Came across this profound quote today about how our belief (and skepticism) evolves as we mature:
First there is a time when we believe everything, then for a little while we believe with discrimination, then we believe nothing whatever, and then we believe everything again – and, moreover, give reasons why we believe.
– Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
EVERYONE GOES THRU FOUR PHASES OF BELIEF
1. First there is a time when we believe everything,
2. then for a little while we believe with discrimination,
3. then we believe nothing whatever,
4. and then we believe everything again – and, moreover, give reasons why we believe.
* * * * * * * * *
PHASE 1. First there is a time when we believe everything. This refers to childhood. I remember my own. I have raised or am still raising six kids. How trusting my young daughters are. All of them are less than 13 and they believe everything I tell them about God-the-Mother, God-the-Father, Jesus, Magdalene (and about Daddy for that matter…hee hee). Young children eat up facts and opinions, “absorbing” as it is sometimes called. Conveying our adult beliefs to our kids is part of feeding and nurturing.
Next, like their 3 older siblings, they will no doubt “wise-up” a little bit, get skeptical, when they become teens. I have two teens and one young-twenties. About the age of 12 or 13 they got downright quarrelsome over Bible stories and religion, although they would still come to me and ask what was the deal with this or that spiritual figure — from everything to Buddha, Jesus, Lucifer, Sophia, Shiva. Or what is the deal with Wicca and “spells”. They wanted to know, but they were dubious, no longer eating up my words, beliefs and opinions like they eagerly ate up the Happy meals and Taco Bell I sat before them. That means I guess they entered phase 2.
PHASE 2. then for a little while we believe with discrimination.
Yeah, believing with some healthy skepticism. After going on for a little while like this, we become burned, and then after a season of pain, we end up jaded, right? That leads to the next stage of believing in nothing at all — when it all seems like a bunch of crap.
PHASE 3. then we believe nothing whatever,
We have been misled! we cry. We have been deluded all these years. All that religion junk our Mama taught us is not real. Fairy tales for kids. O how sucky that phase was. Occasionally I still get an “agnostic fit” here and there. Such a pain. During those fits I have to talk to god like this, “Okay, so why is this happening Lord. I mean, IF you even exist and are even hearing me… But let’s say you DO exist, then what is going on…or why is this troubling me…or what is the answer to THIS mess…?” yada yada. I remember once in my early 30s giving away a TON of spiritual books on traditional Christianity because I was no longer in-belief of that shtuff. I thought it wasn’t authentic enough, too many humans had messed up Judaism and Christianity. I believed none of it (for about two months…hah). I thought perhaps I could find the “authentic” belief-system in Gnosticism or pre-Christian beliefs of MY ancestors. But of course nothing feels authentic when one is in this phase 3 of dis-belief. How depressing that phase is. I think a lot of people lose spouses during this time. Surely many people die stuck in this phase, too. Even more may never make it to this phase…yikes. Much less, to the NEXT and final phase. Supposedly it is the final phase of belief, but maybe there is a phase 5, a transcendent phase follows that Lichtenberg didn’t notice or chose not to speak of.
PHASE 4. and then we believe everything again – and, moreover, give reasons why we believe.
Now this is cool. I have been there — or, I should say, am still here — and done/doing that! <smile>
I remember when this phase began because I found my mouth speaking, and my hands typing apologetics. Me, an apologist!? It felt so odd…yet exhilarating. It didn’t happen til I was 40. <snort> Interesting the Jewish Kabbalists insist you must be 40 before they will start teaching you true Kabbalah. Since then I have never sunk completely back into phase 3, just dipped in for fleeting moments of doubt or despair. A few years ago I pondered why I hadn’t had one of my “agnostic fits” in so long. Evolving had escaped my notice. I had become an apologist, evolved (finally!) beyond the agnostic “professional skeptic” stage.
I had become a “Believer” all over again (as in childhood)….and I had become a brainwasher of my friends, family and my children, as some of them no doubt accused me of. Heh heh. Ah, the art of persuasive speech when one really believes this stuff. <laugh> Now, don’t let on to my students 15 years ago (some of you on here have been with me that long) that I was not altogether certain about every iota, jot and tittle back then…