How do you find faith or belief ?

Wow. Just wow. You make words into things of beauty.

Sorry for the delay in replying…

Ok, that’s the part I don’t get: why the compulsion to leave ripples? Why can’t the quiet, comfortable life be an end unto itself?

Maybe this is just something that’s different for everyone: some are content to accept life for what it is, others need some kind of deeper meaning. I guess it’s whatever gets us through the night, eh?

Maybe for you that’s what it is, but Squaffle’s only in his 30s…no “mid-life crisis” excuse there. :wink:

You mean I can’t use that excuse ?? :smack:

Actually, although it’s called mid-life, is it actually age related, or more down to circumstance ? I mean, I am married, have the house, job etc. No kids, but I’m sure they bring along their own very special crisis’.

I have certainly quit my ‘young’ days, as is evident from a lot of my ideals changing. I don’t consider myself as ‘old’, so perhaps I am in the conceptual middle of my life ?

(The most depressing thought I have is that I am still supposed to work for more years than I have yet lived.)

You don’t find faith, faith finds you.

Yeah, it’s totally an individual thing. I just feel like it would be so selfish to just be comfortable. That I’m just squandering resources. That I wanna leave a positive impact on someone. (which could be a spouse but I’m unlikely to get married) I sorta developed a fear of dying alone in my apartment and having my cats being forced to eat me to survive. :slight_smile: I’m kinda channeling this right now by getting involved in coaching teenagers so at least I feel like I’m having a little bit of an influence.

Hey! I’m only in my 30’s too! You do realize that, technically, 35 is middle-aged? Although, my primary goal beyond all this stuff is to live to be 120+ so I’m more like 1/3-aged…

I vote for age-related. I don’t have any of the “classic” tied down strings (no house, spouse, kids, or even car payments) and I’m still feelin’ it. I think it has to do with finally realizing life is finite and having to decide what you want to do with it, whether it’s to just be comfortable, to be famous, get married and have kids, travel the Outback, or finally master Japanese.

If you want instant direction, purpose and meaning in life, start a family. Becoming a parent is the best thing that can happen to you in life.

This can be achieved without having kids, but it’s not the same.

The world really is made up of two kinds of people: Those that have kids, and those that don’t. *

  • If you don’t want to raise a family, that’s cool, there is nothing wrong with that.

I don’t really believe in the idea of a ‘mid-life crisis,’ I think it’s different for everyone: some people have a harder time turning 30 than 40, others do all of their freaking out in their 50s, etc.

Heh…I’m just about to pass that mark: I turn 33 in a couple months, which means only 32 more years until the magic age of 65. Though I have a feeling that by the time I turn 60, the retirement age will be closer to 75… :frowning:

I guess I see that as more of a natural desire to ‘give back’ than as a need for meaning/direction. Maybe I’m content with my generally aimless, directionless, religion-less, long-term-plan-less existence because I’ve been involved with various volunteer activities since college?

Actually, technically, middle-aged is closer to 40…especially for women. :slight_smile:

Wow…I feel like I’ve somehow been insulted (because I’m really not sure if I should have kids), but in the nicest way possible…and without really being insulted…I’m so confused… :wink:

I apologize for taking so long to respond. I had to get into the proper frame of mind to write, and then to let it set, so that I could see whether it really said what I wanted it to say, and in a way likely to be understood. I am not always that readily understood when I don’t. I am not now, nor have I ever been, the “proselytizing” kind, so it is difficult for me to do this. :slight_smile: <sigh>

I am going to start out in what might seem a very peculiar place. However, I think it will become clear why I have done so.

Logical proofs fall into three basic categories: direct, indirect, or ontological. Proofs in mathematics can only be direct, if they are to be taken as final. However, there are some indirect proofs which are used, when a direct proof cannot be made. For any proof, one must go step by step through axioms (statements commonly accepted as already proven or highly obvious) or other statements already proven (evidence, rather than axioms, is used in some kinds of proof, e.g., scientific; for example, the proof that some disease is caused by a particular organism must first satisfy a procedure known as Koch’s Postulate). Each step must contribute some “necessary” condition for the final, “proven” statement. When you have all of the necessary conditions, the sum of them is called “sufficient” (for some things, a single statement, object, or piece of evidence is enough; these are called “necessary and sufficient”).

There are no objective (i.e., direct, as opposed to indirect or ontological) proofs of the existence of a deity. There are several ontological proofs of the existence of a deity. However, I don’t think there is anyone nowadays, except, perhaps, in seminaries, who really accepts these. Students of philosophy are introduced to ontological proofs when they study ancient philosophers (e.g., Plato). So philosophy professors whose area of expertise is one of the ancient or medieval schools of philosophy seem inclined to accept ontological proofs. I find them not only unacceptable, but singularly unsatisfying.

There is a fourth type of proof, which is termed “subjective”. What this means is that the person constructing the proof has evidence or logic which s/he finds “sufficient”, although this evidence is something which would be legally termed “hearsay” when presented to others. I am a Christian because I have had numerous subjective proofs of the existence of a deity. This type of Christianity is called “experiential”. And I can offer you a means whereby, if you are sincere in asking, you can receive subjective proof of your own.

My belief that this will provide the sincere seeker with a personal proof is based first, on prior experience, and second, on two selections from the New Testament (Christian Bible). The first is Hebrews 13:8[sup]1[/sup]. The second is John 20:27-29[sup]2[/sup]. It was about 15 years ago that I came to this conclusion. For many years I felt that I fell into the same category as Thomas, and that we were somehow inferior Christians. But one day as I was reading that passage, I had what Christians call a revelation. I realized that the passage did not say that those of us who need some proof are not blessed; it merely says that those who believe without evidence are more blessed.

Here is the reasoning that I use to connect the two: If Jesus is the same today as when he first rose from the dead, he can give proof today to someone who needs it in order to believe (and who wants it for that reason, not just to have some religious experience). All that is necessary is for the person who wants to believe, but needs a reason for it, to ask sincerely. He does not promise you can have the experience Thomas had; he only promises that he will give you evidence.

If the idea of Christianity appeals to you, the following is how you can discover whether it will fulfill the need you feel. It is not a matter of believing in order to get an answer; it is merely a matter of being sincere when you ask, no more and no less. It quite probably will NOT work for anyone who is merely curious, and minded to experiment.

Two things are involved: First get a New Testament (or a whole Bible, if you prefer). If you are not prepared to making this investment, you can go to one of the many websites which offer the Bible online.

In any case, make sure that the translation you read is one which you can understand. I am personally very fond of the King James version, but it is not readily comprehensible to anyone who has not had a prior acquaintance with, mmm, the language of Shakespeare. The English language has changed dramatically in the last 400 years, and unprepared readers of the KJV often arrive at quite mistaken views of what some passages actually mean. The New International Version is a very good, and very readable, translation. I own a study Bible in this translation, and find it very useful. The Jerusalem Bible (a Catholic translation) is also fairly easy reading, although you probably won’t find the Jerusalem Bible free online. I find the language of the Contemporary English Version to be a decent representation in modern language of the content. The Analytical-Literal translation is also adequate, although you may be frustrated by the passages where it gives several alternate translations of a single word or short phrase. But please don’t get the Living Bible. It is a paraphrase, NOT a translation.

One of the sites is here (I have taken you direct to the NIV version; the New Testament begins more than 2/3 of the way down. If you have room on your hard drive, you could also go to eSword, which offers downloads of a variety of translations (including the CEV and Analytical-Literal). An additional advantage of eSword is that it offers all kinds of “helps” (i.e., commentaries, dictionaries <including Greek and Hebrew>, maps, and even some <very old> devotionals. It’s a great resource site for Christians, or for those who wish to study (protestant) Christianity.

Having acquired access to a translation of the New Testament that you can read with comprehension, I ask that you read at least the first chapter of the gospel of John before going to the second step. This reading requirement is not weird. If you were to investigate any other religion, a proper member of that religion would encourage you to read at least some of the sacred writings of theirs (most would insist). In general, it is to give you some basis for understanding what is said next. In the case of Christianity, its core is the person and meaning of Jesus.

Then get by yourself, so that you won’t feel silly talking to someone who is not visible to you, and whom you have as yet no reason to actually believe is there. Then you speak to God. Tell him that you want to believe, but you need him to give you some reason to believe. You should also ask whether Jesus actually was God come in flesh so humans could see him, so that at some future time you will know that it is Christianity, and not some other monotheistic religion, which has been confirmed to you.

If anyone, OP or merely reader, finds themself in need of help for “what now?”, send me an email. I will help you find the kind of Christian church which will suit your personal needs. :slight_smile: Why do I say this? It is because I was raised Pentecostal, but I am not the “demonstrative” type. After many years, I wound up in an evangelical Presbyterian church, which I found suited my public worship style much better. I am firmly of the opinion that the reason many people leave church entirely is because they were in a church which was unsuited to their needs.
[sup]1[/sup]Heb 13:8 Jesus Christ never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Contemporary English Version)

[sup]2[/sup]John 20:27-29 and said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands! Put your hand into my side. Stop doubting and have faith!”
Thomas replied, “You are my Lord and my God!”
Jesus said, “Thomas, do you have faith because you have seen me? The people who have faith in me without seeing me are the ones who are really blessed!” (CEV)

I think that direct ontological realists would disagree with you.

You’ve apparently missed the second half of the twentieth century. Especially Plantinga, Hartshorne, Suber, et al.

Squaffle - can I suggest going to see a career counsellor? (I’m a trained career counseller BTW)
You seem to have reached one of those stages in life when you need change because your values are now at odds with your current work/life situation. I say work/life because, they are very much linked on many levels.
It is interesting to know that if you ask most people what their dream jobs are, they can tell you. What is your dream job? Where would you like to be and what would you like to be doing? Is this something you could be working towards now?
Also, most people have something that is stopping them from making the changes - what is stopping you from making changes? How can you break through this barrier?
You have partially addressed these questions in your previous posts (fear, feelings of having achieved what you wanted but it turned out to be not what you wanted, not wanting to upset your wife’s new life) and you have also shown that you have somewhat of an action plan already in place (you are networking, thinking about voluntary work, taking up hobbies etc.)
If you haven’t already read it, I recommend ‘What colour is your parachute’ by Richard Bowles. Some of the activities in it may also help you to get more focus on what it is that you would like to be doing.

I think one’s ability to “find” faith has everything to do with the person doing the searching.

I don’t think I could find faith very easily. I’m too skeptical. I don’t really “believe” anything, and I’m not prone to belief. I have high levels of confidence in some things, but that’s a lot different than faith. There aren’t many things in this world that I would consider unassailable truths (except for things like, you know, we are on a planet, and that planet’s gravity keeps me stuck to it; things for which the testable evidence is overwhelming). Unquestioning belief is something I’m just not prone to. It really would take a miracle for me to believe in God (though I don’t discount God’s existence out-of-hand); so God is going to have to raise somebody from the dead or part a sea or something of that order right in front of me, or I’m going to have serious doubts.

If you’re like me, I’d probably just give up now and wait for maybe a lightning bolt to strike you and scramble your brain somehow. If you’re spiritual, you’ll probably just come across something that “feels right” after a while, and you won’t really question it; it’s seeming goodness will be all the proof you need. You’re in a receptive state anyway, so the search probably won’t be any more difficult than finding a mate, which is tough, but far from impossible. I guess you’re only problem might be if you find more than one doctrinaire approach to worship appealing, because you’ll then have to grapple with their mutual exclusivity. You can’t, for instance, easily be an Orthodox Jew and a Born Again Evangelical Christian at the same time (Jews for Jesus notwithstanding). Then again, there are those Unitarians and Bahai worhippers, which give you a lot of flexibility; the less dogma the better with those folks, it seems.

Anway, it’s a buyers market out there as far as faith goes, and there seems to be as many choices for the pilgrim as outfits in a department store. You’ll find something; or maybe missionaries will find you. Either way, if you want it, and can believe it, you’re bound to get it one way or another.

Belatedly . . .

I don’t have any such belief; I don’t see any more of a reason to believe that than to believe that my boyfriend is the one true boyfriend. Finding a faith, if any, is as individual a process as falling in love or finding the perfect job. I don’t know terribly many people who do hold such a belief, either, but that’s arguably because my religion is very important to me and the sort of person who considers it a cheap fake is not going to be someone I will want to spend much time with.

If you want to find a religion, go out and look. Some of the ones out there will be couched in terms that are contrary to your experience of the world, or presume principles that you think are wrong. Some of the ones will probably be so-so. Perhaps you’ll find a few that do seem to be talking about your experiences, dealing with your concerns, founded in a worldview like your own. Some of them, also, will probably have sets of principles which, if you were to try to live according to those concepts, would help you become a better person, while others will have strictures that seem silly to you or which do not help you with your own particular flaws.

I wouldn’t personally recommend that you go seeking out a religion just for the sake of having one. If you have experiences that you want to systematise that strike you as being religious, if you want a particular sort of structure for self-improvement or behaviour, or something similar to that, then yes, sure, that makes sense. But looking for religion in order to construct purpose strikes me as risky; the sorts of folks who seem to me to be most likely to promise Purpose come across to me as religious predators, people who want followers they can direct and take advantage of.

Instead, I’d ask: what do you want? You have a good job that you hate, you say; what would a good job that you love look like? Have you ever had impulses that went something like, “I want to quit my job and [ spend my time playing jazz in bars | write that novel | go hiking in the Alps | join the Peace Corps | teach basket-weaving to underprivileged children ].” If so, is there something that you can do to deal with that urge, like the occasional bar gig, or saving up money and vacation time to do that hiking trip? Have you ever wished that you’d studied a foreign language, learned how to disassemble and reassemble your car, painted with watercolour?

Find something that speaks to you. It may be that something religious will be something that speaks to you; it may be that something else will be what you need to balance yourself. (It may be that studying various religions and theologies speaks to you, without the need to adopt any, too.)

I think you have just discovered why it is that vocal, heavily religious people have a hard time getting respect from the intellectual bunch. Many people accept a particular religion not because they have carefully studied the various belief systems out there to see what meshes best with them but instead allowed themselves to be swayed by a charasmatic speaker or idea. Or perhaps they are a reciepient of a “hand-me-down” religion from mom and dad and are just too scared to deviate from what they were taught. I often feel sort of empty and would love to be able to put my faith in one religion or another, but the thinking part of me won’t allow it. I guess I’m a true agnostic, I don’t believe you can know for sure one way or the other and therefore it makes no sense to blindly devote yourself to any particular belief and call it faith. Either way I don’t think any of the major religions have it right, we’re all guessing here.

The best way to find blind faith is to become a Scientist. Then you can believe in things like the Lumineferous Ether while patting yourself on the back for being more enlightened that those poor, deluded Religous folks. :smiley:

But to answer your question: There’s only one way to find Faith, and it’s the same way you find anything else- want it, then look for it. I hate to say this, because I know I’ll ruffle some feathers , but faith in God does NOT come from the Bible. Or the Koran, or Torah, or the Book of Mormon, or Dianetics, or anyplace else.

It comes from the spirit of God working through Man. Moses didn’t have the Bible to refer to when he led Israel out of Egypt. Jesus didn’t have the New Testement to give him the Sermon on the Mount.

The scriptures say “How know you the Master you have not served?”- and that’s probably one of the best bits of advice ever given, on ANY topic. If a man wants to know God, then he should live by God’s rules for a while. If you want Faith, serve God, and He’ll give it to you.

Weeeeel, it’s not that simple. If you’re behaving responsibly as a scientist, you might have a high level of confidence in the existence of a luminiferous aether, and you might well pat yourself on the back for being so clever as to have come to understand some aspect of nature, but that’s different than “faith”. Any scientist who has “faith” in anything has stopped being scientific at that point. That’s not to say scientists don’t have faith in things, even things that belong in the realm of scientists. That’s just not a scientific approach to understanding the world. In nearly every instance you see “faith” entering into science, it gets the faithful scientist in trouble, because they cannot let go of mistaken notions. Some people had a very hard time letting go of the aether. Some positivists had a verry difficult time accepting that there were atoms. But some scientists (I would go so far as to say the good scientists), looked at the evidence, said “well, the aether hypothesis isn’t valid”, and went about their business coming to grips with Relativity.

Since I’ve known scientists who were both faithful and not, I would say if you are a scientist, there’s no reason to change your job, but if you aren’t, there’s no reason to adopt that career path. Again, I think, for the spiritual, there’s just something about the person that makes them “receptive” to unquestioning belief in the numinous, that can then be fostered within the framework of some-or-other religious doctrine, if need be. I think for faithful scientists, they are able to operate because they can divide their approach to the world in two: Their beliefs are, by definition, off limits to skeptical assault; but they function as skeptics on the subset of problems their job requires them to. A good example of a pseudoscientist is one who lets their faith dictate their approach to formulating scientific hypothesis. Creation “theorists” would fall neatly into this category.

That’s not how I feel about faith, but the same could be said about it and hypnotism: people cannot be hypnotized against their will, and I know that I could never be hypnotized because I would never let it happen.

Because I already see the potential for being misunderstood: to clarify, I am NOT saying that faith and hypnotism are the same thing, nor am I implying in any way that the faithful have been ‘hypnotized’ or ‘brainwashed’ or anything – I’m just saying that faith and hypnotism are both things that cannot happen to a person if they are not open to them.

As opposed to a false agnostic? :wink:

Sorry, just giving you a hard time. I don’t like it when people say things like “I’m a true agnostic” or “I’m a real Democrat” (etc.) because those are things you either are or are not. IMHO, of course. :smiley:


Such is life. You mean you didn’t recognize that I’m not - never was - a student of philosophy? I enjoyed reading Bertrand Russell when I was a teenager, and I took a course on Plato in the 1980s, although it was in that class on Plato that I developed my full-blown allergy to ontological reasoning. These facts are entirely insufficient to make me a philosophy student, however. OTOH, I did search on ontology, and found a page at Stanford, and another at the University of Washington that seem to be more to my taste … as opposed to yours? :dubious: I trust you appreciate that this is a matter open to much debate. I’m not looking to argue.

My entire intent was to present to the OP in a rational way the (IMO) fact that it is not possible for my (or anyone’s) experience, logic or persuasion to impart faith to another person (inspire is another matter, but I didn’t aim that high, not in this context), despite the fact that many people are persuaded to believe by particularly fervent sermonizing. My sincere hope was that he might find this empirical method to be workable for him. In my experience, those who are too readily persuaded often change their minds later on. It probably qualifies as a variant of “buyer’s remorse.” I trust you note I’m differentiating between inspiring and persuading?

Since the OP wanted to know what made me (or any other respondent) believe, I had to answer on that basis. I couldn’t answer on the basis of your beliefs, nor those of the individuals you mention.

I have bookmarked the site you linked, and may actually try to read it for understanding at some future date. Stranger things have happened.

In any case … if I offended you, I apologize. Pax :slight_smile:

“To give your life purpose” is probably the worst reason to have kids, because if you have kids & STILL find yourself drifting, what then? You’ve just given yourself more passengers on the boat your drifting in

There IS a very explicitly Christian book by Rick Warren- THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE, which may be helpful. I’d say check it out in a library or skim it in a bookstore before buying (tho it’s only about $20 at most & around $12 at large retailers), because it’s written for people who are already Christian.

Conversely, I re-read Ayn Rand’s ANTHEM this week- When you get to the revealed purpose of life at the end of that book, your reaction will definitely indicate whether a quest for faith is what you want. Her answer is quite attractive & has its points, but also has some severe limitations.

Biblically, I’d say start with two books- Genesis (forget the scientific debate, just read it as a book about people & God) & one of the Gospels- probably Matthew (it gives a good overview of Jesus’s teaching, unlike Mark, & ministry w/o getting overly theological, unlike John) & ask yourself- does this resonate with me? Are these people I can relate to? And is the God spoken about here one I can believe in & trust?

Praying for faith is good too. And faith is best defined, not as blind belief, or intellectual assent, but as personal trust which neither negates nor is bound to reason.

Btw, as a Christian, I should give a better plug for JC.

Just read the first four Gospels & ask yourself what exactly was up with this guy?
And how does his words & deeds relate to your life?

Once you come to a conclusion on those, whatever path you take from there may well become obvious.


Agnostic basically has two definitions: one who is unsure about the existance of a deity, and one who thinks it is impossible to know if a deity exists. The second was the definition given to the word when it was coined by Thomas Huxley. Bongmaster was saying he’s an agnostic by the original definition of the word.

Correct me if I’m wrong about that, Bongmaster :slight_smile:

As for the thread itself… I’m an atheist, but I agree with what FriarTed said about reading the Gospels. I’ve done so, and didn’t find faith by doing so, but your mileage may vary. I also recommend reading other theistic works, even if they’re just “Buddhism for Dummies” or the like. If you want faith, feel free to go looking, it’s no skin off my back. I can’t personally believe in things without evidence, but if you want to do so (or to see things as evidence that I don’t or can’t see as evidence), feel free (provided you don’t decide to force your new-found religion on others, of course :)).