I Return

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Bellator, Mar 5, 2021.

  1. Bellator

    Bellator Catholic. Formerly StarshipEnterprise

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    Hello Interfaith Forums! I used to post here in the 2005 to 2009 time frame. I first joined the forums when I was in high school. I have fond memories of this place. It takes me back to my formative years. I'm a bit astonished it still exists, mostly in the form I remember, with all my old posts. My user name back then was StarshipEnterprise. (I just asked RJM Corbet to change it)

    When I joined the forum in 2005, I had just deconverted from my Protestant Christian upbringing, and called myself agnostic. For a time, I considered myself a spiritual seeker exploring multiple religions (most notably Buddhism). Although, I soon became a firm atheist. I believed in scientific materialism/physicalism. This seemed like the most rational thing to me at the time, as I had a high standard of evidence for anything I believed, and applied skepticism liberally. This is how I remained for most of my adult life until recently.

    Now, I am Catholic.

    I'll take this opportunity to talk about my recent spiritual journey. It started with a political conversion. I had considered myself politically progressive for a long time until I started hearing extreme views from progressives I knew that I wasn't comfortable with. Even though I didn't consider myself a very political person, it came as a shock when I realized I couldn't rely unconditionally on this political ideology as my moral framework. I started looking for a new political ideology, but quickly realized I needed to look into something more fundamental than politics.

    I started learning about Jungian psychology, and how it relates to mythology. The language of myth opened up a new way of thinking for me. It started as a curiosity about the way humans operate. We cannot live without stories and symbols. The catch was that I was human too, so it was impossible to merely observe this phenomenon without living it. Meanwhile, I also had to think hard about what the basis was for my views on morality. I could see that my morals ultimately came from Christianity, having grown up in a western culture. In addition to the morals I already held, I became interested in rediscovering the morals from the past that most modern secular people no longer hold.

    All this moved my perception of Christianity from a largely negative one to a largely positive one, but it did not make me Christian. I still believed in materialistic metaphysics.

    I have always firmly believed in objective truth. This is part of what drove me to atheism, as it was a hard-line position I could respect that said definitive things about what is objectively true. In my time as an atheist, I pursued a kind of scientific mysticism. I idolized great scientists and people like Carl Sagan who spoke about science in mystical language. I thought studying science would help me unlock the secrets of the universe, and lead to some kind of enlightenment. Eventually, I came to realize this view of the universe was descended from Christian thought. We believe Christ was the incarnate Logos. Logos is Greek for "word", but also has a much broader and more mystical connotation. It means something like "the order of the universe". The very belief that there is a single well defined order to the cosmos (that I sought) did not originate from an atheistic worldview. It was, historically, a very monotheistic idea. One order to the universe was created by one God. This line of thinking is more or less the transcendental argument for the existence of God. It states that most or all fields of human knowledge are dependent on theology. It does not definitively prove God, but provides another reason to believe.

    Additionally, I found the cosmological argument for the existence of God to be unassailable, at least in demonstrating that there must be a Prime Mover. Upon realizing this, I started calling myself a deist. At no point in this process did I call myself agnostic, as that seemed to wishy-washy. I recall that even as an atheist, I encountered one of Thomas Aquinas' formulations of the cosmological argument. Even at the time I thought "that's really elegant. If I believed in God I would believe that."

    However, logical arguments can only take one so far. Hardly anyone has converted purely due to logical arguments, and I didn't either. I sought Christian community. At first I went to an Eastern Orthodox church. I wasn't interested in Protestantism, but I still held a bias against the Catholic Church, and the Orthodox Church was new and exotic to me. Plus, the priests had really cool manly beards (petty, I know). After reading more about theological disputes between the two churches, I was more compelled by Catholic theology, so I started going to a Byzantine Catholic parish where they perform the same liturgy as the Orthodox Church, but hold Catholic theology.

    At a certain point, a leap of faith had to be made. For a long time, I was more interested in Christianity as a school of thought than in Jesus himself. After delving into the New Testament more, I grew to love the words of Jesus. I finally made the leap and was confirmed in the Catholic Church about a year and a half ago.

    Throughout this whole journey, the biggest thing that changed was my attitude toward skepticism. One can only take skepticism so far, and it ceases to be a noble effort at a certain point. Most of the wisdom of humanity is not subject to scientific standards of evidence. Everyone has faith in something, whether they realize it or not. I choose to have faith in the Infinite Triune God.


    I'm sure I've said some controversial things here, but there's the introduction to how I think.
     
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  2. Cino

    Cino Big Love! (Atheist mystic) Admin

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    Welcome back! Thanks for the intro. I hope you will enjoy this place as much as the first time around!

    I love the aesthetics of orthodox priestly appearance, too. Those Bulgarian robes!
     
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  3. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens Admin

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    The singing too:

     
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  4. muhammad_isa

    muhammad_isa Save Our Souls

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    Hi Bellator. One of the best introductions I have ever read.
    Nice to see you :)
     
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  5. stranger

    stranger wolfwing, a feral angel

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    Great intro, welcome back to the list!
     
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  6. Bellator

    Bellator Catholic. Formerly StarshipEnterprise

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    Thank you for your kind words!
     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Hi Bellator –

    Eastern Orthodox always appealed, being a Christian NeoPlatonist, but I couldn't grow a beard, so thought thatwas a 'sign' :D Now I'm a lot older, and I've grown a beard!

    And there's one within a couple of miles of me ... I'll check it out.

    "In truth, there are only two kinds of people; those who accept dogma and know it, and those who accept dogma and don't know it."
    G. K. Chesterton.
     
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  8. Bellator

    Bellator Catholic. Formerly StarshipEnterprise

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    Pretty sure one cannot be Catholic if they never quote Chesterton :p
     
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