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I don't want to believe...

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I don't want to believe...
Chris writes in the Theory of Evolution:


<<The confusion with Omnipresence comes about because of some people’s inability to distinguish between ‘everything having its being within God’ and ‘God being in everything’.

God is actually ‘everywhere in the physical universe’, (logically therefore God is in everything and everything is in God), but nothing in the physical universe is actually God, but God’. God is not physical, even though God is in the physical universe. God is Spirit, so to imagine that any physical object can be invested with the power to grant prayers and requests, (as God is), is idolatry.

I think that is what the passage you quoted from Romans is describing. That’s why I think its important to understand the difference between believing that plants and creatures have adapted and changed down through the ages to become what they are now, (supremely adapted to their environment) on the one hand. (A quite reasonable conclusion), And that prayers and supplications to inanimate objects, imagined to contain the essence of divinity, but themselves subject to decay and destruction, can possibly be of any use to human beings, who are themselves ‘made in the image of God’.>>

This would seem to also eliminate the belief that sacred objects can alter outcomes, that is, lead to miracles. As well as, casting doubt on the belief that any geographical position in the physical world can do the same. If the Spirit of God is not there, then no divine power is either.

Tricky, this. So much of religious belief often relies upon the sanctified material world. If I may assume, this is where the truth of intimate relation with the Spirit of God makes faith possible and a personal reality.

Atheists don't have that. It was Carl Sagan who said, "I don't want to believe. I want to know." Perhaps that would be considered an arrogant contention to those whose faith lets them believe, but ....there it is.

If you Chris, Allen, Sarah or Kenny were to suddenly, or not-so-suddenly, come to "know" and to "feel" an intimate relationship with another deity...Odin, maybe...what would you reason that you were experiencing? What would the Christian that is you, think about what was happening to you?

Would you accept this new experience? Would you give in to the "truth" of what you feel, because when you "know" so absolutely it is easier to just give in and believe? Would you explore this new "knowledge" of Odin? Suppose it was very similar to the "knowledge" that is your Christian faith?

I think I know well what you would say to this. Spiritual warfare is something many believers hold as truth. Sorry if I am getting the wording wrong.

This is what Sagan wanted to "know." If I were to give in and just accept based on faith in what my "soul" wanted to believe, I would not know that what I was believing was real. I would be ignoring my reason. I would be ignoring my mind.

This is difficult for me to fully explain. There are parts of Jeanne that are hard to put into words. I am no more complicated than anyone else, but the whole idea of belief in the non-material is too much and when asked to put an entity...a Creator Deity, to that non-material and accept its scripture as divine revelation. And...that only one is truth, while all others are falsehood and, possibly evil-designed, I cannot do that. Not without knowing.

Well... "that's a deep subject" my Dad would say.

-Jeanne
"The Ox is slow, but the Earth is patient."
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Re: [jeanne53] I don't want to believe... In reply to
Hi Jeanne:

This would seem to also eliminate the belief that sacred objects can alter outcomes, that is, lead to miracles. As well as, casting doubt on the belief that any geographical position in the physical world can do the same. If the Spirit of God is not there, then no divine power is either.

If, as scripture seems to indicate, God is omnipresent, (i.e. everywhere in the universe at once), it implies that God is intimately close to everything and therefore everyone. This would mean that no place is more ‘sacred’ than any other. It might also mean though that human beings can be more open to the feel of God’s presence in some places more than others. That would be more to do with ‘our’ receptivity or sensitivity to it, rather than the qualitative actuality of God’s presence.

Human beings have understandable difficulty in communicating with an invisible deity, let alone ordering their lives around principles said to have been handed down from a remote and invisible God.

Christianity claims that God himself somehow became incarnate, lived the life of a human being, taught and lived an ethical life and was unjustly accused, tried, sentenced and executed by the religious and secular authorities of his time but on the third day was vindicated by the invisible God by being raised from the dead. A future hope of those who follow his example.

Christians believe that Jesus Christ offers access to the invisible, omnipresent God by mediation through himself, for those who are willing to be obedient to his WAY. Namely his teaching and example of living.

The world being what it is though, treats followers of Christ in a similar way to the way He was treated and we have no advantages or special privileges of protection from the world’s hostility than did He when on earth.

Tricky, this. So much of religious belief often relies upon the sanctified material world. If I may assume, this is where the truth of intimate relation with the Spirit of God makes faith possible and a personal reality.

Much of the ‘faith’ of a disciple of Christ relies on resolve, determination and loyalty, rather than on personal revelation or ‘proof’ of the reality of God or Christ. That is what makes it ‘faith’ rather than ‘knowledge of personal experience’. Though many ‘believers’ will offer testimony to God’s saving grace in their lives, such experiences are usually only the ‘jug of water that primed the pump’, not the driving force of their entire ‘faith’. Most Christians are little better off when it comes to ‘certainty ’ about eternal verities than any atheist. We have a ‘Hope’ that our ‘faith’ will be verified, and that is about it really.

To maintain that kind of faith in the face of adversity requires considerable courage, which we hope and pray will be provided when it is needed. Not much different to the hopes of any ethical atheist, I would assume.

If you Chris, Allen, Sarah or Kenny were to suddenly, or not-so-suddenly, come to "know" and to "feel" an intimate relationship with another deity...Odin, maybe...what would you reason that you were experiencing? What would the Christian that is you, think about what was happening to you?

My guess is that all human beings rely pretty much on their past experiences to interpret and make sense of any new ‘phenomenon’. I was brought up to expect God one day to perhaps make Himself known to me in some way, if I sought after Him. At one point in my life God did just that and I categorized the experience using the norms of the culture I was brought up in, (i.e. in terms of Christian symbolism). Had I been of an entirely different culture in an entirely different age I may have reacted in an entirely different way, who knows. That is why I cannot judge other times, other places and other people and their deeds. (And neither does Christ). I can only, as a disciple, compare my behavior with Christ’s and when it does not compare well, be willing to reform and conform to his requirements of me. (That is called the process of ‘sanctification’).

Would you accept this new experience? Would you give in to the "truth" of what you feel, because when you "know" so absolutely it is easier to just give in and believe? Would you explore this new "knowledge" of Odin? Suppose it was very similar to the "knowledge" that is your Christian faith?

I can only assume that was exactly the way the ancients sought after the ‘truths’ they grappled to comprehend. Their problem was the same as ours. Their underlying formative experiences inevitably placed them in a position where every ‘new’ experience competed with what already they held to be ‘true’. If that had been full blooded paganism then ‘Christian’ experience had a tough act to follow but also appealed to something needy, deep in the human psyche. Christianity was not so much ‘imposed’ upon an unwilling world. It was gradually embraced by those who had reached an ability to comprehend its values, because it chimed with natural hopes of immortality.

This is difficult for me to fully explain. There are parts of Jeanne that are hard to put into words. I am no more complicated than anyone else, but the whole idea of belief in the non-material is too much and when asked to put an entity...a Creator Deity, to that non-material and accept its scripture as divine revelation. And...that only one is truth, while all others are falsehood and, possibly evil-designed, I cannot do that. Not without knowing.

Don’t think of ‘faith’ as a form of intellectual suicide. True ‘faith’ is not the denial of what you reason to be true. True ‘faith’ is a resolve to do what you believe to be right, even though it may be to your own expense and disadvantage. You know, (Garden of Gethsemane stuff).

To remain loving when others are hateful, kind when others are cruel, joyful in the face of adversity, peaceful when threatened, patient when provoked, kind when abused, good when no good comes to you for it, faithful when others desert and decamp, gentle with the wayward and self controlled in the face of insults and intimidating threats.

To do these things, be you atheist or believer, you will need ‘faith’ and ‘resolve’. Faith that it is all worthwhile and resolve to carry it through if you are convinced that it IS worthwhile.

It is my belief that the person who has a desire to behave this way, and does, will be the one who hears the words ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant’.

Regards Chris.
In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 2 Cor. 5:19. Love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Pet.4:8b.

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rdrcofe: Mar 19, 2015, 2:36 PM
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Re: [rdrcofe] I don't want to believe... In reply to
Thank you, Chris, for your very thoughtful reply. There is much to ponder there.

If Christianity was the only faith throughout history into modern times, which could be described as your testimony has done, perhaps atheists might be nudged toward acceptance. But...it isn't. Even its own history does not support this description.

What humans have done to the religion surrounding deity belief and what atheists can be without deity belief makes its acceptance nearly impossible. That Christianity is not alone in its "mythology" nor its doctrine, nor its scripture, nor its miracles, nor its adherents to its various sects only compounds the impossibility.

That your faith in your belief is something most worthy of pursuit by anyone who is seeking is absolutely not questionable. It represents the very best of what humanity should strive for, in my opinion. It is represented in Secular Humanism, as well as in the other faiths of humanity, which we might refer to as gentle and based on the premise that we should love one another and be humble before the Creator.

Where does that leave God's creation, humans that is? Should we abandon deep thought and questioning, which has produced the atheist-dilemma? But...then, atheist usually means that one believes in only one less deity than the theist. There are a bunch of deities that both Christians and atheists do not believe in.

I appreciate your faith, Chris. At times I envy your ability to believe. But...honestly, I very rarely think about my atheism or about the non-existence of deities. Ethical living...that I think about. Day to day worries that I am not the person at all times that I would like to be...yes, that I think about. How to be a better wife, friend, mother, sister....human being? My faults, my failures, my stupid mistakes, my regrets, my hopes, my struggles...all reside within my thoughts, pestering my conscience and helping me try harder to live up to my ideals...all of which were influenced by the best and worst of Christianity in which I was reared.

Until later.

Jeanne
"The Ox is slow, but the Earth is patient."
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Re: [jeanne53] I don't want to believe... In reply to
Jeanne - you are a prolific writer-I can't keep up! However, one thing you said: "If you Chris, Allen, Sarah or Kenny were to suddenly, or not-so-suddenly, come to "know" and to "feel" an intimate relationship with another deity...Odin, maybe...what would you reason that you were experiencing? What would the Christian that is you, think about what was happening to you?" This seems to be a "straw man" argument. None of the people you mentioned to my knowledge have had such an experience with another deity. If not, then you are assuming it could happen and then making an argument against a fictitious situation you created - the very definition of a "straw man" argument; not valid in logic.
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Re: [jeanne53] I don't want to believe... In reply to
Again, you make so many different points I have to break them down to isolate a response. Nothing wrong with that; I understand you are explaining at length. You wrote: " It was Carl Sagan who said, 'I don't want to believe. I want to know.' Perhaps that would be considered an arrogant contention to those whose faith lets them believe..."
Well, Sagan let an important cat out of the bag. He is right, people choose to belief everything that makes up their comprehensive belief system. People believe what they do for many reasons: that is what their parents believed, they are bigots, they are irrational, they have studied a subject and, based on the data, arrived at a rational belief, they accept what someone else told them and so on - each belief can have a different reason for holding that belief. According to your quote I don't understand the "I don't want to believe, I want to know." We want to know something so that we can belief something is true. The two are inextricably linked, otherwise there is no reason to know something unless gathering knowledge is an end itself (trivia buffs) or it is just entertainment - which it can be. But entertainment, I dare say, is not what Sagan had in mind.

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Re: [Paulinus] I don't want to believe... In reply to
Hi Paulinus.

You write:

<<Jeanne - you are a prolific writer-I can't keep up! However, one thing you said: "If you Chris, Allen, Sarah or Kenny were to suddenly, or not-so-suddenly, come to "know" and to "feel" an intimate relationship with another deity...Odin, maybe...what would you reason that you were experiencing? What would the Christian that is you, think about what was happening to you?" This seems to be a "straw man" argument. None of the people you mentioned to my knowledge have had such an experience with another deity. If not, then you are assuming it could happen and then making an argument against a fictitious situation you created - the very definition of a "straw man" argument; not valid in logic.>>

Probably, but I never was much for debating terms and logic. I just write as I feel. In trying to help believers understand how I would feel should I find God suddenly in my being, I asked them what they would think should they suddenly find a different God in their being, in their minds. Nobody answered, but I assumed it would feel foreign to them, maybe a bit frightening to have a strong presence of some different spirit besides God communing with them.

Again...I apologize for my terminology...I don't know how to best express what I want to convey.

Would Christians worry that they were under the influence of a demon? Would they worry that they were losing grip on reality?

Would they realize that they had been wrong about the God they should worship?

I am not trying to build a straw man and then knock him down...is that the way of logical debate?

I am merely expressing how I might feel were I suddenly experiencing God. Or at least, I think that is the way the post was going...now I have to go back and check.

Or do Christians not have experience with God like that? Was there no filling of their soul? Do they not feel God's presence with them? I have never felt any presence with me.

-Jeanne
"The Ox is slow, but the Earth is patient."
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Re: [Paulinus] I don't want to believe... In reply to
Paulinus-

If faith is required to believe, then that is not for me. Or...I think for Sagan. He did not want to believe through faith, he wanted to know through fact.

If I choose to believe in something, then that belief will be based on fact and experience. I believe my husband loves me and is faithful to me because of fact and experience. I believe the sun will appear tomorrow in the sky because of fact and experience.

I have no experience with a deity and there are no facts to prove that a deity exists, whether it is the God of Christianity or not, so I do not believe in deities.

-Jeanne
"The Ox is slow, but the Earth is patient."
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Re: [jeanne53] I don't want to believe... In reply to
Jeanne,

If you Chris, Allen, Sarah or Kenny were to suddenly, or not-so-suddenly, come to "know" and to "feel" an intimate relationship with another deity...Odin, maybe...what would you reason that you were experiencing? What would the Christian that is you, think about what was happening to you?

Your question boils down to, "Is experience the measure of truth. Another way to put it is, Is truth subjective or objective? Experience can change from day to day and even from moment to moment. Drugs and circumstances can alter feelings. Psalm 119:89 states, "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." The Word of God is completely without change and is the absolute truth man needs for both belief and practice.

Blessings,
ALF
And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. (Re 22:12–13)
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Re: [Alf2662] I don't want to believe... In reply to
Hi Alf.

Hard facts are not subjective, although how a person experiences them can indeed be altered due to subjective conditions.

This has been observed in experiments in which people have a "God experience" from drugs, suggestive hypnosis, injury, inhalants or intrusive waves to the brain, as well as, chemical imbalance that occurs with several mental illnesses or NDEs. Basically anything that causes the brain to malfunction can cause a "God experience."

You write:

<<Your question boils down to, "Is experience the measure of truth. Another way to put it is, Is truth subjective or objective? Experience can change from day to day and even from moment to moment. >>

If I use hard facts and my presumably healthy brain experience, I have no reason to believe in God. That is my truth until something alters it.

Truths are a bit more elusive than facts.

Mathematics is fact. That "music hath charms to soothe a savage breast" is truth.

"Murder is unethical" is truth. "Killing a person ends their bodily functions" is a fact. Unless they are hooked up to some insane device that fulfills all bodily functions…are they living, though or just a part of the machine?

As for belief, I have more reason to believe that there are faeries, than that there is a creator deity that knows all, sees all, and has a hand in all that occurs at all times forever, that cares about all living creatures, that has a plan and a place for whatever energy is left after bodies die and that detailed its truth and facts in a book that it revealed to humans a long, long time ago.

That is just my experience and my reasoning. I doubt that it is yours…and that is okay; whatever gets you by. I don't expect much from Faeries, but I expect even less from the Christian deity.

I remain as I have been for many years, an atheist of a determinist bent, who accepts only the material world of which Faeries may or may not be a part.

So…okay. Happy New Year!

-Jeanne
"The Ox is slow, but the Earth is patient."
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Re: [jeanne53] I don't want to believe... In reply to
Jeanne: Hi - Happy New Year.

My experience of God and his inscrutable ways is such that I strongly doubt that ‘He’ is offended by your skepticism Jeanne. There is no reward from God for being easily persuaded into inadvisable action, in the face of a paucity of evidence. Quite the opposite in fact, (as the mythical Eve discovered to her and our cost).

Unless God has good reason for revealing ‘Him’-self to you, as ‘he’ did to Moses and many others, according to the scriptures’, (to include them in His inscrutable purposes), then God is probably quite content with your current situation.

I would however question the advisability of your assertion that you ‘do not want’ to believe. That would tend to imply that you are not open even to being convinced, even if you were chosen to have an unmistakably ‘burning bush’ experience.

I would not wish you to ‘miss out’ on perhaps the most profound revelation of your life, merely because you have convinced yourself beforehand that it is a flat-certain impossibility. (That would indeed be the thinking of a mind closed at both ends). I do not think you have a 'closed' mind. Indeed you frequently have demonstrated your capacity for rational thought. But could fear of possible disappointment be reducing your desire to know.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God:
when shall I come and appear before God:
Psalm 42. (All in good time).

God's grace is 'irrational'. We simply don't deserve it. It is poured out for you, me and everyone, the whole human race. It's yours for the taking and the only price to pay is to ' love your neighbour as you would love yourself ' i.e the golden rule.

God is not impressed by mere intellectual assent to the possibility of His existence, neither is his justice avoided by mere unthinking acceptance of his reality, by those lacking sufficient intellect to question it. That is not 'living by faith' it is pretending to live by presumptuous, thoughtless, uninformed, false 'certainty'. It cuts no ice with God.

Doubt is a natural default position of The Wise. But don't let it prevent you from partaking of 'a free feast in the Kingdom'.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible”. see Matt. 19:16-26.

Lovingly: Regards Chris.
In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 2 Cor. 5:19. Love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Pet.4:8b.

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rdrcofe: Jan 5, 2016, 10:20 AM
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Re: [rdrcofe] I don't want to believe... In reply to
Hello Chris. Happy New Year, my friend. I would that I could wish you a better and more cheery year than last, but I fear the opposite will be true. Still…here is to a year that brings a personal cheer no matter the darkness of the rest of the world.

Your post has made me laugh out loud:

<<Unless God has good reason for revealing ‘Him’-self to you, as ‘he’ did to Moses and many others, according to the scriptures’, (to include them in His inscrutable purposes), then God is probably quite content with your current situation. >>

Well…who am I to deny God a sort of contentment over my current situation/condition? I am so content with it that I often forget that I am an atheist in a country of theists of all sorts.

You advise:

<<I would however question the advisability of your assertion that you ‘do not want’ to believe. That would tend to imply that you are not open even to being convinced, even if you were chosen to have an unmistakably ‘burning bush’ experience. >>

The emphasis is not on the word "want" but on the word "believe" and the word "know." I want to KNOW, not BELIEVE. That is the famous quote from Carl Sagan, "I do not want to believe, I want to know."

There is no reason for a deity to make me know of its existence, if it hasn't done so yet. If I experienced a deity, let us use the Christian God as an example, I would expect some sort of reasonable and rational yet intimate knowledge of God's existence that would bowl me over with its simple undeniable truth. Something that would not persuade me to seek psychiatric help would be a suggestion.

Perhaps you remember that my family is prone to mental illnesses, such as OCD, Manic-Depression and Paranoid Schizophrenia. The big warning sign for my sister is when her cats start revealing God's messages to her. There are more subtle ones and she and we watch for those before she goes whole hog into Mania.

I don't know what a "God experience" would have to entail for me to become a believer.

The message from Jesus, whether he was an historical person or not, is to love the Creator and love one another. That covers a lot, that is, much personal philosophy can be found there.

The Creator's grace is irrational; there is no reason why life should be. That there is something instead of nothing is a material fact, so that fits in with my experience. There are those philosophers who question their own existence, but I really don't have time for that. Why did they, I wonder? Life is for living, not for wondering if it is. I suppose someone lived so that they could afford the luxury of wondering if they did… Too bizarre!

You continue:

<<God is not impressed by mere intellectual assent to the possibility of His existence, neither is his justice avoided by mere unthinking acceptance of his reality, by those lacking sufficient intellect to question it. That is not 'living by faith' it is pretending to live by presumptuous, thoughtless, uninformed, false 'certainty'. It cuts no ice with God. >>

That we live, that our world exists makes us always subject to the Creator's justice; it is not a gentle Universe. Whatever gentleness we receive can only be compounded by the gentleness that we give. But…not necessarily because Life, The Universe and Everything is not gentle to any living being or any material at all for that matter. The best you can do is to do the best you can to survive in harmony with those that are traveling at the same time. That is the "free feast of the kingdom" of the Creator.

Most of us don't do so well. Yet, we all end up in the same place we began by becoming inextricably mixed into the whole of the Universe and ceasing to exist as a supposed separate entity.

Since I will not "pass this way again" it behooves me to make it count for something more than just my body's existence.

I think I am doing okay. No great achievement, but "mediocrity is underrated" I think. Somebody has to do the mere living so that some may do the great things for humanity. And…of course, the only real requirement from the Creator is to replicate our genetic material and continue the species.

Indeed, it appears that all things are possible for the Creator, whatever that is. We have yet to discover all of the possibilities. But my Creator doesn't care, everything just is. I do not know anything about the Creator of the whole of existence; not why or how or when or even if there was a point of actual Creation or that any such Creator exists or ever did. Yet it is Creation that allows me life. It is the whole of Everything that allows everything in my life, so what is not to love and be grateful for…even the nastiness that must exist if anything exists. Sucks, that, but what are you gonna do? With the butterflies come the mosquitoes, etc.

What a confusing mess humans are! Me included.

-Jeanne
"The Ox is slow, but the Earth is patient."
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Re: [jeanne53] I don't want to believe... In reply to
God is everything)