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Switch to Forum Live View Hello, I'm exploring and questioning my ideas
10 years ago  ::  Aug 25, 2008 - 4:32PM #1
Posts: 26
Hi, I'm Mriana and while I consider myself a Religious/Spiritual Humanist, that is not quite accurate for I do not consider myself an atheist per se, esp if one sees atheism and agnostism as a requirement for humanism, though I do not disagree with many things atheists say.  I agree with many things they say with a few exceptions.  Mind you, in many places the lower case "god" is intentional for a reason and I do apologize for the length of this post, but I am inquiring, questioning, and exploring.

I am in a sense a non-theist, but here is the thing, that in a way is also feels like a misnomer to me. While I do not believe in the god of religion, any religion, I do believe "god" is in us, in animals, in nature, the universe itself (sounds pantheistic or maybe even Gnostic).  IT and I do mean it for within nature there is nothing that is one single sex and still procreates.  Plants are both male and female and there is a reptile or amphebian that morphs when there are not enough males to procreate- females somehow become male.  That last is really weird, but given that, I cannot view a deity as being one single sex, IF one exists (agnostism).  Thing it is in everything and it has no form, gender, or mass.  No, it is not a spirit either, but rather triggers certain neurochemicals within us to cause feelings of transcendence.  Of course this is not "deity" or at least not the common deity of most human concepts.  The thing is, to describe it, as Tzu said, is to not describe it at all (In this respect, I sound like a Taoist, but am not, I don't think).  To attribute any human concept to it is to anthropomorphasize it, which I refuse to do, for it is not that either.  However, I would not be surprised if science did discover it as being some sort of chemical or rather element that is within everything in the universe and interacts with everything via chemistry thereby causing some reaction (use of science/psuedo-science in my views).

It is also the human drive, the human potential, or any other word that deals with being human.  This can get into the realm of psychology and neurochemistry, because external things like music, smells, things visual like nature, acts of love and compassion, etc can trigger brain chemistry that causes feelings as strong as transcendence/peak experiences.

OK I don't want to get too deep into science for it is just a philosophy- my philosophy that is or at least it is not a philosophy I know exists beyond my own concept.  I am also pretty much a lifelong vegetarian.  I do not believe in causing intentional harm to anyone, including animals, or contributing to harming anyone for to do so is to harm this lifelong relationship I have had with nature (almost makes me sound like a Buddhist or Jain).  I enjoy and even "commune", for want of a better word, with this concept via nature, which includes my love for animals and I do believe humans are related to not only apes, but all animals on this planet for we live in a vast and amazing ecosystem.  It is a spiritual as well as evolutionary relationship for me.  As bizarre as it may seem, my vegetarianism is related to this spiritual relationship with nature.  Before you laugh, it surely can't be anymore bizarre than the Santa Claus in the sky concept, except my concept has no anthropomorphic qualities.  It just is, not sure what it is, but it is.  It's not tangible or describable in human words.  However, I doubt there is an afterlife beyond "being recycled" into the earth and feeding plants and other creatures on this earth (back to the vast ecosystem).  I feel we must strive to be all we can be in this life and to do things to better ourselves and hopefully society without any expectations of reward or punishment in some sort of afterlife.

I am appauled by the idea of holy communion, the crucifixion, and other (please pardon me for I am trying to find a relationship to some philosophy that fits mine and to do that, I must explain my feelings with common words) barbaric and cannibalistic practices found in institutional religion.  Always have been appauled by it.

Some people, on liberal, yet non-religious sites when I tried to figure out where and how my views fit in a given philosophy, have said I sound more pantheistic.  I have researched pantheism a little, but I have yet to find something in my research that talks about "god" being within everything in the universe, including the universe itself.  However, I noticed in one thread here, that someone described pantheism as being that sort of belief.  I'm rather confused and have no clue where my views potentially fit in with others.

Not sure if what I said makes sense or if it sounds as vague as my view of a probable deity that may or may not exist, yet I have spent a lifetime "feeling" it as I relate to humans, animals, and nature.  Granted, and I admit this freely, when I have these feelings of peak experiences, it is indeed a neurochemical reaction to my surroundings or to the person or animal I am relating to at the time (yes, I do have a psychology degree with emphisis on neuro-psychology).  I have had these awesome  feelings even when I run into a wild animal in which we make eye-contact even for a brief moment, such as a deer.  There is some scientific basis to these numinous feelings, yet at the same time because of these life long feelings, I cannot say emphatically and without any doubt that there is no god.  I just know, through all my research and study, it is not the god of any religion with fallible texts written by humans.

Sorry for the long and drawn out account, although rather brief if one digs deeply, but I have been accused of being an atheist by the religious and a weak atheist or strong agnostic by others, any many other labels when I have not labeled myself anything beyond being a Humanist and non-theist.  I still feel uncomfortable with the term non-theist for it is provisional.  However, I have been accepted by most Humanists, esp if I keep my mouth shut about what I have said here or at least remove the idea of a probably deity that has no religious text, much less supported by any religious institution.

Is there anyone here that can assist me in figuring out if I'm a pantheist or not?  This has been a lifelong quest to figure out just where I fit in and being able to relate to others. As is, I know of no one whose views relate to mine and have no one to actually discuss these ideas with in order to develop, refine, clarify, or what have you my own ideas further.  It would be nice to relate to others, if I can ever find them that is, that I can actually relate to without keeping these views to myself or minus the "god concept" (lower case is intentional for I do not wish it to be confused with the God of any religion).  Thanks.
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10 years ago  ::  Sep 30, 2008 - 1:47PM #2
Posts: 1,708
Hi Mriana! I read your entire post and while I'm not going to try to classify you I must say I identify with you! When I first started reading your post I thought of this:

The Christian Bible, when it was "originally" written used a Feminine noun for God, but somehow gave it a masculine treatment (I can't think of the appropriate word so I'm using treatment). However, that word, in translation, was shifted into strict masculine. The cause? perhaps social/cultural or psychological; now, whether it was a manifestation of the translator's psychology or an artefact of church officials' shrewd manipulation of their congregation's psychology, or maybe both, really interests me.
I was an English major/Philosophy minor, by the way.

Further in, something you wrote made me remember a concept I had years ago. All living beings are like radios; when their physical organs are in working order (including those glands which create those chemicals you studied, and the receptors of those chemicals), those living beings are able to be "animated", so to speak, by the Divine signal which permeates the Universe. Another connected metaphor I had related to this idea is bumper cars; you know how they have that pole in the back which contacts the electrified ceiling grid, so the car can go?

Then I got to the part where I learned you have neurochemistry/psychology degree. (Have you taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator?)
That helped me understand "where you're coming from", so to speak. It also reminded me of the course in Metaphysics I took and also my view on science, which together lead me to say/type this:
Science, to me, explains "what's going on" in it's own language, so for example, you make eye contact with a deer and it bounds surprisingly high over a thicket and disappears and your body rushes hot and your head buzzes a bit. By the way, I'm going to recommend two Robert Frost poems, or actually, I'll post them in this thread!
So science says "Mriana's body released adrenaline and dopamine (or seratonin?)" (You're probably chuckling at my layman's terminology.. what would Science say about that chuckling?!)
So while it's impressive that science has identified what's happening and has names for such chemicals and processes, it as of yet cannot explain why these things happen, nor why any of us is even here and how such staggeringly complex forms of life could have been "designed" and by whom/what. I've encountered an Atheist or two around here and they seemed quite proud of their ability to relate the theory of Evolution. But to me, they were just explaining the behavior, or program, which characterized the history of living organisms. However, I was trying to get into why there are living organisms in the first place and how such complex systems which, when working together (circulatory, respiratory, musco-skeletal, nervous/sensory) comprise a Being, ever happened? To me, there seems to have been "Something" which wanted Life to Be and/or designed Life. I remember looking at a tiny bug, about the size of a ladybug, and thinking that inside that small thing were organs! Anyway, I likened my circular discussion with the Athiest to their talking about identifying the computer program while I was talking about the computer itself.
So, to connect this to metaphysics. The various chemicals "responsible" for our feelings and which help relay even basic synaptic functions, etc. are products of our various glands and organs (and probably other "things" which you can share with me). They are a means to an end. Now, someone could think that those chemicals are God, taking the position that without those chemicals, no Life could function.
But one can take it back a level and focus on the organ/gland/thing that produces the chemical and/or the receptors.
One can take it back another level and focus on what enables that organ/gland/thing to function, or what nourishes it, or how that was even designed.
Another level marvels at the organism of which the organ/gland/thing is a part, since the organ would not even have the "staging area" so to speak, in which to come into being without the organism, which had to ingest nourishment to build the organ and contains the "DNA" which has the blueprints of the organ.
There seems to be a blind spot or a logical black hole where at least I cannot figure out how any organism could ever have come about without something drawing up the blue print which directed the nutrition throughout it's body; but then how did the organism ever get a mouth or digestive tract? I do understand Life probably started on a unicellular level, but even just talking about one cell I think opens the door to these questions...

This is my first post in this Forum. I am interested in Pantheism and may be a Pantheist too. I'm not sure either. I'd like to discuss these things with you more!

I hope you enjoy the two poems I'm going to post underneath.

Thanks for reading!
What Fatal Flowers of Darkness Bloom from Seeds of Light!
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10 years ago  ::  Sep 30, 2008 - 1:51PM #3
Posts: 1,708
He thought he kept the universe alone;
for all the voice in answer he could wake
Was but the mocking echo of his own
From some tree-hidden cliff across the lake.
Some morning from the boulder-broken beach
He would cry out on life, that what it wants
Is not its own love back in copy speech,
But counter-love, original response.
And nothing ever came of what he cried
Unless it was the embodiment that crashed
in the cliff's talus on the other side,
And then in the far distant water splashed,
But after a time allowed for it to swim,
Instead of proving human when it neared
And someone else additional to him,
As a great buck it powerfully appeared,
Pushing the great water up ahead,
And landed pouring like a waterfall,
And stumbled through the rocks with horny tread,
And forced the underbrush--and that was all.

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth--
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches' broth--
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?--
If design govern in a thing so small.

-Robert Frost
What Fatal Flowers of Darkness Bloom from Seeds of Light!
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10 years ago  ::  Sep 30, 2008 - 2:20PM #4
Posts: 26
I've read many Robert Frost poems in part because my mother has always been a fan and I've gone back for a second degree in literature and writing.

You mentioned the deer and I remember I was driving down a country road outside of town with me sons.  A fawn scampered out and I stopped (I need a bumper sticker that says, "WARNING: This car makes sudden stops for animals!" Luckily no one was behind us).  It continued on it's marry way and then a doe cautiously followed behind the fawn.  She stopped long enough to look at us as though to say, "Thank you."  Then she went on to follow her offspring.

I'm all too well aware of animals, but if I had not thought "Mama maybe close behind" I might have continued, but instead I waited and it was one of the most transcendent experiences I have ever felt next to holding my sons for the first time after they were born.  My sons were awed by the scene too.  Nature has always done that to me and when I was a child I called it "God".  Now after studying neuropsychology, I know the experience triggered neurochemicals in my brain to cause that numinous feeling.

I think Sagan said it best when he said:

The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying... it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity. [Carl Sagan]

For me, what he said hit home.

Yes, I have taken the Myers-Briggs Personality test, but it's been years ago and I can't remember my results.

So science says "Mriana's body released adrenaline and dopamine (or seratonin?)" (You're probably chuckling at my layman's terminology.. what would Science say about that chuckling?!)

lol  Yes, I do.  It's more than one chemical and in higher amounts than usual, but yes, after one works out, they generally have an overload of adreneline.  So, what you said does come very close to what I am trying to communicate in a way lay people will understand.  It is also why I say, maybe one day science will come up with an explanation to why we feel such feelings and attribute them to a deity AND find something, via chemistry that could be considered a deity, yet not.  I can tell you, it won't be an old man in the sky though.  Probably sounds bias or prejudice, but when I was seven and riding home with my parents from my grandparents home, lying in the back seat of a Vega looking up at the passing sky and thought, "We've been to the moon and back.  Heaven isn't there."  Then the thought went onto "and neither is God".  So these are things I have pondered since I was really young.  Evangelicals would call the age of seven "the age of accountability", but as an only child, I had plenty of time to contemplate such things and question what my elders said.

As for religion- Judaism started out as a polytheistic religion.  Long ago they had male and female deities (one each) and then they developed into one single deity.  I've done a lot of research and study of religions, even took Victor H. Matthews class in which he used his book "Old Testament Parallels", thus I learned that bit concerning pre-Judaism.  I've learned quite a bit from him and others, even things that apologists would attempt to dispute.

Anyway, I also look forward to learning more about Pantheism and discussing these topics with you even more.  :)  Can't wait to read the poems by Robert Frost you chose either.
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10 years ago  ::  Sep 30, 2008 - 2:22PM #5
Posts: 26
Those are good poems by Robert Frost and shows the naturist side of him.
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10 years ago  ::  Sep 30, 2008 - 2:35PM #6
Posts: 1,708
Years ago, walking home one night, I beheld what looked like an shambling,UFO of black and white fur hovering just off the ground. It was about 5 or 6 feet in diameter and was crossing a quiet sidestreet. It was a mother skunk around whom were all her kits. One of my favorite memories.

I gotta go, but I look forward to talking to you more!

take care
What Fatal Flowers of Darkness Bloom from Seeds of Light!
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10 years ago  ::  Sep 30, 2008 - 8:19PM #7
Posts: 1,708
Don't kill him!
The fly wrings its hands,
its feet.

- Issa

What's this little brown insect
walking zigzag
across the sunny white page of
Su-Tung-p'o's poem?
Fly away, tiny mite, even your life
is tender-
I lift the book and blow you into
the dazzling void.

- Allen Ginsberg

And then there's this, which isn't really a poem, but I also found in The Little Zen Companion:
Late on the third day, at the very moment when, at sunset, we were making our way through a herd of hippopotamuses, there flashed upon my mind, unforseen and unsought, the phrase, "Reverence for Life."

- Albert Schweitzer
What Fatal Flowers of Darkness Bloom from Seeds of Light!
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9 years ago  ::  Feb 04, 2009 - 10:59AM #8
Posts: 1
Hello Mriana-

I am looking into where my beliefs fit for the very first time.  I can relate to much of what you wrote.
Have you read a book by Paul Davies called "God & The New Physics"? He is an English theoretician and science writer/physicist who believes that some of the recent advances in the field of the new physics (quantum theory, relativity..) may soon be able to answer questions which were previously the focus of religion and philosophy.
He says that science is approaching the ability to bring within our grasp a unified description of all creation.
I have been finding it a fascinating read which seems a natural fit for my  feelings about the experience that we are currently sharing.  It's interesting to think about the impact of science on what humans have explained through religious concepts throughout recorded history.

Best wishes on your path...
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9 years ago  ::  Feb 04, 2009 - 5:56PM #9
Posts: 26
Thanks.  Sounds like a good book.  I'll have to hunt for it.  :)
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9 years ago  ::  Feb 06, 2009 - 12:17PM #10
Posts: 1,708
'There are two ways to live your life - one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle.'

'The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.'
What Fatal Flowers of Darkness Bloom from Seeds of Light!
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