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Monday, February 20, 2006 

Hope: Where my faith got lost

I think "hope" is an integral part of gaining faith and/or knowledge of truth. My understanding is that it fits into a continuum, like this:

Recognition of a Possibility ---> Hope ---> Faith ---> Knowledge

Even though I don't have faith in God anymore, I still think that this is how gaining faith works.(Did I learn that in Sunday School? Probably.) If this is the case, then "hope" is the part that I'm stuck at. I'm agnostic, meaning that I've accepted the fact that I just don't know whether there's a God or not. But in that definition and in reality, I do recognize the possibility of a God.

What keeps me from the "hope" that there is a God? There are a few things... big things... unoriginal things... that everyone with faith has somehow overcome.
  1. Why so are there so many religions and gods? If the others are " made up" why not "yours"?
  2. Most religions have a religious text... and they can't all be "the one" correct one. They each have plenty of historical data to back them up as well.
  3. Miracles are indistinguishable from coincidence, except that someone prayed for them. But there are plenty of prayers that don't get answered. And there are good things that happen that nobody prayed for.
  4. The feeling that I used to think was the "Spirit" is the same feeling I've gotten at a touching movie or while reading a good book.
I'm not trying to make a case for not having faith in God, but these are the things that keep me from hoping that He/She/It is out there. There's too much that doesn't make sense to me.

Posted by Kaycee.

First time commenter.

The reasons you outlined are why I believe in Hermeticism. I believe strongly in God, though I am very skeptical of religion. Hermeticism recognizes that truth can be found in every tradition. That prinicple has been forgotten somewhere in recent history...

I also think we need to seperate our discourse into two spheres: God and religion. Religion is often far from Godly, and failures of religion have little effect on the question of God.

Keep it up.

Your questions are tough questions that each of us answers in different ways. I'm not going to pretend that I have answers to your tough questions (I actually believe I do, but they may not be as satisfying to you as they are to me), but I think there is a book you would really like. It's called "The Varieties of Religious Experience," and it is by William James. It is a great book, and I think answers each of your questions in a very thoughtful way. Check it out. If you do end up reading it, please email me and let me know how you liked it. my email address is craigatkinson@gmail.com

I like hope because it empowers us while acknowledging the uncertainty of the human condition. Hope becomes tainted if it degenerates into wishful thinking.

Uncertaintly requires caution. By implication that is true of hope as well. Life, however, requires decisions in spite of uncertainty.

I suppose the trick is to consider the consequences of our choices for others.

As for God, there is no reason to believe that he or she requires our devotion. We cannot hurt God. If our devotion were important then God would have an obligation to let us know.

There are good people everywhere. Usually, their religious commitment is a function of their heritage. We believe what our mothers told us. I am a convert, of course, but having been disabused of my illusions after witnessing how corridor Mormons actually live, I must say that there is little evidence that we are better than my gentile peers in Germany.

In my book that's reason to hope.

I am not sure that I understand where your resistance to hope lies. Do you not have hope in the Mormon God or in God at all?

I am, as always, confused. Are you saying that the presence of good people everywhere is what constitutes your reason to hope?

I have other questions for you Hellmut, but I am scared of threadjacking, so I am asking them here

My Two Cents . . .

Faith: trusting the universe to be exactly what it is, and to behave as such (however, I will never claim to understand the universe in the slightest.)

God(s)?: Don't pray to them, no one likes a beggar. Every god that has ever been conceived is valid by those who conceived it – they are man made images molded from culture perspective, experience, and incite to the world around them. So then why not redefine god for you, make you own deities if need be. Or imagine something beyond god . . . .

Scripture: don't need them – the world and universe I live in are all I need to understand my self and anything beyond that may be metaphysical or spiritual in nature.

Miracles : Life is a miracle, you don't need fantastic stories about water into blood, or bread into fish – just an amazement at the propagation of life on this planet and within the universe. You don't have to pray for that.

Prayer: pointless – your own natural logic and reason is all you need!

Kaycee, I am an exmo agnostic, too. Like you, I don't think I want to hope for a God who makes a big deal out of being the only real God, or who claims that one particular religious book is the only true one.

When I'm inclined to hope for a God at all, I hope for a God who is much larger than that. A God large enough to circumscribe the feelings of good movies and good books and winning sports teams and rock concerts and quiet moments in nature into one great whole.

But as to #3, I'm kind of stuck there, too. Part of the excitement about hoping for God is hoping for miracles...genuine supernatural miracles, not just everyday miracles like the miracle that the sun rose again this morning or whatever. But I'm not sure I want to hope for a God who gets people's hopes up (as it were) for things that aren't going to happen.

God is merely that which you believe in and worship.

As for me, I believe in love.


arthur: how is prayer different from meditation? Is meditation pointless? Can nothing be learned intuitively?

Rob- I just read up on Hermeticism. Apparently the biggest difference between being Gnosticism and Hermitism is an issue of pessimism versus optimism, respectively. I admit, I'm much more comfortable with the pessimism.

Craig- At your suggestion, I just bought James' book on eBay.

John C.-My questions refer to a God in general, as usually defined under the Christian tradition. This view is, of course, shaped by my Mormon upbringing, so probably seems to match up with that more.

Everyone else- I love that you're speaking up about your beliefs. You've brought a variety of perspectives on this topic.

That's awesome that you purchased James' Book. I have a feeling you'll really like it. If while reading it you have any questions or want to talk about what your reading with someone who has already the book, please email me. I don't frequent this blog much, so I may miss any comments you make on it here. I will try to keep my eye out though.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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