This is not the sort of thing I usually put on this blog, so I'd like to put down some ground rules before we get started:
- This thread is for sharing your beliefs, views, and/or experiences. It is not for proselytizing, and it is not for debating the merits of those beliefs (your own or anyone else's). If you can't tell the difference, please don't post. I do not have active moderation enabled, but I will edit, disemvowel, or simply remove posts if it really becomes necessary.
- By the same token, if someone says something that you find offensive, please do not respond. Bring it to my attention, and I'll deal with it. (I don't really expect that to be necessary, but you never know.)
- This group has a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs. Please remember that everyone posting here is doing so voluntarily, for our mutual education and enjoyment. Be friendly, and enjoy yourself.
- I have no idea whether this blog has length restrictions on comments, or what those restrictions might be. I therefore recommend that you compose your response elsewhere, and paste it in; that way, if it's too long, you can put the rest in a second comment. (Also, hopefully, you won't lose your work.)
So that's pretty much it. I'll start:
I post on Slacktivist as Michael Mock, just as I do here. If you go back far enough, I also used to post as Jack Grey, but that was years ago. I am, more or less, a militant agnostic with animist and pantheist tendencies.
I was raised Episcopalian (so I tend to expect church services to involve fancy clothes along with a lot of kneeling, standing, and sitting; to be fairly formal and ritualistic; and to involve a certain amount of incense). Unlike a lot of former Christians, I didn't ever really reject the church. I was a bit asocial as child, and church was just one of a long list of things that seemed very important to everyone else and didn't make much sense to me (c.f. team sports, cars, fashion). I didn't so much leave the Church, as wander off and never come back. I fiddled around with other belief systems for a while, and finally settled into my current agnosticism.
I don't really believe in G-d - at least, not as He is usually described - and I have some doubts about the historical existence of Jesus, but I don't really consider myself an Atheist, either. The reasons for that are a little complicated, but mainly come down to two points: I don't think the (non-)existence of G-d is a provable assertion, either way; and I am very aware that I look at the world in ways that are not strictly rational. (So who am I to throw stones?) Some examples...
- There are places that are... alive... for me, in a way I find difficult to describe. Sacred, but not to any particular god; haunted, but in a good way. Hence the 'animist and pantheist tendencies' in my blurb.
- Chi (or Ki or Qi) - the flow of energy through the body. I'm an amateur martial artist. I've actually felt this. I'm also pretty sure it doesn't exist, at least not in any empirically verifiable fashion. Nonetheless, it's a useful lense for looking at (this piece of) the world; it allows me learn and describe some subtleties of movement for which English lacks a good vocabulary.
- The way my wife and I got together. It's the sort of scenario I could never include in a book; nobody would believe a coincidence that improbable. I detest words like "fate" or even "synchronicity", but quite frankly it's hard to look at the situation and not think that some sort of Higher Power was involved.
The other reason that I don't consider myself an Atheist is that I don't see the point in arguing about beliefs that I see as fundamentally harmless. I am aware that some people see religion as intrinsically harmful and repressive, but I tend to view it more like Art: it's just something that people do. Individuals will do it to a greater or lesser extent, and it may be used to promote either the nobler or the baser elements of human nature, but it's not particularly good or evil in itself.
Oddly, the one area where I really do have strong feelings has to do with what you can and cannot prove (or even reasonably assert); it makes me a little crazy when people start defending their beliefs (or attacking others) using logical fallacies, unsupported assertion, etc. etc. etc. This is why I classify myself as a 'militant' agnostic, and why I'm looking forward to seeing what Froborr does over at Fluffy Iguana Cookies.
That's pretty much it for me; anyone else want to play?