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12/03/2018 8:09 pm  #1


Dealing with fear of losing faith

One of my existential troubles is that when I believe... I feel like I'm trying to "wish" God into existence. I fear that I'm just believing and believing but the world is atheistic and doesn't care about what I believe.

 

12/03/2018 8:19 pm  #2


Re: Dealing with fear of losing faith

Due_Kindheartedness wrote:

One of my existential troubles is that when I believe... I feel like I'm trying to "wish" God into existence. I fear that I'm just believing and believing but the world is atheistic and doesn't care about what I believe.

Why do you think this? Is there something about the world that makes it seem "atheistic"? Is this an intellectual or emotional issue?

 

12/03/2018 9:43 pm  #3


Re: Dealing with fear of losing faith

Due_Kindheartedness wrote:

One of my existential troubles is that when I believe... I feel like I'm trying to "wish" God into existence. I fear that I'm just believing and believing but the world is atheistic and doesn't care about what I believe.

I suppose I get this feeling sometimes, as well. You may say the world is "atheistic", but I am not so sure. If one follows certain premesis to their logical conclusions (like explanations exists or there are dependent things) this then intellectually leads you to the existence of God. Now, I would say the only true form of atheism is nihilism, and to accept the non-existence of a God, would be to reject all forms of rationality, and even most of science. There are certain things that cannot be accounted for in an atheistic world view, that have to be accounted for, that can be accounted for in a theistic one. If this is a intellectual issue, I would be more then happy to lay out an arguement, but if it is emotional, I am not the best person to consult.

 

12/03/2018 11:20 pm  #4


Re: Dealing with fear of losing faith

RomanJoe wrote:

Why do you think this? Is there something about the world that makes it seem "atheistic"? Is this an intellectual or emotional issue?

I think it's emotional my friend, but I could be mistaken. This may seem silly, but I had a moment where I was looking at Magikarp's ability to learn TMs, and I thought "gee, Feebas can learn TMs, and Feebas is an analogue of Magikarp, so Magikarp must be able to learn TMs." But I double-checked and Magikarp wasn't able to learn TMs. I had another moment where I was pumping my car with gas and I missed the click and I was sitting there waiting and waiting for the click, but too afraid to look at the gas meter, expecting that I would anticipate the "click"...and the meter stopped and already clicked. And I was wondering "what if I am waiting forever for the rationale for God's existence?"

Sometimes I wonder whether this is really faith or being lost in a surrealistic dream world called "Christianity." The private nature of faith also puts additional pressure because there's no way to generate private knowledge or experience. If you cannot get faith, all that can be done is that you have to rally up determination to search for whatever you can.

     Thread Starter
 

12/04/2018 3:17 am  #5


Re: Dealing with fear of losing faith

It may be the case that you are coming to a point in your spiritual, epistemic (or whatever) journey where you realize you don't know enough to rationally justify certain presumed beliefs. This can be a shattering thing--it's a hit to the ego because it requires one to humbly submit themselves as ignorant, and it's a hit to the intellect because it requires one to admit that they don't truly know what they wish or think they know. But this is a call to higher thinking, a call to rational investigation.

In Plato's Apology Socrates is deemed the wisest man in all of Athens because, as Socrates says, the typical Athenian "supposes he knows something when he does not know, while I, just as I do not know, do not even suppose that I do. I am likely to be a little bit wiser than he in this very thing: that whatever I do not know, I do not even suppose I know" (21d).

This isn't a resort to some skepticism on Socrates' part, it's a humble realization of the boundaries of his knowledge. And precisely because he admits that what he doesn't know he doesn't know, he realizes the potential of his knowledge, and doesn't presume anything, doesn't falter the intake of knowledge.

 

12/04/2018 4:19 pm  #6


Re: Dealing with fear of losing faith

I'm reminded of a comment a Muslim friend made to me, several months ago now, in a rather less personal discussion, and thought you might benefit from it:

Islam has absolute monotheism at its heart, and is uncompromising about it.  The Qur'an offers more than just theological assertions on this score, but also, rather surprisingly perhaps, psychological insight into how so simple and clear a message can be distorted, that is, it give us a sense of why we cannot just say 'God is, God is One' and let it go.  The pressures are not only cultural and historical and theological, but are also intrinsic to the human being himself.  While monotheism as such is part of the primal human outlook (called 'fitra' in Arabic), so too are the forces that weaken and distort it also part of human nature.  Islam holds that monotheism, despite its naturalness and appeal, must be maintained by continual effort; one refreshes one's approach to the absoluteness of the one God, so to speak, on a daily basis.

This is part of the reason Muslims do things like pray five times a day, every day.

I think it's a mistake to try solving problems of the heart by banging one's head against them, and advise serious, daily devotions; on the other hand, I think there are good arguments against both theism (and atheism, for that matter) and monotheistic religions and, so, think there are real intellectual problems to go along with your emotional problems. Don't let slobbering radicals on here cow you into ignoring real doubts you might have. That won't help.

 

12/04/2018 5:51 pm  #7


Re: Dealing with fear of losing faith

John West wrote:

Don't let slobbering radicals on here cow you into ignoring real doubts you might have. That won't help.

Not sure if that jab was directed at my previous comment. If I wasn't clear enough, I'm not trying to convince the OP that it's best to ignore what he doesn't know. I was trying to show that a humble admittance of your lack of knowledge is the proper starting-point to resolving one's doubts. Often we can live in anxiety about our deeply-held beliefs because we're afraid, at any moment, that we may not be justified in holding them. But if one is to take the Socratic approach and proclaim that they do not know what they do not know, that anxiety will subside and he will find himself free to move out of that quasi-agnostic, limbo state and towards answers. I've found myself at times, and still do, in the throws of an intellectual stasis because I'm unwilling to admit that perhaps certain presumptions, be they the result of the cultural mood or the admiration of religious tradition, are unjustified. It's strange though--there's something cold and mechanical about trying find clear-headed justifications for every belief. Often I wonder what the correct balance should be between the will and the intellect. The will must, in the end, always make some act of faith. We are fallible and our intellects can err. So there is, when coming to any conclusion, relationship of trust between the will and the intellect. Perhaps every jump from the final premise to the conclusion is motivated by a fideistic inclination. How far can we take this? 

 

12/04/2018 7:16 pm  #8


Re: Dealing with fear of losing faith

Joe,

One of the things I think you're missing from your interpretation of Socrates is his recognition of the frailty of the human intellect. He's the wisest not because he's especially wise, in absolute terms, but because man is benighted and he's a little wiser than the others. But this isn't the place to get into debates over Socrates or skepticism.

It may be that we are (and must be) confounded by aporiae in this life, and that we must simply learn how to live with our ignorance until we reach the next. (I think this is, anyway, the situation for most people, who don't have the time or energy to devote to the exhaustive investigation of these problems.) I try to advise with this in mind.

 

12/04/2018 9:56 pm  #9


Re: Dealing with fear of losing faith

Yes, I agree man is often benighted. But he's benighted precisely because he often presumes to know what he doesn't know. Socrates doesn't presume what he doesn't know. I sympathize with that sentiment about our own aporia in this life. I think you might be right that perhaps accepting the limits of certain knowledge may be an appropriate response to aporia. Though for some figuring out those limits requires rigorous investigation.

Last edited by RomanJoe (12/04/2018 9:57 pm)

 

12/04/2018 10:00 pm  #10


Re: Dealing with fear of losing faith

I'm not so sure about your focus on certain knowledge. The ancient skeptics, including those of the Middle Academy, were focused on not knowledge but beliefs. This is one of the things that marks ancient skepticism off from a lot of modern skepticism. When I write in the skeptical mode, very often I'm questioning whether we can even have rational beliefs about some of these things. (Socrates wasn't a full on skeptic, except in the attenuated sense authors like Popkin use (in that he doubts whether we have evidence for a lot of things), but he was much more skeptical than I think you're giving him credit for.)

But like I said, this isn't the place for this conversation.

 

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