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I don't think everyone is born with a sense of God; however, I do believe that most every human being (barring severely brain-damaged and such) are born with potentialities, many of which will not become apparent until the infant becomes capable of reason, of give-and-take and "transferring", say, attachment toward mother or father to another, e.g. to a Something or a Someone not directly related to the most basic needs of food, water, warmth and so on, which could be one's country, a particular teacher, theory, idealogy such as Capitalism or Communism, a cause like "Saving the Environment", or commitment to hedonistic pursuits and pleasures over and above every other concern not directly related to survival.

All these persons would be thinking about, feeling, moving toward, experiencing their source of Ultimacy--and for many that Ultimacy would be what they've been conditioned to imagine as God, instead of or conflated with the traditional image of God, so imagine "God, Country, Family", instead of God as the apex, and everything else, everyone else, viewed as "God-Bathed".

When that period of development arrives and continues, i.e. age eight to older (generally speaking; exceptions accepted), each person would begin displaying a need for religion in the broad sense, while others, "some" persons would be conditioned for religion in the more traditional mode with rites, rituals, dogmas specifically related to the teachings of Muhammad, Jesus, Socrates; and still others conditioned and perhaps drawn to philosophers such as Plato, Kant, Hegel, Nietszche, Spinoza and so on.
I felt the need "to know the difference between good and evil" quite early;

I had a longing; a sense of searching, and a stretching I couldn't name...

Then I was given a very distorted picture and description of God, but also a closer to true image of Jesus of Nazareth, and from there I had to struggle, mostly within myself and with the help of a welter of writers, only recently with the help of phenominal writers like Erich Fromm, Paul Tillich, John MacMurray, others...

I wouldn't have been ready in the early years, those brain-washing days... I didn't have enough education--and I don't mean the patriotic and Capitalistic lesser knowledge gleaned and given up in a classroom.

I had so much to confront and do away with... and it is only now that I have what I need to understand what these high-minded writers were saying; only very recently have my potentialities in this crucial area come to fruition so that I can take in their thought, and their experience--including their emotional responses, and begin finding the meaning I've needed for so long...

Finally, consciously, I have rejected the distorted God, and the misplaced emphasis regarding Jesus' life, e.g. he was most likely born in a cave and definitely wasn't born in an inn; he didn't do much, if any actual, carpentry--Joseph, his step-father did; he lived as a mendicant preacher, "The son of Man has no where to lay his head..."; Judas held "the common purse and chided him for wasting money; women disciples helped support his few needs...

And yet who cares for most of the narrative:

John, the non-synoptic gospel writer, didn't care about Jesus' early life at all.
And by John, I mean whoever actually wrote that Biblical book: again, "who cares" as he was a believer, a mystic, earnest in what he taught--and fallable, though as Paul Tillich wrote in The Shaking of the Foundations, gist, "Let those of us so much weaker in faith not look down too much on those like Paul and John who spread The Word across the globe..."

Interesting to me, about not just myself but some others who are Christians, struggling to reconcile their modern minds with primitive beliefs and myths both in and outside Biblical scriptures, is how Freud posited that someone who has an authoritarian relationship with his father would go on to believe in an authoritarian God, and yet for me?

I tried by-stepping God as he was described to me, and I read about him:
Angry, jealous, punishing, frightening, fickle (flood today, no more from now on), and went for Jesus, a picture of him that I knew was both maternal and not right in that Jesus was always pointing toward God the Father, a loving father, which wasn't anything I had experienced, could not believe in, but struggled on as best I could in spite of this ancient concept of a monotheistic God.

I remember reading, when I was 11 as I recall, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us".

The brain activity, the emotions, and physical sensations were akin to what others who take mind-altering substances describe, and I chased "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...," wondering, with awe,
"What does that mean?!"

I'm still chasing it:

Call it Truth or Reality, or as Paul Tillich puts it, sometimes as this, "The God Who Really is God"; other times, "Ones Ultimate Concern;" and still others, "Not religion" or to be experienced as "Deeper religion".

Mr. Tillich goes on to say that "God is closer to us than we are to ourselves" as "Mankind is estranged from himself, from his fellowman, from his very Ground of Being", i.e. from what many still need to call God, while so many more of us need a replacement for the term that has been misused and narrowly used for too long--it, and too often, therefore, The Reality behind the word symbol, is misunderstood or dismissed outright; and for a few of us who limp on with that word symbol, we spent far too much energy trying to rephrase it, to make it come alive:

To have a sense of ourselves, our fellowman, and The Ground of Our Being as loving, creative, lively...

I don't know why I'm sharing this with you, except for dialogue between two people who hold, I think, for the most part, vastly different concepts and perhaps experiences of God, and yet, there is a bridge:

I cross it to have dialogue, not debate, with traditional atheists who do not dispute what I share because I don't come at them with familiar, dismissible "fundie language" and "I'm right; you're wrong, God settles it" kind of certainty, i.e. arrogance they should dismiss as just that: a creature who believes she knows more than "The Totality of Life" speaking to another creature about that Totality as "fragmentary being" to "fragmentary being".

When I write that "I accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was eight", I've never had anyone ask me--not on or off-line "from what?"

I know from what; I could articulate it now, for certain people who aren't looking to shore up their theory or knock down my experience.

That's all I wanted to say. And I said it.
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