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Am I A Hypocrite?


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Is it wrong that even though I don't believe in God anymore, I still find myself slipping back into old beliefs I was raised with like praying? Sometimes I'll still pray even though I don't believe in God anymore and I don't understand why I do because I was always angry at being disappointed by God when I was a Christian, so I don't know why I should miss it. I don't fear hell anymore but it's like prayer is something that I miss. I don't believe in God anymore but I still like the rituals and singing and my friends at church even though I don't like some the church's dogmatic doctrines. I'm not able to live on my own yet and so I have to remain in the closet about my atheism and that I'm gay and I still have to go to church with my parents. But lately most of the time, I find myself siding with progressive Christians over atheists in religious debates and what progressive Christians say make sense to me but I can't bring myself to believe anymore. But I feel hypocritical because I try to put on a front around my non-Christian friends like I don't miss it at all even though I turn around secretly pray in private.

Edited by Neon Genesis
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Hi Neon,

 

I've felt the same way often. But I would note that people all around the world pray, whether theistic or not. Contemplatives from all religions pray a whole lot, and not necessarily to an objectified deity.

 

I could very well be accused of hypocrisy, and my accusers would probably be right about most of it.

 

But hypocrisy is quite abundant in people: I really doubt that every fundamentalist who prays truly believes deep down that God is hearing them. Cognitive dissonance is rampant among the faithful, at least in my experience.

 

If you feel it contradicts what you believe about reality, I would just say to myself, so what? Acknowledge it, and pray anyway. In my experience you have to let yourself feel the way you do in whatever situation, because you really can't in any successful way control it. You and I both have deep psychological ties with the Christian tradition. To deny that would be to deny part of ourselves. To deny part of ourselves would be the true inconsistency and false front. To draw out virtue from those ties, to cultivate wisdom where wisdom is present (which is what I see progressive Christianity doing), seems to be the most prudent thing to do.

 

By the way, I consider myself a progressive Christian but I also have strong affinity with Buddhism. Also, I can hardly qualify as a theist in any traditional sense - a theistic, supernatural God simply is not part of my life philosophy or practice, even though I do often pray to him as would any other Christian believer. Indeed it contradicts my conclusions about reality, yet, so what?

 

Perhaps prayer is something real/true on a different level, in that it is conveying something about oneself, or is being true to oneself in a way that the discursive mind has trouble understanding because it wells from inner realities. Perhaps no rationale is needed to pray.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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Neon,

 

I can not consider my self a theist either in the traditional sense of the word. I have always had a strong affinity to prayer probably from my Catholic background. Now even though i do not share those traditional beliefs and like Mike i share many common experiences of other religions such as Buddhism yet i consider myself if it offends no one, a Progressive Christian and i subscribe in principle to the 8 points.

 

Prayer is to me a good thing. To presuppose that we know exactly to who or what we are praying to is to me to suppose much. Personally i experience the receiver of my prayers to be the very Source of my life which i call God, but not in the traditional sense of the word. Now, in my present state, i realize that prayer for the most part need not even be verbal with me anymore because there is an intimacy i experience that is beyond words or description. That intimacy i see as available to all because in my experience there is no where in this physical realm that our Source is not. If it were possible for it to not be so then all we see would cease to exist.

 

You may not believe in the god that was programmed in you from your youth but your existence itself speaks of a more profound God than words can. Whether you are a hypocrite or not, i do not know and cannot say. It doesn't matter to me. You are one and the same in Source with me and you are what you are and i accept you as i accept the flesh and blood i seem to be wearing.

 

In my experience, God's presence is not found in debates. At best they can only point to what God is not. Don't be troubled by who you are. If others hold on to traditional beliefs that is their choice. The question to me is can I forgive others for being who they are? My answer is always after contemplation, YES. In that my conscience becomes clear and guilt and confusion cease to plague me. In my experience, peace is found in acceptance rather than debate.

 

Love in Spirit,

Joseph

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Neon, your post is sincere and true to the core so you are far from being a hypocrite.

 

I don’t think your prayers are mechanical and blind faith can't satisfy everyone so you are not a hypocrite. I see your prayers as a form of realization. I don’t think prayer is just asking for certain actions or objects, soliciting God as if He were withholding, begging Him as if He were not willing. Prayer is just the simple organization of our thoughts so we can think about what we really desire, but it should be for what is good and does no harm to others. The real purpose of prayer is simply and solely to arrange our thoughts so that we will be open up for the realization from above.

 

The scientist thinks about a problem and concentrate to solve it. They look at the outward signs and say they have solved the problem and have done a great or good thing. The inward significance is that their concentration has opened the mind to a greater field of receptivity. In their contemplation they have complete reliance upon natural law, an unqualified trust in it, and this directs the mind to other channels that bring everything into focus. This is true prayer. These men have entered the realms of a deeper reality, and we should appreciate their consciousness because they have had experiences that the average man cannot conceive. Even the scientists go behind the material world and stand next to the consciousness that supports our physical existence in theories. We must test all ideas, laws, theories and processes to see if they are the Truth or not, like the scientist we must be on guard against accepting that which is not true. Your statement about not believing in God anymore shows you are searching for the Truth with your whole being. I think it is healthy and will lead to good results. Your post show a deep insight and an honesty that is refreshing.

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Neon,

I'm just trying to understand. I hear you saying that you don't believe in God anymore. I posted something awhile back saying I felt like a hypocrite because I don't believe in a God that physically intervenes in the world as a response to prayers, yet I enjoy stories of those who still believe that way. Is that what you are meaning? Or are you saying that you don't believe a source, an energy, a presence you can call God exists at all? It sounds like you may be searching for something to believe about God. What kinds of debates do you agree with Christians on when you hear them? What has happened to make you feel like you can't believe anymore?

 

My son just finished reading the book Night, where the author lost his faith in Nazi concentration camps. My son had to write an essay asking whether it would be possible for ANYONE to maintain their faith in such a situation. My answer would be that it would probably be impossible for anyone who held the belief that a loving God should and could intervene and chose not to.

 

Janet

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There's all sorts of different reasons why I lost my faith and no specific single reason. The issue that got me started doubting was the church's teachings against homosexuality. I was raised to believe homosexuality was a sin and God was going to send gays to hell but I later realized I was gay myself. After being unable to change my sexuality, I started to question how a loving god could send someone to hell for being gay or because they weren't in the right religion. I started studying the bible more and I discovered the bible contained contradictions. The contradictions in the bible that caused me to deconvert the most were the immoral passages in the bible like all those passages in the OT where God murdered innocent children. I couldn't worship a god anymore that would torture people for such frivolous reasons. I started reading atheist books and websites that dealt with skepticism and critical thinking and the philosophoical and logical arguments against the existence of a supernatural god started making more sense to me. But then one of my friends who is a humanist linked me to one of Bishop Spong's lectures on youtube. Spong was one of the first Christian authors since my deconversion who really impressed me with his sincerity, honesty, and intelligence and with how he didn't make apologies for the church. Like he didn't try to white-wash all the mistakes the church made with a No True Scotsman fallacy.

 

I started learning more about progressive Christianity and reading books by other progressive authors like Marcus Borg and Karen Armstrong. When the New Atheists argue that all religion is delusional and dangerous and that moderates enable fundamentalists, I tend to find myself agreeing with the progressive Christian authors more. Even though I had already started calling myself an atheist, I found that the progressive Christians' arguments in defense of religion as a concept made more sense to me than the New Atheists' arguments against it even if I no longer actually believed in religion. I also think most progressive Christian authors are more historically accurate about the history of Christianity and biblical scholarship than the New Atheists are. I can also find inspiration in Spong's concept of God as the Ground of All Being but sometimes it depends on the day of the week it seems like. I then started thinking that even if there is no God, it wouldn't hurt to pray to God, but I feel hypocritical because logically it makes no sense to me, yet emotionally it makes sense.

Edited by Neon Genesis
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There's all sorts of different reasons why I lost my faith and no specific single reason. The issue that got me started doubting was the church's teachings against homosexuality. I was raised to believe homosexuality was a sin and God was going to send gays to hell but I later realized I was gay myself. After being unable to change my sexuality, I started to question how a loving god could send someone to hell for being gay or because they weren't in the right religion. I started studying the bible more and I discovered the bible contained contradictions. The contradictions in the bible that caused me to deconvert the most were the immoral passages in the bible like all those passages in the OT where God murdered innocent children. I couldn't worship a god anymore that would torture people for such frivolous reasons. I started reading atheist books and websites that dealt with skepticism and critical thinking and the philosophoical and logical arguments against the existence of a supernatural god started making more sense to me. But then one of my friends who is a humanist linked me to one of Bishop Spong's lectures on youtube. Spong was one of the first Christian authors since my deconversion who really impressed me with his sincerity, honesty, and intelligence and with how he didn't make apologies for the church. Like he didn't try to white-wash all the mistakes the church made with a No True Scotsman fallacy.

 

I started learning more about progressive Christianity and reading books by other progressive authors like Marcus Borg and Karen Armstrong. When the New Atheists argue that all religion is delusional and dangerous and that moderates enable fundamentalists, I tend to find myself agreeing with the progressive Christian authors more. Even though I had already started calling myself an atheist, I found that the progressive Christians' arguments in defense of religion as a concept made more sense to me than the New Atheists' arguments against it even if I no longer actually believed in religion. I also think most progressive Christian authors are more historically accurate about the history of Christianity and biblical scholarship than the New Atheists are. I can also find inspiration in Spong's concept of God as the Ground of All Being but sometimes it depends on the day of the week it seems like. I then started thinking that even if there is no God, it wouldn't hurt to pray to God, but I feel hypocritical because logically it makes no sense to me, yet emotionally it makes sense.

 

Our member Minsocal often points out how inextricably tied logic and emotions are to one another. I would say that if prayer works for you as a practice, if it emotionally makes sense, then it also has logical justification. Even if you cannot provide a clear-cut rational for it.

 

But really I think it is important to heed logic, but not let it dominate. What is the rationale for waking up in the morning? For living? For being? Does being make logical sense? The Vulcans on Star Trek always crack me up because if people's lives were truly dedicated to nothing but logic, they'd never get out of bed in the morning.

 

Ultimately I don't think there is any 'rationale' behind the universe or existence. That is not to say that there is no logic, but that any attempt to get 'behind' the universe in the first place is ultimately an ontological mistake. It is the same problem that caused Steven Hawking to ask, what is it that breathed fire into the equations [laws of the universe]?

 

As a Chinese verse says, If you want to know where the flowers come from, not even the god of spring knows.

 

As I said, philosophically I do not approach God as an objectified deity. Therefore, as Spong says, I might look to God as the 'ground of being', 'the One', or something to that effect. But really that is just an abstraction, even if it points to truth. Where is the concrete reality behind the abstraction? Perhaps prayer, contemplative prayer, places this abstract truth squarely in the daily practice of life. I see prayer as connection, union - touching the 'ground' of our being.

 

Alan Watts said, "Of course, you might say that nature or the whole universe [he refers here to metaphysical notions about the 'whole universe'] is nothing but a big abstraction...I think that our difficulty is...Our comments on life are insufficiently balanced by the clear sensation that what we are talking about is ourselves, and ourselves in a sense far more basic and real than" philosophical abstractions (Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown 9,10).

 

Yet still I often do pray to God as though 'he' were a being out there. Some times part of me believes it. And that is fine, I let that part of me believe it. I have faith that if I let that part of me flow naturally, nothing will come crashing down. I'm not going to become a fundamentalist again. The part of me that believes and prays is expressing a truth on a different level, a truth about myself, an expression of myself. For me to ignore that and pretend it's not there would be itself a lie. Just pay attention, be mindful, pray.

 

Peace,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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