I don’t know quite how to word this, so bear with me please.
I was thinking about religious faith. I have seen people who proclaim to have devout following of (a) God who feel it their duty as a faithful person too scour their faith for knowledge, to learn as much as they can about their religion and how it relates to the world around them - the past, the present, and even other religions.
I have also seen people who think that having true faith is simply having faith. They feel no real need to explore, because they already… well, have faith! I believe that some Christians call it a “child-like faith” in their religion, and it takes the literal definition of the word into account. As in, I have faith this is true, so I have no real need to think otherwise.
Now, I realize that on this board, the latter definition is repugnant for many, but again, I can see both ways being effective for a faithful person: In one case, true faith requires scrutiny, and in the other, you have faith and you don’t need to scrutinize.
Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts on this…
TIME ELAPSED SINCE I QUIT SMOKING:
Three months, three weeks, 5 hours, 46 minutes and 30 seconds.
4489 cigarettes not smoked, saving $561.20.
Life saved: 2 weeks, 1 day, 14 hours, 5 minutes.
My own opinion is that True Faith requires a certain level of apathy… that is, not caring whether or not you may be wrong. You’d need to completely remove the idea from your mind that other possibilities, other paths different from your own, exist. The acknowledgement of this possibility is roughly equivalent to having a doubt about your faith, and doubting, of course, isn’t what True Faith is all about.
(By the way… when I say “True Faith”, I’m referring to the fanatical, “I’m right and that’s final” sort of dedication to a religion)
I have a huge amount of faith, but my faith in a higher power doesn’t involve anything anyone told me to believe, or anything I wrote in a book, or anything else. I had my own personal experience with God (or something very like it) and I base my faith on that.
I don’t feel the need to make anyone else feel what I feel. Why should I? I had my own experience, and no one else was there, so I can’t make anyone else feel it…and considering the experience and what I got out of it, whatever being or entity I had contact with KNOWS that no one else will get what I got through hearing about it. I mean, it was a personal experience.
Anyone who wants to can tell me I’m deluded. Okay. I don’t go to church, I’m not a Bible-reader (and quite honestly there’s not much in there that would do me any good…I have read it a few times but I use it mostly as a reference work for debates), and I don’t consider myself any form whatsoever of “Christian.” If you say, “You’re delusional! There’s no God, or Higher Power…” I’ll say, “Ok.” My faith does not depend on others to help me believe it.
Inasmuch as faith requires an irrational act, I’ve always seen all faith as willfully apathetic, although it can be to a very small degree. Although the ability to maintain a belief in the unknowable requires a break between the logical and illogical, people of faith find that break self-evidently obvious and right, based on their own experience. There is a belief that science and reason can only go so far, and one can only find faith outside the realms of scientific accuracy. They can therefore be unconcerned about the basis of their faith, as it cannot be proven or disproven.
The degree to which one is willing to examine one’s faith determines the level of apathy which must be maintained in order to preserve the basis for belief. The more inquisitive one is, the more “exploratory” one can be about one’s beliefs. Not coincendentally, this “exploratory” or “inquisitive” faith is held by those who are confident in their beliefs, and willing to challenge them and learn how to make their faith stronger. They just do not challenge the central tenet of their faith - that basic dichotomy of logic vs. illogic that provides their basis of belief in the unknowable.
Those who are less confident in their beliefs fall into the latter category of “child-like” faith. This type of belief requires much apathy as it cannot withstand challenge of any sort. Any questions raised to this person will be answered with scripture quotes or “mysterious ways” comments. There will be no debate, no challenge, no learning (“Jesus said it, I believe it, that settles it!”). It has been my sad experience that people of this “child-like” faith tend to be not very intelligent.
As is evident, I’m all for the inquisitive type. The unexamined life not being worth living, and all.
I consider myself a person of strong faith. I even think I’m a Christian, insomuch as I believe a person named Jesus did indeed live and do great things, and he lived his life in a way that I, personally, would like to emulate.
I believe some of Jesus’ life and philosophies have been chronicled in The Bible, but I also think that much of that Biblical message has been corrupted and actually made self-contradictory at points, by people who long ago saw the text as a means of furthering their own political agenda.
Now, finally, to get back to the OP …
I personally see faith, like anything else worthwhile in life (knowledge, science, love, etc.) as something that must continue to evolve. The quest must go on for more information and greater personal understanding. While some truths have proven unwavering and universal (‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ comes to mind), we are only denying ourselves a potentially more profound faith experience when we say, “No, this is the way it is, and that’s that.”
The way Jesus uses the word “faith” in the Gospels, he generally uses it to describe the act of relying on God for your food, clothing, and shelter; as opposed to using unfaithful means of aquiring them. As this is an act brought about by others acts as a leap toward faith, I do not see how this can be something which can evolve or the like.
Faith is a hope for things which are not seen, but are true. If everyone could readily see beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is the Son of God, then there would be no need for faith. In order to be real faith; however, one needs to be sure that what one is believing is true, so extensive study of the situation is imperative. On the other hand, if it could be proven with research it wouldn’t be faith. Therefore, I believe there is a certain amount of personal revelation involved to confirm its truth.
In the Jewish religion, both these levels of faith are acknowledged. The “simple faith” is considered a lower level than the “researched faith” that you refer to, as the “researched faith” person has a greater understanding of the nuances of G-d’s ways.
However, in the end, even the “researched faith” person needs to have a measure of “simple faith.” The fact is, a human being will not be able to answer every question he ever thinks of. A faithful person, at this higher level, must still have enough simple faith to accept that some things are beyond his grasp and trust that his faith is true.
First, the Hamadarling said very succinctly two-thirds of what I intended to post when I started reading this. (Missed opportunities: I wish she’d posted to the C&L threads…anybody who chose that screen name for the reason she did, and posted what she did above, is someone I could learn a lot from!)
As JMullaney noted above, for me “faith” is the placing of trust in a Person whom I know to love me and whom I love. This would be my key definition of “faith.” Unfortunately, as he pointed out elsewhere, you need to define your terms. Faith in what God? Why? And that is where the creeds come in. “Jesus? Sure, good guy. His brother Mattie was a better ballplayer, though – and Moises is so far showing both of the older generation up!” So you get the intricate theologies trying to explain what we think we know about this God who supposedly revealed Himself in Jesus of Nazareth and so on, or of Whom Mohammed was the Prophet par excellence, or who let the Children of Israel out of bondage to be His people, or Who wages eternal war on the Spirit of Evil, ad saecula saeculorum. And sometimes the idea of “faith” (=childlike trust in God) gets lost in the hairsplitting quibbles of theology.
But at rock bottom, I believe in the God Who loves me. Because He loves me, and revealed Himself to me. He’s quite adequate to clean up the details of Who exactly He is, thanks, although I enjoy a good debate as much as the next guy, and have my own theories.
To translate from the Libertarian, “don’t be so hung up on your chrome-plated equipment and your esoteric chemicals that you miss the lowly Penicillium mold growing on the bread that will give you the cure you’re seeking for.”
A really good point. And something of the answer I was looking for over on another thread I started. The proof is there; we’re just not looking with the right viewpoint.
To add to Liberatian’s point, why should faith (in and of itself) be considered “irrational” or “illogical”? Surely it depends on the beliefs involved. And judging whether a belief is rational or irrational requires that you rely on some definition, which ultimately relies on faith. I happen to have a belief system in which logic plays a large role, but when it comes down to it, I have faith in logic, science, laws of nature, etc.
I don’t agree that acknowlegement of other possibilities is the same a doubt, or that doubt indicates a lack of faith. In fact, doubt can indicate a stronger faith than blind acceptance.
I may have all the faith in the world that angels fill the air. I cannot prove it. But I have faith in it. Does the fact that I cannot prove it make it a false premis? No. Does it make it true though? Again, no. Thus, what remains is simply an unproven theorem and speculation. Is that basis enough to establish an entire philosophy and and a system of beliefs? I maintain that it is not.
Now, science may not yield the answers as quickly as we’d like. Often it does not even yield the answers we want at all. Sometimes it answers a question which was never asked. Sometimes, the answer is so obvious we keep looking around for a more profound or complex solution. But once understood and applied, the answers are repeatable and consistant. That is the basis on which further knowledge and understanding of the human condition may be built.
Furthermore, science works whether you are christian, jewish, muslim, hindu or atheist. However, history clearly shows how poorely the faithfull have managed to get along with one another.
I think we’re missing a point here. Did anyone see a movie which I cannot recall the circumstances or name of in which some character was questioned at length as to whether he loved his mother, any answer being a Catch-22 situation, Oedipal or mysogynistic? The point is much the same as in the misprision of different meanings of love that entrapped him. “Faith” can mean “non-rational certainty” or it can mean “devotion, trust.” To say that I have faith in my wife has little to do with whether I believe in her existence, but in what I believe about her character and love for me. The question of whether one has faith in God is not akin to whether one accepts the law of quantum chromodynamics or is convinced that UFOs are the spacecraft of intelligent extraterrestrial beings, but in whether one elects adherence to an entity conceived of as one’s God, whether one trusts Him with one’s life and soul. I see a huge difference here. It is not that I think Gaudere and David, for example, are in error in making a judgment regarding the putative existence of some supernatural being that we continue to banter on the subject, but that I am convinced that there is a richer, fuller relationship in store for them if they and He choose to meet. Think of me not as an evangelist but as a matchmaker.
Thanks Poly – that is exactly the explanation I was looking for. I worry many xtians, ignoring the Gospels, flip to the back, read where Paul says “faith alone” and think believing in the existence of some imaginary guy in the sky is enough for their salvation. I’m halfway through this debate on the Paul thread – unfortunately, I think the Douglas to my Lincoln went away weeping already (two out five stages of grief in his last post), but I’m going to wait and see. Like the guy whistling away happily in hell, and the devil says, “we’re just not getting through to this guy,” many people are confused about this word and won’t listen when you try to explain.