Asperger Syndrome and ‘religious belief’

Here, I would very much like to ask Aspies who consider themselves to be ‘theists’ (who believe in one or more deities) to describe the mechanics of their ‘belief’ as best as possible.  (Of course, I would like all Aspies to describe their mechanics of ‘belief’ – but theist ones in particular, because I suspect that Aspie theists are quite rare.)

Why?

I have as yet to meet one…

I do know many Aspies, most of whom have been raised in theist homes when they were children.  Yet, when I have discussed this whole topic of religion and belief, it has become clear to me that not one of them ‘believes’ in deities in the sense that neurotypicals who ‘believe’ do.  The closest to ‘belief’ these people have come is to choose to live as if this whole ‘God proposition’ were true in much the same way that people can accept that something ‘is true’ in the ‘universe of Star Trek’ and can then extrapolate ‘new ideas’ within that pre-defined frame.  Within these parameters, this is true…

But, of course, this does not really relate to reality…

I am not sure if I am explaining this in a way that non-Aspies will understand.

What I am trying to describe is akin to saying:  not that I agree with this, but let’s accept this to be true for the sake of this discussion…  I suspect that the Aspies who live as theists follow some version of this reasoning, which I understand is different from the ‘belief’ that most neurotypicals experienc.

Yes, I do understand that I am skirting the whole debate ‘what constitutes belief’  – but I hope that rather than focusing on the greater debate here, people will comment (so we can explore this discussion) on the difference between ‘religious belief’ as experienced by Aspies and non-Aspies.

Why do I think this is a topic worthy of discussion?

For the sake of the children, of course…  Let me explain.

I know that I am incapable of ‘belief’ in the traditional sense – at best, I view validity of ideas based on probabilities.  Even the ideas I hold as my ‘core views’, the ones I consider define me as me, even those ideas I cannot rate at 100% probability.

I have been this way from as far back as I can remember.  I could never understand why other children would behave as if things were ‘definite’ or ‘certain’, how they could be so sure of, well, anything…  They, on the other hand, thought that my constant qualifications of my position on anything meant I was setting things up so I could lie, or some other display of dishonesty…which, of course, was the exact opposite of what I was trying to do.  I have since learned, in most social interactions, to censor out the vast majority of the uncertainties and qualifications – yet my speech still contains much more of these than displayed in majority of neurotypicals’ conversations.

Back to ‘the children’:  I know many families where two non-Aspies have Aspie children, but I do not know of a single family where two Aspie parents would have any non-Aspie children, which is why the focus of this discussion is on Aspie children in non-Aspie households.

If I am correct in my observation that Aspies are physically incapable of ‘neurotypical belief’, what happens when theist parents are raising Aspie children?

What happens when Aspie children are sent to be educated in religious schools?

The demands made on Aspie children to ‘believe’ (in the neurotypical manner) in deities may be something these children are simply not physically capable of!

Of course, in theism, failure to ‘believe’ in just the right manner is interpreted as ‘sin’ and ‘heresy’ – a very bad thing.  Children who fail to ‘believe’ are considered defiant and disobedient, to be punished and broken until they ‘believe’.

I have observed a number of Aspie children in these situations.  In some Aspie children I have observed, this demand to ‘believe’ in a way they were physically incapable of had led to serious internal turmoil and led them to believe they were inherently bad people.  In others, it led to further withdrawal from social interactions, and in two cases I am aware of it led to serious childhood depression.  (Granted – other factors were there, but this was a big complication…)

So, we are talking about very serious effects here.

Last summer, an Aspie friend of my son joined us for our holidays:  it was his first time away from his family and his parents were thrilled that he got an opportunity to spend a week ‘with his own kind’ – in an all-Aspie household.  I think he had enjoyed himself, but there was one incident I was not certain of how to handle.

We holidayed up north, where the nature is pristine and light pollution is very low at night.  As we were going through a meteor shower, we spent one clear evening lying on our backs on the beach and watching the deep, velvety night sky bejeweled by millions of stars.  We saw some spectacular ‘shooting stars’ when our young (13) Aspie friend got quite upset:  he explained that watching the vastness of the universe in the night-time sky made him finally realize that there probably is no afterlife…

This inability to ‘believe’ – in spite of a desire to – is unpleasant in itself.  Adding to it parental and societal disapproval for ‘not believing’ – that can cause definite damage to a young person’s ability to grow up healthy and to their maximum potential.

Obviously, even though I probably know more Aspies than an average person does, my sample size is insufficient for anything more than ‘a hunch’…which is why I would welcome comments that might help us explore this issue together.

16 Responses to “Asperger Syndrome and ‘religious belief’”

  1. Asperger Syndrome and ‘religious belief’ « Xanthippa on Aspergers Says:

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  2. Terry Says:

    I started an adult Aspie support group here in Missoula. Three of us are Christians, one is a Catholic, one I would classify as a deist, one probably is an atheist, but I am only guessing from her responses and lack thereof to certain topics that arise occasionally. I don’t know what the other two believe. My son and his girlfriend, both of whom I believe to be Aspies, play around with spirituality. It seems we are all individuals, after all. I wonder if your experience of all Aspies being atheists is along the nature of “birds of a feather..” rather than a typical characteristic of Aspies.

    Your visceral reactions to religious abuses is understandable and is clear from your writings. I was raised Catholic and suffered all manner of abuse at their hands; spiritual, physical and sexual. I hate the Catholic church with the same passion that you seem to hate all religion with. I believe it to be one of the most virulently evil and dangerous religions of the world. It is Christian only in some of the words it uses. Its practices and roots are pagan to the core.(Peter was not pope. ‘Pontifex Maximus’ was one of Caesar’s titles.) Much of that paganism has crept into the church. I have recently come to believe all religion to be evil, even the Christian and so-called Christian denominations. But that is subject for another rant. I have some pretty intense hatred for many other religions, as well. But that is just me. Sinful me. And that is why I need God.

    My logic never allowed me to say “Religion is evil; therefore there is no God” any more than a counterfeit $100 bill would sour me on all cash.
    My reasons for believing in God would not satisfy you. They will never, and should never, satisfy anyone else but me.

    I use DesCartes’ method of doubting. I doubt everything that can possibly be doubted. Anything that cannot possibly be doubted must be true. What follows logically from that must true as well. I take him farther than he rquires of himself. I regularly review and redoubt everything. New information, i.e., new truth that is inconsistent with my beliefs, requires a re-evaluation of my set of beliefs. I am always learning and thus always re-evaluating my beliefs. As a result I hold very few beliefs dogmatically.
    Someone said “He who understands everything he believes has either a very short creed or a very large head.” I have a very short creed.

    Xanthippa says:

    Thank you for your comments. And, for whatever it is worth, I am very sorry that you have suffered.

    Just for the record – I do not hold the belief that there is no God. Rather, I consider myself to be both an ‘archetypal polytheist’ and an ‘ignostic’: since we cannot agree on how to define ‘God’ (and since many religions insist God is unknowable by our puny human minds), there is no point in dwelling on the subject any further.

    Funny you should mention DesCartes….

    The very first blog post I have ever written was on the topic of ‘Cogito ergo sum’ – in particular, why it is wrong. Only recently (the last few weeks), new comments have enlivened the discussion in the comments sections, with (among others) CodeSlinger opposing my position. Yet, I remain unconvinced that ‘cogito ergo sum’ is anything more than a circular argument, a linguistic trick, which has no ability to describe ‘reality’.

    As for ‘spirituality’ – many Aspies I have known who ‘wish to believe’ go through various ‘stages’ as they search for something they would be able to believe in. Been there, done that, studied probably more religions/religious denominations because of this than most people do, even coming one credit short to earning a minor in anthropology/sociology of religion back in my school days (I stopped short because I suspected that having a degree with a major in Physics with a minor in Religion would look rather weird on my resume…).

    Labeling one-self as a member of a particular religion can be more of an act of ‘tribal affiliation’ (in the anthropological and non-pejorative sense) and does not actually say anything about the ‘method of belief’ (for a lack of a better way to describe this). Many people consider themselves members of their family’s religion because thir cultural identity is tied up in it, regardless of what they actually ‘believe’. In other words, it does not explain whether thay have a ‘knowledge-like conviction’ or are simply ‘working with theism as a given fact’ – or if they are practicing their ‘religion’ on a purely cultural level.

    Finally, let me address the phrase: ‘religion is evil; therefore there is no god’. I do not agree with this statement. Rather, I would assert that:

    ‘Having studied a number of religions, I have as yet to come accross any description of a deity (in monotheistic and polytheistic religions) which is not amoral, immoral or actively evil. Using such deities for ‘moral guidance’ is, at best, to be avoided and worshipping them is acively promoting amorality, immorality or evil, as the case may be.’

  3. Terry Says:

    And by the way, I haven’t believe in free will since I was 14, but I have had to re-evaluate my position on it several times in light of hearing others’ perspectives.

    Xanthippa says:

    I must admit that on the topic of ‘free will’, I am rather a bit of an ignostic…we can’t really define what it is we truly mean by ‘free will’ so arguing about its existence is less than meaningful.

    • Terry Says:

      I am curious. The first time I saw the word ‘ignostic’ I thought it perhaps a typo, or perhaps a Briticism. But you repearedly use it. I have always seen the word “agnostic.” I suspect they both mean the same thing. Or do they have their own nuances?
      a- gnosos = not know in Greek
      i- gnosos = same? I don’t find the word in my dictionary. Explain please.

      Xanthippa says:

      ‘AGNOSTIC’ and ‘IGNOSTIC’ are indeed extremely different animals.

      A-gnostic literally means ‘apart from knowledge’ and while it is popularly (and very, very incorrectly) used to mean ‘a person who is not sure whether or not God(s) exist, it actually means ‘a person who actively holds the belief that it is impossible to know whether God(s) exist. (It is one of specially crafted terms to describe a concept, so we can say this quite definitively.)

      As such, the word ‘agnostic’ does not address the concept of ‘belief’ (positively or negatively); it addressed the concept of ‘knowledge’. Specifically, whether is is ever possible to ‘know’ (as opposed to ‘actively believe’ or ‘disbelieve’ or ‘actively believe in not’) the existence of God(s). Therefore, there are agnostics who beliebe that God(s) exist, ones who believe God(s) do not exist and ones who hold no belief on the topic: all they agree on is that it is impossible to have impirical knowledge one way or the other.

      ‘Ignostic’, in its core definition, means a person who may or may not be agnostic, gnostic, theist or atheist – but who says that since we cannot comprehend/agree-on-the-meaning of God/Gods/Deities/divine principles, it is meaningless to wonder if we believe in ‘them’. In the practical sense, even though ‘ingnosticism’ is in no way limited to a particular ‘school of thought’ or ‘cosmological belief system’, most people who self-describe as ‘ignostics’ reason that since theists cannot even agree with each other on what ‘God(s)’ means, any other information they try to pass on (including rules of conduct, moral principles, or anything else, really) is, to put it politely, a load of dingo’s kidneys and ought not be in any way treated with anything else than derision and contempt.

      Of course – this does not preclude the belief in ‘God(s)’: it just means that the ignostics who happen to be theists think that if God(s) cannot be bothered to hqng out with us openly and reveal themselves to us in positive, observable and scientifically supportable ways, then we ought not pay then any further attention (except, perhaps, to make fun of them or otherwise expose them to contempt).

      After all, if they are omnipotent, it ought not be too much trouble for them to pop by and cure things like cancer and heart disease – or, at least, stop innocent children from starvation or other suffering. Since they don’t, they have, through their fault, made themselves irrelevant and any attempt to regard them in any other way is, well, silly.

      And – yes, the vast majority of ignostics are indeed anti-theists (in the modern, not classical sense of the word: classically, anti-theist means a person who actively believes there is no god; in modern speech, the word has been used to mean people who believe all religions are intinsically evil – regardless of belief (or absence thereof) in the existence of God(s)…it is in this second sense that I use the term here).

      Sorry to be so verbose – I do hope this was helpful!

  4. klem Says:

    Its easy for me to believe in God since there is no definition of God, I can define it anyway I like. Most people believe that God is this ghostly old guy who lives out in space somewhere and makes galaxies, viruses, trees, humans and planets on his work bench, and when we die we have to defend our life to this ghostly figure. Most people believe this. To me this is bizarre.

    This image originates in childhood but it stays right through adulthood, and is passed on from generation to generation. When I was a kid I began looking into this definition and realized there is no official definition of God. The ghostly version was simply fabricated and it stuck. And we have killed people by a gazillions over the centuries defending this definition.

    My definition of God is simply the universe. When I look up on a starry night, I’m looking at God, our creator. And the Sun is our local manager.

    Xanthippa says:

    Thank you for sharing your beliefs.

    One question: is your God/Universe (and, by extention, Sun/manager) self-aware?

  5. Derek Says:

    I am an Aspie, and I am personally an agnostic/deist. I find the idea of a personal God illogical to say the least. Myself personally, I was a Christian, though not a devout one, until about age 14. Someone probably 15 years older than myself had a discussion with me about religion, on an online debating website about why he was an atheist. It was casual, he was not forceful, rude, or even trying to persuade me. It was a little painful for me to accept at first, but I got over it. I don’t think he was to credit entirely. My faith in god had been a low priority, but that was the final shake. Then I began to reassess and look into detail my beliefs. Eventually, I no longer was religious.

    I know plenty of Aspies.

    A significant fraction of which are religious, not because of societal pressure or as a front to please people, but a genuine belief. It is perfectly capable for an Aspie to be theists.

    Though, to an extent Xan was correct. There are proportionately a lot more Aspie atheists than nuerotypical atheists.

    Though, I do not think that it is inherent in the Aspie brain to reject religion, as religion is ubiquitous, gripping, and appealing to billions. I do think Aspies are more inclined to reject it, but there are plenty of exceptions.

    I am not – was not a very religious Aspie so I cannot say that I can provide too much feedback on this.

    On a separate note, I don’t think I’m entirely on board with the “ignostic” belief. I kind of see is as a semantical safe guard to avoid a label or commitment toward one’s beliefs, but I could be far off in that regard.

    Xanthippa says:

    Thank you, Derek, for this comment.

    There are two points I would like to clarify, if only for clarity’s sake:

    1.
    Being ‘religious’ does not, in fact, imply being a ‘theist’.

    One of the world’s 5 ‘Great Religions’ is, indeed, atheistic in nature – as are numerous other ‘religions’, both traditional and modern.

    There is nothing in ‘religion’ which requires or implies ‘God(s)’: the fact that several of the leading world religions are, indeed, theistic is, in my never-humble-opinion, more of a fluke than a necessity. (I am using the term ‘religion’ according to the Jungian definition of the concept and in accord with current anthropological understanding of the term.)

    2.
    I am not saying that ‘Aspies’ do not ‘believe’. Well, I am – in a way…

    Please, let me clarify.

    I am attempting to find out if (as per my ‘haunch’) the ‘nature of belief’ differs between Aspies and non-Aspies.
    Yes, I do acknowledge that there is no clear-cut line between Aspies and non-Aspies, rather, it is a continuum and we choose to draw the line at different spots at different times and in different areas of the world. Still, if I am correct, we will see a continuum of shifting ‘form’ or ‘method’ or ‘nature’ of belief between Aspies and non-Aspies…

    • derek Says:

      the human mind is a very complicated and enigmatic subject. i personally believe, and i cannot fully prove this, is that lack of beliefs in aspies are indirect based on other aspie qualities, rather than specific areas in the brain having to do with god/theism/belief/religion unable to function within aspies (though to claim you are to stating the exact opposite of this would be oversimplifying your view of this)

      Many aspies have qualities such as thinking individually, rejecting social norms that do not resonate with them, and a hunger for knowledge. I suspect that it is these qualities that indirectly allow a person, especially an Aspie to reject religion/god.

      psychology is not nearly advanced enough, but there are so many differences within the aspergers spectrum or any “disorder”/abnormalities (or whatever to call them), that classifying it into one category does not do it justice. If we knew all there is to know about the human mind, I wouldn’t doubt there could be 100+ different types of Aspergers, of course its purely arbitrary and subjective how to categorize traits.

      If we’re talking about a long-term shift, I think even NT’s are becoming less religious, though not very conscious or admitting of it. Aspies could definitely follow that trend.

      Xanthippa says:

      I agree with much of what you say: by saying the brain is ‘not wired for faith’ or that Aspies have diminished capacity for faith’, I do not necessarily mean that a specific area of the brain is diminished – though, it could be. Other factors could be in play, too – perhaps there is an increased capacity for logic, which I suspect is antithetical to ‘faith’.

      We do know from MRI records of people who had MRI’s, then underwent religious conversion, then had MRI’s again, that following the religious conversion, the logic centre of the brain had significantly fewel neural connections to the rest of the brain than before it underwent the conversion.

      There is an (independent) anthropological hypothesis that the capacity for ‘faith’ is a physiological response to severe stress, where the brain will actually damage itself in order to prevent the person from being able to objectively assess reality: in many ‘extreme’ situations, objective assessment of reality would lead to hopelessness and thence to ‘giving up’; not being able to see just how dire the situation is means people will keep trying to survive and this may be sufficient for this to be selected for evolutionarily.

      Actually, perhaps the greatest issue I have with people raising children to be ‘religious’ is because, based on the existing evidence, it appears that they are causing brain damage to their child by the very act of raising them ‘religious’. This may be overcome by some, but not all. So, my fear is that by having children indoctrinated with religion, we are permitting them to be intentioanlly brain damaged. Hence, my deep antipathy to religious indoctrination of children – by anyone!

      However, you do make a very valid point when you say that Aspies are less likely to feel bound by peer pressure and thus express their disbelief. You are right to point it out – as well as the variability among Aspies.

      Still, my thought (it is not sufficiently developed to be termaed a hypothesis) was that Aspies use logic t overcome their other ‘problems’. As such, their logic centre forms more neural connections with the rest of the brain that the brain of a person who did not rely on logic to that great a degree in order to just ‘get by’. (I am thinking ‘neuroplasticity’ here…) Like a muscle that is heavily exercised, the logic centre becomes more developed and integrated.

      This ‘exercised’ logic centre would, then, (in my thought here) make it more difficult for a person to ‘have faith’.

      Your thoughts?

      • derek Says:

        My thoughts…. That’s about right.

        Though I agree at times, religion could be a result of a diminished “logic center”, I don’t think it always is. People with poor logic are often sucked into religion, but there are very logical intelligent people throughout history and personal experience who are religious, perhaps because of their “emotional centers”. I see religion as a vice just like alcoholism, smoking, gambling, obesity – the kind that even the most brilliant people can sometimes fall into.

        I would say there’s two types of believers:

        1. Serious believers. They’ve studied religion into detail, understand all of its concepts, practice it regularly, and actually believe it. I know at least a dozen Aspies who actually are serious believers, though I would guess (based on personal experience) that 60% to 3/4 of Aspies are non-religious.

        2. Non-serious believers. These are people who accept the precepts of their religion superficially, but don’t understand or examine them in detail. In my view, many of them believe they believe the religion, but if they examine (not challenge, just examine) the precepts they accept and their implications, they don’t actually believe it. Arrogant of me to say that people can’t even be certain of THEIR OWN beliefs. But some actually don’t believe it, but suppress any doubt because they WANT to believe.

        I think the number 2 category is the different between aspies and nt’s.

        NT’s will see a necessity to trick themselves into believing, whereas Aspies care more for themselves than following social norms. I can’t say Aspies are immune to “peer pressure” though (perhaps they are less likely to be affected by it), if one is “antisocial” or “socially impaired”, the first social opportunity that comes their way glitters like gold.

        So I don’t think “religion” is a matter of absent logic. But rather a result of emotional need.

        Xanthippa says:

        Points well made.

        I don’t know if you have seen the documentary ‘A Brief History of Disbelief’, but your point #2 is very similar to what a philosopher (whose name escapes me) interviewed in it says. He proposes that most people who think they ‘believe in God’ actually ‘believe in the belief in God’.

  6. derek Says:

    a brief history of disbelief, i will bookmark it and view it eventually.

    i am happy that there is no christian god, but i wish i were genuinely christian. despite being completely fallacious, belief in anthropomorphic gods (i’m not strongly doubting an non-anthropomorphic entity), is not of any negative consequence in our western society. religion does not hinder success in finances, career, academics, social environments, family, etc. in fact, it can even be rewarded. being non-religious severely restricts social opportunities.

    i tried to convert to christianity a few years; i simply could not. bible-carriers love to say how anyone can convert and i tell them it would be like asking a devout catholic to practice islam. it’s impossible even if you try. especially for an aspie to become religious, when they already aren’t.

  7. myaspielife Says:

    As an Aspie, I have always had trouble believing in invisible sky fairies, at least in the terms of any single religion being “the true religion” with the true god, with all other religions/gods being false. Once two or more religions are “the true religion,” then there’s an obvious problem. That’s like telling me 2 + 2 = 5. Myself, I’ve gone from atheism, to an attempt to understand Christianity (with no apparent success), to becoming a Buddhist (which is non-theist). I can’t say that I believe in rebirth (not to be confused with reincarnation, which is not a Buddhist teaching), but a lot of Buddhists don’t. But it’s the only religion that my logical mind can grasp. So for me, theist religions are contradictory, illogical, and not something I can believe in, though there are many times I wish I could have “faith,” but I accept the fact that I can’t.

    Xanthippa says:

    When I was in University, all the Physics students (I suspect that all but one of the would qualify as Aspies’ in the year immediately ahead of me took a class on Budhism as their elective (they were a tight group) and all of them converted…

  8. emiofbees Says:

    This is an interesting topic! Lovelock’s book ‘Ages of Gaia’, an excellent book (which I might walk through in my own forum) presenting a dense and thoughtful interpretation on the evolution of live on Earth in the context of the Gaia theory had a chapter at the end entitled ‘God and Gaia’ near the end. My graduate class did a study on every chapter *up until that point*, and I found it very interesting on how uncomfortable everyone got at the idea of discussing religion. I believe I was the only one with a religious background in the group- I went through confirmation at 13 mostly to fulfil a verbal contract with my parents (dry, I know! but that’s how I saw it) to allow me to switch to a public school two years earlier (due to bullying, not belief).

    Strictly speaking, and after some soul searching, I have to consider myself to be agnostic. I consider myself to be a scientist, but there is simply too much we do not- CAN not- comprehend at this time. Look at where we were 100, even 50 years ago! There are theorys that an entire ‘shadow biosphere’ exists, since modern techniques are not meant to identify RNA (or other)-based lifeforms. Even Einstein changed his mind later in life- to be fair, the world was kind of crap at the time, and religion may have looked pretty sweet at the time. And for him, that was fine, because he gave serious thought to the issue and followed his own path. I also genuinely believe that there is a great capacity for one’s views to evolve in the face of deep loss. I could say more on this, but I’m already writing a bit of a novel.

    Prior to my (quite recent, and rather mild) diagnosis, I also had an opportunity while teaching overseas to become familiar with Buddhist teachings and philosophy. While zazen has been a little tough for me, I’ve developed a great deal of respect for what I’ve learned.

    Xanthippa says:

    Thank you for the insightful comment.

  9. Tashlan Says:

    I have only recently come to think as myself as aspie, however I believe it to be an accurate label. Unless I misunderstand the label theist, you can count me as one. I’m not sure exactly how to proceed explaining my beliefs, but have decided to take a crack at the topic. No matter how long my posts become, there will be more to explain. The water is very deep. Feel free to wade in and ask questions.

    First some of my personal history, because I think it is relevant.

    Unlike most, I was not exposed to religion as a child. I did not live in a religious family, never went to church, and my family almost never discussed it. My first exposure to people discussing religion came with my entry into elementary school. I believed in God and assumed everyone did also. It seemed obvious, simple and I took it for granted. When others discussed their various religious affiliations (all various sects of Christianity), I was confused. None of it meant anything to me. Like many social interactions, there was no way for me to participate.

    As a teenager, I attempted to put my religious ideas on the back burner. Like other accounts I hear aspies recount, I throw myself into whatever it is that interests me. Religion still represented a challenge, just not one I could get any leverage on at the time. I threw myself into various sciences at the time, with much excitement and vigour. No matter how much I tried though, there was something more. I kept seeing patterns, correlations that told me my religious ideas had merit. They refused to be stuffed away, but also wouldn’t come out into the light fully. I was building a working model from them, but it was still lacking.

    At the age of 20, it happened. Looking back, I realize I’d been preparing myself slowly for that moment for years. Much in the way Superman was drawn to the crystal unlocking his powers, so I found myself holding the key to unlocking the mechanics of my beliefs. I was looking for a book on Quantum Mechanics, I found instead a quaint, yellow, old book titled “The Seth Material”. There is hidden meaning in that event, but that story will have to wait.

    I read that book front to back that day. I read the next book in the series, “Seth Speaks” over the course of the next three days. I couldn’t take it in fast enough and I devoured it. Finally, a set of beliefs that explained everything I observed, yet didn’t insulted my intelligence. I’ve been reading these books ever since. I feel they are logical and practical. Yes, they contain material that cannot be strictly scientifically tested. However, I find they have a solid logical basis and as a body of work, it is quite good. Better than anything else I have read to date.

    Sorry for the lengthy introduction, now the basic mechanics, then perhaps some Q&A.

    As I’ve watched the world in the decades since first encountering “The Seth Material”, I have seen science advance along lines that correlate very well with the material. Finally, I’ve come to understand that Seth is stating we live in a Quantum Universe. Quantum Mechanics operate on a macroscopic scale (recently shown experimentally with lasers and 3mm diamonds no less) and our thoughts and ideas do in fact have a large role in the construction of our physical universe. They cannot be separated.

    What does all this have to do with God? It is all so simple, but yet, so hard to explain briefly to an audience of more than one. I believe our universe is simply a small part of what exists. It is multi-dimensional and full of possibilities. In fact, I believe our universe to be an open system. Energy exchanges between it and other universes. What others would call an afterlife, I simply think of as the dimensions from which ours spring out of. As many atoms are “contained” within my body, so many universes are contained within the body of “God”. Seth refers to God as “All that is”. Honestly, I’m not sure that is correct. I see no reason why there cannot be more outside of God’s body. The body of others of similar construction.

    Anyway, to attempt to bring this to a close and actually answer xanthippa’s request. The structure of my beliefs is that all things are energy (E=MC2 after all) and that energy is conscious. Matter is simply energy assuming form. Particles of consciousness interacting and participating in that dance that we call life. All things therefore are “God”. Matter, energy, our thoughts, and our actions. One enormous set of “Legos of conciousness” then from which we create our worlds, experience them, and at times pretend to forget we are the creators. All of this for our own purposes. Our will is divine as is our existence and our creations. No evil, no silly villains in red suits, no cosmic fight for our ethereal selves, just what we create and our own reasons why.

    Xanthippa says:

    Thank you for pouring your soul out like this!

    First, let me sum up what you said in a few points, so that I can establish I uderstand correctly what you have said, then I’ll have a few questions.

    1. The ‘default position’ you grew up with was ‘there is a god’ – but it was presumed rather than instilled and divorced from rigorous dogma.

    2. Without strictly referencing back to this ‘default position’ (you said it was in the back of your mind, but not directly challenged/confronted by you), you acquired scientific knowledge which now forms the basis of your world-view.

    3. You have found a means of satisfying your ‘default position’ of ‘I believe there is a god’ while maintaining your science-based world-view: this means is to define ‘God’ as ‘everything’ – ‘matter, energy, thoughts and actions’ rather than in the ‘traditional’ way as an entity separate from and superior to us carbon-based life-forms.

    Is this correct?

    Of course, before I would be able to meaningfully discuss some of the fascinating things you mention, we would need to tighten up the language a little bit in order to ensure that we mean the same concepts by the same labels…

    One such word is ‘consciousness’: I am not convinced that what we term ‘consciousness’ and, by extension, ‘self-awareness’ are valid concepts in a philosophical/theological context (even though I recognize their validity in a psychological/sociological context, if you understand what I mean by the difference.

    Another set of thoughts I would be very inerested in you to elaborate on would be the whole confusion about what ‘God’ is: is it, as you state in one bit, ‘all things’ or is it more like you say a bit above, ‘I see no reason why there cannot be more outside of God’s body’.

    Those two positions are not congruent and this makes it difficult for me to understandthe nature ofyour belief.

    I appreciate your long response. If it is not too much trouble, I would greatly appreciate it if you could elaborate on this topic.

    Thank you!

    • Tashlan Says:

      On your first question, yes this in correct. My default assumption was something like, “Of course there is a God. Everyone knows that.” My ideas of God were a bit more liberal than that of most organized religions (I didn’t know that at the time) and still very loosely formed. It didn’t mean that much more to me at that young age and I simply accepted it as reality without worrying about what “God” actually meant.

      On the second point, that’s not quite what happened. My thoughts have been very important to me for a long time, since before beginning elementary school. I have always been very conscious of my own thoughts. I suspect this is part of what makes aspies different from “normals”. The question of what God is, what it all means, etc. became very important to me later and as always I strove to understand. I found myself at an impasse however with the question and pushed it into the background simply because I was unable to deal with the question with the data available at the time. Much like a jigsaw puzzle, I couldn’t find where that piece fit, so I put that one down and reached for another.

      I turned toward science because I found in it the ability to move forward, to learn and understand the world. I was stuck on the God question, unable to move forward. Science is fun, interesting, and enjoyable (worth exploring in its own right) and I wasn’t stuck in this area. I moved forward where I was able and kept watching for my chance where I could not. This would correspond roughly to the middle and high school time-frame. At this time, I called myself agnostic, but this is probably an incorrect term. I still loosely held my default belief, but wanted to have a logical basis for my beliefs rather than a vague notion that it was true. I also wanted a logical framework for understanding my experiences. Science is wonderful, but I had/have experienced things science cannot at this time explain. Although it may be able to explain them later, because I had a need, I kept looking.

      Continuing and moving toward answering your third question. I think it important to clarify this point to avoid any confusion: I don’t think I could describe my world-view at that time as “science-based”. The pendulum swung strongly to the side of science at that time, but I still felt there was something more than either science or religion alone could offer me, although I was unable to explain it. I always suspected that, like most things, it was a little of both and a little of neither of the options I was told to choose from. I had to find my own understanding. I had to find that “third way”.

      As to the other part, I have always felt (as long as I can remember) that the idea that God is a distinct being apart from mankind as rather absurd. Later, I have come to believe that the idea of God as distinct from “creation” (bad word really) is equally absurd. Equally, I have come to believe that it is the same as believing ourselves apart from our world (believing we do not influence our experiments, measurements, etc. by the act of observing). We are as much a part of the machinery as “God” in those terms. Barriers and divisions are convenient illusions.

      I’m calling this #4: I don’t think I understand the point you are making here. If it helps, I believe that everything we experience is alive and self-aware. The rocks, trees, x-wing, swamp, etc., everything really. For example, I believe thoughts themselves are included in this list. I don’t understand the context you are referring to and thus don’t see how it alters that idea. I don’t believe an atom “thinks” like we do (that wouldn’t make sense), if that’s what you mean. A particle’s experience must be rather foreign to us, I’d suppose. If that’s not what you’re referring to, then you’ve lost me here.

      Okay, #5: This one is easy. The “author” of those books understandably doesn’t like to use the term “God” since it carries so much baggage for many readers. He prefers the term “All that is” instead. The author does not describe anything “outside” of God in his books. This is a point where I have chosen to apply my own logic and deduced the possibility that the author’s “All that is” is probably better described as “all that we can know or experience”. The analogy I think of is that a cell in my body (being a part of me) may move about inside me, but will never know about anything outside my body. It doesn’t mean there is nothing more, simply that it cannot logically experience it.

      # This last point (#5) is really quite speculative and not key to understanding the mechanics of my “religious” beliefs.

      Thanks for the discussion, your turn.

      Xanthippa says:

      Awesome!

      I think we are really getting down to some important concepts here. (OK, perhaps not ‘global impact’ important, but important to me and hopefully interesting enough to all so that we may learn and grow from this…) Thank you.

      I suspect we have more ‘congruent’ belief systems than our ‘labels’ would suggest.

      First, let us explore the ‘general idea’ behind ‘point #1’ = ‘God exists’ as a default position:

      a) How do you suspect your world-view/belief system would be affected if the ‘default’ position you had been conditioned to unquestioningly accept (in the first 5 years of life) had been “Of course there is NO God. Everyone knows that.”

      b) How do you suspect your world-view/belief system would be affected if there had not been any ‘default’ position on the topic of ‘god’ – if the whole topic had never been addressed?

      I know it is difficult to explore this avenue, because it is not how things played out in reality: but, as closely as you can replay your earliest thought processes with these altered parameters…what do you come up with?

      I should be clear here: I suspect that Aspies are quite capable of constructing a ‘reality’ within well pre-defined frames of reference. This means that we could be happy constructing a ‘belief system’ which is based on ‘pre-defined positions’ – including ones which include theism. Yet, I propose that this does not constitute ‘belief’!

      However, the ‘nature’ of the ‘belief itself’ – the ‘personal investment’ into any such belief/conviction system (in my never-humble-opinion) is what differentiates Aspies from neurotypicals: Aspies are, I suspect, able to build a number of such parallel (non-congrent) systems, investing a portion of their ‘credulity’ into each… Thus, if one is shattered, it is not ‘catastrophic’: rather, it re-distributes ‘plausability’ (from definitions on) to the other, parallel, potential explanations…

      THAT is what I suspect differentiates the Aspies’ ‘belief’ from ‘NT’ form of it…

      (The other parts of your response are also interesting, but I would like to really, really focus on this bit at this time….the ‘nature’ of ‘belief’, rather than its ‘particulars’!)

      • Tashlan Says:

        a) This question is interesting due to the way you have phrased it and a point I made earlier. You asked this question in the frame of “if I had been conditioned”. As I said earlier, I became aware of my own thoughts at a rather young age. That ‘turning inward’ that seems typical of aspies. More than just becoming aware of my own thoughts and mental processes, I became possessive of them. They were my most cherished toys, you see, and I didn’t appreciate others playing with them. Attempting to condition me would have been (was/is) difficult, perhaps impossible. There is also that body of awareness I spoke of before, but I will work that into my answer for your second question.

        Playing along with the idea though, I’ll attempt to answer as best as I can imagine the scenario. Seeing as how my teen years were spent basically trying to fit my views into a scientific view-point, this is possible to imagine. The vast majority of my views still work under an exclusively scientific umbrella, they simply lose a greater context. I believe I would have adopted something along the lines of an open-minded scientist. That is, I would be basically scientifically based, but open to fringe-science ideas to explain that body of experience currently not explainable by accepted science.

        I think I could have done this and been happy enough. I imagine I’d still work some basis in for an after-life, out-of-body and psychic experiences, etc based on ideas of multiple dimensions or whatever enabled them. It would closely resemble my current beliefs, but (from my current view-point) it would be more of a stretch (less accurate, less elegant). To summarize, my concepts of God aren’t a requirement for most of my understanding to work, it is simply the most elegant solution (I’ve found to date) which makes sense.

        b) As I said before, I see a number of patterns and correlations that most seem to miss. I seem to have been born with this and it appears to be a strong part of my ‘gift’. It was a while before I realized others were not aware of these things I experience. Much as it would be if the majority of people were born colorblind and you were one of the few who was not.

        So how do I explain these extra senses to you? I’m not sure I can. They are numerous, some easy to describe, some nearly impossible. I do not believe that I am special particularly, rather I believe these are normal senses and that the majority of people (at this time) choose not to develop them or learn to filter them out.

        In the simplest terms, it amounts to a connection with my environment. Where others feel a bond between themselves and others, pets, whatever, I have always sensed a basic bond with the universe. It holds me, comforts me, guides me, shows me secrets, and responds to changes in my needs and moods. It can be most difficult to explain.

        As you can imagine, this connection is rather integrated into my experience. It is difficult to imagine life without it. After I realized others did not experience this, I tried to imagine what it would be like. Sometimes I feel as if I’m at a party where everyone has their eyes closed but me. They seem to wander around, groping, appearing somewhat lost. I imagine if I had not been born with this awareness or had abandoned it in childhood I would do something similar. Since most popular ideas of God don’t make sense to me, I imagine the statistical likelihood is that I’d have adopted a scientific view-point. The other option would have been to exotic mysticism, possibly on top of a scientific base.

        Okay, now onto your closing thoughts. I certainly agree with your thought that beliefs are more pliable generally acknowledged. Many of people hold two or more contradictory beliefs simultaneously. I believe this is common although many choose to “look away” from this obviously held contradictions. I have given much thought to the ‘structure’ of people’s thoughts, both my own and others. It can be a fascinating subject to study. I recognize something in your idea that Aspies may be more prone to work with these structures deliberately and built resilient structures such as you describe. That process sounds very familiar.

        I do want to state clearly, however, that at this time, I believe I have found a system of belief that encompasses both scientific ideas and religious ideas in one, single, congruent construct. I am not working with parallel ideas in this matter. To state very clearly, I am not holding science and religion as separate things with various weights applied to them. I am holding a single system of ideas that encompass areas that others think of as these two competing systems. These seemingly opposing systems fit nicely together under the same umbrella of understanding without (much) conflict or contradiction as I see things at this time. It isn’t particularly important to believe in a God to make most of this work as I currently see it, but it is the solution that make the most sense.

        Xanthippa says:

        Thank you for how exhaustively you have answered: it is much appreciated.

        First od all, I would like to echo your observation about both patterns and sensory perceptions, as I had experienced similar things myself. One of my sons, for example, from a very early age, could reliably ‘feel’ magnetic fields with his hands: when he was about 3, we used to show people (with his co-operation) by blindfolding him and then holding objects above his open hands – he would tell us when we held a maget or magnetized object. He was extremely accurate, too!

        Pattern recognition hs been one of the things I am OCD about – so, again, I get it, as I completely get your attitude towards your thoughts.

        However, you have still not answered my central question regarding your belief: how do you reconcile the contradictory positions you have expressed? (One was that ‘God is everything’ and the other thing you said was that you did not see why there could not be things outside of God’s body…)

  10. Tashlan Says:

    I have already answered that question, see above where it starts: “Okay, #5: This one is easy.”

  11. servetus42 Says:

    My own response to this question, in some ways this blog post spurred my thoughts on the matter. http://approachingjustice.net/2014/02/16/god-and-aspergers/


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