Posts Tagged ‘reason’

Some of the top minds over the centuries have argued for and against the existence of God. Neither side has won the argument and as no proof exists either way they probably never will. So how can I with slightly less a magnificent mind know what to believe?

 

However much I would like to be able to answer that question for you once and for all you and I know that that is not going to happen. There will never be any proof that God exists!  I also believe that there will never be any proof that He doesn’t exist.  So, just as Christianity will never be able to prove that God is who He says He is in the Bible, Science will never be able to prove that He doesn’t exist.  From a faith point of view I find that fairly comforting.  Some of the greatest minds in the world have tried to prove God exists with no success whatsoever. Now that doesn’t, of course, mean that because you can’t prove that He doesn’t exist that He does exist.  However, if you believe that the Bible was created by simple men of faith thousands of years ago you would have thought that the greatest scientific minds of the 21st century should be able to completely pick it apart and if not find proof at least find considerable fault with it. In reality this is not the case and in fact my scientists believe in God.

 

So if there is no proof how can I believe or indeed reject the claims of Christianity.  I believe one of the ways forward can be found in Matthew 7: 7. Here we are told that if we seek, we will find. This is expanded upon in the parable of the prodigal son. The parable tells of a son who leaves his father having asked for his inheritance early. The son goes off and spends all of his money on parties and fast living. He ends up poor and working on a pig farm. He is so hungry he considers eating the food of the pigs. It then occurs to him that even if he went back and worked as a servant for his father he would be much better off. He returns home to find that his father has been looking out for him every day and runs to meet him. The father throws a robe on him, puts a ring on his finger and throws as party to welcome him home, not as a servant but as his son. The parable shows that God is always on the lookout for us – if we seek Him he will run to us.  If we make the move towards him he will make a move towards us. Many people have seen this in their own lives.  As they have seriously sought God on their own or on courses like ALPHA or Christianity Explored God has moved towards them with open arms and revealed himself to them.

 

Many people have seriously looked for God just to rule his existence out and have ended up meeting Him in amazing ways. Many people, however, write God off before even examining the evidence or seeking him at all. I feel it a shame that something so potentially important can be written off so easily.  Science may offer different theories but Christianity, if true, offers so much more. Science offers little in the order of purpose, hope, freedom, reason, comfort or redemption.  Christianity offers all of those and lots more besides.  Surely those claims alone deserve to be looked into – even if just to write them off.

 

There is estimated to be up to 2.1 billion people in the world who would call themselves Christians. A friend who had no belief in God looked at this and concluded that they can’t all be mad and deluded!! He began to seek and discovered God for himself. I believe that the personal testimony of millions upon millions of people can’t just be discounted. It is the experience of millions of people around the world that God has moved in their life. It is not just the intellectual conclusion that they have come to that God exists, it is the consequent experience of Him in their lives. This may be in the form of healing, guidance, answered prayer, prophesy, miracles or a whole host of other things.

 

There may not be proof that God exists but there is, however, enough evidence to make His existence well worth looking in to!!

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Imagine, if you will, a trip to the Grand Canyon. You arrive and spend a week exploring one of the greatest sites on the planet. You see it from the air as you arrive, you walk down into it and spend the night at the bottom. You visit the North, South and West rims. You visit the gift shops and buy your souvenirs. You see the canyon at sunrise and sunset and every time in between. Finally you head for home. When you arrive home you’re told that the Grand Canyon doesn’t exist. Imagine how you would feel. Imagine your unbelief of what you are being told. You’ve been there, experienced it and now you’re being told that all of that was untrue.

 

I guess this is a little of what I feel when I try to imagine Christianity not being true. I’ve believed it, I’ve stepped out in faith, I’ve experienced it, I’ve found it to be true. I’ve tested it and evaluated it. I have seen God at work in my life and in the lives of others. I have felt His presence and seen answers to my prayers. This is all to say that trying to imagine that Christianity is just a Myth is an extremely difficult things for me to do. I know you can discount the experiences of others but when you’ve experienced something it is hard to discount it.

 

Having said that lets have a look at the bottom line. Belief in God is a leap of faith. However, let’s not confuse that with blind faith. Belief in God is not blind faith. Belief in God is about looking at the available information that you have, evaluating it and then coming to a decision. So belief in God does take faith and therefore isn’t something you can prove. You have to trust that you have based your decisions on correct information, made wise judgements and trusted in something that not only intellectually viable but is also true! So, at the end of the day what if you based your decision on a myth?

 

Now, I know that this whole subject might just seem like a exercise in covering one’s back but what I’m wanting to convey is that a step of faith isn’t such a major thing. It’s not about diving headlong into a gaping chasm, it’s about taking small steps, carefully exploring and finding out wonderful things along the way. If at the end of the day you decide it’s not true you will have lost nothing, even if you live your whole life as a Christian only to discover it was a myth you will have lost nothing. If Christianity is not true, when you die that is it, no judgement, no hell, just nothing!! Your body, mind, spirit, soul is no more. Whatever you believed makes no difference. We will all find ourselves in the same boat.

 

But will you look back with huge regrets? Regrets of living your life for something that’s not true? If I were to get to the end of my life and discover somehow that Christianity were not true I would be gutted, but not because of a life wasted. I believe that so much of the teaching of the Bible is the best way to live. Even if you were to take away the bed-rock of the truth of the Bible, if you were to say that God didn’t exist I would argue that much of the teaching of the Bible, even being man created, gave us the best way to live. Even disregarding the Bible altogether I believe that it is…

 

  • better to love than to hate

 

  • better to pursue peace than war

 

  • better to give than receive

 

  • better to put others first than yourself

 

  • better to faithful than unfaithful or faithless

 

  • better to be sincere than insincere

 

  • better to be truthful than to lie

 

  • better to be selfless rather than be self-seeking

 

  • better to be polite rather than be rude

 

  • better to be satisfied rather than be dis-satisfied

 

  • better to be focussed rather than be aimless

 

  • better to see the good in people rather than the bad

 

  • better to be trusting rather than sceptical

 

  • better to hate injustice rather than embrace it

 

  • better to work for the good rather than evil

 

  • better to help rather than to hinder

 

  • better to build up rather than to destroy

 

  • better to see people as equal rather than superior or inferior

 

  • better to provide rather than withhold

 

  • better to respect rather than disrespect

 

  • better to persevere rather than give up

 

  • better to live in unity rather than in discord

 

  • better to forgive than to hold grudges

 

  • better to seek forgiveness rather than revenge

 

I’m sure the list could go on. Surely a life lived by these principles won’t hold too many regrets. If God does not exist a life lived as if he does exist will not be wasted or full of regrets – it will be a life lived along great principles, for others, with passion and with hope. But hey, I truly believe that you’d have an easier task convincing me that the Grand Canyon didn’t exist than convincing me that God didn’t.

 

 

So, you came back for more.  Curious to read my response to my Agnostic friend?  (See last week’s post – Part 1 of 2 – for his side.)

Here is how I responded to my dear friend:

I know you said you couldn’t help but think that it (one of my own blog posts) was specifically directed to you.  Honestly, yes, a small portion of it was written with you in mind as well as knowing that I have many friends and family who could possibly be reading it that think very much like you…

I must say, I am glad to hear that you took me up on the challenge.  That’s more what I was fishing to find out than anything.  Did you read the whole book, or did your gauntlet stop you “in the beginning”? (That was a pretty good pun, if I do say so myself!)

Seriously, though, as far as answers to all of your questions and points made…I do not and will not pretend to have them.  (As I have said before, I have had many of the same thoughts and questions myself over the years.)  Neither will I attempt to proselytize you, as I know you likewise are not doing to me.  I merely am here to share with you the Essence of who I am – Jesus in me.  Though I cannot begin to battle wits with you in the intellectual realms, nor do I want to – battle with you is the farthest thing from what I would ever want (I, of course, mean that in a very complimentary and endearing way.)…I merely can share with you why I am the person that you know and are kindred spirits with.  How you chose to respond to that is, well, not something I intend to try to force a certain direction, nor is it of my concern. I respect your very thoroughly contemplated and eloquently expressed views and honestly do not feel it is my responsibilty to change them.

  • Yes, I do whole-heartedly believe there is a God and that He loves me (and you and all of the world – John 3:16) and that He is working out His divine plan in my life (as in everyone’s) every minute of every day.  (I know all of that opens up several more cans of worms, but I am just stating who I am and what I believe.  I leave the cans of worms up to Him.)
  • My life is not defined by my death, rather by His death on the cross for me (John 3:16).
  • And because my life is defined by my acceptance of His gift of His death on the cross, my life is truly now and forever an eternal life.
  • And, because of His death, I may die a physical death (even before I have the chance to see you again, or not) but I now and forever am free from having to pay the ultimate price of spiritual death and eternal separation from God that is the price of my inherent sin-nature.
  • I at one time worked very hard to believe that there was nothing beyond this life and no meaning to my existence, because that for me was much easier (in a sense) than living with the knowledge that I would one day face my Maker and have to give an answer as to why I did not choose to accept His costly-to-Him yet free-to-me gift.
  • Honestly, though, for me, convincing myself of the nothingness of life and existence was a very tiring and difficult struggle. Something always, deep down, ate at me and would not let me ultimately and deeply believe what I was trying so hard to believe.  I had many of my own “gauntlets”, as you so cleverly and accurately call them, that would be thrown down in my face right and left.  I was just never at peace, not once, the entire time I was trying so hard to believe in a way that seemed to lend itself to the most peaceful, freeing, and consequence-less life possible.  I read things, even in the Bible, that I attempted to use to prove what I so wanted to believe, but ultimately, for me, it was all a dead end…a dead end that lead to life, that is.
  • I cannot begin to explain to you in words what it feels like to have “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Phil. 4:7), but I can only hope that one day you may come to experience that for yourself.
  • I cannot begin to describe to you in words what it is like to know and feel “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3) who is always with me – Emmanuel.
  • I cannot begin to accurately explain to you in words what it is like to pray, not just seeking an answer – though those often do come, rather just to pray – to talk to the One who knows me better than anyone on this earth ever could (because He made me just the way I am, my faults and all, just like He intended for me to be) – to cry to Him, knowing He understands every struggle I face and that He, because He was once on this earth as a human (as is so well chronicled in the Book of John), understands so truly those human emotional as well as physical experiences that I have.
  • These are all things I cannot explain to you in words as much as I may try, because they are things you just have to experience for yourself to understand.
  • I realize you may not agree that there is any legitimacy to experiences such as these, at least in your own life, but all I can say is that they are very real and very legitimate in my life.
  • I would never want to nor try to force you to feel these things for yourself by succumbing to agreeing with me on anything or everything I have put forth.  However, because of what I know in my heart to be true, I can only hope that you, my very dear friend, can and will also one day come to experience my God for all He is and even come to a point that (one can dream, can’t she!?!) you will even call Him your God one day. Not because I want so bad to be right, nor that I want to say “I told you so” or anything at all like that, rather because I know the love and peace and freedom that comes with knowing and accepting Him and the gift He offers us all.
Again, I must remind you that, as much as it may sometimes seem otherwise, I truly am not trying to proselytize you, rather I am merely sharing my heart and the Essence of who I am with you, for all it is worth.
Because of Who He is,
Haelie

Remember the challenge I issued a few posts back?  The one in which I challenged you to read the Book/Gospel of John in the Bible.  If not, you can click HERE to go back and read it briefly.

So, have you taken the challenge?  Have you started to read John, finished reading it, or do you at least plan to read it?

My dear Agnostic friend did.

I have a close friend who is a professed Agnostic and is also one of my most faithful blog readers.  Upon reading my first few posts (on my separate blog “To Not Decide…Is To Decide“), he replied in length to some of my points.  Here in today’s post, I will share with you one specific response I received from him.  Then, in Part 2 of this, I will share with you my reply to him.

Without further adieu, here is his very thorough, intellectual, Agnostic thought process about God and things related to Him:

Upon reading your last entry I couldn’t help but think that it was specifically directed to me (for the rest of you this is based on other off-line conversations). It’s not so much that the gauntlet has been thrown by you its more that it has been there already, in front of me, for a long time now. Yes, I began reading the Bible. Yes, I began with John 1 as found on the site you mentioned. And, yes, I immediately stumbled over my gauntlet. Who would have guessed!

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.

Short. Sweet. But fraught with nagging uncertainties (my gauntlet). God is used in the singular, with the presupposition that this one god was there from the beginning. If so, why did he decide to allow the ancient cultures to practice polytheism and pantheism for so many millennia? When did he decide “Ok, enough of this fun. Let’s get down to business…” If he was there from the beginning why was he so loathe to make it apparent that he was there? What ever happened to all these ‘other gods’? Weren’t they real for those who believed in them? Is the belief in many gods any more false/true then the belief in one god? (For an interesting perspective on where these gods are, I’ll challenge you to read the novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman.) Then…

What relevance, if any, does God (any god, pick a god) have today? This question, for me, goes way beyond Belief and Faith. Strip away B/F and it runs to the pure, elemental core of the matter – existence. Why do we exist at all? This is a terrifying question when taken on its own, in freefall with no ground below, for us to answer. It causes anguish. It causes dread. This Nothingness we face, out of which all else emerges and where all returns is the cause of this dread and anguish.

We truly exist. But concomitant with this is the crushing onus of inescapable uncertainty; save for one thing – our eventual annihilation, our death (and taxes if you’re a comedian). Our life is defined by our death. We wonder why there Something rather than Nothing. We are always afraid that the notion of what-is (our being-here) will slip into the what-is-not (our being-not-here).

Our being-here, the Something, is continuously being defined by Nothingness. Humans have the remarkable capacity of self-creation. This is a standard feature of human existence. We are the only beings that can define our essence. We can be what-we-are. Essence follows existence. We create the purpose of the Something.

We have the ability to become what-we-are-not-today. It’s our choice to become what-we-are-not from what-we-are. You are not the same person you where twenty years ago. You will not be the same person you are today twenty years from now. Temporality places further stress on this process of becoming. This also is quite onerous to accept – a total commitment to self-responsibility, self-determination. We were thrust into Somethingness as freewheeling entities; free to exist as being-here for ourselves. (This is does not come capriciously… there is an element of moral obligation… yet another troublesome burden to shoulder). Sometimes all this self-authenticity is just too much to comprehend, too much to bear. This now leads back to the thought began two paragraphs ago.

God (any god, pick a god) solves many of these existential problems because with him at the helm of the Universe the conflict between Something vs Nothing is suddenly ‘answered’. It comforts us that some greater power is handling all these messy details of our being-here. It’s all a matter of how our being-here, existence, is interpreted. With god in the mix, our Humanness is explained by essence preceding existence.

It is only within this latter notion that B/F can take hold. It is much easier to allow our being-here to be in someone else’s hands; divine or temporal. It allows prayer to be meaningful. For, after all, praying is a statistical coin toss with only one of two options available to it every time it’s employed. Either the prayer is answered or the prayer is not answered. If answered to your satisfaction it then strengthens the belief that there is a god. But, interestingly enough, the opposite corollary is not assumed – if the prayer is not answered the one praying does not announce that it disproves god but rather the blame is placed on the one praying. The faith was not strong enough (doubt), some past event was viewed unfavorably (moral failing), disingenuousness in the request, etc. But, worst of all, prayer can be the complete abrogation of our responsibility, the annulment of self-determination, if you allow its answer to be the final arbiter. (The answer it self, is totally meaningful/meaningless due solely to your interpretation of it. Hmmm, back to that troublesome Self again.)

For when I choose to decide or not to decide I am still responsible for the decision I make. Only within the realm of Self can I choose with any authenticity to follow whatever advice I receive from whomever I ask it of.

So, now that you have read the true and deep thoughts of an Agnostic–some of which may be your own thoughts as well–I challenge you to continue to come back here on What If…Wednesdays (and anytime in between) so that you can catch Part 2 of this Conversation between an Agnostic and a Christian.

After all, there are two sides to every story, and you have not yet heard my heartfelt, respectful reply to his side.

Come back to read it soon…

Answers…

Posted: June 7, 2010 by Haelie in What About..., What If...
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I want to share a response I wrote via email to a friend of mine who is a professed Agnostic and reads my blog faithfully.  He has had two very good comments/replies that he tried to post to a couple of different posts of mine, but…in case you didn’t know…Blogger’s comment fields do not accept more than 4,096 characters!!!  (My blog is a Blogger blog, not WordPress)  So, instead he emailed his comments/replies to me.  I really wish his would have fit, as they have some very interesting and probably commonly shared thoughts in them.  So, in order to let you in a bit on his thoughts and my responses, I will just have to share some snip-its with you that you may find of interest.  I believe my friend of whom I am speaking will not mind a bit, as like I said, he attempted to share his comments publicly himself.

What I am actually going to primarily share with you right now is a portion of my response to one of his comments.  So, keep in mind that some of my statements are specifically spurred by some of his.  Either way, I think you’ll follow it just fine.  And, please feel free to comment anytime! 

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

…As far as answers to all of your questions and points made…I do not and will not pretend to have them. (As I have said before, I have had many of the same thoughts and questions myself over the years.) Neither will I attempt to proselytize you, as I know you likewise are not doing to me. I merely am here to share with you the Essence of who I am – Jesus in me. Though I cannot begin to battle wits with you in the intellectual realms, nor do I want to – battle with you is the farthest thing from what I would ever want (I, of course, mean that in a very complimentary and endearing way.)…I merely can share with you why I am the person that you know and are kindred spirits with. How you chose to respond to that is, well, not something I intend to try to force a certain direction, nor is it of my concern. I respect your very thoroughly contemplated and eloquently expressed views and honestly do not feel it is my responsibilty to change them.

– Yes, I do whole-heartedly believe there is a God and that He loves me (and you and all of the world – John 3:16) and that He is working out His divine plan in my life (as in everyone’s) every minute of every day. (I know all of that opens up several more cans of worms, but I am just stating who I am and what I believe. I leave the cans of worms up to Him.)

– My life is not defined by my death, rather by His death on the cross for me (John 3:16).

And because my life is defined by my acceptance of His gift of His death on the cross, my life is truly now and forever an eternal life.

And, because of His death, I may die a physical death (even before I have the chance to see you again, or not) but I now and forever am free from having to pay the ultimate price of spiritual death and eternal separation from God that is the price of my inherent sin-nature.

– I, at one time, worked very hard to believe that there was nothing beyond this life and no meaning to my existence, because that for me was much easier (in a sense) than living with the knowledge that I would one day face my Maker and have to give an answer as to why I did not choose to accept His costly-to-Him yet free-to-me gift.

– Honestly, though, for me, convincing myself of the nothingness of life and existence was a very tiring and difficult struggle. Something always, deep down, ate at me and would not let me ultimately and deeply believe what I was trying so hard to believe. I had many of my own “gauntlets”, as you so cleverly and accurately call them, that would be thrown down in my face right and left. I was just never at peace, not once, the entire time I was trying so hard to believe in a way that seemed to lend itself to the most peaceful, freeing, and consequence-less life possible. I read things, even in the Bible, that I attempted to use to prove what I so wanted to believe, but ultimately, for me, it was all a dead end…a dead end that lead to life, that is.

– I cannot begin to explain to you in words what it feels like to have “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Phil. 4:7), but I can only hope that one day you may come to experience that for yourself.

– I cannot begin to describe to you in words what it is like to know and feel “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3) who is always with me – Emmanuel.

– I cannot begin to accurately explain to you in words what it is like to pray, not just seeking an answer – though those often do come, rather just to pray – to talk to the One who knows me better than anyone on this earth ever could (because He made me just the way I am, my faults and all, just like He intended for me to be) – to cry to Him, knowing He understands every struggle I face and that He, because He was once on this earth as a human (as is so well chronicled in the Book of John), understands so truly those human emotional as well as physical experiences that I have.

– These are all things I cannot explain to you in words as much as I may try, because they are things you just have to experience for yourself to understand.

– I realize you may not agree that there is any legitimacy to experiences such as these, at least in your own life, but all I can say is that they are very real and very legitimate in my life.

I would never want to nor try to force you to feel these things for yourself by succumbing to agreeing with me on anything or everything I have put forth. However, because of what I know in my heart to be true, I can only hope that you, my very dear friend, can and will also one day come to experience my God for all He is and even come to a point that (one can dream, can’t she!?!) you will even call Him your God one day. Not because I want so bad to be right, nor that I want to say “I told you so” or anything at all like that, rather because I know the love and peace and freedom that comes with knowing and accepting Him and the gift He offers us all.

– Again, I must remind you that, as much as it may sometimes seem otherwise, I truly am not trying to proselytize you, rather I am merely sharing my heart and the Essence of who I am with you, for all it is worth.

Because of Who He is,
Haelie