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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » I wish I could believe (a late 2000 Landmark) (Page 1)

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Author Topic: I wish I could believe (a late 2000 Landmark)
Telperion the Silver
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*warning, stream of consciousness ahead*

So here I am, an agnostic/atheist... and sometimes I really really wish I could believe in the divine. I used to be a devote Catholic. My whole family on my mom's side are devote, liberal Catholics from Chicago. Religion for us wasn't just some philosophy, it was a way of life and all kinds of family rituals and events were around it, like everybody getting together at Grandma and Grandpa's house during Christmas to sing through all the rooms of their big house in Evanston. So when realized that religion was no longer possible for me it was tough... because I left what I was raised with and because it was almost like leaving the family.

I remember that for a long time I thought our family was unique in that. I never did see other families do that. Maybe I was just blind or maybe they never shared that aspect when I was around. I think that's part of the reason I love all the Mormons here...because for many of the LDS peeps here they really live their faith with the family and it really is part of the glue for community, etc... Reminds me of what was for us.

I was really devout up to 16 or 17. I was on the parish planning committee, helping to choose songs and readings for each Mass. I even thought about becoming a Priest. Being gay didn't wasn't by far the only reason for leaving the church, though that was a factor. While our school/church was fairly liberal, love the sinner hate the sin kind of thing, it wasn't cool to think of what I was and what I wanted as evil or at the least some deformity.

The main reason for my leaving was because at the core I was a scientist and I couldn't resolve the conflicts between what religion said was Truth and what I saw and studied and knew was true from humanity's experiments and knowledge of the Universe. No was could the world be created in seven days, etc. I won't go into all the reasons as they've been debated ten thousand times already here.

In the beginning I was really militant on my dislike for religion. I would think religious people were fools, that religion was the opiate of the masses, a tool for would-be leaders and con-artists to trick an ignorant population into giving them power. (I still do, but not quite as much)

Then after a couple years of college I softened up a bit. Why? I realized that as I didn't want people telling me what to believe, it was wrong of me to do the same to them. Being a non-believer is tough though. You don't have the psychological buttressing that a religion can give you. But You only have the great unanswered. But I was and am still determined never to fall into the "easy" way out...even though it's painful. And I probably can never go back to being a believer if I wanted to. I know too much. I've rejected too much.

One of humanity's survival traits is to question everything, learn, and fear the unknown. We fear the unknown because it could kill us. So we are afraid of the dark, we look at loud noises, we stare at horrible things... because it might be dangerous and we need to study it in case it might hurt us. And in every age humanity has a limit to our knowledge, and beyond that limit is the unknown...fear. So we make up gods and religion and philosophy to answer the things our science and observations cannot answer yet. And once that void is filled we can go back to the business of living.

But, oh, I wish I could believe again. I am most deeply moved by tales of the divine. The theme I love best in "The Lord of the Rings" is not the Rings, or the Hobbits, or whatnot... but the theme that the divine has not abandoned the world to evil... that the gods still love the world and are actually working in it. The Eagles of Manwe are sent... the Valar march from Valinor to defeat Morgoth... the Ring bearers and the last of the High Elves reach the Pass of Light and see the fields of Heaven.

And in the Matrix when the divine have not forgotten us and left humanity to eternal slavery and indignity... Neo is resurrected to bring freedom to God's children.

In Neo Genesis Evangelion God sends down the Archangels to destroy Man who would evolve himself to supplant God. And in the end when Gabriel himself comes down, bringing the last great song before he destroys Mankind, the divine surrender... for love of us they give us divinity.

I think that's what I long for. Proof that it exists. These stories call to something in me...and when I read them or see them I can enter that universe where God(s) exists and I can feel the horrible beauty of the divine. Something I cannot feel in this world.

The farthest I can go is knowing that Humanity is sacred because of what it/we are... we are the Universe made manifest. We are pieces of the Universe that has become self aware, and as we explore our lives and the world around us we are actually exploring ourselves. When we love others we actually love parts of ourselves. When we hate others we hate ourselves.

We are all little gods that way I guess. I guess it's enough.

PS> Sorry this landmark has been so late. Hopefully my 3K one won't be so behind. [Smile]

[ May 27, 2005, 02:45 AM: Message edited by: Telperion the Silver ]

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Synesthesia
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It's kind of like that for me, even starting off as religious and being unable to stay in my religion because I just outgrew it the way a snake outgrows its old skin.
Plus, it wasn't logical enough and I liked the way holistic concepts felt so much better.
Now, I am not exactly an atheist... I have my own personal religion....

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Tater
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Sounds to me like God is maybe trying to talk to you. =\
God can answer questions, he can give peace, he can give purpose.
Have you tried going to church or anything lately?

Faith is a hard thing to come to terms with, especially if you're heavily involved with science, i suppose.
There've been little things I've always had trouble believing, things I've always questioned. Maybe that's why God made me so terrible at science. so I couldn't get too involved with it, and wouldn't question so much. [Smile]

*wonders if "there've" is really a word*

Sorry I'm not a good advice giver and I'm not good with words.
It sounds like you need something. I would try going to church, and if religion is what you need then get it. Try talking to God, he's still in the helping business, you know. [Smile]
And you can work out the small stuff like believing this-and-that story eventually. You don't have to be perfect when you go into it, and you're not going to be perfect even if you're the most devout believer. If you have questions, ask Him. Like I said, he's good in that helping department. [Smile]

Sorry I'm no help.
Good landmark, anyhow.

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Telperion the Silver
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The choir that my friend and I founded is in residency at a United Church of Christ.. um.. church. Our "concerts" are usually during their service on sunday, and our Music Sunday event is also a service.

Some old friends from college that I hang with started trying out this Unitarian Universalist Church and I've gone with them once. It was pretty neat. It was actually during May Day so they had a May Pole and did a cool pagan ceremony. They apparently do this multi-cultural stuff all the time.

And when Pope John Paul II died I was glued to the TV for days. Could not stop watching. I really had an attack of nostalgia for the old Catholic Church then...

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alluvion
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Telpy,

As a landmark critiquer (and chastized for being one), I dare say that sucked. You can wax painfully over your sinful past and it's conniving/conflationary confrontation with religious conformism, but PLEASE... stop with the typos.

my best, you're friend,

alluvion

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Telperion the Silver
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Just trying to bear my soul for Landmark's sake. Just telling a tale from my pov. Sorry if it wasn't a literary masterpiece.
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Tater
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hey, hurry telperion, and you can ironically get alluvion on a typo


quote:
you're friend
[Big Grin]
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Tater
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see where criticism gets you? *tsk tsk*
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Puffy Treat
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Being a believer isn't exactly "easy".

Just saying.

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memory_guilded
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Although I'm not a Mormon, I've always found the religion to be quite appealing. I almost converted, not because I was a believer but because I fell in love with the strong sense of family you just described. Then I realized I was agnostic, but I credit Mormonism for being the only branch of Christianity that reaches the goal that Christ set for us. For Christians to work, live, and love as a big family/community.

As a fellow atheist/agnostic, I agree that it is difficult. During times of strife it's difficult for me to realize that God may not exist, and if he does he probably isn't what we think he/she/it/they are at all.

It's hard, because I would love to convert to Christianity. I'm a big fan of Christ's teachings, and I wish to apply them to my life. But in order to be a Christian, don't you have to believe in God the way your fellow Christians do?

Not that I feel entirely hopeless. I'm from Alaska and sometimes, when I'm near the inlet, staring across the waves at the amazing snow-capped mountains, I think about how there are places that man hasn't even set foot upon, and I think of how, at one time, there was absolutely nothing. That these mountains weren't even HERE, but now they are, and that is a miracle in itself. Sometimes I *don't* need the comfort of knowing God, whatever God is, created us and has a plan for us. Sometimes seeing things for the way they are is good enough.

~M

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alluvion
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Telperion, no worries. It stunk, though... (FYI)
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Tater
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[Roll Eyes]
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Tater
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I'm confused at how you guys can want to believe, but yet don't?
I just haven't ever encountered that.


"But in order to be a Christian, don't you have to believe in God the way your fellow Christians do?"

What do you mean?
In order to be a Christian, all you have to do is admit you're a sinner, believe in jesus christ and that he died for you and i, and confess your sins and be saved. (That's just me and my church.)

Maybe I'm not understanding "believing in God the way fellow Christians do".

I know that my God, while he is the same God, (because there's only one) isn't the same for me as He is for my dad. That is, our relationship is different. I might not be as close with Him as my dad is, and I might not talk to Him as much or in the same way as my dad does. Things like that.
(Since my dad is really religious, I used him in that example.)

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Telperion the Silver
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Thanks for sharing that memory_guilded.
Puffy, I didn't mean to insult anyone's faith or their work in it. I'm giving credit to religion for touching on certain beauties that I sometimes feel I've lost.

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Telperion the Silver
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alluvion, I hope you're not fallow... considering I've stood up for fallow on several occasions. You're not being very nice. And if you feel the need to criticize my personal thoughts why not give some actual pointers instead of bad vibes.
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Tater
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Yeah.

Bad vibes. [No No]

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Telperion the Silver
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*injects good vibes into thread*

There. [Smile]

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alluvion
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bad vibes? how so?
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alluvion
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YOU!!!!!
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Occasional
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quote:
all you have to do is (1)admit you're a sinner, (2)believe in jesus christ (3)and that he died for you and i, (4)and confess your sins and be saved.
I believe what is meant was that (1) might be possible, but (2) and (3) are harder to accept theologically and spiritually. Not only do I personally NOT believe that is "All" you have to do, but that (2) and (3) have a lot of strings attached as far as what constitutes "believe in" for those without the faith.
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Occasional
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quote:
The farthest I can go is knowing that Humanity is sacred because of what it/we are... we are the Universe made manifest. We are pieces of the Universe that has become self aware, and as we explore our lives and the world around us we are actually exploring ourselves. When we love others we actually love parts of ourselves. When we hate others we hate ourselves.


We are all little gods that way I guess. I guess it's enough.

Not to sound all prosilytising and all, but that sounds like something a Mormon would say. The only addition would be that what we do to others and ourselves, we are doing to God.
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Telperion the Silver
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I'm sure some Christian stuff is still locked up there in my brain, influencing my ideas and thoughts on what I think is an agnostic worldview. [Wink] I think all religions have elements of Truth in them... they all touch on Truth but no one religion has it absolutely correct. imho.
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alluvion
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and the Good News is that God can "take it".
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Telperion the Silver
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[Roll Eyes]
[Hat]

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Corwin
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quote:
But, oh, I wish I could believe again.
I know how you feel. While I've never been a believer I have moments in which I wish there would be a way for me to find God. I'm quite sure that if I DO find him he will be quite far away from most if not all of the existing religions, but that's as much a guess as me currently saying there's no God. But in the meantime, I'll just go on treating each moment as being equally important; there's simply nothing else I can do. Welcome to my world, Telp! [Smile]
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imogen
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Hey Telp.

Thanks for sharing. [Smile]

While never having grown up in a religion, I understand *exactly* what you mean.

It would be nice to have that surety. But I know, for me (at least at this point in my life) pretending I had it would be - well, pretense.

Good landmark. Sorry you have had to deal with the responses from alluvion that you have had.

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TheHumanTarget
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I don't want to believe as much as I want to belong .

I think that for the most part church is a community of like-minded people, and to know that you will never fit with any of these communities is dis-heartening in a profound way.

I've tried church many times and it just feels wrong to me. It's difficult to explain and difficult to reconcile the fact that my spirituality doesn't seem to fit into an organized religion. I wonder if this is how cults are started, not by crazy people, but by people who're trying to find a place where they're at peace...

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Synesthesia
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If I belonged to a church, perhaps it would be easier to meet people, but for me, going to church is a bit like hearing beautiful music with off-key notes thrown in. It's jarring and frustrating to me.
Still, if I did join a church I think I'd become a Quaker.

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TheHumanTarget
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quote:
Still, if I did join a church I think I'd become a Quaker.
I do like their oatmeal... [Big Grin]
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BannaOj
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*throws some good vibes into thread*

*Hugs Telpy*

It may be a stream of consciousness but I think it was beautiful.

Wishing you peace.

AJ

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Jim-Me
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*hugs too*

I thought you really captured the yearning caused by the recognition that *we* are not the measure of the universe, but the measurers.

Ignore the silly critics and proseletyzers above... you are way beyond them. [Smile]

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memory_guilded
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quote:
Originally posted by Tater:

In order to be a Christian, all you have to do is admit you're a sinner, believe in jesus christ and that he died for you and i, and confess your sins and be saved. (That's just me and my church.)

I know that my God, while he is the same God, (because there's only one) isn't the same for me as He is for my dad. That is, our relationship is different. I might not be as close with Him as my dad is, and I might not talk to Him as much or in the same way as my dad does. Things like that.
(Since my dad is really religious, I used him in that example.)

I am skeptical that God is this Supreme Grandaddy who sent His only son to save us from our sins. The reason I want to convert is because I have a great appreciation for Christ's philosophies, not because I believe in the Bible's dogma. When I read it, I can't help but take it all in metaphorically. I do that with all religions, though. I see religious texts as mere collections of different spiritual perspectives. No one is right or wrong, and no God is the only God. How could I truly convert to Christianity then, if I take the Bible's descriptions of God with a grain of salt?

~M

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Derrell
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I think you expressed yourself very well.
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jeniwren
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Telp, I was agnostic/atheistic for 15 years. I was hostile to religion, a full believer it was opiat for the masses, a crutch for people less capable or intelligent than me. It was fine for them, I thought, but please...I don't need anyone to tell ME what to do. For most of those 15 years, I couldn't have believed in God, really, if I tried.

Then some stuff happened over time where it got harder *not* to believe. Before I finally accepted that I believed despite myself, I ran through all my questions, and while I certainly don't have answers for them all, I have enough that I'm content. I'm content to sit with God's answer to Job. It sucks as an answer, but I know from experience as a mother that sometimes I have to give a somewhat similar answer to my children. I accept that it's possible I wouldn't be able to understand the answer if he'd provided it. But that's just me. While I do find my faith in God very reassuring, I also find it to be a damned nuisance. I would really like to just ignore him. And for the most part, I accomplish that better than my conscience likes.

Anyway...I'm glad that you posted your landmark. And I'm glad that you're here on Hatrack. You add a real sparkle to the place. [Smile]

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JonnyNotSoBravo
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Hi Telp!

I can empathize with your landmark. I want to believe because it would give me peace to know that life is all part of some plan, that there's someone I can ask for help and guidance when I need it. Priests, ministers, rabbis, etc. provide the earthly form of this for their members.

What I have settled for is a strong sense of independence, self-confidence and relaxation. I realize I can't do everything, that horrible things happen and it's not my fault, and that I have friends I can depend on. You can have family and community without religion, and peace without a god, and happiness without compromising your truth. It's just more difficult to find that solution when so many other people choose religion as their solution and encourage you to do so as well.

Thanks for your landmark. [Smile]

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Annie
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For me, the coolest revelation was when I realized that my religion, as practiced today on the earth, does not claim to know all the answers to everything. We don't try to (as Carl Sagan says) put God into a box. When you can, through study and application of principles, gain the faith in the teachings you've heard all your life and then realize that those teachings are just the most basic smallest part of truth and reality and that you've got lifetimes worth of learning and discovering to do, it really humbles and impresses you. For me, religion is so awe inspiring because it's so big! It fills the whole universe!
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romanylass
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Telp, that was well written. I hope that in time you will be able to find what you seek.
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katharina
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Telpy, that was lovely. I'm very glad to know you, and I'm so glad that you are here. [Smile]
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Space Opera
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Wow. Telpy, that last part was just beautiful. I'm glad I'm part of the Universe with you. A lot of what you wrote really spoke to me. Missing the comfort that religion and belief can give gets tough sometimes. Thanks for describing it so well. [Kiss]

space opera

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TomDavidson
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quote:

I'm confused at how you guys can want to believe, but yet don't?
I just haven't ever encountered that.

You don't live in a large town, do you, or talk to many non-Christians? [Smile]

It's not uncommon. It is, in fact, the situation for most of the agnostics here.

There appears to be strong evidence that credulity is genetic, and that a propensity for "faith" is in fact an inborn trait. People without that kind of native trait, then, may well have to work at belief while people to whom belief comes naturally may at worst wind up bouncing from fraud to superstition.

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katharina
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So if you want to, you can let that desire work in you. There is no defitive proof either way, but lots of things can be taken different ways. If you want to believe, you can test things out.

Belief and faith in anything always starts out as choice. I think the firmer faith comes when that belief is not betrayed - when you hope and look to find good there, and then, you do.
quote:
People without that kind of native trait, then, may well have to work at belief while people to whom belief comes naturally may at worst wind up bouncing from fraud to superstition.
This I can easily believe. Genetics is not destiny, though - there are credulous atheists and skeptical believers.

[ May 27, 2005, 04:58 PM: Message edited by: katharina ]

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The Pixiest
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Great post Telp. Even though I was planning a similar landmark that I can't use now =P
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whiskysunrise
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I think it was very well done. Good luck in what you do.
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punwit
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Count me as a wishful non-believer. I would love to believe to the core of my soul that there is an overarching plan, that my existence is more than a cosmic happenstance. It would be lovely to believe that whatever makes up my being will last forever. I long for the comfort and sense of security that true-believers tell me they posses. Alas I seem unable to make that leap of faith. No matter how much I wish to believe I still feel like it is pretend.

Telp, thanks for sharing. I find comfort in similar thoughts of loving friends and family. Pay no attention to fallow, he is empty and infertile.

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sarahdipity
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Where did you grow up? I was never ever under the impression that I had to believe the world was created in 7 days to be Catholic. I think that it's interesting to see how location and different slants can really change a religion, or at least the way a person sees that religion.
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fugu13
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That would be especially weird as the Vatican is completely fine with evolutionary and big bang theory.
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Megan
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Telp...thank you for sharing this. I won't say much, except that I totally know how you feel.

(((Telp)))

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Sartorius
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When the big bang theory first appeared it was scoffed at by the scientific community because it seemed to support a divine creation. I think it's funny how things turn around.
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Telperion the Silver
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Thanks everybody.
[Smile]
Sorry for stealing your idea Pixiest.
[Wink]
Sarahdipity, I grew up in Allen Park, a suburb of Detroit. Went to St. Francis Cabrini grade and high schools. They were actually pretty liberal compared to all the conservative stereotypes. They taught us that evolution AND creation were true. That the Bible shouldn't be taken literally most of the time, that much of it was metaphor or poetry or misunderstood. I always thought that was a fairly enlightened way of looking at the Bible. Science and religion don't have to be enemies. As another thread said, if God is the creator of everything then the study of the Universe is the study of God.

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beverly
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I only saw this now. That was deeply touching, so bittersweet. Thank you for your thoughts and insight. [Smile]
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