WTF is Faith, anyway?

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wordsleuth23
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by wordsleuth23 » 22 Jul 2009, 19:14

swimordie wrote: If faith is so important, why do we need our faith to be "promoted"? Why do we need to be "full" of faith? Why do religious (christian) scholars spend so much time trying to "prove" the bible (or FARMS trying to "prove" the BoM)? Is this cognitive dissonance? It feels like it to me. Is the point of our lives to eventually become so sure of "truth" that we no longer need faith (calling and election)?
Of course the mission of FARMS is to dispel cognitive dissonance. I've always found it ironic that when science discovers something that isn't good for religion, it's discarded and the need for faith is mentioned. Imagine if a scientific discovery basically proved a key aspect of Christianity; the talk of faith would recede to the background. The emphasis on faith is a way to keep people in the Church. If people place faith first on their list, no amount of scientific evidence or uncovered history matters. Faith is simply a survival mechanism; it allows the Church to deal with all of the contrary evidence.

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Heber13
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Heber13 » 22 Jul 2009, 20:49

wordsleuth23 wrote:If people place faith first on their list, no amount of scientific evidence or uncovered history matters. Faith is simply a survival mechanism; it allows the Church to deal with all of the contrary evidence.
I don't think that is true. True faith is based on knowledge, and then stretches it into the confidence in God's characteristics and teachings that go beyond the light we can see into a place we believe based on evidence we feel not see.

It is not fair to paint with a broad stroke all those who have faith are blind or indifferent to historical facts or scientific knowledge. Nor is it spiritual handcuffs for churches to use to trick its members and keep them ignorant.

Faith is the first principle of the gospel because it is needed to train the individual seeking truth to begin to understand there is a power greater than oneself that we can place our confidence in. As we develop that humility, we can be open to learning and increasing our knowledge, and enlighten our minds to further scientific discovery and proof of this physical world. But it is not limited to this physical world and what we can prove, see or touch.

Faith is love. You'll never prove it scientifically...but it is necessary for happiness. And I love my faith.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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HiJolly
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by HiJolly » 22 Jul 2009, 23:35

Ok, Faith is one of my favorite topics. It's really, really deep. Yet it is simple. It is as essential to our existence as the atoning role of Christ is to the Gospel. I've been following the thread and yet been holding back a bit. I think now I'm ready to make a couple of comments.
swimordie wrote:If faith is so important, why do we need our faith to be "promoted"?

Because a lot of people mistakenly think it is "wishful thinking" on spiritual steroids, I think. Faith is not screwing up your face in concentration and *wanting* something so bad you poop your pants. It is a gift of God, it is our intellectual AND spiritual comprehension of the results of obedience to God's will; an inner understanding of the evidence found, that living God's will brings into our lives.
swimordie wrote:Why do we need to be "full" of faith?

So we can do wicked awesome things like say "let there be light" ---- and 'light' actually appears! ...actually, that's like, the ultimate point of faith. Right now, maybe faith is what it takes for us to just get up and go to work. Joseph said in the Lectures on Faith that faith is a principle of power, of action. That's my belief as well.
swimordie wrote:Why do religious (christian) scholars spend so much time trying to "prove" the bible (or FARMS trying to "prove" the BoM)? Is this cognitive dissonance? It feels like it to me.
So true! Yes, you've got it. It's an uncomfortable truth, though. The scriptures, religion, all of it is merely the clothes covering (but moving with, hopefully) the body. It is the body that actually lives.
swimordie wrote: Is the point of our lives to eventually become so sure of "truth" that we no longer need faith (calling and election)?
Not really. Even God needed faith to be able to create the universe, even though he knows everything. We'll ALWAYS need faith.

The calling and election is comforting, but not the end of our development. To get to that point does require a great deal of faith. Faith to be teachable, to be able to seek and learn and yet be willing to discard "things that ain't so" that we really, really believe to be true. That is tough to do! And painful!

Anyway, more of my thoughts.


HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

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HiJolly
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by HiJolly » 22 Jul 2009, 23:44

wordsleuth23 wrote:The emphasis on faith is a way to keep people in the Church. If people place faith first on their list, no amount of scientific evidence or uncovered history matters. Faith is simply a survival mechanism; it allows the Church to deal with all of the contrary evidence.
Last year I read The End of Faith by Sam Harris. I also read God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens, and Dawkins' The God Delusion, to digress a bit. I really enjoyed it! Especially Sam's book.

Sam was addressing the 'wishful thinking' type of faith. The type where you check your brain at the door and just do whatever you're told. I know that some people claim this is what happens in Mormonism, and I don't always disagree---- but I think this is due to the stupid people in the Church, not the Church itself. Lots of people actually WANT to be told what to think, to do, etc. I don't blame the Church for people like that.

Anyway, it's clear that both people and institutions have abused the public's credulity over the ages. I don't think it'll end anytime soon, unfortunately.


HiJolly
Men are not moved by events but by their interpretations.
-- The Stoic Epictetus

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Heber13
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Heber13 » 23 Jul 2009, 09:57

HiJolly wrote:I think this is due to the stupid people in the Church, not the Church itself. Lots of people actually WANT to be told what to think, to do, etc. I don't blame the Church for people like that.
Good thoughts, HiJolly, I think I may add that book End of Faith to my reading list and have faith I'll get to it someday.

I understand your point and what you were getting at with your comment above, I might just soften it a bit and state that people are at different places with different motivations. Some just don't think about things as much as maybe some of the rest of us, and if it works for them, they don't need to change. They actually just want leaders to tell them what to do. While the Church can't be "blamed for that", the Church leaders should be nourishing and teaching that there needs to be a longer sustainable faith to be developed. Some members just need hand-holding until they can think and walk for themselves. At some point, there will be a test of faith for everyone to question what their faith is truly based on.

...wait a minute...did I just describe Heber13's recent crisis? I think I did. :idea:

I think I was one of those "stupid" people that wanted everything to fit into the nice neat little boxes, and prayers answered when needed so I always know which way to go. Now I'm stretching my faith to deeper levels, and instead of abandoning faith...cling to it more passionately from a new viewpoint.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

swimordie
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by swimordie » 23 Jul 2009, 10:35

I get what you're saying, Heber. There is a prevailing idea in the church that "hold to the rod" is all the faith you need. Not sure where this fits in the category of faith, but for those who just want to be told/hand held/whatever, this is a good shorthand that seems to "cover" everything. It's definitely used as the end all to any doubts, questions, uncertainty, etc. In general, not specific to wards with open-minded bishops, SP's, or whatever.
Perfectionism hasn't served me. I think I am done with it. -Poppyseed

Poppyseed
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Poppyseed » 23 Jul 2009, 13:11

Heber13 wrote:
HiJolly wrote:I think this is due to the stupid people in the Church, not the Church itself. Lots of people actually WANT to be told what to think, to do, etc. I don't blame the Church for people like that.
Good thoughts, HiJolly, I think I may add that book End of Faith to my reading list and have faith I'll get to it someday.

I understand your point and what you were getting at with your comment above, I might just soften it a bit and state that people are at different places with different motivations. Some just don't think about things as much as maybe some of the rest of us, and if it works for them, they don't need to change. They actually just want leaders to tell them what to do. While the Church can't be "blamed for that", the Church leaders should be nourishing and teaching that there needs to be a longer sustainable faith to be developed. Some members just need hand-holding until they can think and walk for themselves. At some point, there will be a test of faith for everyone to question what their faith is truly based on.

...wait a minute...did I just describe Heber13's recent crisis? I think I did. :idea:

I think I was one of those "stupid" people that wanted everything to fit into the nice neat little boxes, and prayers answered when needed so I always know which way to go. Now I'm stretching my faith to deeper levels, and instead of abandoning faith...cling to it more passionately from a new viewpoint.

First....I just wanted to say amen to so much of what Hi Jolley was saying. So many things that I wanted to say, but he said it so much better. Thank you.

Faith is one of my favorite topics. I love what I have learned about faith from the LDS perspective. I haven't found such understanding elsewhere. It is one of the doctrines that keeps me coming back to the mormon fountain to drink. I sometimes resent the implications or even accusations that mormons are brainwashed or that the church demands blind faith so it doesn't have to explain itself. Maybe some mormons are! I certainly have met a few that made me wonder if all the lights were on or who became so fanatical or so lax that they lost true North. I think I resent it mostly because it has not been my experience. I have been taught from the time I was small to get my knowledge directly from God and the spirit and to then move forward in following the prophets. And many times I have exercised faith inside my study and God has taught me and opened my understanding in spiritual ways concerning very earthly things and of course scriptural things too.

I think that I understand how some might get confused and perhaps wonder how to make faith work in their lives as they try to figure out that powerful place in between blind faith and absolute proof.

Maybe what I am trying to say is a simple invitation to give faith a try again. I actually think one comes to understand faith best when exercising it. And I hope I don't sound like a preachy mormon. If so I am sorry. But I really do think that scripture study does make a huge difference in ones understanding and capacity for faith. It is something that has blessed my life incredibly and I know God has met me on the other side of my strenuous exercising of faith. I think that is what makes the continuous pursuit so rewarding is that I do see the proof of God working with me and for me on the other side of what feels like darkness or stupidity or lame obedience. When I didn't believe in God, I exercised my faith and found God answering me and reminding me of how He had been there in the past. ( process took about a year. maybe more.) When I doubted the scriptures, God showed me they were true AS I opened the cover and my heart at the same time and tried to believe. ( this just happened recently) The Spirit met me on the other side of my effort and I felt the spiritual confirmation and greater understanding. It helped me remember why I was LDS in the first place.

These last few days, even since I joined this site, I have been praying for God to help me feel the comfort of the truthfulness of this church and its efforts to move the work forward. I feel those answers coming and actually confirming some of the knowledge I gained when I was at odds with things. Very simply but deeply and I feel the doubt subsiding somewhat and that feels better than all the wrestling I was doing inside. That to me is another proof that faith really does bring knowledge and that my faith can turn to knowledge just like Alma 32 says so that my faith can actually become dormant in that thing.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” --old Chinese proverb

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Heber13
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Heber13 » 23 Jul 2009, 15:32

Wow, poppyseed. That was amazing. Thanks for sharing...that really meant a lot to me personally. As much as I'm still confident in my beliefs to stay LDS, my main thing lately is to try to seek those spiritual confirmations it sounds like you have been experiencing. I have had those in the past. I miss them and have faith some time in the future will be a time I will also experience something again. Until then, I totally enjoy hearing your heart-felt expression. Your story is what is faith promoting to me, way more so than the broken radio story (see the thread on Faith Promoting stories and HiJolly's post). Anyway, thanks again. I needed to read your words today! It was what I prayed for this morning. Thanks for that.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Brian Johnston
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Brian Johnston » 23 Jul 2009, 19:24

HiJolly wrote:Faith is not screwing up your face in concentration and *wanting* something so bad you poop your pants.
I think that is officially the best statement of the month here. :D
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

jeriboy
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by jeriboy » 23 Jul 2009, 21:21

swimordie said "For me, the more I learn either by study intellectually or by life experience spiritually, the more I recognize I don't know. Is it possible that the more you discover truth, the more faith you'll need? And, conversely, the more sure you are of the truth, probably through ignorant bliss, the less faith you need?

This dichotomy is killing me... not really but it's stuck in my craw."

I like your comments. For me the more I learn, the more questions I can ask for which I cannot get answers. Faith fills in the gaps, and I am content with the way things are.

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