Posts tagged ‘god’
God, as a personal deity, is expected to be trusted no matter what. Doubt and disbelief in such a God is mostly seen as an anomaly, as a kind of sickness that requires healing. Fortunately, there are voices that consider doubt a virtue, such as Peter Rollins. He is a rare breed in an arena crowded with voices claiming with all certainty that God is this and God is that.
I once thought that I had God pinned down, and that I had a vital relationship with him. Now, I wonder whether that was just wishful thinking. I really don’t think religion or atheism are right-and-wrong positions (Rollins delves into this beautifully); they are simply conceptual frameworks for identifying with certain positions. Anything – and I mean anything – that is said about God is no more than language, no more than a signifier. If you are experienced with philosophy at all, you may begin to suspect that I am delving into the subjective-objective domain here, and you are correct. But regardless of how technical I get at describing faith and belief (or lack thereof), it does all come back to ideas.
The concept of God is not static. It is a construction over thousands of years involving the mental projections of men and women (primarily men, given the most common gender-typing of God as He). Does the projection accurately reflect the reality of that which it points to?..
As we all know, many challenges have been set forth by both sides of the theistic debate. Dan Barker set forth his fairly well-known, “Resurrection Challenge”, Kent Hovind set forth his infamous “Evolution Challenge”, just recently ‘bigham’ set forth the dumbest challenge ever, “The Sleep Challenge”, and numerous others have set forth some sort of intellectual or investigational challenge to try to convince “the other side”.
But there’s one famous theistic challenge that is often neglected, and I think it’s a noteworthy one. It’s noteworthy because it’s supposed to have been issued by the big dude himself. Yes, none other than YHWH of Bible fame. We’ll look first at the challenge itself (in the Bible), then we’ll look at some Bible stories where the challenge was supposedly taken up.
The challenge, as issued by YHWH through the prophet Isaiah, is found in the book of Isaiah, chapter 41, verses 22 & 23…
So the other day I was watching my son eat lunch.
Of course, “eat lunch” sounds much more, well, contained than anything usually accomplished by most 22-month olds. He grabbed big spoonfuls and/or handfuls of his mac & cheese and shoved them, fist and all, into his mouth, depositing most of it, losing a bit, and in the process coating his face, hands, hair, shirt and table in gobs of that inimitable nuclear orange cheese sauce. This was something that did not bother him at all. I found myself wishing I could focus on anything in the world as well as he focused on his mac & cheese. This kiddo really likes to eat.
And he had not a shred of self-consciousness. He did not care how he looked or how messy he was. He simply enjoyed his meal, and with a singularity of innocence and pleasure that makes sappy, sentimental parents like me want to weep. He had no awareness in the world that I was watching him, or indeed of anything else at all. He was entirely immersed in the immediacy of his experience, with no thought to what anyone else thought. I found it both striking and beautiful.
And it got me thinking about this matter of “self-consciousness”. The capacity to lose self-consciousness – to be present and fully immersed in the messiness of one’s bodily existence, and to live (if only briefly) without pride, shame, or false modesty – is a rare quality…
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)…
Recently, Rachel posed this question on her post “A Curious Christian with A Few Questions for de-cons“:
Are de-cons open to returning to the faith or is that impossible?
Here are a few of the responses from d-C contributors and readers:
I try to remain open to returning to my old faith, but am seeing less and less possibility as time goes on and searches prove unfruitful.
I’m open to learning new things and changing my mind. However, after studying and seeking for over 40 years, I really doubt that I will suddenly discover that God is real. – writerdd
Sort of like asking Christians if they are open to new religions, is it not? Only in this case we are people who have at least admitted that we are capable of changing our minds on the subject. The problem is that this question implies that this was a conscious decision on our parts. For myself, and most here, it isn’t. If the evidence in support of whatever version of Christianity is strong enough, I am sure I would accept it – as a former apologeticist, I have only found that it fails in every historical and philosophical aspect known to myself. – TheApostate…
The mountains were cypress-green and breathtakingly beautiful. Spiros was standing in one of the most impressive parts of Greece. On a brilliant spring morning he was at the foot of Mount Parnassus, a few miles from Corinth. In spite of the beauty, all he could think about was the problem of the boat which had become stuck on the sands of his mind for some weeks now.
Should he buy it, or shouldn’t he? If he didn’t decide soon, it would be too late. He had the money. Some had been left by his father; the rest had been painfully saved over the past ten years. But now, at the moment of decision, he seemed paralysed, unable to jump. It was such an important decision, such a lot of money, and he urgently needed a message from the gods. His wife had sent him to Delphi because her sister had been helped. Rumour and family superstition or experience had combined to help Spiros half believe that the Delphic Oracle would make the divine will known.
And behind all this Spiros was driven by factors that were working at a less conscious level. Of course, he missed his father dreadfully, and at night, or alone in the harbour, suppressed questions surfaced. Was there life beyond the grave? Would he be good enough to please the gods? Would he ever see his father again? Were the gods really in control? Did the gods really exist?…