Ache, angst and aspiration

June 18th, 2019

Do you ever find yourself waking up at night for no reason, and taking some time to finally fall asleep again?

And if you do, what do you think about? Do you focus on emptying your mind so you can fall asleep again? Or maybe you go through your plans for the coming day?

Or does this time make you feel reflective and a little negative? Do you feel a little ‘life ache’, a vague sense of your own shortcomings, or an apprehension about life or the future?

Or perhaps you have similar feelings about life and self at other times you are alone? Or maybe after finishing a good novel, watching a thoughtful film, or listening to a piece of evocative music?

All this is certainly familiar territory to me, and to many people apparently.

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Can life have meaning without God? Five views

August 2nd, 2018

Most of us want to be happy, and most of us want our lives to be meaningful. And psychologists confirm that we are happier when we feel our lives have meaning and purpose

But what gives our lives meaning?

It used to be that religion gave life meaning. Even if life was hard drudgery, or worse, dangerous and painful, the hope of a better life in the age to come gave meaning and purpose even to the suffering.

But with religion in decline in first world countries, what gives lives meaning now? Some say nothing can. But most say we can, and have to, choose our own meaning and invest our lives in that.

But does it work? Can life have meaning without God?

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Experiencing God?

April 9th, 2018

Many people claim to have experienced God directly in some way. They claim to have seen a vision, or received divine healing, or they have had some deep spiritual experience, or God has turned their lives around in some way. They come from different religions, even from no religion and atheism. Sometimes the experience changes their lives completely, sometimes not so much.

The interesting question, of course, is whether God is really the origin of their experience, or not. If so, then life takes on a different meaning. But even if these experiences have natural causes, they are still of great interest to psychologists.

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The doubt that breathes beside you

March 10th, 2018

People move into and out of faith. Probably most of us stay with the religious beliefs we form in our late teens, but a fair number change their basic belief somewhat later.

These changes in belief can be difficult to make and to carry through. But probably nothing is more difficult than when one partner in a close relationship changes their previously deeply held belief and the other does not.

Blogger, author, wife and christian, Stina Kielsmeier-Cook, has given us in The Doubt that Breathes Beside You a beautifully written and heart-breaking story of her experience when her formerly zealous christian husband decided he could no longer believe.

Whether you are a believer or a non-believer, I think you will find her reflections memorable and touching.

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Logical truth and psychological truth

January 17th, 2018

Most of us like to think that our beliefs are logical and based on the evidence. But we also know that very few things can be known with certainty – after all, this may all be a dream.

But we need to live our lives and make choices. So sometimes we have to act despite the uncertainty.

I have been thinking how this relates to my beliefs (and yours too). How certain am I of my beliefs, and how much do I live with uncertainty?

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From polite discourse to no discourse

January 5th, 2018

I have been a christian believer for about 55 years, and throughout that time many of my relatives, friends, work colleagues and internet acquaintances have not. Most of the non-believers have been agnostics or ‘don’t cares’, but there have been some atheists, a couple of Buddhists and Jews, a few Muslims and a few whose belief cannot be easily categorised.

And so of course I have had many discussions about belief and one thing stands out – all of the face-to-face discussions I can remembers have been civil and friendly. Disagreements about belief haven’t led to discourtesy. But it seems the internet has changed all that.

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“I don’t set much store by signs and wonders, but ….”

November 12th, 2017

Aussie novelist Tim Winton is without doubt my favourite writer. I especially love That Eye the Sky, a novel of a family that is put under pressure by a serious car accident, and finds relief in unexpected places. It has been made into a film and two stage plays.

And it turns out that so much of the storyline is taken from real events when Tim was just a boy, something that was maybe miraculous, and which made a deep impression on him and his whole family

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Who believes in evolution, and who doesn’t?

October 23rd, 2017

Evolution has probably been the main area of discord between christians and science in the past two centuries. There have always been christians who accepted the science of evolution, but until the last few decades they were probably in the minority.

But a new study suggests that this is changing, and that christians aren’t the only ones who have difficulties with at least some aspects of evolution – some atheists do too.

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