Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Finding faith -- a how-to guide

(Yes, the images are Christian, but the message in the words and music is universal)

Yesterday, someone asked me how they could find faith in G-d. My answer --- my honest answer -- was I don't know. They seemed a bit annoyed at that answer. I explained that I could not remember a time before faith, so I did not know how one went about acquiring it. This too annoyed him.
"Don't you know anyone who has found faith? Can't you tell me how they did it?"

I thought about it for a moment, and said I did know such people, but their path to G-d and faith was a varied as they were. Some how found faith through intense study, some through retreat, meditation and prayer, some through crisis or loss, some through a blinding moment of clarity. One or two by acting as though they had faith, and finding it through ritual or interaction. Some found faith with the help of another or a group, some alone. There simply was no step by step answer. I don't know was the best I could do.

I have a feelings that for many, it's a two step process. They decide they want to have faith or wish they had faith, and they seek out evidence or experience to help them along their quest.

I wish I could answer this man. He is a good of the kindest people I know. And yet, he has no faith in G-d. I would sincerely love to bring him that gift. I don't know seems like a bad answer, even to me. I just don't know any other one.

Is there a reader who can help? Can you share your stories?


Mathew said...

Hi Lindsay,

When you listed the different ways that people you know found their faith, I think you answered the question very well. In my case, I had an incredible supernatural experience at the age of 23 that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt (to me) that God was real. As a result, for many years I thought I had no need for faith since I had unequivocal knowledge of God. However, as the years rolled by, experience repeatedly showed me that faith had much more to do with an understanding as to the nature of God than it did with the belief in God or the certainty of God's existence. Anyway, as far as your question is concerned, I feel compelled to add that faith in God will most certainly be found if one has a sincere desire to know the truth, coupled with a heart and mind that is at least open to the possibility of God. After that, it all depends how far down the rabbit hole one is willing to go.


Seeker said...

Thank you, Matthew. I'm glad you thought I covered the ways well...I felt as though I was being asked for "THE" way, and I don't know what the RIGHT way is for any one person. That was my frustration in trying to answer.

Anonymous said...

Unlike you, I do remember a time without faith (quite a long time, in fact). Yet I agree that the experience is a different one for each of us. In my case, I believe faith found me. You already know my story, but thanks for sharing this video.

Anti-Prayer said...

As an atheist activist, I have spoken with hundreds of people at public events. With rare exceptions, there are basically two types of believers:

1. those who (surprise, surprise) adopt the one TRUE religion---which amazingly it happens to be the same one (or slightly different flavor) as their parents!

2. those who have some kind of crisis--usually drugs or alcohol--and who amazingly find (ta da!) Jesus when they are at their most vulnerable psychologically. And instead of giving themselves the credit for kicking their addiction, they credit some all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful, 2000-yr-old dead guy who, in his loving manner, just stood by---WATCHING and not DOING anything---as the addict sunk lower and lower into the addiction. Nice guy, that Jesus!

Of course, then there are also the few relatively normal people, like scientist Francis Collins, who go hiking, and when they suddenly come across 3 frozen waterfalls (and I don't think it was in a jungle, but in the mountains during cold weather) they fall to their knees and accept Jesus.

Incredible. And these peoples' votes count equally with those of real thinkers like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, authors of The End of Faith, and God Is Not Great. (and you wonder why people call atheists "bitter" or "angry"!)

Seeker said...

Why are you so bitter? Because some people have misused the concept of faith? Because some people don't think through their belief in G-d?

As a believer in God, but not a Christian, that kind of unexamined faith seems sad to me. But I am really trying to understand why it makes you so angry.

Can you please explain? I'm listening.

mathew said...

Hi Lindsay,

I doubt very much that anti-prayer will return, however, in the oft chance that he or she does, I would like to say that I accept and I understand anti-prayer's frustration and anger, and I accept the choice of atheism as valid and good because I understand that ALL roads lead to God/truth/love (whatever you choose to call it). That said, if we truly desire to change the world for the better, true and lasting positive change will never happen by attacking, belittling and disparaging other people's beliefs, values and traditions. Attack only serves to create a viscious cycle of fear, mistrust and continued attack, not peace and understanding. So if we truly wish for peace and understanding, we must learn to accept all non-violent beliefs and practices as good and valid, we must work hard to understand the root causes of the violent belief systems of the world, and we must design and implement positive measures to counter these root causes as opposed to simply attacking or attempting to proselytize in the name of one's own belief (or lack of belief). Attack has never worked and it won't ever work. Acceptance, tolerance, forgiveness and education are the keys to positive change. For a very good example of this, read the true and inspiring story "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson.



Seeker said...

Thank you Matthew....That's exactly why I posted what I did. I want to listen and understand. I have no desire to convert anyone...that is an internal decision, and best left that way.


mathew said...

Hi Lindsay,

I'm sorry -- I was directing my comment at "anti-prayer" on the off-chance (not the "oft" chance) that anti-prayer might return. Your approach to anti-prayer was clearly respectful and conciliatory. My bad.



Seeker said...

I knew that! I was just agreeing with you! Guess my bad, too! LOL!