I don't know what to say or think any longer... Not long ago, I accepted atheism as my worldview even though I desperately want to believe in more spiritualistic worldviews. The main problem is that atheists claim that their beliefs are rational and all other beliefs are not; it sounds right, but I don't agree with their militant behaviour and disrespect.
I'm so confused and don't know what to do, it's a huge dilemma :'(
Aurel (age 15)
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Religion, God, Life, Death have all been very much on my mind lately, so your letter is timely. I thoroughly enjoy discussing philosophy and spirituality with my readers. I will write more soon, but if you don't mind I want to send you a link to a PDF that you might find fascinating (a little academic, hope you don't mind): http://www.cogsci.uci.edu/~ddhoff/ConsciousRealism2.pdf
I'm not sure which atheists you are talking to. My sister is an atheist, and she's a very kind and wonderful person. Not in your face at all. That said, I do believe in more than just the physical world.
How about you ask me a few specific questions about spirituality or other "Big Questions" and I will write you back? Now, these answers are based on my personal beliefs, so take them with a grain of salt (they are worth the price you pay for them). I will tell you that I am not a Christian, Muslim, or Jew. I am also not an atheist, Satanist, or Wiccan (although I respect Wiccans).
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Thank you for your time but I'm not in the mood for ... anything, let alone philosophy, religion and spirituality. It's just.... I don't know, the whole atheist worldview isn't what I'm comfortable with in the slightest. I know that you once said that we have to stick with a view that we are comfortable with, and that's spirituality, but I'm always afraid that they might be right. Maybe the physical world is the only world? Maybe there is nothing after death? I don't agree with any of that since I do believe that there's something out there and that the universe simply cannot be a product of randomness and chance.
Sorry, I didn't mean ALL atheists, just the militant, in your face ones like professor Richard Dawkins. You know, the ones that don't respect other religious beliefs and that think religious and spiritual people, people different than themselves, are deluded and in a way crazy. I want to be kind and respect people different than myself and I don't think that spirituality and religion is just stupidity and delusion.
I'm not in the mood for anything because I don't think that the physical world is the only world but if I do think otherwise, I'm not rational and intelligent (judging by what many anti-theists say). And then there's death. Many atheists say that their decision to become atheist was the best thing that happened to them but I don't think that's true. They say that they appreciate and enjoy their lives more due to the fact that this is the only life they have. They say that they are generally more joy-filled and happier than when they were religious/spiritual. I don't agree, since the only emotions I could experience since I "decided" (unwillingly) to "become atheist" are sadness, fear and anger. I don't find my hobbies more enjoyable, my sex drive is almost gone, I don't have anything to wake up for and I have trouble getting asleep (I cried myself to sleep this night and had woken up two times unable to sleep). Without spirituality, everything loses its soul. Love doesn't make sense anymore if it's just a chemical reaction, and that sex is just a drive to reproduce. Nature isn't beautiful like it used to be, I don't feel like exercising, I don't find art interesting... Ironically, Dawkins (recently I watched a lot of his documentaries) said that this is more beautiful and interesting than "poverty-stricken religious views.”
I don't want to believe that we are just biological computers, I don't want to believe that there's no purpose to life. I refuse to believe that religious people are stupid and that religion and spirituality should just die.
I refuse to believe that this is "reality." I really, really don't.
I used to be optimistic... Now I just don't know. I would love to be spiritual again, to not worry about death every other minute...
I don't know anymore. If this is supposed to be rationality and reality, then I'll gladly chose ignorance.
I'm going on vacation tomorrow morning and I will possibly be home from said vacation in 10-11 days. Here are some specific things I wish to know, from your perspective.
3) Life after death?
4) Did you follow more than two religions in your lifetime?
5) Were you indoctrinated and or baptized into Christianity?
Feel free to write back while I'm on vacation, thank you for reading my letter. You're a great guy!
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If you’ve read my column, you probably have seen me write that I feel that anyone espousing a religion and asserting that they “know” their religion is right and is the only correct way to believe is either lying or deluding themselves.
But the same goes for atheists. To say, “We know for a fact that there is nothing beyond what the scientific world can explain and that all we are is biological beings and death is the final word” is also an exercise in hubris.
NOBODY knows what life, death, the universe, God/Not God are. NOBODY knows their true nature. In that spirit (pun intended) I will tell you here and now that Papabear doesn’t know, either. I have my theories, my conclusions, my beliefs that I have come to after 50 years of thinking about such things (even as a little child my thoughts were on this matter), but all of them could be wrong or just partially right, or right but only in a limited way.
To answer your questions, I’ll start with the less philosophical ones and work my way up.
So, I started exploring other beliefs. Some, such as Hinduism and Zoroastrianism, seem too tied up in mythologies. When I found out about Wicca, though, I found much to appeal to me. Wicca doesn’t judge people and believes in kindness to others and to Earth. This is all great stuff, and I did some reading about it and considered myself a Wiccan for a short time, but I just couldn’t get into the ideas they have about “magic.” I don’t think there is such a thing as magic, really (again, I could be wrong), but I do admire that Wiccans make very clear that black magic—magic to harm others—is forbidden and if you practice it you will be harmed seven times over.
Next, I got into Shamanism, especially that of the Native American people. Even consulted regularly with a friend in Oklahoma named Blackbear Bright (wonderful person). I love the interconnectedness to the natural world that Shamanism has (similar to Wicca, which is a form of shamanism, really), but I still felt it was not exactly for me. I haven’t abandoned it, but now I flavor it with my pursuit of Buddhism. Buddhism is not a religion, of course, but it is a philosophy that is very spiritual in nature. So I guess you could say I’m into Shamanism/Buddhism but I also add to this my interest in quantum physics, which has become like a third religion to me.
I can’t accept that. I can’t accept that all we are is an organ in our skulls and that we are, in essence, just machines that happen to be self-aware. There is increasing evidence that death is not the end. Some call it a transition, some a rebirth into a real world.
Aurel, you know that little voice inside your head? That’s not Jiminy Cricket—that’s your connection to your spiritual conscience. Pay attention to it. It is saying that although you don’t believe Christianity is your path, neither do you feel that atheism is the right choice because you feel in your heart that there is something more. Instead of ignoring or pushing away that feeling, make yourself more open to it. Listen to it. It is, in my opinion, your connection to the Godself.
I believe that we are like eggs within the Womb of God. As we experience this life, we grow spiritually until we “die,” which is actually the release from the Womb when we are born into ourselves. Like eggs in a woman’s body, however, some of us do not become fertilized, so to speak, and are reabsorbed into the womb. Those eggs do not mature to the point where they are born. Those that do, become like baby gods, able to create their own reality that is based upon what they experienced in this life. Those that learned to be loving will create new, loving universes, and those that did not will create universes that are less than happy. I have a suspicion that we are in one of those less-than-perfect universes, but we have the power within us to overcome this rather ugly world and generate something much more beautiful.
Aurel, the key to finding happiness and hope again is to trust in your feelings that there is more to us than mere matter and energy. You are turned off by religions, I understand that completely; and I feel that you are also right not to trust the atheists, so certain in their denial of the spiritual.
We are each a piece of the Creator, gifted with the power to create new realities if we allow ourselves to awaken from the Womb and become born as our true selves.
And those are my conclusions … for now. Whether or not you believe them is certainly up to you, but what is more important is for you not to give up. Do not give into the hopelessness of the atheists, and do not be fooled by the dogma of the religious. In other words, while it is okay to listen to what others have to say, don’t let them dictate your beliefs but discover for yourself your own reality.
These are big topics, things humans have talked about (and unfortunately too often fought over) for thousands of years.
7/26/2016 01:12:02 pm
7/27/2016 11:51:42 am
Doesn't matter if I'm thoughtful or not, doesn't matter if I'm "intelligent" or not. The fact of the matter is that nothing matters like I used to think.
I've tried and failed before to explain The Way of the River Otter, wish I could do better. I can say it's independent of religion or of life circumstance (like having a mate, wealth, or a good childhood as I have none of those).
7/28/2016 05:04:46 pm
7/28/2016 11:31:58 pm
"Frankly, I take umbrage in your assertion that my deep feelings for my late partner were just the result of chemicals. My grief for him is not about chemicals."
7/29/2016 04:17:49 am
"More important than any of that is having a loving heart and being kind to people. I am constantly astounded just how rare those things are in the world. THAT can be your gift to humanity and to your life: being a good, giving, loyal, loving human being. You'd be surprised how far that can take you."
7/29/2016 08:17:52 am
What "evidence" shows we don't have free will? We all have free will, hon. It is time for you to take some personal responsibility and realize that you have the ability to change your life. Asserting that you don't is, quite frankly, a cop out.
Aurel, you seem to be getting hung up on some extremely philosophical questions, to the point of making yourself unhappy.
7/29/2016 11:23:40 am
Papabear, check your email. I have managed to write a something there.
7/29/2016 12:28:46 pm
From Aurel: "What "evidence" shows we don't have free will? We all have free will, hon. It is time for you to take some personal responsibility and realize that you have the ability to change your life. Asserting that you don't is, quite frankly, a cop out."
7/29/2016 12:48:39 pm
The other thing you must consider is the media. I have a feeling a big part of your dark mood is you see a lot of bad news about the world on TV or the Internet. But the thing about the media is this: they are not here to report news they are in business to make money. They have found that, as the song says, giving us "dirty laundry" sells. Therefore, they report lots and lots of bad news to get people to watch and the good news out there is under-reported or not shown at all. For example, I just read a great story about how the Monarch Butterfly populations in Mexico have tripled this year. Great news! How did that happen? Well, a large part of it was people in Mexico getting together and stopping the illegal logging that was going on in the places where the butterflies gather. This is an example of people seeing something that needed to be fixed and doing it.
8/1/2016 02:54:52 am
Papabear, I just wanted to congratulate you on how extraordinary your research into faith has been!
8/1/2016 03:30:33 am
""Thou shalt have no other gods before me" anyone?"
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