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Topic: Deism, Pantheism, Polytheism, Agnostic, Athiest, Wiccan, Pagan, etc

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Kat (polbio) -
Subject: Deism, Pantheism, Polytheism, Agnostic, Athiest, Wiccan, Pagan, etc
Date Posted: 4/18/2009 11:47 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I wonder with so many non-christian/muslim/jewish members what pointed you towards your current beliefs? Were there certain books, movies, groups that helped you focus your beliefs? Are you curious if others share your faith or do you prefer to not belong to a group?

I first heard of Pantheism in a philosophy class in College. When I told the teacher that that sounded like what I might be, he said "oh god I hope not". I let it drop and really didnt look into it much after that. I began reading what was reffered to as "new age" books when I was 13. I had a very rough life from the age of 10 to 17, The spiritual books helped me  through. I read books by authors like Richard Bach and Daniel Quinn and a book called Blue Birds by David Frasure which is based more on Hindu beliefs. I also focused research papers in school to different religious beliefs. I feel that I came to my conclusions of faith through research.

As for whether I would want to belong to a group, I am changing my mind on this. I have always thought that no, I would not want to belong to a group, but lately I have been encouraged by learning of others that believe in Naturalistic Panthiesm. As in any religion, I cant say that I whole heartedly believe every concept of the religion, it is after all created by men/women, but it is the closest I have come across to my own personal beliefs. I have always since I was a teenager kept my theories on religion locked inside with the exception of discussing it with my husband.  However, as I have been more outspoken in the past few years about my being a non-christian (when someone begins to talk about God I simply say I'm not Christian and it usually stops them in their tracks) I am feeling more and more isolated which makes me wonder if a group of people who share my similar beliefs would be good. All I know is I am tired of argueing and defending my beliefs. ANd I hate feeling like I cant talk about them because they will be ridiculed.

My nephew is Pagan and he was able to find a pagan church in his hometown. I was excited to find out they existed (my sister wasnt, she's episcopal and hates that he isnt)  Where we live there are Wiccan, Hindu and Buddist groups/chuches but I havent seen anything for anyother non main stream religions.

ETA: My purpose in this post is not to argue different beliefs, but a curiosity in what people believe and why. (also I love the opportunity to learn of new books I hadnt known of) I am not asking for ANYONE to try to dismiss someones beliefs or debte whose belief is more accurate.

Last Edited on: 4/18/09 11:48 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/19/2009 5:14 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,091
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I am none of the above, but I'll answer as well as I can.

I first encountered Taoism when I was in college, when I was studying Ursula K. Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness.  I had already rejected Christianity because the face of Christianity that I saw was the judgmental, intolerant, smug variety that seemed to me not at all humble or open or interested in actually saving anyone who didn't already agree with every little thing.  Also, the evolution versus creationism was a big dissuader.

On the other hand, the non-Christians that I encountered (atheists, agnostics, and the like.  Paganism hadn't made much of a splash as yet, and UCLA was too conservative to have a strong early Wicca presence.  I wouldn't have joined the Wicca any way, but I just don't want to include them in gross and unfair generalization that will follow this much too long aside) were just as judgmental and intolerant toward the Christians as the Christians were toward them.  This seemed to be in no way an improvement over all the things that bothered them so much about Christianity, though at least they accepted the science of evolution.  Still there was too much negativity there.  So neither side appealed to me much.

In the process of wriitng a paper about Le Guin's book, I did a little research into Taoism, and the more I read about it the more sense it made to me.  I believe the first book that I read was Alan Watt's book on Taoism, I think the title is Tao: The Water-Course Way.  Any way, to me, Taoism was a path by which I could avoid embracing either side and could understand and accept the necessity of both.  It also gave me a process by which I could understand what I had vaguely believed but without putting into words, the deep and complete interconnectedness of all things, and all people.  It was a way out of the two-tribe trap that I thought existed where each side was pointing fingers at the otherand saying that they were the problem.

Please understand that what I said in this post is not intended to indict anyone on these boards, or all Christians, or all atheists, or anything of the sort.  The impressions I talk about were based solely and exclusively on the people that I knew at the time, and I have since met many people who are very different from the people I knew at that time.  There are many loving, accepting Christians who have no problem with science.  There are many atheists who are neither defensive about their atheism nor hostile to believers.  But when my own religious views were formed, I hadn't met them yet.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 4/21/2009 8:32 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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i have a little book of quotes that is simply called THe Tao. Is Taoism based off of that book? I like the quotes, they are very relevant to many issues in life.

Date Posted: 4/21/2009 11:14 AM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,091
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The main work of Taoism is the Tao te Ching, by Lao Tzu or Laozi and probably several other variations on the name.  I'm not sure what book you have, but it could be a translation of the Tao te Ching.

Date Posted: 6/8/2009 5:24 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2007
Posts: 129
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I've been becoming more and more interested in Tibetan Buddhism, mostly because I've met several teaching monks and have liked them a LOT.  They all seem so happy, serene, content and peaceful.  I want more of that in my life, and decided to check out what they do.  I think it's working for me.

BTW,  UU churches (Unitarian Universalist, Universalist Unitarian, Unitarial, Universalist and other permutations) are generally very welcoming of folks with a variety of religious beliefs.  If you're interested in an unusual religion and want a religious community, it might be worthwhile checking out local UU churches.  They're all quite different, so there are no guarantees...except that you should find acceptance and, with luck, some kindrid spirits.

Date Posted: 6/8/2009 5:33 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,787
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As a child, not being raised in a church-going household, I never really got the whole "God" thing.  It was very easy for me to question it because it never really made sense to me to begin with.  I just had the basic understanding that  "God made the universe, there's a heaven that you go to when you die, everyone believes in God" sort of mentality.  I wondered what church was all about, and as soon as I was old enough to go, I went.  I immediately started going, wait, this isn't right.  Then I started thinking, you know, I don't really think God is real.  As I got older and more mature, I realized that the whole God thing was totally faith based and not based on any scientific or evidence based findings.  As a child, I just assumed the adults around me all knew what they were talking about.  It was nice to grow up and go, hmmm, my belief (or non-belief) is just as credible as theirs is!

There are certainly aspects of lots of different religions that I like and admire, from the teachings and traditions.  I find it somewhat comforting to live in that kind of world.  I don't take comfort in a world where people use their religion to attempt to force others to live like them.  Politics and religion should never, ever mix.

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 6/8/2009 7:42 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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Thank you for the suggestions Marguerite.

Date Posted: 6/13/2009 11:11 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2009
Posts: 8,950
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I grew up in a Jewish atheist family, but not the negative, intolerant type of atheists that someone described earlier.  OTOH one of my best childhood friends was from an Orthodox Jewish family; we were neighbors, three of their kids were just about the same age as my sisters and me, and we hit it off right away.  There were some difficult / funny moments [depends on how you see it].  For example, their parents weren't happy with them eating at our house, even though my mother bought certified kosher food and paper plates and cups to meet their kosher requirements, because my mother shopped on Saturdays.  But they put up with it until one day one of the girls was caught hiding in the back stairs of their house with a bag of forbidden chocolate chip cookies, and blamed it on my sister:  She made me take them!  After that all interaction had to take place at their house.  Anyway, once puberty came, we drifted apart as the gap became unbridgeable; their lives were just so very different from ours that we had nothing in common anymore.  I remember that as each girl hit her late teens and early twenties a frenzied round of arranged dates began to take place until they were safely married off.  The parents had six kids; there are now over 50 grandchildren.  I don't know exactly how many because I lost track a long time ago.

Subject: Deism, Pantheism, Polytheism, Agnostic, Athiest, Wiccan, Pagan, etc
Date Posted: 6/14/2009 3:06 PM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2008
Posts: 10
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I was forced to go to church as a child. The occasion was when my half sister was hit by a car and nearly died. An evangelical united bretheren (now methodist) preacher from our town helped mom through the experience and suddenly we were members of his church. I went more to get away from my heavy drinking, heavy smoking, controlling, guitar playing mother and for something to do. But I never really got caught up into christianity. 

I was different. I was a psychic little boy. ESP, dreams and other paranormal subjects were my forte'. I started reading and working with the occult sciences at 14 years of age. 35 years later I have no regrets. I have also been a witch now for 10 years and following an eclectic path. I wear my pentacle as it is a part of my pocket watch fob, and wear my pentacle ring on occasion. No one has "got in my face" about my beliefs despite living in the middle of an area whereas the majority of the populace is right wing - republican - christian - redneck - small town gossip type of people.

Coming into my belief system was just because it felt comfortable to me. It answered all my questions.

Last Edited on: 6/14/09 3:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/12/2009 10:54 PM ET
Member Since: 9/29/2009
Posts: 2,551
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I didn't really have any big moment where I thought to myself, "wow, I don't belive in God anymore." It was a very slow process that took many years of negative experiences with the church and religious fanatics before I declared myself an atheist. I've never really been the type of person who just takes someone's word for something. I've always been an inquisitive person and in school I really took to science because it nurtured my natural tendency to question everything. I suppose that if I had to name a reason it would be that I've always thought it was quite pretentious of humans to claim that we know who and what the one true God is (or gods if you're polytheistic) and that every other religion is wrong and will suffer for eternity. It's just so silly, especially considering how young Christianity is when compared to other religions like paganism, hinduism, buddhism, etc...I guess that I could be considered a pantheist but I don't believe in determinism or that God is present in every flood, hurricane, fire, or any other natural disaster. I'm open to the suggestion that if there is a creator it's too big for us to understand but for the most part I'm a non-believer.

I'm sorry that I don't have any books to recommend for people struggling with religion. Although I could cheekily recommend reading the Bible. It contradicts itself so much that it's hard to believe in a religion that can't even keep it's written testament straight.

Last Edited on: 10/12/09 10:54 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/8/2010 7:52 PM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2009
Posts: 287
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My mom is agnostic, she says she doesn't believe in a god unless she sees proof. My dad is what you call a "kinda christain", he doesn't do the church thing, or anything really but still claims it.

My mom was way more influential on me than my dad, even though I'm not fond of either of them.

I first discovered satanism when I was in high school, by picking up a copy of the satanic bible. After reading it I really felt like I was reading my thoughts on paper. It makes a lot more sense than any other religion out there.

It seems most religions preach chastity (for a lot of things, not just sex), which I strongly disprove of. Life is for living and enjoying, not adhering to superficial beliefs. Sure people claim they "live devoutly" in this life, to enjoy the "Afterlife", but I don't see why.

No one is or ever can be certain about what will happen to us after death. Could there be something? Possibly, but I highly doubt it. That's why I'm enjoying life while I'm ALIVE!

Date Posted: 3/17/2010 10:04 AM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2009
Posts: 979
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I was raised in a semi-lutheran german family, which never went to church except for the Christmas Mass. Even though I was baptized my parents never enforced church-going or praying or talking about God.  My mother was a socialist, so she believed religion was 'poison for a clear mind', but she did follow some secret wiccan traditions, which I did not identify until I was grown-up and read up about wiccan/pagan traditions.

One of my major college courses was 'Atheism and Agnostics' and I got an A+. It also gave me the final push to leave the church officially.

My husband was raised by a devout mormon family (actually most of his family still is), but he learned at an early age how corrupt the politics inside the mormon church was and stopped attending/following the mormon church at age 14.  He was eventually kicked out of the house when he was barely more than 16 years old.

Our son was never baptized or attended any church events.  In school he took ethics and world religion and became a real free-thinker.  I think there was a time when he was in a crisis about it and was searching for the right thing. He went to catholic and protestant services, went to Mosques, tried Buddhism and talked to Hindus.  He ended up marrying a jewish girl, but both of them have no religious affiliation now.

I think it was easier to be non-christian in Germany, because most germans are not very devout or strong church believers.  we pay our taxes to the church (state mandated),  and that is it.  It is harder to be an atheist here, almost like a stigma, but I can't help the way I believe.


Date Posted: 3/17/2010 4:08 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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I maybe coulda been a generic 'Christian', if that 'apostle', Paul, hadn't skewed things around after Jesus'  death to turn the movement into a salvation cult.  I kept going to Sunday School up into my teens, but the 'lessons' there increasingly did not jibe with the lessons in high school and college.  And the exclusivity of each of the denominations appalled me, because we (my family and neighbors) were adherents of many different 'faiths', and all those  folks were  good people.  When I got to college, I discovered I could take classes at the Missouri Bible College (near the University of Missouri campus) and get electives credit for them.  I took two---History of Religion, and Comparative World Religions, and found them both quite interesting.   A good friend explained a bit about her church connection to me, and that was how I came upon the Unitarians.  (Back then, the Unitarians had not yet merged with the Universalists.)  Much "skull practice" and many, many discussions ensued over the years.  Among some interesting reading, I could recommend to you The First Christian, by A. Powell Davies, and The Golden Bough, by Sir James Frazier.  And if you get a chance, sometime, take a college course in Mythology.  If you can't do that, read some of Joseph Campbell's books on the subject.  And if all that isn't enough, dip into Karen Armstrong's works.  The big thing about 'religious' belief, to me, is that you have to forge it for yourself, using all your intellect and thinking long and hard.  Smart old guy named Socrates famously said it:  "The unexamined life is not worth living."

Last Edited on: 12/30/11 6:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 2