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Shane C

Religious experiences

67 posts in this topic

I was a Protestant for the longest time. I was studying theology for awhile and came across the question of where the Holy Spirit was. I was told by a convincing debater that the Holy Spirit was with the Catholics guiding them and provided possible proof. I started to think like a Catholic, following their ideas in my head, and I did start to feel different. I felt brighter, in the way of a brighter outlook. I didn't end up becoming a Catholic because my family would not let me, though I wanted to, and later very soon, forgot about all of this.

Since then, I don't really care about religion as much. But had my family let me be a Catholic, it might have changed the story arc of my life. I might have ended up a priest or something instead of a game artist, which I am studying to be.
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I grew up in a terrible religious household, was forced into all that 'stuff', hated it as a kid, had to pretend to believe it and all that, I preferred math found it far more magical simply because well lets be honest through math you can do anything. I wont bother speaking more about my religious experiences, I am sure this thread will eventually be locked as rarely do religious discussions end well (even on religious sites); all I will say is I don't speak to my family and I am an atheist.

Edited by Dynamo_Maestro
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I grew up in a terrible religious household, was forced into all that 'stuff', hated it as a kid, had to pretend to believe it and all that, I preferred math found it far more magical simply because well lets be honest through math you can do anything. I wont bother speaking more about my religious experiences, I am sure this thread will eventually be locked as rarely do religious discussions end well (even on religious sites); all I will say is I don't speak with my family and I am an atheist.


It probably will be locked. But I asked if it was against the rules to make a religion thread and was pretty much told that it probably wasn't. I'm hoping for about 15 good replies before it becomes a flame war and is locked.
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I think the people here are far more likely to engage in a flamewar about OpenGL vs. DirectX rather than any type of religion flamewar.

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I think the people here are far more likely to engage in a flamewar about OpenGL vs. DirectX rather than any type of religion flamewar.

 

Hmm I must be looking at the wrong sections, I only seem to come across C# vs C++ wars

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I think the people here are far more likely to engage in a flamewar about OpenGL vs. DirectX rather than any type of religion flamewar.

Don't bet on it.
 
OP, do you actually have a question? This isn't your twitter feed.
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There are occasional religious discussions in the Lounge.  The same rules tend to apply as always.  Keep it civil, keep it on topic, if the topic devolves into a flamewar it will be terminated, etc.

 

I'm just wondering, what exactly is the topic of the thread? "Religious Experiences" is pretty vague, and I've had quite a few that range from extremely positive to extremely negative.

 

Are you just soliciting generally "What are your personal experiences with religion?"  If so you might want to make that clear.

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I'm just wondering, what exactly is the topic of the thread? "Religious Experiences" is pretty vague, and I've had quite a few that range from extremely positive to extremely negative.


The meaning of the thread is kind of implied. I've had weird experiences concerning Catholicism, and was hoping to discuss them. The feeling I felt, and how the debater was supposedly right.

I could not think of a good thread title. I knew if I made the title just "Religion" and that's it, it would probably attract the people who like to argue about it.
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My guess...

From your perspective of starting on the outside of a religion looking in at it (as opposed to being inducted into it by your parents), I'm thinking that it's the situation where people want to be part of something that's 'bigger' than themselves. It's probably a big part of the sensation that you remember feeling. Not necessarily a bad thing but also not necessarily a solution for whatever has pulled you towards the religion in the first place.

I can see the appeal of having a clear sense of right and wrong and the way things are and should be. Until you find yourself in a situation where you're at odds with those beliefs about the way things should be or another person's interpretation of of those beliefs.
 

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I grew up exposed to Christian scripture in schools, but I just thought they were stories that got told to children. I honestly had no idea that people believed in them. I remember one day playing with the scripture teacher's son, and he asked me something about God, so I asked him if he believed in God (which he did), and it puzzled me as much as realizing a 10yr old believes in Santa or the tooth fairy!
So I guess I was naturally an atheist.

Later on as a teenager taking drugs, I guess I experienced what a Christian might call a conversation with God. Not literally a conversation, but the sense of connection to something bigger. So that kind of made me an Agnostic.
My personal God isn't connected to any organized religion, though I do have a King James Bible and a Bhagavad Gita out of interest (I much prefer the latter). God to me is the sum of all things. A personified super man, like the old European gods or especially the old testament god, do not come close to the magnitude of the idea of God to me, they're just nice stories to teach morales to children.
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I grew up exposed to Christian scripture in schools, but I just thought they were stories that got told to children. I honestly had no idea that people believed in them. I remember one day playing with the scripture teacher's son, and he asked me something about God, so I asked him if he believed in God (which he did), and it puzzled me as much as realizing a 10yr old believes in Santa or the tooth fairy!
So I guess I was naturally an atheist.
Later on as a teenager taking drugs, I guess I experienced what a Christian might call a conversation with God. Not literally a conversation, but the sense of connection to something bigger. So that kind of made me an Agnostic.
My personal God isn't connected to any organized religion, though I do have a King James Bible and a Bhagavad Gita out of interest (I much prefer the latter). God to me is the sum of all things. A personified super man, like the old European gods or especially the old testament god, do not come close to the magnitude of the idea of God to me, they're just nice stories to teach morales to children.


Does your God have a consciousness? Just curious.
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Hodgman and I share a similar (but perhaps not exact) viewpoint.  I treat the concept of "God" the same as the concept of "The universe".  There's nothing mystical/religious it to me, but the scale of it is astounding, and there are so many unanswered questions about how it functions, where it came from, etc.

 

The universe contains apparently conscious beings, but does that make the Universe itself conscious?  I wouldn't say that.  I would say that "consciousness" is an irrelevant attribute when considering something that includes everything else.

Edited by Nypyren
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I think the people here are far more likely to engage in a flamewar about OpenGL vs. DirectX rather than any type of religion flamewar.

 

Are they not much the same thing? :P

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I ask because when I was in the hospital with medical problems, I seemed to have a hallucination that I was speaking with God. It was likely a hallucination. However, the God I was speaking to was much different than that of the Bible. This God had a consciousness though.
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I was brought up in a Christian household, as are most in my country(Greece), but do not imagine anything 'extreme'...in fact neither my parents nor I really went to church unless it was Christmas or Easter smile.png

 

So I became an atheist since first year of highschool, I think...no great (de)conversion, just a realization that there is too much *meaningless* sufferring in the world, without any purpose or goal(for example, a 1yrold infant dying of brain cancer, which has happened to a family I know). Plus, even if I was willing to believe in a personified, benovelent deity, I have absolutely no way to choose which of the versions of it is actually the right one, since there are virtually no solid evidence, just groups of people which believe, with the same conviction, that their version, most probably passed on by their fathers, grandfathers and so on, is the "true" one. Christianity's Trinity? Judaism's Yawheh? Islam's Allah?(just to name the main 3 monotheistic ones). Those are *not* the "same God", they do deal with a God-Creator of the universe, but they describe quite different properties, plus Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth was God, a notion that is absurd and blasphemous in the other 2 religions.

 

Then, about 2 years ago, out of pretty much nowhere, I've had an avalanche of religious experiences, a sort of perceived "communication" with God, not in audible or visible hallucinations, but more like a belief I was suddenly "endowed" with a gift to interpret physical "signs" that pointed to the existence of God(the Christian God, to be exact, something not so weird since I was brought up from day 1 in a country/environment where "God" means "Christian God".) I even participated or started some threads here about religion, where I fiercely argued from a Christian point of view, though it was a pov I had constructed on my own, not really relevant to any mainstream dogma(for example I argued that love, not "faith" nor "good deeds", is the ticket to heaven; a loving person is accepted by Jesus into the Kingdom of God, regardless of being christian of any denomination, muslim, jew, buddhist, hinduist, atheist or anything else).

 

Well, anyway, the whole thing turned out to be , you guessed it, a kind of psychotic episode, triggered by my "genius" decision to suddenly stop taking the anti-depressants which my doctor, who I was seeing for years, and still do, had prescribed, and that treated my OCD and depression. Looking back, it was kind of an interesting period, as I was constantly in a sort of "feverish"/ecstatic state, terribly excited that profound "secrets" had been given to me, though the exact nature of those "secrets" I wasn't really able to define smile.png. When the whole "high" eventually faded out, I was kind of embarassed about things I've said(mostly online, as people in real life hadn't really noticed anything significantly different, I kept things to myself), but I decided not to be too hard on myself, and that my brain, going over a sudden chemical "withdrawal" over my idiotic decision to stop taking my meds overnight(note: Do NOT do this!), just...took a wrong turn somewhere. So I'm back to my atheist mode...and that's the end of it. smile.png

Edited by mikeman
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I am a Mormon and believe in God, but I can relate to atheists. I find myself asking questions about the human history and evolution as well as the earths history and it's connection to by beliefs. I am not satisfied with the poor attempts people make trying to explain the evidences away and find myself working through the questions myself. I know some atheists who are good people and religious people who aren't. I don't think that somebodies church determines if they are a good person or not.

The bible, specifically the old testament, is quite a puzzle. If taken literally at face value we should believe that mankind has only been around for about 6,000 years whereas archeology shows that we have been around much longer. I wont share all my thoughts on trying to explain this but I believe it comes down to human error when writing, translating, or passing verbally, stories over the ages. Record keeping wasn't always good as it is today. However, I still believe the book is valuable.

I also believe God has an important role in my life. I don't understand everything about him and his plan but I do believe he is real and we have a purpose. A belief in him hasn't come from evidences that come from the senses. Rather it is the spirit that, in my personal view, bypasses the senses and speaks directly to our spirit and minds. You don't hear a voice but it is usually accompanied with positive feelings and a clear mind. Its hard to explain and many times hard to recognize. I know many of you will write those feelings off as being a psychological phenomenon that come purely natural causes. I have thought of that many times but have decided to choose faith over doubt and follow those promptings. It has served me well for me so far.

Anyway, I was about to post more about having God in my life but it was feeling a little too preachy, so I will just get off my soapbox now.
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Does your God have a consciousness? Just curious.

The universe contains apparently conscious beings, but does that make the Universe itself conscious?  I wouldn't say that.  I would say that "consciousness" is an irrelevant attribute when considering something that includes everything else.

It's interesting philisophically though.
Does your foot have a consciousness? No, of course not.
Does your head have a consciounsess? Yeah, it's in there somewhere -- you can cut off any other bit of your body besides the head it would seem and remain "you".

 

What is "I" or "self" though? We usually confuse "I" with our body, and our body contains our consciousness somewhere, so we say that we are conscious, because there is a consciousness somewhere within our bodies.
If we accept that, then when asked, "does the room that you're in have a consciousness?" then we also have to interpret that as "is there a consciousness inside the room that you're in?", and then the answer becomes yes, because you're in the room, and there is a consciousness inside you.
So the earth, the solar system, and the universe-as-god obviously have many consciousnesses biggrin.png
 
However, if you're asking if there is some in-the-sky ethereal consciousness permeating through everything, with the power to produce miracles on earth at will, I'd have to say that the probability is extremely unlikely, being almost certainly 0%.

 

Going back to the "what is self" question though, I somewhat believe in duality... my position changes back and forth over the years... but there is definitely a big difference between the body (as in your foot) and your mind. If you cut off the foot, you're still "you", but with each cut of the brain, what was "you" diminishes in some way. Duality comes into it when you start to believe that your mind is separate from your consciousness, and that a part of your consciousness is just a passive observer with no control over your mind -- basically God, watching if you're into that, or the purest form of self, separate from the self we associate with mind and body.

I ask because when I was in the hospital with medical problems, I seemed to have a hallucination that I was speaking with God. It was likely a hallucination. However, the God I was speaking to was much different than that of the Bible. This God had a consciousness though.

Keep in mind that there's many scientific explanations for these phenomenon. Inside your brain, you're not just one person. We each have many different parts of the brain all doing their own thing and competing for dominance. When communication between the parts are disrupted, it's possible for them to all basically start acting as separate people, instead of cooperating to create one person.

 

If I believed in such things, this would be a manifestation of (the singular) God -- much like how the Christian God himself couldn't walk among us, so he created the human Jesus as a manifestation of himself on earth. Catholic God is split into three pieces, while still being a singular "one God".

 
If you want to picture an all-powerful God, imagine that He was split into an uncountable number of pieces that now make up everything that is and can be imagined. You yourself are made up of these pieces, so you're also a manifestation of God.

Edited by Hodgman
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I was raised nominally Catholic, but grew out of that in high school. 
 
When I was older, I decided I liked Terry Pratchetts view:

...don't believe in gods in the same way that most people don't find it necessary to believe in, say, tables. They know they're there, they know they're there for a purpose, they'd probably agree that they have a place in a well-organised universe, but they wouldn't see the point of believing, of going around saying "O great table, without whom we are as naught." Anyway, either the gods are there whether you believe in them or not, or exist only as a function of the belief, so either way you might as well ignore the whole business and, as it were, eat off your knees.


Later still, I decided that religion was actively bad for people, and I swung more towards Richard K. Morgans view:

Even if you could convince [me], against all the evidence, that there really was a god? I’d just see him as a threat to be eliminated. If god were demonstrably real? Guys like me would just be looking for ways to find him and burn him down.


These days, I take more of a "live and let live" approach. If someone wants to believe in god, that's fine with me, as long as they don't try to impose their beliefs on others. 

 

That said, I am still firmly convinced that the catholic church is a despicable organisation and needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

 

So there ya go, my religious evolution by way of literary quotes.

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Well, at this point the thread hasn't turned into a flamewar, and I'm resting from a lot of programming, so... why not. I have believed in God all my life and actually had a few spiritual experiences. I've never taken drugs, not even smoke, but two of my experiences happened during near death events. Also have experienced weird events like time slowdown, void visualization, info-addiction, and others, but I never associated that with anything spiritual, that's something from the mind. I've always been pretty interested in spirituality and science at the same time, and had periods of experimentation and even fanatism from completely different beliefs: Christian and New Age. I have also been very close to people that practiced these, and witnessed things that people would consider miracles, including demonic possessions and exorcisms. I've had brief interaction with Hare-Krishna and Tibetan monks, nuns, as well as other people that also had spiritual experiences. Also seen truly atheists scared by ghosts, and sincere believers taken down by the injustices of life.

 

My current view of God is that of a classic god, actually the one that most resemble it is Chronos, yes, the god of time that ate his children, that's at the same time the father and enemy of all gods. For me it's an individual and intelligent entity, that is not a part of the universe. It's good and evil at the same time. The fist greatest gift that Chronos gave to living beings is life and the second greatest is death. God can lie and play jokes, yet it's respectful of life and free will, and will not force anyone into believing in it. For the time being I'm a true believer of the God of Time, and I think every religion is wrong.

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No gods for me. I find the idea of a god really, reeeaaaaally ridiculous. Specially the one of a god that watches over us, that loves us, cares for all of us, and bla bla bla. It's just something that seems so out of touch with everything. It's like an insta-rationalization machine.

 

I was never able to relate with such things.

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Some things that puzzle me about religions and anti-religions are:

 

1. Why atheists spend so much time coming up with ideas to disprove the existence of God? That actually transform them into negative believers. If God exists or not there is no need for believers or anti-believers, we don't matter.

 

2. If God doesn't exist you must highly consider life to be automatically generated in the universe. The universe is homogenous, the same events repeat everywhere, so you should have life everywhere. But I haven't found a person that doesn't believe in God that still believes in aliens, instead most of the people that believe in God also believe in the contrary solution for life as well.

 

3. People that believe in a good God spend way more time thinking on an evil God. Specially modern Christian religions seem to be founded either on Satan or the Apocalypse, bad entity and bad events.

 

Religions and anti-religions doesn't make or destroy God.

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1. Why atheists spend so much time coming up with ideas to disprove the existence of God? That actually transform them into negative believers. If God exists or not there is no need for believers or anti-believers, we don't matter.

 

Atheists are negative believers, it's the very definition of atheism: one which rejects the existence of a higher power, deity, God, etc... were you thinking of agnosticism? There is an important difference. So obviously atheists are going to come up with ideas to disprove the existence of God for the exact same reasons that believers are going to come up with ideas to prove the existence of God, in endless debates and heated discussions, yet never truly reaching one another.

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I'm proud of gamedev for making it this far without descending into a flame war :)

 

Personally I am atheist  I was very religous up until about 10, around that age I started to question things but held on to the belief because I wanted to and rationalized my decision despite how rediculous it seemed to me by telling myself "Well doctors and scientists and other people who are much smarter than a 10 year old kid believe in god, so they're probably right." At the time I didn't know how many scientists were atheist.

 

I usually avoid all discussion of religon because I just don't care enough, but everyone seems to be pretty civil here so what the hell.

 

Sometimes I consider myself agnostic, just because of the fact that I'm aware that I have less than 1% of the knowledge required to make such a claim as that there is/isn't a god. I guess technically I am agnostic because I don't deny that gods existence is possible, how the hell would I know? But I usually just say I'm athiest because the people I'm talking to will interpret that closer to my actual beliefs than if I told them I was agnostic

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I normally don't like writing much about this topic on the internet, and personally find it kind of awkward, but oh well.

 

 

when I was younger, I was more like "don't know, don't care", neither leaning strongly towards belief or disbelief in these areas.

 

did note eventually that I cared some about morals though, not so much arguing specifics, but more sort of a general "there is a right, there is a wrong, people should do things that are right and avoid doing things that are wrong" sense (which generally aligned pretty well with traditional views).

 

eventually started looking into religions some, more or less all of them at once, stumbled into some areas which sort of "went terribly wrong".

initially I saw it more as an information-gathering and experimentation exercise, trying to resolve first-hand "what was the case", and "stuff got scary".

 

ended up going with Christianity (more specific "generic non-denominational Protestantism, I guess"), as it best matched my general beliefs and existing general moral beliefs, and with the various possibilities was generally the "safest bet".

 

like, while it is hard to really be certain what is correct, it is at least easier to rule out what is "most likely not correct" (basically, all the obviously "weird" stuff...). even within the landscape that is "Christendom" there are things that basically scare me off (like, I find that I prefer to stay well clear of people like Charismatics and Pentecostals, as it looks a bit too much like the things that scared me away from the other religions...).

 

 

I still seem to float sometimes between "believing with a sense of conviction" and "hell if I know".

 

and, sometimes floating around in the area that is morals and doctrine, sometimes seeing it from inside the system, and sometimes externally as if it were all a big system (more similar to how one sees things like code and file-formats, like as a big collection of information, largely itself isolated from whether or not it is "real"). sometimes "getting into it" and other times "burning out on it".

 

like, my natural "reality" is not based on absolutes, but rather seemingly a big network of various pieces of information, and it is hard to really have any conviction that anything in particular is "fact" (more "seems most likely the case at the moment").

 

then I am left to realize if I look "outwards", my external reality then becomes more about responding to whatever comes up, when it comes up, often as it is seen via the lens of whatever seems right or wrong or good/bad, and finding that often my personal beliefs about the greater universe have little bearing in an immediate sense, vs seeing the "here and now" mixed with responding to various people and the events in their lives (people doing good and bad things, and good and bad results coming to them resulting from their actions, ...). (*4)

 

and, while a person can go and engage in bad behavior, often all it will do is bring bad results, and I am left to think "how can it be good for people to promote or try to justify behaviors which seemingly do little beyond bring bad consequences on those who do them?...". (like, even ignoring the "greater truths", there is such a thing as a self-destructive lifestyle... and things that may come back to bite one later...).

 

(like "greater reality" vs "does it effect what I am doing right now?" or "can I eat it?" or similar...).

 

 

*4: don't need supernatural explanations or "crazy rules" here, consequences of actions will typically come on their own, much like heavy smoking and drinking leading to health problems (like, it doesn't seem like such a strange thing to assert that if a person "parties hard" on a regular basis, sleeps around with whoever comes along, ... then consequences may come along as a result... and they will have no one to blame but themselves...). like, using some discretion "just makes sense" IMO.

 

 

nevermind an of mine absence of much ability to really come up with any satisfactory answer on morals:

the more conventional moral-language explanations tend to not make much of any real sense to me personally (*1);

my personal attempts to come up with systematic explanations are "weak" and don't usually go over well if I try to explain them (can be explained as "philosophical language word soup", "an informal set of algorithms", or by comparing it to traditional economics and accounting theory, *2).

 

*2: "egoistic pragmatic utilitarianism" was one term used to describe it (as a meta-ethical model, basically avoiding the traditional problems/instabilities of more traditional "altruistic utilitarianism" by assuming that each actor in the system evaluates the model individually and from the perspective of maximizing their own personal benefits from relationships and interactions with other). alternatively it could be compared with classical economics with elements of accounting thrown in. it seemed to sort of work (as an predictive model), but tends to go over "like a lead brick".

 

*1: it is sad when trying to read this stuff almost wish they were rather reading a EULA or something...

 

(luckily, at least doctrine tends to be a little better in the "at least it basically makes sense" thing...).

 

 

then, there is all the stuff which seemingly goes beyond my abilities to really understand, ... ("meta" stuff...).

sometimes this then gets worrying, like maybe I "should" understand a lot more of this stuff, but ultimately I don't, and for better or worse, I am limited to what sorts of stuff I understand.

 

but, what stuff I do understand, can basically be taken at face value.

 

 

sort of like, I don't really understand math that well either, but to what extent it is relevant to the task at hand, it can be used...

like, if you know the basic behavior of various operators, and how to do basic algebra-type stuff, good enough (it is rare to see a problem that goes much beyond the capabilities of high-school level algebra), and my seeming inability to make any real sense of what a "set" actually is or what it does or how it works, has rarely effected much...

 

(sort of like trying to make sense of the whole "love" thing, both in the religious and interpersonal relationships sense...).

 

 

then on the other side of the debate, there is lots of people who seem to have little better to do than sling insults or assume that "Christian"=="Young Earth Creationist" or similar (when not everyone is a YEC, like, some of us more lean towards things like "guided evolution" and similar), or people claim that all religious people hate science, or whatever...

 

sadly, to some extent it mostly boils down to "cross ones' fingers and hope for a good outcome"...

 

 

yeah, hardly a shining example of piety it seems...

 

but, if a person can accept things like the Nicene Creed and similar at face value, maybe it is at least a starting point...

Edited by BGB
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2. If God doesn't exist you must highly consider life to be automatically generated in the universe. The universe is homogenous, the same events repeat everywhere, so you should have life everywhere

Welcome to Fermi's paradox.

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