Do you believe in a God?

.. or many Gods, no Gods, or maybe practice abrahamism?


I'm just curious to see the responses here. Was talking about this with a fellow threadlesser before and thought I'd open up the floor to discussion.


As for me, I'm kind of in this weird limbo. Growing up, I went to church every week and followed and grew up on what was told to me...all these scriptures and passages about God, and I believed them. But as I grew older and more disconnected, this figure became less and less real to me. There are times in my life that I cant find any explanation to other than some spirit amongst the Cosmos, but God? Questionable. My faith has been tested multiple times, especially these past few months, and this God we speak of has become as credible to me as a childhood imaginary friend.


disclaimer: this may be a sensitive topic to some people, so keep it clean. all opinions/views welcome

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ninety-nine

I haven't logged into threadless in such a long time, figures when I do come back there would be a massive theological discussion on the top of the blogs.

I don't believe in God, I guess I was raised agnostic although we never put a label on it, we just were who we were. I'm fairly sure I consider myself to be completely athiest, I love science and learning about the evolution of species and how the universe 'works'.

I have no problem with religion or religious people, in theory, a lot of athiests seem to come across as anti everyone who even says the word god.

One of my best friends believes in God as a way to help her cope with an abusive childhood, but she still turns to modern science and medicine when it is needed. I don't have an issue with her beliefs, but it does annoy me when someone who believes ,thanks God for saving them from a car accident, a bad illness, or any other dangerous situation because it was more than likely that a human was actually the reason that they survived.

For example when someone gets in to a bad car crash and comes out unharmed then believes God saved them, no he didn't.Thousands of engineers, human engineers studied and designed your car and tested it thousands of times to ensure it is as safe as it possibly can be and that is why you survived. Or perhaps you were injured but didn't die, that is because the human paramedics who rushed to the scene helped you and saved your life, they studied for years to learn how to do that, they don't leave you there saying " Wellllll you COULD just pray for your life"

I think humans need to be given more credit for what we can achieve on our own, whether it is inventing ways to save lives, improve lives or even make things worse.

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

manu, I totally agree. I think the whole point is perhaps to allow you to admit to yourself what is it really that's giving you hang-ups. I think maybe Husband wasn't ready, and I didn't really have anything substantial to work on.

Kali, I could not agree more with pretty much everything you said. We should actually stop more often and say 'Whew, thanks for existing, modern engineering!'

Also your kids are beyond adorable.

Musarter
Musarter profile pic Alumni

Man, this is still going strong. Just read it all and it was a lot to digest. Feel like I kind of lean towards James' (Jellyes) and Nathan's approach. Find it all interesting to read.

Keeps watching.

jet approves

only here for a minute so i'll come back with more psych thoughts later...

don't have an issue with her beliefs, but it does annoy me when someone who believes ,thanks God for saving them from a car accident, a bad illness, or any other dangerous situation because it was more than likely that a human was actually the reason that they survived.

i agree in some ways, but i guess it doesn't bother me when someone believes god was looking out for them or something to that degree. it starts to really annoy me when people forgo medical treatment or surgery because they believe "god will save me." if they believe god made everything then surely medical treatment and surgery, invented by people, was a product of god.

spacesick
spacesick profile pic Alumni

I don't believe in condoms. god is my condom.

spacesick
spacesick profile pic Alumni

god is my K-Y ® YOURS+MINE® couples lubricant

spacesick
spacesick profile pic Alumni

god will pay my child support

shirtflirt

yaeh, i'm strictily talking studying human mind without any particular leaning toward a FAVORITE "disorder" (one of the most misused words in the english language).

we find the true mechanism of self interacting with environment in true psychology. that's the nature of it.

i think EVERYONE studies or finds an interest in something that is SOMEWHAT relative to their situation or past experience.

shirtflirt

"Also my personal experience with people who have studied psychology (and I've known a bunch, of different ages), has led me to believe that a good portion of them engages in these studies to try and resolve personal issues"

i can't tell if you're saying this is a good or bad thing.

me personally, i'd say that's great.

shirtflirt

engineers....YEESH! jk. god loves engineers.

jmeaspls
jmeaspls profile pic Alumni

@jelly - you're making it sound just as insular as I thought it was :) It's like all of philosophy is one giant brain-teaser, and the more of it you can unravel the more you win at being clever, but not much else.

I think it's the case that most of the interesting things to talk about do not impact science at all, and are, consequently, in the realm of philosophy. Take this conversation we're having now. Nothing in this thread will impact any scientific theory. Accordingly, it must lie outside of science. Even those opinions that differ from mine must be philosophy and 'insular.' If you're having fun in this conversation, then it makes sense to me that you're okay with engaging in 'brain-teasing' exercises. You might then say "but I'm not a professional philosopher. This is just my hobby," but I'd argue that a philosopher probably helps more people on average than a given physicist does. Here's why:

All philosophers need to be professors. There's no other possibility. Your research is largely only read by a handful of other people in the world (at times, less than 50). I don't think you're helping them in any meaningful way. Who are are helping are students, who are dealing with 'unanswerable questions.' By equipping them with the power to make the strongest, seemingly-correct arguments humans are capable of, you're giving them the security they need to live a spiritually sound life. Physicists can do more than teach. But the teaches...probably don't help their students with much. They might help them be more frustrated by giving them horribly, pedagogically ignorant problem sets. But there's nothing for a student to really gain from doing physics, other than maybe feeling smart or something (when they're really just persistent). Other physicists are mostly researchers. If you're a physics researcher, you may or may not be working on something that helps anyone. Chances are you don't interact with the outside world at all; probably, you're alone in your lab. While physics helps people more than the philosopher, I do think it's easier for the philosopher to directly help a person than a physicist.

shirtflirt

And neither can explain the existence or non of God.

jmeaspls
jmeaspls profile pic Alumni

designed your car and tested it thousands of times to ensure it is as safe as it possibly can be and that is why you survived.

Ahahahahaa yeah, like when people post pictures of their wrecked ass cars and are so surprised that they 'somehow survived.' They don't realize that the outer frame of cars are purposefully designed to get as mangled as possible in an accident, so that the force of the impact doesn't go into tearing your body apart. Seventy years ago cars didn't get as beat up as they do today, but the rate of death in car accidents was enormous. but in any event I'm okay with using the God card to explain your life if it makes you feel good. generally, they won't be so crazy as to say "thanks paramedic, but god's got this one," which is indicative of their realization of the help humans are providing them, as well, whether or not they're vocal about it (and even if god is orchestrating the whole thing, the human is his tool)

Manupix

Physicists can do more than teach. But the teaches...probably don't help their students with much. They might help them be more frustrated by giving them horribly, pedagogically ignorant problem sets. But there's nothing for a student to really gain from doing physics, other than maybe feeling smart or something (when they're really just persistent). Other physicists are mostly researchers. If you're a physics researcher, you may or may not be working on something that helps anyone. Chances are you don't interact with the outside world at all; probably, you're alone in your lab.

Sorry but this statement is ridiculous as hell. The most important, 'helpful' part of science, just like philosophy, is adding to human culture, furthering curiosity, and whatnot. Why would science teachers be any worse (or better) than any other teacher? It just takes to browse the web to find so many examples of brilliant, fascinating, inspiring bits of science outreach. Granted, bad teachers abound too.

jmeaspls
jmeaspls profile pic Alumni

The most important, 'helpful' part of science, just like philosophy, is adding to human culture, furthering curiosity, and whatnot.

Commonalities between the two can be ignored; this is a comparison.

Why would science teachers be any worse (or better) than any other teacher?

Lots of reasons, but I wasn't going for that really. By 'help their students,' I was not meaning 'help their students do their problem set,' though I would also doubt the physics teacher's ability to do that.

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

so you reckon your studies of philosophy have brought you more than your studies of physics? That's super-interesting if it is the case.

Oh yeah I adore conversations like this, but I'd never imagine having them for a living :)

Interesting point about teachers, and I can see what you're saying, although I've had run-ins with horrendous philosophy professors. (Also with horrendous physics professors. Heh heh :)

shirtflirt

can we change the name of this blog to "has anyone experienced god?"

no?

ok.

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

I think this blog should be renamed into "What do you think about different stuff?" for utmost accuracy.

shirtflirt

i just think we've covered the "believing" aspect from different angles.

now it would interesting, maybe to only me, to hear about those who have experienced the source/creator/unity....

opifan64
opifan64 profile pic Alumni

now it would interesting, maybe to only me, to hear about those who have experienced the source/creator/unity....

yes, through accidental meditation when I was younger. it was a profound and interesting experience that I felt at the time was meaningful, but I can't assert that it actually was, or that it couldn't be explained through simple brain chemistry.

The one conception of "god" that I find interesting, maybe because it harmonizes somewhat with this experience, was hearing someone talk about the OM chant. The chant essentially represents the birth, existence, and end of the universe cycle in three sounds (the oh sound is the birth, the ah sound represents existence, the m sound is the end). There is also a fourth part of the chant, which might be the most significant part, and that is the silence that precedes and follows it. The silence actually continues through the entire chant because it is the irreducible, unchanging ground upon which the other sounds are possible. It is temporarily disguised by the chant (the universe) but it is still there. Because you can't "hear" silence it seems like nothing when in fact it is everything. In theological terms it could be seen as a metaphor for the non-contingent or transcendant. In cosmology maybe it relates to a nothingness that is still laced with quantum possibility.

I realize this all sounds incredibly flaky but it relates to the feeling I had in meditation which I can only describe as a kind of radiant nothingness. It was also like an eternal present in which time seemed to have stopped. I'm sure there are explanations for these experience. Brain scans on meditating monks show that blood flow in the brain changes in interesting ways. The theory is that the monks can engage the extrinsic network of their brains and the default network concurrently which may explain the feeling of "oneness" with the universe. The extrinsic part of your brain is used when you are actively engaged in your external environment (playing sports for example) whereas the default network is when you are daydreaming, or self-reflecting. The two networks are like a seesaw in that they are rarely engaged at the same time.

shirtflirt

to me, that doesn't sound flaky but the groundwork of some incredible potential. you describe it very well and i wouldn't reduce your experience to the means and meausure of our contemporary science because our science does not focus on the immaterial experience but what can be measured, dissected, dissolved, in the physical.

trancendental meditation, similar to the OM chant, uses sound and silence in similar ways. TM technique uses sound/vibration to silence the mind. the silent mind is equal to the infinite one. our consciousness, it's argued, all comes from this source. and when we allow it to return to the source, and shut off our thinking for a bit, tremendous creative potential can be achieved. at least thats what david lynch and howard stern would lead you to believe.

awesome post, opifan.

jet approves

I'm curious though, since you have so much more insight into the area - do you feel psychotherapy really helps? Like, significantly more than talking to a good friend of reasonable intelligence (at an exorbitant price :)? after taking a clinical psych seminar i know for certain i don't have the skills to be a psychologist, though i never had the desire to be. that shit is way harder than it looks. my professor was amazing and i couldn't believe how great she was at listening to people, reading body cues, and reflecting back what they were saying and feeling and adding insight without pushing you. i think the class made me better at listening and reading people but i don't think it's a skill that just any friend can possess for someone who is going through hard times. there's a difference between talking about your (relatively) minor setbacks and problems to your friends and really experiencing emotional pain or issues that prevent you from having a (relatively) normal life.

additionally, if you have actual heavy problems it's a lot to put on a friend. it can strain a relationship or cause them stress instead of just alleviating yours. having an outside trained person helps because they aren't attached to you like that and you know that they don't have to just tell you things you want to hear

. Still I persisted that he try it and he did, even switching therapists twice, and though I had a feeling he did resolve to give it a honest try, the results were underwhelming to say the least. So did we just hit a bad batch or is it pretty hit-and-miss all around?

i haven't had a therapist myself but i think it's really important to find someone you can trust and have a good rapport with. you're entrusting so much personal information and you're not going to get anywhere if you don't feel comfortable with the person or if you are self-conscious. it's good to research the person or get a referral/recommendation if you can. it's too bad there's still a lot of social stigma associated with seeing a therapist, especially among men it seems. everyone goes through difficult periods in their lives and many people can benefit from seeing a therapist. can't find a link to it, but my clinical psych professor told us about a study that concluded that most people benefited in some way from therapy and no one in the study walked away harmed by it. i'll look for some studies regarding effectiveness of therapy when i get a chance.

i know you said this wasn't the case so much for your husband but there's this cheesy psych joke that actually rings pretty true.

q: how many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? a: just one, but it has to WANT to change.

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

Eric - that almost makes me want to take up meditation. Almost :)

It does make sense to me intuitively that the absence of everything would mean limitless potential. Maybe God is really the void that is allowing room for everything to be.

LOL, that lightbulb joke describes I think my husband's situation perfectly :)) Thankfully he got better all on his own. Or he's repressing it all and will kill us one day while we sleep. One or the other, I dunno :)

shirtflirt

y'know, there's no "bad" thing to meditation. at the VERY LEAST, you get an introspection into your own mind and the things it clings to and is easily able to let go...

introspection leads to stillness. stillness leads to infinity.

shirtflirt

and of course

infinity=now

Musarter
Musarter profile pic Alumni

Where did the idea of infinity come from? Everything is finite from the beginning to the end, from the beginning of time until the present. I guess our perception that things last past our own existence, or life, could seem infinite, in a sense, to us. Just something to consider.

shirtflirt

our consciousness has no beginning

shirtflirt

it certainly would seem that way, musarter, from our third dimensional positioning but there are more than three dimensions. arguably, the fourth is time. some argue there are up to 12 dimensions. i'm not sure we can either refute or accept that beyond believing it to be true as we have nothing to measure or "picture" what the f the twelve dimensions would be.

and historically, like the tao te ching, the vedas, and more philisophical "spiritual" texts all conceded there was no beginning. we created the beginning.

opifan64
opifan64 profile pic Alumni

celandinestern on Aug 02 '12 at 3:21am Eric - that almost makes me want to take up meditation. Almost :)

It does make sense to me intuitively that the absence of everything would mean limitless potential. Maybe God is really the void that is allowing room for everything to be.

That's a nice idea, and kind of what I was getting at. It's hard to talk about abstract things using concrete words, especially given the limits of language. I guess that's why zen koans use paradox to try to slip around language. Analyzed philosophically they are just semantic tricks or pseudo-contradiction but the intent is to surprise the mind towards enlightenment not direct it.

The funny thing is, I've never practiced meditation. I arrived at that mental state quite accidentally when I was younger and thought I had discovered something really cool and unique. I tried to revisit it today but I find myself unable to open that door anymore no matter how hard I try. It was always a fairly fragile mental state that would shimmer into existence like a bubble and then burst suddenly, rocketing me back to the temporal world in the blink of an eye. It would always begin with an intense but relaxed contemplation of reality. I would kind of surprise myself - that's the best way I can express it - with the strangeness of just being here (or of there be anything at all) and at a certain point time would drop away and there would be that feeling of "oneness" and timelessness. It was difficult to do, like catching the exact present moment and riding it like a wave with a mind cleared of an preconception or memory. The moment before you caught it was rather like when you repeat a word so many times that it sheds its linguistic underpinnings of meaning and just becomes a sound, except instead of a word it was the whole universe/reality.

opifan64
opifan64 profile pic Alumni

It would always begin with an intense but relaxed contemplation of reality. I would kind of surprise myself - that's the best way I can express it - with the strangeness of just being here (or of there be anything at all)

another way to express it is that I attempted to "wake up" into reality repeatedly as if I were just born into that exact present moment, and then wake up again in the next, until all the passing moments suddenly become a single moment, because you're moving in tandem with them, like when you step onto a merry-go-round and it's suddenly a stationary platform. sort of like what shirt was saying. it's tough to describe and sounds kind of goofy when you try.

shirtflirt

"The funny thing is, I've never practiced meditation. I arrived at that mental state quite accidentally when I was younger and thought I had discovered something really cool and unique. I tried to revisit it today but I find myself unable to open that door anymore no matter how hard I try."

this is "why" the language leading those towards "enlightenment" (which really is just a return to our original state) has to be paradoxical in nature bc each time there is a discovery.

the slippery thing is, sometimes you get in, sometimes you don't but it's still an experience. there is no fail with no ego.

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

I'm gonna quote the Hitch Hikers' Guide again.

The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy has this to say on the subject of flying:

There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying.

The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.

Pick a nice day, it suggests, and try it.

The first part is easy.

All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt.

That is, it's going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground.

Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really trying properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard.

Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.

One problem is that you have to miss the ground accidentally. It's no good deliberately intending to miss the ground because you won't. You have to have your attention suddenly distracted by something else when you're halfway there, so that you are no longer thinking about falling, or about the ground, or about how much it's going to hurt if you fail to miss it.

It is notoriously difficult to prise your attention away from these three things during the split second you have at your disposal. Hence most people's failure, and their eventual disillusionment with this exhilarating and spectacular sport.

If, however, you are lucky enough to have your attention momentarily distracted at the crucial moment by, say, a gorgeous pair of legs (tentacles, pseudopodia, according to phyllum and/or personal inclination) or a bomb going off in your vicinity, or by suddenly spotting an extremely rare species of beetle crawling along a nearby twig, then in your astonishment you will miss the ground completely and remain bobbing just a few inches above it in what might seem to be a slightly foolish manner.

This is a moment for superb and delicate concentration.

shirtflirt

that sounds awfully violent. i'm not sure what that's supposed to be an analogy or metaphor for.

shirtflirt

just wanted to share in light of this blog:

so my best bud in the whole world, known him since sixth grade, and i talked on the phone for almost four hours last night. it's been about 20 years since i've talked that long on a damn phone. anyway, he has found jesus and turned away from years of buddhist meditation, his experience with Toltec dreamwalkers, and various other "eastern" type spiritual excercises in favor of christianity.

i found it interesting that, in light of the supernatural event that was jesus rising from the dead, along with he being the father son and holy spirit, were solidifying evidence in light of the millions of other "supernatural" or unexplainable events that occur during one's life.

i asked him about certain ideas that christians have and listened to his experiences and studies. i was stunned, really, bc it sounds like what he was essentially looking for was a teacher, and in with buddhism there are lessons, but not necessarily a manual or book to refer to for all of life's nuances, so to speak.

he's also shifted over the tea party and is going to vote mitt romney. someone in this blog said "people don't change" and i'll go tit for tat with that statement bc in my experience, nothing is further from the truth.

and that's what we're all after, right?

jmeaspls
jmeaspls profile pic Alumni

he's also shifted over the tea party and is going to vote mitt romney.

AHAHAHAHAHA

shirtflirt

yeah....i know

i think i may have at the very least, gotten him to do a quick wikipedia on gary johnson, just to bring him back closer to reality

shirtflirt

i have a question for nathan specifically

so after talking with my friend, i mentioned, and thinking about things, im wondering why the first 33 years of jesus' life are omitted from the bible? and, is the bible a necessary proponent to being a 'true' or 'good' christian? i don't mean sarcasm by the quotes, just don't know of a better word. my interpretation of the omission, after being told in catholic school that "they just didn't know what he was doing besides carpentry" always felt like...um...so you have NO idea of your lord and saviors LIFE but only a few things here and there, some miracles, mostly supernatural things, what about the nuts and bolts? like, when he was studying the cabbalah and the local mystics began chastising him for being too young, too crazy, etc...

hopefully you see this, i know you'll have a response worth reading.

celandinestern
celandinestern profile pic Alumni

I mentioned a book called Lamb by Christopher Moore - it actually tries to tackle (in a very light-hearted and sometimes pretty goofy way) that very question, i.e. it provides you with its idea of what the first 33 years were like. I found it a fun read, mostly just for bringing up the issue, and making you imagine stuff like what Jesus was like as a three year old, or as a ten year old - did he get into trouble, how did his mom treat him, did he have friends, what games did he like... when did he realise that he was the son of God.... How did he come to grips with it...

shirtflirt

oh...thats a fun read.

there's actual documentation of jesus' life. he was not the only son of god, at that time, neitehr before or after, either. he is the christian's son of god, as the name would state obviously. it's precariously not talked about because, when he was born, he was the son of god and didn't realize, i agree with that book. but he came to realize he was the son of god and this took a process, a living, a series of experiences...

i'll stop there. i hope nathan comes back.

shirtflirt

had my first talk with my 4 yr old son about god last night and it was pretty awesome kids, in that way, are the best

opifan64
opifan64 profile pic Alumni

I think this blog affected my dreams. I had a dream the other night where I had access to a super computer. Apparently you could ask it anything so I asked it what happened when you died. It answered "you fall into the black ink that writes the universe". Then I woke up!

Tonteau
Tonteau profile pic Alumni

shirtflirt on Aug 04 '12 at 3:45pm i have a question for nathan specifically

so after talking with my friend, i mentioned, and thinking about things, im wondering why the first 33 years of jesus' life are omitted from the bible? and, is the bible a necessary proponent to being a 'true' or 'good' christian? i don't mean sarcasm by the quotes, just don't know of a better word.


Hi Shirt,

Jesus was crucified at about the age of 33, his first 30 years don't get a great deal of writing, but they're not completely omitted. At the beginning of Luke, for example, Jesus is presented at the temple as a baby to Simeon. And is also mentioned as going to the temple in Jerusalem aged 12 after the passover feast when his parents head home and forget him. He spends 3 days there and asks a lot of questions. When his family come back to find him, he tells them that he had to be in his father's house.

At about 30 Jesus is baptised, receives the holy spirit and starts teaching, and doing miracles. That's probably why that part has most written about it.

Yeah, the Bible is (or should be) very important to Christians. If Christians knew it better they'd probably act a lot different.

parallelish
parallelish profile pic Alumni

Yeah, the Bible is (or should be) very important to Christians. If Christians knew it better they'd probably act a lot different

some of them would (and have) become atheist.

Tonteau
Tonteau profile pic Alumni

parallelish on Aug 06 '12 at 1:20pm Yeah, the Bible is (or should be) very important to Christians. If Christians knew it better they'd probably act a lot different

some of them would (and have) become atheist.


Yep. But equally some of them would change the world. It's not an easy gospel to follow.

shirtflirt

""you fall into the black ink that writes the universe". Then I woke up! "

you were given an answer :)

shirtflirt

thanks tont!

so between 12 and 30 there's very little huh?

seems like that could be some juicy stuff

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