a) Now we have left the Witness community, and are hop[e]fully developing critical thinking skills, how has this effected your beliefs in God?
Mentally and/or emotionally acknowledging the existence of G-d is neither logical nor efficacious. If G-d exists then it stands to reason that more of a response than mere acknowledgment that there is a G-d is called for.
An orphan doesn’t benefit much from acknowledging they have parents they have never met. The orphan can “believe” in the existence of their parents and have “faith” they are out there, but this does little to change the status of an orphan. What would actually matter is if the orphan did something about the possibility of their parents still be out there and able to be contacted. An orphan who goes out and finds their parents changes their status from being an orphan. But if upon locating where their parents can be found, the orphan desires not to meeting them but merely have faith in their existence then nothing has changed.
To disbelieve in G-d is pretty much the same thing. It means nothing to disbelieve in that which doesn’t exist. I don’t believe in the boogey man, but that is easy to say and do because there is no such thing as “the boogey man.” Saying that you don’t believe in a G-d that you also believe is fiction is like saying you don’t believe that Scarlett O’Hara was ever a real person. Scarlett O’Hara was never, ever a real person, so it does little to claim a disbelief in someone that was never ever there to believe in to begin with.
What rarely if ever gets discussed is disbelieving in a G-d one knows is there. What also gets talked about rarely is how one can disbelieve in something that doesn’t exist since it has to exist on some level in order to be rejected. And there’s also the subject of why “belief” in things or the lack of “belief” has any bearing on their existence.
That being said…
b) Do you think it wrong to dismiss intuition over analytical thinking?
I cannot see the value of my intuition as it was my “gut feelings” that got my caught up with the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the first place. I was one of those who claimed to have found a “ring of truth” in their teachings—and it does seem to have that if you don’t know any better. I was just a teenager at the time, anyway.
But I also know that you can’t go through life being analytical about everything. I can attest to the truth behind the illustration of the lover who demands proof of your love for them. When they ask “do you love me?” you won’t get far in proving to them that you do if you only offer analytical evidence. A scientific report offered to your sweetheart won’t get you that romantic evening you were hoping for in such a situation.
The whole G-d concept is like that. It isn’t about being scientific. But one cannot approach it honestly without using reason and critical thinking. It’s a holistic sort of thing.
I think Christianity and the Western world and society that came from it has convinced too many people that the G-d concept is an “either/or” scenario. You “either” believe in G-d and leave behind all reason “or” you dismiss G-d because when you accept reason and likewise dismiss everything else it means to be human, like using intuition.
Sorry, but my “either/or” days of living a life of ambiguity intolerance and compartmentalization are over. That is the JW way of doing things.
Life has to be accepted and lived and embraced on its own terms. That means you can’t let preconceived ideas interfere with your “tasting things for yourself.”
Accepting G-d does not mean rejecting analytical thinking. Just ask the Roman Catholic priest that developed and introduced the big bang theory, Georges Lemaître. Do you know how many atheists I’ve spoken to who have no idea that a theist developed this now widely embraced theory?
And rejecting G-d does not mean that one rejects spirituality or the transcendent. Many non-theists employ various approaches to life which can be described as spiritual. Some religions like Buddhism and Judaism even allow for adherents to be atheist. The idea that atheists somehow stop being as human as the rest of society or give up culture or ritual is totally absurd.
It’s all about balance.