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Thread: Religion, belief, faith

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    Mostly Harmless nbdy's Avatar
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    Religion, belief, faith

    For a while I have felt something vaguely troubling while reading posts about finding one's religion or losing one's faith or struggling with one's beliefs. I don't know that I am completely clear about what is troubling my mind, but I am going to try to articulate it. I honestly don't know where this is going.

    I don't know that I have any religion, but I have a deep and abiding faith, so it seems apparent to me that religion and faith are not equivalent things. Furthermore, though my beliefs about life, the universe, and everything have changed over the years, my faith has not, so it seems apparent that faith is not the same thing as belief either.

    To me, religion is simply a belief system. The system of beliefs may or may not include one or more deities, in my opinion, since deity is not necessary for religiosity. And beliefs? Well, that is what a person believes, and religious beliefs are usually internally consistent propositions regarding things not seen that are held to be true. This is not to say that such beliefs are a priori in any strict sense because they are often associated with profound spiritual experiences.

    Faith is something apart. I believe it is the thing that drives us to embrace or formulate belief systems: that feeling deep inside that there is something more, something just beyond our easy grasp. Faith is not rational, it is intuitive. It tells us that we would not hunger for a thing that does not exist, so go find it! Faith not only creates, but sustains the seeker. While beliefs are cognitive, faith is centered in the heart.

    So there it is -- I have always had a deep and abiding faith with no describable religion since I was a kid, and I only know two things. I'm all good with that because I think beliefs can hinder faith. If people think they have to embrace certain beliefs to be “correct,” then they might be inclined to tune out their inner voices of faith that don't agree.

    "No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical." -- Niels Bohr

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    Re: Religion, belief, faith

    I agree that there's a difference between religion and faith. Religion is almost a system for organizing and labeling faith and different faith experiences. This can be troublesome when the religion becomes too rigid for its members, but it can also be very helpful, because it provides some structure for newcomers, until they find their feet, find out where their faith is rooted (it's different for different people), and choose the direction they want to go in.

    I, too, have long had a deep abiding faith, even when I didn't have any sort of religious title to speak of. Beliefs are like the predecessor of faith, sometimes. You discover your beliefs, you discover the fundamental things that underlie them, and that's your faith.

    You've got to do that work first, which is why structure is helpful (and for some, absolutely necessary) for newcomers or those early on in their path.

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    God in the baking Sean R. R.'s Avatar
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    Re: Religion, belief, faith

    Quote Originally Posted by nbdy View Post
    Faith is something apart. I believe it is the thing that drives us to embrace or formulate belief systems: that feeling deep inside that there is something more, something just beyond our easy grasp. Faith is not rational, it is intuitive. It tells us that we would not hunger for a thing that does not exist, so go find it! Faith not only creates, but sustains the seeker. While beliefs are cognitive, faith is centered in the heart.
    As a definition, I would agree.

    But personally, I've come to a point in my beliefs and religions in which I do not need faith. Through my personal experiences with the "paranormal", like contacting and directly communicating with my Gods, I have found out that faith is progressively replaced by knowledge. In what sense? I do not have faith in my Gods. I know they're there. I can see them. I can hear them. They can hear me. They teach me that there's nothing beyond my grasp. Faith, irrational, becomes part of your rational thinking, the more it proves to yourself as concise reality, rather than intangible faith. You become aware of the origin of your intuition, therefore it becomes thinking.

    Of course, this is my personal view of it.

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    Re: Religion, belief, faith

    I have the same view as Sean. I don't have faith that my gods exist because I have knowledge from experience that they do. Therefore, the faith I have in my gods is the same as the faith I have in my friends. Faith as more of a 'hope mechanism' just seems silly to me. Why have that faith when you can go out and experience the reality of your god(s)/ess(es)?

    Beliefs, I personally take from experience or study. I believe evolution to be a fact through study, and I believe gods to be a fact through experience. What I believe becomes a little less black and white and more blurred when it comes to morals and what is right on a case-by-case basis.

    For religion, I usually dislike using the term to describe my own path. I blame Internet Atheists for that. To me though, religion should be defined as the system of beliefs someone has. Nowadays, especially in the US, it's a commonly held blanket belief that for religion, there are two options: Christian and Atheist. Well, maybe Abrahamic and Atheist is a better phrase. So if (hypothetically) the topic of religion comes up between me and an atheist, there will probably be an awkward explanation that no, I'm not monotheist. I could go on, but I just woke up and my thoughts are scrambled.

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    Supporter desertrat's Avatar
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    Re: Religion, belief, faith

    Ifeel that a relationship with your deities is a very personal relationship and religion can put un need rules from outside that relationship. I talk to my god and goddess more than people the understand me better so we make are own rules as we talk out of love and respect and knowledge of each other on a personal level. I hope this makes since

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    Copper Member LunarHarvest's Avatar
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    Re: Religion, belief, faith

    For me, such things as religion, beliefs and faith form something of a hierarchy.

    Beliefs are anything which we hold a conviction in being true, and these are derived from our faith, or trust, in these convictions being true. Beliefs contribute to one's overall spirituality, which then is a proper religion when given some form of organisation to it.

    Its a work in progress, but I find it to be accurate enough.

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    Re: Religion, belief, faith

    I haven't read the replies yet - I do that so my own perspective isn't shifted by what other people have said...I can address that stuff later

    Quote Originally Posted by Satu View Post
    I agree that there's a difference between religion and faith. Religion is almost a system for organizing and labeling faith and different faith experiences. This can be troublesome when the religion becomes too rigid for its members, but it can also be very helpful, because it provides some structure for newcomers, until they find their feet, find out where their faith is rooted (it's different for different people), and choose the direction they want to go in.
    Maybe. I used to feel much the same way, but with my new perspective it all seems like pouring water from one bucket to another...same stuff, different bucket. Actually, it seems more like the idea of "religion" has taken on a negative connotation, so people use the word "Faith" to avoid the scrutiny behind "big religion". Of course, it's also convenient in that they can claim to follow a specific religion but because it's just "faith", they can change the rules to suit themselves anyway (which it seems most people do, regardless of religion (or nonreligion, really)).

    Quote Originally Posted by Satu View Post
    I, too, have long had a deep abiding faith, even when I didn't have any sort of religious title to speak of. Beliefs are like the predecessor of faith, sometimes. You discover your beliefs, you discover the fundamental things that underlie them, and that's your faith.
    I had faith...at various times, more than others. In the end I learned that "faith" (for me) was more "hope" than anything real.

    Quote Originally Posted by Satu View Post
    You've got to do that work first, which is why structure is helpful (and for some, absolutely necessary) for newcomers or those early on in their path.
    To which "work" are you referring? Seriously, in all of the religions that I followed the "work" was always lip service.

    "Believe and Faith will follow" it didn't
    "Have faith and God will become evident" he didn't
    "Be a good person and a belief in God will come naturally" I'm an Atheist
    "God works in mysterious ways" or not at all, the outcome seems to be the same
    "See the downtrodden and those that are suffering and you'll believe in God" honestly, it 'proved' the exact opposite

    And the story goes on. As a Pagan? Hell, it was even less "work".
    Step 1) Believe what you've always believed
    Step 2) Find a religion that holds similar values
    Step 3) Read "Chapter 1"
    Step 4) Make up the rest, call yourself "eclectic"
    Step 5) Get together on near-holidays to drink, light some candles, spend some time in meditation and jump over a bonfire
    Step 6) Wonder why you still don't know what people mean by "faith"

    Honestly, the *only* thing that taught me what Faith actually was was LSD (I wouldn't recommend it for just everyone...if you're considering trying it for the first time, PM me and I'll give you the lowdown on my own experience), so I'm disinclined to trust it coming from that source (ie, inside my own head).

    No, I've found that as an Atheist I have better "luck", more free time, more mental capacity to dwell on important things - like my own creature comforts, improving myself, taking care of my family...those sorts of things.

    Besides, if I want to drink and dance around a bonfire, I can't think of a better day than one ending in "y" whenever you goddamned well feel like it

    - - - Updated - - -

    How in the F did I respond to the 2nd post without the first? Christ.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by nbdy View Post
    For a while I have felt something vaguely troubling while reading posts about finding one's religion or losing one's faith or struggling with one's beliefs. I don't know that I am completely clear about what is troubling my mind, but I am going to try to articulate it. I honestly don't know where this is going.
    I'll try to follow

    Quote Originally Posted by nbdy View Post
    I don't know that I have any religion, but I have a deep and abiding faith,
    In what?

    Quote Originally Posted by nbdy View Post
    so it seems apparent to me that religion and faith are not equivalent things. Furthermore, though my beliefs about life, the universe, and everything have changed over the years, my faith has not, so it seems apparent that faith is not the same thing as belief either.
    Honestly, I understand what it means to believe in something, but to have "Faith" in something is wholly different. I trust (ie, have faith) in things that I am pretty sure are already going to happen already...and that means that it's not really "faith". I suppose based on what I've seen from other people that have claimed the faith card, faith is what makes you believe in something even though your senses, logic, and judgment tell you that you're probably wrong. Sorry if this offends folks - this is just one Atheists' opinion.

    Quote Originally Posted by nbdy View Post
    To me, religion is simply a belief system. The system of beliefs may or may not include one or more deities, in my opinion, since deity is not necessary for religiosity. And beliefs? Well, that is what a person believes, and religious beliefs are usually internally consistent propositions regarding things not seen that are held to be true. This is not to say that such beliefs are a priori in any strict sense because they are often associated with profound spiritual experiences.
    More often they are associated with the churches we grew up with and the religions of our parents. There's a reason that children are indoctrinated into most religions before they are smart enough to make their own decisions; it's called "brainwashing".

    Quote Originally Posted by nbdy View Post
    Faith is something apart. I believe it is the thing that drives us to embrace or formulate belief systems: that feeling deep inside that there is something more, something just beyond our easy grasp.
    To me, that feeling is just human nature - ie, the nature of the human brain to 1) never be satisfied and 2) to be motivated enough to change it. I have lots of feelings "deep down inside", and for quite some time I thought that some of those feelings meant that there was a God (or gods, don't get tripped up by stupid shit). I determined, much much later, that those feelings were a basic desire for things to be different combined with a lack of understanding of what I wanted to be different. Together, these two things offer a general sense of dissatisfaction and the impossibility of changing it (because you don't understand what needs to be changed). So what do you do when you don't know something or when you need help? You ask someone. And when nobody else has or is willing to give you the answer, where else do you turn? Well...that's where the idea of God comes in. You may not get your answer, or you may not get the answer that you want, but dadgummit, you can say that it was God that did/didn't do it, and you can always find a reason to rationalize it.

    Quote Originally Posted by nbdy View Post
    Faith is not rational, it is intuitive. It tells us that we would not hunger for a thing that does not exist, so go find it! Faith not only creates, but sustains the seeker. While beliefs are cognitive, faith is centered in the heart.
    I will agree that Faith "sustains", but I don't think I've ever seen Faith create anything other than a reliance on something other than yourself. I also don't really think belief is cognitive, because if it were I think we'd see fewer believers. I think that most people cling to the ideas of "belief" and "faith" because they're told that they're supposed to have them...and after awhile, they just assume that they have it already and run with it. Again, this is my own opinion based on my own path...YMMV.

    Quote Originally Posted by nbdy View Post
    So there it is -- I have always had a deep and abiding faith with no describable religion since I was a kid, and I only know two things. I'm all good with that because I think beliefs can hinder faith. If people think they have to embrace certain beliefs to be “correct,” then they might be inclined to tune out their inner voices of faith that don't agree.
    I think that our brains can make us think whatever we want and that we can't trust the buggers
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    Member okoserce's Avatar
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    Re: Religion, belief, faith

    I do feel that all three: Religion, Belief, and Faith, play a part in a form of hierarchy but it gets a little murky..

    Religion is a grouping of Beliefs that informs our actions and we have Faith that our Beliefs are based upon logically sounds assertions.

    Now this hierarchy is based on the concept of reality being subjective..I don't entirely agree with that assertion it in that I believe there is an objective reality but the reality that we experience, or rather the perception of it, informs our subjective reality.

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    Mostly Harmless nbdy's Avatar
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    Re: Religion, belief, faith

    Thanks you all for your responses; I have been eager to read the opinions of others, but weekends usually are spent away from the internet. I will start at the beginning and go from there.

    Satu, that is well stated. It reminds me of the holy man who was noted for his perpetual smile and asked how it was that he was always happy, I believe it was the Dalai Lama. Anyway, he replied, "Sometimes the happiness brings the smile, and sometimes the smile brings the happiness." It is not a simple A+B=C type formula, and just as I have no way of knowing whether "happiness" feels the same for me as it does for you, I have no way of knowing whether "faith" feels the same for me as it does for you.

    Roknrol, You mostly sound bitter, and that is yours to navigate though it made me feel a little bit sad. I will try to clarify the bit about faith, because it seems that my meaning was not clear. When the thing in my head is still in progress, that is to be expected.
    1) The thing that faith creates is the seeker. There is no person seeking spiritual knowledge if they do not feel that it is out there to be found. No faith, no seeker -- at least that is the only thing that makes sense to me.
    2) The reason I say that belief is cognitive is because it is verbal, it can be put into words. I do not find this to be the case with faith as I have described it. While it is not unusual for the word "faith" to be used interchangeably with "belief" and "religion," my contention here is that these are not equivalent things, and that treating them as equivalent things collapses experience into something univariate, where it doesn't fit very well. Basically, what you assert -- "they just assume that they have it already and run with it."

    SeanRave, I cannot conceive of a time when there would be no place for faith in my life, no point on the journey where I will say, "I know all; there is nothing more to discover." Should I ever arrive at that place it will be interesting to see how it feels.

    Hekka, I do not mean "faith in," but simply "faith." As soon as there is a definable object it has become cognitive rather than emotive. "Faith in" is more like belief. As I have been thinking about it, anyway.

    desertrat, It is very personal, which is why I wanted to see how others experienced and thought about these facets of spirituality. I think that perhaps a person can have religion and beliefs without having a spiritual experience, but that faith is by definition a spiritual experience.

    LunarHarvest, I also see these in relationship, but not sure that it is a hierarchical one. I have increasingly wondered if there is yet another element that is omitted or whether there are just these three to consider, like sides of a triangle.

    okoserce, I like how you dove right in the deep end there, but I'm not prepared to wander off into trying to decide what's really real.

    "No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical." -- Niels Bohr

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    God in the baking Sean R. R.'s Avatar
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    Re: Religion, belief, faith

    Quote Originally Posted by nbdy View Post

    SeanRave, I cannot conceive of a time when there would be no place for faith in my life, no point on the journey where I will say, "I know all; there is nothing more to discover." Should I ever arrive at that place it will be interesting to see how it feels.
    I don't know it all, but which of I don't know, I don't believe.

    I just don't believe in silent Gods.

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