Evidence and Struggles in Faith

@ho_idiotes, I think it’s commendable that you’re doing the hard work of considering what you believe. You have lots of great advice above so I don’t want to add to that really. Too much advice can be difficult to sort through.

What I have to add is about the “Son of Man” topic. I just want to say I love that topic and that it runs through most of the Bible. Understanding of that theme that’s carried through the scriptures, in my opinion, adds to the richness of the story of Jesus. I think you could be on the edge of some really cool discovery about Jesus and the scriptures.

In case you’re interested, here’s a really wonderful resource on the Son of Man topic:

Bible Project Son of Man Podcast Series

The Bible Project is an amazing resource and an example of high quality scholars making their work available to the public, which seems to be a fortunate trend these days.

Their site has some explainer videos on the topic as well. I just prefer the podcasts because of the depth of discussion.

If you check it out and want to talk about it, let me know. I’d be up for that.

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Hi Matt! :slight_smile:
I went through a period of trying to understand WHY I believe the things I do. Oddly enough it was discussions about Intelligent Design that showed me how easy it is for people to believe things for the wrong reasons. There is a concept from economics call a utility function, which is used to describe how different people make place different values on the same object. From this perspective I began to see how some people may place great value on their faith and other may not - it depends on what value those beliefs bring to your life. I would encourage you to consider all the things you value most about faith; I think you will find that science is not among those things, but wonder at the things we learn from science might be.

Otherwise, I don’t think I can improve on the advice already offered. You just need to sort out what is important to you.

OK, maybe a little bit of advice! This essay by PZ Myers made me decide to stop worrying about what others call me and to just be myself. “Agnostic” is just a label of convenience so I don’t need to tell a long story every time.

TL;DR: Atheism is one thing a person is NOT, it doesn’t not define anything else that person may be. BE SOMETHING.

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Thanks Dan, and all.
There has been some good advice here and some helpful DMs as well. Time to take things slowly and be less worried about being uncertain for a bit

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There is nothing wrong with uncertainty. It just means you are asking good questions. :slight_smile:

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There is something very wrong with my bank account when the approach to uncertainty is “ARGH, questions - buy books, quick!”

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@ho_idiotes … interesting that I did the same thing, and that we are both returning at roughly the same time. We have different struggles though, I found that I just needed time away to focus on study and teaching, my faith was strengthened and renewed. The problem with faith is that as soon as you have evidence and proof, you no longer have faith, you have proof. This was a struggle from the beginning, the Pharisees always sought a sign, the Greeks found faith illogical, science requires reason and logic and facts where faith does not…faith only requires truth, which is often not seen and requires searching deep within.

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Thanks for the comment Mark

I have always found this kind of argument to be strange, could you further clarify / justify this? Faith doesn’t require evidence, but if pressed you could have a situation of wilfully seeking ignorance being seen as a virtue as any evidence encountered and accepted would only weaken faith! Let’s grant, for the sake of the argument, that evidence/proof does replace faith, even then I would assume you have to then question whether that is wrong to seek. Having proof of a miracle doesn’t replace my faith in the character and will of the one who performed it. So, Jesus appearing to 500 wouldn’t remove their faith in Him, even on your account.

I am not suggesting that Christian faith requires evidence, but my struggle came in in pretty much just questioning everything that I was hearing. Easier to doubt what I was hearing across the board as I realised just how more and more I was hearing people saying things that are just hugely oversimplified and in many cases just plain wrong. From my church examples include: “I know God is good because he has always come through for me” said one devout woman at church to great approval from those around, leaving me to wonder whether that standard is used when talking to the orphan baby starving in Africa. “Isn’t it wonderful that there is evidence for Noah’s ark in this photo of a boat shaped indent in a mountain” said one devout person, to much approval. A quick google search highlighted numerous other such marks across that range of mountains, all with known geological causes.

At the moment I am pretty much going back to the basics of seeing whether I trust that the words of Jesus in the Bible accurately represent what Jesus said. This is whilst recognising that they are largely not going to be the exact words he said (indirect quotation, possible Hebrew/Aramaic → Greek translation of his words in the Bible depending on your view of the linguistic environment, different standards for what is quotation etc). I am currently finding that I do trust this, but even here don’t have strong evidence for that but feel relatively comfortable with that lack of evidence.
I am finding this useful when going through the passion narratives and just asking what kind of person is this that I am being told about. Rather than what can I learn theologically, just rather focussing on “who is this that I am reading about” is where I am right now

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Are you familiar with the Zen koan, “If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.”? :smiley:

https://www.quora.com/What-does-if-you-meet-the-Buddha-on-the-road-kill-him-mean

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No, I hadn’t come across that, however the “focus on one thing at a time and kill any other thought” approach to life spills over into my approach to gardening. When encountering anything other than the thing you know you are meant to be looking after, assume all else is a weed and kill it. Glad I have a flat now and no garden to butcher!

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I will try. I should reiterate that I am a Christian, by that I mean that I follow Christ and have faith in Him. I have given my life in sacrificial service to Him (Gal 2:20, Rom 12:1-2, Matt 10:38-39). I believe that the bible is inerrant in truth (not inerrant in fact) and that it is the living word of God that provides guidance and direction to individual believers to find faith in Jesus that brings forth life. I believe that the bible requires faith to reveal its truth, and that revelation comes from God through prayer communicated through the Holy Spirit. I affirm the Nicene Creed and the Lausanne Covenant to the extent that I understand them. I say all that because I do not follow a denomination, I have not defined myself in any other way (YEC, OEC, Lutheran, Methodist, etc…). I am simply a follower of Christ seeking truth and salvation.

Hebrews 11:1-6 answers your question better than I could. I would add that God exists beyond any human capacity to understand Him, so without faith it is impossible to know Him at all. The discoveries that have been occurring with the g-2 muon (I am not a scientist, but I get it theoretically) lately are a good example of man’s limitations. We are finding that for years, our “standard model” has been inaccurate. Once we redefine the standard, in a thousand years, it will be different. Take that out to eternity and we will never discover the fullness of God’s creation because He exists beyond our existence and the “science” of God’s laws for creation are beyond space and time. Does that mean I think we should stop seeking knowledge and scientific pursuits, no.

So then, all we are left with is faith. Truth requires faith and is personal. Humans get caught up in arguments because my truth is different than your truth, so I must press my truth upon you…but that in itself is not the truth. God speaks to all of us in His own way, He has made us all different for His purpose.

I don’t approach faith in terms of forced ignorance. I see it rather the opposite. The bible tells us in a number of ways that we are to seek Him. A quick search yielded 350 mentions of the word seek…Personally, I am coming to the realization that the seeking is what is important, not the finding or proof. The point at which I feel I am done seeking is the point at which I start falling back into my old ways and relying on my own understanding…which inevitably leads to destruction. Scientists run into the issue of needing evidence and a way to verify and substantiate hypothesis, which is impossible with God. My personal proof is that without seeking God, I was miserable and lost in a world that is inherently evil, lacking self-control and wallowing in darkness. When I seek God in faith, I am able to navigate that evil world with strength and hope. I find peace and joy when I walk in light and in truth.

I also agree with you that many “Christians” make some pretty silly comments, many people claim to be Christian because it is the social norm, not because they follow Christ. I am in bible college and even here it is obvious that many want to believe, but really don’t. I am not the judge, just saying that I agree with you that the falseness gets old.

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Very Zen! :grinning:

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