Thursday, January 13, 2011

God, The Mountain Climber and Faith




Last Sunday I heard a sermon about having faith in faith/belief vs. faith in God. That may sound a little confusing, but the basic idea was that many people have faith in their beliefs, but do not have the faith to trust and/or obey God when he 'speaks' to them.

What stuck out in my mind was a story he told to close the sermon. A mountain climber climbs to the top of a mountain (It could've been Mount Everest, but I'm not sure. Either way, the mountain was very tall). As he begins his descent however, night comes and darkness begins to fall. Unfortunately the mountain climber neglected to bring any supplies or equipment with him to survive the night. He has no choice but to continue his descent. At some point he slips up, loses his grip and begins hurtling down the mountain and most likely to his death. Luckily for him, the rope tied around his waist snaps tightly, leaving him suspended in midair.

Of course, this still doesn't change the fact that he's hanging in midair in below freezing temperatures. So he and God begin to have a little conversation:

The man: "Save me, Save me!"  God replies: "Do you really believe I can save you?" The man: "Yes!" God: "Then cut the rope."

It sounds like an easy solution, but the man is in pitch black darkness. He doesn't know how far the drop is once he cuts the rope and becomes afraid. He never cuts the rope and freezes to death. When rescuers come the next morning, his body is discovered hanging only two feet from the ground.

This elicited much "mmmmhmmms" and "My Lords" from the church mothers and congregation. Someone even came forward during invitation (a man to be exact--you know what means--extra salvation points!), and it's easy to see why, if you take the story at face value: God knows what's best for us. All we have to is obey him and have faith, and everything will turn out right. Otherwise, we can face potentially deadly consequences. The story had that perfect mix of drama, action and fear that religion does so well.

But when I really thought about it, I gleaned something very different from the story. First of all, God is supposed to be omniscient. If he is, then he would've known this man's past, present and future. Which means he would've known that the mountain climber would eventually be hanging by a rope in the bitter cold in the dead of night. Most importantly, he would've known the outcome of his request that the man simply cut the rope. And if God already knew, then why would he even ask him in the first place?

Someone reading this post might respond  to my query with this explanation: "Because God wanted to see if he had faith. He was testing him!" To which I say: Why test someone when you already know the outcome? Especially if said outcome could mean life or death?

Secondly, this doesn't really jive with the whole "God is our father and we're his children," concept. I don't know about you, but if I was an all-powerful deity and saw one of my kids in process of becoming a human Popsicle, I wouldn't simply say cut the rope. Why only give him half the information and leave room for doubt? Why not scream out: "Cut the rope! There's a pile of snow two feet beneath you!" And if he still didn't believe, I'd shine my holy light and show his ass so he could see! Cause that's what a parent does. At least an all-powerful, omnipotent one anyway.

Which is leads to my main issue: Why is faith good? Why is believing in something illogical and irrational considered a virtue? In every other area of our lives, we're taught to be skeptical and rational, except when it comes to religion. Think about it: if I were at a car dealership and asked the salesmen if I could take a test drive, and he replied "You'll just have to take it on faith," I would think he was a damn fool or a con artist. But if the same man was in a pulpit, everyone would think he's a wise man. WTF?

Getting that job promotion sort of pales in comparison.
If God is so concerned about our lives and eternal destinations, why is he making himself so hard to find? If he truly wanted everyone to avoid a permanent vacation with the Devil, why only speak through "signs and wonders?" That is if you call finding a parking spot or having someone 'healed' of cancer when they had 'round the clock chemotherapy and constant medical supervision a wonder. A good thing? Yes. But parting the Red Sea it is not. But I digress. I swear, it irritates me every time I hear someone say "God told me to tell you," or some other nonsense. Screw the secretaries, I wanna speak to the boss!

God could simply resolve the issue by doing an act so improbable that the world would be forced to acknowledge his existence. Healing an amputee's leg by growing back the original limb for example. Or appearing before the entire planet in all your glory and replenishing the world so no one goes hungry would be a good show of Holy Ghost power. But then there would be no need for faith, and his plans would be ruined, even though he created the plot and knows how the story will end.

But then again, were God to prove his existence, the question of whether you'd worship him comes into play. Let's just say Old Testament God was pretty moody, at least from what I've read.

So is faith a good thing? Tell me what you think.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

its not a good thing or a bad thing. its the only thing.

Anonymous said...

if u dont believe in something,
u'll fall for anything,

most people only want 2 believe when they r in desperate situation. its like going to doctor when u got diabetes. why not start early? religion is like a rule, u dont hv rules than u can do anything u want, including destroying urself. theres always disagreement in people today, but if we follow rules the world will be a better place..

Anonymous said...

god is omniscient, thats y he dont tell. think about it..

and, life is more than car dealing. u dont test life, u live ur life. be a good person, help people who is in trouble, forgive ur enemies n live ur life positive. u can know a person by d words they use when writing something.

Kevin said...

@Anonymous #2: Your first point doesn't really make sense: if God is omniscient, why wouldn't he tell in this scenario? If he truly saw this man as his child, why wouldn't he do everything in his all-encompassing power to help him out? Wouldn't you do everything you could if you had a child in danger?

Secondly the car example was only to illustrate that religion is often the only area in our lives where logic doesn't apply. As for the things you list (forgiving enemies, being a good person, helping people etc.) why do you need to believe in a deity to do those things?

And while we may not test life, if you follow the bible this life is test to see if we will follow God's path/plan for us. So why would said deity require this test and make himself so hidden?

Related Posts with Thumbnails