1/3/09

If God Exists…

FYI: this post has been moved here.

12 comments:

  1. Throw yourself down from the pinnacle of the temple or into a tiger’s cage—the point is the same, it is not God’s job to save your life in cases of tomfoolery.

    Perhaps not. But what is God's job then? If He refuses to be at the beck and call of cheap parlor tricksters, that's understandable. But not showing Himself at all makes life difficult for us rational types: we would like to see some evidence for things before we declare belief in them. Since God doesn't show Himself in any of the ways He used to (as a burning bush, for instance) and doesn't even seem to answer prayer as He is supposed to, then what are we poor skeptics to do?

    Sure, we can go along with Kierkegaard, and make a "leap of faith". But even if we decide to do this, in which direction should we leap? If we're called upon to believe in nine impossible things before breakfast, there is a feast of possibilities open to us, and no way of knowing which is the "right" one: Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, John Frum... the list goes on and on, and most of these guys are real grouches, and purportedly toss those who don't believe in them into some sort of unpleasant oubliette. Choices, choices...

    So Mariano: if God exists, why doesn't He show Himself?

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  2. @zilch
    Since God doesn't show Himself in any of the ways He used
    He doesn't show to you, but it doesn't mean He doesn't show at all.

    doesn't even seem to answer prayer as He is supposed to
    How do you know which prayers he's supossed to answer?

    which is the "right" one: Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, John Frum...
    Any description of God is far from whom it tries to describe. We get some image by applying anthropomorphic attributes like loving, rightful, merciful.
    Buddha is obviously not a God, his ethics is suprisingly close to Christians. Jesus was also by some conntected to hinduism either as a Wishnu incarnation or by claimed journey to India in youth due similiarities in teaching with Hindu gurus.
    I can make 'a case for Christanity' vs Judaism and Islam however I have no problem in accepting that as long as one lives according to inner moral law, I believe anyone has built in, (s)he'll go to heaven* to meet God face to face.

    *I'll surpress your question about which heaven. I don't know much about heaven but one thing I'm sure: not muslim one.

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  3. tremor: but if God doesn't show Himself to me, why should I believe in Him any more than I believe in any other proposed beings I don't perceive, such as unicorns?

    About answering prayer: as far as I can see, and as far as can be told from double-blind tests, if God answers any prayers at all, He does so in a way indistinguishable from random chance with no God.

    Thus, until such time as I see evidence for the existence of God, I will do my best to make my one life here on Earth, and the lives of my family, friends, and fellow humans and other animals, as heavenly as possible.

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  4. “Thank you for inviting me to debate this most important topic. For my opening remarks I will throw myself out the window.” This may be termed the argumentum ad suicidum.

    This would certainly cut down on the number of debates in a hurry.

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  5. "... we would like to see some evidence for things before we declare belief in them."

    Or even as tentatively accepted as possibly true.

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  6. "...the point is the same, it is not God’s job to save your life in cases of tomfoolery."

    This is, of course, a sane position to take. Sadly, many theists don't take this sane position and do things that not only hurt themselves but hurt those they are responsible for. There are any number of children that have died because their parents relied on prayer instead simple proven medical treatments. There are people that have died from snake bites because of some verse in the Bible.

    You are absolutely correct in not relying on God (whatever that is) to do anything to help you. Your most sane strategy is to operate AS IF God did not exist.

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  7. Your most sane strategy is to operate AS IF God did not exist.

    My worldview in a nutshell.

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  8. @zilch
    but if God doesn't show Himself to me, why should I believe in Him
    If He would show, you wouldn't believe - you would know (unless you'd say it's a hallucination).
    However most of theists didn't meet God in sensual realm. "Spiritual meeting" results in peace of mind, clear thoughts, new energy to follow affirmated moral codex. Meeting on prayer with God is possible for everyone but under some conditions. And here we come to problem of hen and egg ;).

    any more than I believe in any other proposed beings I don't perceive, such as unicorns?
    Just as virtually any journey to uknown (like in case of baby relying on its parents or student learning evolution - on her/his teacher and introductionary book) it almost always starts from relying on authority. Reasonable skepticism is not a problem. However skepticism usually is much more than not blindly believing - it's unbelieving or believing in opposing to be true. This kind of skepticism usually goes in pair with negative emotions towards given believe. With such attitude it's hard do a first step due to lack of will to do so.
    Assuming that you (theoretically) would like to give Charistianity (probably second) chance you have to start somewhere. As long as you strongly believe that Gospels are not historically accurate and you can't really tell which parts are true and which not (many claim that Gospels are mostly made up by Jesus' followers) you won't make this step.
    So before then you should study both sides of the story (realiabity of Gospels). To do so, you need to want to do this. If you've already made up your mind or you don't care, case is closed, it won't happen.

    Who seriously takes unicorns, fairies or FSM? Case of Jesus is for real, with many testimonies, some sacrified lifes for this belief.

    About answering prayer: as far as I can see, and as far as can be told from double-blind tests, if God answers any prayers at all, He does so in a way indistinguishable from random chance with no God.
    You're referring to prayers for healing. I don't have any informations on atheists healed from hopeless (from medical point of view) cases. Do you?
    Anyway, many pray for many different things, but all of them should say 'Your will be done' first. Here we come to jdhuey's point:
    There are any number of children that have died because their parents relied on prayer instead simple proven medical treatments.
    Pride is the worst of all sins. Assuming that God will fullfil my will instead of relying on Him and following His will wherever it leads me is just that - prideful testing of God. It won't work.
    St. Ignatius Loyola: "Work as if everything depends on you. Pray as if everything depends on God."


    Thus, until such time as I see evidence for the existence of God, I will do my best to make my one life here on Earth, and the lives of my family, friends, and fellow humans and other animals, as heavenly as possible.

    Prayer is not the only way to meet God. He appaers in beauty of the world, and even more, beauty of goodness. Consider Mt 25:40: "And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'" (For context see Mt 25:31-46) No matter what your worldview actually is.

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  9. Zilch;
    I too would like to see some evidence for things before I declare belief in them. Yet, I bet that the overwhelming majority of everything that you have ever believed, by a long shot, you have believed without one single shred of evidence and without ever imagining seeking any.

    One the one hand: since you are not God’s god you cannot demand that he bend reality to satisfy your particular curiosities. On the other hand: if you were to pray something to the likes of, “Jesus, I hear a lot about you, I do not know who you are nor if you even are but if you are please let me know” He will, some how or another. Then you will know it, and then some ivory tower more erudite than thou type will ask you to shrink down to their well within the box thinking and evidence your claims.

    I do not know where you live but would imagine that it is a very, very comfortable first world country where the worse concern is eating too much. Get yourself out into the mission field and you will readily see God show Himself and answering prayer.

    Out of Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, John Frum only the first two pass the test of natural theology and Allah has some problem besides. I hope that you will pardon a rather pointed statement but comparing belief in God to belief in unicorns is only indicative of who far and away from rationale atheism has taken you.

    I think that you are asking, “So Mariano: if God exists, why doesn't He jump through my hoops?”
    God stated, “you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13) and as Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your…mind” (Matthew 22:37).
    God appears to walk a fine line between too much and too little evidence.
    Too much and your free will to not believe is violated.
    Too little and we would not know about Him.
    Jesus said that some people have eyes but still do not see, have ears but still do not hear.

    I would submit that when you do not see God doing what you demand that He do—you are expecting God to follow your theology. And your theology does not exist in a vacuum: it may be, just maybe, that you are looking around to see what God is not doing and then saying that if God was then God would do that which you think God should do.

    PS: the argumentum ad suicidum may cut down on the number of debates but I bet a lot more people would show up :o)




    Jdhuey;
    I most certainly agree that it is sadly and an abuse of scripture that children die because their parents relied on prayer alone. However, I am not arguing that we are not to rely on God. Rather, that the same God who urges us to “reason together” made a times space continuum in which cause and effect relationships occur and we have the capability to act AS IF God does exist and gave us rational minds to function in a rational creation.

    aDios,
    Mariano

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  10. Mariano, you say:

    Zilch;
    I too would like to see some evidence for things before I declare belief in them. Yet, I bet that the overwhelming majority of everything that you have ever believed, by a long shot, you have believed without one single shred of evidence and without ever imagining seeking any.


    Depends on what you mean by "evidence". True, I have not seen any artifacts that demonstrate, say, the existence of Julius Caesar, or for most other things in which I believe. But I have observed enough things at first hand to extend trust to similar observations made by others, as I'm sure you have as well. In particular, I have learned that the scientific process, while not perfect, is generally trustworthy. For instance, I have seen Neptune myself through a telescope. I have not seen Pluto, but I have seen photos and trust the process to give an accurate picture of such things. I have not seen anything like the same for God.

    One the one hand: since you are not God’s god you cannot demand that he bend reality to satisfy your particular curiosities. On the other hand: if you were to pray something to the likes of, “Jesus, I hear a lot about you, I do not know who you are nor if you even are but if you are please let me know” He will, some how or another. Then you will know it, and then some ivory tower more erudite than thou type will ask you to shrink down to their well within the box thinking and evidence your claims.

    Been there, done that. So far, no answer. Should I appeal to Buddha and Allah too, just to make sure?

    I do not know where you live but would imagine that it is a very, very comfortable first world country where the worse concern is eating too much. Get yourself out into the mission field and you will readily see God show Himself and answering prayer.

    True enough, Austria is a very comfortable first-world country. And while I have not done any mission work in the third world, I did work with handicapped people for years in California, and didn't see any evidence of God helping them in any way.

    Out of Jehovah, Allah, Buddha, John Frum only the first two pass the test of natural theology and Allah has some problem besides. I hope that you will pardon a rather pointed statement but comparing belief in God to belief in unicorns is only indicative of who far and away from rationale atheism has taken you.

    What is, pray tell, "natural theology"? And don't worry about being pointed, Mariano: you are the epitome of politeness. I hope you will pardon me, on the other hand: the only reason that you don't take unicorns seriously is because there are lots more Christians (and Muslims) than followers of the Invisible Pink Unicorn (forgive Mariano his blasphemy, Your Pinkness). It's theologically unnatural to worship something that doesn't have four legs. This goes for tremor, too, who said:

    Who seriously takes unicorns, fairies or FSM? Case of Jesus is for real, with many testimonies, some sacrified lifes for this belief.

    "Taking seriously" in the case of religion is largely a matter of historical accident: where and when one lives, and what religions came out on top, for whatever reason. People have sacrificed their lives for all kinds of beliefs.

    cheers from my cozy workshop in chilly Vienna, zilch

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  11. Zilch:
    "Depends on what you mean by 'evidence'. True, I have not seen any artifacts that demonstrate, say, the existence of Julius Caesar, or for most other things in which I believe. But I have observed enough things at first hand to extend trust to similar observations made by others, as I'm sure you have as well... I have not seen anything like the same for God."

    Your take on this is quite interesting, as many non-theists typically do not give much credence to such evidence (as it pertains to the belief in a God) found in the same way.

    Unfortunately, I cannot do anything to lift the veil, so to speak, that you might see things the way I (or others) do. We all see various evidences that point us to or away from God. My experiences combined with my way of thinking and that of those I trust has, like you said, brought me to the point I am at now.

    I believe God is always showing Himself to us and that, yes, based upon other factors in our life we may or may not consciously want to see Him. Do you have to believe or subscribe to this? No. It's merely another means of showing why you may not have yet seen God in the world.

    On a side note, I've seen Saturn through a telescope once. Man, was that weird. I've also been to Vienna and Salzburg, Austria. of the countries I've been to, Austria was certainly one of my favorites.

    Cheers!

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  12. Sorry, Fenton, I just now saw that you answered my post. Cheers to you too, and look me up if you ever get out this way again.

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