Why do you believe?

June 10, 2008 at 10:17 am | Posted in Christianity | 16 Comments
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Notice I didn’t ask what do you believe. I asked why do you believe. I feel this is an important question. It’s something that I’ve been tossing around lately and I think I’ve found answers for a number of people. If asked, many Americans (I think the last number was 94%) say that they believe in God. It’s the Sunday school answer. It’s what many of us were taught to say. But, why do you believe in God? This isn’t to try and get you to doubt God’s existence. It’s to get you thinking about why you believe what you do and what you’re really putting your faith in.

 

For instance, if you are a follower of the Hindu belief system, why do you believe what you do? Why do you believe that there are millions of “gods”? Is the evidence for those “gods” that strong? Why do you consider cows as sacred? What is the basis for your faith in the Hindu belief system?

 

If you’re an atheist, why do you believe what you do? Why do you deny the existence of God? Has science proven without a doubt that God doesn’t exist? Can you really be sure that He doesn’t? Surely anyone with even the slightest common sense would understand that none of us could know everything right? Is it possible in the information that you haven’t yet looked at that there is plenty of evidence of God?

 

If you’re a Muslim, why do you believe in Islam? What is it about Islam that makes it the true belief system? Is it the Quran? Was the Quran really given to Mohammed by Gabriel? Has it remained unchanged all these years? Do you believe because of the promise of paradise and virgins awaiting you? How do you know that you’ll make it to paradise? Is there any assurance?

 

If you follow the Jewish belief system, why? What is it about Judaism that makes appealing? Is it tradition? Is it the promises of God? What is it?

 

As I said above, I don’t ask these questions for any reason other than to get you thinking. I’ve asked the same questions of myself in regards to the religions above as well as Christianity.

 

Looking at belief systems, it seems that many people believe in them because their system of choice suits them. If someone decides to be a Zen Buddhist, is it because of what the system teaches or is it because of the degree to which it suits the practitioner? Does someone become a Buddhist because they truly believe the teachings or because they are more comfortable with the religion and its tenets? This goes for any religion.

 

I can’t help but wonder whether or not many of the people who profess a belief honestly believe in what they profess. If not, then why believe it?

 

Of course, this led me to wonder about the body of Christ too. If you’re a Christian, why do you believe? What is it about Christianity that causes you to believe it over other systems? Not only that, what about the different things being taught?

 

If you believe in the “prosperity gospel”, what is it that gives credence to that? Many will answer that question with a number of scriptures about wealth and health, but is that the whole counsel of God? If prosperity is the main focus of the gospel, what happens when you come upon hard times? What happens when you’re unemployed for months? Is that just another attack from the devil or is there something more to it?

 

If you believe in the “God-is-love gospel”, what do you do with the verses (Old and New Testament) that talk about God being righteous, holy, and judging sin? Do you ignore those verses or explain them away as a misunderstanding or incorrect translation? How do you reconcile the judgment to come with your view that “God is love”?

 

If you believe that you can be a practicing homosexual and a Christian at the same time, what part of scripture do you use for evidence? Why do you believe that? What about the passages that call it a sin and say that homosexuals won’t enter the kingdom of heaven?

 

If you believe that Christ died on the cross but that we must still work our way into heaven, why? Why do you believe that? What is it about Christ’s death on the cross that was incomplete? If Christ’s death was complete and we’re saved through it, then why do we need to do “works”?

 

What about the other “gospels” that I’ve heard preached (Kingdom theology, Replacement theology)? Why does someone believe those? What happens when these different “gospels” don’t line up with scripture? Do you stop believing that in favor of something else? Do you try to reconcile it? Or, do you ignore it?

 

Like other religions, it seems that many people profess Christianity for much the same reasons. Some of them profess Christianity because they were brought up in church. Some of them profess a certain flavor of Christianity because it suits them. How many Christians actually follow Christ because they believe what He said? Many people would probably say that this is the case for them, but is it? If it’s true for someone, shouldn’t it show? Now, I understand that people grow in holiness. I understand that they don’t become sanctified overnight, but shouldn’t they be moving in that direction? Should we have pastors that watch pornography? Should we have churchwomen spreading gossip? Should our kids act like heathens if we really believe what the Bible says? Should our focus be on growing the church when God said that the growing is His job?

 

I guess that I’ve gotten to the point that I just don’t understand the point of being a follower of something unless you really believe it. If you don’t believe in parts of Christianity, what do you do with them? If you believe in a certain flavor of the gospel, then what do you do with the rest of scripture? Is Christianity supposed to be a buffet? Are we supposed to pick and choose what we like and throw out the rest?

 

As I study the scriptures, I just can’t help but see that God made it clear exactly what He wanted done. There were times where He expected His people to trust Him, but for the most part, He gave them the instructions. God’s given us the same instructions and expectations. Are we doing what we’re supposed to? When you read about the lives of the “heroes of faith”, you’ll see a certain phrase spoken of many of them. They are noted for doing “all the Lord commanded them” (Gen 6:22, Gen 21:4, Lev 8:4, Lev 8:36, Jos. 10:40, 2Sa 5:25). Shouldn’t those of us who know Christ be the same? If we’re not, then are we really following Christ?

 

I can’t help but wonder how many Christians “just believe” and really don’t know why they believe what they do or lack the conviction they should have to truly follow Christ. For what number of Christians has it become just “the thing to do”? How many just do it because it’s all they’ve known?

 

For me, it’s become more and more a desire to truly understand what God wants from me and to make every effort to do “just as He commands”. It’s not easy and there are a number of times where I’ve messed up, but I want to do it. I don’t believe in the Hindu system and it’s millions of “gods” and “mystical” thinking processes. I don’t deny that God exists like atheists do. I read the scriptures and see them confirmed on a daily basis. I see prophecies that were given hundreds of years before they came true. I’ve seen instance after instance of God keeping His promise. I look at creation and see ample evidence for God. I don’t ascribe to Islam like Muslims do. I am not a follower of Judaism, although I have a high respect for Jews. I understand that they are still God’s people.

 

I don’t believe that prosperity is supposed to be the focus of the Christian. I don’t believe that once you “accept” Christ, you’re life just becomes a cornucopia of blessing and favor. I don’t believe that God is only love. I do believe that He is love; the scriptures say so. I also believe that He is holy, righteous, just, and deserves to be revered. I do believe that He will judge the world in righteousness and mete out the punishment for sin. I believe that homosexuality is a sin. I don’t believe that you can be a practicing homosexual and a Christian at the same time. I don’t believe that there is anything that any one of us could do to work our way to heaven or to compliment what Jesus did on Calvary. I don’t believe that the kingdom of God is here and I don’t believe that the church has replaced Israel as God’s chosen people. I don’t believe in these things because the scriptures say otherwise. I am becoming more and more cautious when accepting anything someone finds in scripture. I am trying to be a Berean. I want the whole counsel of God on the subject first. I want to be like Paul and be able to say that “I know in whom I have believed”. I want to share the gospel truth the way God meant it.

 

You may disagree with me and that’s ok. I believe that there are areas where we can disagree and still be friends, but I don’t know that there are near as many as some people try to say. In the end, it comes down to whether or not you’re going to take God’s Word the way that He wrote it. Will you? 

 

 

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  1. If you’re an atheist, why do you believe what you do? Why do you deny the existence of God? Has science proven without a doubt that God doesn’t exist? Can you really be sure that He doesn’t? Surely anyone with even the slightest common sense would understand that none of us could know everything right? Is it possible in the information that you haven’t yet looked at that there is plenty of evidence of God?

    This is going to come across as very nitpicky, but atheists don’t ‘eny’ the existence of God. Denial implies that a person realizes something is true (in this case, that God exists) but is intentionally ignoring or supressing the knowledge, which isn’t at all how any atheist would define their beliefs (or lack thereof).

    As well as that, very few atheists would say that science ‘disproving God without doubt’ is the reason why they’re atheists.

  2. If you’re an atheist, why do you believe what you do? Why do you deny the existence of God?

    Tricky. There’s a few reasons why I believe as I do. Firstly, all the evidence I have ever seen points to the same conclusion. That’s probably the biggest reason.

    But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t other reasons to believe as I do as well. It’s a very rewarding to me on many levels – emotionally, intellectually, ethically, and even spiritually – to recognize that the nonexistence of the supernatural.

    I like to think that I’d be intellectually honest enough to accept the conclusion drawn from the evidence even if it was counter to the conclusion that I would like to have drawn. It’s hard to tell. But in the interests of intellectual honesty, I thought I should at least get my personal bias out of the way.

    Has science proven without a doubt that God doesn’t exist?

    Well… No. Science doesn’t prove anything ‘beyond a doubt’. That’s not how science works.

    Science just gives us the best validated explanation we have based on the current evidence.

    Can you really be sure that He doesn’t?

    Yes, I can be sure.

    Surely anyone with even the slightest common sense would understand that none of us could know everything right?

    Right.

    Is it possible in the information that you haven’t yet looked at that there is plenty of evidence of God?

    Yes, it’s possible.

    On the other hand, surely anyone with even the slightest common sense would understand that we can only draw conclusions from evidence we have seen. We cannot draw conclusion from evidence we haven’t seen for the very simple reason that we don’t know what it is yet because we haven’t seen it.

    Being open to the possiblity of being wrong doesn’t make me ‘unsure’ of my stance that God does not exist. It makes me rationally open-minded to the possibility of evidence to the contrary – but just because it might exist, doesn’t mean that it does. If I was presented with such evidence, I would – grudgingly – have to change my position. But being able to see something really helps with the whole credibility thing.

    Ignorance is not an argument for the existence of anything. Period.

  3. vitamin-

    I guess that would all depend on how you look at things wouldn’t it?

    If I believe in God, then someone who says God doesn’t exist is denying the evidence aren’t they?

    According to the definitions of denial, atheists are doing just that:

    1. an assertion that something said, believed, alleged, etc., is false: Despite his denials, we knew he had taken the purse. The politician issued a denial of his opponent’s charges.

    Atheists, by their very position, do this. They say that God doesn’t exist, or in other words, that the idea that God exists is false.

    2. refusal to believe a doctrine, theory, or the like.

    Again, an “A-theist” does this. They refuse to believe the Christian doctrine of God’s existence.

    3. disbelief in the existence or reality of a thing.

    This one’s pretty obvious…

    4. the refusal to satisfy a claim, request, desire, etc., or the refusal of a person making it.

    Looking at this one, it seems to me that atheists do both of these. They have yet to present any concrete evidence that God doesn’t exist, and they refuse those who claim that He does…

    5. refusal to recognize or acknowledge; a disowning or disavowal: the traitor’s denial of his country; Peter’s denial of Christ.

    Atheists refuse to recognize or acknowledge God…

    6. Law. refusal to acknowledge the validity of a claim, suit, or the like; a plea that denies allegations of fact in an adversary’s plea: Although she sued for libel, he entered a general denial.

    This one could be arguable depending on the stance of the person themself…

    7. sacrifice of one’s own wants or needs; self-denial.

    This one could be debatable as well. While it may be true that atheists practice self-denial to some degree, Jesus said that it was necessary for those who desired to follow Him.

    8. Psychology. an unconscious defense mechanism used to reduce anxiety by denying thoughts, feelings, or facts that are consciously intolerable.

    Again, this one is debatable, but going by the reactions of some atheists toward Christians and their doctrines, it would seem that this is true too…

    I never said that “science disproving God without a doubt” was a reason for people becoming an atheist. I’m sure that there are other reasons, but ultimately, to be an atheist, they all have to point back to God not existing…

  4. UC,

    Thanks for your response and for your honesty!

    I do have a couple questions though…

    Above, you say that it’s a personal bias. If I understand you correctly, that means that you’re starting with a certain viewpoint and then expecting it to be proven true right?

    You also say that you can be sure that God doesn’t exist, but then say that you haven’t seen all the evidence. How is this so? If you are going by only a portion of the evidence to be absolutely certain, is that fair?
    You say that anyone with the slightest common sense can only draw conclusions from the evidence they’ve seen. So what do you do with someone like myself who has seen the evidence for God’s existence and draws that conclusion? If you say that all the evidence that you’ve seen shows that He doens’t exist (even though you’ve said that it’s possible from evidence you haven’t seen), and I say that I’ve seen evidence that He does exist, then one of us is right and the other is wrong aren’t we?
    You also say that the only things that we can draw conclusions from are the things that we see. Is this true? Do we not live our daily lives in the presence of things that we can’t see and still accept their existence? Things like emotions, thoughts, radio waves, etc. exist, but we can’t see them. And yet, if we heard someone say that they don’t exist we would at least look at them funny…

    I don’t deny the fact that seeing something makes it a whole lot easier to believe in it, but that’s not how we live our lives. We all live by faith, whether we realize it or not. You do too. You have faith that God doesn’t exist. I have faith that He does. It’s still faith, but the object of our faith is different. My faith is placed in God and His Word. Yours isn’t. If I understand correctly, it’s in naturalism and man’s intellect.

    I agree that ignorance isn’t a very good argument for anything. But where does the ignorance come in?

  5. Yes, you’re right about the definition of ‘denial’. I’m sorry if I misinterpreted you, but I’ve too often seen the word ‘denial’ used in this context along with a Biblical passage which states that everyone (atheists included) know ‘in their hearts’ that God exists, yet are simply supressing or ignoring the knowledge. If that’s not what you were getting at, you may safely ignore my criticism 😉

    I know your other questions weren’t addressed to me, but I’d like to take a stab at them anyway…

    You also say that you can be sure that God doesn’t exist, but then say that you haven’t seen all the evidence. How is this so? If you are going by only a portion of the evidence to be absolutely certain, is that fair?

    What I believe Ubiquitous Che was getting at is that nobody, anywhere, has ‘all the evidence’. Not only are there things that most of us simply don’t know (to take a random example, I doubt many people know much about advanced particle physics), but there are no doubt thousands upon thousands of things that no human anywhere knows. We may know them some day, but we don’t right now.

    The best anyone can do is draw conclusions from all of the evidence they have available to them. It’s entirely possible that you have some evidence for the existence of God that I’ve simply never come across and which would convince me on the spot; since I haven’t seen it, I don’t know. But since I don’t know what that evidence is right now, at this moment, the best I can do is to draw a conclusion from the evidence that I do have, and the conclusion I inevitably come to is that ‘God’ most likely does not exist.

    You also say that the only things that we can draw conclusions from are the things that we see. Is this true? Do we not live our daily lives in the presence of things that we can’t see and still accept their existence? Things like emotions, thoughts, radio waves, etc. exist, but we can’t see them. And yet, if we heard someone say that they don’t exist we would at least look at them funny…

    I think ‘seeing’ is probably a bad word to use here. ‘Experience’ might be better, in that it encompasses input from all of the senses. We can’t actually see things like emotions or radio raves or atoms, but we can experience them in various ways (an emotions from the tone of someone’s voice, an atom through indirectly observing it with scientific equipment, etc.).

    I don’t think it’s quite right to equate faith in humanity’s reason or intellect with faith in God. While we might put too much faith in human reason or intellect, the question of their existence is not something that many people would debate. God, for atheists, is something whose very existence is questionable. It’s the difference between having faith in a tool’s utility and having faith in the tool’s very existence.

    The ‘ignorance’ that Ubiquitous Che mentioned is, I think, a rebuttal to the common argument ‘We don’t know everything, therefore you should believe in God’. (That’s more or less it, anyway). It makes no sense to believe in something based on the possibility that we might eventually find evidence for it. Imagine if I believed in God simply because you told me that you had strong evidence for his existence, without waiting to hear that evidence. It makes perfect sense for me to be open to the possibility that God exists based on the fact of incomplete evidence, but it makes no sense at all to actually believe in his existence based only on my own assured ignorance of certain things.

  6. Whoops, wall of text >< Sorry, I didn’t realize I had to put a space between each paragraph…

  7. Vitaminbook represented me pretty fairly in his last comment, so I’ll let his response stand and address a couple of the other questions… There were a lot of questions, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I focus on what I think were the most important.

    Above, you say that it’s a personal bias. If I understand you correctly, that means that you’re starting with a certain viewpoint and then expecting it to be proven true right?

    That’s a fair understanding of persnoal bias, but it’s not what I meant.

    All I meant was that most (though by no means all) of the conclusions I have drawn from the evidence I have seen just so happen to be the conclusions that I would have wanted to draw, and that this is a valid concern.

    To clarify: The conclusions I have drawn have been very robustly validated in the past, so I do expect them to continue to be validated in the future. So you do have a point… But it’s not the case that I started out with the conclusion I wanted and then tried to fit the evidence to it – I have tried, at all stages and to the best of my ability, to avoid falling into that very trap.

    You say that anyone with the slightest common sense can only draw conclusions from the evidence they’ve seen. So what do you do with someone like myself who has seen the evidence for God’s existence and draws that conclusion?

    I’d ask you to provide that evidence, of course.

    … then one of us is right and the other is wrong aren’t we?

    Or we could both be wrong.

    You also say that the only things that we can draw conclusions from are the things that we see. Is this true?

    Vitaminbook got it right. I was using the word ‘see’ in the sense of ’empirically observe’. ‘Experience’ works too, although I think that there’s some semantic traps in the use of the word ‘experience’ in the cases of things like optical illusions and such that I’d like to avoid.

    We all live by faith, whether we realize it or not. You do too. You have faith that God doesn’t exist.

    Now we’re cooking with charcoal!

    This comes down to the different meanings that can be given to the word ‘faith’.

    If we use faith to mean ‘rationally conclude based on strong evidence’ then yes, my view on the non-existence of God could be very fairly called faith under these terms.

    If we use faith to mean ‘conclude in the absence of evidence, or in spite of all evidence to the contrary’ then I don’t think that applies to me… I go to great lengths to try and make sure that it doesn’t.

    Faith is becoming an oily word to pin down to a useful meaning these days. I try to avoid it altogether.

  8. Much like the word ‘freedom’…

    Vitaminbook got it right. I was using the word ’see’ in the sense of ‘empirically observe’. ‘Experience’ works too, although I think that there’s some semantic traps in the use of the word ‘experience’ in the cases of things like optical illusions and such that I’d like to avoid.

    It’s funny, but I actually ended up getting sniped with semantics by exactly the argument you’re talking about. Live and don’t learn, I suppose!

  9. Ha!

    I guess that when someone has a mind to argue semantics, they can always find a foothold. 😀

    Basically, I don’t like using the word ‘experience’ when I mean empirical observation because people tend to want to use subjectively transcendant experiences as if they were physical evidence. I can understand this, for all that I disagree with it – I’ve personally had some pretty intense ‘spiritual’ subjective experiences in my time, and I know how persuasive they can seem.

    This is the problem when we try to accurately describe immaterial concepts with a language that was originall designed to tell other monkeys where the ripe bannanas are.

  10. Sorry that it’s taken me so long to reply but I’ve had a very busy week or so…

    I apologize in advance if this is jumping all over the place. I tried to respond to both of you in one post…:)

    If we know that we don’t know everything, then could an atheist truly exist? An atheist, just by the definition of the word, is someone who says that God doesn’t exist. That’s not a fair stance if you aren’t omniscient is it? Wouldn’t they instead be agnostic, not knowing whether God exists?

    I agree that the best that we can do is draw conclusions from what we have available. But what about the evidence presented in the Bible? There are many evidences in there. What makes scripture an untrustworthy source? If you say that “it was written by men”, that’s not a fair argument. All of our evidence has ultimately come to us by men. It’s the same with your experience. How much of the evidence that you base your beliefs on have you actually experienced personally? If that experience comes, not from personal experience, but from other men/women, could it be wrong?

    Just like you say we can experience radio waves and emotions without seeing them, I’m saying that we can experience God.

    I wouldn’t ask someone to believe in something just because we might find evidence of it in the future. That’s not that bright. I believe that there is plenty of evidence for God’s existence well within reach right now.

    As for faith, I agree that it’s becoming harder and harder to get a useful meaning these days, but I would see the definition of my faith as the first you gave and not the second. I guess your definition of strong evidence would have to be considered as well. What I consider strong evidence, someone who doesn’t believe in God wouldn’t…

    While I wouldn’t say that someone is denying that they “know in their heart” that God exists, I do believe that there is evidence of God’s existence in creation and in scripture. I also think that this can be seen in things like justice. In a naturalistic worldview, justice has no place. According to naturalism, it’s the “only the strong survive” ideal. Those who can survive do often at the expense of others. Where does justice fit into that? This also fits with our conscience. We know right from wrong, but why? What makes it right and wrong? While I’ll admit that this getting more and more blurry thanks to post-modern thinking and relativism, it’s still true for the most part. What purpose would right and wrong have in a naturalistic viewpoint? And yet, we know that things are right and wrong. We cry out for justice against wrongs done to us, but why? If that’s just the way things are, then we should expect that and move on. However, if the Bible is correct and God does exist, then He has given us a conscience to know right from wrong so that we can live according to His commandments. God says, “You shall not lie”, when we lie, our conscience tells us that it’s wrong. God says, “You shall not steal”. When we take something that doesn’t belong to us, we know that it’s wrong. We punish liars and theives in civil law don’t we? Why? If it’s all about naturalism, then that’s just they way things are, right? Justice is a Judeo-Christian concept brought about by the God of the Bible. He says that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8), and that no thief, adulterer, or coveter will enter the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-10). The Judeo-Christian beliefs are the foundation for our justice system and just like our justice system, there is a punishment for breaking God’s laws. God says that the soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4). Unless our sins are removed from us, we will be accountable for them down to the very words the we’ve spoken (Matt. 12:36). There is nothing that we can do to remove our sins but God provided a way through Jesus Christ. When Jesus came to earth, He became the payment for our sins. If we repent of our sins and put our trust in Jesus (not because of a lack of evidence, but because of the evidence He has given), we will be forgiven of our sins and escape the justice of God’s judgment.

    Because of the law of non-contradiction, I would have to disagree with the idea that we’re both wrong. I’m saying that God exists, you’re saying that He doens’t. Either God exists, or He doesn’t, but not both.

  11. If we know that we don’t know everything, then could an atheist truly exist? An atheist, just by the definition of the word, is someone who says that God doesn’t exist. That’s not a fair stance if you aren’t omniscient is it? Wouldn’t they instead be agnostic, not knowing whether God exists?

    Please, listen: This is utter nonsense.

    All the evidence I have seen points to the conclusion that there is no God. Based on this, I am as absolutely certain as a rational person can ever possibly be that there is no God.

    On a scale of 1 (Absolute belief in God) and 10 (absolute belief in the nonexistence of God) I would probably rank myself as 9.9999999999999999999999999999999999999 on the scale. If you’re trying to distinguish between myself and someone who ranks themselves as a 10 by saying that only the 10 is an atheist and that I am therefore an agnostic, you’re pointlessly splitting hairs and falling into the pit of meaningless semantic bickering.

    To restate: I am just as certain that there is no God the same way that I’m certain that when I stand on the surface of the earth and drop an object that is significantly denser than the atmosphere at ground-level pressure, that object will subsequently fall to the ground.

    In the example of dropping such an object, I have seen that every single time I have ever dropped such an object in such situations, it fell. So I’m incredibly certain that the next time I drop a similar object, it will fall too… But the thing is, I haven’t seen what’s going to happen the next time I drop that object yet, so I can’t be absolutely sure. But to say that I was therefore an agnostic about gravity would be absolutely misleading and utterly contrary to the usual meaning of the word ‘agnostic’.

    In precisely the same way, to call my near-absolute certainty of the non-existence of God is also misleading and meaningless.

    I’m going to give another example, because you’re annoying the hell out of me by repeating this point ad nauseam.

    If you think that your logic rightly means that I am an agnostic about the existence of God, then by the same logic you would have to be:

    An agnostic about whether or not the sky is blue (you haven’t seen every patch of sky on the planet).

    An agnostic about whether or not fire is hot (you haven’t felt every fire that ever was or ever could be).

    An agnostic about whether or not sugar is sweet (you haven’t tasted every grain of sugar).

    An agnostic about whether or not the sun is bright (you haven’t seen how the sun always was or how it will always be).

    An agnostic about whether or not, if you place one pebble into an empty container, and then place another pebble into an empty container, that when you check the contents of that container there will still be two pebbles inside (you haven’t seen every result of that experiment that you ever could, because no matter how many times you perform it you could always perform it again).

    Do you see the point yet?

    I’m going to stop here and get an answer from you here before I address any other points, because the way you keep parroting this parody of an argument is starting to make my teeth hurt and I want to put a stop to it.

  12. I disagree that it’s utter nonsense (from my point of view your eternal destiny is at stake) but you’re welcome to your opinion…

    That’s great that gravity works, and that you can test it. In the same way, the Bible says that there are two spiritual laws. Romans 8 talks about the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus and the law of sin and death. Just like gravity, you can test these. If you live in sin, deny the wonderful sacrifice that Jesus provided for the sins of the world, and die (as all will), then you’ll find that the result of the test is to spend eternity in Hell. Each one of us are given chances to see this. The scripture gives evidence of this numerous times. While you may not be sure of gravity the next time you drop something, I can be sure that the person the dies in their sin will find themselves in an eternal hell. I can base this on the testimony of the One who would know. God says that this is true and I have no reason to doubt Him.

    Your examples don’t really work in my mind. As for the sky example, it’s really not blue all the time. This seems trivial, but it’s the truth isn’t it?

    The other examples don’t work because they don’t make sense. The definition of fire, according to the context you’ve given, includes heat. If you give me something that’s not hot (an ice cube), then it can’t be fire according to the definition. The same goes for the sugar example. If you give me something that isn’t sweet, then it can’t be sugar, because the definition of sugar includes it’s sweetness. The sun example is the same too. The definitions of both sun and star include the luminosity/brightness as a characteristic and part of the definition. Without the brightness, it wouldn’t be the sun.

    Look at it this way. For you to say that there is no gold in China, you would have to have all knowledge of China. You would have to know about every persons’ rings, teeth, watches, as well as what’s in every rock. On the other hand, for me to say that there is gold in China, all I have to do is show one piece of gold exists in China for my statement to be true. Between the general revelation of God in the creation and the special revelation of God in the Bible, there is plenty of evidence that God exists.

    I’m not asking you or anyone else to leave your reason at the door. I started from the same ideals that you hold. When I looked at the evidence and did research, I found that the evidence for God holds up under the scrutiny. This is not a conclusion reached by just myself either.

    As a free-willed human being, you are completely entitled to believe whatever you want. As another free-willed human being, I have the same entitlement. The difference between us is that I have looked at the same evidence and found it to support God’s existence while you have not. I will definitely pray for you though. I’m truly sorry that this annoys you, but I don’t want you to die and go to hell. If you are kept from that because of a little annoyance, then I can live with that.

  13. I’m not asking you or anyone else to leave your reason at the door. I started from the same ideals that you hold. When I looked at the evidence and did research, I found that the evidence for God holds up under the scrutiny. This is not a conclusion reached by just myself either.

    I disagree about the evidence, but that’s not the argument I’m currently making.

    I have stated several times that all the evidence I have seen leads me to conclude that God does not exist. You have said “but you haven’t seen everything, so you can’t know for sure” when, actually, I can be sure that everything I have seen correctly leads to the conclusion that there is no God, to the point that I consider this conclusion to be very strongly validated. Because it is strongly validated, I can very reasonably expect that the evidence I continue to see in the future will continue to validate this conclusion.

    Now, I do accept that I could be wrong, and that there is evidence I have not seen yet that might change my mind. But this, in no way, shape, or form makes me any less sure of my stance on atheism.

    Your main accusation has been that it is not possible for a person to be both intellectually honest and an atheist, and have insisted that the only intellectually honest non-theisitic stance is one of agnosticisim. It is this point that I’m arguing at the moment – not what the evidence may or may not be.

  14. I would have to disagree.

    I think that it would be safe to assume that you and I have seen at least some of the same evidence. That evidence is the same for both of us, but it has pointed us in different directions. The difficulty isn’t in the evidence, but in the interpretation of the evidence.

    With this being the case, it is a question of whether or not the evidence says what we are saying it does. Is the evidence being interpreted correctly, or are we allowing our bias to determine what the evidence says?

    As I said above, I started from your viewpoint. The evidence that I saw showed me that the God of the Bible exists. Which of the two viewpoints that I’ve held is the correct one according to the evidence? I believe it’s the one that I hold now.

    Because I started out with a naturalistic view, and I’ve seen evidence that has proven to me that God exists, and knowing that much of this evidence is openly available (at least in America), it doesn’t seem possible to be intellectually honest and an atheist.

  15. That evidence is the same for both of us…

    No it isn’t. We do not have identical knowledge about the world. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

    Because I started out with a naturalistic view, and I’ve seen evidence that has proven to me that God exists, and knowing that much of this evidence is openly available (at least in America), it doesn’t seem possible to be intellectually honest and an atheist.

    You’re not listening. You said: ‘I’ve seen evidence that has proven to me that God exists’.

    I HAVE SEEN NOTHING TO CONVINCE ME THAT GOD EXISTS. Quite to the contrary. Everywhere I look I can see that the world behaves preciesely as I would have expected it to behave if it was nothing more than the purposeless interplay of energy and matter. I have seen abundant evidence that this is the case – and once again, I know that all of this evidence (you said ‘much of’) is openly availible, because in no way do I rely on subjective experience or personal interpretations. Just the cold hard facts – and these are widely availible indeed.

    Once again – we can disagree over what the evidence is or how it can be interpreted. But everything I have ever seen about the universe validates my conclusion that God does not exist. I have not come across anything to the contrary that is even remotely convincing.

    The Holy Books bear all the hallmarks of a text that was constructed from urban legends and for the convienience and power of the clergy. The prophecies therein are no more convincing than the pathetic vaugeries of astrology. The vast majority of the truth claims therein are absurd, and in all cases that are verifiable these absurdities have turned out to be completely incorrect. It has been proven over many studies that prayer does not statistically change the behavior of the external world.

    The entirety of the natural history of our planet has been a tale of torment, pain, starvation, suffering, and bloody stuggle often resulting in the murder of one animal by another for the purpose of survival. Parasitic flukes that reproduce in the intestinal walls of cats only to be removed from the body of the host feline through defecation can expect to be eaten by rats and mice, in which case they migrate to the brain of the mouse and suppress its fear responses to danger, thus increasing the chance that the mouse will be eaten by a cat. Wasps raid and pillage the hives of peaceful bees, and steal their larval young to feed to their own infants. Our planet is still cooling, and the plates on its crust jockey about for position, creating natural disasters that kill millions of innocent people. We humans live at the mercy of microscopic, single-celled organisims, and we are no more evolved than any other life-form.

    Very strong behavioral experiments have been done showing how animals can associate a causal relationship between two unconnected events that only occured together by coincidence, and this research has been proven to apply just as well to humans as it does to pidgeons. Research has been done into the psychology of developing children and has shown that the social functioning of our brain is seperate from the functioning of our brain that deals primarily with the common-sense physics in the natural world, and the research suggests very strongly that it is the discrepancy between the two that is responsible for the common – and deeply mistaken – form of dualism that exists across all cultures. Genetic research into the human genome has shown that our bodies and brains are the result of the creation of protiens as generated by one of two allels in our genome. Nerological research into the brain has shown that when a part of the brain that is responsible for a given mental function is destroyed through accident, that mental function ceases to be – memory, mathematical skill, musical skill, personality traits, everything. This lends very strong weight to what would be the obvious conclusion that the mind and the personality are both functions of the brain, and that when the brain dies the mind and the personality cease to be.

    I could go on and on and on. The evidence accounts for everything I have ever seen, read, or known, and it is mutually reinforcing and validating to the conclusion that there are no fairies, devils, gremlins, unicorns, phoniexes, dragons, voodoo spirits, ghosts, leprechauns, or angels, that Zeus, Apollo, Odin, Ra, Jupiter, Hades, Surtur, Loki, Thor, Quetzalcoatl, Selene, Shiva, Vishnu, Thanatos, Xochiquetzal, and Yaweh are all equally the result of the natural and explained human tendency to anthropomophize the elements of the natural world and presume intention and purpose where intention and purpose do not exist, that religions are man-made, and that God is merely the adult equivalent of a child’s imaginary friend with no grouding in reality, fact, or logic.

    The evidence is unanimous in validating all the predictions made by the hypothesis that God does not exist. It is a very strongly validated hypothesis indeed. I cannot see how the evidence I have observed could possibly show any conclusion other than the one that I have drawn from it.

    You can disagree with me about the evidence all you want. But my starting point is not that of the naturalistic worldview, as you claim yours is. My starting point is the pathetic ignorance of a fresh slate and a ready, open mind. And as I imprint each piece of the puzzle of reality I have observed upon that slate, piece by piece it reveals a world of magnificent and wondrous splendour – but it is a world absent of any guiding force or ultimate purpose, and it is a world absent of any and all deities.

    This is my best, most honest, and most rigorous interpretation of all the evidence that I have ever seen. It is one thing for you to claim that you have witnessed evidence that shows that I am mistaken. It is another thing altogether to accuse me of intellectual dishonesty when I assert my genuine certainty, borne by weight of substatnial evidence and dispassionate reasoning, that there is no God.

  16. No it isn’t. We do not have identical knowledge about the world. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

    Once again, I have to disagree. You and I have the same evidence (including the small list of things that you point out later) around us, whether we have the same knowledge or not. The difference between us is how we interpret that evidence. It’s not about the evidence at all but how you look at it.

    You’re not listening. You said: ‘I’ve seen evidence that has proven to me that God exists’.

    I HAVE SEEN NOTHING TO CONVINCE ME THAT GOD EXISTS. Quite to the contrary. Everywhere I look I can see that the world behaves preciesely as I would have expected it to behave if it was nothing more than the purposeless interplay of energy and matter. I have seen abundant evidence that this is the case – and once again, I know that all of this evidence (you said ‘much of’) is openly availible, because in no way do I rely on subjective experience or personal interpretations. Just the cold hard facts – and these are widely availible indeed.

    It’s funny, because I don’t think that you’re listening to me either. I said that I’ve seen evidence that proves to me that God exists. Some of this evidence includes the same things that you’ve looked at and say God doesn’t exist. Because of this, from my point of view, you’ve seen evidence that proves that God exists, if you’re naturalistic bias didn’t already conclude that He didn’t exist.

    Once again – we can disagree over what the evidence is or how it can be interpreted. But everything I have ever seen about the universe validates my conclusion that God does not exist. I have not come across anything to the contrary that is even remotely convincing.

    This is probably where the issue lies. You are looking for things to validate your conclusion. That’s not being honest. It doesn’t matter whether or not it validates your conclusion. What matters is whether or not it’s true. Looking at Christianity, it is hard to say that someone would become a Christian to validate their bias. The Bible makes it clear that sin will be judged by a holy God. It says that each and every person will be held accountable for the things they do, say, and even think. How many people do you know that specifically want to be judged for the things that they do that are in direct opposition to what God says is right? I don’t know of any. And yet, there are millions of people who believe that very thing…Why? Because it’s the truth.

    The Holy Books bear all the hallmarks of a text that was constructed from urban legends and for the convienience and power of the clergy. The prophecies therein are no more convincing than the pathetic vaugeries of astrology. The vast majority of the truth claims therein are absurd, and in all cases that are verifiable these absurdities have turned out to be completely incorrect. It has been proven over many studies that prayer does not statistically change the behavior of the external world.

    Again, this is your interpretation of the “Holy Books”. If you start with the idea that God doesn’t exist, then all of the things that you list wouldn’t be convicing at all. To lump all of the “Holy Books” together as if they are the same is ridiculous. None of the other religious books have the manuscripts or the fufilled prophecy that the Bible does. There is nothing that compares to the Bible. You say the truth claims are absurd, but when you start with a naturalistic bias, of course the truth claims are going to seem absurd…How do you “statistically” measure prayer? If you can’t measure something statistically, then, in the naturalistic view, how can you prove it? You can’t. What kind of results would you expect a bunch of people who don’t believe God exists are going to gain in these experiments? Would it be safe to assume that they wouldn’t have results in favor of prayer?

    The entirety of the natural history of our planet has been a tale of torment, pain, starvation, suffering, and bloody stuggle often resulting in the murder of one animal by another for the purpose of survival. Parasitic flukes that reproduce in the intestinal walls of cats only to be removed from the body of the host feline through defecation can expect to be eaten by rats and mice, in which case they migrate to the brain of the mouse and suppress its fear responses to danger, thus increasing the chance that the mouse will be eaten by a cat. Wasps raid and pillage the hives of peaceful bees, and steal their larval young to feed to their own infants. Our planet is still cooling, and the plates on its crust jockey about for position, creating natural disasters that kill millions of innocent people. We humans live at the mercy of microscopic, single-celled organisims, and we are no more evolved than any other life-form.

    I would disagree with the term “entirety”. The beginning of our history started pure and holy and the Bible says that the end will be the same way. Man was perfect. The torment and pain that you point to is the result of man’s decision to deny God and do things their own way. Their pride and selfish desire were placed above the God who gave them life. That choice to disobey God is what brought about the things that you list as evidence for “no God”. Our planet is still being affected by the global flood that God used to destroy the entire planet because man’s heart is continually evil (Gen. 6-9). The idea of innocent people is another naturalistic idea. The Bible says that there is nothing good in any of us. It says that we are guilty and deserve hell, but because God is merciful and loves us, we have been given the chance to be reconciled to Him through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I will agree that we are no more evolved than other life forms though, but only because I don’t believe that anything evolved to begin with…

    Very strong behavioral experiments have been done showing how animals can associate a causal relationship between two unconnected events that only occured together by coincidence, and this research has been proven to apply just as well to humans as it does to pidgeons. Research has been done into the psychology of developing children and has shown that the social functioning of our brain is seperate from the functioning of our brain that deals primarily with the common-sense physics in the natural world, and the research suggests very strongly that it is the discrepancy between the two that is responsible for the common – and deeply mistaken – form of dualism that exists across all cultures. Genetic research into the human genome has shown that our bodies and brains are the result of the creation of protiens as generated by one of two allels in our genome. Nerological research into the brain has shown that when a part of the brain that is responsible for a given mental function is
    destroyed through accident, that mental function ceases to be – memory, mathematical skill, musical skill, personality traits, everything. This lends very strong weight to what would be the obvious conclusion that the mind and the personality are both functions of the brain, and that when the brain dies the mind and the personality cease to be.

    All of this research may be something that you can rest your ideals on, but it really doesn’t affect mine. It’s great that these things can help with medicine and computers, etc…but it does nothing to show that God doesn’t exist. If you were to ask me, I would say that the research all points to God. The conclusion is only “obvious” if you start with a naturalistic bias. There is nothing in the evidence that you gave that shows that God doesn’t exist.

    I could go on and on and on. The evidence accounts for everything I have ever seen, read, or known, and it is mutually reinforcing and validating to the conclusion that there are no fairies, devils, gremlins, unicorns, phoniexes, dragons, voodoo spirits, ghosts, leprechauns, or angels, that Zeus, Apollo, Odin, Ra, Jupiter, Hades, Surtur, Loki, Thor, Quetzalcoatl, Selene, Shiva, Vishnu, Thanatos, Xochiquetzal, and Yaweh are all equally the result of the natural and explained human tendency to anthropomophize the elements of the natural world and presume intention and purpose where intention and purpose do not exist, that religions are man-made, and that God is merely the adult equivalent of a child’s imaginary friend with no grouding in reality, fact, or logic.

    Again, you lump a number of things into one large group as a sort of straw man. When grouped together with fairies, unicorns, and Zeus, it is fairly easy to deny God’s existence. That’s highly suspect if not dishonest…They are definitely not the same….God has made it clear through the general revelation found in nature as well as the special revelation found in the Bible that He is real. You mention reality, fact, and logic, but without God you would have none of these things.

    The evidence is unanimous in validating all the predictions made by the hypothesis that God does not exist. It is a very strongly validated hypothesis indeed. I cannot see how the evidence I have observed could possibly show any conclusion other than the one that I have drawn from it.

    You say that the evidence is unanimous, but it’s obviously not or you and I wouldn’t be having this discussion. You cannot see how the evidence supports anything other than your bias, because it goes directly against what you want to believe. In the end, it is all about the conclusion that you draw…

    You can disagree with me about the evidence all you want. But my starting point is not that of the naturalistic worldview, as you claim yours is. My starting point is the pathetic ignorance of a fresh slate and a ready, open mind. And as I imprint each piece of the puzzle of reality I have observed upon that slate, piece by piece it reveals a world of magnificent and wondrous splendour – but it is a world absent of any guiding force or ultimate purpose, and it is a world absent of any and all deities.

    Obviously we do disagree on the evidence. You say that you’re starting point isn’t a naturalistic worldview, but in your rebranding blog, you say just the opposite to the point of using the word “very”. Which is it? Either you start with a naturalistic worldview or you don’t. If you start with a naturalistic worldview, then your mind isn’t the “fresh slate” that you claim it to be. If you start with a naturalistic worldview, then the evidence that you use to make an “imprint” on your mind is going to support that worldview or you’re going to dismiss it as “absurd”. I never said that I start with a naturalistic viewpoint, only that I once held that viewpoint.

    This is my best, most honest, and most rigorous interpretation of all the evidence that I have ever seen. It is one thing for you to claim that you have witnessed evidence that shows that I am mistaken. It is another thing altogether to accuse me of intellectual dishonesty when I assert my genuine certainty, borne by weight of substatnial evidence and dispassionate reasoning, that there is no God.

    How else would you have me look at it when you say that you don’t start from a naturalistic worldview here on this blog, but on your own blog state that you have a very naturalistic worldview? Is that honesty? You say that you use dispassionate reasoning, but you start with the idea that God doesn’t exist and then use that bias to look at the evidence. Is that fair? You say that the evidence that God doesn’t exist is substantial, but when you look at all that evidence from a naturalistic viewpoint, what other conclusion would you come to?

    The idea that you claim no starting worldview here, but make an opposite claim elsewhere makes it look more like just wanting to argue than an honest desire to know the truth. I appreciate the discussion and hope that you will look at the evidence again without your naturalistic worldview and see that there is more to the evidence than what your bias makes of it….


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