Tuesday, April 8, 2014

G is for God

I grew up going to the United Church of Canada and I never minded – as a matter of fact, I still enjoy it – but I always felt like a hypocrite. I was surrounded by people who seemed to sincerely believe in what was being said, and I was always a little apprehensive, irrationally afraid that someone was going to see through me and I was going to be kicked out, or struck by lightning, for not believing the way I should.

As many of you know, I've been wrestling with religion this past year. Having a friend who is a minister, moving to an area that is strongly fundamentalist Christian, being appalled by the way members of marginalized society are treated by the Christian right, I have never spent so much time thinking, reading and talking about religion.

I have finally decided I don't believe in God. I don't believe in Heaven or Hell. I believe we live our lives and then we die, so we'd best make the most of whatever time we're lucky enough to have on this planet.

You have no idea how exhilarating it is to admit that to yourself. It's like I'd been shackled my whole life and suddenly I'm free.

At the same time, I'm also afraid to say this publicly. Most people, I would say, believe in some kind of religion, and non-believers are either looked down upon or targeted as people to "save." There's also a fear of repercussion – after all, it wasn't long ago that heretics were burned at the stake.

I sort of feel like I'm coming out of the closet, and it's scary but wonderful all at the same time.

I used to wish that I could believe. I was jealous of those who looked towards death with nothing but confidence, but I don't worry about it anymore. The older I get, the less afraid I am of dying and the more I believe in honesty and humanism.

Still, I always wonder, what is it that makes you believe (or not believe)? I sincerely want to know, and hope you tell me in your comment. Nothing too long, and please don't quote scripture at me. I don't care what the Bible or any other religious book says, I want to know what's in your heart – and what happened in your life that shapes your relationship with God. 

Maybe I'll write a book about it some day.

People always say we shouldn't talk about politics or religion, but I think if we're not talking about the things that really matter, there's no point talking.


  1. I'm not sure what I believe anymore but it wouldn't surprise me to find we are all floating inside a glass dome on someones mantel somewhere in another dimension. Hope they take care whilst dusting.

  2. My hubby is the same way, he doesn't believe in God either, but grew up going to church every Sunday. I did too, went to church every Sunday and felt inadequate like I was such a sinner that Jesus would never come into my heart, but I was a child! It was because of a Sunday School teacher that I now question everything, and happily so, curiously so. Because I felt so limited by the beliefs taught - there is more than one way to the light - no one religion has all the answers, but put them all together and you're on your way to real truth. Today, I still believe in God, but to get into my beliefs here would, well, take a book! LOL I do believe in an afterlife, I believe our soul moves on to another world, another life - and that journey depends on the how, what, and the why of this life. I'm looking forward to death - I can't wait to see / experience the next part of this journey!

  3. I think there are larger mysteries out there after death, but heaven, hell, god, all that bible crap that was written by "man" who decided what goes in it and what doesn't it, and anything written by man is 90% percent propaganda and BS and 10% truth at best. Nope, none of it for me. Look I typed it and haven't been struck down, yippeee for me lol I respect others views, unless they are bible thumping idiots who can't see past their blinders, then screw them lol

  4. Fertilizer. All we are is fertilizer. Animals have souls and I don't see them running to church every Sunday. All they are is fertilizer. What makes us any better? It's why our dead bodies rot. To break us down into fertilizer to keep the earth's soil rich in nutrients. Or so they taught us in biology. But it would be nice to see our beloved dead family members again in Heaven, wouldn't it! We do have the gift of hope. Hope that there is a heaven and life beyond! Fertilizer to me is the logical answer. Sorry. lol

  5. Cathy- I appreciate your honesty and am always open to sharing why I believe what I believe. I would not presume to lay my beliefs down on you like a burden, it's just not how I roll. I live my life the way I want, and leave others to do the same. However, if anyone EVER asks me for my opinion, I give it. I have had and seen too many miracles occur in my life to not believe in God. Even without the miracles I would still believe in an intelligent design because of the amazing universe we live in. I believe with my whole heart there is a heaven and I, on my own, would never be good enough to get in. I believe that it is only through Christ, in His perfection, and by His amazing grace, I will one day be there with Him.

    I hope that's not too long of an answer and it is an adequate response to your question. But it's hard to simplify why I have so much faith in my heart, to just a few sentences. Love Ya Cath!!

  6. I knew this was a serious post because you didn't spell it "gawd". I could write a book in response to this (actually I have, but nobody's read it).

    I'm saddened to learn that you've moved to an area rife with fundamentalists. As long as you show a willingness to have a conversation about god you will be at battle with these people. They will never accept your thoughts on the subject. I applaud your decision to "come out". You're right, believers think there's something wrong with us - indeed, we're "lost".

    I don't have scientific proof of this, I don't think it exists yet, but I think people are genetically wired to believe or not believe. And as time goes on less and less people believe. I would bet that at no other time in the history of human civilizations has a larger percentage of the population not believed. This makes me question if the "God chip" was desirable for survival in the past, and has stopped being so for so long now that more and more people are being born without it. And I'm only talking about the people who are honest in their belief or lack of it. Not all of the hypocrites or those who only believe because their parents did, etc.

    1. Mark I agree with you on the idea of wiring. One of the odd things I have dealt with is being the only person out of all the relatives I know who is wired up like me.

      Cathy, like you I struggled to find a way to believe. I went through a period of Eastern religious study,and then ended up where you are. But it has not taken anything from me, not my love of miracles (isn't a miracle that two people had sex and so many delicate things had to come together just exactly right in order to make us!) or my awe or my sense or a higher purpose. In fact, all of those things have become so much more heightened. Every moment is meant to create meaning, to treasure in a real way, to live in and to Be present. As you and Mark know, I've certainly not slowed on working to leave the world in a better way than I found it. But that's not for a father, any father, it is for my daughter. And all of us, and all of our children.

  7. You were brave enough to speak your heart, then so shall I.
    I am a born-again Christian. I do not follow a church or a religion - I follow the Bible, which is the Word of God.
    Why do I believe? Because I have a relationship with my Lord and Savior, one that is deep an meaningful beyond words. And from that, I have such an incredible peace about my life.

  8. My father is a Church of England Vicar, so I was brought up in the centre of church life. However, my father and mother always taught me to think about my faith and what I believe and to give other people room for their own faith, or absence of it. My relationship with my personal interpretation of God is always changing, so I can't really tell you what I believe except that I think there is one and I don't think God would want us to exclude others for being different. I am currently appalled by the CoE attitude to their homosexual priests and not allowing them to marry when it is now legal in England.
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX - A to Z Drabblerotic

  9. Sorry to learn you have given up on God. (She will be sad.) Glad you have given up on heaven and hell; that stuff is not good for the soul.

    Me? United Church Minister. Ethicist. Broadcaster-Journalist. Seeing God as mystery, imagery, and energy. (Yes, my God-language is a bit different; some might say a whole lot different.) Re-working some of my beliefs (that's OK — beliefs are pretty much human-made). Still fascinated by Bible stores (though they may not have occurred exactly the way they're recorded). Life focused on active compassion for others. Keen on building community, within church and society. Actively involved in "social movements" — from digging wells in Africa to "Idle No More" in Canada. All of that is related to how I see God and the Christian life. I have survived my own "crucifixion" (at the hands of some decidedly unhappy church people) — and came out the other end. (Yes, I believe in resurrections.) Retired, but not retiring, still working for our congregation (occasionally).

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

  10. Life you, I was raised in a church, believed. Then went away to college, took some philosophy courses, and dropped religion like a hot rock. It was not until the birth of my first child, when she was is "distress" and whisked away for two days, that I recognized that God had been with me all the years when I had walked away.

    I cannot express adequately how important my relationship with God is to me.

  11. I was about twelve when I realized The Truth. I was being prayed over by zealous Christian youngsters to infuse me with the holy spirit and be among the saved. I had a vision of the billions and billions of souls who were already dead. All in hell for want of being saved. Probably enough souls to sink the earth. No god could condemn that many people just to save me and my friends here and now. I left feeling much better for my revelation; I was no more saved than any other person on earth, or the billions who went before. My only responsibility was to to my best and get on.
    We are just more living things on this planet. We must take care of it and of each other. When we die, we die.
    But, I also like thinking about Syliva Browne. Perhaps all our souls go somewhere to become wiser. Who knows. It's not important. I take care of my little patch of life. I'll learn the rest when I die.

  12. I am with you all the way on this topic. I was brought up in an Old Testament religion, even went to their college. I was "excommunicated" because I got a divorce from an abusive husband. He was allowed to remain in the church.

    All that is water under the bridge. Studying philosophy and religion has led me to become an atheist. Christianity is a relatively new religion in the history of earth. Asia had so many more religions first: Hindu, Buddhist, Taoism, etc. I don't know what makes Christians think their religion is better than anyone else's.

    As far as I can tell, the Chrisitan religion is meant to suppress the human spirit and make us feel guilty. Religion also takes tithes and donations from many who can't afford to give them and keeps them in the grips of the church with promises of heaven and a land of milk and honey. Fairy tales all.

    My belief is that we make our own heaven or hell by the way we live our life now. There may or may not be an afterlife. If there is, it may just be that our spirit is recycled into another part of the Universe. Who knows? Dead people tell no tales. Those are made up by the living.

    Thank you for your blog. Very insightful.


  13. You want to know what makes me believe? First let me say, I believe God is literally the father of our spirits, and as a father, he's invested in our individual lives. My proofs can't be explained by hard evidences anyone would believe, but it's come through regular answers to prayer, feelings of peace in difficult circumstances, and "coincidences" I call personal miracles. There is a God. He is invested in us. He loves us so much he won't force us to believe or do anything. He waits for us to come to him.

  14. Crystal's words are beautiful. I've always believed, although at one point in my life I leaned the other direction. (Can't side with the devil and not still believe in God.) But once I accepted Jesus, life did change. Someone else mentioned peace, and that's a good way to describe it. He is always there for me.

  15. I fully agree and go with Alex,Crystal and Diane!!
    Indeed there is God and He is alive, He is a reality and He is coming back again to receive His beloved ones, This is for sure Believe in Him and be saved from the coming great calamity!
    Only the fools will say in their heart and even in open,
    that there is no God !!
    So sad are their fate!!
    Best Regards

  16. Another non believer here. I believe that this life is all that we get and that a species we are heading towards extinction. Because I believe this is it, it is up to me to live as good a life as possible. And fundamentalist anything scares me.

  17. Despite what most people on the Right say, what they believe in is a set of rules. Some people need rules to tell them what to do and how to live and all of that. The Rules are more important than anything else and give them a standard to measure themselves and others by. The Rules also have nothing to do with what is actually in whatever book they are supposedly pulling the Rules from (because this is not just a Christian thing; it is a fundamentalist thing from many different religions). The Rules also have nothing to do with whatever god they claim to follow. All of that to say, specifically approaching it from the angle you're dealing with, when you're dealing with Fundamentalism and the Christian Right, you are not actually dealing with Christianity. Not only is not a good representation, it's not a representation at all.

  18. Kathy, I feel like this is one of those serendipitous moments in life. I've struggled for years with this exact question, enjoying mindfulness as a concept that makes life more meaningful. But, I spent the entire day today immersed in "The Book" by Alan Watts and darling, I highly suggest you grab yourself a copy right now. I feel like you would get the peace it offers. Love you, sister.

  19. I'm a recovering Catholic who identifies more with pagan religions but I am an atheist. I see all these terrible things that happen in the world, to truly good people, and there just can't be a god.

  20. Growing up in Glasgow, religion for me was more about an identity than a belief and basically came down to which football team you supported - my parents didn't believe in sending us to church and thought we should make up our own minds about religion. I don't believe in God, but find myself drawn to Buddhism and try to live a compassionate life through it's teachings. I wouldn't say I'm a Buddhist though, or any other religion as I don't find the labels useful - perhaps that's what comes of growing up in a sectarian city. Who knows?
    Anyway, good for you for being honest with yourself and following what's in your heart. That takes a lot of guts! :-)

  21. I wasn't raised in a Christian houshold but I was sent to Sunday school all the same. In my teens I rebelled, my life filled up with non- church stuff and I turned my back on it.
    About 7 years later I stumbled on God, who seemed to have been standing around in the background until such time as I was ready to listen to Him. I wasn't in a particular crisis but life was empty - a serious of unexplainable coincidences (or was it God tapping me on the shoulder...?) led me to consider the possibility that Jesus, God and 'all that jazz' might actually be real. I took a step of faith - and like one of your other commenters said, I embarked on a 'relationship' that has continued for the last 36 years!

    I don't believe on ramming my beliefs down someone's throat - but if anyone asks then I'm happy to talk about it.

    Sadly, some people are not the best 'ambassadors' for Christ and the consequences are detrimental to the world's view of the 'church'.

    Equally so - just because I DO believe in God, I confess I do find it tiresome when I'm patronised and made to feel I'm simple-minded....

    My faith in a nut-shell - Jesus paying the price of our sins by his death (once and for ALL of us) gave us what you might call a sort of 'get out of jail -free!' card. It's up to each one if us if we want to use it - God doesn't send us to hell, He gives us a way out.

    Well done, Cathy - this is not an easy subject to post about. There's that old saying - 'I may not agree with what you say, but I absolutely defend your right to say it! ;-)

  22. I believe in what speaks to my soul. For instance, there are certain things about Wicca and Buddhism that I love and try to implement in my life, but I am Christian. I don't think religion is all that black and white. Growing up, I will admit there were times when I questioned the existence of God and what's in the Bible, but I still like the thought of a higher power whether that's God or something else, and I'll believe in it and worship it in my own way. :)

    Bravo to you for sharing this post!

  23. I was brought up in the church, but I'm agnostic now. I've never seen a sign, felt a presence. My mother's death was really the last straw for me, but it was a long, long time coming before that.

  24. I love you so much Cathy, your courage is a beacon of hope for me. I do not believe in god either. I believe in people. People like you. Thank you.

  25. I believe in God, and I respect the religious views of others. The God I worship is full of love and acceptance. He doesn't condemn those who don't follow 'The Rules'. He waits for those who have turned their backs on Him, hoping they will find him or return to him someday. Cathy, you asked what makes me believe, and I can honestly say it is a unwavering feeling, a sureness, that He is there, just as I am sure of the love I feel for my family.

  26. What's in my heart is there is no God, but that doesn't stop me from asking all the gods in all the heavens to help me win the lottery at least once a month.

  27. Cathy, I was born into a very staunchly Catholic family, but in my teenage years, a personal experience of faith made my belief in God strong. In my thirties, I went through several painful experiences (basically because I bought trouble) and I realized that my faith was a very childlike one. In my forties, I'm veering away from 'religious practices' but feel a strong sense of God in my daily life. I hope that makes sense. :)

  28. I've always believed that "GOD" is within us, it is our conscience, and what makes us human. That ability to reason and know right from wrong and do the right thing. You know how you hear about people's lives flashing by them as they are on their death bed? I believe that is part of that GOD thing. It all ties in with Karma too. Do good, be a good person and that life that flashes by your eyes will give you a good departure. Lately it seems a lot of people world wide don't have this GOD within them.

  29. Good stuff. An atheist or agnostic might argue that discussion of religion ISN'T important; there are issues that the Vatican has to deal with that extend beyond arguing about whether to bring back the Latin Mass, or the hierarchy of angels, or even who to canonize or beatify! As long as we can co-exist and value each other, that's more important. But thank you for sharing.

  30. "I was jealous of those who looked towards death with nothing but confidence"
    Exactly! But I wouldn't say I'm jealous, just envious. I read the book, I know that is one of the seven.
    "Non-believers are either looked down upon or targeted as people to save." YES!
    I wouldn't say I'm a total non-believer, but I'm too scientifically minded to be otherwise. I'd like to believe, but like you, I want no part of the "structure" that is modern day religion. I like to hold onto the old farm version of religion where Sunday was more a time of rest; a gathering of folks to reconnect and strengthen the bonds of family and community as well, it was a spiritual soothing of the soul.
    Brave post, Cathy. I applaud you.

  31. There's a song called "Stained Glass Masquerade" that talks about how people feel like they have to put on a show in church. "Are we happy plastic people, under a giant plastic steeple… with walls to hide our pain"

    I believe, but I think part of that is to question. There's a passage in the Bible that says, "Do not put out the Spirit's fire. Test everything." A correct, if maybe shallow, way to think about religion is that it's a gigantic self-improvement project. There's always flaws in ourselves, to examine and attempt to fix. We err when we decide to make it a way to put ourselves above others, though.

    I could go on forEVer, so I'll stop here. ;-)

  32. I went the opposite direction to many of the posters. Raised in a vaguely agnostic fashion, I became a Christian in my 20s after a series of challenging discussions with a friend I respected. I realized that I had been rejecting religion based largely on what others were saying -- the sort of mindless, knee-jerk theology that those of us on the political left seem to default to. I'd say things like "well, the Bible was all made up by dead white guys" or "Christianity is a crutch" without ever having asked myself a very simple question: if faith is so stupid, how have so many smart people been able to justify it to themselves?
    Once I asked that question, it freed me to start looking at faith from a genuine position of inquiry. Before I knew it, I was doing crazy things like praying and reading the Bible and going to church.
    Just goes to show: you never know what sort of odd lanes a little intellectual inquiry will lead you down.


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