Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I was never one to rip something apart just to figure out how it worked. I just never was that kid.


On our drive home from San Francisco the other night, Eric and I had yet another discussion about faith as it relates to both religion and science. Some of you may think after previous posts that I feel science relieves me of the need for faith as it provides much proof. I thought perhaps this was the case as well, but after going through a few surprisingly interesting discussions on faith during my stint in the clink and after discussions with Eric I know (oh god, that word)--rather, I feel this isn't true anymore.

Again! Must...get...vocab...out...of...brain.

During the summer after high school, I felt an interest in attending a Christian college, learning Hebrew, and seeing the original Biblical texts for myself because I wanted to know for myself. I had to know everything and not trust in what preachers told me. I knew because I had experienced that every preacher and every church in every denomination generally taught varying things. Knowing this is part of what drew me to the LDS church--it was the same everywhere.

So I felt a need to know everything. I knew it was a difficult if not impossible task, but I wanted to try.

Then I read the BYUish codes I had to agree to to get into such colleges (Bethany, in particular) and couldn't even pretend. I didn't believe in the Trinity. I didn't believe in the Nicene Creed. Dead before I even stepped in the door.

The LDS church answered all my questions for me anyways. The KJV was the bestest out there. Living and breathing prophets had spoken with god. These stories were recent, a plus in my book.

Anyway, so you join and you know everything. Woo! (even though you don't, shh!)

Enter disaffection and apostasy and suddenly you're faced with the fact that you don't know shit, jack. I thought I was okay with this. A lot of people, I've found, find a great deal of comfort in this. Then I began to learn a little bit more about my world, about life's history and development and past. Hardly enough to make me an expert but enough to make me blink a couple times.

Then Eric, having gone through a rather rigorous math program, told me he feels he knows enough to take care of the possibility of there being a god. He is an atheist in the sense that he feels chances are slim to none, and he'll just live his life as a good person.

I discussed this a little bit here, and quite a few balked. Nobody wants to say they "know" anymore, and I completely understand this. I had learned I know nothing, something I still feel to this day. But not in a comforting sense. I'm hardly comforted by this.

It's a lot of pressure for me, personally, to know nothing. I'm surrounded by people who know so much. I don't understand how Eric is so educated on so many things. People in general. I don't get where I got off the boat. I feel rather stupid, to put it bluntly.

So I want to know more.

I've been feeling an immense need and intense internal pressure to learn everything there is to know about evolutionary biology, about genetics, about history. But I'm not a biology major, nor will I be one. My love is for English. And I hate lab. While I feel a fascination and a love for biology, I don't have the fucking time to go back and get my math and chemistry taken care of JUST so I can get my biology minor. I'm working my ass off in just this one class to get a good grade. I'd kill myself later. It wouldn't happen. I figure I'll just watch shows with Eric and read a few books. I'd rather minor in history, anyways.

But still, y'all, I want to know more.

So I spoke with Eric about that. There are plenty of people out there (a very small group by comparison I'm told) who are, I assume, non-religious and who don't accept the theory of evolution and natural selection. I do not include the crazy folk over at the Creation Museum, by the way.

But I want to know their side. I want to know what it is that is keeping this from being fact. In my heart, I'm a debater. I have to know both sides. I have to consider everything so I'm not a schmuck who just falls in with the popular crowd.

Eric and the scientific community at large tells me I don't have to know the other side. It just is. It's so close to fact that I may as well consider it fact. Like humans' responsibility for global warming.

There's that word again. Fact. Know.

But there's a bit of faith involved, isn't there? Faith in my books, my professor, science. Is it much different than faith in a book of ancient scripture? Theologians? People who claim to have a direct batphone to god?

Well, that last one probably not. But theologians--they're historians as well, yeah? They understand context. It's part of the reason I loved Jesus the Christ and whatever classes they offered years ago in my stake that went into the nitty gritty (the stuff my institute director told me was "too deep" for my greenie convert self to handle. asshole) that they have, surprise! since discontinued.

In the end, however, you have to have faith. Faith, my old LDS Institute Friday Night Forum discussion said, even to turn on the fucking faucet.

I can accept some things. I have to accept some things: there is evidence for evolution. A lot of it. Science explains, proves, predicts. Every single one of us, I think, as a function of not knowing anything, have faith in science, though. We don't know how some things work, but we figure that someone does. Someone figured it out or will figure it out. We leave it to them. We have faith.

There is no solid evidence for god, which is what makes him/her/it an exclusive matter of faith. But people will still try. They point to the Bible, their personal spiritual experiences, speaking in tongues and crazy coincidences and feelings and by making maps and anthropology, digs and history, by reconstructing Noah's Ark. Even the Mormons, who by lip-service shy away from evidence because that's not with faith is, will seek evidence to prove something to their non-member friends and family. To convince themselves that their warm fuzzies have merit.

Because there's intuition, too. What does science say about intuition?

But while I can say with great confidence that there is no Santa who travels the world in a single night and drops off presents for all the good boys and girls, that there are no fairies (my teenage self sniffs), etc--I can't for sure say much more than that. I'm pretty certain god never sent an angel with a flaming sword to Joe Smith to threaten him with his life if he didn't marry a fourteen-year-old girl behind his wife's back, and despite how she will feel and what she says. I want nothing to do with a god who dismisses his daughters' feelings of self-worth for his own benefit.

Eric says science is better because I can look it up. I can find the answers. In religion, I have to feel out the answers, have faith in something that has little to no backup. Sure King Solomon had a temple--beyond that?

But even scientists don't know everything.

Faith is in that which you cannot look up. Faith in the divine is what seems to have constructed religion when there were no answers.

With time, answers come.

But, like myself, is it possible to ever know everything? Because if not, then what?

Then, I think, faith becomes a matter of trust.

I feel I behave as an atheist these days, but I still have these questions and need to know because I don't want to be duped again. My faith, however, needs to be in myself and not in some divine creature I know absolutely nothing about.

I can cherry-pick teachings and apply them to my life, but beyond that I can't dedicate myself to something divine anymore. And I know it's a bit of blasphemy for many that I want to know, but I do. I know I won't ever know enough to never need faith, but I'm struggling lately with the need to get there anyway.

At least that's how I feel this week.


  1. This is a deep post and I may be completely missing the mark but here are some of my random thoughts.

    We were so conditioned to equate faith with feeling that when we learned our faith was exploited to violate our trust and thus is not a reliable indicator of truth we shut our feelings off. No more trusting our feelings. But our feelings are our essence, if that makes sense. Not listening to them is like ignoring who we really are.

    After I stopped trusting my feelings it took me about a year to realize my feelings are pretty important and accurate, they are me, that they are a vital part of human intelligence and if I could separate them from the prior manipulation, they were always dead right. I believe they are a function of our subconscious and the reason we pick up on a "bad vibe" about someone, or have a recurring dream -- about being chased by a serial killer or being naked in public.

    Another word for feelings may be intuition, and I really do believe it is vital to listen to them/it. And to cultivate it.

    "My faith, however, needs to be in myself and not in some divine creature I know absolutely nothing about." Bingo. Trust yourself.

  2. i don't mean to be all comment-tastic on yr blog, but maybe you're just hitting on the best stuff for me this week!

    so, i was reading this entry and not thinking about faith at all--i was thinking about my classroom, and how i teach my kids to leave in may/june with more questions than answers. i know i've taught them well when they're wondering about the world.

    there's a lot to be said for leaving things open-ended. should we have closure with knowledge? knowledge is power, it's true, but should we ONLY be seeking power? i know an atheist with a profound wonder about the world, a deep sense of curiosity. and i know a christian chemical engineer who finds a lot of her faith in biology and science. i just wonder, not about you but about the world, about me and us and everyone, why we tend to bow down at certainty and knowledge.

    the idea of having more questions than answers has really transformed how i teach. i'm pushing my students to be inquisitive. in a capitalistic society, our education "standards" point toward competition and knowing absolutely--and, as a teacher of english, a living language that changes everyday, i can't abide by that.

    also, to the other entry: on the internet (because i only use the internet, duh) i find that bible gateway and bible tools are good website resources for different versions of the bible and for commentary on context. or at least that's kind of the first place i look when i'm looking for stuff.

  3. Faith, to me, means believing stuff you have no reason to believe. Maybe even believing stuff you have good reason to disbelieve (like a young earth). And that, to me, is not admirable.

    A few days ago I heard someone talking about Aboriginal peoples. This guy is "spiritual, not religious." So he's talking about the Aboriginals and he says, "When one of them sees a storm, they all start running. Like animals. Even if they live in different areas and haven't communicated with each other, and there's no sign of a storm. And that's because they share a group mind. When one of them knows something, they all know it."

    Okay. I can't rule out the concept of telepathy. But maybe what's really happening is that Aboriginal peoples are still connected to the land. And like animals, they can sense things about their environment that are missed by industrialized people. So they might not see a storm coming, but they notice changes in the environment -- humidity, animal activity, plants opening or closing accordingly, and so forth -- and to industrialized researchers observing, who have no such connection to the land, it looks like this miraculous thing.

    What's that saying? Something about advanced enough technology looking like magic? Well, I think it goes the other way, too. So which is more likely? Aboriginals share a mystical Common Consciousness that essentially translates to telepathy? Or is it just that they're especially attuned to their environment because they haven't been stripped of it?

    This is your basic Occam's Razor situation. And I think most religious concepts go the same way.

    I try to have an open mind, but I've yet to observe a religion concept that isn't better explained by science. Beautifully explained by science, in fact, which is why I don't feel a lack for not having religion.

    That's just my take on it. I hear you, though. I feel a constant burning urge to KNOW EVERYTHING and sometimes I feel like it's ruining my life. 'Cause the more I learn, the more things suck -- the more I realize the lies that have guided my life -- not only from religion but from government, reported history, even scientists sometimes. That's pretty exhausting.

  4. I have to admit, I love Calvin&Hobbes. I own every one of their books.