Category: Believing in God is not a leap off a cliff


The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If everything was torn away could I, would I still praise God?  A hard question to contemplate.  An even harder one to try to answer honestly.

This year, actually the past couple have been hard on my career, my financials, even my personal life.  Two years ago a romantic relationship I thought would never end did, in an ugly way.  My career ears has been one set back after another.  Friends I thought, believed I could count on won’t even return a phone call.  And yet thru it all I am more thankful to God.  Not for what has happened, but because He keeps picking me back up and helping me to take one more step forward.

A shift in priorities

A few dollars I was not expecting showed up, just in time for new tires for my truck, which needed them desperately.  This past year God has provided, some times from places I never saw coming, other times from friends, family, or work.  Never too late, I haven’t missed a meal, but rarely early or more than just enough.
Not that long ago I would have been a mental disaster trying to deal with all the stuff.  Stressed out over where the money was going to come from or how to pay for this or that.  But now I find myself not just learning to be ok with not knowing, but laughing at how God provides, even when I can’t see how it will work out the night before.
It has brought me to a place of trusting and leaning more on the Father then I ever have.  However that said, I was reading Philippians this morning and I was thinking about Paul, hungry, beaten, all that he went thru and it started me thinking.

Could I praise God in that place?

I don’t know, and I am thankful I will probably never have to find out.
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“The real problem for empirical scientists & rational skepticism is we care more about truth than the religious do.”  Aron Ra, “Faith is not a Virtue”

Interesting thought.  Especially since Mr. Ra also believes that those who believe in God have no interest in the truth.  But is the truth rational skeptics, as Mr. Ra identifies himself as, care about the whole and complete truth, or is any partial truth ok?  Or is it that since, in Mr. Ra’s estimation, Christians have no real care for the truth that any care for the truth no matter how small or partial , would be more?  Somehow I get the impression that neither of these is what he meant.

Or, perhaps truth isn’t really all that important to some rational skeptics after all.

So if Mr. Ra is so committed to truth why does he have such an aversion to it?  While busily stating over & over , I suppose in the hope that repetition will make something true, that evolution has been proven, he steadfastly avoids calling evolution a law, the scientific proclamation of true, provable, and reproducible fact.  Fair enough, part of scientific law requires a theory to be reproducible, ie: standing on Earth, let go of an object and it will fall to the ground.
But here is where Mr. Ra’s statements start to break down.  At 10:01 of his recorded lecture at Eastern Illinois University “Because it’s called the theory of gravity”.   Yes that’s right the theory of gravity.  Do you find it interesting that it is now the theory of gravity.  Has gravity been “Plutocized” from a law to a theory?  My guess is that the hope is by reducing certain laws of science to theories it will help elevate the theory of evolution in the public eye.

Change what words mean and change the past.

Once again trying to change the meaning of words to alter the discussion, like an illusionist tying to draw your attention to one thing, while distracting you from noticing the elephant walking off stage.  The desire to alter what words means is a dishonest attempt to win the game by changing the rules.  Hopefully Mr. Ra will move to his stated desire, to be more concerned with the truth.

Although I doubt it

If this then that.  

It is the IF that brings about the Then.  It all begins with a presupposition, an idea that if this, then that.  If there is a God, then he must have created everything.  Or conversely if we evolved then what was the origin?  But always there is the presupposition that begins the theory, the hypothesis, and therefore impacts the answer.
Richard Dawkins states “Christianity was founded by Paul of Tarsus”, this is the if.  If this is the founding, the beginning then the rest is laughable.  It is not based upon the reality of Christ.  Christianity then becomes a what should be, not a what is.  But if instead Christianity was founded by Jesus of Nazareth, what is the then?  Now it’s a truth system based upon factual accounts, grounded not in a way things ought to be but, on the way things are.
So what are the proofs, facts, and truths, that Christianity is based upon?  Mr. Dawkins would have us believe that it is based upon not the teachings of the Christ, but of Paul.  While it is true that much of the New Testament was written by Paul, not all of the New Testament, his were not the first writings, nor the last.
If Paul was the founder of the Christian faith then we Christians are to be pitied more than any others for we are not only following a religion that can not do what it claims, but leaves no hope for those that would trust in it.  One of the foundational truths, in fact I would say the foundational truth is the claim by Jesus “I am the way the truth and the light, no man comes to the Father but by me.”  How can Paul make such a claim for the Christ?

Or if ? then?

If, on the other hand, man is the result of matter+time+chance then there is no right or wrong.  Can one be moral without a Creator?  Not if we are the result of evolution.  If we are evolved then morality is whatever society says it is, but society can only declare what it must declare.  Gone is free-will, instead is instinct.  And morality determined by each society is anchored in nothing.  After all as Ravi Zacharias points out “some societies love their neighbors, others eat them.  Do you have a preference?”
On the other hand if there is a creator, then even the atheist can be moral.

For only with a moral law giver then there can be a moral law.

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I read an article last week from Sacred Struggler, titled “Apologetics: I hate it!” that really struck home.  Now I don’t consider myself an Apologist when compared with Ravi Zacharias or C. S. Lewis but I have a strong interest in the subject.  That said I certainly get where Sacred Struggler is coming from.  Apologetics sounds like such a big impressive word, and I am sure there are some who call themselves apologists who are really more like argumentative-ists.

But what is it really?

Apologetics has really gotten a bit of a bum-rap.  Having an interest in the subject I was recently asked to give a study on the subject to my church’s men’s group at our weekly prayer breakfast, we finish up on Thursday.  Apologetics is not to go around saying “I’m sorry” all the time.  Neither is it to have an argument, or act as some high-powered attorney in a Supreme Court case.
Acts 22:1 “Hear my defense(apologia)which I now offer.”  1 Peter 3:15 “be ready to give an answer(apologia) to every man that asketh you a reason for the hope that is within you.”
Apologetics is not about winning an argument but rather a way to show those we have contact with at home, work, with friends, family, or co-workers that we have thought about the big questions and as Christians have a different answer.  Michael Spencer at ccapologetics.wordpress.com  does a great job of using this approach.  You can find his podcast on iTunes under apologetics.
I see apologetics as really having three components:
1- To explain Christian ethics and thought.  It amazes me what some people think it means to be a Christian. For a sample see this survey from the UK of self-identified Christians and see what some people think makes them a Christian.
2- To give opposing thought and reason to the worlds philosophy.  Such things as the idea that man has intrinsic value because he is created vs. Darwinism which holds a boy, is a dog, is a pig, is a pollywog.
3-  To explain why we (Christians) are different.

Why do we act different then everyone else.

Sure part of apologetics is defending, but some of it is to show a different way to live.  All of it is to give hope.  Apologetics is not evangelism, but more a way to hopefully start a conversation that will lead to the opportunity to show someone Jesus.  We want to create a curiosity and a desire on the part of the person we are talking with to want to know more.
If you want to see my study on apologetics email me at cognitivefaith@hotmail.com and I will be happy to email you a copy of the study guide and notes.
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What have I been accepting without really looking at the truth behind it all?

Bored and also to avoid doing some writing I decided to to put on a movie.  So as I am watching this movie, which by the way I liked enough to purchase on DVD several years ago. While I was watching I became aware of several flaws in the philosophy of the story.  I won’t go into allow it here, otherwise this would turn into a 10,000 word post.  But here is the thing, just like blind faith,unexamined acceptance is not what we as Christians are instructed to do.
Before accepting a philosophy of life I should be looking deeper at what it really means, how does it line up with Christian ethics.  For example the idea of caring for the poor is a great, but it is not meant to be a blanket statement.  Now there are those that thru birth, disability, both mental and physical, can not and may never be able to care for themselves, but as to those who through bad choices are poor Leviticus speaks clearly on how to care for these, and Paul says “He who will not work, shall not eat”, and Jesus says “you will always have the poor”. Yet I have more than once bought into ideas that run counter to this.
That is just one and a very simple example of it.  I am becoming more and more sensitive to this.  I need to slow down and take the time to examine what I have bought into  and what it is  I am really accepting when I accept these philosophy.  After all Colossians 2:8 makes it pretty clear: “Beware lest any man spoil you thru philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
This is just one example, what other areas have you found a flaw in your thought?
While I understand that many may believe that the God of the bible expects blind faith, I wonder where this comes from?  I can not seem to find this teaching, this command anywhere in the Bible.

I recently saw a video by Aron RaFaith is not a Virtue, and he will contend that to have faith is to disengage your mind, to turn off your cognitive ability.  Just some examples are:
  1. “Faith is a secure confidence not based on evidence”.  Can’t speak for anyone else but my faith can only be based upon past experience, and the fact is the same with much of science.  After all what much of what is called scientific “fact” is taking multiple results to an experiment and based on getting the same result multiple times, believing that the results will continue to be the same ad infinitum.
  2. “Faith is unsupported wishful thinking”.  Christianity isn’t about wishing things were all puppy dogs and rainbows, but rather an acceptance of what is, not about how we wish it was.  We accept what is and make the decision to live our lives based on that, working to achieve what we believe to be the best possible outcome, even if we do not have the certainty of success.
  3. “Religion is a belief system that means you are required to believe this, and forbidden to believe that” – guilty as charged, however science is in the exact same boat, for example, if you’re a mathematician aren’t you required to believe that 2+2=4, and not 6? Or how about an evolutionary biologist?  If you don’t believe the theories of this discipline can you still call yourself an evolutionary biologist?
  4. “The real problem for empirical scientists and rational skepticism is we care more about truth than the religious do” – really? As a follower of Christ the pursuit of truth is a requirement, not an option.  The problem with scientists and skeptics is the refusal to admit, at least in public, that those data points most often used as “proof” of evolution, the beginning of the universe, and the like are assumptions, an if this then that, line of thinking.  Where is the willingness to stop and say clearly that ” We believe that The universe began because of X, therefore Y, but if the beginning is actually Z then the answer would be completely different and the truth is we can not know if for no other reason then there are different ways to get to this point and there is no empirical evidence which can say with absolute certainty that X is really the starting place.”  Will you ever hear a Hawking, Dawkins or other scientists who believe in evolutionary origins say this?  Will they freely admit to doubt or other possibilities?  I doubt it but time will tell.
  5. “All sin can be forgiven if you believe in Jesus, and simply because you believe in Jesus” – Close but not quite, yes all sin can be forgiven, however as James says “Thou believe that there is one God; thou doesn’t well: the devils also believe, and tremble”.  So no just belief is not the key, it starts there, but it also requires, a declaration of Jesus as Lord, see Romans 10:9-10, and if you think this is just some sort of lip service to God think again.
  6. “He(God) lives by those rules even when circumstances demand exception” – really and what exception would that be?

Not having the answers doesn’t make you wrong

Oh don’t get me wrong there are far too many who call themselves Christians, and even claim to speak for God espousing some of the things mentioned above.  Even saying some incredibly ridicules things as if they were a prophet.  Maybe according to some I am a heretic for even questioning their beliefs.  I think however that those of us that dare to claim Jesus as Lord should be neither closed-minded to what science has to say, or to take it on blind faith.
Unlike Mr. Ra I can freely admit my prejudices but also accept that at this point there are some things that neither science or Christianity can answer.  Things like how exactly was the universe created, when the Bible speaks of a 6 day creation is it 6 literal days?  Or is it like Peter spoke of that a day is like a thousand years?(2Peter3:8). Only time will tell.

I’ll keep looking for answers,thank you very much.

For now I must be content with not knowing all the answers, but continue to search for them.  I don’t believe God gave us a brain only to turn it off when the questions get tough.  Although I am a little frustrated with others, especially non-Christians, trying to define Christianity, I will continue to do my best to point out the flaws, even glaring errors in their definitions.  Maybe it won’t matter to them, but it matters to me.
What about you, have you encountered people mis-representing what Christianity is?  Did you speak up?  What did you do about it?

Trying to make a point only to make it worse.

Recently I was reading one of those forwarded emails claiming to be from a commentary given by Ben Stein.  As is my typical reaction I take the things with a grain of salt, so I decided to jump over to Snopes.com and see if it was actually from Mr. Stein, because simply put it just didn’t sound like something he would say.  Well sure enough only a portion was from big Ben, and the whole exaggerating stuff, especially in regards to statements regarding religion, in this case religious freedom, makes me wonder what part of not beavering false witness do these folks not get?  However that aside the following line appeared in the article, “funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says “.  Contrast that with the following quote attributed to George Carlin, ” people will believe in this man in the sky without a second thought, but put up a sign that says wet paint and they have to stick their finger in it”

Now both of these statements are at least partially false. We now all to well that people like Rush, Hannity, and others question what the papers say all the time.  Likewise men like C. S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, & Ravi Zacharis have questioned and looked for Biblical truth.
Shouldn’t all of those who dare to call themselves Christians be questioning what they believe?  Notice I didn’t say doubt, but question.

Question to understand

If R.C. Sproul is right that showing the existance of God & the truth of the Bible is 90% of the battle, then shouldn’t you and I be constantly asking the tough questions?  Shouldn’t we be ready when a non-Christian & and especially when an Anti-Christian questions our beliefs?  If you are a Christian you are directly told to “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with gentleness, and fear”. – 1Peter 3:15
So maybe faith and belief isn’t a lack of questioning?  Maybe faith should come because of having asked the hard questions, going deeper than anybody else.  Perhaps when doubt comes in, asking harded, deeper, & tougher questions than anybody else, is what I should be doing.  If you and I ask the really hard questions of ourselves, then we won’t be surprised by anything that anybody else can throw at us.
Have you been lied to by someone just trying to help?  Should we tolerate this kind of imbelishment?  How would you deal with Freinds and fellow Christians who lie to make a point?

Well at least it shouldn’t be.  Faith is about taking what is known or makes sense and applying it to that which can not be proved.

Are you supposed to leave your mind at the sanctuary door? Why does it seem so many people think that either believing in God requires turning off your brain, or if you’re not turning off your mind well then at least faith has no place in the outside world.  Religion is all well and good but there are far too many holes and too many leaps of faith to make it really of any value besides making you “feel” good.

Well that’s a bunch of baloney, a load of bull.  Stop and actually look at the current trends in scientific study such as cosmology, biology, and history and look at all of the leaps of faith being touted as fact and ask yourself, does this make sense? 

I still remember sitting in a third grade classroom in Lancaster and having a teacher tell us that the earth was heading into the next ice age.  Thirty years later, my own kids are being told that the planet is warming.  High school, the planets millions of years old, today its billions, and too bad those extra zeros couldn’t have found their way to my bank account instead.  Science would like for us to “Believe” it has all the answers, but it doesn’t.  Two of my brothers are men of science, one a doctor the other computers, and don’t get me wrong I want science to take us to the moon and beyond, thankful for its cure of polio, and hope for further amazement.  Hey I’m still waiting for the flying car and the transporter.  But what I really want is to hear science say “Well if this then that, but the truth is we really don’t know.  What we are telling you is what we think happened, but to truly believe it we have to take this amazing leap of faith that things played out in the past exactly how we think they did with absolutely no variance to the equation. 

So which is more an act of blind faith?  Believing in the latest idea about how the world began, no it’s NOT a theory go plug “scientific theory” into Wikipedia yourself, then ask does evolution meet that criteria? Or is a belief system that’s been around for 2,000 years seem more stable more permanent and less a blind leap than the latest trend?