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Why do we believe what we believe?


Ivy

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It was suggested on another thread (Richard Rohr?) that this might be better as it’s own thread, so maybe…

 

“From what I've seen here, and the very little I've seen now online, I would think that from a Christian standpoint Rohr's views would be considered heretical.  But that in itself doesn't bother me much.

In the end this all seems to hinge on belief or faith and there are no answers outside of that.  And so I find myself asking why we believe what we believe.”

 

So that is what I’m interested in here.  Why do we believe what we believe?

 

For me personally for a long time I thought I had to filter everything through a “Biblical Perspective” whether it made sense to me or not.  I mean, it was the “authoritative word of God,” and how can you argue with that?  I’ll freely admit that I no longer see things that way.

 

So I can understand how one could believe biblical stuff because… "Word of God” and all.

 

But this raises the question of why does one believe it is the “Word of God” to start with.  Perhaps for myself, it was because it was what I was told all my life.  But that doesn’t seem like a very good reason.  Other rational people feel the same way about the Koran, or the Book of Mormon for example.

 

One thing I can think of is my own experience.  Perhaps it is questionable, but when it contradicts what I’ve been told, I have to question what I’ve been told.  I believe in gravity, because I experience it daily.

 

How about “instinct” if there is such a thing.  I kinda think so, although I couldn’t explain it.  So am I simply believing in instinct because I want to?

 

Maybe I don’t really know why I believe things.  I am just wondering what other folks might think.

 

 

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@Ivy, thank you for starting this thread. I saw the same suggestion, but didn't want to start it for personal reasons; among them being an unabashed Christian. I'm going to try to respond to the question and I will state from the beginning that I'm not trying to proselytize. I'm a lousy evangelist for one thing and for another, I firmly believe that no pastor, priest, rabbi, imam or any other person can bring faith to another. I believe that only when, for lack of any other term, the Holy spirit enters into a person and God (by whatever name4 you care to use) and directly intervenes can one accept faith. I would also add that in seminary I had tow write and defend a thing called "credo," sort of a second thesis, and I really don't want to bore anyone with over 80 pages of why I believe as I do. Besides, the moderators would likely shoot for doing something like that (and rightly, too).

 

So. To begin. I wasn't always a Christian. There was a time when I was in the service I had Tactical Air support as my religious preference on my dog tags on the grounds that anything I called on from the sky had better be fast, hard hitting and accurate. I was a bit of a sophomoric idiot as a young person. Oh, I had been raised as a Christian Nominally. My folks went to church when the mood struck--usually Christmas and Easter--and pretty much ignored faith the rest or the time.

 

It was only after our second child was stillborn that I came to examine my beliefs. It was a Saturday in February and my the wife and I were stationed at Ft Monmouth NJ. The snow was about three feet high, my wife was Jewish and I hadn't been in a chapel in decades. We both needed comfort, but I wouldn't admit it. I was more concerned with my ex than myself. I was struck by two things. The rabbi would not come to see us because it would have broken the sabbath, but the brigade chaplain did. When I asked him why,  he simply said, "because you need God right now whether you know it or not." At that point, I started to deeply examine what I believed and why. 

 

I started looking at a number of faiths, but always came up a bit empty after in depth study. When I finally came to study Christianity and all its permutations I came to realize something. When Christianity is stripped down to its bare essentials; no dogma, no doctrine, no tradition, just what Christ said to his disciples--his teaching--and what he said about himself, we can only draw three conclusions. He leaves us with no other choice. These are: He is who He says He is; He was a raving lunatic or He was the most evil person the world has ever known and th4e greatest con man. These need explaining.

 

As to being a lunatic, nothing Jesus taught, preached or advocated was crazy. I don't think that this can be disputed by any rational human being. His core teachings can be boiled down to Love God, Love each other, and do to others what you want done to yourself. And of course, believe in Him for salvation. In support of the latter, He revealed himself after the resurrection he didn't first reveal himself to the apostles, to Pilate or the Sanhedrin. Instead Christ chose to reveal Himself to a group of three lower class women. In Jesus' day, women were regarded as so unreliable that they weren't allowed to testify in court. That alone is an interesting choice. It's safe to dismiss the idea Jesus was a lunatic.

 

As to being evil, i would ask folks to consider this. If he was not who he said he was, merely following His teachings has caused countless millions to follow a false prophet to death and oblivion. And, his disciples would have known he was a fraud. Further, Jesus never used His position, His teaching or anything else for personal aggrandizement and He went willingly to the cross. A particularly nasty way to die. And we cannot discount that the apostles all died gruesome deaths or exile for Him; Paul was beheaded, Peter was crucified upside down, the others were stoned, tortured and so forth. People do not willingly suffer fates like that for what they know to be lies. Then there is other evidence--the revelation of His resurrection, the growth from a group of about 11 people to a widespread faith that has grown for almost 2000 years despite active and violent persecution, schism and internal strife. Given the weight of this evidence, I think it's reasonable to dismiss the second option.

 

That leaves us with but one conclusion--That Jesus of Nazareth is who He says He is and has said since He walked among us. Through the years, His divinity has been challenged. His teachings have been mocked. People have tried to write Him off as a myth (I admit I have) and to dismiss Christianity as nonsense. None have been very successful. Christ is unique in that He is the only one to have ever claimed to be the Son of God, died and rose for humanity's collective sins, AND, and this is key, the only price, the only thing required is faith. He even tells us in ! Corinthians that faith, hope and love are God's greatest gifts to us, and of those the greatest is love. That's a pretty hard teaching to argue with.

 

I could, and have, gone on for a long time elsewhere about Christian Theology and its many flavors or about how there is a great difference between the church and having faith, but this theology nerd doesn't want to bore anyone with religious trivia. In a nutshell, the above is what I believe and why.  Regardless of all the arguments, I can't escape the conclusion that I've drawn. And, my faith impacts every decision I make and every aspect of my life.

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32 minutes ago, Ivy said:

So I can understand how one could believe biblical stuff because… "Word of God” and all.

 

But this raises the question of why does one believe it is the “Word of God” to start with.  Perhaps for myself, it was because it was what I was told all my life.  But that doesn’t seem like a very good reason. 

 

It seems rather tautological - Bible is Word of God bc Bible states Bible is the Word of God. What puzzles me the most is why it's widely accepted that the Bible must be taken absolutely literally. I understand that ppl find profound meaning in doing so, but it does not resonate with me. It was not until I discovered that there's such things as mysticism, spiritual allegory, and symbolism that I really began to find profound meaning in the Bible, tho it's not my scripture of choice - I am VERY attracted to Hindu scriptures, of which the are very many, and none of which are meant to be taken literally. 

 

32 minutes ago, Ivy said:

One thing I can think of is my own experience.  Perhaps it is questionable, but when it contradicts what I’ve been told, I have to question what I’ve been told. 

 

Having been raised Catholic which is more doctrine-driven than Biblical, or so it seems to me, and having always been a deep thinker, I felt absolutely flummoxed by what I was told. I really wanted to believe and to understand & more than anything I wanted to be GOOD. But, for example, "Catholicism is the one true faith & all others will go to hell" - well, first of all what about everybody who lived their one single life (also doctrinal belief) before Jesus existed, or who live in remote parts of the earth and haven't heard of Jesus, or are disabled such that they can't comprehend Catholicism intellectually, or who die in infancy before being baptized, etc. & what is hell but eternal separation from God and if that's possible then God isn't God bc there's nowhere God is not. And how is it that God knows everything I'll ever do or say in my life & that my fate is already sealed from the moment I'm born, yet I have free will, and it's REALLY hard to go to heaven & that the best I can hope for is a commuted sentence of infinite length (figure that one out) in pergatory...these are thoughts that kept me up at night as a child. I no longer accept any of this as true. 

 

32 minutes ago, Ivy said:

I believe in gravity, because I experience it daily.

 

How about “instinct” if there is such a thing.  I kinda think so, although I couldn’t explain it.  So am I simply believing in instinct because I want to?

 

Intuition, I think, may be closer to the mark. Spiritual teaching must be accessible. To the completely uninitiated, there needs to be spiritual "kindergarten". Something you can comprehend & something your mind will accept. Some are born with faith. For others, it needs to be developed & it can be developed. You can't hit someone with a paradoxical mystery and expect them to believe as you've dazzled them. And you risk annoying ppl & turning them off that way. Individuals are at all different levels of consciousness, context & openness/resistance to spiritual progress. Therfore, it is intuitive to me that there must be practically infinitely many paths to God. Accepting God as omniscient and omnipresent, it is intuitive to me that God may be realized in infinitely many ways. As I learn, study, contemplate & meditate truths become apparent - as self-effort is exerted to calm & quiet the mind, the intellect can access intuition. It's not a feeling. There's a sense of knowingness accompanied by experience of having disassociated one's identity as the body, as the mind, as the intellect, as the ego. Knowingness that there is That which is beyond knower, known & knowledge & that you are That. That which is eternal, unchangeable & the primal essence of all. This is intuition most pure. But, it's not always accessible because we experience the world of time, space & causation through limited sense perception. We desire and are attached to names and forms. So, our beliefs are often conditioned by our illusory & limited experience of existence. But, those who aspire to get to the heart of beliefs & to seek truth go on developing discriminative knowledge by learning from qualified teachers (who come and go throughout one's life) & constant questioning. 

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1 minute ago, Vidanjali said:

 

Having been raised Catholic which is more doctrine-driven than Biblical, or so it seems to me, and having always been a deep thinker, I felt absolutely flummoxed by what I was told. I really wanted to believe and to understand & more than anything I wanted to be GOOD. But, for example, "Catholicism is the one true faith & all others will go to hell" - well, first of all what about everybody who lived their one single life (also doctrinal belief) before Jesus existed, or who live in remote parts of the earth and haven't heard of Jesus, or are disabled such that they can't comprehend Catholicism intellectually, or who die in infancy before being baptized, etc. & what is hell but eternal separation from God and if that's possible then God isn't God bc there's nowhere God is not. And how is it that God knows everything I'll ever do or say in my life & that my fate is already sealed from the moment I'm born, yet I have free will, and it's REALLY hard to go to heaven & that the best I can hope for is a commuted sentence of infinite length (figure that one out) in pergatory...these are thoughts that kept me up at night as a child. I no longer accept any of this as true. 

Everything you bring up about Catholicism is spot on, theologically. In fact, those very things were among the sparks of the Reformation. Most people think that what Luther was mad about was the sale of indulgences but that was only one of 95 bones he had to pick with Catholicism. I don't know if anyone is aware of this, but Luther actually made a case for de-canonizing the book of James because of that whole "being a good person" controversy. In fact, that notion persists to this day--that salvation is dependent on being "good." It isn't. Every Protestant theologian will say that being good has no soteriological effect--nor does baptism or communion--rather, we are justified by faith alone. Period. They will also tell you that the Bible make no mention of either Purgatory or Limbo, therefore they don't exit (Sola scriptorium). (As far as I know Purgatory is a frontier mining town in colorado.) As far as folks who lived before Jesus, et al, God being Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent, undoubtedly has His way of taking care of that issue. And besides, it's not something we can control in any event.

 

As for God knowing everything, well, God, in order to be God, must be Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent or God is not God. Thus, He must know what we're going to do before we do it. That doesn't mean the choice is taken away form us or irrelevant. He loves us so much he lets us make choices. The best analogy I can think of is that of a loving parent; w3e KNOW that at some point in their lives our children ar4e going to make dumb choices such as buying a sports car they can't afford, minor shoplifting, sticking tweezers in a light socket (me at three) or similar. Still we let them do the dumb thing so they can learn from it. Yes, that's imperfect, but it's as close a I can get.

 

Oh, and by the way, from a Christian point of view, getting into heaven isn't hard to do--it's literally a matter of faith--what it is hard to do is accept that it's that easy.

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1 hour ago, Vidanjali said:

Intuition, I think, may be closer to the mark.

Yes, perhaps this is a better word for what I had in mind.  

But the thing is, how can you account for this?  Is there any point in trying?

I find myself wondering if there is a kind of universal mind that we all share, or hold a piece in ourselves.  But there is no way to prove any of this.  Is it just wishful thinking?

 

@Marcie JensenSo are you saying that Christianity makes intellectual sense to you, and that's why you believe?  

I'm not being hostile, just wondering.  It's kind of the question I was asking.

I have seen these arguments before.  I actually was a ruling elder in a small Presbyterian denomination for a several years.  I'm not hostile to Christianity, but I have come to question it.

 

I kinda came to the conclusion that you can't actually prove that God exists: or prove that He (?) doesn't.  So it remains a matter of "faith."

 

Why do we even have "faith?"  Do we need to have it -- faith in something?  Some people say so.  I'm reminded of the line from The Big Labowski, "We're nihilists, we don't believe in anything."  (I try to keep a sense of humor.  I've heard there is even "religion" of "Dudeism.")

 

I'm not sure I could even articulate what my "religious" beliefs are anymore.  I do know I have them.  Do I have to know why?  Or are they intuitive as @Vidanjali has suggested?

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@Ivy, what a wonderful question! The short answer is yes, Christianity makes perfect intellectual sense to me. BUT, because it's a matter of faith it doesn't have to. I need only to accept it. (Yes, it sounds like I'm trying to have things both ways, but I assure you, I'm not.)

 

Keep in mind that theologically I'm a Calvinist. That, of course, influences how I view the matter. Calvinism has been described by a number of theologians as "thinking person's" Christian theology and with good reason. Calvin was a classically trained Catholic canon lawyer and he wrote his Institutes as an attempt to persuade King Henry of France to stop killing the Hugonauts. Needless to say, he failed, got excommunicated and fled to Geneva.

 

Calvin brought process into Christian theology and made a number of significant impacts on Christianity, among which was his distinction between faith and the church. His contention, and history has borne this out, that humanity is so depraved (his word choice) that we manage to corrupt everything we touch including the church. That statement alone impacts every aspect of how I view my faith.

 

As to PROVING the existence of God, I don't concern myself with it, even though every time I see a sunset, view a desert blossoming after a rain storm or ponder how the human hand works I'm convinced of His love and existence. I think that's what sets faith (and truth for that matter) apart from facts, as facts are neither true nor false. They simply ARE and are always provable. Things like water always boils at 212 degrees Fairenheit under one atmosphere of pressure at sea level. Or 2+2+4 always. Belief in God, or disbelief, is always a matter of faith and will not be settled in this life. By definition, it can't be.

 

As to whether we need faith or not, and I'm not advocating for any particular variety but I know where I stand, I would say a resounding YES! What else do the parents of a child facing cancer have? Or the soldier entering battle? Or the homeless person needing a meal? Or any one of us facing any number of things. Speaking for myself alone, I've seen the power of faith through prayer at work and even experienced it. I contend that without faith, hope and love this world would be in an even bigger mess than it presently is. Or how pathetic one's existence would be without it.

 

Perhaps I'm a simpleton, naive or something else again. Perhaps mine is the faith of a child or even describable as foolish. But, it's what I believe with all my heart, my soul and my mind.

 

 

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I think you have to back up a step and ask what does it mean to "believe".  When I say I believe something, it means that I accept it to be true.  So you are asking why I accept something to be true.  Well, like most people, I accept something to be true if you convince me.

 

Regarding religious beliefs, very few can convince me that they are true.  The Bible, for example, likely contains some history that I could accept as true, some non-history that is almost certainly not true, some moral teachings that are wholesome (and therefore true) and some horribly immoral stuff that I sincerely hope is not true.  So the mere fact that something is "in the Bible" does not, in my mind, make it true.

 

I am a scientist by temperament and a rationalist.  I find the scientific method to be convincing, making science the pursuit of truth, and scientific knowledge the closest we can get to truth in a world where nothing is certain.  I disbelieve in magic.

 

My own religion is Buddhism.  While Buddhist scriptures contain lots of accounts of magic, they are not essential to the core teachings.  The Four Noble Truths (that there is suffering; that suffering has a cause, namely grasping; that suffering can be ended; and that there is a method to end it) are very rational and very convincing.  I can and do discard the magic and keep the rational path, which I try to follow.

 

When it comes to Christianity, I accept as true that Jesus of Nazareth existed, and that he taught some very practical, very wholesome morality.  I believe that he was a great spiritual leader.  I don't believe much else that the various Christian churches teach about him.  They just can't convince me that what they say is true.

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Hmmm. I'm not sure how to say this, nor am I even certain this is the right thing to say. But, I'm going to try. Please forgive my poor attempt and any insult I may give. Like Moses, I am slow of thought and speech. This thread is, as I see it, taking a turn in a direction I did not anticipate. I was hoping when Ivy began the thread that this would be an open discussion of what we each believe and why we believe what we do. I attempted to do that without casting any aspersions on any other individual's faith, spiritual practice or belief system. I was simply trying to articulate what I believe and why I believe the way I do.

 

Instead, I find myself having to defend my faith without anyone else going into their beliefs beyond superficial statements and attacking what I believe. While I can, and I believe have, defended my Christian faith, to continue to do so in this thread without any meaningful input from others about what they believe is not profitable for me--I learn nothing from it and to be frank, I got more from an introduction to comparative theology I had in seminary more than twenty years ago.

 

Therefore, I will be bowing out of this thread. Not because I have been offended (I have not), but because while it's easy to bash Christianity in today's world and sort of in vogue, I've not got the energy to continually repeat the same points over and over while learning nothing in return. I'm not going to get into the science v. Christianity debate or tautology or the truth of Scripture or let alone it's moral teachings. As the prophet Micah said more than 2500 years ago, "He has shown you, O human what is good. And What does the Lord require of you save to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly." We seem to forget that all too often. I hope that those remaining will examine the original intent of this thread and examine their own faith--what they believe and why--and articulate it in a deep and well thought out manner without rancor and being mindful of others' view.

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What I believe is fairly standard Christian, I think, although it's definitely in the somewhat more flexible (I don't mean to offend with that term) approach found in the Episcopal Church. Why I believe it. That is one thing I can answer clearly. I grew up Roman Catholic and was repulsed by the hypocrisy around me. I decided I didn't believe it, and from my teens onward I was either atheist or agnostic. I'm OK with that. It was honest. Over the years, I looked at other religious and philosophical approaches and even went deeply into Buddhism. For me, something was missing in everything I explored.

About a year into the Buddhist practice, I was going through a crisis and decided to attend a mid-day service at the Episcopal church near my job. I didn't know there was a chapel, so I ended up in the main church, alone in the pews. I started praying for help, and my prayer included "if you exist." My prayer was answered right there. I had what I call my conversion. It was a mystical experience that was filled with images and grace. That was the day I came to believe in God. I always liked Jesus, even when I was an atheist. There was a very lonely spot inside me, and the only way to fill it was and continues to be through a relationship with him. 

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10 hours ago, Ivy said:

why does one believe it is the “Word of God” to start with.

I think those of us who believe this do so because it is what people in our faith tradition, including both Christian and our faith's Hebrew roots, have considered the Word of God. The Hebrew Bible records what people in history experienced in their relationship with God, including the teachings of the prophets. In a way, I see it as their best effort to hear God and understand (in a limited human way) God; and to live in harmony with God's law, i.e., morality. All the same for the New Testament and the early Christian community, which recorded what it was that Christ walked the earth so that those who were not there would know and understand.  

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9 hours ago, Vidanjali said:

What puzzles me the most is why it's widely accepted that the Bible must be taken absolutely literally.

It's widely accepted by churches/denominations that push themselves into the public eye with their hateful judgment of others. There are also many denominations, including surprisingly the Roman Catholic Church, that do not take the bible absolutely literally. 

 

9 hours ago, Vidanjali said:

Therfore, it is intuitive to me that there must be practically infinitely many paths to God.

I tend to believe this as well even though it's not part of the faith (Christian) that I believe in. I have met so many people of various faiths or no formal faith who glow with God's love (or just Love, if one does not frame it with a deity) and live accordingly.

9 hours ago, Vidanjali said:

There's a sense of knowingness accompanied by experience of having disassociated one's identity as the body, as the mind, as the intellect, as the ego.

I find this hard to describe, and I like the way you worded it. Have you read anything by Ramana Maharshi? He is my favorite Hindu writer, although I don't know if he actually wrote. The one book I can clearly (sort of) remember is in interview format, where he answered questions. 

 

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9 hours ago, Marcie Jensen said:

I was hoping when Ivy began the thread that this would be an open discussion of what we each believe and why we believe what we do.

Sorry if things haven't gone well here.

Yeah, my original question was mostly concerning why we believe what we do.  What we believe is a different, although related, issue.

 

My own beliefs have evolved throughout my life and will most likely continue to do so as I live and learn more.  I mean, I thought being transgender was nonsense, and then I experienced it myself.  I think my own experience takes precedence over what I've been told by others.

 

12 hours ago, KathyLauren said:

I disbelieve in magic.

Wizards and all that?  Meh.  But a lot of what was previously seen as magic is now simply science.  So IDK, what else science will discover.  (interesting, the word "discover" is simply uncovering what is already there)  Some of the things in quantum physics are turning out to be really weird.  So I don't completely rule out "magic."

 

 

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12 hours ago, KathyLauren said:

I think you have to back up a step and ask what does it mean to "believe".  When I say I believe something, it means that I accept it to be true. 

This is what it means for me too. Some things, including some everyday things, are unprovable, and I think we all make decisions about whether we believe them. For example, I can't prove someone loves me. There are outward signs, but certainly there is not scientific proof.

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16 minutes ago, Dillon said:

For example, I can't prove someone loves me. There are outward signs, but certainly there is not scientific proof.

Some things are objective, and some things are subjective.  I don't expect objective things to be in dispute, but these days they seem to be.  The subjective things are more individualistic.  I guess that's where the "Why" comes into it for me.

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17 hours ago, Marcie Jensen said:

@Ivy It was only after our second child was stillborn that I came to examine my beliefs. 

 

@Marcie Jensen my condolences for your loss. 

 

Also, sorry for the random @Ivy tag above. I'm typing on my phone & it doesn't allow me to delete tags in quotes. 

 

17 hours ago, Marcie Jensen said:

People do not willingly suffer fates like that for what they know to be lies.

 

Coincidentally, this can also be said in refutation of the ignorant who claim transgender ppl are doing transgender as a fad or to feel "special". 

 

14 hours ago, Ivy said:

But the thing is, how can you account for this?  Is there any point in trying?

I find myself wondering if there is a kind of universal mind that we all share, or hold a piece in ourselves.  But there is no way to prove any of this.  Is it just wishful thinking?

 

About intuition. There's no accounting, per se other than experience. A deep impression is made which seems beyond mere mentation. Indeed, I do believe there is a Universal Mind. It's a mind absolutely pure and devoid of modifications which is identified with God (or whatever name you like). I believe the individual mind functions to reflect that Universal Mind & projects the relative, limited world we experience. The wise say it's like God is the sun, and each individual is like a jar of water containing a reflection of the sun. But, that reflection is an illusion which is distorted when the water is agitated. Remove the jar and the light remains unaffected. 

 

14 hours ago, Ivy said:

 

@Marcie Jensen

I kinda came to the conclusion that you can't actually prove that God exists: or prove that He (?) doesn't.  So it remains a matter of "faith."

 

Again, sorry for random tag in this quote. Cannot delete it on my phone. The only faculties at our disposal as embodied individuals to prove something is our senses along with the intellect. God, by definition if you will, is beyond sense perception and intellectualizations. There is a tradition in Hinduism called neti neti which means not this, not this. God can be contemplated by negation: not the body, not the senses, not the nervous system & brain, not the mind, not the intellect, not the ego, not the personality, not feelings, not sentimentality, not elemental substance,...

 

14 hours ago, Ivy said:

Why do we even have "faith?"  Do we need to have it -- faith in something?  

 

You mentioned in your original post that you believe in gravity because you experience it every day. That is a relative experience of faith. You cannot see gravity, yet you trust that your feet will remain on the ground. It's intuitive to you through experience. A material sensorial experience, but a glint of potential for more profound experience of faith. 

 

13 hours ago, KathyLauren said:

I think you have to back up a step and ask what does it mean to "believe".  When I say I believe something, it means that I accept it to be true.  So you are asking why I accept something to be true.  Well, like most people, I accept something to be true if you convince me.

 

If we consider beliefs in general, not just spiritual beliefs, I wonder if it truly is the case that most people believe because they are convinced. By convinced, I mean after a process of seeking qualification & engaging in discernment. What comes to mind is political beliefs & cultural prejudices. I suspect that many believe what they believe simply having been told or demonstrated by an authority that it's right without much thought about whether or not it's justifiable or even intuitive or natural. That authority may be a parent or elder, teacher, political figure, church figurehead, or general consensus of relative culture. I also suspect that there are possibly many who believe what is dictated due to naivety and even fear. That is, there's a tendency to identify strongly with cultural norms for social survival, as it were. If you're an introspective individual, then you are attracted to association with other thoughtful ppl & vice versa. But - and I do not mean this in an elitist manner (I acknowledge my privilege as a deep thinking person) - I think it may be the case that many ppl don't consider questioning what they've been told or what they've learned by observing whatever norms surrounded them in their lives. 

 

8 hours ago, Dillon said:

Have you read anything by Ramana Maharshi? He is my favorite Hindu writer, although I don't know if he actually wrote.

 

I have not read anything recorded by him in compilation, but other teachers from whom I learn profound lessons speak of him. I heard that his most treasured scripture was the Devimahatmya. I read a translation of this called "In Praise of the Goddess" by Devadatta Kali and it was rather mind-blowing. 

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11 hours ago, Marcie Jensen said:

Instead, I find myself having to defend my faith without anyone else going into their beliefs beyond superficial statements and attacking what I believe. While I can, and I believe have, defended my Christian faith, to continue to do so in this thread without any meaningful input from others about what they believe is not profitable for me

 

@Marcie Jensen  I'm sorry to see you felt yourself on the defensive & felt that others are attacking your faith. I acknowledge that I am very glad for you that you experience deep faith. I do not believe your faith is in any way invalid. I believe everyone's faith, however they experience it, is valid. There are those of us who experience spirituality in different ways than you & some, including me, express that there are tenants of Christianity that do not resonate for them. It doesn't & frankly shouldn't threaten your faith. I don't believe anyone was asserting your faith is wrong, just not the path necessarily for them. Respectfully, however, I suggest that what others have shared which may seem "superficial statements" with "no meaningful input" to you, is deeply meaningful to them. It may not seem so to you if you don't accept manifold spiritual paths. Please know that I do not feel my faith is attacked by you whether or not you consider statements I've made superficial or lacking meaning. Truth, which I believe is experienced and understood in may ways, cannot be attacked. 

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2 hours ago, Vidanjali said:

I believe everyone's faith, however they experience it, is valid. 

Now that's an interesting statement. Meaning no offense, I will the ask you the same question I asked my Unitarian Universalist brother when he said virtually the same thing to me years ago. Does that include the Mayans, Aztecs, Philistines, Phoenicians, Druids, Norse etc. who all practiced ritual human sacrifice or the ancient Chinese who practiced cannibalism (long pork) for hundreds of years? If so, why are these faiths as valid as yours or mine? You have expressed an affinity with Hinduism, so how do you explain Kali and the cult of the Thugee who practiced murder and cannibalism well into the 19th century? 

 

Those are trick questions, because no reasonable person can support the positions of human sacrifice or cannibalism for any reason, and it consequently follows that any faith with these practices is not valid in the common understanding of the word. Yet, they were bedrocks of entire civilizations' religions.

 

My point is this, and sometimes it takes a harsh illustration to drive it home. It seems to me that most people take more time attacking other people's faiths to justify their own instead of examining what they believe and why. Instead of looking into or trying to articulate why they believe what they do they call the Bible "horribly immoral," lies  (although the phrase "partially untrue" is used to try to soften this), require proof that God exists when discussing faith as opposed to science. Bluntly, those are all attacks and turn this thread into a hostile debate instead of a discussion of what we believe and why. I try to never proselytize here or say similar sorts of things about other peoples' faith, spiritual practice etc., yet the same arguments against Christianity arise by non-Christians in virtually every thread on faith. All I can add is this quotation from Matthew 7:3 wherein Christ says this, "And why do you worry about the speck in your brother's eye when you have a log in your own?" If an explanation is needed, PM me.

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11 minutes ago, Marcie Jensen said:
  2 hours ago, Vidanjali said:

I believe everyone's faith, however they experience it, is valid. 

My intention here is not to judge the validity of various faith systems.  I am more interested in how we arrive at our separate beliefs.

 

I would have a problem with someone feeling entitled to make a sandwich out of me or my neighbor regardless of how they came to that conclusion.

This world is a messy place.  I don't understand terrorists.  How does killing a bunch of complete strangers have anything to do with one's personal grievances?  Yet people do it, and feel justified.  The human race has a history of vicious cruelty that it is still building on.  I might not believe in the literal biblical devil.  But there is certainly a spirit of pointless cruelty that gives evidence for him.

 

Two people can look at the same situation and come to completely different conclusions.  So why is that?  It can't be the evidence itself, can it?

 

And do I even have to "justify" my beliefs?  What if there is no objective "proof" for them.  Does that make them invalid?

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  • Forum Moderator

I've enjoyed following this thread, and see it as an open debate with strong differing opinions. I can say that I love each of you, regardless of your manor of faith. I believe and follow a Christian faith, because of the way Christianity has affected my personal experiences in life. Some have said, I have a child like faith in the basic tenants of Christianity. I don't use an evangelical approach to my faith. For me my most important assignment from Jesus. As I have it memorized. When I help someone and refuse their offer to pay or reimburse me for my time, effort, and kindness. I ask them to pass it on, help someone else. If you feel the need to pay for it? Send it to your favorite charity. "And the king shall answer and unto them. 'Verily I say to you, inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to Me. Matthew 25:40 

 

This is why I help.

 

Mindy🐛🏳️‍⚧️🦋

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37 minutes ago, Ivy said:

My intention here is not to judge the validity of various faith systems.

May be this is not a good statement.  Obviously if I conclude that a system is "invalid" I no longer consider it for myself. Perhaps what I want to say is to not judge others for their beliefs?    Still, I downvote cannibalism.

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48 minutes ago, Marcie Jensen said:

Does that include the Mayans, Aztecs, Philistines, Phoenicians, Druids, Norse etc. who all practiced ritual human sacrifice or the ancient Chinese who practiced cannibalism (long pork) for hundreds of years? If so, why are these faiths as valid as yours or mine? You have expressed an affinity with Hinduism, so how do you explain Kali and the cult of the Thugee who practiced murder and cannibalism well into the 19th century? 

 

Thanks for asking. When I say everyone's faith is valid however they experience it, I am referring to the fact that when it comes to developing spiritual purity in one's consciousness, one can only start where they are. I do not think there's one religion or philosophy that's best or highest, but rather I do believe any spiritual path can be followed and practiced with increasing skill and purity and that all paths eventually merge as one, some with many more twists and turns than others. The means by which one engages in any religious practice is not necessarily free of vice. Take the examples you have provided. Also note that Christian faiths have been guilty of committing atrocities. That's not meant as a barb - my point is that human activity is potentially subject to corruption because humans are not perfect. Feverish emotionality can easily bleed into spiritual catharsis with the two becoming confused. Pride easily seeps into higher states of consciousnesses with the individual concluding "I am the doer" (instead of God). 

 

48 minutes ago, Marcie Jensen said:

arguments against Christianity arise by non-Christians in virtually every thread on faith. All I can add is this quotation from Matthew 7:3 wherein Christ says this, "And why do you worry about the speck in your brother's eye when you have a log in your own?"

 

Speaking for myself, I jokingly refer to myself as a recovering Catholic. I personally encountered abuse at the hands of the Catholic church. I can understand how a practicing Catholic would not like my joke. My humor in this case diffuses the residue of pain I feel. I am fully aware of the log in my eye. Just for edification, I endeavor to be free of resentment of Christianity because it weighs me down. If I've personally hurt you @Marcie Jensen , I humbly apologize. From the outset, I had in my mind that I agree to disagree with you about aspects of Christian doctrine. I do not seek to attack you or put you on the defensive. Sometimes I look at the discussions in the Christianity forum. Every once in a while I may post my thoughts or insights because I truly believe Truth is One. When no one addresses what I've said or even contradicts it, I do not take offense. I'm happy to have had the opportunity to verbalize something faith-related.

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I simply believe because it's all around us. The Bible is best selling book hands down. Many people question it because they lack faith. The Big Bang Theory is a hoax in my opinion. Many religions even saw Jesus as a prophet even though he was actually truly the Son of God. Science has been proven wrong especially when they thought the world was flat. God breathed life into us. 

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18 minutes ago, Ivy said:

May be this is not a good statement.  Obviously if I conclude that a system is "invalid" I no longer consider it for myself. Perhaps what I want to say is to not judge others for their beliefs?    Still, I downvote cannibalism.

 

Lol, me too.

 

Yes, this is in the spirit of what I mean - like they say in 12 step groups "take what you need and leave the rest". That does not imply "the rest" is refuse, just not what's needed at the moment.

 

As for the topic "why" rather than "what" do you believe, is it possible to robustly discuss the why absent any context of what? 

 

I'll take another shot at it. I delved into intuition with some context as to how I endeavor to be more attenuated and what the experience is like when my belief in relative accuracy of intuition seems to be validated. Additionally, my beliefs are strengthened by what I observe in my life both internally and externally. How peaceful and serene do I feel, especially under ostensible duress. How clear is my sense of gratitude, especially in times of trouble. What sort of association is coming into my life & why have I attracted it? Are there beliefs that are holding me in bondage & no longer serve me? All of this provides guidance as to how my beliefs affect my spirituality. On a deeper level, how attuned my beliefs are with my faith - that is how steadfast is my trust in my beliefs. Trust can be developed, thank goodness. Even with spirituality, sometimes you must fake it until you make it, so to speak. Deep spiritual impressions can be made over time and eventually beliefs (something more intellectual in nature) dissolve seamlessly into faith (something deeply intuitive accompanied by great peace in one's mind and heart). 

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  • Forum Moderator

I wish to apologize to the participants in this discussion and especially to @Marcie Jensen.  I caused offense.  That was not my intention, but it happened and I am sorry.  Some thoughts are better left unsaid.  And if I was going to express that thought anyway, I should have found a more skillful way to do it.  Please accept my apology.

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Wow, what a topic.

 

My 5 cents worth. We don't have 1 and 2 cent coins in Australia anymore ;)

 

Why do we believe ? My basic understanding is the need for us to be part of something. To feel connected through whatever medium is used be it religion, experiences or anything else.

 

Now this part is random, but stay with me it does have believe in it.

The God thing. I was raised a Roman Catholic and at the moment I still detest what I went through with them (not all Catholics are bad, just putting that in there) and because of that I refused to believe in God.

 

The day I was able to see that religion, any religion does not own God was the day I felt I could continue living. I could believe in God without religion. Why believe in God ? Still don't know, residual indoctrination from the church ? No idea. My therapist would have field day with some of the stuff going on in my head.

 

Why do I believe, because as KathyLauren, I'm a scientist  and I need proof (words aren't proof unless verified for me). I will believe what others have told or shown me until it is disproved, to a certain extent.

 

Religious beliefs are another topic entirely and often fraught with emotional baggage.

No offense is intended to anyone's religious beliefs I'm just trying to add to the WHY we believe not WHAT we believe.

 

Lotsa hugs to everyone.

Robyn

 

 

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