Am I Just Giving in to Ignorance?

I’ve dealt with depression for my entire life and a major component of that depression is my inability to genuinely believe in a form of higher power. I wouldn’t consider myself an atheist/agnostic, but I more or less have lived as an agnostic most of my life. I’ve tried to come to some form of belief in a God and a meaning to life and sometimes I am able to latch onto something for a while but it always fades in time. It just doesn’t seem realistic to me. This has left me with an immense feeling of emptiness and pointlessness that permeates every aspect of my life.

However, recently I discovered a website called ScienceMeetsReligion.org which I think gives very interesting points on having reasonable faith that doesn’t have to conflict with science. This opened my mind to faith once more but that alone wasn’t enough to instill it within me.

Unrelated to my reading of SMR, I watched a video about mysteries in the bible. I’m something of a mystery junkie and I took a pretty healthy interest in biblical mysteries but also the bible in general and Jesus in particular. I began reading the bible (I’m almost done with exodus as I write this) and while I have tried to keep a degree of skepticism and I don’t take it literally, I can’t help but get this very strange…comforting feeling of hope when I read it. Particularly when I read about the life of Jesus and not only the things that he taught, but the horrific things that he endured.

I feel as though I may finally be on a path that leads me to a more fulfilling life, but a huge part of me feels like I’m just giving into ignorance and mysticism.

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Me too! : ) And that’s OK. I’m fiercely, unsparingly rationalistic, except to myself of course, true hypocrite that I am: I give God the benefit of the doubt.

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Welcome, Kaylynn. Thanks for your honesty in sharing about where you are at with belief. I hope you’ll keep reading about Jesus and I believe he meets us where we are. Thanks for that website too – it looks interesting.

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Hi, thanks for the comment. I wrote the link wrong, it’s actually sciencemeetsreligion.org not .com.

Hello, and welcome!

A quote that I like comes from the end of a book that I also recommend:

During a dark time in her life, a woman in my congregation complained that she had prayed over and over, “God, help me find you,” but had gotten nowhere. A Christian friend suggested to her that she might change her prayer to, “God, come and find me. After all, you are the Good Shepherd who goes looking for the lost sheep.” She concluded when she was recounting this to me, “The only reason I can tell you this story is – he did.”

Tim Keller, The Reason for God, p.240

Hello @Kaylynn_Hammond :slight_smile:
Sorry to hear you struggle with depression, that is a hard thing and difficult for others to understand.

I call myself agnostic because that’s the closest convenient label to how I feel about it. Practically speaking I am functionally atheist, but the thought and feelings about God remain. After long consideration I’ve come to the conclusion that - IF God made me, then he made me to be skeptical and to explore the boundaries of belief. This is what feels “right” to me, and the path I have been on even before I realized it.

I can’t tell you what your path is, but I see your exploration of belief as a good thing. I know it’s cliché, but life is a journey, not a destination. Explore. :slight_smile:

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I think that belief in God comes down to faith. I think that without faith, none of it comes together. That often frustrates atheists and Christians. They both often get mad and caught up on why do I believe in something that I don’t believe there is concrete evidence for snd my answer is that is my faith. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. I believe in his word. But what separates me from atheists is the obvious fact that I believe in God whole heartedly and there is no significant amount of doubt there. What separates me from agnostics is that I’m not questioning or unsure. I’m essentially 99.99% positive that Yahweh is God and Jesus is his son. What separates me from the typical fundamentalistic Christian is that when I see contradictions between scripture and science or history I side with actual science and history. That does not mean that I dismiss scripture. I hold it up very high. I see it in a different light than your typical Sunday Christian but I don’t hold it to any less authority or importance as a whole.

So while I think that there is no actual concrete evidence for God , let alone Yahweh and his son Jesus, I do believe that we can use reasonable logic to be ok with it and see reasons to have faith. Even if sometimes those reasons also justify other positions.

Such as I see the gospel change the life of lost men and turn them into great disciples. I’ve also seen buddhism help an abusive drug addict become a loving sober man. But just because others have have spiritual awakenings and developed into better people because of other things does not mean that i devalue what I see Christianity doing. It also does not change the fact that I believe that guy who became better through Buddhism would not become ever better through Christ. I’m not opposed to God using other faiths to help change someone’s heart and get them closer to Jesus. Because I know of that happening as well. You can look into non westernized versions of Christianity in the Far East where the teachings of Buddha intersect with those of Christ and influence how they interpret the scriptures. I see christianity as a bridge between faiths and world views as opposed to being a consumer of them.

When I see evolution and ecology and all the beauty of nature I feel closer to God even though I don’t use a supernatural filter to see the world. I don’t try to find evidence of God in nature but instead I find inspiration for him I’m perfectly fine with not having all the answers and I’m perfectly fine with foolishly following faith.

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That would be correct. There is plenty of evidence, but no direct proof.
 

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who approaches Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
 
Hebrews 11:6

The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.

 
Psalm 19:1-2

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
 
Romans 1:20

 
    Why there is no proof of God

Hi Kaylynn! Great to see you here! Love your seeking, open and honest heart. You are on the verge of a brand new life.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me.” Christ

I asked him to come into my heart. He did. I was amazed.

I am not clinically diagnosed but I know my whole life I have struggled with some form of depression. I go through bouts of this and honestly, the world and universe without God pretty much confirms this feeling to me. We aren’t that important on cosmic scales and the universe is ultimately oblivious to us. Just assemblages of atoms that will fade away in a blink of an eye. That is kind of what I see. Others may disagree but it often looks pointless and meaningless–finite and fleeting on all levels. For me, God and being part of a story gives human life value and meaning beyond brute existence. It provides us with context. Opens up the possibility of a spiritual realm and so on.

Link looks very good. I perused a few articles (inerrancy one and some other Q and As). Thanks for sharing. I love the very simple text-based format and layout as well. It is how I’m going to be ultimately running my own site. Though I made my peace with the Bible not being “literally true” in places like Genesis or even Exodus a long while ago. Its not there to provide us with scientific information. it is concerned with salvation and the story of some of God’s interaction with his creation over time, culminating with His Son.

Well, it is very difficult to live life according to strict enlightenment principles. It is not very fulfilling. The idea that we can or should only believe what science can demonstrate is outdated and false, though it still lingers in our hearts as fact-literal westerners. There is more to life than what you can prove and its very much okay to take a leap of faith. William James wrote something called The Will to Believe that snapped me out of my enlightenment funk, oddly enough along with reading David Hume, Bertrand Russell and Descartes evil genius. Some skeptical philosophers made me realize there is much we cannot logically prove, including cause and effect (see Hume). The pragmatism of William James then opened up new doors for me.

I wish you the best on your intellectual and spiritual journey. If you have questions feel free to post them here. I believe most of us see no issues between God/the Bible and science. I mean the problem of natural evil is still difficult for many of us but as far as interpreting everything in the Bible literally, it’s not really an issue to anyone outside of fundamentalist circles. It is not a free or all either, or shouldn’t be, but that is another issue.

I am always impressed at the deep intellectual heritage of Catholicism and its treatment of Scripture, science, Biblical criticism and so on. I never get the impression that I have to turn off my mind when reading good, knowledgeable sources. Another way of describing “giving into ignorance and mysticism” is accepting God’s forgiveness and love and “opening up to faith and hope.”

Vinnie

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Yeah and these people who say you just have to have faith, doesn’t help much does it? The way they say it sound a bit too much like they mean you just have to shut down your mind and just believe whatever they tell you. Not likely!

I am one of these excessively rational types also. And below I will give you a link to my reasons for belief and the reasoning which follows from them. They are nothing like the usual ones so perhaps they will help you bit. But perhaps even more basic than those is the realization that the attempt to live your life according to objective judgement and conclusions only is simply delusional. You are a living organism and you only live by imposing your own order on the world… materially as well as rationally. You cannot live without dictating what is valuable and important to you. Unlike science which cares NOTHING about what you want, life is all about WHAT YOU WANT!

My reasons for belief.

Reasoning step 1. fixed link

Reasoning step 2.

My intro… whole thread.

More about me in my review of Francis Collins book.

What a person who turns to God through trust in Jesus is giving up is sin and love of self. Both of those things will keep a person separated from God. Sin will not only destroy you in this life, but it will bring the just condemning judgment of God on the real you after you leave this body.

Jesus said, Mark 8:34 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

His word is faithful and true. It is established by the fact that He rose from the dead.

Hi Kaylynn,
Since you say you are a mystery junkie, in recent months, I have contemplated a statement I read somewhere that I think leaves the door open for the Holy Spirit to reach us where we live and for us to get close to Him in prayer and spiritually. You may want to give it some thought. I wish I wrote down who said it, but the thought is this; “God works Anonymously with us so we can live Autonomously with Him.” When you get to Isaiah in your Bible reading, you will find that he was escorted into the throne room of God. He immediately fell down and said, “woe is me; I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips and live with men of unclean lips!” God had an angel bring a live coal from the alter and purge his sin. He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. That is what Jesus’s mission to Earth was about.

My view is that the “Anonymous” presence of God by his Holy Spirit is a work of grace that gives us freedom before Him without his awesome presence “undoing” us like Isaiah. When you read God’s Word and find the “comforting feeling of hope,” you will be encouraged that the book of John will name that mysterious one as the Holy Spirit. He is the comforter who will draw close to you in your depression and the one who will give substance to your faith. When you reach out to Jesus with your heart, he will hold you close.

You mentioned that you “latch onto something for a while, but it always fades.” Last night’s dinner faded away today and you fully expected it to be that way. That is why you prepared another meal for today, and it will fade away tomorrow. You will develop a spiritual appetite as you get to know the Holy Spirit better Feeding on the Word of God in the Bible will help. Fellowship in a solid Bible church will help. Making Christion friends in a 'Life Group" will help. Daily devotionals will help. I recommend “Our Daily Bread” which I have read for over fifty years as a resource you can find online.

Another thing to think about is this. You recognize your “inability to believe in a form of a higher power.” It is entirely possible that the Holy Spirit revealed that need to you. You do not need to consider yourself 'an atheist/agnostic", you have moved beyond that. You are clearly a seeker who is finding your place in God’s family. The Holy Spirit is faithful, you can depend on Him to lead you into spiritual fulfillment and a useful ministry in His work.

Regarding your comment about giving in to ignorance and mysticism, I am working on a manuscript to bridge the perceived gap between our beliefs and science. It has required reading over a hundred books, the Bible cover to cover several times, and many conversations with accomplished scientists and unbelievers. BioLogos can help you overcome ignorance and mysticism.

By the way, no one should tell you that His way is without challenges and problems. Some say, “He won’t lead you to it unless He plans to lead you through it.” We are His children, and I’m an 82-year-old toddler. He holds my hand and He will hold yours. Blessings.

I struggle with this, too.

I have found that reading the testimony of obviously intelligent Christians such as C.S. Lewis is helpful.

But then I have to worry whether feeling that way indicates I am prideful and am idolising human capacities, both sins.

But then again I also feel that God gave us, unlike all the other animals, the capacity for reason and understanding. It is a gift from God, and it is possibly one of the ways He is reflected in us, as image-bearers. With that in mind, surely it would be a sin to not appreciate that gift.

And as such, I feel any teaching that seems to demand we abandon our rational faculties ought to be looked upon with suspicion. Christianity does not demand that. Certain Christian traditions do.

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Which traditions?

Young Earth Creationism.

Read Maggie’s testimony, which she posted here at BioLogos. I think you will concur that she did not give in to ignorance. Others’ testimonies are not compelling to anyone who is not really interested in knowing or finding God or who are content with their lot in life* and the status quo, but I hope it will encourage you to keep looking for him, as did the woman in my earlier comment.

Christianity is not just a head thing, it is also very much a heart thing as well, not to be confused with mere emotionalism, since it is about our hearts’ desires. An important idea is in the title of a book, and all we need to want: Desiring God. The subtitle makes you do a double take :flushed:, and is an apparent oxymoron: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. :slightly_smiling_face:

 


*Not at all that Christians cannot be content, rather just the opposite – we have the ultimate reason for contentment (not for complacency!).

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.
 
Psalm 46:2

Since you’ve come from a similar place that I have I would be interested to hear your opinion on YECs (if you don’t mind)

Personally I feel that groups like these (and rigid fundamentalism in general) have really poisoned the well of religion and given it an undue stigma.

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I think it’s horrible. The very fact that God would let so many of His children be so determinedly wrong, is seriously challenging my faith.

Other people being wrong, that itself doesn’t bother me, but the fact that the other Christians I’m connected with in real life are YECs, is very very challenging. It blocked me for many years from entertaining the possibility that there is a God and He is none other than the God of the Christian Bible. And now that I have taken that leap of faith despite that, it’s still presenting enormous challenges.

Sorry, not very cheery!

God ‘allows’ us to think say and do everything we’ve thought, said and done for hundreds of thousands of years. Faith needs to deal with that. His only direct input, if any, is through Jesus.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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