Matthew Mario Di Pasquale · Opinions

Religion

Created
2021-12-13T02:18:55Z
Updated
2022-09-26T21:38:57.919Z

Sollte es denn möglich sein! Dieser alte Heilige hat in seinem Walde noch Nichts davon gehört, dass Gott todt ist!

Could it be possible! This old saint has not heard in his forest that God is dead!

Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche

Introduction

I don't identify as religious or spiritual. I don't believe in God. I don't think anything (animate or inanimate) has a spirit or a soul. I don't believe in spirits or ghosts. I think all life forms, such as bacteria, bugs, plants, animals, and people, are just simple robots. When a person dies, I don't think they go to heaven, hell, or purgatory, or the Greek underworld, etc; I don't think their spirit lives on; I think they're gone, that they simply stop functioning and completely lose their consciousness and perception. I don't believe in telepathy, or that thoughts can travel through time and space. I don't believe in psychokinesis, or that thoughts alone can directly change external reality.

History

I was raised Catholic. I was baptized when I was a baby. During middle school, I went to religious education twice a week at Saint Luke Catholic Church in Westport, CT, and got confirmed there when I was 13.

I didn't really believe in God when I was growing up, but I also didn't think about it too much. For a while I thought that whatever you thought would happen to you after you died was what would happen to you. I still prayed and talked to God sometimes, and after my dad died, I prayed and talked to my dad a lot, since I thought maybe he was looking over me. However, as time went on, I prayed and talked to my dad less and less.

In 2015 right after I experienced a traumatic breakup, my friend invited me to church with her, and I found it healing. I started reading the Bible, and I found that healing too. I tried to believe in God. I even said I did. I even think I thought I did. I think I wanted to believe in God. I thought believing in God would help me. I even argued to others that believing in God was self-empowering. Many weird things happened that seemed to be more than just coincidences. Once a pastor before praying over me asked if I had any trouble believing in God, or something like that. I just said "no" right away, but after saying it, I realized that I did have doubts but was too embarrassed to admit it, especially since other parishioners were present.

One evening over dinner, two nonbelievers questioned my faith, but I wasn't convinced to stop (or perhaps ready and willing to give up) "believing" in God. After that, one of them bought me off Amazon the book The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins. I liked it. Dawkins' simple explanation of evolution really made sense to me. I think reading that book really helped me to stop believing in God, that and listening to Harrison Greenbaum @ Gotham Comedy Club (1-23-13) starting at 2:17.

Identity

I don't consider myself religious or spiritual. I don't like labels and don't identify as any religion. If I had to label myself, I guess I'd say I'm an apatheist, mostly an apathetic atheist but also partly an apathetic agnostic, or a pragmatic agnostic. I try not to have any beliefs or convictions, since, as Socrates apparently thought about himself, I think I know very little, if anything, and I'm not interested enough, if at all, in certain things to develop beliefs about them.

God

Here the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire.

—Friedrich Nietzsche, in a letter to his his younger sister Elizabeth, 11 June 1865

I don't believe in God (or Satan, angels or demons, or heaven or hell). Ie, I don't feel certain (beyond any doubt) that God exists. By "God" I mean:

(in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.

New Oxford American Dictionary

I don't think God exists. I think the concept of God is made up, ie, that God's imaginary. Just because a lot of people believe God exists, doesn't mean God exists. Similarly, just because a lot of people believe aliens exist, doesn't mean aliens exist. I think those things in my past that seemed like more than just coincidences, were actually just coincidences.

Il est donc très-important de ne pas prendre de la ciguë pour du persil, mais nullement de croire ou de ne pas croire en Dieu.

It is therefore very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley, but not at all to believe or not to believe in God.

—Denis Diderot, in a letter to Voltaire, 11 June 1749

I think it's impossible to know, or to prove, if God really exists, or if God's just imaginary. Even if we could prove that God exists and we did prove it, would it really matter? If you were to get into heaven, then what? If the purpose of life on earth were to get into heaven, then what would be the purpose of life in heaven? Does believing in God actually make you a better person or more powerful? I don't think so. Many have used their beliefs in God as reasons to start wars, kill others, and ban prostitution and abortion.

Freedom!

—William Wallace, Braveheart (1995)

If God, the "ruler of the universe", existed, ie, if he controlled us, then we wouldn't be free. But if God loved us, then wouldn't he want us to be free? If we were just supposed to obey God, then why would he have given each of us a conscience? I'd have to give up my freedom and not live my truth but instead live according to God's will so that I'd get into heaven? Fuck that. I'd rather burn in hell forever.

Death

I think when a person dies, their brain dies, along with the rest of their body, so they simply completely lose their consciousness and perception.

That might sound awful or scary to you, but:

Let us think about it this way: there is plenty of reason to hope that death is something good. I say this because death is one of two things: either it is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness for the person who has died, or, according to the sayings, there is some kind of a change that happens—a relocation for the soul from this place to another place. Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of someone who sees nothing even in a dream, death will be a wondrous gain. For if a person were to select the night in which he slept without seeing anything even in a dream, and if he were to compare with this the other days and nights of his life, and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the course of his life in a better and more pleasant way than this one, I think that any person—I will not say a private individual, but even the great king—will not find many such days or nights, when compared with the others. Now if death is like this, I say that to die is a gain; for the sum total of time is then only a single night.

—Socrates, the Apology of Socrates by Plato

Maybe you're hoping that upon death there's "a relocation for the soul", but if death is the end, then any hope or desire you now have, eg, to reunite with the dead, look over the living, or make a difference, would die with you. Buddha taught that suffering arises from attachment to desires. So if death is the end, then: you wouldn't give a fuck about anything when you're dead; death would be the end of all suffering; you'd surely rest in peace.

Prayer

Even though I don't believe in God, I sometimes pray or talk to God, eg, as a form of autosuggestion or in times of desperation. It does feel like I'm praying or talking to God, but I don't consciously think I am, since I don't think God is real, so sometimes I think of it like I'm praying or talking to my subconscious mind. I don't really pray or talk to my dad anymore. I may sometimes pray or talk to him, and it does feel like I'm praying or talking to him, but I don't consciously think I am. I mean, I think my dad's dead. Sometimes I pray to St Anthony to help me find things. And sometimes I go to church with my family. I usually like the sermons.

Spirituality

I think prayer can help. It may help me feel better, focus, or condition my subconscious mind, via autosuggestion or self-hypnosis. But I don't think that through prayer or meditation, I can achieve telepathy, access the Akashic records, levitate, etc. Sometimes it feels like the universe or God answers my prayers. I don't think there's such thing as the Akashic records, and I don't think the mind (including the subconscious mind) remembers everything. I'm aware of epigenetics, and I even had a hunch when I was younger that nurture (not just nature) has such profound effects, but I was too scared to admit it, since I was taught otherwise and didn't know about epigenetics. Anyway, I don't think epigenetics proves that our thoughts can travel instantly through time and space to others. I also don't think quantum mechanics proves that our thoughts alone can directly change external reality. Those things may appear to be true, but I think that's just it. That's what it may appear like, but it's not really. I could be wrong, but that's what I think. So yeah, while I think spirituality, or the Law of Attraction, etc, or the Bible, etc, have a lot of great messages in them that can be helpful, I don't think God is real or you can actually attract good things to you just by thinking positively, and I think just stating those things as true on faith, instead of encouraging questioning and reasoning, like Socrates might, probably causes more harm than good. I think it makes sense to maintain good spirits or a good attitude, but I don't think you have a "spirit" or a "soul". And I think it makes sense to focus on what you want. It will help you notice opportunities, etc. But I don't think there's anyone (like the universe or God) actually answering your prayers. I think it just seems like that. Anyway, I love prayer, meditation, visualization, etc. I think they can be used for good, but I think they work in practical/explainable ways, not woo-woo ways, although their effects can often feel magical.

I think the mind and body can achieve amazing feats, like regulating your body temperature, enduring physical pain, accessing extreme physical strength, perhaps even changing your heart rate. It may even seem magical, but I think the mind is just more powerful than most of us realize. I don't think these things defy explanation or science, though they may seem like they do.