The Nature of Faith

“Now faith is the assumption of fact that things conceived of in the mind actually exist”
Hebrews 11:1 in my own wacky interpretation.

What causes so many people to have unswerving devotion in their belief in God, when the actual evidence at hand is so largely anecdotal and slippery?  When it comes to private experiences, what one person claims to be the manifestation of God can, in another person’s similar experience, be described as merely the arising of joy, that can come and go of its own accord.  The same feelings can be experienced regardless of the belief system of the individual.  

Emotional experience is only one side of the coin for the supposed proof of the existence of God.  The other side deduces God through the complexity argument – namely, that since nature is so incredibly complex, diverse, and rich in design, there must be a creator behind nature.  Even more incredibly, given the amazing occurence of human consciousness, surely a divine mind brought humanity into existence.  Our current understanding of evolution has largely replaced such arguments, allowing for design to occur as a natural, rather than supernatural process.  

Surely then we can determine ourselves as being post-God (or post-theistic)?  Yet as soon as this is suggested, the devil card is pulled, the suggestion made that the supreme anti-God force is at work to undermine the existence of God.  At the less extreme end, certainty in evolutionary theory is questioned, and the Bible’s superiority is exemplified.  Yet argument after argument ultimately demonstrates nothing.  

I would love to embrace the certainty of a loving God.  It would give me the greatest pleasure to speak of the ever-present experience of the living Christ.  My experience, even in my most devoted moments as a born-again Christian, is that such certainty is wishful thinking.  The only aspect of the faith that I can now support is the community element, given such an in-built possibility of friendship.   Yet even that was always problematic, due to the wide divide I experienced between belief and lifestyle.

Ultimately, in my present spiritual journey, God is excess baggage.

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2 responses to “The Nature of Faith

  • smudge

    quoting you

    t would give me the greatest pleasure to speak of the ever-present experience of the living Christ. My experience, even in my most devoted moments as a born-again Christian, is that such certainty is wishful thinking.

    I think if you had had an experience of Christ that was ever-present you would be the only Christian who had 🙂

    the feelings go at some point…in order to grow faith, which is beyond feelings or the intellect

  • C Woods

    You said: “in my present spiritual journey, God is excess baggage.”

    I feel like all religion is excess baggage. Almost every ounce of religious instruction I received in my youth seemed intended to instill shame, guilt and fear. I hated it but kept thinking that I’d eventually find the all-loving god, the love-thy-neighbor-as-thyself parts of religion and all would be fine. But most of what I found was veiled hatred or disgust or mere pity for anyone who believed differently or didn’t live up to the standards of the church. No one could ever be good enough, pious enough, pray or believe enough. Ultimately, after years of my family reading the Bible (cover-to-cover, one chapter a day, then starting over) I found it all so absurd that dumped that excess baggage: religion and god, too. After I left home for college, I never went back to church —and nearly 50 years later, I have no regrets.

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