Wrestling with Faith.

(DISCLAIMER: THIS POST IS MY PERSONAL STRUGGLE.  I WANTED TO SHARE IT BECAUSE I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE HONEST ABOUT DOUBT, AND HAVE THE FREEDOM AND SECURITY TO QUESTION FAITH OPENLY.  IT SHOULD BE A TOPIC OF CONVERSATION.  WITHOUT QUESTIONING WHAT WE BELIEVE, HOW CAN WE TRULY BELIEVE IT? THESE VIEWS ARE MY OWN AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF OTHER REVOLUTION STAFFERS.  I HOPE TO EXPLORE MORE ON THIS IN THE FUTURE.  -BEN)

Wrestling with Faith

Losing it, or at least doubting and questioning it, is a hard thing to do.  I’m not sure how to deal with it.   I want to explore it, but the more I do, the more frustrated I get.  I want to try and write about it, but I think I am nervous about doing that too.  What if I have been wrong all this time and there’s nothing to believe in?

It is all in our own power as people to be strong.  I love the social responsibility of the liberal church, but I think to myself, why do I have to give credit to God or Jesus for this inspiration?  Why can’t it just be me seeing what needs to be done and doing my best to make sure it gets done?  Why do I have to say, “Oh I’m worthless without God,” rather than embracing that fact that I did something good?

I don’t think I buy into the concept of original sin either.  Come on, we are all shitty people and can’t do anything on our own worthwhile, because we are flawed?  We are being punished because a couple (whose origins are sketchy at best) desired to know more and made a mistake? Since when is curiosity a punishable offense?  So bad of an offense in fact, that all of mankind for eternity should pay the price for it?  Come on.  If this God is real and all that we say He is, why would He create a being that couldn’t be with Him with out a buffer to cover the door fee, if the entire purpose of creation was to relieve his loneliness?  It seems like an all powerful Omnipotent being could do a little better.

I know the argument: “God gives us free will so that we have the choice, and choosing is what makes it ultimately an act of love to follow God.”

Bullshit.

I think that maybe we use the excuse of freewill to explain why we have impulses that seem to go against our perception of “God’s will”. We use it as a scapegoat.  I do things that are good or not good because I have an idea of how my actions affect the world around me, not because God is “convicting my heart.”

The Bible is the cornerstone of the Christian faith.  Without it, there is no Christianity, like it or not.  You can argue that it is not important to you and that you (despite being a Christian) don’t worry too much about the Bible.  But the fact remains: no Bible, no Christian faith.  Without it there would be no record of the faith outside of stories passed orally down through time, which is what they were for a few hundred years until they were written down.  Christ’s life, death and resurrection were all accounted for in the bible.

But how can we trust the Bible?  As mentioned above, it is a written form of an oral tradition.  That’s real reliable, especially if you want to base a dogma of moral correctness on it.  Hell, less then 50 years after the death of the King of Rock and Roll (Elvis), first person accounts (the cooks) can’t agree on the recipe for the royal fried chicken.  How can we trust stories passed down over hundreds of years to be fact, without any hyperbole?  It just doesn’t jive.

Have you ever doubted your faith? do you have no faith in religion? why not? why do you?  i’m intrested to hear what other people think about this.  please comment and lets have us a discussion.

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15 Responses to Wrestling with Faith.

  1. Caryn says:

    I have doubted my faith, and it led me to become the atheist that I am today. It began when I was young and questioning whether heaven and hell could both exist; if God was as forgiving as church said he was, wouldn’t everyone make it into heaven? The more I learned about science and nature led me to believe that there is a natural explanation for everything; whether we can discover that explanation in our lifetimes or with our limited human capabilities is another question altogether.

    I don’t believe in original sin, but I believe that teaching in my youth has led me to have the problems I have today about feeling like I am a worthy and lovable person.

  2. Caryn says:

    This post covered a lot (the veracity of the Bible, original sin, etc), so I’m a little flummoxed about how to comment well. But what I wrote above got me thinking back again to how I came to not believe in God, so I’m just going to keep writing that.

    My early thoughts were that, but really, it was more about: the same thing must happen to everyone after they die. For what I knew about nature, there was no way that some people went one place and some people went somewhere else. Which led me to believe that there was no Judge. And if there’s no judge, then morality is all man-made. So all that we do is because it’s what’s right for people and our communities, not what some abstract says This is Right, and This is Wrong. And so if there’s no judge, what is god? A creator? Again, my science education led me to believe, as I wrote above, that there is a natural explanation for everything. I don’t believe in the supernatural. I believe something natural — which is likely beyond our human comprehension — set it all into motion.

  3. Dinah says:

    Head’s up: typo in the 3rd paragraph you probably want to fix: “So bad f an offence in fact” => “So bad of an offense in fact”

  4. Ben says:

    thanks, got it.

  5. allyson says:

    i believe in people, not god. I guess I more often side with the “religion is the opiate of the masses” kind of mindset. I respect each persons individual subscription to (faith) and I suppose it just happens then, that my faith is in humanity, in love, and in the stars. I take personal responsibility for my own moral compass and I live for today, because isn’t every day heaven? Ah, yes, let love rule, and all that jazz. Tally-ho.

  6. Tyler says:

    Man, I’ve doubted my faith, a lot. I doubted it out of existence in my late teens and only in the past year (4-5 years later) have i been able to understand what faith really is.

    Being involved with punk music from the time i was a little kid really taught me to question things, every authority, every direction i was told to go. And now having gone through 4 years of university education, where faith in anything other than science is out rightly attacked and considered intellectually inferior and stupid. I guess it’s kind of ironic that I’ve rediscovered the vitality of my faith under these conditions.

    I started reading Soren Kierkegaard and Leo Tolstoy, that was pretty huge. There’s this whole conflict between faith and reason, like you have to draw the line for yourself; where reason ends and faith begins. All i can really say is that being crushed under the weight of God’s redemptive love changed everything. I don’t know how or why, it just did.

    It made me realize that the only thing i know, the only thing i care to realize or care to hide away from doubt and skepticism is Jesus on the cross and i would spend my life believing that and trying to understand more about it. I know that we can question whether Jesus really was the son of God and we can question what his crucifixion means but i feel there is a deeper dimension to really believing. There is something so powerful in choosing to believe.

    I think too, if you look historically at those who were true skeptics, those who doubted absolutely everything. The brilliant intellects like Frederich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, and Jean-Paul Sartre. They were so honest, they were real philosophers, they really lived what they believed. And with all of them, and many others like them you can see a dreariness, almost a hopelessness as their writings progress.

    This is pretty long, but i wanted to reply because i know what doubting is like, at least within my own life. You touched on a lot of really deep and expansive topics, i could probably keep going but this is already way out of hand.

  7. Jamie says:

    The Bible has always been the bane of my existence! It has such great and terrible things in it that led I just can’t trust all the nitty-gritty details. This is what lead me away from the church in the first place. I wanted answers and they refused to give me ones that made any sense….
    ..

    So I guess what I’m trying to say is I think a lot of the things in there stem from the time and society it was written in

    …Because my god is just not that petty

    …but humans are…

    Its the message and the heart that matters and I think a lot of that survives in the current book. You just have to weed through the bull….and well..I could go on…but this is getting long…so just…trust in God…hes way more important than any book.

  8. Jake says:

    To quote Mr. Darnielle:

    “Yeah, they were men on a mission,
    Preserving their poetry by oral tradition
    Yeah, oral tradition is all you get
    Until Saint Augustine brought in the alphabet.”

  9. Caryn says:

    @Tyler: “And with all of them, and many others like them you can see a dreariness, almost a hopelessness as their writings progress.”

    For what it’s worth, I’ve found a lot of inspiration and joy and freedom and humility and wonder in my atheism.

  10. Tyler says:

    Caryn, I get that and understand it. I have friends who would say that as well. It depends on how you approach it and the people i mentioned were philosophers, so they were solely concerned with uncovering truth.

    I would imagine you have found a place to rest your faith?

    They didn’t place they’re faith in anything, not themselves are not their fellow brothers and sisters. I think that was their downfall.

  11. Caryn says:

    @Tyler: I’d love to answer your question, but I’m not exactly sure what you mean.

  12. Cloak says:

    The God of the Bible never asks anyone for blind faith. Reasonable faith is possible and testable. Read the Genesis story of Abraham’s life and you can see a man learning (over eight decades) how God can be trusted. When God called him to leave his father and take only his wife and head into the lands God would show him, Abe was so faithful and trusting that he didn’t do anything for five years, and then he took his nephew as well as his wife. He had to test God’s promises again and again and see that it was completely reasonable to have faith. He’s a good example to us in that he never gave up his search, even after those encounters where he let his doubts overcome his faith for a time.

    This is the real Bible that most people don’t bother to understand: It’s not some book God dictated as an instruction book for us; it’s the narrative of how the people he created have chosen to interact with him throughout history. It’s the story of a creator who built his creation to achieve great things, but also allowed them to choose not to. The most amazing thing about God and his grace are that he continues to try to give it to us again and again, long after a human being would just write us off.

    The Bible is the most unblinking recording of human life ever put into physical form. All the good, all the ugly, preserved for everyone to see. Sometimes we do horrible things to each other, and sometimes we do those things in the name of God. He didn’t sugarcoat anything, but let it all be laid bare. Brutal honesty combined with tenderhearted mercy – that’s the Creator God I worship and follow, and that’s the true face of the God of the Bible, if you look for it.

  13. Tyler says:

    @Caryn: I mean what is it that informs you about the world around you? What helps you to make sense of everything? Or do you feel some things are better left a mystery?

    I guess that’s what i mean by faith, it’s hard to explain. In reference to the philosophers i mentioned above, they lost all faith, they didn’t trust humanity so they couldn’t place their faith in anything. For them, that position became unbearable. Maybe that position is completely alright for some people.. I don’t really know where this is going.

  14. Liz says:

    I was raised in a southern u.s., baptist household and attended a private, protestant school. Around my early teens, I remember rapidly cycling through a belief phase ranging from deep unwaivering belief in the Christian trilogy to outright disgust at organized religion. But even then, and the now subsequent decade, I have never doubted within myself that there is a Being to believe in. So my doubt was really rooted in the details concerning what religions are ‘correct’ and which are not. My internal, personal belief in a creator reassures me that choosing an organized religion with a guidebook (new testament, koran, torah, buddhavacana, the scientific method…) needn’t be such a gutwrenching, torrid affair. Religion can be a tool, a piece of software even, you choose to upload and use as a way to systematically understand what you feel.
    We are human beings spread out over a diverse geo-social planet. We don’t usually get to choose what religions or truths will influence us. But, we get to choose which organized religion, private faith, or meditation to ‘believe’ in.
    Thus, for me, I celebrate the struggle between matching that internal, nagging search for truth and that software you choose to upload.

  15. Meg says:

    Faith is the single most easily doubted thing in our hearts and minds.
    Whether you are Christian, Jewish, Buddist, whatever.. there will always be stumbling blocks in the road of faith. Whether you believe that those blocks were placed there by g-d, satan, or whoever.. they are there, and ultimately, they test us. That is the purpose of those moments.. to test our ability to hold true to our actions, our words, our hearts, and our religious beliefs.
    I have strong faith in g-d to keep an eye on me, to be there when I need a boost up, to be there when I am in despair, or in celebration. I’ve lost that in lower moments, but ALWAYS find it again quickly, and with more fervor. g-d IS there, at least by my thinking. Doesn’t matter what your idea of g-d is.. there is a higher power keeping tabs on us.
    That is something I have faith in.

    For me, the idea of original sin is appalling, and not a part of my religious background. I’ve never grasped the concept. We are human, we make mistakes. We lie, cheat, steal, and cover up our messes. g-d forgives us those things, but also instills in us the ability to choose.. makes us less than perfect so we can try and achieve more. We are not paying for the faults of those that lived in the garden.. we pay for our own faults and troubles.

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