Podcasts/Sacred Tension-On Not Believing In God
On_Not_Believing_In_God_ SUMMARY KEYWORDS god, prayer, supernatural, sacred spaces, praying, axiom, heretic, experience, steven, tired, non theism, liturgy, feel, unbidden, life, presence, meditation, religion, compassion, brain tissue SPEAKERS Stephen Bradford Long
Stephen Bradford Long 00:12 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the spiritual discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven long. You can find the full transcript of this mini episode at Steven Bradford long.com. Last night before going to bed, I found myself praying the evening office from the Book of Common Prayer. I love the Book of Common Prayer. I love the poetry and the guiding inner choreography of the liturgy. As I prayed last night, I felt that warmth, presence and silent all I've felt my whole life when I enter sacred spaces, many would call it the presence of God. Sometimes when praying, I find myself speaking in tongues, a torrent of syllables pouring from me, unbidden, it feels warm in my mouth, and it feels like something outside of myself speaking through me. I also still attend church when I can. And I experienced the love and presence of an external invisible force. And yet, I don't believe in God, because I find the tangible evidence for God lacking. take careful note that this does not mean that I believe no gods exist, which would require its own set of evidence, but rather that I find the evidence for God insufficient, and I therefore have no reason to believe how can this be? How can I disbelieve in God but remain a Christian and experience him anyway? Why haven't I rejected prayer and sacred spaces as supernatural list and primitive delusion from an early age, I had tongues and Christian prayer drilled into me, both carried with them a host of positive experiences, including deep peace, stillness, overwhelming compassion and feelings of interconnectedness. I believed that God was all loving, intertwining us all in a canvas of compassion. Praying to this God made me feel a profound security. Now, after having lost faith, I still enter that space and the parts of my brain that experienced prayer and meditation still activate, I find that prayer still makes me feel peace, love all and stillness. So I still pray I find one of science Mike's axioms of faith particularly helpful here. Prayer is at least a form of meditation that encourages the development of healthy brain tissue, lower stress, and can connect us to God, even if that is a comprehensive definition of prayer. The health and psychological benefits of prayer justify the discipline. For the sake of clarity science, Mike defines a god in an earlier axiom, as being at least the principles and forces that govern, sustain and generated our universe. I feel less like The Daily Office is a vehicle to the Christian God as an end in itself, but rather that the Christian God is a vehicle to something more the cosmos as a whole, a lens and metaphor for the forces personal or impersonal that shape our cosmos. Jesus is no longer the point for me. He's now a launching pad for something bigger, better and more mysterious because I have a ready made mysticism. I see no reason to discard it. Why not use my Christian tradition? To help me experience my newfound non theism? I'm tired of all the old bullshit boundaries. I'm tired of hearing that religion is just useless superstition, and I'm tired of hearing that atheists can't be religious to. I'm tired of hearing that religion requires the supernatural and I'm tired of hearing that a life with no supernatural is a meaningless life. I'm tired of hearing I can't have mystical experiences to all these boundaries need to collapse. And no small part because I think ritual symbol and transcendent experience make life delicious, regardless of our beliefs about the supernatural. I sometimes wonder if too many Christians, I'm the worst kind of heretic, someone who disbelieves in God, but who refuses to let go of Christianity. I think many Christians would rather I walk out of the church altogether. But I refuse and I want to fling open the doors of religion to others like me, to those who can't accept the existence of God or supernaturalism but still yearn for liturgy. I want to open the doors to a heretical religion, one in which we can deny the existence of the supernatural troll, and yet still have a ritual one in which we can deny God but still experience him anyway. If you enjoy my work and want to help me bring more interesting topics and conversations to the world, please consider supporting me on patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford lon for $1 A month or $5 a month you will receive another patron only podcast called the House of heretics. You can also support this show by sharing it with your friends, sharing it on social media and giving it five stars on iTunes. And as usual, thanks for listening.