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romansh

How We Form Beliefs

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2 hours ago, possibility said:

I'm happy to take it back to the original question, although I am interested in where thormas is headed with the creator-created discussion, because I think he's missed my point somewhat, as the decay, like the separation of creator and created, is merely perception - it's only 'decay' because of the way we 'believe' the system operates. 

But let's humour Romansh and go back to the original topic...

I once 'believed' that Jesus was born of a virgin. Born into a catholic family........

possibility,

I would be glad to get into the creator/created and decay issue but I too will return to the thread's first purpose.

I also was born into a Catholic family and attended Catholic schools from kindergarten, not just through high school but thru grad school. However, I count myself lucky because, although brought up Catholic, it was never forced on us (it just was what it was) and there was never any fear. I had a friend who was raised by his grandmother and aunt, from the old country, and I discovered years later that he was raised with an incredible amount of what only can be called Catholic superstition - for example, sprinkling holy water around the house. I was not raised this way, at all. I saw my Father take a knee every morning and night before the cross on his bedroom wall but, again, there was never any 'have to' in my family. However, all the kids were intimidated by the monsignor, especially when we went to confession and we got him. You would say, "bless me father for I have sinned and I disobeyed my parents." Now at the tender age of 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, there was no horrible disobedience occurring but he would immediately ask, "don't you love your mommy and daddy?" So, you felt worse leaving then when you entered the confessional, but even this, I later though was just his way (best intentions, perhaps) to get us to consider the effect our actions have or what they might mean. I guess I got him back, though very unintentionally, when I went to confess some 'impure thoughts,' got rattled (after all, given his comment on disobeying, what could it possibly be in this case?) but remembering what commandment it fell under, I said,"bless me Father I have sinned,  I committed six acts of adultery." My parent fell off the chair when I recounted the monsignor's shock :+"

The thing I left K through 12th grade with though was not this or that belief (though we had them and I accepted them, without question), but, for lack of a better way to phrase it, a 'sense' of God. Catholic were not people of the book like the Protestants, so we were spared the biblical literacy (again, we accepted the stories, what we were taught, but the whole literal reading was not so drilled into us so that we/I had no real difficulty shaking it later in life). In college, a Catholic college with a seminary on campus, we were taught by, as luck would have it, some simply brilliant people, not a few of whom were a bit radical. And, my first philosophy class was an introduction to Being: our thinking was turned on its head and people I went to school with (who later became business leaders, Lawyers, Judges, actors, Business Consultants, Social workers, Professors, etc.) all agreed that it was the most radical re-learning we had ever (or have ever) experienced. I had also grown more than a bit bored with Catholic traditions, the liturgy, etc. and so that faded to the back. However, I was taken by philosophy, it fed my curiosity, my wonder and gave me a 'sense' of Being - along side of my 'sense' of God; I majored in philosophy - assuming it would be great on a resume and when applying for positions in the real world :+}.

So I learned philosophy (and logic), its history, its language and continued the study of Being. I later decided to go for a graduate degree in Theology (again Catholic) and found that philosophy was the language often used in theology. And teaching high school (again Catholic), I met kids (mostly, Catholic but also many from other faiths) who had grown tired of what they had been taught but were hungry to know, to understand, to see if there was anything 'to it.' So between my grad studies and my teaching I read my ass off, took new approaches and presented Christianity in a way that kids could 'understand it for the first time.' I also had the unenviable task once, as the Chair of the department, of observing and discussing with a priest/teacher, who I had known as a kid, that his students had no idea what he was talking about. He really liked me :+} Anyway, I taught for 12 years and used grad level books in my classes that were a bit 'different' than the traditional Catholic teachings, in combination with Andrew Greeley's 'The Jesus Myth',' Steinbeck's 'East of Eden' and one of the 'deepest' children's books ever written: 'The Velveteen Rabbit.' I only left after I married a teacher and decided if we ever wanted to have kids and be able to afford a house - one of us had to make money, plus I wanted to test myself (and have a new adventure). So I entered the business world, eventually starting my own business with clients in the Fortune 100 - a philosopher conferring with senior executives; it was and is fun. But I never stopped reading or writing or attending seminars and discovered more and more brilliant men and women who thought seriously on Christian theology. I question everything, never lost my sense of God and gained the opportunity, the language and the resource to consider Christianity anew. I am not a practicing Catholic but I am a Christian as understood by the two (really one) great commandments and by the understanding that the man Jesus (man 'become' God, not God become man), was (is) important. Jesus had an insight into "God" (elaborated on - sometimes brilliantly, other times, not so much - by others in the tradition) that I think is important and can be 'presented again for the first time' to a present generation, so they can decided whether or not it 'speaks' to them and is relevant (or not) to their lives.

So, my formationintroduced to the religious (and the informal) beliefs of my parents, as understood in an earlier age and also understood from the perspective of a child.  Given a 'sense' of God, from the Catholic theistic tradition and my parents. This childhood 'sense' met philosophy and theology (the latter, a tradition of those who have gone before and continue to this day, who thought/think deeply on the same issues) which have given me the opportunity to consider God and Being in a contemporary way that articulates the 'sense of God' that was always there.

And, as mentioned previously, this is belief.

 

Edited by thormas

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I don't think it sounds silly at all, Paul. I still feel the occasional urge to 'talk to God', before reminding myself that I no longer believe there is anyone listening.

 

Romansh, I can relate to that sense of belonging, of community, that encourages us to appear to 'live out' beliefs that are not our own, without consciously thinking "does this fit with what I believe?" When confronted with the conflict on a conscious level, though, it's hard to go back to that disconnect. You feel like you're not being true to yourself - living a lie, almost. But in the moment, it's surprisingly easy to keep what we think or believe from interfering with what we say or do or how we act. I hope she has since found a community, and didn't feel that particular loss too deeply.

We build lots of 'walls' that appear to compartmentalise our conscious awareness of our own beliefs, words and actions - it's what enables people to cheat and lie, I guess. Denial is a big part of this internal sense of disconnect. 

 

The 'fear' I mentioned, Thormas, was not so much a conscious fear of harm, hatred or ostracism, but a need to hold onto the comfort and safety of a solid, known world that made sense - rather than tear down apparent walls that I can't get back. I chose to avoid the risk of losing that sense of connection to my culture and family by closing off any thought of beliefs that might compromise it. I could be conscious of my original beliefs in connection to my family, and conscious of the logic that would ultimately destroy those beliefs - but it was like there was a wall separating them - I couldn't or wouldn't be conscious of both at once.

I am still re-routing the connection to my mother in particular, now that I no longer entertain those beliefs. I occasionally sense the gap in our relationship where that connection used to be - but it is what it is, and I know dwelling on that particular area of 'disconnect' will only spoil the connection we do have. Like a wound, it's a little tender in that area on both sides, but I'm making repairs bit by bit - building a new appreciation for each other's sense of God. 

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10 hours ago, possibility said:

The 'fear' I mentioned, Thormas, was not so much a conscious fear of harm, hatred or ostracism, but a need to hold onto the comfort and safety of a solid, known world that made sense - rather than tear down apparent walls that I can't get back. I chose to avoid the risk of losing that sense of connection to my culture and family by closing off any thought of beliefs that might compromise it. I could be conscious of my original beliefs in connection to my family, and conscious of the logic that would ultimately destroy those beliefs - but it was like there was a wall separating them - I couldn't or wouldn't be conscious of both at once.

I am still re-routing the connection to my mother in particular, now that I no longer entertain those beliefs. I occasionally sense the gap in our relationship where that connection used to be - but it is what it is, and I know dwelling on that particular area of 'disconnect' will only spoil the connection we do have. Like a wound, it's a little tender in that area on both sides, but I'm making repairs bit by bit - building a new appreciation for each other's sense of God. 

I understood that was the fear and was trying to get across that fear was not my experience. I found my comfort and safety in my family and all else was just commentary to me. What was coming from the Church, the Catholic school, the monsignor, even the Pope was secondary to family (for me). And that's what my wife and I gave to my daughter (not raised Catholic, not raised in any formal religion system, without the performance of any sacraments): free to be but raise in the 'informal beliefs' and, most importantly, unconditional,  unwavering, ever-present love (which for me is God in man/woman) that builds and is essential to life. 

That said, I get, at least to a degree, the desire and the need to not lose the connection to culture and family that was so much a part of you from the earliest age. The image of the wound is a powerful one.

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On ‎6‎/‎6‎/‎2018 at 9:13 PM, possibility said:

Romansh, I can relate to that sense of belonging, of community, that encourages us to appear to 'live out' beliefs that are not our own, without consciously thinking "does this fit with what I believe?" When confronted with the conflict on a conscious level, though, it's hard to go back to that disconnect. You feel like you're not being true to yourself - living a lie, almost. But in the moment, it's surprisingly easy to keep what we think or believe from interfering with what we say or do or how we act. I hope she has since found a community, and didn't feel that particular loss too deeply.

We build lots of 'walls' that appear to compartmentalise our conscious awareness of our own beliefs, words and actions - it's what enables people to cheat and lie, I guess. Denial is a big part of this internal sense of disconnect. 

My point Possibility … my belief (or more accurately my world view in this case) was at least in part formed by my environment. If there was a sense of belonging it was not conscious. 

Not being true to yourself comes after the fact of realizing one no longer believes in something or another. There is a 'conflict' between your family/church/community when it comes to belief. How each of us deal with it is a different matter. 

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On ‎6‎/‎6‎/‎2018 at 5:21 PM, possibility said:

But let's humour Romansh and go back to the original topic...

I once 'believed' that Jesus was born of a virgin. Born into a catholic family, this particular belief was perceived in my mind as a 'fact' - in much the same way as I also believed that the earth was a spheroid: I 'knew', because I relied on and trusted the data or information I had experienced, because I relied on and trusted the source: my parents, teachers, parish priest, church leaders, and the books, documentaries, etc that I was exposed to. Anyone who said differently was distant enough to be disregarded or distrusted - no reliable source directly challenged either belief, and I never felt the need to search. I was secure in my world.
 
After 12 years of catholic schooling and very little exposure to alternative religious beliefs, it wasn't until I reached university that I had any thought that what I believed might be a 'belief' as opposed to a fact. People I began to care about or learned to trust as a source of information made conflicting - and convincing - arguments, and previous sources were gradually found less reliable or less informed by comparison. But I am non-confrontational by nature (and nurture), so for the most part I avoided processing this conflicting data, and focused only on thinking about or discussing those beliefs that were discussed by my social circle...for twenty years.
 
I believed 'A', received new information, but then avoided the need to investigate, question or wrestle with that new information. In hindsight, I was afraid - I had become very good at avoiding conflict, both inside and out. 'Never discuss religion or politics' worked well for me for many years. I stopped going to church, and my mother, probably afraid to face the possibility that her eldest daughter may have lost the faith, and unable to make a strong argument herself, never pushed the issue. Because I avoided the need to articulate or even think about my religious beliefs, it's hard to say what they were at that stage - because I never had to 'say'. When pressed, my 'belief' would depend on the audience - if I'm being honest.
 
I think fear can play a big part in the formation of our beliefs. I could say that I 'lost' my belief when I stopped going to church, but in truth I simply avoided it. I don't know if we lose a belief until we are asked to 'live out' that belief in word or deed, and find that we can no longer do so. I remember sitting in church a few years ago and starting to mindlessly rattle off the creed, when I realised that I no longer believed the words. It was a jarring experience for me - I remember feeling a distinct sense of loss.

 

Humouring me is always good  ?

If I may prevail … could you provide a 3 or 4 line summary please

thanks

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9 hours ago, romansh said:

If I may prevail … could you provide a 3 or 4 line summary please

Sorry, Rom - I don't believe in summaries ^_^

How did I form a belief that Jesus was born of a virgin? By trusting the source (parents, teachers, clergy, books, etc). I had an almost cloistered childhood - 'beliefs' were synonymous with facts.

How did I lose that belief? By holding it up to logic and knowledge. I wouldn't at first - instead I tucked it away unchallenged for years, safeguarded as a connection to my family and culture. 

This is imperfectly simplified, but I think losing a belief is a conscious action to reject information that was previously trusted - it doesn't just happen when you're exposed to accurate and conflicting information. The mind is surprisingly adept at holding conflicting ideas safely apart from each other...one tied to logic and the other to emotion, for instance.

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