Finding Religion

Ringo

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#1
Inspired by a comment I left on another thread, I thought I would see if we can get a discussion going about Finding religion, or at least wanting to. I have felt for years that I am missing something spirtual - a belief in something greater than myself. I am athiest and don't believe in God, Heaven, Hell or any thing in the Bible. I think of it as a collection of morality tales and guidelines at best. My mother is Catholic and my Father Protestant. When forms were filled in, I was Church of England. As a child I attended church only at Christmas (as part of a school service) and now as an adult it's the same - Christmas carol services with the odd wedding/funeral. I am not anti-religion. I just have never felt the need for it.

But...something is niggling away at me. I feel more and more that I have taken no comfort from my sceptical viewpoint (that the church is a business and a money making scam). I just feel cold and detatched - distant even from my fellow man. I scoffed at people claiming that Jesus has spoken to them, looked askew at anybody claiming that their prophet will return, even felt sorry for people tied to a medieval mindset and was safe and secure in the knowledge that they were wrong and that I and science are correct.

And while I still think that science is correct, I can't help but feel that a part of my understanding is missing. Is this it? I want fo find some spiritual fulfilment, feel part of something greater than myself. Something which permeates the entire universe. I don't want to just choose something half-heartedly...I want to believe.
 
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James_H

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#2
And while I still think that science is correct, I can't help but feel that a part of my understanding is missing.
I suspect that this is something inbuilt in humans which fulfils some evolutionary purpose, like a sex drive or getting hungry. It doesn't necessarily follow that religion is true.
 

Ringo

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#3
I suspect that this is something inbuilt in humans which fulfils some evolutionary purpose, like a sex drive or getting hungry. It doesn't necessarily follow that religion is true.
I agree. I think that organised religion is based on falsehoods and lies. However, I think on some level we all have a spiritual need. Fulfilment of that need may or will be different for all. Maybe voluntary work, the outdoors, religion, meditation. How do others fulfil their spiritual needs?
 

Min Bannister

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#6
It sounds like you might be interested in Rupert Sheldrake's latest book, Science and Spiritual Practices. I am reading it at the moment.

The effects of spiritual practices are now being investigated scientifically as never before, and many studies have shown that religious and spiritual practices generally make people happier and healthier. Rupert illustrates how science helps validate seven particular practices which underpin all major world religions.
Rupert summarizes the latest scientific research on what happens when we take part in these practices, and suggests ways that readers can explore these fields for themselves. For those who are religious, Science and Spiritual Practices will illuminate the evolutionary origins of their own traditions and give a new appreciation of their power. For the non-religious, this book will show how the core practices of spirituality are accessible to all, without the need to subscribe to a religious belief system.
This is a book for anyone who suspects that in the drive towards radical secularism, something valuable has been left behind.
 

markrkingston1

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#7
I suspect that this is something inbuilt in humans which fulfils some evolutionary purpose, like a sex drive or getting hungry. It doesn't necessarily follow that religion is true.
I agree. I think that organised religion is based on falsehoods and lies. However, I think on some level we all have a spiritual need. Fulfilment of that need may or will be different for all. Maybe voluntary work, the outdoors, religion, meditation. How do others fulfil their spiritual needs?
Anton Szandor LaVey was very aware of this human need for 'something'. That is why he designed LaVeyan Satanism to include psychodrama. That is to say, he included spiritual ritual that mimics the traditions and ritual formats of conventional religion but has no conventional religious content (i.e. no belief whatsoever in gods, angels, demons or devils, or any other supernatural entities, no requirement for faith, etc.).

Thus LaVeyan Satanism provides for humans' innate psychological needs of that 'something' but doesn't require one to believe in all the hypocritical and improbable rubbish that LaVey perceived to exist in the Judao-Christian religious tradition.

I'm not a Satanist (LaVeyan or otherwise) but, were I to find religion, I think it would have to be LaVeyan Satanism. ;)
 

Frideswide

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#8
I suspect that this is something inbuilt in humans which fulfils some evolutionary purpose, like a sex drive or getting hungry. It doesn't necessarily follow that religion is true.
A belief doesn't have to be correct to be useful.
I support both of these ideas.

Personally, I have always been a woman of faith, one of my earliest memories is of what turned out to be prayer and "knowing" that I was heard and answered. I've put that in quotes to respect those of us who "know" I could "know" no such thing ;)

I'm a unified old catholic in strict terms and indistinguishable in daily practice from roman catholics, the fellowship with whom in worship is one of the delights of my life.

In the same way as I am wired to have faith, or have the faith muscle, organ or gene... I expect that there are others who just don't! :)
 

Mythopoeika

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#10
I agree. I think that organised religion is based on falsehoods and lies. However, I think on some level we all have a spiritual need. Fulfilment of that need may or will be different for all. Maybe voluntary work, the outdoors, religion, meditation. How do others fulfil their spiritual needs?
It's possible to be 'spiritual' without following a religion. Maybe it's just a need for ritual, no matter how hollow it might be.
 

INT21

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#11
You have to remember that most people take up the religion that was foisted upon them by their parents.

So it is what they grew up with and naturally they will gravitate to it. Going against it will be, for many, equated with going against your parents and your upbringing. And there is guilt to be found there.

But what matters is that, particularly in the West, as you get older you start to examine the logic (or otherwise) of religion.
And then you are forced into making decisions.
Do you follow what others have instilled into you. (= subliminal indoctrination) or do you go by your own understanding of what is real.

And my understanding is that a reasonable person would not go looking for religion, it would come to him/her.

Maybe you are starting to feel the first cold breeze of mortality ?

And want to think that there is someplace to go when you shuffle of the old coil.

Maybe there is. but it does not need you to change your core belief. Either it will be there, or it wont.

One thing is certain. Eventually we all find out; or we don't.

INT21.
 

Ringo

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#12
Maybe you are starting to feel the first cold breeze of mortality ?

INT21.
My wife said the same thing but I'm not so sure. I think what I'm trying so poorly to elucidate is the lack of feeling... complete. As if there's a hole in my soul.

And please don't anybody think that I'm having a crisis or breakdown here. It's just a musing that has slowly crept up on me. Would I feel more complete, well-rounded and grounded (as oppossed to feeling adrift which is how I mostly feel) if I adressed the spiritual side of existing.
 

INT21

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#13
As some above have mentioned, you can have a spiritual life without signing on to the whole deal. No need for a grey bearded old unknowable to feel at one with something bigger. Sort of 'tune in' to the universe.

But you really aught to read 'Religion for Atheists' by Alain De Botton.

It goes into this kind of 'belonging' .

I got it via my library. De Botton has some interesting YouTube Ted Talks.

INT21.
 

AnonyJoolz

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#14
You have to remember that most people take up the religion that was foisted upon them by their parents.

So it is what they grew up with and naturally they will gravitate to it. Going against it will be, for many, equated with going against your parents and your upbringing. And there is guilt to be found there.

But what matters is that, particularly in the West, as you get older you start to examine the logic (or otherwise) of religion.
And then you are forced into making decisions.
Do you follow what others have instilled into you. (= subliminal indoctrination) or do you go by your own understanding of what is real.

And my understanding is that a reasonable person would not go looking for religion, it would come to him/her.

Maybe you are starting to feel the first cold breeze of mortality ?

And want to think that there is someplace to go when you shuffle of the old coil.

Maybe there is. but it does not need you to change your core belief. Either it will be there, or it wont.

One thing is certain. Eventually we all find out; or we don't.

INT21.
I have a religious belief, and faith, but it's not influenced by the fear of death - it does, however, encourage a conscience and, I hope, kindness and compassion; sometimes (when I'm not very well mentally or physically) it saves me from giving up. I started my adulthood being very sceptical of organised religion - and still am to some extent - but figuring out the logic of faith required me to weigh up things beyond utilitarian worth. There is a feeling of being 'home' and feeling protected, whatever is physically happenning. If I die - then I die, and I if I helped someone while I could, then that's a good thing.

But I don't proselytise, I just do what I do and try to show my faith in how I live and treat others & our environment. I hope I treat others respectfully and pray about a lot of stuff.


My wife said the same thing but I'm not so sure. I think what I'm trying so poorly to elucidate is the lack of feeling... complete. As if there's a hole in my soul.

And please don't anybody think that I'm having a crisis or breakdown here. It's just a musing that has slowly crept up on me. Would I feel more complete, well-rounded and grounded (as oppossed to feeling adrift which is how I mostly feel) if I adressed the spiritual side of existing.
What I've found, when wrestling with inner complexities and introvert difficulties of the psyche, that one possible answer is to resist the urge to ponder about it and just go outwards and do something, or be someone, that benefits and helps others, with your own hands/words/skills.

"To lose yourself in the service of others may be to truly find yourself" from Usher, Protestantism (1897), a similar quote is also attributed to Mahatma Gandhi but no reliable sources pinpoint it.
 
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INT21

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#17
Ringo,

..But...something is niggling away at me. I feel more and more that I have taken no comfort from my sceptical viewpoint (that the church is a business and a money making scam). I just feel cold and detached - distant even from my fellow man. ..

I can identify with this. And suspect that it comes from the observation that most people 'belong' to one of a few sets of belief.
And if one's studies have placed one outside these sets, then there is a tendency to feel. quite literally, an outsider.
But what bothers me about it is that I look at religion and can't help but think 'why do they believe this stuff ? Surely they can see that much of the text they are drawing from simply does not make historical sense. It's all a scam.'

Then I feel a bit bad for thinking this about my fellow beings. But that is how I perceive it.

At the same time I can see the attraction of 'the group'. Sort of 'where everybody knows your name'.

And that my deep belief (or should I say 'my reasoned conclusions) keeps me on the outside.

Being an atheist can be a lonely existence if all around you are believers.

So, I suppose one has to follow the path that is true to one's way of thinking.

The really worrying thing about organised religion is that it is so easily manipulated.. And once that takes hold then there are no 'non believers' . At least non who wish to stay alive.

INT21.
 
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#18
I think that we're spiritual creatures because evolution equipped us to communicate and interpret the world through a social lens, i.e. having evolved to interact with our fellow proto-humans on a social level, way way before we had language. So naturally we evolved to interpret all of the world around us, the trees, the sky, the sun and weather as social phenomena and gave these things animations or personalities.

This identification with and by social criteria is imho the root of our spiritual leanings, a social interpretation of the universe and it's perfectly good wonders, so we have spirits or deities which we ascribe to the 'universe/sky/sun' and so on; so it is that we have anthropomorphic archetypes as trees-sprites and weather-gods.

Having said that, one can't help but respond to one's spiritual bios, so even with that knowledge in mind, one has to accept that this is on occasions how we feel about things, cosmically, spiritually or even when something goes bump in the night. Accept it I suggest, without going all hippy-baked or cultish, there's no need and on this level I see no contradiction in being a rational being and a spiritual one at the same time.

You can respond to this call of the archetypes by starting a cult, joining a cult, going to church, worshipping Karl Marx or even worshipping 'there is no god'. That's an individual choice...and while many here recognise the limitations of organised religion, it has to be said it's a unifying force and one that gives meaning, comfort and important social and self-identities to many. Taking it away and not putting something equally reinforcing in it's place has dire consequences on the individual level and social level.

My goal is to recognise when I'm interpreting something 'spiritually' (let's call it this) and when it's OK to respond to that or even take away some comfort and guidance, but to remember this is how one feels and believes and there are times when that's not a good call and it's time to be rational.

Or put another way, I can hope that some omnipresent god will sort my life out as long as I say the magic words, or I can do it myself.

Or you can run when something goes bump in the night or take a deep breath and figure out what fell over and tell the whiny organism to keep quiet while you check it out...

...but a big stick is always handy, there's no sense in being silly about it.

There you go. The gospel according to Coal.
 

Comfortably Numb

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#19
...what bothers me about it is that I look at religion and can't help but think 'why do they believe this stuff ? Surely they can see that much of the text they are drawing from simply does not make historical sense. It's all a scam.
Interesting you use that word...

Could we perhaps conclude that with Religion, like many scams, people are inclined to be susceptible if they the believe there's something in it for themselves.

The proclaimed reward of 'Heaven' and an 'Eternal Life', is always going to be a best seller.
 

INT21

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#21
Comfortably numb.

Scam May seem a harsh word.

But organised religion has the hallmarks of one.

Lots of people are promised something great (eternal life, what could be greater ?) if they sign up for a particular viewpoint.
This view is promulgated by a class (literally a priesthood) who will dictate what you believe. They will request subscriptions from you. And by buying even better more expensive versions of the do-dads on offer you can maybe jump the queue a bit.
No need to ask for proof of the validity of the claims. After all, it has been going for a long time.
And look at the others who don't accept this view. Why, don't they know they are doomed to a life of damnation at the very least.
'What's that you ask ? Why are there more than one version of the Truth ?'.

Why, that's easy, all the other versions are wrong or just misinterpretations of 'The Word' as passed down from time immemorial through us.

And look what happened to those people in the past who disagreed with us; Not pretty.

So, sign up today. Heaven is waiting. But only if you believe. (us).

INT21.
 

Comfortably Numb

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#24
"[Wise men] have tried to understand our state of being, by grasping at its stars, or its arts, or its economics. But, if there is an underlying oneness of all things, it does not matter where we begin, whether with stars, or laws of supply and demand, or frogs, or Napoleon Bonaparte. One measures a circle, beginning anywhere".

"It is not possible to define. Nothing has ever been finally found out. Because there is nothing final to find out".

Some guy called Charles Fort...
 

Kingsize Wombat

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#25
(eternal life, what could be greater ?)
I never really understood that. If life was eternal, it wouldn't be precious, would it?

Sitting all day on a cloud and sing "Hallelujah"? Just shoot me already.

I want fo find some spiritual fulfilment, feel part of something greater than myself. Something which permeates the entire universe. I don't want to just choose something half-heartedly...I want to believe.
I've been in that same spot, and I started to listen to Alan Watts speaking about various religious and spiritual beliefs. And I found "something" that appealed. Not a religion as such, but something that works for me.

Read, listen and leave the door open a bit to see what comes in.
 
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Ringo

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#27
My first thought (and my usual one) is "He's exactly right. This is it - no more, no less". We should see each day as a miracle as we get to momentarily exist in a complex and wonderful Universe. There is no creator, no masterplan, we're just lucky to be here.

But then there is a voice in my head (which never used to speak up) that says "Well that's shit then. Is this it? I've been forced into existence in a universe that doesn't care, to momentarily live a futile existence on a rock in the middle of nowhere. Surely there must be more of a reason for living rather than being just an accident."

I'm in a right existential quandary...
 

henry

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#28
i underwent something of a half assed spiritual awakening over last year or so, i think ... im roman catholic by loosest definition but dont tend to think about matters of god and afterlife too much, dont have time, not my thing

delving into the early blues forms and establishing my monthly blues night caught me the religion ... it was pointed out to me that the evening proceeds almost like a church service, with sections that are set and dont change between iterations, and sections curated per event ... and its even on a sunday, and im in negotiations towards establishing a permanent venue, which is a church !

when i listen to some of the earliest pieces i do experience spiritual calm and transcendent peace, as much as i can understand those terms, its all rooted in common human understanding, suffering and compassion ... i dont expect many people to get this from the recordings and thats fine

loss of a sister and then close friend both this year have been difficult but i believe ive been supported more by this aspect of my life, than my catholic faith ...
 

maximus otter

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#29
I think it's a feeling that grows in most people when they realise that there's more sand in the bottom of the hourglass than the top.

We've left the innocence of infancy, passed through the hormonal passions of adolescence and "done the career thing". We realise that we're never going to make Managing Director, score the winning goal for England or negotiate that threesome involving Big Sue from Pay & Accounts. It's becoming dreadfully apparent that that twinge in one's back/hip/ankle is not, in fact, going to clear up spontaneously; or even ever. There will always be too much month left at the end of the money.

We begin to think, "Is this it?" An all-inclusive week in Benidorm once a year, followed by senility and death?" (If, in fact, the experiences are distinguishable one from the other).

Console yourself with the thought that yes, that is it.

Feel better now?

maximus otter
 

escargot

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#30
Anton Szandor LaVey was very aware of this human need for 'something'. That is why he designed LaVeyan Satanism to include psychodrama. That is to say, he included spiritual ritual that mimics the traditions and ritual formats of conventional religion but has no conventional religious content (i.e. no belief whatsoever in gods, angels, demons or devils, or any other supernatural entities, no requirement for faith, etc.).

Thus LaVeyan Satanism provides for humans' innate psychological needs of that 'something' but doesn't require one to believe in all the hypocritical and improbable rubbish that LaVey perceived to exist in the Judao-Christian religious tradition.

I'm not a Satanist (LaVeyan or otherwise) but, were I to find religion, I think it would have to be LaVeyan Satanism. ;)
We used to have two experienced practising Satnaists on'ere - or maybe just one with a sock puppet - who told us all about it.

I knew some personally at one time. What I learned was that Satanism is not based on worshipping Satan or any other deity or spiritual being. To put it simply, it's actually about putting oneself first and not being taken advantage of by needy people. LaVey called it 'Satanism' to deter hippies and New Agers.

So Satanism might be an ideal religion for our times as you needn't believe in anything other than your own needs and ego and certainly don't have to bow down and worship anyone.
 
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