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Public forum for topics that don't fit into the other categories.
overwhelmed
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Post by overwhelmed » 21 Apr 2014, 13:27

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overwhelmed
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Post by overwhelmed » 21 Apr 2014, 13:36

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Last edited by overwhelmed on 03 May 2014, 19:39, edited 1 time in total.
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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Do you think that faith is a choice?

Post by Curt Sunshine » 21 Apr 2014, 13:37

Like so many things, I believe the answer is, "Yes and no."

Some things are so clear-cut that there really is no alternative other than acceptance or rejection; some things, however, are not so clear-cut - and, in some cases, there are so many possible answers that choosing from among them is a necessity.

I think "faith" is a choice, since the definition is hope in things that aren't seen (and, by extension, can't be proven or disproven). Lacking proof either way, we have to decide the nature of our hopes - and that applies to things outside religion every bit as much as religious things. However, I don't believe faith applies to things we feel we know, so, in that sense, I don't believe faith is a choice in those areas.

I will end simply by saying I think almost everyone thinks they know more than they do - inside or outside religion, traditional and orthodox or not.

Oh, and this section is fine.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Orson
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Re: Do you think that faith is a choice?

Post by Orson » 21 Apr 2014, 14:54

I agree that we cannot simply choose to believe anything that we want to believe. If we are honest with ourselves we have to start with where we are - what we actually believe. You give a good example and I've used others -- for example if everyone around me claims the grass is blue I may want to see it that way to feel a part of the group, but if I am honest with myself the grass looks green to me.

On the other hand I believe we can choose to exercise faith in areas where we really don't know, or don't have a clear view. And from there we can start to build interpretations that are friendly to faith. In that sense we can choose faith.
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I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

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On Own Now
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Re: Do you think that faith is a choice?

Post by On Own Now » 21 Apr 2014, 15:08

overwhelmed,

When I first started out on my faith transition (long ago), I had very similar conversations with my Bishop. He was a good person, but he couldn't quite understand why I would not want to believe. I had to explain that I did want to believe. Just like you said, I wanted to believe with all my heart. It's just difficult for people in their situation to understand why you would voluntarily let go of your faith. They can't truly understand. I've made sure my wife knows that I didn't WANT it to happen. That helps a little. There have since been three new Bishops. None of them really understand, though each is a good person and well-meaning.

There is a certain amount of choice in faith, but its not in believing something you can't... what we can each do is look in our own hearts and grab onto the things we DO believe, and then let faith grow naturally outward. We don't have to reach for things that we don't believe. I don't believe in the Book of Abraham, for example, but that doesn't mean I don't believe in the value of serving a calling in the Church. It's not all or nothing, IMO, and accepting that helps tremendously.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

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Daeruin
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Re: Do you think that faith is a choice?

Post by Daeruin » 21 Apr 2014, 22:34

This is a question I've been struggling with for a while but I haven't yet been able to articulate exactly how I feel about it. I'm going to try. These are my working theories. I'm probably going to repeat some of what's already beens said too.

I think when you're trying to figure out whether to believe something you have to look at all the available evidence. Sometimes there's so much evidence in favor of one option that you just can't deny it. The evidence might be from scientific studies, personal experience, or whatever, but it's completely obvious and uncontroversial to believe in. It's still a choice, but it may not feel like it because it would feel ridiculous to even contemplate rejecting the idea. You could still choose not to believe it, maybe based on your feelings or whatever, but you'd clearly be making a choice to reject the obvious answer. In these cases you might feel like it's real knowledge. There's no real choice to be made. It's just true. You know it. I don't think faith even applies here. Faith isn't knowledge.

It gets more interesting when there really isn't enough evidence to make an educated decision, or when you don't have any personal experiences to back up any of the options. In theses cases you look at what little evidence or experience you do have, and for whatever reason you may find one of the options more compelling. Your feelings and hopes may pull you slightly or strongly towards one of the options, and you have to decide whether to trust your feelings. Choice definitely comes into play there. You realize you don't know everything, but your feelings lend you some level of personal conviction that something is probably true. I think this is faith. You might have some evidence, some small reason for potentially believing, but it's not enough to say you know. Yet you feel and/or hope strongly enough for one of the options that you feel comfortable saying you believe it, or at least really hope for it to be true, enough that you're willing to make choices based on the assumption that it's probably true. This is the case where Terryl Givens says your true morality is made manifest. In the absence of solid evidence, how are you actually going to live?

But maybe none of the options seems more compelling than another, and you feel like you don't know enough to decide, and none of the options really feels right. I don't believe you can simply choose to believe something if, deep down, you don't truly feel like you could commit to it. If you did decide on one of the options, it would only feel arbitrary and you wouldn't have any personal conviction behind it.

I think it's totally OK to reserve judgment in these cases. You don't have to make a decision. It doesn't make any sense to simply "have faith" for absolutely no reason. Depending on your general level of skepticism, you may find that this is the most reasonable option for most questions in life, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But it can be really hard to feel comfortable here. It doesn't feel good to live with uncertainty. Yet I feel strongly that God will respect the decision to reserve judgment, as long as you're being absolutely honest with yourself and trying your best to be a good person with what you do believe.

If the question is important enough to you, then keep working on it. Keep trying to find more evidence, keep examining your feelings, maybe try out some of the options and see what comes of it. Eventually you may find that your hope is strong enough, or some aspect of it feels right enough, that you can finally say you believe, even if the evidence isn't all there. You will have worked yourself up to faith (planting Alma's seed and all that).
"Not all those who wander are lost" —Tolkien

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nibbler
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Re: Do you think that faith is a choice?

Post by nibbler » 22 Apr 2014, 04:59

Life is full of paradoxes, it's impossible for us to take a step back and come up with a definitive answer for everything.

Words in parenthesis are (not) important.

That's life for you.
overwhelmed wrote:If I throw something to the floor it will fall, no matter how much I want to believe that it will float. The truth is the truth, we cannot change it by our believes.
If you throw it hard enough it might go into orbit. :smile: Sorry for being facetious, That's just my way of saying that allowing what we perceive to be true to limit our beliefs might prevent us from making further discoveries or learning additional truths.
Orson wrote: You give a good example and I've used others -- for example if everyone around me claims the grass is blue I may want to see it that way to feel a part of the group, but if I am honest with myself the grass looks green to me.
This departs from the point you are making and can probably be scientifically disproved but what if their blue was your green? They see a color you would describe as blue if seen through your eyes and they call it green because when we first learned language someone pointed to that color and called it green. The association was made. The colors might be perceived differently but a common word is used to communicate that perception. I don't know why I'm wasting everyone's time with this, I just think that it's another thing that can complicate what we perceive to be true... and most times we don't even use the same words to communicate perceptions. What does true color mean and how might that apply for everyone? :mrgreen:
If one dream dies, dream another dream. If you get knocked down, get back up and go again.
― Joel Osteen

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Orson
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Re: Do you think that faith is a choice?

Post by Orson » 22 Apr 2014, 08:46

That is an excellent point Nibbler, we do need to consider differences in perceptions as we deal with conflicts.
My avatar - both physical and spiritual.

I first found faith, and thought I had all truth. I then discovered doubt, and claimed a more accurate truth. Now I’ve greeted paradox and a deeper truth than I have ever known.

overwhelmed
Posts: 9
Joined: 20 Apr 2014, 19:45

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Post by overwhelmed » 22 Apr 2014, 09:08

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Last edited by overwhelmed on 03 May 2014, 19:40, edited 1 time in total.
I don´t belong here

overwhelmed
Posts: 9
Joined: 20 Apr 2014, 19:45

Post by overwhelmed » 22 Apr 2014, 20:51

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