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Charlsie

Don't worry, God is not afraid of your questions, and the religious people who are most secure are a lot of times the most scary. If you are truly seeking some kind of spirituality in your life God will find you. God's time is not our time, and everyone experiences God at different times. I am always very bothered by religious people who feel the need to discriminate against people who have not had the same spiritual experiences that they have. It is like judging someone because they haven't had the opportunity to travel Europe and you have. The one thing that always keep me sure of God is the beauty of the world, it didn't have to be this beautiful, this varied, and this enjoyable. I wish everyone was as self aware of their beliefs as you are.

cmc

I don't think that being religious has to mean having faith in God. (What does that mean anyway? And doesn't God mean different things to different people?)

To me, being religious means stepping back and looking at the bigger picture on a regular basis, whether at a weekly religious service, or in a more informal way. That is, it means critically examining the world and one's role in it, rather than mindlessly focusing on whatever mundane tasks, problems, or pleasures lie directly ahead. You certainly fit that description even if you don't formally identify with a particular denomination or have faith in a well-defined God.

(By the way, with your respect for faith and your reluctance to adopt a paricular dogma, you might enjoy the Unitarian Universalist Association. Of course, a lot of Unitarians don't really go to church regularly!)

David iacalone

In her book Doubt: A History, Jennifer M. Hecht suggests a very useful way to think about and talk about one's belief or lack thereof. She feels that "it is easier to force yourself to be clear if you avoid using believer, agnostic and atheist [which is relatively new terminology] and just try to say what you think about what we are and what's out there. Hecht explains:

Divisions that seem more historically stable might include: the sectarian, who accepts the stories, rituals, and rules of his or her own religion as true; the "one-of-many" religionist, who believes all religions are equally true and relate to a thinking, creative force; the meaning and science spiritualist, who interprets the universe as having some force that unifies life and perhaps gives it meaning; the Skeptic, who doesn't believe we can know anything about anything; the perplexed, who believes knowledge is possible but who identifies him- or herself as personally unresolved; the ritualist, who thinks the universe is a natural phenomenon and we should celebrate our humanity in the ritual and allegory of traditional religion; and the science secularist, who thinks the universe is a natural phenomenon and that religion adds more bad than good. All these people can be doubters -- open to the idea that they do not know everything.

I know and respect people in each of those categories, but wish that more people were doubters.

Hal O'Brien

Following David's schema, I suppose that would make me a science spiritualist... Except I'm not so sure about the "unifying" part.

To me, if one posits a Creator at all, then the observable universe is the one undisputable artifact of that Creator. (If one doesn't believe in a Creator, well, mazeltov. :) This means the observable universe overrules any scripture, as no matter how divinely inspired, they all pass through the fallible hands of humans.

And the one thing that may be observed, from the strangeness and charm of quarks up to the structure of superclusters of galaxies, is that Creator appears to put a high value on diversity. When one sees mechanical uniformity, it is always the hallmark of humanity. When things that appear similar but are truly infinitely variable, it is the hallmark of the Creator.

From this, it follows that there are as many paths to what I call Reunion -- in which nearly all faiths believe -- as there are human beings. If it was any other way... Well, we'd see that in other Creations. And we don't.

Einstein once said, "I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details."

It ain't an ornate belief structure, but it's mine.

Rene

Sherry: Thanks for the honest post. As a "believer" I have my share of doubts.

Remember the quote at the beginning of "Owen Meany" from Buechner? "If there were no room for doubt there would be no room for me."

If you are in a book reading mode, I'd recommend Yancey's "Disappointment with God". I read that in the midst of my graduate school life when I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I just started reading Messy Spirituality. With a title like that I had to take a look!

Doubt remains a part of my life and I suppose it always will but faith has provided me with some semblance of a world view, a sense of hope, a system of ethics and a very interesting array of friends who are on the same journey.

I always tell people that I believe it is worth the effort to explore and see where it leads.

Scott

The way I see it, if this universe is one huge accident, then it does not matter what we talk and think about, because we are just passing time until death. However, if this is not the case and this universe is created, then it is well worth everyone’s time to reflect on who created us and what He (or She) is after.

Here is one way to look at it. We all adhere to some standard of right and wrong, and these standards agree substantially (murder, lying etc). Some would say these are socially constructed; yet no one lives their life as if they were. We are unable to tell someone else what is right without referencing some objective standard of right and wrong. This standard does not exist if there is no power higher than mankind. If mankind is the highest power in the universe then I have no ground to stand on to ever say that someone should or should not do something. There are some things that virutally everyone would agree are wrong, and we would stand in judgment of any culture that ever practiced these things. It stands to reason that this standard of right and wrong comes from a Creator, or God.

Then I ask, what is this God after? Many would say He wants fellowship with His creation. Most religions agree that when we commit these “wrongs” then we are separated from this God (i.e. – Man is fallen). Christianity is the only religion that does not essentially say that if you try to do right long enough you might get to Heaven. Christianity teaches that man cannot save himself from his wrongs, so God came to earth in Human form (Jesus), lived a perfect life and died for our sins. This was necessary so that justice might be served, because God could not withhold His wrath, so it was visited on His son. If you accept this living sacrifice, then you are justified to stand before God, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to you.

Obviously many do not accept this, but I think it really makes sense when you reflect on how screwed up the world is, which is a result of man’s rebellion from God. Again, I do not think you can say that the world has problems without referencing a higher power. As for some of the other comments made, I do not agree that the observable universe overrules scripture, because the world is fallen. Also, I would agree that the Creator definitely values diversity, but this does not mean that there are diverse ways of being reconciled to Him. I obviously believe strongly that Christianity is true, but I always like to hear how other people feel.

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