Everyone who was raised as a fundamentalist Christian and then loses their faith knows how heart-wrenching it is.
But when you reach the point of atheism, suddenly the road forks and there are two possibilities in front of you.
The first is to live life religionless, or as religionless as possible if the theist claims of a God-shaped hole is correct.
The other path is to find purpose, meaning, and joy in a more expansive, pluralistic, and open “faith“.
The way I see it is if there truly is no good evidence for God’s existence and there is no purpose with a capital P, then I am free to seek my bliss in whatever form accords with my morals.
Lately, I feel like I’m solidly on the second path. I’ve tried pure secular humanism, and while I admire many of the virtues of the purely skeptical anti-woo crowd, I just find it unfulfilling.
For better or worse, the religious impulse is alive and well in me. No matter how much I go over the arguments for the traditional Christian God and come back unsatisfied, in my psyche there is still a need for the spiritual, and for the community that religion provides.
The funny thing is that once you leave the bounds of fundamentalist Christianity, or indeed any dogma, you find that there are so many interesting streams of religious life, including in Christianity itself!
I’m so drawn to liberal Christianity and the focus on justice (although I don’t like SJW’s), modern theology, and contemplation.
Evangelicalism, at least of the stream I grew up in, is highly anti-intellectual. When you are wedded to the idea of a young earth creation, how can you not be?
But I also admire the philosophies of Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism and I would love to visit a UU or quaker church sometime.
Here is the thing. I know first-hand, that the experience of the divine is phenomenologically real. It’s the metaphysical nature that I question, not the actual experience. In other words, is it all in the mind or is it supernatural?
To be honest, I’m inclined to believe it’s all in the mind, but what really matters to me is wellbeing.
So, I feel lately that I’m coming full circle in my feelings towards Christianity and religion in general. That while I may be an atheist in regards to the naive childlike picture of God that a fundamentalist portrays, I feel like I’m more open than to a mature, expansive view of God than ever before.
The God of Spinoza, the God of Hinduism ( Brahman), the God of the Stoics, and interestingly enough, the God of Augustine.
The more I learn about the fine-tuning of the universe and the strong argument from informational complexity that intelligent design advocates propose, I’m inclined to believe that all of this did not happen by chance, that there was something approaching supernatural.
It might be that our sense of causation doesn’t map to reality, but if our sense of causality is correct, at some point you get to something that is uncreated and eternal. Be it God or an eternal space-time.
Now, as any ID advocate will tell you that doesn’t get you to Jesus Christ, Allah, or Krishna. It could be simply that the universe or multiverse is self-created and eternal, but not anthropomorphic in personhood, or not personal at all.
But to me, the incredible fact that life comes from nonlife, consciousness comes from matter, the progression of evolution that goes against entropy sounds like there is something else going on that just matter and energy dancing around in a quantum soup.
To me, all religions at the core are myths. They are sacred stories based on the experience of all of this, both in normal and altered states of consciousness that we have used to connect us to each other and to the source of all things.
And there is nothing wrong with myth and legend, as long as you realize what it is and as long as when the times change, the myths change with them.
We are at a point in time when Bronze and Iron Age myths don’t cut it. Science is not only the best method for determining the nature of fact claims, but it is fertile ground for new myths.
I think the work of the existing religions, is to find a way to retell the old stories in new ways. And that is what the liberal and progressive wings of all the major religions are doing.
And that is where I’m at too. So I feel like I’m coming full circle, but not back to the same place, but a higher place where I can see and understand where I’ve come from.
I don’t know the term, but in Spiral Dynamics, there is a progression in our consciousness and how we view the world. I feel like I’m thoroughly done with the blue and orange phase and am moving into the green phase of the Sensitive Self and care about building a better world for us all.
Well, that’s where I’m at and I look forward to seeing how things progress.