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 Post subject: Why does God desire faith above all else?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:08 am 
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Heya

Well, I know this is sounds like a very silly question, but it's one that I've noticed comes up frequently in any discussion about Abrahamic religion.

Within the Bible Christians are constantly presented with the demand of absolute blind childlike faith, come evidence or controversy the only way ones salvation is assured for certain is by complete absolute faith in the son of God and being part of his church (what this constitutes can vary, but I'll use the presumption that his church is exclusively the Catholic Church) . Certainly, Catholicism is somewhat more forgiving of non believers than say Baptists often are (there is the doctrine of invincible ignorance) but the only way one can be sure of salvation is to place total faith in Jesus.

I'm forced to ask, why is faith the most desired quality in humans and yet there's so little given to support it? Religions such as Hinduism don't really have any concept like this; it doesn't matter if you believe in Krishna or not Karma's still going to reward you if you were a good force in the world, and likewise punish you if you were bad. Many brands of Christianity however, Catholics included however veiled and muffled in doublespeak it might be that even the holiest of holy men and women may (some say certainly) will still be punished for not having accepted God or his Church.

This comes for me with a few problems.

1) Ego
Like my other thread "The Impossibility of God" suggested on another issue, this obsession with faith makes God appear egotistical at best. Certainly, Catholics are also told to go out and do great works of charity in his name but that's a secondary trait of a Good Catholic. Always, first and foremost comes worship and faith (some of the Athiests I have debated call it "Massaging Gods ego"). The Doctrine of Invincible Ignorance is not a Dogma, and a fairly recent concept in the history of the Church; there is nothing to say it's right. One can be the most miserly uncharitable soul, but so long as you warmed a pew every sunday and went to regular confession you're going to get into purgatory at least in contrast to Gandhi who could be roasting in Hell right this moment.

2) Culture
I know the title of this one might seem odd but it's the best I could think of. If God desires our faith in Catholicism then why is his message essentially restricted to South America, Europe and some sections of Africa? Historically any country that professes the Catholic faith has either at one time been subject to the Roman Empire (Western Europe), Subject to another Catholic military power (Spain in Latin America) or dependent upon Catholic Church funding to survive (Africa). There have been exceptional countries, and in every country you might find one or two individuals take up the cross but on the whole unless forced by military might a country and peoples does not forsake their native traditions; your religion is essentially set by what country you were born in. You may change denomination certainly but your core standard of expectations are near enough carved in stone.

The Catholic Mission to Japan largely failed because while some individuals and the occasional Daimyo did convert, they were under no obligation to like the Mexicans were by the Spanish neither were they dependent on the Church as an organization like the Ugandans are. The Mexicans are in fact a prime example of this; as Spanish cultural norms have vanished from society so has the number of Catholics. More interestingly however is what they are replacing it with. In death-centric MesoAmerica one of the most revered deities was a Cthonic Goddess of Death (Mictlancihuatl); what is now the fastest growing religion in Mexico? Santa Murte, another Goddess of Death albit this time accompanied by iconic Catholic features like mantillas, white communion dresses and crucifixes.

If faith, moreso the Catholic faith is indeed universal, and so important for our salvation why is it essentially restricted to where it took hold by force of might (In the case of Europe it was adopted by countries why had been subjected by Roman military might) or where Church funding is essential just to eat. Faith here appears to be based more on the needs of here and now, if you're going to get put to the sword or starve to death it is something to consider but otherwise the natural instinct is to dismiss it.

3) Why 30-33AD?

This is the one most often pushed to me by Athiests. It is often said that God has amply supplied the world with enough reasons to believe in him, and the Church and Bible together posess all the tools to evangelize the world.

Lets look at those tools for a moment; a book of which the canon was only set in the western Church in 393AD, Almost four hundred years after Jesus's death with innumerable other "gospels" floating around (not to mention the books of the Eastern Cannon such as Macabees 3 and 4) and an institution which, sadly thanks to rather poor examples of humanity at the helm of the ship at times has an anything but pristine reputation the world over.

When scientists want to get the word out and make us belive in a new discovery of theirs they give interviews, hop on television, provide irrefutable evidence and make the point as clear as day. In the case of Catholicism however, of all the times in the world to reveal ones plan of salvation to the world, surely a world riddled in superstition, in religious and political conflict and at a time where it was difficult to accurately record history was one of the worst?

If Faith was so central, why couldn't Jesus have...I don't know, waited another 2,000 years so he could have done a live worldwide interview? Then none of us would have any reason not to have faith in him. Clearly that's what we desire4s above all else, so why make it so difficult?

4) Miracles

No one has ever questioned me about this, but it is something but I ccouldn't help being skeptical about, even while I was a practicing Catholic. One of the ways Gods will is revealed down the centuries has been the plethora of miracles preformed in his name. From Our Lady at Knock to her appearance to the children at Fatima, we are to understand that God has never been entirely silent. Is it just me, or does she only ever seem to preach to the choir? A choir which...Dare I suggest it, might be rather too keen in seeing her, to such a degree they might even hallucinate the experience?

With perhaps an exception to the Lady of Guadalupe, who is believed to have appeared round about the time Mexico was being forcibly converted Mary has only ever appeared (as far as Church approved apparitions go) to Catholics. She never dropped in on a group of Muslim children to tell them they were mistaken, but to a devout Catholic family who already believed in her. That to me seems bizarre, if evangelization was so crucial would not the primary spot for an apparition be in China or the Middle East?

Then theres also the awkward question about non Catholics who claim to have seen Mary; I read in 2002 the Copts allegedly saw the Virgin floating above a Church in Alexandria bathed in light. Funnily enough they also claim to have received her support, rather than being ordered to convert to Catholicism as well..I'd have expected at least. There's no real evidence either-way, all there is are a few fuzzy pictures of a light over a Church and a few eye witness testimonies as well as a few other Orthodox claims to have seen apparitions. Did she or did she not appear? For a deity who want's consistent unified faith his mothers certainly sending some pretty mixed messages.


This post has turned out far longer than I intended, but it gets across my basic problems on the matter. Perhaps I'm using too secular a standard, but faith does not equate goodness, but it's desired above all else. Certainly, faith without works might be dead but works are still presented as secondary.

Thanks if you could be bothered to read all of this :D

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 Post subject: Re: Why does God desire faith above all else?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:36 am 
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Quote:
demand of absolute blind childlike faith
Can you give me an example of that? Because this is a standard atheist caricature, and it is (sadly) the example promoted by some Christians, even (even more sadly) some Catholics. But it's not a Biblical standard and it's not a Catholic standard.

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 Post subject: Re: Why does God desire faith above all else?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:49 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Can you give me an example of that? Because this is a standard atheist caricature, and it is (sadly) the example promoted by some Christians, even (even more sadly) some Catholics. But it's not a Biblical standard and it's not a Catholic standard.


Sure alright

Luke 18:17: Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

Mark 10:15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.

It's going to take me a bit longer to find something like an Encylidical, but the CCC says...

305 Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children's smallest needs: "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?". . . Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well."167

I was led to understand this in the sense that we are not expected to have the mindset of a literal child, but rather not question that which we have been told as a good child should never question its parents.

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 Post subject: Re: Why does God desire faith above all else?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 8:54 am 
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You were led to understand wrongly, sad to say. What in any of those says "blind"? Abandonment to providence is a step in faith, but it is not a blind step.

Please forgive me for not addressing your other points, at least not yet. I have found it better to focus on one or two things at a time; otherwise, the conversation ends up going in a zillion directions at once and ends up being of very little help to anyone.

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 Post subject: Re: Why does God desire faith above all else?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 11:40 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
You were led to understand wrongly, sad to say. What in any of those says "blind"? Abandonment to providence is a step in faith, but it is not a blind step.


Oh? Well :whistle: This is embarrassing, considering I was teaching new RC candidates. Sorry :oops:

Could you explain for me please how it can not be blind, isn't by definition faith the belief without proof, in a sense blind without evidence to see for ourselves?

Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Please forgive me for not addressing your other points, at least not yet. I have found it better to focus on one or two things at a time; otherwise, the conversation ends up going in a zillion directions at once and ends up being of very little help to anyone.


No worries :mrgreen: Not as if I'm in any rush

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 Post subject: Re: Why does God desire faith above all else?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 1:14 pm 
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Proof and evidence are not the same things. You believe in lots of things you can't prove because there's good evidence for them. For example, you believe (I hope) that I am not a chatbot because there aren't any AI systems capable of conversing on this level (as far as you know), and if there were, they wouldn't be posting on a random Catholic bulletin board somewhere. But you can't prove that I'm not a secret NSA project.

Faith is a step beyond what we can prove (though the notion of "proof" itself can get pretty slippery), but it's not a blind step into the dark, either.

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 Post subject: Re: Why does God desire faith above all else?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:18 pm 
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Not to derail the thread, and it really is best to stick with one thought like Fr. Kenobi says, but the insertion of childlike into the phrase absolute blind childlike faith makes it an oxymoron. You may not have ever met any children that you really spent time with, but I live with some, and I can tell you that they don't just take your word on anything. There is no absolute blindness about it. They never shut up and never stop with the questions. All the writings, the Bible, catechism, canon law, thousands of volumes by theologians, are the certain consequence of the continuation of that childlike behavior into adulthood. Or perhaps it would be best to simply state that such is human nature.

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 Post subject: Re: Why does God desire faith above all else?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:49 pm 
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"Why does God desire faith above all else?"

Short answer:
Because when you have faith, what happens is that you are actually acknowledging God's very nature. His integrity, His truth, that He is what He say He is.


Long answer:
Faith is believing something not because you actually seen it (Hebrew 11:1).

Suppose a man is selling you a piece of land in Florida which he claimeed has vast reserve of gold under it. Suppose you're just from Florida and have seen that land. You actually dug and found that indeed there's lots of gold.

Now, that man's claim doesn't mean much too you because you have witnessed it yourselves that there's indeed a vast reserve of gold under that land. But what if you haven't been to Florida? What would make you simply believe what the man said that there is indeed a vast reserve of gold? The answer would be because you believe his word. You believe his integrity. You believe his honesty. You believe he's as good as his word. In short, you believe in him-self.

That's what happen when you have faith in God. You never actually see His promises (salvation, heaven, truth, judgment day etc) but you believe Him because of He is trustworthy, because He speaks only the truth, because His integrity. You believe in Himself, that is God.

So, faith is not about the objects of it (meaning, the promise of heaven etc). But it's about you trusting the one who promise them. It's about you acknowledging His nature, His integrity, His honesty that He is what He said He is.

Such acknowledgment counts a lot.

Suppose you saw a flying cow. You told the whole village about it. No one believed you. You tried to convince them, but to no avail. After the village crowd dispersed unconvinced, and old Shepard came and said "I never see a flying cow, but I believe you just saw one." And when you asked why, he said, "because I know you since you were a baby and I believe you don't make up stuff like this." How would you feel? ... ... And that is similar to what God would feel and that's why faith is such an important part of any relation with Him.


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 Post subject: Re: Why does God desire faith above all else?
PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 6:39 pm 
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With regard to childlike faith, Christ often spoke in parables to demonstrate a far deeper point and meaning.

We know that we are saved by grace through faith, it is the gift of God, and not accomplished by human logic. Ref: Ephesians 2:8-9

From Hebrews 11:

The Meaning of Faith
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old received divine approval. 3 By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear.

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 Post subject: Re: Why does God desire faith above all else?
PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 12:05 am 
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Maybe this will help...

Unquestionably, faith is the essence of the Christian life. Faith is exhorted throughout the Bible and is presented as an absolute necessity. In fact, “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). The entire chapter of Hebrews 11 is about faith and those who possessed it. Faith is a gift from God, as we see in Ephesians 2:8-9 and not something we come up with on our own. All Christians have received the gift of faith from God and faith is part of the armor of God—the shield with which we protect ourselves from the “flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).

Contrary to popular opinion, the Bible never exhorts us to have “childlike” faith, nor does it tell us to believe as children believe. Often misunderstood is Matthew 18:2-4, in which Jesus says that we must “become as little children.” But Jesus was not referring to faith here, but rather to humility. Whoever “humbles himself” as a little child is the “greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” and unless we are converted to become like little children, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said these things in response to the disciples’ question, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (v. 1). There is no discussion of faith in this passage. Rather, He is exhorting us to seek the humility of a child who is destitute of ambition, pride, and haughtiness. Children are characteristically humble and teachable.

But the faith of children is not the kind of faith we are to have. Children are easily fooled and led astray. Children tend to accept things unquestioningly, often missing truth while being drawn to myths and fantasies. Christians are not to have the faith of children. Rather, we are to “test everything” and hold on to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21), comparing all things to the infallible Word of God and not automatically accepting everything we hear. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” but that doesn’t mean we accept blindly as a child often does. True faith, the gift from God, is characterized by “assurance” and “conviction,” not by blind belief for no reason. Childlike faith, while perhaps a good place to start, must mature into faith that leads to certainty and a heart filled with joy that only comes from an assured confidence in the object of our faith—Jesus Christ.

...

I think the problem often come with "Faith" being obediently blind. This is why cult leaders get power, and this also why the Church holds so many darn Councils.

It's easy to be obediently blind to a pastor, or a priest, or maybe even sometimes in history a pope. But the truth is it's hard to obediently blind to the Catholic Church, because truly, that's not what they're looking for. I think blind obedience to the Church means you're blind. How many writers and saints were deemed dangerous at the time of their existence to only be championed by the Church later on? Even one of my favorites, Thomas à Kempis, the probable author of The Imitation of Christ, belonged to a group that was deemed heretics at one point.

Then again we cannot deny that Faith is a gift given to us, it really is not something we choose. True Faith is a gift and the greatest gift. Sometimes it presents itself in miracles, and strong emotions, and life changing experiences. But honestly to pigeon hole any of the previously listed happenings is to devalue faith in some sense, because I believe it's more.

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 Post subject: Re: Why does God desire faith above all else?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 1:10 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Proof and evidence are not the same things. You believe in lots of things you can't prove because there's good evidence for them. For example, you believe (I hope) that I am not a chatbot because there aren't any AI systems capable of conversing on this level (as far as you know), and if there were, they wouldn't be posting on a random Catholic bulletin board somewhere. But you can't prove that I'm not a secret NSA project.

Faith is a step beyond what we can prove (though the notion of "proof" itself can get pretty slippery), but it's not a blind step into the dark, either.

This is something that needs to be explored a little further. You are absolutely right that "proof" and "evidence" must not be confused. I prefer to restrict the usage of "proof" to the axiomatic systems, like math and logic. For making propositions about the objective reality it is better to use the word "evidence". One can have an overwhelming evidence for something and in that case we call our "belief" to be "knowledge". But we can believe propositions for which there is less than overwhelming evidence, sometimes very scant evidence, sometimes no evidence at all. And maybe one can believe something for which not only there is no evidence at all, but there is strong evidence to the contrary. To use the word "faith" to describe something for which there in less than overwhelming evidence is very misleading. (Some people say that one must have "faith" in the reliability of the senses, or one must have "faith" in the laws of logic...) The proper usage of "faith" is to describe a belief for which there is insufficient evidence, or "little" evidence, no evidence or if there is evidence to the contrary. The last two instances are "blind faith".

The problem is: "what counts as evidence"? This is where the discussions usually get bogged down. But without going into this problem we can see that "faith" (as defined above) is regarded to be "more desirable" then "justified true belief" - which is knowledge. The question of this thread is "WHY"? I never saw a rational argument for it. Usually "faith" is described as a virtue. WHY? Ever since is gullibility preferred to reasoned decision making? The story of "Doubting Thomas" underscores the point: "Blessed are the ones who have not seen, yet they believe". WHY? Demanding trust and belief on less than sufficient evidence is the main weapon of con-men, who take advantage of gullible people. God does not need to resort to such despicable tactics.

Nathan M. wrote:
Then again we cannot deny that Faith is a gift given to us, it really is not something we choose. True Faith is a gift and the greatest gift.

I am quite grateful that this "gift" was never given to me. And since I never received this "gift" I cannot be blamed for not having it... and using only reason. By the way... the word "Gift" in German means "poison" - is this a Freudian slip??


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 Post subject: Re: Why does God desire faith above all else?
PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 12:18 pm 
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Hee-Zen, please start a new topic in Apologetics. Debates of opposing views are not allowed in this forum.

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