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Author Topic: Nature reverence and Atheism?  (Read 6025 times)
Ryan
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« Topic Start: October 05, 2009, 11:40:48 pm »

I've been on and off of here for quite some time. A couple years, maybe. I've been lead down all sorts of paths. Wicca, shamanism, druidry, germanic neopaganism, pantheism, agnosticism, and most recently buddhism. To me, Buddhism is such a pure, flawless philosophy. It doesn't have me questioning about what there might be, what might come, but rather has me contemplating what is now. And for that I really think that is the right direction for me to go in (am I actually going anywhere at all? Tongue).

But to the point. I'm really not sure whether I even believe in a higher power anymore. I felt before that I was trying very hard to accept the whole idea, but it's just something very difficult for me to completely believe. Anyone else feel this way? While I was forcing deity upon myself, I did feel a wonderful connection with nature, though, a familiar, deep connection, which I still do, but it isn't quite the same. Does nature worship, seeing the earth as a divine mass, fall under the spectrum of religious worship? My main focus is on the earth, living in absolute "spiritual" harmony with it and showing my respect in a manner that deepens my own awareness in the context of the earth.  I don't particularly think this is exactly religious worship, but I'd like to see what anyone else thinks. Any feedback would be great.
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« Reply #1: October 06, 2009, 03:26:09 am »

And for that I really think that is the right direction for me to go in (am I actually going anywhere at all? Tongue).


You should talk to Starglade.

Quote
I felt before that I was trying very hard to accept the whole idea, but it's just something very difficult for me to completely believe. Anyone else feel this way?

You should talk to Everfool.

 Grin

Quote
My main focus is on the earth, living in absolute "spiritual" harmony with it and showing my respect in a manner that deepens my own awareness in the context of the earth.  I don't particularly think this is exactly religious worship, but I'd like to see what anyone else thinks. Any feedback would be great.

Seeing as you're not laying claim to any specific religious monikers (Wiccan, Kemetic, Asatru, etc.) I don't think anyone else's labelling of your path would particularly matter.

My question would be, though: how would you differ from an ecologically sensitive person who lives 'in harmony' with the earth but who doesn't believe in any divine element to it? If you don't differ at all except for thinking that the earth is divine, then I'd question whether you're following a religion as opposed to simply living ethically and greenly. That's because my conception of religion does look for something beyond just calling it religion, eg presence of liturgy.
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« Reply #2: October 06, 2009, 04:45:20 am »

But to the point. I'm really not sure whether I even believe in a higher power anymore. I felt before that I was trying very hard to accept the whole idea, but it's just something very difficult for me to completely believe. Anyone else feel this way? While I was forcing deity upon myself, I did feel a wonderful connection with nature, though, a familiar, deep connection, which I still do, but it isn't quite the same. Does nature worship, seeing the earth as a divine mass, fall under the spectrum of religious worship? My main focus is on the earth, living in absolute "spiritual" harmony with it and showing my respect in a manner that deepens my own awareness in the context of the earth.  I don't particularly think this is exactly religious worship, but I'd like to see what anyone else thinks. Any feedback would be great.

I would characterize it as religion/religious philosophy in the same way that I'd label atheism, pantheism, agnosticism, deism, etc. thusly. I'm in a very similar boat myself, and the things that I think of as my own forms of worship would probably not be identified as such by people of most organized religions, or most atheists (which is the company I keep most of the time, by association). Isn't it the intent that matters? Otherwise Christians might as well be a bunch of people who drink wine on Sundays, as opposed to worshiping in a manner that they have defined as worship, and you could say the same for any religious ritual stripped of intent. If the reason for the way you live your life is that you believe the earth is sacred, you're doing what you do because of that, which makes you fundamentally different than people who might live the same lifestyle for economic reasons, for example.

But that's just my opinion as another ill-defined nature worshiper.  Wink
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« Reply #3: October 06, 2009, 01:30:45 pm »

Seeing as you're not laying claim to any specific religious monikers (Wiccan, Kemetic, Asatru, etc.) I don't think anyone else's labelling of your path would particularly matter.
Well put.

Quote
My question would be, though: how would you differ from an ecologically sensitive person who lives 'in harmony' with the earth but who doesn't believe in any divine element to it? If you don't differ at all except for thinking that the earth is divine, then I'd question whether you're following a religion as opposed to simply living ethically and greenly. That's because my conception of religion does look for something beyond just calling it religion, eg presence of liturgy.
Well said as well. However, I do think that I differ slightly from eco-sensitive people.  My concept of the earth, cosmos, universe is that everything is interwoven together. According to science, the universe came from a single, infinitely dense point, which is why I believe the unity of the universe is significant.  I think that the earth has its own powerful "life force", and I feel that my duty is to worship that constant ebb and flow. My "god" is the earth. Not in some new-age, other-worldly sort of way, either, just as an understanding of its power and beauty. To honor and worship the water and rock, flame, air, or metal as a smaller piece of a greater identity is my real intent. Does that further illustrate my view, and if so, does that still remain non-theistic? And if not, I suppose it doesn't really matter, because in writing this, I helped to further gain my own understanding of what I'm talking aboot.  Grin
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« Reply #4: October 06, 2009, 04:00:23 pm »

I
But to the point. I'm really not sure whether I even believe in a higher power anymore. I felt before that I was trying very hard to accept the whole idea, but it's just something very difficult for me to completely believe. Anyone else feel this way?

*raises hand*

That has been one of the biggest challenges for me is determining the nature of the divine, if there is any.  I've gone through the atheist  phase and I think I'm in a agnostic one now.  I believe in a spiritual realm, but as far as having divine beings, I still need some proof.
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« Reply #5: October 06, 2009, 08:32:15 pm »

*raises hand*

That has been one of the biggest challenges for me is determining the nature of the divine, if there is any.  I've gone through the atheist  phase and I think I'm in a agnostic one now.  I believe in a spiritual realm, but as far as having divine beings, I still need some proof.

I'm totally in the same boat. I think one of the most liberating moments for me spiritually was when I decided maybe it doesn't matter whether deity exists. I was, like you said, sort of forcing deity on myself, because I wanted (and still want, on some levels) for them to exist. But my atheist/rational/scientific/skeptical side, which is quite dominant, refused to truly believe, which just made me confused. So I've decided it isn't central to my worship, of you will, of nature's flows and cycles, and it's made me much more content.

As for terminology, I tend to view myself as spiritual but not religious. However, this is my view of the words as I think "religious" would paint too strong a picture to some people. At the same time, I don't think I would be completely remiss in describing myself as religious.
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« Reply #6: October 06, 2009, 10:31:43 pm »

I'm totally in the same boat. I think one of the most liberating moments for me spiritually was when I decided maybe it doesn't matter whether deity exists. I was, like you said, sort of forcing deity on myself, because I wanted (and still want, on some levels) for them to exist. But my atheist/rational/scientific/skeptical side, which is quite dominant, refused to truly believe, which just made me confused. So I've decided it isn't central to my worship, of you will, of nature's flows and cycles, and it's made me much more content.

As for terminology, I tend to view myself as spiritual but not religious. However, this is my view of the words as I think "religious" would paint too strong a picture to some people. At the same time, I don't think I would be completely remiss in describing myself as religious.

I agree wholeheartedly with accepting that it isn't important to believe in deity. Coming to terms with it is now my next course of action.

To me, the only things which are rational to believe in and worship are that which can be seen, touched, felt, heard, and smelled, rather than an idea. Regardless of the existence of deity, it all comes down to where we are in this moment, what we see around us, how we feel, and how we can use this understanding to further appreciate our lives, and to further appreciate living in such a beautiful, powerful world. Maybe the earth has a "soul", maybe it doesn't, but for me, it is insignificant to the intent of my intense appreciation for all life.

This forum really has some great minds, and you guys really help me sort things out. Thanks!
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« Reply #7: October 07, 2009, 01:25:49 am »



Personally, I don't know why you need an '-ism' to be a spiritual person.

You find spirituality in nature, as do many people.

I can find spirituality in nature, too - as long as it doesn't crawl on me.
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« Reply #8: October 07, 2009, 08:05:30 am »

As for terminology, I tend to view myself as spiritual but not religious. However, this is my view of the words as I think "religious" would paint too strong a picture to some people. At the same time, I don't think I would be completely remiss in describing myself as religious.

I agree with this completely.

Atheism.....from what I have come to understand..... is a belief in NO kind of higher power....in NO divine spirit or force.  Perhaps agnostic would be the better word.  But then, when I think to the little we know about true paganism from back in the day..... was it much more than what you have described?  Simply a reverence and connection to the Earth, the Seasons, the Cycles, and all that Nature has given to us? 

I am a bit confused Ryan....though it may simply be the early morning and lack of sleep.  Why would you have to come to terms with something that involves your faith?
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« Reply #9: October 07, 2009, 08:14:11 am »


I can find spirituality in nature, too - as long as it doesn't crawl on me.

HAH yes!
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« Reply #10: October 07, 2009, 08:47:21 am »

I am a bit confused Ryan....though it may simply be the early morning and lack of sleep.  Why would you have to come to terms with something that involves your faith?

Not Ryan, but:  Faith is not always a comfortable thing.  Sometimes it leads you to conclusions that can be difficult to accept, particularly if they're at odds with the way you have percieved yourself up to that point.
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« Reply #11: October 07, 2009, 09:37:32 pm »

Anyone else feel this way?

Another, to all intents and purposes, spiritual atheist here. I went through a very ardently atheist phase (to the extent of feeling everyone who wasn't an atheist was dumb as heck/pulling the wool over their eyes) which was mostly a reaction to some pretty screwed up versions of Christianity which I got more contact with than I would want as a kid. But I found that, while I don't believe in any sort of conscious deity, not accepting the existence of divinity just didn't work for me. You can feel divinity, breath it, get absolutely spiritually high on it, even if its something as mundane as a beautiful moment in a walk in the woods or seeing someone do something that just gives you hope for the human race on your way home on the subway. I got the greatest release when I realised that divinity doesn't need to be anything more than that and I could let go of my feelings of guilt for needing to believe in *something*.

On a side note, I might be better classified as an agnostic because, while I personally don't believe in deities or see any evidence of them, I also see no evidence that they don't exist and consequently I operate on the "couldn't care less" principle.
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« Reply #12: October 07, 2009, 09:53:20 pm »

You can feel divinity, breath it, get absolutely spiritually high on it, even if its something as mundane as a beautiful moment in a walk in the woods or seeing someone do something that just gives you hope for the human race on your way home on the subway. I got the greatest release when I realised that divinity doesn't need to be anything more than that and I could let go of my feelings of guilt for needing to believe in *something*.

On a side note, I might be better classified as an agnostic because, while I personally don't believe in deities or see any evidence of them, I also see no evidence that they don't exist and consequently I operate on the "couldn't care less" principle.

Would non-theistic be a better way to describe that, rather than agnostic? Agnosticism has always, to me, denoted some sort of either belief, or uncertainty of deity, rather than apathy towards it.
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« Reply #13: October 07, 2009, 10:06:38 pm »

Would non-theistic be a better way to describe that, rather than agnostic? Agnosticism has always, to me, denoted some sort of either belief, or uncertainty of deity, rather than apathy towards it.

Perhaps. I've heard people just refer to it as "apathetic agnosticism" or even "apatheism", but both of those have the downside of making it sound as if spiritual life is of no relevance to me which is rather inaccurate. Non-theism could be a good term to cover both the lack of belief in the existence of a deity and belief in divinity though Wikipedia says it's already taken as an umbrella term for atheism and agnosticism.
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« Reply #14: October 07, 2009, 10:38:35 pm »

Perhaps. I've heard people just refer to it as "apathetic agnosticism" or even "apatheism", but both of those have the downside of making it sound as if spiritual life is of no relevance to me which is rather inaccurate. Non-theism could be a good term to cover both the lack of belief in the existence of a deity and belief in divinity though Wikipedia says it's already taken as an umbrella term for atheism and agnosticism.

So, let me clear the air. Terminology isn't so big anymore. Deity doesn't matter. That's pretty much become the main point of this argument, at least for me. However, can spirituality be completely independent from religion and non-theistic/atheistic? I think that spirituality can be in a physical, contemplative, and metaphorical sense, which can be free of any theistic, ethereal connotations. Finding the "divine", as you put it, can be found right under our noses, and maybe all of these religiously spiritual terms may not help us explain our thoughts, but the intent is definitely what drives us to live for the beauty of the world.
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