Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Problems of Faith

[The thoughts present in this post germinated from my ponderings of the past responses and discussions. I was going to reply to the previous thread, but decided to make this an entire post by itself. Therefore, this can be read by itself; however, its intellectual predecessor is the thoughts of Porch Rat, Duct Cleaner, and Skrignov. It is rather lengthy and the beginning is confusing…but please, bear with me.]

My first statement will seem entirely contradictory, but hear me out: When it comes to PROBLEMS OF FAITH, I believe the issue is usually not a problem of faith, but instead a different problem. What is this different problem? There are countless answers, but I will draw on two, since they hit closest to home for me. First, OBEDIENCE AND PERSONAL STRUGGLES: truly believing in something means that we need to act according to a certain code of ethics --- and this code may not always be pleasant to our lazy, selfish selves. In fact, this may seem extremely difficult to us, especially if we’re struggling with something contrary to this code. Second problem: FORGETTING OUR CONVERSIONS or personal moments of spiritual connections --- personal moments of spiritual power and depth.

Let me first begin with the ostensible PROBLEMS OF FAITH. This may not be applicable to someone who grew up as an atheist. I am referring to those of us who say we want to believe, but struggle with skepticism, the inability to objectively grasp the idea of God, the inability to prove God, certain apparent weaknesses in theology, etc. I could go on and on. We often sit long and hard, arguing these points with others and ourselves. Now, it’s not to say that these dilemmas aren’t in fact dilemmas --- because they are. They are intellectually daunting questions: Can I love a God I cannot rationally grasp? Can I pray, even if I don’t understand the efficacy of prayer? How can I believe MY religion, when I am surrounded by thousands of religion? In what way can I justify my beliefs? These sorts of questions go on. There are real questions.

However, what I’m claiming is that we are often deluding ourselves by pretending that these are the things that are keeping us from growing closer to God. “How can I love a God I don’t know exists?” we ask ourselves. “How can I pray everyday if I can’t intellectually grasp the idea of prayer?” Is it really these intellectual debates that keep us from God; or the fact that we struggle to maintain a prayer-life? Is it truly our intellect that keeps us from God; or the fact that we struggle with personal sins? Hiding behind our vast and clever skepticism, our sins don’t seem as bad. “Since I can’t even intellectually accept the idea of God, how can I apply a specific sort of morality to my life?”

In this way, our minds are unconsciously using our intellects to allow us to wallow in mediocrity. As Kierkegaard said, “It is so hard to believe because it is so hard to obey.”

Although it is OK to bring things to an intellectual level, what we leave behind in this sort of thinking is any experiential knowledge that refuses intellectualization: such as any type of personal moment of conversion or spiritual depth. We are using a lens to view a subject; but this lens cannot see the very things that make many of us true Christians. It’s alright to argue these things logically, but logic falls very short.

Christians do not believe in Christianity because they logically proved their religion. We believe it because Christ came down to Earth. We believe it because Christ came into our lives. On a certain level, these sort of experiences refuse intellectualization. We don’t believe in God because we can intellectually justify it; we believe because something happened personally in our lives --- something spiritual and powerful.

When struggling with questions and problems of faith, it has helped me to step back from my philosophy, skepticism, and egotistical intellect. From a distance, I ask myself these questions: What is causing my questioning? Is it a laziness, or a desire to remain mediocre? Is it an area of personal problems or sin? Let me recognize these as the issue and disregard rationality for a moment.

Then I tell myself to remember that faith is not about proof. It is about a personal experience and a personal relationship. If Christianity were about proofs and rationality, it would have died long ago. My intellect is not why I believed in the first place, so why should it be something that stops me from believing now?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Viewing Insolvability as a Sign of Meaninglessness

A current theme in my philosophical meanderings is the insolvability of certain questions. My question is thus: If a question/discussion cannot be answered, should that be a sign that it is meaningless to us? Now, I don’t mean meaningless in an ultimate sense, but simply in the sense that we shouldn’t spend our time wondering about things that can’t be answered.

Or perhaps insolvability means we’re approaching the issue through the wrong lens, with the wrong questions, with the wrong end in mind.

Some may say, “Of course: if a question can’t be answered, it isn’t worth it.” However, I think we often spend out time asking these sorts of questions. We let them occupy our time and consume our thought, sometimes without knowing they are insolvable. Or perhaps we let ourselves ignore their insolvability for psychological reasons.

I ramble…I shall stop.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

There once was a race of spinorox that existed on a planet in a galaxy not so close to our own. Unreasoning beings, these spinorox developed a different skill or ability; they called it rajamiho. They worshipped the skill of rajamiho, slaughtering animals to its name. They thought themselves clever, brilliant, and omniscient because of their skill. “All must be ordered according to the rajamiho,” they said, “or else it does not exist.” They weren’t clever according to our standards, but they were geniuses according to their rajamiho.

According to their rajamiho, the universe was roughly shaped like a yo-yo, the purpose of existence was discontent, and obesity was praised. Also, there was no possibility of the eixtence of other living beings in the universe. This is true --- according to their rajamiho.

After 2 million years of existence, the spinorox became extinct. Their rajamiho is gone now too.
Pleasure is not found in a full stomach. Pleasure is found in satiating a hungry stomach.

Pleasure is not found in peace – only boredom. Pleasure is found in conquering in order to achieve peace.

It is the struggle we long for, the battle we seek. It is not the END we desire, but the MEANS: the process by which we achieve our will.