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Faith in God. What does it mean?

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by Coriolis, Dec 13, 2002.

  1. Coriolis

    Coriolis Bob's your uncle

    In trying to think how to broach this topic, I could only come up with the following -- First let me share something with you.

    I grew up Protestant, in the Anglican Church. My family I would not describe as an over-the-top religious bunch, but it was always there. Church on Sunday, Sunday school classes as a kid, confirmation in my early teens (catechism to you Catholics), you know, that sort of thing. I remember Sunday school classes, and bringing home these little booklets with bible stories which we were supposed to get something from, generally a moral of some sort I guess. But I mainly daydreamed in church and Sunday school. My mother, who was the more devout parent (my father only went to church on Christmas) was very adamant that her children hold strong to a faith in God, and develop an unfettered love of Jesus Christ the savior. It was never shoved down our throats, just highly encouraged. This was, after all, how she was brought up. So I felt compelled to take church seriously, and to love Jesus and put my faith in God. It never made sense to me, but I pretended it did. As I got older (in my early teens) I attended a church group of youths, mainly by nagging encouragement but also because I guess I wanted to try. But again, always felt on the outside. I was lacking a fundamental component that all the others appeared to have seemingly without effort -- faith.

    Although I was unable to analyze it at the time, without faith in God I could not love Jesus. I could not love Jesus because I did not accept in my heart that Jesus was the son of God. The stark realization that I was not by definition a "Christian" came to me in later years, but at the time it was simply lack of faith. It became clear to me, this lack of faith, through my prayer practices, well before I truly understood my beliefs (or lack thereof). It all started by feeling excessively burdened by having to say my prayers at night, but feeling guilty for not saying them. So I started to skip nights -- every second night became a prayer night. That became too burdensome, but not wanting to skip too many nights, I started saying a weeks worth of prayers once a week. Thats right, Id repeat them seven times! Well, it was not long after this that I finally faced the music and realized this church and God and Jesus thing just wasnt working out for me. And for the first time in my life I felt free. Not free as in now Ill just do anything I damn well please (the basic commandments taught by the bible did make sense to me on a fundamental level, though I never truly understood what coveting my neighbors ass was all about), but free from the guilt of not having faith. I was probably about 13 or 14 when this happened.

    So now Im 37, approaching the start of middle age (Christ, parish the thought!). I am a decent, humble person (though I know at least one person here who thinks otherwise, but thats ok). I do not steal, I do not lie (within reason, of course), I respect my elders, and I respect people in general. I am fair. I do not boast about my positive qualities, nor do I try to hide my negative qualities. I do not kill. Essentially I live my life pretty much according to an ethic that fits pretty much into all the major religions. Yet, I do not have faith in God. I did not say I do not believe in a god (note lower case g), I just do not have faith in one. I do not love Jesus, though I am interested in Jesus as a person. Im sure he was a great person, like many other great people who came before and after him. But I do not love him. And I think its safe to say I never will.

    So, what does faith in God, Allah, Vishnu, Buddah, the creator, mean to you? Is it something you can rationalize, or just feel? How does it factor into who you are as a person? If you lost your faith, what would happen to you?

    I dont want to limit this to a discussion on Christrianity. Id like to hear from those of Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, etc. faiths, as well as agnostics and atheists. And I know this can be a touchy topic for some, but Im also hoping we can have an intelligent, open minded, discussion.

    <small>Also, I'm not even sure this is right forum for this discussion, so mods feel free to move elsewhere, as long as everyone can participate.</small>
     
  2. HaYwIrE

    HaYwIrE Banned

    I was born and raised a Southern Baptist. Although I do still hold many of the morals upheld by the Christian faith, I no longer believe in God in the Biblical sense.

    At first, I thought he was just another Santa Claus/Easter Bunny story. Then I came to believe that God, Allah, Buddah or any other "man-made" God is nothing more than humanity's fear that death is the end.

    People hope and "pray" for something better than what they see on Earth. I think that many think that if they pray hard enough, they'll have it handed to them. Then you have the ones who live the "gospel life"... work hard to live within the guidelines that their God has set forth for them.

    Religion sucks. It's nothing more than politics thrown to destroy true spirituality. I think George Carlin sums it up pretty well when he stated...

    "<i>Religion has actually convinced people that there's an invisible man who lives up in the sky... who watches everything you do every single minute of every day. And he has ten specific things that he does not want you to do. And if you disobey any of these ten rules, he has a special place set aside for you full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish where he will send you to live and suffer and choke and burn and scream and cry for ever and ever until the end of time.....

    But he loves you. :huh:

    He loves you and he needs <b>MONEY</b>! He always needs money!

    He's all powerful... all knowing... all seeing and all wise... some how... <b><i>JUST CAN'T HANDLE MONEY</b></i>?!?!?!

    Religion takes in billions of dollars... They pay no taxes... and they always need a little more. :huh:

    But ya know... When it comes to believing in God, I really tried. I tried to believe that there is a God who created each of us in his own image and likeness, loves us very much and keeps a close eye on things. But I gotta tell ya... the more ya look around... the more you look at things... you've gotta realize...

    Something is fucked up. :mad:

    War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, poverty, filth, torture crime, corruption and the Ice Capades. :huh:

    Something is definately wrong here. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like this do not belong on the resume of a supreme being. This is the kinda shit you'd expect from an office temp with a bad attitude!

    Just between you and I... This guy would have been out on his all-powerful ass a long time ago! And by the way... I say this "<b>guy</b>" because I firmly believe that after looking at these results... if there is a God, it <b>HAS</b> to be a <b><u>man</u></b>. No woman could or would ever fuck things up like this!

    Sooooo....

    I think that most resonable people would agree that, after looking at these results and if there is a God he's at least incompetent and just <b>MAYBE</b> doesn't give a shit......</i>"

    Yeah, I guess you could say I've lost my "faith" in the idea that an almighty entity exists. And if he does, he's an asshole.
     
  3. ditch

    ditch Downunder Member

    Coriolis, Speaking from a Christian perspective, I don't think that there is a rational basis to religious faith. Either you have faith in your religion or you rationalise and then you find that you cannot do both at the same time. You have to put reason and logic aside if you are to have faith in a Christian God. Like you guys, I was bouht up as a Christian but for me there were too many conflicts with sense, logic and rationale and faith. Faith lost out. I never could and still cannot understand AT ALL, the sense of saying that God so loved us that he gave his son to die for our sins???????? Can anyone explain the reasoning here? What good was done when Christ died?

    As for other religions and why they have the strength of belief in their respective gods, I can but guess.
     
  4. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Great topic, Cor, (and great Avatar) and instead of giving you the same thing as Haywire did (I've quoted that Carlin bit for years now) I'd rather hear it from the more religious folk of this forum.

    Personally, I think that religion has been used, abused, and spat upon -- rightly and wrongly from all over the world, from the entire years of our existence. But I do recognize a need for it.

    Now belief in a higher order, or deity is something I believe in. It's not intelligent design, but I believe in powers beyond our comprehension.

    No, no invisible man is controlling everyone and listening to their prayers. But there is some form of an entity that makes sure that the planets spin the way they should and rotate around other planets. If it is done now, or was done in the design of the universal bodies, I do not know. The foundation is built, it's there.
     
  5. bruzzes

    bruzzes Truthslayer

    I too was brought up in an organized religion. In my case it was the Roman Catholic church. I attended a catholic elementary school, was an altar boy and sang in the church choir. There were periods of time when I was quite devout and attended church daily.

    I "lost that faith" at 20 yrs of age due to a disagreement with God on what I considered my wants and needs.

    My life was forever changed by reading a book by Herman Hesse called "Siddhartha." I had been struggling with the philosophical questions of who am I and why am I here, and this book made sense to the chaotic world around me. This book introduced me to the concept of re-incarnation. That concept was the key that married the religious content of the Catholic Church teachings to the radical perspective of the Eastern religions.

    The concept was important because it forced me to look at all the different types of people here on Earth and to understand that basically we are all a small part of the whole, and that whole is God. "The whole I", or if you prefer the word "HOLY". It taught me about science and how various vibrations fields exists. Just as we see only a limited spectrum of visible light, I can aquait that analogy to the physical world. Having discovered a way to learn that invisible to our eyes there are other spectrums of light such as ultra light and infra light correlate to the thought that higher vibrations of physical matter can also exist that are also invisible to our eyes. One can label this the astral field where ghosts may exist and dreams come forth. This explains to me how the angels can exist on a higher level of vibrational fields than the astral, and how they can lower their vibration to become visible in our physical world.

    The ideas presented by the Christian religions and the bible can, as we know , have numerous interpretations. My favorite is the verse that Man should have dominion over the birds in the air, the fish in the sea, the animals of the earth...
    This concept was always puzzling to me until I saw those words with different meanings. Looked at this way, Man should have dominion over the birds in the air can mean man must have control over the "Thoughts in his head". The fish in the sea can mean man must have control over his "emotions" and of course man must have control over his "appetites" or lower nature.

    This helps me understand that as we must be perfect to enter the kingdom of heaven it is necessary to learn and overcome the baser elements of our nature. To become perfect in one lifetime must be quite rare. The karma we all hear about comes from those lessons learned and the lessons one has not mastered.

    I am sure I could go on for many pages on this philosophy, but I realize how foreign it may sound to many.

    What helps me in my time of need, (the soul searching), is that both the Buddha and Mary Madeline had issues in their life that were considered grievous "sins", they both were able to learn or overcome those lessons.

    Although faith must sometimes be without rhyme or reason, underneath it all is the purpose of it's existence. To carry us along in times of need .( or misunderstood direction)

    I better stop now before I confuse you all...;)
     
  6. jamming

    jamming Banned

    Oh boy a religious thread, that is or isn't down the toliet already!

    This is what I wrote about this issue one time and I don't think I can improve on it that much:

    Second thoughts on the issue.
    My final thoughts
    :happy: :happy: :happy:
     
  7. Frodo Lives

    Frodo Lives Luke, I am NOT your father!

    I agree with you 100%. Religion is a tool created to control people. If their is a God, I am sure this is NOT how he planed things to be. Maybe I am wrong, maybe God is a totalitarian dictator who wants to rule with an iron fist, but I doubt it. I really hope their is a hell, because I know many people who really deserve to live their for a couple millennium.
     
  8. rowd

    rowd Spark Maker

    Coriolis,

    I wondered and still do at times if I have the capacity to believe in God. Most of the time I do but like any other human I have doubt in my life.
    Science tells me that gravity holds the universe and most other things together.
    Can I see gravity? hold it? touch it? taste it? hear it?.......no.
    Do I believe it exists......yes. Why? because I have seen many small examples of it's existence, ...and though I cannot prove it.......I believe.
    When it comes to God, the Father, the Trinity,.....I believe.
    Why? Because I have seen many small examples in my life. Can I prove it? No.
    But........I believe.
    In my perspective and opinion, until you have a personal experience with the power and touch of God, you will have a very hard time believing in his existence.
    All I can say to you is:
    Seek and you will Find............Knock and the Door will be Opened
    If you are sincere......in your heart..........the Truth will become evident to you in your life.
    Good Luck:thumbsup:
     
  9. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    I'm not religious, but I have faith. Does that make sense?

    I rebelled early on in life - I was about 13, 14, and going to youth group, in preparation for my confirmation - I finally decided I had had enough of my church (New Apostle - not many of us around), and stopped going. I never got confirmed.

    If you ask my mother, she'll tell you that the bad shit in my life started happening around this time, because I stopped going to church. For a while, I even believed that. But if you ask me now, I'll tell you the bad shit happened in my life because I was 14, 15 years old, I thought I knew everything, and didn't have the intelligence to see that the people around me were trouble. I needed the bad shit to happen to me in order to knock some sense into me.

    I don't like religion. I feel about religion like Freud felt about it - it's the opiate of the people. A tool used by the rich a long time ago to control the uneducated peons that made up their towns and kingdoms. A long time has passed since those days, and the common person is more educated now than ever before - and yet, those in positions of authority in organized religion either don't see it, or refuse to accept it. I see the pedophile priest scandals as the beginning of the end for the Catholic religion. I don't necessarily believe it to be such a bad thing.

    I still have my faith, though. For a long time, I thought I didn't. But it's been there all along. It had to be, otherwise I am sure I would have gone through with my suicide attempts. I've been through a lot in my 27 years of life, and the fact that I'm still here is proof (to me anyway) that God was with me. Bad things happened to me, yes, but I'm not going to take that as proof that God doesn't exist. I actually take that as proof that God DOES exist - I made it out alive, didn't I?

    Bad things happen all the time. That's not God's fault. We have free will - we make choices every day, and for every choice, there is a consequence. For every situation we're confronted with, we have the choice to take it anywhere we want. That means wars, famine, poverty, etc etc, those are all the consequences of the choices people we put in power have made.

    I do think that because we're human, we need bad things to happen in order for us to learn. You can't tell when something's good until something bad happens. You don't truly appreciate what you have until it's gone. Sadly, that is our nature. But I don't hold God responsible for the choices I've made and the bad things that have happened.

    Yes, I've been angry at God many times - especially after my father died - I was angry at God because God 'let it happen'. But the truth of the matter is, my father died because he was sick and chose not to tell us what was wrong. It wasn't God's fault my father didn't confide in his family - it was my dad's fault. And my dad was a human being, fallible to the very end. And it wasn't God's fault that my father got sick - it was my dad's fault, for living the lifestyle of a smoker and alcoholic.

    It's easy to blame God when things go wrong, or say there is no God because bad things happen. It's always easier to pass the blame onto someone else than to look inside oneself and see the truth - that every single one of us is responsible for our actions, both individually and collectively. Until we each take responsibility for our actions and what those actions mean in the grand scheme of things (ie, their consequences), we'll never really grow.
     
  10. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    "Faith in God" - an interesting concept.

    I came to my faith relatively late in life, around 33 or so. I was not raised in a religious family and we never went to any services of any kind. I am not "born again", nor was I proselytized or otherwise "led" into a particular religion.

    I found the convictions of my faith after many years of reading about different faiths, organized religions, and belief systems; after many years of observing the natural world around me; after many years of paying attention to the interactions of people around me; and, please excuse the cliche, after many years of soul-searching.

    I came to the, for me, inevitable conclusion that God exists. Certain behaviors are expected of us, or at least desired. There is an afterlife of some kind, separate from the physical body.

    I chose a liberal denomination of Christianity because its inclusive nature most closely aligned with the decisions and conclusions I had reached for myself.

    I am not embarrassed to admit that during a time of great personal turmoil and anguish, I cried out to God and received an answer. A "voice" "spoke" within me, saying everything would be alright and a wonderful calm descended upon me. Everything did turn out fine.

    Was it actually God speaking to me? I can't say for sure. I believe it could have been. I do know that at a time when I needed help, and asked for it, something happened that helped me.

    Now, I'm no fool. I firmly believe in taking responsibility for my life and my actions. Relying upon the Lord to provide is simply foolish. Yet, when I needed that extra boost, it was there.

    I haven't answered your central question, Coriolis. There may be no answer. For me, the closest I could come to a comprehensive answer is that "faith in God" is the belief in a supreme being who you turn to when you have nowhere else to turn.
     
  11. Coriolis

    Coriolis Bob's your uncle

    Wow! This is great. I'm at work now and only checking in, but look forward to reading (and re-reading) each response tonight when I get home.
     
  12. Techie2000

    Techie2000 The crowd would sing:

    I became an atheist at an earlier age than most people who become atheist. I can't remember exactly when it happened, but I think somewhere between 8-9. The same age most people stopped believing in Santa Claus, I stopped believing in a god.

    I started to get raised as a Roman Catholic. I had to go to catechism (aka CCD) every Saturday and all that fun stuff. However I began to get a heavy interest in science. I started to research and teach myself everything I could about science. I learned a lot. And started to question many of the things around me, why they happened, and basically applied logic and the scientific method to many things. I started to think about God. I debated with myself. And in the end I just decided that it is illogical to conclude that a god exists (besides he never gave me presents like "Santa" did...). It just didn't seem logical to me, and many of the arguements I heard for his existance at CCD seemed empty and all involved believing without any proof. So I stopped believing. However I continued to have to go to CCD because if I stopped, then it would cause a family rift. I even got confirmed. Even though they always tell you its your choice, it isn't really. Interestingly enough, my fourth grade teacher at some point was talking to my mom, and she said she didn't believe that Roman Catholicism would be a religion that I would be comfortable in, because I was too scientifically minded. Although my grandparents wouldn't understand, my mom became an atheist around the same time I did, so it actually wasn't as bad as it could be. Now I have been "confirmed" I no longer need to go to CCD, church, confession, and since for my confirmation i got WindowsXP and a new hard drive it wasn't too raw of a deal :happy:. However I still despise those years where they were blatently forcing their views into our brains. It's political. I think that's why I became a liberal...
     
  13. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    I know this is going to sound offensive to some, but faith in God, to me, means not accepting that all there is to our existence is a relatively short life on a giant ball that is caught in orbit around an even bigger ball of fusion.

    How did we get here? I have no idea. I can't prove that there is no "invisible man" in the sky who created it, and nobody can prove that there is. All we have to go on is our brains, and mine tells me that God probably does not exist, certainly not in a Biblical sense as HaYwIrE has suggested. If we were created and/or placed here, I would find it more believable that it was done by a very advanced alien civilization. Perhaps it was our own species(probably genetically altered) that placed us here to study their own natural, biological and social developments? Who knows, really...

    Nobody is able to prove that God exists, and nobody is able to prove that he doesn't. All that is left is faith. Either you believe it or you don't. I could go on endlessly to explain why I believe there is no God, but it doesn't really answer the question: What is faith in God? Well, it's nothing more than accepting the existence of an omnipotent being that you've never seen, heard, smelled, tasted or felt. And I'm sure the believers are going to respond that they HAVE felt God. Good for you, if you think so. If he ever decides to show himself to me, I may change my mind. Or maybe I'll just question my senses. And if he decides to punish me with an eternity of suffering after I die for not believing in him, then he is not nearly as great as people make him out to be.
     
  14. Aria

    Aria All shall love me&despair

    Being a Witch, I'm not sure if I have faith as the Christians use the term, but I believe that there is a force that created this universe, and left a piece of itself in all living things, connecting us back to our Creatrix. I can't 100% claim that I've felt God, but there have been times where I have been completely alone and felt a presence I couldn't explain.
     
  15. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Nice sum up. I feel, more or less, very close to this.
     
  16. Allene

    Allene Registered User

    I was raised a Roman Catholic and went to Catholic schools and a Catholic university. When I was about 24 years old, I left the church, and for a while I didn't have any religious affiliation. However, something happened to me when I was 7 years old--an experience so powerful that it has affected my life ever since. I was dying in a hospital in Nova Scotia at the time. A day or so earlier, I'd been given the last rites of the church. No one expected me to get better. I won't go into a lot of detail here; suffice to say I had a near-death experience, and although I was only a child and had never heard of such a thing, I somehow understood what it was all about and can remember it in detail all these years later.

    Whenever I was tempted to become an atheist, that experience would come back to me. I've also had one or two odd experiences since then, particularly in relation to my father's death when I was 21. As a result, I believe there is a God out there; there is something else beyond our physical world. I don't pretend to have all the answers though.

    Like Stevent, my husband also went through a crises in which he had a similar experience, and today we, too, belong to a liberal Christian denomination.

    Allene
     
  17. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Wow Allene, you never shared that with us before.

    Thank you. :)
     
  18. yazdzik

    yazdzik Veteran Member

    Religious faith is an inexplicable thing the loss of which leaves an immense hole in the psyche, yet, trying to fill that hole is like trying to fill an immense and bottomless container with nothing.
     
  19. FrankF

    FrankF #55170-054

    What? You don't believe in Santa Claus. :)
     
  20. Frodo Lives

    Frodo Lives Luke, I am NOT your father!

    THERE IS NO SANTA CLAUSE??? :cry: :cry: :cry:
     

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