What does it mean to believe in God? | INFJ Forum

What does it mean to believe in God?

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Kaipaus, Nov 30, 2009.

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  1. Kaipaus

    Kaipaus Community Member

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    What does it mean to believe in God? In what do you believe if you believe in God? How do you know that you "believe" and not just hope for the best? Could hope and faith be essentially the same thing? Can you make a conscious decision to believe in God?

    I've been wondering about these questions since it seems that people think of religious faith in such different ways. One person may say they're an atheist when they are actually what another person would call an agnostic or even a believer. And someone who says they believe in God, doesn't really "believe" in the sense that someone else would expect them to.

    I believed in God all my childhood and youth. It felt so clear that God exists. Then I for some reason decided to stop believing in God. I noticed that my thinking included flaws and I felt like I could no longer assume that there is a god. I would have believed in God still, but I stopped praying and started calling myself an atheist, and little by little, I found that I really didn't believe in God anymore. Strangely, atheism was a decision.

    But I felt a craving to believe in God and I read Christian-themed books and I started praying again. I decided to start believing in God again. And it kind of worked. These days I pray and I call myself a theist but every now and then I stop and think to myself: how can I be sure that I really believe in God? What if I just pretend to believe and don't really believe? What if I just hope that God exists but don't really believe it?

    I must admit that I don't believe in God in the same way as I believe that I have a lovely dog who sometimes in the night curls up next to me. I have lost my childlike faith for ever. I do, however, see the world very differently than I did when I called myself an atheist. It's very difficult to explain how the world is different now. It's like... everything has a purpose and there are things that are infinitely valuable and every moment has a real meaning, whereas as an atheist I felt like nothing really matters and that whatever happens will be but a coincidence. So, believing in God is not just believing in some bearded thing (I don't believe that God has a bread, btw) who created everything and handed down a set of rules for us humans to follow. Believing in God means believing in a whole different universe than an atheist would believe in. God is not a "thing" inside the world-- God changes the world.

    I surely hope that no one will recognise me on this forum now as I'm writing about such personal experiences... But this issue really intrigues me on an intellectual level. Please, share your thoughts, wether you're atheists or theists. :)
     
  2. bamf

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    I don't believe in god in the religious sense, that a supernatural being took the time to make humans unique and wrote down a bunch of laws that you have to follow, or in a god that will let you walk away from him if you so desire. To me, that's not something a god would do (knowing that humans are ignorant and then punish them for ignorance) nor would a god spend so much time telling us how to live our lives.

    I believe that God is something greater than we can imagine or perceive (at least in this dimension with our understanding of what life is). I have no idea what this "god" is nor do I pretend I do, but I can't deny that I believe that it exists. I feel it deeply woven into every fiber of my being and to deny its existence would to be denying who I am. For all I know God is just a chemical reaction in my brain, but even that's good enough for me. If we all die and nothing else happens, I really couldn't care less. I have no control over it and try not to fear it. If heaven and God are just creations of my imagination, then so be it. I still find comfort and guidance in that.

    To me, God is extremely personal and I see no reason or way to aptly describe it to anyone else. Do I hope that there is heaven like described in religious texts? Yeah, that'd be bad ass. It'd also be bad ass to have an existence after life like the ones i've experience from psychedelic drugs, but any way it really doesn't matter much. What will be, will be; what is, is. I have no control over the existence of God and thus don't bother myself with trying to prove it. I believe in something and that's good enough for me.

    In the end, does it really even matter?
     
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  3. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    I believe in God.

    That is one of the reasons I tend to get so angry with religious folks. They have a tendency to push people away from God by trying to monopolize God behind their particular set of beliefs.

    Theism is difficult. I call myself agnostic because you will never be able to conclusively prove or disprove the existence of God. However, I still believe in God in the sense that I believe there is a higher intelligence and opening up our minds to awareness of ourselves puts us in touch with that higher intelligence. Obviously that isn't a God of fire and brimstone, miracles, or magic, but it is an awareness that most cultures in this world have embraced in their respective spiritual beliefs and one that I can identify with in my own personal ways.

    However, to see people state that their way is the one true path to God is one of the most hilarious things I encounter. The truth is that they don't know. Nobody does! If anybody thinks they have all the answers, then they are lying to themselves. And frankly, it isn't healthy and it is delusional.
     
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  4. Wyote

    Wyote Xenoi
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    I completely agree.
     
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  5. midnightmelody

    midnightmelody nagging for truth

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    This thread is too late for me.

    I don't think I believe in God, actually. I haven't written him out completely, but I'm a bit more than halfway across the bridge. I'm sort of settling into being an atheist.

    I do sort of want God to exist, in a way, but I think it may be too late for me. The only wayI could believe in God, is if I take in the sense "God is Love". Then I could make it work. I agree with the above posters, though. I do not really view God in a religious way. If God did create us, and we are all different, then it seems mighty odd to expect all people to believe the same way. That isn't to say that I think everyone should march to their own drum. We have to learn to play in harmony, even if we play different melodies. I'm not promoting a strict brand of conformity, or rebellion for the sake of rebellion. I believe that if there is a God, it is beyond our limited human perception. For all we know, there may not even be a reality. I don't know if I could ever be 100% confident in a decision to believe or not believe in God. I sought God for a long time. I listened and prayed. I never turned away because I felt that God wasn't good to me, or accepted the "if there was a God, bad things wouldn't happen" argument. I simply put my faith to the test. On a personal basis, I don't place an incredible amount of stock in Science. I still believe it is skewed by human perception, and that many things never thought to be possible were proven much later. I'm going to leave myself open to whatever I may come by.

    The main problem I had with God, was my realization that while I often prayed to thank him/her for all I've recieved in life, I also prayer to feel as though I had a sense of control over my life. Not necessarily in a bad way, but if I had a sick friend, for example, I would often ask God to help with it, simply because I knew there was nothing I could do. It's hard to accept knowing that you no control over something, especially when you so desperately want to help.
     
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    #5 midnightmelody, Nov 30, 2009
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  6. AUM

    AUM The Romantic Scientist

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    For me believing in God is realizing that life has a purpose and I somehow contribute to God's plan, whatever it is. I just know that we had to be created by some great intelligence, call it God, the Cosmos or whatever and that each organism, molecule, atom and everything is part of one same Being. I believe God has something planned for us and that death is the ultimate graduation of this school that it is life. Many fear that death will bring in nothingness and that there is no afterlife but even this speculation of "nothingness" comes to a comfort to me, a way for me to truly to rest in peace and get out of the drama that comes with being a human. If there is truly an after life, well, I just hope to meet this Creator and tell me just the truth of why he created us in the first place, that would be my greatest reward and gift for having "graduated" from this life.
    I believe that everything that we think we know about life is not even a inch of the whole truth. We may never know all the answers but will be given to us when the time is right. However, I do believe that everything we should be knowing is available for us to know right now, this instant and it is up to us to be looking for those answers so we can go up the next level of learning. Another thing, I believe in reincarnation, I believe that we are placed in categories and each category is designed for us to learn some special lesson for us to evolve spiritually and intellectually. We should be focusing on all aspects of the body, mind and spirit. We should know the ways the world works, not to be detached from it and seek ways for us to use the material world as a means to grow spiritually which is the reason why we were placed here on Earth in the first place, or so is my belief in it.

    I'm not sure I understood this question, so I'll get back to it later.

    Good question. I think faith is like the judge of what the belief in a God will do for you, while hope is like the courage that you gain from having faith in such a God. I would guess that they are different in some aspects but you cannot have one without the other.

    I do believe that you can do a conscious decision to believe in God. Even when I'm facing hardships, I still thank God for giving me lessons for me to overcome and as a result become a better person. I must admit that I got this from the Buddhism philosophy. Whenever you encounter an event that is making you impatient or angry, it serves you as the test for you to apply what you have read in the books in real life so I should be thankful for those experiences as they have served me well for my spiritual development.
     
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  7. Stellar Affinity

    Stellar Affinity Community Member

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    Hm, great thread,

    As for myself, I very deeply struggle with the question of whether God is real or not and very frequently, I vacillate between belief and non-belief; atheism.

    I grew up going to church, believing in and very much trusting God will all my heart. I suppose you can say that I had that "child-like" faith that is even spoken of in the bible. However, this was all when I was very young and gullible. After growing up and maturing quite a bit, as well as being within circumstances that are simply not favorable for the "average Christian", I slowly found myself drifting away from the "Church.

    I feel that if there truly *is* a God, then he probably isn't anything like most Christians would have you to believe. I myself was a Christian that was pushed away by the actions of some of his followers. I believe that if he's real, he HAS to be love and not this "love me or suffer the consequences" type of deity. I very often read about a certain doctrine called "Universal Restoration" and I feel like if I was to ever become a Christian again, I'd need to know for sure that this particular doctrine was correct and that a God of LOVE would not be one to be so conditional...And also to know that I was pushed away for all the wrong reasons, I guess.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't believe that God (supposing he exists) exists within the confines of "religion". I don't quite think he would be found there. It'd have to be something more intangible--like spirituality instead. God must be everywhere and in everyone since supposedly, we came from his own hands. He has to have a grand purpose that is even more victorious than simply winning over those who are able to believe in him in this life. So, I think that it means believing that there is something far greater awaiting humanity than what we've been able to see, hear or understand with our carnal senses and mind. Knowing that a great and powerful force of conscious intelligence is setting his plan in motion and everything will eventually pay off with beautiful results; all the hurt, pain, poverty, suffering, death...everything. At least from my perspective. : )

    I found it very hard to put my thoughts into words so I'm not even sure if this made any sense or was at all relevant to your question. If it wasn't, I apologize!
     
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    #7 Stellar Affinity, Nov 30, 2009
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  8. Travo7

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    I believe that God is Love Eternal, and that he doesn't exist. Not in the way humans do, but in a wholly different way, one fitting for an Eternal being.
    Anything we say about God, thoughts, insights, or whatever, has to be said with the knowledge that our logic and understanding are hopelessly limited by time and space, something which God is not.

    That is basically what I believe.
     
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  9. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    I don't know. People tell me things... I nod. But I don't really understand.

    I like candles though. Because they burn quietly there. And cathedrals - a lot! They manage to appeal to my sense of what is supposed to be beauty. There's also nice deep music, rich of harmony, and pleasant people. Which again is only traditional manipulation of my poor brain, but.

    About spirituality and intelligent design. Well, there are similar forces in nature, because even the fundamental pieces are very repetitive - imagine how boring is our universe to make, you must sit down and put together quarks, electrons, photons etc, until your head hurts. The same thing over, and over, and over.

    As a result of this massive boredom, you end up (apart from the headache) with matter that behaves surprisingly similarly, has repetitive patterns, has fractal-like patterns, and a lot of intrinsic self-definition. The reason, why this is so, wasn't that clear only a century ago, hence people were quite astonished. They freaked out so badly, that they forced each other to build the beautiful cathedrals, that I visit now, in the course of centuries. And you can't blame them.

    Now, if you would call it god, spirit, order, nature, chance, big bang, karma, dao, laws, maya, universe, doesn't matter much. You can call it "the mountain", if you wish. You can think it has your image in it, or vice-versa, and you'll probably be right in either case. Which isn't such a big deal, though.
     
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    #9 enfp can be shy, Dec 1, 2009
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  10. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    This describes almost perfectly a really huge phenomenon in our time that has been clearly observed, identified, and analyzed. That is this...religion telds to be presented to us in magical or mythic terms and we believe (and sometimes we are told) that this is all there is. We do not move, nor are we shown the way to move, into higher religious thought and beyond. We are simply left as 10 year olds. Trust me, this is a huge phenomenon, and in some ways almost defines our time in regards to formal religion. There had been much written and studied about this. All I want to say is that emphatically yes, there is more....much more....and probably you can find it somewhere within whatever tradition you are most familiar with....you don't have to chase down the exotic. This has all happened due to a set of weird historical circumstances and we are caught in the tide of this history. Question is....are you (or I) willing to break out!!

    I would also add that that belief in God is more than believing God exists. Belief in God is a relationship with the Divine Spirit and that means, to tell the truth, that we must be radically open ultimately to have our entire outlook transformed. Sounds spooky, right? Scary? Well, that is belief in God. Our egos, our fears, hold us back...we want the world to conform to us. But that is not the way belief in God works...one must launch out into some very, very deep waters. Why would we do that?? Love....we do it out of love.

    Now, here's the secret.....I'll tell you. One sees oneself giving up a whole lot to really believe in God...it look like quite a loss. But here is the secret....in believing in God, ultimately you will be given everything....everything...and it will be utterly transformed. That is why it is worth it. 'Tis a wonderment.

    There are thousands of years of experience with this journey that many of us find nothing about. Each journey is unique, personal, yet each journey also happens within this great community of faith. Religions, for all their problems and drama, ironically also contain within them the great paths of human enlightenment!!! How's that for a twist of fate!!

    I know this might sound like rubbish to some...fine...but some of the finest, most alive human beings that ever lived have followed the path of belief and connection and they have done it even within different traditions. The basics are all there, but their meaning comes through experience. I have seen this myself.

    So there you go...that's the deal. It is much discussed. I hope you find your path if that is what you seek. I only want to say that there is one.
     
  11. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    You're not a theist if you only hope God exists, you have to actually believe it.

    I further propose that the word "faith" be stricken from any discussion of the divine. Its meaning is way too confusing: I've heard it used synonimously with trust, credulity, and now hope.
     
    #11 Duty, Dec 1, 2009
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  12. midnightmelody

    midnightmelody nagging for truth

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    That's why I can be so mistrusting of many things today. I know that is vague, but let me try to explain...

    Too many concepts that are rather abstract depend on language. We may all have a webster's dictionary defintion of "faith" etched into our minds, but does that mean we have interpreted them the same way? What was the original intent of the creator of these words?

    I wish there was something other than words that is a generally accepted means of communication. Theoretically speaking, it's probably impossible for everyone to understand a concept in the exact same way. We'd have to have the exact same "pathways" in our brains, which isn't ...possible/likey (I'm not sure).
     
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  13. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    From what I can tell, the only real common language for those who believe is experience, and that is probably why so many words get used. The spiritual world is highly diverse and nuanced in it's beauty, expression, and the ways it can be experienced....possibly even more complex than the natural world. Those who believe know this.

    I think of it sometimes like beholding a spectacular sunset. Now, try to capture that accurately in words...the swirls of the each cloud, the various colors as they gradiate and glow across the entire horizon, the movement of the sun changing everything with each moment....and don't forget each technicality of the meteorological, astmospheric, and astronomical phenomena at work. It would be quite a challenge. That is the nature of belief in God...it is meant to be seen, cherished, experienced.....loved. Writing about is seems to only capture the faintest glimmer.
     
  14. TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    I think it is difficult for people to believe in anything without proof, I think atheism is the default rather than a conscious decision. People need constant reassurance that God exists for them to accept it and believe it, and in the absence of such reassurance, they'll start to lose faith.
    I believe some theists' view of the world, the beauty of a sunset, the smile on a child's face, for example, provide all the reassurance they need. For others, this is not enough.
    In any case, I doubt it matters whether we believe in God/s or not. They will do what they want anyway, and their existence is surely not dependent on our perspective of them.
     
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    #14 TinyBubbles, Dec 1, 2009
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  15. OP
    Kaipaus

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    That is interesting!

    When I became an atheist, I felt like I was "thinking independently", but now that I look back, it's clear that I wasn't thinking independently. I was groupthinking according to what "independent thinking" means according to a group called "freethinkers"*. I didn't identify as a "freethinker" but I read their texts and I internalised their naive idea of what "God" means and what it means to believe in God. I forgot what faith had meant to me and accepted the freethinkers' conception of faith.

    * Freethinkers is an association in my country and probably in other countries, too; however, I'm referring to all the people who say that they value "rationality", "logic" and "intellectual honesty" very highly and claim that this leaves them (and should leave anyone else, either) with no other option but atheism-- people like Richard Dawkins and his fans.

    So, it is easy to believe from my own experience that people choosing atheism over the perceived naivety of theism is a phemonemon of our time. Maybe religious people are also responsible for this kind of perception of faith, being so dogmatic and emphasizing superficial things in religion.

    Thank you for the encouragement. :)
     
    #15 Kaipaus, Dec 1, 2009
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  16. Solar Empath

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    I disagree. A form of Weak Agnosticism is the default I think. I think also that one's need of reassurance depends on how one defines 'God'. The word 'God' is a loaded word. 'God' means a very different thing to a Christian as opposed to a Deist as opposed to a New Age Spiritist. Faith as used by everyone is the same way I think. I use the word as trust, while a Biblical Christian would insist on defining it as "... being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." [Heb 11:1].

    Finally your belief that it doesn't matter what people believe about 'God' is called Apatheism. :) I am of course deceitfully now taking the position of Ignosticism... :wink:
     
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  17. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    Well that's the rub, you're right. Belief in God demands some sort of a leap of faith at some point...and really it makes sense that it is so. We have got to let go...but of what? Illusion?

    We want proof (safety) and we are only going to get it so far...then we have to move ourselves out of the center of the universe and accept another reality. Linear thought is not the realm of the spiritual world, and yet the world we have created at this point in history values linearity quite a lot. It's not a bad thing, but maybe we need more balance.

    True....but at the same time there is this curious phenonenon in which The Divine seeks us out, guides us, or is open to our participation on an ever-unfolding path. For some reason, love/caring is involved, or that in some way we are a part of The Divine. This seems to be a common theme although different terms are used.

    So...it's probably obvious that I believe. It isn't my intention to change the mind of those who might reject belief...my only motivation is to share concepts found within the perspective of belief. I am not talking about the "celestial the old man in a beard" here, but something/someone quite different...infinitely more deep and intensely benevolent.
     
    #17 randomsomeone, Dec 1, 2009
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  18. randomsomeone

    randomsomeone Well-known member

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    Oh yes, we are all caught in this and I'm afraid many of our institutions struggle, too! Not everybody, though. The outer dimensions look one way...but the inner dimensions are something different altogether.
     
    #18 randomsomeone, Dec 1, 2009
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  19. TinyBubbles

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    Wow, I have never heard of Apatheism before, but I realize now that that's what I've been following all along. Thankyou so much for the revelation!
    Also, yes you're right about one's personal definition of God impacting the kind of reassurance one would need to believe in said God. That just highlights the individual nature of theism, I think.
     
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  20. TinyBubbles

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    interesting, what do you mean by balance though? what is the balance to linear thought? gut instinct? and why should we rely on that? there are valid reasons to "believe" in linearity, because it impacts the world in a tangible way.

    ^ i'm not sure I understand at all what you are talking about. ? please elaborate.
     
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