Doubt vs Faith

I thought this would be the best expression of how I feel at times.  This pictures really hits it.

Faith sometimes, even though I have it sometimes seems so backwards, and upside downs.It does not always make sense to me.  But it is still what grounds me as a CHRISTIAN.

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About M. Rodriguez

When I first received Christ salvation, I made it a priority to read the whole bible and I did. But it was the Bible that made me question my faith. For I found it flawed and lacking. Due to this I launched a personal inquiry/investigation into my faith, and ultimately realized that the Christian God of the Bible was indeed man-made. Now I Blog about those findings and life after Christ.
This entry was posted in agnostic, atheist, bible contradictions, christian, christian faith, confusion, doubt, doubt faith, faith, freedom, god, religion vs. science, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Doubt vs Faith

  1. unkleE says:

    I know the feeling. I think I would put faith on top and doubt underneath, but it isn’t all that different. But honest doubts can often be the path to better understanding. Keep on keeping on! : )

    • Hey unkleE, your sight is SUPER AWESOME. One of the problems I’ve been having is that I couldn’t find any good christian apologetic blogs. (Many of them, really weren’t apologetic blogs, they just had some christian catch phrases and criticesed the atheist or secular world views.) In fact on some of the apologist sites, if I put up comments that pointed out flaws in their reasoning, they would not approve my comments.) Yes I can research the information myself, but nothing compares to having a second opinion. And the few apologetic blogs

  2. thanks for the encouragement

  3. unkleE says:

    Thanks for your encouragement too. I try to address important issues honestly. If you have any suggested topics, I might be able to research something for them.

  4. Brenda says:

    I would just question why you (and Christianity in general) values faith above other things (such as reason, doubt, etc.) Once I was out of Christianity I looked back and realized that I had just accepted that faith was a virtue – the highest virtue in fact. But why?

    And accepting that had many consequences. It is an entirely different way of handling the world than other methodologies.

    http://www.alternet.org/belief/143912/the_top_one_reason_religion_is_harmful_?page=entire

    I’d love to discuss with the Christians on here why faith is so prized in their religion.

    • IgnorantiaNescia says:

      Hello Brenda,

      Neither UnkleE nor I are fideists, so we believe that belief can be supported by the use of philosophy, science and history. That means we believe because of arguments like the (universal) teleological argument, the Kalām cosmological argument, the moral argument and the argument from the resurrection, to name a few.

      Faith would be trusting in your beliefs, even when you doubt. Doubt is not wrong at all, no it is reason to stand still and examine your beliefs, not to try to stow it away and let it linger. I rather believe something true than something false, so if there’s doubt, it’s always worth to check, but faith should not be discarded before it has been reexamined. That is what faith is for me.

      But I can’t reasonably expect to deduce what I consider revealed truths from nature. So I must accept revelation trusting that it is trustworthy, however I think there are acceptable reasons for that trust. That too is part of my faith.

      Do you have any more questions about it?

      Good day

    • unkleE says:

      Brenda, thanks for your question.

      Firstly, christianity doesn’t necessarily value faith over everything else. For example, in his famous 1 Corinthians 13 passage, Paul says love is ‘greater’ than faith.

      Secondly, we need to understand what faith is. Sceptics define it as believing something without evidence, but that isn’t the christian view. In the Bible, faith is based on knowledge. For example, both Luke (at the beginning of his gospel) and John (at the end) say they are outlining the historical facts so their readers’ faith can be well grounded on evidence or knowledge. But there are two reasons why I think faith is needed.

      1. Very little is certain in this life, so we are always having to take things on trust – that my doctor knows the best treatment even though I don’t, that my wife will be faithful to me and me to her, etc. As a christian I don’t have certainty that christianity is true, though, as IN says, I think the evidence makes it highly probable. The gap between evidence and belief is made up by faith. But it isn’t an exclusively christian thing. An atheist cannot be sure his or her unbelief is certainly true either, but having decided the evidence points that way (in their view), they make a decision that goes beyond the evidence to live as if God doesn’t exist. They wouldn’t want to call that leap ‘faith’, but it is there.

      2. Once I choose to believe and follow Jesus, I will find some days harder than others. If there is an evidential or logical reason to doubt, then I need to consider that. But often it will just be emotional – I don’t really want to be bothered today. That is when commitment or faith kicks in, and I choose to act on what I believe is true rather than on what I feel. And that is the main type of faith that is valued and praised by christians. But note an atheist who believes in being faithful to his/her spouse will have to do the same thing when they have an argument with their spouse or they feel attracted momentarily to another person – or the marriage will fail. It’s not all that different – we call it faithfulness.

      I looked at the reference you gave, and I think it makes the same mistakes as others. It assumes that because she can’t see compelling evidence to believe and thinks christianity is unverifiable, that this is the truth and all christians are afraid to face that truth. But there are many good evidences for christianity, and that is why most of us believe.

      You have given me some references, so let me suggest you try reading Healing miracles and God, Visions of Jesus?, Jesus in history and Philosophical arguments for the existence of God. Or ask christians if they have had communications from God – you might be surprised. You may not accept any of this as evidence, but hopefully it will convince you that the idea that christians believe without any evidence is a travesty invented by enemies of christianity whose view is biased.

      Best wishes.

  5. Brenda says:

    UnkleE

    As I pondered your two most recent replies to me, I realized they are very intertwined: trusting different types of revelation and faith. We agree that many things in life are full of uncertainty but we seem to differ on what types of knowledge we will put trust in. I’m going to paste my reply to your comments about the Bible and other revelations here but there is something else I want to mention after that.

    (my response to your comments about the Bible and other types of revelation):
    “UnkleE

    Thank you for your replies (esp the most recent ones). They have given me a lot to mull over. I was a Christian for 20 years and then left after a lot of reading, research, and thought – so I have considered most of the issues that have come up on this site – but it’s good to revisit the reasons why I came to my conclusions.

    I thought over your replies as I’ve gone about my day and I was trying to get at the heart of why we’ve reached different conclusions. In regards to this particular topic (how god might reveal himself) I’ve realized that our standards for which type of revelations we will trust is very different. Once I had come to the conclusion that the Bible was not only not inerrant but it was a book written only by humans (with no divine inspiration whatsoever) then I looked at the other types of revelation you mentioned (creation, other religions, individual revelations, the Holy Spirit, etc.) and came to the conclusion that none of it was anything that I could trust as evidence for a god. It was all so vague, subtle, and unverifiable – it didn’t seem to be the way that an all-knowing, all-powerful god would communicate to us – especially with eternal souls on the line. I realized after I’d been out of Christianity for awhile that the problem of the hiddenness of god was the biggest issue that would likely keep me from every going to back to a belief in god.

    I hope that explains a bit where I’m coming from and thank you for your replies.”

    So I think that reply also deals with this question of faith. I no longer trust the claims that religions make because I don’t think that they can back their claims up with the same level of evidence as science does (for example), so I feel no need to have faith in their claims. They make big claims about things that I think are unknowable.

    This may seem off-topic but bear with me. Something I’d like to add is that one major difference I see in the claims of religions is that (at least some) end with the threat of hell if you don’t believe the correct set of propositions. If you don’t agree with me UnkleE then we both go on our way and I don’t really care. But if I don’t agree with you then you will go about your day thinking that there will be some sort of eternal consequence for my inability to accept the claims of your religion. I know other people are discussing hell on this blog and I don’t really want to get into all that but it doesn’t seem an equal and fair presentation of ideas for someone like BibleReader (and me a few years ago) to have the threat of some sort of eternal negative consequnce hanging over us when we are trying to look at the claims of different worldviews. People will tell BibleReader to have faith through his doubts and he’ll be highly motivated to follow that advice and stay in the faith because he fears for his eternal soul if he leaves Christianity. But frankly – Christians should be just as worried they’ll go to the a Muslim hell (for example) so we’re all as likely to be punished in the afterlife. I remember being distraught that god expected me to sort through all the millions of ideas out there about life and the universe and if I came to the wrong conclusion then I would be punished – until I reached the conclusion that this WAS unreasonable and therefore not likely true.

    Again – I’m trying to share a bit about how I’m coming at these different topics. So when I see people encouraging faith – I come with my own ideas of what that is encouraging. BibleReader’s doubts do not seem to be emotion-based and I would like to see Christians confident enough in their religion to be able to tell him to go where the evidence leads him.

    Again – thank you for getting me to mull all this over.

    • Ryan says:

      If a person is born blind, he or she has no visually confirming evidence of what exists.

      A blind person could feel a table, and either accepts on faith that it is what another person claims it is or continues to speculate. A blind person is guided by what he or she can feel, smell and hear.

      I believe this is a different faith from faith in God, but it still requires hope in what we cannot yet see.

      I wonder how I would act if God revealed himself to me in a direct and personal way. I wonder if in the weeks that passed I would rationalise away this revelation, and insert that it was because I was tired, didn’t have enough water, dreaming ect.

      I think that certain faith exists in all actions,

      Even if a person were given a direct revelation from God, that person would still have to trust that this revelation was from God.

      If God revealed Himself directly to a human person, would that person still have the same faith? Or would they have entered the realms of knowing instead?

      We have faith that the sun will rise tomorrow. We have faith that we will be able to see, talk and walk tomorrow, and we make plans based on this faith.
      Every action we take involves a degree of faith, since we do not have all the evidence or the whole picture before we act in anything.

      I think if I treated my day-to-day life like I have recently been approaching my study trying to determine whether God exists, I would get nothing practical done.

      If I was going to jump off a diving board, but doubted whether I would survive the drop

      And instead of living practically I spent much of my time studying how much water was in the pool, how high the diving board was ect

      And I got so caught up in doubt I never dived off, then essentially I would never know in a practical sense if I would survive or not. I would forever be speculating. I would never have lived it.

      Analogies can break down, but I think that I have become rather obsessed in doubt, rather than living life.

      Hebrews 11: 1 – 6
      King James Version (KJV)

      1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

      2For by it the elders obtained a good report.

      3Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

      4By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

      5By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

      6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

      King James Version (KJV)

      The rest of Hebrews 11 is also really interesting, from what I have read of it.

      • Ryan says:

        In regards to a person born blind – faith also requires trust in what they cannot see

      • Ryan says:

        Just becuase we aren’t able to personally provide evidence, doesn’t mean a relaity does not exist. Just because we don’t understand the whole picture or haven’t seen certain realities doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

        There have been other people who have accounted that they have seen these realities. The question is do we trust them.

        And if an account is given by God, do we trust Him? Do we trust these accounts are from God?

        If a blind person is given an account of a reality do they trust the person providing the account? They themselves cannot verify these things, for they are not in their current state able. But do they trust the accounts that are provided for them?

      • Brenda says:

        Ryan

        “Do we trust these accounts are from God?”

        That’s where the believers and nonbelievers (and some of us were believers but no longer are) – that’s where we differ because I no longer trust that these accounts are from God.

        As far as a blind person – would you hold that blind person accountable for understanding things that he/she couldn’t see? What if there were 100 different people giving that blind person 100 different descriptions of what a table looked like (and only one description is the correct one). Would you punish the blind person if they didn’t choose the one true description out of those 100?

      • Ryan says:

        Typo: Reality *

        I assume all humans are prone to error, well I am anyway 🙂 but if God has given us His Account, then I cannot know everything about The Creator, therefore I have to take a step of faith if I want to move.

  6. Ryan says:

    Thats a good point Brenda, but this still doesn’t mean that one of these accounts isin’t true.

  7. Ryan says:

    or that none of these accounts are true

    • Brenda says:

      But is it worth spending your life fretting over which of those descriptions is true (especially since you won’t know until you’re dead which one is true)? Would it not be better to enjoy what you do know about the table and leave it at that?

      Ah – but if you believe you’ll be punished for not making the correct choice – the fretting seems worth it and necessary.

      • Ryan says:

        I wouldn’t say worrying about it is necessary, for worry achieves very little. but considering what is truth is necessary. Although I should accept that I cannot know everything, we are given a limited amount of time on on earth. What I put my time, energies and focus into is important to consider.

      • Brenda says:

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that as an atheist (but a former Christian) – I have no problem saying there are truths out there. My issue with religion is that it tries to say that it knows about truths that it can’t really know. It says that it knows which of those 100 table descriptions is correct and that you will be punished if you don’t have faith that its particular description is the right one.

        As an atheist I say that I don’t see any convincing evidence that there is a supernatural realm – but even if there is one out there – I don’t think that any human being has any more information about it than I do. Consequently I don’t see the point in spending time or energy sifting through the endless claims about that realm because I don’t think they know any more than I do about it.

        You mentioned that where we put our time and energies is important – and I agree. But I think putting those into figuring out which of those 100 table descriptions is correct is not time well spent. There is no way this side of the grave to know if you’ve chosen correctly. So I think time is better spent focusing on what we DO know – with the things and people in front of us every day.

  8. unkleE says:

    Brenda

    I really appreciate the opportunity to discuss these matters.

    “I no longer trust the claims that religions make because I don’t think that they can back their claims up with the same level of evidence as science does”
    No, religion cannot provide evidence of the same type as science. But then, neither can we know ethics or political solutions or relationships in the ‘scientific’ manner. So my question to you is: why do you accept truths in those other areas but require a more scientific standard for religion?

    “one major difference I see in the claims of religions is that (at least some) end with the threat of hell if you don’t believe the correct set of propositions. “
    A lot of wrong things are said about hell. I have studied the matter and found that Jesus was virtually the only one in the NT to talk about hell, and many of his references are more metaphorical, and none of them (as far as I can understand) say what modern western christians often say (he taught that we had the choice of life with God or no life). Further, none of the apostles ever mention hell in connection with humans and none of them use it as a threat to encourage faith. I think there is too much emphasis on the afterlife, important though it is – eternal life starts now and the afterlife is an extension of now.

    So I believe God’s grace can extend to anyone, and will be received by many people we mightn’t expect. You are not under threat, you have a choice – either you want God or you don’t. Some want him but remain confused, and I think he has sympathy for that. But many who don’t believe don’t want him, and so they get their choice – but without God there is no eternal life, either now or later.

    “Christians should be just as worried they’ll go to the a Muslim hell”
    There are good reasons to believe that christianity is true in ways that Islam is not.

    “I remember being distraught that god expected me to sort through all the millions of ideas out there about life and the universe and if I came to the wrong conclusion then I would be punished”
    I think that is awful, and I’m really sorry. The Bible makes it clear that God is in many ways more interested in our attitudes than our words and actions. I think a person who genuinely wants God, even if they don’t know for sure which religion he can he found in, will find God – that is the promise of several sections of the Bible.

    “Christians confident enough in their religion to be able to tell him to go where the evidence leads him.”
    Actually I often tell people that. CS Lewis once wrote something like: “If God and truth seem to be in different places, follow truth, and you’ll find that was where God as all along.”

    I hope you’ll give God another chance. Ask him to convince you. Tell him (if this is true) that you really want to know him but can’t feel able to believe yet. Keep on asking him, give him some time. After you’ve done that a while, read Mark’s gospel again and ask yourself regularly: could this man be true after all? See what happens. Don’t try to talk yourself into it. But give God another chance. Who knows, he may give you the evidence you need.

    Best wishes, and thanks again for your honesty and your willingness to discuss.

  9. Brenda says:

    UnkleE

    You wrote:

    “No, religion cannot provide evidence of the same type as science. But then, neither can we know ethics or political solutions or relationships in the ‘scientific’ manner. So my question to you is: why do you accept truths in those other areas but require a more scientific standard for religion?”

    Yes – the level of evidence I require is high because religions make huge claims about mostly unknowable things and also because they claim that the choice has eternal consequences.

    You wrote:

    “A lot of wrong things are said about hell. I have studied the matter and found that Jesus was virtually the only one in the NT to talk about hell, and many of his references are more metaphorical, and none of them (as far as I can understand) say what modern western christians often say (he taught that we had the choice of life with God or no life). Further, none of the apostles ever mention hell in connection with humans and none of them use it as a threat to encourage faith. I think there is too much emphasis on the afterlife, important though it is – eternal life starts now and the afterlife is an extension of now.”

    Here is an exchange Nate and I had under the Morality post. It will give you an idea how I view this topic:

    “Nate:
    What bothers me about a position such as annihilation of souls (which is just one example) is that it cherry-picks the nice bits of the Bible and rationalizes the rest (or dismisses them altogether). I was pondering why this bothers me so much. It’s because it lulls people into accepting the Bible (and Christianity) if they can just fall on the ‘nice’ side of the tough issues. It can stay very comfortable and then they aren’t forced to face what’s really IN the Bible. Every tough passage that comes up – well we’ll just fall on the ‘nice’ interpretation of that one .. and the next one .. and the next one. We’ll just make it ALL ‘nice.’ I want Christians to read their Bible like an alien from another planet who has no preconceived notions of what it’s supposed to be interpreted to say. In all honesty – I want them to be horrified by a passage like the one that started this post (like I think an alien would be) – not spend time figuring out how they can read it in their holy book and still accept that holy book as the basis for their worldview.”

    You wrote:

    “either you want God or you don’t. Some want him but remain confused, and I think he has sympathy for that. But many who don’t believe don’t want him, and so they get their choice – but without God there is no eternal life, either now or later.”

    And also:

    “I think a person who genuinely wants God, even if they don’t know for sure which religion he can he found in, will find God – that is the promise of several sections of the Bible.”

    My problem with these statements is that they use someone’s desire to find god as the standard. The standard (if there is one at all) should be something else (their character maybe) or even their desire to know truth – whether that involves god or not. Your comments only cover people who find some type of god. What about people like me who are well-meaning but don’t find god? I didn’t reject god because I wanted to rebel but because it no longer made sense to me.

    You wrote:

    “There are good reasons to believe that christianity is true in ways that Islam is not.”

    Even if I accepted this (which I don’t), what about all the millions of people in the world who don’t accept Christianity’s claims? Even if you think they will get to heaven because their intentions were good, the fact that so many of them were misled to believe the wrong religion means that it is easy to be misled and therefore Christians may just as likely be deceived about their own religion.

    You wrote:

    “I hope you’ll give God another chance. Ask him to convince you. Tell him (if this is true) that you really want to know him but can’t feel able to believe yet. Keep on asking him, give him some time. After you’ve done that a while, read Mark’s gospel again and ask yourself regularly: could this man be true after all? See what happens. Don’t try to talk yourself into it. But give God another chance. Who knows, he may give you the evidence you need.”

    I want to tread lightly in my response to this because I know your faith is very important to you, but I also want to be honest and blunt about my views on this. There are reasons that it’s not likely that I will return to ANY religion (the hiddenness of god, the problem of evil and suffering, etc.) but even if I did – it would not be to Christianity. I left Christianity because I no longer trusted its claims but as time has passed I no longer even respect it. I respect Christians – but not Christianity. I don’t respect its basic storyline – I find it not only implausible but immoral (the need to appease a god through the sacrifice of a life, thought crime, punishment for being human to name a few). I don’t respect its methods of discerning truth (faith, an error-prone ancient book, visions, prayer, etc.) or its use of fear (whether you believe in annihilation, separation from god, or a literal hell).

    And I don’t see the need to search for god. If he wants to talk to me he knows where to find me (and then I would ask him to reveal himself to everyone on the planet – not just me). I’ve never been convinced that there is a need for a god to remain hidden. A parent is obvious to his children and yet they are still free to choose to love that parent or not.

    And even if I was convinced there was a god – that would only be the beginning of the journey. I would then have to figure out what this god was like and determine if he/it was worth paying attention to – never mind whether it deserved my worship and devotion. Christians assume that if there is a god it is their type of god. There are endless types of gods that could potentially exist. Maybe god is an evil god or a god who doesn’t care much about us one way or the other … the list could go on.

    If you or anyone else wants to understand my views and where I’m coming from on these issues then you can visit my website at http://www.leftchristianity.com

    I can respect what your faith means to you and others and I hear the sincerity in your desire to explain the god that you know to others. I was there for 20 years so I understand how it feels. But it’s not likely I’ll ever return to Christianity. It would have to change so much that it would be unrecognizable – it would be a different religion.

    Thanks for making me think so deeply about my position.

  10. Pingback: Would I Ever Return to Christianity? « Left Christianity

  11. unkleE says:

    Thanks Brenda, you have made your views very clear, and I want to respect them as much as you want to respect mine. Just a coupe of comments.

    My view of hell doesn’t cherry-pick much at all. When I realised that Jesus was virtually the only one to talk about it, and then in just a few places, and that the Greek words used to translate his (presumably) Aramaic words clearly indicated an end to life and said nothing about endless suffering (which I got from an impeccably evangelical Bible commentary by a professor of NT Greek), everything fell into place.

    “the fact that so many of them were misled to believe the wrong religion means that it is easy to be misled and therefore Christians may just as likely be deceived about their own religion.”
    Yes, I could be misled, other religious believers could be misled, you could be misled. But we have to make a choice, and you have made a choice even though you could be misled. So have I. We each have done what we think is true, and the possibility of being misled is no reason not to make a choice, just a reason to be careful. It seems like you are using the possibility of being misled, and the need for scientific evidence, selectively against christianity, when it could just as well be used against unbelief.

    “And I don’t see the need to search for god. If he wants to talk to me he knows where to find me (and then I would ask him to reveal himself to everyone on the planet – not just me)”
    He has given us choice. We choose whether to invite him or not, and we cannot make that choice for anyone else. I think he rarely forces himself on anyone.

    “it’s not likely I’ll ever return to Christianity. It would have to change so much that it would be unrecognizable”
    I have to say that I don’t see that as any barrier. I think modern western evangelical christianity (especially in the US) has a lot of unnecessary baggage and wrong thinking, and a form of christianity unrecognisable to you might well be the truth. I say this because on so many matters we have discussed here, I have had to say I and many other christians don’t see it that way. Getting out of a wrong form of christianity may be the necessary step for some people to find a truer form.

    Anyway, enough of my words. Thank you for the courteous discussion, I appreciate your attitude and response to me. Best wishes.

    • Brenda says:

      UnkleE

      I don’t have much to say at this point that wouldn’t just be repetitive of things I’ve already stated. I think my issue with the hiddenness of god is probably the biggest barrier between you and I agreeing. I don’t see any reason for him to remain hidden and this shapes my views about his supposed methods of communication with us. Since I don’t think he has communicated with us in any way and you do – then our paths diverge and aren’t likely to meet.

      I really appreciate the discussions we’ve had and I’m glad that BibleReader attracted such a great group of people to hash out their different views here. I hope it helps him on his journey.

      I’m certainly still open to discussion. Let’s see if any of BibleReader’s future posts spark this much discussion!

  12. Ryan says:

    What are peoples thoughts?

  13. Ryan says:

    I’ve decided to trust Christ. however simplistic this may seem, when the big things happen in life, all rationalising, arguing and discussion falls away.

  14. Ryan says:

    By big things i mean – Life, Health and Death

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