Just Asking

So here’s a burning question I have….

Is it a viable position for a person to choose not to believe based on no other reason than they just do not feel that God exists?

This question is based on a critique on Dan Barker‘s position where he “lost faith in faith” and then proceeds to “explain away” the Bible and God using logic. To me, arguing against faith from a position of logic is pointless, since people of faith largely base their belief in feelings and experience. So, isn’t it more honest for the person that chooses to “not believe” to just say they don’t feel or experience God so therefore, to them, He doesn’t exist?

Just asking these questions out loud.

Intuition

Watching TV last night, I came upon a documentary on “Intelligent Design vs Evolution”. In between making dinner, eating dinner, cleaning up after dinner and making lunches for school the next day… I didn’t get to catch all of it (or even the name of the show). Of course, if I wasn’t such a failure at my marriage, or maybe had more faith in God – I wouldn’t be a part-time single dad without a spouse to help me with such domestic work. (See the last post’s comments to get the inside joke). But I digress.

In one of the sections I did get to see, the discussion was on Intelligent Design and how there is basically no evidence to support its position, yet it is being promoted as a science. They kept showing this picture of Mount Rushmore, then explaining that noone doubts that there is a creator of that mountain. Then they would show a picture of another mountain, like Pike’s Peak, and ask how could one doubt that there is a creator of that mountain.

It’s like the two are the same thing. And they simply are not.

I didn’t watch the whole thing, but the ID defenders kept talking of how there are things that science still can’t explain and of course, those things that can’t be explained are from the Intelligent Creator. They used a term “irreducible complexity” but what we used to call “the God in the gaps”. Now the problem with “irreducible complexity” as the documentary points out is this: As science moves forward and discovers more and more about our world and how it operates, there are less and less things that can’t be explained. Thus the “gaps” for God to fill become less and less. So, in many ways, the ID people are reducing God in the minds of many and creating a crisis of faith as they try to “prove God”.

As this documentary points out and ID experts agree, much of what they believe about ID is a certainty based on a belief that they feel is true. It cannot be deduced from science. Nor will it be… because to search for any remaining questions from the ID point of view would involve science, deduction, reasoning and logic. And whatever explanations are out there wouldn’t fit the preconcieved conclusion that the ID people have decided upon.

There are plenty of problems with evolution as well. But there is much more facts, hard evidence and science on the side of evolutionists

Losing Faith in Faith

Dan Barker’s story is chilling on so many levels. Originally written in 1984, his journey has no doubt been followed by so many others, and I cannot help but identify.

As Julia Sweeney said in “Letting Go of God” (and this is loosely paraphrased)… “I would have been such a good Christian if I hadn’t have been so serious about it”.

I don’t want to lose faith in faith. I don’t want to let go of God. Maybe if I didn’t care so damn much about the truth of it all, the reality of what it means for me and others…. maybe if I just remained ignorant, didn’t read my Bible or think about God so much… maybe then things would be easier.

Here’s part of his story. I hope you will read the rest.

I did not lose my faith, I gave it up purposely. The motivation that drove me into the ministry is the same that drove me out. I have always wanted to know. Even as a child I fervently pursued truth. I was rarely content to accept things without examination, and my examinations were intense. I was a thirsty learner, a good student, and a good minister because of that drive. I always took things apart and put them back together again.

Since I was taught and believed Christianity was the answer, the only hope for “man,” I dedicated myself to understanding all I possibly could. I devoured every book, every sermon, and the bible. I prayed, fasted and obeyed biblical teaching. I decided that I would lean my whole weight upon the truth of scripture. This attitude, I am sure, gave the impression that I was a notch above, that I could be trusted as a Christian authority and leader. Christians, eager for substantiation, gladly allowed me to assume a place of leadership and I took it as confirmation of my holy calling.

But my mind did not go to sleep. In my thirst for knowledge I did not limit myself to Christian authors but curiously desired to understand the reasoning behind nonChristian thinking. I figured the only way to truly grasp a subject was to look at it from all sides. If I had limited myself to Christian books I would probably still be a Christian today. I read philosophy, theology, science and psychology. I studied evolution and natural history. I read Bertrand Russell, Thomas Paine, Ayn Rand, John Dewey and others. At first I laughed at these worldly thinkers, but I eventually started discovering some disturbing facts–facts that discredited Christianity. I tried to ignore these facts because they did not integrate with my religious world view.

For years I went through an intense inner conflict. On the one hand I was happy with the direction and fulfillment of my Christian life; on the other hand I had intellectual doubts. Faith and reason began a war within me. And it kept escalating. I would cry out to God for answers, and none would come. Like the battered wife who clings to hope, I kept trusting that God would someday come through. He never did.

The only proposed answer was faith, and I gradually grew to dislike the smell of that word. I finally realized that faith is a cop-out, a defeat–an admission that the truths of religion are unknowable through evidence and reason. It is only undemonstrable assertions that require the suspension of reason, and weak ideas that require faith. I just lost faith in faith.

The Faith Pill

clipped from www.realcities.com

Grossi de Almeida attributes the miracle of her son’s birth to a paper “pill” inscribed with a prayer that she ate during her pregnancy. The Vatican agrees, pronouncing Enzzo one of the two miracles needed to declare the creator of the pills, an 18th-century Franciscan monk named Antonio de Sant’Anna Galvao, a saint.

Galvao’s pills reportedly have cured thousands of Brazilians of everything from depression to hepatitis. His elevation to sainthood will be long-delayed recognition of what many believe is an ongoing miracle that’s saved – or bettered – lives for more than two centuries.

Believers swallow three seed-sized pills over nine days, during which they recite the prayer printed on the paper.

“It’s a vehicle of faith,” said Grossi de Almeida, who miscarried twice, including losing twins, before Enzzo was born. “You take the pills, and you believe in them, you believe they will make you better, and you become stronger in your faith. You know there’s a God that helps you.”

Who am I to doubt these miracle “faith pills”? After all, it’s all a matter of belief anyway right? And even if I can’t understand it, who am I to question it or reason the “what’s” and “whys”? What gives me the right after all to dismiss all of these people’s experiences and feelings about these miracles? I mean, if these people believe in something that I cannot conceive or rationally prove, they are not misguided, are they? I certainly would hate to be unenlightened and even cast a hint of doubt towards these faithful believers. No evidence necessary whatsoever… not in this case.

Why People Believe.

From my previous post it is pretty much obvious that everyone believes things because that is what they want to believe. No one believes for any definitive reason… it simply feels right, or it seems reasonable, or simply personal experience, but let’s use their own words…

I believe because that is my inclination.

I usually find my way back to a place of understanding and faith in God — even if I can’t prove God exists.

I believe because in my heart I know it to be true.

I believe because I have personal experience of God that has transformed my life…

I also believe based on the ontological argument – God exists because we have a need for Him.

I believe what I believe. Anything, anyone says to me will never get me to change what I believe.

I believe because I am a part of the elect. I did nothing and deserve nothing but was given everything.

I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob revealed in Jesus who lived, died and rose again and presence is here for all who believe today…. You cannot put faith or God under a microscope.

I believe in God because I know Him personally. I talk to Him and He talks to me back.

You can read the rest of the comments but from where I sit there is no definitive reason to believe based on any of the Christian testimonies below. What do Christians believe and why do they believe it? All the Christians seem pretty damned confused from where I sit…

Stupid Church People.

But let me just say this… I believe in Santa Claus. Why? Because my parents told me he is real, he brings me presents and he makes me happy… it’s hard to explain but Santa makes my life better.