Do You Believe in God?

I came across this great article/book review and thought it was worth sharing:

Religion vs Humanism: Isaac Asimov on Science and Spirituality

I think I’ll get the book and let you know my thoughts about it. I’m looking forward to reading it!

Not surprisingly, I love this excerpt:

He said, “Dr. Asimov, do you believe in God?”

And I said, “Whose?”

He said, a little impatiently, “Come, come, Dr. Asimov, you know very well whose. Do you believe in the Western God, the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition?”

Still playing for time, I said, “I haven’t given it much thought.”

Frost said, “I can’t believe that, Dr. Asimov.” He then nailed me to the wall by saying, “Surely a man of your diverse intellectual interests and wide-ranging curiosity must have tried to find God?”

(Eureka! I had it! The very nails had given me my opening!) I said, smiling pleasantly, “God is much more intelligent than I am — let him try to find me.”

via Philosophy Monkey on Facebook

see also Philosophy Monkey

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15 thoughts on “Do You Believe in God?

  1. Wow! I really like this.

    It goes along with something that occurred to me a few days ago. I was busy about my day and it dawned on me “God would understand”. If He does exist He would know that I struggled to keep the faith for a near four decades. He would understand my desire to walk away from all the misgivings of scripture, spiritual abuse, and all the other dangers of religion. For if a parent really loves his or her child he or she would be incredibly understanding of how he was falsely misrepresented by others who lied to his precious of who he is. He/she wouldn’t punish the child for being hurt or abused, but would do all he could to seek and love his beaten up child. He wouldn’t disdain him or her and send him to hell, he/she would do all that could possibly be done to show compassion to the wounded knowing that his/her creation or child was horribly deceived by the people and things that were used in misrepresenting him.

    I hope that makes sense.

    I thank you for this. This is truly priceless.

    • Hi Charity. Thanks for your comments!

      That was actually a big turning point in my deconversion. I had been struggling so hard and for so long with all of my doubts and fears and questions …. I finally reached a point where I realized that even if there were a god/God, it would be unreasonable for It to expect me to figure any of this stuff out. I realized there was no way that I was going to be judged on having the Right Answers to such complicated questions. It didn’t make sense to me anymore that the point of life was to figure out a jigsaw puzzle that no one had the solution to anyway. The point of life was to live, and when I realized that I was finally able to move on with my life.

      Eventually the idea of a god became myth-like to me and that’s where it has stayed. Those fears I had were so real at the time, but now seem pointless, even laughable. It’s pretty difficult for me to feel fear regarding something I truly don’t think even exists.

      When fear is used, it’s a sign of manipulation, not truth. Don’t ever forget that.

  2. I had a similar epiphany as Charity a few days ago. Surely the great big loving God I have always believed in would understand and love me despite my loss of faith. But life is messy and complicated and tiring right now. I got frustrated the other day and just wished someone would convince me again that God was there, it would just make things so much easier! I am really worrying with the realities of what my loss of faith means, not just for me, but for my family. I do think that my children will have the opportunity to benefit from a family with parents who believe differently, but it is going to be confusing for them when we start to discuss it. And how will it affect our relationship? How did you talk to your children about this? To your friends and family? Faith is deeply personal but changes in it send out ripples into your community of loved ones.

    • Hi somuchandsomuch. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      My marriage more than survived my deconversion but my husband deconverted with me so I don’t have any experience having a christian and an atheist in the same marriage. However, a good online deconverted friend of mine does and I went to his blog and clicked on his marriage category. Here’s the link:

      http://bittersweetend.wordpress.com/category/marriage/

      I’m pretty sure somewhere in there he has links to other bloggers who are in the same situation. You could ask him directly as well – I’m sure he’d point you in the right direction.

      There are no guarantees about how a deconversion will affect a relationship. I wish you the best.

      As far as talking to children – that one I did have to deal with. It would depend on the ages. If you let me know the ages of your kids I’ll be better able to answer. Fire away specific questions about that if you like and I’ll be happy to answer them.

      • Thank you for the link! It was a great blog post and I will definitely read the links. I think with my children, my immediate concern is the destabilization they could experience. My husband is in the Army and that makes me the constant for our kids (they are 8 and 10). He comes and goes for deployment and training, but I am always here. I worry that I will shake their faith in me.

      • My kids were (let me think back …) 13, 11, 8, 5, and 3 yrs. That was after 2 years of difficult struggle and that was when I finally felt like I had crossed over from Christian to atheist. It didn’t really affect my youngest 3 kids – but it was a pretty big issue with my older two.

        Christians are taught to judge people based on their beliefs. They don’t call it ‘judging’ but that’s what it is. Christians relate to everyone by default based on their views about God. They have to do this because once they find out what someone believes or doesn’t believe, then it is the Christian’s job to attempt to convert them to Christianity (whether directly through words or through their actions or by praying for their salvation, etc.)

        This relates to my (and your kids) because I think the main shift that had to take place was for my kids to learn to connect with people not based on anything they believed. They had to learn that people are just people and you can like them or not like them based on their actions, character, personality, etc. … but not on what they thought of god or religion. That was one thing I found very liberating about leaving religion! I could just like people or not like people – I didn’t have to care anymore what they thought about The Big Questions. You’ll have to teach your kids that Mommy isn’t defined by what she believes or doesn’t believe about God/god – Mommy is a person on her own life journey just like everyone else is on their own unique journey. People are free to change their mind at anytime about anything. Nothing is written in stone forever and we have that freedom and control over our own beliefs for our entire lives. Christianity teaches that each decision has eternal consequences and I found I had to undo that type of thinking in my own mind as well as my kids’ minds. I would recommend framing life in terms of a journey as opposed to once-and-for-all decisions.

        There are a lot of other discussions I had with my older two, but I was able to approach them knowing that my husband was on the same page. You may have to tread more lightly.

        I hope this helps a little 🙂

  3. Hello Brenda, and somuchandsomuch,

    I thank you for both of your comments. It really does help me to visit blogs like this, and realize that my outlook on life is not as odd as what I’m told in my real life.

    You’re right, Brenda, when I came to this realization it was so quick, peaceful, and honestly, seemed to come out of nowhere. I was once TRULY saved, and there was something liberating for me when I came to that recent reality. If God exists, He will get it. That’s it.

    Somuchandsomuch, you ask really good questions, and I must admit, I haven’t come out to either of my parents or to anyone else in the family I was raised in, My parents are well aware that I have stopped going to Church, but they have no idea that I’m an atheist. I have been working up to telling them though by telling others as practice. The first person I came out to was a long distant friend on the phone. I had known her for years. Get this, she’s a Messianic Jew. Her husband is one of those all founding fathers of the US were Christians type of guy. She got really upset with me, and I could feel our relationship that was barely holding on anyway finally coming off life support and being allowed to die. If there was anyone I ever knew who was a Christian, and would not be judgmental about my de-conversion, it would be her. Still, she told me the usual “well, I’ve gone through hard times too”. Mind you, she has only been a Christian for 10 years. Then she said the phrase of all phrases that I don’t think I ever said as a Christian, “well, there’s no such thing as a perfect Church”. She also asked me what’s my moral compass. I told her that her Bible kind of sucked at being a guide for morality, look at Abraham. The man lied repeatedly, had a slave, and raped her then sends her packing with his REAL first born. Yeah, my Messianic Jewish friend didn’t like that. I pointed out how God never even addressed any of those issues with Abraham, if anything, he rewards him.

    I had come out to my hair dresser who is either a very progressive Christian or just simply non religious. You could tell she couldn’t go into details in front of the other stylists, and kept turning her back towards them as she whispered to me how she didn’t understand their traditional Christian faith. I came out to the guy who installed my dishwasher. He lives in the little town just south of me and said that he used to be an agnostic, but after some time had just said “screw it”, and now claims to be an atheist. There has been a family nearby that my little family has been befriending since this past spring. We’ve been getting to know them very slowly, but just found out that the dad used to be an agnostic. I don’t know what he is now, but he’s annoyed with fundamental/evangelical types.

    As far as discussing this with our kids…we live in west Tennessee, and we have basically told both of them briefly that religion is private. I think because they are 5 and 8 years old, and we’ve been on this path for just under a year and a half, religion hasn’t been apart of their lives in a long time in their short lives. They were both dedicated in Baptist Churches, but they haven’t even mentioned going to Church in probably half a year, maybe longer. When my husband and I first walked away, my oldest would ask if he could pray for me when I was hurt or sick. I don’t know when that stopped, I just know that it did some time back. It was also his idea to give away our Christian books and CDs months ago when we were donating gently used items to our local veterans. It was weird because he kept calling all that stuff Jewish. I think that was because my husband and I were very much Zionist fundamental Christians at one time. Earlier this month we watched the first episode of “Little House on the Prairie”. It was the one when the pastor belittled the men in the Church to their wives and kids for their absence on Sunday morning. You could see Laura and Mary look shameful as their Pa stayed home to rest. I didn’t say or do anything, and my oldest tells me “Church really isn’t THAT big of a deal” as he shook his head side to side.

    Sorry Brenda for my blog hog ways. Thank you again for your blog, and this great post.

    • I love that you came out to your hairdresser and the dishwasher guy. That is fabulous. I may have to try that. Right now I only discuss it on my blog and with my sister. She and her husband are atheists. Her son actually outed them a couple of years ago to our parents. My dad is a pastor, but my parents are so loving and sweet, they were not at all shaken or worried. And I was so proud of them that they never said they would pray for her, or anything like that. They are also very respectful of their wishes about not taking my nephew to church when he visits.

      Again, it is a relief to find an outlet here online, until my husband gets home and we can finally talk about all this.

      • I’m so glad that you have someone you’re close to in your family to discuss these issues with. My parents are Pentecostals, and they’re very gung ho Jesus, God and Holy Ghost. They were the worst parents. I’m glad they weren’t pastors, I can only imagine how many more people they would have damaged if they were in full time ministry.

        You know, I stuck around for as long as I did because I didn’t want to punish God for the actions of others. I really had to grieve the loss of the first few decades of my life! It was hell for me. However, I now realize that I really didn’t have a choice in becoming a Christian because everything and everyone around me had groomed me to become one and remain as one as long as possible. When I walked away and became an atheist it was clearly out of my choosing, not a manipulative parent, teacher, church, school or job.

        My husband just retired from the Navy. We met a little bit past the middle of his twenty year career in Hawai’i. I admit, I can’t relate to deployments because the longest he was ever away was 6 weeks. I’m glad too because neither one of us come from very supportive families, and it would have been really rough for me.

        I have a great life now, and I am so glad that my husband and I were pretty much on the same page regarding faith. When looking back at it all, I can see how we were so radical in Christianity throughout most of our marriage because we were doing all we could to hold on to our faith. Yes, we were trying to convince ourselves to remain Christians.

        I think it’s fantastic about your ministering parents not saying “we’ll pray for you”! My friend that I went on and on about made sure to tell me that she was going to pray for me. I basically said “okay”.

        The internet has been my own personal non-believing Church. I have been amazed this entire year of all the people who were super big about their faith and are now church, scripture, and religion free: Fundamentalists, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Baptists, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, and Catholics. There are so many of us out there. What helped me incredibly is who I now consider my mentor, Debbie Mitchell. She wrote an article on CNN’s site in January of this year, and I didn’t see it until a couple of weeks later. So much, it really touched me. Everything she said in the article made sense! Through her blog I have met some of the most amazing people. She gave me courage in my new life, and to finally start a blog of my own. I love her posts and the great comments she gets.

        Okay, this is why I don’t always blog and comment, I don’t know when to shut it! Take care, and have a great weekend!

  4. It really does help. It is a relief to know that other parents have been there, and to be able to find people and hear their stories. I love the internet! 🙂 I know that, even though it will be a difficult conversation, just having my husband home so that we can talk about this will be a huge weight off my mind. I hate having to wait to talk to him and not being able to talk to my friends and family about it. And being able to talk to the kids about this as a journey is a great idea. That is exactly how I see it, and they are old enough to start to grasp that.

    I have noticed the freedom you mentioned, and but this change has also made me realize just how pervasive Christianity is in American culture. I really never noticed until this year when I started to voice my questions, and now I feel like I have been looking through foggy glasses my whole life, and I am just now seeing things clearly. Thank you. I love your blog.

    • I’m so glad to know you find my blog helpful! Blogging is amazing that way. You can blog about something and people can stumble on it years later and it can still be meaningful to them or even help them in their own life. That’s pretty awesome!

      And yes – it is like taking off foggy glasses. It seems like an entirely different planet once you take the god glasses off but it really is worth it.

      I’d highly recommend you watch the entire second video in this post. He talks about the god glasses at the beginning but the entire video is amazing:

      https://leftchristianity.com/2011/10/15/a-personal-response-to-a-talk-by-the-thinking-atheist/

  5. Thanks Brenda for this post, and the link. Since my paradigm shift where I no longer believe in anything supernatural nor a god of any kind, I have been looking for a positive way to refer to it. I like the term rationalism that Asimov used here, for atheism is negative. Rationalism and humanism is much more positive. I will probably use all three to refer to myself.

  6. Brenda: I want to thank you for your blog. It has been a help to me in embracing my atheism. I hope to find a group of folks like Charity has found. I do know that I will need to find atheists locally someday, but I do live in a rural area. I guess online will have to do for now.

    • Thanks for your comments Gakeat! I’m glad you’re finding my blog helpful! That’s why I blog 🙂

      Online is a common way for atheists to connect up so you’re in the norm there.

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