| katakana89 wrote:|
How did you come to your current (non)religious views?
This is a long story, so I'll give you the abridged version for the sake of brevity. When I was 16 (a high school junior), I had to take a Theology class on the New Testament and the Early Church. Up until that point, I had a nebulous understanding of how the Bible came to be. You know, humans wrote it through divine inspiration and all that jazz. Those classes introduced me to oral tradition, ecumenical councils, and the construction of the Biblical canon. As you might imagine, all of that stuff raised quite a few questions like how do we know if the words that were original recite were the same words as those that were eventually written down? Why includes certain books while excluding others and to what end? Why did the bishops of the major churches of the ancient world have to meet to decide what is dogma and what isn't? At that point, my faith was still strong. I had questions, but the doubts weren't there yet... those come during my senior year and my Christian (Catholic) Apologetics class.
I went into senior year assuming that all of the questions I had from the prior year would be answered. Not only that, but that I would learn how to defend the faith. The truth is that all of the answers I was given were lacking and only led to more questions. I can recall a class where we were taught how to "address" the seemingly contradictory verses that you would find in scripture. You know, the usual stuff about the New Testament fulfilling and superseding the Old. I recall asking myself why God, in all of his knowledge, power, and perfection, would find it necessary to correct himself. At 17, I came to the conclusion that I would start modifying my faith in a way that would make more sense to me. The Bible became a lot less significant to me spiritually, and I also began appropriating concepts from other religions. I found the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism and the sheer discipline of Muslims appealing, so I decided to add those to my spiritual paradigm. I also went with a more Arian take on Jesus. He became a uniquely created being to me rather than God in the flesh. This system would hold up for about a year before it dawned on me that I was creating a god rather than worshiping one... enter my Agnostic phase.
The Agnostic phase started off innocently enough. I had doubts, and I started to ask others questions to see if they went through a similar phase in their spiritual development. I was met with a few "pray on its" and some "the Lord moves in mysterious ways,"
but nothing of any real substance. What I found even more interesting is the hostility that some folks directed at me. People told me that they had nothing to say to those who doubted the Lord, some even said that I would go to Hell. They made me feel pretty low for simply asking questions, so that sadness turned to anger which eventually morphed into disdain and malice. It went from simple inquiry to me trying to tear their faith apart. You see, I had accumulated quite a bit of knowledge on religion (particularly Christianity) through 14 years of Catholic education and my own independent research, which made me more knowledgeable than the vast majority of Christians I came across. During this period, I became pretty active on message boards like All Hip Hop where I became rather notorious for my religion bashing. It was also around this time that it hit me that none of this stuff mattered without a higher power to instill some sort of objective meaning to it. By "this stuff" I mean existence itself. I concluded that life was without inherent meaning, purpose, or any essential value. It was around this time that I became intimately acquainted with Nihilism; the philosophical doctrine that negates one or more significant aspects of life.
To be clear, I didn't become some sort of sociopath around this time, nor was I suicidal. I still felt empathy and love for people and valued my continued existence, but I started to view many of the things that people stress themselves over in day-to-day life as trivial. The Platonic Forms were empty to me, we all had hoodwinked ourselves into running a rat race for no reason at all. I was like the black Arthur Schopenhauer until I came across Nihilism's opposite philosophy, Existentialism.
Existentialism, whose philosophical groundwork was laid by Soren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche, posits that while life has no objective meaning or purpose, that doesn't stop us from giving it those things on a subjective level. In truth, it's something that everyone does, I was just made overtly aware of it. Given that I had made the jump from strict Agnosticism to Atheism, I was more partial to Nietzsche and his Ubermensch than Kierkegaard and his Knight of Faith. Nietzsche's disdain for the Western religions also appealed to me. Nietzsche spoke about the Death of God and how we can possibly fill the void that God left by working towards the Ubermensch, or being gods ourselves. Not something as superficial as gaining physical might, but actually exercising our individual wills to make life meaningful and authentic. Nietzsche had a habit of writing in grand prose, and I began to see his philosophy as inspiring yet overly idealistic, which lead me to Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. In them, I found a more grounded take on the ideas that Nietzsche introduced. I like Sartre a bit more than Camus, particularly how to accept the freedom we have to define our own essence and deal with the angst or dread that comes with that freedom. By this point the notion of a supernatural beings only served the function of debate fodder, a hypothetical that I might entertain for the sake of discussion. In a sense, I have committed deicide.
Heh, so much for brevity.
| Josephuss wrote:|
what would it take to convince you in the existence of God?
I'm honestly not sure anymore. At one point, I would have said that an ostentatious display of power would do the trick, but is power all that makes a god, a god? I've come to take something of an ignostic (theological noncognitivist) approach. That is, before we can tackle the question of whether or not god(s) exist, we must first come to a consensus on how you define what a god is.