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Faith Is Not Certainty ?


JosephM
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In another thread, concerning humility and the uncertainty of intellectual knowledge, a statement was made saying faith is not certainty. I would like to present a writing from the New Testament that defines Faith (Greek-pistis) and in my view and experience indicates to me that Faith is indeed not the same as mental belief, though it encompasses it and Faith as defined in Hebrews 11:1 is indeed certainty.

 

New International Version (©1984)

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

 

New Living Translation (©2007)

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

 

English Standard Version (©2001)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 

New American Standard Bible (©1995)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 

International Standard Version (©2008)

Now faith is the assurance that what we hope for will come about and the certainty that what we cannot see exists.

 

GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)

Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.

 

King James Bible

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

 

American King James Version

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

 

American Standard Version

Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.

 

Bible in Basic English

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the sign that the things not seen are true.

 

Douay-Rheims Bible

Now faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.

 

Darby Bible Translation

Now faith is the substantiating of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 

English Revised Version

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the proving of things not seen.

 

Webster's Bible Translation

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

 

Weymouth New Testament

Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see.

 

World English Bible

Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen.

 

Young's Literal Translation

And faith is of things hoped for a confidence, of matters not seen a conviction,

 

 

In sum, faith (4102/pistis) is a persuasion from God that we receive as He grants impulse ("divine spark"; cf. the Heb hiphil form of believe, *mn, in a later discussion). Faith is always the work of God and involves hearing His voice – whereby the believer lays hold of His preferred-will (cf. J. Calvin).

 

 

In my personal subjective experience, i have a number of times experienced this thing from God defined as FAITH. Each time, the evidence did not at the time appear to the senses, (the physical eyes) but was known (realized) at the very core of my being by virtue of being One with the object of my focus, whether God, a word, a person, or for lack of a better word, vision, but not of the physical eyes. It always appeared as a gift in that i cannot say that it was initiated by 'me' or deserved for some reason, although similar conditions appeared ripe for such a thing each time. Certainty was never in doubt as doubt at the time is an impossibility though it may raise its head to appear later.

 

So, my answer to the question, Is faith certainty? I would say as defined in the NT in Hebrews 11:1 in context, yes. And as personally experienced in light of many of the writings, again yes.

 

Just my own personal view that is valid for me. What are your thoughts? Worth discussing?

 

 

Joseph

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Absolutely worth discussing. I'm extremely curious how others here think about this issue.

 

Faith is about certainty, but there is a constant danger that it will get anchored to material things and ossify. We must learn how to faithfully deal with doubt precisely because faith is about certainty. I don't think this conflicts Hebrews, though that quote is focused on certainty to be sure. Job and Ecclesiastes are, IMHO, more about doubt and uncertainty, and that proper faith requires we accept rather than combat those things.

 

Anselm of Canterbury says he believes in order to understand, and that sounds about right to me. When I teach sociological theory, I talk a lot about a priori stances: before analysis begins, the researcher always has various theoretical commitments (ethical, epistemological, methodological, etc, etc, etc), and theory is the attempt to make those implicit assumptions explicit to improve research. I have a tendency to stick faith in that a priori category: if you have faith in a particular God or a particular way the world works, you will engage the world a particular way and you will accept certain things as factual.

 

This is why deploying factual evidence in an argument with a young earth creationist and expecting he or she will change his or her mind is a fool's errand: it's not about fact, not really. Factual evidence can help you convince listeners to the argument, however, and it can also be used in support of what could change the YEC's mind: an attack on their beliefs and their faith.

 

It's up to the individual to reinterpret the world when new evidence comes in, and the individual needs to decide when to revise one's world view, and how one views his or her faith. This is why I said in the other thread that faith can be strengthened by doubt. Human beings will never be "right" and achieve a perfect faith which will never need to be questioned again. Barth (& others) argue true faith is not a belief, but a momentary experience. It's a whole state of being, not information. Everyone has moments of faith, and everyone loses their faith. The trick (which I don't pretend to understand) is to hold on until you find your faith again, and possibly learn something from your stint in the spiritual wilderness.

 

 

For me, faith isn't information we accept as factual in the face of evidence to the contrary. It is unfortunate that this definition of faith has crept into both Christianity and pop culture. (I'm resisting going on a looooong rant about Lost, but that'll be another thread ;) ) Now, of course, faith isn't the same as science or some other discourse grounded in empiricism. But really, a definition that basically amounts to "delusions that happen to be true," is... problematic. If faith isn't compatible with science, somebody is doing one or both of them wrong. Additionally, anyone who thinks that faith or science is purely about stable ground one never needs to be reflexive about, they are also wrong. (I don't think Joseph is making that claim, BTW)

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Absolutely worth discussing. I'm extremely curious how others here think about this issue.

 

When I teach sociological theory, I talk a lot about a priori stances: before analysis begins, the researcher always has various theoretical commitments (ethical, epistemological, methodological, etc, etc, etc), and theory is the attempt to make those implicit assumptions explicit to improve research. I have a tendency to stick faith in that a priori category: if you have faith in a particular God or a particular way the world works, you will engage the world a particular way and you will accept certain things as factual.

 

This is why deploying factual evidence in an argument with a young earth creationist and expecting he or she will change his or her mind is a fool's errand: it's not about fact, not really. Factual evidence can help you convince listeners to the argument, however, and it can also be used in support of what could change the YEC's mind: an attack on their beliefs and their faith.

 

Absolutely worthwhile points.

 

As a scholar you are quite aware of 'confirmation bias' in research. Well, this also applies to just about everything that comprises our worldview. When we form a hypothesis or, worse yet, a conclusion, we tend to find information that confirms this view as salient and pass over information that might be counter to our view (see Biblical 'cherry picking' as an example).

 

Giving up a previously held view is tough work. I think sometimes it is useful when arguing an issue with 'facts' to ask oneself if the facts were different would my own view change. If truthfully not, then it is values, not facts, that are the controlling factors.

 

George

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Nick the Nevermet, on 09 April 2011 - 05:03 PM, said:

"I'm extremely curious how others here think about this issue."

 

I know this is a rationalization, and intuition is not, but I couldn't help myself.

 

Einstein said that no scientific law is discovered without intuition. I envision this with the physical being as a candle, the intellect as the candle flame, and our intuition as the light that is shed on the things around it. I feel our soul is the witness of pure consciousness that sees all inside and out. The ego through the mind seems to impose a strait jacket upon our intuition so we listen mostly to reason and jeopardize our future happiness. My mind needs to remain free to explore, to contemplate and to evaluate higher subjects in order to gain maturity and understanding; or else I feel I stagnate and decline. Yes, this is the fall from grace. My religious or rigorous spiritual practice does not give me intuition or wisdom because we already have them, but it does give the resolution and courage to use my intuition for direction with nothing to fear. I feel we soon transcend the highest intellect because our reason starts to comply with our intuition.

 

The hidden garden of ecstasy some call heaven I feel is not above or in any particular country or in some private area away from civilization. I feel it lies within each one of us so we just have to find the keys to open the gates that our keyless. The keys seem to be hidden in the layers of the mind in our experiences. Listening with thought to the inner voice to properly understand what to do my intuition has been a key to find, to enter and for me to live in this heavenly kingdom. Entering the garden, I feel we see the river of life skipping down to the sea. Every obstacle seems to cause the water to dance, every waterfall to roar with excitement and every bend bringing new enjoyment. This garden for me has only one purpose and that is to show the totality of life, and the river’s aim to merge with the ocean of pure consciousness. Personally, I cannot have total fulfillment and joy until I can see everything united within my soul. The Essence of my soul is invisible, but the substance of that invisible soul is seen and heard and is a part of my life.

 

I feel my intuition brings from the soul to my imagination divine talents that put together mental images necessary to build the condition that I desire. This human condition and its environment grows from the mental picture in my mind first before being manifest, and this mental picture comes from an invisible idea directly from the soul. If I retain these thoughts in the mind for a length of time, they seem to come into expression. Thought seems to precede and determine every action that is manifested on the material plane. When I was younger the stage of pure consciousness was foreign to my basic intuition and attitude, but sooner or later, I began to shift from the ego to pure consciousness. At this time I realized that my ego belongs to God in some strange way. As a Christian for me this is Christmas, the birth of Christ consciousness. This seems to be a birth because I started to be conscious of my relationship to my Father or Mother or Divine Idea.

 

In my mind it seems our intuition guides us in an ordered evolution to pure consciousness. From the beginning of evolution to the end, life is moved, led, strengthened, enlightened, and elevated by the consciousness of the Whole. With me God acted on the medium of reason, later on in my evolution God moved intuition in a more direct and intimate fashion, but whether I am led by reason or intuition, the end is the same; God is bringing my consciousness into unity with pure consciousness. With reason I formed decisions, resolve, choice, intellect and purpose, while intuition elevated my reason to a higher degree of efficiency because it was not confused with opinion. Intuition for me is knowledge in consciousness while opinion was the judgment of it so my intuition could be defined as an inner guiding light that was different from the rational attribute that focused on appearances externally. It was grasped by developing my inner self or vision. I have practiced many different spiritual practices that one can practice to develop one's intuition and be able to see more, but it was made clear to me that intuition is not achieved by any external happening. The purpose of the external pressure applied in different practices was only to change my ego's extroverted orientation towards the internal world. Discipline seems to train reason not to play the piano of our mind, but to tune the strings so intuition can play with our consciousness.

 

Rather than serve the fake god of my mind I am learning to serve the Divine Intelligence of my soul. Intuition for me is the voice of the nonphysical world. It is the communication system that releases my personality from the limitations of the physical world. I feel to encompasses my soul’s journey my intuition is the way to my soul. To allow my intuition to guide me I need to be unattached to outcome, thought or rationalization and all pieces will fall into place. Trust is one of the keys I have found in my mind that lets me bring my intuition into play and not fall into those aspects that resist wholeness. Some may call it faith, and that may be another key or the same key that is not needed for the keyless entry to heaven. I feel the keys are only for my mind to keep it occupied to I can follow Spirit without interruption.

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In another thread, concerning humility and the uncertainty of intellectual knowledge, a statement was made saying faith is not certainty

 

What I meant was faith is not intellectual certainty (maybe I should have said that). Joseph suggested that faith is like receiving a gift; Soma said trust is one of the keys--to me those ideas seem essential. Faith is our response to grace, learning profound trust in God – a commitment of the heart, a way of life, a whole state of being, as Nick put it.

That doesn’t mean we always relate to God in exactly the same frame of mind -- we all experience the emotional / spiritual range of attitudes expressed in the psalms, the prophets, the epistles, etc.

 

For me, it’s better not to use the word certainty, because rigid certainty of belief has led to exclusiveness, persecution and violence throughout history.

 

“The opposite of faith is not doubt: it is certainty.” — Anne Lamott

 

“Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.” -- Paul Tillich

 

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King

Edited by rivanna
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“The opposite of faith is not doubt: it is certainty.” — Anne Lamott

 

“Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith.” -- Paul Tillich

 

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King

 

I like these quotes. I think it all depends on the circumstances where the word certainty is used. I feel to dive deep into the self one can't precede with caution; otherwise one stays close to shore and does not delve into the deep. I like the concept of Christian Mysticism because the mystic like Jesus is crucified between the polar opposites and is left hanging between the positive and the negative aspects of life. In the midst of fear a mystic proclaims trust, and at the center of uncertainty he proclaims confidence. I feel this trust and confidence comes from experience. A light that guides the feet forward is an experience with thorns that is worth the ignored warnings as one pays the tuition for a good education. Some remain on the beach and praise the sea, but to know the ocean one must dive into it. To go down to the lonely sea again and again, an ocean that breaks big boulders into sand one needs the confidence that doubt is the only barricade that keeps us from our soul. Maybe confidence is a better word than certainty.

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The opposite of faith is not doubt: it is certainty. — Anne Lamott

 

Very much taken with this Soma. I find it far easier to know what something is not.......than what it IS. Which seems to be the way of unknowing.

 

I certainly find, when I see quite clearly that faith is not belief, that faith itself becomes nothing - noTHING. More a resting in mystery, and it seems it is the degree of true "rest" that is a measure of the faith - if that makes sense.... :D

 

To a certain extent this can be a cop out, as nothing can be falsified. I suppose there can be a rest (or a "peace") that passeth understanding, and a peace that is all too understandable, a peace supported by the apparent fulfilment of the demands we place upon reality/the Divine/God, and which would be swept aside when/if not met.

 

To be honest I never look too close.

 

There was a Buddhist "master", Chogyam Trungpa, whose story always brings to mind some words of Pir Vilayat Khan (head of the Sufi Order in the West) who said......of so many great teachers I've met in India and Asia, if you were to bring them to America, get them a house, two cars, a spouse, three kids, a job, insurance, and taxes......they would all have a hard time.

 

Trungpa indeed came to the West, and developed a reputation for heavy drinking and sexual promiscuity. He refered to doubt as "ratshit".

 

Maybe doubt has a part to play somewhere?

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Faith, I think, is the believe in that which has not been first empirically demonstrated ("unseen" in Paul's words). But, that doesn't mean it is factually untrue, or true.

 

We could not function as humans if everything in our lives had to be first proven with unambiguous evidence before we act. The basis for religious thought (a universal human predisposition) is the intuitive ("unseen") assumption of agency and intentionality.

 

George

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I think I should make a distinction between what I think faith is and what I think “good” faith is. IMHO, faith in general acts as a priori stances that inform our understandings of and actions in the world.

 

In terms of what I think faith should be, I think doubt and certainty should both be part of one's faith. I'm going to fall back on Barth here, as he's the guy who made things make sense to me. In his commentary on Romans he has a section called “The Gospel requires – faith”. Here's a quick definition of faith:

 

Faith is awe in the presence of the divine incognito; it is the love of God

that is aware of the qualitative distinction between God and man and God and

the world; it is the affirmation of resurrection as the turning-point of the

world; and therefore it is the affirmation of the divine 'No' in Christ, of

the shattering halt in the presence of God... He who knows the world to be

bounded by a truth that contradicts it; he who knows himself to be bounded

by a will that contradicts him... he who finally makes open confession of

the contradiction and determines to base his life upon it—he it is that

believes.

 

The big point of all of this, then, is that true faith and the certainty that comes from it is born and constantly refreshed in accepting doubt & uncertainty:

 

Unto faith is revealed that which God reveals from His faithfulness. To

those who have abandoned direct communication, the communication is made.

To those willing to venture with God, He speaks. Those who take upon them

the divine ' No' shall themselves be borne by the greater divine 'Yes'.

Those who labour and are heavy laden shall be refreshed. Those who do not

shun the contradiction have been hidden in God. Those who honestly allow

themselves to be set to wait know thereby that they ought, must, and can,

await the faithfulness of God.

 

The more we actively use our ego to build a fortress of certainty, the more we're our houses on sand. There are lots of people who are quite sure of themselves and have lots of something they think is faith but I do not.

 

Now, to be sure, there is a strong theism here that some here may not agree with, but for this conversation, that is a secondary issue. Most Reformed theologians (from what I can tell) think Barth was a bit excessive in his total rejection of natural theology and the human mind's ability to seek the divine, but I still find his argument extremely compelling.

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I have been dying to share this and hopefully it fits: last Saturday on "This American Life" on NPR there was an account of a young man who went away to college to be a preacher (fundamentalist). The more he learned the less fundamental he became. Where we joined the story the son was going to prove to his father how wrong was fundamental Christian belief, even religion itself. After a while his father interrupted. He told his son how proud he was of him and what he had learned. The father said that he had been about to leave his wife and get a divorce before he was born again. It was the best thing that ever happened to him. The years since then have been the best years of his life.

 

"Maybe," said the father, "you can like it enough to make it good."

 

Is putting our doubts and complaints and analyses aside the same as "liking it enough"? Is that a step of faith?

 

Take Care

 

Dutch

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Thanks for the post they made me think that faith is just balance between certainty and doubt. It has been abused, used and manipulated. There is no absolute faith or eternal faith, but it seems to be a key or tool to the Absolute and eternal.

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I have been dying to share this and hopefully it fits: last Saturday on "This American Life" on NPR there was an account of a young man who went away to college to be a preacher (fundamentalist). The more he learned the less fundamental he became. Where we joined the story the son was going to prove to his father how wrong was fundamental Christian belief, even religion itself. After a while his father interrupted. He told his son how proud he was of him and what he had learned. The father said that he had been about to leave his wife and get a divorce before he was born again. It was the best thing that ever happened to him. The years since then have been the best years of his life.

 

 

Dutch,

 

Thanks for the reference. It finally made it up to the plate on my playlist and I enjoyed it. What I got from it is that in evangelicalism, although Bible inerrancy is claimed, it is not really about Bible inerrancy. It just wasn't relevant to his father and the son was wise enough to grasp that.

 

George

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I think a lot depends on your definition of "faith".

 

In "Heart of Christianity" By Marcus Borg he suggests there are 4 definitions of faith from the bible

Now forgive me as it has been awhile since I read the book.

 

1. faith as trust. we have faith in our parents or spouse or God

2. faith as blind faith We may believe Jesus bodily rose from the dead

3. faith as in faithfulness loyalty, commitment

4. faith as a way of seeing (I could never understand this )

 

In some ways faith is certainty at a certain level. We have faith in my wife to be a solid person. I have faith that God is a loving God. In a way I am certain of these things. I am not certain that Jesus bodily rose from the dead but do trust his teachings and am loyal to his pathway. Does this mean I am not faithful to Jesus?

 

steve

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There are many definitions and explanations of faith above and all of them are worth consideration. Some are flowery methaphor and others quotations. They all address a subject about as hard to pin down as nailing jelly to a flagpole. I will offer my thoughts to the mix.

As I see things there are different degrees of faith that range from what I call a lazy blind faith to rational faith where there is reason to think something is true. Blind faith is when it's just easier to say "I believe" than it is to question and reason. I look at religious faith as this kind of easy faith; to me it is irrational. There are those who want so badly to believe that they simply throw reason out the window for the sake of having strong faith that they believe is a gift from god who they want to please by accepting his gift.

 

I never really felt free until I finally realized that there is no need for me to please god or be afraid of god. I understand the truth of the golden rule of all religions and of no religions. I have a rational faith that I am here for a reason and that reason is to continue evolution as a quantum part of the whole.

 

I am not religious in that I don't subscribe to any creed or religious belief that requires me to believe anything irrational. I'm a skeptic. Blind faith is faith without reason and is irrational. I've expressed my views on belief many times and don't use the word in the positive term as in "I believe"; I prefer to say "I think" instead. I've expressed my thoughts on god and faith and belief in other posts here.

 

There is a reasoned faith that has proven necessary for evolution. The evolutionary advantage is demonstrated in scientific process. When experiments are conducted based on empirical evidence of previous steps there is reasoned faith that certain outcomes will continue to hold true. Empirical evidence is evidence of our senses and our senses sometimes deceive our brain into a wrong conclusion; yet we still have faith in our senses because they are usually right and that makes it reasonable. Without this reasoned faith science would not advance and evolution of knowledge would not be exponential.

 

 

David Hume had this to say in 1737 about The Problem of Induction.

 

"All arguments concerning existence are founded on the relation of cause and effect; that our knowledge of that relation is derived entirely from experience; and all our experimental conclusions proceed upon the supposition that the future will be conformable to the past. .... Without the influence of custom, we should be entirely ignorant of every matter of fact beyond what is immediately present to the memory and senses."

 

It depends on how one defines god whether it is rational or irrational. If god is defined as depicted in most religions, a sentient being of infinite power and knowledge who lives in a place called heaven it is irrational.

 

There is difference between a skeptical view and a cynical view. In terms of belief in god a skeptic is one who does not believe in the god of the bible because there is insufficient proof. A cynic is one who believes the negative regardless of proof. I am a skeptic.

 

I think of god as the life force or the prime cause of evolution, not the creator of all things in the universe but the energy everything is made of. I have rational faith in the natural laws that govern the universe and think the universe itself is rational and understandable.

 

If it is rational then all natural laws are resolved in the universal life Force which has always existed and always will exist. It is because the universal life force is pure energy and can neither be created nor destroyed that it existed before all known and unknown dimensions of the universe and it cannot be limited by any dimension but is expressed throughout the entire universe causing all other forms of energy and matter to interact, cooperate and organize in the one thing they share, infinite space. To me god is synonymous with universal life force; humankind is simply a logical part of evolution that began at the big bang as the universal life force began expressing itself.

 

I think of God as a word to reference universal life force, the prime cause of all that exists. I think of it this way so as not to confuse universal life force with an anthropomorphized being that created the universe in 7 days and that is treated as a deity by many major religions.

 

I think of my mind as my soul and my consciousness as the experience of the life energy that keeps my body alive and self conscious between birth and death.

 

I see no need for such a being, deity or entity as the anthropomorphized god except as an instrument to explain the unknown to children and those who believe they need to fear or worship a deity; to be good, or else go to hell. The anthropomorphized God concept is also quite useful in organized religion for controlling followers and to explain the unknown causes of suffering and being.

 

I think man created God in his own image in his mind, not the other way around. I think man evolved naturally through the universal life force as did the entire universe. I find no reason to think there is a heaven or a hell. If god is life and god is love and god is truth then god is in us all and heaven and hell are constructs of some ancient evolving reasoning that served the purpose at the time.

 

Science struggles with the question of when life first appeared on the planet and what caused the first single cell and how was it able to replicate itself. My contention is that life was always here in quantum measure and is a force field throughout the universe. Time space and all other forces and dimensions emerged from it.

 

It is easier to believe in magic or miracles than to seek and learn the truth. History is rife with examples of wrong beliefs caused by ignorance, arrogance, intellectual laziness and group think. Witness how long the Catholic Church denied that the earth traveled around the sun and how long men believed the earth was flat and that if you went to the edge you would fall off never to be seen again. These ideas were intuitive for the time and were believed to be true. If such belief was taught by the church it was dogma and the church wasn't going to change its teaching just because a few new facts got in the way. We are taught from early on that having faith is a supernatural gift and without it we will not be saved. Have faith that god created us and loves us and has a perfect plan for us. How self serving is that?

 

Evolution gets in the way of creation, original sin and redemption dogma. There is no need for redemption if there is no original sin and there is no original sin if there is no creation of man by an anthropomorphic god. If there is no original sin and no need for redemption there is no need for a religion that claims to be the redemptive path to salvation; salvation from what?

 

It is not my intention to convert anyone to my current understanding, only to explain how I got here. My ideas of god and universal life force have evolved over the course of my life and I think I am getting closer to the truth. I contemplate this theory of the universal life force on a continuing basis and especially as I write and read my own thoughts. I am happy to discuss them with others.

 

Stephen Hawking wrote the following final thought in his book, "A brief History of Time – From the big bang to black holes", regarding the grand unification theory.

 

"If we discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable by everyone, not just by a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we should know the mind of God."

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Harry,

 

I really enjoyed reading your very thoughtful post . I especially liked these two sentences.......

 

"I think of god as the life force or the prime cause of evolution, not the creator of all things in the universe but the energy everything is made of. "

 

"I think of God as a word to reference universal life force, the prime cause of all that exists."

 

As far as your use of the word "rational" and "irrational" within your post, i find it personally is a very subjective word. What is rational to one is to me obviously not necessarily rational to another so those terms are only relative to me.

 

I think the Hawkins quote at the end supposes that reason will take us there. On the other hand it is my view, reason is not required to know the mind of God by virtue of God being the very source of the life force by which reason even exists. That which is created is, in my view, not able to see past itself.

 

Thanks for the thoughtful post,

 

Joseph

 

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I never really felt free until I finally realized that there is no need for me to please god or be afraid of god. I understand the truth of the golden rule of all religions and of no religions. I have a rational faith that I am here for a reason and that reason is to continue evolution as a quantum part of the whole.

 

 

 

Harry, this expresses what I think precisely (please take a look at the thread entitled Religion vs Magic). It was a true pleasure reading you post. Well said and far more thought out than I've been able to articulate. How long of a period of time did it take for you to come full circle?

 

I think I'm at about 89% there.

 

NORM

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Harry,

 

I really enjoyed reading your very thoughtful post . I especially liked these two sentences.......

 

"I think of god as the life force or the prime cause of evolution, not the creator of all things in the universe but the energy everything is made of. "

 

"I think of God as a word to reference universal life force, the prime cause of all that exists."

 

As far as your use of the word "rational" and "irrational" within your post, i find it personally is a very subjective word. What is rational to one is to me obviously not necessarily rational to another so those terms are only relative to me.

 

I think the Hawkins quote at the end supposes that reason will take us there. On the other hand it is my view, reason is not required to know the mind of God by virtue of God being the very source of the life force by which reason even exists. That which is created is, in my view, not able to see past itself.

 

Thanks for the thoughtful post,

 

Joseph

 

 

 

 

Hi Joseph,

 

I agree that rational and irrational are subjective and depend upon personal perspective. There was a time when it was rational to think that the earth was flat and the sun revolved around the earth. Copernicus was believed to be irrational when he said the opposite was true. I think the more knowledge a person has the more rational they can be not necessarily the more rational they will be. I've know some very intelligent people whose rationality seemed to be suspended when it came to religious dogma. I was that way for a long time and I know why. I was living in a community of catholic families and all my friends were like me, believers. It wasn't until I moved far away from that community and lost daily contact with my friends and family members that I was able to even ask the question "Why do I believe?"

 

I ended up in a liberal college town in the bible belt of south central Indiana. I was exposed to different ideas and made new friends that were just as kind and loving as those I left but the difference was they were for the most part more highly educated in the arts and sciences and not in trades and production. I found I could relate much better on technical and philosophical levels with them than I could with my old group of dear friends who only talked about family, the weather, sports and what Fr. Brown said in his sermon on Sunday. I took the time to study my religion from an intellectual and historical standpoint and realized that the faith the church asked of me was indeed irrational from my new perspective. At first I felt guilty about losing my faith as though I had lost something valuable I had been trusted to nurture. I have since realized that my faith isn't lost but has grown and expanded to include a much deeper understanding through reason. My faith is now what I refer to as rational faith. My life is better because I no longer have stress from guilt that religion brings with it.

 

I like Stephen Hawking's closing because it makes sense to me. If we are able to understand the life force, the causal primary energy through which all things are connected in space and why we are here as sentient beings it will be through reason based on knowing our causal relationship with things. It will be deduced through logic not induced through empirical proof which is based upon our senses which can mislead us. It will be perfect truth and will be understandable by all. The mind of god is a metaphor for understanding perfect truth through deduction. I don't understand god as the cause of life force but that the life force and god are synonymous. Starting with "I think therefore I am" and concluding with a rational faith that if I know the causal relationships between things I can deduce truth.

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Starting with "I think therefore I am" and concluding with a rational faith that if I know the causal relationships between things I can deduce truth.

 

 

Harry,

 

Have you ever thought it might be more advantageous to start with "I am therefore I think" . I know you were quoting Rene Descartes' but it is my personal view and experience that he had it incorrectly stated and therefore his conclusions might be different..

 

Joseph

 

BTW I am not very knowledgeable concerning either Hawkings or Descartes'.

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Harry,

 

Have you ever thought it might be more advantageous to start with "I am therefore I think" . I know you were quoting Rene Descartes' but it is my personal view and experience that he had it incorrectly stated and therefore his conclusions might be different..

 

Joseph

 

BTW I am not very knowledgeable concerning either Hawkings or Descartes'.

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Descartes did it correctly. His question was do I really exist not must I think because I exist. If he asked if he must think he must first ask the existence question. He could exist without thinking but he could not think without existing. In a logical argument we use a premise or a set of premises known to be true and deduce a conclusion. The conclusion will be true and logically reliable as a premise in further arguments. His premise was he knows that he thinks, his conclusion was that he must exist in order to think.

 

He could have said, "I hear therefore I am" or "I smell therefore I am" and still been correct because he would be saying he must exist to experience his senses but he could not have reversed those statements and said "I am therefore I hear or smell, or taste, or touch or see. He could exist without those senses and he could exist without thinking.

 

Can you explain your view and experience that shows he stated his argument incorrectly? You are correct in saying that had he stated it incorrectly that his conclusions could have been different but I think I have shown that he stated it correctly and that his conclusion was correct.

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Thanks Harry,

I have no logic training except with computer hardware troubleshooting so don't expect much. :lol:

 

Yet before I think, I know that I am. Though one may say they exist because they think. Existence preceded thinking and thinking is not a requirement to know existence. How do i know this? Not because I think or logic or reason. More a oneness that is ever present but not always realized with what you call 'life force', 'prime cause', 'energy' , etc that is inexpressible in words or thought but can be subjectively experienced.

 

Sorry i probably haven't said much to explain anything to your satisfaction but i would think you might have expected such. :)

 

Joseph

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Harry, this expresses what I think precisely (please take a look at the thread entitled Religion vs Magic). It was a true pleasure reading you post. Well said and far more thought out than I've been able to articulate. How long of a period of time did it take for you to come full circle?

 

I think I'm at about 89% there.

 

NORM

 

 

 

Norm,

 

This is a long story and I know more than you asked for. The short answer is it took me about 20 years.

 

I began questioning the Catholic faith sometime after I was 25 years old. I dropped out of regular church attendance after leaving the seminary when I was 14 years old. I dropped out of the seminary because I was in infatuated with a girl and couldn't imagine how a man could live a life of celibacy. Hormones are coming in like the monsoons at that age. I dropped in and out of regular church attendance for the next 20 or so years.

 

I got married at age 25 I figured that there was no hope for me so I might just as well enjoy life. Then a close uncle died and I went through some kind of religious revival and wanted to become a role model for my kids who were coming of age to be indoctrinated into the faith. I began a new self employed career in my early 40's and started attending church daily. I began teaching Catholic Confraternity Doctrine (CCD) to high school students and became a communion minister. I was very serious about my faith and it was perhaps the most important thing in my life during that period. My wife was diagnosed with cancer and during the period of her illness my faith and our faith community were our crutch. After three years of suffering her pancreatic cancer was cured but her liver was destroyed by the chemotherapy. Faith and prayer did not keep her alive but the knowledge that she died with her family all around her after receiving the last rights gave me some comfort in my period of grief.

 

I had many friends who were priests and deacons and they encouraged me to enter the deaconate program to become a deacon or maybe a priest. That was not the life I wanted with three adolescents to raise without a mom but it was considered for a brief time. Three months after my wife died I got a sympathy note from my old high school girlfriend and we began writing each other (this was before the internet and email). Then something very unexpected happened; I found myself in the hospital having a quad bypass and I thought I might be joining my wife in heaven soon. I came through it without a hitch and have not had another problem with my heart since then.

 

By this time I had been communicating with my former girlfriend and she was going to be in my part of the state on business so she dropped by to visit me. This was a couple of months after my surgery. We visited, went to dinner and talked about old times and before we knew it the fire of love was raging again. We decided to get married but there was a question of her being previously divorced. She had been married for 7 years and was married in the Greek Orthodox Church. I could not marry her unless she could get an annulment. This would have been simple because the Orthodox priest was in agreement to give the annulment but she had to prove she was married first which she couldn't do because she had been married in Greece and didn't even know the name of the church. In Greece at that time everyone was married in the church. We went through all the hoops with the Catholic marriage tribunal and learned there were many bureaucratic procedures to go through, each costing more and more money. I became obvious that the religion was set up around a fee for services schedule. This is when I really began questioning the authenticity and sincerity of the church.

 

We were married in a civil ceremony but I was allowed to continue receiving the sacraments as a catholic in good standing because of the process of internal forum. This process basically says if I am convinced that I am in good conscience committing no sin by marrying a divorcee that I'm ok with God. I continued attending mass and receiving the sacraments weekly because we no longer lived close enough to church to attend daily. During the next 5 years I saw one of the pastors leave the church over the celibacy issue, another arrested for homosexual activity at a truck stop and a third leave his ministry and marry the wife of a man who he was acting as marriage counselor for. During this same time my new wife was considering taking instructions to become Catholic. It was then it all came together for me that this catholic religion and all other organized religions are there for power and wealth of the heriarchy of the church. The teachers had lost their credibility and I couldn't believe them anymore.

 

Throughout my life I have always tried to learn the truth and the truth I've learned is there is no reason to believe anything that cannot be reasonably presented and argued. Nothing about the various religious creeds of any religion I'm aware of can be reasonably argued. Having faith in the irrational is not a gift to be treasured but a weight to be discarded so people can be free to think for themselves.

 

I'm now 70 years old, still in good health and I practice the basics of living and treating others as I would want to be treated. I feel liberated from all religious guilt and have no reason to think there will be anything in the form of a reward or punishment when I die. I think there is a possibility that I have a soul that may, when this body dies, move out and take up residence in another body, maybe human maybe not. I think my soul is the part of the life force that makes me who I am and when who I am is dead the soul will continue as life force or the other name for life force, GOD. I think our souls are all connected as a universal soul of humanity and this connects us all as one organisim.

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Thanks Harry,

I have no logic training except with computer hardware troubleshooting so don't expect much. :lol:

 

Yet before I think, I know that I am. Though one may say they exist because they think. Existence preceded thinking and thinking is not a requirement to know existence. How do i know this? Not because I think or logic or reason. More a oneness that is ever present but not always realized with what you call 'life force', 'prime cause', 'energy' , etc that is inexpressible in words or thought but can be subjectively experienced.

 

Sorry i probably haven't said much to explain anything to your satisfaction but i would think you might have expected such. :)

 

Joseph

 

 

Joseph,

You subjectively experience anything within your sensibility and that is proof to you that you exist. Your existance preceeded your experience. Your experience is your subjective proof of existance not the other way around.

 

Existence preceded thinking and thinking is not a requirement to know existence.

 

You are correct but this is not what Descartes said; he implied thinking is a proof of existance not a requirement. He didn't say it was the only proof of existance; any subjective experience would prove existance.

 

 

The larger question is one you have not answered and that is how would stating a logical truth differently change your subsequent conclusions.

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Joseph,

You subjectively experience anything within your sensibility and that is proof to you that you exist. Your existance preceeded your experience. Your experience is your subjective proof of existance not the other way around.

My subjective experience is not proof of anything. It is just a subjective experience.

 

You are correct but this is not what Descartes said; he implied thinking is a proof of existance not a requirement. He didn't say it was the only proof of existance; any subjective experience would prove existance.

 

It seems to me thinking is proof of thinking, Existence itself is proof of existence.

 

The larger question is one you have not answered and that is how would stating a logical truth differently change your subsequent conclusions.

Perhaps one would find "I am" is not logical. It is a priori. No more can be said of it.

 

Perhaps, i still have said nothing nor explained anything. :) Oh well, Peace.

Joseph

 

Harry, BTW, Your story above may be inspirational to others here. Perhaps it could go well in more detail under the Stories and Journeys section of the forum if you get the time to share more. It may help others on a similar journey. Sorry, I have digressed you from the topic of faith here.

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