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The 4 Stages of Spiritual Growth (atheism > fundamentalism)

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posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 08:27 PM
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THE STAGES OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH


By M. Scott Peck, M.D.


Just as there are discernible stages in human physical and psychological growth, so there are stages in human spiritual development. The most widely read scholar of the subject today is James Fowler of Emory University, the writer of Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. But I first came to an awareness of these stages through my own personal experience.

The first of these experiences occurred within I was fourteen and began attending Christian churches in the area. I was mainly interested in checking out the girls but also in checking out what this Christianity business seemed to be about. I chose one particular church because it was only a few blocks down the street and because the most famous preacher of the day was preaching there. It was in the day before the "electronic church," but this man's every sermon was broadcast over almost every radio frequency across the country. At fourteen I had no trouble spotting him as a fraud. On the other hand, up the street in the opposite direction was another church with a well-known minister--not nearly as famous as the first but still probably among the top thirty in the Who's Who of preachers of the day-a Presbyterian named George Buttrick. And at age fourteen I had no trouble spotting George Buttrick as a holy man, a true man of God. What was I to think of this with my young brain? Here was the best known Christian preacher of the day, and as far as I could discern at age fourteen, I was well ahead of him. Yet in the same Christian religion was George Buttrick, who was obviously light years ahead of me. It just didn't compute. So I concluded that this Christianity business didn't make any sense, and I turned my back on it for the next generation.

Another significant non computing experience occurred more gradually. Over the course of a decade of practicing psychotherapy a strange pattern began to emerge. If people who were religious came to me in pain and trouble, and if they became engaged in the therapeutic process, so as to go the whole route, they frequently left therapy as atheists, agnostics, or at least skeptics. On the other hand, if atheists, agnostics, or skeptics came to me in pain or difficulty and became fully engaged, they frequently left therapy as deeply religious people. Same therapy, same therapist, successful but utterly different outcomes from a religious point of view. Again it didn't compute--until I realized that we are not all in the same place spiritually.

With that realization came another: there is a pattern of progression through identifiable stages in human spiritual life. I myself have passed through them in my own spiritual journey. But here I will talk about those stages only in general, for individuals are unique and do not always fit nearly into my psychological or spiritual pigeonhole.

With that caveat, let me list my own understanding of these stages and the names I have chosen to give them:

Stage I: Chaotic, Antisocial.
Stage !!: Formal, Institutional, Fundamental.
Stage III: Skeptic, Individual (atheists included here)
Stage IV: Mystic, communal.


Source (makes for an interesting read)

www.escapefromwatchtower.com...


Personally, I am getting sick and tired of all this back and forth either/or in regards to atheism vs. belief, and so have introduced this thread for the purpose of having an open exchange between the two "camps". Surely the atheist and the believer have more in common than we might think at first clash, I sure hope so.
Personally I am a very rational and scientifically minded person, and would place myself at the early stages of what might be called Christian mystic.

I remember in some paper about the coming of the Three World Wars written by Albert Pike the author of the Scottish Rite of Freemasony, in which he described a final showdown of some kind between the atheists and the Christians, against which the "elite" would then unveil their superior Luciferian Religion, something I find abhorrent and disgusting, and I would very much like to prove him wrong, because I think the atheist is much closer to the Christian than he might think, due to something called the Logos, who's root is logic.

Anyway, I'm just tired of the simpleminded rants I've seen around here that get peddled as well informed and knowledgeable, and thought this might be worth a try.

Regards,

NAM


edit on 21-12-2010 by NewAgeMan because: edit title, typo




posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 09:04 PM
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Nah, I'm just kidding around..


LIFE is what's happening, and it's all good, it's free and funny and amuzing, and at the end of the line of the line, down the road, so to speak, the answer to this God/noGod issue/question probably won't matter anymore, when we get to the end of self at the end of time, and pat ourselves on the back that we're still HERE, together. That's all that matters, and that's what's in the heart. It's something wonderful, perhaps even magnificent beyond measure, and I do think that we can all agree on that.

Home is where the heart is, and where your heart is, there will your treasure be also.

We'll heading for the same destination really, into the nothing that is everything already always..


So then it's like the Rasta-man sais "What it is mon. Ire!"

Maybe we are that. "Thou art that."

If so then I say, I have to say "God Bless You".

We're all in it togethere, this eternally unfolding present moment sandwitched between two eternities, so I like to declare the "KOH" (kingdom of heaven) now, and get the party started.. See I am just open minded and craziest enough to take Jesus himself at his word, and look what happens. Of myself I am nothing, and none of us even knows who we really are, so what the heck, eh? If we really do reside within the uncondioned ground (unconditional love) of all creation and eternity, if that is the inheritance that we are coming into, then I'm like (throwing up my arms) ok God, it's all you, not me, and there's my God. He transcends the innerent and the transcendant, there's no arguing about something which by its very nature we cannot possibly understand, so maybe in the end we can only live God, as some sage once said.

Maybe in the final analysis we have to let go and let God as they say, while getting ever more present to our sense of accountibility to one another, in alignment with our own heart's innermost desire as Godbeings in potentia, that's what's happening, imho. There is nothing else, when the rational mind sclices it all away, except an inspired creative action of some kind, as an expression of love and gratitude, there is nothing else of any consequence going on, when we get to nothing at all in the first place.. !

So I'm prepared then as a Christian, to throw up my arms in advance, and exclaim that we are already here, now, in it, in eternity now, as one family of one very large heavenly household.

So Cheers, and lets your hearts not be troubled, for it pleased the father (first-last cause) to share his kingdom with ALL his children!

I love you all. And we all do, that's what we really ARE!


It's ABSURD I say! Absurd.




edit on 21-12-2010 by NewAgeMan because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 09:14 PM
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I think that we just lucked onto something real, through a natural process of evolution.
Our awareness comes from comparing ourselves to the unknown making us a big fat question mark.
Every power of deception grows as we move away from knowing nothing, yet knowing something is nothing next to infinity.

Now I'm rambling too...



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 09:26 PM
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reply to post by squandered
 


But when we know we know nothing we know something..

Heh, reminds me back in the late 70's early 80's (I'm 43) watching Hogan's Hero's and there was this German Guard named Shultz, big rolly polly of a man with the German hat on, and he's shout with a German Accent "I KNOW NOTHING" while they closed up their tunnel under the bunkbead right in his own peripheral vision, while handing him a nice hot German Apple Strudel - it was HILARIOUS! I KNOW NOTHING, but meanwhile, somthing very significant was going on, under the surface so to speak! Oh dear..



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 09:31 PM
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Interesting thoughts. Nice opening.

I'd type other stuff but my thoughts are just trailing off into lala land.



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 10:00 PM
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We could discuss this frame of reference..


or



But for Christians, relative to bloodthirsty atheists, in search of vengeance for the dark ages and the ignorance of man, relative to the great truths of the ancients masked in the form of religion, we'd really take a beating, that is, if operating solely under the presumption that atheists hate Christians, plain and simple, and would feed them to the lions, if given the opportunity.


But I will say to the more literalist ultra conservatives that this all EXclusive Christianity simply must be updated, or re-discovered, in terms of something a little more all-inclusive, or else we're violating the central precept, of our faith!

So before you go shooting with full guns a blazing, like you normally would here, just stop, please, for the love of God and people and everything we hold dear, and consider the most important thing of all, first. In the daring words of St. Augustus, love and do as thou will. This is the mysterious realm of the mystic, this exploration of a new realm of unknowing, which once known continues to expand in increasing realms or domains of freedom, love and bright new possibility, true life.

i'll be quite now.. i always do this. oh well, what can ya do.. (throwing up hands)



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 10:14 PM
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no, keep rambling on as you see fit... you seem to be on a roll.



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 10:17 PM
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I actually find it the other way around:

I. Anti social
2. Skepticism
3. Mystical
4. Fundamental

Though I have retained my support for individualism.



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 10:21 PM
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reply to post by ChaosMagician
 

Nope. Your turn. I've silenced myself.

Please, go guys go ahead!





posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 10:38 PM
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I'm not feeling too philosophical myself, tonight. My thoughts are to distracted. I'm not complaining though.
You have the mic.



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 10:43 PM
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Originally posted by 547000
I actually find it the other way around:

I. Anti social
2. Skepticism
3. Mystical
4. Fundamental

Though I have retained my support for individualism.


I know what you mean - so so long as, when you get to the HIGHEST level, of the simplicity on the other side of the complexity (where we all really want to be, in peace, and everlasting joy and mirthfulness), in a communal sympathetic suffering with all humanity, and able to carry your neighbors sorrows and burdens, your neighbor being any man (see Good Samaritan parable), you don't turn to him, as we are all beginning to take our seats at the Celebration of the Wedding Banquet, and say - "you know, if you don't accept Jesus now, you're going straight to hell!"

That would not be good.

Not Christian.

Not loving.

Not Jesus, that's not what he's about, a purely literalist viewpoint, which would rob your own friend and neighbor of the opporunity to share Christ's love in "koinonia" regardless of what he may or may not bring himself to "believe".

Only in that sense, possibly, is the more fundamentalist conservative in error, and oh what a grave error that is.

But let this not be a bashing thread, but one of deep contemplation, without anything to prove, nor a spirit of violence, anger or hatred for our fellow man, but a peace, capable of transcending all these apparent differences. If we are a channel of that peace (St. Francis of Asisi's prayer) then there it is, but if we then try to turn that into a weapon of some kind, then that would only serve to buffer the very part of us that Christ was sent to heal, and in so doing, help serve to heal the world, through him, and him through us.

We must let go the strict exclusive doctrine in favour of the love of Christ, or we ruin it for everyone.

"Careful must be the doorman who opens the door of the love of Christ for his fellow man."
~ Anonymous



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 10:47 PM
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As your name suggests, what you have posted is opiniated new age bullcrap.

We are ALL connected to the Most High regardless of how we want to address this or run away from this. It may take the metaphorically blind and deaf more time and more steps to reach this conclusion but it is INESCAPEABLE. You call yourself a Christian because of the church you follow? Plenty of steps left! You call yourself a Muslim because you were ''born'' as one or because you attend mosque services? Plenty of steps left!

You claim to know it all because of some new age books that were sold so the author could live a luxury life? You are LIGHTYEARS away from understanding what this life is about.

Think and pray, pray and think.



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 10:54 PM
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reply to post by Zamini
 

There is a saying though, that if you commiserate with your friend and neighbor, and he is kind hearted he will thank you, but if he is hard hearted, he will scorn you.

In case you didn't notice, I'm willing to leave all that behind, for the sake of mutuality, and I am the one arguing against some sort of absurd exclusivity of belief in anything at all, I mean like you either have it, or you don't, you either feel it, or you don't, you either love or hate, but who would even want to bother with that nonsense, I sure don't.

I guess I'm miscommunicated something here..


I sure tried, you'll have to give me that, at the very least.

P.S. Just for the record, my monicur is a prayer of hope, for us all, it's not about "me", I'm just a guy with a reasonably good mind and a very good heart, attempting to be as helpful as I can with whatever resources are available to me, that's all. Not trying to show anyone up or anything, that is not at all what this thread is about. And I'm just a beginner on the journey. I don't profess to be anything at all, and don't even have the first clue about any of this, since the whole thing's a mystery. Just typing out loud don't get so upset, and don't try to crush me either, that is so unneccessary and so inappropriate here, given where I'm coming from with this.

Sheesh!


edit on 21-12-2010 by NewAgeMan because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 11:02 PM
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reply to post by NewAgeMan
 




There is a saying though, that if you commiserate with your friend and neighbor, and he is kind hearted he will thank you, but if he is hard hearted, he will scorn you.


Enjoy being lost in sayings, enjoy being lost in other peoples words. You have eyes, you have a brain. Think for yourself. Put everything you have been taught next to everything you have thought and the answer will become clear to you. It is irrelevant what you think there is when you are aware of what is, and what is, is definately none of this new age, hippy bullcrap.



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 11:04 PM
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reply to post by Zamini
 


Ah c'mon, that's ridiculous, and very hurtful, unneccessarily so. Don't ASSUME, you can't project like that on me.



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 11:09 PM
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reply to post by NewAgeMan
 


For me the stages went like this:

Fundamentalist Pentecostal -> Old Earth Creationist -> Deist -> Pantheist -> Agnostic-Atheist

I generally get along with deists and pantheists as their beliefs usually don't have any big impact on their decisions and standings on various social issues. That being said there are plenty of normal Christians who I would be just fine with and there are several Christians right here on ATS who are on my friends list. Its the fundamentalists and creationists who bother me, having come from that mindset and escaped before getting too deep in it I feel it only right I do what I can to combat the ignorance of others who are being misled.
edit on 21-12-2010 by Titen-Sxull because: (no reason given)

edit on 21-12-2010 by Titen-Sxull because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 11:36 PM
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Isn't it about having enough tolerance for things you might not understanding and allowing yourself some ground for acceptance?... which allows more of a capacity for love and that direction that you think things are going in- progression. I could think of scenarios where it could be a pivotal factor. I think I understand, basically... but it seems to be more apparent from particular perspectives than it does from others... or so I would imagine.
Perhaps it's not possible for all to have that perspective, but as for where it counts, it does. Perhaps progressing the circumstances we were given to work with or if it's all about chance and misfortune is equally weighed with fortune... the it's still not a bad idea as a way of life.
I don't think I understand the rest of the argument, whatever it was. I don't know where that's going.



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 11:38 PM
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Originally posted by Titen-Sxull
reply to post by NewAgeMan
 


For me the stages went like this:

Fundamentalist Pentecostal -> Old Earth Creationist -> Deist -> Pantheist -> Agnostic-Atheist


Yes, but can you still speak in tongues?

Sounds like the more you discovered, the more you realized you didn't know, which, according to this thesis, is admirable.

M Scott Peck was the first I think to suggest that there is no real distinction between psychological and spiritual growth, and so from that perspective, you sound very healthy to me.

I believe that people must be absolutely free, and even any sort of "spiritual" practice or belief system is absolutely worthless, if it has no love, where love to be love, must be free! In other words we were created to be free, and in that freedom, to freely discover whatever there might be to discover. Personally I think that God had faith in us, that eventually we'd find him, somewhere, somehow! But, that's just my own personal sneaking suspicion, nothing anyone else would have to accept or believe.

I suppose I am to a degree also trying to show people how a loving Christian might appear or show up in the world, not with a sword, but a hand extended in friendship first and foremsot, and that's what Jesus himself was like and had in mind.

Horrifying the degree to which some will go however, to win a convert.. YIKES!

So in part I wanted people to get a better sense for where some among us are coming from, that's all really, and otherwise it's entirely up to each person, as a freely created beings in creation. I honor that. Have to, there's no choice in the matter!


And then in that new space created, then there's the real possibility for real and authentic love, and mutual sharing, and increasing understanding and mutual friendship.

Utter simplicity, on the far side of the complexity.

But my mind aint about to go back to the shape it used to have, I can never undo my Christian experience, and why would I want to, since for me, that's the best part of who I really am.


edit on 21-12-2010 by NewAgeMan because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 11:44 PM
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reply to post by NewAgeMan
 


Seriously, you hippy, grow the F up. The world doesn't work like your fairy tales. You are born with your own mind yeh? Think real hard! WHY ARE YOU BETRAYING YOUR OWN THOUGHTS?

Just for people to take words as hurtful shows how inexperienced you are at life. All the while insulting those who have gone through a tough life with your hippy views. Get real.



posted on Dec, 21 2010 @ 11:44 PM
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reply to post by NewAgeMan
 




Yes, but can you still speak in tongues?


Actually I can still do it, I typically get the urge to when I'm listening to music that is hitting the right emotional buttons. There's nothing supernatural about Glossolalia (tongues). What most people call spiritual I just think of as part of the mind, part of the human experience, sure its there and its real enough but it isn't supernatural.



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