Faith...The Key To Happiness?

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Faith...The Key To Happiness?

Postby Mongo » Fri May 09, 2003 2:05 am

At the present time in my life I refer to myself as being agonistic. I don't know whether there is a god or not and I don't believe we as humans will ever know until we die. However I recently had a revelation. I thought maybe what I'm missing in life is faith. I always used to make fun of religon because I never understood it. To me it is a bunch of people gathering around a false hope and imposing it on others. Sometimes their blind faith would lead to wars and disasters. Now as I grow older I begin to see the reality of the world. I have no beliefs to fall back on when I'm depressed, no promises of eternal life, no light to guide me. This faith is not limited to religon either. I have hardly any strong beliefs in anything. Politics and even views of what's right and wrong I go up and down on like a see-saw. I guess I naturally question anything and think of things in sensible non-clouded kind of way. Which sounds like a good thing but how can I have faith then. When all that I see requires some kind of blind faith to believe in. I used to feel greater than those in religons because I felt I didn't need this blanket of faith , that I could live without it. But I've come to think of faith as an escape from reality. The happiest people are those who put their faith in things. The happiest people I see are those people I used to think were religous wackos. Their always smiling. Why? Because they believe if they follow this simple set of rules when they die they become eternally happy, or meet 30 virgins. Is faith something that we should all have or is it a false hope that leads to dissappointment?
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Postby Gamut » Fri May 09, 2003 5:19 am

Hello to all...this is my first post here.

As a former Christian minister, I'll share my personal experience and the experience of dealing with my former colleagues.

The answer to your question:

"Is faith something that we should all have or is it a false hope that leads to dissappointment?"

Is YES. Both are correct.

Having strong faith in a higher power that has a good will for you is a nice thing to have. That security blanket is a very nice thing. It DOES help you get through tought times, or at least allow you to change your feeling of hopelessness at your own inability to help yourself, and place that hope in another being or person.

But here's the problem:
"Because they believe if they follow this simple set of rules when they die they become eternally happy, or meet 30 virgins."

This reward is your ultimate hope in religion. That one day all the pain will go away and you'll finally be happy. You'll finally have everything you want and be able to fully be the person you think you should be. This hope becomes so great and powerful that it becomes the focus of your entire life.

This "simple set of rules" goes from being a guidline for good living to being a slave master that drives you. You can become so obsessed with fulfilling these requirements that instead of the hope being a good thing in your life, the rules become your owner. You don't want to take any chances at spoiling this ultimate happiness, so your quest for perfection begins.

You will never be able to find this perfection, and so here you are again...hopeless. Only now you have a God to serve and rules to follow and you conscience becomes almost fully stained by guilt.

I have seen people (myself included) ruined over this hopelessness.

So..faith can be a good thing..but the weight it covers is far worse that any benefits you may reap.

So..how do I think you can be sure that faith is a good thing?

Have faith in yourself. Believe in a higher power if you wish...that is a simple choice to make.

But if you choose to decide one is there, believe that it's desire for your life is simply that you would be the best "YOU" that you can be. That you would find peace, happieness and contentment in this life and the next.

Believe that you are OK with your God, no matter what anyone tells you and that if at all possible, it will help you to acheive success.

I believe this is the faith that is helpful. It is faith without the pain of failure and hope without the sting of dissapoinment with yourself and your God.
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Postby Metavoid » Fri May 09, 2003 6:41 pm

The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality - George Bernard Shaw

astutely put, don't you think?
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Postby Mongo » Sun May 11, 2003 6:22 pm

The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality - George Bernard Shaw

astutely put, don't you think?


Excellent quote but don't we all need to believe in something even a little. Once we run out faith a belief we lose security and learn mistrust with everything. We learn to hate the world. I think George is right but we all like to get drunk every once in a while atleast.
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Postby Metavoid » Sun May 11, 2003 7:28 pm

Mongo wrote:Excellent quote but don't we all need to believe in something even a little.

Yes. it's more or less a biological function of our brains to believe in something but I dont think this implies idealistic or spiritual. It's like that for believe in secular ideals.

Mongo wrote: Once we run out faith a belief we lose security and learn mistrust with everything. We learn to hate the world.

Not necessarily. When you consider all the ex-fundamentalists that are now atheists they appear far more secure and happier now than before. Beliefs can actually cause insecurity and hatred.

Mongo wrote: I think George is right but we all like to get drunk every once in a while atleast

I am straight-edge.
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Postby trix » Sun May 11, 2003 10:01 pm

hey there...mongo, i think that this thread is an interesting one. and i think that gamut did an excellend job of answering -- i agree with his argument. BUT, gamut, i was wondering if you could clarify your position. rather than having faith in religion, which could be dangerous, should we instead invest faith in ourselves ONLY and discount organized religion? i think so and believe your arguement provides a good analysis.
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Postby Matt » Mon May 12, 2003 11:09 pm

Hey guys, you might find some of the later discussion in this thread, the trial of galileo, very interesting as it's very relevant to what you're talking about here. You can pretty much skip everything before Matthew E.'s first post, though the rest is interesting and Pax's post just before then give you a little more background on his views.

In there Pax, Matthew E. and myself have all contributed a different perspective on how we feel about faith. I was particularly moved and interested by both Matthew's and Pax's posts and really do recommend you read them. I also feel the post I wrote was on some points one of the best things I've ever written on this site.

I am yet to reply in the light of Matthew, Pax and Trix's replies, I want time to reply, which I won't have for a week or two. I would certainly be interested on what you all feel about that discussion, as you all seem to have thought about this too.
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Postby Gamut » Thu May 15, 2003 10:18 pm

BUT, gamut, i was wondering if you could clarify your position. rather than having faith in religion, which could be dangerous, should we instead invest faith in ourselves ONLY and discount organized religion? i think so and believe your arguement provides a good analysis.


Thank you.

I wouldn't say that just because a religion is organized makes it a bad thing. I do not think that the organization is the bad part we should push away from. Rather it is a symptom that we can use to recognize a religion that contains these certain bad traits.

I do NOT, however, believe that there are any good organized religions on earth today.

I believe men have created Gods out of their desire to be what they think they should be, so they give themselves an example to follow. This is why the attitude of the God is determined by the culture who serves it and why the Gods are constantly changing with each culture.

I would like to see a group where men are finally taught that WE ARE the work. WE ARE the image of everything we can become.

WE ARE THE RELIGION OURSELVES

There is no need in worship to look outside of ourselves.

I don't mean this in a self-serving way, like maybe the Satanists believe.

I mean it in a deeply personal, well thought out inner-looking effort at personal growth. To be all we can be.

I believe this would finally be a good organized religion.

But also, because men are involved, it would be corrupted with time. At least it may be a good start?

So, the answer to your question:

rather than having faith in religion, which could be dangerous, should we instead invest faith in ourselves ONLY and discount organized religion?


Not necessarily, I wish we could have both that would co-exist in one disorganized, organized system.

But for now, yes. We must discount the organized religions until a better one comes along.[/b]
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Postby Mongo » Fri May 16, 2003 12:13 am

I believe we should all hold our own private beliefs but organized religon is also a need in society. Very few civilizations (if any) in history did not have an organized religon of some sort. What organized religon does is add more to your own belief. Since you are then part of a group that all has your faith and with this bond you can connect with these people. This kind of faith reaps more benefits then a private one.
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Postby trix » Fri May 16, 2003 12:24 am

hey gamut! your point is quiet similar to that of hegel's. i say this because systematic evaluations have been carried out throughout the history of western philosophy, to prove that mankind has reached the point where we can say:

I would like to see a group where men are finally taught that WE ARE the work. WE ARE the image of everything we can become


that is, men today have this glorification of the individual as their own god. i agree with you, this isn't self-serving; i think that if everyone were to take responsibilty for themselves this world would be a much better place.

but if we were all to engage and embrace this form of 'religion' we are ultimatly discounting other forms of religion.

mongo's point is a good one:
Very few civilizations (if any) in history did not have an organized religon of some sort


but maybe what is important here is that for a civilization to exist that is able to develop a belief system that does not rest on extrenal substances but internal strength, this could be the mark of a true progression of mankind.

thoughts?
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Postby Grave Disorder » Fri May 16, 2003 3:56 am

Trix, have you ever heard of Stirner? Your point seems similar to his, about society passing from idealism (its current phase) to egoism.
It strikes me that humanism could be considered a religion in some respects however. After all, what evidence is there that mankind genuinely has innate rights? I am a humanist myself, but I recognise that humanism does to a certain extent rest on faith, at least in its most common forms.
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Postby Metavoid » Fri May 16, 2003 4:40 pm

To me humanism is undeniably not a religion as the first humanists were Christians. Humanism is evidently a philosophy and not a religion.
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Postby trix » Fri May 16, 2003 7:37 pm

GraveDisorder, i'm not familar with Stirner's work but the name rings a bell. is your point that both idealism and egoism are simply stages that are equal in standing? i would have to disagree with that.

i think a definition of religion needs to be introduced. if it only includes a collective belief system, then yes, humanism can quailify for a religion -- so can atheisim and science. however, i think that this definition is far to broad and religion must include the belief of external forces among other things. thus, humanism, atheisim and science must be discounted from the category of religion.
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Postby Mongo » Sun May 18, 2003 12:40 am

but maybe what is important here is that for a civilization to exist that is able to develop a belief system that does not rest on extrenal substances but internal strength, this could be the mark of a true progression of mankind.


Civilizations formed their believes on what they observed. For instance the American Indians observed nature as what kept them alive. It provided them with all so they worshiped it. To them sins were destruction of nature. To them god was what made the rivers flow and the trees grow. Today we call it physics. To me religon explains what science can't or hasn't. So religon has to be based on some outside force or something that we do not know as fact. Internal strength hardly differs from belief in an outside god in that it puts faith in some force(it being ourselves). It would be nice though. People would blame themselves for once.
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Postby Matt » Sun May 18, 2003 2:00 am

So religon has to be based on some outside force or something that we do not know as fact.


Never understood why people feel the need to do that, inexplicable to me means just that we haven't yet realised the knowledge in order to understand that.

However I think faith is something stronger than that, you're not giving it enough credit, often it has connatations of purpose or reason, why we are here rather than how we are here. Answering the latter question does not mean we have an aswer to the former. My personal outlook on "why" is that we just are (though trix is amazed at such a view ;)). Faith usually address why rather than how.

I agree with you trix, there does need to be an elucidation of what religion means before you can turely discuss it. Roughly it should express something along the lines of an ongoing belief in something that requires faith (though this could ultimatley be a circular definition).
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Postby Silhouette » Wed May 21, 2003 9:39 pm

I think that what faith teaches you is just something you want to hear and is for those who are unwilling to challenge it. It gives you hope and takes away the fear of your ultimate demise but replaces this fear with a fear that if u don't do your society good, you will be punished.

So faith can relatively increase overall happiness for those who truely believe it. But to me, it just seems like it was just written for this purpose and to make the world more safe and livable in by a man who demonstrates the classic limited knowledge and imagination of a human, calling god perfect when he shows human characteristics that he has not been able to think beyond like anger and revenge and pride in wanting gratification for what he's done for them. And the statement that humans were built in the image of god means that god looks like a human which shows another example of the lack of imagination of the writer. Humans are no better than animals, just different. Nevermind all the scientific stuff that proves all sorts of faiths wrong...

This isn't a proof that he doesn't exist, but its enough to make me think the suggestion that he does is laughable.
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Postby Matt » Thu May 22, 2003 12:50 am

Some of the greatest philosophers have been true believers so I don't think that's necessarily true, read some Berkley or Descartes, great thinkers whose persuit of a greater knowledge never rocked their faith, atheism only became popular around Mill's time if I remember correctly. However there are examples of people whose faith was rocked (for example famous English Bishop (?) who was also a palentologist in Victorian times who couldn't reconcile belief in god with discovery of dinosaurs and went mad (apparantly because of said conflict)).
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Postby Grave Disorder » Thu May 22, 2003 12:58 am

Matt, think how great those philosophers could have been without a god-shaped blind spot in their reasoning...
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Postby trix » Thu May 22, 2003 6:26 pm

newton was also another who was a big believer in god, although i think this faith for all those philosophers matt mentioned (and others) comes down to the very limited scientific advances at the time. the world was such that, compared to the little knowledge out there, people had to put their faith in something. it wasn't a blind spot, i would disagree with grave disorder, especially if you look at descartes. truth can be reached regardless of faith, and to say that it can't is being too much of an atheist fundamentalist
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Postby Grave Disorder » Thu May 22, 2003 11:13 pm

I don't believe in ultimate truth, but I think Nietzsche was a lot closer than Descartes. Descartes' entire line of reasoning was brought into question by his claim that belief in God was logical, when almost all ideas of religion hold faith to be unprovabable through reason.
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Postby Matt » Fri May 23, 2003 12:26 am

I think I agree with you trix, it was the amount of knowledge at the time, so my objection wasn't (entirely) valid.

WWell there was lots wrong with descartes' reasoning whether or not he believed in god (Cartesian bridge, Cartesian mathematics), but the only thing he got wrong in respect to religion was arguing that reality had to exist cause God wouldn't decieve us because he could concieve of a perfect being and the only way he could do that is if there were a perfect being. Nice try though.
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