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.

19 thoughts on “Just Asking”

  1. IMO, so long as you are honest with yourself (only you can discern that), and are at peace with the decision you make, you can choose to believe anything you want for whatever reason you choose. There’s a scriptural idea that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the truth. Jesus said that no one comes to him unless drawn by the Spirit. Maybe that’s part of the intangible dynamic of faith.

  2. Since I think it’s quite possible for a person to believe in God even though they don’t feel or experience God–and if you think about it, you can probably recall people in your life who have been there–I’d probably recast the question as simply, “Is it a viable position for a person to choose not to believe?”

  3. Hi Steve! Nice blog you’ve got here!For many, your question is put the wrong way around: I never chose not to believe, but rather never chose to believe. There’s a difference- for me, the default position was not believing, and I have never changed that.Why have I never changed that? Eddie said it: I’ve never encountered any evidence for the existence of God, so I’ve never seen a need to believe. Just because lots of people do believe in God is not evidence for God’s existence.

  4. It’s interesting that you take that position Jeff. Of course you tend to disagree with me no matter what I write these days (I just can’t make you happy no matter how hard I try)… but isn’t your comment above just the opposite of what you stated in am earlier comment when you said:<>I’m curious what gives Steve the right to dismiss someone else’s feelings, reason or experience, all because he doesn’t see a “definitive reason” (what IS that?). There are things in all of our lives that defy reason, but are still VERY real to each of us.<>…and this….<>Donald Miller once asked a student, “Please outline for me the steps to falling in love”. It can’t be done, because it’s a different, intangible experience for everyone. Love is universal, but the experience of love is very personal. (Much like God)The attempt to rationalize or critique love, whether between man & God / man & woman / man & man / woman & woman / cat & dog… is to cheapen it by demoting it from the realm of the heart to the realm of the cerebral.<>

  5. “1. This post must be burned.”How exactly does one go about setting fire to an internet message?“Too many uses of the STUPID word “religion”!”You demand the burning of a virtual message as if it were possible and then have the audacity to say that you find the word “religion” stupid? Priceless.“2. “largely base their belief in feelings and experience” – Check out a HISTORICAL book called the Bible…it was written NOT based on any ‘feelings’ nor my ‘experience’ but FACTS!”The Bible wasn’t based upon people’s experiences? They didn’t write down what happened to them? That’s a new one! “3. THIS is precisely the reason I wont talk too much about Christ on my site…”You won’t talk about Christ too much on your site but you feel just fine coming here and laying into the people who have no fear of talking about Christ as if we all have done something horribly wrong.“If someone wants to be LAZY and just base things on their own potentially foolish upbringing…”If someone is basing their opinion or belief on their upbringing, it’s not a potential upbringing but rather they’re drawing their opinions from past experiences also known as their own personal history. “good, I dont have time for morons anyway. Blind leading the blind!”Looking back on the statements you have made in your post here, I hardly think you’re in any position to be calling anyone a moron. As for the blind leading the blind, who led you to this wealth of knowledge you think you have?

  6. I too would like to say a few words. Blogpaul, I get what you are saying about the importance of historicity in the bible but I don’t generally hear “moron” being attributed to me so I think I’ll respond to something you said. “HISTORICAL” – seriously, that is a wide brush for such a large library? Do you know anything at all about hermeneutical process? Have you really never heard of historical-grammatical method? Have you never heard of genre? Aside from the fact that you have lumped the relatively new idea of modern objective history into the same boat with “epic”, “ancient history” and “pre-history” you also seem to have no idea that books exist in the bible other than the Torah and the Gospels. Do you really consider Leviticus (a law book) History? Is Proverbs (wisdom literature) history? What about love poetry like Song of Songs, or parables… are these things history? Do you really think of apocalyptic literature as historical? Exactly how do you include prophecy into the category of historical, isn’t the point of prophecy that it has not yet happened (in other words it is future and not history)? The bible is more than some crappy text book you read in social studies class!

  7. If I understand correctly (rejection of what is known) then I would have to answer with “no”, but not for the traditional reason. Certainly this question holds some significant weight for all you Armenians out there (Calvin rejected the “earthly eternal sin”). For you non-Calvinists the traditional view (Wesleyan-Armenian view) is commonly held that this is the “eternal sin” / ”unforgivable sin” (e.g. knowingly rejecting the saving work of the Spirit in you).Matthew 12:30-32 “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

  8. of course most everyone is going to explain away why this is valid; it’s not the way they see it.it’s just as viable as “i believe because i just do”

  9. Yes, I agree Zeke… maybe the question could be re-framed. However, I think one might choose not to believe for a variety of reasons. I just put it in the “feeling” category since the conversations on this site regarding reasons for belief ultimately end up in the realm of “personal experiences” and “feelings”.

  10. “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?” (Steve)Yes. Who is anyone to tell someone else that this isn’t so. If someone cannot see a reason for God then I have to respect that idea they bring forth (even if it does not gel with mine). If someone ‘feels’ something is it so or is it not so? This is where this question gets real interesting. How much can we trust feelings? How much can we trust experience? What serves as the back-drop for filtering both of these things and making a paradigm for them? I personally use my belief system to develop a system whereby feelings and experiences are thought upon and then developed into the paradigm (value system). I feel, I think, I live, I interact, I draw a conclusion (value – changeable), I develop – then do it all over again. I don’t know – is anyone else’s faith system work this way? PS: I don’t actually think faith is based in feelings (which differ from experiences – they are not one in the same – actually sometimes run contrary to one another and help define each other).

  11. First I’d like to give a shout out to Ha Kohen for displaying some serious Christ-like love/restraint in dealing with our little attention-junky paulofblog.As I’ve been reflecting on this topic and the resulting conversations, I keep coming back to the practical basics of it all: the more quality time you spend with God, the better you will understand him. And the obvious counter reaction to that, is time spent away from God (in relational terms obviously-we have no influence over his omniscience) means less understanding and ultimatly caring/loving for him.It’s a little like talking about going to the gym, but never quite finding the time/motivation to drag ones fat lazy ass over there. The benifits are in direct proportion to the efforts put forth (please no one confuse this with “works”, I’m talking about investing in the relationship).great post steve! where most would strive to post things that are whitty, controversial or all together meaningless (not that you haven’t had your fair share of those…), you are revealing your thoughts, doubts and journey to us, and I for one appreciate the courage and humility that you’ve invested.

  12. 1. This post must be burned. Too many uses of the STUPID word “religion”!2. “largely base their belief in feelings and experience” – Check out a HISTORICAL book called the Bible…it was written NOT based on any ‘feelings’ nor my ‘experience’ but FACTS!3. THIS is precisely the reason I wont talk too much about Christ on my site… If someone wants to be LAZY and just base things on their own potentially foolish upbringing…good, I dont have time for morons anyway. Blind leading the blind!

  13. blogpaul, most historians and archaeologists refute the historical accuracy of much of the Bible. What are you going to do with that? Or, is this just Satan “blinding” people who have devoted their entire lives seeking truth in their discliplines?

  14. Totally valid question steve!!!My response to that would be to step back and examine what it is you DO feel? To paraphrase a biblical wisdom: What treasures you store here on earth, there you’re heart will be. Or to call on another cheesy uber-cliche: Life is what you make it.IOW: What we invest our lives in to, is ultimately what/who we are.Steve, I think you nailed it when you said:“To me, arguing against faith from a position of logic is pointless, since people of faith largely base their belief in feelings and experience.”…because at the end of the day, all the arguments in the world aren’t going to summon the visceral experience with God we all long for. So that leaves us with a choice, we either choose to submit to the “mystery” of God’s design for us, or we simply choose to ignore him (since no one can explain him away).So all this to say, you must ask yourself if ‘feeling’ is even important to you in life? And if so, are there other things besides God that are sufficient for you? I believe that if such an existence is satisfying to you, than who is anyone to judge that? Everyone has different reasons for acknowledging God’s ‘realness’ (or lack thereof), and all of them are valid (more or less). That’s what makes the christian god a non-religious god.Keep searching, keep asking. As long as you’re staying true to yourself, I think you’re always going to be on the right path.

  15. Steve, how do I contact you via email? My friend and I (from Canada) have been reading and listening since the beginning!!! We are attempting to do the same thing as you guys but with video as well. We were hoping to chat with you and Josh.Cheers.

  16. <><>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?<><>It’s possible, but in my experience, most non theists don’t believe because of a lack of feeling, but because of a lack of evidence. In fact, I have yet to meet such a non theist. It would be analogous to saying: “I don’t believe in the flying spaghetti monster, because I don’t feel him …” Do you reject Zeus, Mythra’s, Allah and other non Christian god’s because you don’t feel them? I am highly doubtful that this is your position.<><>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?<><>More honest? Chooses? By definition, this statement cannot be falsified, and as such, feelings may play a part, but we all know that feelings are highly subjective. Theists of all religions claims some sort of “feeling” about their god of choice, but we all know their gods contradict each other, and as such, a non theist reject all these gods for the same reasons (emphasis on reason) and feelings are immaterial to the question, and may or may not play a role in their ultimate decision to reject a certain god. If we could test these “feelings” then perhaps this analogy could work, but it seems to me that faith stands in opposition of our feelings about it. We cannot verify the source of these feelings, other than to conclude they are a product of our brain, pretty much in the same way NASA astronauts experience these “feelings” when placed in a G-Force pod. If you catch my drift.It’s more honest to say I don’t believe in *your* god, based on these reasons … whatever they may be.It begs the question: Why aren’t these feelings universally the same, if there is ONE God? I don’t buy …

  17. Feelings are an interesting phenomena when talking about religion. Moby is a Christian based on his subjective feelings and understandings of his world. Recently, someone did some expderiments showing that Carmelite nuns, Muslim Imams, Buddhist monks and a few others were asked to pray/meditate while in an MRI (good luck with that!) The results of the scans showed specific areas of the brain lighting up when these subjects “did their religious thing”. This could be one of two things: one, man has some wiring in the brain that plays nicely with religious/spiritual themes due to some evolutionary need, or as CS Lewis alluded to, there is only one God, and when we pray, we all contact the Transcendental.

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