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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Faith

Falsafah

Falsafah means the love and pursuit of wisdom and knowledge. Serenity ; Calmness. A few weeks back I mentioned her blog.

I was back there today, she said "hello", and I wanted to catch up on how she did with work, her exams, and "Mr Nice Nose".

I could be a bastard and make you go and look, but to summarise she's reasonably confident of a pass, not working for money but developing her cartoons, and "Mr Nice Nose" seems to have dropped off the horizon.

Excursion

These are the bits of her blog that inspired this posting. Please read (after you've read mine, of course .. I'll give the links again at the bottom), the first posting talks of her visit to the Islamic section of her local cemetery (I gather from context that she is follows Islam). Here the Moslem dead lie between Christians, Hebrews, Chinese (Taoists?), Persians (?? This escapes me as Zoroastrians didn't bury the dead, perhaps Bahá'í, perhaps monophysite Christians), even the Ahmadiyan (Qadiyanis). Ahmadiyani aren't even permitted to pray for Moslem dead (Rioy av Religinter, pp. 69), yet here they lie next to them.

The second posting is also entitled Faith. She talks about her visit to a restaurant with her auntie and how her faith gets her through rough times.

The blessings I got through people made me believe more in the Almighty's existence.

Why does sickness and sadness bring some people closer to the Almighty?

Why are most god-loving people sad, poor and ill?

They don't match up to the expectations of the materialistic. What's here is temporary and what's beyond is eternal.

Sadness is like a hidden beauty. Most of the time, with spiritual guidance, it's negative power moves you to create something beautiful - like art, music, writing and devoting your time helping the less fortunate.
Her belief in a greater power gives her strength and the ability to continue through hardships.

Faithlessness

I, on the other hand am an agnostic. Please note, I am not an atheist; there's a big difference. Faith, loosely defined is the belief in something that can not be proved; something beyond the human experience. Atheists have a religious belief, they have faith, their faith is that there is no deity. Agnostic is a constructed antonym of Gnostic which comes from the Greek A- "not" and Gnostikos "One who knows"; in other word an agnostic doesn't know if there is a deity, or not. Some Agnostics believe it is not possible to know, I am not one of them either.

I've spent a lot of my adult life searching for the deity (or deities) and have come to the conclusion that if there is a deity, either he isn't ready for me to believe in him, or he doesn't feel I am ready. Either way I didn't find him (or her). OK, let's cover what I found out. God(s) are either supernatural beings that existed before the universe, and caused humanity to exist, this is the basic Judeo Christian Islamic belief; or Gods descend in some way from humans, this is in the Chinese religion where Gods start off as ghosts and gain position, and also was the ancient English (Scandinavian / Germanic) religion where the gods and people both descended from Bori, the first man. Does this help? Not really, just adds to the confusion.

I grew up in a Christian country, and my agnostic/atheist parents sent me to a Presbyterian Sunday school, so my tendencies are towards the God that existed before the universe and created everything from the ylem to the silicon my computer is made of. Reading the Torah, the Gospels, the Koran, even the book of Mormon (but like the bullet I couldn't get through Second Nephi). None of this helped though. Talking to the faithful isn't much better, they are totally convinced of their beliefs, that is what Faith means, but their faith is not mine. Some try "proving" their beliefs, unfortunately as Douglas Adams pointed out "Proof denies faith, and without faith I [God] am nothing". Actually he wasn't the first, I think Jesus is recorded as saying something similar about St Thomas.

The other thing they do that gets my goat is showing weaknesses in the arguments of the opposing camp and treating that as proof of their standpoint. That's as ludicrous as saying that "as fundamentalist Christians believe that pi is 3.0 (I Kings, 7:23), I can show that pi is more than 3.0, therefore fundamentalist Christians are wrong and pi must be 4.0". In logic this is known as the fallacy of Non sequitur. You see this a lot in creationist arguments, both Christian and Islamic, where the supposed inability of evolutionary proponents is taken as proof that the Biblical / Koranic version must be true. Of course it does nothing of the kind; proving that pi is more than 3.0 doesn't prove it is any other incorrect value; proving that there is not [yet] an explanation for the evolution of salt water tolerance in dolphins (One I remember from The Worldwide Church of God does not prove that dolphins were created exactly as they are today. Equally the Athiest position sometimes comes from "I don't believe the Bible story, hence there is no [Deity]" is a Non sequitur. Just as illogical.

Problem is I can't find the faith to believe that the Deity exists. Sure a lot of the stories resonate: God creating man then commanding all the angels to bow down to his greatest creation, and they all obeyed, except Iblith; God appearing to Moses in the form of a burning bush and then, as humans would be destroyed by his face, permitting Moses to gaze upon his hindparts; Job having a faith so strong that every torment that was sent to test him was shrugged off; God commanding Jesus to be, and he was. If you examine the stories, none of the prophets were given any real choice in the matter. They didn't have faith, God (or an Angel) came and rammed themselves down the prophets' throats.

Adam met and talked with the deity; Moses as I mentioned before was sent pretty convincing proof; Jesus at Gethsemane is recorded as saying "Remove this cup from Me" (Luke 22:42) as he feared going through with God's plan but concluded "Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42) Jesus had seen too much to be able to deny what he experienced. Job, Ezekiel, Mohomet, the Bab, Joseph Smith all were forced by the Deity to believe; not faith, but actual knowledge. Yet, the Bible records when Thomas wanted that proof he was reproved.

Thomas, of course was forgiven, and the Acts record him travelling to Asia to spread the Gospel. In India he is credited with founding the indigious Mar Thoma Christian community; travelling to China and back, ultimately he was martyred in Chennai. I've been to the place where he is supposed to have landed, and seen his bones and the arrow heads that are presumed to have killed him. Thomas had no more choice than Adam, Moses, Jesus, or the others. Of course, where he went he left a monophysite form of Christianity very different from the polytheistic Trinitarian form the successors to St Paul ultimately legalised by the corrupt and degenerating later Roman Empire.

Faith revisited

Perhaps that's the meaning of Faith, and why it is so important. Your life isn't destroyed and you still have hope; a future; a comfort. So Falsafah, perhaps you could endorse love, pursuit of wisdom. Serenity ; Calmness. Add knowledge to that list and your life may be changed, not necessarily to your advantage.

Me? I'd settle for either faith or proof.

Postscript

I said I'd repeat those links, here they are: Cemetary trip, and Faith.

2 comments:

Falsafah said...

Heya Bruce. Am glad I inspired you to write something.

That's a very interesting piece you got there :)

Sometimes, I try not to think so much about it because things like these confuse me sometimes.

I go with a feeling that there's something beyond. Faith connects me to universal energies. My faith is not only confined to Islam. It's a universal thing.

What I desire most is inner peace. With faith, I'm able to feel that and with inner peace, I'm able to give love to the people around me.

Take care, my friend. I pray that you'll find what you're looking for.

Respect,
Falsafah

Bruce Clement said...

Thank you,

Maybe I will find what I'm looking for, maybe I won't.

I'm 47 now, and I never found it before. Siddhartha Gotama only had to search five years for enlightenment. Mind you, he could afford to sit under a tree for all that time.

Cheers

Bruce