Ya Gotta Have Faith

I recently was following a post on the “AbsoluteGrace” blog where they were discussing the Bible – which lead to discussing faith.

Now, Grace seems like a very nice woman… as I’m sure are the other bloggers there…  and I have no desire to offend or ague with them.  I was just stating my feelings on the matter.  I’d thought I’d repost that here, where I can expand a bit more.

First, on her blog I wrote:

From: http://absolutegrace.wordpress.com/2008/06/12/the-bible-gods-word/

Willa said: “It takes faith to believe the Bible”

Joy said: “there is one ingredient that must be added; to fully appreciate, ’see’, and gain the most knowledge and use from the Bible…One must have faith.”

Faith is a problem for me. I simply don’t have it. Oh, I USE to have it. Believe it or not, I was once very very much a believer. It’s not like I haven’t read the bible. I grew up on it. I can quote more of it than most of my “religious” friends. And for many years I had faith in God. But, little by little… as I grew older, searched more, learned more, and tried to make sense of it all… my “faith” escaped me.

How do you “just believe” something that in your gut, your heart, and your head – simply make no sense? I can’t create something that I just don’t have.

My Christian friends will tell me “just TRY”… “it’s a CHOICE. Just BELIEVE”… “READ the bible with an open mind”… or “PRAY and God will help you!”.

As if I never tried those things?

For several years, I struggled with it… tried to cling to what little I had left… afraid to let it go completely… hoping it would come back to me. Believe me, I prayed. I read the bible. I really wanted to believe… and was afraid not to. Still, my faith eventually completely disappeared.

I miss it sometimes… the comfort it could bring….
But, it’s gone and I don’t know how to just “have faith” now.

What people with strong faith can probably not understand or believe – is that I feel much more comfortable and at peace without it.

~smj

This whole notion of “Faith” really does drive me crazy sometimes.  It’s so….. circular.  You can’t believe, unless you have faith.  You can’t have faith, unless you believe.

Huh?

I mean, when else, other than religion, do we do this?  Since when is trying to reason things out a bad thing?

I can think of no other example in which we would tell our children to “just believe something.  Don’t try to reason it out.  Don’t try to understand things that don’t make sense.  Even if it flat out doesn’t make sense to you – just believe it anyway.”    ???

Someone used the wind as an example.  “just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there”.
Right.  But, I can FEEL the wind.  I can SEE it’s effects.  I can watch the weather channel and the guy there can show me on the Doppler radar exactly what storms are coming in from where, and explain where that wind is coming from.  Wind makes sense.

Telling me to just “have faith”…  would be like me telling someone,

“Santa IS real!  Despite anything you learned or saw or thought that might have proved the contrary… he really DOES exist.  Forget that it seems ridiculous that a man could travel around the world.  Forget that you SAW your parents wrapping your presents and signing “Santa” (they were just trying to mess you up!).  Forget any other things that led you to believe the contrary.  Just have faith!  And, if you just BELIEVE your life will be better for it and you will get great presents!  Well, you also have to follow his rules and be GOOD.  But, first you have to believe.  He won’t make sense unless you DO believe… and you won’t get any rewards unless you do… and if you DO believe… and you STILL don’t get any presents?  Well, you  must not have been a TRUE believer…  or you weren’t GOOD enough.  It’s your own fault for not really believing.  So, keep trying!  Why can’t you just believe?”.

Ok – that was a bit sarcastic and maybe comparing God to Santa isn’t the best analogy…  but, replace Santa with anything else.  I’m sure you get my drift.   I mean, how can you just believe in something you that simply makes no sense to you?  How does one DO that?

Seriously, are there any other times we do this?  Have this “blind faith”??

Like many things… I just don’t get it.

My Christian friends and I have actually had lots of real life friendly, and not-so-friendly, debates on such matters, and usually just need to agree to disagree.  In the end, they will tell me that I don’t WANT to get it – and so I don’t.  They can believe that if they want.    But, the truth is twofold.  One, I did try and wanted to “get it” for years… many years ago.  And, Two, at this point, they are right…  I no longer want it.  I am content, and even feel better off without it.  I’d still like to understand it, though.

~smj

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18 Responses to “Ya Gotta Have Faith”

  1. paisley Says:

    having been brought up in a religion that prides itself on its working knowledge of the bible,, i too can recite more of it than most believers… but i have never believed nor had faith.. i think some of us are just beyond that.. i cannot say i believe in reincarnation either,, but living 47 years on this earth with other human beings has caused me to believe,, some of us are just more evolved than others… and no longer need the crutch of faith to feel complete…. of course my mom will tell you it is simply because i am a rebel and cannot submit to (divine)authority… WTF????

  2. absolutegrace Says:

    Thanks for checking out my blog and being so transparent on yours. Though my posts aren’t framed to change anyone, I really hope (pray?) you will find some encouragement in them.

    I understand why many don’t want to “have faith” in God…there’s alot of us imperfect people of faith, who often cause hurt, disappointment or rejection. But people place faith in a lot of other things, for example, when travelling… We, holding our children’s hands, place faith in the airplane, the pilot, the unseen air traffic controllers, etc. I can’t comprehend how so many planes can land in one airport without more mishaps. Without a tiny bit of faith, we couldn’t leave our homes..or stay in them. Some of it’s “blind”, some of it’s reaonable.

    I will always “agree to disagree” because I would hope the same from others, but I wouldn’t call faith a crutch. I’d call it a necessity–what makes us different, is what or who we put our faith in. Ourselves, friends, money, a cause?

    Mine is in Jesus, for no one else has loved me as He loves, and still does. I hope I never evolve beyond my trust in Him.

  3. samanthamj Says:

    As I mentioned.. I did believe… and I did WANT to believe and have faith for a long time. It wasn’t until I finally realized it was gone… accepted and anknoldeged that fact… and took a good look around and realized I didn’t miss it or want to find it again. It was a relief in many ways, actually. I was at peace, rather than feeling like “what’s wrong with me that I don’t/can’t believe!?”.

    But, I don’t feel more “evolved” or like I know better or know more than anyone else by any means, though. I only know how *I* feel, and what *I* think, and why.

    I actually wrote about this exact thing a while back in a post here:
    https://savemenot.wordpress.com/2007/04/14/whos-to-say/

    where I said:

    “who am *I* to say that I know it all, or have all the answers?? I don’t think anyone does. Least of all me. I frequently tell people that they should “feel free to ignore me”.

    😉
    ~smj

  4. absolutegrace Says:

    ~smj,
    I won’t ignore you 🙂
    fyi, “evolved” was in reference to the post by ‘paisley’. I should have clarified that.
    Looking forward to more dialogue on faith, or…?

  5. samanthamj Says:

    More thoughts to the comment that Grace wrote – where she said,

    We, holding our children’s hands, place faith in the airplane, the pilot, the unseen air traffic controllers, etc. I can’t comprehend how so many planes can land in one airport without more mishaps. Without a tiny bit of faith, we couldn’t leave our homes.. or stay in them. Some of it’s “blind”, some of it’s reasonable.”

    I’ve heard this kind of reasoning before – but, the things mentioned (airplane, the pilot, the unseen air traffic controllers, etc) are all things that if you want to see and touch, you can. You may not understand how the air traffic controller works – but, if you chose to understand it… you could.

    There’s also statistics on things – like how “safe” flying is, for example that lets us board that plane. And personal history and stories from others we know that have done it. That’s not faith – but, a good working knowledge with proof that MOST likely – you aren’t gonna crash.

    Just like waking up in the morning. No, there’s no guarantees that one will wake up each morning… but, since I have so far – it’s understandable and reasonable for me to believe that I will again tomorrow. Will I be wrong someday – yup… but, I also know that because if facts.

    These things make sense. You can reason them out. It’s not the same as having faith in something that you just don’t’ understand or can’t possibly grasp or even totally contradicts how you feel or what you think is real.

    Now, if someone told me to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel – I wouldn’t do that. Why don’t I have faith in that vs. flying an airplane? Because there’s not a really good proven track record for it, ya know? 😉

    I can’t MAKE myself believe that I could go over the falls in a barrel and live to tell about it no matter how hard I try without someone really convincing me with some hard evidence that I would be okay… like REEEALLY good evidence. And, that’s a good thing, right? None of us want to jump into dangerous situations or “jump off a bridge just because someone else does” right?

    No.. I don’t have “faith” in a lot of things… but, I do have it in some things. Like, I have faith in those that I know love me will keep loving me and be there for me… and that I will continue to be there for them. I have faith that my children are good kids and will grow up to be good people. But, then again, there’s a history there and a proven track record so far, and reason for me to make those predictions… to feel confident in those beliefs… to have that kind of “faith”.

    I’ll stop rambling…

    Have a nice night folks… we have T-Ball and Baseball to run off to!

    =)
    ~smj

  6. OneSmallStep Says:

    Absolutegrace,

    **I understand why many don’t want to “have faith” in God**

    One thing to note here. It’s not a matter of “want,” it’s a matter of impossibility. For some, having faith in God would be like you having faith that the sun is purple. You can clearly see that the sun is not purple, and so it’s not that you don’t want to have that faith, it’s that such a faith is impossible for you. There’s no on/off switch for it. The lack of faith simply is.

    Smj,

    **I’ve heard this kind of reasoning before – but, the things mentioned (airplane, the pilot, the unseen air traffic controllers, etc) are all things that if you want to see and touch, you can. You may not understand how the air traffic controller works – but, if you chose to understand it… you could. **

    Not only that, but this type of faith is based on experience. You have faith that an airplane will land okay because you’ve seen it land before. You’ve talked with the pilot. YOu know that airplanes are suppose to land the right way. You know there’s safety equipment to make sure it does land.

    The same doesn’t apply with God. How often are we all told that we must have faith before encountering God? The faith must come first and the experience after, yet in any other situation, the faith is a result *of* the experience.

    **I can think of no other example in which we would tell our children to “just believe something. Don’t try to reason it out. Don’t try to understand things that don’t make sense. Even if it flat out doesn’t make sense to you – just believe it anyway.” ???**

    Not only do we not do this with children, but if we did, we’d be both doing them a huge disservice (it would stunt their education), but would also be incredibly dangerous for them.

  7. samanthamj Says:

    OneSmallStep – Thanks for the visit and feedback. You took the words out of my mouth… that is exactly how I fee.
    Take care!
    ~smj

  8. chris Says:

    This is a great post and a great thread.

    @ paisley, “simply a rebel”… My father still likes to needle me for being an Agnostic (who occasionally scoffs at some Famous Atheists), by saying:
    “Religious and Atheist at least will commit to something, You agnostics stand around Like Marlon Brando in the Wild Bunch
    Q:What are you rebelling against?
    A:{snearing} Whatta ya Got?!?

    @SMJ I love the Santa parable in this post(lol). This really shows the difference between rationalism and faith in humorous way.

    I don’t think their is transparency here if you think about it.
    I think we should poke fun of the ironic absurdities of Rationalism sometimes
    And we can poke fun of the absurdities of Faith too( like santa).

    Humor creates an even playing field.

  9. sphorx Says:

    Very well written.

  10. Beans Says:

    Visit me again.

    Refried.wordpress.com

    I think you’ll find it interesting today.

  11. samanthamj Says:

    Chris –
    Hey there Chris.. and thanks. I’m glad you get my sarcasm and humor. I do tend to like to make light of things. It’s a survival method for me… and I’d rather laugh than cry any day.
    It also does make it easier to talk about things… if people can laugh and not be offended…

    Sphorx –
    thanks. and thanks for the visit.

    Beans –
    I did… and, me thinks I said too much. 😉

    ~smj

  12. God's child Says:

    Hello, I really liked your blog and the fact that you just let it all out.

  13. God's child Says:

    I just want to leave a comment. I grew up in a Christian family, but I became got to personally know Jesus when I was 13 years old. It’s a difference between knowing that He exists( theologically) and knowing Him personally. I do not know if you ever had a personal relationship with God-like when you know that you are guilty of your sins and you deserve to die, for the wages of sin are death, and you realize that without Jesus’ forgiveness you will have to pay for your sins an eternity in hell. But, God doesn’t just want to save you from hell, He wants to have a relationship with you. So, I do not know if you had that kind of relationship.
    Secondly, let’s talk a bit about your unbelief. Being brough up by Christian parents, I found it normal to just believe, but as I grew up and especially after receiving Christ, and starting reading the Bible with much love, I started having questions-and I always looked for answers. Two weeks ago, now I am 19, I started having questions again, now more difficult-like how can I be sure that there is a God, and how can I trust that the Bible is true-or how do I know for sure that Jesus Christ existed?
    So, I started a research-some really, really good books that I read right now and that have opened my eyes very much are the ones by Lee Strobel-Case for Faith, Case for Christ, and Case for God-they all deal with evidences to show people that faith is not BLIND, and is not childish, but rather very logical. And it is. I just want to tell you someting-I do not believe you that you are happier now without your faith. I just can’t. Evidence? The very fact that you are writting this article, and you contemplate on your experience with faith, just shows me very much that you are longing for that, and that you were happy when you had faith, and that you are missing that happiness that once was in your heart. I might be wrong, but if you really were happier, then why waster your time writing this? And my heart goes out to you, and I know that it is very frustrating to fight all that questions, but in the end it’s so worth it, because all your questions have an answer, and in the end, your faith will become stronger.
    One thing is also clear, that Satan is trying very hard to destroy your faith. In the movie Constantine, the woman says ” I do not believe in hell” at which the guy responds “But hell believes in you”. So very true. There is an unseen world, that is so real, but just because we can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
    Go ahead, ask all your questions, but also do an honest research and you will find the answer. Do not stop at the first article that says : Evidence that God does not exist. Go on, and research both sides, and then you decide which one is more logical. Faith is very logical. Also, just to let you know, it requires more faith to believe that there is no God, than to believe that God exists. Nobody can prove that God doesn’t exist! Never anybody could prove that, and never anyone will! Look at yourself, and how beautifully you are created, look at the complexity of one single cell, and how your body is beyong anything that even the smartest scientist could ever build. You are wonder, you are an evidence yourself. And then you have the nature around you. Your consience is next. And also, the people whose lives were changed. I am not talking about fake so called Christians. But rather people who once where prisoners, prostitutes, thiefs, and now, they love God so much, they go in places where they could be killed to preach the Gospel. Who changed their hearts? Men? I don’t think so.
    But i urge you, to please, continue your search for God, and tell God honestly, that you want to believe but that you can’t, and you can’t have faith, and tell him to deal with you. Do that, and continue to do that, until He comes to you. Do not give up, because your life now is the only chance where you can have a beautiful and loving relationship with Him. I believe that God is working at your heart already, because you wrote this-i can so clearly see that you want to believe, but you just can’t. That’s ok. Let God deal with it. Just tell God that. Do not give up your search for Him, because your eternity will depend on it. No, I am not trying to scare you, but there is also truth in this. This life is just a blink of an eye compared to an eternity, so do search for the truth as long as you still have time. Be blessed, and I will pray for you. You can also write me as creza55@gmail.com Be blessed!

  14. samanthamj Says:

    God’s Child –
    Hello, and thank you for your visit and thoughts. You obviously are a kind hearted person, and I applaud that you are doing your own searching and research at such a young age.

    You wrote:

    “I just want to tell you something-I do not believe you that you are happier now without your faith. I just can’t. Evidence? ”

    I’m sure you do not, and probably can not believe this. I am also sure that I was not lying or fooling myself when I said that I am now “happier” without faith. Evidence? Plenty. I no longer live in fear and angst. I KNOW how I felt before, and how I feel now. Harder evidence? I am finally letting go of self destructive guilt and bad habits and becoming healthier… physically… mentally. I am going on 42 years old, and finally feeling better about myself- and about my mother – and about life in general – than I’ve ever felt before.

    I did respond on “absolute Grace’s” blog to this same kind of thing (http://absolutegrace.wordpress.com/2008/06/12/the-bible-gods-word), where I wrote to Joy:

    ===========
    “Joy –

    Well – I know what you are saying… but, I WAS a believer.. and I WAS “saved”. I tried to save the world with me. I started off as a child, and accepted God and all that I thought he stood for into my life wholeheartedly. There are many people who were “saved” but, fall away… I know of a pastor and others who did… and when this happens, many Christians commonly say, “they were never really saved or TRUE Christians then”…. or “They didn’t really ASK God to come into their hearts”, etc. You can believe that if you like.. I completely disagree.

    When I said “I feel much more comfortable and at peace without it (faith).” – it is not because I don’t want to try to do “the right thing” or “follow rules” or afraid I’ll “fail tests”… or because I thought having faith wouldn’t be “fun”. This was not my reasoning at all.

    I know doing the right thing is not always the easy thing. And, just because I am not a Christian doesn’t mean I don’t have morals or try to do “the right thing”. I do.

    No, the reason I am feel more at peace without God and faith now, is because, for me – religion, God, and faith came packaged with a lot of confusion and with huge amounts of fear.

    Confusion on so much that didn’t make sense to me no matter how I tried to make it. Fear of going to hell (even when I WAS a believer and trying so hard to do whatever I thought was right – I often wondered if I was “good enough” – and fear of so many others going to hell – including my own father. You don’t know how much I worried about hell – not for myself so much – but for others….

    This old post of mine gets into this a bit, if your interested at: https://savemenot.wordpress.com/2007/08/04/all-is-fair-in-love-and-conversion .

    So, I feel more at peace now… because I don’t believe anymore the things that confused me… they don’t have to make sense… and, I don’t believe in hell… so, I don’t worry about that either. I don’t have the guilt from not living up to expectations that I never really understood.
    That’s the “relief” I mean.

    But, that is me… and not you.

    Joy, John, and especially Grace –
    Thank you for your hospitality, consideration, time and good will. I have no doubt that you wish me well and that you are good people. I am glad faith and religion is, and has been, such a positive influence for you. Really. I am.

    Joy – it sounds like you have overcome some major things in your life, and a huge part of it was due to your faith and beliefs This is wonderful.

    I’m afraid we are on two separate wave lengths… and you can not understand where I’m coming from anymore than I can you. Which is not only expected… but, really is fine.

    Take care,
    ~smj
    =========

    As for your statement that you think because I write about such topics – it must mean that I am still searching and WANT to believe? I’m sorry to also disagree with you there too. I think you, and most believers, want to believe that… but, like most things – wanting to believe it doesn’t make it true.

    No, I no longer am looking for that sign… I no longer believe it will come… and I no longer want it to. I write about these things simply because I want to vent… and try to understand myself better, and also try to better understand others and the world around me. Not that I, by any means, have it all figured out… not by a long shot… so, I am always open to learning.

    ~smj

  15. Have Faith and Believe « Mom’s a religious nut & Dad was an atheist Says:

    […] Posted on June 25, 2009. Filed under: Agnostic, Escape, Poetry, atheist, faith | So – I haven’t posted here in a long time…  but, I wrote a poem.. and this seemed like an appropriate (and maybe the only comfortable place for me) to post it.  =)  It sort of goes with an old post I made on this blog, called   “Ya Gotta Have Faith“. […]

  16. Kevin "The Happy Snapper" Says:

    Very well written post, I enjoyed reading this and can find some common ground with you on many of your points, as I said in my post which you kindly read (Relaxed Christian / Agnostic / Philosophical Buddhist http://kevinwheeler.co.uk/2009/06/26/relaxed-christian-agnostic-philosophical-buddhist/ ), I too have my doubts but I still feel the need to believe in something and I think through the “philosophy” behind Buddhism I’m ready to start believing in myself and decide on my own brand of spirituality.
    Buddha by the way never taught blind obediance, just follow and believe in me, instead he said look at what I teach, analyse it and decide for yourself whether it is true or suitable for you or not.

  17. samanthamj Says:

    Kevin,
    Thanks for your input, and nice comments on here and my poems. =) I’ve heard a lot of good things on Buddism… I especially like the meditation part and keep thinking I should learn more about that… but, does it also require yoga? cause I tried that and damn near couldn’t walk for a week… LOL 😉 Just kidding… and Thanks again! =)
    ~smj

    • Kevin "The Happy Snapper" Says:

      Lol, no yoga as far as I can see so far, there is plenty of debate as to whether its a religion or not, I prefer to use it more from a philosophy point of view, well at least so far anyway.


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