Faith and Doubt, the unlikely brothers
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22-08-2011, 01:33 PM
 
Bug Faith and Doubt, the unlikely brothers
I consider myself a pretty funny guy. Clever wordplay and all that, but a simple status update that was a bit sarcastic ignited a debate on my FB page. It threw me for loop, and got to be a bit intriguing. It didn't start this way but became about the relationship between faith and doubt. I'm not an excellent debater by any means, so I guess I might be looking for more perspective on this. Let me first give everyone the argument as said (with names changed so people know who they are dealing with, without getting personal).

TrulyEvilBob (TEB): Trulyevilbob is having a crisis of.... what's the opposite of faith?

Red Blooded Republican (RBR): Main Entry: faith
Part of Speech: noun
Definition: trust in something
Antonyms: disbelief, distrust, doubt, misgiving, skepticism, suspicion

RBR: A crisis of skepticism?

TEB: You see, it just doesn't sound right.

RBR: So your having a moment to give pause to your skepticism, a slight doubt in disbelif, but not strong enough to call it faith.

TEB: Yeah, but it's not what you think. It's more tounge in cheek.

RBR: Maybe you call it "dabbling in agnosticisum" ? Instead of "dabbling in the occult" when someone is losing their faith, maybe your dabbling in admitting you don't know? : )

TEB: I'm always dabbling in IDK. Dabbling in faith is an exersice in certiantly from my persepective.

RBR: I view it the other way. Faithing is something you have becaue but you are humble enough to know you dont know.

Anyone who teached faith in certainity is a wack job nut case.

TEB: Well, most of them have a book or two that tells them the answers. Faith is accepting those answers without proof that they are true. Skeptism is not knowing the answers but investigating to see what seems the most true. It's just research and if I may quote Albert Einstien: If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

(Cheers from other friends who appauld Einstien)

Baptist Husband (BH): Certainty? It's not doubt, because you can't really have faith w/o the possibility of doubt.

TEB: I'm having a disconnect. RBR said: Main Entry: faith
Definition: trust in something
Antonyms: doubt
So faith is the opposite of doubt, yet now both RBR and BH say faith and doubt are related. Isn't it true that a person that doubts Jesus cannot enter the gates of heaven? Doesn't he wash away doubt? Either I'm missing something here or other people don't have the right idea about their own beliefs.

Professional Student/Scholar: In english, faith is not synonymous with certainty. Conviction (or faith) is a gambled trust absent of empirical evidence. In english, the next step after 'faith' is dogma...and we all know what that means >_>

Baptist Wife (BW): I may doubt in the ability of my 12 year old car to start , but I choose to keep the keys, keep the oil changed, and keep gas in it! That is faith. I actually choose to get behind the wheel and start the car!

TEB: If I transfer that metaphor over: Christianity is something you're not sure works, but you chose to keep going to church and pray every day because... You can't get anything better? You're so use to it that you couldn't see yourself without it? This certainly cannot be the case. That sounds sad. I think I need a better explanation because I'm interpreting things poorly.

BW:
Yeah, that does sound pitiful when u think about it that way, YIKES! I think that used to be how I felt at one time, but I've moved past that now. A better analogy would be to attribute Christianity to something that works, but I don't fully understand how it works. I don't get how cars work, so that is the first thing I thought of. Unfortunately I don't have a good analogy that isn't dependent on me. Maybe if I had joined the debate team in high school or read more I could think of something. :-P

BW:
I looked for Bible verses that applied to your questions and this is what I found. Matthew 14:31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him,and said to him, 'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" refers to when Jesus' disciple was walking on the water toward Him, but got distracted by the waves and the impossibility of walking on water by a mere human. He still reached out for help to Jesus, even though he was in doubt. Luke 24:38, (background verses 36-44) is the best example I found of why God must shake His head at us. Verse 38 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." Jesus' disciples STILL doubted what they saw and heard after walking with the man for 3 years, hearing him predict his own death, burial and resurrection on more than one occasion. Doubt itself implies a partial belief. The familiar scripture verse on posters @ football games John 3:16, and verse 15 answers the question of heaven. "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. It's ok to have questions about what you believe. Doubt is different from out and out denial.

(At this point I'm scratching my head, trying to decipher bible verses and what they mean. I consider this futile after a while and give up after realizing I could put any meaning into those passages I wanted and the argument would just become circular. I decide instead to just not answer. Then this comes across.)

Brother of Baptist Wife (BBW): I am BW's brother. Forgive the intrusion. She asked for my help in responding to your crisis of conscience. Here are my thoughts. Faith isn’t the absence of doubt; it is doing well in spite of it. In this case, Christian faith is following God in spite of doubt. Moses, Job, Mary, Peter, Thomas, and many others, all doubted. But at the end they all followed God. To carry on with the Car analogy, think of faith in God as GPS in a car. When you get a new Garmin you plug it in and drive around town just to see how it works and if it’s correct. In the beginning it’s just fun to test. You don’t need faith at this point because you know where you are going, what to do. Sometimes you follow it just to see where it takes you. It sometimes takes you routes and places you wouldn’t normally go but you always end up at the right place. . One day however you run across a detour or have to go somewhere you've never been. This is when faith plays a roll. Now you say to yourself it’s been right in the areas that I know, so I will follow it now. The only real chance of getting through what I’m in is to follow it. It is often scary and you are unsure the entire time. But you follow and end up where you were supposed to be. That’s faith. Following in times of uncertainty based on the trust built in the past and/ or certain times. If you wish me to go more indepth feel free to contact me. Friend requests are always welcome.

TEB:
Thanks for the persepective. I think you have given me some insight.

My problem seems semantic in origin. Doubt is an antonym to trust and faith (which are synonyms). While one may have doubts while we trust, faith and doubt are not the same thing. For example, many people believe hate and love are so intertwined that they can be done at the same time, even though they are opposites. Love-hate relationships are a common thing, but very few people think love and hate are the same thing. So to with doubt and faith. After a great deal of argument, and thinking on this issue I think that is the solution that makes the best sense to me. The faith-doubt relationship.

BBW: As to love and hate they ,like Good and evil, tend to define each other, in the sense that you can't really know one unless you know the other. As for doubt and faith, doubt precedes faith. In fact you can't have faith without it. Faith really has 2 phases. For this discussion I will call phase 1 faith and phase 2 trust. Biblical faith means " I've run across something new and I either don't know how to handle it or I know but feel unprepared/ not strong enough to handle it. God will you help me as you did in the past?" If there is no doubt there is no faith. Once you've grown/experienced enough "faith" you move into trust. Trust says you've helped me in the past I KNOW what you taught me works. Now that I've run across something new God HOW will you help me?

TEB: It's like I said, it's a symantic argument. You say: "No, this is the defininition of faith, trust and doubt. I know from my personal experiance, from poetry and art." And I say, "I don't think you know the definition of faith, trust and doubt. Here's what scholars say." Classic case of defiining things on emotional persepective vs a logical perspective. When confronted with a crisis where I can take my time to think about it, I usally take the road of the scholar verse the poet. For me it is more benificial.

As for doubt coming before faith... yep! Doubt leads you to question, questions leads you to find answers, answers leads you to trust, trust is the opposite of doubt. When trust is put into something without proof or reason, we call it faith. So yes, doubt is a part of faith just as hunger is a part of eating. If you doubt but move forward in faith then you have a faith-doubt relationship. Having two conflicting emotions at the same time. Which is something that has been documented and studied before enough that I consider it normal human behavior.

Now I will admit, symantics can change. If a great deal of people use the words doubt and faith as related in a harmonious way then the definitions of both change. There is an easy way for me to test this, in fact it's part of FB. I can make a poll. I think I'll do just that to see what people think.
-------END

I have since made the poll and waiting for a broader result, but early indications show that, among my friends, Faith and Doubt harmonious and not opposites. It's blowing my mind a bit. I'm a bit eager from insight from like minded people since I'm low on that from those close to me. If I'm wrong... well I guess I just have to eat that pie, won't I?
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22-08-2011, 09:21 PM (This post was last modified: 22-08-2011 09:43 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Faith and Doubt, the unlikely brothers
Nice discourse. My attempt at cutting through the bullshit.

(22-08-2011 01:33 PM)TrulyEvilBob Wrote:  TrulyEvilBob (TEB): Trulyevilbob is having a crisis of.... what's the opposite of faith?

Professional Student/Scholar: In english, faith is not synonymous with certainty. Conviction (or faith) is a gambled trust absent of empirical evidence. In english, the next step after 'faith' is dogma...and we all know what that means >_>

So the opposite of faith is "no gambled trust absent of empirical evidence." Sounds right to me. So you are having a crisis of not accepting "no gambled trust absent of empirical evidence". Negating the negation means you are considering taking a "gambled trust absent of empirical evidence." What the fuck would lead you there? Whatever it is you should probably just discard it in the nearest wastebin.

But some of the other posters made some valid points as well:

(22-08-2011 01:33 PM)TrulyEvilBob Wrote:  RBR: I view it the other way. Faithing is something you have becaue but you are humble enough to know you dont know.

Anyone who teached faith in certainity is a wack job nut case.

Godel is on his side. We need to question our faith in logic as attentively as we do religion. Godel has shown that rationality is also an inadequate god. But at least logic is not impotent, it's just not omnipotent. Most religion's gods are just impotent.

Just because I'm an atheist doesn't mean there aren't people who should pray for their sorry ass to be saved.
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23-08-2011, 06:29 AM
RE: Faith and Doubt, the unlikely brothers
Hey, TEB.

I think your reliance on definition is clouding your judgement. There's absolutely no reason that someone cannot be faithful and have bouts of doubt. All they're saying is that there is a dynamic between the two forces and that this dynamic is a healthy part of being faithful.

Being faithful without doubt has a definition. It's called being credulous.

There's a stereotype being purveyed today that says that all religious people are simply credulous. The irony is that in order to believe that, you need to be credulous. These people demonstrate that doubt is an integral part of the life of a faithful person.

People who want to control the religious encourage credulousness. They discourage doubt.

People who feel that their faith is under attack cling to credulousness.

But people who want to encourage faith acknowledge the existence of doubt and encourage the exploration of doubt. In an ontological sense, the degree to which one knows one's own doubt is the degree to which one knows one's own faith.

Demagogues fear doubt because it threatens their power. True people of faith don't fear doubt because they know its value. The challenge is to work through and to overcome your doubts.

The sense that I get from the stories I hear speaks to the true power of faith. Faith allows the faithful to proceed in the face of not knowing. I don't know that I won't (fail, get lost, die, be scared) but I trust that God will see me through somehow, in which way I can't know because he works in mysterious ways. Without doubt being a part of that mix, you're just a credulous fool who thinks he's indestructible. That's when you get into extreme views like taking up snakes. It's that, hey, man, I can do whatever the fuck I want because God's got my back, foolishness. Then they get confused when the snake bites their ass.

There's a great Christian joke. This guy loses his faith in God and becomes quite despondent. His buddy takes him on a cruise to cheer him up, but the guy decides he wants proof that God’s watching over him. So he hurls himself off the side of the ship. His buddy throws him a life preserver. He pushes it aside and says, no. God will save me. So his buddy jumps in a raft, rows out to him and offers him his hand. The guy says, no. God will save me. So his buddy rows back to the ship, calls the Coast Guard, they come with a helicopter, he jumps in, slips into a rescue harness and gets lowered down to his friend. The guy says, no. God will save me. His buddy goes for more help, but the guy drowns. In heaven, the guy finds God and asks him, God, why did you forsake me? Why didn't you save me? And God replies, what the fuck are you talking about, I tried three times!

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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23-08-2011, 09:07 AM
RE: Faith and Doubt, the unlikely brothers
(22-08-2011 01:33 PM)TrulyEvilBob Wrote:  TEB: Yeah, but it's not what you think. It's more tounge in cheek.

Baptist Wife (BW): I may doubt in the ability of my 12 year old car to start , but I choose to keep the keys, keep the oil changed, and keep gas in it! That is faith. I actually choose to get behind the wheel and start the car!

The original post does strike me as just a throwaway joke, but I could see how it would be insulting to those who live by faith, which is why you got people defending it.

The problem is the shifting definition of faith. Most Christians define it as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." I'm not attacking a straw man definition of faith... this is straight from the bible. So it's strange that the analogies they come up with are scientific, "faith" in things that have a pattern of working that they depend on to work. The example I always hear about is a chair, because we know chairs can fail when we sit on them, but we rarely doubt their ability to hold us up. Would a car/chair failing give us a crisis of faith? Of course not, because we're aware that these things fail occasionally. Christians purposely ignore and forget God's failures (such as a reasonable request by prayer that was answered with "no") and so they don't learn from their mistakes.

I'm not a big fan of faith. I think it produces people who fall for scams and con jobs.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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