The Religious Spectrum: Theism versus Non-Theism

The Religious Spectrum: Theism versus Non-Theism March 16, 2016
Religious Spectrum Andy Gill Patheos
Lately I’ve been feeling a lot of tension as to how I identify religiously speaking; am I an evangelical, Christian, progressive Christian, Atheist, agnostic, etc. I haven’t been able to land on any one thing. After leaving the Church I’ve been aimlessly floating and roaming about. I’ve deconstructed my theology but have yet to fully reconstruct it not knowing my exact landing place.
“Theism versus Non-Theism. The choice has been presented to us as saved versus damned, holy versus heathen. But when I talk to thoughtful theists, I encounter not a polarity but a spectrum.” – Ursula Goodenough
Luckily, and thankfully, a mentor and friend who’s been huge in my recent life’s journey suggested I read a book titled The Sacred Depths of Nature written by a lady named Ursula Goodenough. But knowing that a lot of people who read the progressive Christian blogs here on Patheos are also struggling with [re]identifying after leaving the Church, I’d thought I’d share a bit of what I emailed my mentor a couple months back after reading through this book.

Okay, so, was reading that book the Divine Nature (err,  The Sacred Depths of Natureand came to this part where Ursula is talking about Theism vs. Nontheism and she says that “The choice has been presented to us as saved versus damned, holy versus heathen…” but when she is talking to thoughtful theists, she “encounters not a polarity but a spectrum.” This for me is, I think describes a lot of how I’ve felt in regards to whether or not I’m a Christian, or an atheist; there’s no either/or, rather it’s a spectrum. I oscillate and change positions (especially in this season of my life) on this “spectrum,” Ursula describes. Also, I wonder if for me, this “allusion” of God, that I’m willing to (oddly) admit is a [likely] figmentation of my imagination, if I’ve created this not only for the management of my terror death (and inexistence, in the Evangelical/”Left Behind” way), but also in the more progressive way that I’m terrified of living in a “hell” in this current life, terrified of wasting it, of not being successful, always being alone, never having a family… so, naturally (maybe?) as a result, I cling to, and white knuckle, this absurd belief in a deity that might unconditionally love me, forgive me, despite all the fucked up shit I’ve done, or that’s been done/told to me… It’s delusional yes? But, it’s comforting, and a socially accepted delusion (that ironically, if I didn’t believe in this delusion I’d be even more ostracized and alienated. But again, it’s a spectrum (I think). What if right now I just didn’t have the privilege to let go of god. I have to lie to myself to make it through this season of “hell”?

I think that for many of us, belief in the divine is a psychological necessity that is what we use and refer to as a means to cope with the intolerable anxiety that comes with life and our given mortality.

What if sitting in this tension isn’t so bad; what if the falsification of God was a deliberately necessity in order that we find the possibility to communicate deeper truths that are otherwise incommunicable?

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