Reasons why I can no longer believe: 1 – God is “we know not what”

November 5, 2007 at 7:27 pm 72 comments

I’ve been writing out the reasons why I can no longer believe, and am thinking of making a series of posts here with them. This post is just one reason that belief in God became untenable for me.

Any descriptor of God is meaningless, therefore one must worship, “We know not what.”

Blurred ImageConsider the following examples of descriptors for God:

  • God is love, or loving
  • God is merciful
  • God is good
  • God is just

If you take any definition of those terms and try to apply them to God, they fail badly.

  • No being could perpetrate such atrocities as the genocide and virgin taking of Numbers 31 and be called ‘loving’. We’ve certainly had many monsters in human history do such things. They are all reviled. But we want to give God a pass on monstrosities?
  • Imagine Jim, who, upon being wronged by Dave, takes Dave’s baby and kills it. Is Joe merciful? Imagine Sue, who, in order to prove that Joe loves her no matter what, kills Joe’s kids. Are Jim or Sue merciful? No. They are evil. Yet we want to insist that God is good? And pro-life?
  • Imagine Dan walks down the street, sees a man raping a 10-year-old girl. Dan has strength, skill, and weapons enough to incapacitate the rapist. Dan just walks on and does nothing about the rape. Is Dan good? No. If we found out about what Dan had done, he’d be the most reviled man in the country. Yet God is supposed to watch 10-year-olds, and many others being raped, beaten, abused, etc. all the time, and He, with infinite power, does nothing. And we are supposed to praise Him.???
  • Remember the “unjust judge”? Even he eventually gave the persistent woman justice. Yet sincere, desperate believers cry out to the ‘God of Justice’ night and day. And do they get justice? Not very often.

Of course I can hear the apologies already. “God can’t be judged by our standards. His ways are higher than ours. He is mysterious. Terms applied to God may look different in light of His omnipotence. Etc. etc.” But these attempted apologies just prove the point that any descriptor of God is meaningless.

What good is it to say, in one moment, “God is loving.” and in the next moment to say, “Well, we may not understand ‘love’ in the context of God.”? You’ve just effectively said, “God is ‘we know not what’.” because the word ‘love’, by your own admission, can’t be understood by us (at least not when applied to God).

And then we are told that God wants to be known. That He has come down to us. That He is a personal God. And so on. Yet it is utter nonsense because we can’t know anything about Him if any term applied to Him can’t be understood in His context. It’s utter nonsense.

A god who is beyond us and thus can’t be entirely known is one thing. A god who is so utterly alien that we can’t even define terms when we think of him, is ridiculous.

How can you have any relationship to that which you can’t even vaguely define? How can you worship that which you cannot know at any level? How can you believe in something that you can’t even grasp at an elementary level? How can you sensibly embrace the nonsensical?

- LeoPardus

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To sin or not to sin: Is it even possible? Where does Atheism fit in my life?

72 Comments Add your own

  • 1. HeIsSailing  |  November 5, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    LeoPardus wrote:

    A god who is so utterly alien that we can’t even define terms when we think of him, is ridiculous.

    I would not say a god like that is ridiculous – more like ineffable. I would be much more comfortable relating to a truly holy and separate God on this level than on the personal level that is so popular in evangelical CHristianity today. I have a hunch most of the Old Testament prophets would agree with me if they were alive today.

  • 2. Jon F  |  November 5, 2007 at 10:43 pm

    I have now come to think that the Jesus we all grew up in church is a construct of christian wishful thinking – the Jesus we would like to be true, an imaginary friend. And I also wonder whether or not this is not the root of all religious expression. Life here is bad, can’t change it, but I can imagine a better afterlife for me and a punishment for all the nasty others. I seriously wonder whether God, in all his/her forms, is quite literally a figment of our imagination.

  • 3. marie  |  November 6, 2007 at 1:11 am

    This was a great post! I dont have anything to say–just great!

  • 4. kramii  |  November 6, 2007 at 9:46 am

    LeoPardus:

    I think that there is a difference between belief in a Xian God and belief in any God.

    Any descriptor of God is meaningless

    Any? How about, “God is Truth”?

  • 5. loopyloo350  |  November 6, 2007 at 11:50 am

    Light and dark co-exist. God as creator is God of all. Ying/yang

  • 6. LeoPardus  |  November 6, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    God is truth

    “If there be any mistake in the Bible, there may well be a thousand. If there be one falsehood in that book, it did not come from the God of truth.”
    — John Wesley (July 24, 1776)

    I agree with Wesley here. So…

    II Thessalonians 2:11-12 says that God sends a powerful delusion to certain people, causing them to believe a lie.

    Matthew 18:19 says that if two Christians agree about anything, God will do it.

    I John 5:14,15 says, that if we ask anything according to God’s will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

    Do you believe that rabbits or badgers chew cud? God says they do (Leviticus 11:6, Deuteronomy 14:6-7).

    Mark 16:18 says that if a Christian drinks deadly poison, it won’t hurt him at all.

    So, what definition of ‘truth’ might such a God fit? Here are some choices. Looks like God fails of them pretty badly.

    - fidelity or constancy
    - the actual state of a matter
    - conformity with fact or reality; verity
    - a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, or principle
    - an obvious or accepted fact
    - ideal or fundamental reality
    - agreement with a standard
    - accuracy, as of position or adjustment

  • 7. Ted  |  November 6, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    I was curious by your title so decided to give the blog a read. However, your reasons for not believing, only increase my belief and reasons for faith. So in that way, I thank you. The fact which I agree with you on is the almost impossible label assessment in trying to define God by our terms. This only reinforces the magnitude and power of God.

    As for some of the comments saying a Loving God could not condone or perpetuate the attrocities of man; how do you define what is love? It is your own limitations on what Love is, that then states God could not be loving due to certain acts in History. Think about the audacity we have to state what Love is and what Love is not?

    And as far as Jesus as presented in the Gospels…you may be right in that we do not get a clear picture of His reality..it was probably far greater, powerful and loving than we think. In Him was no sin, perfect obedience and total servitude to teach us all.

    Thanks again for the jolt to my faith!!!

  • 8. kramii  |  November 6, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    LeoPardus:

    Thanks for your reply (#6) to my comment (#4). However, I don’t think I made myself clear. I am *not* arguing here that the God of the Bible is Truth (although I believe that personally, I really didn’t want to get into that here). I just wanted to point out that your statement “Any descriptor of God is meaningless” might be worth reconsidering. IMHO, it is possible to envisage *a* god who is truth, or (to put this another way) to make Truth one’s God.

    Perhaps I should comment on your issues with the Truth and the God of the Bible. I believe that Wesley was mistaken. I think it is quite concevable to view the Bible as having basis in truth, but to accept that errors have been introduced by its human authors / interpreters. Again, I am not saying that is my own position, but that such a position *is* conceivable even if one were to accept your arguments against God of the Bible as Love and God of the Bible as Truth.

    When it comes down to it, my point is this: conviced as one might be by the arguments you present in your article and the comments you have made, I don’t think that they are enough to reject belief in deity altogether.

    What do you think?

  • 9. loopyloo350  |  November 6, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    lost in translation? I’m not trying to be flip, but I think you are trying to judge whether God exist on too many contradictions without giving credit that truth can exist, even with evidence to the contrary. Not all evidence is truth nor should we accept it. I don’t believe we should stop searching for answers or trying to prove the existance/non-existance of God simply because mistakes were made in quotes.

  • 10. Grayfly - Deist  |  November 6, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    I was recently posed this question. Let’s say, I don’t believe in “god”. What if our Creator gave the creation all of it’s creative ability? For example, the ability to think things into existence. E.g. thought balloon..and it was so. What if traditional religion has served absolutely no purpose whatsoever but to remove us from that truth. Let’s skip the conspiratorial rhetoric here and just assume some people know this and don’t want others to know it. OK, so if you, as the creation have all of the creative abilities of the creator, but you don’t know it and all the while doubt the existence of the creator because of all the horrible things humanity brings upon itself, could that be the root of the self-destructive nature of all of us?
    It starts with a change of perception. You won’t find ‘god’ in a building or a book. I know this blog is for former Xians, which I am not. But I also know that abandoning the notion of a Universal binding force can lead to some very dark days

  • 11. LeoPardus  |  November 6, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    Kramii, Grayfly, and loopyloo350 all addressed a similar matter. I’ll quote Kramii on it:

    “conviced as one might be by the arguments you present in your article and the comments you have made, I don’t think that they are enough to reject belief in deity altogether.

    I can go along with this idea. There may be a deity of some sort. I couldn’t say what he would be like though. Except to say that he would not be anything like the god of Christianity or any other religion. {OK. Maybe the Tao would cover it.}

    I don’t think there is any God/god, but I shan’t attempt to categorically declare that to be the case. And i can see why some folks, after reading my reasons, still find room for a god in the universe. After all, they are only my reasons. And I’m not infallible…… yet. :)

  • 12. LeoPardus  |  November 6, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Ted:

    As for some of the comments saying a Loving God could not condone or perpetuate the attrocities of man

    I’m not looking for God to condone the atrocities of man. I’m concerned that God condones the atrocities of God. Like the genocides of Numbers 31 or those in Judges and Samuel. Or the murder, by God, of an innocent baby for the sins of his parents. Or the murder, by an angel of God, of numerous Israelites because the king did something God didn’t like.

    how do you define what is love?

    I use conventional understanding and dictionaries. But I don’t change the definition, or make up new definitions, to suit circumstances.

    It is your own limitations on what Love is, that then states God could not be loving due to certain acts in History. Think about the audacity we have to state what Love is and what Love is not?

    So, you are proving the point. When one says, “God is loving.” it does not convey any meaning.

    Thanks again for the jolt to my faith!!!

    Cheers.

  • 13. Mitsu  |  November 6, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    I agree with you. Another reason why I’m not religious, is because I’ve seen so many Christian blogs with utterly hateful things to say about non-Christians. Religion should be about peace and respect, not something that breeds hate and causes wars.

  • 14. ac  |  November 6, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    I read the original post and all of the comments to it so far. I guess in a lot of ways, many people’s perceptions and misunderstandings of God make me sad. Not at all to say that I have figured him out; I feel like I barely know him at all in comparison with how much of him there is to know. But, I do know him…if only a little, and that’s why I’m made sad by some of the things that have been said here. Even if I know very little of who God is, I do have a relationship with him and experience each day through the reality of him. He has absolutely transformed my life, as well as many of my friends’ and family’s lives.

    As a friend of mine and I were saying the other day, if we come to God with open hearts and minds, and just honestly state that we have a lot of confusion about who he is, about how we see the world going, and how can he be who he says he is if all of this happens, that’s a start. But if he exists, don’t you think that he will respond to any one of us coming to him with an open heart that is asking to know who he is and what he is really about?

    One thing I’ve learned…the hard way is that we can’t figure him out in our preconceived boxes. He wouldn’t be much of a God if we could. But like one of you said, he does relate to us in ways that we can understand or at least access…if we come to him with a heart and mind that is ready to learn and possibly to change, rather than coming to him to try to defeat him, he will show himself to us, and we will find him to be more than we imagined.

    So I hope this has made sense. My desire is that each of you know the loving, compassionate…but unthinkable God who loves me so much…and you too.

  • 15. Paul S.  |  November 6, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    ac said,

    I do have a relationship with him and experience each day through the reality of him.

    This is one of the things this OP is discussing. What does it mean to “experience each day through the reality of him”? It’s statements like this, and “God is love” that are incoherent to many people.

    ac said,

    …if we come to him with a heart and mind that is ready to learn and possibly to change, rather than coming to him to try to defeat him, he will show himself to us, and we will find him to be more than we imagined.

    You just don’t understand what an atheist believes. Since we have no belief in God, it just doesn’t make any sense that we are out to “try and defeat him.” You are under the assumption that an atheist believes there is a God, but that we just don’t believe IN God. That’s just incorrect.

  • 16. Samanthamj  |  November 6, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    ac –
    ====you said :
    “But if he exists, don’t you think that he will respond to any one of us coming to him with an open heart that is asking to know who he is and what he is really about?”
    ========

    You would think, wouldn’t you? But, guess what? Most of us here DID go to him many times… with an open heart… before we deconverted. If you read the background on many of the main contributors here, you will see they were pastors… leaders…. and, were completely dedicated to God at one point.

    ===== you also said:
    ” But like one of you said, he does relate to us in ways that we can understand or at least access…if we come to him with a heart and mind that is ready to learn and possibly to change, rather than coming to him to try to defeat him, he will show himself to us, and we will find him to be more than we imagined.”
    ===========

    – HOW does he relate to us in ways that we can understand or at least access?? I’m asking sincerely. I’m curious how you feel you understand and have access to Him? Because, I don’t relate… or understand at all… and I certainly don’t feel like he’s accessabile.

    And again, many people here DID go to him… and he did NOT show himself to us… and the harder we looked… the less we saw. Contrary to finding him as “more than we imagined”, many of us discovered that He WAS something we imagined.

    ~smj

  • 17. Lyndon  |  November 6, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    At a coffee shop yesterday my friend and I were talking about our journey of de-converting from pastors to drop outs to something else. I asked him, “Do you have a God consciousness at all? Do you sense the presence or activity of God in your life today?” We both said ‘no.’ Truthfully, I never did while pastoring either. Mostly my thoughts about what God would think or want were subconsciously or consciously motivated and directed by what my congregation or deacons would want or think. It’s all about conditioning. Sooner or later you make the switch and just associate the collective mind with a deity. Just my observation on whether God exists.

  • 18. loopyloo350  |  November 6, 2007 at 5:13 pm

    Lyndon, How can you call your yourself a deconverting Christian? From your words, your seem to never had faith at all. It’s one thing to decide you can’t believe in something if you once did, but if you didn’t I don’t understand? I am not judging, I have been on both sides and can understand others loss of faith, never believing or searching for belief. LeoPardus, in spite of myself, I believe. I question, often. I fear, sometimes. I hope, always. I try, not always with success, to walk in the light. Peace and happiness to you

  • 19. tadcronn  |  November 6, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    <>

    Let me add:
    God is cool
    God is neat
    God is spiffy
    God is wow

    Now, let’s list all the terrible things people do to each other and assert that they are not cool / neat / spiffy /wow.

    Now, let’s assert that God doesn’t exist because any statement of his coolness / neatness, etc. doesn’t hold up in light of people’s general suckiness, which he would not allow if he were cool / neat, etc.

    A) You’re not using any measurable terms to define God.
    B) The terms you use are highly subjective and variable.
    C) You judge God based on your own biases.
    D) You’re engaging in circular reasoning. (ie, These things that happen are bad; if God existed, he would stop them; these things happen; therefore, God does not exist. Not much different from: The Bible is infallible; if God existed, there would exist an infallible book; the Bible says it is infallible; therefore, God exists. Fine faith statements, perhaps, but logically invalid.)

    Just like the post about cud chewing in Leviticus. Golly, by my modern high school science standards, those aren’t animals that chew cud, therefore, I guess the Bible is wrong. Have you ever seen a rabbit or badger? They chew like crazy. Did you ever stop to think that maybe the writers of 3,000 years ago had something a little different in mind and that “cud chewing” is only a bad English translation?

    <>

    Again, you’re using terms that don’t make sense to draw a false conclusion. If you try to measure heat with a ruler, how can you get meaningful results? God laid the entire universe before you, and you’re waiting for a burning bush. God is indeed personal, but like any relationship, if you turn a blind eye and aren’t open to it, how can you expect to enjoy the benefits of it? Relationship takes two.

    Matthew 7:5: “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

  • 20. tadcronn  |  November 6, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Apologies. It didn’t dawn on me that the karets would hide the quotations. First quotation should have been:

    ” * God is love, or loving
    * God is merciful
    * God is good
    * God is just ”

    Second quotation:

    “And then we are told that God wants to be known. That He has come down to us. That He is a personal God. And so on. Yet it is utter nonsense because we can’t know anything about Him if any term applied to Him can’t be understood in His context. It’s utter nonsense.”

  • 21. Alex  |  November 6, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    I have problems when God is described as righteous, just and good as words like these, in the biblical sense, usually mean ‘like God’. So when songs go on about how righteous God is, they’re really saying how godly god is!
    duh!

  • 22. LeoPardus  |  November 6, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    tadcronn:

    Your whole post is a non sequitur. I’ll take a crack at trying to point you to the tracks when I have more time, but criminy, where to start?

  • 23. Lyndon  |  November 6, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    loopyloo, I suppose I believed, or practiced rather, in spite of my doubts. I leaned toward liberal Protestanism. I know many contemplative liberal Christians who embrace Christianity as a way of life or worldview and yet reject the fundamentalist rhetoric. I fell solidly into that camp. The supernatural or divine encounter was not a prerequisite for them or for me, because we were not looking for ecstatic emotional experiences, rather fpr more of a reflective, albeit romanticized, faith. Trust me, I ran in all the same circles as the devout believers. Now I run in the opposite direction.

  • 24. Paul S.  |  November 6, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    tadcronn said:

    Again, you’re using terms that don’t make sense to draw a false conclusion. If you try to measure heat with a ruler, how can you get meaningful results? God laid the entire universe before you, and you’re waiting for a burning bush. God is indeed personal, but like any relationship, if you turn a blind eye and aren’t open to it, how can you expect to enjoy the benefits of it? Relationship takes two.

    Indeed, it seems you are the one using terms that don’t make sense.
    What is the nature or description of your “relationship” with God or your “experience with the Holy Spirit”? From Infidels.org: “Is it a mystical experience in which ordinary consciousness is replaced by special consciousness of oneness with God? Is it rather a vision perhaps similar to that of angels or Jesus, that could be described as perceptual? Is it merely the feeling of being in the presence of a particular holy being? Could it be one or the other of these experiences depending on the circumstances? Since, however, having an experience of the Holy Spirit would presumably differ in content from the religious experiences of nontheists such as Buddhists and even from those of non-Christian theists such as Jews and Moslems, not just any religious experience would be considered an experience of the Holy Spirit.”

  • 25. HeIsSailing  |  November 7, 2007 at 7:55 am

    tacron says:

    Yet it is utter nonsense because we can’t know anything about Him if any term applied to Him can’t be understood in His context.

    How are we supposed to have a relationship with God if he does not even use the same vocabulary as us?

    If I question the love or justice of God because of his habit of damning unbelievers to hell, I am told, ‘Oh yes God is loving – just now *our* perception of love’.

    Huh? So you are saying that it is not love at all, but something else which has no name? So we use the word ‘love’ even though it is insufficient? So just what does scripture mean when it says ‘God is Love’?

    This approach is truly nonsense. It renders all attributes to God as meaningless and just makes him anything you wish him to be.

  • 26. Brad  |  November 7, 2007 at 9:43 am

    “So just what does scripture mean when it says ‘God is Love’?”

    God is not love divorced from Justice. He is both. God has been faithful in providing us a means of salvation through him. But to nix all of the consequences of our actions (sin) would be neither just nor loving.

    Our culture has a view of “love” that is sometimes lacking. In the name of love, I have seen people allow their parents to walk all over them and not stand up for themselves because that is the definition of love taught to them (speaking from experience). In the name of love, celebrities end marriages to chase after their “true love.” I have seen billboards with the slogan “Life is short, get a divorce” and “Life is short, have an affair” (Chicago). Do we really know what love is?

    But God is both love and just. And the two are not mutually exclusive because God has created a way to uphold both aspects of his character.

  • 27. loopyloo350  |  November 7, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Are you asking if love as all inclusive, blind to our actions, no matter what, is what God’s love is? It’s not what I expect. As a child I had abusive parents but a part of me still loved them. As an adult with three sons of my own, I know I love them but I don’t always like them. I know it sounds silly, but what is love? Is it giving everything? Or doing everything?

  • 28. LeoPardus  |  November 7, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    My list:
    God is love, or loving
    God is merciful
    God is good
    God is just

    tadcronn’s list
    God is cool
    God is neat
    God is spiffy
    God is wow

    Than tad says that *I* am, “not using any measurable terms to define God.” and that, “The terms [I] use are highly subjective and variable.”

    Uh huh. It’s really weird reading posts by someone who confuses himself with me.

    Next tadcronn assesses my arguements:
    Now, let’s list all the terrible things people do to each other and assert that they are not cool / neat / spiffy /wow.
    Now, let’s assert that God doesn’t exist because any statement of his coolness / neatness, etc. doesn’t hold up in light of people’s general suckiness, which he would not allow if he were cool / neat, etc.

    No tad-m’-lad. That’s your silly argument. Once again you’ve conflated yourself with me. Go back are read the original post.

    More from tadcronn:
    You’re engaging in circular reasoning.

    No sir. That is your purview. Go back and read the original post.

    Just like the post about cud chewing in Leviticus.

    I’ll accept the ‘bad translation’ argument you set forth. Now how about the other 4 verses? And while you’re at it, try this: How does one build a faith when one can’t count on the words in one’s Holy Book? Must all believers learn the original languages? (P.S. that is the stance the Muslims have taken.)

    God laid the entire universe before you, and you’re waiting for a burning bush

    Yep. People say that God laid the universe before me. I frequently find that people are not credible. So, yes, I am expecting the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present, all-good God who has all the time there is and personally cares about me, to spare one infinitesimal portion of His time, power, etc to give one honest man some assurance. And, no, what God supposedly did centuries ago, that He supposedly created the world, and the apologies of apologists is NOT good enough. ‘Supposeds’ and ‘apologies’ just don’t carry.

  • 29. loopyloo350  |  November 7, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    I am the darkness and the light, I am the beginning and the end, from me all things come. All things. You want to believe, but you don’t want to at the same time. you only want part of the whole. You are doubting Thomas, LeoPardus. God answered Thomas.You search but cannot find, why do you continue to search? I think you find what you are looking for more often than not. Keep searching LeoPardus, God may yet answer you., but have faith, knowledge doesn’t come if you don’t look for it but sometimes love blindsides you.

  • 30. LeoPardus  |  November 7, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    Thomas is my patron saint. He said, “Unless I see the nail prints in his hands, and place my fingers in the wound in his side, I will not believe.” It was no trouble for God to do that for Thomas. It would be no trouble for Him to do that for everyone. When/If God is willing to step up to the plate, I will believe again. Until then, there is nothing to believe in.

  • 31. OneSmallStep  |  November 7, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    But to nix all of the consequences of our actions (sin) would be neither just nor loving.

    I agree that love should not make one a pushover, and sometimes to be loving, one must be firm as well. Love corrects, in order that the person may be improved. That would be why parents impose consequences upon their children, so that the child can become better. I would even see that justice would demand this, a restorative punishment.

    However, is Christianity set up this way? The statement above is that to remove consequences is neither just nor loving. But it’s not specifying how the consequences are applied. Could we not say that Christianity does in fact remove consequences? The concept I see is that since Jesus took the sins/accepted the punishment, that allows others entry into heaven. Jesus was punished so that humanity didn’t have to be punished.

    But if someone else is taking the consequences for my actions, how is that loving or just? How is that corrective towards me? Doesn’t this in fact “nix” the consequences, because the person doesn’t have to face them, so long as the person repents?

  • 32. Paul S.  |  November 7, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    brad said:

    God is not love divorced from Justice. He is both. God has been faithful in providing us a means of salvation through him.

    This crap may fly in Christian circles, but not here. You should understand that your assertions are illogical to the mind of an atheist. I don’t doubt that your beliefs are sincere. But just making these assertions with no way to prove them or even give any kind of explanation as to what you mean, does not contribute anything to this discussion.

  • 33. Carly  |  November 7, 2007 at 1:51 pm

    I would say that God is us. I’m not sure what I believe in exactly but this is something that I do believe. Whatever anyone perceives to be God is really us, all of us working together as one in the universe. There is no greater being, it is what we all create. That to me is a far more beautiful thing to believe in if you need to believe in something.

  • 34. LeoPardus  |  November 7, 2007 at 2:29 pm

    Brad:

    Do we really know what love is?

    Provide some definitions. I can pull quite a lot from a dictionary, and a few more from my own mind. Perhaps you can come up with some I wouldn’t.

  • 35. Brad  |  November 7, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Leo,

    We’ve interacted before, and it didn’t end on the best note. I hope we (both) can learn from our mistakes.

    “When/If God is willing to step up to the plate, I will believe again. ”

    Something that is interesting to note is that the account with Thomas in John quotes Jesus saying, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Notice what it doesn’t say: that Thomas actually put his fingers in Jesus’ wounds. He had more than enough “evidence” to believe, but it was not to the standard that he had just espoused requiring for belief.

    Sometimes we are confronted with truth and find that belief does not come in the way we expect. As a result, it is sometimes mistaken for something else, discarded by choice, or missed completely. I have no doubt that, if he hasn’t already, God will reveal himself to you. However, I doubt that it will come on your terms.

    “This crap may fly in Christian circles, but not here.”

    Please, define “crap” and “fly.” Also, I’d appreciate some benefit of the doubt, as I have been saying this “crap” for many months in conversation here and it has been treated with respect and appreciation (even when disagreed with). I was proposing that scripture gives an answer to the inconsistency you rightfully pointed out, but that because it does not come in the way some may want/hope/expect, it is discarded. See the above comment on Thomas for more.

    “But just making these assertions with no way to prove them or even give any kind of explanation as to what you mean, does not contribute anything to this discussion.”

    Tell me, can you definitively prove that there is no God (or at least that the Christian God does not exist)? Because I doubt that the level of proof you expect of Christians is the same standard you hold your own beliefs to. Also, I did explain the assertion in the comment, and it actually did in fact contribute to the discussion. If I come to a different conclusion than you, I am not automatically wrong on that basis alone. You are not the sole definer of truth. That is quite illogical.

    “Provide some definitions.” (of love)

    For the sake of brevity, I will also provide some of what it is not. Love is not ONLY a feeling. It is a commitment, but not based on worthiness or merit (any more than my wife loves me only when I do what pleases her). It is an action, a lifestyle, a service, and an attitude. A parent does not display love when he/she fails to rebuke/appropriately discipline their child. A friend does not display love by avoiding confrontation and allowing his buddy to drive after one too many drinks. To say that God is love implies all these things and more. Our culture has placed an OVER-emphasis on acceptance, tolerance, and conflict avoidance. All these things are present and a part of God’s love for us, but they are not to the exclusion of justice. This is what I mean by love.

  • 36. Brad  |  November 7, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Leo,

    In rereading some of the comments, I wrongly attributed the following statements to you instead of Paul S.

    “This crap may fly in Christian circles, but not here.”

    “But just making these assertions with no way to prove them or even give any kind of explanation as to what you mean, does not contribute anything to this discussion.”

    I apologize.

    Paul, please read my comment in response to yours.

    Thanks!

  • 37. kramii  |  November 7, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    LeoPardus:

    In #11 you said:

    There may be a deity of some sort. I couldn’t say what he would be like though.

    I understand that our views of deity are very different, but apparently we share more common ground than I had imagined. I appreciate the challange to my prejudice.

    Moving on, I was thinking a little more about your original post. What bothered me most was this example:

    Imagine Dan walks down the street, sees a man raping a 10-year-old girl…

    I admit that I struggle with a God who behave like Dan. But apparently, the girl herself may view things differently.

    The thing is, I used to be very close to someone who was, in fact, raped at about this age (actually 11, IIRC). And yet, somehow, she became one of the most fervant Xians that I have ever met. Apparently, she could still worship a God who had allowed her to go through not just this rape, but who allowed her to have abusive and neglectful parents, allowed her to become a high-school drop-out, a drug addict, allowed her boyfriend to commit suicide, let her suffer a mis-carriage, let her suffer another rape, allowed her to become a thief, a liar, a pimp and who knows what else. Following her introduction to the Gospel, she became absolutely dedicated to Christ and the God of the Bible. A model Christian, in fact.

    How do you explain this?

  • 38. LeoPardus  |  November 7, 2007 at 6:06 pm

    Brad:

    Whether or not Thomas put his finger in Jesus side is of no consequence. The story has it that Thomas would not believe unless the late Jesus showed up in person to Thomas. Jesus showing up to others wasn’t good enough for Thomas. So Jesus showed up. So far Jesus, or God, or angels, etc have not shown up for me. If any such beings want me to believe in them, they are going to have to give me something more than apologists.

    Regarding ‘love’. You did not define it. You gave a few examples of what it is not. That doesn’t work. Based on what you’ve given, I can safely conclude that ‘love’ might be gopher soup, or butterflies in my stomach.

    It’s a basic principle that you can rarely define a thing by what it is not. So you’ll have to provide some workable definitions. OR you could supply an * exhaustive * list of all that love is not. That might be too long a post though.

  • 39. LeoPardus  |  November 7, 2007 at 6:19 pm

    kramii:

    There are probably lots of explanations for the gal you mention. Just one possibility: After being so battered by this life, she might very well look outside of it for some hope.

    Of course while I’m thinking of explanations for the exceptions like her, it should take no effort for you to explain the numerous other abused people who did not become Christians, and who understandably were driven by horrible lives to become horrible people.

    If there is a real God who gets credit for your friend’s transformation, does that God get left off the hook for all the others who are embittered, frightened, hateful, murderous, abusive and so forth?

    Once again, I can’t help but think of Mr. Deity. “If people pray and good things happen, who gets the credit? Me. If people pray and bad things happen, who gets the blame? Not me. So it ‘s all good.”

  • 40. Paul S.  |  November 7, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    brad said,

    Please, define “crap” and “fly.”

    I’d be glad to. The crap I am referring to is your assertion that “God is not love divorced from Justice. He is both. God has been faithful in providing us a means of salvation through him.”
    What do you mean? Explain in detail (and not more Christian mumbo-jumbo about how “God is both love and justice”). What are you talking about? What do you have as backup to your assertion (please come up with something other than the typical “because the Bible says so” excuse)? Is it a personal feeling? Is it spiritual revelation? What is it about your experiences/relationship with God that anyone would construe as other than a subjective psychological experience that is unique only to you? What do you mean when you say that “God has been faithful in providing us a means of salvation through him”? These might be assertions that people in Christian circles lap up, but they are incoherent ramblings to those who don’t “believe.”

    Also, I’d appreciate some benefit of the doubt, as I have been saying this “crap” for many months in conversation here and it has been treated with respect and appreciation (even when disagreed with).

    Benefit of the doubt for what? Does the fact that you’ve been saying something for months make it any more true or believable? I don’t have to respect anything you say. However, I do respect your right to believe anything you want to believe and say anything you want to say. But that doesn’t mean what you believe or what you assert are immune from scrutiny.

    I was proposing that scripture gives an answer to the inconsistency you rightfully pointed out, but that because it does not come in the way some may want/hope/expect, it is discarded.

    I don’t know how many times this has been explained to you, but I’ll try one more time. I, as an atheist, don’t believe in God or gods. Therefore, I don’t believe that the Bible is anything more than a collection of human-inspired stories/letters that reflect the beliefs and superstitions of uneducated people living in ancient times. Your proposal that “scripture gives an answer” means absolutely nothing to me, any more than if you tried to tell me that “Gone With the Wind” was a historically accurate account about Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara.

    Tell me, can you definitively prove that there is no God (or at least that the Christian God does not exist)? Because I doubt that the level of proof you expect of Christians is the same standard you hold your own beliefs to.

    I never said that God (Christian or otherwise) does not exist. There very well could be a God or gods out there, but I’ve never seen one iota of evidence that He/they exist.

  • 41. Brad  |  November 7, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    “So far Jesus, or God, or angels, etc have not shown up for me. If any such beings want me to believe in them, they are going to have to give me something more than apologists.”

    Hrmmm… based on that logic, you would also not believe in the existence of many things. Do you believe in atoms and molecules? Do you believe that the Dodo bird once existed, even though you have never seen one? Is the testimony of others enough for you to believe that it did, in fact, exist? These are awfully high standards that you are applying to God, standards that you cannot apply to the rest of the world without encountering some serious problems.

    “Based on what you’ve given, I can safely conclude that ‘love’ might be gopher soup, or butterflies in my stomach.”

    If gopher soup or butterflies in your stomach can stop a friend from driving drunk, help a parent raise their children well, be an attitude or lifestyle, or whatever else I talked about, then that is some pretty amazing stuff. I don’t think I need to say that this oversimplification doesn’t do my effort any justice, but maybe I do considering the caricature you portrayed my explanation with. How about this: since it is your proposition that either God is not loving or that he does not exist because of the lack of love displayed in this world, you provide a definition to your liking and I will comment on it from my perspective. Sound good?

    “It’s a basic principle that you can rarely define a thing by what it is not. ”

    OK, honest question… did you read my comment in full? Because I did not rely on that alone, I did say what it was and began with a common perception. In our last conversation you said I didn’t have a main point to my comment, even though I said “This is the bottom line and main point.” Work with me here, bro.

  • 42. Brad  |  November 7, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Paul,

    “What do you have as backup to your assertion (please come up with something other than the typical “because the Bible says so” excuse)?”

    Because the Bible is the basis of Christian belief, it is necessary for me to explain my worldview using it. One cannot explain a worldview without working from within it. That said, God is said to be both just (Psalm 33:5 and…) and loving (Psalm 109:21, for example). The two are not mutually exclusive. This can be expressed in many different, practical ways. I listed a few examples earlier.

    Understandably, the world does not immediately seem to reflect this. However, the state of the world is not God’s fault. It is our fault. In Genesis (the bible again, I know, but how can I defend my belief without leaning on its foundation?), God gives stewardship and responsibility to mankind through Adam. He screwed it up, and we continue to do so. God is, literally, saving us from ourselves. To just wipe everything out, magically erase all evil, suffering, etc. would not hold us to the responsibility he gave us. This is both loving and just, in the same way that a parent will allow a child to make their own mistakes by facing their consequences (being an adult).

    In brief, that is what I am working from.

    “I don’t have to respect anything you say. However, I do respect your right to believe anything you want to believe and say anything you want to say. But that doesn’t mean what you believe or what you assert are immune from scrutiny.”

    I do not expect to be unscrutinized. To be in conversation in this forum and not expect that would be pretty naive. I would assume it to be done with the same respect desired from you all. That’s a pretty basic necessity for effective communication. Talk to Thinking Ape, HeIsSailing, or The de-Convert. They understand this concept well and have disagreed very respectfully, and without dismissing theistic belief as silly or illogical.

    “There very well could be a God or gods out there, but I’ve never seen one iota of evidence that He/they exist.”

    Obviously, evidence is a tricky thing to define. I don’t think that I have seen 100% effective evidence myself. In fact, 50-75% would be more accurate. However, I do know that the truth claims of an ancient text spanning many centuries and authors seem to affirm the same basic explanation for why things are. The Christian worldview is the best answer to “why” and “how” that I have found.

  • 43. LeoPardus  |  November 7, 2007 at 7:28 pm

    -atoms and molecules

    Their existence can be empirically determine and confirmed. Oh, and you can see them with an AFM (atomic force microscope). You can also see tracks made by subatomic particles in a gas chamber, and you can calculate their charge and mass based on their interactions with other particles.

    -the Dodo bird once existed

    Skeletons exists. Like dinosaurs. It’s no big stretch.

    Is the testimony of others enough for you

    If backed by evidence, and if opportunity to check their testimony, and if what they say jibes with what else can be known, and it helps if testimony comes from someone with a reliable record.

    These are awfully high standards that you are applying to God

    Aw. Poor God! You don’t think I set them too high for the all-mighty, all-knowing do you?

    you provide a definition to your liking and I will comment on it from my perspective. Sound good?

    The usual response I see. “I’m too lazy to provide solid content, so you do the hard mental work.” But that’s OK. I’ve got the brain power to do it. So I’ll make up for your lack. Here ya go:
    -a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person
    -a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend
    -sexual passion or desire
    -affectionate concern for the well-being of others
    -strong predilection, enthusiasm, or liking for something
    -to have a strong liking for; take great pleasure in
    -a commitment to what is best for the object of one’s affection or attention

    I did say what it was
    From prior post:
    “It is a commitment… It is an action, a lifestyle, a service, and an attitude”

    A commitment to what? An action that does or accomplishes what? A lifestyle consisting of what actions or proclivities? A service of what sort? An attitude of what? Distinguish your vague platitudes into something concrete.

  • 44. OneSmallStep  |  November 7, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Brad,

    To just wipe everything out, magically erase all evil, suffering, etc. would not hold us to the responsibility he gave us. This is both loving and just, in the same way that a parent will allow a child to make their own mistakes by facing their consequences (being an adult).

    But under Christianity, it is erased, when you get to heaven, because of the crucifixion. You will not be held accountable for your sins the moment you die, compared to someone who is unsaved. You don’t even have to face those consequences, because all you need to do is repent. If someone horribly murders someone, is never caught (by human standards), and then thirty years later repents, the murderer is allowed into heaven. Where are the consequences there?

    Do you believe in atoms and molecules? Do you believe that the Dodo bird once existed, even though you have never seen one? Is the testimony of others enough for you to believe that it did, in fact, exist?

    I have to agree with Leo here. We can be provided evidence for the atoms and molecules. We have the skeleton of the Dodo bird. The testimony of others is baesd on that evidence, and if we pressed “the others,” they could back up their statements with that evidence. You don’t have that same type of evidence for any religion — you have a book of authority and changed lives.

    Kramii,

    I would explain it as a matter of hope — oftentimes, what gets people through a period of intense suffering is that there is some greater purpose behind it, or some greater glory. I don’t say this as a way of saying that she is using God as a crutch, or is weak. After all, say we want to be in peak physical condition. We’ll need to “suffer” in order to reach that, so the suffering is for our perceived greater good.

  • 45. Brad  |  November 7, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    “Skeletons exists. Like dinosaurs. It’s no big stretch.”

    Yes, but have you seen them?

    “If backed by evidence, and if opportunity to check their testimony, and if what they say jibes with what else can be known, and it helps if testimony comes from someone with a reliable record.”

    I have not heard you prove that the Bible is not a reliable record.

    “Aw. Poor God! You don’t think I set them too high for the all-mighty, all-knowing do you?”

    Hehe… Not at all. The issue is whether or not the child knows how best to be a parent. It’s somewhat ludicrous to have the created demand from the creator.

    “The usual response I see. “I’m too lazy to provide solid content, so you do the hard mental work.” ”

    An interesting response from one who is demanding God to do all the work in reaching you…

    In reference to your definition(s) of love, I would say that all are true, but limited. Almost all, if not all, of your definitions stems from love as a feeling. Love is a commitment to serve, act in the best interests of, and sacrifice for someone or something. My wife and I’s marriage vows were not made to promise that we would always “feel loving towards each other” for the rest of our days, but that we would act in love, service, and sacrifice to each other for the rest of our days. God does the same, in addition to the “feeling” of love towards us.

  • 46. Paul S.  |  November 7, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Brad,

    I understand that the Bible is the basis for your beliefs. Maybe I’m not being clear in my request. I don’t mean to sound condescending, but simply regurgitating Scripture doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m not going to argue with you about what the Bible says. I concede that Psalm says God is just and loving. But what is the evidence of that? That’s why I asked you not to just give the “because the Bible says so” answer. Give me anything besides some Bible verses that makes you think this way.

    Talk to Thinking Ape, HeIsSailing, or The de-Convert. They understand this concept well and have disagreed very respectfully, and without dismissing theistic belief as silly or illogical.

    Well, I’m not Thinking Ape, HelsSailing, or The de-Convert. We’re all adults here (or we should be). I disagree with you and I do dismiss theistic belief as silly and illogical. I respect your right to have your beliefs, but I’m not going to use kid-gloves when discussing them. Do you really not see the circular logic behind using the Bible as your source of a worldview? You believe the Bible is the Word of God because the Bible says it is the Word of God.

  • 47. Brad  |  November 7, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    “I concede that Psalm says God is just and loving. But what is the evidence of that?”

    Actually, that is helpful, and I see where the disconnect is. The evidence IS the Psalm. I know that this appears circular, but… I don’t know. I certainly see your point, but the Bible is valid evidence (in my belief). Why? Well, I didn’t grow up in church and came to Christ in college. I had an identity crisis when my own self-righteousness failed the test (multiple times) and found that I could not be the good person that I so desperately wanted to be. The desire was there, but not my ability to meet it. I found comfort, meaning, purpose, and truth in scripture when I couldn’t ANYWHERE else (I have been an agnostic, pluralist, wiccan-curious, and spiritualist to name a few). God, through he Bible, has withstood my test of experience, and has made me a better person than I could have ever have been on my own (although that is of course not the “end,” but rather a result of all that).

    So I guess that, in saying something like “the bible says so,” it carries with it my own personally experienced passing of the test, as well as Billions of other Christians. Or, at least, that is the weight of the claim that is brought, but it certainly is not so small as “well, this random unproven text claims to be the Word of God, so it must be.” The trust of that claim is earned through experiencing it’s truths. I imagine that is much of what Augustine meant in saying, “I believe in order to know.” Scripture is not a manual, a legal brief, a scientific thesis, or a purely objective history. It was never meant to be.

    “I disagree with you and I do dismiss theistic belief as silly and illogical. I respect your right to have your beliefs, but I’m not going to use kid-gloves when discussing them.”

    It is possible I spoke too… hastily, in saying that it is disrespectful to say that my beliefs are silly or illogical. If that is what you believe, then you have every right to say that. Conversely, I think that belief that we are the result of accidental and random organization of non-living matter over the span of trillions of years, is quite silly and illogical as well (in all seriousness and respect). So I apologize for reacting too quickly. And while “kid gloves” are definitely not required, and I do agree that we are adults and can act like as such, it is not degrading, insulting, or treating one like a child to treat someone with respect or err on the side of caution in doing so. Rather, it should be seen as a sign of maturity.

    *smiles* I literally spoke face-to-face (through an interpreter) to a Muslim Cleric from Iran this morning… We very much disagreed in theology, but the extreme effort of respect towards each other and the other students he spoke to required great maturity on all parts (particularly his since he was the only non-Christian in the room). Besides the fact that this opportunity was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, I was most struck with the respect, honor, and gratitude he expressed in being able to talk to us.

    Do not use “kid gloves” as a cop-out or carte blanc for speaking harshly to anyone. Neither do my “silly” or “illogical” beliefs imply that I am myself silly, illogical, or incapable of adult conversation.

    I hope that my explanation shed a little more light onto what I’m trying to communicate. I entirely recognize the apparent circular argument, but the argument (and truth itself) cannot be confined to reason apart from experience.

  • 48. HeIsSailing  |  November 7, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    Brad,
    This is gotten lost in the maze of comments – well that is what I get for only checking this blog once or twice per day.

    In #25, I said:

    If I question the love or justice of God because of his habit of damning unbelievers to hell, I am told, ‘Oh yes God is loving – just now *our* perception of love’….So just what does scripture mean when it says ‘God is Love’?

    In #26, Brad replied:

    …But God is both love and just. And the two are not mutually exclusive because God has created a way to uphold both aspects of his character.

    Brad, I think you misunderstood the intent of my comment. I was not arguing the notion of love and justice co-existing in one attribute. I was arguing the very notion of ‘love’ and ‘justice’ that we give to God because they simply make no sense when viewed individually.

    Let me explain a little better. Brad, for years, and I mean *years*, I believed that God loved us, yet would damn a person forever and ever if that person, for whatever reason, did not accept Jesus Christ for salvation. And for years, I fought to reconcile a God of love and a God of justice who would do that. I struggled with myself. I prayed to God for understanding and faith. I searched through and learned all the relevant scriptures. But for the life of me Brad, as much faith as I lean on, I just could never reconcile a God of Love or a God of Justice, and a God of eternal damnation.

    When I brought this up to fellow Christians and church pastors (and believe me, I did), I got several different replies, but they all boiled down to me not being able to understand the love of God. God’s notion of Love and Justice is just too vast for our feeble, mortal comprehensions to allow, so just have faith in him. Do not put God in a box.

    Brad, that is my problem with this so called love and justice of God. It is rendered meaningless because no amount of cognative willpower can understand it, yet when we question, we are told God’s love is just beyond us and not to put him in a box. What is that? The Christian is telling me that God’s Love, since it is nonsensical, is actually unknowable. It therefore has no meaning. How can we take this on faith when Love is supposed to be a fruit imbued on the Christian by the very Spirit of God himself? It means that I cannot question anything about God that is contradictory, because if I do I am either putting God into a box, or worse, falling into heresy.

    Don’t misunderstand me Brad. I am not talking about something that is seemingly limitless that I cannot comprehend. I am talking about something nonsensical that I am told I must accept. I am told that the definition of a circle in God’s language is actually a shape with four equal sides and angles – and that I have to accept it. I am sorry Brad, but with everything I can muster, with all the faith, prayer, biblestudy, devotion, fellowship, counciling, and yes, personal anguish that I spent in my years of Christianity, I simply cannot reconcile a God of Love, a God of Justice and a God of Eternal Damnation. It simply makes absolutely zero sense to me. If this is God’s idea of Love and Justice, then love and justice are meaningless.

    God’s Love and Justice, as described by Christians, are meaningless attributes. That is what I mean.

    Let me beat this dead horse some more. Consider this scenario. Have you ever seeing the news when they find some child of a psychopathic wacko locked in a basement somewhere? I have. Sometimes they find a child locked in a basement, halfstarved, malnourished and sometimes tied up and wallowing in his own excrement. Those stories that occassionally make the news sicken everybody who watches them. Now what if they haul that wackjob into the courtroom and the judge asks him to defend himself before the jury. The whackjob looks at the jury and says something like the following:

    “Yeah, I know it was awful finding my boy that way, tied up and starved like that. But you see, that boy had it coming to him. I love him. I did it for his own good. He was very, very bad. He lied to me, disobeyed me, and dishonored me, his own father! And he had to pay. I love him so, but he had to pay for what he did! Don’t you see? It was for his own good!”

    Brad, don’t misunderstand – I am NOT comparing God to that psychopathic wacko. What I am doing is showing how the wacko’s conception of love makes absolutely no sense. He may say he loves that boy, but his vile actions betray what he says. He may say he is just by punishing the boy appropriately, but it is a justice that makes no sense to any sane person. This is how meaningless I view God’s Love and Justice. It makes no sense to me. I find the actions of a God of Damnation to be vile and unworthy of any notion of Love and Justice that I can concieve, and if God does indeed exist, he simply cannot be this way just because of a couple of verses in Matthew and Revelation say so.

    Well, after that discourse, I hope I have made myself clear on that. Whenever Christians tell us to not put God in a box, what Christians really mean is that they know it makes no sense, but we must accept it anyway because ultimately God is a God of Damnation. And to me, that is truly nonsense.

    Dig?

  • 49. Brad  |  November 7, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    HIS,

    “Dig?”

    Hehe, yes, actually! That helped immensely… and you are right, I definitely didn’t get the full sense of what you were saying, your explanation helps a TON…

    I guess my response is, that you make a whole lot of sense. I am the only Christian in my family, and the thought of them being tormented without end is… well… uncomfortable to say the least. I think that the love and justice of God is certainly knowable in degree, but our knowledge is in no way exhaustible. And often, in many different circumstances, it doesn’t make much sense to me. But yes, faith never based solely on things like this, so my Christian walk continues…

    Your analogy was pretty interesting as well… I hear what you are saying and am not hearing what you aren’t saying (if that makes sense), so no worries there. To be honest, I really wish that the part about Hell was not in the Bible… that would make things a lot easier! But if Jesus is both God and our way into right relationship with Him, then I cannot avoid the many statements He makes about Hell. For now, my faith is strong enough, as well as God”s apparent faithfulness to me personally as well as His faithfulness in scripture are, for me to let that sit unresolved.

    Hehe, and is as normally the case when I’m on here, I’m not claiming to have any answers that you all have already considered. I try only to provide some perspective that the decision/belief/faith is not quite so clean-cut rationally decided. But I think that you probably understand where I’m coming from in that and would not disagree with me…

    I appreciate the time and effort you took in writing all that. It really does help. So what then, is your theological view/belief/faith? Heh, or am I wrongly assuming something by using the term “theological”? You don’t seem… quite… atheistic, but you clearly disagree with the Christian God for the above (among other) reasons… Just curious where all these ears of hard searching and digging has led you.

  • 50. HeIsSailing  |  November 7, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    Thus saith Brad:

    “Dig?” Hehe, yes, actually!

    Sorry – looks like I am betraying my age and cultural background a bit.

    I am the only Christian in my family, and the thought of them being tormented without end is… well… uncomfortable to say the least.

    I understand Brad – believe me I do. I was the only Christian in my family after my mom ‘de-converted’ over 25 years ago. I was in anguish for her soul, the soul of my Mormon father and my liberal brothers and sisters. The despair on my soul was ultimately too much for me to bear.

    For now, my faith is strong enough, as well as God’’s apparent faithfulness to me personally as well as His faithfulness in scripture are, for me to let that sit unresolved.

    I could not let it sit unresolved. The stakes were just to great for me to just sit on it. It was simply too much for me to accept.

    So what then, is your theological view/belief/faith? Heh, or am I wrongly assuming something by using the term “theological”? You don’t seem… quite… atheistic, but you clearly disagree with the Christian God for the above (among other) reasons

    Oh dear – well no, theological is fine, the study of God is ok by me. I am most definitely not a Christian – but is there a God? Blast, I don’t know. I just don’t know, and I don’t know if I will ever know. So I just keep my mind open and continue to learn and explore in the meantime.

    Here is the simplest way I know of to answer your question. I used to thank God for life’s blessings before every meal. Now before every meal, I turn to my wife and thank her for blessing me instead. Life is good, Brad.

  • 51. Brad  |  November 8, 2007 at 12:51 am

    “I could not let it sit unresolved. The stakes were just to great for me to just sit on it. It was simply too much for me to accept.”

    I hear ya, too. What I keep coming back to, and what helps me sit with it somewhat unresolved, is that it will either happen or it won’t. The “reality” of truth does not depend on my belief in it. I can’t change reality by believing something differently. *shrugs*

    “Oh dear – well no, theological is fine,… I just don’t know, and I don’t know if I will ever know. So I just keep my mind open and continue to learn and explore in the meantime.”

    Well, that was definitely an honest answer! From the size of your library (as mentioned in part over at our blog), it would seem you are fairly intense on finding an answer. All things considered, I love your attitude. I am finding that the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. Being open minded and thinking critically is half the battle… so to speak.

    “I used to thank God for life’s blessings before every meal. Now before every meal, I turn to my wife and thank her for blessing me instead. Life is good, Brad.”

    That’s good to hear. It’s much appreciated that you share that “journey” with the likes of stubborn young Christians like myself. And seriously, I’m the guy who’s friends roll their eyes when he says something like “gnarly,” so don’t worry about verbage like “dig.” :-)

  • 52. HeIsSailing  |  November 8, 2007 at 6:15 am

    Thanks for the exchange Brad. I enjoyed it as always.

  • 53. OneSmallStep  |  November 8, 2007 at 6:40 am

    To be honest, I really wish that the part about Hell was not in the Bible… that would make things a lot easier! But if Jesus is both God and our way into right relationship with Him, then I cannot avoid the many statements He makes about Hell.

    I’ve always found the concept of hell an interesting one, especially when the words in question, Sheol and Gehenna, are examined. Neither seem to quite match how “hell” is used today. For one thing, with Gehenna being a garabage dump, one does not eternally burn garabage. The point of burning garbage is to completely eradicate it. I find that those who have universalist tendencies don’t ignore the parts about hell, because they do think there is some sort of “area” where murderers or the like would go, or even people who like to cling to darkness, as opposed to light. They just find the concept of hell as a restorative concept, rather than an eternal punishing concept. And often where there is some sort of eternal destruction described, the point doesn’t seem to be about the nature of the afterlife, but how to truly follow God: such as the sheep/goats parable, or Abraham and Lazarus.

    I read in too many areas in the Bible how God intends to redeem creation, to be all-in-all. If there is one spot in the end where evil/sin still exist, then that’s not a full victory. Isn’t that the best definition of justice and love? Otherwise, to go with HIS example of the psychopath, I feel we find ourselves in a situation where “love” and “justice” become meaningless, and need to be re-defined.

    To use an example I found in one of Thomas Talbott’s book, say you took someone’s hand and shoved it against an iron-hot stove. They start screaming, and you keep holding it there. Imagine how much you’d have to hate that person to not let their hand go. Say the other person murdered your parent, or something, and so you’re seeking justice. How would holding that person’s hand against the stove make you any better than the murderer? It comes down to an “eye for an eye” mentality, and that’s the very thing Jesus said had to stop.

  • 54. Paul S.  |  November 8, 2007 at 12:01 pm

    Brad,

    Thanks for your comments. And you’re right, a respectful discussion among everyone is a better way to behave than belittling or trivializing anyone’s core beliefs. I’m sorry if my posts came off that way.

  • 55. LeoPardus  |  November 8, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    An interesting response from one who is demanding God to do all the work in reaching you…

    How many besides me see the utter absurdity of this statement coming from a Protestant?

  • 56. Brad  |  November 8, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    Paul,

    I appreciate the apology, and like I said, think that we were just really missing each other. Now that I know more of what you mean, I see where you are coming from. Your effort is much appreciated!

    Leo,

    hahahaha… Oh there is irony, and I hadn’t seen it when I wrote that, but it is definitely not absurd. As a grace-loving protestant, I do admit that God has done all the work, but I certainly do not demand it. That grace then empowers my ability to love others (ideally, anyway)… blah blah blah… you know the rest I am sure.

    Ironic? Sure. Absurd? Nah. Tis glorious. :-)

  • 57. HQ19:7  |  November 12, 2007 at 9:12 am

    It just seems to me that many folks have become disillusioned with false religion, and so they have invented a creed of their own, the central declaration of their new creed being, “there is no God, nor any religion”. It is sad how the leading cause of skepticism about God is in fact Christianity itself. The fault in my humble opinion, lies in Christians themselves. They remain the most uninformed of all so called believers in God, and as a result, they are totally confused and misled, even abused by ill-meaning and selfish politicians masquerading as religious leaders.

    As to the “guidance” given in this blog, I disagree with the assumption that one has to call into question the very existence of God, because of the mistakes of Christians over the ages or even in one’s own community. My personal journey led me to a place of tranquility of worship, and that tranquility began when I realised that worship is an obligation FOR GOD, and not for me. When i worship not for the sake of being healed or “saved’, but from this premise (worship being an obligation) then worship had the effect of completing me. Yes, one can conceivably be saved without worship within a so called religious base, but I personally see no sense in doing it that way. It appears to me o be so much more of a difficult way to find my way through this life. I was by no means, always a believer. And I remain convinced in a merciful, wise, and gracious God who will look into the hearts of all, and tally the actions of all, on the last day. After all, was Moses and every prophet not a seen as a skeptic by his peers? The peace of our creator and God be with all who read this wonderful blog.

  • 58. karen  |  November 12, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    HQ: Why would an infinite, all-loving, all-wise god make creatures obligated to worship him? Does he really NEED lowly humans on a tiny little planet to praise and honor him constantly?

    This god sounds like an ego-maniac, frankly; something like Kim Jong Il of North Korea. We don’t think very highly of earthly rulers who demanded such obsequiousness from their followers; why should we admire a god who’s no better than a tyrant?

  • 59. loopyloo350  |  November 12, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    I don’t totally agree with HQ, but I would like to point out that there is a difference between being forced to do something and making a choice. A power forced is akin to rape, a power accepted is respect, honor, love, and yes, worship.

  • [...] to God. Just let go and let God. Let me site a recent example. Brad of seminarianblog recently made this comment: I am the only Christian in my family, and the thought of them being tormented without end is… [...]

  • 61. HQ19:7  |  November 13, 2007 at 2:51 am

    Loopyloop makes a good distinction. Karen, we are obligated merely because we have been created. Consider how foolish a creation it is that rebels against it’s own creator. A vain and foolish creation. Likewise, had our Creator lacked wisdom, yes he would hav made robotic followers if that is what He “needed”. But our creator needs nothing. Worship is an obligtion, yet God gave us the choice in infinite wisdom, so we are not forced, but make a choice. Those who worship the creator in the purest from of worship, are thus the most perfected among us (i count not myself among those). He gave us intellect and choice. Crucial to this truth, is that though it is our obligation, it is not also automatically “needed” by our creator that we worship Him. Such an erroneous deduction is perhaps made as a result of a narrow, incomplete understanding of Divine Motive by a vain and simple creation such as you and i.

  • 62. Slapdash  |  November 16, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Karen wrote:
    HQ: Why would an infinite, all-loving, all-wise god make creatures obligated to worship him? Does he really NEED lowly humans on a tiny little planet to praise and honor him constantly?

    This god sounds like an ego-maniac, frankly; something like Kim Jong Il of North Korea. We don’t think very highly of earthly rulers who demanded such obsequiousness from their followers; why should we admire a god who’s no better than a tyrant?

    I remember thinking exactly the same thing, Karen, 7 or 8 years ago. It struck me as really strange that God, who was completely self-sufficient and lacking nothing, seemed to *need* us to worship him. It seemed very egomaniacal to me at the time, though I remember being extremely hesitant to say so out loud because it also sounded so heretical.

  • 63. Thinking Ape  |  November 16, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    HQ19:7,

    But our creator needs nothing.

    If there is no creation, how can there be a creator? Without a creation, such a powerful being only has the potentiality of being a creator.

  • 64. karen  |  November 16, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Loopyloop makes a good distinction. Karen, we are obligated merely because we have been created. Consider how foolish a creation it is that rebels against it’s own creator. A vain and foolish creation.

    Poppycock. ;-) At the risk of being heretical, like slapdash mentions, try to step outside your paradigm and consider the bigger picture for just a moment. God’s omniscient, omnipotent, perfect, complete, larger than our puny minds can understand, right?

    So, why did he need to create humanity? If he wanted to exercise his creativity, why not just create the universe and the earth with its plants and animals? Why did he need to create sentient beings? He had the angels already, right?

    I was always given the fundamentalist answer that 1) it was because god was somehow “lacking” without humanity (which is already contradictory because a perfect being lacks for nothing) and 2) god created us because he wanted us to CHOOSE to worship and serve him.

    Again, what kind of infinitely perfect, all-powerful supernatural deity needs puny little people to bow before him and sing his praises for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever … you get my point. Doesn’t that strike you as a god who’s got some insecurity issues? Any human ruler who did that would be rightfully seen as a crazy egomaniac. Why can’t we hold the all-powerful god to at least a human standard?

  • 65. loopyloo350  |  November 16, 2007 at 7:19 pm

    Karen, wow!! If this is what you were taught I don’t blame you for losing your faith. I’m even more surprised that you could retain it as long as you did. 1)As an artist I find myself constantly needing to create, maybe because I always think next time I will do it better, so I have no problem accepting that God would have the desire to continue creation, and I say continue, because it does continue. The only beginning and end is God. 2)He gave us free will, how we choose to use that is up to us. If we choose to bow down, that is our choice, If we put God on a pedestle and decide that we want to be a close to perfection as possible is that not worship? No one requires us to grovel, what we are required to have is respect. If we love at the same time, or fear to disappoint is that not worship? There is also a difference between need and desire, I love my children and hope they love me, but if I disappoint them and they feel they can’t love me any longer, then that is because I failed. I sometimes see glimmers of why you have lost your faith and why you disbelieve but you are tying strings around a box without even checking that the box contains what you think it does. I’m sorry if I did not answer your question but am not sure that you want answers or if you want to prove the lack of answers by insisting that what I and others believe is just so silly that sane people can not believe. If we are created in the image of the creator, does that mean physical image or because we are so much more and always changing does that just mean we haven’t got anywhere near where we have to go yet. We are books still being written, why should we limit ourselves to the past as if that is how we must judge God.

  • 66. HeIsSailing  |  November 16, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Thus saith Karen:

    I was always given the fundamentalist answer that 1) it was because god was somehow “lacking” without humanity (which is already contradictory because a perfect being lacks for nothing) and 2) god created us because he wanted us to CHOOSE to worship and serve him.

    There is another one I heard frequenty – God created us as an expression and demonstration of his glory and love.

    When asked while witnessing, (and I was), I just said ‘I don’t know – there are mysteries that we cannot know’. Honestly, I still think that in some ways that is the most satisfactory answer.

  • [...] Reasons why I can no longer believe: 1 – God is ‘we know not what’ [...]

  • 68. From Fundy to Orthodox to Apostate « de-conversion  |  July 18, 2008 at 12:37 am

    [...] addition, since any descriptor of God is meaningless, we must worship, “We know not what.” How could I have any relationship to that which I could not even vaguely define? How could I [...]

  • 69. Anonymous  |  July 29, 2008 at 3:34 am

    I’ll tell you all what the truth is……..

    NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING FOR SURE SO TAKE YOUR PICK I N LIFE….AT THE END WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE AND THAT WILL BE THE END TO THE WHOLE STORY.

  • 70. Obi  |  July 29, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Where’s the truth in that statement…?

  • [...] Reasons why I can no longer believe: 1 – God is “we know not what” [...]

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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