Religion, faith, spirituality...

Gagi

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I'm wondering, what are your views on these? How were you brought up and is it any different from what you believe in now - and why do you believe in it anyway, what are the reasons and why do you think your choice is the only/best one? And so forth...

Arguments are allowed, as long as they are constructive. Hate will get you banned...and maybe you'll end up in hell as well, if that's what you believe in.

Also, please do not try to preach any sort of gospel here and try to convert people. This is about listening to other people and their viewpoints.
 
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Magnevi

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I was raised with christianity. Not very strict per se. Not going to the church every week, although regularly. Not really reading from the bible regularly at home. But we did "pray" before dinner. Which was waiting with my eyes open for me.

I also went to a christian school. Both a christian primary school (age 4-11), and the one after that (age 12-17). Both were similar to my home situation. Not very strict. Religion was one of the subjects, but it was also about other religions. It was showing what's going on in the world. Not showing what one should do. So it wasn't very narrow-minded I guess. I never had a problem with it. There was an openly lesbian teacher as well, so that shows the school wasn't too bad.

I was pretty much never religious myself. At least since I started thinking around age 11/12/13. Around that time I stopped going to church. My parents didn't really make a big fight out of that. They just thought it was boring for a child, and it was my own decision anyway.

Being gay probably was a big factor in leaving christianity. But I think I would have stopped with it anyway. Simply because I don't think it makes sense to go a (sometimes rather nicely build) church and sing to some supreme creature that is supposed to have created it all. Above that their conservative stance on various points I don't agree with. If there would be a god, as in the one from the bible, I'm pretty sure he sees his little humanity-project as "failed". Can't imagine him being proud or satisfied with the "christians" that are supposed to be his followers. He's probably embarrassed.

So what do I believe? Well I believe nothing. Because I think we can't know. And it's a bit strange for me to believe in something you don't know. I like facts. That's why I prefer to replace the word "believe" with "hope". Because I do hope there is something more than just life on earth here and now. Not just because life ends, and death is a sad eternal end of you. But also more in a practical way. If it's all just coicendence, that seems stupid to me. A waste of space, time and energy. So mostly out of practical perspective, it would make sense to me if there's something....
 
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Gagi

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As for me, my dad, thankfully, when it was time for me to be Christened/baptized, said he would let me decide when I turn 18 whether I want to do it or not. He didn't want to force anything on me - neither belief nor the lack of it. He wasn't religious at all, but he also wasn't anti-religious. He was anti-forcing religions upon someone. He answered all of my questions on religion almost diplomatically.

So that's one of the reasons I'm not religious now. I had a couple of moments when I did want to become a priest when I grow up (I was 6) because the girl I liked had a father who was a priest. But I did tell her I was not religious even at the age of 6. Later on, in my ultra-patriotic years, I was also thinking I was religious, but it passed quite quickly.

But then again, I grew up where religion is closely tied to nationality - almost all of my friends say you can't be a Serb and not be Orthodox Christian. Traditions - pointless, superstitious, paganistic (for real though!) or otherwise - are the main focus of the religion, but there's not a lot of spirituality and morality. The cynic in me sees all these traditions as something that goes far away from the actual religion.

Case in point - on Christmas Eve, people in my village drink on the streets, shoot guns and improvised "devices", ride horses, etc. Every family also has a patron saint who "protects" their home. So every year, you celebrate your patron saint by inviting family and friends to eat until your belt snaps in half and drink until you're under the table. Now what's the point of that, in the context of Christianity? (Fun fact: This exact custom was ordinary even before Serbs accepted Christianity - we only celebrated Slavic gods instead of Christian saints.)

One of the other gripes I have with religion is that you need to have a religious upbringing in order to be religious. It almost can't be otherwise - you can't just "find Jesus" (or whomever else) if someone in your family or surroundings doesn't teach you how to think that way. I see myself, and I don't have any faith, but I wasn't taught to. The same way you learn language when you're young, the same way you are learned religion. The brain just soaks it up, without any place for critical thinking.

And the final gripe I have is the Church. Apart from being very vulnerable to corruption and bad apples, it also, to me, seems completely unnecessary. Why do you need it to pray, to believe? Why do you need to give money to it? Why do the high-ranking individuals get driven in blacked-out Audis when a lot of their "fanbase" is poor and still gives money to them? Plus, there's politics. Popes and Patriarchs are very powerful individuals, politically, because they often have support from the majority of a country's (or world) population. They weren't strangers to war-mongering (and even helping war criminals) across history, even up to recent times. And then there's the everlasting bigotry (women have to enter any church from the other entrance here), which seems to be changing but rather slowly for the times. You manipulate so much people into believing in a doctrine that's very outdated (thousands of years old), instead of using the power to bring unity and love to all. Imagine that!



In my early 20s I started discovering astrophysics, I also love history and have always loved science in general, so the fact that we're just not special at all was just mindblowing to me. The pale blue dot monologue still resonates very much with me. We're just not special, and I don't, and can't, believe in intelligent design or a God or something that is supernatural. I'm in awe of the laws of nature, physics etc.


But lately I discovered Jordan B. Peterson's thoughts on religion, read some books, became interested in philosophy and tried to think a bit on that matter, and the only thing I can say about God is that I think it exists, but was entirely made up by people. Read this quote below (taken not directly from Dostoevsky, but from one of his characters).

“The object of every national movement, in every people and at every period of its existence is only the seeking for its god, who must be its own god, and the faith in Him as the only true one. God is the synthetic personality of the whole people, taken from its beginning to its end. It has never happened that all, or even many, peoples have had one common god, but each has always had its own. It's a sign of the decay of nations when they begin to have gods in common. When gods begin to be common to several nations the gods are dying and the faith in them, together with the nations themselves. The stronger a people the more individual their God. There never has been a nation without a religion, that is, without an idea of good and evil. Every people has its own conception of good and evil, and its own good and evil. When the same conceptions of good and evil become prevalent in several nations, then these nations are dying, and then the very distinction between good and evil is beginning to disappear.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Demons

That's more or less what I think is true. God is just a collection of morals of people, and at the same time, the perfect being to which we look up and want to mimic. Heaven and Hell are right here, right now, not in the "afterlife".

To suffer terribly and to know yourself as the cause? That is hell.
― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life

These thoughts seemed a bit personally groundbreaking, and every time I encounter any religious thought, I am able to analyze it through this context, instead of a purely superstitious one. I can understand religion - at least the Judeo-Christian one (haven't really studied the others), and I can understand why some people would want something like this in their lives. To me this transcends belief, and is not even faith, not even spirituality. It's just how our minds work, given that they were shaped by thousands of years of belief in something which couldn't be seen. That's why we have Orthodox Christian traditions that are paganistic in its origins. That's why we have religion that differs slightly from the one in other countries with Orthodox Christianity. The customs aren't the same.

And lastly, I've been listening to Kendrick Lamar (who, even though he's a loon for saying Jesus put him on Earth for an important task, is still a great rapper with incredible insight). And I understand what he means when he says he's dying of thirst, or when he answers How Much a Dollar Cost?, and it's this belief that there's something more and bigger than yourself, more than pain and suffering... To me, this is ok, and sometimes I wish I had a bit of that. But then again, I quickly dispense of the superstitious stuff when I see it. It's still pointless to me.
 
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LostLegend

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I went to a Catholic school, although my family aren't/weren't religious really apart from my grandparents.

It was more of a case of going to the same school as some of my other family and friends did.
Religious schools in England are strange, in that they don't really push the religious side of things. It's very much a 'take it or leave it' approach.

In fact, the mandatory 'Religious Education' lessons we had (at GCSE level no less) were actually pretty good. There was some discussion on the Bible etc.
but a lot of it ended up as an ethics class. We discussed things like abortion and euthanasia, but were never pushed towards an opinion and allowed to make our own decisions. Ironically, I think it's these classes that pushed me towards being more skeptical and eventually atheism.

The negative aspect of it all was their approach to LGBTQ people. It was completely glossed over in sex ed, and homophobia was completely ignored.
There were a couple of openly gay lads in my year and seeing them relentlessly bullied likely attributed to my difficulties in coming out as gay myself in later life.
I still feel somewhat ashamed for not speaking out at the time.

I went pretty hardcore into atheism in my 20's and was very much anti-religion for a time, but I've mellowed out my views a lot as I've gotten older.
I'm very much of the thought now that if your beliefs bring you comfort, positivity, happiness and you are not using them to single out/be prejudiced or force your beliefs on to others, then it is not my business to tell you otherwise. :giggle:
 
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Gagi

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I went pretty hardcore into atheism in my 20's and was very much anti-religion for a time, but I've mellowed out my views a lot as I've gotten older.
I'm very much of the thought now that if your beliefs bring you comfort, positivity, happiness and you are not using them to single out/be prejudiced or force your beliefs on to others, then it is not my business to tell you otherwise.
Nice post mate, completely agree on this. I was a bit more hardcore as an atheist throughout my teens and early 20s as well, but have since mellowed out and started trying to understand others. Why I made this thread.
 
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Recharge

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Let me tell you a little story
One that's so short and sweet.

My mom is a very very strong believer(very, very+), to the point that she is superstitious beyond believe. We are orthodox Christians. She never forced me or was strict, she did her thing and let me do my thing. I still don't know how she let me. I am baptized but that is just a bath for me. I participated in everything possible, but she knows that I don't believe in it. I believe in science, evolution, alien life(maybe/probably). I also believe that there are some forces in the universe that we do not understand. Is there god - idk. Are those forces a part of divine being/consciousness - idk. But still I will never blindly believe or follow something that might or might not be existent without a prove.
 
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Exodom

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As a young boy I quickly decided 'there is no God'. When you die it's blackness; a material view. It doesn't help that the religious texts don't make sense, like the age of the earth (6000 years?) and our every expanding knowledge of the universe like its size. It's only a matter of time before we find life and maybe intelligent. It doesn't fit with the christian idea of God does it (or the others).

But then I have changed slightly. I went from realising I don't know anything about anything, and thats the only logical position to take. It's to complicated to believe we could know everything and actually you find a lot of similarities across all the religions, almost like they actually agree but got separated over time. I became 'Agnostic'

And now today I have made a final change. I believe there may be a God or Creator, but not one by the rules set by human defined religions. We perhaps have different plains of existence and reality and energy and maybe by some definition you could call these Gods. Psychedelics also open a lot in this perspective. It sounds cliche but you really do become 'one' with everything when you have those experience. You can see it, feel it, know it. Again all the religions share similarities regarding this. I think they are all talking about the same thing. Science may even be starting to prove some strange things concerning NDE. It's all getting very interesting.
 

jetflag

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So. Apologies for the use of vague terms and difficult language, not doing so would make this 1 cent even longer.

I see religions, All religions & their potential God(s) as essentially a collection of myths/stories, memes if you will, evolved over time through trial and error to avoid traps in reality and/or improve the wellbeing of the group and/or the individual. Virtually every one of them has a (set of) platonic form(s) as the ultimate goal for its adherents to strive towards, and consequently a (set of) counterparts to avoid. (Naraka v nirvana, Heaven vs Hell, etc.) these forms can be both impermanent as eternal, depending on the religion in question, usually if not all the time accompanied by a central figure acting as a defacto judge or teacher. (Aswell as being accompanied by sacred liminal spaces and their guardians. ) each religion or belief system follows these characteristics, (including Atheistic one’s such as Buddhism or Taoïsm)

How I see these systems of belief in relation to the human condition ?

these systems of making sense of past, future and present in relation to the self and others, are an integral, essential and practically necessary function of the human condition (imvhuio)
Whether or not the pull towards a system like that is small or large depends on the individual, but with the odd exceptions of for instance psychopaths, each human in its weltanschauung has a tie to and acts on, via the world around him, one of these systems (note, they don’t necessarily have to involve a “God” either) evolved over time. Human beings are hardwired group animals who, thanks to our evolved neo-cortex have simply become too complex brainwise to return to pure animalistic “in the moment” behavior and concepts like “tomorrow”, “yesterday” and “group” are unavoidable mental constructs at this stage of our evolution.

What is noteworthy, especially when looking at what happened in the mid/late 20th century, is that if you take away the inplace system either voluntarily or by dictate, eventually a substitute or substitutes will arise from (for example) “god” to “utopia for humanity” Or something similar. But the idea of “just get rid of it” seems futile especially on a societal level. Your position in the world and your moral compass is at the very least partially shaped by these systems. This is what Jordan Peterson, to continue with Gagi’s aforementioned for a sec, means with “you act out your Christianity” when confronting say, an atheist who sais he does not believe in Christ or his teachings, but still acts well within the bounds of their virtue.

The alternative seems to be (imvhuio again) aimlessly seeking empty liminoid/hedonistic experiences eventually leading do some form of depression or (self) destructive behaviour, at least for the individual. Ask any self professed nihilist who doesn’t excessively engage in that long enough about what he/she values and sooner or later some (platonic) ideale will pop up, despite them trying to down-play it on the spot when confronted with it. Tl;dr No man is an island (aforementioned exceptions aside)

How do these systems according to moi relate to other systems that we utilize to make sense of our surroundings/world?

So, if you take the Kantian esq perspective of a world in which multiple forms or categories exist.

In the physical, material world, Natural philosophy or, “Science” rules supreme, relying, much like religion, on a methodology of trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t in the (physical) realm.

In the world of ideas and metaphysics though, not so much. Because despite valiant efforts by the likes of Sam Harris, Science can only tell you which things (physically) damage or improve you and in that sense harm or improve your well-being. It can’t tell you how to be happy, it can’t tell you how to be moral. And its efforts to do so have been basically banal to say the best of it.
The scientific method is simply ill equipped for that as a tool and if you want a great example of what happens when you go full science without anything else to complement that in terms of a pre-setup moral framework. I kindly refer you to a mr Mengele. Scientifically, abortion is no problem complete 100% green light, Is it morally though? That, at the very least is highly subjective.

another interresting noteworthy both data driven aswell as from personal experience. the succes of pure scientific treatments of mental conditions like depression who, often, deal with things like a person's (mental) world view (so things like prozac, temazepans or other anti depressants) are often not very succesfull in the very long run, at least on their own. The maximum succesrate of a patients treatment is acchieved by therapy, mentally confronting the "inner demons" and/or adopting a (new) mode thinking/acting, which you could classify as a system of belief (and action).


Bret Wienstein’s has a poignant note on this and why the question on whether or not something is proven, scientific or even contradictory is wholly irrelevant when it comes to religion, or belief systems.



The new Atheist movement has in my opinion failed since it hasn’t addressed this part of the human condition properly if at all. It brushed away complex question of existence and meaning as “well just lay on your back and gaze at the stars once in a while to have a spiritual experience” not realizing that this, like say a holiday, is a completely liminoid experience/ space without an overarching narrative such as “is there a heaven out there?” “does Allah smile down on me? “ or “some day we’ll build a real communist galactic space utopia!” or whatever have you.

I’m of the opinion that “religion” or belief systems are a practical necessity and inevitable for the humanity and as such will never disappear. “Memeradicate” one, and another will take its place. Further more I don’t see “designer” systems such as Humanism or Scientology as valid competitors (yet) since they haven’t stood the test of time, but that’s an aside.

Personal note:

I’m baptized, but was raised in a very liberal Christian household. We wheren’t avid church goers, got swooped into the new atheist movement and though all religion stupid because no matter how high we sought. God wasn’t there. And have since come to the (personal) conclusion that people are looking for god in the wrong places like say, “the universe” I have found my own call it “ietist” form of God in the lowest places. And ever since do long longer consider myself Atheist.

my 1 cent. I honestly hope I haven’t dunning krugert it. somewhere along the way, then again i might have. so do with that what you will and take it with a grain of salt
 
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Gagi

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I think our thoughts are more or less aligned (or shaped by similar sources) on this particular topic.

What do you say about traditions within religions, the superstition, the Church, the priests, popes, patriarchs etc? I mean the real, physical (not moral) "acting out" of religion.

As a cynical guy, I can't overlook that since it's a very big part of religions and religiousness and belief. Not everyone can or does think about it on this abstract level, and that is a fact. I see it all the time here. Some fast because they were taught that by their elders, some fast because the church calendar says so, and believe if they don't, something bad can happen, but how many do fast because they want to practice simpler living, abstinence and whatnot? Is just the action enough or does it need a proper reason to justify it?
 
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jetflag

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Short answer: They are essentially necessary. Despite them being, like al things human, susceptible to corruption.

Long answer: I recommend having a look @ the following works for a more indepth look in relation as to why religions/systems of belief on a psychological level require clearly defined Sacred Spaces such as Churches or Temples or "the Cave of Spirits" or “The secret garden of the mind” etc. and consequently rituals and more importantly ritual leaders and why they are essential and defacto “unmissable” for a religion to function (properly)

The Archetype of Initiation by Moore,
Sacred and Profane by Eliade,
and Turners, The ritual Process.

These works go into depth regarding the premodern (tribal) principles at the foundation of (every) religion(s) and how they relate to the human psyche, even our modern one.

Basically, the primairy function of a priest, reverend, imam, druide if you will is to initate and guide individuals, via rituals distinctly different from the actions inherent to the other, mundane part of an initiate/individuals existence, into what Moore describes as the aforementioned Sacred space, which is an archetypical form who, unlike Profane Space, (which is what the overwhealming majority of the world consists of) is ontologically different and enables quote on quote "true" transformation (On a physchological level) for the initiate/individual venturing there.

Its different in the sense that it has, among which, a clear centre, direction and (guarded) boundaries. These kinds of “true” liminal spaces. Truly transformative spaces defined by clear, sacred boundaries in the sense that tribal people used it for personal tranformations. always have ritual leaders.

now this, to quote Moore, is difficult for the average 20th century individual to get a grasp on since: “Modern persons find this notion difficult to perceive because they have been so Exiled from an authentically spiritual or religious understanding of the human experience. Modern, secularized individuals typically think that no true center realy exists, and profane space becomes for them a formidable yet meaningless expanse, that is fundamentally unreal” unquote.

however the human psyche and its cocktail of "needs" if you will, in order to sustain and thrive (as we're seeing in the world all around us and even here in topics like "how we used to live") just isn't content with just existing without that, despite all the modern comfort and technologies and you name it.
 
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Gagi

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Bit too much psycho/philosophical/religious babble in there but I get your point, yeah, nice arguments there.
 
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jetflag

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Bit too much psycho/philosophical/religious babble in there but I get your point, yeah, nice arguments there.
i recommend reading the aforementioned works. its impossible to succinctly summerize the main premises & conclusions in this format :)
 
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Hensmon

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see religions, All religions & their potential God(s) as essentially a collection of myths/stories, memes if you will, evolved over time through trial and error to avoid traps in reality and/or improve the wellbeing of the group and/or the individual.

I was thinking about this perspective recently and how it's been kind of popularized by Peterson. I agree with the sentiment that the Bible (and other religious texts) are essentially a huge human psychology tomes, told essentially via a great story and myth.

But couldnt you say the same for any literature from the 20th century? Or Movies form the 90's? Video games? All use collective storytelling with identical themes, morals, archetypes found in the bible. It's all a deep dive into the human psyche. Couldn't someone in 2000 years look back at our period now and extract the same kind of knowledge from the material we created?
 
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Gagi

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I was thinking about this perspective recently and how it's been kind of popularized by Peterson. I agree with the sentiment that the Bible (and other religious texts) are essentially a huge human psychology tomes, told essentially via a great story and myth.

But couldnt you say the same for any literature from the 20th century? Or Movies form the 90's? Video games? All use collective storytelling with identical themes, morals, archetypes found in the bible. It's all a deep dive into the human psyche. Couldn't someone in 2000 years look back at our period now and extract the same kind of knowledge from the material we created?
I would hate to speculate on a book I haven't read, but I would assume that most what was made after borrows from The Bible (think Harry Potter), as The Bible expanded on the knowledge of human nature, psychology and religion that was known at the point(s) of its creation. The Western civilization in particular was shaped by Judeo-Christianity, so much so that we sort of automatically know what's wrong and what's not; we don't need to read The Bible, it's almost engraved in each and every one of us, shaped unconsciously by our surroundings.

The pre-Christian religions are also quite fascinating to think about, even Epic of Gilgamesh has some great insights even though it was written over 4000 years ago.

Would be careful about Peterson - even though I respect him and often like to hear his opinions on this sort of stuff, his theories do have some blind spots.
 
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Hensmon

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@Gagi - Peterson is not really proposing any type of theory here, just pointing out a different perspective and value in the religious texts, and I completely agree with that insight. However I do remember him using it as a sort of justification when debating Sam Harris as to not 'throw the baby out with the bathwater' when Sam suggested the world would be better off without religion.

But I'm wondering if actually those stories and value are really that unique to the Bible alone, and if our own stories outside of the vector of religion are just as valuable and teaching. The stories of the last 250 for example might show the same psychological depth, but without pushing ideological view points and making us believe in Gods and their archaic rules. No one has gone to war over Harry Potter or Lord Of The Rings, ha!

Joeseph Cambell showed that stories and archetypes are mimicked all over the world, from ancient time periods. Jung would tell us archetypes have a somewhat biological emergence. This would imply the psychological meaning from stories of the world have origins beyond of the jedeo-christian christian influence.
 
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Gagi

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Peterson is not really proposing any type of theory here
Yeah I was referring to his theories with religion in general - he once said that the Ancient Greek gods were gods of what controls us - war (Ares), love & passion (Aphrodite) and so on, but then he forgets about most of the other gods, such as Hephaestus, Apollo etc.

In any case, I think you can ask him that. Maybe someone already has?
 
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