Friday, October 1, 2010

What Am I Missing?

Despite my long period of questioning and relatively recent leaning toward complete atheism, I remain active in my church.  I kind of have to, at BYU.

I even go so far as to read the scriptures and other church material every day.  At first I was hoping to revive my faith, now I simply do it so I can tell others that I do, and then they won't be able to lecture me about being too hasty to abandon my faith.

Anyway, I have been noticing recently that leaders of the church tend to use language like "to the unenlightened, it may seem that blah, but to those who are familiar with god's plan, it is clear that blahdie-blah."
But when I think about it, usually this "enlightened knowledge" involves a lot of religious keywords, like faith, and grace.  So we get things like:
"God created the world by faith"
"It is by grace we are saved"
Then, when you look up the definition for any of these terms, you get this odd explanation, like "faith is a principle of power.  faith is belief without knowledge.  nothing can be done without faith."
And I think: "And...?  Are you going to explain what you are talking about?"

So we end up with arguments like "to the unenlightened, it may seem that biological evolution explains the origin of human life, but to those who are familiar with god's plan, it is clear that god created man in his own image, by faith and the power of his word.  Man is therefore divine, and is privileged through the grace of god to be quickened at the last day and exulted to a more perfect body, the blood having been replaced with spirit."

...   ...   What?!
 What could that even mean?  How does that explain anything about the way humanity is formed?
Pretty much all this is saying is "god created man, not evolution, end of argument. If you believe this, you can be immortal and have all your blood removed for reasons that will never be clearly explained."

It's supposed to be some great eternal truth that god created everything by faith... and what does this tell us, exactly?  That faith is awesome?  It is never clear how god created the world with faith, what the role of faith is in this whole business.  So what is the point of telling us things that are no better than nonsense to us?
That's like saying that earth formed through the actions of "vibrant spirits, who through their happiness, liberalism, and various other abstract concepts, managed to create the world out of nothing, and no more need be said."

Okay, so maybe I'm being a little harsh.  Science and religion have different goals, ostensibly.
But why, then, are religions all over the world insistent that people reject well-documented and evidence-supported scientific theories because said theories compete with these vague, mostly nonsensical statements for description of how the world works.

What is this majestic, beautiful, simple truth everyone is talking about?  I just don't see it, I see a lot of convoluted definitions twisting through every possible verse of scripture, trying to tell us these crazy things about god and the world that seem to be just a mixed bag of various combination of "faith," "eternal," "infinite," "divine," "grace," "wrath," "holy," "ancient," "revelation," etc.

EDIT:  I thought I would include a few excepts from the bible dictionary:

Faith is a principle of action and of power, and by it one can command the elements and/or heal the sick, or influence any number of circumstances when occasion warrants (Jacob 4: 4-7). Even more important, by faith one obtains a remission of sins and eventually can stand in the presence of God.
All true faith must be based upon correct knowledge or it cannot produce the desired results. Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel and is more than belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action; it carries an assurance of the fulfillment of the things hoped for. A lack of faith leads one to despair, which comes because of iniquity. 
It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.
So... These make a little bit of sense, I guess, but not much.  Each of them tends to throw in all the buzzwords and then look the other way.  I know that the bible dictionary is not the ultimate source of all things doctrinal, but it worries me that all these gospel terms are interrelated and entirely dependent on eachother's definitions.  Seem like the same bunch of words over and over again, and none of these is satisfactorily defined outside of dependence on this same group of words.

1 comment:

  1. I personally have come to the conclusion that religion is circular self reinforcing delusion. Faith means that no actual knowledge or proof is possible because that would destroy faith and force someone to conform to religious belief (satan's plan to save everyone that caused 1/3 of the host to follow him supposedly) but if you choose to believe without any external factors or evidence then your faith is supposedly reinforced. I'm sorry but a self reinforcing circular concept is called a delusion in human psychology. One person says he talks to God he is delusional, if thousands or millions believe him it is religion.