I can’t believe in anything anymore

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
DoubtingTom
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I can’t believe in anything anymore

Post by DoubtingTom » 02 Nov 2018, 09:01

I’m not sure what I’m hoping to get out of this post. Maybe just wondering if others have been in this space I’m in, are still here, whether I should strive to exit this space, or accept where I’m at. So here goes.

I find I am in this space where I’m a skeptic of anything supernatural or which I feel I don’t have good reason to accept based on the current available evidence. This includes God, revelation, the idea of a spirit or anything “spiritual.”

I have read Richard Rohr and listened to some of his interviews. He talks about going through a deconstruction phase where everything is taken apart and about folks who never leave this stage to start to reconstruct a more robust faith again. Not the black and white faith of first half of life, but second half of life faith. I’m also aware of Fowler’s stages and spiral dynamics that basically illustrate the same concept just with different semantics. I guess I’m currently one of those who deconstructs.

But I find I am very content in this space. I currently don’t see the value in believing in the supernatural without good evidence for it, and I don’t find my experiences or those of others to be good evidence. I find the naturalistic explanations for any “spiritual” experiences I’ve had to be much more likely and to have much greater explanatory power compared to invoking divine intervention or communicatiom with those events.

That’s not to say that I don’t see value in the community aspects of faith or religion. But as far as the beliefs go, I feel I was sort of deluding myself before and am now awake, so to speak. I don’t want to fall back into self delusion again just because other believers say there is yet another stage of faith to arrive at. (And lest I offend those who do believe in the supernatural, I define delusion as the persistence of belief despite strong evidence to the contrary).

Have others felt this way? Are some still in this space? Is there value in believing in the supernatural without good evidence for it, other than emotional/spiritual experiences? Should I strive to exit this space just because others like Richard Rohr say I should?

My confusion now lies not in the contentment I feel with my current beliefs, which I feel very satisfied with despte there being a lot of “I don’t knows”, but with whether or not I should be content to just stay here. Perhaps I should just allow myself to remain in it until my heart pushes me to seek for something else.

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nibbler
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Re: I can’t believe in anything anymore

Post by nibbler » 02 Nov 2018, 09:51

I get hung up on definitions.

One might say that there's no such thing as the supernatural, that by definition if something occurred it was natural, the issue is that we simply don't understand what we witnessed. Maybe that's just the word we use to symbolize that thought; supernatural is something we can't explain.

Is it that we don't believe in the supernatural anymore or we're far less inclined to seek supernatural things out? In the past I think I actively sought out supernatural experiences; maybe in an effort to bolster faith, feel divine approval, to get help with trials, etc. Right now I'm at a place where I'd try to accept the supernatural at face value should something supernatural present itself. I try to extend that to others as well. If they say they've had a supernatural event then they had a supernatural event. It's less not believing in the supernatural and more not investing a lot of time in seeking out the supernatural.

"Spiritual."

Now there's a word I really struggle with. Does anyone really know what it means? Is it feeling the presence of the third of the godhead that does not have a body? Is it being a super churchy individual that is really good at earning all the gold stars? Is it having an outgoing, nice demeanor? Is it being an extrovert? Is it finding a way to name drop Jesus in every other conversation? If we're measuring what it means to be spiritual using someone else's definition then we'll probably always struggle.

What if we defined spirituality as connecting with others or connecting with something other than self. Talk to a coworker about a movie you watched? Spiritual. Pet your dog? Spiritual.

Revisiting a more traditional definition of spiritual, communion with the divine... but what isn't divine? Do we struggle with connecting to the divine or do we struggle with limitations on how we define divinity?
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

DoubtingTom
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Re: I can’t believe in anything anymore

Post by DoubtingTom » 02 Nov 2018, 11:19

nibbler wrote:
02 Nov 2018, 09:51
I get hung up on definitions.
I’m not as interested in altering the traditional definitions and understandings of terms in order to make my current beliefs still sound orthodox as I am in trying to figure out if I even believe at any level anymore.

If we define spiritual as just connecting with something that feels bigger than yourself, than sure. But I mean literally is there even a spirit that resides in our bodies or a spiritual realm that is real that we just can’t see. I don’t believe those things exist because I don’t have enough reason or evidence. I believe emotions exist and I believe we can feel small and connected to each other or even with the universe. But I don’t believe that is enough of a reason to believe in a real spiritual realm.

Is it ok to simply not believe in these things anymore? If you’ve been in this place and have now moved past it, is it worth the effort and struggle to regain that belief?

Roadrunner
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Re: I can’t believe in anything anymore

Post by Roadrunner » 02 Nov 2018, 11:32

DoubtingTom wrote:
02 Nov 2018, 09:01
That’s not to say that I don’t see value in the community aspects of faith or religion. But as far as the beliefs go, I feel I was sort of deluding myself before and am now awake, so to speak.

Have others felt this way? Are some still in this space?
I think I'm in a similar place to what you describe Tom. I *do* believe in physics... and entropy, which unfortunately means I believe we're all part of a cosmic curiosity that will ultimately fade away. Put me more in the "hope" camp - that there is some benevolent god who cares about me and my kids. I do believe in being kind and trying to be legitimately happy and content and helping others get there.

This has been my space for several years now. I am uber active in the church and hold a local leadership calling, and I don't teach anything I don't believe. Sometimes it feels strange to be a humanist, sometimes deist, sometimes atheist Mormon. I do see value in the community aspect of the church. Most of my friends and family are here and it's my tribe.

To answer your question about whether you should move because someone says so - my opinion is to do what makes you happy - nobody has the answers for you except for you.

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On Own Now
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Re: I can’t believe in anything anymore

Post by On Own Now » 02 Nov 2018, 11:35

As I've said here sometimes, I think what we believe in is far more important than what we believe.
- - -
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
- - -
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." ― Romans 14:13
- - -

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dande48
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Re: I can’t believe in anything anymore

Post by dande48 » 02 Nov 2018, 12:20

DoubtingTom wrote:
02 Nov 2018, 09:01
Have others felt this way? Are some still in this space? Is there value in believing in the supernatural without good evidence for it, other than emotional/spiritual experiences? Should I strive to exit this space just because others like Richard Rohr say I should?
1. Yes
2. Yes
3. I would change this question to "Why do people believe in the supernatural without there being good evidence for it?". Because There are a number needs it meets, which are very hard to find elsewhere. Coping with the fact that they are unavoidably going to die (maybe today) is one of them. Coping with the fact that every facet of their life, their family, their hard work, their home is going to crumble to dust as well. Confidence in the face of uncertainty, finding the strength to go on, dealing with the utter lack of justice in the world, the inability of all of us to undo our past "sins" and mistakes...
4. Whenever the question is "Should I ____ because _____ say I should?", the answer is always "No."

If you feel satisfied with where you are at, I think you should be open to changing your mind in the future, but shouldn't "force" belief upon yourself. It's important to accept and learn to be ok with not knowing. You're in a good place. And it's not like you can't gain a wealth of wisdom from something that probably isn't true (whoops! :roll: ). No one frets over how false the old gods were, but we still love, relish and are inspired by their stories.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

AmyJ
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Re: I can’t believe in anything anymore

Post by AmyJ » 02 Nov 2018, 12:38

DoubtingTom wrote:
02 Nov 2018, 11:19
But I mean literally is there even a spirit that resides in our bodies or a spiritual realm that is real that we just can’t see. I don’t believe those things exist because I don’t have enough reason or evidence. I believe emotions exist and I believe we can feel small and connected to each other or even with the universe. But I don’t believe that is enough of a reason to believe in a real spiritual realm.

Is it ok to simply not believe in these things anymore? If you’ve been in this place and have now moved past it, is it worth the effort and struggle to regain that belief?
Define "OK". <quasi just kidding>
The better question is "Are you/can you be comfortable with yourself and not believe in things you used to believe in anymore?"

if you can be comfortable, then spend the resources on what drives you to be a better person - the best self you can be.
If you cannot be comfortable, it might be a good idea why this is so, what is causing it for you personally, and what the next steps are to move on.

The scariest and best thing about a faith transition is that you now authorize yourself to call the shots, you are your own internal compass.

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nibbler
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Re: I can’t believe in anything anymore

Post by nibbler » 02 Nov 2018, 12:38

DoubtingTom wrote:
02 Nov 2018, 11:19
I’m not as interested in altering the traditional definitions and understandings of terms in order to make my current beliefs still sound orthodox as I am in trying to figure out if I even believe at any level anymore.
I do tend to get lost in definitions. Words are symbols, we create meanings behind them.
DoubtingTom wrote:
02 Nov 2018, 11:19
But I mean literally is there even a spirit that resides in our bodies or a spiritual realm that is real that we just can’t see. I don’t believe those things exist because I don’t have enough reason or evidence.
DoubtingTom wrote:
02 Nov 2018, 11:19
Is it ok to simply not believe in these things anymore?
Sure it's okay, it's your universe.

There are several ways to frame this, here are a few:

1) I don't believe that there's a spirit that resides in our body and I don't believe there is a spiritual realm.
2) I believe that there isn't a spirit that resides in our body and I believe there isn't a spiritual realm.

That's why it's hard for me to embrace the notion that we can't believe anything anymore. There's always a way for me to wriggle out from under something by changing a definition or by changing the framing. :P

One might say that you still believe something, just not a specific thing that many people around you insist is true.

I've also had this thought. Today I recognize how wrong my beliefs were 20 years ago. Extrapolating that out to 20 years from now, I will recognize how wrong my beliefs are right now. Beliefs evolve over time, I'd like to create space for which direction things end up going.

As far as the afterlife and spiritual realms go. I don't have much use for them now. I'll worry about them when and if they get here.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

DoubtingTom
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Joined: 22 Mar 2017, 12:13

Re: I can’t believe in anything anymore

Post by DoubtingTom » 02 Nov 2018, 12:51

dande48 wrote:
02 Nov 2018, 12:20

I would change this question to "Why do people believe in the supernatural without there being good evidence for it?". Because There are a number needs it meets, which are very hard to find elsewhere. Coping with the fact that they are unavoidably going to die (maybe today) is one of them. Coping with the fact that every facet of their life, their family, their hard work, their home is going to crumble to dust as well. Confidence in the face of uncertainty, finding the strength to go on, dealing with the utter lack of justice in the world, the inability of all of us to undo our past "sins" and mistakes...

If you feel satisfied with where you are at, I think you should be open to changing your mind in the future, but shouldn't "force" belief upon yourself. It's important to accept and learn to be ok with not knowing. You're in a good place. And it's not like you can't gain a wealth of wisdom from something that probably isn't true (whoops! :roll: ). No one frets over how false the old gods were, but we still love, relish and are inspired by their stories.
I love this perspective. Thank you!! Yes, I guess I struggled for a while with some of those existential issues and sometimes still do, but no longer feel the need to satisfy them with religious explanations. I am content and at peace (or at least striving to become so) with the possibility that when I die, the lights may simply go out. If I’m wrong, what a wonderful surprise!

As far as gaining a wealth of wisdom from something that maybe isn’t true, this is important and I need to remember this.

DoubtingTom
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Joined: 22 Mar 2017, 12:13

Re: I can’t believe in anything anymore

Post by DoubtingTom » 02 Nov 2018, 13:08

nibbler wrote:
02 Nov 2018, 12:38

There are several ways to frame this, here are a few:

1) I don't believe that there's a spirit that resides in our body and I don't believe there is a spiritual realm.
2) I believe that there isn't a spirit that resides in our body and I believe there isn't a spiritual realm.

That's why it's hard for me to embrace the notion that we can't believe anything anymore. There's always a way for me to wriggle out from under something by changing a definition or by changing the framing. :P

One might say that you still believe something, just not a specific thing that many people around you insist is true.

I've also had this thought. Today I recognize how wrong my beliefs were 20 years ago. Extrapolating that out to 20 years from now, I will recognize how wrong my beliefs are right now. Beliefs evolve over time, I'd like to create space for which direction things end up going.

As far as the afterlife and spiritual realms go. I don't have much use for them now. I'll worry about them when and if they get here.
Great perspectives. It’s like the difference between “soft” and “hard” atheism. “I’m not convinced there is a God” (where I tend to fall) versus “I am convinced that there is not a God.”

I agree and hope and expect that my beliefs and perspectives will continue to evolve and grow.

I have no problem with waiting until I die to find out the mystery of an afterlife. I have a harder time with the ideas thrust upon me at church about how the spiritual realm interacts with our physical realm on a regular basis and with those in leadership who deny me the opportunity to participate because I can’t profess a belief in that realm anymore. So I don’t participate. For now. But sometimes I miss the community and wonder if I can regain the community without the belief and without feeling like I’m faking it when I do participate.

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