Thursday, December 20, 2012

Discussing Faith

Yesterday I read an interesting piece in The Wall Street Journal written by actor and comedian Ricky Gervais. It was titled,  Why I'm an Atheist. 

Many believers would be turned off by such a title. Call me weird. I was intrigued. I consider myself a believer in the Bible, God and salvation through Jesus Christ but I wanted to understand why someone of relative intelligence would conclude that there is no God. What would lead a person to this conclusion? 

Although I can't agree with everything Mr. Gervais wrote, I  was actually quite impressed with his arguments and I respect him for being so logical and clear.


Mr. Gervais wrote about his childhood of poverty. He recalled how his mother taught him about Jesus so he would be "good" and stay out of jail. When his older brother challenged him by asking, "Why do you believe in God?" little Ricky embarked on an hour of deep thinking and decided that God didn't exist. He's held this position throughout his life. 

He discusses science at length and I admit that some of it goes a little over my head. 

When confronted with the question, "Why don't you believe in God?" Mr. Gervais counters with, "Why do you believe in God?" He says the burden of proof lies with the believer. Okay. I can accept this. 

Why do I believe in God? It's quite simple really. I am a finite being and have limited access to the realities of the universe. I am actually quite comfortable with my lowly status. For example, I don't know how the earth floats in this one tiny section of the vast darkness called space. What makes it revolve around the sun? What makes it rotate at the speed it does every 24 hours? Why is it located at just enough distance to support life? Or bringing it closer to home, what kind of energy keeps my heart beating? Maybe Mr. Gervais would say something like, it's all science and mankind hasn't figured it out yet.  

Honestly, admitting I don't know everything there is to know frees me. It means I don't have to pine for answers to the unanswerable. It means I can relax and enjoy the ride, fully accepting that there are mysteries I'm not privy to. It's called faith and I'm okay with that. Apparently Mr. Gervais is not and I'm okay with that too. 

Kathleen Pooler discusses her faith on her latest blog post. She iterates how it has sustained her during some very dark times. She says one of her favorite quotes comes from Robert Hodgson. 

Some things have to be believed to be seen.

I agree. 

What do you think? And rest assured, your beliefs are safe here. 

9 comments:

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

I'm usually comfortable, also, with there being unanswerable questions, though sometimes I still ask them. I can't say my faith is full, but I'm inching along towards a stronger faith.

I read Kathy Pooler's post on faith, also, and thought it was excellent.

Thank you for bringing these questions out in the open.

Vegetable Garden Cook said...

I believe the science questions you've posed have been answered, but I am not that educated. I've seen plenty of NOVA shows to know that some of these subjects have been discussed. I could point you to the answers if you are interested in reading them.

But here is a question for you - why do people think that "god" and "science" are two different entities?

How do you even define "god" in your sense?

Personally, I don't believe in a single entity that controls the actions of human beings. Nor do I believe in "salvation" whatever that means.

Why would "god" allow 20 children and their caretakers to be massacred? This is plenty of evidence to me that there is no god.

kathleen pooler said...

I love how this discussion is generating so many responses all over. We can agree to disagree. The events in Newtown have stimulated even more questions about faith and we all have our own reasons for feeling, thinking, believing as we do. Let's honor each other's story as we honor our own. I personally do not feel God caused this as I believe He gave us a freewill. What is important here is that we can express our views with tolerance and compassion.

Thanks for keeping this conversation going, Grace , Tina and Vegetable Garden Cook. Our stories matter!

Mindy Northrop said...

I also am in the boat that doesn't believe God had anything to do with the tragic events that took those children.

When people say they were "called home" or that God needed "new angels", it blows my mind that they would trust in a God who would do something like that. It sickens me, actually.
The recent events struck hard in our home. I have a son the same age as those little ones. I've cried a lot of tears for them and their families.

I do believe in God. One God. I'm really hoping that The Kingdom we pray for, will really come "on earth, as it is in heaven". And soon. Fixing everything that's completely messed up in this world and returning those poor little babies to their devastated parents.

I'll have to check out the post that you mentioned.

linniew said...

Wow Gracie, difficult topic. (Brave woman.) Personally I separate spirituality and religion, and also personal experience from what others tell me to believe. Guess I'll leave it there-- Merry Everything!

Lona said...

Let me answer a few who question God and the recent tragedy. God gave MAN dominion upon the earth to tend it and to follow some rules while here. He gave us free will. The tragedies that happened were man's free will as sick or meaningless as it was. It was not the work of God. If you believe in God you have to believe also in evil, disease and murder and all that comes with it just as you accept the blessings or favors. The things that happen on this earth are all from mans free will and I believe the miracle happens when God does step in and save some of us from tragedy, sickness or near death.God has moved in my life many times to keep me safe and heal me or bless me and if one day he does not then I am quite content in knowing that there is a bigger picture in it all if not later then in the future.
I would apologize for sounding preachy but we all have to find God in our own ways and believe me that will happen even to the strongest atheist or man of science. In death we all face the final question and when it comes calling we all grab tight to something. I just choose it to be God and not a void in space or a neutron. I would rather hang onto faith in a life bigger than what a telescope can see with the eyes.
Just saying....

krystal lynn said...

I can't say that I have never questioned the existence of God, but for some reason I have always come back to a strong sense of faith. I feel better feeling connected (when I have felt separated from God it has left me with a very empty feeling)to God and I don't know if it is as simple as that.

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

Interesting post but I usually try not to get into faith discussions...I was raised Catholic but do not go to church or practice any religion...I have a deep spiritual belief in a supreme being that sustains me. I'll leave it at that and wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Martha M Moravec said...

I read Ricky Gervais' article with interest. I agree with him - 60% of the time. The other 40% of the time is spent in a mostly agonizing search for faith.

I consider myself an "aspiring Christian" because I tend to agree with Nietzsche's observation that there has been only one Christian and he died on the cross. (In other words, we can only aspire to be like Christ. For instance: when is the last time you gave away all of your worldly goods to the poor?)

I am a practicing Episcopalian, because most Episcopalians don't care if you are an atheist, just as long as you show up. I also have tremendous respect for the tenets of Buddhism and Taoism. I think my difficulty in finding faith dwells in the fact that I can't let faith be faith. I want to KNOW, know for SURE, and of course that is impossible. This is the mystery so many of you speak of. I have not made peace with the mystery.

As for the questions about Newtown, on those rare occasions when I do think there night be a divine being, I don't for a minute believe that he is capable of intervention. Here is a wonderful quote I saw on Facebook not too log ago that sums it up well:

“Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it. But I’m afraid He would ask me the same question.” – Anonymous

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