An Open Letter To Those Who Doubt Or Deny God

It has been a while since this most commented of posts has received much traffic. When I was read Psalm 53:1 in today’s scripture reading, I thought it might be time for a revisit…

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 53:1

Read: Numbers 14:1 – 15:16, Mark 14:53-72, Psalm 53:1-6, Proverbs 11:4

To The Doubting Christian – If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. – Rene’ Descartes Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith, it is an element of faith. – Paul Tillich

To The Agnostic – Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, He must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. – Thomas Jefferson

The Militant Atheist – Man is manifestly not the measure of all things. This universe is shot through with mystery. The very fact of its being, and of our own, is a mystery absolute, and the only miracle worthy of the name. – Sam Harris

Relate:

To The Doubting Christian – I get you. I’ve been there. I think the only people who have not had doubts are either liars or fools. Even now I believe God is calling me out to take a step of faith that I just cannot take. I have bills to pay, and if I were to obey, where would the money come from. But that’s a small doubt, that’s not where you’re at. It’s not where I’ve been. When my sister died with her newborn daughter at 24, when my cousin had a fatal heart attack at the same age, when my dad died after bumping his head playing basketball… That brought some real doubts. Doubts if God was real and, if He was, whether He was good. I’ve known moments in my life where blind faith just would not cut it. And I’ve known how difficult it was to express these doubts to my pastor, to my church, to my friends. I’ve been there.

To The Agnostic – I can sympathize with your doubt. We have a cosmic horizon of about 46 billion light years in every direction. This is only a small fraction of the real universe and anything beyond it is, and always be impossibly beyond our understanding. Even within that sphere we know next to nothing about so much of it. 95%, dark matter and dark energy, are at this time simply beyond our understanding. Even on this one small ball rotating one small sun in one small galaxy, there is still so much more for us to discover. There is simply so much more that we simply do not know. How dare we have the audacity to claim to know God?

To The Militant Atheist – That claim to know God has done so much damage. Because I claim to know, and he claims to know a different God. So we fight it out. The institutionalization of religion has done so much damage throughout time. It has been the cause of so many wars, and so much oppression. How can a good God exist if this is how His followers are gonna act?

React: 

To The Militant Atheist – It is in the nature of most of humanity to want to live for something greater than themselves. It is in our nature to be followers. Evil men have used religion to lead many down evil paths. But this is the fault of evil men, not of God. Evil men have led others down evil paths without God just as easily. Just look at Stalin. Look at Pol Pot. Science and humanism are not barriers to oppression. They never have been and never will be. Eradicating this “evil” will not end tyranny. All it will do is eliminate one of the greatest motivators for doing good.

To The Agnostic – We will never be fully sure of anything. There will never be a subject about which we have complete knowledge, but that doesn’t stop us from acting. You sit down assuming the chair will be there. Every now and then you might miss, or some idiot pulls it away, but does that stop you from sitting in the future? Will you ever be standing on the fear that you might fall? Why not put God to the same test? Albert Camus wrote, “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, and live my life as if there isn’t and die to find out there is.”

To The Christian Doubter – As a lover of, and leader in the Church, I apologize for the environment that has so often been created that discourages doubt. I apologize on behalf of everyone who has pretended that they have it all together when they don’t. I hope you won’t be that same person to someone else who might be having doubts. I would encourage you to express those doubts to a fellow believer. If you have tried and been silenced or given the old, “I’ll pray for you”, know that my (metaphorical) door is open. I promise a judgment free dialogue if you would email me at bj@tworiversassembly.com Respond:

To The Militant Atheist – I don’t want to argue with you but I would love to dialogue. Please respond here or, if you would rather, email me at bj@tworiversassembly.com Greater minds than ours have gone back and forth on the existence of God. What I am more curious in knowing is why you believe that religion must be eradicated. Why have you chosen a fundamentalist approach to your atheist beliefs?

To The Agnostic – Doubting is good. I’m glad you have chosen to withhold judgment on the existence of God until you have more information one way or the other. Some doubts will never be answered and will require a leap of faith. Others, however, might be walked through. I would love to hear from you in comments here or at bj@tworiversassembly.com. Share your doubts. I’ll share a few of my own. Perhaps together we might walk towards a greater understanding.

To The Christian Doubter – 

Advertisements

411 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Those Who Doubt Or Deny God

  1. I have always been taught to ask questions. By asking questions (about faith, beliefs, assumptions, etc.) you either find you don’t really believe, or your faith, beliefs, assumptions, are further strengthened. Life is a spiritual journey!

  2. OK, I’ll bite. Your first few paragraphs, when you spoke of those close to you dying and you said it brought some real doubts to you, doubts about whether or not God was real and whether or not he was good. I have to wonder at your doubts. Did you doubt God was real because people you love died? That seems odd to me because we are all going to die, one day. You, me and all those you and I love. That is a fact and I don’t understand what that has to do with whether or not God is real. Perhaps you could explain this in more detail? And whether God is good? Because people die means God is bad? Or is it how they died that makes you think God is responsible? I have so many beliefs that it would be a very lengthy dialogue to write them here, but, to me, God is all things, everywhere, not exclusively a person, a being, but all things. So, to say God is responsible for someone’s death is to say the stars caused them to suffer that way, that rock was responsible for their death. It just doesn’t make sense to me to say God is responsible. No, I believe WE are responsible, each of us, individually. Our choices are not good nor bad, they just are. We have free will and I believe we choose how we live and how we die. But I don’t believe we “die”, but we simply lay down this vehicle called a body that we use to negotiate our way on this earth, and when we are finished with being here, we simply transition back to spirit. But, each of us has our own belief systems that work perfectly for us, and it makes it right for us. And I believe that one day we will all be able to see the beauty in individual belief systems, and love and honour each other for the diversity that brings to this world.

  3. I believe in that for which I have evidence. The rest is a mystery. The problem with the question about belief in god with a capital G is that there are a million of different opinions of what God is. How can you answer a question, one way or another, about the existence of something which cannot be defined? The meaning of life, the universe? These are mysteries, let them be. God believers and religion take away the mystery by filling it with pure speculation, often quite ludicrous and prejudicial to human values. Why am I a militant atheist and anti religion? If you are unaware of all the grief and suffering that organized relgion has caused in human history, then there is nothing I can say to you. To be honest, we atheists are technically really agnostic, since how can you be against something that cannot be defined? We are really outraged at the violence and hate which is preached and practiced by fundamentalist Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc. I have no problem with ordinary believers — to each her own — but a big problem with the bigotry of so much organized religion. Where organized religion is a force for good, as with liberations theology, worker priests, etc., God bless them.

    • Roger, Christ never asked that we be involved in organized religion; he asked that we have a relationship with Him. Many people understand your perspective on organized religion. I would never asked that you become religious; but, I pray that you become spiritually involved with Christ.
      Belief and knowing are two different concepts. I believe in Christ; I know pine trees grow in my backyard. It doesn’t worry me that I cannot prove Christ exists; after all, that is what a belief is about.

      • Your willingness to be credulous to the point of gullibility and think it a virtue (because it’s faith-based you see) is really a methodology to promote faith-based belief is exactly the problem… not just with religion but with all kinds of human concerns where the SAME willingness, the SAME promotion of faith-based belief, is applied.

        Think of alternative medicine, conspiracy theories, people supportive of anti-vaccination, anti-fluoride, anti-wifi, anti-cell phones, people who practice denialism like those refusing to face the overwhelming evidence in favour of evolution, of climate change caused by human activity, people who support state laws that grant special and privileged exemptions to faith-based products and policies like naturopathic practitioners and remedies, woo-laden practices and consumer products that make claims about efficacy and ‘complimentary’ treatment ‘alternatives’ that cannot be substantiated by evidence from reality, and so on. The list is huge and all rely on people respecting faith-based beliefs that are unregulated, untested, unverified, under the excuse of ‘respecting belief’.

        This is a problem that belief in Jesus doesn’t solve or mitigate but promote… again, by going along with this idea of special exemption because it’s faith-based.

        This mandatory ‘respect’ just for the religious version of faith-based belief costs all of us over a hundred billion dollars in lost tax revenue in the US each and every year. The application of faith-based belief in public policy damages real people in real life and causes real suffering. This harm is excused in order to continue to privilege this lunacy that we should respect faith-based beliefs that make claims about how reality operates reality but exempts them from its arbitration. That’s what excusing, privileging, and promoting the exercise of faith-based methodology, faith-based thinking, produces: harm… and that harm, in principle, is what you are trying to sell as piousness.

    • “How can you answer a question, one way or another, about the existence of something which cannot be defined? The meaning of life, the universe? These are mysteries, let them be.”

      That is textbook agnosticism right there. This post addressed three different groups of people: Doubting Christians, agnostics, and militant atheists. By your comments, you fall into that middle group. So what I was saying towards the militant atheists, I wasn’t talking to you.

  4. Really enjoyed your blog. A long, long time ago one of my teachers—a nun actually–told the class that anyone who did not doubt God or their faith, never really owned their faith. It seemed like such a heretical statement at the time. But, as time has marched on, the truth underlying that statement hits me more and more each day. What an exciting God we have that He/She is open to constant dialogue and eager to take on the challenges of our issues, questions and concerns!

  5. You will never understand Atheists if you don’t open your heart a little and think of them as loving people just like you. Capable of leading simple, humble lives of kindness. You said: “What I am more curious in knowing is why you believe that religion must be eradicated.” This is very offensive and painful to me, and I can’t understand why a Christian who professes to be open to discussion would lead by going on an attack like that.

    Never never in my life have I wished ill on any believer because of their faith. I think religion MUST exist, and I would never deny the joy and power it holds in the lives of my friends and family. But I do not believe. And I am not so arrogant as to travel door to door, or country to country, spreading the “word” of Atheism, because I believe faith is up to each individual, and no one else’s business. You do not seem to be genuinely open to discussion if you open the discussion with an attack.

    • Militant atheist is not an all encompassing group. Based on what you said in your comment I am guessing that you aren’t the type of atheist I was talking to.

    • Amen, sister! I see our host has read your reply and has graciously granted you an exemption from his “militant” category of atheists. The evidence you presented of your own experience did not support his theory of atheists. So he changed his theory to fit the new evidence? No! He changed his terminology, moved his goalposts. The irony is exquisite. First we are lectured on the god-given right to doubt… told that he has doubted the very existence of god… But his understanding of you and of me (and of everyone else who is not “blind-folded with fear”) is so complete, so omniscient… so breathtaking in its arrogance.

      Well, BJ, I am most definitely “the type of atheist you were talking to”. And forgive me if this response is less polite than you would like – but your pretense of “wanting a dialogue” with those who do not share your beliefs is just so screamingly false.

      Here’s a theory for you: Your own vaunted faith in god is as certain as the flame of a candle in a hurricane. It makes you feel stronger in your faith to spend so much time tearing down others who won’t play along with your imaginary friend. How sad. I am quite comfortable in my beliefs. Nor do I make it my business to challenge you in yours – unless you fling poo at me from inside your cage. As you have done here.

      Since you opened with some quotes, let me close with one: “Remember, Christians are atheist when it comes to nearly 3000 other gods.” – Ricky Gervais

      • As I have said many times above, not all atheists are militant atheists. It has nothing to do with “changing the terminology” or “moving the goalposts”. I was, I am, speaking to a specific subset of atheists who don’t just chose to ignore the truth of God’s existence but then make it their mission to try and convince the world that theirs is the only rational choice. They are like a blind child telling the seeing world that their sight is nothing but hallucinations.

      • I actually had to smile at that last quote, I never thought of Christianity that way. It is certainly true, since atheist means “without God” that a Christian is or should be an atheist to every other religion. I think your theory is indeed sad, if it were true. And I won’t deny it is in some cases. But no matter what belief system someone has, there will always be those in it who use it as a shield against the realities of life. You may be comfortable in your atheism, but not all atheists are. And not all Christians are. And so on. I think people should speak with confidence about what they believe because otherwise I don’t give them any credit for it, but I only see belittling people specifically as arrogant, belittling a belief system does not have to be, if it is clear the person has serious concerns and is not just mocking. All this to say the way I viewed this post is different, but I am a Christian myself. In all fairness, though, I do not get angry when I read material from people who have other beliefs unless I think they are being unfair to outsiders.

  6. Inside every heartfelt Christian lurks an agnositc just waiting for you to have a bad day….we’ve all been there. Faith is a gift from God, a tool to use on those ‘agnostic’ days when life is not all fluffy clouds and perfect rainbows…

    • Sharon, I disagree with your comment that in every heartfelt Christian lurks an agnostic. In my 66 years of life I had many, many unpleasant (read rotten) experiences. They have made me turn to God not away from him.

      • I never said agnostics turned away from God. I actually said that during those ‘agnostic’ moments of doubt one draws on one’s faith to see you through….no mention at all of turning away from Christ….You’ve put words into my comment that aren’t there..

  7. When my sister died with her newborn daughter at 24, when my cousin had a fatal heart attack at the same age, when my dad died after bumping his head playing basketball… That brought some real doubts. Doubts if God was real and, if He was, whether He was good.

    This caught my eye, as I felt this way when my dad died when I was 9 year old. I wondered if God was real or even out there. Why would he take my dad away when I was so young. I may never know, but I came to believe that God also did not let my dad suffer anymore through his cancer. It may be different from what you went through, but the feelings and reactions may be the same. Thanks for your post.

  8. Thank you for ‘liking’ my post this morning. It brought me to your site and now I plan to visit frequently. I’m pretty sure Someone other than wordpress directed me to you. Thanks!

  9. Thank you for your perspectives. I have a basic faith in God knowing three things for sure;
    1 God is there
    2 When God intervenes in my life just hold on and try to work it out at the end
    3 Jesus made my awareness of 1 and 2 possible
    I don’t feel the need to subject myself to church services where people with various levels of emotional dysfunction including myself meet.
    DS

  10. Pingback: Review Niramisa Weiss - The Liar (2013)

  11. Pingback: Free will | Carpe Diem, Deo Gracias

  12. Pingback: The End… And Then A Beginning (12/31/13) | The River Walk

  13. i have the picture of “The Man” taken from the sky, and it’s clear. If you go to my blog. It’s there for all to see. I am trying to make sure people become aware of the fact, God is real, and that the prophesies are coming through. It’s not fashionable to be God Loving, but in the interest of those who suffer abuse, fear, or are threatened, it would be helpful for those who carry out harm to understand that there day is done, amen, pass the image on, it will save lives

  14. Well, well. Strong sentiments here. My all time fav sentence is, “I may not agree; but I will defend to the end your right to your opinion.”
    I have moved from being non-believer to open-minded. I experienced that something more than medical science was deciding which patient survived or didn’t, even if they were medically in the same condition.

    • Wow, that is interesting. I’ve never heard that take on it, now I’m curious. (This is not sarcasm, I was actually wondering what the last part was referring to.)

      • We’ve seen patients given the exact similar medical treatment, yet their response varies. Some survive, some don’t. What’s the miracle factor that works in some and not in others? – That’s what I was referring to.

  15. Reblogged this on A Christian Warrior and commented:
    ‘An Open Letter To Those Who Doubt or Deny God’
    For those who are not sure there is a God or are quite sure they is not one.
    I believe I pray that this may help you do as well.
    With thanks for Two Rivers

  16. What I am more curious in knowing is why you believe that religion must be eradicated (who is saying this? No atheists I know.). Why have you chosen a fundamentalist approach (thanks for assuming you already know my approach is correctly identified as ‘fundamentalist’; we can skip this part of the ‘respectful dialogue’ you pretend to want to have) to your atheist beliefs? (There’s no such thing, but thanks for imposing on me a set of non belief beliefs you again presume I have)

    As a ‘militant’ response to your non-militant presumptions and impositions in the name of respectful dialogue, what I really want to know is when did you stop beating your wife?

    Good grief, but this bigotry you impose on me right off the bat won’t even put a ding in your smug religio-armor of humble piousness, will it? I suspect you won’t – even for amoment – consider just how indoctrinated you have to be to come at having a dialogue with someone you’ve already filtered in your mind to be a caricature of your own making and then applied to me by the fiat of arrogance you assume is respectful. News flash… it isn’t, at all, in any way. That’s why the response you earn from people like I am – an atheist – deserves ridicule and derision because you don’t want a dialogue to understand, to respect, to appreciate; you want ammunition to keep your own doubts vilified and at bay.

    • This is a circle gone around once or twice already in the comments above. Not every atheist is a militant atheist. I recognize that. If you aren’t one then I wasn’t speaking to you. I apologize for not being more clear in that regard from the outset.

      • You miss my point: why use the term if you know from the outset that it’s pejorative and a misrepresentation of atheists who are at most equivalently vocal as theists but who do not advocate anything comparable to the very real militancy we find in religiously basic – i.e. fundamental – sects? You’re creating a caricature and passing it off as if reasonable. It’s not. It’s deceitful.

        • I readily agree that not all atheists are militant atheists. But there are militant atheists. It is not a caricature. I’ve spoken at length with those who would claim religion is a cancer that must be eradicated. I’ve met people who would become angry at the very mention of who I am and what I do. Fundamentalism comes in many forms and atheism is no exception to this rule.

      • I, too, think religion is a product of a way of thinking that is broken, that does not produce knowledge but protects and elevate and privileges ignorance. I see religion as the main engine promoting and supporting and justifying legal inequality. I, too, think that the world will be a better place without its pernicious effects that are all too common. But not for a moment would I support the reduction of your legal equality rights to believe what you want and speak about them. In fact, I – along with New Atheists everywhere – would be the first in line to defend your legal equality rights from anyone or any organization that would try to reduce or eliminate them. That’s why I suspect your understanding of atheism in general and New Atheism in particular is very skewed. I think, because of the inaccurate terminology you apply to atheists and atheism, your perception of them is problematic enough to indicate why you believe your caricature is actual when it’s not. And that’s why it’s important for people to challenge this kind of terminology every single time it is encountered: because it’s not true.

        • “I, too, think religion is a product of a way of thinking that is broken, that does not produce knowledge but protects and elevate and privileges ignorance. I see religion as the main engine promoting and supporting and justifying legal inequality.”

          To have a dialogue, we would need to come to an understanding of terms. When I speak of religion, I am using the definition as found in the book of James, “To look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep from being corrupted by the world” Basically, living a pure and compassionate life. I believe you are using “religion” as I would use “religiousness” or “legalism”. In that case we would have much agreement. The harshest words Jesus had for anyone in the Bible were against those who had co-opted true “religion” and turned it into a form of “religiousness”. Jesus wasn’t a big fan of “religion” as you use it either.

          “I see religion as the main engine promoting and supporting and justifying legal inequality.” To my knowledge the Ten Commandments was the first and only legal code to even acknowledge women. In a patriarchal world, to have the very first social command to be one of honoring mothers as well as fathers was completely ahead of its time. Over and over again the Bible is far ahead of its time in regard to equality. Per capita, Jesus’ honoring interactions with women is far higher than with men. As Paul writes, “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.” This flew in the face of the typical Roman social system of patrimony. Throughout the ages men like William Wilberforce and Martin Luther have used their grounding in their love of God as a motivator for equality. Have we arrived? No. Do men still twist and distort? Yes. But I would hate to see how repressive and dysfunctional society would be today were it not for Christ and His Church.

          “I think, because of the inaccurate terminology you apply to atheists and atheism, your perception of them is problematic enough to indicate why you believe your caricature is actual when it’s not.” I think this dead horse has been beaten plenty. I have already acknowledged that I am not speaking of all atheists and to continue to imply that I am doing so is disingenuous. There’s over three hundred comments above. Feel free to read some.

  17. Consider me a non-believer. One of the weakest components of Christianity is its view of itself as sufficient to defend itself with its own literature and faith-based followers. Proving Christianity on the basis of its own writing (Bible) and declaring to the world that the truth lies therein is akin to me doing my own brain surgery. Arrogance, as in one believing one has THE truth and no one else does, is the picture of religious pride to the ultimate degree.

    • I don’t know if you’re still listening, Ed, but thought that I’d offer my experience:
      Most Christians don’t have faith because they read the Bible. The Bible describes an evolving relationship between a god of unconditional love and one people. Through Jesus, that relationship expanded to include all people (although you find this proclaimed in the preceding books as well). In reading of that relationship, many people find themselves taking hope in the possibility of such a relationship, and open their hearts to it. When that hope is realized in that moment, they attain faith through their own personal experience.
      The difficulty faced by people of faith is when confronted by people who lack that hope, or lack the courage to invest themselves in that hope. These people ask us to “prove” that what is said in the Bible is true. So we discuss what we understand it to mean, and get pushed back into a corner because it seems to contradict the teachings of science (although I have much to say about that on my blog, and in the book The Soul Comes First). And of course, there is much that is muddled in the Bible.
      In the course of that argument, people of faith find themselves looking silly, because it is through personal experience that cannot be shared that faith arises, and they may find themselves losing stature in the eyes of those that they attempt to guide into religious maturity. And so they become defensive, and end up taking up the opposite hard-line stance: the Bible must be true in every aspect.
      To hold up this position as characteristic of Christians is as much as to characterize all atheists as “militant atheists”. Most of us have faith through personal experience, and while we would like to be able to convince everyone to partake of the love that we receive (because compassion so moves us), we don’t normally get angry when confronting doubt – we just feel sad, and try again and again and again to get people to open their hearts.

      • Well, a couple of things here: first, the love of this biblical god (depending which one you select but presuming the ‘father’ of Jesus) is not unconditional at all but very much conditional on the believer’s belief. Hell and damnation and all that jazz.

        Second, it takes two things to have a relationship. This god is not a thing independent of belief (at least, we have no evidence that fits this category) but is equivalent in all knowable ways to be a projection of it. There is no means to determine if the relationship talked about here is anything more than a projection. And this leads us to the third point: the trustworthiness of personal experience.

        If we have no means to establish, independent of our belief, that a thing (called God) is in fact real but equivalent to a projection based on our belief that is real, then we should at least be honest enough to understand the synonyms to describe the supposed object: an object we believe to be real through subjective attribution, subjective assumption, and subjective assignment. None of these makes the thing itself real. Because of that, no amount of heartfelt attribution, assumption, and assignment transfers any legitimacy to the supposed object of the subjective experience. It certainly doesn’t produce one iota, neither a jot nor tiddle, of evidence for the thing believed in. What have left is what we atheists call belief in belief.

        Investing a high degree of confidence in belief-in-belief requires an equivalent high level of credulity unsupported by any compelling evidence from reality. Many religious folk will argue that assigning a high level of confidence to claims based on belief-in-belief (let’s call it by its popular name, faith) is a virtue. When we try to do this in any other area of human endeavor, we call it a vice because it is not trustworthy by demonstration. I do not think it is wise to make an exception for religious reasons and we see the consequences when people act on faith-based beliefs. At best, such pious actions produce as much harm as good and I think this is very generous. I personally think far more harm than benefit is accrued once we transfer all actions based on all manifestations of faith-based beliefs into the equation.

        So, as we can see, the claims made here already have us going down the path of being fooled. There is a fine line to be drawn between being intentionally credulous and a willingness to become gullible. I’m not sure where that line is crossed in religious terms but I think it can be crossed when we think faith-based belief deserves any confidence at all.

        • Ed:

          Well, you’re listening, but you’re not hearing. I have my experience of life, and you should allow me to express it without applying layers of interpretation that you’ve received from elsewhere.

          Everything that you say applies equally well to science – all language is a subjective construct. That you have physical experience of the reality that you believe in does not mean that the statements made by scientists are true. Such is it with my spiritual experience – and if you look at the “New Physics” link on my blog, I think that you’ll discover that it’s not to hard to imagine a formulation of physics that accommodates both “material” and “spiritual” experience. In fact, our understanding of the material universe becomes far simpler than in the reigning theories of astrophysics and particle physics.

          Brian

      • It is always, “you don’t have faith” or, it is “personal experience.” Been there, done that! Not sufficient for me. I find the moment more important than a “hope” based upon what?

        • I respect your experience, Ed. All that I can offer is that after I have felt a sacred moment pass, people have come to me to ask “Did you feel that, too?”

          Wishing you success and joy from your journey!

        • Feelings don’t count in making a case for or against religion. In my opinion, religion is one of the greatest scams invented to control and placate the masses.

        • Well, the first is an axiomatic statement that requires justification, and dismisses an important aspect of what it means to be human. And I think that we’re getting “emotion” and “sensation” mixed up: I was referencing the latter, and unless you want to walk down the road with Descartes to the brain in the vat, I think that we need to rely upon our sensations to provide us information about the nature of the world we live in.

          As for the second,. I tend to side with Tolstoy rather than Marx. My reading of history indicates that religion provides a philosophical framework for the organization of supportive communities and the critique of abuses of power.

          Which brings me back to emotion: we know that fear destroys reason (this is a neurophysiological competition between the amygdala and the frontal lobes). Unless we provide supportive context that removes fear, we’re ultimately left without reason. It’s interesting to note, in this regard, that the most common admonition in the Bible is “fear not”, and the legalisms of last three books of the Pentateuch can be interpreted as an exercise in building cortical capacity (establishing an tribe of legal scholars in that era was a pretty amazing concept). In the New Testament, Jesus comes along and says “Well, that’s not working so well for you, is it? So here’s a suggestion: stopping making laws to protect yourself from sin and start loving the people right in front of you.” When we choose to follow that advice, the manipulation of the rituals of religion by the powerful become pretty meaningless, because they just don’t align our expression of solidarity with our peers.

          Again, I suggest that you read Tolstoy’s journey of faith. There’s what the powerful think they are accomplishing with religion, which is usually just a fantasy, and there’s how people actually live in faith.

        • Highbrow languaging does not make a case for religious fantasy. I have no issue with truth found in any culture, religion or philosophy. Truth is truth no matter who discovers it. The problem I have with Christianity lies in the assumption that it is all contained in its message and that it is exclusively Christian.

        • One of the most profound religious experiences I have had was with a Catholic redemptorist priest who taught that there was no truth that should not find a place in the Universal Church. Science, philosophy, spirituality: it was all welcome, and the Church paid him to wander the world offering this message. Is a faith that embraces all truth to be criticized for exclusivity because no truth is excluded?

          You choose to attack Christianity based upon the pronouncements of those that are intolerant. Not only that, you do not take the trouble to understand those that see Christianity in broad terms, but choose to lump them in with those that you find easy to reject. You cloak yourself in the garb of tolerance while belittling Christians that are tolerant. I assume that you have had some unfortunate personal history that makes you resistant to recognizing that many Christian are tolerant. I pray that you find the strength to throw off the prejudices that came with that experience, and relate to people that choose not to judge the world, but rather are concerned with healing it.

          For that last is the proper focus of Christianity, and that is only something that can be done (as any Buddhist will tell you) when we perceive and accept the truth.

        • Brian, you ask, “Is a faith that embraces all truth to be criticized for exclusivity because no truth is excluded?”

          No. But this clearly isn’t the case.

          It is a case where these various faiths make all kinds of contrary and factually incorrect claims about reality and how it operates and by various projected divine agencies, and then demand and or expect respect for them as if exclusive to the real truth!

          There is also ample evidence of continued tension between explanatory scientific models used to develop applications, therapies, and technologies on this understanding that seem to work for everyone everywhere all the time, and explanatory religious models that don’t. That tension is there because religions try to make exclusive claims to the truth and the Catholic Church is no exception. Just look at the root of its version of creationism (common to almost all religious belief) that stands in direct conflict with evolution… but kept intentionally hidden deeply in Catholic doctrine so that it can merely appear to advertise itself to be mutually supportive of the science when it is not.

          What is true cannot be divided this way and pointing it out is not a case of intolerance.

        • The point about the redemptorist priest was not to uphold the doctrine of the Catholic Church (and more on that below). The point was to indicate the diversity of Christian thought.

          As for your statement about “incorrect claims about reality”: I am a particle physicist as well as a Christian. If you look at the articles under the “New Physics” heading on my home page, you will find ample justification that the “factual claims” of science contain serious intellectual contradictions and are subject to significant doubt. I don’t just make these observations, but elaborate a framework that removes the mystery from quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theories of relativity – but also encompasses spirituality. You’ll see that I don’t have blind faith in scientists, as many do, and I don’t base my claims on analysis of material at the “Nova” level of discourse.

          The principle tension between religion and science, as I understand it, is precisely in the arena of spirituality. This has been a universal part of the human experience, going back to the beginning of recorded history, and a scientist denying the existence of divine agency is no better than a religious denying the reality of evolution. That the religious, lacking the intellectual tools of science, defend their experience of life by clinging to dogma should not be surprising to you. Rather, as those with the greater intellectual tools, I would think that scientists would presume it was up to them to bridge the divide. That was the responsibility I assumed (being an atheist until age 40, when I began to have powerful spiritual experiences), and I have found a great deal of beauty in the intellectual journey that has ensued.

          To illustrate: go back and match up the days of creation with what is revealed by paleontology. It actually matches what science tells us about the development of life on earth (see my book “The Soul Comes First”, and as I have since heard recounted in Catholic forums that attempt to reconcile science and religion). This is echoed in the Book of Revelation, where the trumpets describe the order and nature of the extinction episodes known to paleontology, and the bowls describe the ecological disasters we are experiencing RIGHT NOW on a global scale.

          As for Christian dogma: remember that for the first 1850 years of the faith there was no universal public education. Consistency of dogma and creed in public forums was essential to preventing dissolution of the tradition. But behind the scenes, the Church had a vibrant intellectual life. Given the diversity of the Christian church (including countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa that still have limited public education), Christianity has been slow to relax the restrictions on official speech. But so too have scientists been slow to embrace well-documented cases of reincarnation, faith healing and clairvoyance. Both positions are held for political reasons.

        • Brian, why are you setting up a straw man? You say, “a scientist denying the existence of divine agency is no better than a religious denying the reality of evolution.”

          Surely a particle physicist should understand enough science to appreciate the difference between a conclusion based on no compelling evidence (I don’t believe in a divine causal interactive agency because there’s no compelling evidence on which to base such a claim) and one that denies overwhelming and compelling evidence (I don;t believe in evolution because, well just because I choose not to regardless of how well the theory explains reality). This level of fundamental dishonesty to paint a picture of equivalency where none exists indicates to me how much intellectual honesty you bring to the debate as a particle physicist.

          Your reliance on personal experience is a guaranteed way to fool yourself. I know you don’t think you are susceptible to confusing your attribution, assertion, and assumption of a divine causal interactive agency with an actual agency in such a foolish way but how you then try to justify what you’re doing indicates to me you are not only susceptible but eager to be fooled. Suggesting that “scientists been slow to embrace well-documented cases of reincarnation, faith healing and clairvoyance” demonstrates the extent of your gullibility and it is vast to suggest any such thing. To then blame “political reasons” is standard conspiracy thinking. And that’s the thing about giving in to faith-based belief: it sets you up to think yourself justified to impose your beliefs on reality and insist that it must comport to them. No good scientist – one who understands and respects why and how epistemology determines ontology – could fall into the rabbit hole you have fallen into and think themselves justified by utilizing faith-based belief.

        • Tildeb. Please keep the arguments on point. I’ve deleted your last paragraph since it was completely uncalled for, malicious, and contributed nothing of worth to the conversation. You are better than that.

  18. Thank-you for liking my first post on my blog. I’m a Christian Atheist and love to dialogue. I enjoyed your quotes from Sam Harris, Thomas Jefferson and others.

    I don’t want to recycle an argument but Hope to add a thought as to why some of the non ‘militant’ atheists may object to your use of the term ‘militant atheist’. It’s a name often given to any Atheist who is vocal about their non belief. But in a world of extreme fundamentalism it’s an important voice and more reasonable believers need not be worried about it.

    The wish to actually eradicate religion is a kind of fascism, and in no way born out of simple non-belief.

    You say that this is not a charicature, but really it is, it’s just that there are always some who become charicatures. But as you must have noticed, none of the atheists responding to you fit this charactature. It’s important not to confuse vocal atheist polemic with militancy which really is pejorative.

    Anyhow, it’s great to see you appreciate genuine dialogue with people with views other than your own. I will continue following your posts and hope you enjoy my next ones.

  19. I suppose this blogger is content with putting his thoughts on his blog as if they were sacrosanct and without error. I find that dishonest as there is so much to take issue with but no push back? The onus is on the person who claims to know the truth, not the one who has, either not discovered it, or believes that Christianity does not represent the truth in entirety..

  20. Reblogged this on secondchancedecree and commented:
    This is a well-written and at some points moving examination of atheism, agnosticism, and doubt within Christianity. I have some points at which I disagree: I do not think the chair analogy is an entirely accurate portrayal of the “leap of faith.” I think it is much easier to accept that a chair will more than likely exist, because it is a simple, well-understood object, that we interact with and experience every day. You might say, God is here is us every day. Well, I haven’t met him and any miracles I have experiences conform to natural law, not supernatural explanation needed.

  21. I too continue to be a Christian, more specifically a liberal Lutheran by culture, and an agnostic/atheist/non-believer by my lack of belief in the divinity of Jesus. Check out my post: On Faith if interested in discussing this in greater detail or just commiserating. Thank you for everyone’s respectful and intelligent responses. Very interesting and enlightening to read.

    • A) I simply used a pre-existing youtube video. It is clearly not the Christmas season now (no matter how much snow is still on the ground)

      B) Having a time to remember and celebrate the birth of Christ is a good and godly thing to do, and has nothing to do with “traditions made by man”.

  22. Hi, I see some of your responders have different views on who and what God is. But too many of us don’t read the Bible and unfortunately, they don’t want to. Sometimes, it’s best to just pray for some of us. And some of them have had their eyes opened.

    • Most atheists I know have read the bible. You imply that non belief probably comes from ignorance. The opposite is usually the case and it for that reason that non belief is the reasonable response. In my own case, I have spent much time and effort comparing and contrasting various bibles. My particular expertise is is about the Book of Job and the compelling evidence of multiple authors. To presume (if that is, in fact what you are doing) that atheists in general don’t have an excellent grasp of scripture through study and biblical scholarship is an presumption that will probably be wrong more often than not.

  23. BJ, I am very grateful for this post because I too have had doubts about God. When you are suffering, it can become hard to believe in a God who you can not see. There are so many other reasons why a Christian may struggle with doubts. I can not name them all. I’m sorry for what happened to your sister, cousin, and dad. I can not possibly know what it is like to endure such things, but I do know it is hard.
    Personally, I doubted God because my life was not going the way I planned. There are so many scriptures that are misinterpreted and misunderstood. We often see people selling us ideas on television by using God’s word. Saying we can be rich and popular like them because God wants us to. I used to think, “Why did I not prosper?” Or “Why am I going through this? Where is God when I need him?”
    At one point, it seemed like I was slowly losing my faith. Those times were very depressing. I had no optimism for the future. My heart, that would bleed with compassion whenever I saw a homeless person or anyone suffering, felt like stone. Everything about me, including my heart, was shattered.
    I remember laying on my bed thinking about the things that could possibly make me happy. I thought about it long and hard, but chasing things like money seemed worthless. What was the point? Money can easily make you happy, but billions will be nothing once you are under ground. You can fill your belly and then in the next couple of hours your stomach will growl again. People advise others to hear the inner voice of themselves. My inner voice was trembling with fear—weak and ashamed. Then I thought about God and how my life was when I loved him. That was the moment I made up my mind to follow God with all my heart. I realized that I wasn’t truly following God before. I was simply an admirer instead of a devoted servant of God. I read James 4:1-3 and it struck a chord. My desires weren’t right at all. My heart was deceitful as it says in Jeremiah 17:9. I was acting on selfish desires. I didn’t understand that when you serve God , you serve him at all times.
    Now that I have accepted Christ again, my life has been nothing short of great. The truth is, I’m not rich at all. I’m currently unemployed, out of school, and in a lot of debt (all due to my mistakes, not God). But I can say the following with confidence. I own nothing, but I have everything. My faith has been strengthened because of the doubts. In a way, God has found a way to use those doubts as a blessing. I’m not saying that I will never have doubts again, but when I do I will cling onto the Lord instead of my own understanding. We do not know everything. That simple truth kept me from becoming an agnostist or atheist. How can I say God doesn’t exist when we as the human race know very little about a existence. We barely know anything about ourselves. And I could not look at my own life and use my struggles to prove against God existence. I am nothing more than mere speck in the universe. Although I am struggling, plenty of others have it far worse than I do. That lead me to think about the consequences of serving God. Yes, I am labeled as religious, judgmental, and naive. I am persecuted because of my beliefs but with those things I am called to care for, show mercy, and serve others who I may not know. I am called to do good things no matter if that person does harm against me. My reasons for believing in God are now stronger than any doubts I could ever have.
    I hope people read your post with an open mind. I pray that Holy Spirit encourages and strengthens all believers who are currently doubting his existence. Thank you and God bless!

    • Meko:
      I am so happy for your choice. Your words testify to an profound truth: when we accept God, we accept love into and of ourselves. When we love ourselves, we choose those things that create strength in us. That then leads to finding people in the world that love us, and honor the love we offer them. It is there that the rewards of this life come to us, in sharing of our resources to create hope, truth and life for each other, rather than spending them profligately in waste. I pray that you find yourself joined to such people, and enjoy all the benefits of that association!
      Brian

  24. Pingback: OPEN LETTER REPOST | American Defense Teams

    • Which explains clearly how up is really another kind of down and black another kind of white, you see, but there’s no relativistic nonsense going on here.

      Good grief.

      This deepity – that one only has to die to conquer death – is particularly odious in that it reveals what a death cult sounds like. And -no surprise – sold under the guise of love, of course.

      What is the matter with people?

    • You’re right… but perhaps not in the way you presume.

      In fact, I’ve noticed a rather remarkable ability many theists have who seem to intuitively know the difference in their cherry picked beliefs between which bits are literal and historical and which bits are metaphor. I’ve noticed that bits held to be literal for centuries suddenly and magically POOF! into metaphor… only after a reliable method to procure knowledge is applied.

      Isn’t it amazing how fluid is this ability among the faithful that slide without friction between certainty in the literal and then POOF! into the metaphorical when demonstrated to be factually incorrect?

      So does gpicone really think life after death is metaphorical? Let’s ask, shall we? More importantly, does he live in this life geared towards preparation for a metaphorical afterlife? That defines a death cult, BTW.

      • A) You didn’t even get the metaphor he is using. To conquer death, and faith, you only have to die. It is not the future life that is metaphor. it is the death now. Jesus speaks the same when He says, “if anyone were to come after me, they must deny themselves and take up their cross.” He is not telling people to literally carry around a cross. It is a metaphor of surrender that He is using. Paul speaks the same when he says, “I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live.”
        B) Christians have been discussing what scripture is and is not metaphor since Augustine and beyond and their discussion on the topic has been a huge contribution to literature, language theory, sign theory, and beyond that goes much further than theological circles. This is just one of many, many ways the modern mind owes a huge debt of gratitude to religious scholars of days gone by.
        So please give over your oversimplifications, and intentional misrepresentations. You are much smarter than that. At least, you pretend to be.

  25. It seems that the discussion has been about terms of the discussion and whether you really know who you are having the discussion with or not. It does not seem very fruitful. The common thread seems to be what is true? What is imaginary?
    The truth defends itself by not changing. It is a constant in life and the universe. We can depend on it and use it to make good decisions. Some times what we believed to be true turns out not to be. If that happens we are forced into the realization that what we thought was fact, was really faith. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
    This world is the evidence of things not seen because it is the unseen (micro and macro) things that keep this world functioning. Think of all of the things happening that make our planet able to sustain life. The spinning molten core. The layers of earth protecting us from that. The rotating earth keeping us evenly heated. The magnetic core and gravity keeping us on the planet and protecting us from all of the things outside of our atmosphere. All of the air currents and storm cells keeping our world watered and at the right temperature to sustain life. Think of all of the chemical and physical reactions taking place every where that give us a place to thrive. What are the odds that all of these things are continually happening?
    As if that is not enough to think about. Think about all of the intricacies of every plant and animal that exists and all or the processes, chemical, and physical reactions that have to take place to allow each to be alive. It is really beyond comprehension. If you really are in search of truth you would have to calculate all of these processes that occur every single second and ponder the odds against our existence. I am thinking you would end up with 0 odds of our being here. Do you know how small of a chemical imbalance in our bodies can throw off our functionality and send us to the loony bin or the grave? What if it took the whole universe to make our little planet able to sustain life? Nothing is even solid. It is all made out of energy. What are the odds?
    Be truthful with yourself. If God did not make this universe and us, how are we here? Our vision of truth is very limited by our vision of reality. You really have to peel back the layers to see what is there.
    Check out this video on particle physics, “The End of Materialism”; https://youtu.be/4C5pq7W5yRM

    • Also, the video commentator has no clue what he’s talking about. If you want to learn more about quantum mechanics, read about quantum mechanics by real physicists. But don’t use quantum physics to try to support woo; it’s a dead give away that one is relying on another version of the argument from ignorance to try to support what one believes to be the case by searching for and then utilizing what one assumes does the job merely by appearances and not substance. That’s why we encounter the use of quantum mechanics repeatedly in all kinds of woo promotion… because it’s really quite hard to understand. What the observer effect really means is a case in point. And no, it certainly does not demonstrate the end of materialism but a reaching for something – anything – that might obfuscate faith-based belief claims about reality enough to make pinning down any real and compelling evidence from reality so opaque that one is free to insert whatever superstitious claim one wants. That’s not evidence; it’s apologetics in action and it has nothing to do with trying to find out what is the case and everything to do with imposing one’s belief on it and pretending the round hole of reality seamlessly fits the square peg of faith.

      • “Also, the video commentator has no clue what he’s talking about.”
        How so. Granted, the explanations often were overly simplistic, and the interpretations at the end were a bit of a stretch, but where was the commentator demonstrably wrong?

        “If you want to learn more about quantum mechanics, read about quantum mechanics by real physicists.”
        Agreed. Feel free to check out my goodreads account to see what and how often I am. Currently, I’m slogging my way through The Road To Reality which is really more of a math textbook. It gives a mathematical demonstration to many of the physics theories talked about here. If you’re interested, I would be glad to pass along an e copy.

        “…because it’s really quite hard to understand.”
        Not really. it is incredibly complex and a bit counter-intuitive, but it isn’t really all that difficult for someone who is willing to put the work into understanding it. I agree, however, that QM and QP have often been misconstrued to promote all sorts of nonsense that have nothing to do with either.

        “What the observer effect really means is a case in point. And no, it certainly does not demonstrate the end of materialism.”
        So what does it really mean. It is incredibly easy to point a finger at somebody and say you’re wrong. But that is all you did. Seriously, rather using an abundance of words to shout out “No, no, no” please demonstrate how and it is wrong.

        • Well, as I said, it’s complicated. The commentator makes no distinction between the particle being measured (observed) and the wave function it is a part of. That demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding.

          As we know, the wave function collapses upon ‘observation’ in the same way we lose the ability to measure speed if we ‘observe’ location AND we lose the the ability to measure location if we ‘observe’ speed. (Physicist Sean Carroll tells us that we understand what makes wave functions seem to “collapse”—the process of decoherence, by which detailed information in the wave function is lost through interactions with a complex environment.)

          There’s nothing magical about this and the commentator makes a fundamental comprehension error in suggesting that the observer changes ‘reality’ simply by the effect of observing. This misunderstanding has yielded riches to the peddlers of woo in general and religion in particular, which is why they continue to use it and rely on the ignorance of their audience to nod their collective heads and go along with this charade. And that’s what this video is: a charade of pretending to understand quantum mechanics in order to pretend that there’s more to the universe than ‘material’ so as to make wiggle room for a god that has no material (read, energy’) properties.

        • You’re right. We have the ability to demonstrate light as either a wave or a particle, not both simultaneously. We also can identify an objects speed or location, but not both simultaneously. The explanations are similar but math for these two principles are far different.

          My primary beef with the video was the consistent use of “reality” where instead “certainty” would be far more accurate. Two things are true, without observation we can have no certainty of reality. However, the means and manner in which we observe directly effects reality. From a mathematical perspective, there is certainly more to reality than the material, but since we are material, and can only use material to explore material, will there ever be a way to scientifically verify the existence of anything beyond the material? It is a fun question.

        • You state However, the means and manner in which we observe directly effects reality. I take issue with that claim because what we are really doing is interpreting. You skip this step and once again claim without evidence that our observation affects reality… as if we are changing something outside of ourselves simply by observing. And that’s not the case. We don’t alter or affect or change the speed of something just because we are ‘observing’ location; we cannot interpret speed when we are measuring location. There’s quite an important difference here. Quantum mechanics does not support your claim.

          But you need this claim to be true in order to then claim there is more to reality than ‘material’ (read, energy).

          You say Two things are true, without observation we can have no certainty of reality. and this raises a red flag; we’re not after certainty. What we’re after is to see if reality is stable independent of our observations and interactions with it. And this is demonstrated not by some philosophical approach but by applications, therapies, and technologies based on our understanding of how reality SEEMS to operate (that we then model) that work for everyone everywhere all the time. Because these work consistently and reliably over time independent of contrary beliefs about the nature of reality, we have reason to apply confidence that reality does exist and operate independent of our beliefs about it. This is not a trivial consideration because these actually do work. To suggest an alternative model isn’t just a philosophical consideration when one then has to account (model) for why these applications, therapies, and technologies do work consistently and reliably well for everyone everywhere all the time. And this is no small undertaking, which is why promoters of contrary models (those who think woo is possible) usually avoid this burden altogether and switch into nebulous metaphysical arguments that seem reasonable. They aren’t. And we know this because these models do not produce any practical and applicable knowledge. Ever. And this is no small fact but essential when we compare and contrast different models of how we think reality may operate. There is only one model that seems to work quite well, and that is of an independent reality that operates by knowable processes we can work with and apply to increase our knowledge of it.

        • We don’t alter or affect or change the speed of something just because we are ‘observing’ location; we cannot interpret speed when we are measuring location. There’s quite an important difference here. Quantum mechanics does not support your claim.

          Actually, it does:
          http://arxiv.org/abs/math-ph/0512070
          http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02097018

          Two ways in which this has been demonstrated is through the Turing paradox, in which a continuously observed unstable particle will never decay, and the Belavkin equation which is referenced above.

        • This observer effect is true insofar as the measuring itself introduces something different – like introducing a thermometer or adding light. Thought of differently, if there was no observation whatsoever, we cannot know what that steady state might be. We work with what we’ve got.

          But look at how far down the path we have to come using quantum mechanics to start to get into the weird stuff, the stuff that is not well understood yet, the stuff that occurs only with the very large and the very small. And we do this why? Well, to try desperately to make room for woo that is not meant to be possible ONLY at the very large or the very small but as a general model that explains exactly nothing, that produces exactly no knowledge, that is utilized to further inquiry nowhere, but which suggests claims contrary to how we know reality operates might be possible adn so deserving of reasonable consideration (like the reanimation of dead cells).

          The alternative model being proposed here – that woo is possible – has all its work still before it explaining why things are the way they are, operate the way they do, can be relied upon to continue working in a stable way (in an understood way upon which our applications, therapies, and technologies that work, work!) when the instabilities are so very small or so very large in QM that there is no link established by woo promoters between these phenomena in QM they like to call upon and the actual claims of woo being presented as if not just possible but actually likely therefore deserving some level of equivalent respect, some level of equivalent reasonable consideration, some level of equivalent invested confidence as the ‘material’ model currently in use. That’s the game here. And that’s all it is.

  26. It sounds like you enjoyed the video. I ran across it while googling the Big Bang Theory show. The video wasn’t even what I posted about. The question that I was hoping to get comments about was what are the odds that our very existence was all just a happy cosmological accident considering all that would have to happen to make our functional existence possible. How much faith is required to believe it? Is evolution and the Big Bang theory Woo? I am not sure what Woo is. Did I guess that right? Is that what you say when the fireworks explode or is that what you say when you are trying to scare some one?
    Does it take more or less faith to believe in an intelligent designer? One thing that the video does do is to make you question what would happen if one thing thought to be true as the basis for what holds the universe together was proved to be something else entirely? The knowledge you have is only as good as the one who taught it to you. Garbage in, Garbage out. The video proposes that the only reason we exist is because God is watching us. Woooo!

    • The question that I was hoping to get comments about was what are the odds that our very existence was all just a happy cosmological accident considering all that would have to happen to make our functional existence possible.

      P=1

      How much faith is required to believe it?

      None. Here you are.

      Is evolution and the Big Bang theory Woo?

      No.

      I am not sure what Woo is. Finally, an unguarded moment of honesty…

      Woo – causal claims not linked to the selected effects except by supposedly supernatural mechanisms.

      Does it take more or less faith to believe in an intelligent designer?

      Faith – the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. It requires faith to believe in an intelligent designer. It takes no faith to understand the theory of evolution. That takes knowledge.

      The knowledge you have is only as good as the one who taught it to you. Garbage in, Garbage out.

      Knowledge: Facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. This has nothing to do with the ‘goodness’ of the person who teaches.

      The video proposes that the only reason we exist is because God is watching us.

      What a surprise. There’s woo in action.

    • If what you describe was an accurate assessment of the actual evidence, then sure, it would require faith to link that with today. Fortunately, your description is quite inaccurate. What we do have is very compelling evidence back to the Big Bang. There’s no faith – simply a hypothesis that has yielded excellent predictions that have been borne out – involved in assessing this evidence to where it leads us.

      As for the ‘making’ of everything – if you mean life here on earth – we know evolution is true so that accounts for the last 3.6 billion years and explains how we as humans have come to be. Again, no woo is necessary and the evidence for how life has developed over time is far greater than any other scientific theory… various weaker theories that when applied in applications, therapies, and technologies you trust every day with your very life, seems to model reality quite well so confidence placed in these explanations seems to be quite justified… not by faith but by experience. And you do trust them.

      You don’t trust these explanations because they have been ‘proven’; rather you trust them because they work. That they work is not a belief you hold but demonstrable to anyone and so it requires no faith to ‘believe’ in their utility. You don’t need to be certain that microwaves are real; cell phones demonstrate that the explanation about them works to allow you this form of communication (or perhaps cooking). You don’t need to be certain from proof that radioactive decay occurs in variable and knowable rates; nuclear medicine demonstrates the explanation about them works to allow you this form of medical insight. You don’t need to to be certain from proof that the earth is 4.6 billion years old; the mining industry, which has invested trillions of dollars that have yielded tremendous profit for them, demonstrates the geological explanation works to allow them to invest profitably. And so on. Evolution is no different. It has yielded an explanation that has produced genetics used in all kinds of ways that works. The evidence for these explanations exist independent of my or your belief in them. So no faith is required. Just knowledge about the reliability and utility of their products is reason enough to invest them with your confidence.

      • Yes, evolution can demonstrate how life has shaped, but it does nothing for how it originated. Yes, the big bang is an excellent mathematical model for the expansion of the universe, but it does nothing for where the matter came from of for how so much of it was compressed into such a small space.
        Science is excellent for understanding the present and making predictions of the near future and assumptions of the near past. However, the further we go from the present the less likely it is to be accurate because science cannot measure events that are isolated, non repeatable events.

  27. “a hypothesis that has yielded excellent predictions that have been borne out – involved in assessing this evidence to where it leads us.” Sounds like faith.
    How do we know evolution is true? When has anything ever evolved into something else and survived? Wouldn’t it take great faith to believe that the big bang created a planet capable of sustaining life and then created life and made that single organism evolve into everything on earth. Sounds wooy to me. Was some one here 3.6 billion years ago to start the clock running? Hypothesis and theory are still just educated guesses, though believed for a long time, are often proven not to be true.

    I agree, the truth works. It is true that you rely on things that work. You do not need an explanation to trust that something works. If it stops working, you want an explanation. If you want to master it, you would want to understand it. If you are told to do something that does not make sense, you will probably want an explanation to convince you to believe what you are being told to does make sense. We do not always have the experience to know that something will work. If I do something 10 times and it works, I have faith that it will keep working, until the 11th time when it does not work. Then I have faith that it usually works. Then when it doesn’t work less than it works, I have faith that it doesn’t always work. The laws that rule the universe give us order that we can rely on. That begs the question of did the universe arise out of chaos or order? An accident or a plan?

    The trustworthiness of personal experience. If we have no means to establish, independent of our belief, that a thing is in fact real but equivalent to a projection based on our belief that it is real, then we should at least be honest enough to understand the synonyms to describe the supposed object: An object we believe to be real through subjective attribution, subjective assumption, and subjective assignment. None of these makes the thing itself real. Because of that, no amount of heartfelt attribution, assumption, and assignment transfers any legitimacy to the supposed object of the subjective experience. It certainly doesn’t produce one iota, neither a jot nor tiddle, of evidence for the thing believed in.

  28. I firmly believe that a major part of the problem lays in the those outside a community of faith confusing it with religion (there are plenty within it who suffer from this shortcoming as well). The two are not the same and are not interchangeable, although critics and defenders will often slide back and forth between the two when it suits their purpose. By extension, it’s felt that by condemning practice we can negate the belief that lays at the heart of any faith. Worship doesn’t conjure God. Worship is a human need even more profound than following; this would include science and militant aetheists and a myriad of practices we would call by the names of any community of faith. But in the end, Religion is for people who are desperately terrified of going to hell, and faith is for those who have been there. Doubt plays a major role in establishing this.

  29. This. Was. AWESOME. Loved every word, and am keeping this post in mind for reference in the future! Man…no wonder why this post is so popular–it’s so good, and thought provoking, not to mention heartfelt.

  30. Debates. Debates. Debates. Good Grief people! is right Tildeb. Good Grief to you! lol Debates? I pass. No debates for me. I know noothinggg! Like the German Sergeant used to said. I’m just a little tea pot singing in hot water…just a little tea pot singing “si, senora”. Gullible? 100%. No fit for debates. Much love to you all, whether you want His love in my heart or not. You have the right accept it or not, but! it remains there now & forever. 🙂

    • Berean Study Bible
      Our Eternal Dwelling
      (Romans 8:18-27)
      1Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is dismantled, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4So while we are in this tent, we groan under our burdens, because we do not wish to be unclothed but clothed, so that our mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5And God has prepared us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a pledge of what is to come.

      6Therefore we are always confident, although we know that while we are at home in the body, we are away from the Lord. 7For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8We are confident, then, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9So we aspire to please Him, whether we are here in this body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive his due for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.

      Ambassadors for Christ
      11Therefore, since we know what it means to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is clear to God, and I hope it is clear to your conscience as well. 12We are not commending ourselves to you again. Instead, we are giving you an occasion to be proud of us, so that you can answer those who take pride in appearances rather than in the heart.

      13If we are out of our mind, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, therefore all died. 15And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.

      16So from now on we regard no one according to the flesh. Although we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.a The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!

      18All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s trespasses against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

      20Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ: Be reconciled to God. 21God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

  31. Well, BJ this was my first time reading any of your posts, and I liked it. I notice a bit of a war has erupted over it, though I’m trying to refrain form getting too involved, because, once I start ,I might snowball. I actually think it’s awesome that so many people were willing to read this and discuss it. And the diversity of opinion amazes me. you must be dong something right, so keep up the good work.

Join the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s