Saturday, 7 December 2013

Faith, that jolting experience. (I)


This essay is the product of a feverish mind, so if you are not in the mood of delving into unnecessary pseudo-psychological thoughts, which would be the normal human state, my advice would be to skip it, make a good sandwich, get a nice glass or cup of your most liked beverage, and skip this with grace and easiness.

Faith as a scientific interaction

We live in an agnostic world in the best case, or in a nihilistic one in the worst.

This seems the current definition of our western society nowadays, but it is far from the truth.

We cannot deny there is a strong tendency to create a concrete world, based on science (whatever this means) and where everybody who do not toe the line to these beliefs is considered crazy, simpleton or moron and must be left behind with no one glance back, a kind of ostracism if you do not “equal” the herd model. This is effective with teenagers and some adults in need of a self-esteem booster.

This culture tries its best to keep humankind with the feet on solid earth, I am sure its followers are absolutely convinced they are right and performing a good deed. The question here is about what difference they make on reality.

When you make an exhaustive analysis of this phenomenon you find in a surprising way that, despite the efforts realized to keep everything accounted for, we are dealing with a huge slice of that thing most dreaded by unbelievers: Faith.

From long ago in the western religious fields Faith is one of the three theological virtues: Faith - Hope - Charity. The order was not aleatory. Faith opens the way to mystic environment where, based in Hope, will find the final Charity (Absolute Love). This seems to be an unacceptable way to achieve things and knowledge in this world without faith, but…

What is the path to achieve knowledge in the actual world?

Premise - Test - Evidence.

These are the three virtues of science; as a complement of this path, anyone can walk it and repeat exactly the same situations and conclusions.

Now, few of us can follow this path since we have not the training to do so. So what are we really doing? We believe the scientists are saying the truth, we have, hrrmm… sorry, faith in their work.

Here you go! The world is based on faith, or it will not work, it is impossible for us, all of us, to test and prove everything and anything.

If we do not develop an open mind we restrain ourselves to narrow paths and clearly set close boundaries to our learning.

Something cannot be proved by a set of concrete rules? Well, maybe it does not exist or maybe it does but cannot be proven by a set of concrete rules! This open-minded feeling should be the gist of agnosticism, not the “not believe until proven” which is the demanding action of these days.

We must remember that if this “open-minded” business is good in itself, it is subjective.

You have never seen a ghost… they do not exist for you.

Right! I agree.

You live in a haunted house… and ghosts go bumping in the night, they are very real to you.

Right! I agree.

Listening to many agnostics, one would imagine that this appeal to authority as a criterion is unscientific, though perhaps nowhere is authority appealed to so unscientifically as by modern scientists and modern critics.

Now, can you tell me why should I accept “scientific” faith and not “religious” faith?
I can hear your answer: “Because whatever a scientist said can be proved… (I add) by another scientist!”. What about me; I am no scientist, so I must believe whatever scientists say.

Cool! I agree.

Now again, whatever any mystic says can be proved… by another mystic! What about me; I am not mystic, so I must believe whatever mystics say!

Cool! I agree.

Despite my thought may seem “unscientific” I think we are attaching too much belief to science and too little to religion. And it is not just coincidence but causality. Since the famous (often misquoted) statement from Marx about the “opium of the people”, we are riding a crusade backward, doing the same thing crusaders did against those infidels but now against those faithful.

And we must not forget that for each agnostic abusing a faithful there is a faithful abusing an agnostic, fundamentalism does not help in any field!

From a psychiatric point of view, human beings are very much as a vacuum box, this vacuum is the outcome of the poor control we have over ourselves and our environment.

Notwithstanding all the efforts we have exerted since we become aware of being alive we cannot predict a small event in the next seconds of our time with absolute certitude. Oh yes, we can, with a grade of exactitude written in the unreliable laws of statistics, say what is going to happen but there always is a number, sometime a large one, of variables that must be left out of our equation since we cannot, even with a computer, manage them all.

And yes, maybe in the future we will be able to do so, but not now, which is the time I am interested in since I am not sure (there we go about predictions) if I will be alive the next five seconds.

We can see we cannot master our person or our environment so we feel: insecure.

We know we are in the maelstrom of events that can change our life in seconds; this is the essence of our feeling insecure, unsafe, and vulnerable. This condition is what creates the vacuum in our core; this vacuum is a strong need to find a safe harbour, a place where everything is accounted for and make us feel sure of ourselves and our environment.

This vacuum attracts anything that can promise, not even give the certainty, but only the promise of that certitude, of that safe feeling of being secure. Hence the need to believe in something, anything, so we start to take Nature (capital N), Science, People, Anything, Nothing as the fulcrum of our beliefs, and use the lever to assert our insecurities.

In recapitulation, we have two paths in our secular Faith: we believe what we want to believe, or we believe nothing at all!

So much for desacralized Faith!

Now, just for the sake of balance let’s review the opposite, sacralized Faith, this somewhat discredited path, but let's make a separate room for it.

(to be continued)

The music is a fragment of "4th Symphony" by Ludwig van Beethoven, performed by Jansons BRSO

© 2013 Od Liam.


  1. Argentina, no esta en las banderitas para traducir.

    1. La banderita de España representa a todos los países de habla hispana. El mundo no sabe que Argentina tiene un idioma propio.

  2. Looking forward to your next post , very interesting essay :)

    1. Thank you a lot, Auntie!

      I am so happy you found this post interesting!

  3. Deep thoughtful post Od! Lots of fact and myths hold us together or make us a human being. We live with an inclination towards: hope, faith and belief. Not that we want them in life; but we definitely need them to live. Sometimes science tries to reason our religious beliefs and vice versa, but we continue living this life because- faith makes us do so- faith to believe in "may happen" or "may not happen," but don't leave holding on to faith.

    1. You are right, Epsita!

      Since science was proppelled from being the handy help to live towards a place of immanence and perfection, it was thought, by some minds, as the total replacement of any immobile motor from old phylosophy. And the need of human being to fill the "vacuum" in their self, helped to try a new definition of Faith.

      It is not working, so I think time will take Faith to its old place. And do not worry, there is no way for us, human beings, to lose faith, only we can change referents for a whil, but we will return to the right path eventually.

  4. A very thought provoking post. You never failed to produce great ideas and good arguments on certain matters, Od. As it's to be continued, so I'll wait for the next part. :)

    1. Thank you, BB!

      Yes, maybe it is better to find out what is in store about these posts.

      You know, I can follow Elf advice and develop anything from credible to fantastic. :)))

  5. Faith has a counterpoint in which it's based: trust. There's no possible faith without a share of trust. It all depends on who you trust in the end. Trust is what breaks that vaccum and unsecure feeling you talk about. Who deserves your trust defines your beliefs and so, where you build your faith.

    Now, the religious beliefs has something against them: their dogma. Can you trust in something that you can't question, that will never be modified, no matter what?

    Science is open to all questions, and it's improving all the time. And, if we can't trust completely on it, it's because it doesn't give all the answers -yet- to our spiritual disquisitions as human beings...It has commited too many mistakes, what makes it unperfect (human). Something that God and religion is not (human).

    Ironic, isn't it?

    1. Helo, Priscila!!

      Welcome to my blog!

      Maybe you are right, I cannot say for sure. Trust may, or may not be other word to express faith.

      Now, you are talking of other reality I didn't took in mind when writing this essay, to wit: religion and the whole structure it embrace, which include dogma. That is not Faith, that is a mortar to keep the institution cohesively alive.

      When I speak about Faith, I am talking apropos a different feeling that does not stand definition in human terms. That does not lack anything, that is a "noble gas" as neon, that does not need questions, nor changes. Something that is complete in its own right.

      It is said that Faith is something given as a grace, that nobody can have it by his or her own effort because it is so strongly rooted in the infiniteness of the soul that can only have a very special, for not using the word holy that may misdirect its reason, source.

      Unfortunately, it is not easily defined nor easily explained by words. It is said: If you have not faith, you will not accept any explanation of its existence, and if you have faith you do not need any explanation of its existence.

      All other speculations can be just that: speculations.

      As Shakespeare put the last words of Hamlet: The rest is silence.

      Of course, all this has no intention of stating a Truth, since no one own it. This is just a long thought from the vacuum of our human indigence.

  6. Then, maybe I haven't got that kind of faith you're refering to -and so, I don't accept any explanation of it's existence, in your own words- :)

    I think I understand what you are trying to explain, but, in my small opinion, that special state is something we learn, we inherit, or just asume from the enviroment where we live or where we were bred. Or that we acquire from our experience.

    Let me try to explain myself this way: if a human being grows in isolation from the rest of the humanity, will that person ever feel something like that "faith" you describe?

    1. How can I know if you do not have Faith? It is impossible to know the deepness and the infinite meanders of the human soul.

      You probably know that Judas Iscariot was one of the few characters in the Bible thought to be in Hell because his treason, especially because he took his own life hanging himself in desperation, in our reality it is a good teaching example, but as a eternal fact it lacks the small and infinite ammount of eternity.

      I seem to remember my Granddad answering my question about the fact that Judas was certainly in Hell: He said, quoting who knows who:

      «Look, lad, when Judas jumped to his death, the rope was of an infinite length, and he had enough time to repent and get absolution.»

      About our capacity to acquire things by a copycat attitude and experience of our environment, there is no challenge to that, it is proved, as it is also proved that we can reject everything we received early in our life.

      With respect to your last paragraph, how can we answer it with total candor?

      Again, if you have faith, you believe (know) it is possible.
      If you do not believe, you will doubt it too!

      Human inner vacuum is there if the person grows in a society or fate decreed otherwise. Only if you believe, of course. Sometimes this vacuum can be felt to be a falacy, if you do not have faith

      I do not deny your explanation, nor think I have all answers, I only keep my mind (not my brain) :), open!