why believe in anything?

Discussion in 'General' started by miss_bossy18, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. miss_bossy18

    miss_bossy18 Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    hi all! :wavey: i'm pretty active on this site in general, but haven't posted ever in this forum in particular, but this is something i'm really trying to work through right now & thought you might have some insights to share.

    i grew up Christian (my dad was the youth pastor at our church) and through a series of things that happened to me personally & to my family as a whole, i became very disillusioned with the institution side of it all. i've been looking into some other spiritual paths, but keeping coming back to this central question: why does believing in something matter at all?

    i'm not looking for an objective answer (because i don't think there is one), but more for your subjective experiences. why has religion/spirituality/etc been important to you in your life? what benefits do you receive from it? what would be lacking if you found one day you didn't believe anymore? i guess just anything at all you would be willing to share about your choice(s) would be appreciated.
    2 people like this.
  2. Oneplus2more

    Oneplus2more Well-Known Member

    One thing the great ladies of TS have helped me realize is that there is a great difference between believing in God or a Higher Power and indentifying with and following a particular organized religious denomination. Much, if not all, of organized religion is man-made. Are you truly doubting the existance of God or do you have an issue with organized religion? I think those are two different things.

    I think if you have grown up in the church making the leap to saying "I just don't think any of this is true" is well, a gigantic leap...and can be pretty scary. One thing to keep in mind - if God does exist but you really don't believe so in your heart of hearts then God already knows that...so going through the motions and pretending to believe won't fool Him.

    I think you need to ask yourself what you would be missing. Is the church a large part of your social life? Belonging to a church can be a huge source of community support, camaraderie, social activites, etc.
  3. jxnsmama

    jxnsmama Well-Known Member

    I don't believe in God because it "matters" or because I get some benefit from it. I believe in God because I know intrinsically in my heart that God exists, even through moments of questioning and doubt. Any benefits of peace, emotional strength, church community, etc., that I experience are just a great bonus of my faith, not a reason for it.
  4. HamiltonDad

    HamiltonDad Well-Known Member

    I totally agree with jxnsmama - I don't believe because I receive benefits from it. It's true that many benefits do come out of it (community, relationships, etc) but that misses the point. If church is just about socializing and making friends, we might as well join other groups and social service projects (rotary clubs are popular up here). I believe because I know there is a God - I'm also convinced that the Bible is reliable, that Jesus existed, died and did actually rise from the dead. I've done a lot of research on the topic and have come to that conclusion. Through all that research and study - I can't not believe.

    "Religion" spoils a lot of Christians, and seems to turn a lot of people off church. I've had a lot of friends who have left the church and abandoned their faith because of conflict in their church or bad experiences in their family, etc. It's during those times that they (and you) need to evaluate your beliefs and figure out what to do about it. Your faith - what you believe - shouldn't be wholly dependent on what happens (or what has happened).

    I don't know if this is making a whole lot of sense, but I have the feeling that you do believe, or want to... it's on your mind, and that's a good sign! I'd recommend doing some research - start reading and looking for the truth.
  5. Her Royal Jennyness

    Her Royal Jennyness Well-Known Member

    Why does anything matter? Why do firefighters risk their lives to drag people out of burning buildings? Why do people buy and look at and think about art? Why do we value anything that isn't literally a basic necessity? It's because we put value on things that are important to us no matter how trivial they are to survival. To a lot of people their belief is important to them and they value their relationship with God or the higher power of their choice.

    Why has religion been important in my life? Well, simply put, it has helped me be able to think through my beliefs in a more organized way. I always felt the core beliefs of Mormonism were right, but I never knew that until I met some missionaries. I suppose the benefits I receive from my belief are the comfort I gain from feeling that I understand the world (for the most part) and that there is an afterlife.

    I can't ever imagine not believing one day. It's not a switch I can just flip on and off at will. It's just not in me. It would be like a hardcore atheist waking up one morning and shouting, "Crikey! There is a God! I need to join the nearest church!"
  6. Mama_Kim

    Mama_Kim Well-Known Member

    Sums it up nicely, Amy.
  7. caba

    caba Banned

    Like others have said, I don't think there is an answer to the "why believe in anything?" question.

    It seems that most people that believe in God have, at some point, questioned their beliefs, maybe on a small scale, maybe in a big scale, but just questioned in general what they believe, and they have come to the conclusion that they can't NOT believe. They just do, and that's all their is to it.

    As an atheist, I just came from the opposite position. I was raised with religion, and just never really bought into it. I lived it for a long time, went to church, made my sacraments, etc, but never truly believed in the Bible as any kind of truth. But for a while my position was that I believed in God, or a higher power, but not in religion, as that's man-made and just so completely not true. There was no way I could buy it.

    Eventually, I realized that I don't believe in God. I just know in my heart that there is no God, and no amount of Bible verses thrown at me, or people who truly believe could ever change my beliefs. Just like my complete conviction in their NOT being a God isn't going to sway a true believer.

    For some it's an easy journey, not so much for others. But I would like to add that there is nothing missing from my life as someone who knows there is no God. I am happy, have a loving family, a wonderful life, and I am a great and good person. I don't think you need God for any of those things. So if you come to the conclusion that you don't believe, you aren't going to lose anything except possible a bunch of extra baggage and guilt.
    2 people like this.
  8. HamiltonDad

    HamiltonDad Well-Known Member

    I have no baggage or guilt. In fact, because of my faith, I am guilt-free! That's the point of Jesus dying and all... I'm sorry your religious background left you with baggage and guilt... that's not the way it's supposed to work.
    1 person likes this.
  9. jenn-

    jenn- Well-Known Member

    :good: I agree with her.
  10. jxnsmama

    jxnsmama Well-Known Member

    You're so right!
  11. stumpstress

    stumpstress Well-Known Member

    Actually... there are MANY versions of christianity (and other major religions) that are guilt based. Sure, the story of Jesus in a very basic sense is guilt-free, but I would guess that most churches are more guilt based. I have gone to a TON of churches in my life--probably at least 15 different denominations--and the ones who weren't guilt based were few and far between.

    In general, I agree w/ what Erica said. To the OP, I think the question to ask is... what would you specifically lose without religion? I would have to guess that if your dad is very religious, maybe you feel you would lose a connection with him on some level. Perhaps you are afraid of disappointing your family. But...just because you believe something different than others, doesn't mean you have to abandon traditions you hold dear. Many agnostics & atheists celebrate Easter & Christmas, and maintain the family traditions that they've been raised with. Many people replace prayer with meditation, simply because they miss the time alone w/ themselves to think things thru. There are also churches for agnostics & atheists if you miss the weekly social interaction.

    In the end, I think the most important thing is to be true to yourself. You will never be truly happy if you force yourself to live a religion (or non-religion) that you know in your heart you do not believe.

    4 people like this.
  12. caba

    caba Banned

    That's why I said "possibly". I personally didn't have guilt or baggage from my religion. I mean, it's not true, so what's to feel uilty about?

    But I know a lot of people feel very guilted by their religion. Ask a homosexual. My guess would be that that is some baggage to carry around ... believing that God made you a certain way, and then condemned you for it. So yeah, maybe some people say faith isn't about guilt or baggage, but I'm not buying that.
    4 people like this.
  13. a1cbrandy

    a1cbrandy Well-Known Member

    I agree with what you have expressed here. :) Thank you...

    I believe, because I know God is real and my life without God was nothing. I believe because he first believed in me. I love because He first loved me. I cant imagine my life and my death without God.

    I hope you find what you are looking for..

    1 person likes this.
  14. HamiltonDad

    HamiltonDad Well-Known Member

    Well said Brandy :good:
  15. caba

    caba Banned

    I think this is the part that is important to remember is very personal. My life without God is amazing. So although you will find people that had horrible lives, found God, and suddenly everything fell into place, you will probably find that all atheists or agnostic people are just as happy and fulfilled in their lives as someone who has God.

    To take Brandy's statement and look at it from my perspective, I know God is not real. My life without God is wonderful. I believe in myself, because I believe I am in control of my own destiny. I love because I have so many amazing people in my life that have shown me love. I can't imagine my life without my family, friends, and others that I love. I choose not to focus on death, because I don't think there is anything beyond this life.

    So it's hard to ask this question about what is missing without God, because people without God will say nothing. And people with God will say everything. I think that only you can figure out what God brings to the table for you.
    3 people like this.
  16. a1cbrandy

    a1cbrandy Well-Known Member

    Erica, I can see what you are saying. My faith is personal to me..but its also something I want others to experience. I think thats the big difference in those who do and dont believe. I am glad that this discussion is going so well though...

  17. HamiltonDad

    HamiltonDad Well-Known Member

    I'm glad you feel that way...! I certainly don't... there's so many things that happen in my life that are beyond my control. I guess in a more philosophical sense, even when those things happen, you can control how you respond to it, etc. but those events are still beyond my control, and my life rarely follows the path that I'd like it to go.

    I do find it interesting though, and I suppose this comment is a little off topic (I'm sure you'll forgive me...); I find it interesting that so many atheists involve themselves in discussions about religion, even though they're convinced there is no God. I have several friends that are committed atheists, but often engage in discussions about the existence of God.

    The presence of a few atheists commenting in these forums is intriguing to me.... can you guys comment on that for me? I suppose I look at it this way - I don't spend any time thinking or discussing ... unicorns, for example, because I know they don't exist. If someone is convinced there is no God, why bother talking about religion/God?
  18. becasquared

    becasquared Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    I think the difference for us between whether there's a god and whether there are unicorns is that there really aren't that many people killing in the name of unicorns since the dawn of time, and we don't have to deal with unicorn-tians on a daily basis. We might not believe like a christian but we are subjected to the same billboards, the same bumper stickers, the people on the streets preaching, like christians are. And while you might not give it a second thought about flipping the channels and seeing EWTN, it bugs me. There aren't unicorn television channels to flip through. And Unicorns aren't brought up in conversation like god(s) is(are).
    2 people like this.
  19. HamiltonDad

    HamiltonDad Well-Known Member

    True enough - but you're still checking posts in the religion forum... if there was a unicorn forum, or an alien forum, or a godzilla forum, I wouldn't even waste my time checking them out. Why bother reading posts in the religion forum if there's no God?

    I'm not telling you to go away, haha, I'm just genuinely curious... I understand you can't avoid crazy street preachers, tv programs, billboards and bumper stickers, but why choose to be involved in these discussions if you're convinced that there's nothing to it?

    I guess my thought is - based on my experience with my atheist friends, is that even though they say they're convinced that there is no God, they still have some interest in religious ideas and conversations - which makes me wonder 'why?' Why bother talking about it or reading about it on the internet if you're convinced it's not true? That's what boggles me...
  20. Snittens

    Snittens Well-Known Member

    It's religion AND philosophy. Plus our subforum is located here (Atheists, Agnostics, and Alternative Believers). I seriously doubt Erica is searching for God.
    1 person likes this.
  21. rrodman

    rrodman Well-Known Member

    Well, on this particular thread, the OP is asking for support in questioning her beliefs - something that a lot of atheists and agnostics have done - so I think it's pretty obvious why people would be reading and commenting on this thread.

    Otherwise, I think people have an academic interest. I studied a lot of Greek Mythology in college, but I don't believe in Zeus either.
    1 person likes this.
  22. caba

    caba Banned

    Well the OP specifically asked "what would be lacking if you found one day you didn't believe anymore?" and I don't think anyone who still believes can answer that. I think all points of view are important.

    There is also a View New Posts button that brings up all new threads. So if something catches my eye I read it. If it is someone asking for prayers for a specific situation, I would never post "Why bother? No one is listening". That is rude and unhelpful. But when someone asks a question that I believe I can offer perspective on, I will answer. It's really as simple as that, for me.

    I also believe that there is a misconception about atheists that needs to be cleared up. Just because I don't believe in God doesn't mean that I don't find different religions and religious beliefs interesting. Do you never discuss something that you don't agree with? I read fantasy books all the time, and I don't believe they are true either.

    And some of us just feel the need to share the good news! I mean, I love being an atheist ... and I would love to share that beauty with others ...
    2 people like this.
  23. Oneplus2more

    Oneplus2more Well-Known Member

    I find it interesting that this question comes up so often [​IMG] Religion is everywhere, like politics or sex or Harry Potter - it's impossible to not have an opinion on it.

    I do discuss unicorns (we have two), fairy tales, dragons, dinosaurs, magic, and (regretably) the Disney Princess movies often as well...but usually with my daughters [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  24. HamiltonDad

    HamiltonDad Well-Known Member

    Fair enough I guess... read/post on then! :good:
  25. Oneplus2more

    Oneplus2more Well-Known Member

    Gee, thanks for the go ahead[​IMG]
  26. becasquared

    becasquared Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    I find all religions fascinating. From the pagan rituals to catholic rituals to just general beliefs. I do like to read and learn about all religions. In fact while I was going through my books to decide which to keep and which to give away, I found many religious books, the bible, a few christian books that my family gave me about finances, how to be a christian wife, and child rearing, a few books on islam, buddhism, hinduism, and taoism, a copy of Siddharta, several books on pagan rituals, three books on satanism and Alastair Crowley.
  27. caba

    caba Banned

    How's this one working out for ya? I'd love to know what kinda stuff is in that!! :lol:
    1 person likes this.
  28. Chase&Parker's Mommy

    Chase&Parker's Mommy Well-Known Member

    So often the question is posed as to why an agnostic or atheist person could be interested in religion. Others have voiced very valid reasons as to why they are interested, particularly in religious posts on here, but I thought I’d throw my personal opinion into this conversation.

    I label myself as agnostic, plain and simple. I do not know if there is a God and I do not worry or really even think about what happens after I die because I don’t know what happens. Someone that has a religious / faith-based set of ideals or beliefs can state that they know what happens after they die. I cannot guarantee or know what happens and I’d rather not assume what happens. Just because I do not know what happens after I die it doesn’t mean that I can’t be interested in what others think about the aspects of heaven.

    As far as the analogy about unicorns goes... for years, the United States has been increasingly inundated with religion. Rarely do I see a billboard or a business sign with "Unicorns Save". ;) For some reason, I find it easier to believe in the existance of a winged horse than omnipresent being up in the sky.
    1 person likes this.
  29. becasquared

    becasquared Well-Known Member TS Moderator


    I gave it to my husband to read. He said that he plans on following it to the letter.
  30. becasquared

    becasquared Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    [quote name='Chase&Parker's Mommy' date='23 July 2009 - 11:32 AM' timestamp='1248363179' post='1401684']
    As far as the analogy about unicorns goes... for years, the United States has been increasingly inundated with religion. Rarely do I see a billboard or a business sign with "Unicorns Save". ;) For some reason, I find it easier to believe in the existance of a winged horse than omnipresent being up in the sky.

    I do believe you're talking about a pegausus, the anti-unicorn. According to one unicorn-igion, a unicorn has a horn in the middle of it's head.
  31. Chase&Parker's Mommy

    Chase&Parker's Mommy Well-Known Member

    You are exactly right... that was like me calling someone a Methodist that is actually a Baptist – a major mistake : )
  32. rrodman

    rrodman Well-Known Member

    [quote name='Chase&Parker's Mommy' date='23 July 2009 - 01:11 PM' timestamp='1248369105' post='1401865']
    You are exactly right... that was like me calling someone a Methodist that is actually a Baptist – a major mistake : )

    In my mythology, unicorns have wings. Not all people who believe in unicorns are anti-Pegasus. Show some respect people!
  33. Anne-J

    Anne-J Well-Known Member

    Because I have always been fascinated with man's quest for explanation, security and comfort in life. The all important "purpose" that man since probably the beginning of time has tried in numerous ways to figure out. From the worship and adoration of the elements present on earth and beyond, to the creation of invisible "gods," to the conclusion (for many) that there is only one true God, to the belief that each individual's path is the right one to Him. The evolution of this process over the centuries fascinates me, the depths of passion and faith fascinates me, the discarded, renewed and invented traditions fascinate me. But I don't dedicate my life to it.

    Kudos to you then, and I honestly mean that. Because there is a large population (in this world) who's belief in God and religion drive them to spend countless hours bringing their religion/God into the lives of others who do not share their beliefs... sometimes they insist on it. So, I don't see how a few atheists/agnostics simply participating in a discussion with their pov should really intrigue anyone. Discussing something is far better than trying to convert someone to one's belief system IMO.
    1 person likes this.
  34. rubyturquoise

    rubyturquoise Well-Known Member

    I have a whole shelf. I call it the theology shelf. It has Bibles, assorted pagan mythologies, assorted atheist texts--my kids can find information on whatever strikes their curiosity.
  35. lovelylily

    lovelylily Well-Known Member

    I can really relate to this, but I am not sure if I can express a clear answer since I am still working through some of it. I like Amy's answer a lot, but I also wanted to add to it that I tried going down the path of "I don't believe anymore" and I literally found it impossible. The way I felt up until then was that if I can walk away I should. God should be big enough to hold me back and I felt like he did. It's hard to explain because I think it's really personal, like each of us has our journey, you know? For me, I just have found that whatever is true will make its way to the surface, no matter how hard I sift what's underneath. It was a seriously freeing experience for me to discover that I could question deeply and doubt pretty hard-core and still manage to come out the other side peacefully. So I guess to sum up my probably non-sensical, rambling answer... I would miss the peace and the relationship the most. It's similar to how I think I would feel with my DH and my kids - lost, but to an extreme degree.

    I wish you the best on your journey :)
    1 person likes this.
Similar Threads Forum Date
OLD member - I can't believe I found this site again! Childhood and Beyond (4+) Feb 26, 2018
Yikes, Can't believe we're in the 2nd year already! The Toddler Years(1-3) Sep 18, 2013
I'm finding this difficult to believe Childhood and Beyond (4+) Sep 10, 2013
Hard to believe it's been a year...on to the next board The First Year Jan 24, 2013
Can't believe it's almost been a year! The First Year May 8, 2012

Share This Page