Tag Archives: (non-)belief

Over-thinking Perceived as a Character Flaw

I followed a Facebook link to this article tonight. This line totally stood out to me:

Thinking “too much” about things would become a character flaw.
 
What people who know me need to understand is that when I hear the well-intended thought that I’m over-thinking, that’s how it comes across to me.

Continue reading Over-thinking Perceived as a Character Flaw

It’s _Not_ Self-Damning

I had another realization before I got up this morning, and I want to share it.

As a total aside, I didn’t realize how much agreement I had with Penn Jillette before today. I really need to listen to and read more of what he’s said publicly about atheism. He has a talent for explaining things in a way that’s simultaneously easy-to-understand, compelling, and non-judgmental.

Continue reading It’s _Not_ Self-Damning

Brief moments

I’m having a moment of calm and clarity tonight, and I wanted to share it. Unlike what one of my friends seems to have believed of my previous behavior (and admired me for it), it’s not that I don’t care what others think about me. Far from it, actually. I think that some of the thoughts I’ve shared have made it pretty clear that I actually care a lot what people think about me. Times like right now, though, make it clearer to me that I’m simply very careful about who I allow close to me. With one very notable exception, my judgment on such matters is usually quite good. ;)

I’ve written about this before. I pointed to the “standard wisdom” that says that, ideally, people should look only inward for feelings of self-worth. As a matter of fact, I’d wager that’s probably the opinion of that other friend I mentioned near the beginning of the last paragraph. Especially for someone like me, though, there’s just something very lonely about that thought. I think it’s more (for me, anyway) about knowing with confidence what one’s own strengths are and using that knowledge to “filter” input from other people. It’s not a total filter. That’s important, because goodness knows I’m far from perfect, so I still have to pay attention to negative feelings from other people, especially those that I have learned to deeply trust.

That’s one of the reasons the last few years have been (and current time continues to be) so tough on me. I believe that I’m going to make it through all this, and I truly believe that I’m going to make it with fewer changes/adjustments than people seem to believe. I also truly believe that this “new person” concept that seems to be so popular to use with TBI sufferers… I won’t say it’s completely not applicable to me, but I will say that it’s not the right way for me to approach things. My pre-wreck life was much too good for me simply to throw away any attempt of trying to get back to it. Finally, I have a faith that I’m capable of getting back to at least something close. People can call it “spiritual” if they want to. This faith hasn’t come along with any of the signs that spiritual people who have experienced these kinds of things often point to. My agnostic nature won’t allow me to completely deny the involvement of some supernatural being, but I also haven’t experienced anything that points to my progress being due to anything other than the help of other people, plain determination (both mine and others’), and time.

I think that something many people were looking for was for my feelings to become so strong that I “couldn’t control” them. That entire concept of emotions being so strong that I can’t control them is something that has literally never happened to me. That’s not because of anyone else. I also believe, however, that it’s not a matter of me “holding back”. I think I simply fundamentally believe that nothing is beyond eventual explanation.

What I (don’t) believe

 

What follows is most of an email I sent to a friend today. I’ve talked about my very-nearly-reversal on faith/religion before. When I read this again, though, I decided that it’s pretty close to the best job I’ve ever done explaining my position (particularly to an audience of believers). So, I decided to post it on my web log (which, probably most importantly, syndicates to my Facebook page). This will likely be a big ol’ batch of “knew that already” to most people, but I think there’s good info there for people who are sincerely curious.

 

Keep in mind that I (as always) reserve the right to do anything I damned well please to any content that shows up on my blog. That being said, you can probably tell that me and said friend don’t agree, but I’m posting this anyway. I’m quite tolerant of dissenting viewpoints, as long as my impression is that it’s being shared for some purpose other than simply to show me that I’m wrong (and/or to explain what’s right). Newsflash: I already agree that I don’t know, and I think that’s the biggest thing that’s happened to me since I was a card-carrying believer: I’m okay with not knowing.

 

The point of this isn’t to convince anyone to change his/her mind. The point is to clearly and plainly express my own beliefs.

 

Okay. disclaimer out of the way. I’m going to quote from the email now. I won’t be using the “blockquote” tag, because that apparently prevents me from being able to italicize text.

 


I’m struggling quite hard right now with my past assertion that I have no desire to change your mind. I’ve realized that’s not completely true. What is true is that I don’t relish the thought of creating conflict. I realize there is such a thing as “healthy debate”, but that depends on both parties being willing to be convinced to change their own minds. While that’s technically true for me, the kind of argument that would convince me is something that I think every believer would say, “isn’t the way God works”.

 

Also, please understand that the text below is not intended as an “attack”. It’s merely the only way I know how to express what I believe in the presence of the huge “gulf” between me and a believer.

 

According to them, it’s a case of me not being willing to believe what they think is obvious. My mind goes back to Mandy Patinkin‘s line (as “Inigo Montoya”) in The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” While I completely agree that it’s possible for someone to “refuse to see” something that’s “obvious” to most people, the thing they refer to as “obvious” invariably requires an interpretation which depends on an already-existing belief in God. Basically, the things they identify as reasons for believing in God are dependent upon a belief in God. I’ll take “circular logic” for $1000, Alex. I think that the primary problem is that my state of non-belief isn’t remotely similar to what most believers are used to dealing with. Most believers proceed from looking at my background as a former Christian and the shared experience of growing up in a part of the world where belief in God is all but assumed. I try to be like someone who has no prior knowledge of God (mostly because I have no reason [other than the desire for comfort] to believe in what I was taught), and I’m very skeptical about any “truths” which do not flow directly from things I can observe myself.

 

As a matter of fact, every believer that has been willing to talk to me on that level has said (in effect) that there is no such evidence. They’ve said that belief in God requires a “leap” beyond the logical. My opinion is that someone who created my brain and is “all-knowing” should know what would convince me. The fact that I haven’t experienced anything that convinces me of such a being’s existence says that 1) I’m incredibly unobservant, 2) that being doesn’t exist, or 3) that being has specifically chosen not to reveal him/her/itself to me. I think my life so far has been a demonstration that 1) isn’t true. If it’s 3), then this being is such an incredible asshole that I don’t want anything to do with him/her/it, and that’s pretty much equivalent to 2), which I believe is the real answer.

 

So, what that “translates to” for most believers is an unwillingness to be convinced. If you don’t see it that way, then I would be quite willing to continue the conversation.