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Trying to figure out…

July 13, 2010

I’m trying to figure out what it means to see evidence of God in a baby being born.

I’m trying to figure out what it means to see God in the way that trees grow.

I’m trying to figure out what it means when people say they have a “relationship with” Jesus.

I’m trying to figure out what it means when people say “the scriptures are relevant to my worldview.”

I’m trying to figure out what it means to have an answer to a prayer.

I’m trying to figure out what it means to have faith.

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  1. What it means to you or what it means to them?

    I suppose it just depends on your point of view. TO me a baby being born isn’t in any way evidence of gods, but rather evidence of wholly naturalistic processes and natural evolution. I don’t see anything supernatural in nature. It’s oxymoronic to me.

    “I’m trying to figure out what it means to have faith.”

    To me it means stubbornly clinging to prejudiced and wrong ideas in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence, or total lack of evidence. To me, it’s one of humanity’s worst vices.

  2. What it means to them. I already know what these things mean to me (a void, a blank, a black box…absolutely nothing), but what I can’t figure out is what these things mean to someone who is truly moved and motivated by these things.

    To me as well, a baby being born isn’t in any way evidence of gods, but that’s why I’m curious about other people. How is it that what seems wholly natural to me can be one of the strongest evidences for the supernatural to someone else? That is what I’m trying to figure out.

    I think it’s too easy to say — and doesn’t really do justice to the idea — to wave others’ experiences as being irrational and therefore unworthy of pondering. I think it’s too easy to see the vices of these things or to say that people are unaware of the harmful nature of certain attitudes…but I don’t think such a conclusion does just to the fact that as many people experience, faith is a positive, uplifting, motivating factor.

    I guess I have to make a comparison: from inside the church, I had to grapple with the idea that people could be so happy and satisfied outside of the church, or outside of religion in general. But now, I feel like I never truly understood how people are so happy and satisfied inside these things, which is certainly also a reality for many.

  3. It’s all about the different assumptions. People who believe or assume that there is a god and that reality is fundamentally built upon supernatural things like sin and righteousness and cosmic meaning and an afterlife will see that reflected in the natural world. They assume a totally different set of causes and so when the see results assume something else caused them than those who assume totally natural causes to all results.

    I never myself figured out what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus/god. That’s one of the things I never felt I had as a theist (unlike all the other things you mentioned).

  4. But that’s the thing…what does it mean…what does it feel like…how do people get to the psychological state when they assume there is a god?

  5. I have no idea how you’d go from not believing to believing. I was just brainwashed into theism. It was never a concious choice to believe, and I think that’s true for most theists. They’re born into an environment where theism is just assumed, and they never really end up questioning that assumption because in a lot of ways, society supports that assumption. I became an atheist and sceptic because I was forced by uncontrollable circumstances to really question all of my assumptions, including the assumption of the existence of a god and the supernatural. Other people also question, but never end up dismissing theism for whatever reason – often because they have too much to lose, or they fear imaginary consequences of a life without theism.

    And secondly, I think that a lot of people prefer theism because it feeds into our natural selfish tendency to think we’re special and the centre of the universe. Acknowledging that we’re completely insignificant and that there is no cosmic meaning to existence is too harsh for some.

    As for what it feels like to be a theist – it depends on the person. I never liked it. It was authoritarian, rigid, and full of guilt and fear which certainly made it easier for me to leave once I no longer believed in the assumption of god.

  6. I don’t know about that, man. I don’t think it is true that most theists are “brainwashed” it.

    For example, I guess I’m just now putting my experience against yours, but being in an environment where others assumed theism did not make it convincing to me. It’s just that…I had to come to realize that most other people weren’t just playing a role — they were actually believing that stuff. Only then could I think, “Well then, why don’t I believe that?” But being in the environment didn’t make it any more believable to me.

    What is it about the same experience that causes some people to see authoritarianism, rigidity, guilt and fear…while other people can look at the same thing and see safe boundaries, stability, happiness and inspiration?

    I mean, it might seem like a matter of taste, but most people look at it very differently from a mere difference in tastes or preferences.

  7. I said I was brainwashed (because that’s how it felt). For others I was just talking about them being born into it and/or brought up to believe it.

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