[POEM] Burn: A Limerick

I’m finding I’m very agnostic.
Some people would tell me it’s caustic.
They tell me I’ll burn,
if only I’d learn.
But for me, I think it’s fantasic.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Yeah, yeah, I know; limericks are supposed to be humorous. Oh well, it just came to me, and I liked it, so too bad. XD

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94 thoughts on “[POEM] Burn: A Limerick

  1. Rana,
    I was trying to figure out just what you mean precisely by being agnostic. I looked it up, and if I understand you correctly you mean something like the following: “Agnosticism is the view that humanity lacks the requisite knowledge or sufficient rational grounds to justify either belief: that there exists some deity, or that no deities exist”. I believe there is abundant evidence, both around us, and even within us to point to the idea of a Creator. I believe the exact identity and nature of this Creator is a more legitimate challenge. I almost added, “which I believe is what you are wrestling with”, but then checked myself. I don’t think you are wrestling with it. I think you are toying and tinkering with it, and there is an enormous difference. With your current uncommitted level of effort and pursuit, you will not discover a thing. When you get to a point where you MUST know, where you will not take “No” for an answer, you may find just who this God is. It will take coming into a situation of such desperation that ever fiber of your being cries out to God, and you become willing to meet Him on His terms, not your own. Then you will find Him, and not until then. During this time you will also have opportunity to go after some worthless substitute – in other words pressure does not change the heart or bring revelation. When there is a fire lit under our ass, however, we do tend to seek solutions with a sincerity like never before! Funny how that works. I would also say that, given that we all die, agnosticism is an extremely irresponsible posture toward God and the eternal. You may not be certain about God, but you certainly are not agnostic (not knowing) about the fact of your own mortality. Given the certainty of death, I would not want to wander haphazardly into eternity. Start there – with the certainty of your death.

    • RT,

      I’m not going to bother discussing your need to define agnosticism.

      The key to your point is, “I believe…” You believe there is evidence. You perceive the world around you as evidence of a Creator. You cannot consider the possibilities if there is no Creator behind it, or if that Creator is different from the one you believe to be true, and in that, you and I go separate ways in our thinking. That’s your choice and your belief, and I have no issue with that.

      You also ‘believe’ that I am wrestling with my decision on the concept of god. (Yes, I am going to use the first word you were considering. If you had decided not to use that word, you would not have mentioned considering it in the first place. I see no difference between your use of ‘wrestle’ and ‘toying,’ and frankly, I take more offense to using ‘toying’ and ‘tinkering,’ as they suggest a very juvenile perspective on the issue.) As the saying goes, just because you believe something doesn’t make it true. This is something I do take issue with. You ‘believe’ that I am ‘tinkering,’ that I am in an ‘uncommitted level of effort and pursuit.’ These are your opinions, and prove your lack of interest in what I say about myself. It also shows a complete lack of respect for my views. You already know that my stance is respect, that just because I do not agree with your views does not mean I claim your views are wrong, or that they are wrong for you as an individual. Your last comment is a testament to how disrespectful you are willing to be in regard to my views, despite my respect for yours. You feel justified in this disrespect because you claim to be telling me the truth, what you believe I need to hear in order to change my ways and be saved. You do not trust me to understand myself, and you demean my views as childish (i.e. using the terms ‘toying’ and ‘tinkering’). I am telling you here and now that taking such a stance is not going to get you a civil debate or a change in my heart. An attitude of treating me like a child with no understanding is not going to get you anywhere in this discussion, no more than Ashley demeaning your own views as childish.

      To your point about my coming to know the god you believe, I still do not understand why you keep coming back here and commenting if it is as you say: “When you get to a point where you MUST know, where you will not take “No” for an answer, you may find just who this God is. It will take coming into a situation of such desperation that ever fiber of your being cries out to God, and you become willing to meet Him on His terms, not your own. Then you will find Him, and not until then.” NOT UNTIL THEN are your words. Well then, what are you commenting for? Which is it? That you can convince me to know God, or is it that I must be in a state of trauma and need? I have no problem having a discussion or debate with you, but debate is not the intent of your comment. The intent of your comment here is to push me toward your views. I can see no other way to interpret your comment. You demean my views as juvenile and naive, you tell me that I will not be in the right until I have a ‘fire under my ass,’ and despite saying that, “pressure does not change the heart or bring revelation,” you call my views ‘irresponsible’ and tell me that I need to change my ways by contemplating my mortality. How is this not pressuring?

      And as for my mortality, I can assure you beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have indeed contemplated my mortality, as well as the mortality of those around me. Such contemplation has helped lead me to the views I have now. To assume that there is any existence after this, as I have said before, is a devaluing of this life. To forsake this life’s importance by assuming any kind of afterlife, a life of heaven or of hell, is inconsiderate and, to borrow your word, irresponsible to me. You say, “Given the certainty of death, I would not want to wander haphazardly into eternity.” For me, given the certainty of death, I do not want to forsake the life I have for an eternity that may not come. I will not gamble the life I have on an afterlife that may not exist in the first place. I’ve said it before, and I will say it until the day I die, I value every moment of this life as if it is all I will ever know, and I will accept any and all consequences for refuting any possible afterlife I might be walking into after my death, if that is what ends up being the truth.

      • Rana,
        I did not mean “toying and tinkering” in the sense of childishness, but more as a picture of tossing around interesting concepts as compared to wrestling with every fiber of your being to understand the truth, and willing to pay any price for it. In regard to speaking to you, though it may take a desperation on your part to hear, I have spoken to many people who were incredibly antagonist to me, who later, had an encounter with the Lord in the midst of an extremely difficult situation that opened their heart up to reach for answers beyond what that grey organ between our two ears can provide. One was an extremely difficult person who grew up with some of my kids, who I talked to with a great deal of strength on certain matters. He did not hear then, but after all sorts of difficulties, including becoming a heroin addict, he came to the Lord. I later ran into him and he told me of his transformation, and said, “Mr. Heesen, I HATED you back then, but all the things you said to me came rolling back at just the right time while I was at wits end and needed it. He’s a changed man now and doing very well. I once spoke to a woman who broke down in tears right, received Christ right on the spot, and was instantly filled with joy. I learned she died a year later. Another man I spoke to told, me, “Nah, man, I’m not ready. He died a week later. I just do not base the value on what I speak to people by their reactions. Neither do I apologize for my certainty, or for speaking what I know to be true. Certainty is the cardinal sin of political correctness, because it is a “sin” against the single tenet of this religion-like belief system, which is tolerance.
        I do not speak about the things I am not sure about with certainty, neither do I feign uncertainty when I am certain, and I understand that the second is terribly offensive to a great deal of people. My goal is not to offend people or not to offend them. It is to speak the truth to them and let the truth do what it will.
        RT

        • In other words, again, you have no interest in discussion or debate. You are only interested in the victory of seeing me change my ways to your own. You are only interested in sharing your personal truth until I concede.

          I have no problem with your certainty, Thunder, but your certainty is only for yourself. It is your personal truth, your personal belief. I have known far too many people say the same things you always do, telling me I will see the light, I will know their god someday, if I only trust in that particular god, if I give myself over, if I come to a point where I beg any god that will listen, and theirs will. They all find themselves to be preaching truth, but they all say different things. They all have different gods, just like you do, at least in my eyes. I am not offended by your comments and your message. I’m offended that you have no respect for my views, nor respect for me as a person to follow my own path.

          Do you know what I read at night before I go to sleep, Thunder? I read three passages from a combination of these books: the Tao Te Ching, a book of philosophers’ teachings (Socrates, Plato, Neitzsche, among many others), the Bible, Faust, Dante’s Paradiso (I decided to start with the more positive book and work my way to Inferno), or the Buddhist Scriptures. Any given evening I pick up three of these and pick a point to start, and just read. You treat me as if I make no consideration for Christianity at all, as if I’m lost under the covers with no way out but your shining light. It does not occur to you that my path is very well-lit. My path is simply not yours.

          Thunder, I appreciate your debate of my views. I sincerely do, when you actually debate them. When you throw them down as insignificant and naive, that is not debate. When you put out these stories of people you’ve helped to receive your god, you sound as if that is your only intent with me, and that kind of intent is not the purpose of this blog or my posting my views. I am here to discuss and debate, not to have my views dismissed and demeaned in the shadow of your own personal beliefs and truths. If you do not wish to debate my stance on things on an equal plain of respect, then there is no point in commenting here. I would have expected you to recognize that.

          • Rana,
            I don’t mean to dismiss your views, and believe it or not, I do not look down on you. I view you as having a great deal of potential, with the jury still out on where that leads. What you are picking up from me, perhaps, is my weariness of the “tolerance” culture and with it the demonizing of certainty. You referred to my “personal truth”. I reject “personal truth” hands down. I much prefer a challenge to my concept of truth, and if I am wrong, my problem would not be a matter of my personal truth vs. yours, but of outright error on my part. And to recognize an error in myself is progress, in my mind. (And I use the word “error”, as opposed to “lies”, when speaking of unintentionally embracing what is not true. We cannot debate anything at all unless we fundamentally agree (fundies? :)) that there are absolute truths, and that we can find ourselves in various positions in relation to those truths. Note that I also believe that within the parameters of absolute truth there is much room for flexibility and diversity – the style of your website as compared to mine, for instance. In regard to Jesus Christ, Buddha, Allah, or outright atheism, I do not believe there is room to accommodate more than one of these under the tent of truth. If Jesus, for instance, was not who he said he was, he must either be delusional or an outright liar. And Allah is nothing like the Judeo-Christian God. Scripture actually speaks of the many “gods” in the world, and speaks of them as “principalities and powers”, as very powerful and deceptive demonic forces. We are in the midst of a great contest where God is settling things once and for all – addressing both mankind and fallen angels at the same time in one giant arena. (But that’s another subject)
            I have a sincere question for you (or rather a series of questions): What is your goal in reading these various spiritual writings? Is it understanding different views? Is it to actually find the truth? Curiosity? A kind of interest or hobby? Something else? Openness has its virtues, but I would submit to you that you are right now at the most open point your life will ever be, and as you go forward your life will greatly narrow. Your choices – conscious or unconscious – will begin to funnel you to decision points. (And to not decide is to decide – either for the status quo or for a default choice of some kind.) They say that nature abhors a void, making forever openness an untenable position. Something or other will fill the void whether you like it or not.
            You said, “When you put out these stories of people you’ve helped to receive your god, you sound as if that is your only intent with me, and that kind of intent is not the purpose of this blog or my posting my views. I am here to discuss and debate, not to have my views dismissed and demeaned in the shadow of your own personal beliefs and truths.” I am trying to get an honest grip on my true intentions. I’d say that whenever I discuss an issue, my goal is understanding, and when I debate an issue, my goal is persuasion. (I guess that’s pretty honest) I am fixed in my basic views in regard to God – only because I have had many real and life-changing encounters with God, and have experienced His presence, guidance, and communicating with me on a regular basis (as recently as today), as is true of most “fundies” I know. I cannot deny these realities. If I did for the sake of being more “open”, I’d be lying. My understanding of God deepens, and enriches, but does not fundamentally change. (As in foundationally) My other goal in any debate or discussion is my love of truth – whether giving it or receiving it – it doesn’t matter to me. In regard to my desire for you and others to come into a living relationship with God that I know God has for you, I plead guilty as charged. Though I’ve never met you, I have a genuine care and concern for your welfare. I care even about that sour-puss Ashley (If only there was a way to slap somebody over the internet!  ) I pray for you and the various people I communicate with on this website. Not all Christians would take this harder approach on a website like this (And I take an even harder approach with my fellow Christians when it comes down to truth.) This comes from my fundamental belief (There’s that “fundie” word again!) that truth, though difficult or even obnoxious at times, will set us free once we recognize it and embrace it without condition. I have no expectation that you should just drop your beliefs and receive what I am saying. I do, however, have an expectation that whatever is spoken that is true is like a seed, and if that seed one day finds the right conditions, it will sprout and eventually bear fruit. And if you want to think that way about what you say to me, I’m OK with that too. I’ve on many occasions felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me through non-Christians. He is the Spirit of Truth, and will affirm truth wherever He finds it. (And by the way, lies also come to us in seed form, take root, and bear an ugly harvest of death when full-grown – of which we must beware.)

          • Thunder,

            If you claim your belief to be in line with absolute truth, then there is no room in your mind for debate, plain and simple. You call your belief absolute truth, and by going into a discussion with the preconceived notion that your belief is absolute truth, then you by default will accept no challenge to that truth. No matter what logical deduction I present to you in regard to the contradictions of the nature of your god, the nature of your beliefs, you will dismiss them with a convoluted explanation which will maintain your foothold on your ‘absolute truth.’ Just as people cannot debate without a fundamental agreement that absolute truths exist, people cannot also debate when one party involved in said debate claims to know truth. You say that ‘there is much room for flexibility and diversity’ in absolute truth. This is a complete contradiction to what it means to be absolute. There is no wavering, no flexibility with absolutes. Either they are absolute truths or they are not. It is a non-sequitur in my opinion that a man can debate something when he already demands that his view is truth, absolute truth. So no, you are not willing to debate or even discuss your own ‘truths.’ Even when presented with a rebuttal, your preconceived notion of absolute truth will force you to deny any and all arguments presented against that truth by default. Only by accepting that you have a belief, and that is all it is, belief, and not truth, can you possibly enter into a debate that will in any way be fruitful for both parties. This is why you accomplish nothing in these threads with Ashley or Shell, and frankly with me. You come in yelling to the hilltops that you have absolute truth in your relationship with your god. To say that coming here is to automatically prove to us that you are not up for debating or discussing, you are only here to preach and convert others to your ‘truth.’ Do not claim you are willing to debate when you have already made up your mind who is going to win that debate, being you.

            As for your questions, I read those books for philosophical understanding and to develop a deeper understanding and acceptance of others’ beliefs; not my own acceptance of those beliefs, mind you, but the acceptance of what others believe, or what they claim as truth as you do. Regarding a void, my void is already filling with philosophy, and it is eye-opening, fulfilling, and refreshing.

            Regarding your views, you said, “I cannot deny these realities. If I did for the sake of being more “open”, I’d be lying. My understanding of God deepens, and enriches, but does not fundamentally change.” I’m not asking you to lie, to forsake anything, etc. I’m asking you to be empathetic. I’m asking you to recognize that your ‘absolute truth’ is only knowable to you. Your evidence, your experiences, can be fundamentally and soulfully known by no one else but yourself. This is why your truth is not absolute, it is personal. You have a personal truth, built on personal experiences and observations and interpretations. It is your path in life which establishes this truth for you, and it is yours and yours alone.

            This is not to say there are no absolute truths. It is to say, however, that absolutes in the realm of spirituality cannot be known as truths to all people. These truths are built on personal perspectives on life and the world we observe around us. You come to one conclusion, I come to another, but we see the same world. Your truth is not absolute, Thunder, it is personal to you and you alone. The only personal truth I hold to in terms of the spirit is that I do not and cannot know the absolute truth of the spirit. I can have a perspective on the concept, and so have a personal truth, but no absolute truth of the spirit can be proven, and so it cannot be known, it can only be believed. This is why you cannot debate your views, because you deny that truth cannot be known absolutely.

          • Rana,
            When did you sneak up in this discussion? I was going back and forth with Ashley all day long (And it was a decent discussion), got another email notification, started reading, and all of a sudden started thinking, “Hey, this isn’t Ashley!”
            I just want to respond to one comment you made. You said:
            You say that ‘there is much room for flexibility and diversity’ in absolute truth. This is a complete contradiction to what it means to be absolute. There is no wavering, no flexibility with absolutes. Either they are absolute truths or they are not. It is a non-sequitur in my opinion that a man can debate something when he already demands that his view is truth, absolute truth.
            I do not think I said, “in absolute truth”, and if I did, it is not what I meant. What I meant is that there are absolute truths, AND WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF THOSE absolutely inflexible ABSOLUTE TRUTHS there is flexibility and freedom. God has boundaries, but within those boundaries we are free to roam. WITHIN those boundaries we are safe, and are free to be creative. OUTSIDE of those boundaries we are in great danger. I hope that clears it up what I meant. As another example, once we accept the law of gravity, we are free to work with it. We can drop a bag of grain out a grain door in our barn rather than hoof it down the steps. If we do not accept gravity, we may find ourselves plummeting to our destruction.

            • I have been watching your back and forths with Ashley all day. I simply could not respond to them at work, but I get emails for every post on my blog, so I followed the commentary.

  2. Yep, I believe I am correct in my assumption that the religious have an irrational fear of death. We all must face it RT, some of us choose to do so with our integrity intact.

    How any kind of proselytising fundy could get this far along without understanding the meaning of “agnostic” is a mystery to me. How the same could twist a simple limerick into a Sunday sermon is just sticking your bible in places it doesn’t belong. Look up integrity RT, and tolerance, since you already have your dictionary out.

    • Shelldiger,
      I’ve known what an agnostic is. I looked up the definition because I wanted to be precise. I recently responded to Ashley (our resident atheist) that he believes there is no God. He got up in a huff and split hairs, saying he doesn’t believe there is no God, but rather doesn’t believe in God, claiming his non-belief relieves him or the burden of proof. In this ridiculous environment of semantics, I just wanted to be sure I was speaking of the technically correct definition, lest the conversation derail on a ridiculous technicality.
      In regard to your assertion this was a simple limerick which I turned into a Sunday sermon; it is not a simple limerick. It is an ideologically loaded limerick designed to communicate a very definite message. And I didn’t twist it. Read it.
      In regard to facing death and facing in with integrity, I do not believe a person with integrity, with consciousness, can deny the fact of a Creator. Since when does consciousness come from what is not conscious, morality from what is amoral (the elements), or meaning from meaninglessness? And if you go off into oblivion (no afterlife), I do not think your integrity would mean much one way or the other, even if you did possess it. If you simply die, and that’s it, you will, in fact, possess nothing – neither your integrity, consciousness, memory, relationships to loved ones, or the fruits of your labors – not even the awareness that you have lived or that you are, in fact, dead. You will be precisely like the person who never was in every way.

      • For the record you cannot prove your god is anything but a fairy tale, making a claim that something exists with absoulutely zero evidence to support that assertion, is easily and correctly dismissed. The burden of proof lies with those who make such unsupported claims to show their position has merit. You have failed. I am sure you have heard this before, my experience shows me than when people hear something they don’t want to hear, it is quickly ignored and stashed away in that part of the brain that is the equivalent of the trash bin on your computer. That is your problem.

        Of course if you have some actual evidence, please do not hesitate to present it to the scientific community. This would be a groundbreaking event and might get you a Nobel. Many accolades welcome the one who can prove their gods exist. So why has no one yet brought this evidence forth?

        As far as the limerick itself, I read it again, I still did not see anything especially devious in its nature, though it could use a well placed “t”. Could you elaborate? Am I supposed to read it backwards or something? The only message I get (and I hesitate to put words in our host’s mouth) is along the lines of ” I am agnostic, and am fine with that position, despite what the religious may think” You didn’t look up tolerance did you?

        • Shelldiger
          You said, “The only message I get (and I hesitate to put words in our host’s mouth) is along the lines of ” I am agnostic, and am fine with that position, despite what the religious may think”. Please look at the second part again:
          “They tell me I’ll burn,
          if only I’d learn.
          But for me, I think it’s fantasic.”
          This goes beyond uncertain and unsure about God and goes a step farther into mocking at eternal judgment. I think that one who is uncertain should take a more humble approach to these things. I would even say that this limerick goes beyond mocking, and into outright defiance of eternal judgment, as it ends with, “Oh well, it just came to me, and I liked it, so too bad”. Perhaps a limerick is not the best means to address the eternal, any more than it would be fitting to comment on a car accident where one person died and the others were horribly burned for life. (And even that cannot be compared to the eternal “burn” that this limerick speaks of. ) I think these things should sober us rather than being raised as a topic for mirth. The very FACT of using it in this matter I find troubling.
          In regard to “actual evidence” to the existence of God, I believe that no amount of evidence in the world would convince a person who wishes to maintain their independence from God. The world of “evidence” is a subset of the eternal. It is very clear, for instance, that in the world of evidence no one can create from nothing, and that no being can be eternally and self-existent. That is the fundamental difference between us and God, and to seek God within the realm of sense-knowledge alone would be like looking for the moon within the confines of a closet. God transcends sense- knowledge, and since God’s issue with man is pride, He insists on a return to a foundation of faith, from which all things that we see, hear, and can touch proceed. This foundation does not deny the natural realm; it supersedes it. Do you understand that in trying to figure out God on our own terms it is like a possum trying to figure out a human being, what he is doing, how he thinks, and why he is doing it. The possum cannot analyze a human being from anything within its scope of thinking. We do have one very important advantage over the possum, however, in that we have been created in the image of God, while the possum has not been created in the image of man. (Now I’ve never seen you, perhaps you do look like a possum 🙂 ) In other words, God has given us the ability to comprehend His existence and to comprehend what He reveals, and this process of revelation will occur throughout eternity. When we think we have God figured out, He will blow our minds with what we never thought possible – like thinking the solar system is all that is, then discovering that we live in a galaxy of 200 billion solar systems, and before even getting comfortable with that, discover that this galaxy is only one of billions of galaxies, as revealed via the Hubble. And now? We think we see the entire universe. Who’s to say there are not an infinite number of “Big Bangs”, and if these are all part of a still larger system? And what God reveals will never contradict what He has already revealed, just as our knowledge of billions of galaxies does not deny the existence of our own solar system – only puts it in greater perspective. Anyway, I hope I answered your concerns. RT

          • RT, the only questions you have answered for me, have nothing at all to do with this conversation.

            As far as the opossum goes, I see myself as its equal. The opossum is as equally evolved. and just as much a survivor as we are. You seem to think you are superior to the opossum. I dare say I disagree. There is plenty of hard earned evidence to support my assertion. I think we are back to square one here, with you having none to support any of yours. On that note there is much more evidence for the opossum to be a god, than there is for the god you believe in. I can show you the opossum exists.

            As well, with your line of reasoning that all of our scientific achievements and discoveries, are revelations from god, I think the lowly opossum makes more sense of its surroundings than you do.

            For one who follows that kind of anti logic, there is never an desire to learn anything. Every thing that ever was or is to be, is a result of goddidit. As a mostly deterministic, materialistic, non subscriber to woo, I can’t imagine a more ass backwards, immunized to logic, blinded and crippled way of seeing things. There would be no desire for inquiry with that kind of flat earth attitude. If all men had adopted that way of thinking for the last 2000 years, we would still think earthquakes, tsunamis, and tornadoes, were acts of godly magic. We would still think that demons went up your nose to make you sneeze. There would be no modern medicine, because why should there be if everything is gods will/plan? There would be no sciences, because why ask a bunch of stupid questions, when we already have the goddidit answer? The world as we know it would be a x-ian Taliban, vs. the Muslim Taliban age of darkness.

            I would not deny you your beliefs, or your opinions. You are entitled to them. But the assertions and conclusions you make are not based in any measurable reality.

            I’d never have thunk, that a whimsical limerick would have brought forth a dialogue as this…some things you just don’t see coming.

          • Shelldigger,
            I really don’t know what to do with your comment about possums being equal to human beings. I find it very disturbing. I do not wish to be unkind, but your comment certainly is out there. I am seeking some sort of common foundation as a basis for discussion, and don’t know what to do but to continually point to the fact that there is indeed a baseline, immoveable foundation that is independent of what you or I think. I feel as if I’ve entered a strange world on this website where up is down, evil is good, good is evil, what matters supremely (God and eternity!) is of little value, and a possum has as much value as anything else Before deciding that it is I who am out of whack, consider, at least, apart from religious beliefs, that society as a whole does not share your views, and we therefore do not execute or imprison people for killing a possum.
            Shelldigger, there are many people who amble along in life with little thought for God or eternity. This certainly is not good, but they more or less still seem normal. I find, however, that when people willfully shut out God and become entrenched atheists or agnostics, that they take to themselves thoughts and viewpoints in life that are completely bizarre and out of sync with reality. Living in a God-ordained, God- sustained, God-ordered, and God Created world, they will find themselves having to call night, day and day, night in order to justify this, and end up denying common sense and obscuring all that is plain in order to live out this belief system that is contrary to all that is. Through the doctrine of “Tolerance”, they throw off every moral absolute, and yet for all of that, find that they cannot possibly walk out this belief system. They are created in the image of a just God no matter what their stated beliefs. Grab their brand new iPad and run off with it, and suddenly justice matters! God is not about tolerance! In fact He is highly intolerant of even the slightest bit of evil, even as most people would be intolerant of a small fly contaminating our iced tea. Your entire drink would be ruined! Rather than tolerant, God is just, but merciful. And mercy and tolerance are not the same. God is about extending mercy in response to repentance and humility, and executing justice (what is only fair) in response to pride and unrepentance. God cannot be manipulated. God does not change. He is the foundation of all reality. God owes no man anything. Who has ever given to God that God should repay him? God gives freely and takes great delight in giving us everything in its time. What He wants from us is our hearts.

  3. Rana,

    Who said this wasn’t humorous? I thought it was hilarious! To quote Bill and Ted, it’s “most excellent”. LOL
    Shelldigger,
    I have tended to notice that in my dealing with fundies, it has become very apparent to me that they don’t know the meaning of many, many words, not the least of which are agnostic and atheist. It’s not the least bit surprising to me. As a matter of fact, I would argue that it is a pre-requisite necessity to becoming a fanatical fundy. You start with the foregone conclusion “god exists” and then you shoe-horn “evidence”, change the meaning of words to suit your needs and voila, you have your world view all mapped out for you. I asked RT in a previous post a few days ago point-blank, if he could just acknowledge that I don’t believe in god in the same manner that he doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. He just can’t wrap his head around that fact that I don’t believe that a god (any god) exists. He just can’t “believe” that. In his mind, you just HAVE to believe. It’s impossible not to. As you can well imagine, the idea of logic is a completely foreign concept to that kind of person. Apparently, logic is nothing more than the process of “splitting hairs” or “semantics” and therefore the logical fallacy of The Burden of Proof can be dismissed in such a way. But then again, what would you expect from a person who can read a limmerick and see it as an “ideologically loaded limerick designed to communicate a very definite message”? I’ll bet he sees messages from god in his mashed potatoes too.

    • Ashley,

      I agree with your assessment of RT’s dismissal of your views, as he has done the same to me in the above comment. I have to say, though, that the mashed potatoes comment was a bit much. I’d appreciate if you toned it down. It’s not necessary to get into such insults.

      • Rana,

        Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself. That door has been open since day one. I must say though, I’m surprised that with all I’ve said to him to date, that would be the one you’d scold me for! LOL
        Annnnnywho, moving on. I was reading through some of your discussion with RT and could help but be blown away by this:
        “We cannot debate anything at all unless we fundamentally agree (fundies? :)) that there are absolute truths, and that we can find ourselves in various positions in relation to those truths. Note that I also believe that within the parameters of absolute truth there is much room for flexibility and diversity”
        Now if that’s not the most obfuscating gibberish ever written, I don’t know what is. Apparently there are absolute truths but there’s room for “diversity” and “flexibility” within those truths. In other words, the only way to debate with him is to recognize that there are absolute truths (because you can’t otherwise debate) and then also recognize that some people are wrong and some people are right in respect to those truths. Geez, I wonder who’s right and who’s wrong? Any guesses? This is precisely why you’ll never, ever get anywhere with him and is the reason why you feel he oftentimes dismisses and disrespects your opinions and views. To debate with him, you have to start with a certainty and then see which side you fall on, when in reality, the only certainty is the principle of uncertainty. All we know, is how little we know.
        This is a demonstration that the word “truth” is not fully understood. I had meant to mention this to you earlier as well – your use of the words “personal truth”. I understand what you’re trying to say, but that phrase is, in my opinion, not using the full capacity of the English language and I shall say why. I hear religious people say this all the time “Well, it’s true for me”. This is utterly ridiculous. Something is either true or it’s false. It can’t be true for some people and false for others. The way to phrase something like that is “this is how you perceive reality” or “this is what you believe (or think or feel)” for example. There are 3 responses to claims of any kind. True, false or I don’t know. The statement “god exists” is either true or false. I don’t believe that god exists, but there is no possible way that I could say for certain that that is a false statement. The absolute best I can do is say that it’s highly unlikely that a god exists and I will carry on living my life as if he doesn’t exist. Therefore my position is “I don’t know”. Science has refuted the existence of god but has not (and never will) disprove god. Someone who says the statement “god exists” is true is on very shaky ground. Non-existent ground I would say. There’s no evidence that supports that position and it’s based on nothing more than circular logic, ad-hoc reasoning, anecdotal and hearsay testimony and circumstantial “evidence”. It’s the kind of “evidence” and “logic” that can be used to prove the existence of any and everything.
        I chose to live my life adhering to philosophical tenets, asking questions that may never be answered and being perfectly ok with the answer “I don’t know” in the meantime. The religious seem very content to do the opposite and believe in answers that may never be questioned. Nothing could possibly be more poisonous than that.

        • Ashley, my statement on absolutes is not so hard to understand. What I am saying is that if we cannot agree that there are absolute truths that exist independent of what either you or I believe, there is no basis for a conversation. After acknowledging the fact of them, we can attempt by logic and knowledge to determine what those absolutes are. Bbut what we happen to believe about them does not change them, only our relationship to them. Think of the issue of heaven and hell in the next life like a question of whether 13,000 volt power lines are turned on or are off. What we believe about them does not change reality. Touch those lines when you are grounded, and you will discover a reality that supersedes what you happen to believe about it. Some absolutes are knowable and some are not. (Though I believe that those that pertain to us are very much knowable, including the existence of God.) As far as flexibility and diversity within absolutes, all that means is that all things are not a matter of absolutes. You’re an engineer. You cannot defy the laws of physics and have a good outcome. Given adherence to these FUNDAMENTAL principles, you are then quite free in your design. That’s why we don’t just have one model of car for everyone. They can be different colors, have different design lines, 4, 6, 5,8, or 12 cylinders, 2-door, 4-door, 4wd, etc. But what they cannot do is defy the laws of physics. This is the same with morality, relationships, and spirituality, which also run on certain laws – sowing and reaping, etc. What I am saying is that adherence to God’s law does not make us robots. In fact it frees us from the catastrophes of things that just don’t work, ending in divorce, soured relationships, depression, financial ruin, and in the case of spiritual laws, eternal ruin. We see law and order all around us. We observe that laws also apply to relationships. In fact we talk of making deposits and withdrawals in relationships and of coming up bankrupt in them if we are not careful. Order is everywhere! God is a God of order. He also is a God of freedom. The ocean is free-flowing, but becomes disastrous when it exceeds its boundaries (Tsunami) Order and freedom are complimentary, and God’s laws promote freedom. They keep us from shattering upon the rocks of immoveable reality.
          RT

          • RT,

            I know EXACTLY what absolute truths you’re talking about. The absolute truth that god exists and the absolute truth that heaven and hell exist. If Rana can’t “fundamentally agree” with you, then you can’t debate anything according to you. Yes, there are many absolute truths in the world. The existence of god, heaven and hell are not among those truths no matter how many times you tell yourself that, no matter how much preaching you do, no matter how many definitions of words you change to suit your own purposes and no matter how much you BELIEVE that it’s an absolute truth. You don’t have a single solitary shred of evidence, you don’t even have a remotely compelling argument. You’re got nothing more than ignorance and wish-thinking and fear.
            As for the rest of your statement about cars and 13000V power lines, there’s nothing more to be said. It is a perfect example of a person who is willing to say absolutely anything, no matter how ridiculous it sounds to “prove” their god exists. If what you just wrote is the best you can do to prove your god exists, then I guess that’s the best you can do. I’ve said this before. You still haven’t convinced me that you know anymore about the nature of the universe than I do and you certainly haven’t convinced me that you know what happens after we die any more than I do. That entire post, as usual, was 100% gibberish.

          • Ashley,
            Let’s discuss for a moment YOUR evidence for the origins of life – which pales my “fairytale” story by multiple magnitudes.
            I’ve already asked you how conscious self-aware life comes from what is neither conscious nor self-aware. It always tickles me how when they find evidence of water on Mars, they are halfway, in their thinking, to the idea that life may have existed there! I could give you the most ideal conditions – say perfect temperatures, electricity, and all the elements and gases you need – in fact, we could take a hundred dead human bodies, which certainly contain all the elements necessary for a human body, and toss them into a pit to decay, and add water and anything our best scientists might think necessary (other than living cells!), and wait 4 billion years. In your story, not only could life emerge from this pit of decayed matter, but complex, self-aware life. I wouldn’t even try to hold you specifically to human life, since we would not expect the same sequence of random events.

            I did a little research as to how close scientists have come to creating the most basic life-form in a laboratory. After two highly enthusiastic articles, I got down to the main point from the researchers themselves after their 15 year project. Here is the critical part of the interview:
            CNN: Did you create new life?
            Venter: We created a new cell. It’s alive. But we didn’t create life from scratch.
            We created. as all life on this planet is. out of a living cell.
            In other words, when it comes to creating life, they didn’t do squat. (And to their credit, they did not claim to create life from scratch) We’ve always been able to manipulate life – from the days of selectively breeding wolves to get our various breeds of dogs (beginning in China about 5000 years ago) to the farmer who breeds a horse with a donkey to get a mule. We’ve just become quite sophisticated at it in modern times. But there is not one shred of evidence of anyone, anywhere producing life from non-life. That leap just has not happened even in the most ideal and intentional (not random!) laboratory conditions. The leap is from non-life to life is not an “almost there” affair; it is infinite. A human corpse, laying on a stainless steel table is not “almost” a living human being. It is dead, and the person we knew is no longer there and there is no way to get him back. (Just try to get your loved one back.) It might as well be a pile of dirt. Give it a few years, and it will be.
            And beyond this, the atheist has solved nothing in regard to the fact that anything at all exists, living or non-living. On what basis does he believe that matter, or whatever triggered it was eternally existent? So the Creationist has one mind bender and act of faith: How was God self-existent? The atheist has two mind benders and acts of faith: (1) In a world of cause and effect, how did anything come into existence without a first cause? (2) And how did living, conscious life, come from what is neither living nor conscious? Both of us, therefore, are on a faith journey, and yours must solve two gigantic questions, and mine only one, in that God is alive and we have no problem with the concept of life coming from life or design coming from what is intelligent.

          • RT,

            If you can go back to any previous post of mine where I claimed to know the origins of life and/or the origins of the universe and claimed to have evidence for my assertion, I’ll eat my hat. You have just commited 2 logical fallacies The first being the Strawman Argument (misrepresenting my view to make it easier to attack) and second, the Burden of Proof (shifting the burden to me to prove that my view – the one that I never made but that you asserted in your Strawman Argument – requires evidence). That fits in very well with all of the things you’ve said to date because every single argument I’ve ever read from you is based on a logical fallacy.
            Perhaps this might clear it up for you. I’m doubtful but I’ll hold out hope. Read this part very slowly, carefully and over and over again until it finds its way through that thick skull of yours:
            How did the universe come to be? What are the origins of life?
            I DON’T HAVE A *&^%ING CLUE.
            That concludes today’s lesson on critical thinking, logical fallacies and honesty. I could go back thorugh your earlier comments and point out all the logical fallacies in those too, if you’d care to learn something useful.
            If your goal is convince people that you’re right and you’ve got the universe and life and afterlife all figured out, prattling on about 13000V powerlines, the number of cylinders that various automobile engines have and “surrendering” to the law of gravity is probably not the best way to go. TRY HARDER.

          • Ashley, your claim to have no burden of proof by hiding behind a definition is a cop-out, and you know it. You set up a definition, then when anyone asks you to justify anything, you point back to that definition, ending all debate, sitting back self-satisfied in the refuge of your little definition. Basically, you are saying, “I believe what I want to believe because I want to believe it.” That’s fine, but then don’t make claims to superior intellect or acuity. And since you claim utter cluelessness, you’ve lost all right to mock at those who believe in God. You said you do not have a clue to the origins of life. I will not even concede your claim to cluelessness to you. (I give you more credit than that) The universe abounds with clues to the existence of God, and we need not look any further than the wonders of our own mind, body, and consciousness.

          • RT,

            The word atheism is not a “cop-out” that I’m hiding behind. Just because you don’t understand English and can’t understand how someone has no beliefs doesn’t mean that people don’t have beliefs. That would be because you are committing the logical fallacy of The Argument from Personal Incredulity. I’m sorry your mind is unbalanced in that regard but there’s nothing I can do about that.
            I couldn’t give two flying s*&ts if you “concede” that I don’t know how the universe or the origin of life came to be or not. It’s my position. My adherence to this position has NOT forfeited my right to mock anybody about anything. A complete non-sequitur. The last 20 or so posts of yours contain some of the most idiotic nonsense I have ever read in my entire life.
            I’ll mock people who think and talk like you, people who claim to have the universe all figured out and people who claim to know that there’s an afterlife as much as I please, thank you very much. I don’t recognize your authority as the arbiter of who can mock who and on what grounds. Take care now.

          • Ashley, do you understand my objection that if you can offer no plausible explanation for the origin of energy, matter, antimatter, etc., and no explanation for how life comes from non-life, that you have no moral ground to mock those who see God as the source of these? You are not simply throwing up your hands and saying, “Gee, I don’t know.” Though you say you don’t know, you act like you do, and that is the inconsistency I see in you. What you are saying, I believe, is that you are UNWILLING to accept a God at the source of of all no matter what. You are not saying that you can answer these fundamental questions without God in the picture. I used to work with a guy who on the decision phase of things was silent, leaving me to make all the hard choices. Then when we ran into some difficulty, he’d start whining, “We should have done this, we should have done that!” I remember one day turning to him sharply and saying, “If you are not willing to input in the decision phase while I do all the work and take all the risk, keep your mouth shut and help once we get into it! ” (I actually didn’t say it quite that nice) That’s how I feel with you, Ashley. If you don’t know, maybe it is time to listen to those who believe they do, or at least take a more humble posture toward them.

          • P.S. Ashley, if you do not know, or believe it cannot be known, and even refuse to state a positive belief that there is no God, could it be that the answer is not in the realm of sense knowledge?

          • RT,

            “Ashley. If you don’t know, maybe it is time to listen to those who believe they do, or at least take a more humble posture toward them.”
            The day I start taking advice and listening to crackpots like you who say they know everything about the universe will (once again pardon the pun) be the frostiest Friday that hell has ever known. And I have to congratulate you for being humourous even it wasn’t intentional. You’re talking to me about being humble? This is coming from person who claims that he knows everything about the entire universe and you’re the one asking me to “take a more humble posture”. You’re like the gold mine that just never ever runs out of ore.

          • Ashley, I do not claim to know everything about the universe. I claim to have a living relationship with God who speaks to me throughout the day, and even speaks to my heart in the night. I often awaken in the night, realizing that God is speaking to me on some matter. His presence is always uplifting, always thrilling, even when He has something difficult to say to me. I’ve been walking with God for over 30 years, and can tell you that He is very real. I do not know all about the universe, but I have a living connection to the One who does, and can therefore rest in those things I do not understand, in that I know He will be revealing things to those who are His throughout eternity. I’ve experienced His speaking and faithfulness throughout the years of my life. It is so much more than a belief or educated guess, and I would not trade it for anything anyone could give me in this life.

          • RT,

            And not to duck your earlier question:
            “Ashley, do you understand my objection that if you can offer no plausible explanation for the origin of energy, matter, antimatter, etc., and no explanation for how life comes from non-life, that you have no moral ground to mock those who see God as the source of these?”
            Yes, I understand that you have an objection as I would expect you have. It’s completely baseless. I have no explanation for the universe and the origins of life. You THINK or BELIEVE you do, so you think that makes your position superior because, hey, at least you have SOME kind of explanation right? Never mind that it’s comeplete nonsense, has no evidence to support it, is illogical from begining to end – it’s better than nothing right?
            That’s EXACTLY the same kind of idiotic reasoning that was used to make explanations for why people got sick, why there were earthquakes and numerous other questions.
            No sir, illogical nonsense explanations derived from ignorance are NOT better than nothing at all. They can be dismissed and mocked by anyone, whether they have an explanation of their own to offer or not.

          • So RT,

            If I can just get this straight, it’s not that you know everything there is know about the universe, it’s just that you have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe and all living things within it. You’re on a first name basis with the Almighty – and I’m the one that’s suppoed to be humble hunh? Right.
            Anyways, that is absolutely wonderful that you have this humble, personal, daily relationship with the creator of the universe. It’s just absolutely fantastic that that makes you happy and he’s got all this great advice and/or instructions for you and that he’s just got a ton of love for you. Stop trying to convince me that I’ll be happy or that it would be in my best interests or that I would be “chosing wisely” or I will be in possesion of great knowledge that would otherwise be witheld from me, if I just “surrendered” myself to your best friend and then we can go our merry ways. Deal?

          • Ashley,
            I do not believe I am superior to you at all – or to any man, for that matter, and I have nothing to offer that I have not first received. I don’t even personally have a problem with your mocking me. My relationship with God can endure a little mocking, and I esteem it of such value that I consider what little I have to put up with because of it to be of little consequence. This is not about me. I am very secure in my relationship with God. And God can certainly live without you, though He eagerly desires an intimate relationship with you, which He will not force.
            “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
            The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,What is man that You are mindful of him,
            And the son of man that You visit him?
            For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
            And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
            You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
            You have put all things under his feet,
            All sheep and oxen—
            Even the beasts of the field,
            The birds of the air,
            And the fish of the sea (Psa. 8:3-8)
            What I find truly amazing is that God, in all his greatness, and in the vastness of his Creation, is so focused on you and me. Who can impress God? Why is God so fascinated with man, and why does he not grow bored with us? God is love, and he never tires of a loving relationship with conscious, choosing beings.

          • RT,

            You’re proselytizing and preaching again and not being very humble I might add. Somehow you know that god can “live without me”. Did he tell you that earlier this afternoon? If so, might I ask how?
            Does that mean we don’t have a deal?

          • Ashley, this relationship to the God of all the universe is extended to everyone – to whoever is willing to come to God on God’s terms (which is grace, not works, a gift, not something that God owes us, and first takes an acknowledgment of our sin and a turning from it in our hearts) It’s not a picture of one guy superior to the other, and therefore God speaks to him. It is a picture of one pauper who finds an immense treasure – enough for everyone, and runs and tells everyone he knows about it so they can enjoy it to. There is so much, that he has no concern that others enjoyment of it will in any way diminish his own. Rather, since his own is secure, he’d prefer to have the company of friends to make it that much more enjoyable.
            One small correction. You said, “If I can just get this straight, it’s not that you know everything there is know about the universe, it’s just that you have a personal relationship with the creator of the universe and all living things within it. ” The last part is not true. I do not have a personal relationship with all living things within the universe. A relationship with God does not make me God.
            In regard to being on a first-name basis with the Almighty, this is true. God knows me intimately, and I relate to Him intimately. This is a tribute to God’s incredible love and humility, not my greatness, and He desires this relationship with all men. In regard to a promise to be in possession “of great knowledge”, I never said that. In fact, man’s pride of knowledge came with the fall. I can rarely see more than a step or two ahead of myself in this walk with God. God does not gratify our ego with great knowledge. In fact, the Bible cautions that knowledge puffs up, while love builds up. This is about a trusting relationship with the one, and the only one, who truly has our best interests at heart, and has perfect power to act on those interests.
            In regard to going our merry ways, there is nothing restraining you. This conversation in both directions is purely voluntary, and on my part, anyway, I am happy to converse with you.

          • Ashley,
            I said that God can live without you, though He eagerly desires a relationship with you. And no, He did not just tell me that He can live without you this afternoon. I base that simply on the fact that He has already lived without both you and me for all eternity past, which gives me every reason to think that He will not shrivel up and die without us. God is self-existent and has no needs whatsoever. From this incredibly secure place, He gives, and gives and gives, and takes great delight in doing so. Anyone with needs cannot love perfectly, except that he is connected with one who has no needs and is perfectly trustworthy. (Hence, our relationship with God.) To the extent that we are rooted and secure in God, we can love without being loved back, and we can give without fear of lack, because all things rest in the faithfulness of God, not in our own ability to secure these things for ourselves. All evil in this life stems from mankind having severed his roots in God. In comes fear, in comes cheating and grasping, in comes bitterness and killing and hiding. The beginning of the fix is to re-root in God.

          • RT,

            Very excellent. So do we have a deal or what? You stop preaching and trying to “save” me or bring me to god or whatever you want to call it and I’ll stop objecting.

          • I feel like I’m being asked to make a deal with the devil! (Just kidding.) But I would never make a deal like that, and I’m OK with your objections, so object away! (You may find, however, that arguing with me is like wrestling with a pig in the mud. After you’ve exhausted yourself, you come to realize that the pig is actually enjoying it.) For your information, I am not so much trying to “save” you or bring you to God (I can’t anyway), as to present to you a different perspective whereby you can make your own “deal” with God or not, as you so choose. I am just trying to clarify who God is, what He requires, and what that means, so that if you reject God, you are rejecting the real God or if you are rejecting a false concept of God, that you not confuse it with the true. (And I realize that we are not in agreement on the existence of God) Neither God nor I would want you to choose God against your will. Though in my humanity I might be tempted to try now and then, God certainly will not. That thought is actually a little scary, by the way. In fact in my own life I realize that God will not force me to do His will, and even as a Christian, will let me run my own way. That thought is sobering, and tends to keep me honest. Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done”. It is a scary thing when God stops pursuing us and says to us, in effect, “THY will be done!” God will eventually give us over to our own way, and all that that means for us.

          • “What I am saying is that if we cannot agree that there are absolute truths that exist independent of what either you or I believe, there is no basis for a conversation. After acknowledging the fact of them, we can attempt by logic and knowledge to determine what those absolutes are. ”

            Again, by coming into the debate with the preconceived notion your side of the debate is already absolute truth in your mind, you do not come into that debate with the interest in disproving your stance, but proving it, and you will, by default of the illusion that your view is absolute truth, make any and all claims to support it, regardless of the credibility of the argument presented against it.

          • Rana,
            I accept truth whenever and wherever it becomes clear to me. I do not come in to a conversation as a blank slate, however, and neither do you. I compare what is said to what I already think and know.

            • I did not claim to come into conversations or debates with a completely clean slate. I do, however, claim to come into debate without the assumption that my view is truth. I come into discussions with ideas, beliefs, observations from my own perspective, and look to others’ perspectives in order to broaden my understanding, which may result in the foundations of my ideas being uprooted. You do not come into debate with the possibility that you can be disproven, because you come into the debate with the preconceived notion of absolute truth. No matter what someone tells you, Thunder, you will never change what you think you know. You can’t debate with a mindset like that, you can only argue and go away with nothing but what you came into the argument with. That is not debate.

          • Hey Rana,

            Thanks for interjecting. All you have to do to “debate” RT is to fundamentally agree that there is an absolute truth and start with that certainty. Then recognize that RT is in possession of that absolute truth and that he’s right and you’re wrong and then the two of you can have a meaningful discussion about why you’re wrong. See how easy that is?

          • Rana,
            OK. Let’s have a debate on whether this is your website or mine. I say its mine. Now I certainly hope you are not going to enter this conversation with a closed mind and assume that you KNOW it is yours or any kind of absolute like that! Rana, I know you find it offensive that I am absolutely certain of my relationship with God – both of His reality and of His relationship to me. I am as certain of that as you are that this your website and not mine. On any number of other matters I am not certain, but on the matter of God’s reality I am, and am extremely clear. You can challenge me all you like and I won’t be offended. But don’t tell me I do not know what I do know. Sorry…

            • Thunder, I’m not offended by your beliefs. I’m offended that you use your beliefs as a justification of dismissing the emotion of empathy. Your proposed example is not a debate. There is tangible, provable evidence for both yourself and myself to observe here and now which proves your point to be baseless. There is no debate to have. And I am not trying to say that you do not know what you know, I’m telling you that what you know is not provable, and therefore it can only be known by you and you alone. As it cannot be proven tangibly, evidently to others, then it is a belief which you know. If you wish to believe your personal knowledge is personal truth, by all means, but that does not make it universal truth. It is truth to you, it is belief to me. And for you to expect anyone besides yourself to consider your beliefs as truth, to claim your personal knowledge and personal truth as absolute, leaves no room for debate, nor any interest on your part to have empathy toward others’ personal truths and personal knowledges. There are people who ‘know’ that the Tao exists, who ‘know’ that enlightenment is possible, who ‘know’ that reincarnation is how life revolves in this world. Just as you ‘know’ your god, others ‘know’ just as adamantly in their beliefs, and they call their beliefs knowledge and truth just as you do. There is a line between what you personally believe as truth and what others’ can accept as truth. Until we are all dead and the slate is clean and we all find out who was right and who was just crazy or delusional or so obsessed in their beliefs that they made them true for themselves in their minds, there will never in this life be a way to draw a line between who knows ‘absolute truth,’ you or the guy down the road who believes in hot dog fairies or the monk in China who believes he is on the verge of becoming a Buddha.

          • Ashley,
            You finally do get that I’m always right and you’re always wrong. We DID have a productive day after all! 🙂 Actually, Ashley the fact that I stand my ground in what I believe is true does not limit you ability to present your side at all. As you present, if something rings true, I’ll consider it. But when it comes to the reality of God, whom I not only intellectually assent to, but have experienced continually over 30 years, I am sure that nothing would shake me from that belief. That is not to say that you can’t influence me at all. Why not just speak and let things fall will they will?

            • Thunder, which is it? Do you believe in this truth about your god or do you know the truth about your god? You bounce between these. If you believe your views to be true, then I will recant my statements about debate, as to believe in something is not to claim full and absolute knowledge. If you know your god to be truth, then there is no room for debate with you, and my original comments stand.

          • Rana,
            I both believe and know the truth of God’s existence. But you are free to challenge, test, and cross examine me on both, even as I challenge you on your concept that these things are unknowable, or Ashley on his belief that he doesn’t believe in God. (That last one was loaded, was it not?)

            • And you have proven my points up to now. You cannot be in a debate about god, for you know the truth, and therefore will refute any possible argument which does not align with that truth.

          • Rana,
            In regard to your statement about my lacking the emotion of empathy in regard to other people’s views, you are probably right – to an extent. I am a generally empathetic person, but when it comes to truth and logic, I turn extremely objective, focusing intensely on the issues being debated and blocking out nearly everything else. I do think of the person on the other end, but it is probably true that my interest in the truth itself tends to supersede all other considerations. Perhaps with your personality your strong sense of empathy prevails over the subject matter. Two different people, two different (and legitimate) priority systems. Part of it, I believe, beyond personality, is a difference between men and women, where men are objective first, relational second, though they do see the need for the relational as well. Women tend to be the opposite – relational first, objective second, though they do understand and value the objective. That’s my two cents in regard to men and women, and on those things I am not so certain or adamant at all.

            • It is your interest in your truth, not truth in a general sense, and that is what destroys your ability to empathize. It has nothing to do with gender.

          • Rana,
            Did you have a bad day? I think of Fasik (played by Andre the Giant) on Princess Bride, who while fighting with Inigo Montoya told him that he was at a disadvantage, because as a giant, he wasn’t used to fighting just one man, because he usually fights groups! I was at a disadvantage all day long in sparring with Ashley one on one. Now that you have parachuted in to the conversation, I’m back in my element!
            Rana, why does it matter how strongly I believe what I do, so long as you are free to challenge it? If its real, it will withstand the challenge. If it’s not, cracks will begin to appear. And if it is unknowable, as you seem to claim it is, they why are we debating anyway? See, Rana, when you tell me these things are unknowable, rather that cry about how we can not now debate, other than maintaining endless debate that never goes anywhere, I just debate you from my perspective that these things are knowable. Perhaps THAT (knowable vs. unknowable) is the greater element in our debate.

          • RT,

            “You finally do get that I’m always right and you’re always wrong.” “…I am sure that nothing would shake me from that belief” Once again, the concept of sarcasm is lost on you. I don’t “get that you’re right about anything.” The only thing I get is that you’re a fanatical, fundamental lunatic who has completely lost his mind. That is what I took away from today’s “conversation”….And that is why you will remain a willfully ignorant moron for the rest of your life.

          • Rana,
            In regard to your statement, “It is your interest in your truth, not truth in a general sense, and that is what destroys your ability to empathize.”, I could see my assertion to absolute truth violating your fundamental law of tolerance, as if you’re saying, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa! You’re talking “THE truth?”! (Bang! Your head explodes)” I’m telling you, Rana, the fundamental difference between Christ and Antichrist is the acknowledgment of absolute truth, that it can be found, and that we indeed have a responsibility to it, vs. relative truth that is based in ourselves, not in God, and leaves self firmly in the driver’s seat of each life. These two camps will continue to diverge as we hurtle into these last days. (Clearly, the stage is being set with globalism, a coming world currency and banking system, and the telltale sign of Israel becoming a state in 1948 as a direct result of Hitler attempting to snuff them out. ) God is manifesting hearts and dividing things like never before. There will be Christ, and there will be everything else, with everything else (agnosticism, atheism, and all false religion) moving closer to one another in this religion of “tolerance”, and become one, as they unite against their common enemy, Christ. As someone once said, “Nothing would unite the peoples of earth more than a threat from Mars.” Rana, Truth divides. It is a sword. It cuts between ideas and ideologies, and it will divide like never before in the days ahead, even as the people kick and buck and demonize the truth for being their problem, rather than their improper relationship to it.

            • Proven truth does not divide. The truth of gravity and physics united humanity under the banner of ability to explore the universe. Unprovable truth, such as your belief (what you perceive to be truth) divides, in that it only provides evidence to the individual, not humanity as a whole.

          • Ashley,
            Did you see the smile sign after my comment? I wasn’t even being sarcastic. I was chiding you in the spirit of just having fun, after going back and forth with you all day long. I take my views very seriously (And yours also, for that matter, though I do not agree with them.) But beyond our differences, I do form at least some sort of relational bond with someone I’ve been conversing with all day long, and was just coming from that. Ashley, I view you as a human being, and just because we disagree does not mean that I cannot enjoy conversing with you. There are lots of people I disagree with that I enjoy.

    • I totally get where you are coming from, anyone who has made the rounds knows the situation. The only posistion the religious can “get” is that there MUST be something to believe in, or you will be a murdering, raping, baby eater. Any thing that challeneges their position just does not compute. They cannot conceive of a world where anyone does not believe in some kind of supernatural woo, even if it isn’t one of their damn gods. Therefore “atheist’s believe in science” or “atheism is a religion” or some such idiocy. Atheism is simply a refusal to believe in gods, because their in nothing tangible to support the notion they exist. Never has been. Religion thrives on indoctrination, and a form of tribalistic brainwashing to keep itself alive, no facts, no evidence required…and none forthcoming. Every few years or so, science comes out with another evidence based fact, that soundly refutes some biblical based claim of fact. Just something else for them to ignore, or beat the facts with a sledgehammer until it resembles something they already believe, or sit by idly until some theoligan tells them what to think.

  4. Thunder,

    You do not believe, you know. You know the truth of god, and take no objections to that truth. You cannot believe and know something at the same time. You either believe it because you don’t have the evidence to concretely prove it, or you know it because you have that evidence. There are people who recognize this difference, and people who do not. You would rather switch between each word to fit your purposes for the specific conversation.

    I’ve already said this once. I have no issues with what you want to claim as your truth, what you personally know. If you want to say that you know god and you know the truth about that god, by all means. But in saying this, you revoke the claim of belief. If you have the personal evidence to know god and and know the truth about that god, then belief is not necessary. You have all the evidence of truth you need. You need not believe in god because god is already existent and tangible for you.

    From my perspective, a perspective that cannot perceive your evidence to truth, I call your truth a belief. This does not mean that you believe in it, for you know your truth. I, however, without the ability to observe your evidence and know your personal experiences which establish that evidence as truth, must rely on my own senses and not your word that your personal truth is anything more than a belief. From your perspective you know your view is truth, from my perspective you believe your view is truth. Because of your perspective that you know truth, to challenge your view is a futile effort on my part. I already recognize that you have the mindset of knowing truth, and so with the nature of truth, it cannot be disproven in your eyes. Nothing can refute the evidence in your heart, and you will never consider another person’s truth in turn.

    As for the knowable versus the unknowable, I would agree that this is what we should really be debating. What can be known versus not known in terms of spirituality. But that conversation will always return to your purposed truth, which I will always argue is simply your belief, while you will argue it as your truth, and therefore everyone’s truth, which brings us right back to where we started.

    • Rana,
      Thank you for starting a new line! I was going nuts scrolling through thirty some posts. Perhaps I can describe my belief, or faith in relation to knowledge in this way. And since I am talking about my faith, I will use scripture.
      Heb 11:1
      1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (KJV)
      Do you see the tie between what is not seen and evidence (or knowledge)? Faith is not a wish. It is real. There are times when God gave me faith in some situation that was so real, that I KNEW certain things would happen. It was a very real and powerful assurance within my heart that transcended sense knowledge. In fact, it flew in the face of what my senses were telling me, but was more real than what they were telling me. And things bore out accordingly.
      P.S. My wife just got home. If there is a gap in my correspondence it is because I want to attend to her. (No, Ashley, not that kind of attending!) I’ll answer your replies as soon as I can – probably tonight. RT

      • Thunder,

        No problem, it was getting a little dizzying for me too.

        I see a fundamental difference between belief and faith, while you seem to treat them synonymously. To me, belief is a mental object, a ‘thing’ for which we have personal evidence to prove to ourselves but not evidence which can use to prove that thing as real to other people. To believe is to accept the lack of universal evidence and rely on your personal evidence alone to prove that ‘thing’ to be real. This does not make the ‘thing’ real, and those who understand what it means to believe recognize this and accept the possibility that their belief could be disproven by outside evidence. Faith is telling yourself that you are right in your belief; not that your belief is right, but that for you personally, the evidence you have is enough to be content with your beliefs.. Having faith in one’s belief is the cornerstone of one’s conviction behind their belief, even if one accepts the possibility that this belief may be wrong.

        You see, I have beliefs, yes. I have personal views of the world. I have faith in my views, of god and of the unknowable in this world and the unknown which comes after. To me, your truths are beliefs, and you have become so content in having faith in that belief, your faith has become so puffed up that it has distorted into something more. You don’t have faith in beliefs anymore, you ‘know the truth.’ You don’t need beliefs or faith because you have truth and you know it to be true. You have lost the ability to recognize others’ views and consider them as possibilities.

        Now if this makes you happy and content in your life, by all means continue knowing your truth. I will continue to recognize those truths for the beliefs which I see them to be.

        • Rana,
          I’m back. My wife had gotten some hot peppers at an Amish store down the street. When I fried them up, my eyes starting watering, nose started running, and throat started hurting (And I’m used to very hot food) I asked my wife what kinds of peppers they were. She said, “Trinidad Maruga Scorpion” or something like that. I looked them up on line, and they are now considered the hottest peppers in the world – hotter than ghost peppers. Jalapenos are rated at about 5000 on the Scoffield hottness scale. These are 2 million, and one pepper has enough capaicin in it to make one ounce of law-enforcement grade pepper spray, or the hottness of 400 jalapenos. And here this little Amish store had them in a little container with only the name and no comment or warning! I ate a tiny little piece, and the sweat started beading up on my head. Anyway, I’m ready to focus now! (But my brains are fried)
          I view faith like a root that goes down into a very real but unseen spiritual world, whose effects we feel every day, but do not see the source. When I know something from God, I know it. As you say, I cannot prove it, but it does prove out in the natural world, because it is real. In other words, others cannot see or prove the knowledge itself, but they can see and prove the effects of that knowledge. For instance when my children were all small, and we were up to our necks in bills, I pursued a second job in order to do what it takes to buy a house. I hated to take the time away from my children, but our needs were very real. After two jobs did not come through, one night at dinner as I bowed my head to say the blessing, the Lord spoke to me, “I am going to meet your needs by faith.” I wept, because I knew it was the Lord that was speaking to me, and I knew it was real. A few days later someone approached us, knowing nothing of this and outright gave us $20,000, which we took and put a down payment on a house and paid closing costs. This man did not go to our church and was not a Christian. But here is the point. Once the Lord spoke to me, I KNEW. I so much knew, that I stopped looking for an extra job, and had tremendous peace in my spirit. So the faith was real, though it could not be seen, and valid, because it was tied to the source of ultimate reality. THEN, it bore out in the natural world with real money to buy a real house. On the giving end of things, I once gave a single mother 50 bucks simply because the Lord put it on my heart. This woman was a Christian, and told me that the Lord spoke to her to take the next day off work, and she said, to God a little caustically, “What, is somebody gonna just up and pay me to take off? $50 covered her day off. Rana, I have a history of these things over 30 years, so when someone suggests to me that this is just a personal truth or mere belief, I don’t know what to do with it. Now I believe that you exist (I assume your name is Virginia), but I have never seen you. After many online conversations over a year maybe??, I can even say that I know you. Though I am far from knowing everything about you, I could answer certain questions about you quite accurately and definitively. I could say that you like to write, for instance, or that you came from a Catholic background. Why? Because you told me about your Catholic background, and just by reading your posts I have deduced quite accuratly that you like to write, though you never outright told me this. But if someone were to challenge my belief in your existence, I would say that I know you exist, because I’ve communicated and exchanged thoughts with you. I might be open to differences in how we perceive you. (Say they think you’re real mean but I think you’re real nice (Doesn’t hurt to score points with the sight administrator now and then. Actually, you do seem very nice – except today.)) But I would not be open to questioning the fact of your existence (Though in the online sense, there might be room to argue that you are not who you present yourself to be, and this is the challenge I would have for those who follow Allah, or certain others, which I believe to be demonic spirits posing as God)
          Now sometimes, I’m sure, I use the word, “belief”, when I really mean, “I think” – as in I believe that Obamacare will cause quite a mess in this country. That is not a faith or belief statement to me. It is only a deduction I am making based on many violated principles, and the likely outcome of violating those principles. (And let’s not get into discussing Obamacare!)

        • Rana,
          I would like to reply to your statement: “Proven truth does not divide. The truth of gravity and physics united humanity under the banner of ability to explore the universe. Unprovable truth, such as your belief (what you perceive to be truth) divides, in that it only provides evidence to the individual, not humanity as a whole.”
          In one sense I believe you are right, in that all that truth need divide is between what is true and all else. But we are attached to our belief systems, and we act on them, which greatly changes the dynamics involved. Even if your belief system says you should not act on them and keep them private, that belief in itself has consequences. Life and reality will not permit us to hold to private truths. We can and do affect others. Whatever your parental philosophies, for instance, you WILL affect your children, and you WILL act on what you truly believe. (even more than your stated beliefs) If the world were static and non-interactive, we could all sit on our spiritual islands and have our private truth to ourselves. But think of Hitler during WWII. All a German would have to do would be nothing and he’d be part of it. Hitler simply did not tolerate neutrality. As your life moves on, you will have responsibilities that also will not tolerate neutrality. Think of a disagreement between two parents on how to raise their child, for instance. Your interest in this child is so critical, that you cannot just say to your husband, with your child hanging in the middle, “Live and let live”, without consequence. You will then act upon some philosophy. If you choose to do nothing until you have complete agreement, your child’s life will move on without your input, and will be subject to outside influences as he continues to grow up while awaiting his parents’ coming into agreement. This is what I am speaking of in reference to “toying and tinkering” – as in discussion of interesting concepts from the safety of not having to act. Sooner or later you will lose that luxury. Neutral ground is ultimately an illusion. The ultimate in this is the Biblical idea of the antichrist, who will force people to take the mark or die. (And the issue is not the mark itself, but the swearing of allegiance to antichrist and a final denial of Christ) The “all inclusive” tolerance thing will be impossible. Evil is not tolerant of what is good any more than God is tolerant of evil. I promise you, that even apart from the extreme of this (taking the mark, etc.) that reality itself will force you to take sides and positions. Perhaps what is so disturbing about my certainty in matters of God, as we discussed, is that it messes with the illusion of neutral ground. Perhaps you would like to accommodate both my views and Ashely’s under one big “Can’t we all get along?” tent. I appreciate your empathy and your desire to do this, but these views don’t mix. Now Ashley does not feign neutrality, and neither do I. (He and I have that in common) I do not think that at a heart level (and I may be wrong), that you, at this time, want to outright reject Christianity, but neither do you want to accept it. You do not want to outright reject the existence of God and jump both feet into Ashley’s camp, but neither do you want to define it in any meaningful way. My perception of you is that you greatly esteem the middle ground of not going one way or the other as the most noble and mature thing to do, because it is (at least temporarily) the most conducive to peace and civility. I am saying to you that you will not be able to maintain that position, except in words only. This would only be possible if everyone else would remain neutral; but they won’t. God will not tolerate this neutrality and neither will evil, which is continually restless. I believe (and I know this sounds audacious to you) that you will gravitate one way or the other over time – though a move in one direction or the other need not necessarily be permanent. (You may become uncomfortable as you become more enmeshed in it) Perhaps you can see why my wife always chides me about how lighthearted and cheery I am! RT

  5. RT,

    “P.S. Ashley, if you do not know, or believe it cannot be known, and even refuse to state a positive belief that there is no God, could it be that the answer is not in the realm of sense knowledge?”
    1) I have no idea what you are talking about. That question does not make a word of sense. Absolute babble. Please rephrase the question into English and I will answer it. If I do not know WHAT? Or believe WHAT cannot be known? Could it be that the answer TO WHAT is not in the realm of “sense knowledge”. What is “the realm of sense knowledge”? What is the “it” that you are reffering to that I don’t know or believe that cannot be known.
    2) I will NEVER state a positive belief that there is no god. The minute I do that, it commits me to having to provide evidence or argument that forms the core of that belief. As you more than likely do not know (but I’ll tell you anyways), it’s not possible to prove that something does not exist. I will remain in my atheist position (a disbelief in the existence of a god) until I am presented with compelling evidence and argument to convince me otherwise. In otherwords, the second someone proves to me that a god exists and the evidence can be subjected to proper scrutiny, can be tested, can be falsified and is universally agreed upon, I will throw out my atheist postiion like yesterday’s newspaper. Your arguments about 13000V powerlines, automobile engines and surrendering to the law of gravity have not been persuasive enough for me to consider abondoning that position. To the contrary, I would say that they have had the opposite effect in that I can see first hand how belief in supernatural nonsense can completely destroy someone’s mind to the point where they can’t even form a rational thought in their head.
    “I don’t know”. It’s a very useful phrase RT. It’s humbling, it’s honest, it’s lucid. You should give it a whirl sometime.

    • Ashley,
      Good morning. First, in regard to your second point, I do get that you are stating that since one cannot prove a negative, that you do not burden yourself with a positive statement that there is no God. I fully understand what you are saying.
      In regard to touching the 13,000 volt power line, I use the idea of dangerous voltages of electricity because looking at the power line without testing it, we cannot tell if it is energized or not, and whatever we happen to believe about it, should we touch it, our beliefs about it would be irrelevant: If it’s energized, we die. If it’s not, there is no negative consequence. We all know that we will die, and there is no way to see past that point. Whether there is a God and an afterlife or not, is not contingent upon our beliefs. It simply is what it is. If I am wrong about it, it would be like a person touching the power line that was not energized. If you are wrong, it would be like someone touching it who did not believe it was energized, while it in fact was. All our belief system does is determine how we relate to that power line. If I believe it is energized, I’m won’t touch it. That’s all that is about.
      In regard to your first question, what I am saying is that, given that you have very emphatically stated that you have no %#^% clue as to how things came into being, and yet here we are, that the answer could reside outside the realm of what we can deduce with our senses. In a rough analogy, think about the idea that radio waves existed before we ever knew they did. We cannot observe them directly through our senses. Might there be an entire spiritual world that very much influences us that we cannot discern with our senses? I have never seen a radio wave, but I can see their effects, and therefore conclude that they exist.
      In addition, the fact that we exist, along with the earth, the starts, matter, etc. I believe presents some very troubling and fundamental questions. To ignore the issues of origins and make our decisions and scientific inferences without that most basic understanding, can our science really be any good? It’s like tuning into three seconds of a movie that’s already been playing for an hour, and using what knowledge we can gather in those brief seconds to not only figure out the movie up to that point, but how it is going to end. And we know that the movie of our life in this world is going to end. Maybe it’s just me, but I would not want to head into eternity by what I can deduce from this short snippet of known history.
      I think back to my earliest memories as a child (At age two, walking around a high chair) I just suddenly found myself on the scene, and had nothing whatsoever to do with it. For all eternity past I had not been in existence, yet I never had the slightest sense of waiting around to exist. For me, eternity future is easier to conceive of than eternity past. Basically, I just think of never dying, which is more or less how we live our lives anyway. But eternity past? We cannot conceive of no beginning. It just blows our minds. Why? Because we live in a cause and effect world. We cannot conceive of the notion of a trillion, trillion years ago things were still infinitely far from any sort of beginning. Neither can we conceive of endless space, or worse, space ending. (Wouldn’t our question be, “Well what’s on the other side of the end?) Interestingly, an infinite space has no center. (And now I am rambling!) I guess that what I am getting at is that we cannot come close to understanding our existence with our finite minds. Why then, do we place so much weight on science, since we have infinitely incomplete knowledge to go by? It’s like taking an opinion poll of 4 people and trying to figure out the presidential elections, and yet feeling smart because we took a poll while everyone else is just winging it.

      • RT,

        I am sorry but I just HAVE to use this expression. OMG!!!! Do we have a breathrough here?!??! You understand why I don’t burden myself with positive statement of saying that god doesn’t exist?!?!!? You really mean that?!?!?! I must say that I didn’t see that one coming. From what I have read from you to date, I never ever thought you would at least grant me that much. I’m absolutely FLOORED. Until now, I didn’t think there was any difference between you and Geddy but I have changed my position. I can’t imagine him being able to understand such a concept.
        As to your second paragraph, what you have done is invoke Pascal’s wager. Proposed by Blaise Pascal, it is in summary the position that it’s better to believe in god because if you’re right and there is a god, you’ll be rewarded and if you’re wrong and there is no god, you’ll be no worse off. There are mulitple refutations of that wager.
        1) It assumes that the specific god you have chosen from a list of litterally millions of gods through out history is the correct god to worship. I choose to worship no god so the chances that I have chosen the correct god is 0. You have chosen 1 out of potential list of thousands. For arguments sake, lets use a round figure of 10 000. That means the odds that you have chosen correctly is 0.01%. Your odds aren’t that much better than mine.
        2) It assumes that god wouldn’t recognize or wouldn’t care to recognize that the person worshiping him didn’t really believe, but was doing it because it was a good bet. This would suggest that god is either stupid or prefers the company sycophant slaves to thoughtful people.
        3) It proposes that belief would be the ultimate criteria by which to be judged and would allow even the most evil person a reward because he/she was a believer, and finally
        4) It assumes that once you’ve received your reward (or punishment), it can never be reversed – that god could never change his mind ince he’s made his decision about your fate after death.
        Therefore I reject the wager on its face.
        You’re analogy about the spirit realm and the idea of radio waves is total nonsense. Radio waves are electromagentic radiation with wavelengths that are longer than infrared light. The human eye is not capable of detecting them. We can build equipment that can detect, transmit and receive them. There is no such device that I am aware of that functions in that way to detect “the spirit world”. Please do let me know the minute such a machine is manufactured and is shown to acurately detect “the spirit world”. I will be the first in line to admit that there is a “spirit world”.
        Now, COULD (key word) there be a spirit world? Abso*&^%ing-lutely. Anything COULD be possible. That spirit world could consist of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and his spaghetti ball angels for all I know. Now although that proposition sounds utterly ridiculous to you (as it does to me), the proposition that there is a Christian god in the sky is equally ridiculous. The amount of evidence to support either claim is the same. ZERO. I’m sorry, belief and faith do not count as evidence. You don’t consider it as evidence that 1.5 billion people are muslims and believe that Allah is the one true god. To consider your own faith and belief as evidence and discount theirs is just flat out dishonest and disingenuine. It’s the logical fallacy of Special Pleading.
        “To ignore the issues of origins and make our decisions and scientific inferences without that most basic understanding, can our science really be any good?” No one is ignoring these issues. There are people this very second (such as Stephen Hawking, Lawrence Krauss and Neil DeGrasse Tyson) trying to figure out how all this happened. They still don’t have the answer. Science provides provable, testable, verifiable, falsifiable, peer-reviewed answer to questions. Someone like you comes along and says “Hey, I’ve solved your problem for you! I know what went on. God did it!” An answer like that only generates more questions. An answer that appears to be the solution to everything is an answer that in reality solves absolutely nothing.

        • Ashley,
          There’s a lot to reply to here. I’ll begin with what I agree with. On the Pascal’s wager concept, I agree that one should not actually make the wager, and that God would not accept such an insincere wager. The only benefit of examining the serious consequences of being wrong, if God and hell do, in fact exist, is to encourage a person to search it out very carefully and to be continually honest with himself. (And self deception is very easy and common for all of us, given the disparity between what we want and how things are)

          In regard to your third point about belief being the ultimate criterion, I truly believe that it is, and for this reason: Faith is primarily the recognition and perception of God at the heart level. All evil stems from a break in this – an independence from the Creator himself, which results in need, lack, and so on. The key to fix this is not to address the murders, thefts and adulteries directly, but rather the break in the relationship of the very source of life. Jesus spoke of, “an evil heart of unbelief”. This also follows through with Jesus’ summary of all the commands of God, with the first and greatest summarized as, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The second great command is summarized, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. So before ever getting to the sins against our neighbor (murder, etc.), the greater sin is to fail to acknowledge God. That is the reasoning behind the critical nature of belief. Death is the natural result of a departure from the source of life, just as to refuse oxygen would mean certain death. (And death would not be instant. It would take a few minutes – or in the case of food, maybe a couple months) Faith is not first a belief in the mind issue. Mental assent follows. It is a primarily a heart issue, and I know that that entire realm is beyond was is provable. I can only testify to you of its reality in my own heart, for what that is worth to you.
          Your fourth point, the question of whether things can be reversed is an interesting one, which I’ve wondered myself. I know that Scripture tells us that God does not change. God identified himself as “I AM”. God neither changes nor discovers. (We discover; God does not) God is the only immoveable entity in the entire universe, and therefore the only secure foundation. You and I change and are subject to all sorts of influences. An eternally existent God and creator of all (by very definition) is not subject to any external influences. Nothing catches him by surprise. He knows the end from the beginning (and also calls himself the Alpha and Omega – the beginning and the end) There is no new information to add to God’s decision making process. He’s been around from all of eternity, knows everything, and therefore makes his decisions with complete knowledge and consideration of all issues and caveats. A more interesting question, in my mind, is what if we, after a million years in heaven, decided to rebel again. What would prevent that? My theory on it is (and it’s only a theory) that that is the reason, after 1/3 of the angels in heaven rebelled after living in a perfect world, that God has allowed us to begin in a fallen state, seeing and experiencing the awful effects of sin, and coming to seek God beyond our initial fallen state. I believe that God, who knows us inside and out, takes us through the things in life that address any issues of rebellion in a comprehensive way. One might also ask, “Well if God knows everything, why doesn’t he just create us in heaven or hell and skip the charade?” Somehow, I do not think that would be very satisfying to the person who was born in hell!
          I also agree that the analogy between radio waves and the spiritual world is imperfect. I do think it applies, however, if viewed from someone, say, a thousand years ago. The idea of these magical waves that can affect our physical world (i.e., we could use them to trigger an explosive) would be pure fantasy to him. My ability to observe or measure something does not determine its reality. It may only be a testimony to make lack of power, understanding, or knowledge. That is what I am suggesting to you in regard to the spiritual world.

          You said, “That spirit world could consist of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and his spaghetti ball angels for all I know. Now although that proposition sounds utterly ridiculous to you (as it does to me)” Here I would only suggest that, given our consciousness, given that there is no answer within your understanding for the origins of things, that the idea of a spiritual world is not so preposterous, and the idea of all things that we know being self-existent is just as preposterous, in that that also defies logic.

          On your first issue about the millions of gods that are worshipped in this world, and the probability of mine being correct, I’d like to take that up on a separate post, in that this one is getting too long. RT

          • RT,

            “My ability to observe or measure something does not determine its reality. It may only be a testimony to make lack of power, understanding, or knowledge. That is what I am suggesting to you in regard to the spiritual world”
            The above is a completely meaningless statement. You can use that phrase to justify the belief in ANYTHING. Just because I can’t measure or observe Unicorns and Lephracauns does not determine their reality.
            “Here I would only suggest that, given our consciousness, given that there is no answer within your understanding for the origins of things, that the idea of a spiritual world is not so preposterous, and the idea of all things that we know being self-existent is just as preposterous, in that that also defies logic.”
            Not a single thing in that paragraph makes any sense whatsoever. Glib, quasi-religious babble.

        • I’ll do my best here to answer your objection concerning the millions of gods that are worshiped in this world, and the probability of mine being correct, and as if the issue of so many gods were not enough, I’d like to also throw in with this the question of why there are so many Christian churches that differ from one another, and why so much is so screwed up in the world of religion. (And if there’s time, after that maybe take up the issue of world peace and curing all disease) Here goes.

          The Bible speaks of many “gods”, referring to powerful demonic beings (angels that have fallen from their former state). At the heart of this rebellion in heaven (Satan, formerly Lucifer, the “covering cherub” and 1/3 of the angels) was the following attitude of heart:
          “How you are fallen from heaven,
          O Lucifer, son of the morning!
          How you are cut down to the ground,
          You who weakened the nations!
          13 For you have said in your heart:
          ‘I will ascend into heaven,
          I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
          I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
          On the farthest sides of the north;
          14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
          I will be like the Most High.’
          15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
          To the lowest depths of the Pit. (Isaiah 14:12-15)

          So at the heart of this rebellion was Satan’s desire, and all who fell with him, to exalt themselves to the place of God. These powerful angels, being no dummies, must have thought this was doable. What they did not understand, I believe, is that God, in being completely secure, feels no need to reveal the entirety of His wisdom and power just for the sheer display of power. God is first and foremost about love, not a display of power, and these angels did not comprehend a fraction of his strength, and gravely miscalculated. These demonic powers are now busy about the earth, and every one desires to be worshiped as God – partly in vanity, and partly in defiance of God himself. Misery loves company, and they desire to bring all they can to their miserable end. But the main point is that they desire to be worshipped as God, and they seek to impart this very attitude into the hearts of men. (It’s called pride)

          From these demonic powers, we have the many false gods of the world, and as you say – millions. (The Hindus alone have millions!) And these fallen angels can be quite persuasive. Again, they are powerful beings. The Bible tells us that “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light”. Daniel 7:10 and Revelation 5:11 both speak of ten thousand times then thousand of angels before the throne of God. That’s a hundred million angels that are not fallen representing 2/3 of all angels, and therefore 50 million that are fallen. (I never heard a teaching on all this. I’m just trying to piece things together to give you the best answer I can.) Consider also that the Antichrist, who will come upon the scene in the last days as Satan incarnate (an attempt to replicate God incarnate – Jesus), referred to in the books of Daniel, Revelation, and others, in the middle of the Great Tribulation will enter the temple in Jerusalem and declare himself to be God.
          II Th 2:3-4
          3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
          4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
          (NIV)

          Now all demons do not have their own religion! But all are about the purpose of mimicking and misrepresenting God. They gravitate to individuals, governments, entire nations, and churches. In fact, we associate certain evils with different people groups. I think of the Latin macho thing, Western materialism, French arrogance, Arab violence, and so on. And where can these demonic beings do most to misrepresent God than in the church? I recall that you have read the Bible. In the old testament, they constantly dealt with idolatry among God’s people. In the church, we deal with the same thing, and so long as the church is in this evil world, it will wrestle with these things. When I think of evil in the church, it’s usually not things like murder or theft, but more insidious things like legalism, self-righteousness, spiritual pride, gossip, worship of man-made systems, adding other things to worship besides God (Mary, for instance), intellectual affectation, formalism, various false doctrines – on and on. Birds of a feather flock together, so people with common sins congregate together. I know this, that the day I became a Christian I found myself in a war, and suddenly aware of spiritual and contrary forces – all without anyone saying a word to me about it.

          So why does God allow all this? It manifests what is in our hearts, and gives us opportunity to retain or reject what we then see. God will one day deal decisively and finally with all of this, but in the meantime He lets it play out – much out of great patience and a reluctance to force things while we are making up our minds.
          RT.

          • RT,

            There’s no objection to answer. I was quoting mathematic odds that you’ve chosen the correct god. You can quote all the bible verses you like, that’s not going to change anything. Also note I was being very conservative. There are hundreds of thousands of gods that have come and gone in the course of human history, so the odds that you’ve chosen the correct one is far worse than 0.01%. It’s probably closer to around 0.00001%

  6. Here is a limerick I wrote just for Ashley:

    There once was a man who called himself Atheist
    Who claimed to believe what only he seeist
    Crossing his fingers
    If all goes well
    He will spend eternity in the place where he fell.

      • And we all know what a great limerick writer Edgar Allen Poe was. I can probably count the number of poems of any kind that I’ve written on two hands, and I’m virtually certain that some Jr. High or High School teacher forced me into writing at least half of them. The one thing I never liked about poetry in general is that for an extremely direct, and also pragmatic leaning guy, it seems to require too much extra work to comprehend an awful lot of its intrinsic ambiguity. Add archaic language to it, and I do not understand how anyone understands Shakespeare (and I tried – ONCE) without first reading something that tells you what it means before you begin.
        When my wife read my primitive limerick (And limericks, almost by definition, are primitive!), she thought that my last line referred to the Atheist ending up in hell. I explained to her that “the place where he fell” simply refers to rotting in place and ceasing to exist. I said, “Why would the Atheist hope, if all goes well, to end in up hell? (It was clear to me, but somehow not to her) So if my wife doesn’t get it, with a masters degree in English, I figure I’d better assign the fault to my poor limerick and explain it. So here goes – in regular language this time:
        The Atheist begins with the premise that he will only accept what he can gather with his senses and interpret with his mind. (I think that part was clear)
        “Crossing his fingers” refers to a blind gamble – as when people close their eyes, cross their fingers, and trust in dumb luck. (I hope, I hope, I hope…) He is gambling upon all eternity, and if he wins this gamble, his best outcome is ceasing to exist and rotting in place (or a cemetery or wherever – poems for some reason are given horrendous liberty to not be precise – and limericks, the crudest of all poems, have virtually no standards at all beyond rhyme and meter, which I’m sure I screwed up, even so) Only if he loses his gamble does he end up in hell, and this poem does not state that directly.
        So the pathetic future of the atheist is at best, ceasing to exist and rotting in the ground, and at worst, eternity in hell. When he wins he ends annihilation and meaninglessness (Yes! I won! Yes!, Yes!, Yes! Except he doesn’t even get to do the little victory dance in the end zone – he’s gone), and with the other outcome in this fantastic crap shoot being eternity in agony and despair. Here’s a toast to the bright future of the Atheist! Sheez!
        (Feels good to get out of the shadow-world of poetry and back to the terra firma of prose)

        • “So the pathetic future of the atheist is at best, ceasing to exist and rotting in the ground, and at worst, eternity in hell.”
          Back to Pascal’s wager again are we?
          1) You’ve got no evidence that you’re going to heaven because you believe in bullshit and I’m going to hell because I don’t and
          2) You’ve got a 1 in a million chance that you’ve chosen the correct god to worship.

          But wait! I’m sure you have some bible verses that tell you that you’re right. It’s true because it’s in the bible and it’s in the bible because it’s true. Mr. Circular logic.

          • Hi Ashley.
            My faith is not built on chance, but in a revelation of God in my heart, followed by changes in my life (for the better) that got the attention of all who knew me.. Before this revelation I retained a general belief in God and a desire to seek further, that increased and decreased depending on my other desires at any given time. But I most definitely had an initial experience with God in my response to crying out to Him, which has broadened and deepened but never fundamentally changed over the past 32 years.
            I don’t pretend to know about all the world’s religions (Once a person has found what he was looking for, of what use is continual pursuit?), but in practice they boil down to only a few, with many variations and distortions of those few. For instance in the Judeo Christian world that covers a great number of people, both Jews and Christians worship the same God. The Jews are awaiting the Messiah that the Christians already believe has come. Jews and Christians have the same roots, however, and the Christians believe that the Jews will yet receive their Messiah, with God using the Jew’s resistance to bring salvation to the rest of the world as well. And among the Christians, there are many sects, but still one God. Then there is the Muslim world, which is the largest religion on the face of the earth, and these have just one god. (And even these acknowledge Abraham as their father) That makes two now. Then there are the Hindus, which are polytheistic and really do not hold to any particular god, and whose religion is more a way of life than anything else. Most of your “millions of gods” reside right there, with a god assigned to just about everything imaginable. Many gods, but really one belief system. Then there are the Buddhists that really don’t believe in God at all, except, if I understand it correctly (and I’m sure Rana has studied these other religions a whole lot more than I have) a concept that humans and animals all somehow become part of, or one with a single god that is the summation of all living. (Don’t quote me on that one) Native Americans have a similar system of a kind of worship of nature – again many gods, animal spirits, on and on, and again, a similar pantheistic belief) Then there are the various emperors, etc., from the Pharaohs of Egypt to Horohito of WWII Japan to our beloved fat boy Kim Jung-un of North Korea (looking more like the Buddha every day) who are mere men that people worship as a god. So I would scratch these from the number altogether. Ancestor worship falls into the same category of worship of man. There really are not that many major gods. Even the Greeks had seniority among their gods. They simply divide up the their ruling responsibilities.
            But apart from all of this, it seems logical to me anyway, that among those seeking to answer the question of our existence, that there can be only one head honcho, and to me also, the question of our existence and of the existence of all things is supreme. Any religious system that does not address where we came from does not seem very reliable to me in regard to where we are going, or how we should live now.

            And finally, to address your statement about “circular logic”, or as you protested that we claim, “It’s true because it’s in the Bible, and it’s in the Bible because it’s true”, I’ll first take the legitimately circular part: What the Bible has to say about itself. It calls itself, “The Word of God.” It opens up in Genesis with the Word – with God SPEAKING the worlds into being. All through the Old Testament, Psalms, and Prophets there is consistent referral and acknowledgment of “The Word of God”. The New Testament resumes with this, with Christ Himself being called, “The Word made Flesh”. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. That theme is consistent and permeates the entire Bible. The consistency alone, when written by many authors over millenniums is amazing. And it is not only consistent in overt ways that men could have manipulated, but in tiny details that strike the reader only upon the hundredth time they’ve read it. Now consider that in the Bible, unlike say, the Book of Mormon, all of the places it refers to actually exist. We can travel to Egypt or Jerusalem or the Greek Isles of Paul’s journeys. Scripture agrees with other historical accounts, and no historian in his right mind would deny the fact of the existence of Jesus Christ, or of his disciples, or Pilot or Herod or John the Baptist, etc.. We can point to the town of Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, the hill where Jesus was crucified. We have Roman records of that crucifixion. We have hundreds of eyewitness accounts of His resurrection – way more than enough to satisfy any court of law. (And you may wish to read the book by Josh McDowell, “Evidence that demands a verdict”) So now we have a correlation of the Bible to the real world with real people. How about the supernatural part? First, Jesus’ miracles were recorded as facts of history by others beyond those who held to Christianity. Even His greatest antagonists could not deny his miracles – they only questioned the source (attributed them to demonic powers) Prophecy after prophecy has come to pass, including Jeremiah’s prophecies of Israel’s going off into captivity to Babylon. (And Jeremiah is recorded in history as well, along with the various kings of Israel and Judah) And not one prophecy has proven false. We have Jesus’ own prophesy of a the fall of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple (one of the things that got Him crucified) and of “one stone not remaining upon another”. The Romans fulfilled this in 70 A.D., razing it to the ground both as a statement and in their pursuit of gold both upon it and within. Go read Isaiah 53, written 700 years before the birth of Christ. (And when they found the Dead Sea Scrolls, they affirmed that the book of Isaiah was unaltered from its current form.) Who, but Jesus Christ, could this passage possibly refer to? Isaiah also prophesied very specifically in regard to a king, not yet born, by the name of Cyrus, who did not even acknowledge God, but would give the command to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and the temple:

            Isa 44:28-45:6
            28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.” ‘

            CHAPTER 45

            1 “This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:
            2 I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
            3 I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
            4 For the sake of Jacob my servant, of Israel my chosen, I summon you by name and bestow on you a title of honor, though you do not acknowledge me.
            5 I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me,
            6 so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.
            (NIV)

            This happened about 150 years later in 536 B.C. Cyrus, king of Persia was a historical fact, as was his command to rebuild Jerusalem.

            I’ve already mentioned that the stage is already being set for End Time events as declared in the book of Revelation – with things moving toward a one-world government and monetary system, with the “mark”, without which no one could buy or sell only making sense in the current computer age. There are other things that only make sense now that we are in the nuclear age, along with super-strains of viruses that scientist are now very concerned about, resulting from over-use of antibiotics, as well as greatly increased transportation. (And the book of Daniel speaks of both knowledge and transportation increasing in the last days) I’ve also mentioned Biblical prophesy of the Jews returning to their homeland, which after nearly 2000 years, came to pass, in 1948 in the midst of great adversity.

            Also consider that the Bible is the most printed book of all time, with the second contender only half.

            Then there are the evidences of the Christians themselves. You talk to any born-again Christian, and they will not speak to you only of intellectual assent in regard to God. They will speak of knowing and interacting with this God, and this is my testimony as well.
            RT

          • Ashley,
            I think it is important not to get overly focused on the downside of the existence of God. (The possibility of hell) The “Gospel” means literally, “Good news”, and not, “Hey, good news! You’re going to Hell!” Excape from Hell, though certainly good news, is only the beginning. The Gospel is about eternal life, not merely avoiding hell. In my earlier post I nearly said that the Atheist’s best hope is neutral (ceasing to exist) and worse outcome is hell. But thinking further, the Atheist’s best hope is not neutral at all. As comedian George Burns said, “Dying is a bad deal. You can lose everything!” People insure themselves against all sorts of losses. We dread the loss of a business or loss of a home (been there, done that!) We dread the loss of health, loss on the stock market, loss of loved ones, loss of mobility. And though I do not fear death, I sure don’t look forward to the dying process with new aches and pains, dimming eyes, reduced strength, loss of my good looks 🙂 (already under way), the slowing of mental faculties, loss of sexual desire and the ability to taste food properly, and last but not least, the loss of bladder and bowel control. My wife takes care of various elderly people in their homes, and she’ll talk to people who once held high positions and were greatly respected, who are now dependent, drool, and wake up in a puddle of urine. They experience the loss of mental acuity and basic human dignity and are as helpless as a two year old child. (And their children often treat them as such.)
            The signs of death are everywhere in this sin-filled world. Have you considered that our basic frustrations in life, unfulfilled desires, and so many things that seem to disappoint on so many levels is due to the fact that we were not primarily created for this world and its evil? What would the value be to you of living on forever in a perfect world and in a perfect state? Before even getting to the “positives” of heaven, what would it mean just to eliminate the negatives of this life? To be fully vital and never tired or never in pain? Never bored? Never restless? Not having to lock your doors or pay taxes or have difficult people around you? No anxiety, no fear, no time pressure or time hanging on your hands? No rust, decay, crop failure or destruction of what your hands have labored for? No sweat or struggle in labor, but only the creative expression and joy in manipulating your environment to your ends? And how about the good things in life, only perfected? Eating and drinking, exploration, music, friends, great heaven-wide events that make our Superbowl look like nothing? Intimate friendships without time pressure and with no one being needy? Always enjoying things, always enthusiastic (which literally, by the way, means, “filled with God”) Never depressed, enjoying small and great projects with no thought for resources, no sense of lack or of things running out. An eternity for every good pursuit you could ever imagine: travel, learning, whatever. Why has mankind always been fascinated with the supernatural, except that we were created to relate to it (properly!) Angelic beings, etc. The Bible teaches that the entire creation fell with man, and in the end will be restored, making not only earth, but the universe friendly and habitable. Jesus, after his resurrection demonstrated a “glorified body”, one which, unlike a spirit, can eat and drink, touch and be touched, but appear and disappear, and walk through walls as if they were not there. All the things we enjoy about having a body without the limitations. And beyond this, Scripture tells us, “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the mind of man what God has prepared for those who love him. ” Just as as children we had no concept of sexual desire, so there are things in heaven that we have no concept of now, but will enjoy then. I wouldn’t be so fast to write this all of, Ashley. And I, for one, hope to see you there.
            RT.

          • RT,
            “I wouldn’t be so fast to write this all of, Ashley. And I, for one, hope to see you there.”
            I’ve already said this before but it seems to have not been processed by you. I’ll put it another way. Spending an eternity in heaven with a crackpot fundamentalist lunatic like you would be the worst of all possible outcomes. Add to that the unending praise that the almighty dictator would demand and it would be unbearable. It would absolutely be HELL for me. Although you’d call it heaven, I wouldn’t. I’d call it hell.

          • So again, Ashley, it seems your perspective emerges more as a condition of the will and of the heart than of the intellect. From your current posture, I am not sure that any degree of evidence would persuade you. You speak of God being a dictator. As I’ve walked with him I’ve found him to be a God of unfathomable freedom and love. Even his restrictions are freeing, and rather than force us into them He instead lets us reap what we sow. But I suppose that just as work to some means freedom to act, freedom to express and create, and freedom from poverty, and to others it means enslavement, so it is with attitudes toward God’s restrictions. You may wish to consider that this “dictator”, as you call Him, has been incredibly patient with your railing against him, even cursing him. God restrains Himself in his use of power. Scripture says that the issue is not that God is slow in judging these sorts of things, but patient, desiring all to come to repentance. It also says that God takes no pleasure in the judgment of the wicked, but also that “His Spirit will not always strive with man” Euripides said, “Mills of the gods Grind exceedingly slow, But grind exceedingly fine.”

          • RT,

            OK, forget I said anything about your imaginary friend then. Let’s call him just the bestest dude ever ok? Spending eternity in “heaven” with YOU would be HELL for me. If there was no way to escape it and I had to listen to YOU babble on for all of eternity, THAT ALONE would be absolute HELL for me.
            “And though I do not fear death…. the slowing of mental faculties,” I don’t see how you could possibly get any worse. You don’t have any mental faculties to slow. They’ve been absent for quite some time.

            P.S. Thanks for confirming my earlier point about your logic being circular. “The bible has this to say for itself…”. Awesome stuff.

          • Ashly,
            In regard to circular reasoning, you know that I only began there, in examining the Bible’s internal evidences, and then moved on to external. All the logic in the world will not help you if you do not begin from a foundation of honesty and integrity. If one were trying to assess whether a body was alive or not, an internal examination of the body itself would be a valid place to start: Is there a heartbeat, brainwaves, proper core temperature, etc.
            And as far as the discussion itself, you seem to offer name-calling in place of an answer. I’m almost waiting for you to call me a stinky poo-poo head or something I’d hear on a kindergarten playground. Whatever your beliefs or arguments, or how distasteful you find me or mine, could we at least stay in in the realm of adults?

          • RT,

            The realm of adults – yes please, tell me more about your 13000V power lines and surrendering to the law of gravity, because that was some seriously profound adult stuff. Oh wait, what I meant to say was that I’ve had more mature conversations with my (then) 7 year old step daughter. She didn’t know much, but she was never ever capable of saying something so idiotically ignorant as what you’ve said in previous posts. As a matter of fact, I don’t even think a person with Down’s syndrome could have said anything that moronic either. No sir, you have to be a special kind of stupid and ignorant to say what you said in various posts throughout this blog. I believe congratulations are in order.
            And as far as this statement goes, you STILL don’t get it: “My faith is not built on chance, but in a revelation of God in my heart” The “god in your heart”, the one that has apparently “revealed” himself to you is STILL only 1 of millions and millions of gods that have come and gone in the course of human history. If we’d been having this conversation 1000 years ago in Scandanavia, you’d be telling me that Thor was your god and you wouldn’t have heard of Jesus Christ. If you were born in any middle eastern country, you’d be telling me that Allah was the correct god and you wouldn’t accept Jesus as your personal savior. Your arguments, as per usual, are INVALID.

            • Ashley,
              In regard to your emphasis on logic, what I am trying to say is that employing logic when beginning from integrity, will likely bring us to right conclusions. But if we employ the most sophisticated logic upon the foundation of our own will, we will only come up with a very sophisticated lie. And so binding will be this lie, that it cannot be discerned or unraveled without breaking up and overturning the very foundation a person is standing upon. And no one will be more blind to it that the person himself, who has his own will hiding behind all of his logical premises.

  7. RT
    “But apart from all of this, it seems logical to me anyway, that among those seeking to answer the question of our existence, that there can be only one head honcho, and to me also, the question of our existence and of the existence of all things is supreme”
    The logical fallacy of The Argument from Personal Incredulity. It doesn’t make sense any other way to me, therefore I’m right.
    INVALID ARGUMENT. TRY AGAIN.

    • In my statement in regard to there being only one head honcho, the entire statement is couched as what makes sense to me personally. It’s a statement of my personal logic. I then move on to the main point of stating that any religious system that does not address the question of origins cannot adequately address the questions of where we are going, or how we should live now. And your Atheism does not address where we and all things came from, and therefore, I believe, is a very poor foundation for assessing both the future and the present.

      In my various dealings with Atheists, I’ve noticed that they seem preoccupied in all the logical fallacies, etc., almost as if it was a kind of Bible to them. In all this logical focus, however, I get the sense that they hide behind logical arguments, rather than use them. They use them as a shield and defense of what they want to believe, not as a means of discovering truth as a basis for belief. Just an observation.
      RT

      • RT,

        Yes, being “pre-occupied” with logical fallacies is one of my main interests. Using sound logic is the only way to properly construct an argument. There is no such thing as “personal logic”. You are not using “personal logic” to construct an argument in favour of a “head honcho” being responsible for the creation of the universe. You are using fairy tales, nonsense and illogic. We’ve already had this conversation. I have NO IDEA how the universe and life on earth came to be. And you know what? NEITHER DO YOU. You’ve either swallowed wholesale and/or made up a bunch of superstitious and supernatural garbage and you think that’s an answer. IT’S NOT. You don’t know a single solitary thing more about the universe, life and their creation than I do. Your arrogance in claiming to know things that you don’t is absolutely breathtaking.
        “the entire statement is couched as what makes sense to me personally” – That’s your statement admitting that your entire worldview is based on the logical fallacy of The Argument from Personal Incredulity. Congratulations.

        • “Personal logic” was a poor choice of words. I agree there is no personal logic. I meant by that what makes sense to me. My basis for this, however, is not personal, and is the cause and effect world in which we live, that would make many simultaneous, eternally existent gods complicated and illogical. All things must go back to a first cause, which takes us right to the difficult question of origins, “Well, then, what caused the first cause?” That something would come from nothing is beyond our natural comprehension, as is the self-existence of anything or anyone. So we must either accept a self-existent God or a self-existent everything, and both ideas require faith, because it sure does not fall within the natural realm of understanding. In a similar way we struggle with the idea of endless space, yet find even more difficult the concept of it ending. (Well, if it ends, what’s on the other side??) You claim a one in millions chance of there being a God and him being the correct one because of all the gods out there that people worship. Speaking purely statistically, I would say it is only fifty-fifty there there is one self-existent supreme being that created all things (The fact that people assign different attributes to Him does not change the idea of a supreme being and creator) vs. a self-existent everything. Then, add the fact of conscious, self-aware life into this equation, and suddenly the scales tip greatly toward the originator of all things being a conscious being, in that we have nothing in our experience that tells us that life comes from non-life, and what is conscious and self-aware from what is not conscious and self-aware. Once a person, animal, or other organism dies, though all of its physical components are still there, it cannot be brought back to life or made conscious again.
          RT

          • RT,
            Everything you said in the first 7/8 of that last post is STILL the argument from Personal Incredulity. You have NO PROOF that “all things must go back to a first cause” and just because your feeble brain can’t grasp any other concept, DOESN’T MAKE IT TRUE.
            “Once a person, animal, or other organism dies, though all of its physical components are still there, it cannot be brought back to life or made conscious again”. Thank you very much for affirming that Jesus Christ could not have been raised from the dead.
            If I could make an empassioned plea to you, it would be that you just shut up. You just keep digging yourself into a deeper hole every time you write something. You’ve said so many stupid and contradictory things in this one little blog entry, I’m starting to lose track.

            • Ashley,
              The idea of life in general, and resurrecting it makes perfect sense from the paradigm of a Creator, and you know that. If God can make life, He can resurrect it. There is no conflict at all there. But on the other hand, why can we never bring life back naturally, if there is nothing to it but natural elements, which are still all there and assembled in the corpse? Perhaps there is more to it than can be explained by the physical world.
              It’s true, I do not have proof that things go back to a first cause. But in a cause and effect world, this is a logical conclusion. You seem to be trying to confine things to what we can see and prove, on the one hand, and then willing to discount it in the next breath. (i.e., cause and effect)

              Here is a question for you, Ashley. Given your disbelief in God, why do you assume that if there was one that He must be a jerk? Because of evil and suffering in the world? And if you cannot figure out where life came from, or the existence of anything, for that matter, what makes you think you could adequately assess the motives of an eternally existent God who creates from nothing? What kind of being would this be, and why would you think you are wiser or more upright than he? If you admit not having a clue to matters of existence, what makes you think you would have a clue to the nature of God if He did exist? Not a smart or trick question, Ashley, just a question.

            • Ashley,
              As I’m puzzling over this conversation, and trying to piece things together, another question comes to mind. I’m not trying to pry, and not trying to win a debate either. I see you just as another human being.
              From a few things you said about “original sin”, etc. I was wondering if you grew up in some sort of Christian religion – Catholic? Did you ever have a time – be it as a child, or whatever – that you did have some sort of belief in God, and did this trust let you down in a big way? A loss of a loved one? Parents’ divorce? Your own divorce? Was there a point where you felt that God should have come through for you, didn’t, and from that point forward you reasoned He must not exist? (And I’m not trying to be your shrink either) At what point did you determine that you were an Atheist, and what precipitated it? Did you just think it through one day? Did someone influence you? Where you turned off by a particular church group? I’m must curious.
              RT

          • RT,

            “It’s true, I do not have proof that things go back to a first cause. But in a cause and effect world, this is a logical conclusion.” NO, IT’S NOT. It’s an ILLOGICAL conclusion based on a logical fallacy.
            I am trying to confine things to what we can prove and demonstrate with tests and experiments – yes. The word you’re looking for is “science” – the exact opposite of religion and faith.
            And you certainly hit the nail on the head, the question you posed was not a “smart” question at all. I’ve already answered it a least 1000 times so I cannot for the life of understand why you’d ask again. I don’t believe because it’s illogical, is based on superstitious and supernatural nonsense. If he does exist, why would I assume he’s a jerk? Because I’ve read the bible, that’s why. The entire old testament is nothing but slaughter and genocide and theft and conquest and slavery pretty much from start to finish. Just to name one of the many horrendous things you find in the bible – A god that demands that Abraham sacrifice his son to prove his devotion to him and then tells Abraham at the last second that it’s not necessary makes him a GIGANTIC ASSHOLE. Not only that, but a sadistic, egomaniacal lunatic to boot. The fact that you make statements to the effect that being an atheist is the equivalent of giving up on life and committing suicide and then not only not apologizing but telling everyone that they’re going to hell, proves that YOU are a GIGANTIC ASSHOLE too. Pious, self-righteous, hate-filled fanatical lunatics like YOU are what’s wrong with the world. You must be very proud of yourself.

            • Ashley,

              The problem with your trying to confine things to what we can prove and demonstrate with tests and experiments is several fold. First, you will never be able to make conclusions in regard to origins because you would have to be able to stand outside of the entire universe, which includes you, in order to analyze it. You cannot place the Creator under your microscope. Next, the fact that you just ignore the issue of origins in the question of the existence of God is like ignoring the sun and everything outside of the earth in trying to figure out why we have night and day, summer and winter. The answer simply is not within this “confined” space. Next, consider what logic is. It is merely the framework for which we process information. And no matter how solid our framework, we will always lack sufficient knowledge and perspective to sum everything up by what we can test and analyze.

              In regard to your assertion that science is the opposite of religion and faith, you cannot make that without first understanding the origin of all that is. I assert that science is a subset of the faith realm, even as Newtonian physics is a subset of Einstein’s physics.

              In regard to the Old Testament, what you see of the slaughter, etc. has to do with several things:
              * God is addressing mankind where he is at in his sinful state. When a surgeon comes upon the scene of a patient with cancer throughout his body, he has to do some pretty ugly things to eradicate the cancer – chemo, radiation, cutting out cancerous tissues, etc.
              * Sin is precisely like cancer. It must be eradicated, and God, at this early point in dealing with mankind was demonstrating just how serious it was, and that not a trace can be left. In other words, a little cancer is not OK, not because God is overly fastidious, but because of the nature of cancer. Leave a few cells remaining and it all comes back. For this reason God had them wipe out the heathen nations entirely.
              * God was also dealing with Israel in this, showing them their own problem with sin, and that there was no way to eradicate it themselves. They would need to be spiritually “born again”. It would take grace and the power of God. The New Testament tells us that the law was a schoolmaster to bring us to grace. The law shows us that we have a problem (Where there is no law, there is no transgression) But fixing the problem requires grace that comes from outside the problem. WE ARE THE PROBLEM. We are fallen, and therefore cannot fix ourselves.
              * Slavery, pain, suffering, war, etc. are not the biggest issue here, even as we maim people, cutting off the limb to save the patient. Slavery, etc. is a matter of a human lifetime. God is concerned with our REAL problem of sin that is a matter of eternity. A trillion years from now, it will not matter if you or I were a slave or free, rich or poor, in this life. Issues of sin, however, will matter.
              * God is demonstrating that sin, by its very nature, DOES affect our neighbor, DOES affect our children. It corrupts us and everything around us. It corrupts our seed and progeny. (And that is what “original sin” is about) This sin issue is pervasive. The Bible speaks of it like leaven, or yeast. It affects the whole batch of dough.
              * It is important to note also that God does not owe any man anything. Murder is wrong because we, since we did not give life, have no right to take it. God, however, did give life, and therefore has every right to take it. And even when He takes it, He only takes it to the next life, not annihilate it altogether.
              * In regard to God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son, God, who has a right to everything He created, has a right to ask this. You and I do not. God also by this, set an example, once and for all in a world that abounded with child sacrifice that men did in their ignorance, that He does not desire or approve of human sacrifice, and throughout the Bible always provides a substitute.
              * Also in regard to Abraham, God had from the very beginning determined to place authority for all that happened upon the earth in the hands of mankind. Once man sinned, man could not save himself. (You can’t fix a problem with the problem). But God, by His own initial choice, requires man’s involvement and decisions in everything that happens in regard to earth. (And that is testifies to the tremendous significance God has bestowed on mankind, not some random fiat) So God looked for a man who was willing to give his own son. Interestingly, Abraham told Isaac, “God Himself will provide a sacrifice”. God had every right to demand that Abraham sacrifice his son, but provided a substitution, a ram, foreshadowing God substituting his own son. What the incarnation is all about (God becoming man) is that only a man had the right to redeem man, and God did not change His purposes just because of this terrible predicament.

              In regard to your statement that I said something “to the effect that being an atheist is the equivalent of giving up on life and committing suicide”, remind me of what I actually said, and I’ll explain it. What I recall about it is you grabbing a statement, reacting, and running off with it in your own direction. Let me know.
              RT

            • Ashley,
              P.S. If you came upon a surgeon performing heart surgery, with no idea of the patient’s true problem, or any knowledge of surgery, might you be horrified? The surgeon is splitting the man’s breastbone, pulling the heart out of the cavity, sticking a tube down their throat, blood everywhere, and then staples the chest back together, leaving scar tissue, and a very weak man.
              19 years ago my wife had brain surgery. I guarantee you that by all “observable” appearances, she came out a lot worse than when she when in. Before surgery she would sometimes get dizzy and vomit. After, half her face and half her vocal chords were paralyzed, and she could not speak. After, she had difficulty swallowing. After, she could not take care of our six young children. The youngest was six months old, was nursing and had to be instantly weaned. For an entire year she did not have the strength to take care of her babies. But if you didn’t understand what was happening, you would not understand that this brain tumor was getting near her breathing centers and about to kill her. The surgeon saved her life, though he made a mess of her in the short term. Since then, they did several other surgeries (Moving the working vocal chords closer to the paralyzed ones bring back much of the function, doing a nerve switch to bring back some facial movement, etc.) Now she is doing quite well. Our children are all grown and also doing well.
              Are you sure you have the knowledge, perspective, and understanding to interpret God’s dealing s with mankind?

          • RT,

            “The problem with your trying to confine things to what we can prove and demonstrate with tests and experiments is several fold….. we will always lack sufficient knowledge and perspective to sum everything up by what we can test and analyze.”
            Yes, in otherwords, we currently don’t know and it may be that we will never, ever know how the universe and life came to be. Is that my prefered conclusion? No. Would I like to know definitely how this all came about? Yes, that would be absolutely, mind-blowingly amazing. However, since it’s not currently known, I will remain honest and lucid. Something you know nothing about. Making up and/or believeing in bullshit like a “creator” and calling that an answer to the mystery of the universe is not just intellectually dishonest, it’s laughable.
            Anyways, I’ve grown tired of your stupid analogies, your illogical arguments and idiotic statements. I feel as though I am actually stupider for having not even read, but lightly skimmed over the nonsensical garbage you’ve written on here. You’ve contradicted yourself or backtracked or have had to “clarify” so many statements that I’ve gotten a severe headache so I’m just gonna bow out.
            Surely you can take heart because you’ve got the mystery of the universe solved and you’ve figured out that it’s all about you and your wonderful relationship with your friend in the sky and that in the end, you’re bound for a destination of eternal bliss and happiness. Surely that must be enough for you. Sorry I can’t think the same way you do and sorry you think my “soul” is doomed. You’ll just have to let me worry about that alright?
            Have yourself a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

            • Ashley,
              I believe my question as to your religious upbringing (or perhaps lack of one), and what led up to your decision to be an atheist, whether you ever trusted in God and felt He let you down in a big way, etc., is a fair question. And it’s an important question, in that it gets down to the origins of your belief system, even as origins are important in answer questions about God and existence. Origins tell us an awful lot. I can tell you precisely when I became a Christian, the circumstances surrounding it, and give a testimony of a very powerful and life-changing encounter with God, beginning at a very difficult point in my life, 32 years ago where I was contemplating suicide and was a 23 year old alcoholic. I took a walk down a desolate country road and made a decision. I yelled out loud, “God, I want to live! Show me what to do and I’ll do it!” I knew nothing of being “born again”, nothing of being “filled with the Spirit”, nothing of any of these things. But after that day, my life began moving at a whirlwind pace, I began experiencing the presence of God in my life, I found myself with a group of Bible-believing Christians, with God speaking to me and bearing witness to things in my spirit. The night I have my heart to the Lord, my future wife, whom did not yet know, was standing right beside me. She asked me to pray with her when on the step outside in a wooded area, which made me squirm – I was extremely uncomfortable with anything like that! When we got up and parted ways, I turned around and said, again, out loud (but not loud enough for her to hear), “She’s going to be my wife!” I was so caught up with what God was doing in my life, that I forgot all about that scene. Later, we met up, and from the time we acknowledged an interest in one another to the time I proposed was exactly one week. And as I proposed, the presence and power of God fell upon us both. We’ve now been married for 30 years, have six children and tow grandchildren. At that time I felt like I was in a river that was picking up pace, and if I did not soon grab on to the sides, I was just going to go with it. I abandoned myself to this river of God’s Spirit, and my life has never been the same since and I’ve never regretted it for a moment. I never followed a “religion”. I followed God, who brought me alongside of other believers, and subsequently affirmed what was true and right. This is a living and dynamic relationship with God. I follow Him in and out of various churches, Bible studies, etc., but I do not follow churches. Rather, I join up with them as God directs me. This is not just about intellectual assent to God, but about the power of God and His reality in my life. God has so much affirmed to me His reality and who He is, that I could not deny it without denying what I know to be true at the very core of my being.
              RT

              • I wonder how many times I have to say this before it makes its way through your incredibly thick skull. “…in that it gets down to the origins of your belief system…” I don’t have a belief system so that answers that. Religion and belief in god is illogical nonsense and there isn’t a single shred of evidence that any of it’s true. That’s why I don’t believe. It’s as simple as that.
                I don’t really care about when you “came to god” but I know exactly why you came to him. You’re a weak minded-pathetic simpleton that needs a crutch to get through life. You’ve traded the bottle in for an imaginary friend. Where you used to have to drown bitter reality in alcohol, you now need to spend your day talking to an imaginary friend and being told what to do because you don’t have the intellect, courage and the fortitude to figure it out yourself or because you think it enhances you or makes you a smarter person or has given you the answers to all of life’s big questions. Then there’s the fact that you can’t let a day go by without telling other people that they’re going to hell because it makes you feel superior or you’re scared that the nonsense that fills your head is actually real. You’re an addict, you’ve just changed drugs, that’s all.
                You’re a father and a grandfather which is probably the scariest thing you’ve ever said to me. I don’t know what your relationship is with all of your children and grandchildren, but it breaks my heart to know that there’s a potential for you to be talking to them the way you’ve been talking to me with your idiotic nonsense and filling their heads with parochial petty small-minded garbage. It’s scary because children don’t have the capacity to think for themselves. Your comments are usually either immoral, hateful and sometimes unintentionally humorous…because they’re so stupid. That’s fine for me, because I’m quite confident in my ability to use reason, to use logic and use critical thinking skills to see through your charade and pick apart your ridiculous arguments. Children don’t have that ability unfortunately and in many cases people like you succeed in infecting them with your virus, especially if the fear tactic is employed.
                Now go ahead and call me angry or tell me that I’m going to hell or whatever else you want, especially if it makes you feel better about yourself. “…I follow Him in and out of various churches, Bible studies, etc., but I do not follow churches…”. That’s a very clever way of saying that you’ve asked to leave churches because the people who are like-minded believers can’t stand you either. I wonder RT, what’s it like to be the sole possessor of the truth and know that every other person on planet earth is wrong? That’ must be a truly wonderful, liberating feeling I imagine.

*Insert your thought here*

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