Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sound Off 02-08-09

Answer the question which applies to you:
  • (Atheists): What would it take to convince you that there is a God?
  • (Theists): What would it take to convince you that there is no God?

13 comments:

  1. No mortal has the power to convert me. Only God himself. And, presumably, God knows what that would take. He can appear, or he can send Jesus, or an angel, as his proxy, but whoever appears would have to actually appear, I won't accept the feeling of a "comforting presence", or any other subjective "evidence."

    God (or Jesus or the angel) would have to do something impossible, like walk through a wall or regrow someone's amputated limb or raise someone I knew from the dead (preferably the latter), and he'd have to do it in the presence of credible witnesses besides myself, each of whom must be willing to subject themselves, along with me, to psychological examinations afterward.

    Furthermore, God (or Jesus or the Angel) would have to answer the numerous questions I have regarding theodicy; and he should do so without the smarty-pants admonishments like he gave Job. God would know very well I can't pull in a leviathan with a fishhook, that hardly answers the question as to why bad things happen to good people. This last proviso is a must if God wants me to be faithful as well as believe.

    This doesn't seem to me like too much to ask of the Almighty.

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  2. For me, it would take a progression of sin (inadvertent or ignorant), ignoring twinges of conscience/guilt and the admonition of others, ignoring the chastisement of the LORD to get me back on the path, independent thinking, reading bad books without discernment, prayer, and lots of balancing Scripture reading, deception, strong delusion, apostasy, atheism.

    Philo, please consider that Jesus' appearances after His Resurrection did not convince many. Scoffers and doubters abounded even then. Feeding the five thousand, or healing the sick did not make many true converts. Jesus said, ""If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (Luke 16:31). Fulfilled Bible prophecies should be enough evidence in my view. But "higher critics" of the Bible negate the evidence. Sometimes it is necessary to believe in the Devil before you can believe in God. If the Devil is real, that explains a lot! I remember hearing a Halloween sermon on the radio one time that scared me to death. I remember thinking....if the devil is real....that means.....GOD is real!

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  3. Hello Tandi,

    Here is an interesting reflection that falls in line with your statements about the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection:

    The characters in the Bible that have the most direct, phenomenal (with their five senses) experience(s) with God are the least likely to obey God. The characters in the Bible that have the least direct and absent phenomenal experience with God are the most likely to believe in God. Let's flesh this out.

    Disobedients: Adam walked with God, the national of Israel after the Exodus heard God and saw miracles, the southern kingdom saw God accept Elijah's sacrifices.

    Obedients: The nation returned from Babylon and was at a pinnacle of observance but never witnessed theophanic revelation, the book of Esther never mentions God...

    There are a lot that of biblical examples falls on diverse points of the experiential spectrum so I am taking some of the more extreme examples to illustrate my point. One would expect that phenomenal experience of God would convince. If God intersected the phenomenal world in either the arena of undisputed providence or the miraculous, I would be convinced there is a God. God, the non-Existent, has never done this, and this is why the fictitious narratives of such events did not convince the witnesses--the events never happened and were written by folk hundreds of years after their supposed happening at a time when the readers couldn't dispute them (in the case of the OT).

    Tandi, I, by the way, I have the most balanced reading of the Bible that I have ever had. Reading it as an infallible revelation leads the reader to harmonize and level the Bible so that it is forced to say and read in ways that it does not. The fundamentalist is the one with the unbalanced reading of the Bible. Additionally, however smart and quip you think your description of my "apostasy" is in your little paragraph, it is not accurate. It is instead a demonstration of your myopic view of me and my perspective and all of the 6 billion other perspectives in this world that you consider wrong. I am glad that God has decided to speak to one person in this world.

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  4. Hello Peter,

    You said, “....One would expect that phenomenal experience of God would convince....”

    You are making a statement that obviously is not true. Phenomenal experience of God does not necessarily convince, as you have observed in the examples you mention, and the ones I mentioned. In other cases, it DOES convince (e.g., Moses, Samuel, Paul, John, Peter, James, Noah, Abraham, the list goes on.)

    Undisputed Providence convincing? There is always going to be dispute and a “natural” explanation.

    On January 15, a plane landed in the Hudson River and floated. Passengers waited for rescue on the wings. There has NEVER been a commercial plane landing in a body of water that resulted in NO casualties. The plane could have easily hit the George Washington Bridge. It could have broke apart upon impact, or sunk sooner. Rescuers could have not come in time, the pilot could have made a wrong move instead of doing everything right with complete calmness. Passengers could have panicked rather than allow women and children to exit first. The grace and providence of God was all over that situation.....on a day when YOU were looking for evidence of Him. I find this amazing. What if God did this just for you? He took your mom home and performed a miracle all in the same day. In hindsight, you will see the wisdom of your mom going to be with the LORD and not having to face what is ahead for the rest of us. And your sorrows are strengthening you for what lies ahead.

    I just listened to an audio sermon by Ravi Zacharias called “Why I am not an Atheist.” I thought he made some excellent points. I like him....first time I have listened to him. He mentions on his website that he cannot fulfill all the requests he gets for speaking engagements. There is a HUGE need for additional intellectual apologists to reach college campuses, etc. Who will answer the call? I’m sure you know who I am hoping answers the call.

    I was not talking about you in my little quip of the road to apostasy/atheism. I was talking about me in answer to the question, as I have to be very circumspect about continuing to “follow” you like Misha (Milkweed) no matter where you go. Sounds like it put you under conviction, though. That is a good sign. Thank you, LORD! I believe you are not yet hardened, but still a “reluctant” atheist, as is Uruk. There is still hope. Sounds like Philo has never known anything but Roman Catholicism.....which is not true, Biblical faith....so he has yet to taste and see that the LORD is good. The parables of the lost sheep and the prodigal show God’s heart towards those who have strayed from the path of life.

    (Google “Miracle on the Hudson” for news reports and passenger testimonies, etc.)

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  5. Tandi:

    Sigh.

    I'm sorry but I think calling the plane landing in the Hudson river a miracle is absurd. What about that event surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause? An experienced pilot successfully did what his training prepared him to do. Describing the event as a miracle was good for the media but nobody walked on water.

    Catholicism is not true, Biblical faith? Do you really mean to make that blanket statement about Catholicism? Perhaps you are just pointing out that there are imperfections in some groups of Catholicism as there are with any denomination.

    Sigh...

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  6. Hello Tandi,

    To use the Bible to demonstrate that phenomenal experience does not convince is circular. I do not believe that anyone has ever experienced God, not even in the Bible (surprise, surprise). People may have "God experiences." I have had many. It seems like Uruk has too. But, neither of us believe that these "God experiences" had anything to do with a personal God. They had to do mind trickery and mental functions.

    Actually, it is interesting to note that Uruk's "God experiences" actually lead him to question their authenticity. He had "God experiences" in two mutually exclusive dogmatic communities. It became apparent to him that there was something wrong with his dogma. He can recount the remainder of the story...I am just retelling it after my brief reading.

    I don't see the "hand of Providence" in the January 15th event. Unless God the Egoist made the plan nearly crash so that he exempt the first plane ever from water-collision fatalities. Why, then, does God not do this more often? Why focus on one unusual event and not the hundreds that were tragic? God the Egoist is a bit too vain for my emotive needs.

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  7. God did not cause the plane crash, but intervened in a life and death situation, possibly in answer to prayer. God, in His infinite wisdom and power can accomplish many purposes through one event...an event that most will read as purely natural. He hides in the clouds of their unbelieving minds. He will not coerce anyone into believing in Him. The incident made some of the passengers on board instant believers [no matter what their agnostic views were up until that time]. I heard their live interviews that day talking about the surreal peace and calm and amazing rescue, etc. Not that it means they will go on to serve God. They will calm down and do like most....shrug, consider themselves “lucky,” praise the pilot, sue the airline, and continue their self-directed lives.

    Scrip, why is it that in years past you did not consider God an Egoist or Ogre but instead He DID meet your emotive needs, as well as Uruk’s, as you sang, “What a Friend we Have in Jesus....” etc. I got tingles just reading his post when I read the lyrics to that hymn. That is one thing I miss about church..... those favorite old hymns.

    Are you Catholic, Zee? Just curious. I was raised Catholic but renounced it as a false religion about 2 years after my born-again experience. Catholic dogma does not line up with Scripture. It is paganism with a Christian veneer. The Two Babylons, Hislop or the many tracts on the subject at chick.com are quite convincing and led to my renouncement prayer which led to a great deliverance from religious bondage and increasing spiritual freedom.

    Most protestant denominations these days are not much better....they are "daughters of Babylon." The answer to the deficiencies and errors of religion is not Atheism, but efforts to restore the true faith and the true gospel message in our generation.

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  8. Tandi,

    How exactly did God interven? The media called it a miracle to get attention. Does anything that happens that has a less then 50% chance of success a miracle? I haven't touched a basketball in over five years. If I go and shoot a basket and make it would you consider that a miracle as well?

    I'm a Zeeist not a Catholic. Catholics believe that they are born sinful, the wages of that sin is eternal death, and that Jesus paid that price for them if they choose to accept it. Which part of that do you renounce as a false religion? KJV is the perfect translation. What is the perfect religion?

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  9. Hello Zee,

    You hit on an interesting point: Which is the perfect religion? Reading the Bible (or any scripture) isolated from an interpretive community will lead to endless understandings. So, in what religion, Tandi, was the perfect understanding of the perfect Bible preserved. If God cannot preserve a people, how can you expect God to preserve a plenary and perspicuous scripture? Does not the absence of one suggest the fault of God on the other (in your set up)? I imagine you will say that God always preserved a people... but, where were they? What evidence do you have of them other than your own understanding that God must agree with your whims?

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  10. For me to believe in God again, I'd have to somehow conclude that all the information I've been exposed to over the past few years is false.

    That would be a tall order, though. In my mind, evolution would have to become totally false again. The Bible would have to become infallible again. My spiritual experiences would have to become legitimate again.

    And in the vein of Script's last comment, I'd need assurance that I finally found the perfect or right religion.

    That would all probably take some sort of miracle. I can't say what that miracle would have to be.

    Tandi, calling me a "reluctant" atheist may be accurate. I'd like to think I'm keeping the "God" antennae up, just in case I get some signals. But, I feel certain about my apostasy from Christianity. Saying this so blatantly at times is a little hard, but it's true to how I feel.

    Funny that you mention the tingles at reading the lyrics to "What a Friend". I admit to having chills when I posted the words.

    But, I also get tingles and chills when I listen to Björk.

    Having religious experience in two exclusive places has influenced me more than I actually realized until Scriptulicious pointed it out. That experience is a contradiction. And contradictions mean that something, somewhere is false or misunderstood.

    Three things made me own up to contradictions that I used to ignore:

    (1) My mother-in-law is an evangelist at our (former) church. Several years into my marriage, my wife really, really wanted kids. But, five years into the marriage-- nothin'

    People at church started calling my wife "barren". Others at church hinted that we were using contraception which was considered sinful in my former faith. This hurt her very deeply and she started to deal with depression-- the clinical kind.

    My mother-in-law told my wife (her daughter) that God had closed her womb because we had sin in our lives.

    My wife later confessed to me that she nearly drove her car into a light pole because she was so distraught that her mother "confirmed" she'd never have kids. After all, this was the word or the Lord in her mind. Her mother seemed so "anointed".

    We never identified what that "sin" was that my mother-in-law said we had in our lives. But, we never made any life changes at that point.

    My wife starts going to the gym and loses a little weight. She saw a doctor to find out why her cycle was always out of whack.

    About a month later-- my wife tells me she's pregnant. I was not ready for that, either, BTW.

    Yes, the boy is mine. Everybody says he looks just like me. Man, I can't even deny it.

    (2) Again, my mother-in-law prophesied that my dad would be okay after he was diagnosed with cancer.

    He died.

    Now, I'm okay with that today. And, I have no anger towards my mother-in-law (or towards God, incidentally). But, she had to explain away her words by saying that she really meant he would be okay spiritually rather than physically.

    But, he never fully embraced the Apostolic Faith. How could he be okay under the doctrine I so strictly believed? People around me-- like my mother-in-law were making exceptions for my dad and said he was in heaven. But, I couldn't stay true to the doctrine I believed and make this exception at the same time. That's a contradiction.

    Other church members wouldn't make this excpetion. People would ask about how I was doing with my dad's passing. I'd tell them that he had only been water baptized, yet he never spake with tongues.

    They'd look down, saddened, because they knew that he was now in hell.

    (3) I started playing sudoku. I know, I know, sudoku was just a fad . . . but I learned from it. I learned that every number has it's square. You can't guess. As you solve the puzzle, you find that the clues lead you to a specific outcome or "conclusion". Contradictions are wrong answers to the puzzle-- they are false conclusions that cannot fit into the solution of the puzzle based upon the given clues or evidence.

    See, evidence is the result of a reality or fact. So, evidence leads to discovering or verifying any given fact-- be it known or unknown. Contradictions are the falsities that cannot exist if a certain fact is true. This is why lies don't add up when you have enough evidence about a true event.

    And what do we do when we don't have enough information or evidence? Well, we should just say: I dunno. So, I'll keep searching for evidence.

    This is applicable to every facet of life.

    This works in forensics, mathematics, archeology, and any other discipline.

    And it also works in figuring out which of your kids colored on the walls with markers when both claim they are innocent.

    But this doesn't seem to work with faith.

    I will refrain from giving specific examples of the major contradictions which swayed me. I've gone on and on enough, I guess. I suppose that's what my personal blog is for, huh?

    Anyway . . . on a different note--

    Zee:

    What must I do to become a Zeeist?

    :-D

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  11. Uruk:

    I'm not sure that you can be a Zeeist but you can be a Urukist. I am a Zeeist because I believe in what Zee believes in which is not the same as most Christians.

    My conclusion to contradictions 1 & 2. People suck. Non-Christians... they suck. Christians... they suck. I suck.

    I'm going to have to think on contradiction 3. I really like the idea of appling sudoku. In hard puzzles I often do guess only to find out later that I guessed wrong but being able to prove it is wrong later helps me to find the right number. So you start the puzzle with some givens that you can't argue with. I'll relate the givens to universals that do not depend on religion like mankind is complex, the sun is essential in life as we know it, and people suck. I can't look at an unfinished sudoku without wanting to fill it in just as people want to fill in the blanks of the sudoku called life. I'm thinking of each group of 9 boxes as a sub-catagory in life: "How did the world as I know it come to be?" "Is there a purpose in life?" Perhaps for a Christian there are sub-catagories like "Baptism" in which different people fill in the numbers differently. I'm not sure where I'm going with this but I will continue to think on it. Thanks for getting me thinking.

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  12. "People Suck"

    Zee, you cannot realize how much of an epiphany that was for me years ago.

    Because not only was the Bible viewed in the highest esteem: the teachers, preachers, and evangelists of the doctrinal message were only a few notches lower than the Bible.

    So, based on where I was at that time -- certain people could never suck.

    You've caused me to think, too. I may have proposed the sudoku analogy, but you took it someone I haven't.

    I'll have to think on that one, too.

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  13. Philo, c'mon! Job rocks. I read Job for kicks and giggles. He is just so snarky - I like that.

    Uruk, your MIL needs to stop. For real. She is *not* good at it. :-D

    What would it take for me to not believe? Because I require no proof in order to believe I do not think anything in this life could convince me there is no God. Show me evidence of evolution and I will simply state the Bible does not say evolution did not take place. Show me proof of the Big Bang and I will say that maybe that is how God created the Universe.

    So what will make me realize there "is no God"? When I die and nothing happens. At all. Then, I guess I'll know. :)

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