sure is empowering. Believe me, its a far cry from the Christian mode of prayer when you are repeating "I am the Primordial Buddha", and visualizing yourself as a deity. This is a very powerful tantric Buddhist practice. Groveling has nothing to do with it.

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I think I kinda get what you're saying. After I quit believing in any deity, sometimes it hits me that there is no cosmic justice, no karma, no supernatural law giver. And then I feel afraid and sad, small and helpless. I'm trying to get myself to think in more humanist terms, though. Like you say you see God as you; I'm trying to see the gods of the various cultures at the... "spirit" of humanity or something. So instead of looking down on belief in deities as mere human inventions, I like to think of them as... a dramatic expression of humanity trying to understand ourselves and our world.

 

That's exactly how I see gods and religions too, us trying to understand ourselves and the world. You can actually learn something about yourself and humanity from it. There is something to belief, it does motivate and empower you. All the more when you believe in yourself instead of a sadistic desert religion's god. It's hard to accept that we are wonderful and full of unimagined potential so we tend to look outside ourselves.

I think that sort of "prayer" could be quite empowering.

I hadn't heard about that, I'll look into it because it sounds really interesting.

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