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Want to believe in God but can't


Spirituality & Religious Beliefs Contemplate your place and purpose in the universe.

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Old 24th July 2017, 9:00 PM   #166
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This is the impasse for me, I can't understand why we think we are above the beauty/harshness around us. I feel humbled and with everything that has caused me pain, I never think, why me or us. I don't believe God has anything to do with our frailty, our callousness, our ignorance.

I think, we are a part of a whole and no more or less. Why does God have to be cruel because in our moment of consciousness there is cruelty? As though we are not a part of everything and infinity. Why is this God's fault?

I don't know, I understand the question but honestly, it implies so much arrogance. No, I am not trying to be confrontational...this is my sincere belief.

When people say, why is this happening, I think, well why not? We can get eaten by an alligator, or shark. We could get zapped by lightening, bitten by a venomous snake, get in a tornado or hurricane....on and on the random threats and then there is the violence that people do to each other. The creative ways that we have killed each other over the centuries.
The list is endless and it is the same as it always has been.
None of these things have changed.

The earth holds it's beauty, after all these years. What do we bring to the table?
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Old 24th July 2017, 10:40 PM   #167
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This is the impasse for me, I can't understand why we think we are above the beauty/harshness around us. I feel humbled and with everything that has caused me pain, I never think, why me or us. I don't believe God has anything to do with our frailty, our callousness, our ignorance.
I guess it all boils down to what has been taught to us. We were taught that we will be the "Sheperd" to all things made. That God will protect you if you just pray enough.

There was an on-going slogan even now that says "A family that prays together, stays together" in my country. Now, I understand how ridiculous this is.

But you are right, the Bible never promised us that no harm will ever befall us. What the Bible actually says is that God will, "one day, wipe away every tear from our eyes, and he'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth." (Revelation 21:3-4)

Clearly in that text, there will be suffering in this Earth. Oh well....
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Old 25th July 2017, 1:03 AM   #168
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Not oh well, when you see, then you rise and you do. You do good, if you are, that's what you do.
It comes from inside, you don't need a pat.
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Old 25th July 2017, 5:45 AM   #169
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This is the impasse for me, I can't understand why we think we are above the beauty/harshness around us. I feel humbled and with everything that has caused me pain, I never think, why me or us. I don't believe God has anything to do with our frailty, our callousness, our ignorance.

I think, we are a part of a whole and no more or less. Why does God have to be cruel because in our moment of consciousness there is cruelty? As though we are not a part of everything and infinity. Why is this God's fault?

I don't know, I understand the question but honestly, it implies so much arrogance. No, I am not trying to be confrontational...this is my sincere belief.

When people say, why is this happening, I think, well why not? We can get eaten by an alligator, or shark. We could get zapped by lightening, bitten by a venomous snake, get in a tornado or hurricane....on and on the random threats and then there is the violence that people do to each other. The creative ways that we have killed each other over the centuries.
The list is endless and it is the same as it always has been.
None of these things have changed.

The earth holds it's beauty, after all these years. What do we bring to the table?
I'm sorry, but this brings to mind the question of the suffering of the innocent.

This is part of where i get stuck. How can a kind and loving god allow a child, who surely has done nothing to deserve it, suffer through disease, horrific abuse, neglect, starvation, etc.?

The explanation I once heard or this is that ( at least in the christian system of beliefs) we are condemned by original sin. If I accept that, then humanity is paying for what one person did thousands of years ago. The bible tells us humans will forever be punished ( unless we repent).

The same book also tells us how important it is to forgive. To me, those two ideas just don't gel. I know some are able to accept this paradox, but I just can't.
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Old 25th July 2017, 7:34 AM   #170
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When, in our knowledge of history have the innocent been spared? In biblical time and before and after until this very moment, when have the innocent ever been spared? How are we different from any other time in history that we know of?

We don't make cave drawings anymore? There are some humans that exist untouched by wifi. We do still carve our name on fairly everything. Trees, boats, planes, our luggage and the clothes that we wear and people walk into caves and feel the need to leave a mark.

What has changed for humanity wmacbride? We have made God in our image. We have made God us.

I have had a few experiences that showed me that 1. Definitely not alone and 2. I am not alone, meaning that my only significance was to know that and be super humble about it.

Why does God allow the innocent to suffer? In my opinion, if we are energy (we are) and energy isn't extinguished (it isn't) then as harsh as it is, why would God step in and say, 'Hey, these conscious beings over there, yeah, the ones with the Kardarshians, botox and fake boobs. The energies that kill each other like muskrats thinking that the world and all of existence is about what is behind their nose....yeah them. Umm...make sure nothing bad happens to them ever..yeah.'
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Old 25th July 2017, 8:49 AM   #171
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I guess it all boils down to what has been taught to us. We were taught that we will be the "Sheperd" to all things made. That God will protect you if you just pray enough.

There was an on-going slogan even now that says "A family that prays together, stays together" in my country. Now, I understand how ridiculous this is.

But you are right, the Bible never promised us that no harm will ever befall us. What the Bible actually says is that God will, "one day, wipe away every tear from our eyes, and he'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth." (Revelation 21:3-4)

Clearly in that text, there will be suffering in this Earth. Oh well....
Actually, this idea that God should prevent all bad things from happening is not at all Biblical. IF one subscribe to faith that supposedly emulates the Bible, then that means we live in a fallen world, and that means bad things happen. Yes, even to good people. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. Even Jesus - who some seem to think is the ultimate good vibe hippie - says that in this world we will have hardships.

And what about others' suffering? If we pray "Lord, please let the hurricane move west of us," what about the people who live to the west? We are very self-centered as a rule. We pray for our sibling to get that heart transplant, but that basically means someone else has to die.

I am not sure who has seen Bruce Almighty, but I remember when he opened God's Email (LOVE the YAWEEEE yahoo sound on that lol). He is overwhelmed, so he just answers all prayers "yes." You know, to make everyone happy. Then of course there's an uproar because EVERYONE won the lottery, and so they all got about 16 cents or something.

We don't just want a god we can fully understand; we want a god we can control.

That isn't how any of this works.
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Old 25th July 2017, 11:49 AM   #172
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A healthy conversation regarding god, faith. Good to see.

The belief system, especially that of christianity, imho, is a 'paradox'. I have often found believers to do an abysmally poor job reconciling the good vs. evil, guilty vs. innocent scenarios.

The bible clearly indicates that God 'allows' for both the good and evil to flourish in this world. I find this idea problematic. Why place us in a world FULL of contradictions and yet play a laissez-faire role? Why allow the corrupt nature of mankind to define his/her (god) intentions and then punish those for believing in them?

OMG, I can go on and on... someone said that we create God in our own image. Absolutely. People have no answers to the paradoxical nature of faith so they create their own to assuage themselves. This is where and why faiths today, are inundated with hypocrisy. These are not divinely influenced responses to humankind's needs, rather, simply, man-made.
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Old 25th July 2017, 12:47 PM   #173
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OMG, I can go on and on... someone said that we create God in our own image. Absolutely. People have no answers to the paradoxical nature of faith so they create their own to assuage themselves. This is where and why faiths today, are inundated with hypocrisy. These are not divinely influenced responses to humankind's needs, rather, simply, man-made.
So true, and what we know of God is through text (the Bible) or personal experience. And those two things can cause us to come to vastly different interpretations. If there is a universal/objective truth, how do we access that? How can I say my reading of a text or my personal experience is the objective truth, and how can anyone else say theirs is? I mean, a lot of the NT is based on Paul's personal experience, and we get a lot of our doctrine from his experience. But who is to say that Paul's interpretation of anything is correct?

My background is in literature, and one of my favorite professors in grad school posed this question: does the reader write the text? I think the answer is yes, and it goes back to your idea that we all make God in our own image. We all write our own Bible too.

Faith is all about emotions. It's what you feel. It has zero to do with logic/reason. The arguments that are made in apologetics are pathetically easy to bat down at every turn. The more I read apologetics, the less faith I had. Because I had then seen behind the curtain, and I realized that apologetics had next to nothing with which to defend faith.
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Old 25th July 2017, 12:54 PM   #174
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Actually, this idea that God should prevent all bad things from happening is not at all Biblical. IF one subscribe to faith that supposedly emulates the Bible, then that means we live in a fallen world, and that means bad things happen. Yes, even to good people. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. Even Jesus - who some seem to think is the ultimate good vibe hippie - says that in this world we will have hardships.
Certainly. In the OT, God is the cause of much hardship. Look at the book of Job. In the first chapter, God recommends that Satan bring pain on Job. God actually offers Job up. In Exodus, God commands the Israelites to kill anyone in their family that has not been worshiping God, and God murders the Egyptian children. It's pretty sobering if you actually believe that stuff happened. I always say that NT God got a facelift. I think the Bible is just some person's interpretation of God though. The OT is interesting as literature, but I'd be fine with throwing the entire thing out of the Christian canon.
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Old 25th July 2017, 1:09 PM   #175
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A healthy conversation regarding god, faith. Good to see.

The belief system, especially that of christianity, imho, is a 'paradox'. I have often found believers to do an abysmally poor job reconciling the good vs. evil, guilty vs. innocent scenarios.

The bible clearly indicates that God 'allows' for both the good and evil to flourish in this world. I find this idea problematic. Why place us in a world FULL of contradictions and yet play a laissez-faire role? Why allow the corrupt nature of mankind to define his/her (god) intentions and then punish those for believing in them?

OMG, I can go on and on... someone said that we create God in our own image. Absolutely. People have no answers to the paradoxical nature of faith so they create their own to assuage themselves. This is where and why faiths today, are inundated with hypocrisy. These are not divinely influenced responses to humankind's needs, rather, simply, man-made.
It is hard to explain this in a way that would be likely to hold water for someone who does NOT subscribe to faith. But I'll try from my own perspective.

The first problem with this is the idea that God placed us in a problem world. According to the belief a Christian professes, the world was perfect when God created it. It was man who screwed it up. We can get into the debate about why God created man knowing he would sin....and I will be honest that I do NOT have the answer for that. At any rate, in this belief system, God did not put us in a miserable place, we made it miserable by our choices. This is reflected in our world today. many people are miserable as a result of their choices....or someone else's. Not all, but many.

The second is the idea that just because God doesn't fix everything or prevent everything the way WE think He should means he is laissez-faire? I mean, we expect to be able to do and feel and choose and say what we want and have free will....but God is supposed to swoop in and intervene when something WE do not agree with or understand happens? What if what we deem bad conflicts with what someone else deems good? What if a hurricane on the coast means the lessening of a drought in the midwest? Who gets to decide?

We think in terms of our own world and our own perceptions. And that is how we assume God "should" or "shouldn't" act. Surely you can see the inconsistency in THIS view as well. God is supposed to be all powerful enough to prevent X, but He is not supposed to be in control of Y, because that's MINE.

I have wrestled with many things over the years. I have not understood more than a few things in my life, and I admit I have shaken my fist - literally - toward the sky and yelled at God for not being there, so to speak. I have no idea why I have lost people I love or had illnesses or experienced certain things. I still don't know all the why's.

So why do I have faith?

Because I do. That isn't a satisfactory answer, I know. I also have a high IQ, graduate degrees, and a mind that is always exploring and questioning. And I still believe. Because I have seen and heard and felt and known God's love for me. And no, I do not have any diagrams or carbon dating of His actions in my life. But my faith is real. As real as anyone else's skepticism.

I've never felt the need to prove God to anyone. First, that is impossible. If He is completely humanly provable then there is no such thing as faith. And people who want complete proof do not want to have to exercise faith, so it is a futile task. That is not meant to be snark. It is just a fact. It would be like me demanding definitive proof that cannot be explained away or contradicted in any sense that Julius Caesar existed. That is impossible, and I know it is impossible, so I would be setting you up to fail.

But neither can anyone prove that there is no God or that He does not love us. They can choose to believe (or not believe), and they can posit those beliefs, but they cannot prove them.

In my mind, the best we can hope for is to be adults, be compassionate, and choose to live side by side with people are see things differently from us and NOT feel the compelling need to denigrate them.

In other words, tolerance - the kind that goes BOTH ways.
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Old 25th July 2017, 2:51 PM   #176
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And if any of that sounded defensive, I apologize. Text is so hard sometimes because tone and nuance can't always be conveyed.
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Old 25th July 2017, 4:56 PM   #177
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Actually, this idea that God should prevent all bad things from happening is not at all Biblical. IF one subscribe to faith that supposedly emulates the Bible, then that means we live in a fallen world, and that means bad things happen. Yes, even to good people. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. Even Jesus - who some seem to think is the ultimate good vibe hippie - says that in this world we will have hardships.

And what about others' suffering? If we pray "Lord, please let the hurricane move west of us," what about the people who live to the west? We are very self-centered as a rule. We pray for our sibling to get that heart transplant, but that basically means someone else has to die.

I am not sure who has seen Bruce Almighty, but I remember when he opened God's Email (LOVE the YAWEEEE yahoo sound on that lol). He is overwhelmed, so he just answers all prayers "yes." You know, to make everyone happy. Then of course there's an uproar because EVERYONE won the lottery, and so they all got about 16 cents or something.

We don't just want a god we can fully understand; we want a god we can control.

That isn't how any of this works.
Very insightful!

A few passages that supplement your post...

Collapsing of the tower of Siloam, which killed 18 people...

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Ultimately, the bible indicates that we can select our focus. If we decide to focus on the pains of this life, instead of allowing God to use us as he sees fit, we are seeing things from a limited perspective.

Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

The apostles actually indicated that suffering for the cause of Christ, was glorifying.

--Paul testified before King Agrippa that he wished all would know Christ, but without the chains (he wrote most of the epistles from prison)

--The apostles felt humbled to be scourged for Christ...Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.

--Peter requested to be crucified upside down as he felt unworthy to die the same way as Christ

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Originally Posted by BC1980
Faith is all about emotions. It's what you feel. It has zero to do with logic/reason.
I believe faith is action, despite emotions.

For example, since this is a relationship site, I feel an emotional void as I have never been married. I can allow the emotions of bitterness to consume me, and focus on that. Or I can continue to pursue what God has for me to do (action), despite my emotions. Faith without works is dead...
-----
You might find this interesting to discuss, since I think you are like me and like to get a bit nerdy with the theology (one of the reasons I like this forum!)

How does one receive faith? Well, I believe some of that can be revealed in the Greek meaning of the word pisitis (what we translate as faith)...

pístis (from 3982/peithô, "persuade, be persuaded") – properly, persuasion (be persuaded, come to trust); faith.

Faith is a type of divine persuasion, it is not fully explained through emotion or logic. The root word means persuasion (which is why some of it can be approached through logic), but its origin is divine. It cannot be fully explained rationally, though I believe it can be approached rationally; however, the bible also indicates it cannot be fully actualized through emotion. Which is probably one reason spirituality is so difficult to operationalize in the psychological literature. Often, spirituality is operationalized with a proxy like religiosity or there will be a correlation between positive affect, positive health outcomes, and say belief in God. Faith is often made stronger during periods of extreme emotion and is often tested during times of strong emotion (Christ in Garden of Gethsemane), but it is separate from emotion. However, we do know faith can be actualized through action (volition). The book of James seems pretty adamant about the connection between faith and action.

http://biblehub.com/greek/4102.htm
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Old 26th July 2017, 8:36 AM   #178
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I think human suffering is, for some people, the biggest obstacle to having faith. Because suffering is...well, terrible. I'm a Christian, and I do not understand why and how people suffer sometimes.

But one of the things that I have noticed is how significant the lens through which we view suffering can be. I have two friends who children had heart problems that could have ended their lives. Both kids are grown and fine now. One grew in their faith because God carried them through and gave them strength and provided the right doctors, etc. (their perspective). One resolutely turned from faith because they believed they had been a good Christian, and God shouldn't have allowed their son to have to go through that.

I also think where a lot of people trip up when expressing faith is that we Christians tend to forget the Bible is balanced. The same God who said "love your neighbor" also said "be holy as I am holy." The same God who burned Sodom and Gomorrah wrote on the ground until all the angry Pharisees dropped their stones and went home. Most professing Christians tend to focus solely on one end of the spectrum or the other, which, IMO either turns people away from God or gives them a mamby pamby hippie watered down version of who He is.

And then, sadly, some Christians are just downright rude and caustic. I know some of those; I used to be related to some of those. They make me cringe.
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Old 26th July 2017, 10:26 AM   #179
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I also think where a lot of people trip up when expressing faith is that we Christians tend to forget the Bible is balanced. The same God who said "love your neighbor" also said "be holy as I am holy." The same God who burned Sodom and Gomorrah wrote on the ground until all the angry Pharisees dropped their stones and went home. Most professing Christians tend to focus solely on one end of the spectrum or the other, which, IMO either turns people away from God or gives them a mamby pamby hippie watered down version of who He is.
The Bible provides a lot of different answers to the big questions. The authors were people just like us who were grappling with the same issues and offering their two cents. So you end up getting a lot of different views. A lot of cherry picking going on with both sides. You can support practically anything or condemn anything using the Bible. I was thinking about how easily you can make a case for slavery from the Bible, but, thankfully, Christians have decided to let common sense and basic human decency prevail over the Bible in the case of slavery.

There's plenty of terrible things that happen in the Bible that are held up as good things, so I certainly don't see it as any type of moral authority. I mean, you can make a case that murder is okay from the Bible, so what does that say about it?
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Old 26th July 2017, 10:30 AM   #180
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I believe faith is action, despite emotions.

For example, since this is a relationship site, I feel an emotional void as I have never been married. I can allow the emotions of bitterness to consume me, and focus on that. Or I can continue to pursue what God has for me to do (action), despite my emotions. Faith without works is dead...
-----
You might find this interesting to discuss, since I think you are like me and like to get a bit nerdy with the theology (one of the reasons I like this forum!)

How does one receive faith? Well, I believe some of that can be revealed in the Greek meaning of the word pisitis (what we translate as faith)...

pístis (from 3982/peithô, "persuade, be persuaded") – properly, persuasion (be persuaded, come to trust); faith.

Faith is a type of divine persuasion, it is not fully explained through emotion or logic. The root word means persuasion (which is why some of it can be approached through logic), but its origin is divine. It cannot be fully explained rationally, though I believe it can be approached rationally; however, the bible also indicates it cannot be fully actualized through emotion. Which is probably one reason spirituality is so difficult to operationalize in the psychological literature. Often, spirituality is operationalized with a proxy like religiosity or there will be a correlation between positive affect, positive health outcomes, and say belief in God. Faith is often made stronger during periods of extreme emotion and is often tested during times of strong emotion (Christ in Garden of Gethsemane), but it is separate from emotion. However, we do know faith can be actualized through action (volition). The book of James seems pretty adamant about the connection between faith and action.

Strong's Greek: 4102. ?????? (pistis) -- faith, faithfulness
I like the book of James. I think Martin Luther wanted to throw it out of the canon right? I do think faith involves action because action is the manifestation of faith. I think if people really and truly believed what's in the Bible, they would act differently. Words are cheap.

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