Belief - Printable Version
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Belief - EmilyKing - 01-28-2012 09:11 PM
The thing that bothers me the most is not knowing where I stand on religion, or if I even believe in religion at all.
When someone asks me what beliefs I hold, I answer that I'm agnostic. It's accurate- I don't know whether or not I believe in a god, if any religion is true, or if we're the product of evolution. The latter sounds the most plausable- science keeps coming out with new evidence supporting this.
The thing is, I don't want it to be true. I want there to be a god. I want to be capable of the faith that some people seem to have. But I'm not, and sometimes it keeps me awake at night and depresses me. If I don't believe in a god, that means that death is the end of everything. I hate that thought. I don't want to stop existing. I lie awake and dread dying, even though I'm not quite 25.
There are so many religions, and each have followers who firmly believe them to be the truth. Is religion just something man made up to explain the same fears that I have? Do people delude themself because the thought of ceasing to exist is too painful?
And how can there be a god, when so much misery and chaos happens in the world every day? Innocent children dying every day of preventable causes, murders, disease. It happens to both the good and the bad. How can such a dismal existance that many have to endure be justified?
I want to believe in god. I want to pray and know someone's there. I want to believe the bible. And I've been unable to force myself into belief. I have so many more questions and doubts than I typed here.
Am I the only one who's felt this way? Have any of you previously felt this way and have since come to some sort of belief?
RE: Belief - Tooktheredpill - 01-28-2012 09:42 PM
Emily, I definitely can relate to your situation. I've invested a significant amount of time over the past couple years looking into the issues surrounding the veracity of religion (and Christianity specifically). There are no simple answers, as you are obviously recognize.
I have come across some reasons why Christianity could be true, so I'll share those with you. Actually, this posthas a good summary, particularly these five:
Quote:4. Morality: a longing for justice
Obviously, this isn't conclusive or empirical evidence. And I understand if you don't find any of it convincing.
I also think a decent case can be made for the historicity of the resurrection. I've shared this video before, but I'll post it again in case you haven't seen it:
RE: Belief - Darrell - 01-28-2012 09:50 PM
Even though I have been a believer for what feels like my entire life, I have had moments of very dark doubt. That dark night of the soul comes to all of us sooner or later. It should be not come as a surprise for it came to men who walked and spoke with Jesus himself. Even fiery John the Baptist sent to ask in a moment of despair "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?" Doubt is a part of faith.
I wish I had some masterful stroke that would settle the question once and for all. I'm sure others can provide the relevant arguments from history and philosophy and theology but my dad always told me that "a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." There really is not stunning act of logic or brilliant argument that fixes the belief question either definitively for or against. It is a struggle. A process. A pitched battle inside the very core of who we are and how we try to make sense out of the world around us.
The fact that you want to believe even while doubting is encouraging to me. I'll pray for you that the Spirit will guide you into all truth. It's the only way any of us can hope to find it.
RE: Belief - WhoThrewTheBottle - 01-28-2012 10:04 PM
Emily, I've been there and in some ways I still am. So, to be cliche, I feel your pain. I always believed in God but wasn't sure that Christianity was true. When I was a little younger, fundamentalism = Christianity.
I think anyone who says they've never had doubts about these things are probably lying.
RE: Belief - Donb123 - 01-28-2012 10:44 PM
(01-28-2012 09:11 PM)EmilyKing Wrote: The thing that bothers me the most is not knowing where I stand on religion, or if I even believe in religion at all.
Maybe it'd be easier for you to explore a brand of Christianity where evolution and Christianity are not incompatible- if you still wanted to search. False dichotomies like this should give you pause.
RE: Belief - bean - 01-28-2012 10:54 PM
You are not alone in your questions, Emily.
I too used to equate Christianity with performance based religion, fundamentalism, whatever you will call it.
Here's my take.
In some ways, a lot of it might well be "man-created" to define, answer, and mostly regulate. But in the big ways, connecting with God is what really matters. And after I had my doubts, it totally redefined my idea of who God was and what he was all about. To me, God is love. he's not about rules. Or things you have to do.
I have had the doubts too. And sometimes, I look up at a brilliant night sky and realize that there is no flippin way that all that came together by chance. No way. For me, it was harder to believe all that is an accident than it is to think there was a designer. That's just my thoughts...take it for what it is worth.
I agree, anyone who says they have never doubted is probably somewhat full of it.
You should go to "Journey to Beloved's" blog and read. She too had an experience she described as losing her religion. It was very good....I thought..
The honesty is great.... Hoping you find the peace you need..
RE: Belief - Recovering - 01-29-2012 02:11 AM
I, too, find myself wanting to believe things, but not being entirely convinced that they're true (or even being pretty convinced they're not). I think it will be hard for me, for awhile, to feel like I believe anything when I am not totally convinced with 100% certainty of everything they way I was in fundamentalism. It seems to be really hard for some of us to figure out what it even means to believe something post-fundamentalism. I don't just want to believe something different than what I believed before, I never want to believe anything in that way ever again.
I don't think I've quite settled into belief yet, though if I had to label myself, I would call myself an agnostic Catholic, which isn't really a thing. I'm basically starting with a belief that truth doesn't necessarily mean what I used to think it meant, and that I can hold onto some elements of Christianity without accepting others, and without understanding how it all works out.
This probably sounds really wishy-washy and new-agey. I'm not explaining it very well. To put it a little more clearly, in order for me to begin believing anything, I've had to redefine what I understand to be belief. The definition I was given in fundyland just wouldn't cut it. I hope that helps at all.
RE: Belief - oneflewoutofthecuckcoosnest - 01-29-2012 04:35 PM
I think most honest people have these questions and you are one of those courageous enough to admit that you have them.
Evolution and belief in God are not mutually exclusive. Many Christians believe both. Check out http://www.biologos.org. As Donb123 observed, you could check churches where evolution is accepted. I would also say look for a church where questions are encouraged and struggles with faith viewed as a normal part of faith.
The problem of evil has always been one of the most challenging questions around God. How we answer it has a lot to do with our presuppositions about God and God's activity in the world. The more interventionist our model, the greater the problem becomes. Job and Ecclesiastes teach that the problem is inexplicable. I tend not to implicate God in the evil in our world.
I am more generous in my beliefs about other religions than some Christians. I believe everyone who wants God will have God in the end. Religion in my opinion is the human response to the impulse towards God. As a Christian, I believe God is seen most clearly in the life, death and resurrection story of Jesus. I believe that God had the first word and that God and not death will have the last word.
Honest doubts are part of authentic faith. If there was absolute certainty, faith would not be necessary. Faith only operates in the context of uncertainty. Don't be afraid or ashamed of your doubts and questions.
"The courage to be is rooted in the God who appears when God has disappeared in the anxiety of doubt" (Paul Tillich)
RE: Belief - EmilyKing - 01-29-2012 07:11 PM
If evolution is true, how do I explain the first chapter of the bible? If one chapter of the bible isn't true, how do I know if any of it can be believed?
RE: Belief - oneflewoutofthecuckcoosnest - 01-29-2012 08:29 PM
(01-29-2012 07:11 PM)EmilyKing Wrote: If evolution is true, how do I explain the first chapter of the bible? If one chapter of the bible isn't true, how do I know if any of it can be believed?
That is a fair question. The answer lies in how we read a text. Not everything is meant to be read literally. Parables are an obvious example of something that is not literal but that is still true. Texts like Genesis 1-11 are more challenging as some read them literally and some do not. Things in the creation story that make a literal reading seem unlikely include talking snakes and magic fruit - these seem like the kind of symbols found in myth and not history. The writer may be using a mythic form of writing in order to communicate theological truth. In this case, we need to ask what the text wants to say theologically, and not what we think it says scientifically. The scientific questions we bring to the text today would not have been considered by the original author(s) and audience. The biologos site has some great articles on these questions.
One of the sad aspects of fundyism is its all or nothing approach. Either believe in six day creationism or the whole system comes crumbling down. Thankfully, for most Christians, such an all or nothing approach is not necessary.