Hearing the Voice of God

August 19, 2008 at 1:10 am 91 comments

In my blog surfing earlier today, I came across a blog by Jenni Catron on the subject of having children. In the blog she states:

The simple answer is that we haven’t had the desire to have kids …

And that is a great reason not to have children. However, she qualified her comment with this statement:

… we don’t want to have children unless we feel confident that that is a role that God has designed us for …

In other words, Jenni would go against her desire not to have children if she somehow felt that an invisible diety in heaven wanted her to have children.

I have to admit that the belief that there is god who has a plan for my life has quickly become a concept that I find alien. To add to this, how does one know this plan? I remember being convinced I could hear the “voice of God.” Looking back, I can’t find any evidence that I could. Was it the still small voice in my head? Well, that “still small voice” has told me some pretty wierd things. Was it the close my eye, open my Bible, and point to a verse methodology (don’t laugh, you know you’ve done this too)? Well, it worked about 20% of the time for me and the rest were just strange (especially if I opened to Judges). Was it just a knowing on the inside? As a teenager, I “knew” that every pretty girl who crossed my path was going to be the “one.” Was it listening to what Benny Hinn or some other “man or woman of God” told me was God’s word for me? Well, I’d be broke right now if I followed that principle. Was it simply that God would change my desire? Well, looking back, I can safely say that I desired some things that would have been very detrimental to my life.

Personally, I liked Gideon’s approach to this answer:

Judges 6:38-40 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised–look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew–a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

Hell, I think I’d believe the first time. However, the concept of “putting out a fleece” is no longer a valid way to hear from God. I wonder why? It would make life so much simpler for so many believers and would help them avoid so many tragic mistakes – like having children when they do not want any.

Also, there are so many stories about God giving audible and visual direction to individuals in the Bible. Why did he quit? If he’d continued this practice, this would be a clear cut case for so many. Of course, we would still have the challenge of distinguishing whether or not the voice or vision was as a result of a mental illness (like the character in the movie “A Beautiful Mind“) or some universal cosmic connection.

In light of all this uncertainity, my advise to Jenni is this. While I understand your point of view (because I held to it very strongly for decades), please simply stick with your desire. Do not have kids just because you feel that a supernatural being you’ve never seen wants you to have them. Unless of course, your desire changes.

- The de-Convert

Entry filed under: The de-Convert. Tags: , , , .

The ties that bind: Factors that make de-conversion difficult Religulous – Bill Maher

91 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dan H  |  August 19, 2008 at 8:06 am

    First up, let me state my belief position: I think God probably doesn’t exist.

    But whether that’s the case or not, I think humans can meaningfully attempt to “discern the will of God” (which to me means “make decisions that would be agreeable to a theoretical being personifying, among other things, humility and compassion” *) in ways such as:

    1. Listening to the still small voice / knowing inside – these are the same, I think. If you consider prayer to just be a form of meditation, then by honestly declaring your desires, in a spirit of humility and compassion, you may well get a feeling of a decision that is consistent with that spirit.

    2. Reading about the teachings of Jesus, and (with very careful filtering, if you have the time and energy to do the background research) some of the Israelite people, can help you build a general picture of what the hypothetical “will of God” might be.

    I would think that through this kind of practice, Jenni wouldn’t find “God” telling her to do anything that she, by a decent margin, really wanted in her heart to do.

    Also I guess the opinions of a “man or woman of God” are worthy of consideration, if you feel that the person has themselves honestly and sensibly wrestled with trying to discern the will of God.

    Like most things in life, I don’t thing there are any really easy answers – single Bible verses, soundbites from leaders, and alleged miraculous signs are just crutches. But if we reflect on our decisions honestly and humbly, then we may find the answers aren’t all that hard after all. “KISS” applies.

    ————
    * Yeah, I know. That’s a whole other discussion.

  • 2. finallyhappy  |  August 19, 2008 at 10:28 am

    When I think back of all the times I “heard the voice of God” tell me things, (like move to Arkansas) I often wonder where my life would be today without all those little detours. Granted, some were good experiences, but as a whole, I spent a huge chunk of my younger years going places I didn’t really want to go, doing things I really had no desire to do and spending time with people I really didn’t like. All in the name of becoming more spiritual. What rubbish.

  • 3. LeoPardus  |  August 19, 2008 at 10:39 am

    we don’t want to have children unless we feel confident that that is a role that God has designed us for

    Has Jenni been asleep in church all along, and failed to read her Bible. Last I knew, the Bible says humans are designed to have children, and the church sure teaches that.

    Oh well. That’s the kind of nonsense you get when everyone is making up their own invisible friend as they go along.

  • 4. indra  |  August 19, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I know You can read word of God here (in Quran).

  • 5. LeoPardus  |  August 19, 2008 at 11:12 am

    indra:

    Gee thanks. More writings from primitive nomads and herders, with no understanding of the world around them.

    Why can’t some “god” speak to a thinker instead of a caveman?

  • 6. Digital Dame  |  August 19, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Maybe there’s something in the water over there that causes hallucinations. Ever heard of the Jerusalem Messiah Syndrome? Apparently scores of tourists every year become convinced they are the messiah, or John the Baptist, or the Virgin Mary. Just Google it, you’ll get lots of hits. One blog even said the Jerusalem police have a special unit to deal with it. Even NPR had a story on it.

  • 7. tana  |  August 19, 2008 at 11:37 am

    At the risk of being labeled mentally unstable, I have to say that God does still speak audibly to people today. He didn’t quit doing that. He has also continued giving visual direction to people. I know this because it’s happened to me and I know others who have had audible and visual experiences as well.

    I guess I would caution people: just because *you* haven’t personally experienced it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

  • 8. The de-Convert  |  August 19, 2008 at 11:46 am

    tana,

    I came out of the pentecostal/charismatic movement and am yet to hear an account of an audible voice of God that I believe is credible (guess I read one too many Hagin books). However, I am open to the possibility. Just curious as to what the voice said to you (if you can share)? How did you determine it was God and by God I’m assuming you mean either Elohim/Yahweh or Jesus?

    Paul

  • 9. john t.  |  August 19, 2008 at 11:57 am

    The de-Convert

    Its obvious that its not possible to prove a God per se, yet there still is the possibility someone could be connected to something the average individual is not. Science is continually learning about energy and other forces. Maybe she just tapped into an energy or force. I know someone who does that sporadically but not by hearing voices but gets mental images. They are pretty accurate when they come but she cant control when they come. Its strange, yet in this instance very believable.

  • 10. Digital Dame  |  August 19, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    I wonder if these same people who claim to speak to God completely dismiss psychic phenomena, and psychics who claim to communicate with spirits? Not arguing for psychics here (Sylvia Browne and John Edwards make me want to throw things), just curious why some supernatural phenomena are accepted, while other forms are not?

    @john t.: would you call your friend a psychic? or does she only seem to get religious messages from god?

  • 11. john t.  |  August 19, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Digital Dame

    She cant stand the word psychic and when someone mentioned Prophetic we laughed. The messages sure arent from God lol. I would say shes psychic from what I understand the word to mean. It definately is weird, yet again, I have seen the accuracy.

  • 12. The de-Convert  |  August 19, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    John T.

    Its obvious that its not possible to prove a God per se, yet there still is the possibility someone could be connected to something the average individual is not. Science is continually learning about energy and other forces.

    I agree. This is why I’m open to this subject. After de-converting and getting rid of the “demonic” belief about psychics, etc., I have to admit that there is something there (however, hard to define).

    My post addressed the Christians view that it’s the tribal/warrior god of the Isrealites or the god-man, Jesus, but there’s really no way to prove that. In fact, it’s highly unlikely.

    However, I definitely have wonder, what this connection to the universe/spiritual/etc. is.

    Paul

  • 13. LeoPardus  |  August 19, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    john t:

    How can you or your friend tell that what she experiences is not just something like the mental delusions that John Nash had?

    I note you say “pretty accurate”, so what is she seeing?

    As you might guess, I’m very skeptical about such things. I’ve heard a squillion claims. Of course it would be hard for your friend to “prove” anything since she can’t control them.

  • 14. john t.  |  August 19, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Paul

    “However, I definitely have wonder, what this connection to the universe/spiritual/etc. is.”

    I too have that wonder. I feel the biggest problem with religion or lets say spirituality is that when someone has some kind of connection they feel the need to quantify it and make it absolute. I think the mystery of it doesnt permit this view. That is why there is so many freaking forms of every faith lol. They all think because someone caught a glimpse that they now have the picture. ;)

  • 15. john t.  |  August 19, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Leo

    She gets images of people who she hasnt met or has no direct information of them. In the line of work that she is in, it can sometimes be very beneficial. The people she deals with often verify her images, though they dont know directly how she gets the information. Its hard to explain, or believe for that matter. All I know is many times she is bang on. By the way Leo, theres no way to prove it after the fact and because its not reproducible I file it away as one of those mysteries of Life. It does have some benefits though.

  • 16. Shannon Lewis  |  August 19, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Though I’m not without my doubts at times, I’ve had some ‘hearing from God’ moments that seem – at least to me – pretty hard to deny.

    In college, one of my friends, a generally all-around bad fellow before he came to Christ, told me that he could sometimes see demons – what he called a very STRONG gift of discernment. On numerous occasions he’d tell me to stop and he’d point to someplace across the street and say, “I see darkness there – something VERY bad is about to happen”, and within minutes a fight would break-out in the exact location he pointed to. Though I never personally experienced such a gift, he was almost always DEAD on, and it happened OFTEN. I’ve talked to him recently, and he claims this gift is still with him to this day.

    More than one time in college I heard what I believe was God’s ‘voice’ – not an audible voice, but an overwhelming impression that an idea from outside myself was ringing in my mind. Once, I awoke at 3 in the morning ‘knowing’ that I needed to go to a friend’s apartment, which was almost a mile away. That wouldn’t be so bad, but it was below zero outside, and there was almost a foot of snow on the ground, and I had no car! I went back to sleep, but only for a moment – the idea was still there, and it distressed me severely. I laid in bed for a while and argued with myself, finally giving up, throwing on some boots, a t-shirt, and a thick trench coat (I looked like a flasher, I’m sure), and trudged through the snow to my friend’s apartment. Surprisingly, the lights were still on. As I approached the door, normally locked tight, I noticed it was propped open, so I walked right on in. As I entered the hallway, another friend (one who didn’t live there) busted through a door and nearly knocked me over – his face was red, and his eyes teary. He said, “Thank God! I was praying someone would come!” Turns out several college leaders of the various local ministries were having a HUGE argument – the sort that ends fellowship, and I was the only person that didn’t take a side on their ‘debate’, yet knew all three, and so I became their mediator for the evening. On another occasion, while just passing time between classes, I ‘heard’ that same voice – it simply said “Turn here.” ‘Here’ was a rather nasty, and somewhat dark and creepy, alley between two buildings. But, seeing that I could think of no reason that I would WANT to go down that alley, had no classes, and no place I needed to be, I did it. An acquaintance of mine was behind a dumpster down that alley about to slash his wrists. God used me to stop a suicide and share the gospel with this very friendly Goth guy. Another college experience is when God ‘told’ me who the ‘love of my life’ was going to marry, and I introduced the two (which seemed almost totally out of my control) – it was my first hard lesson about God’s sovereignty – they were married within a year. I only had a few similar experiences while in Athens, GA, but when the ‘voice’ did come I usually attempted to act on it, in a way that was as unobtrusive as possible. For instance, the ‘voice’ usually came while talking to non-believers, and I’d incorporate whatever it told me into the conversation, which usually stopped them in their tracks. I’d be discussing something and say, “So, how was it growing up Presbyterian” or “When did your father leave you”, and it would change the dynamics of the entire conversation because they’d given me no hint whatsoever of those truths.

    Since moving to the deep South; One of my friends seemed down one evening, so I asked him what was on his mind. His uncle was in the hospital dying – had been given less that 3 hours to live – and was too far away for him to visit. I just suggested we pray, we prayed, and in a miraculous turn-around that astounded the doctors, he went home healthy and well 2 days later (those 2 days mainly for observation because they were so befuddled by the turn-around. Last I heard, he’s still alive and well.

    More recently, just about a year ago my wife and I went to a conference in Jacksonville. The last day there, while she was getting a few piano tips from a respected musician, I looked over at a young teenager (no older than 15, I’d guess) and a few VERY SPECIFIC phrases popped into my mind. I’d never really seen this girl before, and didn’t know her from eve, and sure as heck wasn’t going to walk up to her and say such things. I prayed over those words for about 15 minutes, then pulled out my journal and wrote them down. Tearing the page from my journal, I folded it and laid it on the (VERY LARGE) stage about 20 feet from the girl (who was looking the other way) and simple prayed “God, if these words are for someone in this room, you are able to lead that person to read them.” I left the room and went to another training session in the other end of the church (and this church is HUGE – it has it’s own TV show and such). An hour or so later as my wife and I were leaving the church that young woman shouted out “Sir” – she had clearly been crying. She asked me if I had written the words that were on the stage, and I nodded – she then asked if they were for her, and I said, “I thought they might be, but just asked that God would lead you to them if they were“, and she said, “They were exactly what I need to hear.”

    I’m not some raging ‘Pentecostal’ looking for a miracle under every coincidence – in fact, I’m well read in quantum physics theory, biology, and the philosophy of science, and worked for 4 years at a science research library – meaning I lean towards skepticism in each individual case, and I also note: life is not one big series of miracles (at least, not if understood according to their usual definition – whether or not that understanding of things is correct is certainly up for grabs). But, of course, it wasn’t in the Bible either – it’s just that, like what I wrote above (not mentioning how many days passed between each occurrence, and the ‘normal’ events that took place in them), the Bible mainly engages the more miraculous events – the more profound aspects of God’s revelation in history.

    That said, the forementioned events are only the tip of the ice-berg for me, as far as miracles (& hearing from God) go, so I would personally beg to differ.

  • 17. heatlight  |  August 19, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Another example or two:

    From the church I attended in Athens, GA, for many years I became friends with an older Reformed Presbyterian missionary who had founded multiple seminaries, and published a few books, and ‘hung-out’ with friends like J. I. Packer and John R.W. Stott. That is just to say that he’s not only ‘Presbyterian’, he wrote the book on it (well – one of them: an almost 3, 000 page official history of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the USA) – this guy was a full-on cessationist: i.e. – he believed that all of the spiritual gifts (including miracles) ended with the apostles and were for the sole purpose to giving credence to, and evidence for, the truth of the Gospel which led to the authoring of the Scriptures – he believed, in essence, that we no longer need miracles because we have God’s written Word in it’s entirety. As much as I respect him, we disagree on this.

    Anyway, on one of his missionary journey’s about 4 years ago he traveled to an African tribe who had NEVER heard (there are still many worldwide): in fact, after he could travel no further by car, then had to walk for a day to reach these folks. As soon as they showed up – these ‘white folks’, it began to sprinkle. They were mobbed by the tribe – not violently – but it seemed very strange to these tribes-people that this very strange looking man showed up (they hadn’t seen hardly any Caucasians), and – according to my friend’s interpreter – they’d been in a very serious, multi-year drought – making it even stranger that it began to sprinkle. In the drizzle, he set up his small portable sound system to hold a ‘meeting’ with the tribe…of course the tribe gathered around him, chattering among themselves loudly. When he was ready to begin preaching and teaching the gospel, he grabbed his microphone and said, to his OWN surprise, “God will stop the rain until I am finished speaking, then your drought with be over, and it will rain like you’ve never seen.” I say, ‘to his OWN surprise’ because he had NO IDEA why he had said it, or where the words had come from, and felt quite embarrassed and even worried after saying it – he didn’t believe those sorts of things happened now-a-days. So, he began to preach, and the sprinkling rain immediately ceased – and the tribe was so in awe that they sat and listened for hours. At the end of his teaching time, he bowed his head and prayed, and as soon as he closed, and his interpreter spoke allowed his “amen” the skies just fell – it rained like no rain they, or he, had ever seen! Nearly the whole tribe converted, and he’s been involved in pastoral training there yearly – usually for about a month at a time – since. He’s changed his mind a bit regarding modern day miracles. Yes, I received this first hand from his very mouth – and he was quite humbled by this entire experience, and it had left a clear mark on his life. He was a different person as a result – formerly an academic, and now a man of DEEP passion.

    Another story: this one of the twin sister of an old friend, both of whom I am still friends with… She went to Covenant College, which is atop Look-out Mountain in Tennessee, just outside Chattanooga, for any who might not be familiar with the place. This particular day it was raining very hard. If you’ve ever been to visit Covenant college you know that there are far too few guardrails along the route, and far too many steep falls, and the road basically winds it’s way uphill, zigzagging over itself on it’s way upward towards the school. As she was driving home and making her way around one of the many curves she was faced with a car speeding towards her in the wrong lane, and with a prayer and thoughts of her family, she shot off the edge of the cliff anticipating death. Next, not knowing how much time had passed, she awoke suspended upside down, held into her car by her seatbelt. Unbuckling her seatbelt, she fell to the road. Her car was suspended on a large rock at least 10 feet above the road, but as if that wasn’t strange enough, things also just didn’t look quite right. It all became very clear, or all the more confusing, depending on how you look at it, when the cops got there. Now, my friend was hoping to do missionary work in a foreign country later that year, but her parents were afraid of letting her go – they weren’t sure if they could trust God with their daughter’s life, and little did she know, but they had been praying about their decision, whether or not to let her go, the night before. Now, the part I left out before when I was telling the story was the reason she was so confused. You see – there was no road above her from her to have fallen from where she was standing – in fact, judging by the tire-marks on the road, she was standing on the very patch of road she had fallen from; her car had fallen from the right side of the road, up ten feet, and landed on the left side of that same road she had fallen from. The police officer in charge of writing the report, who was an atheist, was chain smoking and yelling at her because he was so frazzled as to what to write; “What am I supposed to write – that a bunch of angels lifted your car to safety and set you on the other side of the road?!!” Afterwards, they pulled her car from the cliff, and towed it to a garage to estimate the damages. Meanwhile her parents had decided, after seeing how God had protected their daughter in what would have definitely otherwise been a fatal accident, that they could indeed trust God with their daughter in a foreign country, in spite of their fears. Unfortunately, if the car needed repairs, money would be very short – she might still not be able to go. The next day they received a phone call from a rather confused mechanic asking them to come to the garage ASAP. Apart from a few small scratches, and one loose wire, her car was unscathed – in perfect running order. While viewing this, it became simply too much for the police officer to bear, and he broke down in tears and prayed and gave his life to Christ. So, in one event God 1.) glorified Himself, 2.) saved one of his children from death, 3.) gave faith to her parents to stand behind her missionary work, 4.) enabled a missionary to spread the gospel with PASSION, 5.) and saved/converted a non-believer. That was a pretty radical event, and I’ve not only seen photo’s the accident site, but know those involved, and was even on the phone with them in the midst of this event.

  • 18. Prodigal Daughter  |  August 19, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    There have been many times in my past that I threw out a fleece, and nothing ever happened. I begged God to speak to me in some way. I thought I heard him a few times but looking back….it was my own thoughts overwhelming me at special moments (holding my infant son, for example).

    As for discernment, I also have a very strong discernment but have never attributed it to God because its been with me since I was a child. Like the story above (which is really long, I didn’t read past the part where the girl found the piece of paper 20 feet from her) – that can easily be explained, I have had numerous experiences similar to that where I felt like I had words of wisdom or comfort to share with a stranger.

    Upon meeting strangers I can often sense what they are going through in their life – a divorce, a loss of some sort, usually something sad. Also, I have had visions of several incidents either at the same time they were occurring or right before they occurred. I have “known” someone was pregnant long before they did. I have predicted earthquakes because I just “know” one is coming. I have a lifetime of examples of this before, during and after considering myself a “Christian”.

    To me, its not big deal. Its just how I am. I have a strong sixth sense or whatever you want to call it.

    As for having a baby because God wants you to – but you have no desire. PLEASE DON”T DO THAT! Being a parent is difficult enough without adding an element of resentment for having one when you really didn’t want to.

  • 19. The de-Convert  |  August 19, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Shannon/heatlight,

    Thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us. These would make great blog entries for your personal blogs.

    Just for the record, I’ve had many similar experiences (that caused me to really believe I had a special connection to “God” ) but I also had many false alarms that were indistinguishable from the ones that panned out. Also, they were very random and as Prodigal Daughter pointed out, the times I really wanted some “revelation” there was nothing.

    In addition, people from all faiths, spiritualists, etc. have similar stories. What makes the Christian’s experiences “God” and the other’s not? These questions have no easy answers.

  • 20. Echo  |  August 19, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Shannon/Heatlight—-

    Thanks for sharing those things. Usually it is people who believe in God who see answered prayers. I’m having a hard time with the concept of coming to God in an unbelieving mode and saying “Prove to me you exist or I’m not going to believe”—of course you’re not going to see answered prayers if you approach God in unbelief, expecting him to reveal himself to you!

    “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him”. (Heb. 11:6)

    That verse seems to make it pretty clear. If you come to God as a believer and say “I don’t believe in you any more. Prove to me you exist”–you are approaching in a prayer that will NEVER be answered. You must believe he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

    I do believe that God does speak to people—-in fact, I think he does it all the time. I have never audibly heard a voice—but I have had very strong impressions, and different things happen in my life that strongly prove to me that God had his hand in the event. Thanks again for sharing.

  • 21. camoandpearls  |  August 19, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    The simple answer is that we haven’t had the desire to have kids …we don’t want to have children unless we feel confident that that is a role that God has designed us for …

    I think that if they felt confident that the Lord’s calling for them was to become parents, that would become there desire. Recognizing a calling such as that is powerful – and empowering. If the Lord calls you to something, he will provide the strength for you to succeed. period. [Philippians 4:19]

  • 22. rezband1  |  August 19, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Where is God?? According to scripture He is with the least of these.
    Spend some time with some orphans or widows and homeless and those shattered by despair…. Tell me you do not hear God after being with those dying of aids….be with these people for a while and volunteer your time. Tell me in a year you have not heard God then.

  • 23. The de-Convert  |  August 19, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    rb1,

    Great site you have there. I grew up listening to all that music (and still do really).

    I’ve always found it interesting that some people see God in suffering while others see that as a reason to doubt that God exists. I tend to fall into the latter category. I see humanity in suffering and in our attempts to make a positive influence on the less fortunate. I would see God there if suffering was eliminated.

    Paul

  • 24. ubi dubium  |  August 19, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Echo

    You must believe he exists, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

    See, there’s the problem. If you are sure god exists then you can see what you want to see. Any hunch you have that proves right you can credit to god, and any hunch that turns out to be wrong you can just disregard.

    Many of the people on this website spent a lot of time praying: “I really want to continue to believe in you. Please give me something, anything, so I can” They diligently sought. But all they got was silence. The same answer they would get if there was no god there in the first place.

  • 25. rezband1  |  August 19, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Sorry I meant “Hear God” Not “Here”

  • 26. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 19, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Echo-

    I’m having a hard time with the concept of coming to God in an unbelieving mode and saying “Prove to me you exist or I’m not going to believe”—of course you’re not going to see answered prayers if you approach God in unbelief, expecting him to reveal himself to you!

    I’m wondering where you got that idea from? Surely not from this blog. It seems to me that most of the final prayers from the people here were along the lines of asking God to prevent them from ending in unbelief, while they still believed. Myself included, certainly.

    My last prayer:
    Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief. (Mark 9:24)

  • 27. The de-Convert  |  August 19, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    rb1,

    Fixed it.

    Off topic but I’m assuming you’re associated with Rez Band (my favorite band growing up). I still have a great memory of purchasing Colours and listening to it for the first time. “The Struggle” was one of my all time favorite songs that really helped me keep the faith during my teenage years.

    I still have every Rez album/cassette/CD in my collection. Still trying to find Live Bootleg on CD though :)

    Paul

  • 28. Echo  |  August 19, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Snuggly—

    Jesus said to him, ” ‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

    Note that the man says “I DO BELIEVE, help thou mine unbelief!” This is far different than saying “I DON’T BELIEVE, help thou mine unbelief!” The very fact the man brought
    his child to Jesus shows he had faith. The man wanted his son to be healed so badly, that in effect he was saying “Give me whatever it takes Lord so my son can be healed!”

    This is vastly different than saying “I cannot believe any more, help mine unbelief—give me a sign you exist!!” God will just say “Go to my Word”. Why “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”. If you don’t believe his Word, or won’t go to it for more faith, how do you expect God to honor your prayer?

    By the way, if you do not want to continue the discussion ( I am just responding to your last post) I will not continue in the same vein. This subject interests me immensely though as you can probably tell. :)

  • 29. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 19, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    You presume to know the state of my belief when I said that prayer? You are making a pretty big (and incorrect) assumption that I was already in a state of unbelief at that point.

  • 30. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 19, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    This is vastly different than saying “I cannot believe any more, help mine unbelief—give me a sign you exist!!” God will just say “Go to my Word”. Why “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”. If you don’t believe his Word, or won’t go to it for more faith, how do you expect God to honor your prayer?

    Echo, you also seem to have a terrible habit of putting words in my mouth. Where did I ever indicate that I asked God for a sign?

    And I did go to the Word of God when I first encountered doubt. And the first thing that struck me when I did was a contradiction. And the more I studied it, the more reason I found to doubt. Yet even when I found that I had trouble with the Bible I still believed and prayed.

    It was by doing exactly what you are telling me to do that I finally apostatized.

  • 31. LeoPardus  |  August 19, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Echo:

    So you gotta believe first eh? Then you have the trouble of explaining the Bible with it’s accounts of miracles happening for unbelievers. Saul of Tarsus; all the people standing around on Pentecost. (Now maybe you’ll insist that they weren’t asking…)

    Then you have to deal with the lack of miracles or anything else for those who do believe. Not at all like what you read in the Bible. (Now maybe you’ll tell me that those happened rarely in the Bible.)

  • 32. Echo  |  August 19, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Snuggly—

    Don’t mean to put words into your mouth. You personally may not have asked for a “sign”, but several others on the board have. They are waiting for some miracle to “prove” the existence of God. They are looking for a “sign”. One of the biggest reasons given for starting on the path of deconversion is “unanswered prayer”.

    “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts”. (James 4:3).

    As you may recall when Jesus was tempted, the tempter asked him three times “IF you are the Son of God….” It was basically a challenge–“IF you are the Son of God turn these stones into bread”—in other words “show me a miracle”. We can come pretty close to doing the same thing. If we are begging God to prove he is real because we “feel” we are losing our faith, we are asking amiss. We are forgetting the main tenet of Christian faith—– First comes faith, then feeling. We are reversing it and saying “My perception comes first, then faith”.

    And when we do that our prayers will NEVER be answered. We are asking God to do as WE ask, rather than submitting in faith and doing as HE asks.

  • 33. Echo  |  August 19, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    And when we are in the will of God we will ask for things according to his will. We will literally be asking for ourselves what he wants for us. And then the verse can be fulfilled “If you ask anything according to my will I will do it”.

  • 34. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 19, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    We are asking God to do as WE ask, rather than submitting in faith and doing as HE asks.

    Might I point you to Gideon, asking God for signs before submitting to God’s plan. I really don’t see how a Christian who is losing faith asking God for a sign is any different from this.

  • 35. Bobbi Jo  |  August 19, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    I have a friend who is pregnant right now who did not want to be pregnant, ever. But through the course of her pregnancy, her desires have been changing and she is finally beginning to look foward to mommyhood. So desires can change. Whether God did that ( I believe He did) or she’s just getting used to being pregnant, it’s your call.

    However, I myself was told I couldn’t get pregnant and had a daughter (after a year of trying). Then my 2nd daughter was born after 2 months of trying (after which I was told definately no more-there were reasons the docs thought this, but I would rather not go into that). Now it’s been 3 months of trying, and we shall see what happens. Although I haven’t had a “visitor” in 2 months. But logically, there is no sign (tests are neg, I don’t have that feeling, not naucious, ect). So is this God’s plan or did I just get lucky despite other factors that are going on?

  • 36. finallyhappy  |  August 19, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    It is a quick and easy answer to assume that someone who has deconverted did not, with all that is within them, believe, listen, pray, stay in the word, fast and sincerely seek God. I spent 4 years doing those very things. During that time, I was as sincere in my faith as I had ever been in my life, but in time, I began to wake up to the reality around me–there was going to be no answer. So, I picked up and moved on with me life. Best decision yet.

  • 37. ordover  |  August 19, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    I have a friend who is pregnant right now who did not want to be pregnant, ever. But through the course of her pregnancy, her desires have been changing and she is finally beginning to look foward to mommyhood. So desires can change. Whether God did that ( I believe He did) or she’s just getting used to being pregnant, it’s your call.

    You should know with pregnancy there are huge hormonal changes. We’re programmed via hormones to love our children. A woman who wasn’t excited to be pregnant, but then grew excited as the pregnancy progressed and found herself feeling love toward her child can be perfectly explained without invoking the will of a deity.

    However, I myself was told I couldn’t get pregnant and had a daughter (after a year of trying). Then my 2nd daughter was born after 2 months of trying (after which I was told definately no more-there were reasons the docs thought this, but I would rather not go into that). Now it’s been 3 months of trying, and we shall see what happens. Although I haven’t had a “visitor” in 2 months. But logically, there is no sign (tests are neg, I don’t have that feeling, not naucious, ect). So is this God’s plan or did I just get lucky despite other factors that are going on?

    What would you say if an atheist couple had the same exact story? Several couples every year of all sorts of religions and beliefs have difficulty conceiving, and the suddenly find they are pregnant. Is every single case divine intervention, even for those who didn’t pray and didn’t believe?

    I’m not trying to be mean, but both of those examples have perfectly rational naturalistic explanations. Evoking the name of god for every single tiny positive thing that happens in your life is something Christianity programs into believers. Just try to think for a second: what if it wasn’t god?

  • 38. Echo  |  August 19, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Might I point you to Gideon, asking God for signs before submitting to God’s plan. I really don’t see how a Christian who is losing faith asking God for a sign is any different from this.

    Good point. I would say that Gideon is very much the exception, rather than the rule though if you read the Bible. Yes, God “allowed” Gideon to ask for a sign and actually answered him–but that doesn’t make Gideon’s “fleece” an example we want to follow. Many great men of faith in the Bible never asked for a “fleece”(so to speak). But I really do see your point. Check out this site:

    http://www.growingchristians.org/dfgc/fleeces.htm

  • 39. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 19, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Echo-

    I would say that Gideon is very much the exception, rather than the rule though if you read the Bible.

    Even Thomas, who said he would not believe Christ had risen until he could put his fingers in the wounds, got the sign he asked for. This was after he saw all manner of miracles from Jesus personally.

    I’d say the Bible made it fairly clear that it’s better to believe without asking for a sign; blessed are those who believe but have not seen, and all that. As the link you provided says, “a believer is evidencing an immature faith when he needs signs.”

    I’m fine with all of that. But there are clearly cases where God did provide signs to those who really needed them.

    I can agree that an atheist, wanting to disprove God, should not expect to get the sign they demand from God. I disagree that a Christian, struggling with doubt, should expect God to ignore their desperate pleas to save their faith.

  • 40. Ubi Dubium  |  August 19, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    You should know with pregnancy there are huge hormonal changes. We’re programmed via hormones to love our children. A woman who wasn’t excited to be pregnant, but then grew excited as the pregnancy progressed and found herself feeling love toward her child can be perfectly explained without invoking the will of a deity.

    I’ll vouch for this as well. Before having children, I didn’t have that much attraction to babies. When other women would coo and fuss over a newborn, my reaction was “ok, a baby, nice, no big deal.” Then I had one, and the “Baby!” hormones switched on. I’m amazingly devoted to my kids, and hold other babies at every chance I get. Those mothering instincts are really powerful. Once they switched on, they stayed that way. No god required, just biology.

  • 41. Ken Hitte  |  August 19, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    Ubi, you said, “No god required, just biology.”

    Who put the biology in order? Just curious.

  • 42. The de-Convert  |  August 19, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Ken,

    Assuming your answer is that Elohim/Yahweh/Jesus put biology in order, let me follow up with this question, who put them in order? Was it one of the hindu gods who significantly pre-dated the Elohim/Yahweh traditions?

    See: http://de-conversion.com/2007/05/20/history-of-religion/

    Paul

  • 43. Dan H  |  August 20, 2008 at 3:03 am

    It seems that some people get signs or messages, and others don’t. Some people interpret these as from God, others don’t.

    Often, the unbeliever asks the believer, “Why do you believe?” The answer comes back: “Because the Bible tells me to.” (simplification)

    The unbeliever can’t accept the contradictions in the Bible, so she asks again. This time the believer replies: “Because God’s existence explains the universe.”

    The unbeliever is OK with explaining a God-free universe, so she asks once more, and the answer comes back: “Because I see God working in my life.”

    The unbeliever has no answer to this one: she doesn’t see God working in her life, perhaps after years of following the Bible’s guidance, but the believer sincerely believes that God is working in his.

    Both parties have contradictory, highly subjective, evidence. What are they going to do? Ideally, respect each other’s opinions, and get on with their lives.

  • 44. Paige  |  August 20, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Is that what you are doing Dan? Getting on with your life?

  • 45. Ubi Dubium  |  August 20, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Ken Hitte:

    Ubi, you said, “No god required, just biology.”
    Who put the biology in order? Just curious.

    Continuing with The de-Convert’s thought, why should biology require a “who”? Why should seeking an answer to a scientific question automatically require the leap to “who”? I find “what” and “how” far more interesting and relevant questions.

  • 46. john t.  |  August 20, 2008 at 9:29 am

    Ubi Dubium

    Why should seeking an answer to a scientific question automatically require the leap to “who”? I find “what” and “how” far more interesting and relevant questions.(Ubi)

    Good point. In fact a creative force doesnt have to be a “who” it could easily be a “what”. ;)

  • 47. LeoPardus  |  August 20, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Ubi, you said, “No god required, just biology.”
    Who put the biology in order? Just curious.

    When Keppler worked out his laws of planetary motion there was a question going around. “Why did God make 6 planets?” He answered that quite handily. “Because that corresponds with the number of perfect geometrical forms. So God established the 6 planets so as to make a system that shows the perfect forms.” Keppler died before having to “fix” his answer after the discovery of additional planets.

    The point is that you’ve got this silly idea that “someone” put the biology in order. As long as you force such silly ideas into your thinking, you’ll continue to come to silly conclusions.

    No one “put the biology in order”. It simply is. Now you are free to learn about it, and anything else, without cumbersome and erroneous ideas cluttering up your thinking.

  • 48. Bobbi Jo  |  August 20, 2008 at 11:13 am

    “Evoking the name of god for every single tiny positive thing that happens in your life is something Christianity programs into believers. Just try to think for a second: what if it wasn’t god?”

    I’m not saying everything good is from God. I’m saying the bad is as well. And my God may be your “what”. I just feel there is something supernatural going on in my life. whether I call that “energy”, “mystical”, God or whatever, it is still there. So yes, I believe God (or the powers that be) has a plan (good or bad) for atheists/unbelivers as well as myself. My kids are 5 years apart. I wanted them closer in age than that but cercumstances prevented that from happening. The timing I thought I wanted wasn’t the timing God (or supernatural powers) had in mind. Now, looking back, with everything bad that happened in the middle, His timing was perfect. Even as an unbeliever, do you sometimes look back at stuff that happened in your life and you’re thankful it went the way it did and not the way you wanted it to go?

    And I certainly don’t want to get into a prolife/choice war, but the timing for my friend was NOT what she wanted. So what made her decide to keep the baby anyway and some, who don’t yet have that “motherly instint” that comes with pregnancy, abort theirs? I am not trying to make it sound light either. I know what a difficult descision that is, and I would be curious to know if anyone here has been in a situation like that and what made you decide one way or the other. I know that is personal, so I don’t know if many will want to talk about it. I myself am hesitant to talk about what happened inbetween my children.

    For the record, I do believe in God, but I don’t think God is how christians portray Him. I don’t think we have a clue how beyond us He is.

  • 49. Ubi Dubium  |  August 20, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Bobbi Jo

    Even as an unbeliever, do you sometimes look back at stuff that happened in your life and you’re thankful it went the way it did and not the way you wanted it to go?

    Sure, but I think “pleased” is more accurate than “thankful”. “Thankful” implies that I have somebody to thank.

    For the record, I do believe in God, but I don’t think God is how christians portray Him. I don’t think we have a clue how beyond us He is.

    I like that attitude. It’s much more open-minded than the Fundies who are sure about everything, and come barrelling in here trying to convert us “heathens”. “We don’t have a clue..” is much more intellectually honest. Thanks.

  • 50. tana  |  August 20, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Paul:

    I am so sorry for leaving you for so long w/o your answer. I have someone visiting from out of town…yadda yadda…I’m sorry.

    I don’t mind sharing, except to say that the most recent experiences I had were in the context of a spiritual (new agey) retreat I attended and to share the entire context of the story is impossible here in this comment. Yet those factors are important.

    I went to this healing retreat (it was a literal “healing” retreat) with the intention of trying to rid myself of GAD. I can’t really call myself a “Christian” anymore, because while I personally can’t deny Yeshua as my savior, there are a lot of other beliefs that I have discarded and many other ideas that I am now open to that within the confines of the traditional Christian experience, have been deemed heretical or demonic. So? Whaddya do?

    At this retreat I had a vision of Jesus (Yeshua) while I was standing at the edge of the ocean by myself late, late at night. It was after an intense healing session where I was more witness than participant. He was holding my heart and told me that he has always been here, holding my heart. He said that I should not limit the methods I use to access him, pray, meditate, etc. It’s kind of funny because he was like, “Chakras? Meditation? Crystals – whatever. I don’t care what you use, just as long as you’re seeking me.” Kind of in those words – kind of dismissive of the idea that a particular method would be “bad.”

    On the final day (again, a long, long, long story that is important to the experience) I audibly heard God speak in my left ear, from behind. It is always in my left ear from behind. I don’t know why. It happened that way when I got “saved” at 15 and it has happened a few times since, including on that weekend retreat. He told me my soul is fine and perfect just the way it is. I still don’t entirely know what that means, but okay.

    Here’s the deal: I don’t share this stuff with people because A) I don’t want my sacred moments discredited and ripped to shreds by people who are made uncomfortable by them and B) they were meant for me anyway – not the general public. I don’t need to go around “sharing” them. I share here with you because you specifically asked and I will share with people who ask.

    But here’s the other thing you should know: I am an extremely pragmatic minded person. I like facts. I like critical thinking. I am completely aware that my visions and audible experiences could very well be a brain tumor (I hope not…). But I am also open to the fact that we live in a 3 dimensional world and there are many, many more dimensions than those three. Therefore, I also know that I cannot know everything for sure. But I do believe we are energy, I believe in things that cannot be seen. I believe people who are truly open to the spiritual world, who are “sensitives” can and will see things that maybe others cannot see or do not want to see.

    And for the record, I am a child-free person (by choice). If God suddenly told me to have a kid I would immediately assume that it was not God. That seems incredibly paradoxical to me.

  • 51. Dan H  |  August 20, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Paige,

    Is that what you are doing Dan? Getting on with your life?

    Yeah, trying to. Searching for answers is all well and good, but I can’t help thinking that I could be putting the time to better use. I don’t want to let go of the questions altogether, but I think Christians and non-believers alike would agree that devoting ourselves to understanding the meaning of life isn’t the best use of our time here on earth.

    Not that I meant that it’s wrong for anyone here to be having these discussions. Clearly, I’m here, and drawn to the discussions too. It just appeared that there were two sides developing, one saying “God works in my life” and the other saying “God doesn’t work in my life”, with seemingly no way that the two could be reconciled.

  • 52. john t.  |  August 20, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Dan H

    “I don’t want to let go of the questions altogether, but I think Christians and non-believers alike would agree that devoting ourselves to understanding the meaning of life isn’t the best use of our time here on earth.”

    For some people trying to understand the meaning in their lives helps bring them into community, which in turn(IMO) makes them more active in doing life together. I find many people who have no interest in the meaning of life, find their meaning pursuing stuff or money, without the same kind of Human interaction. Funny thing is even in the midst of disagreement there is a community forming lol. And at least we cant bomb each other cause we dont know where each other lives. ;)

  • 53. Bobbi Jo  |  August 20, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    John T.

    No but you could send a virus! But I do agree with you that even though I don’t always agree with everyone on here, I feel a sense of real community just on this blog. I will talk in real life of a conversation I had on here, and I always use the word friend when talking about ya all. :)

  • 54. Dan  |  August 20, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    One of two things has happened to you: Either you were saved and has a tremendous amount of remorse for your behavior. Or you were never saved and you just brushed it off as “who cares”

    We get to a place where we are repenting, our repentance is, in itself, an evidence of the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit. The test is not: are you sinning and feeling rejected by God? The test is whether you want to be forgiven. If you commit an unpardonable sin, you have utterly and completely rejected the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and you can’t care about it – you will have a complete disdain and revulsion to the things of the gospel. If you are worried that you are beyond God’s grace, if you fear God’s judgment, if you desire to be saved, the Holy Spirit is still working in you and you cannot have utterly and completely rejected God or have blasphemed the Holy Spirit.

    Are you lost forever? Do you care? If you do not I will give you my word that I will leave you alone. If you care about truth and seek it and fell remorse of any kind then the Holy Spirit is working in you.

    It all boils down if you were ever a Christian or not. The chance is that you were never a Christian if you don’t care. Read Hebrews 6:4-8

    It’s never too late if you care…do you?

  • 55. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 20, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Bobbi Jo- (emphasis mine)

    and I always use the word friend when talking about ya all. :)

    No no, it’s “y’all,” get it right :P

  • 56. Dan H  |  August 20, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    John T.

    This is my first day posting on here, and I think I’ve come across as criticising people when I didn’t really intend to. But the kind of loggerheads that have been reached in this debate make me think that there are some things that are not knowable to me, and that there are certain questions that I shoud just drop.

  • 57. Bobbi Jo  |  August 20, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    If it is your first day posting, you might find it helpful to read the “who we are” section on the right. You can’t come in and tell these folks they “weren’t Christian” if you knew anything about them. Hopefully I post this before Leo does! :)

  • 58. john t.  |  August 20, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Dan H.

    You will find the discussions on here quite stimulating. Very knowledgeable bunch. I didnt think you were critical by the way.

  • 59. john t.  |  August 20, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    And for the other DAN

    You should read Hebrews 8:11……pretty interesting lol ;)

  • 60. Bobbi Jo  |  August 20, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Opps, sorry if there are 2 Dans, I apologize. But both would be better off to read the side bar. :)

  • 61. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 20, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Yeah, there’s a difference between Dan H and Dan, at least as far as I can tell.

    Dan, as can be seen from the link embedded in his name, comes from the Debunking Atheists blog… and I pretty much have a personal policy of ignoring him. This isn’t his first time at this blog, though it has been a while, as I recall.

    Dan H seems like a reasonable guy so far.

  • 62. Big Dan  |  August 20, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    Yes sorry, bad choice of login name.

    Dan is not me.

    Dan H was me, but I have now changed to Big Dan as I have registered with the site and posted on the forum under that name.

    I apologise for seeming like a reasonable guy – I’ll soon put a stop to that :-)

    Yes, I’ve already found the discussion stimulating. But I have no answer to people like Shannon and heatlight (and that’s not meant in a negative way; they just have a different life experience to me), and don’t think I ever can have. So I will have to walk a different path from those folks.

  • 63. LeoPardus  |  August 20, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Dan in post 54 gets today’s booby prize for using a “Convenient category”.

    And yep Bobbi Jo, you beat me to it. :)

  • 64. The de-Convert  |  August 20, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    Leo,

    I beat you to a comment on the “Finding Faith” thread but I don’t think you noticed :)

    Paul

  • 65. LeoPardus  |  August 20, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Oh yes. The ‘pot meet kettle’ bit. I did see that. :)

  • 66. Echo  |  August 20, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Many of the people on this website spent a lot of time praying: “I really want to continue to believe in you. Please give me something, anything, so I can” They diligently sought. But all they got was silence. The same answer they would get if there was no god there in the first place.

    Ubi—-

    I know this is just a personal observation, but I have found this very true in my life. When I have pleaded to God for “something” to help me believe I have usually been met with silence. That is because I am putting the cart before the horse. I am saying I need some subjective feeling or experience before I can believe, or have faith. Yet, when I have done the opposite and continued (no matter how I felt, or what experience I was going through) to just claim the word of God as truth, (“We walk by faith and not by sight”) I have inevitably had God show himself to me in a very real way.

    I have said this before, so I am repeating myself (I guess that’s why they call me ECHO) but faith is trusting in something you cannot see or feel—if you reverse it and say that you need to feel or experience something before you’ll believe you have it backwards! Jesus said “Did I not say that if you would BELIEVE you would SEE the glory of God?”

  • 67. ordover  |  August 20, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    I know this is just a personal observation, but I have found this very true in my life. When I have pleaded to God for “something” to help me believe I have usually been met with silence. That is because I am putting the cart before the horse. I am saying I need some subjective feeling or experience before I can believe, or have faith. yet, when I have done the opposite and continued (no matter how I felt, or what experience I was going through) to just claim the word of God as truth, (”We walk by faith and not by sight” ;) I have inevitably had God show himself to me in a very real way.

    Wow! It’s so cool that you understand how the mind of God works like that. You’ve got it all figure out, hu?

    Seriously, I hate “observations” like the above. Over and over again here we are given the line that no one can know the will of God, and yet all Christians seem to understand that if they actually ask for something in a forthcoming matter that it isn’t likely to happen because God likes it when we don’t actually have any thoughts or desires. That’s when he works his magic, apparently.

    Here is the formula, courtesy of our many Christian friends:
    -Pray to God and ask for something directly > God doesn’t like it when we ask for signs or wonders so he is silent
    -Pray to God out of humility, something indirect, like profession of belief > God may or may not answer, depending on how honest you are
    -Blindly carry on in your faith like a mindless zombie > Exactly what God wants! Reward is granted!

    Turns out God’s though process is easy to understand after all!

    You know, you’d think that, since God gave us these awesome brains and powers of deductive reasoning, that he wouldn’t be quite so resentful when we actually used them to inquire about the state of the universe.

    (Sorry if this is coming across as mean-spirited, but it’s all bullshit, and sometimes it really gets to me.)

  • 68. Oleander  |  August 20, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    orDover—

    I didn’t say I had God figured out. I said in my personal experience. Please note— I said “I know this is just a personal observation..” I believe though what I am saying really does have merit in that the whole Bible is based on putting faith in God even when he appears to have disappeared from the scene.

    Does the Bible says God “tries” or “tests” our feelings or experiences? No—it says he “tests” and “tries” our faith. I was simply stating that often, when I have continued to believe even though there are no signs God is there, that is when He finally makes an appearance. If I plead for “signs” or “experiences” He (most of the time) does not seem to give them—because he desires we walk by faith and not by sight.

    Again, this is a personal observation—I don’t have God figured out, nor do I claim the corner on knowlege of how he works or does things–that’s probably why I still believe—–I realize my mind is too puny to understand an infinite God. The hardest thing for many Christians to realize is that often faith is a “choice”–not a feeling or experience. That’s all I was saying.

  • 69. ordover  |  August 20, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    I don’t have God figured out, nor do I claim the corner on knowlege of how he works or does things–that’s probably why I still believe—–I realize my mind is too puny to understand an infinite God.

    You say that. And then you say this:

    If I plead for “signs” or “experiences” He (most of the time) does not seem to give them—because he desires we walk by faith and not by sight.

    Do you see how those two statements are contradictory? So which is it? You either know what he wants from you (blind faith), or you are clueless as to his divine will. You claim in one sentence that you don’t understand him at all, and in another that you know his desires.

    Christians say again and again that they can’t come close to understanding how God works, but then they answer question that atheists and apostates bring up without the slightest hesitation, indicating that they think they know, at at least a basic level, how God works, and they can explain it to the rest of us. I think that’s called apologetics.

    By the way, I can find just as many bible verses that say that God wants you to come to him and “ask” for everything from faith to blessings as you can asserting he doesn’t like it when we ask him directly for things and prefers we maintain faith without reason. How can you be so certain of his desires if he is so self-contradictory?

  • 70. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 20, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    OK, so faith is a choice. How do we decide which religion to have faith in, or whether we should have faith in any deity at all?

  • 71. The de-Convert  |  August 20, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    tana,

    thanks for sharing.

    paul

  • 72. YogaforCynics  |  August 20, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    We all, I think, have lots of little voices in us, and it’s always interesting which a given believer identifies as God’s at a given time–whether the voice of conscience, or of love, or of fear, or of prejudice, or of greed, or, in many cases, of madness….

  • 73. Rod  |  August 21, 2008 at 3:04 am

    What is right and what is wrong that will put one in the right track are already there. And what is right and what is wrong are all about God. Morality is the result of man’s search for God – of religions.

    Waiting for what God will say before one does or does not things? By golly, woman, who do you think special you are to him to be treated above all the rest? Hmm, but maybe there are such people like Joan of Ark, I don’t really know.

    You won’t want to see or hear God himself. That’s why I figured he won’t do that unless he probably wants to kill you (of freight!) Anyway I think there are people that are simply confused minds, caught between unresolved contradictions within them, can’t decide on which of them. I would advice they seek spiritual advice.

    God’s plan for a person? Why break your head thinking what it could be. What you are, what you have achieved, they are what those plans are! Call them co-incidental if you think you are just an incidental walking organism without purpose.

    Like, in one chapter of my life I was in a seminary studying for priesthood. One day I walked up to the Rector and told him to get me a ticket home because I was decided I no longer wanted to be a priest. Looking back at it, I’ll attribute my change of mind to sudden convergence of many negative events that normally do not happen.

    Next Chapter I was in the hills with rifle in my hands and clad for war and I was with atheist. I guess I was just luck for some people there. While I was no preacher I believed in things like freedom of expressions, of beliefs and religions… War is human-animal survival. Power struggle, plots and counter plots. I must kill the head and make myself the head instead of being the beheaded! But there must be other ways.

    I guess I am just sort of lucky, so, after seeing death in the eyes many times, next chapter I found myself a carpenter, a construction worker. I’m not very religious so I’ll say everything was just life, destiny.

    God’s Plan? My guess is, what they will be is what it is. No exception.

  • 74. Ubi Dubium  |  August 21, 2008 at 9:06 am

    Echo

    …if you reverse it and say that you need to feel or experience something before you’ll believe you have it backwards! Jesus said “Did I not say that if you would BELIEVE you would SEE the glory of God?”

    You are missing my point. Most of the people here had faith, deeply and sincerely. They didn’t start with unbelief. They prayed with every last shred of faith they had, and were met with silence. They stopped engaging in “wishful thinking” and found their faith couldn’t hold without it.

    And if you “believe” hard enough, then you can convince yourself of almost anything. There are people who “believe” so hard they see miraclulous apparitions in grilled cheese sandwiches and tortillas. They sincerely think that the “glory of god” has revealed to them how much ketchup to buy for a picnic, but that same god somehow ignores the prayers of the starving in Africa. Have enough “faith” and you can talk yourself into anything. (How else to explain Scientology?)

  • 75. LeoPardus  |  August 21, 2008 at 11:12 am

    I hereby nominate post #73 by Rod, for “stream of semi-consciousness rant/ramble of the month”.

  • 76. Ubi Dubium  |  August 21, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Leo –
    What should we call that award? Maybe we should name it after somebody, or something. (Like “the St. John award for Incoherence” maybe? Or “Bleat of the Month”? ) I’m sure you guys can figure out a good name for it.

  • 77. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 21, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Rod-

    . . .kill you (of freight!). . .

    Is God going to drop a train car on me?

    I would advice they seek spiritual advice.

    That’s some… interesting advice…

    We could make the award the WTF of the Month.

  • 78. john t.  |  August 21, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Snuggly

    Just so you know, you might want to check the guys website out. I think hes from Eastern Europe, so obviously his English maybe slightly off. Or it was just a typo. Plus remember or train of thought is very much dictated by our culture. But im sure you already knew that. ;)

  • 79. john t.  |  August 21, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Oops I take that back. I think hes Filipino.

  • 80. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 21, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Whether English is his first language isn’t really relevant. I made the first jab because being “killed of freight” is an amusing typo. The second phrase I mocked a little because he’s advising someone to seek advice. That he misspelled advise as advice isn’t really important.

    I would expect the same treatment for myself were I posting in some foreign language.

  • 81. Pete  |  August 21, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I like “WTF of the month”. But the actual award goes to post 23 by “A cultural guide for the non believer” in the Finding Faith comment stream. It seems pretty clear to me that Rod here speaks English as a second language, and this can at least account for some of the discontinuity. “A cultural” on the other hand seems to speak fine English, it is conscious thought that is his second language.

  • 82. Rod  |  August 23, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    oops! I did not mean cargo. I meant Scare like shocking a person to death! :-)

  • 83. Rod  |  August 24, 2008 at 12:47 am

    ‘When I was just a little (boy) I asked my mother what will I be. Will I be handsome, will I be rich? Here’s what she said to me. Que Sera sera, whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to say. Que Sera sera.’

    That’s an old American song that made waves all over the world about 50 years ago. It’s not exactly biblical but I buy that song in relation to the issue of “God’s plan for everyone”. It also forms part of my concept of Destiny.

    Like, a fool is included in God’s plan? Yes, people don’t see sanity unless they saw insanity. They don’t see deprivation unless they saw gluttons. They don’t see good unless they saw bad. (Everyone, even the devil is useful! ) No exception. One is either a negative example or a positive example which serves the whole. Everyone has free choice, he’s got a use. :-)

    Also, for people to accept only what is stated in the bible, throwing the bible at anybody that looked different, I think, would be like saying that God ended and was finished thousands of years ago. A static spiritual mind. God is Spirit, he need not show or talk. (He could be talking trough a person besides you by bio-wireless. And people don’t even know about them being used! ) :-)

    Three stanzas are just preface of a person. I agree, it’s not enough to see the consistent whole. You’re all invited to my blog. About a dozen posts in my religion category – not enough to show my whole spiritual side (that I would rather keep much private), I should say. :-)

  • 84. heatlight  |  August 24, 2008 at 8:13 am

    d-C- those are excerpts of stories from one of my personal blogs. I can’t see a reason to retype the whole thing – I hope you don’t mind. Honestly, there are many different possible explanations of why people of other faiths experience similar things. If nothing else it points to the possible reality of a spiritual world.

  • 85. SnugglyBuffalo  |  August 24, 2008 at 11:56 am

    If nothing else it points to the possible reality of a spiritual world.

    Ignoring the other holes in this argument, even if it points to a spiritual world, it still points away from a Christian God.

  • 86. KC  |  August 26, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    John T:

    English is an official language of the Philippines so most Filipinos are quite atune to basic spelling and grammar. But thanks for the nice wise-crack, asshole, it seems that you could use some syntax lessons yourself.

    Maybe you should bash Rod for Rod and not the rest of us.

  • 87. bigham  |  October 3, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    The de-Convert,

    Interesting post. I would actually agree with your advice at the end of the post, because I believe that it is God who gives us our desires. If a husband and wife have no desire to have children, then they should probably not have children. Without a desire to have children, they probably wouldn’t be good parents anyways.

    I also appreciate the honesty in opening up about your struggles with the faith as you were de-converting.

    One of my seminary professors told our class yesterday about his greatest struggle with the faith, which happened his freshman year in college. He said that he was raised in a Christian environment where he was never really faced with the “big questions” of life, so when he got to college and was faced with those questions, he didn’t know what to do.

    I was convicted by his story, because up to this point it was similar to mine. However, where we differed was in how much we really sought the truth. I was very passive, and kind of took the approach that if there were a God, then He should prove Himself to me.

    My professor took a different approach. He said that he decided to go on a water-only fast for seven days, and he desperately sought to know if God existed and, if so, whether or not He really was the God of his parents faith.

    He said that on the seventh day his brother-in-law gave him “The Knowledge of the Holy” by A.W. Tozer.

    All that to say two things: One, you might look into reading that book. And two, do you think that your de-conversion more closely resembled my de-conversion or my professors near-de-conversion?

    Thanks,
    David

  • 88. bigham  |  October 3, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    (Not sure if I clearly stated that last question: Do you think your de-conversion more closely resembled mine or his in how fervently you sought to know the truth?)

  • 89. Cooper  |  October 3, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Bigham—-

    Can I ask a question? If you are a deconvert, why do you continue in seminary? Unless I am misunderstanding what you said above.

  • 90. bigham  |  October 4, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    Cooper,

    I am a deconvert who has reconverted, by the grace of God!

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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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