So what's to be done after giving up a belief in God? (Or any other metaphysics founded on blind faith rather than demonstrable evidence.)
First, pat yourself on the back -- or any other place that feels good -- and offer up some congratulations from you to you.
"Great job, me. I've made the right choice: to embrace honesty rather than deception."
But just as smokers often need a nicotine patch to help them break an unhealthy habit, going cold turkey off of God can be tough. After all, believing in the Big Guy Upstairs has been fulfilling, perhaps for a long time.
How to replace that source of pleasure, meaning, and support? What's going to warm a true believer when the cold winds of reality start blowing around in his or her psyche?
The theme of my previous post about this book was how much fun it can be to shake up our worldview. However, after the shaking, many escapees from the confines of a religion want to settle into another means of diving into the depths of what life is all about.
That includes me, for sure. This blog is called Church of the Churchless for a reason.
If I simply wanted to be churchless, I'd go do something completely unrelated from spirituality, philosophizing, and pondering ultimate cosmic questions. Instead, my goal is the same as before: to live life wisely and well. I'm just going about this in a different fashion. Hence, this "Church."
Cupitt says that we don't have to give up every trace of religiosity after we've realized that dogmatism isn't for us. Religion can be used as a toolkit from which we pick up practices that continue to seem appealing.non-realistic view of God. Cupitt uses Donald Duck as an example of what this means:
"Yes: but what then was the god? It is a mistake to suppose that the god was something over and above the image of wood or stone that was venerated in worship...Each and every Donald Duck image published by the Disney Studios really is Donald Duck himself; there is no superior original. Donald Duck is a vivid character to millions, maybe billions, but he simply doesn't need to have any existence outside his own iconography."
So each of us is free to create our own conception of what "God" means for us, using that word in the sense of what we feel life is all about -- our ultimate aspirations.
Cupitt suggests that three themes can be productively salvaged from the old outmoded way of religious believing.
We should learn to pursue our own personal growth by exploring and flipping among several different forms of selfhood and views of life. There is no One Great Truth anymore, and there never will be again. It is now better to maintain a small personal repertoire of different truths, paths, and goals, to be utilized ad lib.
The Eye of God
A Christian nonrealist like me may often find himself dropping back into the old type of God consciousness, praying or worshiping because he wants to or because it helps. And why not? I actually think I love God more now that I know God is voluntary. I still pray and love God, even though I fully acknowledge that no God actually exists.
...The old way of living coram Deo (as if before the face of God) was valuably consciousness-raising and morally stabilizing, and one may usefully continue to pray to God just as one may find oneself often talking to and thinking of a dead person.
The Blissful Void
Not only in Buddhism but also in other religious traditions, the final goal of meditation and contemplative prayer is a state in which all imagery, difference, and form have disappeared, and the subject too is emptied out into void bliss.
...I am suggesting that we should use the Discipline of the Void, meditation upon the underlying universal emptiness and nothingness, as a background against which to set and to see the flux of our life. The Blissful Void, sunyata, thus replaces the old metaphysical God, and gives -- to us Westerners in particular -- a new and much-needed way of getting our life in perspective.
It follows that we ourselves are the only makers of meaning and value. Such meaning and value as we can descry in our life must be value that we have ourselves ascribed to it and projected into it. All the colors and "feels" of things are our own feelings, projected out. Ethics therefore must be solar.
We no longer have any metaphysical reason or excuse for withholding ourselves. We should pour ourselves out as the sun does, identifying ourselves completely with the outpouring flux of all existence.
...Life can't be possessed or clutched at: we should pour ourselves out and pass on, without hesitation or regret. We can get ourselves together only by leaving ourselves behind. This is solarity -- to live by dying all the time, heedless, like the sun and in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount.
...We are no longer fearful about dying, or afraid to give ourselves away. we pour ourselves out recklessly into symbolic expression and then pass on, pass on, and pass away, without regret.