Here it comes. Wait for it….
First, I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Ugh. Now get on with how YOU and YOUR TEAM won the Super Bowl. What does some dead Jewish rabbi have to do with it?
I imagine this was the skeptical color commentary heard in the minds of many unbelievers Sunday night at the awarding of the Lombardi trophy to the Philadelphia Eagles. They expected it…dreaded it…and it did come, this year first from Eagles’ coach Doug Pederson. In snack-strewn living rooms and noisy bars across the country the unwelcome profession of faith was derided and ridiculed, and the faith itself likened to brainwashing.
If you’re one of those skeptical types, let me tell you I get it. It can seem almost cultish…the familiar, attributing refrain and the skyward-pointing fingers…as if these players and coaches were getting subliminal, religiously indoctrinating messages while watching game footage with the team. And idiotic. Haven’t you been practicing that play all year? Didn’t you work your butt off to help your team get to the Super Bowl? Did you fly into the end zone or did you actually use your legs and feet and the muscles you sweated buckets to bulk up?
What does Jesus have to do with football, why do you have to mention him, and why would a God who loves everyone favor one team over another?
What’s going on
There are at least two things going on when an athlete credits God for a successful play or a win. First, he is humbly acknowledging that God is in control of all things. It’s not that he doesn’t recognize his own part in his success, but he knows that God could have orchestrated a different outcome no matter what he did. And he knows that God gifted him with certain talents and that his every breath is a gift as well.
Secondly, professional sports are a world stage and the solid Christians who are on it feel a responsibility to use it for the glory of God and, as Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz (who did “fly” into the end zone for a Super Bowl TD) said, to “make disciples.” They know what an impact, and it’s huge, their confident faith can have on the millions who watch them play. And since they know the world needs what they have found in Christ, if they care about the world, they’re going to share it.
God is desperate
And it’s not that God plays favorites. The Patriots have Christians on the team as well who would have praised him had they been victorious. God isn’t on anyone’s side…he’s on everyone’s side, because he wants everyone to know him and share eternal life with him. So he may very well have given Ertz a little boost to make sure he crossed the goal line because he knew that when the Eagles won they would praise and credit him. Not because God is desperate for recognition but because he is desperate for those he loves (you) to know that he does and that he has made a way for you to enjoy him forever.
So, skeptical friend, though you may not be convinced by the faith that has convinced Pederson, Foles, Ertz and many others, give these guys a break when they express it. They’re not parroting a cult mantra and they’re not stupid. They’re brave but humble men who know their place before a great and sovereign God and they’re only giving him his due. What’s more, they know you’re watching.
They’re doing it for you.
I see acknowledgement of a higher power in most all sports by fans and players alike, no big deal. Like “skeptics”, I’ve seen Christians up in arms over players praising Allah. I trust you would equally be fine no matter who they praise.
Not sure why, but after reading your blog, it reminded me of Wolf Blitzer interviewing a tornado survivor. Houses are destroyed all around her and Wolf says ““I guess you got to thank the Lord, right?” and the survivor responds that she is an atheist.
It would be great if people didn’t assume everyone believed in a god and when they find out someone doesn’t believe in god, it would be great if they didn’t target them for indoctrination.
Hey, David. It depends on what you mean by “equally be fine.” I certainly wouldn’t object; I’m a big believer in religious freedom. Is that what you meant?
And it sounds like you think the Christian athletes who publicly profess their faith are “target(ing)” others for indoctrination. Indoctrination is a pretty strong word. How does exercising one’s religious freedom in this way amount to indoctrination?
Yes, I wanted to know if you were equally as accepting of others, regardless of their religious affiliation. Islam often gets mocked, for example. I’m happy to hear that you would not object.
As for “indoctrination”, I mean that statement in general. So often, even on WordPress :-), One may come to the “Atheist” forum for the sole purpose of trying to degrade atheists and proselytize. I suppose proselytize is a better word than indoctrination. Are you using the atheism tag to degrade atheists (skeptics) and proselytize?
Hope you are having a good day today.
Proselytize, yes. Degrade, absolutely not. As proselytize means to attempt to convert someone from one belief or opinion to another, yes, that’s my goal in tagging atheism. But what’s wrong with that? If I believe my Christian worldview to be true and the atheist one false, and more so that atheists are in danger of hell (yes, I believe hell is real), then doesn’t it make sense that I would want to persuade them to my view?
Proselytism itself should be unobjectionable as long as it’s not coercive or disrespectful.
“proselytize means to attempt to convert someone from one belief or opinion to another, yes, that’s my goal in tagging atheism. ”
Ahh, yes, spreading the “Good News”. Very noble of you. I just find it strange that you are targeting atheists as opposed (or in addition to) to agnostics, Buddhists as well as followers of Islam and Judaism. Since you believe in the Christian worldview and claim it to be true, then do you also find other religious worldviews false?
What if you are wrong and another religion is true? What if there is a god but he is not the god of Christianity?
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Your smidge of sarcasm there (“Very noble of you.”) has you sounding now like just about every other atheist I’ve interacted with here. Not very congenial of you.
And of course I believe that other religious worldviews, though having a measure of truth in them, do not measure up to Christianity as the most coherent reflection of reality. But your other questions are really beside the point and appear to be merely an attempt to avoid engaging with the topic at hand.
That is an interesting phenomena, where one can assume someones tone via email, text or message. but I do have to laugh since after I hit send, I wondered if you would take the “Spreading the Good News” in the wrong way. Rest assured, I understand it is your job as a Christian to spread the good news. So no harm was intended by me. Although, I do wonder. Have you taken a negative opinion of me just because I am “atheist”… and just assume I am not congenial?
As I sit here on the fence observing. I do know that each follower will claim their religion the most righteous. I’m actually surprised you didn’t say you’re religion is true and because it is true, all the others are false. I hear that a great deal. Kudos to you. On the other hand, it is not unusual for a follower to believe their religion to be truer than the others. I assume mine is correct too 🙂
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I don’t have an issue with people of faith thanking God for their abilities. What I do have an issue with is when athletes, musicians or actors thank God in their speeches and say something like ” This win belongs to God because he makes all things happen.” Thanking for ability and being humble is one thing. Implying God’s hand was in a Superbowl win or a Grammy award is ridiculous. Why would God care more about these things than starving children? More than world peace? Yes I know that celebrities have a platform in which they can preach God’s goodness to the world. However wouldn’t ending hunger or ending all wars be a better way of showing that? People everywhere would see God’s power at work and believe. People playing a game for money doesn’t quite have the same effect as helping innocent people live better…or at all.
Those are my thoughts. I just wish people who thank God would keep things in perspective. Thank for your abilities but don’t imply that God directed the outcome of anything so trivial. It makes you look foolish and angers those who see the atrocities still going in the world while millionaires get their victory parades.
Why is it ridiculous? It seems your implication is that if God can influence the Super Bowl he would also eradicate all hunger and pain and conflict. Is that what you’re saying? Of course God doesn’t have to choose between influencing a victory or award and making sure children don’t starve. He could do it all. Then why do children die of starvation? That’s the issue you’re raising, isn’t it? The problem of evil and suffering.
I’ve addressed that in other blog posts. Here’s a short one that includes a few short and excellent videos on the problem. https://caroline-smith.com/2017/11/02/the-problem-of-suffering-objectively-speaking/
I’m not saying God influences the Super Bowl or that he could end hunger and pain. I don’t think God does either. I don’t believe God interferes in our world at all. There is no evidence outside of the Bible that shows he does. Hearsay and coincidence are not proof. The Bible speaks of God influencing the world and also speaks of miracles. Take the Bible out of the equation and there is nothing to go on. So if you believe the Bible completely then it may make sense to you. I don’t so we will have a hard time finding common ground.
It’s “ridiculous” for exactly as you said, “he could do it all”. Yet he doesn’t. He would rather have the words that men wrote about God (which is what the Bible is) being spread to the masses than to actually help the masses. Innocent people suffering while the “good news” is being spread is supposed to be okay? Actions speak louder than words. I think the issue here is that you appear to have what so many Christians have; tunnel vision. You see what you want to see and anything contrary to your preconceived notions is dismissed as foolishness. You seem to be looking straight ahead with the Bible story at the end of your tunnel. I get it. I was a Christian too and I once thought anything outside of the Bible was wrong. Why? Because the Bible said so. However, the Bible is man’s words. I know you don’t believe that, but I now do despite 25 years of being a Christian. So unless you are open to accepting a differing opinion (after conversing with you in the past, I don’t believe you are) then this conversation is going nowhere.
Like I’ve said previously, I am willing to accept extra-biblical evidence that points to God and Jesus being who you say they are. But pointing to the Bible and saying that it’s true because it says it is won’t do it for me. Jesus, according to the Bible, was either the son of God or God Himself…or both. It all depends on how you interpret or translate the Bible. Whichever way you look at him, in the Bible he was divine. Outside the Bible, the only historical evidence of Jesus points to him being a man who was executed. He was a preacher who had followers. Nothing more. There is no extra-biblical evidence that he was divine in any way, only that he existed. Also, the Bible explicitly says Jesus went to Heaven to “prepare a place for us” and he left us the Holy Spirit until he returns. So why do celebrities not praise the Holy Spirit for their gifts? Why not the Father? Why do most only point to Jesus? If the trinity is real and each part has it’s own function, then they are praising the wrong part anyway. The gift of the Holy Spirit is what is said to be living within us, not Jesus. Jesus is “sitting at the right hand of God” in Heaven, right? If the three parts of the trinity are interchangeable, then why have three separate parts? Why say that there are three parts with three separate roles to play if they can just be moved around as we please? If Jesus is in us, where is the Holy Spirit? Are they both in us at the same time? Where does the Bible say that is the case? It doesn’t.
I am not trying to be rude in any way, but you seem to just take any comment outside of your belief system and immediately dismiss it. Your proof that they are wrong? The Bible. Is there proof outside of the Bible that the Bible is the Word of God? Any book can make that claim and back it up within its own pages, but that doesn’t constitute proof. I was a Christian who became a skeptic because the “word of God” is full of errors, despite claims to the contrary. Historical evidence can show that and it does. I’ve mentioned that before and you shot that down. Follow the trail of physical documents and you can see that. If you just say, “well I don’t believe that”, then that is your prerogative. It’s like people say, “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.”
If you want to win over skeptics, you need to look at things through their eyes. Just saying they are wrong and you are right won’t do it. You know why I am still a deist and not an atheist? Because when I look at the world around me, I see evidence of design and creation. I cannot prove that so I don’t preach it and tell everyone that my view is right and theirs is wrong. I don’t see the same evidence in the Bible that I do in nature. Supernatural stories written long ago require 100% faith in order to believe them. Opening my eyes requires 0% faith. So if you want to reach out to skeptics and atheists alike and show them the light of the “good news” then you need to show some proof. Skeptics, by definition, require proof. Good luck with your efforts. Again, prove me wrong. I would like nothing more than to get my faith back. but just know that my faith now requires more than hope and prayers. I need to see something and feel something. I need proof that God is listening. Proof that God is acting in, not just my life, but all our lives. “Be still and know I am God” does nothing for me. Those are words on a page. God speaking to me directly? That would mean something.
You should also know that most atheists in the atheist forum here on WordPress are former Christians so quoting the Bible is going to be a hard sell. They, and I, need something different to sway our opinions and give us the change of heart you think we need.
Looks like you’ve deleted your blog. How come?
You’ve made a number of assertions and implications here about me that are not true. In particular, that I defend the Christian God solely on the Bible and that I only believe the Bible is true because it claims to be. There are good reasons to believe the Bible is a reliable historical document and I have given those in previous posts. You don’t buy them…I get that. But are you not being as dismissive of anything “outside of your belief system” as you accuse me of being? Your implication seems to be that Christians have no reasonable foundation for our beliefs, and that’s unfair.
“Skeptics, by definition, require proof.” Can you prove that God is not active in the world, or that Jesus “was a preacher who had followers. Nothing more.”? Of course not. If we required absolute proof before we believed anything to be true, there would be nothing we could be confident about.
I suspect that you and other nonChristians believe that we Christians are so naively convinced and deluded that we never have questions or doubts. But that’s not the case. Just this morning I was struggling with not wanting to pray because I’m not seeing answers to my prayers. But when I consider objectively the evidence that has convinced me, and the possible and logical reasons why I’m not “seeing” God and his activity, it is more than enough to keep me in the faith.
Yes, it would be pretty cool if God were to speak to you directly…or to anyone. But he doesn’t seem to work that way anymore. He draws…he stirs…but a lot of folks have things going on that keep them from recognizing him.
My blog is still there. Not deleted at all. I’m not dismissive of things outside my belief system, just the same reasoning I’ve come to not believe. Yes I do think you support the Christian God because of the Bible. You would have to. Outside of the Bible, there would only be God, not the Christian God. The Christian version of God is exclusive to the Bible. People who believe in God who haven’t been exposed to the Bible don’t know the stories within it and wouldn’t understand why people would need them to believe. People in isolated areas of the world, where missionaries haven’t been still believe in God. They don’t know or care who Moses was, Jesus was or what a cross is.
Can I prove God is not active in this world? Sure. There’s no evidence of it. My proof is the lack of verifiable evidence. If there was proof God was acting, there wouldn’t be millions of atheists now would there? Or do you believe that unbelievers are so stubborn that they would reject obvious divine intervention? Can I prove Jesus was just a man? A preacher? I said that’s all that we have evidence of. You can assume he was more based on your beliefs, but based on what evidence we have…. it’d just be assumption based on your belief system. If someone accused me of a crime, should I go to jail because someone believed I did it? All evidence shows I was a good man who has a family and works hard. Maybe someone thought I killed someone based on hearsay. It can’t be proven, but by your logic, it can’t be disproven so therefore it should be believed. Not very fair to an innocent person.
You struggled with prayer as a lot of people do. I just recently wrote a post about prayer. My most common prayer was to know God. To know his plans for me. To know what path I should take to honor him. Just guide me, I’d pray. What is the reason for unanswered prayers there? It wasn’t God’s timing for me to follow him? He felt it was better for me to lose faith when I cried my eyes out to him begging for him to help me keep the faith? I prayed over and over for years to have knowledge of the right path to be on to be who God wanted me to be. I didn’t pray for stuff. I didn’t pray for fame or wealth. I prayed to be the child of God he wanted me to be. I got silence in return. I considered that rejection objectively as you did, but we obviously came to different conclusions.
When you say God doesn’t work that way anymore speaking of him directly contacting us, why is that? Why is our only “proof” that he ever did, the words in the Bible? Miracles happen, people say….in the Bible. God revealed himself to so many people that no one can deny his existence…in the Bible. Outside of that, it’s faith that he’s listening, not evidence. That’s my issue. We’re taking someone else’s written words that he is who they say he is and did what they say he did. I’m no longer willing to live my life based on hearsay.
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“Yes I do think you support the Christian God because of the Bible. You would have to. Outside of the Bible, there would only be God, not the Christian God.”
What I said was that you implied “I defend the Christian God solely on the Bible.” Of course the Bible supports the Christian God…it’s the primary source for Christian doctrine. What I meant was that I have argued we can infer truths about God from other sources and disciplines like natural theology…that he is immensely powerful, that he created all that is, that he always existed, that he is good…that are consistent with the God revealed in the Bible.
“Can I prove God is not active in this world? Sure. There’s no evidence of it. My proof is the lack of verifiable evidence.”
That’s a pretty bold statement…one that I’m pretty sure even most atheists would not claim. For one thing, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” as they say. For another, in order for God’s inactivity to be proven, you would have to show that it’s not even remotely possible that at least one of the accounts of his activity is true. Even if you personally witnessed every single supposed supernatural act (which of course you could not), you still could not prove that it’s not possible God was involved.
“It can’t be proven, but by your logic, it can’t be disproven so therefore it should be believed.”
You are misrepresenting my position. I believe the evidence weighs in favor of Christianity. Just as if you were on trial for a crime evidence would be presented for and against and the jury instructed to convict only if it demonstrates culpability “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but not beyond a possible doubt, so too the evidence for the Christian God make it more plausible than not that he exists. J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective who makes an excellent case for evaluating the evidence for God as you would in a criminal trial. http://coldcasechristianity.com
“Just guide me, I’d pray.”
I too have often wished God would reveal himself and his will for me more personally and directly. But I think it’s unreasonable for us to expect him to, as well as to conclude that if he’s not performing as we think he should, then he’s not active in our lives at all. We are simply too ill-equipped to make that judgment. Millions of people, many of them quite intelligent and not given to emotional or psychological wishful thinking, have put their faith in God without ever receiving a direct, outward manifestation of him. The evidence we do have of his activity around us and before us is sufficient.
I believe you were sincere in your prayers but I wonder what kind of answer you were looking for. For me it was a recognition of truth in what I had learned that made faith in God the reasonable response. I do believe he gives us inward confirmation through the Spirit once we surrender to him, but even then we can miss it if we’re not paying attention, or mistake it for something else.
A relationship between finite, physical creatures and an infinite, spiritual, greatest conceivable being is not something the finite ones can easily nor completely grasp. But that’s why it’s God who takes the initiative, and I believe he saves all those who recognize his existence and his sovereignty and submit their lives to him, even if they’ve never heard of Jesus.
“we can infer truths about God from other sources and disciplines like natural theology…that he is immensely powerful, that he created all that is, that he always existed, that he is good”
This can be said of so many other gods as well. These attributes are not exclusive to the God of the Bible. Also, to look at nature and see a creator is reasonable. I see deign and creation as well. What I don’t see is all the stories from the Bible that go along with it. I don’t see a caring, intimate god. I see nature. I don’t see God’s hand changing the world around me. I see nature. Yes, it seems to be designed and fine-tuned to precision, but how does that translate to the stories that can only be found in one place? We can indeed “infer truths” from nature that a designer or creator may have had something to do with our existence. Everything else that we know is created (Cars, phones, televisions, etc…) has a creator so why not nature? But, these truths are based on our own interpretations of the evidence before us. Atheists don’t see a creator. Atheists don’t “infer” anything from what they see. What I read about in the Bible doesn’t transfer over to what I see and what I can study. If the Bible says there was a tree somewhere in Jerusalem and you go there and find one, you can’t just infer that the Bible is true. You can only observe the tree. There are many other gods similar to the Christian god in antiquity and predate the Bible. There are many “Jesus-like” figures with nearly identical stories that predate Jesus. Take Dionysus for example. He was said to be born of a virgin on December 25th. He was said to be the son of God. He was said to have died and rose again within three days. Sounds like Jesus, so the people who wrote about him must have copied the Jesus story, right? The problem with that theory is that Dionysus was said to have been worshipped between 1500–1100 BC, which is well before Jesus. You can look at this link or find your own. There are plenty out there:
You can feel free to dismiss it. I don’t believe it either. I don’t believe it for the same reasons I reject the Jesus story. It lacks evidence. There may be some evidence that both men were worshipped as gods, but so were a lot of people who weren’t really gods. That doesn’t constitute proof of anything. It just shows that men are easily swayed into believing lots of things. The truth is that many people, including scholars, believe the Bible heavily plagiarized other stories.
“Can I prove God is not active in this world? Sure. There’s no evidence of it. My proof is the lack of verifiable evidence.”
That was my quote and you are right. It was a bold claim. Maybe too bold. Let me rephrase it. I believe based on my own experience that God isn’t active in this world. I have never seen it. I have never felt it. There is no verifiable evidence to prove it. Therefore, to me, it isn’t happening. To you, maybe you see something else. Maybe something happened and your reasoning is that God did it. That’s fine if you believe that. It cannot be proven, so it isn’t evidence. It’s faith. Faith, by definition, cannot be proven. According to an online dictionary that resulted from a Bing search, faith is “strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” Mirriam Webster defines faith as “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” If you cannot prove something, it is faith, not evidence. Yes, atheists and deists alike have faith as well. We cannot prove our positions, but believe them based on our own observations. Proof to me may not be proof to you and vice versa.
“the evidence for the Christian God make it more plausible than not that he exists”
Again, there is no evidence of a “Christian” God. There is no evidence of God at all. You can believe in God based on this or that, but cannot prove it. That, again, is where faith comes in. I don’t believe in “God” as defined by the Bible. I still feel that there is a creator, but not a personal, intimate God because that would require faith based on another man’s words. Faith which I don’t have. It cannot be based on my experiences, because looking back at the last 25 years of my life, I can’t recall any instance of any of that. Wishful thinking? Sure. Now plausibility is something I feel I should talk about. Plausible means “fair or reasonable; appearing worthy of belief.” That, again, is according to the Mirriam Webster dictionary. So what is fair or reasonable about the stories exclusive to the Bible? When historians look back at history and try to piece together what “most likely” happened, they have to look at what they know. They can see many different sources confirming this or that and can determine based on the abundance of evidence, that something probably happened. Because, without eyewitnesses, no one can prove it for sure. So when something is exclusive to one source, the likelihood of it being true goes down. When it’s a “miracle”, then it’s not plausible. It’s not likely. It almost certainly didn’t happen. That’s from a historian’s point of view, not a view from faith. Of course, “with God, all things are possible.” That saying is, like the miracles in scripture, is exclusive to the Bible. To quote Bart Ehrman, “Miracles, by definition are the least likely things to occur. If they happened all the time, they wouldn’t be miracles.” When scholars study history, they need the “most likely” things that happened to provide reliable “evidence.” The “least likely” things are usually dismissed as improbable or implausible. Jesus walking on water? A miracle. Who has done that since Jesus did? Who did it before? It was him and him alone. It was the least likely thing to happen to someone who stepped out onto water. It cannot be replicated. Anyone who tries will fail…and they will sink. Jesus rising from the dead? Another miracle. Also cannot be replicated and only happened one time. These are stories to be taken only by faith because the historical method would never take the most improbable and implausible stories as fact. They happened once. There are no eyewitnesses. They happened in the Bible and no other historical records. They have never happened again. Could they have happened? They could have. But there is zero evidence. And where they happened only once in all recorded history, they are not believable other than by faith alone. Faith, again, cannot be proven no matter what the biblical scholars you spoke of might say. It’s not a “reasonable faith” to believe in the least likely things to ever happen with zero evidence whatsoever.
“But I think it’s unreasonable for us to expect him to, as well as to conclude that if he’s not performing as we think he should, then he’s not active in our lives at all. We are simply too ill-equipped to make that judgment.”
If that is what you believe, then the faith you have is what we call “blind faith.” It is based on nothing but your feelings and not what you experience. If you feel God or hear God then you can say it’s faith based on what you know. If we are “simply too ill-equipped to make that judgment” then we are praying to a God we don’t know. A God who doesn’t have to answer or show himself to be known. A God who can make millions of people atheists by being so well-hidden. Good Christians, God-fearing Christians no less, lose their faith all the time. We are all “too ill-equipped” to feel God’s presence. We expect too much when we pray I suppose. Even if it’s just to feel God or to know direction in this life. Jesus said in John 14:14, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” In John 16:24 he says, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” Where are there conditions there that say, “if you do this, this and this, THEN I’ll do what I promised?” Again, I prayed for the most humblest things; Guidance, reverence, peace in knowing God, and reassurance that I was on the right path. Jesus said he’d do “anything” if we asked in “his name.” The church’s reasoning of why prayers go unanswered is that we have too much sin and that creates a barrier between us and God. So are you telling me that God would rather have me lose my faith than to strengthen it? Wouldn’t strengthened faith help to deal with our “sin barriers?”
“I do believe he gives us inward confirmation through the Spirit once we surrender to him, but even then we can miss it if we’re not paying attention, or mistake it for something else.”
I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but this is a church-taught conditioned response to unanswered prayer. I’ve heard it in my churches and by listening to preachers online. You need to “surrender”. Yup, I did that. Completely. Believe it or not, I was fully committed…for a long long time. “we can miss it if we’re not paying attention”…really? Do you think I didn’t pay attention? 25 years of inattention? We could “mistake it for something else.” What could an answer to prayer be other than an answer to prayer? Are you saying that I may mistake what God gives me when I pray for guidance? If it isn’t guidance, then what else would it be if he answered my prayer? Is asking for that an unworthy prayer? No. Jesus would have be proud to hear a prayer like that from a man like me. He would have been thrilled to know I was wiling to give up everything and follow him…in fact he commanded we do just that. If the way Jesus was depicted in the Bible is so different than the God I prayed to, how can I trust the God I pray to? Jesus said, “ask and you will receive.” The God I prayed to heard me asking, and asking, and asking. Did I receive? I think you and I both know the answer to that.
“A relationship between finite, physical creatures and an infinite, spiritual, greatest conceivable being is not something the finite ones can easily nor completely grasp.”
Again, this is another well known church-conditioned response. God is a mystery. We are not meant to know because we are but mere “finite” creatures. The church can give you answers to many things. Things they are confident you cannot refute. When they are not so confident? “It’s a mystery.” That’s comforting. To know that God left us a guidebook for how to live our lives and be more like Jesus. But unfortunately it’s full of mysteries. Why doesn’t God answer prayers? It’s a mystery. Why doesn’t the trinity make any sense? It’s a mystery. Why are there only just over 2 billion Christians in a world of nearly 8 billion? It’s a mystery. Why is God okay with 70% of the population rejecting Christianity? It’s a mystery. Why does the Bible say God doesn’t want to lose even one of us, yet he’s allowing us to go to hell by the billions because the book left for us is full of errors and man-made agendas? It’s a mystery. We’re not meant to “completely grasp” our relationship with God yet you claim it’s “reasonable” to do so? If we cannot understand because we are “simply too ill-equipped” then what part of this faith is reasonable? Let me answer that for you. It’s a mystery.
“This can be said of so many other gods as well.”
The arguments for God from natural theology are consistent with the God of the Bible but not with the multiple deities in Hinduism or the impersonal “god” of Buddhism or any of the imperfect gods created by men. And the “nearly identical” to Jesus god-myths are nothing of the kind when examined closely.
“But there is zero evidence.”
Whether it’s in reference to the existence of God or the veracity of the New Testament documents, this claim is plainly false. I suspect what you really mean is that there is no proof. There IS evidence, but conclusions vary based on it. You are a deist, believing that the evidence of an existing but finite universe and incredible complexity of life is best explained by a creator. But of course many atheists will claim there is zero evidence of one. Would you consider that a fair or accurate statement?
There is also evidence that most, if not all, of the original NT documents were written in the mid-first century by eyewitnesses or those with access to eyewitnesses. This is the conclusion of many NT scholars. But others assess the evidence and come to a different conclusion. My point is, it’s legitimate for you or anyone to question another’s conclusion from the evidence, but unfairly dismissive to claim that’s it’s unreasonable to take the position that what the gospels record actually happened.
Regarding miracles, dismissing them because they are by definition unlikely to occur is biased and faulty reasoning. If God exists, miracles are possible, so if the totality of the evidence suggests one, it should be considered.
And accusing me of having “blind faith” because I recognize the obvious transcendence of an omniscient, omnipotent, greatest conceivable being, and that my faith is “based on nothing but your feelings and not what you experience” is so incredibly dismissive that I just have to shake my head and ask myself why I’m even responding to you. This will be my last response to you on this post, unless I find it otherwise necessary.
You’ve made it perfectly clear that you don’t believe 1) that the Bible can be trusted, nor 2) that God has and continues to be active in the world. And that you’ve tried Christ and found him wanting. So unless you have something different to say regarding this post, I trust you’ll just agree to disagree. And if it means anything to you, I’ve prayed for you and I’m not promising that I’ll continue to, but I just may. At any rate, I wish you and your family well.
I can see you are done with this and that’s okay. I have no issues with opposing beliefs and different reasons behind those beliefs. I do like to have some substance in the explanations though. More than “You’re wrong.” If I give an example of something that shows my side and you disagree, that is acceptable. If your answer is “You’re wrong” but offer no explanation why I’m wrong, then it’s not a debate, but a sermon on your part. A debate isn’t Sunday school where someone preaches to you and tells you what you need to know. If I give you a link to a site about Jesus-like figures and you just say things like that can be proven wrong yet offer no proof of why you think that, then there is no substance in your response. “And the “nearly identical” to Jesus god-myths are nothing of the kind when examined closely.” For example? Oh, I guess it’s up to me to research my opinions and yours. Your refutations of my examples all have one thing in common. You just say that they are wrong. Nothing more. They’re just wrong. Your response to my “miracle” statement is just your opinion based on your faith. “If God exists, miracles are possible.” Of course, if God is real he could do anything. That doesn’t make it likely based on historical standards, only by Christian standards based on faith. You could also say that if Aliens existed, then alien abductions wouldn’t seem so far-fetched. They’d make perfect sense and everyone would believe it. “If” God exists? “If” isn’t evidence. “If” requires absolute faith.
Your faith is your business, not mine. But it’s based on what you perceive to be real, not what is obvious to everyone else. You may see “the obvious transcendence of an omniscient, omnipotent, greatest conceivable being” but this being is clearly not obvious to everyone or we’d all believe the same thing. I called it “blind faith” because of your claim that we are “too ill-equipped” to know if God is acting in our lives or not. You only saw what you perceived to be an insult and ignored the rest of what I said (in response to YOUR own statements). It was not meant to be insulting. Faith based on that which we are “too-ill-equipped” to understand is not faith based on fact. It may have seemed “dismissive” to you, but if you believe we can know God is acting in our lives, but we cannot see it happening because we are “too ill-equipped” then what is the faith based on? We cannot understand it or see it in action but we are supposed to take comfort knowing it’s real? That’s a little confusing. It’s clearly one of those mysteries I’ve heard so much about.
You don’t have to pray for me. It doesn’t do anything for me as I know how much God answers prayers. I feel you are praying out of obligation and not genuine concern for my soul anyway. That’s my opinion of course. I do think it’s a little funny that you said, “I’ve prayed for you and I’m not promising that I’ll continue to, but I just may.” Thanks for caring, but not caring too much. Try not to take anything I said too personal. I am okay with you or anyone else believing what they want to. If I have a debate, then obviously I’m coming at it from a different angle than you are. Therefore, I try to explain my position and expect the same from someone sitting across from me. We can just finish this now and move on with our lives. You don’t need to respond, and you said you probably won’t, so that’s it. I also wish you and your family the best.
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