Faith in a Hypothesis

Faith in a Hypothesis April 24, 2023

Early on, in most versions of Christianity, disciples are taught to have faith in the beliefs of the tradition. They acknowledge that this is something that is unseen and not necessarily proven. I see this replayed over and over again. To me, these beliefs are unseen, unproven things are actually not truths, they are hypotheses.

Oxford defines a hypothesis as:

“A supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.”

So here’s the problem. At a specific point in time, a person or group of people propose an explanation of how to understand God, and/or the Scriptures, etc.. The next step should be to gather and analyze data and then draw further conclusions. The hypotheses can be reissued based on the experience and testing of the previous assumptions.

But that is not what we typically do in religious circles. In religious organizations, usually one person proposes a hypothesis. And they don’t encourage us to ask questions and test and see if their assumptions are accurate. They ask us to have faith even though we can’t see whether it’s true.

This way of being promotes an efficiency to run the organization. The leader promotes that all initiates should pledge allegiance to the beliefs of their current system based on their assumptions. Inherently, new ideas are not usually considered and testing the assumptions with questions or experimentation is not encouraged.

Therefore, we become very committed to our assumptions and jump through all kinds of hoops to believe that our hypothesis is actually fact or truth. We discount all other assumptions from other groups because we believe that ours is the right one. In this way, belief and faith are about the most irresponsible things we could do.

There are tens of thousands of Protestant denominations that all make assumptions and ask their followers to trust them (by faith). Faith and belief can be powerful things, but when they cause us to ignore facts and realities about our world, that same power is often directed towards our demise.

It is okay and necessary to hypothesize about our world and our understanding of God, etc. But it seems counterintuitive and counterproductive to simply accept our hypothesis as truth and bully people into having faith and belief in our assumptions.

The predecessors of the Christian faith once hypothesized about eternal conscious torment (hell). Because they asked their followers to accept this, it was used and misused to control the masses. When it was eventually tested, the hypothesis came up short and millions of former believers are rejecting this idea of eternal torment because the theory didn’t survive testing. Regretfully, this untested hypothesis has been used for centuries to bully people into belief of other assumptions.

Many people inside of organized religion are upset because some are testing and questioning what is accepted as fact. We call this deconstruction. The reason people are testing the age old hypotheses is because that is what should have been done in the beginning.

Faith is not a gateway to truth. In fact, faith in something without testing and questioning is almost a guarantee that facts will be distorted and left up to the whim of the one proposing the idea.

Faith and belief may have been the two most overused and abused words in history. In most cases, they are used as a means of bypassing the hard work of testing what is true and just and real.

I’m so glad that I am now on more of a mystic journey, where I test and explore and experience many different things, and I’ve learned to trust my inner knowing more than someone with a hypothesis. I exercise less faith and belief, but I am developing a knowing which comes from my experiences and going inside.

There will always be someone willing to take our money and tell us what to think based on their assumptions.

Just because a belief is old, doesn’t mean that it is not simply an untested hypothesis.

The fact that a lot of people say something is true, doesn’t meet the criteria of proof that it is true.

Faith and belief may get us through the long hard work of testing our theories, but they don’t give us permission to ignore this process. Challenge everything!

Be where you are,
Be who you are,
Be at peace,

Karl Forehand

Photo by Rene Asmussen:

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