Why d-C? – Where are you Jesus?

June 29, 2008 at 12:18 am 114 comments

As an atheist, it always surprises me that people seriously believe that god really will answer their prayers. Perhaps it’s something you have to be religious in order to comprehend. But some people pray, and pray, and pray, until as one individual put it:

“One day, I was praying and suddenly it struck me that I was talking to myself.”

The following examples are from the 8.51% of the de-conversion stories, amongst the sample I read, in which people tried to speak to god, and they now credit god’s lack of an answer for their de-conversion.

“Being very eager to please, I would often beg Jesus to save me. Expecting trumpets and angels, or at the very least a pat on the head, and getting nothing, I think I just eventually realised god wasn’t going to answer.”

For some the experience of god failing to answer their prayers as promised was a highly distressing experience:

In high school, I gradually started to question more, but did not get satisfactory answers. My prayers for clarity and a stronger faith went unanswered. Why would God let my faith slip? That was the question that haunted me for years.

Others simply felt ridiculous:

I got older, I realized that I was supposed to be getting more out of it. Or some people, apparently, were. So, I tried praying on my own. At no point did I ever feel anything other than stupid for doing that — the way a person might feel if they attempted to hold a conversation with a doorknob!

Or perhaps disappointed:

I remember when I was very young and I heard for the first time that “whatsoever ye ask for, ye shall receive” line. I prayed really long and hard one night for a pony. I awoke and looked out my bedroom window, fully expecting to see a pony waiting for me in the yard. That was my first “clue.”

Religionists will make all form of excuses for the failure of prayer, but the fact is that a religion that centres around talking to god makes the implicit promise that god is listening. Prayer is important to many Christians, and undermining it might seem tempting to many activist atheists. However, once again it seems that people who came to these sorts of realisations did so on their own accord.

- Originally published by Kieran Bennett, reprinted with permission.

Entry filed under: KieranBennett. Tags: , , , , .

21% of Atheists believe in God? 7 Reasons why Christians de-convert

114 Comments Add your own

  • 1. TheNerd  |  June 29, 2008 at 2:21 am

    For me, it was painful to think about how far I fell short in my prayer life of where others were telling me I should be. I have ADD. I cannot simply sit still and “listen to the Spirit”. It’s darn near neurologically impossible. And yet I was always made to feel like it was because of weak faith, that I didn’t want to listen to God enough.

    On top of that, whenever I would think thoughts of frustration and doubt, I would worry that God was listening to my every thought and judging me. There was no “freedom of speech” in my head. Freedom of thought doesn’t exist in a religion that has thought crimes.

    I think the best part of being a non-Christian is getting my mind back. I own it again. I have no more guilt for what I think. The burden has been lifted, and I am free!

  • 2. LeoPardus  |  June 29, 2008 at 2:34 am

    This one is such a slam dunk that from the time I finally “got it” to this day, I still have a hard time understanding how I missed it for so many years. Definitely a heavy case of cognitive dissonance.

  • 3. Walking Away  |  June 29, 2008 at 3:35 am

    My last prayer was totally sincere and heartfelt…I prayed it day after day after day. I asked for some assurance that he was real. I got my answer.

  • 4. Cthulhu  |  June 29, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    When I asked my pastor and others about never getting an answer to my prayers I generally go the same stock answers…Maybe God is saying no’, ‘You aren’t in the proper spirit of prayer’, ‘There must some area of sin in your life un-addressed’ etc…The common thread was there was something wrong with me. I didn’t matter how unselfish these prayers were or any other circumstance – it was always somehow ‘my fault’. It was a short journey to the conclusion that a) these people had now idea what they were talking about and b) no one was listening. Thus began my trip to rationality and atheism. I now realize that the things I prayed for must be worked fro by man – not just sitting around piously waiting on the bib daddy in the sky to magically make it happen. As a result – when I see a community problem, the first thing that passes my mind is ‘How can I make it better. It made me realize that wishful thinking alone DOES NOT WORK.

  • 5. The de-Convert  |  June 29, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Cthulhu,

    ‘There must some area of sin in your life un-addressed’

    … and they have scripture to back up all of these:

    – “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear” (Psa. 66:18 )
    – “For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12)

    It’s very interesting how the system is so self-validating.

    Paul

  • 6. 7 Reasons why Christians de-convert « de-conversion  |  June 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    [...] Where are you Jesus? [...]

  • 7. Quester  |  June 29, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    My stock answer as a pastor was to keep a prayer journal for several months, writing down what you were praying for and looking back occasionally to see how the prayers were answered. I wonder, now, how many people found in that confirmation that no one was listening.

  • 8. dragonmage06  |  June 29, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Cthulu,

    “How can I make it better?”

    That’s really the best question to ask, but perhaps it’s best if some Christians simply keep praying for things like wiping all the gays off the earth or killing abortion doctors rather than doing it themselves >.>

  • 9. Mike aka MonolithTMA  |  June 29, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    Quester, the prayer journal is a great idea, except I challenge every Christian to pray to a rock and see what the results are. Some prayers “answered” and some not. Hmmm…that sounds familiar. ;)

    In the last few months of my Christianity I prayed to God constantly and daily to make himself real to me. He never did. Of course, either did Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny.

  • 10. pj11  |  June 30, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    My two cents as a believer … presuppositions related to “answered prayer” lead most people to a fallacious conclusion about the efficacy of prayer. While we’re given permission to lay our requests before God, prayer is not a path to obtain specific results. If one prays for specific results as the end goal, he or she has missed the whole point. More than anything, prayer is a living statement about dependence upon God. We have no right or ability to twist God’s arm to achieve our personal wants and He has no obligation to grant us our requests (as if He’s a genie in a bottle). “Communion” is simply defined as sharing one’s thoughts and feelings with another. Christians “commune” with God through prayer, abiding in Him. In any relationship, the goal is communion … not “getting stuff” from the other person (try that in marriage and you’ll see why). Ultimately, we recognize His sovereignty and trust that His plans for us are most profitable. BTW, that includes sharing in the fellowship of His suffering … according to the Bible, a greater blessing than receiving “good stuff!” :-)

    Obviously, I can’t prove God’s existence any more than I can prove that He’s listening to my prayers. However, I don’t believe I’m just going through a cathartic experience when I pray. I’m overwhelmed with conviction, praise, sorrow and joy whenever I take the time to commune with Him … it’s personal and yet quite unexplainable.

    I notice that many de-cons have prayed a particular prayer in the final days of their faith … something like “God, make yourself real to me.” When they felt nothing or saw no sign, they abandoned the faith. I find that fascinating. It makes no sense to me that God wouldn’t do something to keep someone from walking away. I certainly would do something … but then again, I’m a finite human with no ability to see beyond myself and what’s right in front of me. I won’t claim to speak for God with any infallible explanation. But I can report this … if you read the Gospels you’ll find that Jesus never responded to those who challenged Him to provide a sign or perform a miracle … even when doing so might have caused people to fall down and worship Him! Doesn’t make sense to me … but that’s the way He operated. I’ll leave it to the de-cons to interpret that in light of their final prayers for a sign or a feeling.

  • 11. LeoPardus  |  June 30, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    pj11:

    So given your interpretation above, we must conclude that the overwhelming majority of prayer is wasted and missing the whole point.

  • 12. pj11  |  June 30, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Leo:

    I don’t think it’s MY interpretation … I believe the general tenor of Scripture supports that conclusion.

    Ask yourself this … when Jesus was spending long hours in concentrated prayer, is it more reasonable to think that He was communing with the Father … or asking for stuff?

    Unfortunately, I think much of what goes on in the contemporary church is missing the point. We are such a consumerist, narcissistic culture here in America that we think prayer was designed for us to: (1) receive things from God; (2) receive them within a timeframe that works for us; and (3) receive them in such an obvious way that we know our prayers are answered.

    Because, after all, God’s purpose is to serve US, right?

  • 13. DagoodS  |  June 30, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    TheNerd: There was no “freedom of speech” in my head.

    That is a GREAT statement. I am shamelessly stealing it to blog upon it.

  • 14. orDover  |  June 30, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    pj11 wrote:

    Ask yourself this … when Jesus was spending long hours in concentrated prayer, is it more reasonable to think that He was communing with the Father … or asking for stuff?

    Unfortunately, I think much of what goes on in the contemporary church is missing the point. We are such a consumerist, narcissistic culture here in America that we think prayer was designed for us to: (1) receive things from God; (2) receive them within a timeframe that works for us; and (3) receive them in such an obvious way that we know our prayers are answered.

    Because, after all, God’s purpose is to serve US, right?

    Matthew 6:9-13

    9″This, then, is how you should pray:
    ” ‘Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name,
    10your kingdom come,
    your will be done
    on earth as it is in heaven.
    11Give us today our daily bread.
    12Forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    13And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’

    That is the prayer that Jesus gave as THE example of a proper prayer. It includes FOUR direct requests, one for material goods even. The rest of the requests are spiritual in nature (the boil down to “forgive me” and “help me not sin”), which are the same sort of requests we de-converts offered up. I don’t think anyone can say it is wrong to pray for increased faith and to feel closer to god. As for the time frame, I don’t think it’s asking to much that it be before it is too late. But of course, Christians always have their fall-back answer, “God works in mysterious ways.”

  • 15. pj11  |  June 30, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    orDover:

    Well done! It’s always good to examine the Scriptures for wisdom and truth … and Matthew 6:9-13 is certainly a timeless passage!

    Yes, there are at least four requests in the Lord’s Prayer, so you’re correct in your assertion that “asking” is not wrong. However, if I’m not mistaken, the focus of the original post was “ANSWERED PRAYER” … presumably answered prayer that is TANGIBLE enough so that one would recognize that their requests were heard by God and responded to by Him.

    So, using the Lord’s Prayer as an example … if you requested: “Your will be done,” how would you discern if that specific prayer was answered? If you requested “Forgive me my debts,” how would you discern if that specific prayer was answered … would you expect a sign from heaven that you were forgiven? If you requested “Lead me not into temptation,” how would you discern if that specific prayer was answered … would you have to go a week or a month without being tempted to know for sure that God responded?

    Yes, there’s the request that God would provide “daily bread.” In other words, “Lord, sustain my life with the minimum necessary for me to survive.” Was there ever a time when you prayed that prayer? Have you always had daily bread? Probably. When you put food on the table, did you consider that an answer to prayer or did you take the credit?

    The point is … the Lord’s Prayer shows us that “answered prayer” is not always tangible or obvious. You wouldn’t always get a firm confirmation. And, as I said, I find it consumerist and narcissistic (and particularly “American”) for us to expect such a thing from the Creator.

    Thanks for the dialogue, orDover.

  • 16. orDover  |  June 30, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    I don’t think that any of the de-converts quoted above were looking for a quick immediate fix to their problems, a la the American Consumer. The were looking for something, anything, to help them hold on. One person said just a “pat on the head” would do. And many of them looked and waiting for their request for years.

    The entire problem with answered or unanswered prayers is the vagueness anyway, as you suggest. You can be the sort of person who asserts that every good thing in your life, including your daily meals, is am answered prayer, but at that point you move into such a hazy area that things could just as easily be attributed to anything from your father’s work ethic to the happenings of the universe. You could say, “I prayed the Lord’s Prayer and God inspired my husband to go to work for the past two weeks, do a good job, and earn a paycheck so we could buy groceries.” Or you could not attribute it to god. Nothing changes. You still get your food. You’d even get it if you didn’t ask, because you husband has integrity.

    In the world of scientific studies, for finding to have significance, they must rise above the statistical noise, meaning they must have a positive percentage above what you would expect from random variation. Unless you go the above mentioned route where ever little thing is a round-about answered prayer, then god never rises above the statistical noise. In other words, 500 people have stage III cancer. The average survival rate is 30%, that means in order for answered prayers of the 500 cancer patients to rise above the statistical noise, god would have to save around 40-50% of them (and even then, that wouldn’t be that impressive). These sort of studies have been done, and god never rises above the noise. So the effects of prayer are either so vague that we can’t notice them, or no more significant than random variation of given events. It’s not that answered prayer isn’t tangible or obvious, it’s never more significant than random chance.

    When I look at that, I conclude that it is more likely that god doesn’t exist then that god is meagerly behind mundane everyday events that would occur the same way given random variation with or without a godlike presence. God is either one the sidelines not doing much, or isn’t there at all.

  • 17. TheNerd  |  June 30, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    DagoodS – It’s always best when it’s shameless. :)

    pj11-

    Yes, there’s the request that God would provide “daily bread.” In other words, “Lord, sustain my life with the minimum necessary for me to survive.” Was there ever a time when you prayed that prayer? Have you always had daily bread? Probably.

    Wait, so as long as I have bread, then God is answering prayer? Then the only way God could possibly not get credit for answering prayer is when I die of starvation!

    It reminds me of a method of determining a “witch’s” innocence: if she floats, she is guilty; if she drowns, she is innocent. But what good does it do her or me being right if we’re dead?

    I call BS!

  • 18. orDover  |  July 1, 2008 at 12:15 am

    Good analogy Nerd!

    I thought it might be a good idea to return with a few Bible verses that say outrightly that god will answer prayers.

    “…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” James 5:16

    “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” John 14:13-14

    “‘Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered. ‘I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.'” Mark 11:22-25

    “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

    Where are all of these promised answered prayers? The Bible doesn’t say god is going to be vague, he says he will deliver.

  • 19. pj11  |  July 1, 2008 at 2:51 am

    OrDover:

    Usually de-cons accuse Christians of “proof-texting” … so when you quoted those four verses above, I got a good chuckle! De-cons looking up Bible verses to prove a point … hmmmmm …

    Nerd:

    Please understand the logical progression of my posts. Kieran writes: “religionists will make all form of excuses for the failure of prayer.” Then orDover cites Matthew 6:11 (“Give us this day our daily bread”) as an example of how we should pray. I’m only pointing out the obvious with tongue-in-cheek … no excuse necessary from this “religionist” because that prayer hasn’t failed, has it? Just look in your kitchen!

  • 20. orDover  |  July 1, 2008 at 10:35 am

    All those poor Christians in Africa….god must really be letting them down.

  • 21. orDover  |  July 1, 2008 at 10:36 am

    (What I mean to say above, is that whether or not you have bread on the table has much more to do with what part of the world you were born in than what god you pray to.)

  • 22. orDover  |  July 1, 2008 at 11:02 am

    Also, I was using Bible to show how the typical apologist’s defense of god’s prayer answering practices doesn’t align with the Bible. The Bible promises answered prayers directly, yet god does not deliver.

    I also dislike the accusation that I was taking the verses out of context or blindly looking for ones that agree with my position. I went to Christian school for 10 years and church my entire life. I know many Bible verses. I’ve had to memorize many Bible verses, and I was taught how to analyze their context.

    If you want to argue context, it actually only strengthens my position. Here is some deeper context of two of the verses I used:

    James counseling skeptical Christians:

    “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

    Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” James 5: 13-18

    Jesus teaching the “Sermon on the Mount”:

    “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

    Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11

    That last one comes not long after the “Lord’s Prayer”

    All of those verses are about direct and clear answers to prayer.

    Sorry for the serial posting.

  • 23. pj11  |  July 1, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    OrDover:

    I appreciate your thoughts. Here are some more for you to consider, taken from a collective view of the many passages throughout the Bible which speak to this subject …

    Understanding “how prayer works” must always begin with the foundation of God’s sovereignty. To be worth praying to, God must have the power to do what we ask and He must have sovereign control over all things to do what He desires to do.

    Prayer has been ordained by God as a means to accomplish certain aspects of His will. Given human limitations, God must do many things irrespective of whether or how people pray. But it seems that there are some activities which God has chosen to accomplish in a way which allows men and women to cooperate (through prayer) in bringing His will to fruition.

    So which prayers are granted? Only those which fit into His sovereign will. Can you imagine the chaos if God answered any others? Christians pray in conflict … one prays for rain on the same day another Christian in the same town prays for sun. Our prayers are usually influenced by the immediate demands of our own situation, not for the overall good of others. If we were honest, we’d realize that most of our prayers are rooted in vanity, pride, and ego. But most of all, our prayers are terribly shortsighted because of our finite limitations. While we think we know what’s best for us … in reality, we are often blinded by our own needs and wants. Same thing goes for my prayers for others … if I pray for you, my ignorance of what God knows you really need is sometimes appalling. On many days it’s good that we don’t get what we ask for!

    Remember how Jesus Himself prayed just before His death … and then submitted His prayer to the final judgment of the Father’s will (“Not My will, but Your will”)? 1 John 5:14-15 is an important passage: “If we ask anything according to His 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.” Like it or not, ultimately, it is God’s will that prevails in everything!

    The question has often been asked on the battlefield … why does one soldier get killed and another does not, even though both prayed for God’s protection? Is there a super-powered prayer that gets heard while others do not? Who gets “the breaks” in prayer? The answer is: nobody. We receive what God sees fit to give in His infinite love and foreknowledge. That’s not always the same as getting what we want. But, then again, only children demand a happy ending to every story. Only spoiled children expect gift after gift without any toil or suffering.

    You may not like what I’ve described. Yes, there are many questions which arise from the Bible’s teaching on prayer. In a western culture born out of the Enlightenment, we demand answers … we rebel against the idea of trusting in the unseen, allowing life to be something of a mystery. Contrary to what most people think, being an American in the 21st century is a supreme disadvantage when it comes to issues of faith … because our culture makes very little room for it.

    Ultimately, it comes to this: the Bible indicates that this life is not about you or me. It’s not about getting answered prayer and being blessed by God. Jesus instructed His followers to deny themselves and walk a path of suffering to the Cross along with Him … to lose this temporal life for a greater cause – to glorify God during our years on earth and then enjoy Him eternally. That’s why communion with God is the end goal of prayer, not getting answers to our specific requests (see post #10 above).

    Sorry for the long post … blessings to you, OrDover.

  • 24. Ubi Dubium  |  July 1, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    pj11

    That’s why communion with God is the end goal of prayer, not getting answers to our specific requests (see post #10 above).

    This brings me back to a question I have for believers who tell me I should pray:

    “Exactly how does spending time in prayer to your god benefit anybody?”

    Your answer appears to be that the goal is “communion with god”.

    So, what is the benefit of “communion with god”? How does it make your life better? I am curious to know if your answer is “It makes me happy” or some variant thereof, or whether you have a more concrete answer.

  • 25. pj11  |  July 1, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Ubi: It’s a good question … thanks for asking.

    By focusing on personal benefit, Christians can easily fall into a consumerist mentality when they pray. It’s the first step on a downward spiral that eventually ends at: “I don’t tangibly see my prayers being answered and I don’t feel particularly good after I pray, therefore prayer is a waste of time. In fact, maybe God isn’t listening at all … maybe I’m talking to myself … maybe God doesn’t exist at all.” It’s a slippery slope when our gaze begins to turn inward and self-satisfaction takes its seat on the throne of our hearts.

    One of the saddest trends I’ve witnessed in the American church over the past 40 years has been the absolute disappearance of altruistic servanthood and humble sacrifice. The trend has been toward church growth (numbers) … which has led to slick marketing techniques (look how cool we are) … which has led to the so-called “benefits” of being a Christian (health, wealth, and self-esteem) … which has led to compromise in the message (Just say a little prayer and you’re in!) … which has all but killed the spirit of self-denial and brokenness described in Scripture. Look at some of the great characters in the Bible … Job, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Peter, Paul, Stephen, James … these guys suffered … as did so many in the early church. Does anyone think they endured in the faith because of the earthly benefits package?

    So, in the first place, getting earthly benefits from prayer is not the goal. For the Christian, the primary goal of prayer is to give to God what He rightly deserves as sovereign of the universe and the One who sustains life … my praise and worship, my continued loyalty and devotion, and my submission to His will. I know that many de-cons hate that idea because they view God as an ogre or tyrant. That breaks my heart, but I understand this is a difficult concept for those who are hurting or have gone through difficult circumstances here on earth. I have had my share too … but I endure in the faith just as Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin, Athanasius, Luther, Huss, Beckett, Tyndale and more have suffered and remained steadfast to the end.

    But, to answer your question specifically (sorry for the rabbit trail) … yes, there is a tangential benefit to my prayer life. My wife will tell you that I’m a better husband when I’m consistently in prayer … I’m more kind, more gentle, more respectful of her feelings, etc. My kids would say the same thing about me as a dad. Unfortunately, the people in my church can tell when I’m consistently in prayer and when I’m not! It comes out in my preaching … but more obviously, it comes out in my shepherding. I’m a better citizen of my community when I’m praying regularly. In fact, I have the privilege (by God’s grace) of blessing many people – Christian and non-Christian – through little, everyday gestures which grow out of my prayer life and the conviction I receive through the study of God’s Word. Can you bless other people without praying? Sure … I won’t deny that a non-theist can make a conscious decision to do good for others … it happens all the time. But I find it far more natural and more fulfilling to bless others from my own spring of living water which is granted me through my communion with Christ.

    Hope that helps you understand me, Ubi.

  • 26. ED  |  July 1, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    But isn’t the consumerist mentality advocated by gospel accounts of Jesus own words?
    Whatever you ask in my name the father will give it? The things that I do you shall do also and greater…
    If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed you can say to this mountain…
    As I said in another blog, I am 54 years old, I have been told by the church to expect a miracle for 40 years. In order to believe in miracles I have to change the definition of the word to accommodate my theology. I have learned that a theologian is someone who’s job it is to explain why the bible does not actually mean what it says and why in another passage it does not actually say what it means.
    By the way, my wife and children would tell you that I am a better husband and father since I de-converted…. and I was a pretty good one before.

  • 27. pj11  |  July 1, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    ED: I understand the confusion … many struggle with this today.

    It’s the job of the theologian to drive you deeper into the meaning of the text, not just remain on the surface. Don’t you think it’s possible that those passages have a deeper spiritual meaning than a cause-and-effect scenario? I pray … mountain moves. Cool. Can you imagine millions of Christians all over the world *literally* moving mountains on a daily basis?

    “Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it.” Cool. Cause-and-effect. Jesus, in your name, grant me a Ferrari. Now go check your driveway! This passage actually puts you in charge of the universe, ED … as long as you ask with the correct magical incantation … “in Jesus’ name!”

    (Sorry for the sarcasm)

    So when you try to move a mountain or get a Ferrari and it doesn’t happen, you have two choices, ED: (1) abandon the faith because the Bible is obviously a lie; or (2) collate all the passages which speak about prayer – not just some of them – and go deeper. Discern how the character and attributes of an omnipotent God fit into the bigger picture. Discern how the character and attributes of contingent beings like men and women fit into the picture. Think about the necessity of God’s sovereignty … and the possible consequences if God were not sovereign and the prayers of humanity ruled the day. As I said, this is a very deep, difficult subject … we need to avoid spiritual laziness in our interpretations by staying on the surface.

    BTW, I’m glad to hear that you’re a great husband and father … whether you believe in God or not, you bring glory to Him through your efforts.

  • 28. orDover  |  July 1, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    You may not like what I’ve described.

    It isn’t that I don’t like it, it’s that it’s completely useless. All you’ve said, although you took more words to say it, is “God works in mysterious ways, his will shall be done.” That basically boils down to, “Pray or don’t pray, god is going to do what he wants to do, no matter what.” Completely useless. And, surprise surprise, I’ve heard it a million times before.

  • 29. pj11  |  July 1, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Again, orDover, you’re thinking as a consumer, not a disciple.

    Prayer is only “completely useless” if you think its purpose is getting your requests answered. That’s like saying the purpose of my marriage is to have my wife do things for me. That’s not communion … that’s egotism.

    God IS going to accomplish His will … no question about it (and thankfully so). But He desires to commune with us in the process of His unfolding will. As I said above, He chooses to accomplish certain things in a way which allows finite human beings to cooperate (through prayer) in bringing His will to fruition. That’s a great privilege … so we bring our requests to Him (along with our praise and dependence) and we submit those requests to His infinite wisdom and perfect will.

    It’s not just about the end results in life or in our prayer life … it’s about the journey, the experience, the relationship.

  • 30. ED  |  July 1, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    pj11
    I think you are missing the big picture here. I’m not saying that I want to move a mountain or a new car, I’m saying that in 40 years as a christian I would like some evidence that you exist. Period.

    I have taught the distinctions between semi-Pelagian and Augustinian systems of theology, or what do you wish to know about church history? I can teach it. I have experienced just like most christians the downward spiral of expectations in prayer until you only ask for vague unspecific petitions because you have no other expectation of prayer than the watered down expectations that you quoted above. There are those who would tell you that scientology makes them a better father and husband but that does not speak to the truth of its reality.

    I really want to believe. I have tried to believe. But god has to do something other than ask me to hold a presuppositional faith for 40 years, with no evidence that he is any more real or powerful than Zeus or Mithras. The only thing between you and a muslim or buddist is where you were born.

    If scripture is the final authority of faith and practice then it is not subjective. If it is not subjective, why, according to Gordon Conwell theological seminary in 2006, are there an estimated 38,000 denominations in existence.

  • 31. ED  |  July 1, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    pj11

    I have an idea. My mother is perhaps the most godly woman I have ever met. I have never heard any course or unkind word parse her lips. She has alzhiemers.

    If god would like to prove his existence now, since he hasn’t in the past 40 years, heal her. Put up or shut up. If he is omnipotent and omnibeneficent and wishes for me to once again believe in him this really should not be that big of a task.
    You know, it shouldn’t have been that difficult for him to stop the guy from molesting my son at church either.

  • 32. pj11  |  July 1, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    ED: There is much I’d like to share with you. But in light of your last post, please accept my sincerest sympathies for your pain. Such horrific things you’ve endured … and currently enduring. I’m so sorry.

  • 33. Ubi Dubium  |  July 1, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    pj11

    Thanks for your answer. If I may sum up your answer then, I am understanding you to be saying that prayer not only makes you happy, but also makes you a better person.

    I have observed that my non-christian friends claim that their prayers also make them better people. And there are claims by many self-help gurus that meditating on positive thoughts will make you a better person.

    So the conclusion I would draw from this, if all these claims of becoming better people are valid, is that it is the actual mental process of prayer/meditation that is good for you. The process of deliberately calming your mind and focusing on repetitive positive thoughts is beneficial, whether or not any supernatural beings actually exist. I think it’s like a defrag for the brain.

    So you go ahead and pray, and I will sit and think about how much I love my kids, and work a sudoku, and we will both be happy and good people.

  • 34. LeoPardus  |  July 1, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    pj11:

    I don’t think it’s MY interpretation … I believe the general tenor of Scripture supports that conclusion.

    Translation: “My interpretation of scripture is absolutely the right one.” ….. And some people think Christians believe in humility.

    when Jesus was spending long hours in concentrated prayer, is it more reasonable to think that He was communing with the Father … or asking for stuff?

    He was supposed to be God, remember? He didn’t have to ask for anything. He could order it. As far as anyone can tell, when he prayed, he was talking to himself.

    Let’s actually look at what the Bible does say instead of making wild guesses as to what might have happened outside of it. (That is a proper approach to exegesis isn’t it?)

    Matt 21:21,22 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

    “whatever you ask” …. Seems clear enough. But let’s allow some caveats like:

    James 4:3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
    AND
    I John 5:14,15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

    Those actually seem fair enough to me. I can appreciate that, “Hey God, let me boink the hot wife next door,” would not be something he’s not likely to grant. So let’s be reasonable in what is asked for.

    I John 5:14,15 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his 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.

    According to his will….hmmm.. you might think it was his will for me to be a Christian believer. Perhaps not if you’re a double predestinarian, but then we’re all just stuck no matter what. Actually this makes a great cop out since no matter what happens you can always just say, “It was God’s will for that baby to be beaten to death by his own dad, those thousands of hard-praying Christians in Rawanda to starve to death, those de-cons to de-con…..”

    Matt 24:20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.

    Gee, this sounds like one of those selfish prayers you don’t like. But, b-b-but, but, but isn’t Jesus telling them to pray for themselves????????

    I Tim 5:5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.

    I’m sure you’ll tell me that she’s not supposed to pray for food or money, right?

    James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

    OK, this say that God will give believers wisdom. So why is your church full of blithering dolts? You know that ones. People who can’t figure out how to raise kids, get along with workmates, handle a simple home budget……

    These are just a tiny sampling of prayer verses that don’t line up with YOUR interpretation.

    ED put it best. God, and those who are so busy hawking pathetic apologetics for His not ever showing up, need to put up or shut up.

  • 35. pj11  |  July 1, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Ubi:

    With all due respect, your summary of my thoughts is insufficient and far too simplistic. Conclude what you wish, but you’ve missed the main portion of what I’ve been sharing in this thread.

  • 36. orDover  |  July 1, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    pj11, you misunderstand where I cam coming from. You wrote, “Again, orDover, you’re thinking as a consumer, not a disciple.

    Prayer is only “completely useless” if you think its purpose is getting your requests answered. That’s like saying the purpose of my marriage is to have my wife do things for me. That’s not communion … that’s egotism.”

    I’m not arguing for prayer to be useful in the sense that a product is useful to a consumer, I’m talking about it being useful to prove or at least slightly hint at the existence of god (as ED mentioned), per the original subject of this blog. In that sense, prayer, and the vagueness you suggest is at its crux, is useless to prove or illuminate or suggest a god.

  • 37. pj11  |  July 1, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Leo:

    You surprise me! I’ve always found your comments to be composed and gracious. No so much here. Did I misinterpret your tone? You sound downright hostile.

    I’d love the opportunity to respond at a later date … it’s my wife’s birthday and I’m leaving the computer for the evening. Cheers!

  • 38. Penguin  |  July 1, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    God, and those who are so busy hawking pathetic apologetics for His not ever showing up, need to put up or shut up.

    You’re asking God to “put up or shut up”?

    “Demand that the Lord answer your prayers, and he will give you the desires of your heart”. (Ps. 37:4)

    Oops, misquoted, I mean “Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart”. (Ps. 37:4)

    “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you (the necessities of life) (Matt. 6:33)

    Are you “demanding of God”, or asking for things that will bring him honor and glory? When you “delight in the Lord” you will want what He wants, and you will see many prayers answered.

  • 39. ED  |  July 1, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Penquin,
    waddle off! You don’t know me or where I come from. You only want to defend your own patheticly impotent God. You cannot fathom the anquish many agnostics/ atheist have gone through before they arrived at the point we are today. Many here were apologist and former pastors who wrestled with these decisions for years. Our demand for evidence only comes from decades or in my case 40 + years in ministry.
    The thing that pisses me off more than anything is a condescending and arrogant christian who assumes that if I only had or if I only understoodwhat you had or understood, then I would convert.
    I’ve been where you are 30 years ago, waddle off, penquin.

  • 40. Dave  |  July 1, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    I do not believe in atheists.
    Q: If man can live without God, then can man survive bodily death without God as well? Why does there have to be a God to survive bodily death? Maybe there’s just a transformation of energy between forms like there is between water, ice and steam. There does not have to be a God for that transformation to occur.

  • 41. Aussie Ali  |  July 1, 2008 at 10:34 pm

    I did not pray for Ferraris, ponies or parking spaces. I simply asked that God would bring me closer to Him, enable me to follow His will and to help me overcome my unbelief.

    Nothing happened and after 20 years I gave up.

  • 42. LeoPardus  |  July 2, 2008 at 1:22 am

    Penguin:

    I’m convinced that there is no deity that relates to humanity in any discernible way. If any deity wants a relationship with me, he’s going to have to let me know with something other than an ancient book full of the superstitions of a primitive people and a bunch of apologists who can only apologize for his total impotence.
    So yes, I’m demanding if you will. If whatever deity may be out there can’t handle a mere mortal’s expectations and provide some sort of reasonable proof, that being is not worth following.

  • 43. LeoPardus  |  July 2, 2008 at 1:32 am

    pj11:

    It’s the arrogance that gets to me. The hubris that says, “I’ve got THE interpretation. I can explain God.” All that ‘creating a god in your own mental image’ jive and then imagining that this pathetic deity that actually fits into your apologetics is real.

    One of the best apologists I ever heard (well read, intelligent, knowledgeable, quite humble) would answer about 4 out of 5 questions with, “I do not know. I will share some thoughts I have with you…. (share…). I hope that helps.” Don’t know how many people ever became believers from that, but I do not it was really hard for anyone to get upset at him because, despite his obvious intelligence and education, he simply never pretended to have all the answers.

  • 44. Obi  |  July 2, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Why is it that God would make himself known with pillars of fire and cloud, burning bushes, parted seas, booming voices from the heavens, massive floods, and other fantastic miracles in the olden times, but now he’s simply relegated to “warm, fuzzy feelings” in peoples’ hearts, “changed lives”, and other mundane “modern-day miracles”.

    It seems that the ancients had it much easier than us — back then you had to be an absolutely ignorant fool to not recognize God, but now it seems that we rarely hear a peep out of him.

  • 45. LeoPardus  |  July 2, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Obi:

    AMEN!

  • 46. pj11  |  July 2, 2008 at 4:02 am

    Leo:

    Sorry if I can across as arrogant … I think you misunderstood me after I misunderstood you. In post #11 it sounded to me like you were accusing me of putting my own personal “spin” on the text, thus lacking in interpretive integrity. My response in post #12 was intended to say: “Not my spin … this is what I really believe the text says about prayer.” I never intended to imply that I’ve cornered the market on truth or that I can “explain God” in any comprehensive way. After several advanced degrees and many years of teaching, I’ve arrived at an opinion on what the Bible says about prayer. I could be wrong in any number of areas, but (like many others) I have a strong opinion on the subject and I’m glad to have a forum like this one to express it. Again, sorry if I communicated poorly.

    Obi:

    Another good question … and I think there are a number of good explanations for your question about the disappearance of “fantastic” OT miracles. First, remember that the OT contains a massively condensed historical narrative … it covers a huge period of 2,000+ years. And most of the “big” miracles were concentrated in several generations … the time of Moses, the time of Elijah, etc. So the vast majority of Jews under the Old Covenant weren’t eyewitnesses to such fantastic things.

    Second, I believe the text predicts the disappearance of OT-type miracles after the arrival of Messiah. I’ll give you two examples. In the opening verses of Hebrews, it says: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son …” I believe the “portions” refers to the variety of concentrations of miracles and the “ways” refers to the different types of manifestations under the Old Covenant. But the author of Hebrews seems to be saying, “Now, in these last days (the church age) I have spoken definitively through the arrival of Christ.” Thus, IMHO, the life, death, and resurrection of God Incarnate as recorded in the gospels is the biggest miracle recorded in the Bible … and God’s final “fantastic” statement to mankind.

    Secondly, as you know, Jesus condemned the faithless generation of His day when they asked for a miraculous sign. “Yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” In other words, He says to you (even today): “You want a sign? You faithless people! The only sign you need … and the only sign you’ll get … is My death, burial and resurrection.”

    As I said above in post #10, Jesus was not manipulated in His day to respond to skeptics by “performing” miracles. Why would you expect Him to respond to your demands today? Jesus ignored the hard-hearted people who demanded that He show them a sign from heaven. Here’s the hard truth … He blew them off and allowed them to go on in their unbelief. He will do the same with you if you do not soften your heart and believe. And who did Jesus choose to heal? The helpless, the humble, the broken, and those who trusted in Him.

  • 47. ED  |  July 2, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Jesus ignored the hard hearted people who demanded that he show them a miracle.

    WOW! OBTUSE! Signs, wonders, and miracles found in the text of scripture were perormed according to classical, historical christian theology and orthodoxy for the very purpose of attesting those who were legitiment and authentic agents of God’s revelation. It is not that I am demand for him to pull a rabbit out of his hat, it is he who set the groud rules and now refuses to demonstrate that what some superstious bronze age people saw was not a benny hinn rally.

    There isn’t a single thing that if you could somehow manage to fix it would majically transform me back to theistic status. It is the compilation of the suffering of the innocent, that every five second a child dies of starvation, infinite punishment for finite sins, the hideous and despicable doctrine of the fall, that man could be born into this world predisposed to sin because someone who he had no say in was chosen as his representative, 6000 years ago and ate some exotic fruit at the prompting of a talking snake and plunged all of humanity into this state, for which they will be tortured and tormented for ever and ever. It is the injustice in his church that I have experienced and defended in the past. It is the fact that no one person can speak for christianity due to its 38,000 denominations many of which hold conflicting views over doctrines that are considered to be necessary conditions for salvation, it is liberal theology that is today engaged in the fine art of constructing their own god that will make sense in all conflicts and contradictions found in biblical text. It is that science has confirmed by thousands of individual hypothesis through genetics, through cosmology, through biology ect… ect… that our universe is much older than scripture indicated.

    These are but a few objections. We are not DEMANDING a miracle. I have been in the church all of my life, I am 54 years old I have NEVER seen what the bible and christ himself said he would do and furthermore the christians who I have been on this journey with for most of my life who say they have, are DELUSIONAL. They would say the same thing if they were a part of any religion. T^hey are christians because that is the religion of the culture in which they were born. If the had been born in Pakistan, today they would be blogging about hinduism or the wonders of Mohammad.

  • 48. Obi  |  July 2, 2008 at 9:44 am

    pj11 said, “As I said above in post #10, Jesus was not manipulated in His day to respond to skeptics by “performing” miracles. Why would you expect Him to respond to your demands today? Jesus ignored the hard-hearted people who demanded that He show them a sign from heaven. Here’s the hard truth … He blew them off and allowed them to go on in their unbelief. He will do the same with you if you do not soften your heart and believe. And who did Jesus choose to heal? The helpless, the humble, the broken, and those who trusted in Him.”

    But why did he ignore the soft-hearted people, like me, who had true faith, and who prayed and prayed and prayed some more for him to give some sort of sign that he was real? You’ve seen the verses in these posts where Jesus specifically speaks of how we should pray and how God will answer prayers. I prayed correctly, but God didn’t respond back.

    Regardless, you seem to be saying that I should forgoe all attempts to validate beliefs with evidence and simply “believe”. Who does that? If you did that, then all religions are on a completely equal plain, and whichever one you choose is on blind faith alone. Sorry, but that’s not how a rational human mind works, mate.

  • 49. LeoPardus  |  July 2, 2008 at 9:59 am

    pj11:
    In post #11 it sounded to me like you were accusing me of putting my own personal “spin” on the text

    That IS what you are doing, whether you want to admit it or not.

    “Not my spin … this is what I really believe the text says about prayer.”

    This is what I think… but it’s not my spin. Can you see that silliness in this.

    pj, it’s ALL personal interpretation. That’s why, as ED pointed out, there are 1000’s of denominations with diametrically opposed theologies.

    But of course you won’t get this point. You can’t. I was there once. You can’t give up and admit it’s all you. The faith MUST be true. There is no life without it. …… But I finally had to admit it’s ALL just personal imagination. Each of us makes a God in our own image. There’s nothing objective behind it. And, as I finally found out, there is life without the faith.

    I never intended to imply that I’ve cornered the market on truth or that I can “explain God” in any comprehensive way.

    It’s what you’re doing every post.

    After several advanced degrees and many years of teaching, I’ve arrived at an opinion on what the Bible says about prayer.

    An opinion??????? But you’ve been telling me that it’s NOT your interpretation.

  • 50. ED  |  July 2, 2008 at 10:00 am

    pj11
    “A Canaanite woman cried out “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is demon possessed!” Jesus did not respond to her at all. His disciples finally begged him to get the woman to shut up, because she kept on yelling after them. So, Jesus rebuked the woman by saying “I have been sent to feed the children of God.” She interrupted by repeating her plea “Lord, Help me!” But Jesus replied, “It’s not right for me to take the food meant for the children and give it to the dogs.” She answered “Even the dogs get to eat the crumbs that fall from the table.” Jesus responded to her faith, “Woman, your faith is great! You have what you request.” Her daughter was healed from that time. Matthew 15:22 -28″

    I would contend that if this woman had no response from Jesus for forty (40) years, she would have moved on a long time ago, and justifiably so. All the pious sounding words would not change her mind either.

  • 51. LeoPardus  |  July 2, 2008 at 10:01 am

    ED: Re post 47

    That ought to be an independent article. Maybe de-Convert will pick it up and make it one.

  • 52. LeoPardus  |  July 2, 2008 at 10:07 am

    The only sign you need … and the only sign you’ll get … is My death, burial and resurrection.”

    We don’t even have that. It happened 2000 years ago, if it happened at all. And one of the fellows who knew Jesus very well, didn’t believe it happened even then. Thomas DEMANDED that he WOULD NOT believe unless he saw Jesus and saw his crucifixion wounds. I’m being no more demanding or stubborn than the great apostle to India.

    And who did Jesus choose to heal? The helpless, the humble, the broken, and those who trusted in Him.

    And who does Jesus heal now? NO ONE. No matter how humble, broken, or trusting. And we are supposed to follow a totally absent deity??? On what basis? The basis of pathetic apologetics for a no-show god? NOT!

  • 53. Peguin  |  July 2, 2008 at 11:18 am

    ED—

    Penquin,
    waddle off! You don’t know me or where I come from. You only want to defend your own patheticly impotent God. You cannot fathom the anquish many agnostics/ atheist have gone through before they arrived at the point we are today.

    Quit your sniveling. There are thousands of Christians who have gone through much anguish over doubts also, but came through it still believing just the same. Do you have a corner on the anguish market? Have you suffered uniquely? No, you have not—ALL Christians go through the same doubts you have experienced. Every Christian has moments of a crisis of faith. So you went 40 years and then gave up? There are many who went 40 years in ministry just as you have–you are no special case— and are continuing just as strongly, and with even more faith than before. Get over it.

  • 54. ED  |  July 2, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Penquin
    I am over it! Move on.

  • 55. john t.  |  July 2, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Leopardus

    “So yes, I’m demanding if you will. If whatever deity may be out there can’t handle a mere mortal’s expectations and provide some sort of reasonable proof, that being is not worth following.”

    Im just curious, for me to believe in a Creator(god), does that mean I have to follow some set of rules? I dont need proof to believe theres a driving force in the universe, just looking out the window or at my daughter is plenty enough proof for me. I also kind of like the mystery of it. Just like Christmas morning before I opened my gifts, full of anticipation and excitement. It seems everyone needs absolutes or they wont believe, Im just not wired that way, thats why I continue to Golf LMAO.

  • 56. pj11  |  July 2, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Leo:

    In the world of theology, interpretation and opinion are not the same, my friend. Sitting around in a bible study and asking, “what does this text mean to you?” That’s “opinion.” Following established exegetical procedures is a different thing altogether (analyzing the original language, culling exegetical questions, examining historical and cultural factors, comparing translations, diagramming passages semantically and syntactically, etc.). I’d suggest taking an on-line course in hermeneutics if you’re interested in guidelines for interpretation vs. forming an opinion. There is a difference!

    ED:

    Once again, I’m sorry for your pain … it’s obviously wrought in you a great deal of bitterness and anger. You wrote “we are not DEMANDING a miracle,” but you’ve said several times that God needs to “put up or shut up.” If that’s not a demand for something, I no longer know what a “demand” is.

    LEO & ED:

    I’m really sorry that neither of you have ever seen God work in your life or in the lives of others around you. I’m skeptical of that claim, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. I have had a completely opposite experience.

    Again, let me repeat something which neither of you addressed … the vast majority of believers throughout the centuries (both Jew & Christian) never saw a “fantastic” biblical miracle in their lifetimes … yet they believed. Unless you lived in the generation of Moses or the generation of Elijah or lived during Christ’s earthly ministry, you were forced to believe without the benefit of a spectacular move of God. Imagine living in the Intertestamental period … 400 years of revelatory silence … no miracles … no prophet … no Messiah. So people trusted in the written Word as well as the oral traditions handed down by previous generations. They held fast to what they believed. Saving faith is the conviction of things NOT seen. Did some people give up because God seemed silent and the promised Messiah hadn’t arrived? Sure. But many endured. A faith tested by fire … some burn up, others come out refined.

    So you haven’t seen a huge biblical miracle, huh? God hasn’t responded to your requests for a sign or a feeling? If the saints of previous generations could speak, they’d say: “Welcome to the club!”

  • 57. pj11  |  July 2, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Obi said: “Regardless, you seem to be saying that I should forgoe all attempts to validate beliefs with evidence and simply “believe”. Who does that? If you did that, then all religions are on a completely equal plain, and whichever one you choose is on blind faith alone. Sorry, but that’s not how a rational human mind works, mate.”

    Obi: Thank you for your kind spirit in asking a legitimate question. There’s a healthy balance to be struck between faith and reason. Blind faith is foolishness. If there’s not some amount of credible evidence for the veracity and consistency of a faith system, it should be abandoned. However, trusting in human reason alone is equally foolish. As a contingent being, you cannot possibly know all things and you cannot possibly explain all things. So you must examine the natural while leaving some room for the possibility of the “supernatural” (those things you cannot explain).

    The problem you face with Christianity is that (according to Scripture) the volitional choice to “believe” is a pre-requisite to the movement of God in your life (belief defined as more than mental assent, but a trust that brings about decisive action in one’s life).

    You may choose to rely on your “rational human mind” instead and that is your prerogative. But you asked the question “who does that?” about people who choose to believe. The answer is … many … for thousands of years.

  • 58. Obi  |  July 2, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    pj11 said, “Thank you for your kind spirit in asking a legitimate question. There’s a healthy balance to be struck between faith and reason. Blind faith is foolishness. If there’s not some amount of credible evidence for the veracity and consistency of a faith system, it should be abandoned. However, trusting in human reason alone is equally foolish. As a contingent being, you cannot possibly know all things and you cannot possibly explain all things. So you must examine the natural while leaving some room for the possibility of the “supernatural” (those things you cannot explain).”

    So things we cannot explain are supernatural? In your last sentence, this is indeed what you are implying. This is commonly known as a “god of the gaps” approach, and it’s looked down upon for good reason. Imagine if one thousand years ago we simply gave stated that volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, meteors, hurricanes, typhoons, comets, the Aurora Borealis, et cetera were all things we could not explain, and therefore we relegated them to the “supernatural”.

    As you can hopefully see, that would have stunted our intellectual development as a species. I don’t rely on only myself as a human, I rely on all of the accumulated knowledge and wisdom we have as a species, all discovered of our own minds.

    pj11 said, “You may choose to rely on your “rational human mind” instead and that is your prerogative. But you asked the question “who does that?” about people who choose to believe. The answer is … many … for thousands of years.”

    I would have hoped that people would have seen that as a rhetorical question, mate. Humans have believed in many, many, many unfounded and baseless things. Supernatural beings are one of them. Religion served an important role in the development of human civilization and in the tribes of our primitive ancestors, but the mistake that people made was believing that there was any sort of divine power working behind any of them. These claims of the divine and divine inspiration and revelation are ubiquitous, and they are nothing but attempts to validate the belief systems of each people — the oldest and most widely used argumentum ad verecundiam in human history.

  • 59. pj11  |  July 2, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Obi:

    How do you fill in the gaps, mate? What’s your explanation for those them?

    Do you not see the arrogance? I see it all the time among the de-cons … everyone before US was a primitive fool, but we’re so rational and wise now! Pride goeth …

  • 60. ED  |  July 2, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    pj11

    I am so sorry that you do not understand. You are blogging on a site called “De conversion” Either you are here in an attempt to convert or you are just perusing for chicks.
    The point that I have tried to make for you and the simple minded penquin is that we have not come to our decision lightly. Period!!! It is not that we are “sniveling” I haven’t sniveled in years. I am not exactly sure what a snivel looks like, but I digress.
    So far you haven’t made an argument that followers of the koran or Judism could not have made. You have demanded that we hold to your presuppositional and as far as I am concerned delusional personal experiences as proof. You have stated that you doubt that I have not seen prayer answered in others; I doubt you have.
    People fly planes into buildings and blow themselves up who are filled with more conviction than you, but it still does not speak to the truth of their belief.
    In post #47 I tried to lay out even for the simplist and most narrow of minds some of the many objections that we have wrestled with, but, still christians come to these type post hoping that if they sing one more chorus of “Only Believe.” a miracle will occur.
    As far as anger is concerned, my anger is directed toward one and only one group. Those arrogant and condescending individuals who think that they have some corner on truth that we have not considered and who attempt to force their delusuion onto us. You simply cannot fathom that all the piety and conviction that you profess and project was once ME! I once was where you are. I either had to drink the kool-aid as many people do or move on. I chose to move on. What is the difference between a cult and a religion? About one hundred years.

  • 61. TheNerd  |  July 2, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Dave –

    I do not believe in atheists.

    You don’t believe in atheists, despite much evidence of their existance, such as their acutal physical persons and their appearances in the media (which is more than I can say for God). In fact, there is way more evidence for atheists’ existance than for your existance! If you don’t believe in atheists, I must therefore not believe in you.

    pg11 – Ok, we’ve been spinning in circles, so I want to put everything straight, and ask for a concise answer (without unnecessary bilblical references) to these questions:

    1. Is there even a way to empirically prove that prayer “works”? If not, why are you trying to do so on this page? (This is a site for de-converts to share experiences, not a place for Christians to try to get others to think like they do.)

    2. If there is a positive answer to #1, what is the point of prayer – what is it supposed to accomplish that won’t be accomplished by not praying? (This is to prevent the moving of the goal posts.)

    3. If there is a positive answer to #2, is it uniform and consistant? (I.E. Does God respond to prayer in a consistant manner?)

    4. If there is a positive answer to #3, how can this consistancy be shown to outsiders as valid, apart from personal experience? (I.E. Are the results testable?)

    5. If there is a positive answer to #4, why is there so much dissent within Christianity on the topic of prayer? (Each denomination has its own spin on the topic.)

    We have never said it is wrong to pray, and we have never said that our versions of prayer must supplant your own. Go ahead, keep praying! But if you cannot answer these questions reasonably and clearly, do not be shocked when we do not view prayer the same way you do.

  • 62. pj11  |  July 2, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    ED:

    I’m only here to dialogue about an important subject. I don’t have the power to convert anyone … and I don’t need any chicks. It’s a healthy debate. I’m not attacking you or the journey you’re on. Hearing what others believe is a tool that can sharpen one’s beliefs or open up the door to new ideas.

    Relax … we can do this in a respectful way.

  • 63. ED  |  July 2, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    PJ11
    If I seem disrespectful I apologize. You caught me in the middle of a snivel.
    ED

  • 64. Penguin  |  July 2, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    ED—-

    You simply cannot fathom that all the piety and conviction that you profess and project was once ME! I once was where you are. I either had to drink the kool-aid as many people do or move on. I chose to move on. What is the difference between a cult and a religion? About one hundred years.

    I believe you. The reason I use the word “sniveling” is that you seem to make your case for deconverting a much greater crisis than anyone else who has continued to believe has encountered. Why do they still believe? Was your crisis greater? Are you far more intelligent than them? Do you have special insight that others do not possess?

    The point that I have tried to make for you and the simple minded penquin is that we have not come to our decision lightly.

    Again, I believe you. But again, what makes you think that others who have not gone through the same crisis, suffered through the same doubts, and disappointments, and even anger at God, are not as intelligent as you are because they have continued to believe? I understand your dilemna, but that is arrogance. Sniveling is an old term for someone who is making a mountain out of a mole-hill. I am guilty of sniveling at times myself.

  • 65. ED  |  July 2, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    I still maintain however that it seems very difficult for christians to wrap their brain about the notion that we have been where you are. In many cases perhaps more zealous. When I sense condescension I am not very tolerant. Again if I have misread the tone, I am sorry.

  • 66. ED  |  July 2, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Penquin
    Check the original blog, you will find the word, “many”. I am not refering just to me.

  • 67. Obi  |  July 2, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    pj11 said, “How do you fill in the gaps, mate? What’s your explanation for those them?

    Do you not see the arrogance? I see it all the time among the de-cons … everyone before US was a primitive fool, but we’re so rational and wise now! Pride goeth …”

    How do I fill in the gaps? By seeking more knowledge through the scientific method, instead of being satisfied with not knowing and idly leaving the gaps there; if only to allow room for god(s) to move about in those areas which we know little about.

    What arrogance? If you feel that simply stating facts is arrogant, then I can do nothing for you. New knowledge is being gained all of the time, and therefore people before us were less knowledgeable. There’s no escaping that fact. Regardless, I definitely wouldn’t say that modern humans are incredibly rational nor logical. The persistence of superstition and religious/mystical dogma is testament to that.

  • 68. LeoPardus  |  July 2, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    pj11:

    In the world of theology, interpretation and opinion are not the same

    Uhm.. Yes they are. See below next italics.

    Following established exegetical procedures is a different thing altogether (analyzing the original language, culling exegetical questions, examining historical and cultural factors, comparing translations, diagramming passages semantically and syntactically, etc.). I’d suggest taking an on-line course in hermeneutics if you’re interested in guidelines for interpretation vs. forming an opinion. There is a difference!

    Oh there is? Then why is it that you, using your education, experience, and intellect to come up with a meaning for a given text, and other guys, using their education, experience, and intellect can come up with a whole bunch of different interpretations, many of them diametrically opposed? I can tell you why. Because you’re all just guessing. I.e. making opinions. You’ve brainwashed yourselves into thinking that you’ve got some objective, reliable means for “really understanding” the Bible. But you can only uphold that if you insist that you got it right (i.e. the correct ‘interpretation) and all those opposed, got it wrong (i.e. wrong opinions).

    If the saints of previous generations could speak, they’d say: “Welcome to the club!”

    And I’d say, “I’m not in your club. You have an imaginary friend. A deity that you’ve made in your own image. A phantasm of the mind. An ineffective, no-show, non-entity. He doesn’t change you into better people, he doesn’t help you in any way. It’s just a comforting fantasy. I’m glad you can find some comfort even though it’s all in your mind. If you happen to ever find a real deity, I would truly be interested. Now I’m off to ride my Invisible Pink Unicorn.”

    And sometimes those old saints do speak. Thomas said, “Unless I SEE the nail prints in his hand, and place my fingers in his side, I WILL NOTT BELIEVE.” And no, I don’t want to be “more blessed”. I will settle for being only “blessed” as Thomas.

    Words are plentiful. Deeds are precious and few. I’m only interested in a real God of deeds. You can have your imaginary deity of words.

  • 69. John T.  |  July 2, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Leo

    Damn you seem so pissed. Who sheit on you when you were a kid?

  • 70. Obi  |  July 2, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    John T. —

    Normally Leo is rather level-headed, but I think he may be “righteously indignant” now, and for good reason. I share quite a bit of his sentiment. Regardless, we’re all humans here, mate. Frustration and sometimes ensuing anger are all normal emotions. As long as they’re controlled, I think we’ll all be fine.

  • 71. John T.  |  July 2, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Obi

    Do you think that maybe were wired for mysticism? Kind of like left side/right side brain functioning.

  • 72. pj11  |  July 2, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Obi:

    Thanks for your answer. Let me summarize … we both agree that there are “gaps” in human knowledge … things which finite beings like us cannot explain. Good. My hypothesis is that there is a Being greater than ourselves which has created all matter and is sovereignly governing those things which we cannot explain. Your hypothesis is … we don’t know, we’re still looking. OK, let me know when you have a reasonable explanation. Until then, I’m sticking with my theory.

    Here’s why your position is arrogant … you say that every people group before us was less knowledgeable. OK … it follows then that the generation post-Obi will be more knowledgeable than Obi. If that’s true, why should I pay attention to Obi’s theories today? They’re destined to be outdated and ultimately proved wrong. So listening to you is now a waste of time. Am I correct? Or will your wisdom and knowledge prevail over future generations such that I should pay attention today?

  • 73. pj11  |  July 2, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Leo:

    You’re a man of science … I expected more from you. Just as there are certain procedures in the scientific world to interpret natural data, there are certain procedures in the theological world to interpret textual data. You know the reason why people come up with opposing interpretations in both science and theology … biased presuppositions (or simply, “agendas”). Gee, does that ever happen in the world of science?

    Honestly, Leo, you’ve come unraveled. I get it … you don’t see enough evidence for Christianity. But the Flying Spaghetti Monster / Pink Unicorn thing is childish and over the top. You know better and you should rise about that type of rhetoric.

  • 74. Obi  |  July 2, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    pj11 said,”Thanks for your answer. Let me summarize … we both agree that there are “gaps” in human knowledge … things which finite beings like us cannot explain. Good. My hypothesis is that there is a Being greater than ourselves which has created all matter and is sovereignly governing those things which we cannot explain. Your hypothesis is … we don’t know, we’re still looking. OK, let me know when you have a reasonable explanation. Until then, I’m sticking with my theory.”

    Ah, I see. You’re satisfied with plugging up any holes with a temporary “Godstopper”, but I feel the need to find the reason behind those holes, in an attempt to truly patch them up. Is that right? It seems so. You also have no evidence for such a deity save for an ancient religious book and assorted “answered prayers”, “miracles”, and “warm fuzzy feelings” that are common to all people of all religions around the world. Well, thanks for the honesty, mate. Just don’t end up like those who believed that Helios carried the Sun across the sky.

    pj11 said,”Here’s why your position is arrogant … you say that every people group before us was less knowledgeable. OK … it follows then that the generation post-Obi will be more knowledgeable than Obi. If that’s true, why should I pay attention to Obi’s theories today? They’re destined to be outdated and ultimately proved wrong. So listening to you is now a waste of time. Am I correct? Or will your wisdom and knowledge prevail over future generations such that I should pay attention today?”

    Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. They had less knowledge than us, and that’s true. Or are you saying that they knew how to send probes to Mars in the 15th century? Regardless, you’re absolutely right. The scientific theories of today will most definitely be re-tooled and re-worked, and some may even be completely scrapped in the future. However, most of them stand up extremely well to our current scrutiny, and they successfully predict a myriad of things about our Universe. But that’s how we gain knowledge, by revising and building, and I see nothing wrong with that. No, not at all.

    If I may tell you something, the problem I see with you (from what you’ve posted in replies here, I don’t know how you really are) is that you want to gain a full understanding of the world around you and the Universe in general with little to no effort, and saying that “God did it” seems to be the route you’re choosing. However, I’m one for building upon the knowledge of those who came before us, adding to it, and passing it on to the next generation in an ongoing line of increasing human knowledge. Of course it has gaps, and I realize that you may not like that, but that’s the way it is.

    G’day, mate.

  • 75. pj11  |  July 2, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Obi:

    Good stuff … I like the term “Godstopper.”

    We’re not that much different, mate … believe it or not, I too want to find the answers to those holes. I pick up the newspaper every day waiting to see if some human being has found all the answers to the mysteries of the universe. I’ve been waiting a long time. Like the de-cons who’ve said, “I’ve waited for 10,20,30,40 years for God to show Himself” … I’ve said the same thing about science! I’ve waited 10,20,30,40 years for scientists to explain the mysteries of the universe. They’ve been a no-show. It’s time for scientists to put up or shut up … I demand a reproducible answer to the origin of the universe! Oh, no … I’m a science de-con!! Aaaaaaggghhhh!

    Seriously, science isn’t giving me answers I can trust right now. I’m looking for something to fill the gaps, but so far I find my theory more satisfying. Again, let me know if anything changes.

  • 76. Obi  |  July 2, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    pj11 —

    Aye mate, I understand where you’re coming from. There will always be places for the “Everlasting Godstopper” to patch up holes in our understanding, and I’m sure you’re perfectly content and even joyous at that. However, it’s simply not an intellecutally honest way to look at the world. Perhaps you should go back to school and study in a field that you’re interested in so that you can help further our understanding of the Universe? I can’t imagine how our world would be like now if everyone through history thought that way you do.

    To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot.
    — Albert Einstein

  • 77. pj11  |  July 2, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    That’s not good enough, Obi. I demand reproducible, unquestionable evidence for all the mysteries of the universe NOW or else I’m walking away from science forever. Don’t give me those little, mundane, everyday theories and small discoveries … I want a big, fantastic discovery which explains everything … or else. I’ve waited too long! But science has been silent.

  • 78. orDover  |  July 2, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    If you think science has been silent then you obviously never took a physics class.

  • 79. Obi  |  July 2, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    pj11 —

    Science is but the work of limited humans. God is supposedly unlimited. Your comparison falls flat on it’s face, mate. But please, if you want to walk away from science, be my guest. Proceed to shut down your computer, abandon your house, life in the city/town you live in, and proceed to live in the forest using materials that you can gather. Have fun, mate.

  • 80. pj11  |  July 2, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Obi:

    Lighten up, mate … that was my vain attempt at sarcasm!

    It’s been fun dialoguing on this issue … but time for me to shut it down for good and get back to my job.

    Blessings!

  • 81. TKay  |  January 29, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    God did it people. Just because you don’t believe it doesn’t make it any less true.

  • 82. Ubi Dubium  |  January 29, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Just because you really want to believe it doesn’t make it any more true,

  • 83. writerdd  |  January 29, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Sorry if this is too flippant, but “Where are you Jesus?” reminds me of the “Where are you Christmas?” from the movie version of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

  • 84. LeoPardus  |  January 29, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Tkay:

    God did what? Or is that asking too much of a drive by?

  • 85. Eve's Apple  |  April 2, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    To get back to the original subject–I once overheard a Christian coworker trying to console someone who had been praying for success in finding a badly-needed job, and who had been rejected yet again. She said, “Sometimes God says yes, sometimes He says no, and sometimes he says maybe.” Huh? Seems like I could get just as good answers from shaking a Magic 8-ball, with one big difference: the Magic 8-ball never promises anything or raises expectations. I mean, I am a pretty straightforward person and it seems to be that if someone says that they will do X if you do Y, then the reasonable expectation is that they will do it. And if they don’t then it is obvious they are not a person of their word. Oh! But! There is a condition. It is not that THEY aren’t a person of their word, it is that YOU are not trusting enough, and that is why X did not happen. You gotta have faith or the magic won’t work. I am sure glad that does not apply to air travel, that the plane I get on is going to take off regardless of how many skeptics are aboard.

    According to the Bible, Jesus claimed that his followers would do certain specific things, like raising the dead. I just went to a funeral today, and I can guarantee you that that body is going to remain in the earth no matter how many people pray or how fervently they believe. And you can talk all you want about the resurrection but the fact remains that the man himself never appeared in public to tell the world about it, when he so freely mingled before his very public execution. And why not? Right after Elvis died there was a spate of sightings–one even in my hometown, at a Burger King–but the man himself never took the stage, never granted an interview.

    Even as a kid, there was something about the Easter story thatwas kind of a let-down. Here you have someone going around publicly predicting he would rise from the dead, almost bragging about it, then he is hung up on a cross where everyone could see it (that was the whole point of crucifixion), and then afterwards? Sneaking around after dark, appearing behind locked doors–no more demonstrations in the streets of Jerusalem–that doesn’t sound like the same confident person of three days ago. It is like there is something missing. And then he disappears. Oh, yes, he’ll be back. Soon. At least in the Chronicles of Narnia, Aslan kicks ass right after his resurrection! Funny how Lewis, the Christian writer, had to change the story, make it more dramatic. Was he writing the ending he wished the Gospels had?

  • 86. Joshua  |  April 3, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    Hey Eve, what a brilliant comment! I don’t know if you have a lot of friends outside the faith right now, but if you want to chat sometime, look me up g u i t a r s t r u m m r @ g m a i l . c o m. I’m really curious to hear more about your story.

    Sounds like you are really figuring things out :) Kudos!

  • 87. Pamela  |  June 6, 2009 at 3:14 am

    I feel sorry for atheists. You have faith that there is no such thing as God. But still you have faith in what you don’t believe. You have no proof that God does not exist so either way you still lose. Just plain sad that you can’t see. You are blind and that is what Jesus said about some people. That they can’t see and can’t hear anything. You are crushed and don’t know it. Lost and don’t know it. Why isn’t it ok for me to believe if it is ok for you not to. Why do you have to try so hard to get rid of God even though you can’t and never have been able to? Isn’t it enough that you don’t believe? Why bother us who do? Many people proclaim they are Christian and don’t have a clue what they are. I know so called Christians who are like you and believe me, you can have them… they are just taking up precious space in my book. Anyone who turns from their belief never had any in the first place so go ahead and de-convert them all and do us a favor.

    Thx for the hard work you do. Only the phonies can turn from Jesus.

  • 88. Pamela  |  June 6, 2009 at 3:19 am

    Oh, by the way, I noticed nobody is even listening to your joyless banter. You haven’t had a hit in a yr!!! What a joke all of you are. SAD, JUST SAD….

  • 89. Dan  |  June 13, 2009 at 9:30 am

    I will only speak as a witness to what you have written in all of these comments. There is, and not seems to be, a selfcentered and very physical touch based view on life with all who believe that God isn’t there. The truth whether you admit it or not life is not just where we are now or where we want to be tomorrow, but where we will end up. If you are caught up in any of the what I have, what I want, what I need, what I can touch, what I don’t, etc. then you won’t be able to hear or see God and his wonders. The fact is even science has found that there is energy in us all, as well in our DNA there are biomachines that exist in our cells, which scientist can only say were created. Beyond all of that life is more than what you can touch and see, it’s also what you can’t touch and see. With that being said and held true for all, know that life as you touch and see will be over soon, period. Life as you can’t see and touch will begin, where will you be. Love is truly totally selfless and giving, if you are selfish or greedy the odds are you have have very little love in you. A good church and a good pastor will teach you to feel and see God, because the truth is God wants a relationship with you, not to dominate you. If God wanted dominate you, then we would not be more than the animals of this world, an would live as they do. Note: I have dealt with people on my life claimers of faith and not, so understand that I am not literary savant.

  • 90. orDover  |  June 13, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Dan is likely a drive-by, but I’m feeling feisty this morning.

    The truth whether you admit it or not life is not just where we are now or where we want to be tomorrow, but where we will end up.

    You’re going to have to prove this premise before we can accept the rest of what you have to say. It isn’t enough to just state that there is a place where we “end up” (I’m assuming you mean after death). You’re going to have to prove it. Maybe that is a “touch based view,” but I’d hope that even you would see the value in backing up your assertion with facts.

    The fact is even science has found that there is energy in us all, as well in our DNA there are biomachines that exist in our cells, which scientist can only say were created.

    This is not a fact. This is not even remotely true. I’d be very interested in knowing where you got this “fact” from. What peer-reviewed journal published these results?

    Beyond all of that life is more than what you can touch and see, it’s also what you can’t touch and see.

    Again, you must prove this before we accept your statements. Give me an example of one thing that can be proven to exist, and yes which cannot be seen or touched (or measured in anyway).

    With that being said and held true for all, know that life as you touch and see will be over soon, period. Life as you can’t see and touch will begin, where will you be.

    Before you can scare us with talk of the afterlife (you’re dancing around the word “hell”), you’re going to first have to convince us that there IS an afterlife at all. With evidence. Not the Bible.

    Love is truly totally selfless and giving, if you are selfish or greedy the odds are you have have very little love in you.

    What makes you think we are selfish and greedy? I think it’s rather rude that you waltz in here and accuse us of these things.

    A good church and a good pastor will teach you to feel and see God, because the truth is God wants a relationship with you, not to dominate you.

    We’ve all already been to good churches with good pastors, and had what we considered at the time to be a relationship with God. They couldn’t prove the existence of God. None of us though that God wanted to dominated us. You’re working off of false atheist stereotypes here, “Atheists just don’t want to submit their will to God.” Not true. Did your good pastor tell you that? Or did you find it in the same paper where you “learned” that scientists say that organelles in cells are created?

  • 91. Dan  |  June 13, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    You know orDover it’s nice to here that your willing to discuss this, however I didn’t hear alot of want to hear what I have to say. Well here it goes, the fact is that scientist has proven biomachines exist, that cannot be proven by evolution, they are by the way still trying to fit it in thier theory. What peer publication do you need, one you believe to be credible or one that I believe? Google or Yahoo evolution and biomachines, it’s there, I know you will have to say you don’t see it or can’t touch them. But, before I go to far with you, I heard alot of defense from you, are you the type that really knows what they are talking about or someone who get’s some of the infromation and runs with it. I hear” you have to prove it”, however I don’t see how you have proven God doesn’t exist. You believe that there are ways to get sick from things you can’t see, without a microscope. All of what you say takes faith, whether it is if you came from nothing and will return to nothing or God. The fact is you were created, no theory has proven otherwise. If you have so much faith in not seeing that none of what athiest have said ever has been proven, then you will never believe in God. I suppose that history books like the bible, Egypts history, Italian history, Greecian history, and various other groups through out the middle east who all have writting s about Jesus and his miracles, they aren’t enogh proof. The reason other’s testimony is not good enough for you is that you have to see it and touch it for yourself. God did enogh through time to prove he existed as well, if you believed then alls you have to do is look at your cell phone to see God exist. Before Jesus came no one nation could ever rule, another always for several thousand years came up and took over through slaughter. I took about 1900 years for us to get it and now we are regressing, probable due to unethical churches that give all the rest a bad face. You said that you have been to many, but you have not been to the right one. Yes if Jesus did not come to say love and not anger is the way, we would still be closer to the bronze age than we are today. But, as you proved in your position I would have to prove it, well it is all around you. You are the one that has to prove what has been since the begining, not me. You act like what you think is all and has always been. Do I have to remind you even disease was considered demons and evil spirits? Why would you say I have to prove something when you don’t? The fact is that life is hard, and God created you to graow and live a natural life. But, unfortunately some get so consumed with proof they make up thier own and need to believe so badly they make thier own reality( yes I am refering to lie). I have 4k-6k years of written history, you have around 200 years of a theory, which uses faked pictures and unproven theories making up one big theory. I would rather believe in witness testimony, than something that is made up and for such a short time.

  • 92. Ubi Dubium  |  June 14, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Wow, Dan. You have bought everything the church has taught you, without questioning anything. Sounds like you have never cracked a science book or talked to an actual scientist, or thought anything out for yourself.

    This website is here to support those who aren’t buying it anymore. So what are you doing here? If you want to evangelize, please do it elsewhere.

  • 93. Dan  |  June 14, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    Ubi Dubium and others,

    It is only up to you to bury your heads in the sand. I was wanting to seek God’s will the other morning and was lead to your blog. What I read from most of you was like hearing directly from God, ” save them all”. You do not have to respond, none of you. As far as researching and science, it looks like you have the missing pieces Ubi, if that is your real name. If your so educated and aware, then why do you not know that most of the truly successful scientist that have made true advances in life for us all were and are Christian/judeo believers. Brainwashed seems to be the popular thing to say for you guys,the fact is you seem to be the ones that are brainwashed. I have seen all you have to offer, read all you have to offer, tested as a scientist would and found lies and manipulation. The church is not the way, it is suppose to be a place to fellowship and testify about God and Jesus. If you and anyone else got anything else out of it, then you were at the wrong church. Better yet, you did not read the Bible with love and respect for your creator to learn. You probably read it to try to make it irrelevant, no wonder you did not receive the blessings of the spirit, you never ever believed in it. Again you do not have to respond and if you do I will, especially if your going to insult and use lies to provocate. Peace and love be with you, only respect and thruth that I wish to relay.

    Dan

  • 94. Ubi Dubium  |  June 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Dan, you are here to preach. You seem to assume that we have not heard everything you are saying already. We have heard it all, and way too many times. Many of the people here are ex-evangelicals, ex-preachers. They used to be just like you are now. If hearing that stuff was going to “save” any of us, it would have done it a long time ago. Please preach somewhere else.

  • 95. orDover  |  June 14, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    What peer publication do you need, one you believe to be credible or one that I believe?

    One that I and the scientific community find credible. Science isn’t a matter of belief.

    I hear” you have to prove it”, however I don’t see how you have proven God doesn’t exist.

    That’s not my job. The burden of proof lies with the person making the claim. You are the one making the claim, “God exists,” and thus you are the one that has to provide the evidence. It is next to impossible to prove a negative, to prove that something does not exist. That isn’t how logic works.

    You believe that there are ways to get sick from things you can’t see, without a microscope.

    As soon as they invent a godoscope, this analogy will be relevant.

    All of what you say takes faith, whether it is if you came from nothing and will return to nothing or God.

    Wrong. I don’t have faith that I “came from nothing,” and it doesn’t take faith to accept a scientific theory with mountains of evidence that proves it. Faith is believing without seeing. I don’t do that with anything. I require evidence, and a lot of it.

    The fact is you were created, no theory has proven otherwise.

    Prove this fact. Again, you can’t prove a negative. It’s basic logic. It’s your job to prove that I’m created, not my job to prove that I’m not. So far you’ve shown no evidence.

    If you have so much faith in not seeing that none of what athiest have said ever has been proven, then you will never believe in God.

    This sentence is convoluted. I only wanted to point out that I have already believed in God, so you can’t say “never.”

    I suppose that history books like the bible, Egypts history, Italian history, Greecian history, and various other groups through out the middle east who all have writting s about Jesus and his miracles, they aren’t enogh proof.

    Right. Because only one of those things actually contains information about Jesus’ miracles, and it happens to be the same thing that wants to convince me to believe.

    The reason other’s testimony is not good enough for you is that you have to see it and touch it for yourself.

    No, I just need credible evidence. Personal testimony isn’t credible. I don’t accept personal anecdotes when it comes to religion or the latest diet craze or the health crap peddled on Oprah.

    God did enogh through time to prove he existed as well,

    No he didn’t, and that’s the problem.

    if you believed then alls you have to do is look at your cell phone to see God exist.

    How does a cell phone prove God?

    You said that you have been to many [churches],

    No I didn’t.

    but you have not been to the right one.

    How do you know that, when I never mentioned what church(s) I have attended? I could have gone to the same church as you.

    And anyway, isn’t this convenient illogic? Google the “no true Scotsman” logical fallacy.

    Why would you say I have to prove something when you don’t?

    Because those are the rules for basic logic. Let’s say that I claim there is a china teapot orbiting Saturn. Is it my job to prove that it exists, or your job to prove that it doesn’t? Are you going to believe my claim, or make me prove it?

    I would rather believe in witness testimony, than something that is made up and for such a short time.

    Then you, sir, are a sucker. You know nothing about the human mind, the unreliability of memory, or the operations of cognitive biases. You also know nothing about the proofs of evolution. Interestingly, I wonder, do you “believe” in Einstein’s theory of general relativity? I bet you do. Think about it for a second. Do you know why I’m asking? Because it’s only been around for 70 years or so. Do you “believe” in the theory of electricity or electromagnetism? That’s been around for less time than the theory of evolution.

    If you and anyone else got anything else out of it, then you were at the wrong church. Better yet, you did not read the Bible with love and respect for your creator to learn. You probably read it to try to make it irrelevant, no wonder you did not receive the blessings of the spirit, you never ever believed in

    Wow. What incredible arrogance you are displaying. How can you possibly know that we did not read the Bible with love and respect? How can you claim to know our motivations? It’s so insulting.

    I spent my entire life reading the Bible with love and respect. It brought me to tears. The stories moved me and spoke to my heart. But stories weren’t enough, in the long run, to sustain believe in a God who goes without evidence.

    Again you do not have to respond and if you do I will, especially if your going to insult and use lies to provocate.

    You are the one who is being insulting, by claiming to have such superior knowledge regarding our inner spiritual lives. As a Christian, attempting to display the love of Christ, shouldn’t you address us with kindness and understanding, not haughty self-righteousness? You are not being a good example, not a good witness at all. And just out of curiosity, what lies have we used?

  • 96. Dan  |  June 14, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    To all of you,

    Science is always changing, what we thought was becomes something else later. The day will come to see what the truth is or is not. I pray that what I believe will be true for you on that day. You see I believe all get one last chance at death, when the crossover happens, to accept God. So hopefully with that said I will meet you all on the otherside. I have heard and seen data from many different scientist over my 37 years of life and seen many different conclusions. Just as you say your science publication is better than another publication, the truth it’s entirely up to the indivisual. So, please know that I really meant no disrespect and this is it no more entries. Please do not respond.

  • 97. paleale  |  June 15, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Please do not respond

    Love it. If he doesn’t want a response all he has to do is not come back… That is, unless it’s the Lord’s will to guide him back. “The Lord” being Google, I guess.

  • 98. Dan  |  June 15, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Paleale,

    Just like one of the other’s who responded, I am not a good example of a christian. I may not be, however no christian becomes like Jesus or God, so what really is a christian other than one trying. Here is a so called backslide if you want to call it that, WOW your intelligent. God is in all and sees all, and chooses whatever it is that he wants to in order to lead his children, that is all. That being said I will do this brain trust a favor and unsubscribe, seeing that I forgot to do that.

  • 99. Rc  |  October 24, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. If your faith is dependent on the outward manifestation
    of prayers answered, then your faith is defective in the first place.
    If you need a sign or things to workout the way you want them to,
    then God becomes your fetching boy exisiting to grant your every wish. If you want a clinic in this subject please read the Book of Job. If I’m wrong, I have nothing to lose. If you are wrong, you will lose everything. God loves you!!!!

  • 100. LeoPardus  |  October 24, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Rc:

    There is a HUGE problem with your answer. Read you bible and you’ll see what it is.

  • 101. Anonymous  |  April 8, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Believing in Jesus Christ is not meant to be an easy thing to do, and for many it is something that will not be accomplished. The reason it is extremely difficult, especially today during this time frame, is for many reasons… whether it be the lack of tangible evidence or proof, the lack of the sense of a “connection”, or even the confusion of other dominant religions, or unanswered prayers, there are many stumbling blocks towards accepting the lord jesus christ as your saviour and allowing your heart to simply trust in the truth. I personally believe that I am growing closer and closer to Jesus Christ, but have no idea how it is happening or why…I haven’t felt any miraculous change or performed any miracles…I haven'[t had any huge prayer answered or any voice boom down to speak with me…but what I have found and have is different and still very real… tired of batteling the confusion, and tired of searching for proof i just decided that Jesus was real and I was going to simply believe and trust without any expectations…and instead of trying to see what he could do for me…ive spent my time learning what he already did for all of us…and now want nothing more than to just give back to each and everyone thru love….Proverbs 9 says “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord.” Well I feel like waiting and finding are important because thats what I experienced and am still experiencing…I am always waiting…but I am also always finding through patience and trust more and more of who I really am and who Jesus really is. Why would he die for our sins if he despised us as sinners?? He loved us and asked God for our forgiveness as our ancestors crucified him….. I guess all Im saying is that I know I will probably just be considered some “non-intelligent” believer…but I feel more in my heart and soul now than I ever have….I think that I am actually more alive…..because my heart sores with joy at times…and then at other times…it breaks so much with compassion for others at what they are going thru regardless of who they are or what they believe…and I think Jesus may have loved us all like that…Im sure some non-believers may joke that I am “crazy” or bipolar…but I promise there is something very real and very true ….but u have to find it and wait ….but more importantly you have to let go of all of your doubts and open your hearts no matter how hard it is or how stupid you feel…and keep renewing your mind and your heart…and he will come to you…and although it might not be how you wanted it or expected it…you will know in your soul…but believe that it is not easy and even after you know and are enlightened you can still get lost because the minute you stop seeking and as your days get filled with everything else… that connection becomes weaker again…and thats because you aren’t giving it what it needs to grow and strengthen….read the scriptures…find out how God feels about how we act…discipline yourself to read his word…every single day for hours at a time if possible…

    “They say to wood, “You are my father, and to stone, “You gave me birth. They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, Come and save us! Where then are the gods that you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! For you have as many Gods as you have towns” Jeremiah 27-29.

    I fear this is why so many people out there have so many unanswered prayers…including myself…because we hold everything else as more important …we spend more time adhereing to our own selfish desires…and saying aww there’s no god…or maybe attending a church service on sundays….then crying out he must not be real…when we don’t get our prayers answers…start making him priority every single day…give him the most of your time…(hard and serious I know) …don’t just forsake him and only call on him when you need or want something…he created us to worship him…and to love him…you start doing that because it is what you were made to do…you will start to feel things changing for urselves!! Jesus loves us….he is waiting for us to find him…I have …will you?!

  • 102. Anonymous  |  April 8, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    “False teachers are popular with the world, because like the false prophets of the Old Testaments, They tell people what they want to hear. John warns that Christians who faithfully teach God’s word will not win any popularity contests in the world. People don’t want to hear their sins denounced. They don’t want to listen to demands that they change their behaviour. A false teacher is usually well received by non-christians”

  • 103. Anonymous  |  April 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    You want answers…. well “John says, “God is Love,” not “Love is God.” Our world, with its shallow and selfish view of TRUE LOVE, has turned these words around and contaminated our understanding of LOVE. The world thinks that love is what makes a person feel good and that it is all right to sacrifice moral principles and others’ rights in order to obtain such “LOVE”. BUT…that isn’t REAL LOVE; it is exactly the opposite…SELFISHNESS. And God is not that kind of love. Real love is like God, who is holy, just, and perfect. For if we truly know God, we will love as he does. Jesus is God’s only Son. While all believers are sons and daughters of God, only Jesus lives in this special unique relationship.””Love explains why God creates….because he loves, and he creates us to love; why God cares…because he loves them and he cares for sinful people ((why do you buy a puppy? because you love…and when it pees all over your stuff even though you grow angry and discipline it do you not still love it??) ((Just because your puppy can’t speak to you and tell you how it feels…dont you have a connection?? )) Why are we free to choose without being able to see GOD….because God wants a loving response from us…and we are all capable as to do this and to feel a connection through our love to him…. why did Christ die?? God’s love for us caused him to seek a solution to the problem of us choosing to sin (( We constantly seek solutions to help our loved ones…nicoret for those addicted to nicotene…..therapy, our time, gifts, etc) Why do we recieve eternal life through believing….because thats how god’s love expresses itself to us forever….(if you could express your love to your children forever would you not?!?!) ( and remember God loved us too much to just send us to hell because we are sinners…thats why we are forgiven…through acceptance and repentance…. but its what he sees in your heart that determines if you’ve truly accepted and truly repented!)

  • 104. Anonymous  |  April 8, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Most of the above was taken from the Life Application Bible…New International Versions

  • 105. BigHouse  |  April 8, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Most of the above was taken from the Life Application Bible…New International Versions

    Fantastic. Now demonstrate that the book is actually from god without using the book itself and we may have something to further discuss.

  • 106. Anonymous  |  April 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    pj11 You had some really annointed answers to some very difficult questions…it was really awesome to read!! I am sure that it sometimes feel exhausting to banter but just remember that you can’t save everyone…and don’t allow their views to change your own!! You are right!! Be at peace knowing that!!!

    Matthew 7:21-23
    Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

    Proverbs 3:5-7
    5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
    6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
    7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

    —I see alot ALOT of “leaning on your own understanding” going on in here!!!! hmm this must be why its a bad idea …look at all the confusion…and look how quickly you are lead astray!

    “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19 NKJV)” ( Satan loves confusion and even more he truly loves when someone stops believing!)

    “The god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor 4:4, NIV)”

  • 107. Anonymous  |  April 8, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    “The god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Cor 4:4, NIV)”

  • 108. Ubi Dubium  |  April 8, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Mr. Anonymous, go read the posts linked by the BIG RED EXCLAMATION POINT at the right hand side of this page. Please do not post again until you have done this. This is our “church” and you walked in here spouting your delusions. You would not take it kindly if we walked into your church and began proclaiming that everything that everybody there thought was wrong.

    Then kindly buzz off if you have nothing to offer but preaching. We’ve heard it all before and it is not welcome here.

  • 109. Anonymous  |  April 8, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love. (1 John 4: 7-9) . Even if you arn’t sure what you believe….if you love…than I believe that you know God.!!! whether in our little minds it makes since or not..i think its that simplistic and easy! How wonderful!!! The devil just wants us to complicate it all and jumble it all up…but believing in God is as simple as feeling and believing in Love because they are the same spirit!! YAY

  • 110. Anonymous  |  April 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    I am sooo sorry! I hadnt read that and I wont come back! Please forgive me for intruding …I honestly thought this was an open deliberation for everyone to put input!

  • 111. Anonymous  |  April 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    I am truly truly sorry…I thought this was for everyone and simply people deliberating and offering input…I won’t intrude again please forgive me…I didn’t mean to intrude at all!

  • 112. Anonymous  |  June 24, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    just because you cant see it wont make it not real. if we cant see any hope of it getting better, doesnt mean that there is no hope, or that it wont get better

  • 113. Jeffy  |  January 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Wow I am sad that so many have given up, and I have no answer to why Jesus did not make Himself real to you…He did to me and so now I actually get more upset at God then anyone of you ever did or before you stopped believing…because NOW I know that I know He is real

    See Jesus made it very clear to me with my own physical eyes to know He is real….

    So for me I can’t have your ability not to believe…it would be like one of you to deny that you yourself exist..

    I still get mad at Jesus I don’t understand why I have to suffer so much…

    But the bible does make it clear this world and the small amount of time our lives are and the suffering we experience….is not even worthy to be compared to what is ahead for us ..

    Some of you need to grow up and stop asking for ponies and ask for wisdom, ask for mercy, ask for Jesus to take over and realize Jesus bought you, paid in full He owns you ..your body and soul.

  • 114. cag  |  January 15, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Jeffy #113, so why is it that you are so special? Why doesn’t your imaginary saviour appear to me? Surely it would be a much greater coup for jesus to “save” a fallen rather than a believer? I guess that your jesus is too busy ignoring the starving children, the cancer victims, earthquake and tsunami victims and all the others who die violently to bother about me, but of course your jesus had time for you.

    Totally and utterly unconvincing. The bible makes it clear that it was written by ignorant but imaginative (depraved) humans. The universe does not work as described in the bible. Spend more time studying how things work and less time reading your bible.

    You may want to click on this list of biblical contradictions to understand why some people reject the fiction commonly called the bible.

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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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