We Agnostics (Continue)
J: Faith is knowledge after the fact. Belief comes up front. Before you start you can only believe. It is very easy to look at the other people who have recovered. How can we not look at all the other people who have recovered, and not be able to believe? Believes is where we start at. We do not have to have faith. The only thing we have to do is believe (or be willing to believe). And believing, as Charlie and I always say, believing is like being a little suspicious. That's about all it is. That's all you got to do to start.
C: If you'll notice at the end of that statement, there is a little asterisk. It takes me to the bottom of the page. It says: (p. 47, at the bottom) ''Please be sure to read Appendix II on "Spiritual Experience."'
J: Third time (we have been referred there).
C: They want to be absolutely sure that we don't misunderstand what they're trying to tell us. We're going to build this wonderfully effective spiritual structure. It's evident that by referring, with the asterisk, to the spiritual experience, what he's referring to is the personality change sufficient to recover (from alcoholism).
(p. 569, par. 1) The structure we're going to build is that personality change. Willingness is the foundation upon which we lay that structure. The cornerstone of the structure is to believe, or to be willing to believe that there is a Power greater than ourselves. And I
have no difficulty with that whatsoever, because I have already admitted in Step One that I'm powerless over alcohol.
If I'm powerless over alcohol, then that means that alcohol is a power greater than I am. So I have no trouble in seeing that there's a power greater than human power. Hopefully, this Power will not do to me what alcohol did to me.
It said: (p. 47, par. 3) 'That was great news to us, for we had assumed we could not make use of spiritual principles unless we accepted many things on faith which seemed difficult to believe.'
You see, in my church, my minister said, son, all you got to do is have faith and everything will be alright. Well, how could I have faith in God when I just barely was able to believe. Faith is knowledge after the fact. Belief is suspicion, before the fact. The only thing I can do right now is just to believe that there is a Power greater than myself.
Then if I follow a certain procedure, perhaps I can change that belief into faith. Let's go over for a moment to page fifty-one, and we'll
look at an example or two at what can be accomplished through belief. In the middle paragraph it says (p. 51, par. 2) 'This world of ours has made more material progress in the last century than in all the
millenniums which went before.'
And that's absolutely true. In the realm of the material within the last one hundred years, we've seen practically everything we use today developed. Our automobiles, our television sets, our hair dryers, this projector, electric coffeepots, space ships, airplanes, Christ, nearly everything we've got today has been developed within the last
one hundred years.
The book says: (p. 51, par. 2) 'Almost everyone knows the reason.' Well, I don't really think we do. It says: (p. 51, par. 2) 'Students of ancient history tell us that the intellect of men in those days was equal to the best of today.'
I thought the reason we developed within the last one hundred years is because we're smarter than those people used to be. That isn't what the book says. It says, they were just as smart then as we are today.
(p. 51, par. 2) 'Yet in ancient times material progress was painfully along. ' Even though they were smart, they didn't develop very much.
(p. 51, par. 2) 'The spirit of modern scientific inquiry, research and invention was almost unknown. In the realm of the material, mens' minds were fettered by superstition, tradition, and all sorts of fixed ideas.'
Four or five hundred years ago, a thousand years ago, fifteen hundred years ago, you were not allowed to believe different. Because of superstition, because of tradition, and because of fixed ideas, people could not believe differently. If you dared to believe differently usually you got in bad trouble. It wasn't too long ago we were burning people at the stake here in our own country because they dared to believe differently. We burned them at the stake as witches. If you believed differently they would crucify you, hang you from a tree, put you in jail.
You were not allowed to believe different. So therefore, since the beliefs could not be changed, then the state of their living could not be changed either. It's only within the last one hundred years that men and women s minds have been opened up, the superstitions, tradition, and fixed ideas have disappeared, and we've been allowed to believe differently. You know, can you just imagine five hundred years ago somebody walked down through the street singing, humming, happy, looking straight ahead. They say what's the matter?
You said, I am inventing a television set. Why Christ, they would have thrown him in jail right then. But today people believe they could, and sure enough they do bring out television sets and everything else. Now an example of how those beliefs, and
superstitions, and traditions fettered men's. minds is in the next statement.