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I am an agnostic atheist although I am completely open to consider the possibility of God, and potentially believe as I used to.

As I dig into the nature of Christian belief, it seems to differ to the nature of scientific belief in one crucial way: instead of only allowing evidence to justify belief, a Christian also allows faith as a justification for belief.

I find this difficult to understand, as faith sounds to me like an acceptance of a claim because it feels to be true, and not due to some reasonable inference or deduction of any sort. Isn't it the case that two people could disagree on the basis of faith? For example, two people from different Christian denominations will disagree on certain elements of their belief because of a faith reasoning, which prevents them from addressing their disagreements because they both think that they are justified by their faith. Can't any claim be taken on faith? Can't I say that I think a dream was a message from God, based on faith, even if it wasn't?

If so, faith would be an unreliable way to reach truth. If not, what is it about faith that I'm not understanding?

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Excellent reply George, so all I will add is scripture.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

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Shalom Natsute,

On 5/13/2019 at 3:19 PM, natesute said:

If so, faith would be an unreliable way to reach truth. If not, what is it about faith that I'm not understanding?

"Faith", as a word, has taken on it's own life in western Christianity.  We tend to think that Christianity is "faith" that Yahweh, the God of the Bible, and the Lord Jesus exist. However, this is not really the case. Such faith is expected as a standard by Yahweh!  This type of faith is not a the lofty height you reach, but it's the lowly ground you start with.  

In the days of the Lord Jesus, and before, people of other nations had their own gods but they still believed in Yahweh - nevertheless they were not saved.  We are told that even Shadim (demons) believe in Yahweh, and we would in no wise consider them saved!  So then, faith of His existence is not really enough on it's own. It's expected as a bare minimum.

So then, what is the type of faith a Christian is meant to exercise?  The Greek word that is used for 'faith' is the very same word used for 'faithfulness'.  This means that anytime you read the word 'faith' in the New Testament, you can interchange it in your mind for 'faithfulness' for a different understanding of some passages. 

This is a subtle but crucial difference. We could say Faith is "belief/trust" whereas Faithfulness is more "loyalty/obedience".  For example: a husband is faithful to his wife and has faith she will also be.

Therefore, to understand the Bible's message as "You must have blind faith that God and Jesus exist" is a very thin understanding of the Bible. The actual question throughout the Bible is "will you have faith in Yahweh's promises? If you will, then you must remain faithful to Him."  In the same way, another question is "will you have faith in the Lord Jesus' promises?  If you will, then you must remain faithful to His ways".

Remaining faithful means to pay heed and/or keep your end of the "bargain". For example: If you do X, Yahweh will do Y.  If you don't, Yahweh will do Z. 

The determination that comes from a Christian under pressure to compromise, or in persecution, is their FAITHFULNESS in Yahweh's promises - not just a day 1 attitude of "I believe He exists".

So, once you accept He exists, then the real issue of faithfulness begins.  Will you have faith in the promises Yahweh has made?  Will you have faith in the Walk that the Lord Jesus advised us to follow?  In saying yes, then you must remain faithful to Him.  To say no and doubt Him is implying, in simple terms, that Yahweh is a liar or unable to keep His Word. 

I hope this expands your mind on the matter appropriately.  

Interesting question.

Love & Shalom

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Blessings natesute

    Welcome to Worthy,Im glad you are here and I really do hope you will stick around a while to talk with us.I certainly do not think any one of us could change your mind,I don't think theres much we can say to do that but I know WHO can-so I pray the Lord Speaks through us!

   Friend I can understand what "religion" can do to a person having been brought up similarly to you since childhood.Religious rituals,customs & traditions with all the "theatrics" lead to my own rebellion towards God Almighty-yet deep in my heart I always knew that Jesus was my only Savior   How do you feel about Jesus?What do you know about Jesus?You see,I knew Him as a small child so in as much as the "religion" pushed me away I was being drawn into Him all the while,I longed for Him

   Anyway,I can relate to what you said in your introduction in the Worthy Welcome so thats why I'm here. Your question about Faith being the acceptance of a claim is easy to understand as well only "Faith" comes by hearing the Word of God,it is not actually WHAT we believe but WHO we Believe.The Bible is the Living Word of God,Jesus is THE WORD ....our Faith grows as it does because its all about a Personal Relationship with God in Christ.There is a measure of Faith in each of us,thats a Gift-the only way I can describe my own journey to you is that there was always this void inside of me,an empty place in my heart that urged me to seek the TRUTH,the Truth of our existence,our Creator,afterlife,religions,even the occult etc...etc... In trying to debunk the Bible and years of research is when many things changed for me and my search was narrowed down,I found Jesus was really the Way,the Truth & the Life when I experienced His Loving Embrace at the foot of the cross-PEACE

   I can believe a person can go to church every day of his life and nothing happens,no spiritual enlightenment yet I believe you heard SOMETHING there that stayed with you & brought you here,do you think so? You  said the thought of no afterlife scares you,why?I think if I ever believed we simply cease to exist that wouldn't scare me at all,its like going to sleep at night.In my disbelief /agnosticism what scared me was the thought of not being acceptable by an Almighty God and eternal torment, what if it were true I thought!!

   Anyway,I've rambled on enough,what do you say?Have you ever really read the Bible?

                                                                                                   With love-in Christ,Kwik

   

     

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On 13 May 2019 at 3:19 PM, natesute said:

I am an agnostic atheist although I am completely open to consider the possibility of God, and potentially believe as I used to.

As I dig into the nature of Christian belief, it seems to differ to the nature of scientific belief in one crucial way: instead of only allowing evidence to justify belief, a Christian also allows faith as a justification for belief.

 

Yet you ignore the leap of blind faith that you and all atheists make when talking about science.

You assume that the orderlyness, the reasonableness of the universe is natural, yet you believe that random forces caused the universe to begin and to shape it. Can you explain how randomness can create order?

It is Christian ideas that presumes that the universe is reasonable and orderly.

Beside that facts are always interpreted by ones presupositions, it is rare that any of us let facts alter our preconcieved ideas etc.

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On 5/13/2019 at 9:19 AM, natesute said:

I am an agnostic atheist although I am completely open to consider the possibility of God, and potentially believe as I used to.

As I dig into the nature of Christian belief, it seems to differ to the nature of scientific belief in one crucial way: instead of only allowing evidence to justify belief, a Christian also allows faith as a justification for belief.

I find this difficult to understand, as faith sounds to me like an acceptance of a claim because it feels to be true, and not due to some reasonable inference or deduction of any sort. Isn't it the case that two people could disagree on the basis of faith? For example, two people from different Christian denominations will disagree on certain elements of their belief because of a faith reasoning, which prevents them from addressing their disagreements because they both think that they are justified by their faith. Can't any claim be taken on faith? Can't I say that I think a dream was a message from God, based on faith, even if it wasn't?

If so, faith would be an unreliable way to reach truth. If not, what is it about faith that I'm not understanding?

So,

What brings you to worthy nate?

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Like Who me said, science tends to require a degree of faith as well and is subject to presuppositions and personal biases and the popular trends of the era. Take a look at Joseph Lister, for example. He pushed for doctors and surgeons to practice a little more cleanliness and sterilize their tools, and a lot of the scientists of the day mocked him for it. That was less than two hundred years ago. There are plenty of other instances. One of the trends that has been around in my lifetime is the belief that science and faith are incompatible, which I personally believe to be incorrect.

I'll also point out that scientists start out with a hypothesis, test it so much as possible, and revise accordingly. Religious faith acts similarly. Like a mustard seed, in the words of Jesus. We start off with a hypothesis (God exists) and then over time through the circumstances in our life we come to discover evidence that supports and proves the hypothesis to us on a personal level. The difference is that we as humans aren't in charge of the testing. It's done on God's terms and timing, not ours. Sure, it's more subtle than being able to physically demonstrate something, but for those of us who have taken the plunge and chosen to believe it's definitely there. There's always an added degree of complexity when it comes to thinking, feeling, intelligent beings.

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21 hours ago, George said:

Listen, for me, faith is not a blind faith ... but a reality.

While I appreciate that you have a deep understanding of faith according to the definition which you have used, in my question I used a very specific definition: faith used as a justification to believe something is true. I used this definition in particular because I have heard Christians say, when asked why they believe in God, that it is because of faith. The definition that I am using and that they use in that statement is certainly not the only usage of faith (e.g. trust, faithfulness, adherence etc.) but it has been used in that way, and I am asking about that very particular usage.

22 hours ago, George said:

So it's obvious there is a DESIGN

You proceed to talk about several observations that you consider evidence for a creator, such as the unlikelihood of the complexity in the universe and life. In this example you are not talking about faith, you are talking about inference from observational evidence, and I don't think that it's overly unwise to infer a God from the apparent design. However, an appearance of design does not necessitate a designer. While many on this forum would question the truth of claims such

as the theory of evolution from natural selection, or the formation of solar systems from accretion disks, it the mere fact that these mechanisms are plausible that places a burden of proof on a designer, just as there is a burden of proof is on these scientific theories. By burden of proof I don't mean that a designer HAS to be proved, I just mean that it can't be accepted without question, it has to be corroborated, likewise with evolution and the big bang theory.

Even if one did invoke a designer as an explanation for life and the universe, it is on their part to explain how this designer happens to be the god of their religion, rather than simply asserting the connection. To an outsider, it seems perfectly reasonable to assume that the designer was the Hindu creator god Brahma, as its description of creation over billions of years of change seems to match the observations of reality better than the explanation of creation given by the Bible.

As our observations of reality are becoming more congruent with the concept of an old universe over that of a young universe, I think it is also reasonable to ask, at what point did the design occur? In distant universes, where the light is billions of years old, we can see with our own eyes that the universe used to look much simpler. Look at the light that have traveled even further and we see a deep uniform glow that tells us that the universe used to be a uniform cloud of heat. I don't need to include ideas of a beginning for this early universe to sound oddly simplistic and lacking in appearance of design. Did the designer create the universe long ago and allow it to evolve? Or did the designer create the universe and then continue changing its physical laws to make it play out in exact way it wanted? There are many considerations to be made about the suggestion of design, it certainly isn't a clear, logical step from designer to the Christian God.

I appreciate the rest of your response, however I am very familiar with the idea of salvation and God's plan as a frequent church-goer myself. If an assertion is made at any point and I don't feel that it holds water, I'll do the annoying thing and get stuck on it. I can't accept the conclusions of an assertion such as "the universe is designed and the designer is the Christian God" if the assertion itself is unfounded.

I just realised I got well off-topic from faith, although I feel it is important to address where my uncertainties lie.

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22 hours ago, OneLight said:

Excellent reply George, so all I will add is scripture.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

This is very much what I was referring to in my question, a slightly different definition to George's usage. It is told that faith is the evidence of things not seen. It is from this very statement that many Christians justify their belief in God, as they say their faith constitutes as sufficient evidence for the claim that God exists. I have hopefully expressed why I see this as a problem in my initial post.

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