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 – 

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

  1. This is exactly the conclusion I came to on my own:
    “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.”

    Thank you for this blog.

    • Which god? Yahweh? Allah? Zeus? Thor? Ra? Shiva?

      Humans have invented (or revealed, or whatever) thousands of different gods and goddesses throughout human history. And each and every one has dire consequences for those who worship the “wrong god”.

      So let’s say there is a god. But you don’t know which one.

      I’m assuming you’re Christian?

      What if you’re wrong, but Muslims are right? You and I are both screwed, then, aren’t we? To be fair, I’m worse off than, because in Islam, denying the existence of Allah is a greater sin than not worshiping him, but you’re not going to Muslim heaven, either.

      But what if you’re wrong, and it’s the Jews who are right?

      In that case, I’m fine. Atheism isn’t considered a dire/unforgivable sin in Judaism, because, in point of fact, the Ten Commandments do not mention denying God at all. So if Jews are right, I can seek forgiveness when I die and very likely be granted it, then allowed into Heaven.

      But you? Well, according to Jews, you, as a Christian, worship an idol (Jesus Christ), and that is a violation of the very first Commandment. So I’m good if Jews are right. You, on the other hand, are in mountains of trouble with God… and he likely won’t forgive you.

      Again… that’s all assuming you’re Christian. If you’re not, then I apologize for the assumption, but whether or not your Christian doesn’t matter to make my point. Pascal’s Wager (which is what you’re advancing, here) is highly flawed because it just assumes, erroneously, that the religion of the person making it (in Pascal’s case, and I assume in yours, that’s Christianity) is actually the correct religion, despite there being a grand total of zero verifiable evidence for such an assumption.

      So I ask again… which god, and are you sure you can be so confident about that?

      Personally, I’d rather go with Thomas Jefferson who, in a letter he sent to his nephew, wrote “question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”

      • I’m not sure I understand what that means. I’m not even sure how that’s relevant to what I wrote. I’ve never compared myself to any gods and I never will. I’m a Homo sapiens sapiens, colloquially known as a Human Being. I’m not supernatural, nor have I created any worlds or universes.

        So I really don’t understand your point or how it’s relevant.

      • Look… I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough. One thing that kept me from going back to theism is that all theists could ever offer were vague, meaningless platitudes… like “when we stop comparing ourselves to God, we start to see God.”

        It does not in any way respond to my post, which was written in an attempt to point out the problem with Pascal’s Wager. So let’s deal with that, instead.

        • Wrong. What I’m looking for is honesty. I’m looking for people to, for once, think critically.

          I want the debate to end, and one day, I hope it will… but not while there are still people who think “when we stop seeing ourselves as god, we see God” is a meaningful statement.

      • Misquoting people in your arguments won’t help. I didn’t say ““when we stop seeing ourselves as god, we see God.” Look carefully. I don’t have to justify anything to you. When you humble yourself, you may see a path open. I wish you the best. I’m out.

      • Hi Nathan,
        It is so funny that people try to prove and disprove everything. Yes you are right that there is zero verifiable evidence. But does that prove anything? That why we call it faith. We believe in something!
        Let me ask you a question. Have you ever felt love?
        If not I’m very sorry for you, but if you have felt love, you should know it is one of the deepest and most wonderful feelings. But is there any proof for love. Scientist can try to explain love with hormones, strong feelings or biochemical processes, but Biology up to today fails to prove and define love. (Some even describe love as a mammalian drive like hunger or thirst). Every time a scientist will try to verify love he will fail dismally.
        Does this mean love doesn’t exist?
        If your partner loves you, you just have to believe him or her, there is nothing to really prove his or her love. If she or he shows his or her love, it could be explained with thousands of reasons: maybe she wants your money, maybe he just wants to have sex, maybe she’s afraid of getting old alone, …. I assume you get my point.
        You can’t just try to explain love, if you’ve never felt it! Its more than a feeling, more than a biochemical reaction more than a mammalian drive!
        That sadly is your dilemma. You’re trying to disprove something you have never experienced and in your eyes it just doesn’t make sense. (May be like a feelingless scientist might wonder why people after heartbreak and agony still fall in love again!)
        Faith is like … chocolate. (I hope you like chocolate)
        You can try to explain scientifically what chocolate is, you can say what the ingredients are, you can warn people about the dangers of eating too much chocolate, you can make scientific experiments which tell you at what temperature it melts, but does that really explain what chocolate is? No, unless you’ve eaten one piece and tasted it, you will never know why people love chocolate.
        So, to have an atheist trying to explain faith is like … trying to explain chocolate without having tasted it.
        In my life I’ve felt Gods presence, sometimes through other believers, sometimes in prayer and sometimes just a random feeling, definitely not verifiable. But does that mean he wasn’t there for me? He was, because I felt God.
        So, I feel sorry for everyone who wants to disprove God, because if you only believe in verifiable things, you’ll miss out on wonderful things like love, trust and … yes God!
        Faithfully Stephan

      • Nathan,
        I would like to know how you know that we are not all worshiping the same God? Islam has many beliefs that parallel Christianity. Islam believes in God. They even believe in Jesus. They just do not believe that he was a deity of any sort. The do not believe that he died on the cross and thus did not rise from the tomb or ascend into heaven. They even acknowledge his teaching and his life on earth. But the beliefs seem to go in vastly different directions after that. The rituals that Muslims follow are centered around deeds that get them into heaven because they please Allah, their God. (Allah is not a different deity from the God of Christianity, Allah simply means The “Al” God “lah”).
        It’s like saying that the almighty dollar that American’s worship is different that the Euro, Colon (Costa Rica), Yen (Japan), or the Dirham (United Arab Emirates). They are one in the same. They are all used to purchase something. It may take more or less of one or another to create the same value, but they all do the same thing. They are just called something different.
        So again I ask you, how do you know? You seem so defiantly confident in all of your statements. Please enlighten us lesser intellects. How do you know that those thousands of created Gods are all not just one God viewed from a thousand different points of view? Of course you have absolutely no way of knowing. That is evident by the fact that you have done exactly what you most antagonists do, plucking what suits your argument at the moment from religion in general and paraphrasing the major religions in a futile attempt to make yourself seem knowledgeable about those religions. When in fact you have stated so little about Judaism, Islam, Atheism, and even Christianity. The fact of the matter is that you know very little about any of the religions. I base that educated guess on the fact that there is nothing in the Ten Commandments of Judaism that says anything about worshiping an idol. Here are those commandments that you seem to be referencing:
        1) Belief in God
        2) Prohibition of Improper Worship
        3) Prohibition of Oaths
        4) Observance of Sacred Times
        5) Respect for Parents and Teachers
        6) Prohibition of Physically Harming Another Person
        7) Prohibition of Sexual Immorality
        8) Prohibition of Theft
        9) Prohibition of Harming a Person Through Speech
        10) Prohibition of Coveting
        So out of those, I am not sure where you got that Christians are going to be in “are in mountains of trouble with God…”
        I am pretty sure that you were not referring to the 7 Noahic Commandments because as I am sure you are well aware (or maybe not) they do not include anything about anything relating to people being in big trouble for following Jesus. But I digress.
        Now I take to your statement that there is absolutely no verifiable evidence that Christianity is the, how did you put it?, “correct religion”. Not sure that there is a way to converse about such an arbitrary statement. I guess you would have to begin by verifying the base point. What define “correct”? Who decides what is “correct” or “incorrect”? You need to provide some sort of verifiable baseline in order for the rest of us to work from in that scenario. So for now, until we have something to prove that Christianity is NOT the “correct religion”, as you so aptly put it, we will have to agree to disagree. I think that the fact that the world has vastly more believers of some religion than non-believers that there is something out there beyond here and now. Unless you are one that is so superior intellectually that you know something that over 6 billion people do not. If so, please enlighten us all. I would love to see your facts. Perhaps you should try the Atheist’s Wager rather than Pascal’s Wager. I think it might suit you better. After all Pascal was simply referring to statistical algorithm’s that he believed could justify both belief in God and Unbelief in God. It was based around Christian Apologetics of the 1600’s. He did not focus as much on whether God exists or not as you would like to portray. Here is the foundation of Pascal’s Wager from his very own notes:
        The philosophy uses the following logic (excerpts from Pensées, part III, §233):
        1. “God is, or He is not”
        2. A Game is being played… where heads or tails will turn up.
        3. According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
        4. You must wager. (It’s not optional.)
        5. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
        6. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (…) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
        It was a statistical algorithm that he was interested in. Not meant to be used to determine if God was real or not. But more so what you could gain or lose from your belief or unbelief. I really hate when people get so confused about things like that. It kind of makes it seem like they are clueless about a subject when they misuse subject matter accidentally. Throws a whole argument off it’s axis from the get go, kind of like yours. But it happens. People get confused. I hope that you learned something here. And just to be clear. I understand your point you are trying to make. You do not believe in God. You believe that we are all wrong and that you are right. I get that. Thomas Jefferson made a great quote for your comments. It was, however, an opinion of a single man. I hope to give all readers of this one clear thing. The word opinion. It is singular in all of it’s existence. One person writes something that is one their mind and other people use it as fact from then on. Just remember that first person accounts of actual events like in the New Testament are not opinions. They may be skewed some by the different viewpoints of the writers, but when you have many different viewpoints written from many different people that had first had knowledge of events and then they are later all collected and they say the same thing then that is where belief comes from. We need to keep a close eye on where we blur the lines between fact and opinion. I too shall end with a quote from Thomas Jefferson, spoken to the Baptist Association of Danbury, CT January 1, 1802: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship….”. Something that I think is great advice for people that try to force their non beliefs on others as factual.

      • Marc… Let me start with the very end… lest you think I don’t know this, I’m well aware that Thomas Jefferson was NOT an atheist. I’m pretty sure that none of the Founding Fathers were atheists. I would argue that Jefferson was NOT a Christian, however. I think his words reveal him to be a Deist.

        As to your main point: basically, if all of these thousands of postulated deities are one in the same deity, then that deity suffers from perhaps the most severe form of Multiple Personality Disorder ever seen in this reality.. I say that because it is simply impossible for, say, Allah (a decidedly male, chauvinistic, sexist prude) and Aphrodite (a feminist goddess of sex and woman’s empowerment) to be the same deity… they are literally the exact opposite of each other.

      • Nathan….
        Thank you for the response. But you never have provided any proof of more than one God. Your variance of using the Goddess of Greek mythology is nice, but it is no more evidence that she was not the same God that Christians worship only through the eyes of someone that saw her rather than him. How do you know that whoever saw the Greek Goddess for the first time was not seeing an angel sent from the one true God? You don’t. You are making more assumptions and trying to cloak those assumptions in intellectual verbage and pass them off as proof. But that is no more prooof than an author telling you that Gulliver made many voyages around a strange new world and that being a fact. Just becuase you say it, that does not make it a fact. I still ask my same question, how do YOU know that thousands of God’s exist? I would think that someone with such a fervent view that God does not exist would not spend this much effort on saying that thousands do exist. But more importantly you need ot be educated and I will do my best to help with that. Until we talk again. “Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” ~ Psalm 34:8
        You obviously live a very unhappy existence and want to share your misery with those that are very content and happy with their beliefs in their chosen God (no matter which one it is). Why would soneone want to do that? You obviously do not have a relationship that will last you beyond this life. So you are miserable in this life. That is so sad. If you are right and this is it, then you are missing out my friend. I am perfectly happy with my life. I know that God exists. I spoke to God and heard His voice clearly speak back to me. And now I can look back at my life and see all of the times that God was there with me all along, I just didn’t see it. It is because of that I feel sorry for you. I wish that you could find God. And live the life that I have. One of peace and joy. But because bad things happen in the world (and likely in your life) you think that there is no way that this God of love could ever let those things happen. But that comes from your total misconception about, and ignorance to what the bible says. But I will pray for you. And when you respond (Because your burning desire to be right will not allow you to move on) I will be glad to continue debating with you about this issue. You need to be heard. I will hear you.

    • Frankly, I find this quote by Camus a statement of self-deception. I am surprised this existentialist would allow his mind to play such tricks on himself.

  2. I’m a little uneasy with the doubt part. It seems a part of coming to Christ. I have struggled with self-doubt, and that has caused me to teeter on doubting God at times, but am realizing the battle I am in, and am committed to and desiring to press on in faith. I appreciate your candor and I feel your post is powerful and effective, in that you are not afraid to ask the questions. I think that is a way in which God can operate more powerfully in your life. See Chris Rice’ song ‘Big Enough” (came to mind here) Thanks!

  3. very nice. Another example of why I — a non-militant non-believer—sometimes find I have faith in certain people of faith. And good luck with your new church: god knows (so to speak!) that we have too many shoddy and indifferent ones.

  4. Thought filled. Great blog post~! Even today, while trying to solicit endorsements for a very Bible based book I have written, I passed through one of those winged moments of doubt. Thought not the deeper doubt you are writing about here, it is still disconcerting. So, it is good to have had this blog post drop into my world this very day~! Thank you~!

  5. Looking out, all we see and what we see with, came from somewhere; nothing material is permanent in our physics. Call the originating intelligence (it is all a refutation of random) God if you will, or Fred if you prefer. We are a personification of insignificance in the scale of the universe, a sort of joke I think; I doubt a Creator of such a scale worries about our name for Him.
    He provided obvious laws for us to follow; when we diverge, we pay and don’t prosper. And to that extent, we need only observation and reason to understand. Folk who prefer not to understand have reasons, usually some desire is inconvenienced by admitting these observations so they refuse; a very human action…

    From there to religious practices seems to me to require Faith and that is, I’m told, a gift.

  6. Hi BJ,
    No matter how much people will say they believe, want to be closer to our Lord, we are all totally subsumed by our false gods: money, things, sex, and just about any vice you can mention. For a faithful Christian to not have doubts, or be tempted, is what our contemporary culture offers up daily. You just can’t avoid it. If our Lord is not 1st in ones life Satan will be and is in every ones’ face 24/7 with all of his goodies of temptation. Ciao, Charlie

  7. I am finally learning to let people have doubts and not be so frustrated with that. I had my own doubts and was so afraid of them it took me years to work them through, but I’m so glad I have

  8. Although I may not agree with all of your thoughts, this was certainly thought-provoking – and not what I expected from the title. I was a doubting Christian for a while, now a simple Theist, so I can relate to much of this.

  9. Thoughtful and compelling, thank you for this. @Nathan Hevenstone: The God that spoke clearly to BJ, unchained him, and drew him from the cave into the light of truth. That God.

  10. Thank you so much for your insightful comments. They have been very helpful to me. I believe that all who desire to believe in God are eventually backed up to the wall of faith. It simply has to be that I way. I, too, have had doubts, but i have chosen to believe. After i made that choice i felt a peace that can only come from a source outside myself. I believe there is no witness until after the trial of your faith. Are there things I don’t understand? Yes, of course, but I don’t doubt anymore. The peace have felt is unmistakable. I’m on God’s side. He knows it and I know it.

  11. Hi Bj. I have TRIED multiple times to follow your blog; however, wordpress keeps telling me to use a valid email. I am using a valid email, so I do not know what is going on! Sorry I haven’t been successful with this yet.

    • I don’t know what to tell you. If you have twitter, you can follow me @Beejai10 it automatically tweets a link for every new post. Hope wordpress stops being stubborn and you can get it fixed.

  12. Here another militant atheist. Well, not exactly, I am more Buddhist than atheist, but I don’t think that Buddhism has to be incompatible with atheism.

    I do like some aspects of Christianity, specially ethics and the example of Jesus and his life. However, I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of the existence of God, I don’t know why, but it doesn’t mean that I couldn’t respect (and even admire) the things that I think that are well in your believe. I don’t think that it would be necessary believing in God in order to be a good person and love people. I love my neighbor because it is my semblance. In fact, if everything has emerge from an explosion we are all the same matter, and I cannot hate anyone who is the same as me.

    I don’t know if I am explaining…

  13. Pingback: Actually, I’m Very Happy, Thanks | Atheism, Music, and More…

  14. I don’t fancy any of the gods people have invented. Zeus, Odin, all that crowd and hundreds of others. The only one I approve of is Aphrodite, and I am sceptical about her powers, if any. My background is in astrophysics, and there is simply no place for a god in either the formation or the day-to-day running of this universe. By the way, I’m a Quaker and have been for about thirty years.

  15. BJ, I loved your blog. I’ve never had much patience with the debate of others regarding if there is a God or not. But after reading your post and the many comments that followed, I admire those who can hang in there and help those who are struggling with the one and true God of all. Please keep up this subject matter. I forgot how many are out there that don’t believe in God. My encounters are, or so it seems, with those who worship their material wealth (or the lack of it) all in the name of God. This is a reawakening. Thank you for that.

  16. We are living in difficult times; the end times…The lack of family structure allows the growth of immoral behavior via “lack of Conscience”…It frees the body and kills the soul…
    Thanks ….david

  17. All I can say about the above conversations is that it is obvious some people just want to argue, others just what want to prove their point and finally there is the “pious” group who just want to show how pious they are. I won’t tell you where I am in the discussion except to say I believe in a personal, almighty, loving, holy God. Those who don’t believe at all, well, it’s thier choice. Just like my beliefs are my choice. Thought-provoking post. where I

  18. Atheist don’t not believe because religion causes violence, they do not believe because there is no evidence that any sort of god or supernatural being exists. Without evidence an atheist cannot believe. If you say you do not need evidence to believe then you could believe in fairies or that the sky is red or there are two moons in the sky. You could believe in whatever you want because you don’t need evidence. I could say to you that I live forever and only you die and no one else and you are the poor sucker who gets death. How could you not believe what I say?, because you yourself say you don’t need any evidence, you only need ‘faith’. So ‘faith’ will tell you that I am wrong when I say I will live forever and you will die. So ‘faith’ is just what you WANT to believe, it is what makes you feel safe and better, it is nothing. Climate change doubters are those who are frightened by the prospect of global warming and cannot face the immense fear of it, so they find they simply can’t believe in it DESPITE THE EVIDENCE THAT IT IS HAPPENING.

    And saying only those who have faith can see the evidence that a god exists is a circular argument. If you have faith then you already want to believe in a god so of course you will see evidence in everything around you, that is because you already believe, you don’t need evidence. The fact that you were thinking about your brother and then he suddenly rang you is not evidence a god exists and is helping you out, it is just a random incident. How many times have you thought of your brother and he has NOT rang? Most likely many more times than when he did, but you don’t notice the times when such so-called divine intervention does NOT happen.

    But to believe the earth is round you don’t need faith, even those who don’t have the faith that the earth is round can find out for themselves by flying a plane around the globe themselves. If god was real the evidence would be there for all to see, the doubters as well. Scientific evidence is not available only for those who believe in science, it is there for everyone to see.

    If god were real he would show himself to the doubters as well. You saying he wants us to believe first is just your wriggling excuse for why there is no evidence for any supernatural being.

    • Thank you very much for commenting here.

      –Atheist don’t not believe because religion causes violence, they do not believe because there is no evidence that any sort of god or supernatural being exists. Without evidence an atheist cannot believe. If you say you do not need evidence to believe then you could believe in fairies or that the sky is red or there are two moons in the sky.–

      You’re right to say that without evidence a person can believe whatever they wish. For example they could believe such nonsense that this physical, material world is all that there is, or in hobgoblins and snarks. However, I would disagree strongly with you on your statement that there is absolutely no evidence for the existence of God. There is plenty of evidence. The four proofs that I believe are the strongest are the cosmological, teleological, anthropological, and historical proofs. For brevity’s sake I won’t repost them here but instead provide a link if you are truly interested.

      –So ‘faith’ is just what you WANT to believe–

      And that is why I hold firmly to my stance that atheism is a leap of faith. In spite of the evidence, atheists continue to close their minds to the reality of God. It is a leap of faith to believe or to chose not to believe. Smarter men than you or I have argued the merits for and against for a long time and will continue long after we are dust. To make such a claim that extremely far more intelligent men than you who have believed in the existence of God are clinging to fairy tales is the height of arrogance.

      –And saying only those who have faith can see the evidence that a god exists is a circular argument.–

      Let me put the cookies on a lower shelf so maybe you can understand what was being said: A person can believe God based on the evidence for His existence. A person cannot truly know God until they believe Him. Do you see the difference?

      –If god were real he would show himself to the doubters as well.–

      He has. He does. I’m living proof of it. You could be too. Open your eyes.

  19. Nice thought and well narrated. Congratulations. However it seems you’re still grappling with your beliefs. You’re still trying to convince yourself. The only way God works is by total surrender. Believing that everything that happens, and I mean everything – the good, bad and ugly, mistakes, errors, gracious acts, tragedy, comedy or plain talk is for, by and intended for a larger cause. We’re all transitory and nothing, absolutely nothing will matter in sometime. For some ten years, for some fifty and some hundred. But we will all evolve. This blog, you and me and everything else.

    • “The only way God works is by total surrender.” I understand the sentiment, but don’t agree with your application. At the river Jabbok it was precisely because he didn’t surrender that Jacob was blessed by God. His name was changed and all those who called themselves by his name, all Israel, God’s chosen people were, by definition, those who struggled with God and overcame.
      Thank your thoughts. I respect and appreciate them, but I do disagree.

  20. wow lots of comments here and much to ponder…been emailing back and forth with a militant atheist…so this blog was “right on” ..thanks Nathan.
    Thanks too for stopping by once again my blog …you are such a great writer and encourager…it is neat to read your thoughts…and this one blog in particular gives me some ideas of how to approach my “M.A.” (militant atheist…yep he is that) …

    G.

  21. I am an Atheist, however I am not militant (not all of us are). Just as not all Christian religions are the same, there are different thoughts from different groups of Atheists. I am also Buddhist. I just want to say I appreciate your letter. In looking around at your site, it appears I’m the only Dissenter in your audience. You want to know why? Well you know all the reasons already. I need proof. I take the scientific look at things and god just doesn’t make logical sense to me. I consider myself logical, and the idea of god just doesn’t make logical sense, and no amount of anyone declaring otherwise will make me change my opinion, just as I cannot change yours. There are and will always be a schizm between us. We are at different levels of development and I understand you have to walk your own path, just as I must be free to walk down mine.

    Again, I thank you for the opportunity to answer at least one of your questions. I hope I answered it.

    • hey how are you, you said “you need proof”, and you say it like if you were shown proof you would then believe… listen if in your heart you want to know the truth, even though you dont believe, say these words “God, if you are real show me, if i need you then show me God, if you love me then show me God; please.” say it from the heart. even if you dont believe. say it because you want to know the truth. and after you say it go to these pages, i’ll put them in order. please go in order. they are from my blog.. i made it for you. literally lol

      1) http://godsgraceisjesus.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/wow-this-so-amazing-this-is-love-please-watch/

      2) http://godsgraceisjesus.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/you-know-what-jesus-did-for-you-he-paid-in-full/

      3) http://godsgraceisjesus.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/holy-spirit-shower-powerful/

      4) http://godsgraceisjesus.wordpress.com/2013/09/15/yay-god-yes-holy-spirit-jose-coelho/

      • Nope, sorry, I have done this and nothing happened. I (albeit briefly) studied various religions including Judaism, Islam, and Mormonism. I was raised a Catholic.

        I am Atheist because in my search for the truth, logic leads me to be that way. To me god doesn’t make logical sense. Your Bible is filled with contradictions and outdated precepts that I cannot agree with, while the Buddhist texts do not require anything more of me than requesting me to do no harm. To me, being kind and patient is about all people need to be. If you are kind you do not anger other people, or steal from them, or hurt them, or lie to them. I don’t need commandments to make me a good person. I am a good person and will continue to try to be the best I can be, which I think should be enough.

        I may have said I need proof, but there is no proof in me talking to god and asking for some kind of sign. Unless he showed up at my door with a business card, I’m afraid there can be no sufficient proof.

        As I said, we are at different stages of our own personal evolution. For me, however, belief in god has always been missing and explanations offered have been insufficient for me to change my mind. I’ve been an Atheist since age 16, and despite reading all of the blogs you suggest (which I will look at, I promise you) I surely do not believe that after reading four posts I am likely to change my mind.

        I appreciate the opportunity to explain my Atheism to you, but I feel you only want to change my mind, and that is not what I am about. Each of us must choose what is right for them at the time that is right for them. I believe each of us have different needs and your god fits your needs today. Who knows, maybe you will become Atheist one day in the future. Quite improbably, god may yet knock on my door. I don’t know the future. I only know today, each moment, I try to do no harm to another living being.

        I am relatively new to Buddhism, I’ve only been learning about it for about 15 years, but I am starting to really understand it, and it works for me. Why isn’t that enough for Christians? Why do you not trust that I know what is best for me at this time? I understand the urge to convert people to your way of thinking, but I am just as unlikely to talk a lion into thinking it is a zebra, as you are going to be able to convince me that I should believe in god: Yours or any other gods.

        • Thank you for your thoughtful and civil reply to God Adopted… You said earlier that you seem to be the only dissenter here. That isn’t the case as reading many of the earlier comments will show (and I’m still getting more than the occasional email about this one). I’ve replied a few comments above linking what I firmly believe is sufficient proof for the existence of God so I won’t rehash it here. If you chose not to agree that it is sufficient, that is your choice. I would only ask that you not assume that one need set aside reason to believe in God. Many great minds, past and present, are theists. If it’s OK with you, I will be praying that God will keep knocking. 😉

        • As for famous religious (Christian) people, they are mostly actors and singers, not scientists. They may be good in their occupation of choice, but hardly influence the masses to attend church.

          Many equally famous and notable people (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, George Carlin, Kurt Vonnegutt, Carl Sagan), mostly scientific and free thinking people. I tend to identify more with the people who actually have a serious impact on my world, than any actor has. In fact, I have never been big on having an Idol to look up to. I may respect them, theists and Atheists alike, but as for lasting impressions on the world, I’ll stick with the Atheists. Hope you don’t mind.

          I guess if you feel it necessary to pray for me, feel free. However, I do not need empty words spoken to a being I believe is fictional in order to save my soul. My soul is quite safe and I am free of any worry about whether or not I get to heaven, as that is not my goal. My goal is to enjoy this journey called life. Life has no destination. All I need on my tombstone is “She was a good person.”

        • I wasn’t thinking of actors or singers but rather great minds of our past: Newton, Descartes, Kant, Aquinas, Kierkegaard, among many others. You mention Washington, he along with many others of founding father fame (Henry, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, etc) were theists. There are also many great men today like Francis Collins who led the team mapping human DNA, who are Christians.
          Blessings.

        • I will only say that something like 93% of scientists describe themselves as Atheist.

          The jury is out as to Washington’s religious nature. I’ll agree, though that I am not familiar with Francis Collins and some other scientists were theists. Which just goes to show that it takes all kinds. If these scientists are able to mesh their beliefs with science, they are rare indeed.

        • appletonavenue, maybe demanding that God meet you on YOUR terms is the issue. Put His hat on for a moment. How would you feel? Either way, you have made a choice that stems from His influence on you.

        • Of course I want to meet him on my terms, because if I don’t have terms, all I have is faith in the magical. While I love to think of the world as a magical and miraculous place, I see no evidence of god. My biggest question, and one that has yet to be answered is why people who choose to believe in god want the rest of the world to be just like them. Isn’t it enough I am a good person? And if not, why not?

        • and also appletonavenue, i heard you talk about commandments, but CHRISTianity isnt about the commandments because they are impossible! the bible teaches that if you have kept all the commandments for 50 years spotless and at one point you stumble and break one, you have broken all of it as if you never kept it in your life. the bible is clear when it talks about the law, the law cannot ave you or make righteous, in fact the law makes you and shows to be a horrible law breaker because we were born from the seed of adam so its not our actions that make us sinners but our birth, now Jesus came and completely fulfilled the law, and now He offers perfect righteousness and holiness and forgiveness and complete reconciliation to God simply by faith(trusting ands accepting Him as your Lord & savior)… look at these bible( i believe the bible lol) explanation of verses, look at the verses, here you go,,

          Acts

          The law is an unbearable yoke. (Acts 15:10)

          Romans

          The law reveals sin but cannot fix it. (Romans 3:20)

          If the law worked then faith would be irrelevant. (Romans 4:14)

          The law brings wrath upon those who follow it. (Romans 4:15)

          The purpose of the law was to increase sin. (Romans 5:20)

          Christians are not under the law. (Romans 6:14)

          Christians have been delivered from the law. (Romans 7:1-6)

          The law is good, perfect and holy but cannot help you be good, perfect or holy. (Romans 7:7-12)

          The law which promises life only brings death through sin. (Romans 7:10)

          The law makes you sinful beyond measure. (Romans 7:13)

          The law is weak. (Romans 8:2-3)

          1 Corinthians

          The strength of sin is the law (1 Corinthians 15:56)

          2 Corinthians

          The law is a ministry of death. (2 Corinthians 3:7)

          The law is a ministry of condemnation. (2 Corinthians 3:9)

          The law has no glory at all in comparison with the New Covenant. (2 Corinthians 3:10)

          The law is fading away. (2 Corinthians 3:11)

          Anywhere the law is preached it produces a mind-hardening and a heart-hardening veil. (2 Corinthians 3:14-15)

          Galatians

          The law justifies nobody. (Galatians 2:16)

          Christians are dead to the law. (Galatians 2:19)

          The law frustrates grace. (Galatians 2:21)

          To go back to the law after embracing faith is “stupid”. (Galatians 3:1)

          The law curses all who practice it and fail to do it perfectly. (Galatians 3:10)

          The law has nothing to do with faith. (Galatians 3:11-12)

          The law was a curse that Christ redeemed us from. (Galatians 3:13)

          The law functioned in God’s purpose as a temporary covenant from Moses till John the Baptist announced Christ. (Galatians 3:16 & 19, also see… Matthew 11:12-13, Luke 16:16)

          If the law worked God would have used it to save us. (Galatians 3:21)

          The law was our prison. (Galatians 3:23)

          The law makes you a slave like Hagar. (Galatians 4:24)

          Ephesians

          Christ has abolished the law which was a wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:15)

          Philippians

          Paul considered everything the law gained him as “skybalon” which is Greek for “poop”. (Philippians 3:4-8)

          1 Timothy

          The law is only good if used in the right context. (1 Timothy 1:8) (see next verse for the context)

          It was made for the unrighteous but not for the righteous. (1 Timothy 1:9-10)

          Hebrews

          The law is weak, useless and makes nothing perfect. (Hebrews 7:18-19)

          (As a side – that’s some fighting talk – no wonder the author of Hebrews remains anonymous to this day!)

          God has found fault with it and created a better covenant, enacted on better promises. (Hebrews 8:7-8)

          It is obsolete, growing old and ready to vanish. (Hebrews 8:13)

          It is only a shadow of good things to come and will never make someone perfect. (Hebrews 10:1)

        • I apologize for my confusion, but I really don’t understand what these quotes about law are meant to show me.

          I’m glad you find some comfort in your bible. I send you thoughts of peace and gentleness.

        • “My biggest question, and one that has yet to be answered is why people who choose to believe in god want the rest of the world to be just like them. Isn’t it enough I am a good person? And if not, why not?”

          I have no desire for everyone to be like me and neither do my Christian friends; wife, pastor, etc.

          BTW, magic is just a slight of hand and an illusion to the viewer. I certainly don’t see anything mysterious about that at all. I can’t compare it to the God I know in my personal life. I know many atheists who refer to magic every time they discuss or ridicule the Christian belief, so I guess they believe in magic. I also consider that they believe in a bearded man in the sky. Again, I do not nor do any of the Christians I know. The God I trust is not a “bearded man in the sky.” That’s just silly.

          This is most likely my last comment on this thread.

        • Sorry, I thought we had a very conscientious discussion going. I must have misinterpreted something, and for that I apologize.

          I am sure you are a good person, or like the rest of us, simply try to be a good person. I send you thoughts of gentleness and peace as you make your journey.

          Namaste

        • hey thanks for replying to me and letting me know how you feel and stuff. i think your awesome and nice man and thanks for talking to me. actually you know you are right, it takes faith. i didnt see Jesus walking the earth man. And well i am 18, i have been a believer for 1 year, and i dont go to church. (although ima start so i can hang out with brothers and sisters and support each other :pp), but one thing that the bible says( i believe the bible lol), is that no one can say “jesus is Lord” except thru the Holy Spirit.. and also Jesus asked a disciple ” who do you say I Am?” and the disciple said ” you are the Christ, the Holy One of God” or in other words “you are the Messiah, The Son of God.”…. and Jesus said, “blessed are you Simon! for flesh has not revealed this to you, but My Father in Heaven.” so just from these two little but bold verses you see that people dont believe bcuz of evidence but bcuz of the Holy Spirit, or in other words, you can see all the evidence there is but with out Holy Spirit it wouldnt stick to you and you would just drift off….. why did Father bless me with Holy Spirit, i have no clue(well i know He is Love; but), i wasnt looking for Him. i know this message might sound empty to you, i hope it doesnt, but can you pray to Jesus? it will do no harm to you, im not telling you to pray to Him bcuz its church regulation or tradition but bcuz He is alive… “He who made the ear, you think He cannot hear?”

        • I appreciate your kind words. But honestly, I cannot truly pray to your Jesus, though, as you say it would do me no harm, but neither will it do any good, for they would be empty words, and I am not a hypocrite.

          I am happy you have found a happy life in this world. That is not always an easy thing to do regardless of your religion, or lack thereof.

      • kellyjdrummer… why does God insist on his terms? That seems like a really *human* thing to me. Meeting us on *our* terms should be the simplest of things to God. What’s the problem with it? If our terms are too stringent for God, then maybe he isn’t God?

        • Have you asked Him? I’m sure He can provide an answer. Nathan, there is no human on earth that can answer any question as God can answer it. I will never trust any person who tells me that they understand the mind of God. Ask Him what His terms are.

          As far as meeting us on our terms? It was done the day Jesus Christ was born. It was promised to provide the direct route for eternity.

      • Ugh. Kelly…

        My frustration is not at you, so please don’t think so, but don’t you think I have? Do you really think we atheists are so because we never searched? On the contrary; most atheists are so precisely because we’ve searched… and found nothing.

        God utterly failed to answer me. I have never, in my entire life, surrounded by Jews and Catholics and Protestants and Baptists and Lutherans and Born-Again, been given a reason to believe. I have read the Bible, more than once, and have not found anything worthy of inspiration in it (indeed, to be 100% honest, I find the Bible to be a rather immoral work, for many reasons I don’t have time to go into right now). I’ve also read other holy books, such as the Quran and Upanishads and so on. I’ve also read the Talmud, as well.

        So my atheism is most certainly not for a lack of trying. But a) I cannot now, nor will I ever, accept into my heart any deity who values a specific kind of faith over works, so I could never be, for example, a “Born-Again Christian” because I could never feel any sense of “heaven” knowing that literally my entire family, on both sides, are or will be in Hell, as with every single friend and loved one, and every single person I’ve ever respected or looked up to. In fact, Hell is pretty much my biggest problem with Christianity. The whole idea of Heaven and Hell and it all being based on Faith is, to me, incredibly immoral.

        So even if I were ever to “find faith” again, it’d be some liberal form of Reform Judaism at most, because at least there works is what’s important, skepticism is celebrated (Yisrael does mean, after all, “one who wrestles with God”), and Hell is not a thing.

      • And b) I don’t actually consider my standards all that stringent, especially as God is omniscient and omnipotent. If God wants my attention, he’s got to do better than some guy 2000 years ago who may or may not have existed (as the Bible is quite literally the only evidence of Jesus Christ out there, his existence is questionable at best… for the record, I think there had to be someone, because religions don’t get built on nothing; but I certainly do reject the miracles, as well as the virgin birth and the third-day resurrection thing) written in a book that could just as easily have been compiled by a whole bunch of different people over many decades as being written by God himself (in fact, the former is infinitely more likely for many, many reasons).

        In other words, for me, the Bible just isn’t good enough. I would expect an omniscient and omnipotent deity to do a heck of a lot better than that. I would not, however, expect much more from human beings who were living in the desert some 2000 years ago. Honestly… I see no reason Jesus had to show up back then. As was sung to Jesus by Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar: “if you’d come today you could have reached a whole nation. Israel in 4 BC had no mass communication.”

    • Nathan, I have provided answers as to where to look. I can not give you salvation. I can not hand you a belief in anything. All I can do is suggest where to look. It is up to you to take the lead and do so if you choose. There is no obligation. No one here will ostracize you if you do not.

      You seem to rely on humans to provide answers for you as I did long ago. They can’t do that. When I accepted Christ as my personal savior, I was an atheist. My father made sure I didn’t believe in anything at all. Today, I will say that he is a destitute (spiritually), angry, horrid person and still an atheist. He is heading for the grave with cancer at 81 years old this December. As horrid as he is, I care about him and love him. He is not capable of accepting that from me because I rejected atheism and he is not happy with that. I don’t want to be like him. He is fully capable of making his final decisions. It may be the last thing he does in this life. It may not be. I wish for the former, but I can’t mail the answer to him to be devoured as a savory cookie or sandwich just as no one here can dress it up so for you.

      I accepted Christ when I was 19 years old. I am still a Christian at 60 years old in January coming next year. I was as atheist as I could imagine being when this happened. Why did I do such a thing? Because the people I was associating with at the church I wanted to know about were happy, content, trustworthy, etc. I asked the questions you are asking. They gave me the answers I and others here have given you. I accepted Christ because I wanted what those people had that made them care about me.

      We, here, can all lead you to the water, but we can not make you drink. That is the move you can make or not.

      Many of the questions you ask all have the same answer. “Give it a shot. You have nothing to lose but doubt.” As frustrated as you are at not having any more answers than you have without making the final move to open your heart to Christ and the Father, many here are just as frustrated at seeing questions asked that just can not be answered with words, as you are at not getting answers that we can not provide. Frustrated at seeing you struggle, not because you are asking questions, but because the answer is plain and simple. You have to make the move.

      Nathan, I tried answering your questions before, but that did not end well. Your frustration proceeds you and warns others of your dissatisfaction with thinking people can provide the answers you seek. We can provide answers, but only to a point. You have asked the right questions, but now you ask the same questions but just switch the words around so they ask the same thing in a different way. All of the questions have the same answer.

      God bless you Nathan. I hope you get this figured out.

      • I’m not sure this was rightly addressed to me, as I am not Nathan. Nor did I ask any questions or request salvation. Nor am I frustrated and do not seek my answers from other people, but rather from inside myself.

      • appletonavenue, it was addressed to Nathan as my opening sentence suggests. The reply system here seems to be limited. As I stated, I have no desire to make other people “be like me.” They can do as they please, I just offer answers I believe are relative when I am asked.

      • My frustration is at believers telling me that I have to read the Bible and ask God… I honestly have tried all that. I’ll be surprised if I ever believe in any kind of supernatural anything ever again. Of course people read that as being closed off, but I just see it as the logical conclusion of my experiences. Of course, I am only 26; I still have a full life ahead of me, and things could change. And if they do, I won’t be closed off to them. I just simply don’t expect it anymore.

  22. Thank you for writing this. I had to link to it in “For Believers Who Have Considered Apostasy When Faith Isn’t Enuf.” It is so important for me to surround myself with people who can look doubt in the face and address it fearlessly.

    Too often, my uber-passionate, well-meaning brothers and sisters in Christ think they can shout down my doubts… drown them out with sound. Telling someone “you just need to believe” does not make the doubts go away. This way—facing them head on—seems to be the only effective way. Thank you for being brave enough to do that.

  23. bj, thanks for having me. I don’t seem to be adding much to the discussion here, so I’m going to bow out.
    God bless you in your endeavors and all that you do in and for His Name.
    God bless you all,
    Kelly J.

    • There are four hundred some odd likes on this blog. It gets 30-50 hits a day, minimum. Just because the one or two people responding doesn’t mean you aren’t doing good. Thank you, and appleton, and nathan, and everyone for continuing to make this a relatively civil dialogue. Compared to what I have seen on this topic in other places, I need to stand and applaud you all.

      • To be honest, I feel like I’ve gotten perhaps a bit more heated than is warranted, and if anyone took offense to anything I said, I am sorry. I’m just trying to be honest about where I’m coming, and it’s not a secret that I’m not a fan of religion or the Bible and so on. But I also don’t begrudge anybody having faith, nor do I think it’ll ever go away.

  24. Knowing God is a must in my life, unfortunately I am human, Jesus knows this, He gave his life for me, He sees my imperfections and shortcomings, Jew or Gentile, how can you not believe, I have been pounded by someone of STROMG Jewish laws, The God I know, when Jesus died set a new covenant, that I find peace, joy, and I can talk to Him each day just as I am, the child he created in His image, wonderful blog, BJ. lots of hard work went into this. God bless!

  25. Bj, I shared the link of this blog…so as to ask your permission as a way of answering concern over my blog similar to this. I hope it’d be fine for you. This is very useful and the most numbers of comments. I understood. God bless you more with wisdom, obedience and a pure heart.

    • Thank you for the concern but not everyone who wants to have a conversation on this issue wants to do so publicly. The opportunities I’ve had through email more than outweigh the possible annoyance of a little spam.

      • I wouldn’t say anything to someone in private that I wouldn’t say to them publicly, so I don’t see the issue. Maybe that’s just me being socially retarded though. I leave ego out of discussing issues and assume too often others will do the same.

  26. I appreciate your post. As one who recently left the Christian Church, it is nice to see someone opening the door to disbelief/doubt. I resonate with Nathan’s earlier frustrations with “empty platitudes.” I do not seek to prove or disprove any form of divinity with science, but I do crave honesty and especially Christians who can love without agenda. I personally wrestle with the certainty that people of faith tend to speak. For example, I once heard a pastor proclaim that pets/animals don’t go to Heaven. I thought it was so sweet of him to go to Heaven to find out this vital piece of information, only to come back to earth and break little hearts (sarcasm). Why do such things have to be important? I also struggle with many Christians considering themselves the “morality police” in the name of love or accountability. As I’m sure you can guess, I’ve been greatly manipulated by many claiming to be Christians.

    But greater than my pain, I desire to live in a world where all are respected, regardless of their personal belief system. I saw an article recently of Muslims who held hands and formed a circle of protection around a Christian church while they held mass, and I could think of nothing more beautiful than humans acknowledging our oneness as humans.

    This to me is the bigger question…not what we believe, but what we do with that belief? Do we use it to hurt others, or to spur our quest for justice and peace? Anything short of that is a waste of time.

  27. Pingback: Sharing An Open Letter To Those Who Doubt or Deny God| The River Walk | Inspirations Etc. Boutique, Literary Guild & Referrals

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