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Randall Wehler

Quantifying The Certainty Of Religious Belief

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To Fellow Seekers and Those Who Have "Found" (the two not necessarily mutually exclusive):

 

I am inclined to be open about considering myself more spiritual than religious. Perhaps, others could gleen that in the lengthy essay I shared on this site (see Personal Stories and Journeys). I retain a church membership in a local ELCA congregation, yet feel quite comfortable with matters typically discussed in Progressive Christianity circles and among Unitarian-Universalist groups. I do not label myself, even though I could be considered by others as having rather liberal Christian and non-literal biblical "beliefs."

 

Religious belief, overall, has to do with a set of separate (though likely linked) religious convictions and I actually struggle to find a more acceptable word to replace "belief" or "conviction." What we would describe as true to us individually in our beliefs/convictions is subject to change over the span of our lives. Too often, religion (including Christianity) is viewed as a dichotomous matter -- either you believe something or you don't! Yet the rational part of us screams for us being able to state what CERTAINTY we presently hold regarding that particular belief piece of our religious tapestry (or jig-saw puzzle). That calls for describing "to what degree of certainty do you presently hold that belief idea?" Obviously, you cannot truely quantify something like this, but for survey/research or other purposes, you could assign a percentage figure (0-10%, 11-20% ......91-100%) with each set of ten-point ranges having a corresponding word such as "almost totally unlikely, perhaps/maybe, almost certain", etc.

 

I am currently chewing over several things per going a couple of times to a local small group discussion gathering held weekly that my wife invited me to: Jesus as the actual Son (paternalistic) of God, existence of the devil/Satan, literal occurence of the account of Gideon and the wet/dry fleece. One may be able to guess what my votes of certaintude would be (or should I say were?).

 

Randall W

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"What we would describe as true to us individually in our beliefs/convictions is subject to change over the span of our lives".

 

It most certainly is Randall, and many here are living proof.

 

Like others, at 18 years of age I was convinced, absolutely unshakeable, that Jesus was the paternal son of God, that we all needed to 'accept' Him to be saved from eternal pain and suffering, and that although God was made of love, this attribute actually went hand-in-hand with so called 'justice' and Him sentencing his sweet children to eternal torment. I lived and breathed these thoughts and didn't think anything strange of them. It's just they way things were.

 

27 years on and my beliefs couldn't be further from the above. Life experiences and education changed my views completely. So I don't ever rule out them changing again if new experiences and new education turn me towards new beliefs.

 

Subsequently, I remind myself continuously that people are a product of their upbringing, their experiences, their learnings, and sometimes their choices.

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I don't use the word belief anymore. To me, the word implys a lack of logic.

 

find a more acceptable word to replace "belief" or "conviction."

 

I am comfortable with the use of the word "sense". I have a sense that there is a

"God" or a "more". I have a sense that Jesus was somehow special. It is a dynamic statement there is no understanding of rigidity.

 

steve


 


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murmsk

 

Steve,

 

Thanks for your thoughts. Having a "sense" of a presence works well for me, too. It's maybe close to what I have called an "ineffable knowing." There are things you feel/experience that you struggle to put into words. And with spiritual matters -- as opposed to the physical world and the scientific method -- you have entered the realm or domain of existence where "proofs" essentially go lacking. Perhaps the Creative/Supreme Spirit designed it this way to keep us thinking, seeking, and probing. An EASY ANSWER spirituality would be too simple for us human beings, many of whom would become too complacent in their spiritual quest.

 

My appreciation,

Randall W

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One important aspect on my "Sense" is that it is dynamic. As I live and learn the sense changes.One of the reason this has to be is that I expect, when all is said and done and I have ultimate knowlege (I am dead), to be wrong in my understanding. If I was looking for truth this would bother me, since I am only looking for wisdom or the like it is ok to be wrong as long as it makes me a better person.

 

steve

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