Verifiable Results

There’s an interesting fellow I see often on my drive home from work. He’s a boxer. You can see him almost daily along the Riverwalk in Tulsa. He stands in the middle of the drainage ditch and he jumps rope and shadow boxes. I’d like to know his story, but I haven’t ever had the nerve to find out. I wonder if when he was a younger man that maybe he did real boxing, but now he might be living in his imagination, but then I think that my thoughts are presumptuous. Maybe he just likes the exercise.

Youngsters

When I was younger I spent a lot of time praying. I prayed for the children in Africa and the people I saw on the news. I had no way of physically helping, but somehow the praying didn’t feel like a copout. I felt satisfaction after I prayed and I thought it was proof of results. It seemed that it was a ping back from the source telling me Yes, that’s it. You’re on target. But it wasn’t. It’s not. It’s just the chemicals in my brain telling me I’ve done an action that my belief system approves of. It’s not confirmation of it being effective. Otherwise the continent of Africa would be full of healthy people. The bad guys controlling the countries would be dead or disabled. The wildfires of Texas, Colorado, and California would be over as well as the long drought. And yes, when I prayed for these things I had faith. I got the ping back.

If only

If there is a god and the precepts are true then the results should be verifiable. If a disease or tragedy hits because of sin it should harm only the ones doing the wrong deed, or am I a simpleton. I’m thinking the arrow of disease is coming from the hand  of a just god.

Christians should be by a verifiable percentage of reality these things:

  • healthier than other religious people
  • impervious to disease more so than other religious people
  • not dying from snake bites
  • above only, as in, not enslaved to debt
  • lead happier lives
  • wealthier or having the ability to obtain wealth

Further, the Bible makes specific promises, but these promises are never fulfilled. For instance, John 15:7 states, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” This is simply not true! How many Christian people have prayed all over the globe for a release from the grip of terrible suffering just to be left in their circumstances with no way out?  Lydia @ DogmaDebate

If something exists or a pattern is true then you should see results. For example, if you take a medication that has been approved by the FDA Federal Drug Administration, it’s already went through Double Blind testing. There are certain tests that show it works. The man on the side of the road is getting exercise. I don’t wish to mock or belittle someone for their efforts. I only want to acknowledge the difference between efforts and results. If you want the exercise of meditation or praying or even shadow boxing, yes they do have their own benefits, but if you want to knock someone out you’re going to have to punch them.

So what works?

In the Bible, James says,

Faith and Works

17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”

 

 

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The Final Cut of My Dangling Faith

Love is patient, love is kind, This is the Christianity I was taught overtly. The icing and the pretty decoration. The hidden “healthy” side was God is a just God.

First snip – trusting another’s version of the truth

I was walking up the stairs to get to my condo when I overheard my neighbors talking about God. “God only wants you to be healthy. He wants you to be happy and live your life.” I realized how far I’ve come from that statement. I said that many times myself in the last few years and believed it. But contrast that with other people who spout offensive words. God hates >>insert ugly word here<< and will cast them into hell. One person claims God told them to build a building that cost millions of dollars, while another person sells all his stuff, moves to India, and helps dying patients in a leper colony.

Second snip – infallibility of the Bible

For years this dichotomy bothered me. I taught voraciously that it was only about love and our personal relationship with God. Maybe I didn’t cling to the infallibility of the Bible, but I had my Jesus. I had a friend. Until…

Third snip – my friend in Jesus

With all the erosion that happened in my spiritual life, the last connection was my personal relationship with Jesus. This is what holds most people in Christianity. That feeling that no one wants to let go of. “But I know He’s real. He comforts me.” And yes it often feels that someone is holding you, even smiling lovingly on you. Here’s the counter, each person that tells you that they know what God expects, is only mirroring what they believe already. Those that are loving believe in a loving god. Those that are critical believe in God’s judgement. And He’s not here to correct them. The only proof we have is the Bible and our inner conviction.

My faith dangled 

Where’s my proof that I really am not hearing from God or being comforted by him? Derren Brown showed me how it is done. How To Convert an Atheist – short version.  In his simple demonstration with a non believing girl, he showed how quickly it can develop.

  • First, picture a loving father. He picks up his child and holds her tight and kisses her boo boos away.
  • Second, imagine the awe and wonder of life. The grand plan of the universe and it’s beauty.
  • Third, bring the feeling of being loved by that wonderful father together with the awe and wonder.

Poof! She felt it. I felt it. This is how it was for me almost exactly. Preacher after preacher. Song after song. Just as Derren Brown brought those concepts together in the atheist’s mind so did my influences. That was when I realized, there may not really be anyone there. Here’s a link to the full version, Full Version-Fear and Faith part 2.

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Certainty

How would you act if you didn’t know? If you can’t make a decision or nothing seems right? I don’t know about you, but that’s when I often panic. It hits me like a knife in my belly. My first reaction is to shut down. But that’s not going to help.

I’ve been searching through religion information a lot lately. I’m now to the point of not knowing what my beliefs are. Well I’ve been there actually which is why I was searching. I keep trying on different beliefs to see if they fit. So far none seem right. So I’m at a standoff with my own beliefs. I’m not quite sure what it is I do believe. And somewhere in my head I keep thinking I need to name it something. Doesn’t it need to be categorized? I’ve stopped trying to label it now and am just enjoying the learning experience.

It’s funny how beliefs seem like absolute truth at times. I’ve given up my childhood faith of heaven and hell but I’m not quite certain about life after death. While listening to several atheists such as Christopher Hitchens, Seth Andrews and Richard Dawkins, I felt a sense of loss. They don’t believe in any afterlife at all. After questioning myself I decided I didn’t want to give up my belief in life after death since it felt too disappointing not to believe. This made me laugh. Since when does my belief or their lack of belief make anything so. I could believe in a land of magical clouds and pink butterflies after death and it wouldn’t change what will really happen or not happen.

We spend most of our lives deciding. Big things. Little things. We choose what to eat, what to wear, where to work. Most of us try our best to do what we consider the right thing. We pick out food that’s good for us and for our family. At least we try. We teach our kids what they need to know for their daily lives, well, again we try. Sometimes life gives us a bump or a shove and we find out that what we thought was the best thing for our children or our health was all wrong. There are times that life slams it down on you so hard you don’t know what hit you. For instance, my former mother-in-law died recently. Complications from breast cancer. She had the biopsy. She took the treatments. She rested and she was getting better. Until. Until the cancer came back and she started treatments again. This time the treatments made her weak.. And suddenly you get the call you least expect.  Her kidneys failed. She was better. How did this happen?

What do you do when you don’t know for certain that you are doing the right thing? How do you handle it? Do you slow down and consider it more? Do you just keep going until it hits you in the face?

My recent reevaluation of my childhood faith has me reeling. I feel like I’ve been awakened from a dream. It is a dream, right? How did I believe those untruths? Ironically, my current doubt comes from the fact that I was so certain before. I knew that I knew that I knew. Truth. Absolute certainty.

It shakes us, but we don’t quit. We keep making decisions and we keep getting up. Because we are alive, we dust ourselves off and choose another direction. It’s not always that we make all great choices. Success comes because we keep making choices. We don’t always have the odds in our favor but as one poker player said, it’s about winning enough of the time. 

Are you sure-radiolab

It’s not about winning the hand all the time, but about winning the hand enough of the time. -Annie Duke http://www.radiolab.org/2013/mar/26/dealing-doubt/

There’s an intriguing story about a woman who incorrectly identified her attacker. It convicted and sentenced an innocent man for a crime he never committed. She was certain it was him. In her words, What do I do? I can’t make this right. – Penny Beerntsen http://www.radiolab.org/2013/mar/26/reasonable-doubt/

In the Buddhist mind, it’s not only alright to have doubt, but it’s commended and desired to not have any knowing. In the Quantum physics field it is known that a particle doesn’t become a particle until it is observed. Or so I heard.

I wonder sometimes if it might be better stay uncertain, to not form a fixed belief. And if you do have a belief or a judgement, to keep it not so solid. Let it flow and change as time goes on. So I wonder, is it better to have a religion, a belief? Or is it better to explore the possibilities?

On Having No Head http://www.amazon.com/Having-No-Head-Rediscovery-Obvious/dp/1878019198