Sunday, October 25, 2009

Faith? What it means to me...

I was reading my Buddy's blog and he was responding to some people that were responding to a blog he follows (geez...how the chain of blogs goes on..) and his response stirred up some thoughts in my foggy brain (yeah it takes some doing to get through the fog) and I felt the urge to write. This may be long...but then if you are here to read my ranting it is your choice to continue or go back to your porn...or whatever it was you were doing before.

Let me begin with saying I do not PERSONNALLY accept the concept of faith. Now I know all the arguments and analogies. "You have faith in a chair when you sit in it, in the air when you breath it" I used to hear all this growing up. Well, I don't trust a chair till I have tested it, once it proves stable enough (after a couple of jolts and kicks) then I will tentatively test it. I do not trust air...I am genetically designed to use it..I do so naturally without thought..and should that air become contaminated I have no choice but to die with it.

I have several problems with faith. Let us start with a "biblical" analysis of faith. If you were to read the book of Hebrews, the Bible's own definition of faith is, "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb 11:1..I think that is the right reference). Well stop and consider that. Faith is based on hope. As I grow older I find while hope is what often keeps us going, hope, more often than not is based on a mirage. Furthermore, the second statement simply is confusing, for lack of a better word. The EVIDENCE of things not seen? Evidence of something that cannot be seen is useless evidence. If the evidence in a case points to a phantom "2nd" killer, then all it has done is cast doubt on the primary suspect's guilt.

Now on to my personal problem with faith. Faith is a blind trust in something that cannot be proven and cannot be explained. Simply put it is the exclusion of logic. It is reaching a conclusion that you cannot prove and you cannot explain so the only way to accept it is faith. For example, the existence of God. The existence of God cannot be proven or disproved. Romans chapter 1 makes mention that (and I quote) "Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:19-20) So what does this mean? If you speak to a christian they will tell you this means that nature itself teaches that there is a god and that those that refuse to see it are without excuse. Really? Where does nature teach us that there is a god? The mere existence of things beyond our understanding does not exclude all other possibilities and preclude the existence of a Divine Being. As a matter of fact, a clear and honest and open minded analysis of nature would lead me more to the eastern beliefs in reincarnation than any other form of belief since the Circle of Life is undeniable, one of the established facts of nature.

One of the biggest things that turned me away from faith was words spoken by a somebody I love very much. I am by nature a person that questions things. I continuously question what I believe. Hey, let's face it...if I am wrong and they are right then I am going to hell...after all if you keep reading in that chapter one of Romans I could be turned over to a "reprobate" (rejected, closed off) mind. And as usual the evidence of this is sexual perversion...why is it religion always comes back to sexual perversion as the evidence of "evil". Anyway, I digress...I always question things. And in my period of searching, that stage where I am trying to find answers to the questions that I could not answer, this person told me..."you think too much"....???? HUH??? how is THAT a bad thing? And here is what it comes down to...you are not allowed to question what you must accept by faith. You do not need answers, the answers are beyond your understanding...you must accept...by faith.

And there in lies the crux...if it is something that affects the eternal happiness of an individual...then I should question it...I should understand it. Remember what mom and dad used to tell you about your friends? If your friends jump off a bridge are you going to do it too? Well the answer is yes...people in religion and faith do it every day of their lives. Their friends, pastor, family, acquaintances....they all believe, they all have faith, they all jump off the bridge...so they do it too.

Another thing that affected my journey to my belief system (or lack there of) was the defensive nature of religion. If you question their faith....oh boy watch out. They become nasty defensive and overall fairly rude. In their world one of the biggest ironies is...if I was to flat out tell somebody...go to hell...they would say that is foul language...that is crude and nasty and should have your mouth cleaned out...yet...it is what they do every day of their life. If you challenge their faith, if you question their beliefs...their immediate response is that you are "going to hell". Hell is the immediate defense of those in the "christian" faith, which begs the question...do they truly believe in what they preach? or are they merely clinging onto it out of self defense and the possibility that it might be right? Either way I say to them...and they don't like it...if their God is so great and powerful...then why does he need them to defend him so jealously?

Another problem I have with faith..and more importantly...religion...is that each school of "faith" mutually exclude each other. Let us put this in context. I grew up in an old fashion, Bible believing, Bible preaching, sin hating soul loving, mission minded, King James Version only independent Baptist. My dad was and is a pastor. I was "preaching" at age thirteen and was a pastor at age 26. I was teaching theology at age 25 in a Bible Institute. So I happen to have a unique perspective on this. One of the things that I found disturbing about it all, when I began to question my faith, was that if you went to a Baptist church, the only way to heaven was to believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, accept the infallibility of the Bible and be 'washed" in the blood of Jesus, which they believe is LITERALLY in the presence of God and was shed for our forgiveness and maintained before God ( a little gruesome when you think about it). You had to accept it with full understanding that your works could not earn it or keep it but only faith in Jesus and his finished work could save you. Now, take this into consideration...this faith system effectively eliminated all other faiths from heaven. Catholic faith requires the sacred rites and obedience and essentially live good. Pentecostal / charismatics have different tenants, some believe in baptism, some believe in obedience to KEEP it. Muslims believe in Allah...and His prophet (whose name I can never spell and am too lazy right now to look it up...besides...my internet sucks tonight and it would take too long)...in short everybody...but a minute percentage of the population of the world (less the .1%) would go straight to hell!

Now that goes off the deep end to religion...so lets bring it back to the concept of faith. In short, I do not accept the concept of faith because:

(1) It requires blind acceptance
(2) When faith and logic disagree, faith must win out
(3) Faith does not allow for sincere and REAL questioning...in essence faith and doubt mutually exclude each other.
(4) Faith leads to a "herd" mentality...and herds...and flocks (which ironically is an euphemism used to refer to churches) eventually end up in the slaughter house.
(5) Faith takes my destiny out of my hands and places it in the hands of others, and what others tell me. I may make the wrong choice...but I'll be damned if somebody else is going to make the choices for me.
(6) Faith to me represents the ultimate in laziness...it is the inability of a person to search for the answers themselves..so they accept what they are spoon fed by others.


That all being said let me also add this. This is my personal views on faith. I do not enforce them on others, I do not even discuss them with a person unless they insist. I respect everybody's right to their own system of belief. I believe in many ways faith is a coping mechanism. People that could not deal with life find a way to deal with it, and faith is often that coping mechanism. With out faith we would have chaos, without religion we would have anarchy. They serve a purpose in the very fabric and structure of society. It is why even the most primitive of cultures all have a system of belief...not because there is a God, but rather because we all need a a God, a divine being, somebody that is in control and we can depend on. Somebody that represents judgment on those that do those things that become the most sacred tenants of our society. Do not kill, do not steal, do not commit adultery.

The 10 commandments represent a logical development of this concept. The first commandment establishes the supremacy of God, a Being capable of judgment and of enforcing the commandments that follow...the next ones deal with how we deal with that Being and the final ones are the core expectations of any civilized society.

I could continue on and on...and probably will in other posts, but by now...you probably went back to your porn...or whatever it was you were doing before you started reading this boring rant...so I will continue it some other time. I will close with this thought Karl Marx once referred to religion as the opium of the people....just maybe he had it right.

6 comments:

Sylvia said...

haha I have tried to leave a comment twice now
Ok - three is a charm.
But before writing another novel I first want to see if it works this time
Sylvia

Benjamin said...

You bring up a point and argument near and dear to my heart. Perhaps it is why I didn't go back to my porn. If you would, please permit me to offer some complimentary along with some contradictory statements. A little bit of "right there with you" along with some "have you considered this angle".

First let me say that I applaud you for your final conclusions of the necessity of religion/faith in a society being necessary. This concise, albeit hurried, explanation undoubtedly due to its inclusion near the end of your blog. I do the same thing after I have been going on for some time. You will most likely notice it at the end of my post. I was also quite pleased to read your conclusions on the non-scientific basis of faith and the somewhat scathing review of those who take up its fullest meaning. I particularly liked your addressing those silly "chair" and "air" arguments. They do show an utter lack of thinking beyond the depth of a mud puddle.

Benjamin said...

Now for a few points that you may wish to include in your future considerations and discussions of this viewpoint. One of a couple holes I notice is your explanation is the lumping together of all religions into one category of all being mutually exclusive. I do not know if this was a minor oversight in an otherwise well crafted post or something you haven't considered. In either case I offer to you that the only religions holding exclusive claims on the keys to heaven are those of the monotheistic, Abraham origin. That is to say Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. No other religions, to my knowledge, express a "one door" theology.

The evidence of things not seen. From my memory this is often used to relate to the effects of the Holy Spirit. The changed lives (evidence) caused by the Holy Spirit (things not seen). Your argument however does not take into account scientific experiments in which some sub-atomic particles cannot be seen but their effects of motion in a gas filled chamber can be observed. I bring this up only to mention the hole in the argument. Not that I disagree.

Your circle of life analogy might benefit from the mention of The First Law of Thermodynamics.

Benjamin said...

Now for some outright difference of opinion/wording. I am going to address a few different points but I think they all stem from one central argument. It's the particular people in which you are referring and not the entirety. You'll see what I mean momentarily.

"the defensive nature of religion" - religion does not necessarily have to be defensive by nature. It simply will sound that way coming from the lips of those who aren't really trying to convince you but rather themselves. Their faith, and truly their entire life and worldview, rests upon such shaky foundation that when you shine a light on the termites at the base, their minds simply cannot comprehend what they are seeing and so they recoil and become defensive. As you point out, an all powerful God of the sort you and I were raised to believe in, does not require the defense of such feeble and fallible beings as humans...unless...He wasn't real. This point is what I see as the pinnacle of the arrogance of those who believe as we were raised. To think, that The Almighty should need my verbal defense is nothing short of preposterous and the height of self importance. Talk about diminishing that which cannot be diminished...as they would claim.

Benjamin said...

To be perfectly honest what I find mind boggling is the adherence to the silly notion that an all powerful God controls every aspect of my existence, who raises up whom He will and puts down whom He will, that rides on the whirlwind, can at one time be responsible for everything good in the world but not of the evil. Could the hand of God that predestined the life of the very man who would betray his Son to death be at the same time the same hand that would be denied any guilt of the other lives in the world that would work evil? That is to say, IF God made everything that is good and right in the world and at the same time have guided the life of Judas, how could that hand be held blameless for the acts of Hitler? Stinging question I know. I know the pat answer to the question as well as you, but the answer does not fit. It is contradictory so as to remove blame for evil in the world from the Hand that controls everything. And when that contradiction is pointed out...it's the ways of God that we are not to understand. Have faith. HAHAHAHA

At this point my true motive for my post must be revealed, my friend. It is, in fact, to offer you an alternative look at God that from your post and from your/mine upbringing I feel you have not seen or thought of. Sinister I know.

Benjamin said...

WHAT IF??? WHAT IF??? WHAT IF??? The God you and I were taught about wasn't quite, exactly right? What IF??? The interpretation of the Bible and of its God we were force fed was askew??? Do you think perhaps, if only for a moment, you might reconsider your current view point? What if I told you that an all powerful being existed and that He created everything in existence? What if I told you that this God, after creation, stepped back and allowed His creation to shape and form based upon a set of physical laws that He himself, in his phenomenal cosmic power and not so itty-bitty living space, had defined? Now for the kicker. What if I proposed that God chose a more "hands off" approach than the one you were raised to believe? That life, death, good people, evil people, happiness, and despair were all just what the creation allowed to happen based upon its interactions, circumstances and choices? You see, to me, the view of a God that controls everything removes human choice. This is the ultimate version of a scape goat. I cannot be held responsible for my actions because God made it so. Bah!! I say. You see the one place the Thumpers may have got it right is that man has free will and that all things turn out for God's glory. What better example of something for God's glory than a creation that freely chooses Him? Sure, they professed of free will but also professed of God's control. The problem is that a God that controls everything can easily be blamed for everything. However, if you stop thinking that God will guide your life into some non-existent Christian Utopian bliss free of life's troubles then when the inevitable troubles of life come along you will see them for what they are...life with all it's extreme joys and severest pains. Its yens and yangs. Its ups and downs. So many people are drawn to an all powerful God that controls their life because it removes their responsibility and gives an easy door at which to lay the blame when things go wrong. Others, such as ourselves, are simply born into the absurdity and one day wake up.

At some point an analytic mind can no longer take the contradictions. It must break free or else cease to be analytic. Some, such as I did once, went as far the other direction as it dared away from Christianity as I knew it to be. That KJV only Baptist babel. I skipped right past anything that may have more reasonable and straight to the only other alternative I had heard of. However it was during a lengthy time of study and research that I came to my realization that the truth wasn't where I was nor where I had been. It was somewhere in between. Study of all sorts of religions and belief systems viewed with a skeptical scientific lens led me to where I am now. Science is irrefutable, but as has been throughout time, it doesn't hold all the answers. So I fall back on the feeble crutch that thousands of years of humans have used when science failed to answer...God. A view of God much like the book Angles and Demons, which I am proud to say I read long before either of the Dan Brown movies. God held it all in His his fingers, defined the laws of nature, and then simply opened His fingers..BANG. Faith of that event, sure. But science of what followed. Once the answer to where did the spec of matter come from is answered, then God will no longer be needed I suppose.

So, what do you think? Easily the shortest theological treatise in history I'm sure but still rather lengthy far as I'm concerned. All the above I hope will be spice for further conversation and contemplation. Love to have someone to bounce it all off of after all.

-Ben

 

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