A place to discuss how faith experiences have changed your life.
Sat Mar 04, 2006 7:13 pm +0000
After many years of seeking answers, I am finally quite comfortable with my religious philosophy. My biggest obstacle was coming to know what faith really is. Society and church had me growing up believing that the measure of faith is certainty, so certainty was my goal and aspiration. But even as a child, I had a problem with authority. I was incapable of believing something just because someone or something said it was so. Science proved to be most reliable. After all, it put men on the moon while the people on the planet below still fought over competing religious and political ideas.
Science, however, didn’t tell me how to live. It seemed that my best chance to find certainty was in a blend of ideas.
Except for a very brief period, I never doubted God’s existence. To me, it was just a matter of common sense. The old adage, “from chaos, chaos” couldn’t be explained away. I thought for a while that algorithms and fractals might be a key, but hope quickly faded as I soon realized that, at best, the laws of probability only moved the question one step back: why are the probabilities such that things are the way they are? I could accept it as brute fact, but doing so would ignore the fact that the range of human awareness extends beyond the concrete, that we can sense in things the presence of something quite different—but no less experientially real—than what we can see, touch, hear, smell, or taste. This innate ability gives rise to conceptual interpretations of all kinds. Hence, the different religions. Godless idealism’s philosophical Achilles’ heel is that if I was to deny the unseen presence, all that’s left is the concrete. Sentiment, awe, and wonder are irrelevant. I was back to where I began.
Uncertainty plagued me. By chance (if there is such a thing), I found and purchased a book entitled The Psychic Grid by Beatrice Bruteau that addressed this very issue. It was my first step toward realizing that my felt need for certainty was an addiction.
“The knowledge that we are conscious of the world makes us feel separated from the world; we regard it as object and ourselves as subject. This is why we expect the world to be “outside” our consciousness. And we rely on this “outsideness” to give us security by putting us in indubitable contact with a reality for which we are not responsible.”
“But, from another point of view, the image of the world being “outside” us is disturbing. It gives rise to a frightening sense of solitude and powerlessness. We are gripped by an insecure feeling that there are many things going on in the world which are hidden from us and beyond our control. We feel lost and anxious. Unable to live confidently with our own determinations of reality, we long for someone else, someone possessing authority, to tell us how it is with the world and what we must do to live safely. If we succumb to this craving, we will become willing to renounce our gift of freedom and to submit to whatever authoritative power will take over from us the responsibility for declaring that things are a certain way and that behavior must be a certain way.
“The feeling of certainty is thus purchased at the price of our special human quality of freedom…”
The words hit home with the force of a pile driver.
“ “Society,” which we experience as endowed with authority to make decisions and remove our doubts, teaches us among other things, that we are free individuals capable of making up our own minds, and then exerts enormous pressures on us conform to the ways and beliefs of the society. And we, submissive to the authority lest we suffer the anxiety of being free self-determining individuals, obediently believe that we are free self-determining individuals."
I know now that certainty is not the measure of faith, that the power of faith has nothing to do with certainty. Rather, faith is the living of an ideal represented by ideas. Once faith is reduced to only an idea, it is a dogma, not faith. It is an escape from the harsh demands of living, a sign of mental laziness, arrogance, or something else, but it’s no longer faith.
The ideas The URANTIA Book conveys are, to a large extent, representative of my highest ideals. I have yet to find anything better to do so. My ideas , however, are not limited, or determined, by it. I suspect this is true of readers of the UB.
Sat Mar 04, 2006 8:15 pm +0000
Merlin, first, since don't think I've welcomed you, may I do so now. I don't believe I have read a more profound, or more penetrating post than this one. I can identify with what you shared, and strangely you have managed to articulate my life experience in a way up until now, in which I was only vaguely aware.
Thank you for sharing this, I will be looking forward to reading more of your thoughts.
Wed Mar 15, 2006 2:44 pm +0000
The use of the Urantia book is wounderful to help establish a basis of thoughts. Your other reference(s) seem to mesh nicely into the post. I am in agreeance that the UB is a great base but it should not box in ones thoughts.
The book establishes a nice field of reference to begin to know our Creator. The real task is to come up with a workable way to understand
God. This second step with the UB useage requires a two way interchange between the divine nature and the human thoughts. Ideas seem to be a trigger to establish this interchange. Quiet times in reflection seem to help also-especially when driven by a desire to serve.
When one does interchange it is most remarkable how 'things' seem to grow in their meanings.
Mon Mar 27, 2006 2:30 pm +0000
I enjoyed your thoughts on Faith and Certainty. I had similar experiences. For me, I began to accept that there is a god - God - and that He is 'driving the bus' (the Universe). He put Everything in motion. That is my faith. I do not understand 'certainty.' I really do not.
I have absolute certitude in my belief in God - in His plan of evolution,
in His stream of revelations sent over the ages at His behest. Mixed in with my certitude is the acknowledgement that:
(1) Fatboy2 has been wrong before
(2) the mind of Fatboy2 is not infallible
(3) the sense perceptions, and the conceptual conclusions by Fatboy2
are not 100% dependable (they are subject to error)
(4) Fatboy's certitude in a kind of high level faith
(5) Certainty is not possible - when I remember the above items 1 - 3
(6) Fatboy2 is content with being stuck with item 4
..........p.s. Certainty is ............... ?????????
Mon Mar 27, 2006 9:43 pm +0000
And that makes fatboy2, an Agondonter!
Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:35 am +0000
May I add that the uncertainty of faith is the driving force of our reality.
The true test of our faith comes from the challenges we are faced with when we place our ideals, and belief systems in motion.
The message I get from The UB ;when one seeks certainty, all one needs for clarity is faith in the First Source and Center and the search thereof. Everthing else in life falls into place quite automatically.
Thu Mar 30, 2006 1:40 pm +0000
What does it mean to be "born again??"
For me, it is the point at which a soul / person begins to walk in faith. To go through life with unwavering faith in the Supreme Creator.
"To be born again" may be inside or outside the realm of religion, but I do accept this awakening is the same. What a joy, what a relief! To walk in faith.
The experiences of life can be nasty sometimes. Even horrible. FAITH is the great sustainer.
Many of the UB'ers (Joer, CoyoteSon, Woody, Paula, etc) are in that arena of
Wed Apr 05, 2006 4:07 am +0000
Great Post Merlin. Very profound and moving. I must agree with everybody here about Faith being the great sustainer. I gained my faith at a very young age mainly because of my exposure to Jesus' teachings.
Very soon I recognized what he taught as something I would like to see become true in the world. (the ideals) I could see that the world (the people in it) lacked living up to the ideas of Jesus. But it never deterred me from ever losing those ideals from my heart. They were a constant impetus for me to improve and strive to make the world a better place for us to live in.
I didn't live up to those ideals well myself, but I never lost faith that they were the right thing to do. I'm so thankful for my stepmother sending me to Catechism for I now see how easy it would have been for me to live without that Faith for al those years. I don't know how I would have acquired it later. But I like to believe that sooner or later God would have found me.
Wed Apr 05, 2006 7:34 pm +0000
Yes Joer, catacism is a great experience for many. It's sort of like going through military boot camp; Painful, but you would not trade the experience for anything. It changes how you approach life, and forces you to address it from a new angle. It causes the brain cells to begin to question, or blindly to accept. Both experiences are watersheds that define how we live the rest of our lives.
Thu Apr 06, 2006 6:47 am +0000
From Robert Schuyler
I heard him say about 20 yrs ago something like this.
"Faith is impossible if you KNOW. Knowing makes Faith unnecessary, even impossible. Faith is important, valuable - in the absence of Knowledge."
I thought this was so simple, yet compelling.
Thu Apr 27, 2006 11:59 pm +0000
On P.1090 the UB says,
“It is what one believes rather than what one knows that determines conduct and dominates personal performances.”
On page P.1114 we are told,
“Belief has attained the level of faith when it motivates life and shapes the mode of living.”
The GK Chesterton quote,
“When people stop believing God, they don’t believe in nothing--they believe in anything,”
is equally true. Without a Unity, people have only their feelings to guide their reason. Evidence of this pervades our society. Years ago, a well-known actor pathetically told people to find a cause, any cause, and to cling to it and never let go. It seems that people took his advice.
Rodan had two things going for him the actor doesn’t: a concept of the Unity and an experential acquaintance with ideal his concept represented. In answering Thomas’ concerns, Jesus very wisely said,
“It matters little what idea of the Father you may entertain as long as you are spiritually acquainted with the ideal of his infinite and eternal nature.”
It doesn’t matter what we believe about the Unity so long as we are motivated to love and honor the diversity within it. We don’t even have to have a concept of the Unity in order to be spiritually acquainted with the ideal. Being human, however, we naturally want to “define, clarify, expound, and justify” that “which, in the last analysis, can be validated only by living faith.” To this end, The URANTIA Book
has been a most useful and wonderful tool.
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