Joshpantera

Any one feel off put by atheist's?

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I might as well put this issue to paper, so to speak. 

 

When I first found ex-C several years ago, there was a pretty strong ex-christian spiritual presence going around on the forums. I was approached almost immediately by several naturalist panentheist's, and those interested in eastern mysticism, meditation, and pretty much carrying on pantheistic type world views in the absence of christianity. Not religious views, but simply spiritual views which were stripped down to the bare essentials free and clear of religion, and, in fact, pretty clear of belief in literal gods out there in space somewhere. These were people familiar with Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, and a lot of east meets west type of learning and discipline. 

 

And it was clear to me that this online community was a mix of spiritual minded and also many hard nosed, non-spiritual minded atheists. And to be honest, I found myself enjoying this community and sort of made myself at home here. I was made to feel very welcome by many members here. I appreciated that. And it felt good, to be honest. Mark, in particular, was of the non-spiritual group and didn't understand why someone would favor pantheistic philosophy when the universe is so harsh and indifferent to life from a strictly scientific perspective. We debated such things back and fourth. But we were great friends, exchanging respect for one another's views. Trying to learn more about one another's views, even if in private discussion. There was no tension or pressing need to evangelize or convert the other, just good clean fun sparing back and fourth between two minds to see which perspective could hold it's own. And in fact, in this example, if for some reason one of the two perspectives could not hold it's own, I'd say that either one of us was open to changing our minds if we decided to expand our perspectives into new areas, due to an unwavering desire to follow the truth where ever it happens to lead. 

 

After returning about a year ago from a pretty long break, I noticed that the spiritual minded ex-C had dwindled in terms of many members no longer posting here. Several mods of this variety were gone. And it looked to me like the scales had tipped over to a strong atheist majority and a slim ex-christian spiritual minded presence. So I started the thread about spiritually dead ex-christians to see what was going on. And eventually, after pretty flaccid results, a post made about lurking readers not liking the fact that ex-christianity appears to be nothing more than hard nosed atheists devoid of spiritual understanding, basically. And there's a bit of a down trodden attitude coming from at least some readers about this. 

 

So there's several different issues to try and address in all of this and I'm going to dive in here, even if I have to go it alone. But I'd appreciate participation if anyone feels inclined to put their two cents in about what I'm going to dive into. 

 

Thanks for reading, feel free to join. 

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1) How does human spirituality break down when some one decides to leave christianity and search through spiritual views held by the rest of the world? 

 

Well, this can be simply put. It becomes very diverse and not so narrow minded, egocentric, and even narcissistic. Unfortunately, christianity's usage of the word "spiritual" stands along side certain other world views as shallow in depth. We were presented with an image of god as out there, off and away in another place named "heaven," where he, a male father like personality is constantly looking down from out in space at everything instance taking place all around the earth. This is the basis for it is called, "spiritual," in christianity. It has to start with the god belief itself and the two are inseparable. This is what we all came from in one way or another, from one denomination's perspective or another. 

 

And more importantly, this is what many of us have rebelled against by rebelling against christianity. 

 

But this rebellion tends to take different paths. For some it may come in the form of an outright and immediate rejection in god belief across the board. This is what happened to myself while off and away at boarding academy. It just hit me like a load of bricks and I felt so embarrassed, and so gullible for ever having believed that something this blatantly fair tale oriented was ever true. Shame on me. And my first instinct was to reject it all immediately. I flipped from believing in the christian god to hard atheism and anti-theism just like that. But over the course of the next ten years I began feeling pulled back towards religious issues nonetheless, mainly, I think, because I never did my homework to face off with christianity and learn and know the details associated with my decision to leave. It sort of haunted me for a while until I decided to go back and re-read the bible and face this thing again. And what happened is that I immediately began to see contradictions in the bible, starting with genesis, which I must have always overlooked before when I was a believer. This led to more interest in knowing what's going on, so I kept on searching and found my way through comparative world mythology and religion, biblical criticism, minimalist archaeology, and basically everything that secular oriented academia has to offer on the subject. 

 

It was during this time of critique, that I was exposed to eastern religion and mythology and something clicked in my mind almost just as instant. I realized that their focus on philosophical issues like the eternal and infinite, not taken as literal gods but as principles and metaphors, made perfect sense to me for some reason. It was almost as if I'd known all along. But I couldn't have known all along because I didn't know anything about eastern mysticism until after leaving christianity. That's when I began to understand that there's a broader side to atheism. I didn't feel the need to convert to any eastern religions, but I found respect for what they represent in terms of providing an alternative spiritual insight to that which I was familiar with in christianity. 

 

The gods can be seen as metaphorical, ultimately, for the sheer mystery of existence itself and it's seemingly infinite depth. This is much deeper than where christianity is willing to go, or can go given the circumstances of it's literalistic interpretation of things like god, and heaven, and the afterlife, and so on. This can all be gleaned by pouring over books and lectures from Joseph Campbell and Alan Watts, to name a few starting points for this sort of spiritual journey. I found this all very uplifting. And in fact, prior to learning about eastern mystical traditions and facing off with issues like infinity and eternity, and how those two things relate to me personally as an existing being within the universe, my life started to really change for the better. I never went back to believing in gods literally, and so retained the atheist label for all intensive purposes, but I gained a great deal of beneficial insight which was very relevant to my life. And I began to grow and expand more as a person. That's a very good, uplifting feeling to have. It's an alternative, in fact, to the spiritual feelings that I used to feel standing in a church or auditorium when I was a christian when they'd get everyone all riled up about jesus.  But this feeling was much deeper than any of that. It's was deeper because I was having the feeling based on gaining even deeper understandings to that which christianity teaches and promotes. 

 

 Now an alternative journey to my own, might be one where some one leaves christianity much slower, not going right to atheism. I here a lot of members speak of retaining god belief as they leave christianity, perhaps changing their perspective to deism or some other form of theistic belief. Maybe still retaining some type of belief in heaven and hell, gods, and so on. In this case the spiritual view would still be more or less oriented to a literal view. Some where between christianity's bible based literal view and a completely non-literalistic view found in the east. In terms of depth, if we're honest, this is an in between zone in the spectrum of human spirituality. 

 

Christianity (literal) > deism (literal, not christianity) > pantheisms (not literal, not christianity) 

 

Maybe someone who's taken the above journey could expand upon it some more and share their story. 

 

But roughly speaking, human spirituality comes in a range of depth simply due to how certain minds handle things like infinity, eternity, and omnipresence, to break it down to bare bones. In christianity these terms are used, but not necessarily followed. I'll explain. God is said to have no beginning or end, omnipresence, and omni just about everything. That is taken from verses in the bible that tend to suggest as much. Then it's rolled into things like the Nicean Creed that makes specific claims about god. One of those claims is that god is wholly immanent and transcendent - meaning, basically, omni-present both within and without of the universe, time and space, etc. 

 

So it seems like they have anything that eastern mysticism has. But the problem here is that they don't follow these claims all the way through. They make the claims, but then shy away from the resulting consequences. If these are true, then god is literally the air we breathe, the water we drink, the earth itself, and indeed the entire natural cosmos as well as everything that exists beyond the universe. That's what immanent and transcendent means, and it's called "panentheism," not monotheism. But this doesn't work out too well when trying to make claims such as: 

 

1) We are the only true religion in the world.

 

2) There is an all good god, and evil being named satan, who are two entirely separate beings.

 

3) The just will be rewarded while the unjust will be dammed to hell fire for all of eternity.

 

These are just a few examples of the contradictions involved in christianity's shallow sense of god, religion, and spirituality in general. Make claims, but then reject the logical outcome of the claims made because they don't sit well with the more shallow minded aspects of the belief system. This makes christians, across the board, spirituality WEAKER than other people in the world who do not make these same ill-founded contradictions to their own claims. Weaker, because an atheist can tear apart much easier a christian contradicting themselves than some eastern mystic who isn't contradicting himself when it comes to the issue of the infinite, eternal, immanent and transcendent. In the case of someone taking a deeper approach, seeing their god represented as the whole of existence, basically, these blatant contradictions don't exist. 

 

This is one example of how spirituality can be very shallow minded, not well thought out, in the minds of some human beings, while in the minds of other human beings it can be just as deep as deep can get and not contradictory at all. 

 

Which side seems the more preferable? 

 

Some may say neither, and that's fair. But at the same time, those who are naturally inclined to spiritual thinking don't very well have the option to go devoid of all spiritual thinking. So it's a matter of locating the spiritual scale and deciding where you prefer being on that scale. If you are unaware of such a scale, that's the purpose of pointing it out. 

 

More on this later....

 

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3 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

I might as well put this issue to paper, so to speak. 

 

When I first found ex-C several years ago, there was a pretty strong ex-christian spiritual presence going around on the forums. I was approached almost immediately by several naturalist panentheist's, and those interested in eastern mysticism, meditation, and pretty much carrying on pantheistic type world views in the absence of christianity. Not religious views, but simply spiritual views which were stripped down to the bare essentials free and clear of religion, and, in fact, pretty clear of belief in literal gods out there in space somewhere. These were people familiar with Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, and a lot of east meets west type of learning and discipline. 

 

And it was clear to me that this online community was a mix of spiritual minded and also many hard nosed, non-spiritual minded atheists. And to be honest, I found myself enjoying this community and sort of made myself at home here. I was made to feel very welcome by many members here. I appreciated that. And it felt good, to be honest. Mark, in particular, was of the non-spiritual group and didn't understand why someone would favor pantheistic philosophy when the universe is so harsh and indifferent to life from a strictly scientific perspective. We debated such things back and fourth. But we were great friends, exchanging respect for one another's views. Trying to learn more about one another's views, even if in private discussion. There was no tension or pressing need to evangelize or convert the other, just good clean fun sparing back and fourth between two minds to see which perspective could hold it's own. And in fact, in this example, if for some reason one of the two perspectives could not hold it's own, I'd say that either one of us was open to changing our minds if we decided to expand our perspectives into new areas, due to an unwavering desire to follow the truth where ever it happens to lead. 

 

After returning about a year ago from a pretty long break, I noticed that the spiritual minded ex-C had dwindled in terms of many members no longer posting here. Several mods of this variety were gone. And it looked to me like the scales had tipped over to a strong atheist majority and a slim ex-christian spiritual minded presence. So I started the thread about spiritually dead ex-christians to see what was going on. And eventually, after pretty flaccid results, a post made about lurking readers not liking the fact that ex-christianity appears to be nothing more than hard nosed atheists devoid of spiritual understanding, basically. And there's a bit of a down trodden attitude coming from at least some readers about this. 

 

So there's several different issues to try and address in all of this and I'm going to dive in here, even if I have to go it alone. But I'd appreciate participation if anyone feels inclined to put their two cents in about what I'm going to dive into. 

 

Thanks for reading, feel free to join. 

 

I think that's all true, and personally I wish Antlerman would come back. Atheist types don't tend to appreciate the nuances of what we are saying, that we are batting around philosophical ideas. I think they tend to see it as a slippery slope that leads back to Christianity. Now, I consider myself an atheist/pantheist which is a bit of a contradiction on one level, but not contradictory at all on another. I also am very interested in the writing of mystics of all stripes, so when I quote a Christian mystic, it gets misunderstood as an endorsement of Christianity when it's not (and in fact most mystics were branded heretics at one point or another). For example, one of my favorite quotes is from Meister Eckhart, a Christian mystic circa 1350, who said "I pray to God to free me from God so that I might know God".  I think there's a lot to unpack there, and I find such discussions fascinating. What the strong atheists don't get is that this does NOT signal a slippage back towards Christianity. I think they mean well, but really shouldn't be posting from that POV in this forum. Mystic theology is fascinating because it focuses on *experience* as do some schools of Hinduism. For example there is a Hindu aphorism "Though the scriptures tell you a thousand times that fire does not burn, do not believe it". This is the opposite of Christianity's focus on the "infallible" text. I personally would love to talk about such ideas. That they get subsumed under the word "spirituality" is an accident of the language, and the connotations of the word are unfortunate (but I can't think of anything better).

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I must confess, that on some level I am interested in "spirituality" (whatever it is), but I am still working out of the grasp of Christianity and, like you stated, it feels like a slippery slope. But one thing about what you're talking about is that I sometimes struggle with abstract ideas and thoughts. And this seems to be a lot of what being spiritual means to me. I must admit that my view of "spirituality" is likely still clouded through my old christian worldview.

 

For me, there is a difference between wisdom and knowledge and maybe that plays into the difference between spirituality and hard atheism. I see the quotes that Orbit mentioned in the post above and I see that those contain wisdom, but not what I would call hard knowledge. I see what hard atheists bring to the table and its generally concrete and, in some ways, easier to grasp. But what spirituality brings to the table is more open and nuanced and I struggle with finding a way to grasp it at times. This scares me. I find comfort in the tangible and knowable, but find it unsettling when that isn't the case.

 

I have been deconverting for almost 5 years, so maybe it'll take another few to get where I am comfortable with "spirituality". I am open to it. I am willing to try to learn, but I am still a bit wary of looking down that "slippery slope".

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Baptists are put off by Catholics, Methodists are put off by CoC, everybody's put off by Scientologists, and now ex-Christians are put off by those who simply haven't found reason to believe any of it.

 

What would a Buddha do? Probably not see any differences in the first place and certainly not apply labels of good or bad to the "others."

 

I think most people's reflex is to feel in opposition to anyone who doesn't think as they (currently) do, and strongly oppose those who would try to change your pet beliefs even if their argument is based on evidence. I think having a Christian background contributes greatly to the reflexive action. We all recoil at the "holier than thou" and "more spiritual than thou" types.

 

In the end, we all believe what we can believe or want to believe when it comes to the unprovable.

 

Namaste, y'all.

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I'm glad this part of the forums exists, and I do miss Antlerman who seemed to have a very balanced approach to things. I flirt with possibilities of other realms, but so far haven't found anything responding to my questions. On weed, I can see things that are unusual and yet repetitive (I "see" them pretty much each time, if the lights are out), but my rational mind knows that on weed I'm bound to experience things much like I might in a dream. Does that make any of it real? Does being a dream make it not real? My mind perceives things through mechanisms produced by a very long evolution geared towards survival on this planet. Oddly, weed seems to have played some part in that, or we wouldn't have receptors for THC, or perhaps it is reversed and there are body produced chemicals that make use of the same receptors and THC mimics those accidentally. I have yet to try mushrooms, but am keenly interested. All of these things are in some way a lie to the mind, but at the same time open the mind to possibilities like dreams can do. Some spiritual paths embrace the use of these substances, and others reject them favoring a mind-focusing path of conscious intention. I figure I can do both.

 

Most days I try to pay attention to my part in overall life, and recognize how fleeting it is. I mentally pan back from the Earth and realize how petty most of our squabbles are, and how amazing it is that we can make things like music and art that communicate across cultures. I think we each can make the world a better place regardless of the many forces working against that. I've experienced things as a believer for which I still don't have a rational explanation, but know for certain it wasn't the god I assumed it was at the time. Mostly now I keep those things in mind and ask questions of the void/Them, if they even exist.

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9 hours ago, Orbit said:

I think that's all true, and personally I wish Antlerman would come back. Atheist types don't tend to appreciate the nuances of what we are saying, that we are batting around philosophical ideas. I think they tend to see it as a slippery slope that leads back to Christianity. Now, I consider myself an atheist/pantheist which is a bit of a contradiction on one level, but not contradictory at all on another

 

A-man was one of the first people to send me a PM. We had a long mystical oriented discussion from the outset. I think he was trying to feel out where I'm at with it all. It was friendly. 

 

I think you may be on to something about seeing spirituality as a slippery slope. I'd like to run that by a few members who have been open about being non spiritual atheists. @LogicalFallacy @Geezer

 

Can we bounce these ideas off you guys? Just commentate from your non spiritual positions as you see fit, if you don't mind joining in giving your two cents. I'd like to try and see if we can bring about some greater awareness or understanding through all of this. 

 

I have people from my end who have been reading through this website. And there's a lot more reading than I'm aware of. This could benefit a lot of people in terms of coming to certain understandings about ex-christians and the general landscape of ex-christianity. 

 

I too am a pantheist, but I'd say that I'm an agnostic atheist with a philosophical pantheist leaning. I don't know if any gods exist out there (agnostic), I don't believe that they do without some good reason or evidence (athiest), but I understand that what supreme gods represent in mythology is the totality, the whole of existence (pantheism's). And pantheism is some where of a positive belief, and I'm good with that. I positively believe that the mythology gods are metaphors, symbols, that ultimately point towards the eternal principle and draw the mind towards the mysteries surrounding it's own existence. So mixing disbelief with positive belief in this way doesn't appear to contradict anything as I see it. I agree, on this level there's no contradiction. 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Storm said:

I must confess, that on some level I am interested in "spirituality" (whatever it is), but I am still working out of the grasp of Christianity and, like you stated, it feels like a slippery slope. But one thing about what you're talking about is that I sometimes struggle with abstract ideas and thoughts. And this seems to be a lot of what being spiritual means to me. I must admit that my view of "spirituality" is likely still clouded through my old christian worldview.

 

Excellent, one such example. 

 

Now we're getting somewhere. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.

 

4 hours ago, Storm said:

For me, there is a difference between wisdom and knowledge and maybe that plays into the difference between spirituality and hard atheism. I see the quotes that Orbit mentioned in the post above and I see that those contain wisdom, but not what I would call hard knowledge. I see what hard atheists bring to the table and its generally concrete and, in some ways, easier to grasp. But what spirituality brings to the table is more open and nuanced and I struggle with finding a way to grasp it at times. This scares me. I find comfort in the tangible and knowable, but find it unsettling when that isn't the case.

 

Well, for thing, when you view Eckhart's usage of god, just imagine that he's saying the transcendent mystery. The mystery behind the existence of existence itself, which, can not be named or thought about, simply symbolized through metaphorical language. Again, because it refers to the absolutely unknown and unknowable. Look at the quote again, through eyes of a mystic: 

 

9 hours ago, Orbit said:

"I pray to God to free me from God so that I might know God".

 

I pray to the symbol of god, to free me from seeing it literally, so that I might know the transcendent mystery which the symbol is meant to represent.

 

That is precisely the way that Joseph Campbell would interpret the statement. And possibly Watts as well. The idea of the god above the god, the actual mystery overarching the symbolism that points you towards the mystery. Being naturally inclined to mystical and spiritual thinking, this was all clear to me from the first time I was exposed to eastern philosophy. It just clicks, as if I'd some how known it all along. 

 

And if it's possible, I'd like to try and translate these mystical suggestions into language that people who are not inclined to mystical and spiritual thinking might easier understand. This really isn't to do with woo at the foundation of it all. It's perfectly natural, there's a real mystery that the mind can not comprehend when approaching the question of absolute ultimate's. It's actually a mystery that transcends all thinking. The mystical way is to embrace that mystery as your true identity beneath it all.

 

We are each one of us the mystery that we seek to know when seeking to know the god or gods of any given religion. 

 

And that comes out through the writings of many mystics, some of which were christian. But they are usually shunned by christianity for saying so. 

 

Why? 

 

Because christianity isn't actually all that spiritual a religion. 

 

That's the big realization here. 

 

How is it that so many ex christians here (1) were once christian and (2) are devoid of spirituality in their own minds? 

 

I contend that it's because christianity is so devoid of any real in depth spirituality (refer to my examples) that people who are completely non spiritual pass as christians. When the leave, guess what? They're still not very spiritual minded. We have many members who expressed just that. 

 

Think about that for a minute. 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, florduh said:

Baptists are put off by Catholics, Methodists are put off by CoC, everybody's put off by Scientologists, and now ex-Christians are put off by those who simply haven't found reason to believe any of it.

 

 

That's what I've been told.

 

I contend that we can get this figured out though. 

 

4 hours ago, florduh said:

I think most people's reflex is to feel in opposition to anyone who doesn't think as they (currently) do, and strongly oppose those who would try to change your pet beliefs even if their argument is based on evidence. I think having a Christian background contributes greatly to the reflexive action. We all recoil at the "holier than thou" and "more spiritual than thou" types.

 

In the end, we all believe what we can believe or want to believe when it comes to the unprovable.

 

This is a problem I'm trying to work out here. With the help of the non spiritual members who'll chime in. 

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Well I, for one, have tried to pull away from this site in part because I feel so intimidated (sometimes) by the "hard-nosed" atheists and I can almost see the eye-rolling when there is any talk that ventures into spirituality.  I also agree with what an ethics professor once told me:  Very few people, in general, listen with an intention of understanding.  Most listen only in order to formulate a response to what they are hearing.  If that is true, why bother to share?  But this site has gravitational pull.  (And "gravitation pull" reminds me of how much I miss BAAs posts). 

I am absolutely fascinated with Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle and eastern philosophies, though I am not at all well-read enough to say I deeply understand any of it.  But I've always had an underlying hunch that there are other ways of knowing that we have not discovered yet.  The scientific method, as we currently know it, relies upon the 5 senses and the ability to measure and repeat results - using the only tools we have available to us.  But it took a long time for us to evolve and develop these senses.  Before we were "human," when life forms existed in a primordial soup, there was no sense of sight, smell, touch, etc as we know it now.  So If there were no ears, that means there may have been vibrations, but no sound.  If there were no noses, that means there may have been chemical reactions and vapors, but no odors.  If there were no taste buds, substances had no flavor. And no eyes meant there was no color.  If we evolved from life forms that had no senses, why would we be foolish enough to believe that there are only 5, that we have stopped evolving?  And is it possible that we could bring a new understanding/interpretation of what "is" into existence by developing a new way of knowing in the same way our developing senses "created" sound, taste and color out of the matter and energy around us? For me, its important to remain open to mysterious possibilities.  I think a lot of ex-C atheists have decided that that sort of open-mindedness is foolishness. I understand why.  But it makes it intimidating to try to explore these things on a site like this. 

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@Joshpantera Thanks for tagging me in. Much to think about.

 

Will read entire thread again tonight.

 

Then this "hard nosed atheist" will chime in. No doubt some of it will be bluntly hard nosed :D;) 

 

But as a quick thought: I am convinced that there are some people inherently drawn to spirituality, and others, like me, who inherently do not think there is anything spiritual about the universe in a metaphysical sense.

 

My question is why? Why are some so open, so drawn, and others do not see anything spiritual?

 

More later.

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2) Upon discovering the depths of human spirituality, where gods are used symbolically, why then get flustered over people who don't believe in the gods?

 

This is something that I asked myself as I was going through comparative mythology and religion. Do these nuances really constitute any reason to bicker with atheists over? At the bottom of it all, there's no literal gods to point at which everyone should be believing in. Maybe people should be aware of what the metaphors point towards, but then again, what does it matter if some people know about it and some people don't? 

 

Down at these lower levels it was clear to me that there's nothing to prove, in terms of no gods to try and prove exist. Not when you understand them in a very deep sort of way, the deepest ways in which human beings have taken it, which is symbolic and so on. I realized that even though I had found some aspect of a spiritual path, this in no way excluded me from atheism. By spiritual I only mean understanding the interconnection of everything, my place among the whole, and the bigger picture in general. Being the universe and the earth incarnate, for instance. Being that there's really nothing to prove, there's no reason to get mad at atheist's for simply not believing. 

 

Even deeper yet, apparently some people are naturally inclined to spiritual thinking and some people just aren't. 

 

Do the people that naturally aren't need to change? 

 

I don't necessarily think they do. I'm not sure that it really matters whether or not they have a spiritual side. 

 

But on that same note, is there any reason that people who are not spiritually inclined be concerned about those who are? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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41 minutes ago, Faithfulless said:

Well I, for one, have tried to pull away from this site in part because I feel so intimidated (sometimes) by the "hard-nosed" atheists and I can almost see the eye-rolling when there is any talk that ventures into spirituality. 

 

Thank you for sharing this. This the very thing I've been told. I hope that by communicating we can find some common ground between spiritual minded ex-C's and non-spiritual minded ex-C's

 

41 minutes ago, Faithfulless said:

I am absolutely fascinated with Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle and eastern philosophies, though I am not at all well-read enough to say I deeply understand any of it.  But I've always had an underlying hunch that there are other ways of knowing that we have not discovered yet.  The scientific method, as we currently know it, relies upon the 5 senses and the ability to measure and repeat results - using the only tools we have available to us.  But it took a long time for us to evolve and develop these senses.  Before we were "human," when life forms existed in a primordial soup, there was no sense of sight, smell, touch, etc as we know it now.  So If there were no ears, that means there may have been vibrations, but no sound.  If there were no noses, that means there may have been chemical reactions and vapors, but no odors.  If there were no taste buds, substances had no flavor. And no eyes meant there was no color.  If we evolved from life forms that had no senses, why would we be foolish enough to believe that there are only 5, that we have stopped evolving?  And is it possible that we could bring a new understanding/interpretation of what "is" into existence by developing a new way of knowing in the same way our developing senses "created" sound, taste and color out of the matter and energy around us? For me, its important to remain open to mysterious possibilities.  I think a lot of ex-C atheists have decided that that sort of open-mindedness is foolishness. I understand why.  But it makes it intimidating to try to explore these things on a site like this. 

 

This is why I've ventured into area's like panpsychism and now conscious realism. I'm always searching for those deeper underlying truths that may reveal themselves and clarify everything that much further. To do that, you have to dive in and embrace certain things some times. Try them on for size. Test them out. There's very good reason to believe that we're only seeing representations of a deeper reality that eludes our direct perception. Very sound, logical and rational scientific reasons for this. That come with ample support. 

 

I wouldn't call it a supernatural reality behind the scene, I'd simply call it the aspects of the natural cosmos which are as of yet not well known or not well understood, which is behind the scene. But it's in the direction of what a lot of people would call supernatural. I stand behind what you've written here, and with good reason. I'll defend the above if I ever see anyone hassling you about it. They'll find themselves hard pressed to hassle you over it once the playing field has been laid out. 

 

Seriously, just tag me the next time it happens. 

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27 minutes ago, LogicalFallacy said:

@Joshpantera Thanks for tagging me in. Much to think about.

 

Will read entire thread again tonight.

 

Then this "hard nosed atheist" will chime in. No doubt some of it will be bluntly hard nosed :D;) 

 

But as a quick thought: I am convinced that there are some people inherently drawn to spirituality, and others, like me, who inherently do not think there is anything spiritual about the universe in a metaphysical sense.

 

My question is why? Why are some so open, so drawn, and others do not see anything spiritual?

 

More later.

 

Thanks buddy! I knew you'd come through!

 

And you've already hit the nail on the head. 

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"I wouldn't call it a supernatural reality behind the scene, I'd simply call it the aspects of the natural cosmos which are as of yet not well known or not well understood, which is behind the scene. But it's in the direction of what a lot of people would call supernatural."

 

...

 

 

I've read some Zen, Advaita, and other Eastern Philosophy stuff about enlightenment. Often a teacher will say that self-realization is not something supernatural. It's all quite natural.

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Warning, wall of text. I hope people can find the time to read through my mutterings here. I actually got quite involved in this topic.

 

Note while I respond to specific quotes I am addressing, as much as possible, the world as a whole. Try not to take any bluntness expressed as directed towards individuals.

 

Anyone feel put off by atheists?

 

All the time, but generally not because they are atheists. Usually it is some other view they are espousing and tying atheism into it which just makes a mess. I point to the Atheism Plus movement as my example.

 

I have something of a quandary at the question of the topic and its possibly because of a crossing of the understanding of what atheist means. What is an atheist? Well to determine that we first have to know what a theist is. As we all know a theist is someone who believes in a literal personal God. (Contrasting with Deist who believes in a literal non personal God - sometimes referred to as "higher power").

 

The prefix "A" in a word negates the meaning of that word. Therefore atheist is someone who does not believe in a literal personal God. 

 

Therefore are we not primarily atheists here? I know there are people who hold various world views, possibly even religions, but do they actually believe in a literal personal God? Or is atheist just a label for this topic? I don't generally identify as an atheist, but I am atheist by definition. I trust you can see the distinction.

 

I wonder then if the topic of this thread is more geared around the question "Anyone put off by the non spiritual?" Because I see no reason why you cannot be atheist and spiritual... which brings me to:

 

What is spirituality?

 

So throughout reading this thread I am trying to get a grasp on what folks mean by spiritual, spirituality, "I am spiritual" etc.

 

I am assuming it is not to do with literal spirits in a Christian/Islamic sense.

 

So what then is it? Am I spiritual by any definition you may have? For me the closest I have come to what I might call a spiritual experience is around 6 months ago I was mowing the lawns (I can tell you exactly where on the section I was) and I was listening to a lecture on evolution. For the most part it was pretty much standard stuff, but at the end the professor said I am going to tell you something that you'll only hear once in this entire course. He got the students (And I count myself among them) to trace their lineage back through parents, grandparents, back and back in time, going through our primate ancestors, through the fish, back 3.5 billion years to the first self replicating molecule... then he said go back further and you are now part of the chemical composition of the earth. It sort of hit me hard as an awe inspiring moment and I went inside and wrote this down - I have it on my facebook banner:

 

"When we go back far enough in time we find that we are not just connected to all living things, but to all matter in the universe. Atomically we share the same elements that are forged in the stars."

 

This seems to echo @Joshpantera sentiment when he said "By spiritual I only mean understanding the interconnection of everything, my place among the whole, and the bigger picture in general. Being the universe and the earth incarnate, for instance."

 

But for me I'm not sure if this spirituality goes anything beyond realizing I am part of the universe - what some might refer to as the numinous - something that seems to have a religious or spiritual quality.

 

But is this anything more than an aroused state in my brain? I highly doubt it. I don't expect the universe to share this spiritual moment with me, and no one else can either. It was my own subjective experience upon hearing a scientific truth expounded upon in a meaningful way.

 

22 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

After returning about a year ago from a pretty long break, I noticed that the spiritual minded ex-C had dwindled in terms of many members no longer posting here. Several mods of this variety were gone. And it looked to me like the scales had tipped over to a strong atheist majority and a slim ex-christian spiritual minded presence. So I started the thread about spiritually dead ex-christians to see what was going on. And eventually, after pretty flaccid results, a post made about lurking readers not liking the fact that ex-christianity appears to be nothing more than hard nosed atheists devoid of spiritual understanding, basically. And there's a bit of a down trodden attitude coming from at least some readers about this.

 

So the thoughts/concerns expressed here seem to tie in with other things I've been thinking about and might be a contributing factor. Bear with me, this might be a bit of a detour, but hopefully I'll lead it back into hard nosed atheism.

 

I have been (After considerable discussion with a friend) giving considerable thought into how our different personalities shape the way we interact and perceive the world. There are various measures of personality - the big five traits, or some others break it down into 16 personality types. Two of these are Thinking vs Feeling. Now I wonder if the feeling types, are more inclined to spirituality, and more inclined to feeling about an issue, but also more inclined because of feeling put off, to not contribute? Whereas the thinking types tend to be less emotional, more hard nosed (Said friend will agree on this in reference to me) and more likely to put their thoughts out there regardless of how they feel? I also wonder if this applies to a liberal vs conservative or left vs right perspective as I seem to notice the left on the forum largely silent. Some in fact have said they get put off by the strong opinions with whom they disagree. This is all probably a topic in itself.

 

So how does this tie in? Well is the reason for the hard nosed majority because the spiritual, because of their feelings, won't put their foot down, and respond to the posts of the hard nosed?

 

21 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

Which side seems the more preferable? 

 

Some may say neither, and that's fair. But at the same time, those who are naturally inclined to spiritual thinking don't very well have the option to go devoid of all spiritual thinking. So it's a matter of locating the spiritual scale and deciding where you prefer being on that scale. If you are unaware of such a scale, that's the purpose of pointing it out. 

 

This ties right into my first post posing the question why are some of us naturally inclined towards the spiritual, and others not. And for those that are not, is the cry, "you are just not spiritual enough, or you don't understand", fair?

 

As should be clear by now I come down fairly strongly on the non spiritual side. I'm naturally inclined to be an analytical, thinking type who requires evidence or strong reasons to accept any particular view. Subjective experiences, while appreciated, are dismissed as paths to truth. Telling me you feel something deeply about the universe isn't going to get much from me if you cannot show how this leads to an understanding of reality.

 

Well you say, is reality all there is that's important? Exactly I say, can you show me anything that is not reality?

 

 

18 hours ago, Orbit said:

Atheist types don't tend to appreciate the nuances of what we are saying, that we are batting around philosophical ideas. I think they tend to see it as a slippery slope that leads back to Christianity.

 

I can only speak for one hard nosed atheist, and that's me. I don't see spirituality as a slippery slope that leads back to Christianity, though no doubt it happens. I am also sure that for some spiritual quests will lead them into new age hocus pocus woo woo. (Cue that awesome gibberish generator) For me I just don't see the point in pursuing understanding of some deep spiritual truth.

 

Someone mentioned meditation. I like meditation, I practice it from time to time, I should do it more. But meditation is not something I would call spiritual. (You can certainly make it spiritual if you want to) The reason I value meditation is that it works. It's proven scientifically to have great benefits on your entire mind body being. But there's nothing spiritual about it. Feel free to argue that point with me.

 

Quote

I also am very interested in the writing of mystics of all stripes, so when I quote a Christian mystic, it gets misunderstood as an endorsement of Christianity when it's not (and in fact most mystics were branded heretics at one point or another).

 

I think what you are expressing here is part of a wider problem where people don't attempt to understand what is being said, but dislike a position so what to find any reason to argue against it. This catches me out a lot where in rapid imprecise mediums such as chat rooms or youtube etc, you forgo nuance and meaning for sake of time. However when this happens the reader must take care to think carefully about what is being said or they will run off with the equivalent of a literal interpretation of the bible. So this is not just a problem with spirituality topics, thus I understand what you are getting at here.

 

Quote

I personally would love to talk about such ideas. That they get subsumed under the word "spirituality" is an accident of the language, and the connotations of the word are unfortunate (but I can't think of anything better).

 

I agree. This might be part of my resistance to spirituality. What are we meaning? If I'm thinking of it in a Christian sense, then yes I'm going to be pretty hard nosed about it.

 

9 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

I think you may be on to something about seeing spirituality as a slippery slope. I'd like to run that by a few members who have been open about being non spiritual atheists. @LogicalFallacy @Geezer

 

Can we bounce these ideas off you guys? Just commentate from your non spiritual positions as you see fit, if you don't mind joining in giving your two cents. I'd like to try and see if we can bring about some greater awareness or understanding through all of this. 

 

I have people from my end who have been reading through this website. And there's a lot more reading than I'm aware of. This could benefit a lot of people in terms of coming to certain understandings about ex-christians and the general landscape of ex-christianity.

 

As mentioned above, the slippery slope is not my problem with spirituality. I'm far more in line with Mark's view that you expressed earlier. I'm interested in what is truth, what is real, can we understand it objectively? I don't feel spirituality helps me here because its so subjective. We can express what brain states several people might be in when they have a spiritual experience or are thinking about the greater meaning of the universe, whatever, but as far as the experience goes, its subjective to each conscious agent.

 

 

8 hours ago, Faithfulless said:

Well I, for one, have tried to pull away from this site in part because I feel so intimidated (sometimes) by the "hard-nosed" atheists and I can almost see the eye-rolling when there is any talk that ventures into spirituality.  I also agree with what an ethics professor once told me:  Very few people, in general, listen with an intention of understanding.  Most listen only in order to formulate a response to what they are hearing.  If that is true, why bother to share?  But this site has gravitational pull.  (And "gravitation pull" reminds me of how much I miss BAAs posts).

 

This ties into by earlier detour on thinking vs feeling personality types. I think that feeling types are more easily put off by stronger/harder thinking types. This is sad, because we don't mean to come across as hard nosed or not understanding. We can be blunt and to the point, but we aren't trying to be off putting.

 

I agree with this professor, but remember it cuts both ways.

 

Quote

The scientific method, as we currently know it, relies upon the 5 senses and the ability to measure and repeat results - using the only tools we have available to us.  But it took a long time for us to evolve and develop these senses.  Before we were "human," when life forms existed in a primordial soup, there was no sense of sight, smell, touch, etc as we know it now.  So If there were no ears, that means there may have been vibrations, but no sound.  If there were no noses, that means there may have been chemical reactions and vapors, but no odors.  If there were no taste buds, substances had no flavor. And no eyes meant there was no color.  If we evolved from life forms that had no senses, why would we be foolish enough to believe that there are only 5, that we have stopped evolving?  And is it possible that we could bring a new understanding/interpretation of what "is" into existence by developing a new way of knowing in the same way our developing senses "created" sound, taste and color out of the matter and energy around us? For me, its important to remain open to mysterious possibilities.  I think a lot of ex-C atheists have decided that that sort of open-mindedness is foolishness. I understand why.  But it makes it intimidating to try to explore these things on a site like this. 

 

I'm going to cautiously disagree here in that science has moved beyond what our senses can tell us. We now break down particles impossible for the eye to see. These tell us a lot about the fundamentals of what makes the universe tick. (See youtube debate at end for a discussion on this sort of thing)

 

I don't know enough about evolution to comment on how correct or not you are.

 

When it comes to possibilities, however, I am reminded of something Aron Ra said: "For something to be considered possible it must be at least demonstrated that it is in fact possible. In this regard God is not possible". So now i am cautious about what I accept as possible. Sure we can use it in the sense that "anything is possible... sure my pink unicorn might exist... its possible" But is it? A unicorn IS possible. How do we know that? Well a unicorn is a horse with a horn on its head. We have plenty examples of horses, and plenty examples of animals with horns on their head. Thus we can say, its possible. However if I say the unicorn is immaterial, well now we have a problem. We have no example of something immaterial and also exists in the usual sense. Thus, its not possible. So coming back to what our senses may develop - we have a fairly good understanding of biology, and the interactions in your brain. Thus I am skeptical of a claim that we might develop a new way of knowing. The sad truth is, far more likely, is there are going to be things we cannot know precisely because of the limitations evolution places on our brains.

 

8 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

2) Upon discovering the depths of human spirituality, where gods are used symbolically, why then get flustered over people who don't believe in the gods?

 

This is something that I asked myself as I was going through comparative mythology and religion. Do these nuances really constitute any reason to bicker with atheists over? At the bottom of it all, there's no literal gods to point at which everyone should be believing in. Maybe people should be aware of what the metaphors point towards, but then again, what does it matter if some people know about it and some people don't? 

 

Down at these lower levels it was clear to me that there's nothing to prove, in terms of no gods to try and prove exist. Not when you understand them in a very deep sort of way, the deepest ways in which human beings have taken it, which is symbolic and so on. I realized that even though I had found some aspect of a spiritual path, this in no way excluded me from atheism. By spiritual I only mean understanding the interconnection of everything, my place among the whole, and the bigger picture in general. Being the universe and the earth incarnate, for instance. Being that there's really nothing to prove, there's no reason to get mad at atheist's for simply not believing. 

 

Even deeper yet, apparently some people are naturally inclined to spiritual thinking and some people just aren't. 

 

Do the people that naturally aren't need to change? 

 

I don't necessarily think they do. I'm not sure that it really matters whether or not they have a spiritual side. 

 

But on that same note, is there any reason that people who are not spiritually inclined be concerned about those who are? 

 

To end, what is spirituality about? What are we as humans striving for? It's fair to say man created Gods in his image that he might give himself meaning to what seems to be a purposeless chaos. Does it make that meaning true? Billions of Christians feel they have meaning in their lives, and that we hard nosed atheists cannot possibly have meaning. They are certainly wrong on the last account, but are they wrong on the first account? Well no, meaning is subjective, and if something gives you meaning then it is true for you.

 

But is it truth?

 

To finish here is a conversation between Sean Carroll (Batting for the Hard nosed atheists) and Alan Wallace (Buddhist scholar batting for the spiritual minded ones)

 

Aptly titled The Nature of Reality (Isn't that what we are discussing after all?)

 

 

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@LogicalFallacy I'm going to tag you instead of quoting your post for length reasons. The part I want to respond to is regarding the suspicion of subjectivity. I think subjectivity is an important part of the human experience, and needs to be discussed. There is a special branch of philosophy for doing so, more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenomenology_(philosophy)

Something that I find interesting is that mystics the world over tend to say the same kinds of things, despite coming from very different religious or philosophical backgrounds: this represents an intersubjectivity, which is indeed how we all measure reality for practical purposes. I would caution against dismissing something because "it's just subjective" when our entire social reality is maintained by intersubjectivity.

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Some people find reason to believe in spiritual or religious concepts. Some people do not find a reason to believe such things. Everyone thinks they're right. Probably none are, so what's the problem?

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30 minutes ago, florduh said:

so what's the problem?

 

There isn't one. It's an interesting topic exploring our differences, asking why this is, and looking for answers. 

 

Well maybe I should caveat this and say I don't have a problem... even though I might use the phrase "I have a problem." 

 

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1 hour ago, LogicalFallacy said:

 

There isn't one. It's an interesting topic exploring our differences, asking why this is, and looking for answers. 

 

Well maybe I should caveat this and say I don't have a problem... even though I might use the phrase "I have a problem." 

 

Being "put off" by atheists would qualify as a problem in my book. Of course, we all have different books.

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One thing that bothers me with some atheists is the dogmatic understanding that science is the one true way and if science hasn't discovered it yet then it doesn't exist and is therefore unimportant and not worth further thought.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, florduh said:

Being "put off" by atheists would qualify as a problem in my book. Of course, we all have different books.

 

I think what I'm put off by is when atheists who dismiss the subject of and reason for this forum,  post in this forum. This isn't the Lion's Den.

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3 hours ago, florduh said:

Being "put off" by atheists would qualify as a problem in my book. Of course, we all have different books.

 

Yes sure. I suppose if you are a spiritual person and a non spiritual person pops in and expresses a differing opinion and this puts you off posting we could call it a problem. 

 

The question is where or who with does the problem lie?

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1 hour ago, Orbit said:

 

I think what I'm put off by is when atheists who dismiss the subject of and reason for this forum,  post in this forum. This isn't the Lion's Den.

 

I think I'll tentatively yield to this point on the grounds of the forum discription but with a caveat. At times people posting in this forum seem to ask questions that is inviting a response from both spiritual and non spiritual viewpoints. It seems then that when the non spirituals answer those questions the spiritual feel put off.

 

Naturally this thread is an exception to all that as it's discussing this very 'problem' if I can use that word.

 

I've just thought of another hypothesis which might explain a few things. I was thinking of myself and the realisation that I'm still growing my knowledge and worldviews etc. I'm I guess a "young hard nosed atheist" Now I remember @Joshpantera saying a similar thing about himself when he first became an ex Christian but has developed since then. 

 

So my hypothesis is that because of the nature of this forum older more developed ex Christians tend to leave but lots of new ex Christians come in and these new people tend to be quite hard nosed overall giving the forum the spiritually dead ex Christian feel @Joshpantera talked about in the op.

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There are many forums and websites catering to specific belief sets. Some people need their safe space where they won't be challenged. Staying in one's echo chamber and never being challenged is counterproductive IMO. This site, for people recovering from Christian indoctrination, nevertheless tries to accommodate everyone as much as possible. 

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