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Rejecting Religion Led To Rejecting God

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I would tend to side with Paul here. Perhaps choice is a semantics thing? When conditions are ripe there is no need for a choice..... God is revealed and simply is.... to me now, choice of belief plays no part. If i am to be honest, my response is.... i do not believe or disbelieve in God. God simply is a reality in my life whether i want to choose or not choose it to be so . To me choice is an illusion of sorts. God to me is experienced presence and presence doesn't require my choice of belief to be so. Why should Paul choose to allow his mind to conceptualize another mind created God to believe in? Presence is inevitable with or without choice. Evolution of consciousness will see it through. No need to worry or fret in my view.



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Paul, you will NEVER find an answer to you question if ultimately you do not CHOOSE God.

Welcome Betty,


Good to have you here. Perhaps you could introduce yourself in the introductions area when you get a chance to share a little about yourself.


By your statement, are you implying that God cannot choose us without us first choosing God? Or that God can't be revealed to us if we do not choose God?


Do we really need an answer to the question , does God exist? Can't we just ignore the question and live Life ?



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To grossly oversimplify Boyer's case, we intuitively and automatically assume agency when something happens. This is evolutionarily beneficial.


This I think is pertinent to our existence. When my 85 kg body does something, I assume agency.


DrDon - science does not pursue "proof". Evidence and models - definitely


Agnostically tilting at windmills, so to speak.


Merry Christmas all.



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Despite not feeling as if I have anything 'worthy' (perhaps more correctly, I don't have anything to add without the threat of redundancy of what has already been said so well by others),

I WOULD like to thank you for the discussion.

As odd as it may seem, your voices are eerily close to what exists in my own mind, and _has_ for a very long time.

Thank you for helping me detach from the overwhelming feeling of being "alone" in my thoughts . According to the way I was raised, I either believed what "they" told me, or I was going to hell.

Thank you for being a light in my darkness.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Dear All-


I've taken a wee breather from this discussion and am delighted to see it is still alive.


I've had a number of excellent conversations with a fellow cast member here in Madrid (we are preparing the new Phillip Glass opera THE PERFECT AMERICAN that premieres next week, January 22nd). My friend is a wonderfully human bass-baritone from Connecticut who was raised Episcopalian and remains staunchly so. He has a beautiful heart in faith and we both enjoy our rummaging around in spiritual conversation.


It is through these conversations (some of which have been about the core of this topic) that I've come to understand the need for more clarification on my stance thus far.


I have realized that the use of the words 'choice' and 'choosing' can easily summon up a sense of reduction. This is by no means my intent. Also, the use of belief as in 'I believe' and knowing, 'I know'. seem to need some clarification.


If I am seated in the middle of a restaurant, I can clearly state that the tables, chairs and their occupants within my immediate range of vision and hearing are things that I fully 'know' are there. By determining the patterns of the room I can only state that I 'believe' that the same configurations are in place behind me, outside of my range of vision. Further, I 'know' that this planet exists as does the universe beyond it (in so far as it has been 'viewed' by powerful and amazing satellites and earthbound observatories) because the physical nature has been revealed concretely. I 'believe' that the Universe goes on well beyond the 'viewed' regions because I have been told that it does based upon the models already established. I cannot 'know' what the outer reaches of the Universe contain. The speculations of myself and others are based upon the acquired knowledge along the way but the true nature of such vastly distant space is without precedent. I may form my own 'belief' but it is not something that is in any way 'known'--- yet.


It is a rather delicate thing to discuss anything that has no proof of existence. God is right at the top of that list. I firmly believe that to enter into a discussion about God a few things are necessary to establish in order for any hope for a successful dialog. Firstly and most importantly it must be agreed upon that there is not a shred of concrete evidence that God even exists. This can be excruciatingly painful to many usually due to their 'starting line' being quite a way down the course from the starting line itself. It is not in the least a diminishment of God to accept and acknowledge that He/She/It has left us nothing concrete with which to move forward. That is why 'faith' is, from the beginning, faith. It is the central job of Religion to obscure this fact and build vast structures around it to imply that such is not the case. These structures include 'Holy' writings, rules and punishments that even go so far as to establish the mind of God, the personality of God and even the 'tastes' of God. We are informed of what God wants from us and from creation. We are informed of God's needs and what God does when He doesn't get his way. We are informed by 'leading' Christian voices that since we haven't prayed enough to God in schools He shrugged His shoulders in indifference and 'allowed' twenty beautiful little children to be riddled with bullets when He could have stopped it if he had gotten His way before it happened. We have been so over-informed about every aspect of God when God itself has NEVER once contributed to the vast body of His biography.




What all of that mess really is is an incredibly compounded process of fiction based upon nothing but very human choices in belief. There is not a shred of 'knowing' in that mile-high skyscraper. It is all choice.


Choice is generated by emotion. I choose pasta not because it is good fior me (it isn't, I'm diabetic) but because I really like it. It comforts me after a rehearsal or performance. I don't choose anchovies, they are most likely better for me than pasta (well, that much salt?) but I simply cannot put one in my mouth, let alone chew and swallow it. That and the smell! I will never 'choose' anything with an anchovy in it. Never.


It is very important to me to choose that a creator is at the core of (in fact is) the Universe. The emotion I feel in this belief is so much more 'right' than it ever could be without It. I very proudly say that I make this choice without anything more to go on than my desire, my need, my emotionalism to do so. God doesn't 'need' me to make It real. God is not diminished by more and more people adopting atheism or agnosticism. God is not diminished by the millions who have chosen the Allah of Islam, the YHWH of Judaism (or any other name for God in any other religion) instead of the Christian God. I am in the present act of assigning the attributes to a God that I have no proof exists. I am in the act of making my choices. The odd thing about assigning attributes to God is this; such 'attributes' only serve to diminish. The more we define, the smaller God becomes until, not surprisingly enough, we have reduced God into nothing other than ourselves, literally us.


I know a man who is the senior elder of his church. He is sharp tongued, demeaning, judgmental, demands obedience from the congregation (especially women) and is a very angry man. When he describes God, he is always describing himself to a tee. His God is full of rage, wrath and metes out punishment left and right. His God hates the same people he hates. His God is very personal to him. Conversely I know a Pastor who is loving, compassionate, deeply caring, merciful, forgiving and always interested in serving the hurting hearts of those around her. There are not enough hours in the day for her to lovingly serve her church, community, friends, family and strangers. Her God is just like her. I know a very aloof southern man from a wealthy family who holds himself very much separate from other people. He keeps a very clean line of distance between himself and others. His God is so “holy and above everything in His creation" that anything that would come groveling near God's feet would be an "insult and an affront to the holiness of God". Each of these three identify with the qualities of God that they hold close, tightly and dear to themselves. They are each making their conscious choices for the very nature of something that cannot be defined.


So now I'll define and diminish.


I have struggled all of my life with feeling 'outside' of the group. This has been a weight that has burdened me from my earliest memories in Sunday School, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, all levels of schooling K- Doctoral School, my Apprentice years at Lyric Opera of Chicago, my first marriage, and the assemblage of each cast that I've been a part of in 27 years of singing. No one 'does' this to me, it has just been my problem. Titles like 'low self-esteem'... do not help. It just is the way it is. Christianity has such a huge 'IF/Then' that the room for 'out' is enormous. I cast God in the role that I need God to be to assure me in my darkest times. There is no 'outside' with God, only 'inside'. This is further assured by my belief that God is not detached from the universe It ‘created’ and, therefore, me. For me God IS the Universe, God IS Everything, including me (and everyone else). I'm not made by God, I am made of God. I am in, along with everyone and everything else. The structure of literal and evangelical Christianity is based upon there being an 'in' for the right people and an 'out' for everyone else. To me it is just another group that claims a unique status and membership to God's club with a sign at the door, "Christians Only". Exclusivity with a golden ticket to heaven holds no allure for me as I am already in the best 'club' in town, along with everything and everyone else. The only ‘club’ I can feel fully secure in is the one in which everyone (even me) can belong to fully and without fear. I do not believe for a second that there is an outside of Everything, no matter what 'club' anyone may have joined along the way. I believe that many will be dismayed when those they distanced themselves from are right beside them in the next experience with God. Loving now is the only club. Sound familiar? It is the Jesus message that is always obscured by the massive religious structure that is in place all around it.


I go through all of this because I am attempting to more clearly present the perimeters of choice from that of mere pasta to the biggest choices of our lives. We choose that which is right for each of us. I pity a choice for religion only borne out of fear of a placed conjured up by human imaginations called hell. I would have much more joy in a person choosing their brand of religion because it seemed to switch on most, if not all, of their ‘right’ buttons of emotion and intellectual response. However, in the end and regardless of the process, it is all merely choice.


I will declare myself an adherent to the message of Jesus of Nazareth. The command to Love is inescapable. The mindset He Himself loathed was that of the Pharisee. Not the ‘then’ Pharisee but of all Pharisees of all times, including today’s latest brand. I am a part of the creation that IS God, I share this with everyone and everything. I am commanded to Love. Exclusivity is, by it’s very nature, Pharisaic. One group with a golden ticket and all the rest doomed to exile; denied the love of God, is exactly the mindset of the Pharisee. God does not stand on one foot roasting his other foot in a roaring fire.


But all of that is nothing more than my personal choice. God has not ‘revealed’ this to me. My mind has worked through the challenges of my life and this is the version that works for me.


This brings me back, once again, to my bass-baritone friend. Where we differ is this; I believe that the message of Jesus of Nazareth is the focus while he believes that the resurrection supersedes the message. Does this make one of us a Christian and the other not? Perhaps. That is a distinction that has no bearing, for me, upon my sense of feeling ‘right’. I choose what I choose and my friend chooses what he does.


Choice is hardly a light thing, although we can choose things lightly, and is exercised through a certain authority. Such authority is no small thing. Choice bears the resultant responsibility that always plays itself out.


I wish you well, especially you, GraceInTheRain.









The clash in belief between biblical creationists and the strong believer in Evolution are not fought over absolutes but rather over two dogmas. The overwhelming need to hold onto the literalist view of either Genesis 1 or Genesis 2 (It cannot be both as even they are in great conflict) belies a need, a choice, to remain faithful to something utterly improbable in the natural universe and world as we have come to know it. There is much, much more at play here that just how much time and energy it took a supernatural agent to bring about the earth and life upon it as we know it. Conversely, both the 'big bang' theory and the theory of evolution are the best models that we have thus far to account for the existence of the earth, its galaxy and the Universe beyond. Add to this the advances in DNA and we are ever closer to an exciting and orderly process of explanation. The scientific approach clearly contains less, if any, challenges whose implications are much more problematic than mere development.


It must take a great deal of fortitude to stand firm on the literal Genesis 1 or 2 in the face of such incredibly exciting discoveries. Either that or a tremendous fear of loss. Would the walls of religion really crumble into dust if the Universe itself was not held to the literal acceptance of the first two chapters of the book of Genesis?

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Thanks for the wonderful synopsis covering a variety of issues. Enjoyed it.


Only a comment on one item....

I firmly believe that to enter into a discussion about God a few things are necessary to establish in order for any hope for a successful dialog. Firstly and most importantly it must be agreed upon that there is not a shred of concrete evidence that God even exists.


While i believe i know what you mean by that statement, for me existence itself is concrete evidence of God. In the respect that as you say, God is All that is or "God IS Everything, including me (and everyone else). I'm not made by God, I am made of God", ALL that i see is as concrete evidence of God. Of course it is all subjectively perceived and as a sentient being, cannot be otherwise.



Thanks again,


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Excellent post, Don. Thankyou.


One question - do you think you could choose NOT to believe in the God you do? Do you think that is a choice that would really be up to your logical mind?

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JosephM and PaulS-


Good to run into you again!


Paul, what I hear you saying is this, 'Could you fully choose to reject that which you continue to fully choose?'. No, the two are incompatible. I cannot inhale deeply while exhaling fully. One waits for the other. I can modify inhalation, mid-breath, to begin exhaling and, during exhalation, modify again to inhalation but I cannot do them simultaneously. Cessation is required, even to modify.


JosephM, I appreciate the poet in you! Indicators point to logical conclusions that we may fully be satisfied with at an emotional level but, like the statement, 'Look at the incredibly diversity of life on this planet! How can there not be a God who created it all?', it does not render proof. The beauty of this reality, for me, is found in the heightened power of faith that no concrete proof allows. Credo, I believe and Scio, I know, illicite very different paths. Credo is vibrant and in motion. Scio is still and rooted. This is not a rule. It is how it rings with my inner-poet!


I do appreciate the fine points that each of you adhere to and doubly appreciate the respect you have shown me.


my very best to you both on this fine new day!



Edited by DrDon
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JosephM, I appreciate the poet in you! Indicators point to logical conclusions that we may fully be satisfied with at an emotional level but, like the statement, 'Look at the incredibly diversity of life on this planet! How can there not be a God who created it all?', it does not render proof.



But perhaps i am not saying 'Look at the incredibly diversity of life on this planet! How can there not be a God who created it all?' Perhaps what i am saying is irregardless of what Life looks like, existence IS, and needs no other proof to be and that itself and whatever that entails is God. Further definitions in my view, only cloud the issue. Perhaps one will find that God, Creation, Reality, is One.



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