I can really identify with so many of your words Cap.
I too want to be rational but I also want to make very sure that I am happy. I worked (slaved may be a better word} as a Witness and as it turns out....
well, I dont have to tell you the rest of THAT sentence - you are well aware.
I have read here for 4 years now and have carefully observed the thoughts, feelings and reactions of others. They are uniquely like me in that they have been going through "losing my religion" just like me. I have especially been keen on looking for others thoughts on growth.
The only way I cannot be bitter about so many "lost" (not really sure they are) years serving the Organizations interests is to think of it as "part" of the whole picture without being THE whole picture.
It feels a little like a free fall and of course the instinct is to "grab on" to a new belief system.
That would be a mistake I think. I am finally working myself free of a heavily controlled environment. I am supposed to feel conflict. I am supposed to feel "lost". I am reacting appropriately. I dont want to rush this stage.
But this time around I have more tools to carve out a life with than I did before the JW experience.
So while I am looking for rational, I think that is a reaction to so much irrational. Like wanting a wholesome meal after too much cotton candy. Its a "re-action" not an action.
Recognizing that need as a craving for balance,I personally dont want to leap wholly in to that feeling and create a future imbalance.
Science is fine. We learn a lot from it. and while you are right, they dont fill in the gaps with irrational tales. there is a dirty little secret that gives me caution. Most science comes out of university affiliations. Most science is funded. As you know, when anything is" funded" there is a subtle pressure to deliver.
The world of academia has its share of drama and corruption just as any area where big money gets involved.
So what to do? For me, I am still reading, still analyzing the thoughts of others here. This place is good medicine that way.
I havent found anything to latch on to or "replace" yet but I am getting more comfortable with the idea it may take some time.
What I am not doing is vacillating. I am forming a mental list of what my personal future needs to look like. You mentioned "wanting to believe". I call that feeling "wanting to be happy", Happy defined as deep contentment and purpose.
So while I pay careful attention to everyones posts, I look between the lines to see if they seem to have acquired that kind of happy. Some will readily tell you they have not. I trust that response as it is very honest and is where I find myself currently.
What I dont give much heed to is anyone who claims to have found all the answers in one area.
I am glad that works for them but I suspect that is replacing one "religion" with another in many ways.
I am searching for something that combines it all. The scientific realities, the mysterious things that have no name and no explanation, the recognition that as humans we are still embryonic in our knowledge of the universe we inhabit.
I dont mind looking a while. Like Tolkien said, "not all who wander are lost".