A Means to Manage Uncertainty


Before I get started, I want say thank you for the kind sentiment, the blessings and prayers.


Now, I want to ask you to stop ignoring the fact that we were once as devoted as you. That is called a qualifier. It is part of the truth of what we are saying to you. That we believed, searched with all our hearts, came away with nothing. This means that god doesn't want us, that we are in the queue, or that he doesn't exist.

And I want to point out another characteristic of Christianity that I noticed when I was in it.

Christians try to use god as a way to eliminate uncertainty in their lives. A blessing or a prayer is a way to implore to god to change things in favor of ones wishes.

Christians align themselves with the ideal because (most importantly) they save themselves from torture forever, and they know that a world where everyone thinks the same would logically reduce conflict. Christians just want what everyone wants, they want to live comfortably. Uncertainty is scary.
Eliminating uncertainty is in their best interest.

Christians want to evangelize and change peoples minds, hearts etc, they want to influence the world and they are using god to it.

God is the 'good luck' charm, or the talisman, the magic wand, the appeal to consequences, the appeal to force. They do what they think he wants, as per their interpretation and their individual experience with their personal god. They pray for things to change. They say 'that was a blessing' when they could have just as well said 'that was lucky'.

Christians say "I'll pray for you instead of saying 'good luck' ". They pray for themselves hoping they'll get their wish ("Oh, no, not me, its other Christians that do that!" point, point), knowing in reality that it is up to gods will, and gods will is more or less unpredictable, just like chance. If Christians set up the conditions right, they can get a prayer answered, and if they don't they will likely get squat. Just like chance.

Christians pray for the world to come in line with what they want the world to be rather than accept is as it is and work with it. Rather than figuring things out and determining how to come up with the most likely successful outcome, they waste their time praying about it, waiting for some answer to pop into their head, then they think it came from god. In a worst case they "JUST GIVE IT TO GOD!" and don't seriously think about it anymore. In reality, if something pops into their head, it is an option that they more than likely would have found sooner had they expended some resources to do some investigation and careful consideration. If not, they get whatever happens by chance and lament about how "its gods will and everything happens for a reason".

Ignoring qualifiers is what happens in a biased thinker. Biased in that the Christian wants the world to be a certain way, and thinks that they can make it that way using god. It is self-centered and controlling and to make it work, it requires ignoring facts about the world that negatively impact the scenario (challenge the "reality" of god).

Think about it the next time you do something like go watch fireworks on the fourth of July and hand out free cold water with your church banner hanging on your car. Get those people in your church, change those hearts and don't forget to remind them about the ten percent Jesus commanded when the plate comes around.

I used to be a young earth creationist, because in my mind, to make any sense, the bible had to be literally true if A GOD had something to do with it. How could it not be? Then when I started doing an HONEST search and stopped ignoring qualifiers and started trying to figure those variables in, it started falling apart.

I got this way from an honest search for god.

Believe it or not.

A truth can survive scrutiny if it is a truth. If god is everything he is said to be, he can too. Give it an honest try. Christians shouldn't have anything to worry about if they have the strength of their convictions.

17 comments:

Hinch said...

This is a really great post Lee. I totally agree that many christians use god to label, box, and otherwise simplify their view of the world. This process is helped by the knowledge that the christian can delegate authority for their opinions and choices to god (e.g. it's not the christian who judges the homosexual, it's god). This absolves the christian from personal responsibility, and it prevents them from coming to terms with much of the complexity, and harsh reality, of the world in which we live. Unfortunately, christianity is an unnecessarily fertile ground for stereotyped thinking. And it's hard to be objective when you can't see the world as it really is.

Socialist Libertarian said...

Excellent post, though with regards to Christians' motives, I think you give them too much credit.

More often than not, their motives to pray for people or "help" people find Christ are simply that they want to look like a good boy/girl in Jebus' eyes.

Anonymous said...

Let me start off by saying that I, too was once a disbeliever. I, too, thought I had the Christian God figured out. I put Him in a tidy little box to more easily reject Him as false.

Dinosaurs exist therefore God doesn't. People may have come from primordial sludge, therefore God didn't create us (or the sludge, or the process for evolving the sludge). 8 out of 10 scientists agree God doesn't exist, therefore God doesn't exist. The list goes on, but follows the same pattern.

The problem is, you're not rejecting God, you're rejecting the little box version of God that somebody else tried to figure out for you. Young earth creationists, Old-Earth creationists (whom I find a very good case for), Theistic Evolutionists, etc are all just slowly building the sides and top of a box based on their understanding of the world at their given point in human history.

All of that stuff is not scripture, and can't be legitimately counted as arguments against God, because He didn't author it. Even secular scientists are constantly putting the universe in a tidy box that gets burst open every few years or every few days (depending on the field). If God is the Creator of that universe, how much more unwieldy would He be?

I hate to accuse you of creating a straw man, because its an unavoidable necessity of theology. But when scientists understanding of the nature of the universe gets shaken, do they suddenly abandon the idea that there is a universe at all? Of course not. They know the universe exists, and is unwieldy, so they assume that their relatively simple explanations will fall flat every so often, and something new will be discovered that invalidates all prior understanding.

Such is God. He is vastly larger and more complex than us. His knowledge includes and is exponentially beyond the full extent of human history and wisdom. That's why I'm an architect, and not a theologian.

I'm sure its frustrating to try to knock down people's belief in something as enormous and elusive as God, but that's just how it has to be, since that is who God is. These little theories and observations just don't cut it. I could read this stuff all day long and it would never cause me to disbelieve again the God I have encountered.

And being angry at God for not answering your calls is not a reason to reject Him. Its clear in the bible that He doesn't always respond to your beckoned call. Take that as evidence that He doesn't exist if you like. For me, someone only has to show me once that they exist, then that question is off the table, no matter if I ever see them again.

Noxidereus said...

Anonymous (2:13 PM) -

Anon said: "Let me start off by saying that I, too was once a disbeliever. I, too, thought I had the Christian God figured out. I put Him in a tidy little box to more easily reject Him as false."

...

And being angry at God for not answering your calls is not a reason to reject Him.

You are differentiating your former self from most disbelievers my friend. Most of us atheists not put God in a little box to reject him. That's where you put him to believe in him. A magical zone free from logic. Atheists look at what is tangible.

I agree that dinosaurs/evolution or whatever does NOT disprove a God. However it does make it less likely that the Christian God is real. Because it does prove that some errors exist in his bible (creation for example). Go ahead and make up an excuse for it or simply disagree with the facts. Your box allows for that. I'll meet you later on in reality if you can find your way.

Sorry if I am coming across as insulting. I really am. My family is Christian and I was once a Christian. I don't dislike Christians. I just think they're wrong. The way Christians including self-reputed ex-atheist anonymous misunderstand the atheist position is becoming increasingly frustrating for me.

Just because we don't have all of the answers, which I fully admit, is no reason to MAKE ONE UP! You can do that for yourself and that's fine, but just because we don't take the same leap of faith as you do, that makes us angry at a god that we don't even believe exists? where's your logic man! I mean c'mon!

I can totally relate to this post. I was once a christian myself. I really tried to search for God and understand what life was all about. The more I learned about God, the more I realized the whole religion thing was just a fallacy. I am not, nor was I ever angry at God. Are you angry at the invisible garden gnome that lives in the Statue of Liberty? No. Why? Because he isn't real.

Sorry, but I can only be told what I believe by Christians for so long before I lose my cool and have to vent.

Christians, you believe through faith and that's fine. If you remove that faith, your religion will collapse because, the facts don't prove a thing (for or against the existence of god). Atheists conclude God's existence highly unlikely. Christians have faith in what was taught to them. That's it. Your argument is:

We do not know everything about the universe, therefore God exists. Nice job.

Paul M. Harrison said...

This post presents a great point,
I agree. In all my years I have found that nothing clear or without qulaification is ever said about what to expect from God. In having so many qualifiers, God escapes criticism and accusation every time so the belief system and community can be preserved while you take the blame. Even when the Bible is very clear, it is obscured and qualified for the fact that that clear promise doesn't manifest (namely, if you pray in faith you can have whatever you ask for).

No matter what evil, no matter how absurd, occurs in the world or in your life, God has a good reason for it and you need to trust him.

Blessing happens = God is good to you.
Tragedy happens = God is really good to you, trusting you with special suffering.

The anonymous commentor makes a good point that we are tearing down strawmen, but that is because all claims made for God by any human is a strawman. C.S. Lewis was clear that God has incommunicable attributes and is mysterious beyond any idol in our minds or words. The communicable attributes are anthropomorphic limitations for our minds to grasp.

Even so, the unbeliever critiques what the believer claims about God. Even Dawkins and Harris say there could be some God in theory, but are as sure as can be that there is no evidence for such a remote and pointless being.

It is the gods or God of fundamentalist religions who likes faith, hates butt-sex, and is undecided about how he feels about Third Day putting out a new album that is offered and criticized.

My whole life people have said, "God sometimes doesn't answer prayer because he know's better" as if it is common that he is answering most of our prayers left and right. I have found the opposite to be true. God never answers prayer and the stuff that counts as answered prayer most of the time is just attibuting natural things to providence, like "I filled out some job applications and prayed and I got a job."

I do like the idea of sitting before the mystery of the unknown and wondering though.

Lee Randolph said...

WARNING: MILD SARCASM AHEAD!

ahhhh, thank you anonymous,
there it is like a cool breeze on summers day!
And being angry at God for not answering your calls is not a reason to reject Him.
an example to illustrate the point !

Dinosaurs exist therefore God doesn't. People may have come from primordial sludge, therefore God didn't create us (or the sludge, or the process for evolving the sludge). 8 out of 10 scientists agree God doesn't exist, therefore God doesn't exist. The list goes on, but follows the same pattern.
Your list is a little light, but I can work with it. Its called preponderance of evidence. In an argument from ignorance you try to prove a hypothesis and sometimes you find that the evidence suggests something different. Then you change the hypothesis and start over till your facts match your hypothesis, then you make predictions and when you are satisfied that you can make reliable predictions, you take it for granted that you understand it enough to work with it. The god hypothesis doesn't hold up as well as the no-god hypothesis. The no-god hypothesis has a high success rate in predictability.


They know the universe exists, and is unwieldy, so they assume that their relatively simple explanations will fall flat every so often, and something new will be discovered that invalidates all prior understanding.
We all have the universe in our face, I wish I could say the same for god. But you're right, this is just more atheistic silliness of assuming the universe exists because we drive to work in it every morning denying the obvious fact that god exists because, well, he just has to.


Such is God. He is vastly larger and more complex than us. His knowledge includes and is exponentially beyond the full extent of human history and wisdom.
So......where is he? He's not in my face, in fact I couldn't find him anywhere. Please ask him to write me a message on my face in my shaving cream tomorrow morning. Then I'll join you in knocking down straw men.

Thank you for providing some useful examples to help illustrate the point.

Grounds for an argument contain facts, they have a relationship to the conclusion. Since you choose to ignore a whole slew of qualifiers, what grounds do you have to believe in a god?
The bible?
Your personal experience?
Please go easy on me and don't throw your personal experience at me, I won't know how to argue with that!
;-)

Anonymous said...

Last night as my friend was talking with one of his security guards [in Kenya], he [the security guard]related a story of his family from just last week. He was telling my friend of his sister who was quite ill and bedridden, certainly from one of the tropical diseases that Kenya has to offer. Having been ill for some time the family had grown worried as well as this dear lady’s children. Her daughter found her one night asleep in bed, battling the terrible sickness that had beset her.

This young daughter knew in her mind the power that is encompassed in Jesus Christ and knew that God had all He needed to heal her mother. Kneeling by her bedside, the little girl prayed a very simple prayer, “God, mommy is sick. I know you can, so please heal her and make her better.” The very instant she finished that short prayer, her mother awoke suddenly and found herself to be healed completely. No fragment of sickness or disease remained upon her and she found that her daughter’s prayer had reached the ear of God, releasing His healing power.

Just a story of a prayer that was instantly answered. I had a similar experience when in Africa. My friend was unable to walk for years and I prayed for her and instantly she was able to walk---she walked over 3 miles that day.

Just thought I'd share these stories. I know that they are "based on experiences" but they are also not able to be explained by the doctors in the area. I know for certain that the doctors could not explain my friend's ability to walk so suddenly after she had lost all of her muscles due to her strange illness. They proclaimed it miraculous even though they themselves did not believe in the miraculous, per their own words.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Anon@913,
for every successful prayer story you have I have an unsuccessful one. If you think about it you will see that you do too.

My point is that prayer is like chance. Sometimes it seems to work, sometimes it doesn't.

But thank you for another example of christians trying to use god to change the state of the world.

I'm starting to feel vindicated when christians tell me that I want god to do tricks to prove his existence.

If he is really out there and he wants a relationship with us, he should be less like chance and take up his responsibility to be present in it in an understandable way.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Anonymous 9:13
There is one problem with 'healing miracles,' or any other type of miracle. One verifable, undisputable miracle (that is, a suspension of the laws of the Universe by God to make a point) not only proves the existence of God, but it also disproves every form of religion but the precise sectarian belief of the person who prayed for this miracle. One demonstrable miracle at Lourdes would, by its existence, disprove all forms of Protestantism, one verified miracle credited to Islam disproves all of Christianity. One -- to reach the absurd -- miraculous healing from Benny Hinn proves that every theological position he has taken is correct, on sin, baptism, the Last Days, etc. (I have no idea what his theology in fact is, I know of him only by reputation)

A miracle, after all, is not just 'God being nice to somebody' even to a little Kenyan girl. It is his suspending the way the world ordinarily works to display his power, and his support of some specific belief. If someone is wrong about baptism, transubstantiation, what is sinful, salvation by grace, by works, or belief, is it imaginable that God would show his power to support such 'wrongness' knowing that the person would take God's action as a justification of his entire religious worldview?

Either that, or God simply doesn't care what we believe, and is merely playing games with us. "Okay, this week let's support the Catholics. No, wait, we haven't done anything for the snake-handlers in a while, let's give them a break too. Next week we'll give a boost to the Mormons and the adult baptisers. Oh, all right, Mohammed, one for your guys too, only not for the suicide bomber group."

No, true miracles are too important for a God to scatter them to the winds. One miracle both proves one set of beliefs true, and all others false.

Anonymous said...

I understand that this particular section of your blog is not focused upon the miraculous, though many would consider the results of prayer to be so. Could you point out elsewhere your views on that which cannot be explained--either on a previous post or in a new one? Thank you.
Kam

Lee Randolph said...

Hi anon 200,
unexplained means it has no explanation yet. If it is a story, then it is just a story and only a gullible person would take it on its face value.

If an unexplained event is right there in front of me then I need to get busy iterating through all the possibilities until I find one that explains it.

If you lose your keys, you do the same thing. You go iterating over all the places they could be, all the things that could have happened. I'll bet not one time (or hope anyway) have you ever said to yourself, "God must have took 'em". Have you ever lost something and never found it? Would you agree that something happened to it besides god hiding it? I would. Thats how everything is.

live-n-grace said...

"The fool says in his heart there is no God."

You guys take yourselves to be wise, to be smarter, not as gullible than Christians, that you have found, through your own work, that Christianity is false. No, in fact you are fools.

God's power is revealed everyday, and mainly through people. He has chosen in this day and age to work through people, and by the holy spirit. God's power to forgive me. God's power to die for me. God's power to love me. God's power to give me eternal life. There is nothing more I could want or ask.

To see the world and the way it is now, to think that this is the way it's supposed to be is absurd. God will come and intervene as you ask him to do, but this time he will come to judge. But it is not too late. For all it takes to be saved is faith in Christ Jesus. Not any ritual, no works, no money, no places to visit. This is the power of God. That we who are undeserving and unclean are given life and love.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi LIG,
Thanks for another personal attack.

Its not nice to call people fools. Consider me one of the uneducated and teach me something.

Matthew 5:22 say that you are qualified for hell.
"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ' You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell."
You should watch that.

Don't you have the peace that passes understanding in-dwelling? Don't you have the source of wisdom in-dwelling?

If so, then can you avoid the Ad Hominems and tell me why I am wrong?

It would go a long way to bolstering your credibility and supporting your claims about "god is this and God is that...".

Anonymous said...

There is only one thing a person can be called being a fool for, and that is for not believing in God.

To tell you the truth I don't like calling you or anyone a fool, but God says you're a fool for not believing in him. Are you my brother? No. Are you good for nothing? No. You were made for a purpose, and your life is worth something.

But are you my neighbor? Yes. I would want you to call me a fool if I turned from God. To realize the mistakes I've made. But is this the best way? No. The best way is through love and I have already been trying it for awhile, so I took a different approach.

I know you have seen the truth and the gospel and the love of God, and you have denied it.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi LIG,
But are you my neighbor? Yes. I would want you to call me a fool if I turned from God.

Nice twist on the golden rule! My compliments! You insult me and now you justify it by distorting the meaning of Jesus words and then you allege you are doing the noble sacrifice because you don't like having to do it.

I can't wait to see how you wiggle out of Matthew 5:22's warning that you are guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

I would like to point out that I think the reasoning scheme you are employing is similar to the reasoning scheme employed by the people John is talking about in his series of articles on the inquisition, slavery and witch-hunting.

With just a single word substitution we get
"But are you my neighbor? Yes. I would want you to torture me if I turned from God."

live-n-grace said...

Lee, I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say.

If a friend I knew turned from Jesus, I would show them love. I would show them again the gospel, and of God's love, and tell them to not be foolish.

I ask you to reread Matthew 5:22 and my post. It says to never call your brother a fool. In my post I brought up that you are NOT my brother.

Who did Jesus call the most names? The Pharisees, who were proud and believed themselves to be wise and just and upright. But in fact this is who Jesus was fed up with. They who keep others from the kingdom of God, and who teach wrongs and are proud. Those are the same people I get fed up with. I am pretty sure you get fed up with "religous people" and myself. You know who else was fed-up with religous people? Jesus.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi LIG,
I'll give in on the fiery hell thing, but by drawing a distinction between your brothers and your neighbors, you are supporting my assertion about your reasoning scheme.

You are making a distinction in how you treat people between "us" and "them".

Would you be inclined to 'get fed up with' michael houx and tell him to stop being disruptive?