The Secret About God

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Shawn
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The Secret About God

Post by Shawn » 23 Jun 2016, 13:03

A few things have contributed to the unraveling of my faith in God. Here are some of them.

1. The Gospel Does Not Work For Me
Elder Wilford W. Andersen said, “For some, solutions to depression and anxieties will be found through consultation with competent professionals. But for most of us, sadness and fear begin to melt away and are replaced by happiness and peace when we put our trust in the Author of the plan of happiness and when we develop faith in the Prince of Peace.” So the Gospel isn’t powerful enough to penetrate depression. It was something I already knew from personal experience, but this was a major blow to me.

2. The Spirit Does Not Work For Me
For years, I have wondered why it’s so hard for me to feel the Spirit. Now there is an admission that the Spirit has severe limitations: “An inability to feel the Spirit, or a general feeling of apathy or numbness, is often a symptom of mental illness. You are not being punished for sin. God has not forsaken you.”

It’s positive to say it’s not my fault, but it admits that people with mental illness might not be able to feel the Spirit, which is very troubling to me. It’s very difficult for me to believe in a god who is either unable or unwilling to reach depressed people. Also, it is very disturbing to think that Satan can mimic the Spirit. How is it legit to use the Spirit as a test for truth when it can be coming from either God or Satan?

3. The Faith Test
Last year, I read “The God Who Weeps” by Terryl and Fiona Givens. They wrote about the importance of choosing faith.
For most of us, at least, there is neither a choir of heavenly heralds proving God exists, nor a laboratory of science equipment proving He doesn’t. Rather, we find a persuasive body of evidence on both sides of life’s competing propositions. Only in the case of us mortals, there is something to tip the scale. There is something to predispose us to a life of faith or a life of disbelief. There is a heart that, in these conditions of equilibrium and balance, equally “enticed by the one or the other,” is truly free to choose belief or skepticism, faith or faithlessness.

The call to faith, in this light, is not some test of a coy god, waiting to see if we “get it right.” It is the only summons, issued under the only conditions, which can allow us fully to reveal who we are, what we most love, and what we most devoutly desire. Without constraint, without any form of mental compulsion, the act of belief becomes the freest possible projection of what resides in our hearts.

…And that is an activity endowed with incalculable moral meaning.
This caused me to really think about why having faith is so important. Why is it the first principle of the Gospel? If there is no compelling reason to choose faith, are all non-believers really bad people? Could that really be God’s way of measuring us? It seems arbitrary to me. In my opinion, the real test should be whether someone has a desire to know the truth and acts to do good according to his or her ability.

4. The Secret
I’ve listened to “The Secret” audiobook a few times this year. It teaches the law of attraction, which says “If you can see it in your mind, you can hold it in your hand” and “Whatever you can conceive and believe, you can achieve.”

So, what’s the best and easiest way to put people under your religion’s thumb? Perhaps the answer is to teach the people that the most important thing for their salvation is to first BELIEVE. And they must fervently believe and even act as if they already know a thing that they really don’t know. Doing that would lead to a witness of the truth – meaning it leads them to "knowing" whatever it is that they believed. The problem here is that people can convince themselves that all sorts of things are true. People from all sorts of religions bear sincere witness that God has revealed to them the truthfulness of Catholicism, Islam, LDS, FLDS, etc. These thoughts are devastating and horrifying to me.

Do people believe in a god only because they believe? Is this the great secret about god?


So, what's the point of all this? While I have lost my faith in a god, I don't want to be an atheist. I am looking for hope. Has anyone had thoughts like mine and remained faithful to God? What can I do?
Last edited by Shawn on 26 Jun 2018, 07:13, edited 1 time in total.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: The Secret About God

Post by Curt Sunshine » 23 Jun 2016, 13:53

1) "Penetrate" depression - yes, for most people, since most people don't deal with severe, constant depression; "solve" - no, for most people with what would be termed moderate-severe cases. However, I would say that the "Gospel" (the grace of the Atonement) contains elements that can provide comfort and hope to those with mortal issues of various kinds, including depression. Much of it lies in each person's expectations and interpretations.

God bless you as you walk your difficult path.

2) Mental illnesses screw with lots of things, including emotions, happiness, joy, etc. that generally are classified as fruits of the Spirit. My schizophrenic mother was incredibly "spiritual" when her meds were working; she was frighteningly different when they weren't. Which state was her natural one? Maybe both are. We (my family) tend to see her medicated state as her natural spiritual state and her unmediated one as her her natural physical state. We tend to see the disconnect as part of the crapshoot of mortal life, not as indicative of God's inability or lack of desire - but that is due to our view of our theology.

I see a wonderful spirit in your comments, clothed in a difficult physical form. Do what you can to figure out how to lessen the difficulty, even if it never disappears.

3) I think your definition of faith is the correct one - and I think it is consistent with the Gospel within Mormon theology, even though too many members define it differently and, in my opinion, incorrectly.

Stick to your definition.

4) Yes, people tend to believe because they either have a believing orientation or because they want to believe - or both. There is nothing wrong with that, in and of itself.

5) What do you do? Continue to refine your beliefs and faith in whatever way helps and makes sense the most. Hang in there. Continue to seek help, of all kinds. Know you are loved.
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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DarkJedi
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Re: The Secret About God

Post by DarkJedi » 23 Jun 2016, 14:04

Indeed I have had and do have thoughts like your Shawn. One of the greatest things about this site is that I am constantly reminded that I am not alone. I currently don't know how to describe my belief/faith or lack thereof. In describing my faith crisis I usually say I was "near atheist." That's probably a softening of what I really believed, I was atheist but like you didn't want to be. Agnostic is a softer term, but if the definition of an agnostic is one who is awaiting proof of God I also recognize that such proof doesn't exist short of an experience like Joseph Smith's. My current belief in God rests solely on the idea that I don't believe the universe just happened, that it doesn't make sense to me that all of it just sprang into existence without any interaction by an advanced power (the Creator God in my view).

I don't know that this answers your questions. I certainly do not believe in the same God that I hear about in fast and testimony meeting. Am I really faithful then? I do cling to hope in many ways - hope that is sometimes faint and fleeting and all but absent. My heart bleeds for you. May you find the peace you seek.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Shawn
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Re: The Secret About God

Post by Shawn » 23 Jun 2016, 14:27

Curt Sunshine wrote:3) I think your definition of faith is the correct one - and I think it is consistent with the Gospel within Mormon theology, even though too many members define it differently and, in my opinion, incorrectly.

Stick to your definition.
Curt, what definition are you referring to?
Curt Sunshine wrote:4) Yes, people tend to believe because they either have a believing orientation or because they want to believe - or both. There is nothing wrong with that, in and of itself.
So, how do people here determine what is true?
Curt Sunshine wrote:5) What do you do? Continue to refine your beliefs and faith in whatever way helps and makes sense the most. Hang in there. Continue to seek help, of all kinds. Know you are loved.
Thanks, Curt. I do feel loved when I come here.

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Shawn
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Re: The Secret About God

Post by Shawn » 23 Jun 2016, 14:30

DarkJedi wrote:My current belief in God rests solely on the idea that I don't believe the universe just happened, that it doesn't make sense to me that all of it just sprang into existence without any interaction by an advanced power (the Creator God in my view).

I don't know that this answers your questions. I certainly do not believe in the same God that I hear about in fast and testimony meeting. Am I really faithful then? I do cling to hope in many ways - hope that is sometimes faint and fleeting and all but absent. My heart bleeds for you. May you find the peace you seek.
Thanks for your words, DJ. Are you doing okay now or are you miserable?

I am hoping there is a god and a heaven because I think it would be extremely tragic, and maybe absurd, for life to completely end at death. Also, the universe seems quite frightening if no one is caring for it.

Roy
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Re: The Secret About God

Post by Roy » 23 Jun 2016, 16:07

Shawn wrote:So, how do people here determine what is true?
Bro. Givens seems to be saying that there is neither conclusive evidence to believe nor conclusive evidence to disbelieve. some people are just wired to believe. Others are more wired to disbelieve and that is perfectly ok and natural for them. Some of us could actually go either way. I find it impressive if people try to determine what to believe based upon what is most ethical (the greatest good for the largest number of people).

If we will never (in this life) know for sure what is objectively true then what we choose to believe becomes a reflection of ourselves. of our innermost hopes and desires.

We get to determine what our life means for ourselves. Yes, I agree that this is a very frightening proposition but it can also be quite liberating and expansive.

May there be a road friend.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Shawn
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Re: The Secret About God

Post by Shawn » 23 Jun 2016, 17:24

Roy, it's good to hear from you.
Roy wrote:...I find it impressive if people try to determine what to believe based upon what is most ethical (the greatest good for the largest number of people).

If we will never (in this life) know for sure what is objectively true then what we choose to believe becomes a reflection of ourselves. of our innermost hopes and desires.
Choosing to believe and do what seemingly does the greatest good for the largest number of people is admirable. I agree that "what we choose to believe becomes a reflection of ourselves." I want to choose to be kind to others and make the world a better place. I guess my problem is that choosing to believe or disbelieve in a god, when neither choice is more compelling, should not be the ultimate test when determining if one should be saved. When I consider what I have learned by listening to "The Secret," I wonder if the principle of exercising faith in a god was manufactured to put people under control.

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nibbler
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Re: The Secret About God

Post by nibbler » 24 Jun 2016, 06:03

Shawn wrote:I want to choose to be kind to others and make the world a better place.
I like that choice. :thumbup:
Shawn wrote:I guess my problem is that choosing to believe or disbelieve in a god, when neither choice is more compelling, should not be the ultimate test when determining if one should be saved.
Maybe there's power in stepping away from "who will god save?" and embracing "who will I save?" Be the god you hope for.
Shawn wrote:Also, the universe seems quite frightening if no one is caring for it.
This reminds me of the quote, "Relax, nothing is under control."
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

Curt Sunshine
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Re: The Secret About God

Post by Curt Sunshine » 24 Jun 2016, 12:08

In my opinion, the real test should be whether someone has a desire to know the truth and acts to do good according to his or her ability.


Shawn, I think this is a perfect description of faith as taught in the Book of Mormon and in which I believe. I believe faith is trying to do what we believe is right, with a belief it is God's will, and I think that is all God asks of us.
So how do people determine what is true?
Ideally, they study it out in their hearts and minds - and go with whatever satisfies both, with an acceptance of possible change as they continue the process.

The Book of Mormon says we are created to be agents unto ourselves. It's easy to lose sight of that simple, profound concept, since it is not easy to maintain within a community of any kind and requires continuous effort to remain constantly balanced, but it is the best answer I can give.

Things like depression, anxiety, OCD, extreme self-confidence, etc. complicate the process of finding and maintaining that inter-dependence, so my prayers are with you as you continue your journey that is more difficult than mine.
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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DarkJedi
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Re: The Secret About God

Post by DarkJedi » 24 Jun 2016, 13:29

Shawn wrote:
DarkJedi wrote:My current belief in God rests solely on the idea that I don't believe the universe just happened, that it doesn't make sense to me that all of it just sprang into existence without any interaction by an advanced power (the Creator God in my view).

I don't know that this answers your questions. I certainly do not believe in the same God that I hear about in fast and testimony meeting. Am I really faithful then? I do cling to hope in many ways - hope that is sometimes faint and fleeting and all but absent. My heart bleeds for you. May you find the peace you seek.
Thanks for your words, DJ. Are you doing okay now or are you miserable?

I am hoping there is a god and a heaven because I think it would be extremely tragic, and maybe absurd, for life to completely end at death. Also, the universe seems quite frightening if no one is caring for it.
OK is probably a good way to put it. I'm not miserable, mostly. I have times where I am more hopeful than others, I'm currently in a less hopeful swing due to some recent events. I should note that I do have situational depression, and that does of course affect how hopeful or how hopeless I am at times.

I also hope there is a God, and I believe there is. Beyond that, I'm not all that sure of anything about God. Some things you said in your OP do resonate with me.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

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