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Journal of No. 118


July 21st, 2007

Faith & Flanders @ 09:28 am

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The (former) religion writer for the Los Angeles Times discusses his crisis of faith.

He doesn't present any actual argument against theism and most of the implied one is unpersuasive even to me, an unbeliever. But I do find that part of his conclusion resonates with me:

"Clearly, I saw now that belief in God, no matter how grounded, requires at some point a leap of faith. Either you have the gift of faith or you don't. It's not a choice. It can't be willed into existence. And there's no faking it if you're honest about the state of your soul."


I finished Arturo Pérez-Reverte's The Flanders Panel. He wrote the excellent Club Dumas, which was made into the not-so-excellent film, The Ninth Gate (In Johnny Depp's Pants*). The Flanders Panel is in a similar vein, with art conservation and chess taking the place of book-hunting and Satanism. I'm a far better book-hunter than I am an artist, and probably a better Satanist than I am a chess-player, so perhaps that's why I found the Flanders Panel disappointing. But really, I just think it's not nearly as good a piece of fiction. It certainly had its moments, but the resolution of the mystery was intensely unsatisfying.
 
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From:nephthys510
Date:July 21st, 2007 07:13 pm (UTC)
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I've read most of Arturo Perez-Reverte's novels. I love Club Dumas, i don't remember Flanders Panel (not good), but I enjoyed all the others.

Don't give up on him. The others are quite good as well, but as you mentioned, they deal with subjects less near and dear to you, they won't be as happy-making as Club Dumas, but they are damned good reads.
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From:caprine
Date:July 21st, 2007 09:38 pm (UTC)
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Arturo Perez-Reverte rocks.
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From:servingdonuts
Date:July 22nd, 2007 03:40 am (UTC)
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"Either you have the gift of faith or you don't. It's not a choice. It can't be willed into existence."

I'm not so certain. You can absolutely instill faith in someone else - or any other brainwashing program of your choosing. It seems to be possible to program yourself as well. You can change your behavior, which in time can change your habits, which in time can change your thoughts.

I think it would be a very strange person who did not believe in god but wanted enough to believe that they undertook to brainwash themselves into becoming a believer. But I think it's possible, and it probably happens more often than you might think.

That said, I think it's true that the vast majority either believe or don't, and that they got that way due to external factors rather than a deliberate choice. Some (many?) may have at some point thought long and hard about their belief in order to clarify it, but realizing that you really don't believe in god isn't the same as choosing not to believe in god. I also think that most people, once they've figured out whether they believe or not, have no desire to switch; they like the conclusion they've come to, and they take steps to reinforce their conclusion. Thus, it's not so much that "it's not a choice"; rather, most people never choose.
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From:ladyeuthanasia
Date:July 22nd, 2007 05:11 am (UTC)
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I think it would be a very strange person who did not believe in god but wanted enough to believe that they undertook to brainwash themselves into becoming a believer. But I think it's possible, and it probably happens more often than you might think.

Actually, I think it happens that way most of the time. People have very little reason, too. They often lack the barest of anecdotal evidence. They just wave their hands and say, "Well, I just think there has to be more out there." And I think they do it for a whole battery of emotional and psychological reasons.
From:aaronjv
Date:July 23rd, 2007 07:46 am (UTC)
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I challenge myself almost daily about faith, but I keep CHOOSING to not believe. At least, I choose not to give any knee-service to the Christian concept of god.

I think the idea of god, for most people, is ingrained into their psyche as a human being: we have VERY strong desires to see JUSTICE meted out. God satisfies that deep-rooted desire to see the virtuous rewarded, and the criminal punished. Each religion just has a different idea of what is virtue and what is vice and what happens when you have too much of one or the other.

I agree with the original quote; faith, TRUE faith, is like a genetic disease; you either have it or you don't. Now, with external factors, over time, that can be reversed (to have or have not), but it's entirely possible to go return to your original belief (or lack thereof) as well.
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From:pingback_bot
Date:March 6th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)

How not to reconvert an atheist

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User essentialsaltes referenced to your post from How not to reconvert an atheist saying: [...] As I mentioned a couple years back, the LA Times' religion editor lost his faith and wrote a few articles about the experience. He's recently expanded these to a whole book, and he's gotten a lot of fan-mail from Christian readers ... [...]
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From:essentialsaltes
Date:March 6th, 2009 10:32 pm (UTC)

Re: How not to reconvert an atheist

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Oh, pingback_bot, how I love you!

Journal of No. 118