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Why do we believe what we believe?


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11 hours ago, Robin.C said:

The day I was able to see that religion, any religion does not own God was the day I felt I could continue living.

This is a good point.


Although I no longer consider myself to be a christian, I do not consider myself to be an atheist.  It's just that my concept of "God" has changed.

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On 5/3/2023 at 9:10 PM, Robin.C said:

I was raised a Roman Catholic and at the moment I still detest what I went through with them (not all Catholics are bad, just putting that in there) and because of that I refused to believe in God.


As mentioned, I too was raised a Roman Catholic & I know how difficult that detesting can be. Mercifully, I can say that the bulk of my resentment has been surrendered, though those impressions cut deep. For instance, I find it difficult to believe (keeping with the topic of belief) that ppl find actual solace in practicing Catholicism. I am aware that people do. I admire some works of Catholic mystics. When I find myself having thoughts about delegitimizing the authenticity of devout Catholics' experience, I try to check myself. Just because something hurt me doesn't mean it's fundamentally wrong for everyone. I remind myself that my thoughts are a reaction to my personal trauma. Thus, I endeavor to un-do that belief because I truly deeply desire to not judge or dismiss others. I do not enjoy the idea of feigning superiority. I desire serene humility. 


I refused to believe in God for some time as well. 


On 5/3/2023 at 9:10 PM, Robin.C said:

The day I was able to see that religion, any religion does not own God was the day I felt I could continue living.


Did this come to you suddenly, or was it a gradual process? 


On 5/3/2023 at 9:10 PM, Robin.C said:

...indoctrination from the church ?


I know that my negative experience with the church is not uncommon. What's unique to me might be the way in which that indoctrination was administered. My Catholic family was also highly dysfunctional, wrought with mental illness, and very fearful & isolationist. If I were raised in a high functioning, trustworthy family, I wonder how my experience with the Catholic church might have been different. At this point in my life, thank God, I do not yearn for my past to have been different as the challenges I have overcome have strengthened me. I deeply resented the challenges of the past while they were happening - in retrospect I suggest because I could neither see nor imagine a light at the end. Specifically regarding why I believed what I did - that I was filthy, rejectable and practically irredeemable - I internalized this by what I was told by my family. I don't think that's exactly what's taught by catechism, but it's certainly how my family believed it to be. 


On 5/4/2023 at 8:57 AM, Ivy said:

Although I no longer consider myself to be a christian, I do not consider myself to be an atheist.  It's just that my concept of "God" has changed.


I realize in retrospect that my actual period of atheism was devotional. I had to spend a lot of years learning to un-believe the beliefs I had internalized. I rejected not Thee God, but the fictitious "God" who terrorized my existence for so long. Gradually, I became receptive to experiencing God through spontaneous experience, through teachings which resonated with me & through intuition which is like the antenna of such resonance. Given all that, it's the relative ease and lightness I experience which validates the beliefs I wish to keep & strengthen as faith. Similarly, it's the stress of experiencing fear, shame, guilt & pride which help me to identify beliefs which need to go. 

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9 hours ago, Vidanjali said:

Did this come to you suddenly, or was it a gradual process? 


It was a sudden realisation. God works in mysterious ways as they say :)



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On 5/3/2023 at 9:10 PM, Robin.C said:

Religious beliefs are another topic entirely and often fraught with emotional baggage.

No offense is intended to anyone's religious beliefs I'm just trying to add to the WHY we believe not WHAT we believe.

Thank you to everyone who has and is contributing to this thread.

When it started I was thinking that Why we believe, and What we believe were two different things.  But obviously that is a mistake.  

In my own life what I believe has shifted.  And the why has certainly been influenced by the what.  


At one time I believed - or maybe more accepted - because It is written… 

But that kinda depended on who I believed had done the "writtening."  So why did I "believe" who had done the writing?  Was it just a cultural thing?


I'm kinda at a place where I will consider what I'm told (or read).  And I might even try it out to see if it works for me.  But ultimately my own experience is all I really have to go on.


Is there some sort of "Absolute Truth"?  I don't know.  But it seems to me, that as soon as we try to define it, we've already limited it, and so lost it.

I have sometimes wondered if theology is really a way of actually avoiding "God".  We have this idea that if we can define something, we can control it.


I no longer think we can define "God".  And I no longer think I can define myself, nor do I want to.


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Been thinking on the things that have been shared here, and also still exploring my own journey.

I also am questioning just how much my beliefs have been influenced by other people in my life.  Certainly as a kid I just believed what my parents told me.  I suppose that's pretty much normal, you don't really question things.  I went to a Lutheran school through the 6th grade.


But moving on from there, in my late teens I began to question things, and started exploring some things that were definitely outside of what I'd been taught.  I was undoubtedly influenced by 60's music and the "hippie" culture as well.  So again, was I just under the influence of the culture around me?  But the things I "believed" did make sense to me.  And a lot of them still do.


That's kinda where I was when I met my (ex) wife.  I had no concept of being transgender, but was questioning my sexuality at the time.  But once we were together I just went with it.  We were kinda "organic" "back to the land" people.  And once we started having a family, we got pulled into pentecostal "holiness" type christianity.  But looking back, I am questioning how much (for myself) it was a matter wanting to belong.  It was easy for me to revert to my christian roots as it were.  Over the subsequent years we kinda wandered through various forms of Christianity.  She still considers herself Christian.


But lately I've been wondering about it all.  Part of the tension in our marriage was due to me questioning this stuff again.  And when we split up, it was easy for me to go back spiritually to the place I was at when we first got together.


So now I'm asking myself, how much of what I believed at the time, was really the influence of those around me?  And what does that mean for the things I say I believe now?  Can we ever be completely sure about anything?  Or are we only trying to convince ourselves.

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5 hours ago, Ivy said:

what my parents told me...Lutheran school...things that were definitely outside of what I'd been taught... 


So again, was I just under the influence of the culture around me?  But the things I "believed" did make sense to me.  And a lot of them still do.


You were under the influence, but not "just" - you also had a unique attraction to what you gravitated towards as your life progressed. So, you were not completely at the mercy of whatever culture was prevalent from time to time. Each of us as if develops our own culture which is refined over time. 


5 hours ago, Ivy said:

I am questioning how much (for myself) it was a matter wanting to belong.  


I think we're all motivated by wanting to belong. For trans people there's a unique aspect of that which can often results in our living much of our lives struggling to fit into roles that don't feel quite natural. To the extent a person is self-aware and motivated to do effort versus naive, vulnerable and fearful, their wanting to belong will lead them to try out various ways of life and belief systems. Some get stuck in fear, remaining rather complacent. Others evolve and refine their concept of wanting to belong. The ultimate wanting to belong is the desire for Unity with the Divine. How is one to realize it? It's a journey which entails profound questioning and self-reflection. 


5 hours ago, Ivy said:

So now I'm asking myself, how much of what I believed at the time, was really the influence of those around me?  And what does that mean for the things I say I believe now?


Influence is powerful. We are all subject to influence. Good influence works wonders. One who seeks the truth will continue to attract auspicious influences or associations. And what no longer serves you may be moved past. 


5 hours ago, Ivy said:

 Can we ever be completely sure about anything?


We can be sure that everything in the material world is perishable and will pass away. Therfore, if one seeks to know ultimate reality, it is beyond what we detect with the senses, what we feel through the nervous system, and what we think with the mind. 


5 hours ago, Ivy said:

 Or are we only trying to convince ourselves.


Our minds are pervaded by desires. The ultimate desire is the desire for absolute freedom. Some seek it in a limited way through emotion, others through material comforts. Those who are spiritually inclined seek it through knowledge, through experience of higher states of consciousness & through surrender of attachment. Even spontaneous experience of the Divine (or whatever one wishes to call it) requires reinforcement. The mind does require convincing that what it perceives is not the ultimate reality.

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