faith: 1.) complete trust or confidence in someone or something; 2.) strong belief in the doctrines of a religion based on spiritual conviction rather than proof. (online dictionary, April 10, 2022)
shattered: 1.) break or cause to break suddenly and violently into pieces; 2.) upset (someone) greatly
When someone is said to have “faith”, it used to mean that they have a belief in something beyond themselves. That belief often lies in a person’s religion. But it can also lie in a strong belief in which someone puts their trust. The typical understanding, then, is a belief in something or someone that is not themselves.
Depending on the society, it can encompass a belief in the occult that can be as innocuous sounding as “energy in crystals” to outright spells and witchcraft.
Faith can also appear as a complete trust in a singular leader or individual whose views closely align with the worshipper. Or they can have similar views, but have the appearance of the energy and power to make those views become a reality.
Another type of Faith which seems to be even more prevalent are those who claim to be of a particular religious bent – Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism, Muslim, etc. – , but cherry pick only the parts they like. All the hard stuff they disagree with is tossed by the wayside saying that it is irrelevant in today’s world. They become hypocrites, proclaiming that they are Christian, Muslim, etc., after they thre overboard the most pertinent sections of that faith.
Reality of Faith…
But what is the reality of a true Faith?
Let’s first cover what it is not. It is not relativism. Relativism is the claim that there is no objective truth.
It is difficult at best to have any meaningful conversation with a relativist. A relativist usually begins a conversation about their faith with, “For me…” It is a clear indication that they see their viewpoint as a truth only for them. Other people can hold their own truths.
But when a conversation is had with someone from, say, India or Pakistan, they hold no such relativistic understanding. For them, what they believe is firm and founded in Truth. It is unshakeable and does not sway with the political or societal winds.
Conversations with individuals who have no fixed beliefs are very difficult. They tend to flounder a bit, and flop around when confronted with questions regarding their positions.
As one person once said, it’s like nailing Jello to a wall.
And when storms come in those individuals lives, it isn’t unusual to hear them question their beliefs. It isn’t unusual to see them enter into despair.
But the reality is that someone who believes that truth is relative has already destroyed their own argument.
One cannot hold objectively true (firm and fixed on an object) that all truth is subjective (relative to the subject of that truth).
Despair is a sad state. It comes about when the person loses all hope. They don’t have the will to go on. Sometimes they end their lives in suicide.
Looking around the world, there is a lot of despair. Lockdowns have only made that more acute.
Tyrannical countries which restrain their populace from sources of even food have made them desperate as they take risky chances just to survive. When those sources are completely cut off and they are left with no recourse, they have two choices. They will turn to something outside themselves, or they will die without hope.
Inside every human being, there is a will to live. It is an instinct. But because man is a rational being, when everything they can control is taken away from him, he becomes hopeless.
Unless he has his hope outside of his situation and himself.
Today, those who believe strongly in God are considered ignorant, foolish outcasts. It is increasing with such rapidity around the globe, that it is now the number 1 most persecuted group of peoples.
On May 3, 2019, the BBC had an article with a headline that read, “Christian persecution ‘at near genocide levels’”.
Today, everything must conform to some “scientific/rational process”. If it cannot be “proved” through such a medium, or even through experiential knowledge, it is promptly rejected as ludicrous and superstitious.
The hatred for those who believe anything that doesn’t smack of this modern thought process are either mocked at best, or killed at worst.
The outlook is bleak. 1 in 3 are being persecuted, and in parts of the Middle East, nearly wiped out completely.
March 7, 2022 CATO Institute showed that countries such countries where Christians are killed or persecuted. North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan, India, and about 39 other countries are among the worst.
The Catholic churches are prime targets even in such “civilized” countries as France. Bomb threats are not uncommon anymore, even as lately as April 8, 2022.
Here in the United States, even talking about God can get you written up in many major (and some minor) corporations. Public schools once held that “Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” (Northwest Ordinance of 1787)
Enter Madalyn Murray O’Hair…
Madalyn lost her faith in 1932, according to her own accounts. She became an avid atheist, and bitter against Christianity as a whole. So much so, she made it her life mission to remove God from everyone’s life in this country just as she had done to herself.
As her first target, she went after Maryland. At that time, Maryland allowed prayer and Bible studies in schools. Her son, raised and believing in atheism, was to be enrolled, Madalyn was incensed. She was told that the prayer and Bible reading were constitutional. Her son could enroll in the school, and he could choose to not participate in the prayers or studies.
However, she took the ruling as a discrimination agains her son. In 1963, she won a case against the ruling, and said that the prayers and Bible studies, violated the First Amendment.
She went on to assure that God was removed from not only the schools, but from all public life. Essentially, she replaced the American standard religion of Christianity and Deism with her Atheistic beliefs.
Today, thanks to Madalyn O’Hair and our court system, even mentioning God will get you thrown out of school.
There is still some hope.
On May 30, 1998, then President Clinton said, “…Schools do more than train their children’s minds. They also help to nurture their souls by reinforcing the values they learn at home and in their communities. I believe that one of the best ways we can help our schools do this is by supporting students’ rights to voluntarily practice their religious beliefs in schools….For more than 200 years, the First Amendment has protected our religious freedom and allowed many faiths to flourish in our homes, in our work place and in our schools. Clearly understood and sensibly applied, it works.”
Even in the highest offices, we used to hear the Presidents say that the American people will pray for victims of disaster or violence.
But that voice is rapidly giving in to the disbelief of younger people raised without any faith at all.
Try to have a conversation with anyone about God or your beliefs at work or in a public setting and suddenly you will find yourself isolated or verbally assaulted. Or, worse, you are dragged before HR or the court of public opinion for violating someone else’s “right” to no believe anything.
Even saying a prayer before meals in a public restaurant can get a lot of people upset today.
But what most people don’t realize is that they have substituted one religion for another.
Religion is defined as, “1.) a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices…” (Merriam Webster online Dictionary, April 10, 2022)
According to the BBC, “Atheists are people who believe that god or gods (or other supernatural beings) are man-made constructs, myths and legends or who believe that these concepts are not meaningful.”
Atheism has become the new religion of modern man.
Hole in the heart…
In our societies today, people have placed themselves as their own god. Innately, within the breast of every human being, there is a desire to worship something. It can be as innocuous as a sports team, or impactful as a power outside themselves. Or it will be the idea that deep inside one’s self there is a “power”, intuition, or “energy” that is the center of their spiritual focus.
Whatever it is, man has a need to worship something. Left in a vacuum, he creates something to believe in.
What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?
This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself”Pensées VII, by Blaise Pascal, page 75, New York; Penguin Books, 1966
Questioning life’s meaning…
There comes a time in every human being’s life to question what they believe. Sometimes it comes during peaceful times, often when alone with their own thoughts and lack of distractions.
But more likely it occurs during a crisis.
When man is faced with his own mortality, he begins to question what it will be like to die. Is there something beyond this life. Perhaps there is nothing…and if so, then what was the ultimate meaning of their existence? Was all they lived for for naught?
The wage itself came during a skeptical age – the Age of Enlightenment. People were beginning to question the existence – or even the need – of a God. Reasonable arguments once used to prove the existence of God were no longer believed. Men were trending toward atheistic humanism.
Pascal’s simple argument went something like this: “Either God is, or he is not. But to which view shall we be inclined? Reason cannot decide this question. Infinite chaos separates us. At the far end of this infinite distance a coin is being spun that will come down heads or tails. How will you wager?”
He challenged those who weren’t sure of God’s existence to see what they would accept. God (heads) or No God (tails).
He went further. Pascal challenged the skeptics.
“Let us weigh up the gain and the loss involved in calling heads that God exists. Let us assess the two cases: if you win, you win everything: if you lose, you lose nothing.”
Faith can only be shattered if one’s belief is not deeply held. If someone believed strongly in something, it would be difficult to sway them to believe something different.
For anyone who is searching for happiness and long for something to cling to, especially in times of uncertainty, it will not hurt to take up Pascal’s wager. The worst that happens is that nothing happens. And nothing, at that point, changes or is lost in the process.
“Do not hesitate then: wager that he does exist.”, says Pascal.
Try it for 30, 60, or 90 days. Live as if God does exist. If, at the end of that time, it is concluded that there is no God, one must ask one important question: “Did I enter the challenge believing there was no God regardless of outcome? Or did I put my whole heart and soul into trying to see if God exists?”
In the words of Pascal, “If you are unable to believe, it is because of your passions since reason impels you to believe and yet you cannot do so. Concentrate then not on convincing yourself by multiplying proofs of God’s existence but by diminishing your passions.”
Seek Truth and it will always be found. But one must seek it with their whole heart.
If you really want to know if God exists, act like He does. Seek to have Him reveal Himself to you. He will never ignore such a request.