I sat beside a beautiful lady from Salt Lake to Phoenix on a flight. She was in town to participate in her daughter’s wedding. It was evident she was excited her family had participated in life events together. We talked about many issues facing us today as individuals, parents, and a family. Our conversation spread over a variety of issues or topics. We found common bonds in many areas we discussed.
This day, an issue on her mind was regarding one of her relatives; this person was lacking faith. She claimed this person didn’t believe in a supreme Being, a divine source, or whatever you want to call Deity/divine nature. This lack of faith was due to a dream they had, which was a dream suggesting there was no God. This fascinated me, thinking an individual’s lack of belief could come as a direct result of a dream. In my recollection of dreams, whether mine or from others, I have never heard or experienced one resulting in disbelief.
I asked her if this person had ever believed, but she wasn’t sure. I suggested that when her relative became a mother or father, they would begin to develop faith. In my life having our first child solidified the nature of God in my life. She commented that her relative had a child, which had not changed their beliefs. Again I was shocked, not really being aware of many individuals who didn’t have some connection to a greater power after becoming a parent.
My faith leads me to find satisfaction that all are entitled to individual beliefs or feelings. I believe one will be led to greater faith, even knowledge, as their path becomes more in tune with truth.
It fascinates me that regardless of the time or place, we as a human race nearly entirely default to some kind of faith in a divine Being. Most people describe this Being as their God. There is a quote from Sir Philip Sidney, an English author, and soldier, “It is the nature of the strong heart, that like the palm tree, it strives ever upwards when it is most burdened.”
I find it interesting that when we are passionate about wishing for something, a victory by our favorite team, hearing whether or not we are accepted in college or get a job, our natural instinct is to rely on our inner faith. Don’t you find yourself intensely reacting to internal emotions in these times? I find myself almost completely engaged in doing things I feel will ensure my desired outcome.
Could this simple example be enough to suggest we have a compass deep within which naturally defaults to faith in something? Could it be that since we are not given pure knowledge, we find answers to these emotions individually, seeking where we are being led?
My last comment to my seat partner was that some have lived on this earth with far greater spiritual manifestations than others. The Old Testament prophet Moses, who believed, spoke with Deity. He witnessed the finger of the Lord writing commandments for the people. Others may never have any outward manifestation at all, yet believe. Regardless of the intensity of your faith-promoting experience, following your heart will lead you to greater understanding. There are some who have the inclination to believe in others, placing faith in their convictions. I advised this friend to have her relative find someone they have confidence in. Seek their understanding and then find faith initially through their experiences.
My belief in a supreme Being or another’s lack of belief shouldn’t detract us from differing views but aid us in finding answers. I have a friend, a scientist who will only use empirical data to prove a point. With this, he has proven there is life after death. He believes as a result of his studies in others’ experiences. On the other hand, I have come to gain faith by following the spirit of my convictions. There may be some uninterested, others beginning their voyage, and others with sure knowledge. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are aware of each other and help gain knowledge together.
For those lacking faith, not wanting to believe, or having conviction there is no Creator at all, please understand; in your time of need, you will default to something inside calling you home. Some call it source, others an undefined God filling space, some a Personage, others nature, and even some creating idols. This sense is there for everyone, whether out on a remote island with limited contact or in the largest cities in the world. Find your source, follow it, develop it, and become better for it.
Interesting story Jaren. Probably the first time I have heard of someone losing their belief in God because of a dream. Depending on how you interpret dreams themselves, one could consider insight obtained through dreaming as coming from a higher power or source of inspiration outside of your waking mind. With that interpretation, a dream leading to a loss of belief in God contradicts the inspirational source of the dream itself. Of course, if the dream is interpreted as a product of the mind alone, this obstacle is easily overcome. Either way, it’s rather fascinating that one who no longer has faith in a higher power (God) would put so much stock in a dream, which could just as easily be seen as an unreliable or unprovable source of guidance.
I consider myself spiritual but not religious, as I don’t follow or belong to any religious groups but do maintain a belief in a higher energy, power or order to the Universe that suggests to me a continuation of consciousness after death and a greater meaning to life than just survival of the fittest. However, I do understand the plight of the non-believer from your story as I have many self described atheist/agnostic friends and acquaintances in addition to my having considered that this life and the observation of our 5 senses possibly being all there is.
For purposes of understanding only, (I have no intention of trying to convert/de-convert anyone to/from any belief system, nor am I capable of such as your beliefs and faith are strictly matters of personal responsibility) I opine one dilemma that many a non-believer or collapse of belief experiensor comes across: confirmation bias. In short, we tend to notice or find evidences to support and increase faith in already held beliefs, simultaneously ignoring those evidences that contradict or would lead to a collapse of those beliefs.
A simple example is praying to find lost car keys. We have each probably experienced the losing of our keys on numerous occasions. We frantically set out to find them as we are generally only looking for them when we already need to be out the door and on our way. Many times we find them rather quickly as we think back to the place we last placed or saw them. Other times they seemingly grew legs and abandoned their post making the search take longer and increasing our frustration to the point where we pause to say a quick, perhaps even genuine prayer. We then think of more possible places the keys may have gone, where kids may have played with them and search again. If and when they turn up, for the times a prayer was said, we then place stock/faith that the prayer, invoking the power of God, brought about the resolution of finding our keys. However, it could be argued that taking the moment to pause, silence your mind and rethink about where the keys went is what lead to finding the keys, or the fact that you didn’t abandoned your search until every nook and cranny had been explored resulting in the keys being found, instead of the prayer itself. In addition to this scenario, many atheists/agnostics find it troubling that any God would care more about answering a petty prayer to find lost car keys over the prayers of mothers in Africa for their starving or diseased and suffering children.
Hopefully this example provides at least a minimal level of understanding why many stop believing in God, or at least give up their belief in an intervening and all powerful God. Through understanding or trying to understand, we can keep our humaneness and avoid damaging and bigoted labeling or judgment that only serve to divide our species and keep us at war with one another. Not that I am suggesting you have done so here Jaren, quite the opposite. You are a breath of fresh air in seeking to entertain relationships with a diverse range of people.
Thx Micah, love ya man! 🙂