I want to believe...except maybe not.
March 24, 2010 11:20 PM Subscribe
Is it possible for a rather hardcore atheist to find some sort of spirituality again? Long, but I attempted to keep it concise.
posted by LokiBear to religion & philosophy (52 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Me: 23, female, de-converted from your general nondenominational Christian faith about the time I turned 20. I grew up in the South right smack in the middle of the Bible Belt, and have since developed a lot of cynicism and vitriol towards religion in the ensuing years. I underwent a huge values change over the past couple of years. My outlook on life changed, my political leanings changed, many of the things I care about in life and for the world changed a lot a lot a lot.
I am happier than I ever was as a Christian. I never felt comfortable being a Christian, going to church and praying and so forth, and felt a lot of guilt for a long time for not being religious 'enough' or faithful 'enough.' Took a creation/evolution class in college, met an atheist dude, had a lot of fights about our lack of religious compatibility, so on and so forth. I started thinking and questioning and not finding answers. I dropped religion, the dude and I sort of fed off the cynicism of each other toward religion, blah blah, ouch my heart, he is now way out of the picture. Though I do not credit that relationship with my religion changes, it was obviously a big influence, and I did a lot of growing and developing as a person during that time which also went a long way toward shaping my sense of self.
I used to be terrified of anyone finding out about my lack of belief, because (and even still) 'atheist' sounds like a dirty word, and it's certainly frowned upon where I'm from. When I finally did admit it publicly, once, while still in college and still living in the South, I got bug-eyes from all my coworkers and went back to shutting up about the topic. But now, having moved Far Far Away for grad school, it has become a sort of defining characteristic of myself. People know what I believe and how I feel about organized religion of the Christian sort, and said religion's influence in the U.S.'s political sphere. It's not a thing I hide anymore although I don't flaunt it in front of my still-religious family. It's part of me--LokiBear does not believe in God.
But now I'm wishing for some sort of spirituality in my life again. I could never go back to believing in God or really any gods or creators, though sometimes I still 'feel' whatever 'God'-like presence I had in my life before. I have a few friends going through some terrible things in life and I have begun a weird sort of prayer for them--not for them to get better or overcome cancer or whatnot, but a prayer for their strength, for their courage, etc.
How does this fit in with my very scientific-oriented lack of beliefs in religion? Do any of you have experience with meshing and melding together two or more religions? I understand that being an atheist is not necessarily mutually exclusive with following different worldviews, such as Buddhism (not that I know that much about Buddhism, it's just an example). But my problem is that, having defined myself for so long as a Christian, and then switched that definition of self to be atheist, I feel almost as if I'm backsliding on the personal development scale if I go back to some sort of touchy-feely interpretation of the world.
I have beliefs. I believe that humanity is, essentially, good. I believe in love, I believe in forgiveness, I have a very strong moral compass (killing is wrong, life is sacred, don't be a jerk, etc). But I want to believe more. I want to believe that sending good vibes out into the universe actually has an effect. I want to believe that something will happen to me when I die besides absolute nothingness.
Am I just seeking out spirituality again because I'm too much of a wuss to fully believe in the tenants of my 'there is no god or supernatural forces at work' atheism? I know none of you can answer that. I guess it's rhetorical.
What have your experiences been with dropping and adding and merging religions? How did you find a place of spirituality in which you were comfortable? Do you have any advice or resources for me? Do I need to just chill out and quit worrying so much?
Many thanks for your time and consideration.