Is religion dying –or reinventing?

For decades, Americans have been turning toward spirituality as a protest vote against conventional religion. In the last dozen years, … Continued

For decades, Americans have been turning toward spirituality as a protest vote against conventional religion. In the last dozen years, American religious institutions have undergone a myriad of crises–abuse scandals, conflicts, schism, and partisan political entanglement, to name a few–resulting in a great religious recession. Poll after poll reveals that organized religions –mainline Protestant, evangelical, Roman Catholic, and Jewish –are in varying states of disarray and decline. Sadness, even doom, has gripped many congregations, as the formerly faithful disaffiliate, and those who remain struggle to pay clergy and fix leaky roofs.

TIZIANA FABI

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Asks Bass: Is this the end of religion or only the beginning of a new, and better, form of faith?

The bored and wounded have fled religion seeking new spiritual connections. Some 30 percent of Americans now identify as “spiritual but not religious,” around 9 percent are atheists and post-theists. But the growth of these two groups is not news. Their numbers have been rising for thirty years.

What is new? In my research, it’s the “ands.” Those who say they are “spiritual and religious.” In 1999, 54 percent of Americans said they were “religious but not spiritual,” while six percent said “spiritual and religious.” By 2009, the percentages had reversed: “religious but not spiritual” fell from 54 percent to nine percent as the “spiritual and religious” rose from a mere six percent of the population to nearly half, an astonishing 42 point change.

“Ands” want religion revolutionized by spirituality; they want spirituality grounded upon (but not guarded by) ancient wisdom, theologies, and practices. They demand more authenticity, meaning, justice, and community from religious institutions, not less. In these longings, the “ands” voice an older way of understanding religion, where faith should and must be an experience of God that transforms one’s life for the sake of the world. If the “ands” are the vanguard of change, then the great religious recession is about to give way to a great spiritual awakening. Is this the end of religion or only the beginning of a new, and better, form of faith?

* * * * *

Belong is an excerpt from Bass’ book, “Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening.

In “The Great Turning,” an influential book about contemporary prospects for human community, David Korten asks, “By what name will our children and our children’s children call our time? Will they speak in anger and frustration of the time of the Great Unraveling . . . Or will they look back in joyful celebration on the noble time of the Great Turning, when their forebears turned crisis into opportunity . . . and brought forth a new era of human possibility?”

The questions are good ones that point to the fact that we must make some choices in our day, as he contrasts the old order as “Empire” and the emerging one as “Earth community.” Empire can no longer be sustained; “Earth community” is the way forward; human beings must turn away from the former to create the latter. But the Great Turning is not inevitable. As Korten says, “We must each be clear that every individual and collective choice we make is a vote for the future.” The great turning is an awakening-a movement to reorient human culture toward connectedness, economic equality, democracy, creation, and spirituality. The great turning awakens us to becoming “fully human.”

An awakening is holy geography. Awakenings imply new awareness, inner transformation, a change of heart and mind, and a reordering of earthly things. Korten claims that spirituality will play a key role in the great turning. But what of religion? By what name will our children and grandchildren call the early twenty-first century? Will it be called the great unraveling of Christianity? The time when religion was part of the old order, the things that went wrong, when church organized the gods on behalf of the collapsing empire. When it all fell apart?

Insofar as religion was guardian and priest of the old order, it will have to give way and is already doing so. Western Christendom has ended; a “Christian America” survives as mythic memory and political slogan. Some suggest that a new Christendom is found in Africa, Latin America, or Asia. But that is merely placing old imperial dreams on new geographies of faith-and the whole vision of some new Global South Christendom does not really mesh with historical, economic, or political realities of the contemporary world. If not a new Christendom, then what? In some places, like Europe and Australia, perhaps, religion will give way to the secular; in others, it will give way to an eclectic and generalized sort of spirituality.

But there is another choice as well, the longing sounded by those who place hope in the and-that religion may be transformed and renewed by spirituality. This can happen in Christianity, even in worn-out, ennui-filled western Christianity, for it has happened time and time again in the last two millennia. And it can happen in Islam and Hinduism and Judaism and other religions as well. Indeed, if the Great Turning is about global community, then religion-with churches, buildings, and doctrines-is an essential component of global renewal.

According to the World Values Survey, the vast majority of the world’s people belief in God and say that religion plays an important role in their lives. World Values Survey data prove two distinct and seemingly contradictory theses: one, religion declines as societies become more successful; and two, that the role and importance of religion is increasing worldwide. In other words, in a global context, religion cannot simply be dismissed when searching out paths of human happiness and meaning. No matter how fractious, wounded, irksome, hypocritical, or potentially destructive it can be, religion makes a difference, especially in the lives of the disadvantaged, oppressed, and the poor. Even Christopher Hitches admits that religion will never die out, “at least not until we get over our fear of death, and of the dark, and of the unknown, and of each other.” What the world needs is better religion, new forms of old faiths, religion reborn on the basis of deep spiritual connection–these things need to be explored instead of ditching religion completely. We need religion imbued with the spirit of shared humanity and hope, not religions that divide and further fracture the future.


Diana Butler Bass

is an author, speaker, and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture.

About

Diana Butler Bass Diana Butler Bass holds a Ph.D. in American religious history from Duke University. She is the author of eight books in religion and spirituality, a regular contributor to Huffington Post, and a popular speaker and consultant to religious and non-profit organizations. Her most recent book, "Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening" (HarperOne, 2012), focuses on the changing shape of American religion. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
  • ccnl1

    Keeping the ball rolling with a prayer:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (References used are available upon request.)

  • amelia45

    This is well done and timely. I do think the “traditional” teachings of many religions are due for some updating. As a Catholic, I look at what has happened to the story and the message of the carpenter born in Bethlehem and can barely recognize his teaching in my own Church.

    Jesus did not set-up a rigamarole of priests, bishops, popes, with infallibility, with sacraments that can be delivered only by a priest, with Canon Laws and teachings of minutia that rival the Old Testament restrictions on Jewish everyday life.

    The treatment of women in the Bible (and the Koran?) is a reflection of the times in which it was written. Slavery is a great evil – though the Bible did not teach us that. Gay people are exactly as God made them, not “disordered.” Modern medicine, including birth control, makes our lives better and safer; we need to learn an ethic of life that includes it.

    The Holy Spirit is at work and those most emeshed in the old “rules”, the absolutists, cannot see that Spirit at work. We do not reach that future by holding onto a past that no longer serves us. Our children see it much better than some of us older folks do. God is already working throught them. Jesus is real. He told us to love God, our neighbors, and ourselves. Everything flows from that.

  • adonisalexander

    Strangely, we are constantly trying to reinvent all these various religions in one way or another. Never realizing that anything that needs to be revised and revived is dead. Instead, why not seek to discover truth within oneself and let go of all the religions and spiritual concepts. When you awaken to the truth, no form of religion will have any purpose in your life.

  • ThomasBaum

    Diana Butler Bass

    By the title of the post “Is religion dying –or reinventing?” , one can see that the author of the post does not have a clue what Judaism and Christianity are even about.

    The “Chosen People”, the Jews, were not only chosen by God but were formed by God in that they did not exist until Abraham, with Abraham being the first Jew.

    Being the “Chosen People” does not mean that they are better or anything of the sort, just that they are chosen.

    Chosen for God to become One of us thru them.

    Christianity is about what God did for everyone when God became One of us and Christianity is about “PROCLAIMING THE GOOD NEWS”.

    The “Good News” is that God’s Plan is for ALL, ultimately, to be with God in God’s Kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth.

    The fact of the matter is that Christianity is so simple yet hard to do and that seems one of the reasons, if not the reason, why so many try to make Christianity complicated and easy to “follow” with rules upon rules upon rules.

    Christianity is not about “following” rules, it is about “following” Jesus or at least making this attempt, Jesus did extend the invitation to “Come follow Me, didn’t He?

    Something to think about: Jesus said, “I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except thru Me”, doesn’t say anything about one way to Jesus, does it?

  • Rongoklunk

    You want religion to go away? Just stop indoctrinating our children and it will go away. We do our kids a great disservice teaching them that there’s a god. It’s an absurd hypothesis which only knowledge-challenged ancients believed in.

    Science is what makes this world amazing. Religion makes no sense. As far as we know there are no gods and never were any, Science explains most everything, religion explains nothing, it just makes our understanding of life more complicated.

  • dlmcn

    I’m an “And!” I value the stories of those who have lived Christian faith before me. And I want to be connected to other Christians and share the discipline of the faith in prayer, worship, and study. AND, I want a community that lives deeply into those traditions, and adapts them for the 21st century. I don’t want to merely do what we’ve always done, but to soak up all the riches that my tradiition (and others for that matter) have to offer. Thanks Diana for naming this so clearly!

  • Rongoklunk

    You want religion to go away? Just stop indoctrinating our children and it will go away. We do our kids a great disservice teaching them that there’s a god. It’s an absurd hypothesis which only knowledge-challenged ancients believed in.

    Science is what makes this world amazing. Religion makes no sense. As far as we know there are no gods and never were any, Science explains most everything, religion explains nothing, it just makes our understanding of life more complicated.

  • ThomasBaum

    Rongoklunk

    You wrote, I suppose concerning people believing in God, “It’s an absurd hypothesis which only knowledge-challenged ancients believed in.”

    For someone that supposedly believes in science and in fact, this is an outright lie, that is unless you consider that there are “knowledge-challenged ancients” still living among us.

    You then wrote, “Science explains most everything, religion explains nothing, it just makes our understanding of life more complicated”.

    Seems to me that there are plenty of scientists that think the more they learn about creation or the universe or the physical things around us or whatever you are comfortable calling it, the more “questions” that they come up with.

    This phenomenon seems to be on both the micro and the macro scale.

  • TimM6

    The “Spiritual But Not Religious” are organizing through virtual community. Those interested log onto the sbnr.org website and are part of the sbnr.org Facebook page. There are daily postings and discussions about how to manifest this diverse sense of spiritual self.

  • Secular1

    I fail to see the point you are making Thomas. Just because plenty of scientists think the more we know more questions we have, it has no bearing on the stupidity nor the silliness of the god hypothesis. If any thing it show how much more the ancients were “knowledge challenged” We at least know now how little we know. But the ancients thought they knew everything and pontificated .endlessly about everything theye knew nothing about.

  • SODDI

    Religion is a cancer that wants to destroy the human race. Why else do you suppose that Christians worship the end of the world?

  • Secular1

    Thomas, your explanations come across, totally non-sensical, sorry to say that. Take for instance, “The “Chosen People”, the Jews, were not only chosen by God but were formed by God in that they did not exist until Abraham, with Abraham being the first Jew.” Even if one were to concede this construct ‘god’ exists, your statement amounts little more than gibberish. How els can one interpret “but were formed by god”. Isn’t everyone & group formed by god? so what distinguishes jews from other groups?

    Then you go on, “Being the “Chosen People” does not mean that they are better or anything of the sort, just that they are chosen. ” If they are not better then what are they.? And what does Just chosen supposed to mean? Isn’t the implication that they are privileged to some special benefits or something like that? Which begs the question , why shoould any group of people be chosen? How does god one of us thru them? That one blows my mind.

    Then you bloviate thusly, “The fact of the matter is that Christianity is so simple yet hard to do and that seems one of the reasons, if not the reason, why so many try to make Christianity complicated and easy to “follow” with rules upon rules upon rules. ” In a single snetence you declare christianity is both simple and hard so it becomes compliacted and easy to follow. That above statement is utter gibberish.

  • ThomasBaum

    I can not speak for any other human being except myself but there is not or should not be any “worship” of the end of the world.

    However, you look at it as the end where others look at it as a beginning, a new beginning.

    Whether it is the end of life as we know it or the “personal” end of our own life, we all are facing this end, it is part of life,.

    One thing about humans, we don’t need “religion” as an excuse to be inhumane to others in spite of the fact that many seem to think this to be.

  • ThomasBaum

    I guess the main point could be that theists looking down their noses at atheists is the other side of the same coin as atheists looking down their noses at theists for the simple reason that they don’t believe the same thing.

    Kinda childish, don’t you think?

    And also the fact that if a fact is inconvenient or distasteful to someone does not change the fact that a fact is still a fact.

    And that fact seems to be that there are many today that believe in God not just the “knowledge-challenged ancients”, as some would call everyone before them.

    Of course some people seem to think that “knowledge” is knowing of a lot of different things, such as this information age that we are in, rather than actually knowing something.

    You wrote, “But the ancients thought they knew everything and pontificated .endlessly about everything theye knew nothing about.”

    If one exchanged the “ancients” with “the information age people” your statement might even be more valid.

    I don’t know but I don’t think that the ancients had anything on us in the “arrogance” department but it probably will be shown to be pretty much a tie there.

  • JohnnyDale1

    “Kinda childish, don’t you think?”

    Believing in a god? Yes utterly childish.

  • kapahayagan

    man’s invented religion is not only dying, it has been dead from the time of adam and eve, there is no such thing as reinvention of religion, the right thing to say is multiplying man’s madness about religion

  • neitherland

    This is why I support the religion Thelema. I honestly believe it has what a lot of people are looking for. Tolerance, sexual liberty, scientific illuminism, LGBT friendly, non-restrictive and open for questioning. It is also a shift from a focus on human weakness and sorrow to human strength and the joy of existence.

    I have studied religions and mythology for many years and it is true that a society needs religion and mythology to serve as a cultural backdrop of understanding. This shift from old aeon to new is necessary, because our prevailing religious mythology contradicts what we know about the world because it is based on geocentricity. (death-resurrection being the sun dying at night and being reborn)

  • catatonicjones

    Out of 7 billion humans alive on our planet today, at most 2 billion believe in your god. 5 billion do not. Most of them believe in some other god or gods, but that’s what primitive people do.

    Is your loving god going to fill hell with all 5 billion of us?

    Just because a belief is comforting to you does not make it a fact. Believing in a jesus is believing in santa claus. Kind of childish, don’t you think?

  • JUSTACOMMENT

    @ThomasBaum, we don’t need religion as a reason to behave humanely to others. This was learned as a advantageous trait during the evolution of human groups, well before organized religion existed.

  • catatonicjones

    It does seem to work out that religion makes it possible for normal humane people to be inhumane to each other. It takes religion to make a good man do bad.

  • ThomasBaum

    As far as “Is your loving god going to fill hell with all 5 billion of us?”, maybe you should read what I actually write instead of what you apparently think I am going to write,

    You wrote, “Just because a belief is comforting to you does not make it a fact.”

    Very true, but not believing doesn’t mean that it is untrue either.

    You then wrote, “Believing in a jesus is believing in santa claus. Kind of childish, don’t you think?”

    Your opinion not mine, however what I think is kind of childish is when anyone, believer or non-believer, looks down upon another simply for having a different belief.

    As far as “Out of 7 billion humans alive”, I don’t know,, but I would think that a majority think/believe that there is more than meets the eye, so to speak, do you believe, as you put it, that all of these are “primitive” because “that’s what primitive people do”?

  • ThomasBaum

    Secular1

    You wrote, “Thomas, your explanations come across, totally non-sensical, sorry to say that.”

    No problem, maybe it is the simplicity of it that you perceive as non-sensical.

    You then asked, “How els can one interpret “but were formed by god”. Isn’t everyone & group formed by god? so what distinguishes jews from other groups?”

    First off, it was personal rather than geographical in origen and they were “chosen” and formed for a specific purpose.

    You then wrote, “How does god one of us thru them? That one blows my mind.”

    Jesus was a Jew and I agree that it is mind boggling that God chose to become One of us before there were any of us.

    What I also find mindboggling is that God asked permission to become One of us and it was a Jewish Lady named Mary that said Yes.

    You then wrote, ” ” In a single snetence you declare christianity is both simple and hard so it becomes compliacted and easy to follow. That above statement is utter gibberish.”

    I did not say “so it becomes compliacted and easy to follow” what I said was ” why so many try to make Christianity complicated and easy to “follow” with rules upon rules upon rules”.

    What I was trying to say was that Christianity is not about a bunch of rules and following a bunch of rules as some present it but that it is God’s Gift of Salvation to absolutely everyone ultimately.

    That is what the Good News is all about, if the Good News is not Good News for all, it is not Good News at all, it would be horrific news, sad to say many do not believe it is ultimately for all and even sadder still, there seem to be many that don’t want it for all.

  • ThomasBaum

    I never said we needed religion as a reason to behave humanely to others, what I said was we don’t seem to need any reason to be inhumane to each other.

    As far as “we don’t need religion as a reason to behave humanely to others. This was learned as a advantageous trait during the evolution of human groups”, if we supposedly learned this than how come we have never praticed this?

  • Sara121

    But we do. Violence is on the wane and has been for hundreds of years. This correlates with a lessening of religiosity over the centuries. Correlation isn’t causation, but I’d bet there’s something to that correlation.

  • JUSTACOMMENT

    How can you say that we have never practiced humane behavior? I don’t know what you mean by we, but I think I’m not wrong if I say that yes, we have practiced humane behavior at personal, family, town, region, country, continent and word level. Not always at the same time and by the same human group, but yes, we have many examples of humane behavior. And the origin of this good conduct can be find well before organized religion started to appear.

    But I got your point. Religion is not needed as an excuse to be inhumane to others. And the reason is not complicated, we are animals fighting to survive. As such some humans groups choose to annihilate competing individuals, clans or tribes, but discover that doing it was counterproductive in the long run to face other threats in nature. Then this escalated to the following level: better for competing individuals, clans or tribes cooperate with each other, best join forces. Then the human population started to grow exponentially. This process in my opinion has not finished completely. We still are aggressive animals with a sophisticated brain, and probably this will be true for many centuries more. What religion adds to this process is to promote good behavior withing the same sect, nomination or church, but not necessarily with competing sects, nominations or church. Nor with those that challenge the religion leaders or the dogmas.

  • JUSTACOMMENT

    Thomas wrote: “And that fact seems to be that there are many today that believe in God not just the “knowledge-challenged ancients”. This already was explained to you. Just stop teaching god since crib, when the child cannot defend himself, and the numbers will start to drop instantly and dramatically. If you feed something in the mind of a child from 3 to 14 years old, is not easy to stop believing in that. I personally can assure this to you from my own experience.

  • catatonicjones

    I don’t look down on you for having a childish belief, I look down on the belief. It is a fantasy, something common to children. As one matures, becomes an adult, such fantasies are left behind in childhood. Except for these fantasies, the god fantasies.

  • catatonicjones

    Your god, being all powerful and all that, could beget a thousand Jesuses (Jesii?) per second. I am far more impressed by the mother who loses her only begotten son defending her country than I am this butch god of yours sending his only son off knowing he’s going to be tortured to death. That’s just ugly.

  • ThomasBaum

    JUSTACOMMENT

    You asked, “How can you say that we have never practiced humane behavior?”

    My point was not that we, “personal, family, town, region, country, continent and word level”, have not practiced humane behaviour but that we have never given up inhumane behaviour.

    Both are going on and will continue to go on whether we like it or not, it seems to be part of the human condition.

  • ThomasBaum

    Sara121

    You wrote, “But we do. Violence is on the wane and has been for hundreds of years. This correlates with a lessening of religiosity over the centuries. Correlation isn’t causation, but I’d bet there’s something to that correlation.”

    I don’t know what planet you live on but I live on planet earth and in the last hundred years alone there have been, according to some estimates, more people killed in wars that in all of previous human history,

    Right now there are many, many active wars on, the exact official number I do not know, but it is a lot.

    Violence is not limited to wars, it has many faces, so to speak.

  • ThomasBaum

    JUSTACOMMENT

    You wrote, ” If you feed something in the mind of a child from 3 to 14 years old, is not easy to stop believing in that. I personally can assure this to you from my own experience.”

    From my own experience, I stopped believing in God when I met God then it was that I knew that God Is.

  • ThomasBaum

    We humans can be quite ugly, can’t we?

  • Sara121

    Steven Pinker’s most recent book covers the decline of violence. If you take the long view over the past several centuries, not just the 20th, violence and our denigration of the other has greatly declined. Even in the second half of the 20th century our tolerance for large scale interstate wars has gone down, most everyone now at least gives lip service to limiting civilian casualties, something that was not true earlier. If more people have been killed more recently, that may well be a factor of there being a larger population. But as a percentage, it has been going down. We’ve always been more likely to engage in good behavior towards those we associate as “like us.” One of the great progressions of recent history is that we’ve expanded what “like us” means. The vast majority of religion is a ready made us versus them scenario, in group/out group dynamics. But the in group is expanding and fewer people see religion as an excuse to label someone as “them” and “out.” That is a good thing.

  • Sara121

    If you only take the short view and start from the last 100 years, it looks dismal, but taking the long view of several centuries, we ARE getting better.

  • catatonicjones

    You do realize most of us consider you to be quite insane? It might be a brain condition, it might even be reversible. Unless you seek therapy you’ll never know.
    How many other disembodied voices have appeared to you?

  • JUSTACOMMENT

    @Thomas. Please your comments on this: God decided to save man of a fault committed by one man becoming himself a man to be tortured and killed by the faulting man. As a first step he acts as a non material substance called spirit to go down to a very young lady, likely under 15, who was engaged or married to a mature carpenter, to impregnate her in order to be the mother of god. The carpenter believes his dreams and go along with the young lady, accepting that their baby is god and human, but he is not his father. The bible don’t mention a visit to the gynecologist to check the virginity. The baby is born but the young lady is still virgin after giving birth, so is believed by many christian denominations and sects. Finally when the baby becomes a grown up man is butchered and die, as planned. Maybe the human part died but the god part didn’t, this I don’t know. The god-man guy then flies to an immaterial world called heaven, with body and everything, and comes back alive. Then he disappeared more than 2000 years ago. This god-man talk with humans directly only in very rare exceptions or more frequently in dreams or under special induced trances like not eating for a long period of time, Thomas been one of the chosen in the first category. So far so good: god-man was murdered by the sinner humanity to be pardoned for something only one person (or two? more?) committed. But this is not the end of the story. Apparently even god blood could not erase all sins. Humans must comply with other things to be fully clean. And here is a catch. Because the book that god wrote is not clear, non-god man has control of those additional things needed to be pardoned. If you ask the simple question of what is needed to win the heaven, each denomination or sect of the christian religion will have different answers.

    Thomas, please comment this complex story with your simple explanations.

  • ccnl1

    Keeping the ball rolling with a daily prayer:

    The Apostles’ Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (References used are available upon request.)

  • ThomasBaum

    First off, I am not a literalist in the way that some are, some things in the bible are quite literal and some things aren’t but all is able to teach us some things.

    What is spoken of as “original sin” in the bible, eating of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, is where we get our conscience from and also where our free will comes from, if there was nothing to choose from, free will would be absolutely meaningless, would it not?

    Also, if all of our actions were merely the result of chemical, biological and electrical impulses, instinct, flowing thru our minds and bodies than there is no way that anyone could be responsible for any action but since we can make choices and can take responsibility, our decision, for what we do than we are more than driven just by instinct, in other words, free will, choices that we make many times every day in the course of our lives.

    From what I have read, there do seem to be some biological behaviourists that disagree with me on this and seem to think we are merely driven by our instincts and can not rise above these instincts.

    I am not saying that we do not have instincts what I am saying is that we have more than just instincts.

    As far as I am concerned “repenting” is simply seeing that something I did that I consider wrong, and admitting that I did what I did and taking responsiblity for what I did and not blaming everyone else for what I did.

    God knew that some would never take responsibility for what they do wrong and God’s Plan, which God has had since before creation, not only took this into consideration but has also involved us in God’s Plan which is not just for ALL of humanity but is for ALL of creation.

    God became One of us in spite of the fact that before God became Incarnate, God knew just how crummy we were going to treat Him and in this case I say Him because God-Incarnate was a Male even tho God is neither a Male, a Female nor an It.

    However, when God became One of us, when Mary said YES, Jesus, God-Incarnate became

  • PhilyJimi

    I am now an atheist. It took about 12 years for this to happen. At some point it was the dropping of being a member of an organized religion. I was said I was spiritual not religious. Then I started following the whacked out religious types wanting to teach religious fables in science classes.

    With the Internet I was able to study the debates, and found myself taking the side of the atheists. Their arguments were very sound and well thought out besides the arguments on the theist side were just so silly. They had the answer to start and would lie and twist facts to fit their answers.

    One day I woke up and came to the obvious conclusion that I am by definition an atheist. It wasn’t a choice or a rejection of god. If I had to give myself a name it had to be that I am an atheist. I don’t find any argument for there being a god to be valid or there are so many more likely explanations for what we see that it makes the “it’s god” excuse to be the laziest explanation that is available.

  • ThomasBaum

    I have mentioned it before but I didn’t in the above post, if one were to die and wake up in hell, so to speak, one would come to the realization that they built it themself and have no one but themself to blame.

    As I did mention in the above post, Jesus won the “keys” to the netherworld (hell and death, spiritual and physical) and will use these “keys” in due time, God’s Time.

    As I have said many times, if the Good News is not Good News for ALL, ultimately, than it would not be Good News at all but would be horrific news.

  • ThomasBaum

    Was there always something or did the something come from nothing?

    Do you think that this is a valid question?

  • Rongoklunk

    We are all spiritual. How could we not be? We all live inside our minds all of the time. You don’t have to be religious to be spiritual. It’s the human condition. I’m an atheist and very spiritual indeed.
    Smoke a little pot and get even more spiritual.

  • Rongoklunk

    Way to go Jimi. Way to get sensible. Atheism is the only realistic position on the god question. It ain’t easy to kick off superstition, but doesn’t it ever feel good when you do. It’s so liberating to accept reality over wishful thinking. The truth is infinitely more important than any religious belief.

  • Rongoklunk

    For the ever deluded Moses T Baum, if you can put the bible down for a while, I would suggest reading “A Universe From Nothing” by Lawrence M Krauss the renowned cosmologist; the subtitle is “Why there is something rather than nothing”
    Read it and stop asking dumb questions. It’ll give you arguments some credibilty.

  • ThomasBaum

    Rongoklunk

    You wrote, “Read it and stop asking dumb questions. It’ll give you arguments some credibilty.”

    I asked, “Was there always something or did the something come from nothing? and Do you think that this is a valid question?

    You may think that these are “dumb questions” but in reality they are very simple questions, do you have an answer to either one?

    Even if someone’s answer to the first may be “I don’t know” at least they have given it a shot.

  • ThomasBaum

    Rongoklunk

    You wrote, “Read it and stop asking dumb questions. It’ll give you arguments some credibilty.”

    I asked, “Was there always something or did the something come from nothing? and Do you think that this is a valid question?

    You may think that these are “dumb questions” but in reality they are very simple questions, do you have an answer to either one?

    Even if someone’s answer to the first may be “I don’t know” at least they have given it a shot.

  • Sara121

    I am very wary of the use of the word spiritual. It can have two radically different meanings, one supernatural one non-supernatural. If the general definition isn’t set out up front, there is a real potential for miscommunication. I wouldn’t call myself spiritual because I associate the word with it’s supernatural connotation. However – as an example – I like to go hiking. I don’t call it a spiritual experience, but someone else might, using either definition of spiritual. What we each can agree on, though, is that that activity helps us recenter ourselves, brings down our stress levels, is peaceful, and is otherwise emotionally satisfying. I find the word “spiritual” to be too vague to capture all of that and to potentially mean something you didn’t intend if you don’t clarify. So you might as well speak clearly from the beginning.

  • kapahayagan

    Its not true that religion is dying, on the contrary it is even like mushrooms growing and multiplying in four corners of the earth, except that these mushrooms like religions are all man made or self invented. some of them even teaches that to kill, rob, to defraud, to commit deceit or bribery are virtues, as long as they unceasingly donates to their respective groups a huge amount of mammon. while other individuals or groups believes that conceit, arrogance or self righteousness are God given attributes to them. while others are fools for God’s Word.

  • Rongoklunk

    Yes of course…but we all see the world through our minds basically…and talk to ourselves in our heads, and feel stuff. When I listen to music I’m in another world…ditto when I read, or when I mull things over. I don’t believe for one minute that there’s a god. And I resent it when folks who believe in fairies think they’re more spiritual than nonbelievers. I also smoke dope which makes one introspective or ‘spiritual’ if you like.
    Don’t we all have a little screen back of our eyes which we use to figure things out, or remember things, or dwell or anticipate or regret things? I guess I see spiritual as being introspective. Maybe for religious folk being spiritual means having quiet time with the Godfella, and praying and thinking about life and death.

  • Sara121

    Introspective is a good word. I am the same way when I read a good novel, or watch great movie, or go hiking, or listen to music I enjoy. I am just more apt to actually use the word introspective since it is more descriptive and less confusing.

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