Introductions

Let me explain what I’m trying to do. First, you need some context.

Why am I here?

That question is not a segue into a profound discussion on existence. I am an engineer; and it seems to me that I’m wired that way. I was also raised in the Christian faith. Over the years, I’ve continued to feed my hunger for an understanding of the way things work and have, as a result, reshaped my faith to fit what I’ve learned and observed. Over time, this led me to a more liberal system of beliefs, though still clearly within the bounds of Christianity. I also came to accept that I simply cannot explain some of the difficulties associated with the Christian faith. I adopted a philosophy of focusing on the important stuff and learning to be content with saying “I don’t know” when it came to questions that don’t affect the doctrine of salvation. However, as I began to take this position more and more, I eventually realized that the questions were starting to outweigh the answers. This is where I am now. I have decided that I cannot, in good conscience, continue to accept ignorance as my position on so many matters. In fact, you may even recognize that defaulting to ignorance is not biblical. 1 Peter 3:15 says to “… always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.” In hindsight I’m embarrassed to admit that I have allowed myself to be engaged in intellectual dishonesty by looking past these issues despite that fact that I was aware of, and in many cases quite familiar, with them. Now that I have decided that I am no longer content with ignorance, the doubts are coming at me like a storm and I am faced with a faith that is far weaker than at any time in my past.

So, I’ve started a blog. If you know me, you know how out of character this is. Like many engineers, I naturally shy away from social interaction and sharing my thoughts. I am a perennial wallflower. However, this journey has been going on for a while in my head and I realize that if I have something valuable in my head then I need to document it for future reference. I’ve forgotten enough to know that if I don’t record my findings then my memory will fail me. This blog is the record of my journey, a point of reference for myself and those who wish to know how I arrived at my worldview, whatever that may be.

At the time of this posting I haven’t yet revealed the magnitude of my doubt to anybody. I know that there’s no shame in doubting but I need some time to process these things before I bring relationships into the mix. If I tried to explain my thoughts to somebody right now it would be an incomprehensible jumble as all the different questions collided on their way out. My journey needs an organized backstory before I ask anybody else to participate in it. In fact, if you’re reading this now it may very well be because I’ve taken that step and pointed you here to understand where I’m coming from. Even so, this is also a publicly accessible blog. While I’m not yet ready to mix my doubts with my relationships, I recognize the value of “peer review”. I don’t know if anybody is even going to stumble upon this and offer any critiques of my ramblings, but I welcome the possibility. To quote Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens his friend.” I would be foolish to reject the insights and thoughts of others…I’m just not ready yet to do that with friends and family.

What am I doing?

I’m going to start facing these doubts and questions head on. I will not brush aside the difficult aspects of faith, or use “God’s ways are not our ways” to justify a comfortable ignorance. I’ve titled this blog “A Measure of Faith” as a play on the text of Romans 12:3, “For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith.” First, I couldn’t agree more with the encouragement to “think with sober discernment”. That is exactly what I intend to do. Second, I am intrigued by the notion of faith as something quantifiable. Along those lines, I’ve decided to put a number on it – a measurement, if you will. Here’s the plan:

As I decide to tackle each topic, I will put together a post that reflects my attempt to describe and interpret it from at least two viewpoints: the Christian view and the naturalist view. I am defining these as:

  1. Christianity: Posits a supernatural power that has provided a revelation to humanity through the Christian bible.
  2. Naturalism: Does not assume a supernatural power and presumes that everything can be explained by natural means.

I realize that there are many more worldviews, but these two are my primary concerns and most other views are closely related to one of these. That is, most religious views will share many common points with Christianity and most non-theistic views will share many common points with naturalism. At the end of the post, I will assign a probability to each view that I present. This probability is a representation of my opinion on the validity of each particular view in light of my evaluation. I’m not under any illusion that this will be an objective measurement, nor do I intend it to be. Obviously, despite my best attempts, my inherent biases will play a large role in the evaluation and the resulting probabilities. There’s not much I can do about that. Ultimately, I am simply trying to quantify the validity of each view with respect to my interpretation of the available information. To me, a view is more valid if it does a better job of explaining the data while raising fewer additional questions. I don’t know how much I’ll actually stick to this recipe but that’s the general theme.

That is where I am and what I plan to do about it. Where I will be once this is through, I do not know, but I am quite certain that I will not be the same.

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11 thoughts on “Introductions

  1. I’m looking forward to digging into your blog further. Analyzing one’s faith is incredibly difficult, though of course, Christians are told to do just that. Kudos to you for walking that path. Seeing as you wrote this post almost a year ago, have you told anyone close to you about your doubts yet?

    As a point of interest, I spent a long time in the church of Christ (the ultra-conservative branch), which has some ties to the Christian church. I believe both came out of the Campbell-Stone revival stuff of the 19th century.

    • Ah, I see I need to clarify. I was using “Christian church” in the colloquial sense, covering Christianity as a whole. I grew up in a non-denominational protestant church.
      I spilled the beans to my wife a couple months after this post and to the rest of my family a couple months after that. Those were difficult times but it’s infinitely better than having to pretend. I’m fairly comfortable in my agnostic skin now, but still hungry for the truth. Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Hi JL,
      I would appreciate an expansion on this comment. I suppose you are referring to William James’ definition of truth. I agree that the expedient is not necessarily true, but I am not so sure that we can tell the difference and it would seem to me that our attempts to make a distinction will only persuade us to more firmly hold the expedient as the truth. Please do elaborate, if you would, preferably as a comment on Part 2 of my Epistemology post.

      • I love reading “The measure of Faith” Articles about biblical themes. I am intersted in the Article by Travis R
        “Did Jesus fulfill Daniel’s 70 Weeks?- The Futurist View. I am writing a book about the End Times Prophecy
        and I am quoting some excerpts of this Article. My publisher is asking me for a written permission from Mr.
        Travis R. Could you please give me an email where I can ask for it? I will appreciate in advance for your help.
        My name is Giovanni Lasso a minister of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ from Tulsa, Ok.
        God Bless,
        G. L.

      • Hi Giovanni,
        You’re welcome to quote from these articles but I suspect that they are not the best option for your purposes. You may want to make sure you understand what is being concluded before you quote it.

  2. Hi Travis,

    I was very pleased to stumble across your blog today! You left a good comment on one of my blog posts concerning consciousness, and I looked and found that you have a really cool blog!!! It seems like we have a lot in common regarding our process for searching for truth. I think you will really enjoy a TEDx Talk I recently gave: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3HpUUP9DfI.

    I really liked your post on Pascal’s wager. Evidence is the most important thing.

    Happy searching!

    • Hi Josh,
      Thanks for the compliments. I am the same Travis that also commented and asked what your conclusion was when you posted the link to the video. I think I see where you’re leaning, given the new “Evidence Based Christianity” blog, but I appreciate the epistemic humility that still seems to pervade your discussions. Happy searching to you as well, and I look forward to seeing what pops up on the new blog.

  3. Pingback: Finding God in the Waves (Part 1: The Backstory) | A Measure of Faith

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