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The Importance of Faith


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I have been thinking lately about why God keeps knowledge of many things from being scientifically provable, and the price that has been paid  because of disputations on matters of faith. I'm sure your all familiar with these historic persecutions. God could if He chose reveal to mankind with unmistakable clarity how we are to worship, and what is true and false doctrine. I suppose it must be that uncertainty is critical to testing our nature, and that test is the reason for our mortal  probation. It pains me to think of the cruelty that religious disputations have fostered throughout history, and the hate apposing sects of believers have felt, and still feel for one another.  I can't know what other evils humans might get up to if religious uncertainty was done away with, but certainly some horrible wrongs have come along as part of the price of uncertainty.

Edited by Risingtide
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7 minutes ago, Risingtide said:

I have been thinking lately about why God keeps knowledge of many things from being scientifically provable, and the price that has been paid  because of disputations on matters of faith. I'm sure your all familiar with these historic persecutions. God could if He chose reveal to mankind with unmistakable clarity how we are to worship, and what is true and false doctrine. I suppose it must be that uncertainty is critical to testing our nature, and that test is the reason for our mortal  probation. It pains me to think of the cruelty that religious disputations have fostered throughout history, and the hate apposing sects of believers have felt, and still feel for one another.  I can't know what other evils humans might get up to if religious uncertainty was done away with, but certainly some horrible wrongs have come along as part of the price of uncertainty.

Religions have caused many evils in the world. I don't think God wants us to adhere to an institution more than have a personal relationship and following the first two commandments. Men create religion, IMO, and make the rules that can cause problems. Speaking for God, and it not being from Him, is what using His name in vain means. So it may well be a test, and the test isn't easy. 

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Risingtide!!!  Long time no hear! :friends: 

I think part of the reason why God has not [yet; I think the Second Coming might well resolve many matters of faith over which different denominations dispute, although, still, there will be different faiths in the Millennium] is because God speaks to different people in different ways.  I think of good Catholic and Protestant brothers and sisters who are members of this Board.  I would never gainsay another person's faith.  If one feels something is missing in his life, perhaps I have something that would be helpful.  If not, I think he should be the best [fill-in-the-blank-with-denomination-here] he can be: As much as I believe only one path will get someone all the way there, I believe there are many paths that will get someone most of the way there.

And when it comes to religious disputes, for better or for worse, I think we're rapidly approaching a time when people of faith no longer can afford to wage internecine or interreligious battles over this or that: We must, in the words of Benjamin Franklin to his fellow treasonous rebels, "all hang together, lest we all hang separately."

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13 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Religions have caused many evils in the world. I don't think God wants us to adhere to an institution more than have a personal relationship and following the first two commandments. Men create religion, IMO, and make the rules that can cause problems. Speaking for God, and it not being from Him, is what using His name in vain means. So it may well be a test, and the test isn't easy. 

Right!  It's not a perversion of religion that has caused many evils in the world, it's religion itself!  Down with religion! :rolleyes:<_<   (Tacenda, you should know that I have dispatched a hit squad of the Strengthening Church Members Committee to your house: Any minute now its members will perform an aerial insertion by zip-lining from one of the black helicopters through a window into your house!  You should be afraid!  Be very afraid! :huh: :unsure: :unknw: 

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1 hour ago, Tacenda said:

Religions have caused many evils in the world.

Religions have also been the source of much good in the world.

The lack of religion has also "caused many evils in the world."  

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I don't think God wants us to adhere to an institution more than have a personal relationship and following the first two commandments.

I'm not sure what you mean by "institution," or what you mean by "adher{ing} to an institution."

I see the Church as a community.  I also see it as having been established by God.  I also see it, or try to see it, through the lens of Ephesians 5:25:

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25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

I don't think it works to juxtapose loving God against loving His Church.  It's easier to love God, of course.  He's perfect, after all.  And remote.  Meanwhile, the Church - both the "institution" and its constituent members - are decidedly not perfect, and they are right here, all around us.  Both their positive and negative attributes are often readily apparent, though the latter seems to get a lot more attention.  It's harder to love the Church because it is flawed.  Harder, but still necessary.  If "Christ ... love the church, and gave himself for it," should we not also feel the same way?  Even despite its flaws and mistakes?

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Men create religion, IMO, and make the rules that can cause problems.

I think religions have varying measures of light and knowledge from God.  Brian Hauglid laid out some useful thoughts on this subject (referencing Islam, but I think most of what he says could be applied to pretty much all other religious groups) :

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Joseph Smith: We ought always to be aware of those prejudices which sometimes so strangely present themselves, and are so congenial to human nature, against our friends, neighbors, and brethren of the world, who choose to differ from us in opinion and in matters of faith. Our religion is between us and our God. Their religion is between them and their God.

“There is a love from God that should be exercised toward those of our faith, who walk uprightly, which is peculiar to itself, but it is without prejudice; it also gives scope to the mind, which enables us to conduct ourselves with greater liberality towards all that are not of our faith, than what they exercise towards one another” (Teachings, 1973, 146-147).

B. H. Roberts: “[God] raises up wise men and prophets here and there among all the children of men, of their own tongue and nationality, speaking to them through means that they can comprehend; not always giving a fulness of truth such as may be found in the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ; but always giving that measure of truth that the people are prepared to receive. . . . . So with the Arabian prophet, that wild spirit that turned the Arabians from worshiping idols to a conception of the Creator of heaven and earth that was more excellent than their previous conception of Deity . . . Wherever God finds a soul sufficiently enlightened and pure; one with whom his Spirit can communicate, lo! he makes of him a teacher of men” (Defense of the Faith and the Saints, “Revelation and Inspiration,” volume 1, Part 3, chapter 4, pp. 512-513).

Orson F. Whitney: Other good and great men, not bearing the Priesthood, but possessing profundity of thought, great wisdom, and a desire to uplift their fellows, have been sent by the Almighty into many nations, to give them, not the fullness of the Gospel, but that portion of truth that they were able to receive and wisely use” (LDS Conference Reports [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, April 1921], pp. 32-33).

On February 15, 1978 the First Presidency, (the highest ruling body of the Church), declared in an official statement titled God’s Love for All Mankind that “the “great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God’s light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals” (Emphasis added in all of the above).

As seen from the above, the quoted scriptures and Mormon Church leaders teach that God has inspired many individuals in world history, including Muhammad, to lift people to a higher level of understanding and obedience to his will.

Today, more than ever before, Muhammad and the faith he founded is in the news, and primarily is cast in a negative light. It is now so easy to surf the Internet for justification from both external sources and internal Islamic sources to manufacture a pure and perfect or sinister and devilish Islam, that it is increasingly difficult to discern what is real and what is fantasy about Muhammad and Islam.

Significantly, aside from acknowledging that Muhammad “received a portion of God’s light,” no particular judgment, for, or against him, (or Islam), have emerged from the scriptures or the teachings of Mormon Church leaders, and particularly from the official 1978 statement. What has been emphasized is the need to look for God’s inspiration and the good in other faiths, and to build bridges of faith and understanding between the Church and those of other faiths.

Yep.

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Speaking for God, and it not being from Him, is what using His name in vain means. So it may well be a test, and the test isn't easy. 

I agree.

But I believe that there are some who do speak for God.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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This can so easily be confusing. I believe a person may in good conscience act in accords to their religious beliefs in a manner that surely feels and is persecution to another who in good conscience is following another faith. Acting in accords to one’s faith is an act of faith, is it not?  I’m sure as anything in my religion that God wants me to be guided by faith, yet that may cause others to oppose my beliefs based on their exercise of faith. 

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2 hours ago, Risingtide said:

..................................  I can't know what other evils humans might get up to if religious uncertainty was done away with, but certainly some horrible wrongs have come along as part of the price of uncertainty.

Actually, the price we all pay seems to be due to religious certainty, rather than uncertainty.  Competing groups seem so certain of their POV (including skeptics) that they willingly persecute those who don't have the same POV.

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I don't think there is any need for God to hide provable things. (Example: no need to hide BOM evidence.) There will, imo, always be unprovable things and therefore a direction  where faith can be directed.

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2 hours ago, Risingtide said:

I have been thinking lately about why God keeps knowledge of many things from being scientifically provable, and the price that has been paid  because of disputations on matters of faith. I'm sure your all familiar with these historic persecutions. God could if He chose reveal to mankind with unmistakable clarity how we are to worship, and what is true and false doctrine. I suppose it must be that uncertainty is critical to testing our nature, and that test is the reason for our mortal  probation. It pains me to think of the cruelty that religious disputations have fostered throughout history, and the hate apposing sects of believers have felt, and still feel for one another.  I can't know what other evils humans might get up to if religious uncertainty was done away with, but certainly some horrible wrongs have come along as part of the price of uncertainty.

I'll suggest that horrible wrongs aren't the price of uncertainty (humility, faith as a principle of integrity) so much as the price of certainty (pride, material indulgence) in horribly wrong things. Certainty is often an attitudinal choice.

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We will see a disagreement on these matters for forever.  If there is no God and religion is simply man making stuff up, over time, through various traditions and myths, then any explanation now, looking back, to say God is hidden for a reason, just looks silly.  --God is hidden because we need faith, only works if there really is a God.  If not, then it's really just pretending for the sake of religious dogma.  

I have no doubt if for some reason mankind simply said, from the beginning, if you will, that religion is silly, I"m sure there would still be the horrible things that have happened in the name of religion.  I suppose that may suggest something about religion.  BUt it seems to me the great problem of religion or many causes of evil is dogmatism, moreso than just religion.  That is to say the part of religion that has caused problems seems to be dogmatism.  Dogmatism also is responsible for the great evils that modern nations seem to commit.  That is holding beliefs, often incredible ones as religion suggests, that are unverifiable and often unproven causes problems.  It's the exact type of problem we see in North Korea.  The dogmatism is the cause of the evil designs.  Certainly dogmatism doesn't take religion.  But it seems religion relies heavily on that cause of so many of our problems.  We can take the bull by the horns and tackle religion, or in hopes to get somewhere perhaps we really need to start by tackling fundamentalism.  If we wipe out the beliefs of creationism, or universal flood, as would be reasonable propositions, at least then, we have religions bowing to secular in order to bring out something more useful from religion.  Of course what is, say, the Christian religion today, is worlds away from where it was before the enlightenment era.  

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1 minute ago, stemelbow said:

We will see a disagreement on these matters for forever.  If there is no God and religion is simply man making stuff up, over time, through various traditions and myths, then any explanation now, looking back, to say God is hidden for a reason, just looks silly.  --God is hidden because we need faith, only works if there really is a God.  If not, then it's really just pretending for the sake of religious dogma.   

If there is a God, I still don't think it tracks. Imagine the judgment bar and that you're there. How do you know it is God? If it is a supreme being, how do you know it is The Supreme Being? And then, how do you know it is good, a being worthy of worship? 

Faith would still be necessary. 

So I think that the argument that God is hidden because we need to have faith is what does not make sense. It seems like an excuse for the lack of evidence of some special claims.

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2 hours ago, Risingtide said:

God could if He chose reveal to mankind with unmistakable clarity how we are to worship, and what is true and false doctrine.

I don't see how this could happen while simultaneously maintaining our ability to genuinely choose to follow / freely enter into a relationship with God. 

 

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I suppose it must be that uncertainty is critical to testing our nature, and that test is the reason for our mortal  probation.

I don't know that uncertainty is critical to testing our nature, per se, but it seems to me that a certain amount of uncertainty is required in order for there to be a legitimate choice. 

 

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8 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

If there is a God, I still don't think it tracks. Imagine the judgment bar and that you're there. How do you know it is God? If it is a supreme being, how do you know it is The Supreme Being? And then, how do you know it is good, a being worthy of worship? 

Faith would still be necessary. 

So I think that the argument that God is hidden because we need to have faith is what does not make sense. It seems like an excuse for the lack of evidence of some special claims.

Nicely put.  The "we need faith" explanation really only comes out as an excuse for the mistaken myths of the past to me.  I'm reminded of the many errors found within the Mormon Church over it's history.  Today the reasoning is simply "they were mistaken, spoke presumptuously" and all of that.  But that can only be taken so far, else the religion disappears and is lost.  If God, then the God is hidden because we need faith doesn't really square.  

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1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

I don't think there is any need for God to hide provable things. (Example: no need to hide BOM evidence.)

I think there is "BOM evidence."  It's just that it's not dispositive.

Consider Alma 32:

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16 Therefore, blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble; or rather, in other words, blessed is he that believeth in the word of God, and is baptized without stubbornness of heart, yea, without being brought to know the word, or even compelled to know, before they will believe.
17 Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe.
18 Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it.

We are supposed to "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7).  "We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God."  (AoF 1:9).  We are supposed to not have a sure knowledge.  We are supposed to be proceeding in faith.  

The day will come when "every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess" the things that we can now accept and declare through the exercise of agency.  And faith.  And hope. Until then...

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There will, imo, always be unprovable things and therefore a direction where faith can be directed.

I quite agree.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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30 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I think there is "BOM evidence."  It's just that it's not dispositive.

We can leave that claim to other threads. I'm saying that the apologetic that "the lack of evidence is meant to leave room for faith" doesn't make sense, since there would always be a need for faith (even if, for example, the BOM was plainly a historical document.)

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47 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:
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We will see a disagreement on these matters for forever.  If there is no God and religion is simply man making stuff up, over time, through various traditions and myths, then any explanation now, looking back, to say God is hidden for a reason, just looks silly.  --God is hidden because we need faith, only works if there really is a God.  If not, then it's really just pretending for the sake of religious dogma.   

If there is a God, I still don't think it tracks. Imagine the judgment bar and that you're there.

I think we cannot really "imagine" this in any meaningful sense.  The experience will vastly exceed our present ability to comprehend.

47 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

How do you know it is God? If it is a supreme being, how do you know it is The Supreme Being? And then, how do you know it is good, a being worthy of worship? 

I think the truth of it will be manifest.

We may as well ask an infant to speculate on how he will feel when he becomes a father in his own right.  That is not to say that the feeling is unknown and unknowable, but rather that the infant is just not yet sufficiently intellectually / emotionally / spiritually experienced and informed to speculate about such things.  

47 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

Faith would still be necessary. 

I don't think so.  "Perfect knowledge" is attainable.

47 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

So I think that the argument that God is hidden because we need to have faith is what does not make sense. It seems like an excuse for the lack of evidence of some special claims.

Except that there is "evidence of some special claims."  The issue, instead, is whether there is dispositive evidence.  I submit that the answer is no.  That's not part of the Plan.

Thanks,

-Smac

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6 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:
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I don't think there is any need for God to hide provable things. (Example: no need to hide BOM evidence.)

I think there is "BOM evidence."  It's just that it's not dispositive.

We can leave that claim to other threads. I'm saying that the apologetic that "the lack of evidence is meant to leave room for faith" doesn't make sense, since there would always be a need for faith (even if, for example, the BOM was plainly a historical document.)

Okay.  "Evidence" still leaves room for doubt.  Interpretation.  Differences of opinion.  Is that your point?

I think the day will come when faith will no longer be necessary (or even possible), since we will have come to a sure knowledge.  Until then, however, we walk by faith.  That makes quite a bit of sense to me.  Having a sure knowledge would negate the need for faith.  It would deprive us of an opportunity to choose, to exercise our agency.

Imagine a college exam which you are required to take, but for each question you are given the correct answer along with it.  What sort of "test" would that be?

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

I don't think there is any need for God to hide provable things. (Example: no need to hide BOM evidence.) There will, imo, always be unprovable things and therefore a direction  where faith can be directed.

Correct.  And that is primarily because faith and reason are two completely different modes of thought.  Moreover, in the natural world, there is no reason for God to put His thumb on the scale.  Humans are pretty much left to their own devices.  That is the only way to support free agency.

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52 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

Nicely put.  The "we need faith" explanation really only comes out as an excuse for the mistaken myths of the past to me.  I'm reminded of the many errors found within the Mormon Church over it's history.  Today the reasoning is simply "they were mistaken, spoke presumptuously" and all of that.  But that can only be taken so far, else the religion disappears and is lost.  If God, then the God is hidden because we need faith doesn't really square.  

Whether God is hidden to us is completely within our control.  He invites us to know Him, and is explicit in His direction on how to do so.  He has said that His work and glory is to have us know Him.  If God is hidden to us, it is by our choice.

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1 hour ago, Meadowchik said:

If there is a God, I still don't think it tracks. Imagine the judgment bar and that you're there. How do you know it is God? If it is a supreme being, how do you know it is The Supreme Being? And then, how do you know it is good, a being worthy of worship? 

Faith would still be necessary. 

So I think that the argument that God is hidden because we need to have faith is what does not make sense. It seems like an excuse for the lack of evidence of some special claims.

I think the full idea is this: God is hidden because we first need the requisite faith to see Him, which does make sense.

The requisite faith doesn’t come out of the blue, but is stimulated from points of knowledge obtained from previous, functional applications of faith on previously obtained knowledge. We tend to define faith and knowledge as a linear dynamic because it helps us understand that they are two manifestations of the same thing (power).

But despite our linear working model, we can have faith in the past (faith in knowledge we have accumulated), the present (faith in the knowledge of what we see), and the future (which is foreknowledge, when it is correct 😊 ), just as we have knowledge in the past (per our memory), present (what we see) and future (faith, when it is correct). Foreknowledge and faith are thus the same thing, rendering faith and knowledge the same, their relative temporal context notwithstanding.

Does He keep himself hidden so that we develop faith? I'm not sure He keeps Himself hidden, but rather, He lives by power (the "faith-knowledge" power dynamic we are learning to manage).

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22 minutes ago, smac97 said:

I think we cannot really "imagine" this in any meaningful sense.  The experience will vastly exceed our present ability to comprehend.

I think the truth of it will be manifest.

We may as well ask an infant to speculate on how he will feel when he becomes a father in his own right.  That is not to say that the feeling is unknown and unknowable, but rather that the infant is just not yet sufficiently intellectually / emotionally / spiritually experienced and informed to speculate about such things.  

I don't think so.  "Perfect knowledge" is attainable.

Except that there is "evidence of some special claims."  The issue, instead, is whether there is dispositive evidence.  I submit that the answer is no.  That's not part of the Plan.

Thanks,

-Smac

You can only speculate that it will be manifest. Knees have bowed before, under the regard of overwhelming power.

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21 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Correct.  And that is primarily because faith and reason are two completely different modes of thought.  Moreover, in the natural world, there is no reason for God to put His thumb on the scale.  Humans are pretty much left to their own devices.  That is the only way to support free agency.

Which is why withholding naturally available evidence could be an example of withholding agency.

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22 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Okay.  "Evidence" still leaves room for doubt.  Interpretation.  Differences of opinion.  Is that your point?

I think the day will come when faith will no longer be necessary (or even possible), since we will have come to a sure knowledge.  Until then, however, we walk by faith.  That makes quite a bit of sense to me.  Having a sure knowledge would negate the need for faith.  It would deprive us of an opportunity to choose, to exercise our agency.

Imagine a college exam which you are required to take, but for each question you are given the correct answer along with it.  What sort of "test" would that be?

Thanks,

-Smac

I always thought that faith is an eternal principle, not just a provisional one. I do think that were I to always live, I would still be operating on faith to some extent.

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I am doubtful of the proposition that religious certainty would make people behave better. Hidden in there is the idea that if we just knew what God wanted us to do we would all do it.

I suspect that in the last days God will begin proving things. Most will ignore it.

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