Faith is ‘So Passe’…

I an better friends with secularists (in general) than I am with Christians…fact. In my real life (outside this blog) no one around me actually cares about religion all that much…including my own family. Faith has become ‘passe’ in the circles I frequent.

Which makes me wonder a few things:

(a) Do people actually understand what faith can offer someone?

(b) Why do I like to hang around people that basically never discuss faith?

I think because I don’t take faith all the serious in some ways and really serious in other ways.

I don’t care what someone’s religious background is – they can feel free to have one, a few, or none. I don’t want people to care what my religious background is – because this is between me and God anyways. This is not something I feel a need to be peculiar about.

However, it does bother me that people cannot see the benefits of faith/religion. I am bothered by the lack of discussion amongst my friends this ever generates (which is usually zero)…and I am also bothered by how easily the church shrugs off a lot of the good teachings of the bible for ‘correctness’. I see how good faith has been…but few around me actually connect to it.

Torn, which is going to become my nickname soon. Regardless, I am ‘born 2 fight’.

10 thoughts on “Faith is ‘So Passe’…

  1. I still get hung up on the word “faith” as you use it.

    All I see it meaning to you is: “my belief in Yahweh“. So when I plug it in to your post, it seems empty — maybe that is why your friends don’t care. Here are the examples:

    —Do people actually understand what my belief in Yahweh can offer someone?

    —Why do I like to hang around people that basically never discuss my belief in Yahweh?

    –it does bother me that people cannot see the benefits of my belief in Yahweh

    –I see how good my belief in Yahweh has been

  2. “I still get hung up on the word “faith” as you use it” (Sabio)

    True, but it’s interchangeable with ‘religion’ in this post…I prefer the way use it because it encompasses a title and a way of living (faith). I know you want to have a specific use of that word, agreed, and maybe I can explain that more to people around me (although I see very little need to).

    “All I see it meaning to you is: “my belief in Yahweh“. So when I plug it in to your post, it seems empty — maybe that is why your friends don’t care” (Sabio)

    I guess that makes sense, saying ‘my faith in God’ doesn’t carry much meaning behind it. However, I always point to scriptures anyways and the ideas found in there – so the whole belief in God thing doesn’t even get mentioned much. In fact, religion doesn’t get mentioned much because no one cares about it very much.

    The fact is, in the circles I am in, religion is the last thing on people’s minds. It’s only found on Easter, Christmas, funerals, and marriages….even then it’s only at funerals when it is really considered.

    Not saying I mind that, but I do mind that people cannot see the benefits of faith. I just noticed in this age lots and lots of people are going to counselling (for example). I’ve never really seen that need because I am always bouncing my personal ideas off the teachings of the bible, like a mirror in a way. It motivates me to change and work on areas of my life that I see lacking (ie: like anger). I am challeneged to challenge myself. Faith has always had this psychology aspect as part of the routine. Just saying about benefits.

    That all being said, I like secularism in some ways…the focus is not overboard on various religious topics…and I think that balance is about right. I don’t sense pressure on my having faith – I am allowed the freedom to doubt or express my faith in some ways (at my own pace).

  3. I don’t talk about religion because it is boring. And by religion, I mean institutions of faiths (religious traditions or ceremonies, building structures, religious pedagogy, hierarchy of priests, pastors, elders, lay ministers, etc.)

    I don’t talk about faith, or belief in a deity as it has no relevance to my everyday decisions. What does god (or gods) feel about my workout schedule? Whats does god (or gods) feel about me having pancakes instead of cereal for breakfast? Should I take the bus, I better consult a deity.

    Lastly I don’t need a god or gods to help me determine my moral decisions. I personally feel moral decision are made based on culture, social acceptance, municipal, provincial, state and federal laws, and lastly and most importantly on individual freedom of choice. I feel that having a deity decide my moral decision would be limiting. God says “thou shalt” and that is the end of the discussion, but I think most people know that no decision is ever that black and white.

    For example, a simple ethical dilemma, giving to the poor. What would a faith based decision be? Well if god says “give to the poor” then I give to the poor. But do I always give if I have it? Do I give money or can I give a gift instead? How much is appropriate? What if I am down to my last dollar, should I still give to the poor or is it okay some times to just do nothing?

    I bet your thinking, you need to use common sense when giving to the poor. Then I don’t need a god to help with me with that do I. So why discuss what god thinks about a moral decision or any decision? What decision can a god help me with? (He asked rhetorically.) So armed with common sense, I make all my own decisions, and I do not need to talk about faith in my day as it is a pointless interjection into a conversation.

  4. “I don’t talk about religion because it is boring” (Wolf)

    That about sums it up.

    “I don’t talk about faith, or belief in a deity as it has no relevance to my everyday decisions” (Wolf)

    This is where we differ quite vastly. I can see the ‘inspiration’ the teachings do have on what I think and how I interpret things. It’s not just that (of course), I also elaborate on those things learned – cause progression and move towards the best ideals possible (this is never ending). This involves the full use of my capacities alongside the inspiration of faith. For me, I can see the relevance.

    “What does god (or gods) feel about my workout schedule?” (Wolf)

    I tend to agree with this actually. I think the greatest gift God ever gave us was ‘choice’. Choice extends pretty far IMO. There is no need to ask about what clothes to wear today, what kind of coffee to drink, or should I cross the street. We have brains, we must use them.

    “I personally feel moral decision are made based on culture, social acceptance, municipal, provincial, state and federal laws, and lastly and most importantly on individual freedom of choice” (Wolf)

    You forgot where u work (also determining what decisions you can and cannot make; what you can and cannot think/say).

    I also feel my decision are based on all of those things, but I would add in faith as paradigm to buffer many of those and place them in some workable hierarchy. How would you know which you know which is the most important in the decision making of things?

    For example, Colin Thatcher wrote a book about his murder case just a few months back (for which he paid his full price in jail). The gov’t pulled all proceeds of that book (from him) and donated them to charities of people effected by crime (based on a law they speedily pushed through).

    If I were to ask you, how do you determine ‘right and wrong’ in a scenario like that? What is the most used factor in determining this from your list? Is it a mix of the factors?

    “God says “thou shalt” and that is the end of the discussion, but I think most people know that no decision is ever that black and white.” (Wolf)

    Well that’s like a grade 1 reading of the texts.

    “For example, a simple ethical dilemma, giving to the poor. What would a faith based decision be? Well if god says “give to the poor” then I give to the poor. But do I always give if I have it? Do I give money or can I give a gift instead? How much is appropriate? What if I am down to my last dollar, should I still give to the poor or is it okay some times to just do nothing?” (Wolf)

    The important thing is ‘you are thinking about it’ and this is the beginning of the choice. All the questions need to be asked, and giving is something that is a privelege – not a demand. There really is not a ‘thou shalt’ for charity…it is an aspect of atonement, like repentance.

    My honest answer on giving is give when you can – but what you give should not take away from your quality of living. If you cannot give money, give your time…give your acceptance…lend an ear, etc. The command is to ‘love’…maybe someone can take that to the bank with you.

    In the end, at least I can say the biblical mandates lay a road to discuss charity and try to make sense of what it means and what it does not mean. This is not an answer to the question, just like the skill to shingle is not going to complete a project.

    “So armed with common sense, I make all my own decisions, and I do not need to talk about faith in my day as it is a pointless interjection into a conversation.” (Wolf)

    Your not alone on that one – I can tell ya that. But even people of faith use common sense. Explain common sense to me?

  5. “Explain common sense to me?” – SVS

    That is a good question. In “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer, he makes a strong case that all decisions are based on emotions. We all like to think we make the most logical decisions, but in reality it is gut instinct. So what is common sense? My answer is: it is what feels right at the time.

    In our previous discussion about giving, it my feel good to give because of the belief that there is a spiritual reward at the end of our life. It may be good to give because I like to help people. It may be good to give because it makes a person feel rich and important. I could go on with the “why it feels good” but the point is, there are boundless reasons why and no one can pinpoint one to say that is the only reason to give. So common sense is that emotional reason why a person gives or doesn’t give. It is doing what you feel is right in that moment.

    On a change of topic to answer the original question “Why talk about faith”, Sam Harris recently gave a lecture on what science can offer to moral questions. He says that religions have not given us good reasons why to act in a certain moral way. Their reason is “god says so” For example, Why can’t we eat pork? Because god says we can’t. But is that a good reason? What basis does religion have for this claim? What moral reasoning went into that decision? As far as I can tell none, yu have to take it on faith that god said pork is bad.

    Also there are new more important ethical dilemmas (stem cell research, contraceptives, nuclear missiles, etc.) that need to be tested and hypothesized about to give new moral guidance. But faith cannot do that when it is tied to texts that have nothing to say about these issues. So where do we look for this guidance? You can’t add to the “word of god” so god has nothing to say about it. So it is up to us to make sense and find an answer to these questions.

  6. “So what is common sense? My answer is: it is what feels right at the time.” (Wolf)

    I would contend Lehrer’s finding on the basis of one small thing, knowledge/experience actually allows for more choice options prior to having to make that choice ‘in the moment’.

    The person can have a plethora of suitable answers that continues to grow based on the expansion of their knowledge/experience. This way when we face a scenario we have either seen before or have thought about it quite deeply aforehand – the decision is not neccesarily ‘gut instinct’ (since that can change).

    However, it would all still be ‘what feels right at the moment’ since we have expanded knowledge/experience prior to the actual choice.

    “He says that religions have not given us good reasons why to act in a certain moral way” (Wolf)

    I will contend Sam is wrong here..and I will back up this statement of course.

    “Their reason is “god says so”” (Wolf)

    Either Sam Harris is dealing with ‘nimrods’ or he is yet to meet someone that built a paradigm from the faith based system they claim to adhere to.

    Nothing is as easy as ‘god says so’ (like I said earlier, this seems like a child grade understanding of faith). If I was in grade 1 Sam and I might agree on this point (for example).

    God does say ‘so’…no denying that based on the biblical books. However, it’s also a study into who this God is (theology), what He is saying (textual study/context), and what that means then & now (historical analysis + modernization of the idea).

    I do a lot of studying of texts, history, and try to make it relevant to my current time period (ie: we have little literal idolatry these days, for example). It requires some serious study to get to the heart of the various ways a text can be understood.

    For example, that one passage ‘Jesus is the way, truth, and life’ has around 4 to 5 interpretations (from when I studied a long time back). But if I followed Sam’s logic – only the literal of that text makes sense (point to be noted – there is no literal to that text if u ask me). Things are just not as easy ‘this is what it says, now scram’.

    “For example, Why can’t we eat pork? Because god says we can’t. But is that a good reason?”(Wolf)

    I would say ‘no’ – because then we are subject to the whim of whomever has a ‘revelation’ from God about pretty much anything. This gives the rise to cult leaders to pop-up.

    Each claim needs to be examined to the 5 w’s of the opinion at hand (why/what/when/where/how)? Most important in the question process is ‘why’?

    In this case there is a few reasons. I won’t beleagure you with them but here is a link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosher

    Even if you disagree with the concepts, it does show some serious thought down the ages went into these ideas – a little more in depth than ‘because God said so’.

    *PS: I eat pork.

    “Also there are new more important ethical dilemmas (stem cell research, contraceptives, nuclear missiles, etc.) that need to be tested and hypothesized about to give new moral guidance. But faith cannot do that when it is tied to texts that have nothing to say about these issues. So where do we look for this guidance? You can’t add to the “word of god” so god has nothing to say about it” (Wolf)

    I am not sure these issues are not being wrestled with in faith circles (it’s pretty obvious they are). But if the bible says nothing on these issues (which is true) then why the problem? Because even though these exact topics are not mentioned – the sanctity/importance of human life is. These things will effect human life in some way.

    Let’s use nuclear energy as a possiblity as to something to look into. I, firstly, would leave it to science to define the in’s and out’s of the use and safety of nuclear energy (since this is their field). Science, mind you, is not concerned with ethics of the hypothesis’ they make – just the science of it (how it works and what it does).

    Then I would weigh the concerns of the use of nuclear energy based on the evidences given about this specific field of study (bounced off my already pre-existing ethical paradigm from biblical studies).

    That’s simply how I look at it. Although it is a scientific field first and foreomost, it does put humans at risk and our ethics will be included in the conversation on this issue, global warming, pollution, lack of water resources, food production, war, corporate excesses, inner city poverty, 3rd world conditions, etc.

    Just because I am inspired by biblical tenets doesn’t mean these issues and more don’t effect me. I choose to use a filter for them based on the moral paradigm of the teachings of the bible. Like I said, modernization is part and parcel for faith.

  7. I get the impression that many religious people (or at least Christians) that having a questioning attitude about faith or having times of doubt it just simply unacceptable. It’s like a taboo topic … just imagine saying “I really don’t know if I’ve truly ‘accepted Jesus'” or “I rarely ever pray” in a room full of evangelical “saved” type Christians. You’ll get silence at best, and you’ll probably even offend them with such statements. You can be not “Christian enough” but they’re not really any standard among secular folks, especially since they advocate “tolerance” as the principal virtue.

  8. [I hit submit on accident before I got a chance to check for typos…… ]

    I get the impression that many religious people (or at least Christians) think that having a questioning attitude about faith, or having times of doubt, is just simply unacceptable.

    It’s a taboo topic … just imagine saying “I really don’t know if I’ve truly ‘accepted Jesus’” or “I rarely ever pray” in a room full of evangelical “saved” type Christians. You’ll get silence at best, and you’ll probably even offend them with such statements. You can be “not Christian enough” but there’s not really any standard that you can fail to meet when it comes to secular folks, especially since they advocate “tolerance” as the principal virtue.

  9. “I get the impression that many religious people (or at least Christians) think that having a questioning attitude about faith, or having times of doubt, is just simply unacceptable” (aheathen)

    I agree…it’s not that questioning is not acceptable – questioning certain tenets is a ‘no-no’. Then doubt, in and of itself, is seen as a ‘lack of faith’ and they try to hide such things.

    “You can be “not Christian enough” but there’s not really any standard that you can fail to meet when it comes to secular folks, especially since they advocate “tolerance” as the principal virtue.” (aheathen)

    So true! Maybe this is why I steer kind of clear if Christian people in general…it’s like a constant judgment of who’s doing what and who’s doing the best. There does seem to be a some sort of measuring stick being used in a way that irks people.

    As for secular society – it’s true – there seems to be a lot of tolerance for the type of person you want to be (as long as it’s not offensive to others).

    I am moving more towards the idea Christians need to integrate more with society then to be cloistered if they want to face the realities of this planet.

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