Thursday, July 20, 2006

Finding tranquillity in unbelief

In a recent post, the following comment was left by a visitor to my blog:

Nick wrote:
“My Prayer is that God reveal himself to you as he did to me when I was not interested.”

My response:
When I was struggling with my faith, I did ask God to reveal himself to me, a number of times. I remember one night when I went for a walk under the clear, star-lit sky. I remember praying and asking God in anguish, over and over again, that he somehow reveal himself to me – even if it was in a way that only I could understand. But despite this earnest prayer, there was no answer. There was nothing but silence. That was the point where God had his chance, the point when he could somehow and in someway enter the picture and say: “Don’t worry, Kevin, I am here.” But instead I suddenly realised that I was alone in the quietness of that night. I can remember a number of pivotal turning points in my faith struggle – that night was one of them.

I never wanted to leave Christianity; I never wanted to give up my faith. But how could I keep on having faith in something I could not honestly believe in, that I could not intellectually accept as being true? Isn’t it a Biblical promise that if you search with all your heart, you shall find? I searched with all my heart and I did find. But it wasn’t what I expected. I found that I was alone, that there was no supernatural being looking out for me. I found that my existence, including my consciousness, would one day be extinguished. First I felt dread at this prospect, but this was quickly replaced by an inner, quiet confidence. I realised how totally insignificant I am in this old and incredibly large universe. But as I’ve written before, I also realised how incredibly unique I am: out of 250 million sperm cells I was the one that was awarded this brief period of consciousness. Upon this realisation life suddenly became more valuable, every day more special and wondrous. I now take less for granted. There is no afterlife to work for, no heaven in which to invest treasures. I now place all my energies into making this life count, as it is the only life I will ever have.

I searched with all my heart and I discovered my frail mortality, the brief horror of realising that one day I will be no more, in both body and mind. But at the same time I found an incredible appreciation for this brief life of mine, a realisation that only I, and no-one else, can make this short life meaningful in some way.

I searched with all my heart and I did not find God.

Instead, I found peace.

62 comments:

Kyaroko said...

LOVE THIS! So true.

Life lost meaning for awhile, but the emptiness was replaced by a renewed sense of purpose and the realization that I really do have to seize every day, 'cause this is all we got!

Casey Kochmer said...

How come christians are always so busy praying for you? And then often times busily stabbing people in the back in real life action.

When I hear someone say: I am praying for you... I know it often really means, your behaviors put my faith at risk so get in shape now so I can safely believe in my heaven...

The lack of true acceptance of their own faith is such a strange combination found in many christian believers. I have said it before and will say it again, true faith must be grounded in acceptance of your own personal nature first, and then grow towards a deeper connection to the world at large. People praying for others ar so busy trying to save the world first, often forget to deal with themselves truly first.

Peace :)

Bishop Rick said...

I think I felt the same way when I realized my religion (Mormon) was false. I had based so many aspects of my life on the premise that it was true. It is a very empty feeling at first, but you adjust and start feeling a sense of freedom. I tend to lean towards Deism as I think it is possible for a God or supreme being to exist, and I still hope for an afterlife, but I must admit there are surely no signs supporting that philosophy. Since I do care, I would not consider myself Agnostic, and I am not yet willing to say Im an atheist. I can find peace with Deism. I guess in either case, you are alone on this earth. It does seem to give you a different perspective on life doesn't it?

Jason Hughes said...

Agnostic Mom just posted a similar thing on her blog, about how she foudn renewed life and purpose after leaving the church of her youth...

How wonderful it is indeed when one breaks from the bondage of the religious institutions...

Thanks for sharing, Kevin.

Atiyah said...

Nicely written. It concerns me less about whether people believe in one or more Gods I am far more concerned how they live their lives, what positive differences they make in the lives of others. I always look to the life lived.

Of course a part of you does live on both genetically but also in the affect you have on others and in the memories of others. Douglas Hofstadter suggests that while the major part of your identity is in your body it is also spread in the minds of others and that these are part of your identity.

I sometimes think on people who I have known and who have died and it is in these thoughts that for me they continue to live.

You can hear Hofstadter here: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/philosopherszone/

I will come back to visit.

Abner Doon said...

Great story. I remember almost the identical thing. I was a Mormon (followed your link from Agnostic Mom) and I had the same difficulty getting any sort of response from God. I also remember one particularly anguished plea while staring into the night sky. I would have construed virtually anything as an answer from God. A lousy shooting star probably would have done it, but nada, nothing, zip. That wasn't *the* critical moment when I lost my faith, though. I held on for several more years (even going on a 2-year Mormon mission, if you can believe it) but in the end, the answer was still the same. Silence.

Bishop Rick said...

abner,

You are being honest about your spiritual experiences. Many (if not all) LDS have the same experience you have but blame the lack of response on themselves, or get that random shooting star (that would have shot anyway) or that random train whistle (that would have blown anyway) and turn it into thier answer. The truth is that God does not answer prayers (at least in my opinion). I've never had any of mine answered anyway.

tichius said...

Kevin,

Are you rejecting Christianity or Jesus Christ?

I remember growing up and trying desperately to hear God's voice, also. I am from a small town in Ohio, and I can still picture myself as an eight-year-old, walking through the corn stalks of my friend's farm. I would close my eyes real tight, like I was taught in Sunday school, and try desperately to think good thoughts, so he would speak to me. Nothing came to me either. I asked other christians what I was doing wrong; should I have asked differently? Do I need to do something heroic before I hear him? They never had a real answer. I gave up. It was a struggle I did not want to have. All through high-school, and then the first year of college I spent my time angry with this unresponsive being. I wrote in a journal a list of the reasons God apparently does not exist.

The same peace that you speak of, I experienced. I was satisfied without God... for a season.

But, you know, I realised something that changed all of my conclusions. My best friend was killed in a car accident, and I became angry with God. But, wait a minute, how could I be angry with a supposed higher being, for which I satisfactorily proved non-existance. Then, questioning within myself, I decided (my second year of college) to objectively study the bible. I read page after page, and I'm sure you know what happened. (I apologize in advance for the predictable ending :) In that stuffy dorm room, I committed my heart to Him. I discovered that I had wanted to meet Him on my terms, the way I pictured Him in my elementary mind.

Isaiah 55:8
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.

In human logic, it really makes perfect sense that He would just speak to us in a booming voice and prove that He exists. But God tests our hearts.

1 Samuel 16:7
"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

Meeting God on His terms requires knowing Jesus Christ. Although I'm sure you know this, I struggled with the concept for nearly 7 years. But now I gladly say, that I am a follower of Christ.

This is why I previously asked you who you believe Jesus is, and who He was to you when you were a christian. I understand rejecting christianity, and the average "christian" today, does not even follow the teachings of Christ in his or her own life.

I understand that you are rejecting christianity; but are you rejecting Jesus Christ?

I do not know what led you to the decision to leave christianity, but if it did not have anything to do with Jesus Christ, I urge you to study His teachings and re-evaluate your decision on the basis of what He said and did.

I also recommend you visit this website: www.rzim.org, it is an apologetics site, and objectively look into some of the info there.

John 18:37

"You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

Francois Tremblay said...

"Jesus Christ"? You mean the Jewish myth? What does an immoral, contradictory made-up story have to do with this? Don't sully his honest heartfelt experience with your dishonest pap, screed-pusher. If you were anywhere near me, I'd kick your ass.

tichius said...

Fracois,

I have to admit that I was shocked no one has mentioned Christ yet; though we are discussing Christianity. "Memoirs of an ex-christian" is essentially "memoirs of and ex-christ follower." And, for an "ex-christian" to state "finding tranquility in unbelief", looking outside of faith in God, through faith in Jesus Christ.

But, to clarify why I have brought Him into discussion: Jesus is the way, the Truth, and the life; He has everything to do with this, and then some. We approach God through Him.

May I ask what makes you think that Jesus Christ is a Jewish myth?

I will state this simply, and with hopefully less "screed," there is a deeper reason the mention of Jesus bothered you. It does not bother anyone to mention God, Buddha, Muhammad, etc., but at the mention of Jesus Christ, the statements suddenly become "dishonest pap." It is because we are accountable.

You have loosely used the terms "immoral" and "contradictory"
but, ironically, Christ is the moral center, and clearest truth for life.


I would like to pose a challenge for you:

List one immoral characteristic about Jesus Christ, and one contradiction that you have found in the Bible.

Feel free to email me:

carole_design@yahoo.com

Thanks,

Tichius

Jason Hughes said...

A back-to-back contradiction from supposedly the wisest man on earth coming right up:

Pro 26:4: Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

Pro 26:5: Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

So which is it? Talk to the fool and prove yourself to be one? Or talk to the fool to prove the fool is one...?

Start.... now!

tichius said...

Jason,

You have brought up a great verse, and I appreciate you taking the time to present your challenge.

By God's grace, I will show you that this is not a contradiction.

You have made a classic mistake in assumming contradiction by sentence structure; and you have isolated the verses, as though there are two points, as opposed to just one.

Solomon is simply explaining how we should respond to foolish ideas, the fool's folly. In Proverbs, 26:4, he is essentially saying, don't respond to the fool in a way that makes you look or act like him- don't stoop to his level when you know better. BUT, (in verse 5) respond to him in a way that exposes the inaccuracy of his thinking, "lest he be wise in his own conceits," The point (note the singular) he makes here, is how to address the attitude with which we approach one another.

The concern should be for the fool in his error, and not for one's selfish desire to be right.

In order for these verses to contradict, they would have to be self-defeating. Something like: Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, LEST THOU ALSO BE LIKE UNTO HIM.

Do you see my point?

I hope this meets your challenge, and I am more than willing to discuss this further.

carole_design@yahoo.com

Sincerely,

Tichius

Bishop Rick said...

Jason,

That's really not fair. Wasn't proverbs written (at least in part) by Solomon? I don't think Jesus had anything to do with it since it was way before his time.

Tichius,

I think what Francois was referring to is not that Jesus was a myth, but that the miracles attributed to Jesus were a myth, and since these miracles were written down by Jewish followers of Jesus, that would make them Jewish myths (as opposed to Christian myths).

If you study the New Testament carefully, you will find that Jesus did not start a new religion. He preached Judaism, just a newer interpretation of Judaism. He was a Jewish Rabbi, and as such annointed his followers to go and teach this new interpretation. It was really Paul that established the Christian faith and churches, not Jesus. Christianity could just as easily been called Paulianity.

eddie{F} said...

I think what Francois was referring to is not that Jesus was a myth, but that the miracles attributed to Jesus were a myth, and since these miracles were written down by Jewish followers of Jesus, that would make them Jewish myths (as opposed to Christian myths).
No, I think Francois meant Jesus (all of it) was a Jewish myth. To you Christian theists – please provide me one external eyewitness account from the forty plus historians alive at the time of Jesus who even knew who this man was. Just one would suffice, and I do mean, one that was alive when Jesus was, OUTSIDE of the Bible. Go …

And ditto Kevin, I found more peace outside of Christianity than I ever did when I was part of that mythic cult. Your story is a mirror of mine.

Rodolfo said...

Why I can't just be a heathen? Why do I need to be "converted"? I suppose if i was offered the choice of Conversion or Death then I might convert but those kinds of conversion tactics are now unacceptable in the modern world. Heaven and Hell...BORING!!! Present reality is so much more INTERESTING.

Marc said...

Jesus a myth, historically he existed whether you believe he was the Son of God is really up to you.

francois no need for nastiness, if you dont want to be a Christian then dont, it's up to you but dont push whatever dismal experience you have had onto others.

Bishop rick I have had some prayers answered, not all but there you go that the experience of most Christians I know...

Rodolfo, you can be a heathen all you want, it will be you and you alone that will have to explain yourself at the end of the day.

and guys please stop quoting verses out of context it doesn't help at all.

eddie{F} said...

Jesus a myth, historically he existed whether you believe he was the Son of God is really up to you.
Sorry Marc to belabor the point, but your statement is just a statement of belief, there is NO historical eyewitness evidence outside of the Bible that Jesus existed. And even then, we don’t know that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts, we don’t even know who wrote them. Even “Luke” – the name assigned to this Gospel admits not being an eyewitness in his opening statements.

The Gospels itself was written by a bunch of anonymous Jewish writers in the days when messianic cults were a dime a dozen, and the New Testament contains more Pagan thoughts than Paganism itself. The whole dying and rising Savior template was already 2300+ years old by the time Christianity co-opted it and MADE it fit Jewish “prophecy.”

So, I made it very easy for you: just one external eyewitness that Jesus Christ depicted in the Gospels ever existed. What you believe and what you have evidence for are two different things. Just saying “he was a historical figure” because you believe it, doesn’t make it true.

Francois Tremblay said...

No... I did not mean that the "miracles" are fictional. I said that "Jesus Christ" was a Jewish myth. Nice to see that you are doing your best to ignore the truth though.

Rodolfo said...

Thanks Marc. You're so KIND. Just like the Judeo-Christian-Muslim supernatural that you worship with all your heart, mind, and soul.

marc said...

Rodolfo I am not judging you as you seem to imply, I am saying it is your choice so go and live how you want - God, Jesus, Mohammed are not stopping you.

I believe that we all will have to make ourselves accountable for what we have done in our lives but you dont believe that so it shouldnt make any difference to you.

You have your wish of present reality -unless there something stopping you?

marc said...

Hi eddie

Flavius, Tacitus, Pliny the younger and Tiberius (and others) all mention Jesus. You can debate until the cows come home whether they are true accounts or not, i'm afraid it is a matter of opinion. I beleive what tbey say.

eddie(F) said...

Flavius, Tacitus, Pliny the younger and Tiberius (and others) all mention Jesus. You can debate until the cows come home whether they are true accounts or not, i'm afraid it is a matter of opinion. I beleive what tbey say.
Sorry, but that just doesn’t cut in historical methodology.

I suppose with Flavius, you mean Josephus?

Well, then Flavius, Tacitus, Pliny could not have been EYEWITNESS accounts, because they were born AFTER Jesus supposedly floated up into the sky. And if you have done your homework, then you would know that Tertullian provides inconclusive evidence for Tiberius. And Zeus alone knows who the “others” were? So, we are still left with ZERO eyewitness accounts. Try again.

;-)

marc said...

Eddie - that's the thing about faith - it can't be measured in historical methodology and anyway your own methodology that would be influenced by your rationale,your beliefs, your culture, your upbrining anyway.

I believe the historical Jesus existed which is fine, if you dont then that too is fine.

My belief in Christ is based on faith and experience with a very spiritual element, you can't really measure that im afraid or disproove it.

As I said it's really is a matter of what you believe. If you need eyewitness accounts to believe something then you are not going to believe much are you, thinking further how do you know you can trust those accounts - maybe you have to see it with your own eyes to really believe in something?

By the way Jesus did float anywhere...he's not a balloon:¬)

eddie{F} said...

Eddie - that's the thing about faith - it can't be measured in historical methodology and anyway your own methodology that would be influenced by your rationale, your beliefs, your culture, your upbrining anyway.
I didn’t ask you about what you believe, I asked you about what you have evidence for, something you seem to be overlooking.

I believe the historical Jesus existed which is fine, if you dont then that too is fine.
I didn’t say you are not allowed to believe without evidence. But let’s turn your own methodology on you: Do you believe in Zeus, Mythra’s, Horus, Osiris-Dionysus or any other Greek god? Why not? Their followers claims/claimed exactly the same thing you are.

My belief in Christ is based on faith and experience with a very spiritual element, you can't really measure that im afraid or disproove it.
And so are the believers of all other gods. The only problem of course is that you assert your god came in the flesh, that’s all I am questioning here. A shred of evidence for that claim. And why do you suppose your god went out of his way to “hide” the evidence of him visiting our planet? Or was that just a trick of the devil?

As I said it's really is a matter of what you believe. If you need eyewitness accounts to believe something then you are not going to believe much are you, thinking further how do you know you can trust those accounts - maybe you have to see it with your own eyes to really believe in something?
Yeppers, and that’s exactly what I and Kevin asked of your god. To give us some sort of “sign” that he IS who he said he IS. It shouldn’t be all that hard for him, given that he is *god*

By the way Jesus did float anywhere...he's not a balloon:¬)
Ok, levitate then. :-)

Rodolfo said...

Marc-I'm not implying that you are judging me. I was being sarcastic mostly. The Judeo-Christian-Muslim ghost is supposed to be all about love and compassion but has no problem condemning heathens to hell...FOREVER. I know I wouldn't send my kids to a place like that.

You may not believe this because you don't know me but I am ALL about accountability. I believe that what happens to me in my life is a direct result of a choice I made in the past. I alone am responsible for what happens to me in THIS life and the so called "AFTER-LIFE." Now I'm not implying that I believe in an after-life. In fact my present reality is intact and I am happy and at peace. My real wish is for EVERYONE to know that reality. The reality that you don't need to fear hell in order to be a good moral person.

Use your religion to help you explore your spirituality all you want. But please stop telling the world that you can find the "truth" about the universe by reading line items from the torah/bible/koran. Nice chatting with you.

desciple said...

Interesting to see how conversation can start with a good catalyst!
Thanks Kevin, i am new to your blog and will be checking on the progress.I think it is time for a new thread to refocus the current to and fro.
I would also like to commend you on your gentle response to comments and sincere interest in all opinions.

Keep it up. God can still use this blog for a mighty work, for only He can use all things for good ( especially for those who love Him ).
God bless!

sceptic for Jesus said...

Okay, if Jesus is not a historical person, then how did Christianity get started?

eddie{F} said...

Okay, if Jesus is not a historical person, then how did Christianity get started?
Okay, if Zoroaster was not a historical person, then how did Zoroasterianism start?

Just because a religions HAS a god doesn’t mean that the god they appeal to is real. There were dozens of Pagan religions before Christianity, all founded on mythology.

So, the answer is: it got started like every other religion.

:¬)

Bishop Rick said...

Marc,

What Eddie is saying is that faith is not enough of a reason for backing a belief system. He is absolutely correct in stating that "just as you know that Jesus lived and and is the God of our world" there are muslims that say they know he was a spiritual leader and has no relation to Allah at all. In fact these guys seal their testimony with blood every day.

Who is right? You obviously can't both be right, but you both base your belief system solely on faith. Can't you see why some people prefer to believe things that can be proven? That leaves no room for mistake...Darn I chose Islam by mistake because I was born into it, now I'm going to hell.

You have to admit, that does not sound like the judgement of a just God. Revealed religion has too many problems, holes, and inconsistencies for many people to believe. I cannot fault them one bit.

marc said...

Ed said 'I didn’t ask you about what you believe, I asked you about what you have evidence for, something you seem to be overlooking'

are you saying that I need to give you an eyewitness account of the historical Jesus to proove to you that he is who you assume he is? To what end?

Maybe if I had a spiritual encounter with Zeus I would believe in him. I have with Christ, I have seen it in many others and that is my proof.

As for the devil hiding the truth and God hiding evidence where on earth did you get that from...that really made me laugh:¬)

God is not 'my God' - God is God. Why didnt God give you a sign? I have no idea you'd have to ask him.

You seem fairly angry about all this - may I ask why?

marc said...

rodolfo

Firstly I don't go round telling people that they will burn in hell, that is down to fundementalist idiot Christians who I have no desire to be associated with. I have been on the receiving end of those type of people, especially in the states...they look quite mad to me (i'm in the UK)

secondly - It is not for me to judge what people do that is for God and God alone. I have my opinions and what I beleive is a good way to live your life but that outcome is not my call.

But please stop telling the world that you can find the "truth" about the universe by reading line items from the torah/bible/koran

Proof texting, another appualing idea - it was used to back up slavery! it's usually used to proove a point but is normally completely out of context thus making the whole process pointless.

You also said
In fact my present reality is intact and I am happy and at peace. My real wish is for EVERYONE to know that reality

That would just be replacing one belief system with another.

marc said...

Bishop rick said

What Eddie is saying is that faith is not enough of a reason for backing a belief system.

I disagree I think it is. Faith is at the heart of Christianity.

Who is right? Well I have to say I believe I am otherwise it would a fairly pointless faith. Do I believe everyone else who is not a Christian will go to hell?...nope because it is just not that black and white, I may well end up there, hope not but I cant guarantee it for myself so how can I guarantee it for anyone else - as I said it's not my call.

eddie{F} said...

are you saying that I need to give you an eyewitness account of the historical Jesus to proove to you that he is who you assume he is? To what end?
Well, Christianity boasts a “god in the flesh” – so it’s only natural to ask for such evidence. I have no problem with religions whose god's remain mystical and in the other realms. It’s when faith intersects the natural world that I start asking questions. And you don’t owe me an end, I merely stated that there is no eyewitness evidence for Jesus’ existence. That’s all.

Maybe if I had a spiritual encounter with Zeus I would believe in him. I have with Christ, I have seen it in many others and that is my proof.
That’s the point, multitudes had those experiences with Zeus, so it begs the question: how do we even know which god to pick? What if you picked the wrong one? What if Jesus was just another "trick" from the devil? He did it once before you know.

As for the devil hiding the truth and God hiding evidence where on earth did you get that from...that really made me laugh:¬)
The sheer lack of evidence, I wonder why that is, IF a god came in the flesh to convinces us of what Jesus claimed.

God is not 'my God' - God is God. Why didnt God give you a sign? I have no idea you'd have to ask him.
No offense, but that would be like asking Santa Claus why he didn’t climb down my chimney last Christmas.

You seem fairly angry about all this - may I ask why?
Well, if being rational about this makes me sound angry, then there is pretty much not much I can do about it. But trust me, I am as meek as a little lamb. I am not a Christophobe, I just get a tad bit excited when logic and reason enters the debate.

;-)

eddie{F} said...

What Eddie is saying is that faith is not enough of a reason for backing a belief system.
No, I didn’t say that. I think it ONLY takes faith, and it’s only BY faith that the Christian religion (and all others for that matter) can be entered into. Again, my inquiry is around a god coming in the flesh, leaving no trace evidence. I guess, why is it that Christians appeal to that, when there is none. Why not keep the religion in “faith” without trying to explain stuff for which there is no support?

eddie{F} said...

Can't you see why some people prefer to believe things that can be proven? That leaves no room for mistake
Exactly, and then some. Changing our views as new data becomes available. You said it pretty well.

:-)

marc said...

Eddie said
'Well, Christianity boasts a “god in the flesh” – '

Christianity believes that Jesus was fully man and fully God, that's not a boast but a belief.

Eddie also said
'so it’s only natural to ask for such evidence.'

Im not so sure it is, I can't recall anyone who has ever asked me too give them some histroical evidence of Jesus. That's not to say that people won't and there are some books around about it but i've never felt the need to read them.

ed also said
That’s the point, multitudes had those experiences with Zeus, so it begs the question: how do we even know which god to pick? What if you picked the wrong one? What if Jesus was just another "trick" from the devil? He did it once before you know.

Quite simply you make the choice you believe to be right. There are those who believe that man has never walked on the moon and its a fraud...that would there choice, I believe man has that's my choice.

It's about choices and decisions, at some point I had an encounter with Christ which was quite unlike anything else and after then I became a Christian. If you think there is no evidence then fine i'm not asking you to believe in Jesus or follow him...it's your decision.

What would like me say about God not giving you a sign? How about you are bad sinner or he hates you, your not good enough or some other stupid cliche but the answer is I don't know and God is the only one who does.

Being rational is difficult when you are dealing with the supernatural because we don't understand it and it bends and breaks our rational thinking, it's as if with rational thinking we the answers to everything which of course we don't.

marc said...

Eddie I'm afraid Christianity isn't based around historical evidence.

Anyway what evidence have you got that Jesus never existed?

marc said...

Eddie and someone said
Can't you see why some people prefer to believe things that can be proven? That leaves no room for mistake
Exactly, and then some. Changing our views as new data becomes available. You said it pretty well.

Thats fine but people are all very different and have very different ways of understanding things.

eddie{F} said...

Christianity believes that Jesus was fully man and fully God, that's not a boast but a belief.
Come on Marc, you know what I meant. It boast a god that came in the flesh. Or to put it in other terms: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Im not so sure it is, I can't recall anyone who has ever asked me too give them some histroical evidence of Jesus. That's not to say that people won't and there are some books around about it but i've never felt the need to read them.
But isn’t it strange that you believe without evidence? What if you are wrong about your beliefs? It’s a very rational question to ask given the premise of Christianity.

Quite simply you make the choice you believe to be right. There are those who believe that man has never walked on the moon and its a fraud...that would there choice, I believe man has that's my choice.
So, then it sounds like your choice is merely a crapshoot. Believe and hope for the best? Wouldn’t you want to investigate the veracity of WHAT you believe in? And the moon conspiracy theories have been debunked thoroughly. We CAN and DO know a lot about historical events, even though I admit the interpretation of that can be skewed.

What would like me say about God not giving you a sign? How about you are bad sinner or he hates you, your not good enough or some other stupid cliche but the answer is I don't know and God is the only one who does.
But you have to admit, that place in serious jeopardy Jesus’ claim that he came to save the world. Why would he so deliberately hide himself to so many? What possible reason does he have for that, given his intention that everyone be “saved?” I don’t expect you to come up with reasons, I am merely asking you to look at the reality of that situation.

Being rational is difficult when you are dealing with the supernatural because we don't understand it and it bends and breaks our rational thinking, it's as if with rational thinking we the answers to everything which of course we don't.
But there you go again, and which brings me back to my contention: this god (supernatural) supposedly injected himself into the natural realm, but we don’t have any evidence for it. Why then did the supernatural inject itself into the natural world if it did not want itself made known? If it stayed supernatural, then we have no argument, but since it did inject itself into the natural realm, we have license to question the premise.

Eddie I'm afraid Christianity isn't based around historical evidence.
What????? Then what on earth is the Gospels about? What is your "faith" based on then?

Anyway what evidence have you got that Jesus never existed?
Marc, seriously, please step back for a moment and look at your question. What kind of evidence do you want? A pair of sandals that says “this didn’t belong to Jesus?” The LACK of evidence IS the evidence.

Can't you see why some people prefer to believe things that can be proven? That leaves no room for mistake
But doesn’t your god say, test all the spirits? Doesn’t your god say, prove me? Why should we believe in mythology without evidence? What possible reason should we have to believe in tales that cannot be substantiated? What possibly can we gain from such an exercise?

Thats fine but people are all very different and have very different ways of understanding things.
Well Marc, either it’s true or it isn’t. You are confusing your subjective experience and NEED to believe and understand the supernatural from what we can OBJECTIVELY reconstruct given history. Do you see the distinction? Your need to “believe” is immaterial to the evidence of the Christian claims.

From an evolutionary understanding of the human brain, I completely understand your desire to believe in the supernatural and mystical, but your REASONS are unrelated to the EVIDENCE.

:¬)

marc said...

eddie - I have evidence just not the evidence you are willing to accept. A supernatural enocunters with Christ, you are not going to get much more extraordinary evidence than that.

Again God in the flesh is not a boast, it's not something we show off if that's what you mean, maybe you mean something different?

"But isn’t it strange that you believe without evidence?

My experience with Christ is my evidence and it's enough for myself (that is by the way a huge subject) that's faith for you:¬) That's all I can say about evidence really.

What if I am wrong? If I am wrong then I will of lived my life trying to help feed the poor, home the homeless, bring social justice to a corrupt world, forged a community of considerate friends who put others before themselves - so I would consider that worthwhile anyway.

marc said...

The reality of the situation is Jesus came to save the world and the choice is to accept him or not, that's freewill. If Jesus is the son of God and you have decided to reject him then that's your choice. I dont see a problem with that.

As for realms. God comes in both the natrual and supernatural realm which why there is a problem with the evidence you are looking for - you are not taking into account the supernatural faith aspect and that experience.

ed said "What????? Then what on earth is the Gospels about? What is your "faith" based on then?"

The bible is not just the Gospels. It tells me the story about Gods interaction with man but the bible as a whole has many different levels, historical, poetic, spiritual, instructional and many more and these interact with each other. Then we have our spiritual experience and interaction with Christ in our lives.

marc said...

Marc, seriously, please step back for a moment and look at your question. What kind of evidence do you want? A pair of sandals that says “this didn’t belong to Jesus?” The LACK of evidence IS the evidence.

So you would say even with the millions of believers that Jesus didn't exist because you can't find any evidence that would convince you or could that be because God didnt do what you asked of him?

Firstly eddie I don't 'need' to believe it is something I have chosen through evidence and experience.

I'm not too sure if I understand what you are saying in the last bit. are you saying that because I dont have evidence you wopuld percieve as solid I have no reason to beleive?

Bishop Rick said...

Marc,

You said:
"What if I am wrong? If I am wrong then I will of lived my life trying to help feed the poor, home the homeless, bring social justice to a corrupt world, forged a community of considerate friends who put others before themselves - so I would consider that worthwhile anyway."

That is a very good point, however, what do you think will happen to Ed if he is wrong? How you answer that question will determine if your previous point is as valid as it seems on the surface.

marc said...

Dear Bish

What if Ed is wrong, by that I am assuming that you mean that if Christianity is correct?

That would be up to God to decide, I don't know Ed and what he really thinks in his heart and the reasons for his way of thinking.

I know some Christians would say:
1. The firey pit of hell with pitch forks in his nether regions for all eternity:¬)
2. He's been led astray by the Devil and can be forgiven and have a pat on the head:¬)

Seriously though, I really don't know it's not my call.

What do you think?

eddie{F} said...

eddie - I have evidence just not the evidence you are willing to accept. A supernatural enocunters with Christ, you are not going to get much more extraordinary evidence than that.
As I already pointed out to you a couple of times, every other religion claims the same thing, and how do you even know that your encounters are “supernatural?” On what basis are they supernatural?

Again God in the flesh is not a boast, it's not something we show off if that's what you mean, maybe you mean something different?
I mean that Christianity makes the BOLD claim that their god came in the flesh, and thrusted himself into the natural world. And that’s what we are seeking, the evidence for that BOLD claim.

My experience with Christ is my evidence and it's enough for myself (that is by the way a huge subject) that's faith for you:¬) That's all I can say about evidence really.
Well, to make a long story short then: you believe without evidence, not really sure that what you believe is true, don’t really care because you have “experiences” - but believe none the less. No offense, but that sounds a little dangerous to m.

The reality of the situation is Jesus came to save the world and the choice is to accept him or not, that's freewill. If Jesus is the son of God and you have decided to reject him then that's your choice. I dont see a problem with that.
Yes, I do reject him, because of his character, but tell me, what is the consequence for rejecting him?

So you would say even with the millions of believers that Jesus didn't exist because you can't find any evidence that would convince you or could that be because God didnt do what you asked of him?
You miss the point Marc. Just because a religion has millions of followers are not evidence that their god is real. Unless you want to concede that the Muslim faith, Buddhism, Hinduism, Falun Gong and every other religion with millions of followers is as valid as your, and that their god is as real as your. Are you willing to concede to that? Or do you think there is only one true god? If so, what do we call him/her/it?

And exactly what did I ask god that he didn’t do?

Firstly eddie I don't 'need' to believe it is something I have chosen through evidence and experience.
And I would point out to you that it’s all subjective – you have no objective data to support the claims of your faith.

I'm not too sure if I understand what you are saying in the last bit. are you saying that because I dont have evidence you wopuld percieve as solid I have no reason to beleive?
No, you are free to believe whatever you want. It’s not for me to tell you what to believe or not. I believed in Santa when I was five, but when my understanding of him increased, I outgrew him, and saw him for the myth he is. Pretty much the same with Jesus for me.

eddie{F} said...

Seriously though, I really don't know it's not my call.
Honestly Marc, a couple of comments earlier you blathered about “free will” and “choice” to accept Jesus. For what possible reason should I accept Jesus? Why should I accept Jesus, even if he was real? To what extend?

Your answer is a copout. Your Bible is not void of references about what happens to those who don’t accept and bow their knee to Jesus. Even Jesus the baby killer (as is read in Revelations) had some pretty strong statements about it. Now either I miss the context of what he said, or you are selectively interpreting the Bible.

Bishop Rick said...

Ed,

In all fairness, many people selectively believe the bible. How else could you believe it at all without selectivism? The 5 books of Moses are obviously not literal, and there are those that believe the book of revelations is merely the ramblings of a mad man.

I think it is feasible to believe the 4 gospels and still reject much of the rest of the bible. If you are a Christian, you would have to at least believe the 4 Gospels I would think.

Of course, I have no idea what Marc believes and doesn't believe.

Bishop Rick said...

Marc,

If after it is all said and done, and if there ends up being a God after all, with Christianity being the true faith, I would think God would realize that placing someone on the earth and expecting them to pick out the 1 true religion out of all that exist is not grounds for judgement, but rather how the person lived their life based on the opportunities placed before them.

So as I reflect on what I just wrote, it would seem that I am saying it really doesn't matter whether you are religious or not, christian, or atheist, or any other affiliation for that matter, as long as you live a good honest life.

So as you say that whether you are right or wrong, you would have lived a good fruitful life helping those in need.

Ed can say the exact same thing and still be an atheist.

marc said...

How do I know if I have a supernatural experience? That is based on experience of myself and others whom I trust.

Evidence, again I do not believe without evidence - maybe without the evidence you seek. You say you want an eyewitness account and say there are none but that still does not disproove he existance of Jesus - it only prooves there are no eyewitness accounts that you know of.

I am happy with the writings of the bible and the desert fathers. My sprititul experience and bits and pieces of evidence that I have picked up along the way.

What is the consequences for rejecting jesus and God? that is up to God not me.

I think I have found the right way to worship and serve God. I believe that God exists and his son Jesus. People are free to believe what they wish but we also have to take into cultural influence and context. There is no black and white answer to that - a paragraph cant do the question justice i'm afraid.

Regards to evidence, again I have enough to convince me.

To be honest Eddie I doubt if Jesus appeared in front of you today you would believe in him, it looks to me from your writing that you are pretty upset and hurt by Christianity which is fair enough, i've been there to and have been treated harshly by one particular church and a group of Christians.

You think Jesus is a myth. He still verymuch part of your though judging by the time you put in here. Why dont you just let go fully?

marc said...

Hi Bish Rick
You could indeed reject everything but the gospels but then you wouldnt have the whole story and that would take the gospels out of context - it's not something I would advise anyone to do.

marc said...

Eddie, why should you accept Jesus?

People accpet Jesus in their lives for many reasons, for me it made sense, for some so they can have after life insurance. My concern is with the here and now - I cannot work to get to heaven and that will be Gods choice atthe end of the day not mine.

You can accept Jesus for whatever reasons you wish, if you see no reason then reject him - the choice is yours. I've made my choice and you can make yours, that's freewill.

There is no copout here, you obviously have enough knowledge of what you think the bible says so why are you asking me?

It looks to me that you want me to say you will burn for eternity or some such thing, well i'm afraid I dont think that.

If we are judged when we die, then we will find out when we die, as I said Gods decision not mine.

marc said...

Hi Bish
If we are to account for our actions the I believe God will take everything into account we have done.

I do not like the bible used as a rule book to bash people of the head with or a weapon of fear, that is not what it is for and yet I see it so often it saddens me and ruins peoples lives.

I think Christianity is the right way because of the teachings of Jesus, but you are right we should all live a good life, be kind, helpful, compassionate and considerate. I'm sure an atheist can do that:~)

eddie{F} said...

Hey Marc

Thanks for the discussion, but at this point we are going around in circles. Hope you all the best for you.

Kind Regards

marc said...

Hi Eddie

I hope it's been helpful and thoughful.

Pax

Marc

Stardust1954 said...

But at the same time I found an incredible appreciation for this brief life of mine, a realisation that only I, and no-one else, can make this short life meaningful in some way. I searched with all my heart and I did not find God.
Instead, I found peace.


After going through the motions of being a christian for more than three decades, after letting go of all of that, and realizing that this life is indeed the only one I will ever have, I experienced a peace I had never felt before. I have accepted that one day I will no longer exist. There are no second chances. I choose to accept the nature of things I cannot change with all the grace and dignity I can.

Godgyfu said...

Kevin

you said " I also realized how incredibly unique I am: out of 250 million sperm cells I was the one that was awarded this brief period of consciousness. Upon this realization life suddenly became more valuable, every day more special and wondrous."

I find your choice of words interesting in light of your newly acquired belief system. You say "unique" but unique to whom, based on what?

What is it that gives you value as you say in light of the fact that you are merely a bunch of cells randomly assembled whose life is finite and will cease exist when you die? What's the point of living, of "making this life count" as you say seeing as it makes not one difference whether you life ends today or ten years from now?

You say "I was the one who was awarded" but by whom? for what purpose? who is it that chose you? And if you were randomly chosen, a fluke of chance, why do you ascribe any particular meaning or wonder to that?

The night which you describe of crying out to God and hearing silence is very intense. May I say that God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we expect or demand? (see "God has his chance..."). Perhaps He knew then what you do not yet realize: that the only way to reveal himself to you, to get at your heart was to let you leave him. Sometimes it takes losing our way to find our way.

When the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) left his father, his Father though heart-broken did not go after him. He let him go, knowing that the only way he would ever learn to appreciate what he had, was to come to the end of himself.

Kevin, you may think you have left God, but he hasn't left you. The life you have which you worship is the life He, in his mercy, allows you to have, daily, without him.

I leave you with this verse from psalm 139:7:8 " Where can I go from Your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there"

Bill said...

I have been looking into this idea of meaning apart from God. Schaeffer had laid it out so clearly that there could be no meaning apart from God. I was puzzled by how atheists continued to assert some meaning. Then I read an article by Carrier in which he referred to Camus, and I realized that the atheists who claim meaning are existentialists. This came as a surprise, because they always seem to be logical positivists, the way they talk anyway. Now, the more I read, the more this is confirmed. I recently read Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning" and what you have written is right out of his book. Frankl's approach, of course, is existentialistic. Not that this is bad, but I think that the atheists should be upfront about this. Your "meaning" is not objective. It is not rooted in nor supported by logic. It is subjective and is arrived at by a non-rational "leap". This "meaning" is nothing more than one's own feelings--how he "feels" about his life. Reason and science say that man is nothing. The only way he can be something is to step into non-science and non-reason, and "feel" a meaning.

Of course, this was never the question. teh question never was whether one could find this sort of meaning apart from God. I doubt anyone ever questioned whether life could be in any sense "meaningful". Teh question was whether life had an ultimate purpose, and therefore an ultimate (or objective) meaning. of course, for the atheist, it does not.

I do not deny that the basic idea of immersing oneself in the "meaning" of the moment can serve to give one a sense of fulfillment. I think this kind of exercise can be useful for all of us, including Christians. Christians often forget the here and now, and that it too, is rich with meaning. However, in the Christian view, the meaning, veen in teh here and now, though subjective, is based on objective values. That is, beauty is real, honor is real, love is real, they are not psychological tricks that evolution has played on us, and that we can indulge in only by suspending our logical evaluation of them temporarily.

I am not condemning the existentialist approach. I have soem ineterest in it myself. But this is what it is.

Do not think that you have a worldview that encompasses all things with logic and reason. This part, at least, your "meaning" (and probably your morality as well) lie outside. In Schaeffer's words, you cannot "draw a circle" around it all.

Kevin Parry said...

Hi Bill

A very good response to my post, and it got me thinking. At this present time I agree with you that the meaning that I posit for my own life is existentialist in nature. You have made a good argument for this case, and I accept it.

Bill wrote
However, in the Christian view, the meaning, veen in teh here and now, though subjective, is based on objective values.

This is where I think I would part ways with your view. You say that your own “meaning” for your life is objective in nature. Is this because God has bestowed meaning upon you? If the meaning of life is objective because we have been given purpose by a creator, then what of God? As a sentient being, God himself – if he exists – also has purpose and meaning. Was he bestowed with purpose from a higher source, or did he decide it for himself? If he decided for himself, then isn’t his own “meaning” just as subjective as the atheist’s?

Just a thought that came to mind when reading what you wrote. An excellent comment, though.

All the best
Kevin

Amy said...

"But as I’ve written before, I also realised how incredibly unique I am: out of 250 million sperm cells I was the one that was awarded this brief period of consciousness. Upon this realisation life suddenly became more valuable, every day more special and wondrous. I now take less for granted. There is no afterlife to work for, no heaven in which to invest treasures. I now place all my energies into making this life count, as it is the only life I will ever have.
I searched with all my heart and I discovered my frail mortality, the brief horror of realising that one day I will be no more, in both body and mind. But at the same time I found an incredible appreciation for this brief life of mine, a realisation that only I, and no-one else, can make this short life meaningful in some way."


YES!, this is exactly how I feel as an ex-fundamentalist Christian. It is difficult to explain to others how releasing the concept of eternal life in heaven or hell actually creates a richer life today (the one I know I have), but it does. I am enjoying your blog. Thank you for your words.

Anonymous said...

the only reason I even thought about believeing in God is because DEATH cancels out the real value of Life. Who cares who you love, if you die. Who cares what money you make, if you die, Who cares what disease you cure, if you die. Who cares what you do or how you do it, if you die? I didnt. Nothing you could ever say would ever have value if the end result is death eternal. And I wouldnt give a crap about being good to you or anybody else & who cares what you think. Take it to your grave -- punk! (if it wasnt for the concept of eternal life & having to meet a righteous God, I would behave without care or measure & Nothing you could say or do would ever matter to me)

BB said...

Anonymous 3:40 AM, what are you saying? (Please excuse me, I'm tired and not a morning person.) If I'm reading this correctly, your life has no meaning without belief in God, and you wouldn't be nice and good to anyone were it not for that belief.

Do you know what this means? It means that, as a believer, you are inherently a worse person than an unbeliever, because you can only be good if you think someone who has the ability to judge your eternal soul is watching you. An unbeliever with nothing to gain or lose, but who is a good and generous person nonetheless, is inherently morally superior to you. They have no incentive to be good -- yet simply are -- while you are only good because of some outside incentive.

If this is the case, then people who know you should beware. You've already seen how people who once believed in God very passionately and sought him diligently can lose their faith. If it can happen to them, how can you be absolutely positive it won't happen to you?

I was a believer for almost two decades (didn't quite make it), complete with the born-again conversion right at the beginning. I thought I would go to my grave believing. I never imagined not believing in God, yet here I am, an ex-Christian.

BB said...

(Huh, just noticed the time stamp on there. Didn't know there was such a big time difference.)