This website has been really helpful but I would be very thankful for answers to specific questions


#1

Sorry about the long introduction, any and all answers to my questions would be greatly appreciated.

Hello I’d like to say that I am very thankful for this site and the varying perspectives it provides. I respect how despite being tailored to my spiritual needs, it is still open to those who may have differing perspectives such as atheists, that’s cool harmony. Recently I had a crisis of faith, due to a multitude of reasons. The conflict with science and reason that I had with those I saw as leaders and partially also due to my emotional immaturity. I think that right now, I feel the need to be justified by the opinions of others and I can be very easily dismayed over this. I worry that if I’m not being critical enough then I’m not being reasonable enough and that I’m being foolish, and I find that recently looking at scathing criticism of my faith on websites hurt my esteem a lot but I felt the need to look at them so I could say I was being fair. I think I needed to feel this at some point so I could become more mature and also more understanding. Lately though, I still struggle with these thoughts frequently. Every time I feel content I feel the need to have to recite an entire hypothetical essay in my head and see if it runs the gauntlet to justify myself and my views. Used to I wasn’t like this, I was more carefree, I didn’t care if others thought I was foolish it made little difference to me, but because I took such an emotional hit coupled with my desire to be a logical person, I am now in a time of weakness. Even now I feel as though that if I have come to the conclusion that this is how I align my views and this is what brings out the best in me, then what would be logical for me would be to embrace it and not care about things that existentialist things that are outside of my control.

I think I am slowly recovering but I could very much use the insight of theologians such as yourselves in things that bother me, what are your takes on these?

  1. How do you all have such strength to be faithful yet also are able to look through some of the less kind opposing viewpoints for the sake of reason?

  2. For those have underwent anything similar, how might time have helped? I fear my troubles are primarily emotional, I hope I can overcome what I see as ultimately unnecessary worrying and that I can become a reasonable person in spite of that with faith in Christ which is important to me. Can I be someone who is more self sustaining in these matters yet still listens to others?

  3. On the grounds that Christianity is faith driven which is said to be out of logic, does that make us illogical? I would very much like to be a man of reason.

  4. One of the points people have made on this website which is cool to me is how Christianity has inspired such selflessness and compassion which is seemingly outside of nature, but how does that compare to say: other religious people who became radical and disregarded self care, doing what they thought was selfless? Or say a cat who would mother babies even if they’re not her own?

  5. I recall seeing on here somewhere someone saying that they viewed Jesus as doing some questionable things. That is concerning to me as Jesus is the foundation of my faith, and while I am still trying to ascertain my thoughts on inerrancy and errancy, I believe Jesus to be divine. If I recall correctly, the matters in question were apparently misquoting genesis 2 and/or a statement where he said to not respond to physical assaults, which would justify others to assault with impunity? That last one sounds like it was more so taken out of context but I would hope that Jesus was in the right.

  6. How might you be fueled or even inspired to faith in the face of the vastness of time and space in spite of our seeming insignificance? This is a small thing here but I would love to hear about how others might view such a matter.

  7. I find the discussion about the good Christianity can cause to be really cool, and I feel myself that I am a better person for it. How would you guys interpret how even still, a large amount of those who do good can still be regressive in matters such as science? I hope this isn’t rude of me. I’ve seen compelling arguments here, I just worry about such matters when Christians are largely rooted in the west and even there a lot of us who are supposed to be spiritual ambassadors have hit in a road bump with science and the good that can cause.

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Sorry for how wordy this got, thank you very much for your time.


Was Jesus ever wrong?
The vastness of time and space and the insignificance of humanity
How do we explain altruism in other religions and species?
How can Christians do good if they are so regressive when it comes to science?
How does reason and logic play into faith?
How do Christians interact with rational atheists and keep their faith?
How do we deal with anxiety and doubts without insulating ourselves from other views?
(Mervin Bitikofer) #2

Hello, Andrew. It sounds like you are coming into that “sweet spot” of dynamic tension in which you are nurturing a faith that has stood up to probing questions and yet at the same time is remaining pliable and interdependent with others in a believing community. I like to think of a faith not so much as a rigid, brittle structure so much as a rooted and yet supple tree that can bend in the wind. It is responsive to community and wisdom and challenge from others and yet it remains rooted in Christ. Dry wood that cannot move (i.e. a large and rigid set of extensive dogmas which must all be defended in every detail from any doubt) is the first wood to break in any storm.

Just to generally address several of your points (maybe 2 and 3) you can be sure that you have much good company as you embrace reason and logic as one of the treasures of a faithful mind. Christians are not called to be illogical. It may seem that way with some of the most shrill voices that claim to speak for Christianity today in the west. But historically, and even now --as evidenced by many here on this site for example, it is not so. Even while we are warned not to “lean on our own understandings”, (Proverbs 3:5-60), yet we are asked to provide reasons for our faith, and the Bible tells us of giants of faith who make free use of reasoning to build on a foundation of faith. I think the proverbs passage is about making our own reasoning the foundation in and of itself, whereas, like mathematicians, we need a starting body of axioms on which reasoning can begin to be applied. Those who try to make all human reasoning out to be evil are in the ironic position of using the very reasoning in question to do this. God gave us brains. Rejoice to use yours to its fullest ability, trusting that God is sufficient both in and beyond where our understandings can carry us.

You will never get away from interdependence on others and nor should you. God created us to be in community. The “lone wolf” believer is not the normal or healthy mode of operation for a Christian. That is when “our own understandings” venture furthest out into fringe territory. Atheists are right that this all runs into terrific dangers of group-think, confirmation bias, etc. But all the same there is no escaping it. We simply do not operate in a vacuum, and if we want to experience the Spirit’s movement and guidance we must attend to and fellowship with other believers as we can. “Where two or three are gathered …”. So you can freely give up your quest for independence. Nobody has that.

Paying attention to what nonbelievers think is also valuable, and trying to do so for understanding rather than looking for debate or “gotcha” points. The healthy mind (I suggest) listens to everybody as it can to see what valuable grains can be gleaned even if there is much chaff. And we are then willing to hold at arm’s length that which sounds as if it still needs testing, and also willing to say “I don’t know” instead of blustering in order to look strong. A well-rooted faith isn’t frightened by mystery or even apparent paradox or contradiction, trusting that a present absence of answers does not mean no answers exist. Enough from me for now! Blessings on your day.


(Christy Hemphill) #3

I’m going to split these questions out into separate threads. So anyone who would like to respond generally to Andrew here is welcome to do so, but if you have thoughts on one of his specific questions, look for the new thread or use the links under the OP.


#4

Thank you very much this is quite helpful.

I know that no man is an island, but sometimes I think that it’s a bit unhealthy how much my opinion can depend whether I just saw something positive or negative regarding it. I think this shows that I’m being a bit irrational regarding it but I do think it’s important to listen to all perspectives as you say, I shouldn’t just ignore them. I need to work on finding a good balance between considering others and having thoughtful questions and just doubting my reasoning for the sake of it.

It also helps that when I come across things that are straight up anti theist that I think it’s a tad close minded to wish to entirely shut down an opposing view point. What you say about trying to “win” a discussion is important too, and I hope that outside of that, I may find how to fairly articulate my reasoning if someone questions applying both logic and faith.

Also thank you @Christy for organizing my topics here, I’m not sure how to multi-quote here


(Christy Hemphill) #5

To quote something, just highlight the text and then hit the quote button that appears (It doesn’t always work on phones or tablets). You can do it multiple times in a single response. Your response window will stay open even if you navigate around from thread to thread or up and down the thread you are in.


(George Brooks) #6

@AndrewF

So what do we do when confronted by incomplete information?

Is it really reasonable to reduce everything to a single probability number? Even if you have an 80% chance of making the right choice… 20% is a huge amount of error.

Being reasonable is meritorious… but it cannot bring you perfection.


(David Thomas) #7

Hello Andrew,

You ask a lot of interesting questions. When I was 16 I had become an evolutionist but remained a Christian. I reasoned that the early chapters of Genesis had some way of being seen “in light of” science and just gave it time for my faith and facts of science to reconcile. Even if they existed in tension was not inconceivable. There are a LOT of paradoxes in science. The Bible made sense to me logically; its themes fit from one covenant to another (Old Testament to New) and I thought the historical outcome of Messiah to Redeemer was consistent with the totality of the basic plan for where I needed to be going. When I was very young I knew I was a little sinner! Really, at 6 years old, I knew if there was a God, I was in trouble. So the logic of the Bible and its themes fit from my perspective. As I got older, I thought that I needed to understand comparative religions so embarked on a long term analysis of other religions. For a long time academically I thought my course was to be a professor of Comparative Religions; that’s how much I enjoyed the subject. I did get a few graduate degrees; theology and philosophy and finally got a law degree and found I was a better theologian with a legal background. I am now a Christian; I love studying ANYTHING and love the sciences a lot. I question about EVERYTHING and use my legal training to help me in analysis.

So, the course you are traveling is one in which you should learn to enjoy it as an adventure. Do not become rigid, but always be ready to ask, listen and learn. Make the journey fun. Ask the Lord to direct you in how to think and who to read and study.

The logic of God is now in this era quite strong; The Big Bang; Fine Tuning of the Universe and Positioning in the Universe (see book Privileged Planet).


(system) #8

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