What is your most compelling reason for believing in God?

Here is a question that may shed some light and understanding on the common ground between Evangelicals and Mormons:

Why (the heck) do you believe in God anyway?

There are all kinds of reasons not to believe in God, all kinds of proofs for his existence, but I doubt these make a lot of difference in the bedrock reasons for belief in a personal God.  So, for those willing to share, if you do believe that a personal God exists, what is the most compelling reason for you. Is it a historical account, a personal experience, a series of personal experiences?

For me, although there are other reasons, it comes down to a series of personal experiences  (quite a few) that I can’t explain effectively without refering to God.  I know this comes across as pretty weak, but my skeptical nature has stripped bare my interpretations of these experiences to the point to where that is the best description of what anchors my faith.

In recent years I have mentally revisited many of my experiences and tried to be more discerning about what they really mean.  My attitude is partly shaped by the thoughts of the  philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the most compelling and entertaining anti-christ writers, who criticised the way people view religious experiences:

” As interpreters of our experiences- One sort of honesty has been alien to all founders of religions and their kind: They ahve never made their experiences a matter of conscience for knowledge. “What did I really experience?  What happened in me and around me at the that time? Was my reason bright enough? Was my will opposed to all deceptions of the senses and bold in resisting the fantastic?” None of them has asked such questions, nor do any of our dear religious people ask them even now.  On the contrary, they thirst after things that go against reason, and they do not wish to make it too hard for themselves to satisfy it. So they experience “miracles” and “rebirths” and hear the voices of little angels! But we, we others who thirst after reason, are determined to scrutinize our experiences as severely as a scientific experiment– hour after hour, day after day.  We ourselves wish to be our experiments and guinea pigs.” — (The Gay Science #319 trans. by Walter Kaufmann, 1974, Random House. )

I have tried to take guidance from this advice, because I think it is important for me to feel comfortable that I am not deceiving myself, because ultimately I have to be able to trust myself in order to trust my experiences.  One of these experiences that confirms my belief in God occurred about 4 months ago.  I went to temple square in Salt Lake City and walked through the tour posing as a non-mormon. It was me, a couple from Britain and a guy from Brooklyn.  The sisters that lead us through the tour, although pretty, did not have much game when it came to explaining the church to the savvy, skeptical non-believer.    The tour lasted about 20 minutes and ended at the Assembly Hall a pretty church that sits next to the Tabernacle.   I sat down on an pew and told the sisters I wanted to ask them a question, why did they believe in God.   They gave me the standard, true believer answers, i.e. that everything tells them that there is a God, that they get answers to their prayers all the time (e.g. one sister prayed in the morning when she lost her keys, and they turned up, etc).   I could tell they were sincere believers, not brainwashed, but not skeptical of the experiences they had either, therefore I found much of what they were saying un-helpful. All of this was very sincere, and I don’t find any fault with what they said or how they said it, but I was essentially disappointed, this was the same stuff rehashed and wasn’t at all compelling.  Then one sister turned to me, and said that if I would pray in my room that night, and ask God to show himself that I would get an answer.   Of course this is exactly what I had expected, but I did not expect the internal response I had.  Almost the instant the words came out of her mount, it was all I could do just to hold it together, tears were streaming down my cheeks.  I was not sure if I was surprised or not but tried to remain as “objective” as possible about what was happening, and I don’t want to jump to many conclusions about the ultimate meaning and interpretation of the experience.  But suffice it to say this came at a time where I was at my most skeptical of the existence of God, the Church, Christianity, etc.

The sisters were remarkably cool about how they reacted, they stood there until I pulled it together, I apologized for my tears and they said goodbye, didn’t push anything or put any spin on what they clearly saw happen to me.

Now I am not about to put too much of a spin on this experience either, I don’t know that it should “prove” anything to you at all, after all you were not in a position to observe myself as I was, you were not in a position to be the scientist to make sure that there were not non-God influences that brought about such a strong reaction in me.   Certainly you cotuld chalk up my reaction to so many similar childhood experiences, or even  conditioned response.  But as the observer who knew my history best, and can see the similarities and differences in this context compared to other near identical experiences where I did not have such a reaction, my conclusion is that something outside of me triggered this reaction.  Given the vagueness of the way I felt,  I can’t say that this experience was proof of the truth of the Mormon Church, or Christianity, or anything particularly detailed, but I can say that on that Sunday afternoon, I felt that God existed and was making me feel it in the presence of those two kids with nametags, representing the LDS Church and It didn’t seem to have much to do with what they were saying or how they said it.

This is one of dozens of experiences that  I could relate.  Unfortunately, even taken together, they don’t remove most of the questions I have regarding God and religion, but they do mean something.   To continue with the science analogy, I am still seeking more data points before I draw my regression line.

I am interested to know what Evangelicals and Mormons alike think about this sort of anchor for a belief in God and also very interested to know what anchor’s other people’s faith.   My guess is that we my have more in common on this issue than on our theology.

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193 thoughts on “What is your most compelling reason for believing in God?

  1. The coontinuing saga of whether or not I believe in God and why is pretty much what my blog is all about.

    I stopped believeing in God when the Mormon house of cards came down: if Joseph Smith and the restoration were not true, then my reasons for believing in them (the Mormon Way To TruthTM) was not reliable. Since I believed in Jesus Christ and God for the same reasons I believed in the Restoration, it was only a matter of time before it all unraveled (I think that’s a pretty common route for ex-Mormons to go down, and one that has been discussed here on this blog before).

    Eventually, I found myself flat-out not believing in God at all, but I very quickly came to the conclusion that atheism simply did not suit me. So I started looking for reasons to believe in God. I read a lot about Hindu concepts of deity. I read some Christian literature. I decided that I believed in God, but it was an intellectual decision that I didn’t really feel, and it always felt like I was trying to convince myself that I believed, instead of actually believeing. I felt like I was playacting a bit.

    My real watershed moment came after watching Tae Geuk Gi, a Korean war movie that left me deeply unsettled, questioning whether God could exist at all with all of the horrible things that happen. My answer came on a long drive back home from Atlanta where I read C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces in one sitting. It was a powerful experience–and an absolutely fantastic book–and it left me convinced that God really does exist, despite everything.

    Maybe that’s not a very impressive story, but it’s what I’ve got.

  2. I have always believed in God. That was never a question for me, because of my personal experience with the supernatural since the age of about four or five. The question was always, “Which God do I believe in?”

    Ephesians 6:12-For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 6-13-Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

    My experienc that changed my life, I was still drunk from the night before: waiting tables in a Mexican restaraunt. Three ladies came in and ate lunch. I kept messing everything up. I hadn’t felt good in a few days, and I was hung over. They were patient. They were nice.

    They began to ask me questions like, was I married…did I have children..did I want children…I told them no, yes, yes…so on. I was thinking they were really being nosy…

    It came to pass, as the were leaving, they stopped and layed hands on me. One said that I was pregnant, and that the father of the baby would not be the daddy. I would marry another man. Mind you, I am already 31 years of age. She said that man would raise my child, and my child would call him Daddy. Another layed hands on my stomache, and fell back writhing on the floolr, and speaking in tounges. Another lady began to tell me that my child was a Holy Ghost Child. The child was of God. After a few minutes of praying and speaking in tounges, they left. On the way out, one of the ladies stopped, and charged me with a pointed finger that I should get into church. She never said which church….she just said church.

    I had a difficult pregnancy….(never supposed to be firtle by the way). I was pregnant with a girl. She had a double bubble and congenitial heart disease. She had two symptoms. Cleft valves and a hole in her septum. They expected her to live no longer than 6 months. During the wholeof the pregnancy, up until the time of birth, the geneticist counceled me on abortion. I live in Texas. She tried to get me to go to California where they would perform full term abortions. I refused. Being an ex-druggie, and a newly refromed alchoholic, I believed that God was trying to get my attention. The prophetic words of the three women constantly haunted me. I said, “This is the child God gave me. This is the child I shall give birth too.”

    When it came time to have her, two teams of surgeons were in the room prepped for immediate open heart surgery, and stomach surgery. ( I should note that I had a sonogram every seven days. I had her on the third day of the lastsonogram.) And she was born. She was born with no stomache blockage, and a small pin hole in her heart. The defects were not small. She had no separation from any chamber in her heart. They were all open to one another. She was well…as far as we knew. They said the pinhole in the septum should continue to heal itself.

    I noticed when she was born she wasn’t quite normal. …I took her to the nurse. She had failure to thrive, torticolis(svere!!), and could not suck. I had to feed her with a sirenge. She could not sit up until after she was a year and a half. She just kind of layed there and smiled occasionally. She had no co=ordination or muscle tone. We believed possibly that she would never walk.

    The preacher started praying….( I got married to an ex-boyfriend. He was a backslid Pentecostal. I was going to a Charasmatic Church. He demanded that I go to his Church he grew up in. We began to go together. We prayed through. And were rebaptized.) She began to grow stronger. ( She was also in Early Childhood Intervention>)
    We took her to the pediatric cardiologist for a follow up. They said the hole had gotten bigger and needed more study.
    We took her home and I brought her before the evangelical prophet. I took her up onto the podium before the church. My husband and I did…..This is the same prophet that told us she would be fine. That she would heal and grow. I was like the woman from the bible that made the prophet breathe life back into her son. I said, “you told me she would be fine. They say she is not. Make her well.”
    He held her into the air towards Heaven. He began to pray and speak in tounges. He brought her down and roughly put her fragile body into my arms. He said, “Sister. Go back to that doctor. Do what is right. But, I say to you she is well. God just told me to tell you that the doctor will say that it is a mistake. An artifact must have been in the way. Do not bring her back.”
    We did what the preacher said do. And the doctor took another sonogram. Then did an ex-ray, then did another sonogram, and then another x-ray. He said, “My dad is the one that read the original x-ray. I don’t know what he saw, but it was a mistake. There must have been an artifact in the way. She is fine. Don’t bring her back.”
    Now, my daughter is four years old. She is in special education at our public school. She has friends. She started talking in sentences a year ago. She is developmentally delayed, but is the prettiest girl you ever did see. She has a personality that is wonderful. She is very strong in her will and opinion. She is awesome.
    I have since had another child. A son. …./….who was also prophesied by the same preacher that prophesied over my daughter.
    “God is great, and greatly to be praised.” Somewhere in the bible or a song…..not sure. But it is the truth.
    Now my husband prefers things of the world as opposed to the Church. It causes arguements and dissarray in our lives for me to continue to go to church. We are no longer in church. I wish we were. It breaks my heart, and keeps me awake. I pray that God can only forgive me for not being a stronger woman.
    I have a testimony. My testimony is why I believe in God. Jehova Jira. I praise him. I praise him. I praise him.

  3. Amazing testimony Tam! Thanks for sharing that experience. It seems that such experiences re-affirm my own experience that God can reveal himself as loving and compassionate through such miraculous experiences.

    Kullervo- appreciate those thoughts. I read Till We Have Faces during the first two weeks of July, being motivated by your previous comments. I did like it a lot, definitely relates to my thoughts and concerns about interpretations of experiences. Since I was not able to read it straight through, and I was interrupted frequently by kids crawling on my back It probably deserves another reading, but I continue to think about the insights of the book.

  4. I’m only a believer because He has made me one.

    The way I lead my life (and I would argue the everyone leads their lives) gives evidence that I am not really a believer after all.

    St. Paul tells us in Romans 3:11 that, “no one seeks for God”

    We might seek other gods, but not the Living God of the Bible.

    We don’t want such a God and our rebellion of Him day in and day out, proves it.

    But…the Good News is that he wants us. And He calls us through His gospel and creates faith in us (as Jesus said to Niccodemus) when and where He wills.

  5. OldAdam: I am interested to hear more about your belief:

    How did He make you a believer?

    At what point did you become a believer?

    What continues to make you a believer?

  6. Jared C.,

    He gave me His Spirit in my baptism (Acts 2:38) and the faith that He planted He nurtured and grew and continues to grow in me.

    He gave me faith and keeps me in that faith, through His Word and His Sacraments.

  7. Thanks for the vulnerable and thought provoking post Jared.

    I think our reasons for belief change and are added to and modified. As a child I believed because my parents taught me to. As a teenager I began to find my own reasons. As a college student I looked into history and reason. As a young adult I “tested” God with specific prayers.

    I think there is a great deal to be said about miracles and how God uses them to give people faith.

    I think there’s also a lot of bad reasons that people believe in God. But if I asked people to tell me how their microwaves work I’d get a lot of bad explanations as well. What is often most important to people is that “it works”. The explanations and reasoning is secondary.

  8. I find others’ simple expressions of faith deeply and profoundly moving. Even if you think there’s not much to it.

    Jared C – what a powerful experience! Spiritual experiences never seem like much in the retelling, I’ve found (one reason I’m hesitant to blog or journal them – they never come out nearly as powerfully as when they actually happened).

    Kullervo – I have not read that CS Lewis book but it is definitely on my list. Thanks for sharing your experience. Both Jared’s and your experiences are really affecting me today in a positive way. I’m not really sure why, but I appreciate both of you sharing something so deeply personal.

    tamwatson – I admire you for enduring well through your trials. God has truly worked miracles in your life. I wish you the best with your situation – I’ll try to remember to say a prayer for you tonight.

  9. The best answer I can give is that there’s something inside that won’t let me believe otherwise, because it’s hard for me to see how there could be meaning in life if there were no God. I realize there are atheists who find meaning in life, but I couldn’t be one of them. Even if for some strange reason I became convinced that Christianity is a scam, I’d have to believe that there’s something behind this thing we call human life.

    Why I believe that the true God is the God of the Bible is a whole other issue. Reasoning, experiences and (from my perspective) the Holy Spirit lead me to that conclusion. There’s nothing I could prove scientifically; it’s a matter of faith.

  10. I don’t care for nihilistic worldviews.

    The idea that something would become nothing doesn’t make much sense to me.

    Therefore, I believe in a transcendent human experience that endures beyond the now. Something never becomes simply nothing.

    P.S. Likewise, nothing never becomes something.

  11. Tim Said:

    “I think there’s also a lot of bad reasons that people believe in God. But if I asked people to tell me how their microwaves work I’d get a lot of bad explanations as well. What is often most important to people is that “it works”. The explanations and reasoning is secondary.”

    It seems the reason that the most compelling reason for you for belief is that “it Works”, am I wrong?

  12. Like Jared, I’ve had many experiences that convince me there is a God. I’ll share one of the most powerful I’ve had. It sounds so cheesy to me in writing it out, but for what it’s worth:

    When I was preparing for grad school, I didn’t feel like any place I’d visited was the right fit for me. I ended up choosing the one that made the most logical sense, but I didn’t feel at peace about the decision. Without any better option presenting itself, I made preparations to move from Utah to Illinois.

    I was leaving BYU where I had been in the same ward for 4 years and had had a very close relationship with my bishop. It had taken me a long time to feel “at home” in that ward, and I wasn’t looking forward to the adjustment to a new ward.

    I was making the move with 2 friends, one of whom was from Provo, so we departed from his house on the appointed morning. We were invited to pray with his family and his mom offered the prayer. She was praying something about our new ward and new bishop, and at that moment I had a powerful impression in my mind and heart. It wasn’t audible, but it was the closest spiritual impression to an audible voice I’ve ever had. The impression was “He (the new bishop) will not know you, but I know you, and I have a purpose for you in going to Illinois.” Next came into my mind the words of the song “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” This lyric repeated over and over in my mind the rest of the prayer – I don’t remember what else was said and I couldn’t hold back the tears of joy. I was filled with a sense of peace about the move, my choice of grad school, and the transition. Most importantly, I knew that God’s love was personal, and He knew my situation and was mindful of the vicissitudes of my life.

  13. On the other hand, if you were asking me why I believe in my gods, I would give a different answer. This was just about why I believe in the Divine generally, and why I believe there is a transcendent Divine Unity behind all of it.

  14. It seems the reason that the most compelling reason for you for belief is that “it Works”, am I wrong?

    I’m sure at times that probably was the case. Now I would say “because it’s objectively true”.

  15. Tim – I am not trying to argue with you, really, but, “I believe in God because He exists” or “I believe God is X because its objectively true that God is X” seems to be pretty unsatisfying to those who are not quite as sure about his existence and His nature.

    Additionally, it seems to me that everyone who believes in God also believes that it is objectively true that God exists. I can’t imagine that anybody here who believes in God believes that He only exists for them, and doesn’t exist for other people. What objective evidence is most convincing to you?

    I am not asking so I can pick it apart either, I have no agenda to pick apart anybody’s basis for belief, but I am interested in understanding it.

    Is there something that tell you that its objectively true in a clearer way than other things? This is the type of answer that I find helpful.

  16. Tomchik,

    Thanks for sharing that experience, one important evidence for a loving God for me is that we can feel His love and concern with our lives, like you describe.

  17. I agree with Jared. You can’t believe something because it is objectively true; you believe something is objectively true because of some reason, and Jared wants to know what that reason is.

    On the other hand, I am perfectly willing to accept the possibility that my gods are entirely subjective.

  18. I would echo those sentiments…I believe in God because He won’t let me forget that He’s around. And even when things are so crappy that all I do is stare at the wall for hours, He finds a way to jolt me with a little reminder that I’m very, very small, and He’s a very, very powerful force in my life.

    Let’s take my summer. I’m homesick, I want to be with my family, and I’m tired of DC. Stargazing is one of the things that I most closely associate with “home” and “happy,” and it’s also one of the things that makes me think “GOD.” So I walk into church yesterday, and what is the sermon about? God and the universe, with scriptural references to the enormity of the stars and the beauty of how we are small yet loved in the midst of all this splendor.

    Maybe it was a coincidence, and me getting all misty-eyed was unnecessary. But if it was a coincidence, it’s the same kind of coincidence as when the most beautiful shooting star I’ve ever seen shot over my friends and me at the end of an amazing week at church camp. And it’s the same as when I did a Bible flop and the verse that popped out kept me going through the crap storm that hit about a week later. Something wanted me to pay attention to the fact that there’s something bigger going on, and I am happy to listen.

  19. I wonder if that’s really what Tim meant by “objectively true.” He’s stated many times that he believes the Bible account because it is “historically verifiable” (or something like that). In other words, God’s existence is as much a matter of opinion (i.e., subjective) as George Washington’s.

  20. Sure, but in that case its the history that is the most compelling evidence. e.g.

    “I believe in God because the historical evidence of Jesus’ resurrection leads me to that conclusion more than all other evidence.”

  21. What a wonderful topic! I have many examples of why I believe in God, but here are three stories in particular:

    1. To begin with, I think there are people that are believers or non-believers by nature, and I happen to fit into the former camp. Don’t mistake that for a lack of skepticism, doubt, or intellectual inquiry, however – I’ve had all of the above in spades my entire life. It simply means that I start from a desire to believe in God – something not everyone shares.
    From this impulse and desire to find Him, I have associated God with nature and all things of beauty. Like many others before me, I have seen the Divine in mountains, oceans, and the great works of mankind, and in my own heart. This has given me an inherent sense of the reality of God, at a level too deep for me to really describe or even be conscious of it. I’ve always felt it, just as I feel the sun’s presence in the sky.

    But through it all, the reasoning inquiry has remained. I remember going through a period around age 16, struggling with angst over the prospect of nuclear war (this was the early 80s), I remember having what I think of as a “vision” (perhaps it was just a daydream, perhaps more) of the embrace of a loving God, making irrelevant the foolish ambitions and errors of humanity, even their potential self-destruction. The feeling of relief and right-ness was so overwhelming to me, that I consciously embraced theism as a moral concept.

    2. Sixteen years ago I had a near death experience: I went on a hike/climb in the mountains. Our objective included climbing a fairly short couloir (a chute of snow), followed by a scramble up some easy rock slabs to a summit. Because of the mixed snow/rock conditions, we used “compromise” boots that would be suitable for both surfaces. Our foolish mistake in hindsight was not using crampons (boot attachments with teeth for stability on snow); however, the climb was easy, and weather conditions had been such that the snow was expected to be very soft. I brought my ice axe.

    The couloir climb began well enough, a very pleasant hike through a seldom-traveled area. Huge, jagged rock walls towered on either side of the steep snow chute. It became apparent, though, that the snow in the upper chute (that we thought would be soft) was in fact rock-hard due to a freak rain/freeze cycle that occurred the night before. I was forced to bend my boot soles just to get a little edge to cling on the surprisingly icy slope. Going up to the rock was a much easier alternative than retreating, so we pressed on.

    Then, near the base of the slabs, it happened. I don’t remember the actual moment I fell, but before I knew it I was careening down the icy chute, my axe bouncing along, held next to me with the webbing wrapped around my wrist. I tried a few times to self-arrest, but the snow was incredibly hard. Within a few moments the webbing, which was tied to my wrist, slipped over my hand, and the axe was gone.

    At that moment, I knew I had a serious problem. I was flying down the ice chute, backwards, at full speed with no way to stop myself. Strange thoughts entered my mind as I slid down the gully. I did think about my life, so in that sense I guess it did “flash before my eyes”. My main thoughts were of my wife and kids – the thought distinctly occurred to me that this was the end of my life. It seemed very dreamlike. I remember thinking, “is this really happening?”, and saying to myself, “if I get killed, my wife will be really angry”. I had a lot of very personal thoughts that I won’t describe except to say that I seemed to have had time to consider some pretty complex philosophical concepts in detail.

    I expected to feel a few moments of free-flight, followed by a crushing blow as I sailed off the snow into a rocky ravine on the side. Again, the strange thing was the dreamy slow-motion in which the whole thing seemed to play out.

    After what seemed like an eternity, (it was probably about thirty seconds), I came to a stop by digging my hands into the icy snow. Once I stopped, I was terrified to move, fearing that I would begin to slide again. For several seconds I lay still, and then I waved my arm to let my climbing companions know I was all right.

    Finally, I was able to stand up and survey the situation. I was on a slope every bit as steep as the one I had slid down. The snow was rock-hard. And twenty feet below, directly in the path I had been taking, was a rocky chasm. Had I struck the rocks at full speed, I would have likely been killed or seriously injured.

    As it was, I sustained injuries in the fall from my clothes shredding away and the ice cutting into my skin. My friends commented that it “looked like cannibals had gotten to me”. But that was nothing compared to what could have had happened. Why did I stop? Honestly there was no reason for it that I could see. It was a real-life miracle.

    3. In recent years, circumstances that go beyond the scope of this topic have prompted me to explore my theism from a more academic perspective. For my professors I chose authors such as CS Lewis (I assume at everyone here has re-read Mere Christianity many, many times) and Tim Keller (anyone who has not read The Reason for God is really missing something) as well as many others. I started with the order of the universe, the Big Bang (what happened before?), and the beauty and regularity of nature. Then I considered the Moral Law principle made famous in C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity – I considered the absurdity of a god-lacking existence (what happens to morality, human rights, etc. if there is no divine reality), and confirmed anew, just as I had concluded as a teenager, that it is much more of a leap of faith to disbelieve than to believe in God.

    Much more to say of course, but for now I’ll stay on topic and leave it at that. I agree with the previous poster that God has made me a believer and not the other way around, but that doesn’t mean He hasn’t given me some stories to tell!

  22. Yeah, I’ve only read Mere Christianity a few times. Till We Have Faces I’ve read over and over again.

    I’ll answer your question in-depth when I get a chance, Jared.

  23. Miracles, The Abolition Of Man, Surprised By Joy, Till We Have Faces, and the Space Trilogy are all considerably superior to Mere Christianity.

  24. I think it’s amazing how much each of us like certain CS Lewis books more than others.

    For example, I read Great Divorce like every year, and Screwtape letters every other year.

    Tried listening to surprised by joy, and got soooo bored to death.

    Haven’t even seen Till We Have FAces.

  25. Jared said:
    Tim – I am not trying to argue with you, really, but, “I believe in God because He exists” or “I believe God is X because its objectively true that God is X” seems to be pretty unsatisfying to those who are not quite as sure about his existence and His nature.

    First off, I’m answering for myself not for all of humanity. Second, I knew that you would ask for more from me. But here’s the deal; there are two ways to answer the question:

    1) you ask me for reasons and if I give them to you then I’m appealing to reason (as you asked me to). I can do so if you wish, but a much better source is William Lane Craig’s “Reasonable Faith”.

    2) Some truths are self-evident, so I don’t need to give a reason for why they are true. Sure someone can has the ability to deny a self-evident truth but that doesn’t make it any less true or any less self-evident. I wouldn’t guess any post-modernist committed to his worldview would allow me to get away with that, but they’d be appealing to some of their own self-evident truths to persuade me so I’m not really concerned with their (self defeating) objections.

    Bottom line with both: because someone else doesn’t “see” it or can object to it doesn’t make it any less objectively true. I didn’t say that belief in God is “universally” true. A truth doesn’t have to be obvious or simple.

  26. Tim, I think I understand. Your answer reminds me a bit of a quote by Ludwig Wittgenstein:

    “I am sitting with a philosopher in the garden; he says again and again ‘I know that that’s a tree’, pointing to a tree that is near us. Someone else arrives and hears this, and I tell him: ‘This fellow isn’t insane. We are only doing philosophy.'”
    — Ludwig Wittgenstein (On Certainty)

    The quote doesn’t match perfectly, there are differences between seeing a tree in a garden and seeing God in the world, but I still like the insight.

  27. A belief in some sort of “God” may be self evident, but belief in the God of the Bible seems far from it to me. I can’t extrapolate the God of the Bible from objective truth’s I see in the world, but maybe my sight is not clear enough.

    Sometimes coming to a belief in God seems like coming to a belief in the Big Bang theory.

    The theory was developed by extrapolating conclusions from other theories (Einstein’s special relativity) and observable data (red-shifts of stars). The theory, the math and the data pointed to a beginning where everything was at a single point.

    You can get to God this way, you take the theory of God, compare it to the data and it makes sense. However this method is unsatisfying because even though the reasons are very strong, you don’t really “see” and experience the truth.

    However, the reason most scientists believe in the Big Bang theory is that they can go outside and measure the background radiation that is left behind.

    Of course, the meaning of these measurements is totally dependent on the predictions made by the theory. The power of the experience of measuring the background radiation is that this was predicted by the theory prior to its recording, turn on your analog TV and you see this in the form of static. The coherence is what gets most scientists on board. Without the solid theory you just got static, without the static you just got speculation.

    My problem is that I definitely can measure the static, its just that the theory does not consistently explain the static, so I take all the theory with a grain of salt and trust the static, but don’t quite know what to make of it.

    To me the static is self evident, Spiritual experiences are real, but I am still trying to piece together a coherent explanation for what I observe.

  28. Maybe I am looking for a religious Einstein. Some say that the theory or general relatively was so breathtaking in its genius, that if not for Einstein, we may be still be without it today.

    Here is a theory that is amazing, “true”, useful, but it took a freaking genius to point it out to us.

  29. There is no such thing as self-evident truths. You believe that something is self-evident because it is otherwise evident to you for some reason. At best, you’re simply not aware of the reasons you believe something, but that’s not the same as self-evident.

  30. My point is, the existence of God is somehow evident to Tim. Tim may be insufficiently self-aware to know exactly why or how, but the fact that he is apparently unable to articulate his reasons doesn;t mean “self-evident.” “Self-evident” is a cop-out at best, and a rhetorical bludgeon at worst.

  31. “self-evident truth” – to me means that evidence for the proposition is obvious from the proposition itself and that this evidence obviously and compellingly supports the proposition.

    Of course it has been said that you can’t really tell somebody something is obvious, what is obvious to one is not to another. This is where things get dicey, if what is obvious to you is madness to another, you have to explain your belief in terms others can understand. This is what I am after in bringing this topic up for public dialog. What is the most compelling evidence that we all can understand?

    OldAdam says that the most compelling evidence for God is God himself. But for those of us who can’t see this evidence its important to break it out into terms we can understand and make sense of.

    Newton’s laws of motion are evident from nature, but it took a genius to explain the evidence it a way that makes the evidence useful and the explanation consistent and reliable. (Even then, he didn’t get it absolutely right)

  32. To me it just means you are unaware oyuit unwilling to admit or examine your unsaid assumptions.

    And it means you’re accusing everyone who disagrees with your assessment of the evidence (ie everyone who does not share your unsupported assumptions) of intellectual dishonesty.

  33. I tried to give Tim the benefit of the doubt, but he’s losing me now; I’m starting to side with Kullervo. (Which is not a bad thing, except that he uses words like “oyuit.”)

    PS: I’d rather have a religious Darwin than a religious Einstein.

  34. Sorry, I was commenting from my iPhone. Those keypads are tricky. Also, who am I kidding, I’m a terrible typist anyway.

    What, you don’t know what “oyuit” means? Racist.

  35. I believe in God because of completely subjective personal experiences which have convinced me of His existence. I think there are rational reasons to believe in God, but they are not why I believe.

    Reason reinforces my belief, but the core of my belief is my experience with the divine. Without the experience, I’d probably apply reason to argue the opposite.

  36. I think that the Apostle Paul was your “religious Einstein”.

    So Joseph Smith, was he a religious Darwin? or maybe a Fermi?

  37. I should have known that you would believe what Mr. Chicken Little Gore is advocating.

    Yeah, Jared. You and all of those stupid legitimate scientists.

  38. No thanks, theoldadam. Much like I’m not going to seriously inquire into James Marshall’s ridiculous garbage about how the Book of Mormon has been proven archaeologically true, I am not going to read your list of context-free anti-global-warming zingers.

    I simply do not find you personally a credible source about anything at all and as such I am not really interested in wasting my time listening to you generally except to figure out ways to make fun of you. Especially since you’ve pretty much demonstrated that you have a religious agenda that poisons everything you say. If you thought that gravity was inconsistent with your religion, I’m pretty confident you’d have a blog post full of one-liner quotes from “eminent scientists” calling gravity into question. And it would not suprpise me to find every one of them bought and paid for by anti-gravity thinktanks, lobbies, and corporations who stand to benefit from widespread disbelief in the theory of gravity.

    Furthermore, even if global warming is total hogwash, pollution is still bad because it makes the world we live in really shitty. But it will still happen because it makes money, and morons like you will pretty much go to any length you can to not have to change the status quo, even if it means telling yourself that Jesus loves the status quo until you believe it.

    Fossil fuels are going to run out anyway, and nobody has as of yet advanced a credible, believable replacement for them that could possibly fuel our massive industrial society. But since changing the status quo is too uncomfortable, we’re going to keep on runnign the machine until it finally sputters out, and then we’re going to stare at each other like dumbfounded idiots, wondering what happened.

    In the meantime, we’ll make the planet all shitty, people will be sick and suffer because of it (especially in third-world countries where the burden of industrial pollution is disproportionately felt), but like a good Christian you’re too busy supporting Jesus-approved industrial capitalism to bother wasting your time thinking about sick brown people outside of your line of sight. Except to try to convert them, since all that matters to compassionate Christians like you is whether or not they go to heaven anyway–which, translated into reality, really means all that matters to you whether or not they inflate your religious ego by converting to your religion.

    But all of that’s pretty much inevitable, so whether or not Jared or I believe in global warming is kind of irrelevant. Consume away, Christian soldiers!

  39. For the record, I thought it was an awesome comment.

    Not sure theoldadam deserved it. Not sure it was quite relevant.

    But it was rather awesome.

    And if no one here fully deserved it, someone sure as hell does.

  40. I don’t think anyone here deserved it.

    Not believing in global warming ≠ pro-pollution.

    But it would probably be a good rabble-rousing comment on some Republican blog. I suggest WizBang.

  41. Not believing in global warming ≠ pro-pollution.

    For all practical purposes, bullshit. Sure, there’s nothing even remotely resembling an automatic logical connection between the two, but I have honestly yet to meet even one person who disbelieves in global warming who does not do so out of an attachment to a pro-industrial-capitalist agenda.

  42. I tend to agree with Kullervo.

    People who disagree with Global Warming tend to be following a Right-Wing agenda. Which, as a package deal, tends to include letting businesses do whatever the hell they want.

  43. What I am saying is, people don’t start out in a position of absolute neutrality, weigh the evidence, and conclude that global warming is a farce.

    People who conclude that global warming is not true either start out 1) a member of the Republican Party which has chosen to be on the stupid side of the argument because of business and industry connections and also just to have one more dumb wedge issue with which to differentiate themselves from Democrats, 2) a conservative Christian who thinks God wants us to use up the earth and pollution does not matter since the second coming is happening next year anyway, or 3) a mindless slave to our consumer culture who is threatened by the idea of having to make positive social and technological changes because it means they might not be able to drive that SUV to the strip mall, without wanting to have to think about the impact our lifestyles have on other people, the environment, and eventuallyy back on ourselves. Or they’re some variation of the above.

    Seriously it’s confirmation bias, confirmation bias, and more confirmation bias. You examine the evidence and weigh it in a twisted and distorted fashion to that you are sure to reach the conclusion you set out wanting to get in the first place.

    No matter how you spin it, it is pro-pollution, not pro-pollution for pollution’s sake like some Captain Planet villain, but people who are literally in favor of pollution because not being in favor of pollution means either making less money or changing the status quo in ways that make them feel threatened. Being pro-pollution because you think it is a necessary evil is still being pro-pollution, sorry.

  44. People who agree with Global Warming tend to follow a Left-Wing agenda which tends to let government do whatever the hell they want…including taking away your freedom.

  45. It’s really just a decision about who you want to be beat up by – government or businesses.

    Absence of laws and regulations usually ends up meaning that the guy with the biggest stick gets what he wants at the expense of those who don’t have big sticks.

  46. People who agree with Global Warming tend to follow a Left-Wing agenda which tends to let government do whatever the hell they want…including taking away your freedom.

    Dear gods that’s lame on so many levels.

    First, do you really think the only people who believe in global warming are left-wingers? Because it ain’t so.

    And the taking away your freedom line is so lame and played out. So pony up, douchebag: which freedoms, and in what way. Put it out there or take it back.

  47. OldAdam,

    I feel a Kullervo-like comment coming on in response to that last comment, but I am going to vomit off my balcony instead.

  48. And remember that there are at least three lawyers in this thread, so meaningless rhetoric ain’t gonna cut it. Back it up. Explain the relevant Constitutional Law issues. Explain or distinguish the controlling precedent. Most importantly, give concrete examples.

    You won’t, will you, theoldadam? Because you can’t. Because you’re spouting empty rhetoric instead of actually contributing to a conversation.

  49. Kullervo, do you maybe want to get back to me when you’re in a less bullshitty mood?

    Personally I’m indifferent to whether or not global warming is real. Even if it is, what the hell do you expect me to do about it? I’m already doing everything I can. I drive a Saturn Ion which is rated as the 2nd most sustainable environmentally friendly car, and I don’t even drive it most of the time; I’m an adamant pedestrian and bus pass user. I recycle all of our plastic, cans, cardboard, etc. I’m the kind of person who has a hard time passing up garbage on the street without picking it up and throwing it away. I could write you a long list of the type of cutbacks we make in our shopping to try and do our part to keep down pollution. And there’s a good chance I’ll be switching to a vegan diet in the future. If you think of more things I can be doing outside of “elect Democrats,” please, let me know.

    But when it comes to global warming, I’m really not interesting in listening to the bickering and ranting from either side, and I’m sure as hell not interested in listening to Al Gore. My feelings are, tell me what I can personally do to help or piss off, and I’m sticking to it.

  50. Kullervo, do you maybe want to get back to me when you’re in a less bullshitty mood?

    Personally I’m indifferent to whether or not global warming is real. Even if it is, what the hell do you expect me to do about it? I’m already doing everything I can. I drive a Saturn Ion which is rated as the 2nd most sustainable environmentally friendly car, and I don’t even drive it most of the time; I’m an adamant pedestrian and bus pass user. I recycle all of our plastic, cans, cardboard, etc. I’m the kind of person who has a hard time passing up garbage on the street without picking it up and throwing it away. I could write you a long list of the type of cutbacks we make in our shopping to try and do our part to keep down pollution. And there’s a good chance I’ll be switching to a vegan diet in the future. If you think of more things I can be doing outside of “elect Democrats,” please, let me know.

    But when it comes to global warming, I’m really not interesting in listening to the bickering and ranting from either side, and I’m sure as hell not interested in listening to Al Gore. My feelings are, tell me what I can personally do to help or piss off, and I’m sticking to it.

    Well then my searing indictment is not actually aimed at you, is it?

    Sure, there are limits to what we can do personally (and it sounds like you do more positive things than I do). And I basically agree with you that it doesn’t actually matter that much whether global warming is real or not, because all of the changes we would need to make socially would be immensely positive even if it was a total hogwash fantasy.

    I don’t need you to prove your green creds to me or to anyone else. They’re not the issue.

    The issue is this: show me someone who affirmatively denies global warming, and I will show you someone who was already supporting a Republican Party agenda before they even heard of global warming, and who is distorting reality to make it fit their idiotic ideology. Every. Single. Time.

    Also, once more with feeling: I am not a Democrat, and I do not think voting for Democrats (or anyone else) is going to fix, well, anything.

  51. Well, I know Michael Crichton got blasted for his book on the subject, but I think he made some valid points about who’s got the moral high ground in this. It’s just not as cut and dry as government versus big bad business.

    I mean, let’s face it, there is so much money and power wrapped up in the climate change debate that nobody should be trusting either side without a hefty dose of skepticism. There are lots of reasons to be good stewards of our Earth, and it’s a damn shame that some people can’t figure that out without a giant stick waving in their faces. But the scare tactics of both sides (the government will tax your consumption to the brink of poverty! big business will choke your children with soot and corruption!) is just crap. Non-profits from both sides of the spectrum have some fabulous pet issues to drive up their fundraising numbers, and frankly, it’s funny. Liberals get to rail against ANWR, conservatives get to freak out over the the inevitable economic collapse resulting from Barbara Boxer’s policies. And everyone gets to send in checks to convince themselves that they have taken a stand. Wrong. You have paid lawyers and lobbyists to run their mouths on cable news. Hooray.

    I believe in God because it is by His grace alone that I have not thrown my shoe at either Barbara or the CEO of Exxon.

  52. Four lawyers, if you count Whitney. Oh, but you can’t because she’s still got a year to go! Ha-ha. Everyone point and laugh at the 4E.

    Sorry.

  53. “I do not think voting for Democrats (or anyone else) is going to fix, well, anything.”

    Well… it’s worth a shot anyway…

  54. I will now qualify my statement by saying that I am aware big business has in fact choked children with soot and corruption, and that government has in fact taxed its citizens into poverty.

    But seriously, people need to realize that most of these groups are just full of self-serving crap.

  55. Oh, hello! As long as everyone’s laughing, just remember that this 4E still gets to suckle at the teat of federal student loans whilst thumbing her nose at the horrible job market facing new law school grads.

    Hehe :).

  56. Well… it’s worth a shot anyway…

    If you say so.

    My favorite ironic part of the business-versus-government hullaballoo is that corporations only exist by statute.

  57. Oh, hello! As long as everyone’s laughing, just remember that this 4E still gets to suckle at the teat of federal student loans whilst thumbing her nose at the horrible job market facing new law school grads.

    You know what’s better than that? Being out of law school, haviong all of your loans deferred for a year, and having a high-paying job at a law firm in a practice area that is thriving despite the economic downturn… even if it doesn’t start until January.

    Also, we should probably all listen to Whitney since she has more Beltway public policy experience than the rest of us put together and multiplied by a billion.

  58. Luckily I am living in Finland now, Global warming is going to turn the Baltic coast into the Riviera and Finland is rising from the sea about as fast as the sea is rising.

    Unfortunately though, here big Government rules with its crushing iron fist destroying all freedoms in its wake. Which is why Finland has the most competition of almost any Western economy, the best primary school system in the world, one of the lowest infant mortality rates, insanely low violent crime rates, and some of the cleanest air and water in the world. If only Government would lift its iron fist and allow freedom to ring!

    And OldAdam, you will be happy to know about 90% of the population are Evangelical Lutherans, who somehow are able to live their religion, in fact it is the STATE RELIGION!

    Jealous much?

  59. Oh man, how bad is it living under oppressive tyrranny? I hear there are saunas everywhere, and horseflies that can bite you through your pants.

  60. Speaking of global warming, I just watched Knowing last night and now I have hammy-fisted Nicolas Cage running through my head shouting “THE CAVES WON’T SAVE US!!!” and this thread keeps reminding me of it. (That’s about a solar flare, not global warming, but they’re both warm and involve wiping out the ozone, amirite?)

    Kullervo, I don’t think we disagree very much. I do know plenty of people who are agnostics about global warming but still environmentally conscious. Advocates of global warming being not true do tend to be environmentally unfriendly asshats, but the global warming camp can be asshats in other areas. I really think that if you can’t convince people to make the changes for the reasons you mentioned—that pollution makes the planet crappy—they aren’t going to be convinced by scare stories involving the ozone layer.

    I’m aware that you’re not a Democrat, but global warming awareness types do tend to be Democrat just as people who deny it tend to be Republican. It’s an issue where people split along party lines.

    And I motion that we vote Seth off the island.

    Also, Whitney will be a better lawyer than all three of you put together because she has boobs, and everything’s better with boobs.

  61. Also, Whitney will be a better lawyer than all three of you put together because she has boobs, and everything’s better with boobs.

    For all you know, I am extremely fat.

  62. On a more topical note, the existence of global warming debate, does remind me a lot of religious debate. . . the entire discussion is filled with politics, confirmation bias, and hidden agendas.

    In both it seems more sane to examine the evidence a bit more thoughtfully and with open minds. I think we might be able to learn a bit more about God if we are open to understand what others have experienced and how they see things.

    (but maybe this is just crazy talk)

  63. . . . everything’s better with boobs.

    I tend to agree, with the possible exception of Kullervo, (or any other man. . . )

  64. In both it seems more sane to examine the evidence a bit more thoughtfully and with open minds. I think we might be able to learn a bit more about God if we are open to understand what others have experienced and how they see things.

    (but maybe this is just crazy talk)

    Completely crazy. BECAUSE I ALREADY KNOW I’M RIGHT!!!!!

    P.S. Man boobs = hawt

  65. Oh, hey. Since we’re talking about how brilliant and awesome Whitney is…

    I have it on good authority (a.k.a. her high school year book) that she was voted Ms. Einstein by her senior class. 😉

  66. Kullervo, the problem with the green movement is that it’s an awful lot like a watermelon. . . . it’s red inside.

    (that ought to kick him back into “flame”)

  67. I’m back. I wasn’t ducking anyone’s questions. (My Mom had heart surgery this morning and I went to see her)

    Freedoms aren’t taken away by businesses but by governments.

    In Calif. you can’t build a new home with a wood burning fireplace in it anymore (because of supposed global warming).

    You can’t buy ceratin kinds of light bulbs anymore. I needed to get 80 bulbs for my church recently and had to go with a much inferior bulb that cost more.

    There is talk of a “smart chip” to go into your thermostat and it will limit how warm or cool you can be.

    Those are a few examples of what is going on. If the reasons for that stuff were proven, then alright. But man-made global warming is not proven and there are more than 700 scientists who vehemently disagree with the theory.

  68. “Freedoms aren’t taken away by businesses but by governments.”

    Nice statement in theory.

    Tell that to my client who lives off his Social Security check and just had the entire thing frozen by Wells Fargo just for the hell of it.

  69. Wells Fargo would not be able to do that unless the government allowed it.

    I have never had Ford, or IBM, or Microsoft put me in jail for not buting their products…but go against the government and you could go away for awhile.

  70. theoldadam…so sorry to hear about your mom; I hope she’s recovering well.

    But now to quibble with your post….corporations most certainly can take away our freedoms. Ask anyone who has lost their access to clean water because some manufacturing plant couldn’t be bothered with proper waste disposal. Ask the tribes in the Ecuadorian rainforest about their freedom to live healthful lives once Texaco decided to leave cancer-causing cesspools up river.

    One could argue all about the applicability of the Coase theorem to these scenarios, but the fact remains that certain people are no longer free to exercise their right to potable water because a corporation out-muscled them in some way, shape or form. Maybe someone could argue that there is no “right” to clean water, but if that were so, then there is also no “right” to have decent lightbulbs or to have a wood fireplace or to manipulate indoor temperatures.

  71. Without the government, Wells Fargo would do a hell of a lot more to my clients.

    Your attempt to reduce all rights to “can they put me in jail?” is just stupid. Jail isn’t the only thing in the world of importance.

    And incidentally… we’re off-topic.

    If anyone cares.

  72. Whitney,

    Thanks for the well wishes for my Mom. She’s going to be alright.

    I guess when I said the business can’t take our rights away, I meant in the overt sense, backed by an armed force of their own (unless they are in cohoots with the government).

    Sure, anyone can come up to you and pull the trigger and all your rights are gone.

    I think when you look at the totality of human history, the real subjugators of freedom have been governments.

    The ‘Black Book of Communism’ speaks of the over 100 million deaths at the hand of government in the 20th century.

    This century may outdo that number.

    What was the question? 😀

  73. Oh, theoldadam, I guess I thought you wee talking about actual freedoms, not lame made up ones that you never had in the first place, like the freedom to use the lightbulb of your choice.

  74. First it is lightbilbs. Then it is the temp. in your home. Then it is how many children you can have. Then it is whether or not you receive the medicine you need to keep on living and spewing CO2 out of your breath.

  75. Whitney and her boobs are hawt. Kullervo does NOT – repeat – NOT have man boobs. Sorry, Katie. He’s all mine. 🙂

    But I might be a hairy man named Fred.

  76. Couldn’t all of this be contributed to the Polygamy Jesus Comment Fund?

    We would be way over 1000 comments now if you all would be a bit more thrifty with your irrelevant banter.

  77. First it is lightbilbs. Then it is the temp. in your home. Then it is how many children you can have. Then it is whether or not you receive the medicine you need to keep on living and spewing CO2 out of your breath.

    Well, let’s see… there is no such thing as freedom to have lightbulbs, or freedom to have your home to be a certain temperature. Similarly, there is no such thing as freedom to drive as fast as you want, there is no such thing as freedom to smoke marijuana, and there is no such thing as freedom to make money by trading stocks on inside information. The government was able to outlaw all of those things because you never had the freedom to do them in the first place.

    That’s because states have police power, which means unless something is protected by the Constitution (and construed against the states via the 14th Amendment), states can pretty much regulate absolutely everything they want. This is not new, either: they have always been able to do this. These days the test do decide whether a state’s regulation or law is Constitutional is whether it meets the rational basis test, which means that the law has to be rationally related to a conceivable government interest. With maybe seven exceptions ever in the entire history of the Constitution, every law and regulation that is subject to the rational basis test passes it.

    If your state government could come up with a conceivable state interest in the color of your shoes–any conceivable rational justification–your state government could regulate what color shoes you wear. This is because, while you do have the freedom against arbitrary laws that have no purpose at all, you do not have the freedom to wear shoes in the color of your choice. This is not some kind of new degeneration of our freedoms, either. Your state has always had the power to do that.

    Ope, but wait a second: it turns out there actually is a freedom to reproduce as much as you want. It’s a fundamental right, with a lot of Constitutional precedent to back it up. States can’t regulate it without meeting the strict scrutiny test (i.e. the same test they have to meet to regulate any of your basic civil liberties), and the strict scrutiny test is difficult enough for a state to pass that for all intents and purposes, it just means the state loses and it cannot regulate strict-scrutiny stuff.

    So the slope turns out to not be as slippery as you think. there’s actually a substantive analytical difference in terms of Constitutional law between things like lightbulbs and fireplaces on the one hand, and things like speech and procreation on the other. There are freedoms that are protected by the Constitution, and then there is everything else. States can pass whatever laws they want about the “everything else,” but they can’t really pass laws that impair the Constitutional freedoms you actually have.

  78. That also in good in theory. The states and the feds have been running roughshod over the Constitution for awhile now, and it seems to be getting worse.

  79. That also in good in theory. The states and the feds have been running roughshod over the Constitution for awhile now, and it seems to be getting worse.

    More empty rhetoric. Come on, theoldadam, at least meet me halfway here. I’m actually setting my dickish nature aside and trying to address what you are saying substantively, which is only fair, ebcause I called you out on it. You did what I asked, and ponied up with concrete examples.

    You can’t be expected to be an expert in Constitutional law; you weren’t dumb enough or desperate enough to go to law school like the rest of us. Without a working knowledge of 14th and 5th amendment law, there’s no way you would know that regulating lightbulbs and regulating the number of children are actually in different categories of Constitutional analysis, and so there isn;t the slope between them that you thought.

    So I explained it nicely, without even being condescending, and you give me the rhetorical brush-off. That’s just not going to fly.

    So again, I’m not going to let you get away with it: explain to me, in detail and with examples, how states and the federal government have “run roughshod over the Constitution,” and more importantly, how it impacts what we’re talking about in any way.

    Seriously, this stuff is not just good “in theory”: there are reams and reams of cases that show it working in fact. There are hardly any cases where a rational-basis regulation is ruled unconstitutional, and hardly any where a state or federal regulation actually meets the strict scrutiny test. I’m talking numbers so low you can count them on your fingers. This analytical framework is solid, proven, and dependable–case after case after case.

    So explain to me, then, in this context, how it has been bent and “run roughshod over.” And I’m not talking about an argument about what freedoms should and should not be Constitutionally protected: the Supreme Court gets to have the final word about what the Constitution means, it’s been doing it for over 200 years, and so if the Supreme Court says there’s a Right to Lick Library Books in the Constitution, there’s a fucking Right to Lick Library Books in the Constitution. That kind of argument is irrelevant to the stuff we’re talking about anyway.

  80. I’m going to go even more off topic because it appears that Tim likes that.

    Seth, are there any banks which aren’t Satan incarnate? I had WaMu, but they got consumed by Chase and as bad as WaMu was, I can’t stand Chase.

    I assume you know these things since you’re a kick-ass bankruptcy attorney and all.

  81. You might find some that are more on the level of Screwtape and Wormwood.

    Like US Bank.

    Wells Fargo is Satan incarnate however.

  82. What’s wrong with Chase? They made a free photocopy for me today, so I think they’re just brilliant!

    btw, If we’re going to start wondering why we’re suddenly way off topic, maybe we should keep track of who is the first person to mention “boobs” or “sex” in the discussion. Hmmm…who could it have been…?

  83. Tim:
    Suggested blog Topic?
    What’s your biggeset obstacle to faith in God.

    Suggestions:
    Militant liberals on blogs…

  84. Suggestions:
    Militant liberals on blogs…

    Who’s a militant liberal?

    Seriously. Knowing about Constitutional Law makes me a liberal? Not parroting empty AM talk radio rhetoric makes me a liberal? Lame.

  85. What’s wrong with Chase?

    Brian, I’ve explained here so as not to derail this thread further.

    And for the record, the first person to say “sex” was YOU! But as for “boobs”… guilty as charged.

  86. Kullervo.
    That suggestion was completely unrelated to this blog, obviously, because everyone stuck to constitutional law, and no one talked at all about global warming.

  87. PC,

    Do Militant liberals challenge your belief in God? (or anybody’s?)

    How? Puzzling about this here is what I could come up with as possible insights into your strange suggestion:

    Is it because they have so much Game that they make people question worn out conservatism which is the established anchor of their faith?

    Is liberalism so compelling AND so out of line with a faith in God that it presents a serious challenge to faith in God?

    Are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness more “self-evident” than God?

    Is it because liberalism (freedom, equality, and other such liberal values) challenge people’s perception of the Biblical the God and the historical practice of Christianity?

    Maybe devotion to the Constitution and civil liberties represents a false idol or false faith in making a better world?

    Maybe robust freedom of speech just brings to many voices to the table, drawing people away from that old-time religion.

    Universal health care reduces people’s dependence on prayers and faith healing, undermining trust in God over Government?

    As you can see its hard to say what you meant:

    I guess maybe your right, I should stick with dogged conservatism, maybe even join the reactionary Neo-Cons to protect against the menace of liberal values.

  88. And for the record, the subject here is not “global warming,” but rather “does anyone affirmatively deny global warming who is not somehow a slave to the GOP, and an advocate of an ultimately pro-pollution industrial agenda?” And the answer is no. In the real world, only dittoheads deny global warming.

    I mean, you theoretically could have one without the other, but like I said, I have never met anyone like that.

  89. Also, for the record, I definitely and emphatically self-identify as a conservative. But that doesn’t mean I have to swallow the bullshit that Rush Limbaugh dishes out, and it doesn’t mean I have to support the GOP.

  90. “But that doesn’t mean I have to swallow the bullshit that Rush Limbaugh dishes out, and it doesn’t mean I have to support the GOP.”

    ah. . yes it does.

  91. I realize that what chosen man of God we chose to follow, as far as what standards we we personally deem fit, are not the topic of discussion. But, I will state that my faith is in the Apostolic Church. I follow the standards of Paul. He was very insightful about the complexity of life, and showed us how to embrace and conqour life with simplicty. He gives very simple instructions on marriage, the certain place of man and woman, the place of the men of God, the place of the congregation, the place of a brother, and the place of a friend. By place, I mean duty.
    …………..we are filled with the Holy Ghost, we speak in tounges, we prophesy, and we lay on of the hands. Those are the gifts that God gave to all of man-kind: the secrets that Paul instructs us on how to use. They are the core of his promise…that we will be saved, that if we beleive, we can heal the sick, we can feed the poor, and we can be filled with his Holy Spirit. Now, I am not quite sure as to the belief of your church, but I assume you believe in modern day profits since your church is based on one. That is not to say that we don’t have modern prophets among us. I have witnessed several and have been prophesied to. Not much different than us. We are just more traditional. We follow standards of the profit that actually walked with God when he was robed in flesh. I know that I am not of your faith; however, I was compelled by Jared’s question. I thought it was of good faith and inspirational. I believe that God uses everyone at his will. Right now he is using Jared. I thank God for that. But, I will take up for the Apostle Paul and his standards. They are good and good of God.
    Our women are conservative and faithful. Our men are upright and good stewarts. Our children are well behaved and full of God.
    Romans 16:17-now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
    Romans 16:18-For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
    Romans 16:25=Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world bagan,
    Romans 16-26- But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment f the everlasting God made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.
    I hope that I have not angered anyone or offended anyone. Just taking up for my main man Paul.

  92. I didn’t realize the conversation turned to global warming. I am not as educated as you all are. However, I do have my idea all the same. I think that it is the cycle of the earth. It warms up, then it freezes, then it warms up, then it freezes…..etc…on and on. I also believe the proven theory that it is part of the earth’s cycle for the magnetic poles to switch. I believe that the two are connected. This is just the opinion of little ole ignorant me.

  93. I am confused….too many conversations…Great original question…Sorry that everyone could not be adult enough to stay on the topic……..I believe in God and have a personal relationship wit him. He hears my cries, he gives me comfort, he heals me, He loves me.
    PS I will pray for you too. And thanks for praying for me Jared.

  94. tamwatson ~ Sorry that everyone could not be adult enough to stay on the topic

    And insulting the participants of the thread, especially when the OP was one of the people not adult enough to stay on topic, really helps.

    Jared ~ My answer to your original question, I think I would divide my belief in God into three categories:

    1. Intrinsic ~ Belief in God has always been in me. There’s never been a time when I didn’t believe in God, even growing up in an areligious household. I don’t think there could ever be a time when I don’t believe in God. My natural inclination is to believe in God.

    2. Personal Experience ~ Answers to prayer, the way God has communicated with me, especially predictions which have come true, predictions I couldn’t have known myself. Basically, I believe in God because He has revealed Himself to me.

    3. External Evidence ~ Even some of the most notorious atheists have been persuaded that there is a God by Intelligent Design arguments. Even if I didn’t believe in Christianity, I would certainly believe in God.

  95. Jack– of course I am not adult enough to stay on topic. Its only an insult if its not true. Do you really think you were adult enough?

    Tam– thanks again for your comments! I think Paul is great and I am humbled to think that my post influences you so much. I think I can say the same thing about your comments, inspiring and make me think more about God and how to be closer to Him.

  96. Sorry that everyone could not be adult enough to stay on the topic

    Here again, I am going to take the less adult way out and blame it all on Kullervo.

  97. Hey, adults stray off topic by talking about boobs and global warming. Kids stray off topic by talking about… boobs and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. HUGE DIFFERENCE!

  98. 1. Intrinsic ~ Belief in God has always been in me. There’s never been a time when I didn’t believe in God, even growing up in an areligious household. I don’t think there could ever be a time when I don’t believe in God. My natural inclination is to believe in God.

    2. Personal Experience ~ Answers to prayer, the way God has communicated with me, especially predictions which have come true, predictions I couldn’t have known myself. Basically, I believe in God because He has revealed Himself to me.

    3. External Evidence ~ Even some of the most notorious atheists have been persuaded that there is a God by Intelligent Design arguments. Even if I didn’t believe in Christianity, I would certainly believe in God.

    These are good answers.

  99. Jack: I meant for use of “boobs and sex” to be tracked on every thread, not just this one. Don’t worry: you won’t always be the first to bring it up.

    I really like your answers to Jared’s question. I identify very closely with your second, and mostly with your first, but I’m not clear about your third. What external evidence do you see for God? Are you saying that you are persuaded by Intelligent Design? Is that the only external evidence you see or is there more? (Now that would be a nice topic for a separate thread—until all those militant liberals showed up, of course.)

    Also, I can see why you are mad at Chase, but I’m surprised that that experience made you stop believing in God.

  100. I think all of your arguements are very valid and interesting. I feel just as strongly as most of you.

  101. I think my own belief in God centers on two things:

    1. Personal experience of the divine in meditation and contemplation

    2. A distaste for nihilism.

    #2 needs some explanation.

    I don’t personally jive with the notion that “something” ever becomes “nothing” or that “nothing” can ever become “something.” The very idea is completely illogical and at-odds with all my observations of life.

    I know that atheists will probably respond that they aren’t claiming we become nothing, but that when we die, we biodegrade into the dirt (if you want to put it that way). Our sum total is cells, tissue, synapses, and reflexes, and once you die, all it is, is dirt. Nothing persists except this soil.

    I’m not buying it.

    I think that human (and even animal) consciousness represents a breakthrough of sorts. These memories, these feelings, these thoughts, this internal identity I have is not just bound to become dirt. There is something transcendent here.

    And I believe it will endure.

    And if I can endure, that means that other things can also endure. And this “thing” I’ve been praying to can really exist. God can really exist.

    Note, for the same reasons, I reject traditional Christianity. The whole ex nihilo thing just looks like atheism in reverse to me. Christians say we came from nothing. Atheists say we are going to nothing. Both have an unnecessary and unwanted notion of the VOID hanging over everything they believe.

    Both traditions have this inherent nihilism at their core that I dislike. I consider Joseph Smith to be akin to drawing back the curtains, and letting in light on the darkness we’ve cowered in for centuries.

    And yes, my belief in God is not really easily separated from my adherence to Mormonism. Take away one, and the other just doesn’t work for me.

  102. Tam~ DO NOT WORRY about offending people, if you did happen to say something offensive most people here wont hold that against you.

    (Watch out for the pagans though, they will fly off the handle :))

    EDITED : Sorry, I am terrible at proofreading.

  103. Here’s something U2 has to say about it from the song Veritgo:

    I’m at a place called Vertigo
    Lights go down and all I know
    Is that you give me something I can feel
    You’re teaching me …aaahhh
    Your love is teaching me how
    How to kneel

  104. But it’s a catchy tune. So if you want to argue, then in the words of Homer to Marge, “Well, you should’ve written a song like that guy.”

  105. I didn’t say it was how I felt about the matter. Just adding more perspectives to the conversation.

  106. Seth,
    I had never thought of it that way, what an interesting way to look at it.

  107. Brian ~ Well, you know I’m not at all a sciences person, but things like entropy, Big Bang cosmology, and the exact ingredients that are required to have a life system like ours are all pretty compelling to me—especially as recited by people who are much better at recapping them than I am. Hey, maybe you should do a guest post on the pros and cons of those arguments, since you are the sciences person.

    Seth ~ I know that atheists will probably respond that they aren’t claiming we become nothing, but that when we die, we biodegrade into the dirt (if you want to put it that way). Our sum total is cells, tissue, synapses, and reflexes, and once you die, all it is, is dirt. Nothing persists except this soil.

    Dane Cook had a pretty funny take on this; it starts at 3:00. Contains a few S and F words.

    (Disclaimer: I am by no means a Dane Cook fan, but this one was funny.)

    All I have to say on the creatio ex nihilo v. creatio ex materia debate is that if I’ve existed since eternity past, I’m incredibly disappointed with myself for not being a goddess already. You’d think eternity would have at least gotten me farther than my current would-starve-without-a-can-opener status.

  108. Jared, thanks.
    Kullervo, I think it is the ranitngs of agrivated passion that make change. Although I wouldn’t exactly have put it the way you do and may not agree with you 100%, I believe it is necessary and I appreciate your thoughts. Well, I am lying. I do rant in letters, phone calls, and petitions, to local businesses and local government. I may only have a high school education, but I have the power and right to vote, think, believe, and try to make a difference. And I do it loudly myself sometimes. I also laugh with my family when they make fun of me about it. Ha Ha. They say that I am a cook and they leave all of the letter writing and opinions to me. They are too weak to take the brunt of anything…only the rewards.
    Seth, I like your thought process on reason number two. I believe that an omnipresent God can not exist without science, and that this God could not be creator of all of our existence without science. And we must have a creator in order to have placed so well the beautiful complicated intricacies of life itself. We don’t know all of the answers, but we understand a lot more than the ancients did. We now have a better way of expaining life other than just legend.

  109. ……..and can somebody please explain eternity and linear events. I don’t understand. I think that I do, but I am not sure.

  110. Take an infinite mathematical set.

    Now add 5.

    Do you have a larger quantity than before?

    The answer is no. You still have infinity.

    In mathematics, infinite numbers simply behave differently than finite sets. So linearity and progression ends up not having much meaning.

    This is why the Christian apologetic (originally thought up by medieval Islamic scholars) of “Kalaam Infinity” doesn’t work. It takes an infinite set and tries to act like it’s a finite set.

    But it’s completely apples and oranges.

  111. No, it tries to impose an artificial linearity on an infinite quantity. But that sort of linearity breaks down when talking about infinite sets. With finite numbers, you can talk about a progression of causes.

    But with infinite numbers, it doesn’t work the same. Which is where William Lane Craig missed the boat.

  112. Craig’s argument is that linearity cannot be applied to an infinite quantity.

    You’re basically saying he is wrong and then restating what he is saying. You and Craig agree.

  113. Kalam Infinity goes as follows.

    There has to be a First Cause (God). Otherwise we would have an infinite regress of causes and could never arrive at the present, because an infinite number of steps would have to occur before we could get to now. Thus, it is quantitatively impossible to get to now unless there is a First Cause of everything.

    People use this to supposedly prove the existence of God. My understanding is that Craig is one of them.

    That’s linear thinking Tim. It is applying linear and finite presumptions to an infinite set.

    It doesn’t work.

    Now, either your understanding of Craig on this topic is wrong or mine is. Or it could be that Craig rejects Kalam Infinity as a valid apologetic. But that sure wasn’t my impression.

  114. People use this to supposedly prove the existence of God. My understanding is that Craig is one of them.

    People us it as proof that the universe had a beginning. (and then the Kalaam goes on to show that things with beginnings have causes. . . and things with causes have “causers”).

    The point is that (A) an infinite set is non-nonsensical and (B) applying an infinite set onto a linear plane is even more nonsensical.

    You at the very least agree with (B). Am I right?

    I think our disconnect is that you aren’t willing to acknowledge that time and the universe are on a linear plane. Or perhaps our disconnect arises from you rejecting (A).

  115. “I think our disconnect is that you aren’t willing to acknowledge that time and the universe are on a linear plane.”

    Correct. I think modern quantum physics is seriously challenging this assumption. Classical Christian apologists are in for a rough time as this field develops, I’d wager.

    Note, I only said “Classical” apologists. There are other ways of doing Christian apologetics. But Kalam Infinity is a really, really shaky argument for Christians to be pushing right now.

  116. Tim,
    I know that even if a teaching is in the Bible, some (including myself) will find ways to qualify a belief, but where in any biblical text does the Bible teach that “time and the universe are on a linear plane?)

  117. nowhere. Where in the Book of Mormon does it say it’s not? I don’t think any of us use our scriptures as the only place we gain insight on reality and how it operates.

  118. I’m not sure I’m completely following (though it isn’t for lack of trying). Are we progressing in a linear fashion now? Is it okay to “think linear” about our current lives?

    I’m trying to understand what it is that I spent eternity past being or doing, and why it is significant that I believe in this past existence.

  119. Jack~ You don’t really have a choice but to think in terms of linear time and to think in terms of cause-and-effect relationships since it does appear that that is the only we can experience realty as a human consciousness. (See Kant: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-mind/)

    Generally~ I still think that if God is as he is described in the Bible, we are not going to find much about Him through determining whether Set theory can be applied to Reality or whether we can sensibly say whether there are actual infinites. This is partly because our logic and assumptions regarding these ideas are so wrapped up in our own way of looking at things that our explanations, and therefore our arguments based on those explanations are going to be unstable.

    I am certainly not going to knock anybody’s reliance on this sort of reasoning. However, I have to admit that I don’t understand the arguments and the pitfalls well enough to repeat them as anything worthy of inspiring devotion. But,

    that maybe just me. .

    I still have lots of questions regarding these sorts of arguments and deductive and inductive reasoning to support a belief in God.
    Are arguments such the Kalaam Infinity argument defended now by Craig a decent basis for faith in the Biblical God?
    Are these arguments the type of intellectual building block that its safe to start building your life around?
    Do you have to be able to understand the argument well in order to be justified in using it as a basis for your own religion?

    These sorts of questions make me puzzle about what is a “good” basis for belief in God. I do like the combination of experience and reason as a foundation for belief (as Jack and others explain above).

    I also have a lot of sympathy for the view of Oliver Cowdery expressed as a description of when he and Joseph Smith were visited by the angelic John the Baptist (caution Kullervo, heavy rhetoric to follow):

    “I shall not attempt to paint to you the feelings of this heart, nor the majestic beauty and glory which surrounded us on this occasion; but you will believe me when I say, that earth, nor men, with the eloquence of time, cannot begin to clothe language in as interesting and sublime a manner as this holy personage. No; nor has this earth power to give the joy, to bestow the peace, or comprehend the wisdom which was contained in each sentence as they were delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit! Man may deceive his fellow-men, deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till naught but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falsehood carries in its current the giddy to the grave; but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind.

    I always liked this description of transcendent experience. Something that is going to hit a human being in a way that is utterly convincing (at least at the time).

    I am not going to go so far as to say that we should not be critical of experiences like this that we or others may have(just like we are critical of intellecual arguments) and try to be “scientific” in our interpretation of them, but that these things happen lead me closer to the idea that God is a “Father” rather than an entity who “lives” rather than simply exists and “loves me too”. I think I have to expect personal interaction like this if I am going to be able to refer to God as”Father.

  120. Thank you all for your definitions of the theory. I am pretty sure that I understand now; however, I am not well versed enough for the discussion. It is something I have often wondered about in a laymen sort of way.
    And still…I believe for God is the very essence of my being.

  121. ha! by coincidence, there’s a discussion on how to deal with Mormon missionaries right after the interview with Habermas.

  122. I sometimes just check in on this place just because, and so today I decided to do that. And between this post, its on-topic comments and its off-topic comments, I’m no seriously questioning why I don’t come here more frequently.

    The compelling reasons for believing in God don’t seem surprising to me, though.

  123. Jack,

    Imagine a really a small circle with radius of 1″. As your pencil draws the circle, for the most part, the pencil is always drawing a curve.

    Now imagine a huge circle, with a radius of several million light-years. As the travel along the edge of that circle, it can seem like it is linear travel. Especially if you are only aware of a very short amount of time of drawing (or a short distance on the circle). God is very aware of the entire circle, so for Him it is not linear, whereas for us, with our limited perception, it can appear linear.

    Or so the theory goes…

    Tim:
    It’s just hard enough when we’re based on the same text with different interpretations. Now you’re going to force Mormons to start agreeing with the non-biblical assumptions about life?

  124. Tim,

    I listened to the Habermas phone discussion. There is something about Flew’s conversion to theism that reveals something about the entire “God” debate/creationist debate. Haven’t quite put my finger on it well enough to discuss well.

    What do you make of Flew’s conversion?

  125. From Flew’s theism (deism), Einstein’s pantheism, and so many “famous” kinds of people that people want to raise up, it seems that there is a distinction between the deities these guys present and the deities that Christianity (possibly) demands. (Of course, I understand that those like W.L.C don’t let that bother them…and so they actually make it work out).

    The distinction seems to be when things become “personal” and “familiar.” So, I think this comes out in what Gary says, especially when he describes how Antony is caught up on things like “prayer,” “Hell,” etc., These things don’t “seem” to be in the same “class” of things like “God set up the natural universe. We clearly recognize natural law, order, etc., in the universe, so let’s believe in that, and perhaps as an extension, something that put that into place.”

  126. I’m no seriously questioning why I don’t come here more frequently.

    Andrew, just curious…should there be a “w” or a “t” at the end of “no” up there? 😉

  127. Jared, I think it’s something similar to what Andrew said. The existence of God can be intellectually attested to. The belief in a personal God who cares about me is probably something we each need our own experience with.

    Lame example: I know about your kids but I don’t know your kids.

  128. re Tim:

    regardless, this doesn’t make God a “self evident” truth. Intellectual attestation = “Wow, this universe seems to have a whole lot of rules here.” But from here, it doesn’t necessitate “God.” I think even at this level there must be a personal inclination…or a shift to a personal inclination, that causes one to see the evidence in a certain light. When people have said, “I couldn’t not believe in god” in the past, and they talk about atheism being so depressing and whatnot — as if it really bothers them, especially if they’ve gone through a period of atheism — this puzzles me. I thought, “How could you?” “How could little old atheism get you?”

    But recently, I’ve begun to read stories after stories that suggest that these people aren’t really choosing to believe or not. Sure, their choosing what they will act (i.e., they can consciously act against belief), but when people say, “they can’t not believe…” it’s because their inclined thought framework simply makes the connection to God and anything else seems “wrong,” “depressing,” “empty.” Like trying to live your life saying 2+2 = 5.

    So, the “self evident” nature of truths seem more subjective than anything (although we certainly want to hope that 2+2=4 because math is a natural feature of the universe, and not simply something subject to our definition.) They depend on your wiring. From the same evidence, it can be self-evident to one of one thing, to another of another thing.

    For example, Habermas’s description of Flew’s deist deity having the classical traits (omni-) doesn’t seem self-evident, but a bit of a jump (and if that jump is made though, like the show host said, why not make the jump for miracles?)

    uhh…I guess what I’m trying to say is…it doesn’t seem self evident that whatever we do recognize should be worthy of being sourced to God (Flew) or being called God (Einstein’s pantheism), especially considerable the emotionally and spiritually charged nature of the term. I find it interesting that Flew, numerous times, has stated that he stands by his previous “Presumption of atheism.” He has just, to put it in terms of his analogy, been shown “guilty” despite “presumption of innocence.”

  129. I think the brink is what fascinates me. The edge of belief and non-belief. What is different about Flew now than when he was a atheist, anti-theist? The arguments certainly haven’t gotten better, or at least significantly better.

    Could some new argument or evidence push him back over the atheistic line?

    For most of the believers and God I have met, intellecutual arguments really only supplement some prior or deeper disposition to believe in God, personal experience or intuition. But there may be some that are intellectually honest enough and smart enough to go based on reason and evidence alone.

    In contrast, intellectual arguments more often supplement or trigger unbelief in the Christian God. (which is why I have trouble with thinking that the existence of God is self-evident)

    I think those of us who believe in God need to recognize that God as Christians understand him is not “out in the open” or obvious anymore than a tricky scientific theory obvious.

  130. Well, deism doesn’t really change much from atheism (in the same way Einstein’s pantheism REALLY doesn’t change much from atheism). Because I mean, the concept doesn’t bring an entity (yet) that inspires worship, personal change and improvement, etc., The deist deity is…an old stick in the mud.

    The bridge that needs to be traversed is the bridge between deity as creator (set it and forget it) and deity as participant (“Hi, I’m the Lord your God…I’m kinda a big deal, answerin’ prayers, intervenin’, dyin’ and resurrectin’ for ur sins and stuff”).

    it makes me wonder what all is necessary in believing in God

  131. it makes me wonder what all is necessary in believing in God

    According to the Bible, Satan and the demons have belief in God, so it’s more than intellectual acknowledgment. I think it’s like crossing a bridge. You can believe it will hold you, but you haven’t actually put your trust in it until you start walking.

    In contrast, intellectual arguments more often supplement or trigger unbelief in the Christian God. (which is why I have trouble with thinking that the existence of God is self-evident)

    My self-evident remark seems to be getting the most traction on these comments and I really didn’t intend it to. I’d counter what you say here though Jared. The grand majority of people in the world assume there is a God, it’s only when they’ve been “talked out of it” by one method or another that they assume otherwise. It seems to be our default setting.

    The arguments certainly haven’t gotten better, or at least significantly better.

    Could some new argument or evidence push him back over the atheistic line?

    You can read Flew’s story in his own words. He has recently published a book on the matter and Jack posted a link to his first interview about it.

    He would say, that the arguments did get better. In particular he was influenced by the fine tuning arguments and irreducible complexity. I’m willing to take him at his word and believe him when he says he goes where the evidence suggest. So he could, theoretically, be influenced back toward atheism.

  132. Tim,

    re the “default setting”: note that this doesn’t suggest anything about God’s existence or nonexistence. Rather, it just says something about humanity’s evolution. But then, humans have some defaults that allow for trickery (e.g., our ability to be tricked by our senses gives rise to the perception of “magic” or “optical illusions” and we put up with these things because they are amusing…not because these things are necessarily real.) This also makes puzzling those whose default settings are different, or the possibility that some event can “change” the setting (it doesn’t just seem to be a choice).

    re belief: I understand that, but I don’t think it really clarifies what believing means, other than it clarifies what believing (merely) isn’t. So, I don’t think we can say, for example, that Flew “believes,” if we want to use a more involved idea of what believing is. not to call Flew Satan or a demon, but his belief, at best, seems of the same level as that. It doesn’t really cause him to change much. The deist construction of deity in general doesn’t seem to be much of anything to “believe in” in the since that the Christian God has stuff to “believe in.”

  133. Believing in God is common because it does not entail a specific orthodoxy. The conception of “God” can be so broad or narrow so as to accommodate all kinds of beliefs.

    Since most simply cannot be verified, or disproved, a truckload of conceptions remain our there.

    Why I put so much faith in personal experiences is that they, at least have some context that allow me to decipher what God is like, and what he has to do with me. Proving the existence of a Great Clockmaker doesn’t really get you too far to Christianity. I could just as happily be a Hindu or a Jew with this belief.

    Of course the arguments for Christianity get far more tenuous than the kinds of arguments that Flew is dealing with.

    Maybe a good follow-up question is what is the most compelling evidence for your belief in Christianity, and is this evidence different that that which leads you to a belief in God?

  134. The most compelling reason I have for believing in God is the fruit of God I see in people around me. I start with my mom and dad. They are not perfect but they are faithful and happy and contented and busy. I see what being at work for God has done for them and I want the same for myself. I recall several other that I have gotten to know well enough to prove that their life is not just superficial happiness. I have seen hearts change and forgiveness bringing peace. I remember every day kind of people doing simple things that bring joy into their life and those they serve.

    To be honest, I also can remember a couple of atheists that fit quite well into this description. I am satisfied that if they truly are being honest in their heart, they will be where any faithful believer is.

    Another scripture comes to mind, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:17 When I have exercised my faith by doing what I know to be true, I feel the fruits of God in me. I have a clarity of mind. I feel good and right. It is when I am most obedient that I am most confident in God and His plan.

    Thank you for this post!

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