Thursday, November 02, 2006

Faith without Reason

Luke Cage has a great post up, right now. It's worth checking out.

There was a line in it that stuck out, to me, though: "We don't need to understand, we just need to hold His hand to have peace in the middle of storms."

Serious criciticism of some religious beliefs follows. If you can deal with that, please read on. If not, there's other material out there you might find more palatable.

Those first five words are troubling, to me. Religion can add value to people's lives and make this world a better place, but I'm concerned by the idea that things don't have to make sense within a given worldview.

It's that kind of thinking, or lack thereof, that leads to people putting aside their better judgement and common sense, thinking that stoning a woman t'death is a fitting punishment... for anything.

It leads to the idea that people who aren't harming anyone else ought to be oppressed or worse simply for being different.

It leads to the idea that some little baby born in some remote village, where no one has heard of Religion X, is going to burn in Hell for all eternity simply for not participating in a religious ritual.

It leads to people believing that getting in an airplane and crashing it into a building full of innocent people is a great idea.

It does need to make sense. Unfortunately, if people only did things that made sense to them, there are a lot of good things they wouldn't do. So, it's a slippery slope.

A certain amount of balance is required. Otherwise, we're not so different from some of the extremists or savages we look down upon.


Luke Cage said...

I see that we picked up on the same thing in that post man. I think there's a fine line between not 'understanding' the understanding line and finding out that we definitely NEED to understand it.

If I attempt to look at it from the perspective of the author of the piece, I guess I can understand the point being made, but I agree to also disagree. "We don't need to understand, we JUST." I guess the latter didn't make me think as the former did.

"JUST" which is linked to the almighty is self-explanatory. (at least to those who believe in God) Complete and unbridled faith. Why wouldn't we "need" to understand? I mean, a person understands a reasoning, an argument, or a language if one can consciously reproduce the information content conveyed by the message. The message being, understand the strength of the Lord and from there all is possible.

But would the line with understanding itself then be definable? I wonder if understanding has a different definition for all of us.

Is the concept of understanding an abstract thing? Is it a brain pattern or a rule? Whatever definition is proposed, we can still ask how it is that we understand the thing that is featured in the definition: Which was 'We don't need to understand." I think that we would have to, but that's just my opinion. And that one line doesn't take away from the piece either at least. Makes guys like us ponder away though. Your post was on point as usual brother. Thanks for taking the time to break it down in the way that you did. Peace.

Shai said...

West, I have to say this post the last ones are really good. As for understanding, I feel you. My intellect kicks in even with spirituality. Faith is something intangible and very powerful but so is electricity. A scientist can explain what his "eye" can see but there is always invisible stuff behind it. LOL. Yeah, I know that sounds funny. The thing is some things exist and don't understanding. A tree is a tree. It was a seed and then grew from what? I don't know. It just is what it is and do what it do.

All I can say is with faith, you have to have discernment and wisdom comes into play. Is it wise these beliefs folks are having? I mean is it wise to kill yourself to further a cause?

West said...

Thanks, Luke & Shai.

re: Shai's "I mean is it wise to kill yourself to further a cause?"

I'm sure a lot of U.S. soldier, fight this "War on Terror" are wondering the same thing... about themselves.

Ultimately, something being in the Bible, the Torah, or the Prime Directive, doesn't make it right.

A substance is only as pure as its medium. If there's a God and that God is perfection, funneling that perfection through imperfect beings (i.e. human beings) is going to result in an imperfect message.

When it comes down to it, it's up to people to use their philosophies and worldviews as life guides, while using critical thinking skills (which must be exercised and honed) to discern which elements from those worldviews are worthwhile and which ones aren't.

chele said...

I can't blame religion as much as the interpretation of the religion.

I read the Bible and for me, the main message is to love one another. Isn't that a message worth believing in? I don't profess to understand (or agree with) everything that I read in the Bible but I believe that it is the Word of God and that gives me a great deal of comfort.

My $0.02.

YouToldHarpoTaBeatMe said...

I understand where you're coming from, and I'll do my best to relay my "understanding"....

Proverbs 3:5-6 says.... "Trust in the Lord and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all Thy ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct Thy path"

Years ago, my Pastor penned that scripture into a blank journal he gave me right before I left for Boot Camp. Until several years ago.... I didn't get it. For example, have you ever noticed that when your average person is "wrestling" with an issue, their last resort usually is "It's in God's hands now"? They don't even have to be believers. Have you ever noticed that they seem a lil' less stressed?

I was going thru alot where, I couldn't make things happen in my own strength and logic. Mom just kept saying, "Give it to God". Of course, it pissed me off, because I'm thinking "I'on know Hiyum like she do. I'm not on that level yet".

I, personally, had to reach an emotionally low point in my life to know that He is see for myself what He could do... to watch His word unfold and apply to me.

I was making things way too complicated (logic..."thine own understanding"). I called up my mom, and it seemed like we stayed on the phone for hours because she was breaking the Word down so I could understand it. Like since she had my attention, she wasn't letting me go, no matter how tired she was. (Yeaaaah, all those years in Church... and I was too busy looking at the boys on the Usher board) LoL

Maaan I'm sorry. I tried to blog on YOUR blog, but I totally get where you're coming from with this.

West said...

re: chele's "I can't blame religion as much as the interpretation of the religion."

Did it seem like I was suggesting that religion is without value?

I tried to make sure to acknowledge the good that religion contributes. I just think that faith needn't be so blind as to ignore reason.

I'll admit, though, that I still don't get how the following things can all be true:

1) It's The Word of God.
2) God's word is The Truth.
3) One can pick and choose parts of The Word.