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Author Topic: General/Non-Specific: Struggling with Belief of all kinds  (Read 534 times)

EveRequiem

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Struggling with Belief of all kinds
« on: January 26, 2019, 03:35:47 am »
Hello, I'm new here on this forum so please bear with me

I've dabbled in different religions all my life. I was raised Christian, spent plenty of time as an atheist, and have had some pagan practices earlier in my life as well. However, I've always struggled with actually believing in something (atheism excluded of course because it is simply a lack of belief). I fell out of Christianity for my personal issues with some of its teachings from a moral perspective, and out of paganism because I just couldn't get over the fact that I couldn't find any hard scientific proof to back any of my practices.

What I struggled with, though, was enjoying being pagan. I liked the stronger connection to nature and to my own thoughts it gave me, and how it encouraged me to learn and work with my hands. I really wanted a deeper connection with some god (I never got as far as deciding on a pantheon or specific god/ess to devote myself to) but I just couldn't believe they were real. It doesn't make sense to me that there was some supernatural force specially devoted to humans or this planet or even this plane of existence as we know it. I just really want to believe in something, to have something to anchor my thoughts and practices in.

I am wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar, or how others rationalize scientific facts with spirituality, in any ways that personally satisfy them. I wonder if I am being childish in wanting to believe something instead of only relying on hard "scientific facts" to guide me, as I have before.

I also want to emphasize that I do not mean the juxtaposition between science and spirituality and my personal struggle with it to be offensive to anybody's views or practices. I'm looking for personal thoughts, wisdom, any advice that someone that has been through any sort of similar struggle can give me.

Thank you.

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Re: Struggling with Belief of all kinds
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2019, 04:22:45 am »
Hello, I'm new here on this forum so please bear with me

I've dabbled in different religions all my life. I was raised Christian, spent plenty of time as an atheist, and have had some pagan practices earlier in my life as well. However, I've always struggled with actually believing in something (atheism excluded of course because it is simply a lack of belief). I fell out of Christianity for my personal issues with some of its teachings from a moral perspective, and out of paganism because I just couldn't get over the fact that I couldn't find any hard scientific proof to back any of my practices.

What I struggled with, though, was enjoying being pagan. I liked the stronger connection to nature and to my own thoughts it gave me, and how it encouraged me to learn and work with my hands. I really wanted a deeper connection with some god (I never got as far as deciding on a pantheon or specific god/ess to devote myself to) but I just couldn't believe they were real. It doesn't make sense to me that there was some supernatural force specially devoted to humans or this planet or even this plane of existence as we know it. I just really want to believe in something, to have something to anchor my thoughts and practices in.

I am wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar, or how others rationalize scientific facts with spirituality, in any ways that personally satisfy them. I wonder if I am being childish in wanting to believe something instead of only relying on hard "scientific facts" to guide me, as I have before.

I also want to emphasize that I do not mean the juxtaposition between science and spirituality and my personal struggle with it to be offensive to anybody's views or practices. I'm looking for personal thoughts, wisdom, any advice that someone that has been through any sort of similar struggle can give me.

Thank you.

My first question, before I offer any other advice: what exactly is it you want here? Do you want to learn how to believe in some kind of divine power even though you feel a scientific worldview argues against it? Or are you perfectly happy not believing in any of that and more interested in the practices of modern paganism?
"The peacock can show its whole tail at once, but I can only tell you a story."
--JAMES ALAN GARDNER

arete

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Re: Struggling with Belief of all kinds
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2019, 08:46:26 am »
Hello, I'm new here on this forum so please bear with me

I've dabbled in different religions all my life. I was raised Christian, spent plenty of time as an atheist, and have had some pagan practices earlier in my life as well. However, I've always struggled with actually believing in something (atheism excluded of course because it is simply a lack of belief). I fell out of Christianity for my personal issues with some of its teachings from a moral perspective, and out of paganism because I just couldn't get over the fact that I couldn't find any hard scientific proof to back any of my practices.

What I struggled with, though, was enjoying being pagan. I liked the stronger connection to nature and to my own thoughts it gave me, and how it encouraged me to learn and work with my hands. I really wanted a deeper connection with some god (I never got as far as deciding on a pantheon or specific god/ess to devote myself to) but I just couldn't believe they were real. It doesn't make sense to me that there was some supernatural force specially devoted to humans or this planet or even this plane of existence as we know it. I just really want to believe in something, to have something to anchor my thoughts and practices in.

I am wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar, or how others rationalize scientific facts with spirituality, in any ways that personally satisfy them. I wonder if I am being childish in wanting to believe something instead of only relying on hard "scientific facts" to guide me, as I have before.

I also want to emphasize that I do not mean the juxtaposition between science and spirituality and my personal struggle with it to be offensive to anybody's views or practices. I'm looking for personal thoughts, wisdom, any advice that someone that has been through any sort of similar struggle can give me.

Thank you.
Hello  :)

The universe is impossible to exist without Gods.

Take Gravity and Time. They are compatible. They also have their own logic. Both follow rules. Gods made the rules. Gravity and Time DO NOT exist for their own sake. Atheism and atheists are against sense, atheism is completely irrational.

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Re: Struggling with Belief of all kinds
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2019, 09:27:43 am »
I'm looking for personal thoughts, wisdom, any advice that someone that has been through any sort of similar struggle can give me.

Thank you.

Hello, EveRequiem. I come at this from a different perspective than everyone else on this board, as I am both a practicing Christian and, at least in most areas, a Fundamentalist. The difference is that most fundamentalists are largely repeating what other fundamentalists before them have taught. I acknowledge and respect that, but I go back to what the writers of Scripture actually said...not what some theologian says that they meant. And, along the way, I've had the rare privilege of experiencing the Christian God at close range. Like, arm's length. I know I can't prove that to you and I'm not even going to try...but you're not going to have much luck convincing me otherwise.

The first thing I note is your statement:

I am wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar, or how others rationalize scientific facts with spirituality, in any ways that personally satisfy them. I wonder if I am being childish in wanting to believe something instead of only relying on hard "scientific facts" to guide me, as I have before.

It sounds as if you've already made up your mind that the empirical, observable world is the "reality", and that spiritual concepts have to be shoehorned into it in whatever tiny gaps remain open within it. I, on the other hand, made my choice many years ago, while still a child, that I what I really believed was the Bible, and that the notions of dinosaurs and such had to be shoehorned into that. So, in my case, my challenge is how to rationalize empirical scientific observations with Scriptural fact. There was a dichotomy for a while,  but eventually it resolved. And beautifully so. Now I have a much easier time reconciling any branch of real science with literal scripture...and with no magical "hand-waving"...than those with an empiricist mindset have in reconciling recorded instances of the miraculous with their preferred world view.

Thought exercise: Let's just suppose that some scientist is conducting an experiment, building up a set of data points. He has a run of a hundred different sets to conduct, all just a little bit different. From the invisible world, an angel is watching him, and she's bored. When he gets to run #77, she decides to "prank him". The results of the run end up way out of alignment with the others, and he's astonished. He checks his equipment; it's working perfectly. He repeats the run...but she doesn't repeat her prank; this was a practical joke, not a serious attempt at communication. This time, the results end up as expected. He repeats run #77 twice more, same conditions; both end up with the same results as 77B. What does he do, believe that some supernatural being has intervened within his laboratory...or write #77A off as a spoiled observation? And if he chooses the latter, keeping in mind the assumptions of our thought exercise, has he just moved closer to or further away from the Truth?

You see, underlying assumptions do matter. If you make Carl Sagan's a priori assumption...
Quote
The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.
...but in doing so you exclude what we commonly regard as the "supernatural" from consideration, then do you or do you not have a true picture of "all that is or ever was or ever will be?"

One final consideration, especially from the point of my worldview: There is a lot of active deception out there, and on both sides of the divide. It is a very real risk for some spiritual being to open up to you and contact you. On THEIR part. If you're indecisive, don't expect much. Those face-to-face encounters with my God which I spoke of? Well, they began all the way back in 1980, a few years after I made my decision to trust Scripture over all...but it was 1999 before I even began to suspect what they actually were. If I'd been at all wishy-washy during those nineteen years...I'm pretty sure that I never would have received the pieces which I needed to complete the puzzle.

Good luck.
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

EnderDragonFire

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Re: Struggling with Belief of all kinds
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2019, 11:06:10 am »
I am wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar, or how others rationalize scientific facts with spirituality, in any ways that personally satisfy them. I wonder if I am being childish in wanting to believe something instead of only relying on hard "scientific facts" to guide me, as I have before.

I've been there, and frankly, I am still there! Born a Christian, was an athiest for a few years, dabbled in various religions with no success...

Eventually, I gave up trying to convince myself to believe wholeheartedly. Instead, I decided to just go with it anyway, despite my doubts, and to follow the religion that most appealed to me, which turned out to be Hinduism. After a couple of years of dubious, self-questioning practice, it sorta just... became real. One day, I was "going through the motions" because I wanted to believe, and because religion gave me much-needed support in life; the next day, I did believe.

Of course, it wasn't literally overnight as such, the transition took about a year, and was rather gradual. I'd come to terms with one idea, one concept, and then another, until my entire worldview was reasonably harmonic and consistent.

However, I am still rather agnostic, and I'm never fully convinced that what I believe is real. I take it on faith that my experiences are genuine and not the product of delusion and placebo, but on bad days, the doubt still comes creeping back into my mind, telling me that gods and magic are childish things, and that I'm a fool for believing in them. I just have to tell that part of my brain to sod off, because religion makes me happy, and that's what matters.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

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Re: Struggling with Belief of all kinds
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2019, 12:06:48 pm »
Hello, I'm new here on this forum so please bear with me

I've dabbled in different religions all my life. I was raised Christian, spent plenty of time as an atheist, and have had some pagan practices earlier in my life as well. However, I've always struggled with actually believing in something (atheism excluded of course because it is simply a lack of belief). I fell out of Christianity for my personal issues with some of its teachings from a moral perspective, and out of paganism because I just couldn't get over the fact that I couldn't find any hard scientific proof to back any of my practices.

What I struggled with, though, was enjoying being pagan. I liked the stronger connection to nature and to my own thoughts it gave me, and how it encouraged me to learn and work with my hands. I really wanted a deeper connection with some god (I never got as far as deciding on a pantheon or specific god/ess to devote myself to) but I just couldn't believe they were real. It doesn't make sense to me that there was some supernatural force specially devoted to humans or this planet or even this plane of existence as we know it. I just really want to believe in something, to have something to anchor my thoughts and practices in.

I am wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar, or how others rationalize scientific facts with spirituality, in any ways that personally satisfy them. I wonder if I am being childish in wanting to believe something instead of only relying on hard "scientific facts" to guide me, as I have before.

I also want to emphasize that I do not mean the juxtaposition between science and spirituality and my personal struggle with it to be offensive to anybody's views or practices. I'm looking for personal thoughts, wisdom, any advice that someone that has been through any sort of similar struggle can give me.

Thank you.

A simple phrase from someone who was influential in my early practice..."If this is a placebo, it's a damn good placebo."  I come back to that when I get those crappy guilt feelings about my beliefs.  If playing a psychological trick on yourself is making you happy and a better person, does it really matter?  In the end I find enough that makes me believe for real, for the most part.  But, I work for a psych therapist.  She says she has no literal belief, but does rituals anyway *because they are good for us*.  And Science absolutely shows that to be the case in many studies.  So, keep practicing whatever feels right and maybe you will find what you need.

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Re: Struggling with Belief of all kinds
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2019, 01:58:08 pm »
Hello, I'm new here on this forum so please bear with me

I've dabbled in different religions all my life. I was raised Christian, spent plenty of time as an atheist, and have had some pagan practices earlier in my life as well. However, I've always struggled with actually believing in something (atheism excluded of course because it is simply a lack of belief). I fell out of Christianity for my personal issues with some of its teachings from a moral perspective, and out of paganism because I just couldn't get over the fact that I couldn't find any hard scientific proof to back any of my practices.

What I struggled with, though, was enjoying being pagan. I liked the stronger connection to nature and to my own thoughts it gave me, and how it encouraged me to learn and work with my hands. I really wanted a deeper connection with some god (I never got as far as deciding on a pantheon or specific god/ess to devote myself to) but I just couldn't believe they were real. It doesn't make sense to me that there was some supernatural force specially devoted to humans or this planet or even this plane of existence as we know it. I just really want to believe in something, to have something to anchor my thoughts and practices in.

I am wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar, or how others rationalize scientific facts with spirituality, in any ways that personally satisfy them. I wonder if I am being childish in wanting to believe something instead of only relying on hard "scientific facts" to guide me, as I have before.

I also want to emphasize that I do not mean the juxtaposition between science and spirituality and my personal struggle with it to be offensive to anybody's views or practices. I'm looking for personal thoughts, wisdom, any advice that someone that has been through any sort of similar struggle can give me.

Thank you.

I have simply turned to various sources and my intuitions to reinterpret my beliefs which has been sometimes difficult because Christianity is so belief centered liturgically even in it's more liberal forms.  I am reading a masters thesis right now, a synthesis of Buddhist and Christian theology that gave me a much more helpful interpretation of the resurrection of the body than traditional interpretations.  I also find Jung helpful on the resurrection of Christ.

But with neo-paganism matters may be easier.  You don't have to work with a belief you don't want to, and there are some wonderful blogs and other resources for working with gods for those who are not traditional theists.  I will try to come back to share some of those with you later.

There may not be gods.  There may not be a supernatural realm.  But man are there subjective experiences, and I really do think that is so profound it is just as good if not supernatural itself under some definitions!

Science and religion serve different functions.  In my life religion among other things largely concerns experience.  Work with your inner world, and you may be very surprised, and religion is great for that.

Your inner world may start out as imagination, but it takes on a whole life of own.

A happy journey to you!
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

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Re: Struggling with Belief of all kinds
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2019, 02:43:47 pm »
I fell out of Christianity for my personal issues with some of its teachings from a moral perspective, and out of paganism because I just couldn't get over the fact that I couldn't find any hard scientific proof to back any of my practices.

I would like to gently suggest that this is a category error.

Do you find hard scientific proof for the existence of beauty?  For love?  Do you think that it is important to verify that your nerve endings are properly signaling pleasure to your brain according to the current scientific understanding of the nervous system before you enjoy things?  Do you hesitate to identify something as "blue" because you have not measured its wavelength, or fret about whether or not other people's brains register that wavelength with the same color you perceive?  (Okay, to be honest, I have been known to do the "Whoa, what if what I think of is blue is actually what I would call orange to people over there" head trip thing, but I can't say it bothers me.)

There are huge realms of human experience to which the scientific method is entirely irrelevant.  Some people want to reduce all value to that which can be empirically proven to be factual, but scientism does not make me happy, and while it would regard "happiness" as frivolous subjectivity and thus not worth valuing, nonetheless I do.

Quote
It doesn't make sense to me that there was some supernatural force specially devoted to humans or this planet or even this plane of existence as we know it. I just really want to believe in something, to have something to anchor my thoughts and practices in.

There is a saying in my Craft tradition: "Perceive first, then believe."

Many people coming out of particular flavors of Christian background hamstring themselves with the assumption that belief comes first and is foundational, and that religion is a matter of professing belief and then acting accordingly.  I won't say that belief is entirely irrelevant for me, but it's really quite peripheral.

So to get back to that saying: what do you observe in the world.  Not in that empirical what-can-you-verify-to-others way, but what do you observe.  Perceive first.  When you have perceived, believe that you have perceived something.

I have no particular belief in anything "supernatural", which strikes me as a fancy word for "stuff that doesn't exist".  That says nothing about the gods, because the gods are not supernatural; the gods are eminently present and perceivable.  If there is in the world a Power with the nature of attraction and repulsion, do I need to believe in Her to pick up a magnet?  If there is in the world a Power that dazzles with violence, to I need to believe in Him to see lightning?  If there is in the world the rising surge of life, do I have to believe in Him to tap a maple tree in the spring or get an erection?  These things happen, they are observable, and the gods are, if They are anywhere, right there.  What's supernatural about that?

The extraordinary is right there.  Perceive first.

Quote
I am wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar, or how others rationalize scientific facts with spirituality, in any ways that personally satisfy them.

So here's a historical tidbit for you: in the Western world (and spreading out from there with colonial force), there was a massive social disruption in the late 1800s.  All of the old rules and understandings of how things worked were failing, and I mean all of them.  Industrialization completely changed the nature of labor; travel was becoming faster and more reliable; communication was becoming faster and more reliable; modern warfare was invented and brought with it carnage that was literally inconceivable to prior generations; the frontiers of science were changing every day, revealing new mysteries and shattering old assumptions.  It was a massive sort of culture shock, and people reacted to it in a variety of very different ways.

Some people pursued a sort of weaponised nostalgia, looking for a simpler (simplistic, actually), less confusing time.  This drove a lot of things - early folklore studies, for example, which fed nationalist movements; upsurges in pastoral art and valorization of The Old Family Farm; the invention of "nature" as something which humanity had now lost through the influence of coal and science.

Some people pursued a sort of weaponised futurism, again looking for a simplistic model of the world that would provide a refuge from all of the messy complexities of actual reality.  So you get the Age of Aquarius folks saying that this was the turmoil before a simple time of peace and enlightenment, and you get people doubling down on the idea that the only real knowledge is that which can be scientific, and so on.

And soem people went "All the old rules don't work, let's find some new ones", and you get revolutionaries and social reformers and occultists and all sorts of things.

And these threads produce a number of sibling movements, of which modern paganism is one.  (There are a lot of sibling movements for modern paganism, by the way.  Biblical literalism was invented for the same reasons - doubling down on weaponized nostalgia and inventing a whole new way of relating to scripture.  Environmental activism was invented for the same reasons.  Naziism was invented for the same reasons.  That whole period is a giant mess of people trying desperately to cope with how fucked up and different their world had suddenly become, and making up lots and lots of different solutions, some of which worked out okay and some of which are unspeakably horrible.)

But anyway, there's this huge amount of modern culture that is basically a bunch of people building coping mechanisms to having the world metaphorically explode in the late 1800s and then literally explode in the early 1900s.  Scientism - the belief (and it is a belief) that science is the One True Way To Experience The World is one of those coping mechanisms.  Mythological literalism is another one of those coping mechanisms.  End of the world hysteria is another one of these coping mechanisms.  Stripping naked and wandering into the woods to hug trees is another one of these coping mechanisms.  Etc. Etc.

All of them are coping mechanisms; none of them are factual.  I'm not knocking coping mechanisms, but the trick is finding the coping mechanism set that works for you, trying to make your small-tribe great ape brain with an innate knack for throwing rocks at things and gang up on problems cope with being on a planet with seven billion other confused rock-throwing village apes who have suddenly figured out how to launch themselves thousands of miles across the landscape and control electricity.  The culture shockwaves haven't subsided; they're our new normal, have been for several generations, but it's not like our bodies and brains are going to adapt to this level of constant shock in four generations.

Nothing is simple anymore; science isn't going to make it simpler, even if it makes a plausible argument by which one can ignore all that messy subjectivity because it's complex.

Quote
I wonder if I am being childish in wanting to believe something instead of only relying on hard "scientific facts" to guide me, as I have before.

As you might imagine I am not sure that only relying on "hard scientific facts" is not very precisely childish.

Which is nothing about belief, it's just I experience subjectivity too and I value it kind of a lot.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

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Re: Struggling with Belief of all kinds
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2019, 07:01:28 pm »
I have simply turned to various sources and my intuitions to reinterpret my beliefs which has been sometimes difficult because Christianity is so belief centered liturgically even in it's more liberal forms.  I am reading a masters thesis right now, a synthesis of Buddhist and Christian theology that gave me a much more helpful interpretation of the resurrection of the body than traditional interpretations.  I also find Jung helpful on the resurrection of Christ.

But with neo-paganism matters may be easier.  You don't have to work with a belief you don't want to, and there are some wonderful blogs and other resources for working with gods for those who are not traditional theists.  I will try to come back to share some of those with you later.

There may not be gods.  There may not be a supernatural realm.  But man are there subjective experiences, and I really do think that is so profound it is just as good if not supernatural itself under some definitions!

Science and religion serve different functions.  In my life religion among other things largely concerns experience.  Work with your inner world, and you may be very surprised, and religion is great for that.

Your inner world may start out as imagination, but it takes on a whole life of own.

A happy journey to you!

This first link references some other articles that are useful to read along with it as a context for the questions it is addressing.  The author thinks the supernatural exists under her particular specified definition, but what interests me is that she argues that different assumptions are useful in different areas of life as a pragmatic concern.  Different assumptions are needed when doing scientific research than when writing poetry or doing religion.  We don't even have to desperately cling to our assumptions as fixed beliefs: we make them because they are useful in different contexts.  I experience many of my beliefs as quite fluid these days for this reason.

http://theisticsatanism.com/philos/reasonable.html#common

These next two articles are authored by someone who is a skeptic concerning gods, at least in anthropomorphic forms.  And yet that person has daily experiences with anthropomorphic gods.  Sometimes our experiences don't align precisely with our skepticism or assumptions, and people find creative ways of living with that tension.

You do not actually need to work with gods to be a neo-pagan, but these articles go to show that having a disposition toward skepticism need not preclude religious practice or even devotion.  Neo-pagan spirituality can be particularly accommodating toward these sorts of stances, but this sort of thought occurs in more traditional religions, too.

https://polygnosticways.wordpress.com/2014/11/27/i-need-secular-theism-not-antitheism/

https://polygnosticways.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/gods-gnosis-and-gray-areas-essential-reading-and-watching/

I revel in subjectivity.  This is largely what religious practice is for me.  It's about stories.  It's about making meaning.  Reinventing.  Even trying out different assumptions and beliefs is fine in different contexts: there's no reason to get overly attached to them.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

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Re: Struggling with Belief of all kinds
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2019, 12:21:08 am »
I am wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar, or how others rationalize scientific facts with spirituality, in any ways that personally satisfy them. I wonder if I am being childish in wanting to believe something instead of only relying on hard "scientific facts" to guide me, as I have before.

Thank you.

When I first began exploring Paganism in earnest and considering leaving behind belief-centric/emphatic Evangelical Christianity, something that served as a guiding light was this idea, paraphrased from John Beckett:

Paganism isn't about what you believe, it's about what you do.

There are atheistic pagans who revere nature and believe the gods are archetypes. There are hard polytheists who believe in the literal existence of many gods and also revere science and approach magic with a skeptical eye.

The thing I'm learning to live with is that, at it's core, the world is a paradox. Often I'll ask a question and wind up with three more, and that's okay. So from my POV, believing in materially provable fact as well as immaterial impossible esotericism is totally doable.

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Re: Struggling with Belief of all kinds
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2019, 09:18:41 pm »
Hello, I'm new here on this forum so please bear with me

I've dabbled in different religions all my life. I was raised Christian, spent plenty of time as an atheist, and have had some pagan practices earlier in my life as well. However, I've always struggled with actually believing in something (atheism excluded of course because it is simply a lack of belief). I fell out of Christianity for my personal issues with some of its teachings from a moral perspective, and out of paganism because I just couldn't get over the fact that I couldn't find any hard scientific proof to back any of my practices.

What I struggled with, though, was enjoying being pagan. I liked the stronger connection to nature and to my own thoughts it gave me, and how it encouraged me to learn and work with my hands. I really wanted a deeper connection with some god (I never got as far as deciding on a pantheon or specific god/ess to devote myself to) but I just couldn't believe they were real. It doesn't make sense to me that there was some supernatural force specially devoted to humans or this planet or even this plane of existence as we know it. I just really want to believe in something, to have something to anchor my thoughts and practices in.

I am wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar, or how others rationalize scientific facts with spirituality, in any ways that personally satisfy them. I wonder if I am being childish in wanting to believe something instead of only relying on hard "scientific facts" to guide me, as I have before.

I also want to emphasize that I do not mean the juxtaposition between science and spirituality and my personal struggle with it to be offensive to anybody's views or practices. I'm looking for personal thoughts, wisdom, any advice that someone that has been through any sort of similar struggle can give me.

Thank you.

I feel I should respond to this, as I think we have some things in common. You certainly are not obligated to have religious views. A fundamentally atheistic, scientific, and skeptical worldview dominated my perspective for many years. In the end I found it lacking, but there are far worse philosophies out there.

For me, the correct balance was sort of a compromise between competing tendencies I have. I’m an optimistic agnostic who follows an orthopraxic tradition, and who has been researching and attempting to understand ancient culture even since I was an atheist. Even without religion, I would still research a lot of the same stuff.

In short, I don’t know that deities exist, but I view paganism as a religion based on practice and  deep respect nature and for our ancestors (particularly as it pertains to preserving the memory of their culture.) Belief is kind of secondary for me, much like some other traditional religions like Shintoism. While I’ve never truly felt total blind faith in the divine, I do have hope.

As for “why” Gods would exist, that’s a bit of a mystery. If they exist, I personally wouldn’t doubt that they were formed by some kind of evolution. Evolution on another plane of existence maybe, not involving elements we know of, but replication with variation and selection. It’s difficult to imagine any other process producing consciousness. Unless perhaps it’s AI created by another conscious being. Generally, what we call consciousness seems to be a system of responses to an outside environment which are conducive to the survival of the system or reaction.

But I’ve found this is an unpopular view among theists. Which is weird, because even Greek mythology says the Gods formed from chaos.

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Re: Struggling with Belief of all kinds
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2019, 11:45:01 pm »
Hello, I'm new here on this forum so please bear with me

I've dabbled in different religions all my life. I was raised Christian, spent plenty of time as an atheist, and have had some pagan practices earlier in my life as well. However, I've always struggled with actually believing in something (atheism excluded of course because it is simply a lack of belief). I fell out of Christianity for my personal issues with some of its teachings from a moral perspective, and out of paganism because I just couldn't get over the fact that I couldn't find any hard scientific proof to back any of my practices.

Like a few other responders, my perspective is a little different.

For one thing, [modern] Roman Catholicism does not take the Bible literally.  It recognizes the two Creation stories in Genesis as metaphorical.  Inspired, holy, but who knows how long a day is to God?

They see no conflict between Science and Faith.

Science can study the forces, processes, and principals that led to us, here on Earth.

Faith suggests the non-scientific "why?" WHAT is our purpose in life?

It's kind of funny, one of the reasons I became Pagan was related to the more scientific understanding of the seasons.

Four of the typical pan-neo-pagan holidays are based upon observation of nature and the underlying mechanics of Earth's axial tilt.
https://aa.usno.navy.mil/seasons?year=2019&tz=-6&dst=1

I have reason to believe that the other four may be connected to the stellar cycles.  The Celtic peoples may have calculated or observed the precise helical rising of selected stars.  The Germanic peoples seem to have celebrated more flexibly, possibly based on the night sky OR the harvest cycles (or a combination).

What I struggled with, though, was enjoying being pagan. I liked the stronger connection to nature and to my own thoughts it gave me, and how it encouraged me to learn and work with my hands. I really wanted a deeper connection with some god (I never got as far as deciding on a pantheon or specific god/ess to devote myself to) but I just couldn't believe they were real. It doesn't make sense to me that there was some supernatural force specially devoted to humans or this planet or even this plane of existence as we know it. I just really want to believe in something, to have something to anchor my thoughts and practices in.

I am wondering if anyone else has experienced something similar, or how others rationalize scientific facts with spirituality, in any ways that personally satisfy them. I wonder if I am being childish in wanting to believe something instead of only relying on hard "scientific facts" to guide me, as I have before.

I hope you will be encouraged by the fact that I have known atheist Pagans.

As near as I can tell, one of them took the elements quite literally.  To quote a chant, "Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath and fire my spirit."

The other said something rather profound about not believing in reincarnation, but believing in software copying.  (I've forgotten the exact phrase.)

Also, in my early days as a Pagan, I heard from a woman who was raising her children in a modern adaptation of Roman civic religion.

As others have said, paganism is more about what you do than what you believe.

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