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Under Construction

Quotes:
Paul Tillich, German-American theologian, said:
"Doubt is not the opposite of faith; it is one element of faith."

"The Opposite Of Faith Is Not Doubt: It's Certainty. Certainty is missing the point entirely. Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and the discomfort and letting it be there until some light returns." - Anne Lamott
Vatican's astronomer repeated this.

"Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned. "


In John Ortberg's book Faith and Doubt he says,
"We often think of doubt as the opposite of faith, but could it actually strengthen our relationship with God? According to John Ortberg, best-selling author and pastor, the very nature of faith requires the presence of uncertainty." See YouTube

Archie Bunker (All in the Family TV series) said:
"Faith is something that you believe that nobody in his right mind would believe."

Mark Twain "Faith is believing something you know ain't true."

Kahlil Gibran, Lebanese American artist, poet, writer, philosopher and theologian, said:
"Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother. "

Only he who believes is obedient. Only he who is obedient, believes. --Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Faith is the master, and reason the maid-servant. --- Martin Luther

Jesse Ventura, former governor of the state of Minnesota, said:
"Religion is the crutch of those who are mentally weak."

Most people agree you cannot prove God exists; religious belief requires some faith, but it is not blind faith.

At "Faith, Reason and Doubt" (hypermetrics.com/personal/frd.html) Hal E. Fulton says, "I think that there are many things in our society masquerading as faith. What many see as faith may actually be just force of habit; or patriotism; or stubbornness; or family pride; or intellectual laziness; or childishness; or gullibility; or the effects of being brainwashed."

He also makes a distinction between two types of christians he calls type A and B;
"Type A questions the foundation of his faith; he worries about conflicts between his faith and the other areas of his life; and he is frustrated by the Type B person who does not share (or understand) these concerns.

Type B is highly pragmatic. He is always conscious of the moral struggle and is always trying to improve himself and increase his faith; but this increase is measured chiefly in the moral dimension. He may think that Type A is confused- perhaps even sinful or rebellious.

He quotes Mark 9 where the father of a possessed boy says to Christ, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

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A little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." Francis Bacon
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Truth:
Universal or absolute truth, and its meaning come into conflict between science and religion. One cause of confusion and contention is the differing scopes of the two systems. Science considers only objective facts (and thus considers only the material universe). Religion takes a broader view.
Invoking philosophy does not help because the problem of truth criterion is not often treated in philosophy and in the instances when it has been addressed it remains unresolved.

At Truth and Reality, Geoff Haselhurst and Karene Howie say:
"True knowledge of physical reality provides us with an absolute foundation for working out the truth for ourselves (to prevent us from being deceived by cultural myths and past customs)."

Differences are emphasized by people who generate interest by taking extreme views:
Del Tackett, in Focus on the Familie's, The Truth Project, says: "But the truth of the matter, as Dr. Tackett and his guest experts demonstrate in great detail, is that the theory is not supported by the evidence. Many inside the scientific community are beginning to recognize this. But they dare not acknowledge it publicly because of the worldview issues at stake. "
Dr. Tackett also illustrates the point that ideas have consequences by drawing a historical connection between Darwinian theory and the horrors of Nazi Germany. He doesn't mention Theistic Evolution, which is taught in most mainline seminaries.

Richard Dawkins, Oxford zoologist and author said:
"Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time."

Stephen Jay Gould, Harvard paleontologist, said: "The text of Humani Generis (a papal encyclical that Pope Pius XII) focuses on the magisterium (or teaching authority) of the Church-a word derived not from any concept of majesty or awe but from the different notion of teaching, for magister is Latin for "teacher." We may, I think, adopt this word and concept to express the central point of this essay and the principled resolution of supposed "conflict" or "warfare" between science and religion. No such conflict should exist because each subject has a legitimate magisterium, or domain of teaching authority-and these magisteria do not overlap (the principle that I would like to designate as NOMA, or "nonoverlapping magisteria").

The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry.
Nonoverlapping Magisteria by Stephen Jay Gould
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"Truths of faith, our moral responsibility to one another and our purpose as stewards of God's world are doctrines that endure
Scientific Theories do not remain static."
David J. Wolpe: "Why Faith Matters"
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Christ commanded "love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." [Matt 22:37]

Pascal's Wager:
Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. Following a mystical experience in late 1654, he abandoned his scientific work and devoted himself to philosophy and theology. The wager is described in The Pensées (1669).

Pascal begins with the premise that the existence or non-existence of God is not provable by human reason, since the essence of God is "infinitely incomprehensible." Since reason cannot decide the question, one must "wager," either by guessing or making a leap of faith.
He contends the wise decision is to wager that God exists, since "If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing," meaning one can gain eternal life if God exists, but if not, one will be no worse off in death than if one had not believed.

A simple version follows, although Pascal did not address the last two possibilities explicitly in his account, nor did he mention hell.

* You live as though God exists.
  - If God exists, you go to heaven: your gain is infinite.
  - If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.

* You live as though God does not exist.
  - If God exists, you go to hell: your loss is infinite.
  - If God does not exist, you gain nothing & lose nothing.

This reasoning is the basis of modern risk theory used in business today.
See Pascal's Wager at wikipedia.

Although much is made of the 17th century conflict between Galileo and the church over the geocentric model of the solar system. Galileo did not see himself as attacking the Church. He seemed to think once he had his beliefs out that many would understand and just accept them. Historically there have been more efforts to reconcile religious beliefs and science. Back in the 13th century Medieval scholars like Thomas Aquinas merged Aristotelian and Platonic ideas onto Christianity to produce a marriage of reason and faith. "Natural Theology", the study of the attributes of God as revealed thru the study of nature, was in vogue during the 17th and 18th centuries.
After the initial shock of Darwinism, where clerics like Bishop Samuel Wilberforce made fools of themselves with their anti-scientific claims - Christian churches settled down to peaceful coexistence with sciences new worldview.

Some Christian Fundamentalists say the Qur'an precludes Islam from modern thought. The fact is from the 7th to 17th centuries, known as the Islamic Golden Age, Islamic science and mathematics flourished.
See Mathematics in medieval Islam at wikipedia.

It wasn't till the late 1800's and early 1900's that the Fundamentalist movement and battles between science and religion became more prominent.

Belief:
A father brought his boy, who was possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech, to Jesus, and asked him "if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."
Jesus replied "Everything is possible for him who believes."
Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
Jesus said "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again."
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. [1 Mark 9:17-29]

Jesus said God has hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. [Matthew 11:25]
Can you be a Christian if you still have doubts?
In Strobel's book "The Case for Faith" he says:
Most people think that doubt is the opposite of faith, but it isn't. The opposite of faith is unbelief, which is a willful refusal to believe or a deliberate decision to disobey God.

It is easy to have doubts and most Christians do. Some Christians go around saying how great their lives have been since they became Christians, while most of us have problems, unanswered prayers, suffering from problems we did not cause. In actuality if you get to know those Christians with the "great lives" they are not as great as they claim.

Ephesians 2:8-10 says "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. [Hebrews 11:1]

Examples of faith in the Old Testament -


In Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit, Krista Tippett says:

Former National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Director and director of the National Institutes of Health as of 2010, Francis Collins considered himself an atheist. However, dealing with dying patients led him to question his religious views, and he investigated various faiths. He familiarized himself with the evidence for and against God in cosmology, and used Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis[17] as a foundation to re-examine his religious view. He eventually came to a conclusion, and finally became an evangelical Christian during a hike on a fall afternoon.
In his 2006 book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, Collins considers scientific discoveries an "opportunity to worship." In his book Collins examines and subsequently rejects creationism and intelligent design. His own belief system is theistic evolution which he prefers to term BioLogos.


Scientists vs Salesmen

I have noticed that a majority of the fundamental Christians I know are "feeling" personality types (Myers-Briggs type F) and they like to use pseudo-science to disprove scientific theories that do not line up with a literal approach to the Bible (e.g. creation), even demeaning scientists because of some of the theories they have. Why?

My own theory on why (I am not a psychologist or sociologist and have only done minimal research on the subject):

Most people have have a need for significance and self-esteem, having the Bible and God on your side is one way to bolster this.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the power in the US shifted from the agrarian society of the south (Jefferson, Washington) to the industrialized north. (Not to mention the Civil war). This gave rise to much more fundamental religious beliefs in the Bible Belt. Unfortunately other groups like the KKK gained power also.
Some speculate that the Scopes Monkey Trial (to stop teaching of evolution) was a result of this.

In the late 20th century and 21st century the rise of technology in the US has resulted in a similar shift in power from the salesman/businessman to the scientist.
From the Michael Milken - Junk Bond scandal in the 1980's to the sub-prime mortgage scandal in 2007 and the Enron and MCI debacles, sales/businesspeople have been loosing respect.
Science continues to make our lives easier from Polio Vaccine, MRI's and cholesterol lowering drugs to microwaves, the internet, GPSs and cell phones.

Is the current effort to discredit scientists because many of them can't accept the fact that literal interpretations of the bible (e.g.the whole world was covered with water during Noah's time) simply do not hold water and are really an effort to gain significance by challenging current wisdom (acording to them a mistaken "world view" held by the unfaithful)?
Or is it just a consequence of their personality to enthusiastically embrace of whatever it is they are trying to sell (faith) and disparage the competition?

Main-line theology has tried in the most part to reconcile science and religion with approaches like theistic-evolution (God used evolution to implement his creation plan). In fact many scientific discoveries (e.g. the Big Bang of creation) support the Bible.

By-the-way, even though there is a higher percentage of atheists in the scientific community, most scientists are people of faith.

What bothers me is that mainline Christianity which teaches Theistic Evolution reconciling science and theology, pulling people together, is giving way to fundamentalism and atheism.

My own theory on this is as population densities increase it is easier to get a critical mass of people who's beliefs are similar. In the past (My ancestors were pioneering Calif. families) people had to get along with their neighbors to survive, causing them to compromise their differences.


You can take a 25 question test to determine What's Your Spiritual Type? test at www.belief-net.com/. It will put you in one of the following categories which link to discussion groups with others in the same category. It works for all religions.

Books:
"The Varieties of Religious Experience" by William James is a classic (1902)
Faith and Doubt, John Ortberg
The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, by Francis S. Collins, (2006)
Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit, by Krista Tippett
"The Seat of the Soul" by Gary Zukav
"The Religions of Man" by Huston Smith
The Hidden Brain: How our unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars and Save Our Lives, by Shankar Vedantam
"The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality" by The Dalai Lama

In "Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self", Marilynne Robinson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist (Gilead), joins the science vs. religion battle by exploring how we think about mind and consciousness shapes the debate.

See:
Faith and Doubt Quotes
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry at www.carm.org
Psychology of Religion
Modernism and postmodernism
A teacher on the front line as faith and science clash, NY Times, 2008
The best definition of FAITH
Science, Christianity, conflict between science and religion, truth, philosophy
Scientists of Faith
Christian Fundamentalism and Fundamentalists
Creation - Evolution - Intelligent Design
Stoner's probability that Christ is the Messiah
Faith Vs Reason at Pondering Things
Religion And Rationality from "How Life Really Works", by Gregory Spohr
Bible Questions Answered at GotQuestions.org has a fundamentalist view. See Women Pastors.

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Last updated 20 Apr 2010