What are your spiritual/religious beliefs? And why do you believe?

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I'm atheist. My mother is roman catholic but believes in a bit of everythign (feng shui, rosicrucianism, spiritism/kardecism, you name it) and my father believes in a higher power, but other than that, his attitude is of an agnostic.

I never got my first communion because we moved to Beijing when I was 9. By the time we moved to a different location, I was old enough to speak out and say it wasn't something I wanted. Even though my family was never strict about it, looking back, religion always brought out feelings of guilt. Another part of it was that the whole thing simply bored me to no end.

In my early teens I was already uncomfortable calling myself catholic. I thought if there was a God, and if he was all-knowing and all-loving, all he needed was for me to be ethical. I traveled and became friends with people from different cultures. Surely they didn't deserve eternal damnation? It showed me that the Christian faith was just one among others. That and just paying attention to history, science and philosphy classes in high school was an eye opener...learning about the Church's role in history, that it was a power-driven institution, and understanding the difference between evidence-based knowledge and dogma, evolution etc. Agnostic seemed like the best term to describe me.

Atheism was a foreign, radical concept up until I actually came into contact with atheists, listened to them, realized they were very much like me, only with better arguments. I initially thought I was an agnostic leaning on atheism. Then I realized the distinction had become a matter of semantics. You cannot disprove a negative. To call myself agnostic, at that point, seemed like a feeble attempt to not sound abrasive, which I knew in my mind was completely silly.

It wasn't about some major breakthrough or me looking for answers, just a gradual process of me thinking things out for myself. I am certainly not disillusioned or bitter. I think the world as it is is much more fascinating than anything written on any holly book.

There are times when I want something so badly that I understand the instinct of wanting to pray to a higher power. It would be great if there was a benevolent being watching out over me and ready to grant me my wishes. But I also think how very like a fairy tale that sounds. Dealing with loss and frustration is a part of life and a part of growing up.
I was raised Catholic but I'm now agnostic leaning more towards atheist. I don't like to say I'm an atheist because I don't want to make any declaration of religious beliefs, even a non-declaration. I respect those that do. I'm tolerant of religious people as long as they keep their beliefs out of legislation and politics.

I rejected Catholism when I was about 15-16 and never got my Confirmation. As a feminist, I just couldn't stay a Catholic.

My mom is a Catholic who has tried out various liberal-leaning Christian religions (Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian, and even Unitiarian which is not Christian but accepts Christian member) but she returns to Catholism because its what she was raised with and also for cultural reasons. Most religious Hispanics are Catholic.

She still believes deep down I'm Catholic, too.I live 6 hours from her and we just don't talk about it. I'll go to church with her on holidays out of love and respect for her. I have a soft spot for it until I actually am in a church and then I'm just bored and annoyed. I do like the Hispanic cultural aspect of it, like the churches in Northern NM.

My dad was also raised Catholic but is now an atheist who like me and my brother, will still go to Catholic masses for holidays and family events. Like me, he sees Catholicism as part of his culture, but not his belief system.
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I was raised culturally Jewish. We did not belong to a Temple when I was young, did not really observe any Jewish traditions (other than the food) and as far as the spirituality/theology, my parents did not really discuss it with me.

We just joined a Reform temple and we celebrate Jewish holidays. I consider myself culturally Jewish but spiritually agnostic. I do not believe in an anthropomorphic deity, I do not believe that humans were made in God's image or that if God exists he/she cares what we eat or how we pray or who we have sex with in which position. If there is anything like a deity then it would have to be synonymous with the laws of physics and mathematics, as vast and complex and incomprehensible as the whole universe.
I believe that morality and ethics comes from people, from our nature as a highly social animal.
I studied quite a bit about the different religions of the world in high school and college, especially in my Art History classes and really enjoyed it. I believe that the Bible and the holy books of the other religions were all written by people, and influenced by the times the people lived in and the prejudices they held. There is a lot of value in various scriptures, but they are not literal truth and there is also a lot of inconsistency and rubbish and bad stuff in there too.
I enjoy the cultural parts of Judaism, I practice to the extent that I do (and want to pass it down to my children) because I think it is neat that these cultural things have been passed down for hundreds and thousands of years. I also do it because I lost a lot of family in the Holocaust. So many people all through History have been trying to get the Jews to go away or convert or die, so I persist to spite them.
I also enjoy and appreciate the cultural aspects of other religions (esp the arts and the music). I do think all religions have in common this sense of wonder and awe at the magnitude and magnificense of the world. I can appreciate it and feel that even as a non-believer.
To Trenell, MizKerri and geeky:
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I was raised Mormon until my mid 20's when I discovered the truths about its history that had been hidden from me. I eschewed all Christianity and was agnostic for over 20 years, yet I dabbled in a series of new age beliefs and spirituality including wicca, and astrology, and had interests in Buddhism,Sufism, Zoroastrianism and other eastern disciplines . I am now non-denominational Christian for the last 12 years.

I never expected to find God again after 40 barren years, but I did. It is a more personal story than I care to share in this format.
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I'd say I was a non-believer. My mum and dad were non-practising C of E and Catholics respectively and we never had any religious upbringing of any sort (though we did go the the local C of E school rather than Catholic). I attended church, bible study and such like for a few years as a teenager with my friend (who was made by her non-church going parents to attend until she was confirmed) but I just couldn't believe any of it. There was no feeling of anything spiritual at all for me and that has never changed. My children have been brought up in a non-religious household, they can make their own minds up.
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I was raised in a Roman Catholic family. My earliest memories (4/5 years old) are of me sitting on the floor of my room outwardly playing with my dolls, but inside I was having extremely interesting “conversations” with what I can best describe as spiritual advisors or guides of some sort. I never had a name for them, they were just always there as far back as I can remember. I did not hear voices – this was more like thoughts transferring between me and them. They neither felt male or female, young or old, but I knew I could ask them anything no matter how trivial or important, and they would answer. Although I liked certain things about going to church – the stained glass, the incense, the music – it never felt right to me from my earliest memories. It didn’t make sense to me that I had to go through someone else (the priest) to get to God when I could just talk directly to him myself although I didn’t think of God as a him or her – IT was a “them”.

As I grew older, I began to dislike going to church for many other reasons. I stopped attending as soon as I left my parents’ home. I talked to my friends about their various religions and even attended a couple of their services but quickly abandoned that. It became clear to me that there were more similarities than differences, that organized religions had the same issues for ME. I needed to do my own thing. Still, I felt like I was searching for something. I read a lot, and at the time was reading biographies and memoirs. I was always interested in how others coped with life’s difficulties. One day I stopped in a new bookstore and found it was focused on New Age and metaphysics. I began spending a lot of time there and doing a lot of reading and attending a lot of classes and group events.

Ultimately, I learned a lot there but interestingly had a lot of the same issues as I did with the organized religions! I guess any time you get a group of people together, you’re always going to get someone who wants to be in charge and have a certain amount of control and say so over what everyone else is doing and thinking and believing. No thank you, that is not for me. My beliefs are continually evolving. I know from my early childhood experiences that there is some sort of higher power, but I do not believe it is the man in the sky. It wasn’t until I took a class in meditation at the metaphysical bookstore, that I realized that’s pretty much what I’d been doing when I was 4 or 5 years old – only then I did it so easily and effortlessly! It’s harder as an adult to quiet the mind and just listen, but it can be done.

I don’t know if there’s a label that fits my beliefs, but I don’t need one. I believe there is some sort of higher power, but I don’t need to define it. I believe there is “something” else after this life, but again, I don’t know exactly what it is and don’t feel a need to know. I know that I feel closest to this higher power when I’m out in nature (and among animals especially) and that it is not harsh and angry but that it is all about love and kindness and caring.
This is a difficult question to answer for me. I was born and raised Catholic until I was confirmed and then my Mom said she did her part as a Catholic parent (taking me through the sacraments) and from there she would let us choose. My dad never attended church. He considers himself a Christian, but despises church (he's bitter toward a lot of Christians due to the gossip, judging, and guilt he has experienced from his visits in the past). I joined a Methodist youth group in high school and I loved it. I went with a friend and met lots of other friends and truly loved going, but only to youth group. When I wen to services, I was bored silly unless my youth group friends went and we would pass notes. As an adult, I went to a Catholic Church again in college but only because my roommate did and I wanted to sing in their choir. Then, my next church was a Church of Christ. Whoa!! A bit of of my comfort zone at that point!! Hands raised, whooping and hollering and tongues. Again, I only went because a friend did and I wanted to sing!! Hahahaha see a trend?!?!

My most recent stop was at a non-denominational church. Again I began you with a friend. I joined a small group which consisted of a bunch of college kids meeting at someone's house once a week, doing a quick bible study, singing (contemporary Christian music with an acoustic guitar), and just hanging out. How could you hate that?!?! :-) I moved away from the area right around the time I was feeling burnt out on the church going thing. I realized I went through the steps, but the only real reason for going was he music!! When I moved away, I lost touch with 99% of the people and wasn't to my own vices lol at that time, I began goin to school and I took 2 religion courses for my electives and I saw validity in each religion in those courses (Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and other smaller ones I don't remember!!). I also learned about the definition of atheism and agnosticism. It was then that I realized I was agnostic. I cannot say for certain that there is a God, but I cannot say for certain that there is not. I respect those that follow an organized religion and I respect those that do not. That is to say, as long as they are respectful to others.

I know many people that dislike all Christians or all Muslims or all atheists because if the actions of a few. As someone studying to be a mental health counselor, I tend to step up and advocate for anyone's beliefs and give them the benefit if the doubt. My bf considers himself agnostic also, but he will quickly judge and bash Christians and Muslims. He's one I advocate to the most. I say "if you have family or friends or coworkers that judge, gossip, and lay guilt on you, that isn't fair to judge an entire religion based on so few. There are millions of Christians/Muslims/enter religious population here that follow the peace and loving ideals as intended by the religion".

I am very glad that this thread has remained respectful. It is very interesting to read about everyone's experiences with religion and spirituality. I still see the validity in all religions. I like Yoga, Astrology, Nature, and still he goosebumps when I get to win contemporary Christian music along with an acoustic guitar. I also believe in ghosts/spirits. I'm a regular old hodgepodge and I wouldn't have it any other way :-D
I am a rarely-practicing Roman Catholic. I was raised Catholic and Buddhist. I don't believe in the Trinity ie. the divinity of Jesus Christ in the way that most Christians do, but I believe in God. I believe that all religions have valid teachings and religion is just man's way of getting to know God and all that is bigger than us. I think religion is so beautiful.

I take great comfort in a lot of Catholic trappings; however, I don't think I can ever be a member of a Catholic church again. I went a few months ago and the priest read a letter from the Bishop asking us to pray for the sanctity of marriage. That was the last time I went. I still read the Bible occasionally or Buddhist texts. I pray once in a while.

I've thought about joining a United Church of Christ congregation. Now that I have my Sundays back, I probably will.
3c/4a
I was raised as a reform Jew and the culture is a big part of me. I have a lot of respect for Judaism and self- identify as a Jew.

Spiritually I don't identify as anything. If I had to pick I would say Secular/Agnostic Humanist. I feel that there is something bigger than us all but I don't claim to know what it is or let it guide the morality of my life. I believe in being good and doing the right thing for it's own sake, and that critical thinking and the search for truth is the most important thing we can do for ourselves.

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