So Do You Believe in God?

I get this question so frequently, I’ve decided to make a better effort to reply. To be honest, I don’t like the question because it presumes we know what those words mean. Here are some responses, touching on more or less serious aspects of the topic.

1. Which god? Do you mean Zeus, Baal, Athena, Shiva, Allah, Jehovah, or some other? If you mean one of those, then no. I am not a theist. I don’t believe in an individual being that created and now controls the world.

2. What is belief? Is it a cognitive conclusion that I have reached based on logical consideration of evidence?

That would assume I have access to all the information, and I do not. Is it an emotional feeling for something beyond myself? Well, my emotions vary, and some days are hopeful, other days are dark. Emotions are a rocky basis for “belief.” Do I make a leap of faith, not knowing anything really, but simply wanting to “believe,” and putting stock in a “scripture” to give it support? This is also difficult because knowing about the origins of “scripture,” I know the complexity; they were not simply dictated. Also, the strength of my blind faith can also vary and I’m not sure how completely I am supposed to convince myself in order to say I “believe.”

3. The concept of “God” usually meant by this question is some sort of being that exists “out there.” The god of the Bible is very separate, superior to humans, but anthropomorphic in many ways. Other gods are also considered “out there” and have controlling powers we do not have. A more New Age notion of god includes “the divine” in all of us, and still involves the notion of “spirit” infusing people. There is an assumption in most approaches to spirituality of a kind of “force,” which can be called by different names, but which is a thing in a universe of other things. As such, I do not resonate with this idea of “god” as an entity.

2. What is belief? Is it a cognitive conclusion that I have reached basic on logical consideration of evidence?4. If I must use the concept at all, I would equate it with the “nature of being.” This is close to “ground of being,” a phrase coined by John Robinson many years ago in Honest to God. For me it involves a perception of existence grounded in the profound science of modern physics. Most ordinary people do not know much about this. Yet, we now know from findings in both relativity theory and quantum physics, that the universe is much more strange and incredible than we ever realized. It calls for massive humility because there are things no one understands, yet we now have good reason to question all of our basic assumptions about “reality.” The difference is bigger than finding out the world is not flat. We have evidence for questioning our ideas about matter, linear time, cause and effect, and more. String theorists agree there are eleven dimensions. Yet the general population operates all day every day assuming things that are completely out of date. The knowledge has not reached the masses. This is akin to having everyone act as if the earth is still flat. The issues are intensely profound, with implications for everything we do. The big words for me are “mystery” and “possibility.” Feelings are humility, awe, and excitement. There is no religious description of “god” that matches the grandeur of the universe as it is – elusive, ever-changing, impossibly mind-boggling. And this includes us. We are part of the fabric; there is no separation. If this is believing in god, then by all means, a hundred times YES! But I’m still not drawn to the language.

A couple of quotes that I find consistent with this:

“How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant’? Instead they say, ‘No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”`
-Carl Sagan



“I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
-Albert Einstein



5. Dispensing with the “god” word, it makes a little more sense for me to address “spirituality,” although this word has often meant a focus on other-worldly things. I prefer to describe spirituality as a way of living which is here-and-now. These are attributes rather than a definition. They involve feelings and perceptions and experiences which depend on openness. This openness can be chosen and developed. Rather than escaping into a different realm, I think of spirituality in terms of how we live our lives – the choices, the consciousness, the texture of daily life. There are several aspects of this:

Accord. This is the experience of feeling attuned with the rest of existence - a feeling of belonging on earth, being a part of the rest of nature, and in harmony with everything around. When you are in accord, you move along with the vast river of evolutionary change, feeling connected in a fundamental way with the harmony and power of the whole. You feel as though you are tapping into a rich resource that is beyond you, much larger than yourself. Your inner spring of god-within connects with the vastness of god-beyond, a "deeper power" rather than "higher power," a subterranean aquifer connecting all of life. This produces a sense of trust and safety, a knowledge that you fit, that you have a place.

Awareness. With awareness you are alive and awake, fully experiencing life. This means being totally grounded in the here and now. Your sensory experiences are vivid, and you notice what is happening when it is happening, both around and inside you. You do not reject uncomfortable experiences or deny pain; you are open and embracing of all that life has to offer. This makes it possible for you to enjoy things more intensely and to learn from difficulties. You are not trying to be on some other plane of existence, but are willing and happy to be here now, like a curious child.

Growth. Growth is a natural process. You are not static or inert; you are a changing, growing being. And your experiences can propel you to develop further. As a plant needs the attention of water and food to grow, you need to attend to your needs and consciously make opportunities to learn and change. This aspect of spirituality is active, complementing the more receptive elements of accord and awareness. As humans we are granted the exciting option of making conscious loyal commitments to move in positive directions. Learning will often occur anyway, as a neglected plant will often survive, but informed with a sense of accord and awareness, you can take action on your own spiritual behalf.

Transcendence. There are moments of awe for us in life, those times of being overwhelmed with wonder at beauty, or love, or natural power. At these moments you get clues about the immensity of the cosmos, like pinpricks in the veil around your limited consciousness. You are humbled and thrilled as you gaze at a sunset or a torrential waterfall. A moment of pure love can be ecstatic. Let your vision extend into the night sky, and you may experience a blissful dissolving of your individual ego. Not needing to understand or control, you can experience a sense of total Mystery. These moments are gifts that reflect your spiritual capacity, gifts that become more available as you open to your sense of the ultimate. This is not ultimate in the sense of above or better, but simply beyond your usual mode of consciousness. These are moments of realization knowing that the sense you have of “god” within is not only in contact with but one and the same as the transcendent “god”-beyond. You are a wave in the ocean, individual in a sense but also part of something much bigger – the immensely huge and powerful ocean of existence. You don’t understand and you don’t need to understand. All of this is multiverses away from “believing in God.”

So even though I would have to say I don’t believe in God and I am an atheist in the true definition of the word, ie, not a theist, I obviously feel compelled to question and reclaim the language being used and make this rather inadequate stab at describing my lived experience. It’s a bit defensive and that’s because the stereotype of the cold, shallow, hedonistic, selfish atheist needs to be challenged. In my opinion, it’s all about how we live, and not what we “believe.”

What do you think?

Kind regards,
Marlene Winell, Ph.D., psychologist and author of "Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion" and facilitator for retreats for religious recovery called "Release and Reclaim" The next one is Aug. 15-17 in Berkeley, CA

28 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

I think there are only four conceptions of God that are worthy of the name. 1) The theistic God of the three monotheistic religions; 2) the Deist god (which is the "god of the philosophers"); 3) the Pantheistic god, or the ONE; and 4) the panentheistic, or process theology God of liberal theism. Embodied local polytheistic gods and goddesses are to be relegated to the ancient superstitious past. These gods are simply not big enough to answer any deep questions about existence, and as such there are probably no modern intellectual defenders in western society today that should be taken seriously (the Mormons, and David L. Miller in his book The New Polytheism 1974, excepted). These beliefs are primitive notions that only simpletons in today's world accept, who have not thought deeply about the kind of questions that the whole notion of a supreme deity is supposed to be an answer for.

Brother Crow said...

I think the big word in that question is - not "believe" and not "god", but - YOU. The concept of self is the most ambiguous and tenuous of all concepts, I think. Especially if you factor in the new age thinking that is referred to in the post, that the "self" is "divine."

In the simplest way (I am a long time out of college) - I have no idea who "I" am. The older I get the more uncertain I am of "self." I change on a pretty regular basis...most people I know do. Concepts of self seem to morph with every wind of doctrine, trend, and emotional nuance. I am my past, my future, a divine creation, a reasoning animal, an eternal soul, a limited biological organism...and I have not even scratched the surface.

Regardless of whether or not there is a deity, I am amazed that there is an "I." Or a "you." And I have no idea what it is, because it seems to have so much importance, and yet...for all the evidence...it is absolutely limited and will STOP in just a few short years.

So, the biggest question to me becomes, "So...do you believe in you?" And one step further..."what are you?" And one step further..."does it matter?"

Rick said...

I think this is a perfect expression of the human inability to live "in the box" of "the cosmos is all there is, all there ever was, and all there ever will be" (Carl Sagan). It seems atheism has led you to a stark "reality" that you have no ultimate purpose, no immortal soul, and, for that matter, no "spirit" with which to be "spiritual"; but you can't live that way.

Doesn't it seem just a little hypocritical to you to talk about "spiritualism" and "deeper connections" that, rationally, you don't really believe exist?

Lorena said...

It seems atheism has led you to a stark "reality" that you have no ultimate purpose, no immortal soul, and, for that matter, no "spirit" with which to be "spiritual"; but you can't live that way.

Wow! That's a very strong accusation. Care to elaborate why you think atheist have NO ULTIMATE PURPOSE?

It's pretty bold of you to assert something without having met or interacted with the people you are insulting.

But just to throw the insult right back at you, I will say that it is better to have NO ULTIMATE PURPOSE that to have one which is based in mythology and imaginary beings.

chuck said...

"What do you think?"

Pretentious drivel, no offense.

"Which god? Do you mean Zeus, Baal, Athena, Shiva, Allah, Jehovah, or some other?"

Familiar rhetoric from the atheist apologist's grab bag of philosophy-to-go. Most people when asked whether they believe in God think of some entity who is extremely powerful, intelligent, good, and who is in some way responsible for bringing about the existence of our universe. The periphery details change depending on who you ask.

That you and a relatively tiny circle of humans called "freethinkers" have trouble understanding anything involving the word 'God' reflects poorly on the capacity of your intellect to engage in higher-order conceptualization. Sucks for you. It's not a problem for the rest of humanity.

You even go so far as to pretend that you don't understand the word 'belief'. One wonders whether you also require strict necessary and sufficient conditions for terms in other ordinary questions you're "frequently" asked. Were I to ask you what time it is, you'd agree, I hope, that it would be strange for you to reply with, "Well, what is time anyway?" Yet you have no problem doing this with the word 'belief' when it's used in contexts involving theism. You're prejudiced.

By the way, stop prostituting Einstein.

"I am not an atheist." - Einstein

Einstein believed in God (construed pantheistically).

[snipped superficial musings]

"Marlene Winell, Ph.D., psychologist and author of "Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion" and facilitator for retreats for religious recovery called "Release and Reclaim" The next one is Aug. 15-17 in Berkeley, CA"

LOL

Marlene Winell said...

Thank-you Brother Crow, for your insight about "you." Yes, that is another word with presumed meaning, and the research on consciousness has something to offer here. I will continue to disect the sentence.

Chuck, why the need to be so nasty? I have some thoughts about the pent up anger that believers have, but I won't go into it now. Just something for you to think about.

If you asked me what time it was I would answer you, of course. But if you wanted to have an interesting conversation about time, I would most certainly raise the complexities. That is why Einstein was so brilliant. These sujects are a lot of fun when you let go of rigid assumptions, including "god." Relax.

Evan said...

Rick I would like to take issue with you on the idea that Christian theists somehow have an ultimate purpose in life.

I would argue that Christian theists are absolutely purposeless given the ideas they believe.

They believe they are individually worthless, and hopelessly tainted by sin. They believe they would all be damned if God had not fiddled with his own rules to save them from damnation. They believe that God can kill them whenever he wishes. They believe that God will usher in his plan for the world regardless of what they do. They believe that they can have no ultimate effect on the outcome of the universe, since God is in control. They also believe that God is going to bring all believers together in a Heaven that has no purpose whatsoever, where they will spend eternity doing nothing but worship God.

Nothing could be more purposeless. Does it really impress the believer to imagine that he/she will be one of billions who spend eternity worshiping a deity?

Robert_B said...

Chuck: "...have trouble understanding anything involving the word 'God' reflects poorly on the capacity of your intellect to engage in higher-order conceptualization...."

The term *god* is not defined and has no meaning.

About concepts. They are formed from empirical data derived from reality. Ayn Rand, though sadly passed away, educates the reader.

"A concept is a mental integration of two or more units which are isolated by a process of abstraction and united by a specific definition. By organizing his perceptual material into concepts, and his concepts into wider and still wider concepts, man is able to grasp and retain, to identify and integrate an unlimited amount of knowledge, a knowledge extending beyond the immediate concretes of any given, immediate moment.

In any given moment, concepts enable man to hold in the focus of his conscious awareness much more than his purely perceptual capacity would permit. The range of man’s perceptual awareness—the number of percepts he can deal with at any one time—is limited. He may be able to visualize four or five units—as, for instance, five trees. He cannot visualize a hundred trees or a distance of ten light—years. It is only his conceptual faculty that makes it possible for him to deal with knowledge of that kind.

Man retains his concepts by means of language. With the exception of proper names, every word we use is a concept that stands for an unlimited number of concretes of a certain kind. A concept is like a mathematical series of specifically defined units, going off in both directions, open at both ends and including all units of that particular kind. For instance, the concept “man” includes all men who live at present, who have ever lived or will ever live—a number of men so great that one would not be able to perceive them all visually, let alone to study them or discover anything about them." = The Romantic Manifesto, 17

Concepts are derived from objective reality. Since your god is not part of objective reality, there can be no concept of god. No person has ever detected god by any means of sensory perception or instrumentation. Those who claim to "feel" the Holy Ghost, experience only a self-generated brain phenomenon. Your alleged "higher conceptualization" is only a silly notion originating in your imagination.

That brings me to my question for you, dear Chuck. Can you describe a method whereby another person can reliably distinguish the difference, if any, between what you believe god to be and what you are imagining god to be?

This question is about what is going on in your mind and not about what you think justifies your belief. If others cannot distinguish any difference between your belief and your imagination, then your belief is indistinguishable from your imagination.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Marlene,
Emotions are a rocky basis for “belief.”
BRAVA, [enthusiastic and rapid hand clapping and whistiling]

What is belief? Is it a cognitive conclusion that I have reached basic on logical consideration of evidence?
Do you choose not to believe in God? Could you choose to believe in God if you wanted to?
I am EXTREMELY interested in this question of "is belief a choice?" I don't think it is. I think it the result of natural biological algorithms that result from whatever actions the brain takes to store, retrieve and process the information it contains.

So even though I would have to say I don’t believe in God and I am an atheist in the true definition of the word, ie, not a theist, I obviously feel compelled to question and reclaim the language being used and make this rather inadequate stab at describing my lived experience.
BRAVA, [enthusiastic and rapid hand clapping and whistiling], again.
The language we use is so anthropomorphic you can even hear scientist talking about natural selection chose this, or whatever. They talk like processes and molecules have sentience to affect thier environment, but its all just chance and the relationship between their characteristics and the characteristics of their environment.

I think in school it should be taught that is is improper to use anthropomorphic terms for non-sentient objects unless the purpose of the writing or speech is to evoke emotion, in other words, anthropomorphic terms should be one the defining characteristics of RHETORIC.

bob said...

Evan, that was beautifully said. I have copied it and put it in my "quotes" file under "Evan". Hope you don't mind.

goprairie said...

many of the 'feelings' we call 'spiritual' can be explained by brain science. the sense of being one with the iniverse involves the sense of where our body begins and ends being 'fuzzed up', the sense of awe is sensory overload, and so on. the sense of other beings out there is heightened in the dark because our peripheral vision that triggers fight/flight is more active and we 'misperceive' movement in the environment as alive with parts of the brain that we are not consciously aware of.
'freethinking' has a price: it can be more work mentally and emotionally. without a god to guide us with rules that often do not take exceptions and conditions into account, we have to think more carefully through situations to choose behavior. without a god to be grateful to for natural beauty or family love, we can think in more detail and more clearly about how it all really came to be and about the interconnectedness for practical reasons of survival and comfort, as opposed to mythical spiritual connections. and we must take ultimate responsibility for environment, relationships, and self.
purpose? we have instincts to survive, to love, to form relationships, and ultimately, to leave the world at least as good as we found it for the generations to come after us. survival, within a society, and to provide for survival beyond ourselves. that's good enough for me. it gives me pleasure to go with the flow of the ethics of community and family and future that evolution provided me with.

as to the negativity, atheists can be negative towards christians for the proactical issues that our rights are stomped on daily by religion being in some part of life where we see no need for it. like a prayer at a community service club luncheon or on words on our coins, but by an large, other than viewing it as kinda silly and foolish but no worse than knocking on wood or not buying 13 of something, we are pretty tolerant. yet we often encounter that kind of mean nasty hatred from christisns? why? if it were merely a difference, like favorite fruit or dining indoors or on the patio, it would not BUG them so much. if it were merely that tney are saved and we are not, they should not care if there are more or less of us there in the end. but somehow we threaten them. maybe it is because they struggle with doubts big and small and they KNOW there are issues in their belief system that cannot be reconciled, but they find the system comforting and cozy and do not want to give it up. yet, our logic threatens their safe little words, so by ridiculing us, they hope to insulate themselves from letting us make the cracks intheir beliefs grow larger. but in the end, we do. we open up cracks and make existing cracks grow with each argument with logic and reason. that is treatening and that is why they get so mean.
another source of negativity i see relates to the responsibility part. a christian might rely on god to fix things, now in their life and in the future, and i might challenge them to get off their butt and get to work on it because there is no god to rely on. the area of environmentalism comes to mind. many christians i know are not the concerned with environmental issues because the see it as too large a problem for a person do deal with and trust that god will keep the planet in shape for us. my environmentalism is a call to them to action they don't want to take responisibility for and my 'do it yourself' attitude about it challenge their 'trust' in god.

Ty said...

Chuck wrote,

"Pretentious drivel, no offense."

When people write things like you wrote above, or things like the follwoing:
1. I'm sorry, but you're a loser.
2. Don't take this personally, but your post revealed your low IQ.
3. Now I don't what you to take this the wrong way, but I think you're a hypocrite yourself.

These kinds of statements show a person to be disengenuous. It makes your own post come off as "pretentious drivel." Marlene is in a class so far beyond you I find it amazing (but revealing) that she took the time to respond to you. As for me, I'm an asshole who actually does live on your level. Even when I was a Christian I was all too familiar with the hurt that was often severely inflicted on those who were a part of "the fold." For you to laugh at the pain that some individuals in the church go through is telling. Personally wish I could take part in her retreat. Perhaps it would help chip away some of my asshole side.

David B. Ellis said...

I'm not clear on why polytheism should be considered less intellectually respectable than the others you mention, John.

As far as their being "embodied" being a relic of the superstitious past, I had a disturbing conversation with my sister a few weeks ago in which she disagreed with my characterizing God as not having a body. She seems to think of him as literally the big white bearded guy in the sky.

goprairie said...

More on the concept of 'spirituality' - this term bothers me unless it is used to actually speak of a spirit or soul. When it is used to talk of the more ethereal or intangible aspects of humanity, and not really a soul that lives on after the physical, maybe it would be more accurate to speak of the 'instinctual' to mean the forces that act on us and cause us to do things, the 'force' that drives, and to speak of the 'sensual' to mean the feelings we experience. It would do us good to become more aware of the instincts that drive us and cause us to want certain things, to make 'decisions' the way we do, to pursue the things we do. And it would do us good to learn the sources and causes of the feelings of being awed and inspired, to learn what senses and what ways of percieving them lead us to feel certain ways. This combination of brain science, psychology, and sociology is what can free us from the 'mysterious' or 'unknown' that leads many to cling to supernatural explanations for those things. I feel like when we continue to use 'spiritual' to speak of those intangibles that we mislead others into thinking we still cling to beliefs of a human spirit that lives past the body and spirits of dead ancestors, the collection of which may resemble a deity, or even an earth spirit of some sort that begins to resemble a deity. Anyway, I wonder if use of 'instinctual' for the forces and 'sensual' for the feelings might work.

Marlene Winell said...

Someone I respect, Michael Lerner, has defined spirituality as the capacity for awe and wonder. In doing so, he has been able to bring people together from many traditions to work together for good.
It seems to me that appreciating life and the world in all its majesty makes god less necessary. My scientist friends, since they are in love with the world AS IT IS, are baffled by the need for god. I find it refreshing.
I have also learned from Thomas Moore in "Care for the Soul." He talks about living "soulfully" instead of spiritually, and by that he means with integrity and intensity here and now instead of removing ourselves from everyday life.

And, I still have a little space left at the retreat next weekend and I'm happy to make it affordable if you want to come. Just contact me at recoveryfromreligion@gmail.com

goprairie said...

"spirit" and "soul" are nouns have existing accepted definitions regarding an entity that 'lives' and lives on and is not part of the physical self. If you beleive that no such thing exists, that once we stop living and our senses stop sensing and our brains stop processing the input of those sense, that there is not entity that lives on, then you do not believe in a soul or spirit. to appropriate those words for something else, some part of the intuitive or instinctive or sensing part of being human, then you are confusing people about that aspect of atheism. i don't care if it creates 'common ground' or is pacifying in getting religious people to accept atheists, it is incorrect use of the words. in that way, it is dishonest to use those words for things we know do not fit the standard definition. greater good would be done in explaining the instinctive or sensing or brain processing source of those kinds of feelings or experiences in a scientific manner instead of letting the woo-ah persist.

Rick said...

Lorena: "Care to elaborate why you think atheist have NO ULTIMATE PURPOSE? It's pretty bold of you to assert something without having met or interacted with the people you are insulting."

Rick: Wow! That's a very strong accusation. Why would you think I've never met/interacted with atheists? Frankly, I was one for over 45 years, and "fellow travelers" were pretty much all I knew in my world of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.

As for no ultimate purpose, perhaps I wouldn't think such if it weren't for so many prominent atheists proclaiming it. Like W.B. Provine who claims "proximate purpose" is the best you can hope for in a mechanical life. Or Julian Huxley who celebrated breaking the "chains" of divine purpose and direction. But most of all, all the "fellow traveler" atheists I knew personally who, inwardly, were all living lives of quiet desperation, longing for some sense of purpose to their wasting lives. Is it any wonder, since the virtual demise of the Church in the U.K., that the #1 reason for women to show up in a hospital emergency room is attempted suicide, and it's #2 for men?

Rick said...

Evan, your post shows a very large misunderstanding of the Christian faith.

They believe they are individually worthless, and hopelessly tainted by sin.
No, we believe we all (even you) bear the image of God, and are therefore individually precious. We do believe we all have a fallen sin nature, and are therefore naturally biased against God. But far from hopeless, our faith gives us hope that "The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power..."

They believe they would all be damned if God had not fiddled with his own rules to save them from damnation....
Most of this para seems to express your incredulity of the idea of a divine plan vs. individual free will (and thus responsibility). Like you're asking "so which is it? Divine plan or free will?" Taking an example from science, I could ask "What is light? A particle or a wave?" Answer: BOTH. A logical paradox does not necessarily imply falsehood, my friend. Sometimes it simply implies lack of understanding. As Christians, we do know that we are individually responsible for our choices (including the choice of hell), that God does have a divine plan for His creation, and that He has invited us to work beside Him in the execution of that plan.

...a Heaven that has no purpose whatsoever, where they will spend eternity doing nothing but worship God.
You've never really read the Bible, have you? "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' Mt 25:21 "many things" sounds like a lot more than "nothing but". If Marlene can find "awe and wonder" in this world that was created by God in just 6 short days, for the new heaven and Earth that He has taken 6000 years to create I believe "awe and wonder" will not begin to describe it. I pray you would be there to see it.

Rick said...

Robert B: man is able to grasp and retain, to identify and integrate an unlimited amount of knowledge,...

Rick: Really? How can a finite brain integrate an "unlimited amount of knowledge"? Even if every atom in your brain could be a "data bit", it would still be finite. Even if the whole planet could be encoded as information, it is still finite. This statement gets back to Marlene's use of spiritual language in an attempt to desribe her concept of a material man; she attempts to cast God's attributes upon man. Or as Satan once said in his first recorded lie, "you shall be like God." Man has strove for this deception ever since.

Robert B.:"Since your god is not part of objective reality, there can be no concept of god."

Rick: Mathematicians have developed many laws and proofs about the concept of infinity. Were is the objective reality of this concept? Can you show me one objective instance of infinity? No, it only exists as an abstract concept. Is it real? Sure seems to be, as many mathematical proofs seem to deal with how the concept of infinity interacts with non-infinite terms ( 1 / infinity = 0 ).

Evan said...

Rick you are a hoot. If you want to know how depraved human beings are in the Christian worldview, just read Romans. It's really all I can say. It answers every retort you've put up on that issue.

But you really take the cake there at the end when you say:

You've never really read the Bible, have you?

Oddly, this answer keeps cropping up from apologists. Trust us. We've read the Bible. Reading the Bible is the very BEST way to make someone an atheist. Trust me on that.

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' Mt 25:21 "many things" sounds like a lot more than "nothing but".

Jesus is of course speaking figuratively here. This is a parable. Perhaps you ought to read the Bible. But again, the purposelessness is in the parable itself. The parable is about SLAVES. Do you really think it's cool to be a SLAVE? Do you think most SLAVES in history have felt they had purposeful lives? If so ... perhaps there are deeper crevasses between us than I might have imagined, although it does seem as if our crevasses are quite deep. You go on:

If Marlene can find "awe and wonder" in this world that was created by God in just 6 short days, ...

ACK! Prove this. Please prove it. Nobody can prove it to anyone who knows the basic facts about the world's geology, history, chemistry and biology. So here you are simply wrong and virtually all educated people know this is wrong (INCLUDING HUGE NUMBERS OF CHRISTIANS, for example, Dinesh D'Souza would refer to you as an ignorant fundamentalist). Please in your response, before you embarrass yourself, make sure you address all the points noted here, since anything that doesn't address those issues is going to fail to be convincing.

... for the new heaven and Earth that He has taken 6000 years to create I believe "awe and wonder" will not begin to describe it. I pray you would be there to see it.

I won't. The nice thing is you won't either and we'll both be dead and not even know it.

Toby said...

Evan,

You disappoint me. All that science stuff you point to is a trick of the devil. The Earth is 4.55 billion years old?! That's like saying that we can see stars that are billions of light years away through telescopes. If stars were REALLY that far away, then we wouldn't see them. So, therefore, they are much closer than scientists actually believe. Again, the devil just tricked all of the various scientists who have independently collaborated that ages of both the Earth and various stars.

I even have PROOF that this is the trick of the devil. The fact that scientists are nearly universal in their agreements on the approximate ages of the Earth, Stars, and Universe in general implies that Satan is behind their data. After all, Bible believing Christians who all read the exact same book can't even come up with that kind of agreement on anything, so therefore there must be an architect of the old earth lie and evolution lies.

I would also like to point out that TRUE Christians inspired by God have proved Darwinism/evolution wrong with our bumper stick-ons of the Darwin fish being eaten by the Christian fish. Also, the other equally witty retort, "You probably did come from a monkey, but I know my God made me" further proves that Christians are superior.

By the way Dr. Evan. You wasted your time getting your MD. If you ACTUALLY read your Bible you'd know that God promises anyone one with the faith of a mustard seed that he will give them whatever they ask in his name. That, my friend, is why we don't need doctors and pharmaceutical companies can barely stay in business. God is in the healing business, they are in the pretend-make-believe healing business. To prove God's work I offer this irrefutable anecdotal evidence: I had a cold a mere 10 days ago, I prayed for God's healing, and today I barely have a sniffle. Praise God!

Toby

godsfavoritecolor said...

Rick said: "Why would you think I've never met/interacted with atheists? Frankly, I was one for over 45 years, and "fellow travelers" were pretty much all I knew in my world of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll."

Typical bullshit that I've heard from apologists dozens of times. Sex, drugs and rock-roll don't make you an atheist. I call you out as a liar. You were never a true atheist.

Rick said...

Evan, given the prism through which you view the Bible, it is little wonder you're an atheist. To think Mt 25 is about SLAVES is not only grammatically incorrect, it is scripturally in error. The entire chapter is about Jesus explaining what the coming of the kingdom of God will be like. This particular parable is about the rewards to expect to those servants of God that do well with the gifts God has given us.

Regarding creationism, yes; I am an evangelical (belief in the inerrant Word of God), fundamentalist (belief in the plain reading of scripture) Christian. The website you reference makes note of books by Dr. Henry Morris who is credited with rekindling the creationist movement in 1964 with his book "The Genesis Flood". This is a rapidly growing movement in the Christian community, now that science has advanced enough to provide ever more scientific evidence for the truth of the genesis account of creation. Yes, D'Souza does not yet embrace this movement, but I have faith that he soon will. Darwin's assertion of evolution and Charles Lyell's dogma of geologic uniformaterianism are both showing strong signs of cracking under the weight of countermanding evidence.

Since this site states a prohibition against "sermons", I will only offer a couple of problems with the talkorgins site you referenced, although any other item you wish to discuss I will gladly engage.

First, regarding the defense of secular dating: "...the solar system formed from a common pool of matter, which was uniformly distributed in terms of Pb isotope ratios...". What evidence is there that this statement is true? None! For that matter, have we ANY evidence that would suggest a homogenous "common pool" of ANY of the elements? Meteorites are spoken of as if they are relics of that "common pool", yet do they accurately reflect the percentages of elements that we see today in the sun (where presumably most of that pool went), even permitting outgassing of neon, helium, and other non-bound gas elements? No, they do not. So, again, why would we then think that Pb isotopes would be somehow "special" in this assumption?

Second, talkorigin's rebuttal of creationist criticism of secular dating: "an instance where a method fails to work does not imply that it does not ever work." Granted. But what if dozens of examples in dating of known-age rock are wrong? What if C14 is found in every sample of coal (supposedly millions of years old) submitted for testing? What if C14 is even found in a dozen diamonds (which cannot be contaminated) tested? What if the site you reference does not reference a single article or book on creation science published in the last 20 years?

Rick said...

godsfavoritecolor: "You were never a true atheist."

Wow, do you know me? So what was I, then? So often a Christian and atheist will talk past each other because common words have different meanings to each of us. I'm saying that I was a person that thought the Bible was a bunch of pretty stories that may have had some relevance to life once upon a time, but not today, and that I had no faith or belief in any kind of God. So what do you call a "true atheist"? Is it necessary to combine "true" with "atheist" to convey your meaning?

I admit, since you atheists have no dogma, the term seems to be emeshed in the "moral relativism" of everything else you don't hold dear. It seems to mean whatever each individual wants it to mean ... today. Some say it just means you don't have faith, others say its a positive assertion "there is no God".

Toby said...

D'Souza and Dr. William Craig both believe in that "Old Earth" nonsense. It sickens me to think how education has polluted their minds. That's why I'm homeschooling my children. And you better believe there is no way I'm letting them go off to college. If God meant for us to need a PhD in Theology to correctly interpret the book He wrote for us, he would have said so. But because the Bible tells us everything we need to know, that's the only book I'm teaching my children from.

I want to posit a hypothesis: education and intelligence are the primary tools of the devil. It seems the more educated one becomes, research has shown that the less religious that person becomes. Moreover, the greatest numbers of atheists are those with the highest and most advanced degrees.

Now here is the real truth. Evan wasted probably around a $100,000 and 10 years going to school to learn to be a medical doctor, when if he would of been home schooled with the Bible as his only text, he could have learned about faith. Instead his education destroyed his faith. Let me ask you this: Would a sick person rather go to the Evan who has no faith, but instead has a medical doctorate and depends on science to cure people, OR would a sick person rather go to an uneducated Evan who has faith! I think we all know the answer to that. We've all seen what the faith of a mustard seed can do. And let me tell you Jesus wasn't lying when he said even the smallest tiniest faith could do MIGHTY works! I already presented irrefutable anecdotal evidence in my last post to prove God's power. But let me take it one step further. Both my brother Rick and I have the faith of a mustard seed. Together, with God in our midst, we are going to ask the Almighty God, creator of heaven and Earth, to send a major (unpopulated) mountain into an ocean. Then you'll see that Jesus was telling the truth! That my friends is what the faith of a mustard seed can really do.

Toby said...

Just one more thing: I offer my own life as proof that education is the poison of the devil. I was born into a Bible believing fundamentalist home. I even attended a Bible believing fundamentalist Bible College (just as Evan did). And like Even, that education proved to me that (under the power of the devil) that the only reasonable belief was in evolution and that the Earth and universe are billions of year old. Going on to complete a Master's degree from a fundamentalist seminary only further destroyed my faith in the inerrancy of the Bible. And completing PhD almost complete did me in. But fortunately for me, once saved always saved, for those he has called, he predestined!

I realize know that empirical evidence and science only leads to things like technological, medical, psychological, and sociological advancement. These are hardly important things are were they really worth the cost. You see the vast majority of people with the highest and most advanced degrees don't believe in God because they want empirical evidence. At one point in my life anecdotal evidence was insufficient for me as well.

Evan said...

Rick,

I'm not one to let blatant falsehood go unanswered so first let me second Toby by pointing out that prominent apologists like Wm. Lane Craig and Dinesh D'Souza disagree with you and consider you an ignorant fundamentalist. Just FYI for you.

Here's why both Wm. Lane Craig and Dinesh D'Souza both accept the age of the earth:

BECAUSE MULTIPLE LINES OF EVIDENCE LEAD TO THE SAME CONCLUSIONS.

The age of the universe has been determined by MANY different techniques and is quite reliably dated now to 13.7 billion years ago.

Astronomers now understand how solar systems form. The reason the sun is not the same as the outer and inner planets has to do with how this process takes place. The theory is not yet perfect but we have watched dust clouds with igniting stars from a distance.

You say:

For that matter, have we ANY evidence that would suggest a homogenous "common pool" of ANY of the elements? Meteorites are spoken of as if they are relics of that "common pool", yet do they accurately reflect the percentages of elements that we see today in the sun (where presumably most of that pool went), even permitting outgassing of neon, helium, and other non-bound gas elements?

Heavy elements form planetesimals and meteors, comets etc BEFORE the sun coalesces and ignites. Previous to this we see a uniform cloud of dust and gas. Have you seen pictures of nebulae? They are quite uniform. The meteors that we get are so uniform we can do chemical tests to easily distinguish them from terrestrial rocks. Does that help explain this to you?

Then you say:

But what if dozens of examples in dating of known-age rock are wrong? What if C14 is found in every sample of coal (supposedly millions of years old) submitted for testing? What if C14 is even found in a dozen diamonds (which cannot be contaminated) tested? What if the site you reference does not reference a single article or book on creation science published in the last 20 years?

Have you studied chemistry? I really want to know the answer to this before I answer this question.

The only books I know of that have to do with creation science (a laughable oxymoron) that have recently been published are by Behe, Dembski, Johnson et. al.

All of these guys accept the old universe claim, just like Dinesh and Bill. They also consider you an ignorant fundamentalist, just like Dinesh.

So enjoy that.

Toby said...

I just let my wife read through this blog. And she says to me with a straight face, "Honey, I think people are going to just think you're nuts." Okay, a satirist I am not! LOL ;)