Only Believe

What does belief in God require?  Some say it is an addled or weak mind.  There are, however, scores of highly educated and erudite men and women who testify through their lives that they think deeply, study diligently, and write convincingly in varied fields of endeavor, including the sciences.  A few examples:

  • John Polkinghorne – Until 1979 he was a chaired Professor of Theoretical Physics at Cambridge, an institution known to be very stingy about handing out Professor titles.  He left that position, entered seminary, became an ordained minister in the Church of England, and served as a parish priest for 5 years.  He returned to Cambridge in 1986 as Dean of Trinity Hall and subsequently President of Queens’ College.
  • Charles Townes  – Won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1964 for discovering the maser, which led quickly to the laser, surely one of the most important scientific advances of the twentieth century. In a statement from his book Making Waves (American Physical Society, 1995) Professor Townes takes dead aim on Stephen Hawking. Charles Townes states “In my view, the question of origin seems to be left unanswered if we explore from a scientific view alone. Thus, I believe there is a need for some religious or metaphysical explanation. I believe in the concept of God and in His existence.”
  • Arthur Schawlow (1921-1999) was another Physics Nobel Prize winner (1981), honored for his work in laser spectroscopy.Schawlow was a professor at Stanford until his recent death and did not hesitate to identify himself as a protestant Christian. He stated, “We are fortunate to have the Bible and especially the New Testament, which tells us so much about God in widely accessible human terms.” I view this statement as uniquely scientific, knowing that Professor Schawlow was convinced that his discoveries in laser spectroscopy were telling him something about God’s handiwork. However, unlike the New Testament, Schawlow’s research was difficult to express in “widely accessible human terms.”
  • Probably the world’s greatest living observational cosmologist is Allan Sandage.  In 1991 he received the Crafoord Prize, given by the Royal Swedish Academy every six years for cosmology and worth the same amount of money as the Nobel prize (there is no Nobel prize given for cosmology). Sandage has been called “the grand old man of cosmology” by the New York Times and is viewed as the successor to his mentor, Edwin Hubble (1889-1953), who is considered the father of modern cosmology.  At the age of 50, Sandage became a Christian. In Alan Lightman’s book, Origins: The Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists, Sandage states “The nature of God is not to be found within any part of the findings of science. For that, one must turn to the Scriptures.” When asked the famous question regarding whether it is possible to be a scientist and a Christian, Sandage replied, “Yes. The world is too complicated in all its parts and interconnections to be due to chance alone. I am convinced that the existence of life with all its order in each of its organisms is simply too well put together.”
  • Professor Henry F. (Fritz) Schaefer is one of the most distinguished physical scientists in the world. The U.S. News and World Report cover story of December 23, 1991 speculated that Professor Schaefer is a “five time nominee for the Nobel Prize.” He has received four of the most prestigious awards of the American Chemical Society, as well as the most highly esteemed award (the Centenary Medal) given to a non-British subject by London’s Royal Society of Chemistry. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Moreover, his general interest lectures on science and religion have riveted large audiences in nearly all the major universities in the U.S.A. and in Beijing, Berlin, Budapest, Calcutta, Cape Town, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London, Paris, Prague, Sarajevo, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sofia, St. Petersburg, Sydney, Tokyo, Warsaw, Zagreb, and Zürich.  For 18 years Dr. Schaefer was a faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley, where he remains Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus. Since 1987 Dr. Schaefer has been Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Center for Computational Chemistry at the University of Georgia.

What about faith?  Yes, belief in God does require faith, but that does not imply that one must abandon reason;  quite the contrary.  In fact, all belief systems require faith.  Many of the most vocal critics of religious belief cling – apparently consciously unaware that they are – to faith in any number of things, some of which go beyond reason.

Richard Feynman, himself a joint recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965 states in his 1990 book, The Character of Physical Law, that “Everything in physical science is a lot of protons, neutrons and electrons, while in daily life, we talk about men and history, or beauty and hope. Which is nearer to God – beauty and hope or the fundamental laws? To stand at either end, and to walk off that end of the pier only, hoping that out in that direction is a complete understanding, is a mistake.”

I have witnessed scores of people who shun faith in God because they see no evidence of His existence, or they see evidence that argues against His existence.  But what such people fail to understand is that (a) for two millennia now highly intelligent men and woman have chosen to believe, and (b) belief comes before understanding, not after it.  Does that sound surprising?  It shouldn’t.  After all, if you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  And if you’re an atheist, everything can be explained by Darwin.

Dr. Fritz Schaefer, whom I was privileged to hear speak recently, penned this paper, which is interesting in that it shows Stephen Hawking, commonly believed to be an atheist, as nothing of the sort.  His studies again and again brought him face to face with the overwhelming improbability that the universe is either itself eternal, or that it began by purely naturalistic means.  Here’s the article.  It requires a not insignificant investment of time and thought, but I found it to be worth every minute.

 

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26 thoughts on “Only Believe

  1. What belief in God requires is the willingness to believe what other people say with no evidence, and the ability to turn off one’s ability to think and consider alternatives different than what others have told you. It takes being unwilling to say “I don’t know” and unwilling to try and find out.

    You object when scientists look for naturalistic explanations for things, even though when they find those naturalistic explanations they are fully documented and verified with facts and logic. Just the looking causes you angst.

    What you want scientists to do is stop with the explanation goddidit, even though it provides no explanation, no context, and no facts and is unsupportable by logic.

    If there is no explanation beyond goddidit, then scientists will never find it. However, every time scientists have looked beyond goddidit, they have found what you call materialistic explanations.

    I find it humorous that you trot out all these “scientists” who say that science doesn’t address these questions, so I will substitute belief in God. As scientists they are saying that belief in God is non-scientific. Their credibility as scientists has no bearing what-so-ever outside their field of expertise (which is science). Their credibility in non-scientific fields is the same as any other individual, the same as any random person off the street.

    Belief in God comes from the great fear that one is finite and will have a finite lifespan and when that lifespan is over, will cease to exist. From the fear that expressing the slightest doubt about God will so piss Him off, that He will spend infinite effort to torture you for eternity. If God is so petty and so full of Himself that He would spend infinite effort to torture someone for a finite sin, then He is not worthy of my respect, let alone my worship.

  2. Boy, what it is that happened in your life that filled you so full of hate? You seem to think that anyone who does not agree with your views on things is without redeeming social value and should just die. Yet I care enough about you and your well being that I have been praying for you. I believe that every one who has ever lived will one day stand before their maker and give an account for their life. What will you say to keep from being thrown outside, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth? What will you say to redeem yourself? Why will it not be completely fair for God to say to you “You completely rejected my offer during your life on Earth. Why should you be with me in Paradise?

    Yes, I believe in Hell. And I believe that Hell is what you are pursuing – with abandon! You are your own god, and there is no room in your stone cold heart for the real thing. One day you will be on the outside looking in. It will not be what God wants, but it will be fair, because it will be exactly what you wanted.

    Do you not know? Has no one ever told you? You being someone who values above almost everything the ability to think, must have read something about the God you deny. Have you ever read so much as a single one of the Gospel accounts? If you had, you would know that hate is a poison you drink in order to gain something against your enemy. Do you really think that will work? Yet there is a way out.

    I have news for you, my friend. It’s not about you. The world does not march to the beat of your own drummer. You are not God. Yet God loves you, and wants to bring you into His family. And being in His family is the most priceless treasure you could ever imagine. And what must you do to get this treasure? Not much. Simply say to God, something like this.

    Lord I admit that I don’t have all of the answers. I have lived my life without you, and I’m not very happy with the way it’s turned out up to now. I’m willing to do it your way. I ask you to make me one of your own – to invite me to be with you in Heaven, and to be in your loving care forever.

    Simple. No big thing. But if you are willing to humble yourself and pray something like that, and mean it with all your heart, you will be blessed beyond anything you can imagine.

    I pray that you will do just that. And I pray that I will one day be able to call you my friend and my brother.

  3. Where did I say anyone should “just die”? That is your projection. In no way, shape or form am I full of hate. I have pity for you, that you are wasting your life chasing after fantasies. I have great sorrow that the people of the world are using their respective delusions about religion and God(s) to make war on each other and make the world a crappy miserable place. I have great fear that delusional individuals will cause severe damage to the world because they expect divine intervention to fix it, as when the Rapture comes.

    You are the one that is full of hate. You hate scientists because scientists don’t follow your delusional world view. Scientists are trying to figure out what reality is really like, and not simply accept the fantasies that some self-proclaimed religious people made up and wrote down thousands of years ago.

    You hate everyone who doesn’t subscribe to exactly the same interpretation of one specific text that you do. It is your projection that without your fantasy of “Eternal Paradise” that life is not worth living. That is not something I agree with, or subscribe to or have ever said. It is your projection that tells you I am full of hate.

    I have read the Bible cover to cover multiple times.

    You have not studied science to the degree that I have studied the Bible.

    You don’t understand science well enough to understand how scientists think. You are projecting your own thoughts, feelings, and fears onto them, and imagining that they are thinking the way that you imagine. This is called “projection”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

    You ask me what would I do if God Judges me? I will look Him in the eye and tell Him that He should not have been so deceptive, that He should not have spent much more effort in tricking me into thinking He did not exist than into showing me that He did exist. He should have provided more evidence of His existence. He should not have provided me with a brain that could think clearly and logically and then be so completely deceptive. I will then chastise Him for making humans and then deceiving them so He could torture them for eternity. I won’t be thrown out, I will walk out on my own accord, rather than spend time with an entity that deceives and tricks self-aware beings so that He can torture them. Spending eternity with such a being is my idea of Hell. I would rather be alone or with the other individuals He deceived than with Him.

    What will you do if God turns out to be Zeus or Odin, or Allah, or one of the Hindu Gods, and decides to torture you because you didn’t pray while facing Mecca? My response to any or all of them will be the same.

  4. Let me explain what hate looks like. Hate says in response to this comment something like this: “He’s rude, arrogant, and I’m done with him. He can just go to Hell”.

    Love, on the other hand, says something like this; “Believing that God alone is our final judge, I pray. I ask God to change your heart. “Convince him, by whatever means necessary, that he is rejecting the most priceless of gifts by rejecting the free offer of Your love. Create in him a new heart. And when he has been born into eternal life, allow me the privilege of opening some of the doors that have been closed to him. Forgive him, for he does not know what the consequences of his attitudes are.”

  5. Your actions demonstrate (to me) the consequences of a religious-type mindset. First you project your own fears. When I don’t agree with those fears, you say I am full of hate. When I demonstrate that I am not full of hate and can back up everything I have said with facts and logic, you fall back on praying for Divine intervention to win your argument.

    These demonstrate the great weaknesses of a religious-type mindset. When you don’t know something, or don’t know how to do something, you pray for Divine intervention to change reality to match what you want.

    You are not even praying for an “honest” change. If God did give me free will, your praying for Him to subvert that is perverse. If God wanted to convince me that He existed, He could provide some evidence of His existence and allow me to freely choose based on the evidence that He provides. The effort it would take to convince me is finite. The effort it will take to torture me for all eternity is infinite. Why don’t you explain to me why your God would rather spend an infinite amount of effort to torture me for all eternity than finite effort to convince me that He exists?

    If actions speak louder than words, then your God wants infinitely more to torture people than to show them that He exists.

  6. President Obama said to terrorists in his inauguration ‘We will extend a hand if you will unclench your fist.’ I am making a similar offer to you. I extended the hand of friendship. I said I wanted to welcome you as a friend and a brother. You reject that offer, just as you reject the love of God.

    So, what’s your definition of hate?

  7. You are the one who brought up hate; you are the one who seems to have difficulties in understanding what it is. I think your difficulty relates to difficulties you have in thinking for yourself and not accepting what other people tell you even when it makes no sense at all.

    My definition of hatred depends on the circumstances, but responding to a small harm with disproportionate retaliatory harm clearly falls within the category of hate; especially when there is a power differential such that the stronger one is causing the disproportionately greater harm. The greater the power differential and the greater the harm disparity the greater is the imputed hatred.

    Responding to finite sin with infinite torture is clearly disproportionate and to me is only explainable by infinite hatred.

    Responding to truth with lies is also an example of hatred. Bearing false witness is an example of hatred. Hypocrisy is an example too, as in being oblivious to the beam in your own eye while harping on the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

    Dealing in bad faith is an example of hatred too. You have said that you would counter my scientific arguments with facts and logic. So far you have not. You have not even come close. You have not even attempted to counter them, and you have not conceded that your earlier claim that you could was wrong. You have not taken back the false statements you have made about scientists, even though now you know them to be false.

    You are not a seeker of truth. If you sought truth, you would examine everything. You would not accept anything without verification. You would only use reliable methods (i.e. logic) to examine reliable facts and so develop reliable ideas. You would not accept “beliefs” without evidence. You would seek to understand the train of facts and logic that have led people to their beliefs and to what people think is reliable information and not accept ideas simply because someone asserts that they are true.

    You will probably perceive my statements here to derive from hatred. That is untrue and is your projection because it is counter to your world view, and especially because what I have said consists of statements that you cannot refute. The resulting cognitive dissonance will cause you such distress that you will impute hatred on me because your world view is such that you are unable to understand that your feelings are internally derived.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

    Your problem is that you do not have a whole and coherent world view. Religions don’t provide that. What they provide are bits and snippets of stuff, glued together by fear and hope; a hodge-podge of the carrots of eternal paradise with the sticks of eternal damnation.

  8. >>I have witnessed scores of people who shun faith in God because they see no evidence of His existence, or they see evidence that argues against His existence. But what such people fail to understand is that (a) for two millennia now highly intelligent men and woman have chosen to believe, and (b) belief comes before understanding, not after it.<<

    How do you know what “such people fail to understand”? This is a strawman argument. I doubt you’ll find many atheists who will say there was no one of intelligence counted among the faithful over the past two millennia (they’ll be generous and spot you an additional 8 millennia and cast their net around a broader range of religions).

    As far as belief and understanding – quantum physics is a good example where even the late, great R. Feynman might tell you “I see it. I don’t believe it, but I see it!”

    1. I appreciate the advice and the good intentions. I do!

      The problem is that I’m not trying to go along to get along here. I’m trying to testify to what I believe is true at the most profound and elemental levels of life. And contrary to what we are taught by the great cloud of postmodern thinkers around us, some worldviews are true and some are not. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only belief system that provides satisfactory answers to all four of life’s basic questions – origin, meaning, morality and destiny. Scientists who subscribe to Darwinism are, almost without exception, atheists. They cannot buy into a belief system that supersedes their own. And Christianity does just that.

      “My” God, as you call him, is God of all. He is the Creator and sustainer of all that is. He is the one of whom Einstein said “God does not play dice.” And physicists, looking at an elegantly designed universe, and at nearly irrefutable evidence that it had a beginning, are more prone to believe in an all-powerful God, because they can find no other rational explanation. Unfortunately, Darwin, as Richard Dawkins said, makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.

      As I encounter one, I initially test whether they are atheists. If they aren’t, they will tell me so. So what such people fail to understand is not limited to the two things mentioned above. But my experience in encountering them is that even though there is ample evidence that intelligent and highly credentialed and respected scientists do exist, they tend to either call them names or ignore their existence. Again, they are Darwinists because they are atheists, not the other way around.

      Thanks again for stopping by and commenting!

  9. Karl Withakay

    “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only belief system that provides satisfactory answers to all four of life’s basic questions – origin, meaning, morality and destiny.”

    Please define “satisfactory” and state the context in which you define it. You apparently fail to realize there are billions of non-Christians who are satisfied with their answers.

    I also dispute your premise that those are life’s four basic questions. Who decided there were four, and who chose those particular four?

    Please do more research on Einstein’s theology before you claim him as a believer in your God. Wikipedia would be as good a place to start as any other:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein#Religious_views

    Even if Einstein had been a devote ID Christian, it would have no bearing on the accuracy of the theory of evolution and common descent. (Look up the logical fallacy of Argument from Authority.)

    1. To Karl Withakay – It’s impossible to give you a complete answer to your question. In order to find satisfactory answers to any question, one must invest a lot of effort. Christianity is a belief system I rejected for the first 57 years of my life. I didn’t have any answers to the questions – Origin (Where did we come from, why is there something rather than nothing, etc.) Meaning – (what’s the point of it all, there must be a something more than live, suffer then die, etc.) Morality – (Why can’t we get along, why is there so much suffering, why can’t we stop killing each other?, etc.) and Destiny – (we all die, then what? is that the end? is there just nothing after that? if so, everything seems so pointless., etc) So, having invested nearly nine years of diligent effort, I can say that I now have a comprehensive worldview. I believe that God created all that we see and all that we don’t see, including time (which He lives outside of) and the three dimensions of matter. So I have an answer to the origin question. Do you know of any other answer that anybody has that is not laughable? I’d love to hear it. As for meaning, God has plans for all of us. This life is just a kind of boot camp. Only certain people get to go with Jesus to paradise. Of the two other people who died on the cross with Him, only one is with Him there today. It is a better place than this one, and I’ll be there. And I’ll have a body – a better one than the one I have now – and I’ll do work that I love to do, and that is fulfilling and exciting. That’s my definition of meaning. As for morality, the history books are full of civilizations that corrupted themselves from within. We are doing it here in America, and as a result, we are sliding down a very long, very slippery slope. So today I believe that God’s definition of morality is far better than any society in history has ever come up with. And for Destiny, well, you know.

      Finally, I did not mean to leave the impression that Einstein was a Christian. At best, he was a Diest (someone who believed in the existence of an all powerful God, but one who was anything but personal. Kind of the ‘watchmaker who wound it up than went away’ kind of God. But he was not an atheist. And, I agree, Einstein’s belief system would have no bearing on the theory of evolution. In dealing with questions of the origin of the universe, he dealt with questions that are far more interesting. (See my post “A Far More Interesting Question“)

  10. Inability to find a “rational explanation” does not warrant belief in God. Think of all the things we know now that we didn’t know then. Each moves God further into the corner. As time goes on, God becomes more and more unnecessary. In a hundred years or a thousand, God will be relegated to mythology.

    I understand your need to believe but I think your need to “testify” is like dancing naked – it’s best for everyone if you do it behind closed doors.

    1. To Skeptic – “Inability to find a “rational explanation” does not warrant belief in God.” I didn’t say it did. But God is already in every corner. As Abraham Kuyper said, “…there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!” Sorry you find that offensive.

  11. I am disappointed but not surprised. You start out by calling scientists liars, fools, frauds and worse. You lie and say you want honest dialog and when I offer it to you; you retreat back into lies. You say no one has ever answered these questions, that no one can answer these questions. I answer them and you justify your lies that you are “witnessing”. Must be some strange kind of “witnessing” that starts out by lying. If that is the “witnessing” that your religion and world view teaches, I want no part of it.

    You don’t know any other system well enough to know if it has answers, and you wouldn’t recognize answers if they were laid out in front of you. You haven’t got a clue about science or the scientific method. You haven’t even looked at the system you subscribe to carefully enough to know if the “answers” it provides are right, are wrong, or are not even wrong.

    What is actually worse is that you don’t even care. You don’t care that you spread false lies about evolution, about common descent, or about anything. You don’t care what you say, so long as you can justify it by your “witnessing”. Jesus said that a man is judged by what comes out of his mouth. When you try to convince me by telling me things that I know are lies, all you show me is that you are untrustworthy. If you will lie about petty unimportant things, you will lie about anything.

    Scientists must have very high standards of intellectual integrity. Interesting that you mention Feynman, I have a quote from him on the front page of my blog, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.” My standards are so much higher than yours. Every working scientist has higher standards than you do. We have to. Reality is difficult to figure out. Illiterate Bronze Age goat herders didn’t figure out the secrets of the universe. They just made stuff up. It is easy to make stuff up. That is what you did with your lies about evolution. Figuring stuff out is a lot harder than just making stuff up, lying about it and then convincing yourself that the lies are true.

    You never did answer any of my questions. The one I would really like an answer to is this.

    God will spend infinitely more effort in torturing a human (eternity in Hell) rather than spend a finite effort to show that human that He exists and so can avoid that infinite torture. How is it that you consider that behavior to be loving and beneficent? “and they were judged every man according to their works.” (Rev 20.13) and also “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Mat 7.1), and also ” Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned” (Luk 6.37)

    I know you can’t answer the question because there isn’t an answer. Any entity that would spend infinite effort torturing a self-aware being isn’t loving and beneficent. Your God, as you understand Him isn’t loving and beneficent. Your “system” (The Gospel of Jesus Christ ) can’t deal with that except by delusion and denial, by lying to yourself about what words mean, and what actions mean.

    When I find that I was mistaken about something, I change what I think. I abandon ideas once they have been shown to be wrong. All scientists do that. All scientists have to do that. That is the most important part of being a scientist. I don’t understand how people can live their lives latched onto ideas that are wrong. I know that people do, I just don’t understand it. What is the point?

    1. Daedalus – I said I wanted to be able to call you friend and brother. I said I cared enough about you to pray to my God to save you from the pit of Hell. I get that you don’t want that.

      It’s obvious neither of us will ever switch sides. Nearly every accusation or argument you use in the first three paragraphs above could be used against you. I won’t bother to respond that way, however, because you have your mind made up. I do have to respond to the scripture references you use here. First, the people to whom the Revelations passage applies are only those who because of pride, never submitted to the authority and Lordship of Christ. The reason this is important is that there is no person on Earth righteous enough to enter into the Kingdom based on his own works. We are all guilty of sin. But God loved us so much that He gave his only son, so that whoever believed him would have eternal life. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

      The passages in Matthew and Luke are instructions to us. We are not to judge, because we judge unfairly. The passage right after the one in Matthew says “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3″Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

      God will not expend any effort at all in torturing you for eternity. He will simply remove Himself and all that He has been doing for you since the day you were conceived. He does not want that. He never did. But when He decided to create us, he decided to give us free will (He made us in his image). Without the will to reject him, we would only be robots. So the eternity you spend without Him will not be pleasant. But it is what you insisted on. It’s what you have chosen.

      I’m still praying for you. I don’t want that either.

  12. Karl Withakay

    How is it impossible for you to answer the following questions?

    How do you define satisfactory in regards to your four answers being satisfactory?

    What is the context of that definition? (Do you contend that those answers are satisfactory for everyone, or just to those who share your belief system?)

    Who decided there were four basic questions of life, and who chose those particular four?

    RE: “So I have an answer to the origin question. Do you know of any other answer that anybody has that is not laughable?”

    That implies that your answer is not laughable. It may not be you, but it is laughable to me and many others.

    So why did you bring up Einstein in the first place? You sated of your God, “He is the one of whom Einstein said “God does not play dice.” You God is no more Einstein’s god than Allah or any other prime unmoved mover.

    Both here at over at Neurologica, you have repeatedly refused to directly answer question placed to you, instead choosing to dodge the questions by answering unasked questions, replying with your own questions, or ignoring the questions outright. You are not engaging in an intellectually honest debate or dialog.

    I don’t think any of us are expecting to change the others’ minds here, but it would be polite if you’re going to engage in a friendly dialog to actually answer questions put to you.

  13. Karl Withakay

    Another RE: “So I have an answer to the origin question. Do you know of any other answer that anybody has that is not laughable?”

    That also implies that the person with an answer is correct by default in the absence of a better answer. That is not true. Look up the logical fallacies of “God of the gaps”, “Argument fromIgnorance”, and others.

    http://skepticwiki.org/index.php/Logic_and_Logical_Fallacies(index)

    http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html

    1. Karl, it implies only that nobody else has a plausible answer. The Christian answer may not be the best one, but for now at least, it’s the only one out there. You can pretend it’s not there, or that it doesn’t really matter. But there it is.

  14. Karl – I typically avoid answering questions like that because the answers do not typically matter to the questioner and no answer will be accepted by them; they are straw questions. Apparently they do matter to you, though, so let me give them a shot.

    In using the word satisfactory, I mean to say that the answers are intellectually defensible, and that they corroborate known facts and observations. Satisfactory does not mean conclusive. As to context, it is neither necessary for one to completely accept or completely reject my belief system or any belief system – only to be convinced that the answer is possible, and that it is not precluded by another set of facts.

    There is no magic in the specific four questions I listed. They seem like good ones to me. They came from Ravi Zacharias. (www.rzim.org) Charles Colson uses these: Where did we come from, why is the world in such a mess, is there a solution, and what is my purpose. I like those too – I just prefer Ravi’s more.

    The next item is a statement, not a question, but I will ask you, on what basis do you call my answer to origin laughable? And be careful in your reply. I am not talking about the origin of the species. I am talking about the origin of the universe – of everything that exists – and of life itself. The inconvenient truth is that physicists are now nearly unified in their belief in the big bang as the origin of the universe. And the evidence appears to strongly imply that matter, energy, space and time all began in that event. If they are right, then the obvious question is, what was the cause of the bang? To assert that it was uncaused is just irrational. Even if it had been just a big, catastrophic explosion – radically unstructured and random as all other explosions are – rather than the extraordinarily ordered event the big bang appears to be, there still has to be a cause, unless one is willing to leave the realm of naturalistic causes. Yet we have to twist ourselves up in an incredible knot to stay there. No matter what you attribute the cause to be, there must have been one. You get to choose the cause. Part of the reason I believe that God is the cause, is that I know of no other rational answer to the question of cause.

    I brought Einstein up because he struggled with belief in God all his life. He saw compelling evidence of order and design in the universe, but was never able to accept a loving, personal God. But like Hawking, he saw more reason to believe in some powerful, creative, supernatural being, than reason to reject the idea out of hand.

    Now in closing, let me say this; fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Forget about origins for a minute. Ask whether the teachings of Christ are wise. Ask whether they present the possibility of a more fulfilling live THIS side of eternity. He is the way, and the truth, and the life. So, if I’m right, I get a better, more fulfilling life now and an eternal reward better than anything I can imagine. And if I’m wrong, I still get a better life now, and I will just become worm food and won’t care. Either way, I win.

    I hope that helps.

  15. Karl Withakay

    Argument form ignorance and god of the gaps are not good arguments. “I have an answer and you don’t, so I’m right. and “I explain what can’t be currently explained with the mystery of God” don’t make your position correct. You can pretend that you have argued logically, but you haven’t.

    You are completely unable to see outside your own context if you really believe “The Christian answer may not be the best one, but for now at least, it’s the only one out there”
    (That’s also a non sequitor, by the way: Logically, if it is the only answer, it therefore is the best answer by default and also the worst; Logic would still allow that it may, however, not be a good answer.)

    Those were hardly straw questions, you are the one who made the claim “The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only belief system that provides satisfactory answers to all four of life’s basic questions – origin, meaning, morality and destiny.” and expected us to accept that premise without support or definition, I just asked for clarification as to what you were claiming.

    In regards to your “intellectually defensible” statement, you have yet to provide any intellectual defense for your position.

    If one says “life, the universe and everything is so complex, it has to have an intelligent origin”, that is essentially arguing from incredulity.
    http://skepticwiki.org/index.php/Argument_from_Incredulity

    I consider your answer to origin laughable because you don’t have a real answer, you have a placeholder, a god to represent answers to the questions you don’t have answers to. I don’t want to make straw man arguments or put words in your mouth, but I presume you have no answer for the origin of God, but are OK with that because because God is eternal and always, and that is somehow intellectually satisfying to you.

    I don’t have an answer for what caused the big bang, but I don’t fill in that gap in my knowledge by inventing an all powerful deity to satisfy my need/desire for an answer. I accept the fact that I don’t have an explanation and may never have one.

    So you brought up Einstein, and essentially admit his belief in a god wasn’t based on any personal knowledge of God, but his attempt to fill in his understanding of the complexity of the universe with a god that fit with what he did understand.

    Einstein invented his own personal god using his own criteria to explain what he knew and what he didn’t know about the universe. Possibly he couldn’t accept the concept of a universe without a god than he could the concept that quantum phenomena are inherently probabilistic. If so, he was operating from preconceived notions he was unable to extract himself from, not due to intellectual reasons, but due to the fact that they conflicted with his established world views.

    In regards to your last paragraph, you introduce some questions that are really a different discussion entirely in regards to Christ’s teachings, but you end it by basically restating Pascal’s wager. I can restate that wager substituting the teachings of Buddha, Mohamed, Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or El Ron Hubbard for those of Christ.

    1. What studies or surveys are you citing? Although I doubt it, they may exist. So if they do, I’d like to know some things about them, including who did them, what the questions were, how many people were invited and how many responded, and when they were done.

      But, assuming there are some, and that they were fair and recent, and even compelling proof that believers are inferior in intelligence, I have a few questions.

      1. What do you do with that information? Beyond allowing you to feel superior, what does it accomplish?
      2. Do the statistics invalidate the fact that there are a number of very intelligent, very educated, very erudite people who are also Christian? Would you call them aberrations? Do their arguments for the logic of their beliefs deserve an audience?
      3. Assuming the evolution paradigm is correct, man is only the current most highly evolved species. When there is a higher one, will we become slaves? Part of their food? What will give us any rights – any sense of human dignity at all?

      I have plenty of other questions, but let’s see how you do with those.

  16. Pingback: Consistent Dissonance « Bloom Where You’re Planted

  17. Lance Smith

    Faith…. IS…. the substance of things hoped for…. the evidence of things unseen.

    To me… it speaks clearly that FAITH… is a substance…. such as the air we breath. We may not be able to see it. But it is there.

    A Christian in the flesh can only believe by Faith, because he/she knows nothing of the influances of the spirtual relm of things.

    I only really discovered how spiritual forces are at work after I was Baptised as Jesus was.

    We must constantly be on guard against these forces because they do affect us continuosly.

    I know what spiritual warfare is like.

    It’s not fun.

    The devil does roam about like a roaring lion. It is like having a target on your back.

    And we need others in the battle to fight them off.

    Mostly we need to plead the blood of Jesus to fight them off.

    We need all the weapons that Paul writes about in Ethisians. We need the Full Armor of God.

    The Belt of Truth.
    The Gospel of Peace.
    The Helmet of Salvation.
    The Sword of the Spirit. (The Word of God)
    The Sheild of Faith.

    We need a strong Church body, a great Pastor such as Pastor Dale to teach us. And to devote time each day in Gods word, and to pray continuosly.

    In all things, Pray!

    Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all real, and only when you’ve experianced His power in your life, is when you will KNOW that He is real.

    I have experianced His power in my life so I KNOW.

    Miricles do happen, even today.

    We do have to Pray, Obey and Believe to make them happen.

    And sometimes, even if we don’t Obey, they happen anyway, but only by God’s grace.

  18. Thanks for your comments, Lance. It’s good to have someone who has the ears to hear stop by and comment. Others may congratulate themselves for thinking they are superior to us because of their higher level of intelligence, but we have the blessing of knowing Christ, for whom we would gladly give all that we have.

    Somebody will probably want to ridicule you though, just as they have ridiculed me. But stay strong. The message of the cross of Christ is foolishness to those who are perishing.

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