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PaulS

Have ANY of your beliefs ever changed?

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I wonder if anyone would care to share what beliefs they may have once firmly held, that have since changed and are no longer a belief for them?

My point in doing so is to have us consider that no matter how strongly we have all once held beliefs -  the introduction of new information, different interpretations and life experiences has often seen those firmly held beliefs change.  I could be wrong but I doubt if anybody here has NEVER had a belief change, even though at one point they were CERTAIN that belief was TRUE and could not be changed.

That doesn't mean beliefs are right or wrong but simply that they do change and as unswervingly certain we are that our beliefs are right, I'd bet London to a brick that at some point in time we have all had 'guaranteed' beliefs, change.  So why is anyone utterly convinced that what they believe is true right at this point now, can NEVER possibly change with new information, new understanding, or new life experiences?

As a fairly well known Progressive Christian (Marcus Borg) once said: "believing something to be true has nothing to do with whether it is true.”

Some beliefs that I previously held unalienable certainty in (until they changed) include:

  • Santa Claus (plus the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy).  I was thoroughly convinced they existed.
  • A loving, father-like, deity (an Abba) who would see the majority of his children tortured for all eternity if they didn't do what He said (or if they didn't properly understand what He said)
  • People who weren't Christian 'chose' not to follow Jesus because they wanted to live apart from God
  • That I had a duty to said God to convince others they needed to know this God the way I knew him, for their own sake
  • That gay people were depraved sinners who wanted to wallow in their depravity
  • That Jesus was God incarnated, who knew of his existence in Heaven prior to physically 'coming' to earth, to die as a sacrifice for our sin, which as luck would have it was an automatic curse simply for being born human
  • That the words of the Bible are an exact copy of what was originally written
  • That the only way to live a meaningful life was to believe all of the above (except for the fictional characters - you can decide which ones are fictional for you)

I don't make these points to aggravate or debate their value, but merely to demonstrate that beliefs do change and hopefully encourage some discussion about how our unchangeable beliefs are often one day challenged, and changed.

Anyone else prepared to admit/discuss such experiences?

 

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Hello PaulS,  thank you for the topic and invite, quite on my own mind. 

I believe you saw and commented on an earlier thread where I referred to my experience.  The convergence of the Jesuit Values, humanist UUA principles, and any good categorization of the 37 parables of Jesus and Sermon on the Mount.  A real trinity to live by.

But what has been my most radical experience is the result of my disability three years back.  I essentially have been on sabbatical.  And the resulting writing project that is the product and result (deferred from my SBTS experience when a professor made the case that Paul's "thorn in the flesh", his "messenger of Satan" was homophobia . . .

. . . has lead me to unexpected, nearly inconceivable findings:  that "Apostle" Paul was a fraud, a canard.  The case, the proof of that, is unassailable.  Weblink below. I know that seems inconceivable,  but it is 100% solid.  Spooky.  And the reaction among my clergy friends and a seminary professor has been wildly unpredictable and goes right to your topic.

Neuroscientist Dr. Kathleen Taylor explains how this can happen.  Beliefs involve connections between neurons, our “cognitive web” or “cogweb”.  Usually, our perceptions are “subservient to reality”.  But our deepest intangible value-laden beliefs, foundational references, can “filter incoming stimuli or distort the cognitive landscape, a warping effect", what she terms "a black hole”.  

The more visceral emotional potency of Paul’s writings (ie. his emphasis on “human depravity”) produced strong and deep “cognitive webs”, gnarled and tangled with Augustine's “Original Sin” which influenced our upbringing,  in ways that Jesus’ teachings did not. It matters less that there is reduced guilt and shame today, rather it is why some beliefs go unexamined and did not get the academic scrutiny deserved.  Paul seemed sacrosanct.

The title of Dr. Taylor’s book quoted is “Brainwashing, the Science of Thought Contol”.  I did not expect that among some clergy who I had regarded as brave , progressive, and cerebral, they would run away in fear --- literally in one case, my pastor back at Calvary UCC who avoided me for an entire summer.  In the case of another (D.Div.) though she agreed and sent me more material to support it, it was evident she was flummoxed by it, then lost her job (her parish). 

Based upon her reaction and advice, I then read four books, including Taylor's, that dealt with religion and neuroscience, and added text that goes beyond the proof of facts and truth, that helps to deal with cognitive disruption.

Paul, hopefully you and your other readers have indeed changed beliefs as you expect. And that we are eager to keep scrutinizing faith and knowledge. But the bigger or more radical the belief change, the more that Dr. Taylor's concepts dealing with cognitive disruption and anxiety (not intelligence or education) will become the main factor. 

Thank you,  Craig

 https://www.amazon.com/clouddrive/share/vPpSZWMNfwFfEASy5leE1Y1zIuD2qMHnQIMCaP5ukGx?ref_=cd_ph_share_link_copy

--------------------

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10 hours ago, PaulS said:

I wonder if anyone would care to share what beliefs they may have once firmly held, that have since changed and are no longer a belief for them?

 

  • Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy definitely, still hold out hope for Santa Claus or, more accurately, have rethought the spirit of SC as (it has always been anyway) lived out in us.
  • The theistic notion of God in his heaven but not the reality of the Sacred
  • Angels (right shoulder), demons, the Devil/Satan (left shoulder, always insulting since I am left handed), hell, limbo, and the traditional theistic notions of heaven and purgatory (but not the possible reality of these last two)
  • traditional understanding of Eucharist, confession, baptism ( after all, I was RC - but again not their value)
  • all male, celibate priesthood (as the only option)
  • literal interpretation of the Bible (although not a very big issue for Catholics)
  • traditional/theistic understanding of incarnation (as defined above), original sin, salvation (but not the possible reality of these and a more modern/progressive take)
  • miracles
  • Holy Days
  • Immaculate Conception, Annunciation, Virgin Birth, Ascension and (bodily) Resurrection
  • 2nd Coming
  • RC leadership: Pope, bishops, priests
  • other issues like homosexuality, the role of women, the inerrancy of the Bible - there were traditional takes on these but they were not on the front burner and when changed came, it was not difficult to be part of that new 'consciousness.'
  •  physical location of heaven (first star to the right........)
  • priority of Catholicism
  • Catholic Catechism
  • Adam & Eve (a tough loss)
  • Saints (as traditionally understood)
  • reality/accuracy of the stations of the cross and Passion Plays
  • limbo (another tough loss since it was a picture of all little kids floating around with God)
  • the superiority of the northeast USA
  • latin mass

I haven't thought on this overly much but 'we' came of age when the world, the US, was throwing off all forms of authority (the government, the Church, any and every authority) and being in college at that time, all the freedom in the world to question, read, think, argue even on a Catholic campus - so, in hindsight, might have been an easier transition than many - plus although brought up Catholic, I was never raised by parents who were fanatically religious.

 

Edited by thormas

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Never having had deep religious beliefs my list is not nearly as extensive as thormas's. Just ignoring trivial childhood belief losses the two major ones are:

  • At the age of seventeen, I probably could have described myself as a Progressive Christian (albeit a fairly naïve one). Where god was deistic in nature and that the scriptures were just man's puny attempts to describe that nature. I was confirmed in the Lutheran church. After leaving home a year later, I was immersed in a pretty secular community at university for seven years and by the end I was an agnostic and frankly atheistic to many kinds of gods, especially the literal interpretations. There was not a moment in time or some revelation that made me agnostic. Essentially, I was not imbued with the religion meme very strongly and being in a secular environment allowed the meme to die out in me.
  • Almost forty years later, I lost my belief in free will. This was discussing free will on a forum. There was a point at which I realized I could no longer defend the concept of free will successfully. It was an interesting three weeks. My son had died six or seven months earlier, so I was susceptible to new memes taking hold. The interesting thing about losing a belief in free will, it begins to cast doubt on the nature of:
  1. The self
  2. Consciousness
  3. The animate and inanimate
  4. Morality
  5. Meaning
  6. Perception being an accurate representation of reality

Anyway ... that's the "major" stuff for me

Edited by romansh

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48 minutes ago, romansh said:

Never having had deep religious beliefs my list is not nearly as extensive as thormas's. Just ignoring trivial childhood belief losses the two major ones are:

Trivial? Humor Rom, humor! 

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OK trivial humour ... no problem ;)

I could add to my list:

  • Loss of belief in conservatism. More socialistic in my dotage
  • Being against abortion

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7 minutes ago, romansh said:

OK trivial humour ... no problem ;)

There you go! But Santa is no trivial matter.........

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Thormas, given your remarks about your Catholic background:

What, if any, difference do you feel about Pope Francis and the Jesuits?  I realize that the Jesuits are only one of 30 or so Catholic orders, so they still must exist with the legacy of Augustine and asceticism et al, and it seems as if Pope Francis is constantly under siege. 

As a Protestant, I knew about some of the Jesuit legacy of arduous devotion to so many diverse human beings, achieved across continents and across centuries. Of contributions to education, arts, and science. (Educating Voltaire, Castro, Hitchcock, and Joyce).

But during his visit to the US, Pope Francis really impressed me, which lead me to the Jesuit Values, which impressed me even more.

(St Ignatius devoted relatively sparse text in his "Exercises" to “sensuality and carnal austerity” . . . but when it comes to my own big sin (I am overweight and used food to medicate emotions) there is a lengthy 552-word section which addresses “Rules to Put Oneself in Order As to Eating”  Ahhh ha.)

The Jesuits appear to prove that the teachings of Jesus are sustainable and workable.  The Jesuits appear to prove that religion is not doomed to gravitate into becoming an organ of power and fear, of “sex police” or holier-than-thou Wesleyan Puritan enforcers of dignity.  To anyone, Protestant or Catholic, the Jesuit legacy suggests that a better faith and richer life awaits those willing to scrutinize ascetic “Christian” orthodoxy.

I feel affection for Pope Francis.  Same, in following Fr. James Martin, SJ. Do you think my viewpoints about the Jesuits are naive?

I would appreciate your Catholic or ex-Catholic perspective if you have the time. Thanks, Craig

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1 hour ago, thormas said:

There you go! But Santa is no trivial matter.........

Embrace your inner Santa, thormas

Edited by romansh

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1 hour ago, Craig V. said:

Thormas, given your remarks about your Catholic background:

What, if any, difference do you feel about Pope Francis and the Jesuits?  I realize that the Jesuits are only one of 30 or so Catholic orders, so they still must exist with the legacy of Augustine and asceticism et al, and it seems as if Pope Francis is constantly under siege. 

As a Protestant, I knew about some of the Jesuit legacy of arduous devotion to so many diverse human beings, achieved across continents and across centuries. Of contributions to education, arts, and science. (Educating Voltaire, Castro, Hitchcock, and Joyce).

But during his visit to the US, Pope Francis really impressed me, which lead me to the Jesuit Values, which impressed me even more.

(St Ignatius devoted relatively sparse text in his "Exercises" to “sensuality and carnal austerity” . . . but when it comes to my own big sin (I am overweight and used food to medicate emotions) there is a lengthy 552-word section which addresses “Rules to Put Oneself in Order As to Eating”  Ahhh ha.)

The Jesuits appear to prove that the teachings of Jesus are sustainable and workable.  The Jesuits appear to prove that religion is not doomed to gravitate into becoming an organ of power and fear, of “sex police” or holier-than-thou Wesleyan Puritan enforcers of dignity.  To anyone, Protestant or Catholic, the Jesuit legacy suggests that a better faith and richer life awaits those willing to scrutinize ascetic “Christian” orthodoxy.

I feel affection for Pope Francis.  Same, in following Fr. James Martin, SJ. Do you think my viewpoints about the Jesuits are naive?

I would appreciate your Catholic or ex-Catholic perspective if you have the time. Thanks, Craig

Craig,

I like Francis and fondly remember, although a bit young, John XXIII and the first John Paul. Did not like JPII or Benedict.

I knew Jesuits at Marquette but was more familiar with the Benedictines I knew while at college. Also, liked what we called the Seculars, ones who were our priests when I was growing up and later I taught with them (like all of us, some were great, others not so much). I have never given thought to Francis and the Jesuits, so nothing to offer on the spot.

I think there are many orders who live the teachings of Jesus. As for the sex police, again I don't think much about that 'function' anymore but it was the a Benedictine priest/monk/philosopher who taught one of the most popular courses my senior year: The Phenomenology of Sexuality. I am not nor have I ever been a big fan of asceticism (as I understand it) and in terms of the Catholic orders (although I liked the Franciscans and Jesuits) the Benedictines were the ones I knew best: some were brilliant scholars, others simple brother who ran the fire department on campus, picked up a blade of grass and played it like a musical instrument to entertain and amaze a group of 'world wise' college guys, directed the theater, were artists, lived in the dorms as Resident Assistants and when I was sick Freshman year, made me my first hot toddy which cured me. My first (and only) miracle:+}  Even the philosophy scholar I mentioned, in his spare time, tended his garden, fondly remembered to this day as Sebastian's Garden. 

I have a friend who loves Martin and I have saved some articles on/by him but have never concentrated on him. And I have not does the kind of study required to comment on your views of the Jesuits. 

What was amazing was that I got my masters in Systematic Theology from a Catholic Seminary in the 80s and we studied a number of authors that were later silenced or 'edited.'. But we had priests, educated in some of the best schools of theology in the world, who encouraged these works (and truly open discussions/debates) and we had classes with seminarians (I wasn't, nor did I ever want or intend to be, one), lay men and women, teachers, nuns and women priest/ministers from other denominations. If that mindset had continued...........might have been a different world. Sort of interesting how the conservatives are pushing back on Francis.

I would be glad to try to answer any future questions or discuss Catholicism (in addition to Christianity in general) and I will look into Martin a bit more.

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4 hours ago, romansh said:

I could add to my list:

  • Loss of belief in conservatism. More socialistic in my dotage
  • Being against abortion
  • The necessity of a god's existence
  • Duality in their various forms

Just added to my supplementary list. I suppose what I am trying to point to, is that when I lost my belief in a deistic type god, I also lost the philosophical requirement of god for existence (the universe/multiverse and the way they tick) and frankly the need for such a concept.

Edited by romansh

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50 minutes ago, thormas said:

What was amazing was that I got my masters in Systematic Theology from a Catholic Seminary in the 80s and we studied a number of authors that were later silenced or 'edited.'. But we had priests, educated in some of the best schools of theology in the world, who encouraged these works (and truly open discussions/debates) and we had classes with seminarians (I wasn't, nor did I ever want or intend to be, one), lay men and women, teachers, nuns and women priest/ministers from other denominations. If that mindset had continued...........might have been a different world. Sort of interesting how the conservatives are pushing back on Francis.

Wow, thormas, your degree and all that exposure to differences, what an experience.   I went thru the "Baptist Holy War" at SBTS, all the faculty got purged over three years by the Fundamentalists.  It sounds like you have had your share of upheaval and disappointment in the faith too.  Thank you for sharing with me.  I am hoping that I am not too naive, but again I have been very impressed with what I have come across so far.  The Jesuits have an enormous retreat facility here in Wernersville, PA (visible from the parking lot of my St Johns UCC Church), and I have been looking at their website to join in on some of the educational conferences and presentations they provide.  Again, thank you, and if you do come across anything of interest, I welcome it:   craigv@comcast.net   Yeah,  Ross Douthat (NYT) and Steve Bannon (!!) have been on the warpath!

Thanks, Craig

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54 minutes ago, Craig V. said:

Wow, thormas, your degree and all that exposure to differences, what an experience.   I went thru the "Baptist Holy War" at SBTS, all the faculty got purged over three years by the Fundamentalists.  It sounds like you have had your share of upheaval and disappointment in the faith too.  Thank you for sharing with me.  I am hoping that I am not too naive, but again I have been very impressed with what I have come across so far.  The Jesuits have an enormous retreat facility here in Wernersville, PA (visible from the parking lot of my St Johns UCC Church), and I have been looking at their website to join in on some of the educational conferences and presentations they provide.  Again, thank you, and if you do come across anything of interest, I welcome it:   craigv@comcast.net   Yeah,  Ross Douthat (NYT) and Steve Bannon (!!) have been on the warpath!

Thanks, Craig

I never considered it ups and downs (might have been?) just an evolution due to exposure to new insights.

One Benedictine monastery is in Latrobe, PA but the Jesuit conferences and presentations sound like great possibilities. I go to similar conferences at UNC-Chapel Hill where I have attended Bart Ehrman seminars, Duke professors and others. Great stuff, never gets old.

Edited by thormas

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Personally I have never had (or at least can't recall having) a belief in life after death ... so in this sense I have never had a belief in a soul that somehow survives, the black dog.

Anyway Thormas and Paul ... the after life was not on your lists?

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12 minutes ago, romansh said:

Personally I have never had (or at least can't recall having) a belief in life after death ... so in this sense I have never had a belief in a soul that somehow survives, the black dog.

Anyway Thormas and Paul ... the after life was not on your lists?

I still believe in an afterlife - after we die we enter an eternal, dreamless, sleep:)

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1 minute ago, PaulS said:

I still believe in an afterlife - after we die we enter an eternal, dreamless, sleep:)

Ahh :) avoiding are we?

I get the analogy ... I effectively die every night ... and one day I will not reawake.

I believe the universe will carry on "nicely thank you" when I am gone (not reawaken) and I will live on in my actions. I never believed "I" would live on ... now I am skeptical of the "I".

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17 minutes ago, romansh said:

Personally I have never had (or at least can't recall having) a belief in life after death ... so in this sense I have never had a belief in a soul that somehow survives, the black dog.

Anyway Thormas and Paul ... the after life was not on your lists?

I have no real opinion on the soul (simply not something I have given much thought to over the years) but I do, as previously stated on other threads, believe - without getting into it here - the meaningfulness/purposefulness/fullness of life which suggests that a 'continuation' of life or a 'deepening' of consciousness - beyond (more than) this particular life. 

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1 minute ago, thormas said:

I have no real opinion on the soul (simply not something I have given much thought to over the years) but I do, as previously stated on other threads, believe - without getting into it here - the meaningfulness/purposefulness/fullness of life which suggests that a 'continuation' of life or a 'deepening' of consciousness - beyond (more than) this particular life. 

So you never believed in an afterlife?

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59 minutes ago, romansh said:

So you never believed in an afterlife?

meaningfulness and "continuation of life" 

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1 minute ago, thormas said:

meaningfulness and "continuation of life" 

and what about an afterlife?

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45 minutes ago, romansh said:

and what about an afterlife?

see above

Edited by thormas

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7 hours ago, romansh said:

Ahh :) avoiding are we?

I get the analogy ... I effectively die every night ... and one day I will not reawake.

I believe the universe will carry on "nicely thank you" when I am gone (not reawaken) and I will live on in my actions. I never believed "I" would live on ... now I am skeptical of the "I".

But you were right and I initially didn't think to list my previous strongly held belief of heaven and hell.  Neither of those places exist for me now which does actually bother me a little - I won't be able to give the bird to those who have given me the willies in this life! :)

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Thormas ... the discussion relevant to the after life:

On ‎2018‎-‎02‎-‎28 at 7:39 PM, PaulS said:

I wonder if anyone would care to share what beliefs they may have once firmly held, that have since changed and are no longer a belief for them

Here Paul is clearly asking what beliefs we no longer have.

On ‎2018‎-‎03‎-‎01 at 6:28 AM, thormas said:

limbo (another tough loss since it was a picture of all little kids floating around with God)

Here it implies that limbo .. a form of after life was part of your belief system which you now have lost.

19 hours ago, romansh said:

Anyway Thormas and Paul ... the after life was not on your lists?

Here I am asking did you believe in an after life where you have your specific consciousness carries on.

18 hours ago, thormas said:

I have no real opinion on the soul (simply not something I have given much thought to over the years) but I do, as previously stated on other threads, believe - without getting into it here - the meaningfulness/purposefulness/fullness of life which suggests that a 'continuation' of life or a 'deepening' of consciousness - beyond (more than) this particular life. 

Continuation of life? Yes life may carry on after death but is it specifically "yours"? What adds to my confusion is this a current belief or a belief that you have dropped.

18 hours ago, romansh said:

So you never believed in an afterlife?

Here I ask for clarification.

17 hours ago, thormas said:

meaningfulness and "continuation of life" 

It would appear you have lost a belief in meaningfulness and continuation of life

17 hours ago, romansh said:

and what about an afterlife?

Again looking for clarification

17 hours ago, thormas said:

see above

I have seen the above ... can I take "continuation of life" to mean a vernacular after life? And I can only presume you mean the exact opposite of how you replied.

You have a belief in the continuation of life after death which you have maintained, is that right? 

Edited by romansh

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10 hours ago, PaulS said:

But you were right and I initially didn't think to list my previous strongly held belief of heaven and hell.  Neither of those places exist for me now which does actually bother me a little - I won't be able to give the bird to those who have given me the willies in this life! :)

:D

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37 minutes ago, romansh said:

 

Good Lord, Rom you do need clarification upon clarification, even though I listed things which are no longer beliefs to include, since we're quoting: "Angels, demons, the Devil/Satan, hell, limbo, and the traditional theistic notions of heaven and purgatory (but not the possible reality of these last two)."

So it should be apparent from the ( ) following heaven and purgatory, that I consider them possible realities, i.e. not no longer believed.

Further, 'continuation of life' was not listed in what I no longer believe - so it is a continuing and current belief (not dropped). So, to clarify the clarification: I have not lost belief in the meaningfulness and continuation of life (although I have no details of the latter).

If by vernacular you mean the ordinary (formerly) accepted take on after life, the answer would be No given what I originally said: I no longer believe " ... ...traditional theistic notions of heaven and purgatory" but......... I continue to believe/allow for "the possible reality of these.... " - thus belief is maintained, albeit not the Catholic/Christian vernacular.

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