Topics: Belief

What we think is true, which does not necessarily mean in reality it is true.

Faith & Atheism

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

I recently read a great post by John Remy at MindOnFire.com regarding the criticism about atheists also having “faith” as a fundamental tenant of their world view. I can see why this criticism is annoying – the atheist (loose or strict) relies on evidence and rationality for their world view, and to be told their fundamental beliefs are (surprise!) just based on blind faith, will see this as an insult.
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Forgiveness

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

About three years ago, I had a very bad church experience. It colored how I thought about church for a long time after – that it was corrupt and imperfect, an entity that detracts from a person’s thriving spiritual life. However, I realized the other day that I have completely recovered from my anger towards all churches.

What was the thing that helped me?

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Music Boxes and Meaning

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Years ago, I worked with a charismatic and very gifted co-worker named Craig.

Craig was an amazing man. I only knew him a couple of years before he retired, but I wish I could have known him better. He and most of the other men his age that I worked with were an inspiration to me. Either they came from a better generation than I, or they were just more mature, but they had a depth my generation seem to lack. I didn’t stand above the flaws either: my most pressing concerns back then was my lacking romantic life, a stupid and self-centered angst.

But back to Craig. In many of my interactions with him and the legends that my other co-workers would tell, Craig’s life was a striking series of missed opportunities. In an interview with another company before he came to Xerox, he was asked to design a solution to an engineering problem on the spot. He did so, but never got the job. However his idea was so good that his interviewees took it and patented it, and it has been integrated into successful products ever since. Craig at times would find any reason to pull out his wallet for others to see and flip through the bills. He would watch closely for your reaction when he flipped past the thousand dollar bill among the twenties. It was all in good fun, but I couldn’t help but notice that there was a tinge of sadness – as if he and everyone else were wondering: why didn’t this guy make it big?

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The dark side of free will

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

warn2.gifNote to atheists: this post may look like I’m pointing a critical finger exclusively at you, but I’m not! This isn’t a happy or easy topic for me. After reading this (if you choose to) please believe me that I, like all humanity suffer from the same problems that free will makes us susceptible to. If I end up offending you, please forgive me! I’m not perfect and I don’t have the ability to write about this sensitive subject very well. Please know I have a great respect for you and that I do not know the whole story for why you believe the way you do. I borrowed the cute warning sticker off of alistapart.com, and will use it when the posts I write have potential to annoy or offend people. BTW, this is NOT reverse psychology trick. It means to get ready to be offended (possibly).

I have talked in earlier posts about the concept of man’s free will in a worldview of an all-powerful God. It’s a nice thing – it makes us different than robots and all that. We have the freedom to choose what to do with the time we have – to live a spiritual life or to live a selfish one. What has haunted me for the last 5 weeks has been this – that free will, as rosy as it seems on the surface, has a terrible side-effect.
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After the risk

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

Asara asked some great questions about finding God from a risk-taking perspective. If a person takes the risk of believing in God, what would be the next steps towards a deeper faith? This was in response to my previous post, (Risk and Proof.) My answer got too long, so I thought I would write another post instead. Note: this is not how I came to know God of the Bible – it was more of an overwhelming invitation. However, if my life were different, I would probably venture down a similar road to the one I describe.
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Risk and Proof

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

I’ve been reading though the Old testament law for the last couple of weeks, and reading and listening to experts in the area. I’ve seen some exciting stuff that I think I want to write about, but before I do, I just felt like I had to throw something out there.

Over at MindOnFire, the community there has chosen an book to read on an excellent and very interesting topic: textual criticism. I haven’t yet had a chance to order the book and read it myself because I’m trying to read like 3 other books right now that I’m really enjoying: A Users Guide to Bible Translations, Passage to Dawn, R.A. Salvatore, and Christianity and Philosophy, by Colin Brown. All three books are worthy of discussion from a philosophical/religious perspective, but the one leaving me with the most questions and thoughts is the last book.

Christianity and Philosophy have always had a estranged relationship, but the subject and debate of a lot of philosophy over the ages that has caught my attention tonight can be summed up in one word: Proof.

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The meaning of the fairy tale

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

I wanted to add some notes about my final dream / short story fairy tale I spoke about in my last post. I read it and realized that nobody would be able to understand how it defined my life.

The grandmother represents the Christian church I grew up in similar to how C.S. Lewis describes the allegorical character of Mother Kirk in his book Pilgrim’s Regress. This was a complete coincidence (or was it??) – I read Pilgrim’s Regress years later. The church told the stories (the Bible) about God (the princess), but only managed to put within me the desire. They were simply the messenger, and the stories were only stories, testimonies of something or someone beautiful and real.

Even after I came to believe in God, it was hard figuring out what to do with Him amidst the pulls of the world and culture around me. I was drawn to all the different kinds of pursuits a young, shy, and intellectual guy could find to do. I dove headfirst into the arts – drawing and painting, and literature: SF, the classics, and then spiritual books – mostly C.S Lewis and crowd (the Inklings), the sciences (astronomy and physics), and creative writing. Each new area I encountered, I would engorge myself on it. For instance, when I first got into fantasy and SF – I would read 2-3 200+ page books a week.

Each pursuit had something exciting about it, some mysterious quality that attracted me to it. But the closer I got to it, the more its mystery and exciting qualities seemed to wane. Eventually they would all settle into the role of comfortable pastimes rather than passionate pursuits. So I would jump and engorge myself on the next thing.

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Foundations of my belief (part 2)

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

John over at MindonFire.com helped me remember that not only reading, but also writing, has had a huge impact on what I believe. I thought I would actually write about this experience, and how it shaped me. I have written a collection of short stories that blend the spaces of SF and fantasy. It is in the strange marriage of these two genres, where the worlds of magic and theoretical science come together, that my imagination has always been most stirred.  To me, the two are one and the same thing, only in different contexts.
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Foundations of my belief

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

I have a funny background.

I was brought up Christian, but it is not the kind of Christianity that most people think of when they think “Christian.” I grew up in rural Pennsylvania among Amish and Mennonite folks who were very moral, and who to some degree removed themselves from the larger society to seek God more closely as their own community. Our whole region was very religious. I grew up in Evangelical Free Churches mostly. My church was usually someone’s house, a school, a room in the local town hall, etc. We were always a small group that just loved each other. Our “official” beliefs where usually just that we believed in Jesus, and that the Bible was true. That’s it. No strict dogma. No concept of membership – if you came and kept coming, you were a part of the group. It was all about relationships – we just loved each other. Often times these little churches would break up because our part-time pastor got another job in a different city, or that people just gradually drifted away. It was always sad when this happened – I remember the adults crying about it. Such great people. I have the fondest memories of this part of my life.

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Revealed truth & the spiritual life

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

So I have reached an interesting conclusion in my previous post. To successfully live a true spiritual life, I must believe in God by a direct revelation, and I will best acquire new spiritual truths by divine revelation. Believing that God exists without divine revelation is like believing in Russia when I have never experienced or seen the planet Earth. Such beliefs are hard to keep, and for the most part erode over time since they cannot be seen or touched or felt, and otherwise have no interaction with my daily life. Given enough time, I will tend to not think about them and instead worry and spend my time with other more tangible pursuits, and in the end will abandon them entirely, or at least push them out of the active part of my mind to a place where no creative thought is applied.

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Written truth vs. revealed truth

Monday, October 9th, 2006

In a previous post, “Empirical Evidence for Spiritual Truth” , John R. posted some great comments about the subject, which made me think more about it. I responded to his comments in yet another comment, but to me, the subject was still lacking something. In another recent post on MindOnFire.com, he gave me more insight into his faith struggle. The interesting part of the discussion in this post revolved around his internal struggle with the validity of core truths of Mormonism. With all reasonable effort, he tried to test these beliefs to see if they were true or not. One method, proposed by a Mormon elder, was just to verbalize them through witnessing, and through this process, belief is instilled in the believer. Another method proposed within the Book of Mormon itself, which seemed more reasonable, was to read the scriptures and then pray about them, and belief will follow. John’s openness about the methods he used to internalize spiritual truth led me to analyze how I came to believe the spiritual truths that I believe today. I was surprised by what I discovered.

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Thinking inside-out

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

I was just reading a though-provoking post over at my favorite spiritual blog mindonfire.com. It was about being moved spiritually, out of nowhere, by a familiar song. John talked about this experience and then asked the readers what they would do with it. Having a similar experience, I tried to explain what I thought was going on and gave an example of this happening in my life, but forgot to answer the question. The gist of what my guess was going on is that music is a vehicle for spiritual truth combined with myth gleaned from both the melody and the lyrics, and we are sometimes moved spiritually by the messages in it. (You can read my comment for more details)

What I began to think about was the benefits of this mode of communication. I believe that this is the divine speaking to us, not unlike Jesus did when speaking in parables. The one obvious benefit is complex spiritual truth understood instantly. This is a great benefit, but I believe there is a second and no less important benefit.
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