Christianity: Believe first, answers will come

May 5, 2007 at 9:21 am 25 comments

Thinking BrainMany of us are would like to see the answers before believing. In fact, one could argue, this is how we are really wired as human beings. Faith does not come naturally. It is a decision we have to make to believe in spite of the lack of evidence or as understanding increases, believe in spite of evidence to the contrary. For those of us who grew up in church, it’s a bit easier to have faith as it is taught to us from a very young age.

For those who believe that we were created by God, they would have to believe that God did not wire faith as the default mechanism in us but reason. We are an intelligent, introspective, skeptical species.

Jon posted our last post on his blog asking for answers from his friends to the question of suffering. Here are a few of the responses to Jon’s inquiry (emphasis mine):

God’s sovereignty is a rather big discussion. Obviously, Gods supreme power is something that is difficult for our finite minds to wrap around, but I think before we can start to understand His sovereignty we first need to believe in God. I’m not sure if this is something that you’ve struggled with for a while or are just now being confronted with, but this seems to be the bigger issue.

Please know that I’m not trying to avoid answering any questions, but I would like to know a little bit more.

- Josh

Note that Josh believes that one has to believe first then understanding will come.

along the lines of what Josh was saying:
we don’t first understand all of what God’s doing or how He thinks before we believe in Him–no matter how crazy or absurd He seems to us.

We believe so that we can understand. This is something I continue to learn and develop every single day. So many times i get it the other way around. the christian experience is always faith seeking understanding, but we will never understand without faith.

- seanpatrickpope

And finally:

Jon, if I had anything at all to say that would encourage you it would be to put your trust in God and take Him at His word. Trust that He knows what He is doing, and that all works out for His will, if we understand it or not. If it seems horrible or not. Just takes faith I guess bro.

- Ryan

I struggle now with coming to terms with the fact that this is what I once believed.

- The de-Convert

Entry filed under: The de-Convert. Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

Does American Idol cares more about starving children than God does? And man said, let there be God

25 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mysteryofiniquity  |  May 5, 2007 at 9:54 am

    aA,
    This is similar to the Mormon missionary tactic, which is: They tell you to pray about what they’ve said. Pray, asking for a “burning in your heart” so that you will know what they are saying is true. Lots of people profess to feel this “burning in their heart.”

    It’s the same with emotional fundamentalism as well. You remember the altar call. You feel pulled by the cajoling preacher’s words, compelled by your own sense of “sinfulness,” pushed by your conscience to make that commitment first. But, sadly it’s all an emotional ruse.

    The faith first issue is the same thing. WHY, when none of anything else in life works according to this principle, must we put faith in something in order to see any evidence of it’s existence? Like the rest of us, you’ve done that a thousand times. What “evidence” did you find?

  • 2. Heather  |  May 5, 2007 at 10:11 am

    aA,

    **WHY, when none of anything else in life works according to this principle, must we put faith in something in order to see any evidence of it’s existence?** I was about to answer this way, as well. The whole believe before you understand works even less in this area, given that religions are concerned with the most important aspect of all: eternal salvation. But where else do I believe before first having evidence? The earliest Christians claimed to have evidence — they saw a resurrected Jesus, and then watched Jesus ascend. Thomas got to investigate the wounds. Paul had a vision. And when they went around converting people, they had signs and miralces, which is evidence.

  • 3. mysteryofiniquity  |  May 5, 2007 at 10:41 am

    Heather,

    But this is no longer “evidence” for us. There is nothing we can see or touch now. All we have are writings ABOUT the events. Hearsay is not evidence.

    I understand what your argument is since I did it once myself (had faith without evidence), but I don’t think Christians have a leg to stand on when convincing other people.

  • 4. mysteryofiniquity  |  May 5, 2007 at 10:43 am

    And before y’all answer that we have nothing to see or touch with evolution either, Occam’s razor fits nicely here:

    “All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one.” In other words, when multiple competing theories are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selecting the theory that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest hypothetical entities.”

    To me, Christianity is assumption upon assumption. Science at least has physical evidence somewhere, I don’t have to see THAT to know it’s there.

  • 5. Heather  |  May 5, 2007 at 11:15 am

    MoI,

    **But this is no longer “evidence” for us. There is nothing we can see or touch now. All we have are writings ABOUT the events. Hearsay is not evidence.** I don’t think I was clear, sorry. My point was that early Christian writers clearly had evidence before they had faith. Why don’t we have the same amount of evidence in this time — as in, lots of signs/wonders in a particular church, a mass vision or something. The early Christians had proof to back up their claims. It’s not the case anymore. So really, just believe first isn’t all that biblical, because very few people in the BIble first believed, then had evidence. It was the other way around.

  • 6. Justin  |  May 5, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    It can be frusterating at the lack of “sense” that religion can make sometimes (i.e. believe then you can see). But of course, seeing is believing is a concept that applies to the scientific method, which of course, cannot apply to God and the supernatural.

    http://politicsandreligion.wordpress.com

  • 7. arrgjonsmad  |  May 5, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    I have a GREAT deal of respect for you, because I once was in a similar position. Though I have never doubted that there is a God, at one point I refused to accept him because I simply didnt care. I do not have much knowledge in these areas mainly because Im a junior who has slacked my way through life up untill a few weeks ago. This is why I go to my friends and teachers for support. I have actually used most of your posts in my every day conversations. I hope that one day, I will be able to answer on all sorts of topics without always having to go to my friends, but untill then I will just have to carry on with the faith of a child.

    God bless!

  • 8. arrgjonsmad  |  May 5, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    P.S. I loved the banana video.

  • 9. pbandj  |  May 5, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    i think that we really have to dig into what “faith” means before we can truly decide if faith really calls for blindness.

    as our culture mostly defines “faith”, then yes, it is blind, and therefore, stupid. yes, for all those fundamentalists out there, i said “FAITH IS STUPID”…..unless of course faith isnt blind.

    sure, in contemporary english that might be what faith means, but i think if we try to come to a good definition of what the writers of the Bible meant, we will come to an entirely different meaning. (by the way, i am not saying this stuff happenedd, although i believe it did, but that this is what the writers of the Bible believed happened) one example:

    abram was spoken to directly by YHWH. YHWH told him to pick up and leave and that he would have a kid and that he would inherit canaan. then YHWH made a blood covenant with abram where YHWH passes through the blood of animals appearing as a torch. then, YHWH visits abram and eats his food and converses with him like a man. so we have many of the senses at work here as far as the presence of YHWH. He was heard by abram, seen by abram, and abram even saw Him eat. so does this mean that abram was blindly believing that YHWH existed?

    of course not, according to the authors. so abram’s faith didnt come from believing YHWH existed. what did it come from then?

    genesis says that abram believed what YHWH said, and that was credited to him as righteousness. and the NT writer, paul uses this very phrase to talk about faith. so faith was abram believing that YHWH would keep His word and obeying. not merely that YHWH existed. abram believed in God’s promise and character, not his existence.

    sure, yall may say, “but this never happened”. okay, suppose it was all makebelieve. fine, the pt remains the same,

    THE WRITERS OF THE BIBLE NEVER INTENDED FAITH TO BE DEFINED AS BLIND BELIEF IN THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. INSTEAD FAITH TO THEM MEANT BELIEVING GOD WAS GOING TO FULFILL HIS PROMISES AND THEN OBEYING HIS COMMANDS.

    peter

  • 10. thingsgodtaughtme  |  May 5, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    I loved this post. You might check out my little post on how Jesus taught me to paralyze the devil, what a peace generating thing that is.
    http://www.thingsgodtaughtme.wordpress.com

  • 11. Epiphanist  |  May 5, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Jung’s work on archetypes would indicate that symbols are hardwired in the brain, maybe also racial memory if you want to go down that track. One of the consequences of evolutionary theory in this regard is that our ancestors were able to survive before the development of words and speech which must be considered the basis of reason.

  • 12. Karen  |  May 5, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    MOI:
    It’s the same with emotional fundamentalism as well. You remember the altar call. You feel pulled by the cajoling preacher’s words, compelled by your own sense of “sinfulness,” pushed by your conscience to make that commitment first. But, sadly it’s all an emotional ruse.

    It’s amazing how much emotion plays into it all, and how easily the strings of emotion can be pulled and manipulated. The most successful pastors are masters of this art.

    Of course, if one believes first and has an emotional experience in the process, the skeptical need for evidence and proof evaporates – at least for a time.

    So, sure, they’re going to say “you just have to believe” and then your questions will be answered. It’s a very effective system.

  • 13. mysteryofiniquity  |  May 5, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    Oh, sorry Heather. I thought you were making the opposite point. My bad. :-)

  • 14. mysteryofiniquity  |  May 5, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    Karen,
    Well said. Yes, the need for evidence tends to evaporate, as you say, once we can think more clearly. But if we have any intellectual integrity at all, we will push through the emotion and demand concrete answers. I think most of us here at aA’s site are doing that. Others, not so much.

  • 15. Heather  |  May 5, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    MoI,

    I re-read my first post, and saw how that conclusion could be reached. Quite all right. :) That’s what I get for quickly answering stuff five minutes before leaving the house.

  • 16. econ grad  |  May 6, 2007 at 5:14 am

    The human mind is so adept at creating a false comforting order and so good at dismissing reality it is hard to tell based on reason alone such deep philosophical questions as the religious and atheists squabble over.

    Emotionalism does play too big a role in Christianity and it does sucker a lot into thinking their “in”. That’s a real waste of their precious time on Earth.

    From my theological point of view I cheer on atheist efforts. Please pull the pretenders and deceived non-elect out of Christianity so the Church can be for the elect alone. American culture pushes too many non-elect into Church when they should be living lives based on reason and biological urges. The consequences of having the non-elected in Churches is bad for both of us atheists and the elect.

  • 17. mysteryofiniquity  |  May 6, 2007 at 7:52 am

    econ grad,
    Well, that’s one way of looking at the whole thing. Sounds a little evolutionary biology as applied to Christianity. Atheists are viruses meant to “weed out” the fake Christians so the “elect” may control the body. Hmmmm.

  • 18. Karen  |  May 6, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Please pull the pretenders and deceived non-elect out of Christianity so the Church can be for the elect alone.

    OOoooh, are you a strict Calvinist?

    How do you know who the “elect” are, and why do you assume you’re one of them – if you do?

  • 19. econ grad  |  May 6, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    Mystery of iniquity, viruses weeding out the fakes, I like that analogy. Also present are parasites feeding off the Church.

    Karen, I can’t tell with certainty who the elect are. I can judge by fruits and by love but that’s not infallible. I know I’m among the elect because I have been given what is necessary for faith and devotion and growth. I can show where in the Bible election is verified by growth and unwavering faith, if you’d like to see that.

    I can’t relate to an emotional “conversion” experiences. My conversion was an uncomfortable cerebral sort of surrender. “Emotional” experiences occurred later.

  • 20. Rebecca  |  May 7, 2007 at 7:13 am

    Econ grad,

    Who are the parasites feeding off the church?

  • 21. layguy  |  May 7, 2007 at 10:11 am

    lol

    Atheists do the exact same thing in light of modern science

  • 22. layguy  |  May 7, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Bring onthe debate! I welcome the secular scientific attempts at describing origins.

  • 23. arrgjonsmad  |  May 8, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    Heather,

    You do things every day that you dont think about. This includes believing before seeing. Do you check your seat before you sit in it? Do you check your car inside and out before driving it somewhere? Do you walk around a building and make sure it will stand before you go in? Did you make sure your teacher wasnt crazy before you took her class? Just a thought.

  • 24. arrgjonsmad  |  May 11, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    PB and J,

    I really hope that faith isnt blind because it is a loaded statement when you say “faith is stupid.” Blind or not, the Bible puts a great deal on our faith. Look at these verses and tell me if faith is still stupid, because i cant bring myself to believe it.

    Matthew 9:2
    Matthew 9:22
    Matthew 9:28-30
    Matthew 17:20

    And in Luke 5:20, a man is forgive of his sins because of his faith. The Bible says by faith are you saved and you call that saving faith stupid, i cant bring myself to understand why? Just a thought.

  • 25. arrgjonsmad  |  June 30, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    man was i really that stupid? what an oss.

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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