Can one have hope without faith?


#1

Hi all,

My situation is that it seems logically impossible for me to believe God exists. I know I can't prove that God does not exist, but I can't find any reason to believe in Him anymore except my desire to believe in Him - but even that may have a natural explanation - it's simply too painful for me to imagine life without God even though I reason that it's next to impossible that He exists.

This thread is not an attempt to find reasons to believe (I'm working on that seperately), but rather to determine what course of action I ought to take.

I have hope that God is real and that living as though He were real (even though in my heart and mind it seems impossible) will bring some satisfaction or peace. But since I cannot believe God is real, the only satisfaction or peace I can gain from living as though He were real is through reasoning that it's somehow better for me and those around me. Actually, I don't even know if it would be better for me b/c I doubt doing things w/out faith can count for much. "show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works". And this is where I'm confused.

So, if I am motivated by hope to do the works of faith, does this mean I actually do have faith? Or is it merely wishful thinking? I don't know if everything I have learned about living a godly life is beneficial b/c it really comes from God or b/c human wisdom has paved a beautiful way for us to walk in. I have faith in "the way" (whether or not it comes from God), but does this mean I have the kind of faith I am supposed to have? Or do I just have hope (that God exists) and so living a "godly" life (whether or not God actually has anything to do with it) is works without faith. I'm thinking of "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags".

Hope that made sense. (no pun intended....)

Thanks~


#2

hi Pilgrim, Keep working on it. Don’t ever give up , and pray without ceasing for the gift of faith. God is out there with Actual Grace holding it for EVERYONE to grab a hold of. But you have to do the grabbing freely. Have you ever read the poem The Hound of Heaven?(francis Thompson):):wink: He knows you are out here, Pilgrim, and is just waiting for you to get where you’ve got to be! :thumbsup: God bless you good and proper! ;)Carlan


#3

Yes, you can have hope without faith. In your case, I would say its very important to hold on to the hope you have. It is a great hope!

It is also a very realistic hope, one that can be fully realized in time. Hoping to grow in faith, or hoping that your “walk” is the right one, and that God is out there, are wonderful things to have in this world of brokenness and uncertainty. It seems to me that in your case, having faith would be a simple transition from “hoping” to “knowing.”

I suggest you do some soul searching. Pray, and meditate on your thoughts and perceptions regarding the purpose of life and this world. Faith is an inner journey that many of us leave too little time for. Take some time out, regularly, to comtemplate the mystery of faith and the greatness of God that is visible to us through his creation…all around us…and even within us. His fingerprint is on everything.

Good luck to you and your journey!


#4

[quote="Garyjohn2, post:3, topic:182932"]
Yes, you can have hope without faith. In your case, I would say its very important to hold on to the hope you have. It is a great hope!

It is also a very realistic hope, one that can be fully realized in time. Hoping to grow in faith, or hoping that your "walk" is the right one, and that God is out there, are wonderful things to have in this world of brokenness and uncertainty. It seems to me that in your case, having faith would be a simple transition from "hoping" to "knowing."

I suggest you do some soul searching. Pray, and meditate on your thoughts and perceptions regarding the purpose of life and this world. Faith is an inner journey that many of us leave too little time for. Take some time out, regularly, to comtemplate the mystery of faith and the greatness of God that is visible to us through his creation...all around us...and even within us. His fingerprint is on everything.

Good luck to you and your journey!

[/quote]

Glad you are here Garyj, great post!:)Carlan


#5

Your situation is a precarious one but there is certainly evidence for optimism.

Faith is comprised of several factors. One of which is hope. The NT speaks of the necessity to “Believe:” in Jesus, but then how can one “believe” in Jesus if one does not “believe” in God? Without that belief, our works avail us nothing.

Without a belief in God, even with our doubts, we cannot fulfill the first of the great commandments – You shall Love the Lord your God with all your strength…”

Now to be more hopeful
Since you want to believe, but doubt, I suggest that you work from the premise that you believe in God, but do not and cannot understand Him.
Rather than say, I don’t believe but I hope I’m wrong, say, “I do believe and hope I am not wrong”.

Does this do away with your doubts and questions? Of course not, but it might effect how you approach questions and answers.

I too struggle with doubts. Most do. Even some of our most Holy Saints struggled with long dark spiritual nights.

The best suggestion I can offer is to live as though God exists and He wants us to Love Him and our Neighbor. Talk to him as you would a friend and, like the man asking for Christ’s healing say, “I believe, help my unbelief”.

The reason for taking this approach is simple.

According to St Catherine, At death, we will reach out in one of three ways.
1) Perfected in Love we will reach out to God's Love and be taken directly to heaven
2) Loving but not perfected we will reach out to God's mercy and be taken to purgatory for cleansing and perfecting.
3) Rejecting God, in His mercy and Love, we will reach out to that rejection and fall into Hell.
Thus, this teaching indicates that it is how we think and act in our lives builds up a pattern that determines how we will choose at death.

Sorry if this is disjointed, but I hope some of it is helpful.

Peace
James


#6

You obviously have more experience with the Church than me, however, I hope my little piece of advice can be of some use.

The way I see it, God, even if it should happen that He does not exist, SHOULD exist.

At the moment, I do have faith. However, in a certain moment, when my faith was wavering, I gave the whole matter a lot of thought and decided that it's necessary to live my live as if God does exist, regardless of the actual state of my faith. This world would be better if God existed - and it can be changed for the better if people have faith and act as if God existed, and perhaps, if we all act as if he existed, we might , somehow, make Him exist.

I think it's a sort of safety net for me. In case I loose faith, I still have a reason to follow the Catholic teachings.

I don't know if any of the above makes a lot of sense... However, the feeling I got from reading your post is that you do have faith, but you also have doubt and at the moment the doubt somehow shadows your faith.

God bless.


#7

Thanks for posting this Pilgrim. It is the exact question I having been wanting to ask here, but didn't have the courage. I also do not believe in God, but I desperately want to believe. I also hope that by practicing my religion, faith will grow. I have also wondered what my status is in the Church and how I would be viewed by other Catholics if they knew of my nonbelief. There was a time in my life when I didn't believe and didn't want to believe; I called myself an atheist. Now, I don't believe but I want to believe; I call myself a Catholic atheist. I hope that by practicing my religion with sincerity I will come to believe and truly be Catholic.


#8

SugarMagnolia and Pilgrim, it seems to me that you both have some faith. Faith, hope and love go together. Sometimes we have more of one than the other two, but it’s impossible to have one and not have the other two in some measure. You have enough faith to seek the truth. Neither of you appears to be in a state of willful rejection of truth, though obviously I can’t read either of your souls.

I urge you both to pray for the faith in God you seek and ask your local priests how to further deepen your relationships with God. I know from my own life and experience, for certain, that He is there and loves you both so very deeply. Many Catholics share in that intimacy and I believe it will belong to both of you too, if you keep seeking Him as you now are, desiring Him and reaching out for His light.

Please read this Psalm and pray it to God as you seek Him. It seems to deeply mirror both of your hearts right now.

Psalm 42

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.

5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and 6 my God.
My [c] soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

8 By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”

10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

11 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.


#9

Before I even read it I knew which psalm it would be. And that has been the Psalm I have related best to for many, many years. I could have written it myself I relate so well to it.

Thank you, “Lief”.


#10

[quote="JRKH, post:5, topic:182932"]
Your situation is a precarious one but there is certainly evidence for optimism.

Faith is comprised of several factors. One of which is hope. The NT speaks of the necessity to “Believe:” in Jesus, but then how can one “believe” in Jesus if one does not “believe” in God? Without that belief, our works avail us nothing.

Without a belief in God, even with our doubts, we cannot fulfill the first of the great commandments – You shall Love the Lord your God with all your strength…”

Now to be more hopeful
Since you want to believe, but doubt, I suggest that you work from the premise that you believe in God, but do not and cannot understand Him.
Rather than say, I don’t believe but I hope I’m wrong, say, “I do believe and hope I am not wrong”.

Does this do away with your doubts and questions? Of course not, but it might effect how you approach questions and answers.

I too struggle with doubts. Most do. Even some of our most Holy Saints struggled with long dark spiritual nights.

The best suggestion I can offer is to live as though God exists and He wants us to Love Him and our Neighbor. Talk to him as you would a friend and, like the man asking for Christ’s healing say, “I believe, help my unbelief”.

The reason for taking this approach is simple.

According to St Catherine, At death, we will reach out in one of three ways.
1) Perfected in Love we will reach out to God's Love and be taken directly to heaven
2) Loving but not perfected we will reach out to God's mercy and be taken to purgatory for cleansing and perfecting.
3) Rejecting God, in His mercy and Love, we will reach out to that rejection and fall into Hell.
Thus, this teaching indicates that it is how we think and act in our lives builds up a pattern that determines how we will choose at death.

Sorry if this is disjointed, but I hope some of it is helpful.

Peace
James

[/quote]

It does, thank you, James.


#11

[quote="Erethorn, post:6, topic:182932"]
You obviously have more experience with the Church than me, however, I hope my little piece of advice can be of some use.

The way I see it, God, even if it should happen that He does not exist, SHOULD exist.

At the moment, I do have faith. However, in a certain moment, when my faith was wavering, I gave the whole matter a lot of thought and decided that it's necessary to live my live as if God does exist, regardless of the actual state of my faith. This world would be better if God existed - and it can be changed for the better if people have faith and act as if God existed, and perhaps, if we all act as if he existed, we might , somehow, make Him exist.

I think it's a sort of safety net for me. In case I loose faith, I still have a reason to follow the Catholic teachings.

I don't know if any of the above makes a lot of sense... However, the feeling I got from reading your post is that you do have faith, but you also have doubt and at the moment the doubt somehow shadows your faith.

God bless.

[/quote]

Interesting perspective - I like it.

Thank you.


#12

Carlan and GaryJohn2, Thanks for your encouramentment :slight_smile:


#13

[quote="WatchfulPilgrim, post:9, topic:182932"]
Before I even read it I knew which psalm it would be. And that has been the Psalm I have related best to for many, many years. I could have written it myself I relate so well to it.

Thank you, "Lief".

[/quote]

It is indeed a powerful Word from the Lord. Have you ever offered it to God as a prayer before?


#14

[quote="SugarMagnolia, post:7, topic:182932"]
Thanks for posting this Pilgrim. It is the exact question I having been wanting to ask here, but didn't have the courage. I also do not believe in God, but I desperately want to believe. I also hope that by practicing my religion, faith will grow. I have also wondered what my status is in the Church and how I would be viewed by other Catholics if they knew of my nonbelief. There was a time in my life when I didn't believe and didn't want to believe; I called myself an atheist. Now, I don't believe but I want to believe; I call myself a Catholic atheist. I hope that by practicing my religion with sincerity I will come to believe and truly be Catholic.

[/quote]

Well, this is interesting, and it brings me greater hope.

I think I had more faith in the Mennonite faith than the Catholic one, and for many years I saw very briefly why the Catholic faith was where I ought to be, but as soon as I'd come back, I'd become blind again. At least this time I don't feel blinded to the Catholic faith. At this point, Catholicism is definately more, well, reasonable to me. If I let go of the least bit of skepticism, Catholicism if the first place I would even consider. So I too am hoping that if I practice like a Catholic; like the Catholic I used to be (before all this faith crisis..... and that's going back quite a number of years...) - I too will come to believe. I figure that now that I've gotten past many of the major doctrinal roadblocks to Catholicism, I can eventually find my way back to the basics: faith in God. Maybe practicing will spark some recollection of the way I used to believe and why.

Thank you for sharing that.


#15

Daily. And even in my faithlessness, what little hope I’ve had has brought it to heart as an offering.


#16

Well, I believe God will answer it.


#17

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