WTF is Faith, anyway?

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WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by swimordie » 10 Jul 2009, 16:18

Sorry for the topic title. :twisted: I wanted to get attention but that's actually how I've been feeling recently.

I mentioned this in a post on the other thread but it's bugging me enough to dial it into it's own thread.

"Faith-promoting"? "Faithful"? "Increased faith"? Almost any use of the word "faith" with some other extension sounds like an oxymoron.

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)?

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. :lol:
Perfectionism hasn't served me. I think I am done with it. -Poppyseed

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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by jmb275 » 10 Jul 2009, 16:52

I have no idea.

Having said that, let me explain. Personally, I feel like my view of faith is so burdened with the baggage from being a TBM, I can't even reason properly about faith in any other context other than the Mormon one. I'm trying to overcome this, but it's difficult when I insist on continuing to read church history books.

Here are some really random thoughts.
1. According to TBM thought, JS probably would have been the closest to "knowing" in the literal, scientific sense. Did that alleviate the need for faith for JS? I doubt it, and I doubt any TBM would admit to that. To me, this says knowledge does not replace faith, nor vice versa.
2. A lot of people try to argue about faith in scientific endeavors and compare it to faith in religious endeavors. While there is some truth in this at the extreme level, we all make decisions based on probabilities at the end of the day. You cross a bridge because you see people/cars on it, and it hasn't collapsed in 50 years. Do you "know" that it won't collapse? No, so does this take faith? Well, this is where Ray comes in. I think it takes a specific definition of faith and knowledge to have this debate at all. To me, crossing a bridge is different than faith in God. Why? Because to me, my eyes, scientific measurement equipment etc. has a VERY reliable track record so much so that I fully claim "knowledge" when using them. It seems possible to me that some people have this same ability with discerning their "spiritual witnesses" and I suppose this could constitute knowledge. But for me, I don't have this ability, and see too much psychology and mind work to buy into it a lot. Nonetheless, I think it possible, and recognize it constitutes "evidence" for some people.
3. There is a lovely saying in academia it goes something like this: When you get your BS you know everything there is to know about your major. At the MS level you realize you know nothing about your major. At the PhD level you realize neither does anyone else.
4. For me, faith and knowledge boil down to probabilities and the various definitions assigned to each word. On a colloquial level however, the term knowledge is overly used in Mormondom I think.
I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women--all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there.
- Joseph Smith, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 304)

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Tom Haws
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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Tom Haws » 10 Jul 2009, 21:04

Assuming the vision of this group may be expressed thus:
Imagine enjoying LDS membership again
I have to wonder whether it might be possible to change the title of this thread. In general, while I believe our arms are open wide to "issues" and "open discussion", we also have our eye on our vision, and should anticipate being comfortable here even as we come to dearly love the LDS Church again. That implies respectful, circumspect dialogue.

That's what makes this place what it is. The ever-present faith in that vision. (How's that for being on-thread?) I have faith that someday if I mature and grow enough, I will again enjoy my membership in the LDS Church in a different, new, whole, enlightened way.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at

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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by swimordie » 11 Jul 2009, 00:21

Tom Haws wrote:I have faith that someday if I mature and grow enough
Obviously, I have a ways to go. Just ask my DW. :D

I don't know how to change the title, guess I should have thought of that before I posted it. :roll: :shock: :oops:

What's the procedure?
Perfectionism hasn't served me. I think I am done with it. -Poppyseed

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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Brian Johnston » 11 Jul 2009, 06:51

Well I naturally assumed WTF stood for "What The Flip." Flip being the common Mormon culture's colloquial expression of frustration, shock and dismay ;)

On a more serious note, I think we run into major language problems in English when using one word "Faith" to describe so many complex thoughts and feelings. I've experienced something similar in my journey. I feel like my faith (confidence) has increased a lot in the past couple years. It gives me much more faith (hope) in the goodness and mercy of God. It gives me more faith (will, focus) to move forward along my journey, even though I had to sacrifice my attachment to feeling like I had real faith (understanding in an intellectual sense) in the nature and characteristics of the divine.

Lots of problems with how we use the term faith in the LDS church, for sure.

On the topic of proving scripture, theology or spiritual practices with science or intellect ... I find some of that interesting at times. It isn't really all that meaningful in the end. What if we could find Jesus's sandal prints on a hill to prove that he existed, and that the Sermon on the Mount really happened. Does that change the religious and spiritual value of the message? What if we could prove beyond any doubt scientifically that Jesus was a fictional character invented by a few people to hijack the John the Baptist movement after his execution? Would the Bible still have any spiritual value?

It's all about faith :D
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by swimordie » 11 Jul 2009, 23:38

I guess that's my point: if it's just semantics, why not more constructive uses of the "concept", particularly in the abstract?

I've always felt like faith is an action, motivating concept, driven by a belief. But as it's internalized, the outcomes become predictable; I know helping this person will make me feel good. So am I still acting on faith?

It's kinda like those near-death experiences; people who experienced that almost invariably had an experience that was consistent with their theologic/spiritual construct. Was that faith?

Is faith the illusion of knowledge for a sense of security, or a delusion for a sense of meaning, or something else? Or is it just too close to the whole purpose, existence, meaning of God concept to deconstruct?

What role did faith have for Christ personally? I guess, that's the heart of my question.
Perfectionism hasn't served me. I think I am done with it. -Poppyseed

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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by Heber13 » 12 Jul 2009, 10:30

I have studied quite a bit about faith lately, which is probably why many of my posts include that.

In my short answered opinion, there is so much we will never know and so much truth beyond our ability to comprehend in this life, that faith is a requirement, indeed...the first principle of the gospel.

It is not to replace the drive for knowledge or truth, it is to accompany it.

Without faith, I believe we give up. We stop trying. Faith is our motivation in all we do. You take a step with faith your foot will be upheld by a firm floor that will move you where you want to go (have you ever missed that last step on the stairs when you had faith something was there? Weird feeling).

The scientist trying to prove a theory is exercising faith. The baby lunging for dad's safe arms is exercising faith. The blogger posting thoughts is showing faith.

It is faith in God and His characteristics and His plan that is of significance to our eternal welfare. Faith in false doctrine will lead to a point where the limitations are learned (i.e. damnation). Faith in truth will lead to a never ending search for further truth and light and progression.
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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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by pinkpatent » 12 Jul 2009, 13:55

I think faith is different for each person. But for me, faith is a hope, belief, or feeling that is strong enough to make me get out of my chair and do something. That may be an over simplification, but its what guides me.
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends-
It gives a lovely light!

Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by LaLaLove » 12 Jul 2009, 18:49

I think Faith is personal. Personally I believe (have Faith that) when I die there is something wonderful to look forward to, Religiously (just one example). Recently I have developed Faith in myself. I have faith in myself that I will become happier with what I have and what I still want-Example I know going to school (maybe continually) will make me happy, and I have Faith in myself that I will return. It is not all knowing or definite-It is appreciated and not taken for granted and worked toward and ever changing. (Hopefully for the better, but my opinion on better is personal - which I'm starting to think The more simple-The better)-You don't have to have a thousand examples, one hundred reasons - 5 personal witnesses .. ect. - How wonderful to have Faith in something with the apperence of what someone would think to be nothing, imo.
IMO Faith is still and small .. Simple and unique.
Telling someone they lack Faith - You are stunting personal growth.
Expecting others to accept and Change their Faith into your personal definition - You are stunting personal growth.
IMO Thinking your Faith is at a peak, Thinking your Faith is better than others-You are right, they are wrong, Thinking Faith is ridiculous .. You are stunting personal growth.
It means confidence .. Trust .. Responsibility in a way - it has connections to everyones lives in the smallest things/ways. There is no right definition of Faith.
Edited to add that Faith is a future poistive - It helps us live for today .. It is letting go of perfection and letting you live hopefully w/o intense worry or stress - It is comforting .. If used in the right way (my definition of right way might not be the same as others :D ) .. What is it Let Go and Let Live? .. Hopefully it means self control .. as long as a person or an organization isn't banging it against your head-then it gets twisted, maybe even taken for granted.
Last edited by LaLaLove on 12 Jul 2009, 21:58, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: WTF is Faith, anyway?

Post by swimordie » 12 Jul 2009, 20:44

LaLaLove wrote:There is no right definition of Faith.
I think Tom used the art analogy in another post. I like that here, too. I taught a humanities class a few years ago and we spent two hours in class trying to define what "art" is; and we never came up with a definition that even the majority agreed with. I agree with you LaLa, that faith can't be imposed or presupposed, it's just too personal.

So, could F&T meeting just be like going to an art museum, everyone just sharing their faith for everyone else to observe and interpret in their own individual way, without qualitative judgments?

I'm liking that as a concept; reality, mmmmm..... dunno. I do feel that has approached this ideal. For me anyways. Thanks everyone. :P
Perfectionism hasn't served me. I think I am done with it. -Poppyseed

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