Thursday, April 06, 2006

The final prayer

A struggling Christian kneels . . .

Dear God

I still often wonder if you are out there. I remember that I often used to look up at the stars at night and stare at the breath-taking wonder of the universe, and I just knew, deep down inside, that you existed. I remember the times I used to speak to you, and some of those times I really thought I felt your presence, and I just knew, deep down inside, that you were there.

But I’m sorry to say that I’m not so certain anymore. I have learnt that, on its own, just knowing that something is true, deep down inside, does not mean that it is. I will keep on searching, but I also need you to do your part. If you do exist, and if you are a God who wants to have a personal relationship with me, I want you to let me know. But God, I do not want you to appeal to my heart - I need you to appeal to my mind first.

I hope that one day I will join you again, and be certain that our relationship is true. I hope that I will be able to find you. But until then, this will be my final prayer. I hope for, and look forward to, your response.

Amen

an ex-Christian stands up . . .

20 comments:

Dar said...

Very poetic...

r10b said...

Since, in the mind of God, the world did not know God through their minds, it pleased God through the folly of the gospel to save those who believe.

For some demand signs and others seek knowledge, but the gospel is Christ crucified, a stumbling block to some and folly to others, but to those who are called, both sign-seekers and knowledge-seekers, Christ is both the sign of God and the knowledge of God.

. said...

I am curious, Kevin, about how you view love, the concept of love. Is love logical? Is it a feeling, I am just curious.

I used to think that love was just a "feeling" but now I think it has a very logical side to it that cancels out alot of the stupidity of saucy romance.

Of course I am bringing this up because it is another issue where feelings (heart) vs logic (mind). However, I guess with love you can actually see an act of sacrifice or love.

eddie said...

Hey Kev - nice poem. I hear a little bit of you in that.

r10b
Sorry to be the wet blanket again, but here I go for the balance (I guess) …

That was Paul's Gnostic ramblings to justify his faith in the ethereal Jesus he believed in. Actually, he flatly contradicts the Jesus of the Gospels on this:

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.

And here is my personal favorite:
Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)

And then of course, there is doubting Thomas, and the multitude who saw him after the alleged resurrection. So you see - Jesus apparently have no issue with signs so that people may believe.

There is no reason for his silence and the lack of signs that confirm he exist.

But I understand how he is real for you, and that is what this poem captures for me.

Amy said...

Kevin, That was awesome , if you are truly wanting to hear him , and truly wanting him to show himself to you He will, God loves you so much, if you ever need to talk or ask qestions , go to my blog and leave me a comment and ill definitly get back to you!! in the mean time keep seeking him!!

Amy said...

sorry for the double post , but i needed to say this also, you asked God to appeal to your mind first, hell do this but in order to do this he has to appeal to your heart , the heart is where most people are hardend to God , because of certain thing they shut it up and seal it becaues they dont want to be vunnerable to certain things, whether it be because of hurts , offences or tragedy, i think that your heart is starting to ''soften'' to Him again just by what you posted, anyway , if you want to talk , let me know

Amy

Kevin Parry said...

Amy wrote:
That was awesome , if you are truly wanting to hear him , and truly wanting him to show himself to you He will,

Thank you for your comments, Amy. If I said that I would be convinced of God’s existence if he appeared in person before me, would you think that he would do that? Would he accompany me to a bible study and interact with other Christians in the flesh? Would he grant that request – if that’s what it would take to convince me as a skeptic? Just asking.

When I first left Christianity, I really did say that prayer. I went through a period of agony, waiting for some answer. It didn’t arrive. Did I not want to hear him hard enough? Was I not sincere enough?

But I’ve moved on. At this present time, I am still seeking, but not for God per se. As far as I am concerned, the ball is in his court. If a god exists – let it be Allah, Vishnu, Jehovah or whoever – he/she/it would make himself/herself/itself known to my senses. I do my part by learning about the world in general, and in so doing I might come across god by accident. If I don’t, I’m not all that worried.

My point is this: if I am really that important to some deity out there, wouldn’t it try its up most to speak to me in a way that I can understand?

Thanks again for dropping by.

Eddie wrote:
Jesus apparently have no issue with signs so that people may believe.

This is a good point.

I was speaking to my wife about this exact issue the other day. It seems that modern humans are at a disadvantage with regards to believing in a supernatural being. In the Old Testament, there was manna falling from heaven, parting seas, and staffs turning into snakes. In the New Testament, converts had the miracles of Jesus and of the apostles. And since the resurrection many miracles have been attributed through the centuries to the various saints.

Now in modern times, fantastic, all to see miracles seemed to have ceased. Paul had the advantage of his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Is it fair that I – who have no such advantage – be judged for my unbelief, be judged by the same rules of salvation that Paul and others were judged by?

Brock wrote:
I am curious, Kevin, about how you view love, the concept of love. Is love logical? Is it a feeling, I am just curious

I once had a fascinating discussion with a group of theists on a debate forum last year regarding this issue, and it prompted me to think about it quite a lot.

I primarily view love primarily as a human emotion. I must admit that I have never thought of as something logical – so I will give this some more thought.

However, I do believe that love is a product of our brains. Now, before anyone jumps on me for being an unfeeling reductionist, I would like to add that this belief does not, in any way, reduce the importance of love to me as an individual. I would also like to say that I don’t believe love is a product of neurons per se, but rather a product of the interaction between neurons. I elaborate on this idea in this post.

All the best
Kevin

r10b said...

eddie,

Yes, the Jews were the ones clamoring for signs, and Jesus, fulfilling OT prophecy, gave them signs. But instead of sealing the deal for further generations, they wanted more signs choosing not to believe what had already been recorded for their benefit.

Jesus is not the Magnificant Eternal Miracle Show.

Remember the story in Luke 16 where the rich man wants to warn his brothers to repent and avoid his fate...

And he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'

You start your John 20 quote at verse 30, but verse 29, in response to Thomas's need for a sign...

Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Very few of those who were persecuted and killed for confessing belief in Christ saw signs with their own eyes.

Jesus has given all necessary signs and provided all necessary knowledge. Those demanding more for their own benefit (Russell, et al) will most likely wait in vain, and even if they got it they'd want more still.

eddie said...

Hey r10b

Yes, the Jews were the ones clamoring for signs, and Jesus, fulfilling OT prophecy, gave them signs.
I don’t believe that Jesus actually fulfilled ANY Old Testament Prophecy concerning the Messiah - so you can hardly blame them for not accepting his alleged signs.

But instead of sealing the deal for further generations, they wanted more signs choosing not to believe what had already been recorded for their benefit.
Actually they only required the signs that was laid out by God himself in the Old Testament. I don’t think they required “more” but just a confirmation of what the Messiah ought to have done as spoken by God to them.

You start your John 20 quote at verse 30, but verse 29, in response to Thomas's need for a sign...
Like you, I merely quoted single verses to make my point.

Very few of those who were persecuted and killed for confessing belief in Christ saw signs with their own eyes.
Who was killed and persecuted? This is an exaggerated claim by Christians. There is no historical evidence to corroborate this, and even the New Testament only includes the story of one guy being killed and persecuted for his belief in Christ. And even then we don’t know that it actually happened.

Jesus has given all necessary signs and provided all necessary knowledge.
Maybe to that generation, but certainly not to us – given that he has no problem with providing signs. In fact, the whole New Testament is based on second and third hand accounts – so you are saying we should believe the word of men for this whole salvation business? I guess if God has something to say to me, then he can say it to my face. I am not hard of hearing.

Those demanding more for their own benefit (Russell, et al) will most likely wait in vain, and even if they got it they'd want more still.
That’s really an erroneous judgment of what the skeptic desires. If God exists, then he has a million and one ways to make himself known to each person, as was prophesied by Jeremiah, and why Jesus failed to fulfill that specific prophecy about the Messiah. A God who is interested in our souls and salvation should not need men or the vision of men in the back alleys of Damascus to convince us – otherwise he would be a respecter of persons. If he can do it for one, surely he can do it for all. He should be able to convince us without the preaching of men as Jeremiah prophesied about the new covenant. Jesus failed to inaugurate that prophecy and thus failed to bring about the new covenant. It’s only fair to hold Jesus to the standard that was laid out by the prophets of the Old Testament. Wouldn’t you say?

Anonymous said...

As the rest have confirmed, this is a very nice 'letter to God'...a prayer in your case. There is a comment made by amy: "hell do this but in order to do this he has to appeal to your heart , the heart is where most people are hardend to God , because of certain thing they shut it up and seal it becaues they dont want to be vunnerable to certain things, whether it be because of hurts"
This comment may be all well and good but, c'mon, lets be realistic, your 'heart' can 'hear' whatever you tell it to. Whether this be the functioning of the so-called Soul that 'hears' the word of God just does not 'gell' with me. Your brain rules your body, if your brain tells you God does not exist, then GOD does not exist. I to would like to have some confirmation about His existence. I come from a christain background, my father is the director of a ministry within South Africa and he is deeply religious, 'faithful' if you will. But I have gone through times where just the mere fact of knowing God was with me would've helped, but, as alot of people experience these days....nothing! It would be nice to have some sort of confirmation. something to let you know he truly exists...some sort of action! My faith is all but gone, yet, in myself I am still hoping that I would be able to KNOW, without a doubt, within my mind(the rest will follow), that God exists. I hope we both find what we seek.

r10b said...

...yet, in myself I am still hoping that I would be able to KNOW, without a doubt...

What are you looking for, anon? It seems like you, Kevin, and eddie believe that God owes you each personal, undeniable proof so you can have a faith-free faith. Would that proof need to be undeniable enough to convince others that your proof is sufficient? If you think it through your supposedly logical argument can't even support its own weight.

Like it or not, in order to trust in Christ you must have faith; and even that faith is dependent of God's grace. So if by God's grace you have faith, then you'll have your "proof." That's the arrangement. No exceptions.

P3T3RK3Y5 said...

thanks for the honesty kevin.

the honest strugle is, for me, very refreshing.

i wonder if you have any thoughts on an intuitive "knowing" vs. a logical "knowing".

grace & peace

Anonymous said...

mmm...rob, you must be one of those bible pushers that get offended when your so called religion is challenged. Its not about wanting a 'faith free faith',why can science prove certain things but 'Faith', religion cannot?! I don't need someone's faith telling me there's a God, give me proof! Simple as...bottom line! I'm sure all the people in the middle east would love the same confirmation!

Kevin Parry said...

R10b wrote:
What are you looking for, anon? It seems like you, Kevin, and eddie believe that God owes you each personal, undeniable proof so you can have a faith-free faith.

I can’t speak for other atheists, but I am not looking for absolute proof of God’s existence (as I believe that absolute proof is unattainable). I’m just looking for very good evidence that God exists, and that he is the God of the Christian Bible. If I decide to believe in God again one day, I will have to put a lot of time, energy, emotional resources, and money into building a relationship with him. Like all other relationships, it will require a lot of work. And this is my point: how can I put all this effort into a relationship with someone who I’m not even sure exists? In order to believe, I will have to have the same level of certainty regarding God’s existence that I have regarding the existence of my wife. You might think that this is an unreasonable standard, but for me (and maybe for eddie and anon), it is a basic, rational requirement.

R10b wrote:
Like it or not, in order to trust in Christ you must have faith; and even that faith is dependent of God's grace. So if by God's grace you have faith, then you'll have your "proof." That's the arrangement. No exceptions.

Firstly, the problem with this is that almost any religion can argue that we need to have faith first in order to ‘see’ proof of God’s existence. In other words, there is no way we can test the truth of Christianity by following this method.

Secondly, it seems to go counter to everyday kind of thinking: isn’t it usual to gather evidence and proof first regarding a specific claim and then decide to believe or not?

All the best
Kevin

Kevin Parry said...

P3T3RK3Y5 wrote:
i wonder if you have any thoughts on an intuitive "knowing" vs. a logical "knowing".

Hi P3T3RK3Y5!
This is a really interesting question. How would you define intuitive "knowing"? Are you referring to instincts (such as our inbuilt fear of heights)?

All the best
Kevin

Olga said...

Kevin,
Have you thought about what sign you’d actually need to see in order to believe in God? How do you know he hasn’t shown you one already but you’ve missed it? I am curious because I have the same stand as you: I cannot accept blind faith and I need the proof.

People told me that I simply needed to "look around." So I did, and I saw houses, asphalt pavements, cars, trimmed shrubs, light poles – all signs of human actions, not God’s. Others told me stories of miraculous healings, although it turned out none of them had personally experienced them or even had relatives who were healed that way, but they believed when heard it from somebody.

All right, I had to choose the sign myself. I decided that I would believe in God if I witnessed a single occurrence of an amputee healing. If I am not mistaken, there’s not a single record of the fact that a person ever regenerated an amputated limb as a result of God’s intervention. More on this idea, read on www.whydoesgodhateamputees.com

So, what would be your sign?
Thanks!

p.s. Glad to find your blog via AgnosticMom...

r10b said...

Kevin said...In order to believe, I will have to have the same level of certainty regarding God’s existence that I have regarding the existence of my wife.

I assume that you are philosophically pragmatic. I am also. But in order to avoid any presumption on my part, tell me - How do you know that your wife exists?

Anonymous said...

Nice Prayer Kev.

Honest and heartfelt. I hope it gets answered.

Rob Sparrow

Kevin Parry said...

Hi Rob

Thank you for your comment. I actually wrote this prayer during the final days of my faith struggle at the end of 2004. I for one am open to the idea that if God exists, He will one day reveal himself to me. At this present time I’m not searching for God per se, but rather I’m exploring and making sense of my own existence. Maybe I will find God through this process. Maybe not.

Hope to hear more of you in the future.

All the best
Kevin

Anonymous said...

This is an honest prayer... I hope God opens His ears and reveals Himself. It's the least a self-professing God of Love can do.