A person’s intelligence is based on his or her individual capacity for learning, reasoning and understanding through mental activity. Intelligence levels affect the ability to grasp truths, relationships and facts from things one can hear, see, smell and touch. Intelligence helps people learn and determine fact versus fiction. The internet and common dictionary can teach people these truths about intelligence. What does intelligence have to do with beliefs?
Beliefs are based on trust and confidence. A belief helps people to know if something is true or exists. A belief can also start, grow and confirm a person’s faith. Religion and faith are often used synonymously. Does a person have to be intelligent to believe in something or have faith? Intelligence offers the ability to grasp truths, and a belief confirms a truth. Are they the same?
Faith can be defined as a system of religious beliefs and the observance of an obligation. Various church leaders often use obligations as a reason to follow beliefs. If a person lacks belief then he or she will not have the faith to follow an obligation. Faith may also be the perseverance of an idea and often plays a vital role in moral codes. Some scriptures offer that faith is that which is hoped for and not seen. When putting these three definitions together it is easy to see that faith, belief and intelligence are equally complicated, but serve together.
Organized religion allows for people to gather in groups according to common beliefs. Within their beliefs people often determine right or wrong according to a moral background common with their beliefs. When people belong to a religion they often live according to the standards of the group and worship using similar practices. Most religions worship only one God or deity, but may call their deity by a different name. Organized religions strengthen over time because of increased worshipers and a deep-seeded faith. The problem organized religion offers is it blinds individuals to anything beyond the beliefs they have been taught by people. The other problem is people who disagree or raise questions about their religion are often blacklisted and unable to worship with the group. Organized religion can block the growth of faith.
People should follow God and not organized religion. This is not saying that organized religion is wrong and you should quit going to church. This is saying that if you follow God first then people will not have the power to hurt your faith. A person following what people tell him or her to follow does not have faith in God, but faith in the people of a group. The problem with under-developed relationships with God is people are flawed, and if a person follows a group, and the group lets them down, faith in what they were doing is shaken. Stories about shaken faith are everywhere, and then people quit church and often lose the faith they had before.
I belong to a church but I am proud to say I do not follow the people. I have had several people let me down within my organized religion, and I have let people down, but my faith in God has always stayed strong. My church has also helped me when life was hard, and helped me and my family persevere, and this is God’s work inside my church. Keeping my relationship with God and my attendance at church separate has allowed me to keep both relationships strong in my heart without consequence. God helps me to have the intelligence to know when to ignore the people, and the faith to not question His answers.
My beliefs and faith were confirmed when I was a young teenager, and I was lucky that my experience had nothing to do with a church. In 1993 Pope John Paul II came to Denver, Colorado and I did not understand why so many visitors were coming to Colorado to see him. I am not catholic, and have never attended the catholic church, so I was very naïve about the significance of his visit. Anyway, an insane amount of people gathered at Mile High Stadium to see him for his visit. I remember thinking how stupid they all were because they were meeting at an open stadium and storms clouds were building all around it. I remember thinking “these people are going to get drenched just to see a man in a white robe.” Well, I could not have been more wrong, and God’s message to me more clear.
I was upstairs in my bedroom listening to loud music when my dad called for me. He wanted me to come outside to see the clouds and sunset. I thought this was a ridiculous request, but I went outside to see what the fuss what about. In a matter of seconds I would believe in God forever. I walked outside to see all these clouds that didn’t look nice, but amazingly there was a brake in the clouds, and the brake was in the shape of a hand with a palm and all five fingers. That’s right! A hand was carved out of the clouds, and the hand was over Mile High Stadium. Rain did not drench the people who traveled to see the Pope. Instead they were all protected for their worship.
Again, I am not catholic and this experience did not make me think I should be a catholic. Instead the experience proved God exists and that he protected people – even Catholics. This experience has left me open to different faiths. I do not believe there is a right or wrong organized faith to belong to. I believe there are good and bad people in every group, and there are good and bad teachings in every group. If you do not build a relationship with God you will be void of the intelligence of what is good versus what is bad in any faith you choose.
God’s gift to us is the right to choose. God gave us free will. There are consequences to free will just as there would be consequences to total control. Good and bad exists in absolutely everything! Every trial has a gift and every gift a trial. Gifts and trials are different for everybody. You should never follow someone in the hopes of receiving their gifts, and you should never begrudge God for your trials. Our mortal lives require us to have both, and we would not learn and grow without them. The loss of life for one can now mean more life for another. The loss of a life can bring out the strength in those left to live. Marriage between two people can bring sorrow for someone else. Gaining employments also means one or more people didn’t get the job. Rain may ruin your plans but it also allows for other things to grow. Faith may alienate you from some, but bring you closer to others. For every gift there was a debt to pay and the payment is not negotiable. If a person has his or her eyes open, and can truly see there is good and bad to everything, then exists the ability to have the intelligence to develop a belief and faith in God and all His works.
Leonardo da Vinci said “Oysters open completely when the moon is full; and when the crab sees one it throws a piece of stone or seaweed into it and the oyster cannot close again so that it serves the crab for meat. Such is the fate of him who opens his mouth too much and thereby puts himself at the mercy of the listener.(Greene, 1998, p. 33)” I hope my message was heard, and my message is simple: Build your own faith and beliefs. Allow yourself to listen to people with an open mind, but never sacrifice your intelligence for the sake of belonging to a group.