FAITH, FAITHFUL OR UNCONVINVCED? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #29

For a guy who doesn’t believe in a god or gods, Mr. Fandango seems a bit obsessed with the issue of god or gods.

His weekly question, based on a statement by Thomas Jefferson, is:



I have always thought it doesn’t matter a bit what you believe in as long as you aren’t beating me over the head to believe it too. I resent dedicated atheists exactly as much as I resent dedicated evangelists. I want you — whatever you believe — to leave me out of it. Believe what you want. There is absolutely NO PROOF OF ANY KIND whether there is or is not a god or gods nor any proof of an afterlife.

What you believe is what you believe. What is more, I don’t have to agree with you, no matter what you believe. If I want to believe we are all reborn as fairies living under toadstools, who are you to argue the point? Do you know something I don’t know? If so, please enter your arguments for and against in the comments which follow this piece.

Why should you believe? Why should I? Because we — you or I — like the idea. We (do or do not) have faith in the idea. We (do or don’t) prefer the concept of heaven to the concept of permanent darkness.

Would it interest you to know that Judaism has nothing to say — at all — about the afterlife? There is nothing in the Torah about the afterlife. Nothing good, nothing negative, nothing at all. You can believe in Heaven and Hell, Reincarnation, total blackness until God calls everyone up for an accounting — or nothing. Actually, to be a Jew, you don’t (technically) even need to believe in God. You just need to follow the rules and your belief doesn’t matter.

If you convert to Judaism, no one will ask about your beliefs. They will ask if you agree to follow the laws, but not what or who or even if you believe in God, gods, or not.

Unlike Fandango, I know I am fascinated with the concept of God/no God/many Gods and faith/no faith/leap of faith. I’ve had a variety of very close encounters and if anyone has reason to believe, I should. I absolutely should. A pastor of my acquaintance asked me if I was waiting for a picture ID before I could accept faith and I thought about it for a while.

“Yes,” I said. “I think so.”

Part of it is having been raised by an atheist mother, a father who only believed if he thought he was going to die (soon) … and the rest of the time, it held no interest for him at all. I studied the subject in school, read mountains of books and still concluded that it’s a matter of faith and I seem to be a bit lacking in the faith department. I don’t disallow the possibility of a god or gods, but I am unsure. Unconvinced.

But definitely interested and particularly interested by the ideas of those who do believe. I want to know why they believe, what made them take that “leap” of faith? I get to the edge  — regularly — but I never jump. Or if I do, it’s temporary. I don’t stay jumped. I always go back to the other side.

I guess I need the picture ID.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

26 thoughts on “FAITH, FAITHFUL OR UNCONVINVCED? – Marilyn Armstrong”

    1. Exactly. I have been very close friends with very devout Christians and they with me and we never intruded on each others’ space. They figured I was a good person and somehohw, I’d find my way — eventually. I figured they were good people and if there IS Heaven or Karma or something on the other side, they would surely get there. In the meantime, they were good folks and I was glad to know them.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. “I want to know why they believe, what made them take that “leap” of faith?” Me? it was a miracle. It WAS. Other people have poo-pooed that idea and I say I know what I know. I do. As a child I was raised Mormon (or LDS as they say today) and my commitment was never very strong. One might call that ‘shaky faith’ and maybe it is. As a young adult I had someone ask me once why Mormons thought one had to earn their way into Heaven and I had no good answer. I remained lapsed for 32 years.

    But when hubby died, I was privileged to witness a true miracle. I was shown that God was listening to my prayers and that He answers them. I thought (mistakenly) that I would remain faithful for the rest of my life, but that isn’t the case. I’ve found that one has to water faith every day (i.e. work on it) to help it be strong and something one can lean upon in troubled times. I’m envious as hell of those who KNOW ‘for sure’ and who never waiver. They’ve got a connection I’ve never had.

    But despite my lapses and my shaky faith, there’s always been an underlying kernel that tells me what I believe is true. Is right. And obviously what is true and right is in my perspective and probably doesn’t apply to anyone else. One reason I’d make a lousy missionary. One can’t browbeat faith into anyone else. They have to find theirs on their own. Good luck with the I.D. by the way. Let me know if you ever find that… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve written this response three times now and each time I get a “site not found.” Except I hit my “home” key and voila, here I am. WordPress is funky today. How unusual, eh?

      I’m alive because of a vision and a miracle. Not once, but twice. I should be dead. I believe in something, but honestly, I’m not sure what exactly. I did not grow up any kind of Christian and to become a Christian having been born a Jew is a very difficult and painful decision. Christians have persecuted Jews for many centuries and converting to that faith feels a lot like desertion. So I find myself without a “place to be.” And thus I stand on my own, believe whatever I believe, but uncommitted to any specific dogma.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I call your state of being vis a vis this conundrum question “Spiritual”. I’M spiritual, more than religious; although I do follow Mormonism. I had never thought of that…how strange and difficult it must be to be Jewish and convert to one of the flavors of Christianity, including the LDS faith (which a lot of Christians don’t believe we are. We ARE). I knew a Mormon fellow (a convert) who, after many years (decades) as a Mormon, suddenly converted to Judaism one day. I’ve always wondered how he could do that – but your explanation of conversion to Judaism makes perfect sense and now I believe I know why he converted. He was possibly undiagnosed Asperger’s and he liked order and rules above most anything else. I think (hope) he finally found his niche, spiritually speaking.

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    1. No. Tell me about it.

      Okay, I looked it up. Blessed by Google search!

      “Pascal’s wager is an argument in philosophy presented by the seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist, Blaise Pascal. It posits that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not.”

      But I don’t bet on God existing or not. I’m just not sure which God, how many of them there are, or exactly how they interact with humans (or not). I am at a cusp where I can accept that there is something and he/she saved my life not once, but twice. But I am non-dogmatic. I don’t have a set of beliefs I follow and probably never will. I rather LIKE the whole Judaic idea of doing good as the route to God. I am uncomfortable with the idea that faith alone is enough. There are so many evil people, I can’t imagine that if they decide right before they die to believe that all is forgiven. That is why I say I have no place to stand in the world of Dogma.

      By the way: there is a really interesting (and often very funny) movie called “Dogma” about two angels, God, the Devil … and humanity. You will totally love God. See if you can find it. it’s a great piece of writing AND acting.

      “””If you send me your address via email, I think I have an extra copy of it on DVD.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know whether God exists or not but I wager there is something there. Googles states it as “Pascal’s wager is an argument in philosophy presented by the seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist, Blaise Pascal (1623–1662). It posits that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not.”
        Leslie

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        1. I have a movie for you. IF you send me your snail-mail address (email it, not in comment!), I will mail it to you. You will like it. It is funny, serious, and thoughtful. Also well-written and well-acted.

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  2. I’ve had literally thousands of Spiritual experiences in my life. But I can’t give that anybody else. But each of us is on own path – our own journey. And each one is valuable and valid as the other. God is not an idiot. There’s a way for each Soul. The mistake I used to make is thinking that what works so well for me, is right for everybody. Nope. I’d had to learn to appreciate that each person’s journey is as right and important and necessary as my own. As you do.
    Not an easy lesson to learn.

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    1. Any God I would worship isn’t an idiot 😀 People do often seem to assume that the basic judgment any normal person can make is beyond God. I think that’s pretty funny. If you want to give him or her credit for creating the universe, but not the ability to tell right from wrong, I think you’ve got the wrong god.

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  3. “Unlike Fandango, I know I am fascinated with the concept of God/no God/many Gods and faith/no faith/leap of faith.” Au contraire. I, too, am fascinated (albeit not obsessive or compulsive) by the subject, which is why I asked the question and why I periodically post about the topic. If I weren’t fascinated by the topic, I wouldn’t bring it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well then, enjoy. I’ve been trying to find answers — and sometimes looking for questions — my entire life. I think many of us who are not religious still want to know what it is that makes others able to accept God and/or dogma while we cannot. I’m forever asking the question “What made you believe? What event, vision, or whatever made you take that leap? I find the answers fascinating.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Like you, I don’t like being bible-or-otherwise bashed. I’m fine with religion or un-religion, but those who seek to convert and impose their views on others are overstepping the mark. I’m not sure what I believe, but if anything I’m probably more aligned with the ancient ones – those dark age spirits! 🙂

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    1. I’m just plain unsure. And I also don’t see why believing or not believing has anything to do with science. I know scientists who believe and those who don’t and each is convinced he/she is absolutely right. What I think is that if there is a sentient god, he knows. If he doesn’t, he/she isn’t much of a god.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Doesn’t it have to do with what we grew up with regards to faith? If your parents were agnostics, atheists, religious, fanatics; aren’t chances great that you’d grow up in the same fashion? The way you were being taught? Until you (maybe) start asking questions yourself? Only then, if at all, you’ll develop your own beliefs or disbeliefs. Marilyn, the bad news is that you won’t get to see an ID…. because all the mistery of it lies in the word ‘BELIEVING’. If you can touch it, prove it with an ID, it’s no longer a question of belief, but of proof.
    I accept any vision on anything as long as it’s not fanatical and doesn’t involve the ill-being of those under the influence. I had a very interesting discussion with a man of the Pentecostal Church. He showed us his flat which is for let and in CH you need to give notice 3mo in advance or else you’ll have to ‘offer’ the owner/agent 2 valid takers (which is usually the ONLY way of finding a suitable flat in the first place!). All went relatively well, and for some reason (you never know these things), we started talking faith/church… THEN he told us a story of a ‘free’ church with a bad ending and he was so full of disdain against ‘people of dark skin’, LBGT, suicide, that I found it difficult to stay civil. Plus, he was lying about not knowing about a high-power generator next to the estate – and we let it all go. THIS is the kind of religious I can’t abide. And yet, he was such a pleasant, kind, calm person. We all know others, being great human beings on the outside, and anything but on the inside.
    I’m glad and happy to have my faith, to which I shall remain faithful and thankful. As others said it plenty of times: Each to their own. If it makes you happy, go for it! If you are questioning or searching, do it until you’ve found your answer. Last Sunday, in our church, we had an ‘adoption’. It was a 67yr old man who told Hero Husband that he was raised in the catholic faith but was searching for something since the age of a teen. He found it now – and he’s looking no further. Isn’t that great for him? And no, nobody was pulling him by the sleeve, he was just for all his life visiting churches and eventually, found his peace with ours.

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