Having served as the un-pastor of this here Church of the Churchless for over eight years, I've heard just about every argument for the existence of God, soul, spirit, heaven, miracles, life after death, and other supernatural stuff.
Naturally -- given my current skeptical, scientific nature -- I don't resonate much with religiosity. Been there, done that.
But I can understand why other people do embrace religion.
And I respect their viewpoints when they're presented in a reasonable, open-minded fashion. TypePad, my blog service, tells me that there have been 24,143 comments on the 1,637 posts I've written.
Like I said, I've heard it all, comment-wise.
Here's how I've come to look upon the various ways religious believers try to justify their belief, ordered from most respect-worthy to least respect-worthy. I'll use "God" as a generic term for belief in the supernatural.
I don't know if God exists. I hope so. But I don't expect you to feel like I do.
I have faith that God exists. I don't have good reasons to support my faith. So I don't expect anyone else to believe as I do.
I have faith that God exists. My faith comes from God. This can't be proven, but it is real. So you should have the same faith as I do.
I feel like I've experienced God. But I'm not sure that what I experienced was real. I could be wrong about God.
I've experienced God. That experience was genuine. I can't prove it to anyone else, though. So I don't expect you to believe me.
I've experienced God. I can describe in detail why I think that experience was genuine. You should believe me. But if you have skeptical questions, I'll be happy to discuss my God-experience.
I know that God exists. For sure. However, my reasons for saying this can't be communicated. This knowledge is my own. Take it or leave it.
I know that God exists. I've experienced God directly. You would be a fool not to believe what I'm telling you. Hell awaits you if you don't.
Now, I haven't given these summary justifications a large amount of thought. They're just intuitive rough reflections of a belief spectrum that is difficult to put into words.
As I often note in my blog posts, I've got no problem with people feeling something subjectively, personally, privately. How could I? This is a big part of being human.
Heck, it might be the entire part, since one person's experience can't be directly shared with anyone else.
So saying "I feel..." usually is unarguable. I believe you. No reason not to. By the same token, you need to accept that I also can say "I feel..." And that feeling almost certainly will be different from yours.
Live and let live when it comes to feelings.
If people with religious sentiments held to that adage, that'd be great. Unfortunately, many religious believers expect others to believe as they do: on faith, without evidence.
Now we have a problem. At least, I have a problem with that. That's why the least respect-worthy justifications for belief in the list above are more dogmatic and demanding.
It's akin to the difference between saying, "I love to eat green peppers!" and "You should love to eat green peppers as much as I do!" (I hate green peppers, so this example came easily to mind.)
Believe in God all you want. Just don't expect anyone else to feel like you do absent excellent demonstrable evidence for the existence of God.