Boy, I have my work cut out for me on this post. In the last edition, the focus was on prayer. We found that prayer is indeed reliable but it is not the object of the atheists’ demand as the request suggested. Basically, assurance that prayer works comes in the assurance that God hears you; prayer is a communication tool not a healing device. At any rate, the request was satisfied.

As we continue examining “If God Would: ”, we move on to the comment made by Lee, “If he appeared to me. Not in a drunken state, but face to face…”. Let’s be real for a moment: that. would. be. AWESOME! No, seriously—totally epic! However, there are a couple inherent problems with this request. Before we can ask God to show his face to Lee, or anyone else seeking the face of God, we should first ask, “What does God look like?”What does God look like?.
It’s a fair question—especially for Lee and his cohorts. How is anyone to claim God hasn’t shown up without an idea of what God looks like? How does Lee know God hasn’t shown up and he just didn’t recognize him? Or, better question, can God actually show up? God says in the Bible, “…you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exod 33:20).

I suppose their is a rational argument to be inserted here: If God is all-powerful AND he can’t do something (namely, show himself face-to-face with Lee), then he is not all powerful; he has limitations. This is a false dichotomy. For example, it is not my lack of strength which prevents me from stealing candy from a baby. Similarly, it is not God’s lack of ability preventing the event from transpiring. Rather, it is his love of you, Lee (and anyone else reading this). Anyone who has ever glimpsed the sun on a shiny day knows their are limits to the human eye’s ability to see bright objects. Therefore, it is not God’s inability, but ours. “Can’t he show himself in a way we can see him?”, you may retort. Yes! But, that does not satisfy the condition of the request. If God showed himself through a loving neighbor, or a friendly blog writer *wink*, would he not be dismissed? So, we must address the request inside the limits of human abilities.

Well this is problematic.

Lee’s request seems impossible. I will dissect more of this dilemma in a bit, but before I do, I want to examine two people who have encountered God.  The first is David.

He was a young man when we first read about him. He was the youngest and was left behind to take care of the family farm when his older brothers were called to military service. This was a frightening time everyone. Much of the community was involved in the war—it was just over the mountains. The neighboring forces were advancing. David could hear the war cries from the field. But David was young, ignorant, and naïve, but also bold, courageous, and trusting. So without thinking about consequences, David joined his brothers on the battlefield, perched on the hills staring at the impressiveness of the encroaching warriors. They were outnumbered; they were out-sized; they were afraid—but not David.

In his youthful folly, David sought the commander of the army, the king (Saul). “Why aren’t we attacking?”, he asked; “Isn’t God on our side?”

As the story plays out, David rose to the occasion and saved the Israelite’s from the tribesmen of Gath (Philistines). David put his hope and his trust in God and was credited with saving God’s people. The people would go on to sing praises to David, “Saul has killed his thousands, but David his tens of thousands.”[i] God showed up big time in David’s life (at least according to the Bible) and David became known as, “a man after God’s own heart.”[ii]

Given the closeness of David and God, it should be at least a little surprising to find out this is the same David who wrote in the Psalms 13 & 22 (and many others), “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”(Ps 13:1-2). And again, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.” (Ps 22:1-2). Certainly of all the OT characters, David would not plead for God to show himself. Certainly David would not be desiring for God to ‘show his face’. But he did.

Why?

There are many theories why David wrote these words, but they are all irrelevant to the case I am presenting. This is not the place where I claim biblical authority. What I am showing here is that desiring to see God is a problem that CAN be reconciled. David went on to write in those same Psalms, “But I will trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.”(Ps 13:5), and “When you appear for battle, you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace.” (Ps 22:9a). David wanted to see God, but he had enough evidence, enough experience, and enough wisdom to know that God was still in control—when God was ready, he would come. God shows up on His time, not ours.

Doubting ThomasThe second character I want to showcase is Jesus’ disciple, Thomas. It was after the resurrection; the disciples went to Thomas and said, “Jesus is alive!” Thomas replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25). Jesus did show himself to Thomas and said, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and believed.” (v 29). With this idea in mind, there really is no reason to assume God will just show up and make a personal appearance. With this in mind, God must be assuming there is adequate evidence that one can believe without seeing. After-all, Thomas wasn’t criticized about needing to see until after the profession was given by his friends—people he (should have) trusted.

Therefore, based solely on biblical understanding of God, no one can see God’s face, a longing to see God’s face is an acceptable position to hold, yet there is enough evidence that will suffice for not actually seeing the face of God. From this perspective, I could call it a draw. But, hey, I live in America—we hate ties!

Recently I met a friend named Paul. Paul shared with me a concern. “If God has decided the level of proof that he is willing to give, but created my brain to require more, then I guess I’m predestined to hell.” Paul makes a great point, one that bothered me as I researched why God doesn’t/can’t/hasn’t/won’t show his face to those who deeply desire to believe. That’s when I came across William Lane Craig talking about morality[iii]. WLC presents this argument:

  1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist
  2. Objective moral values do exist
  3. Therefore, God exists.

(Hang on Lee and Paul, don’t get ahead of me) I lay this out for reference not as proof text that God exists (though if you were honest, objective morality certainly holds weight). During WLC’s defense he laid out several objections raised to his premise #2. Some of those are (I picked the most creative): absolute relativity (I like this one for its irony), evolutionary benefit (then why must we teach children to be good?), and morality is a program—we actually live in the Matrix (I’ll let you sit on that one). Here’s the point. Every one of these alternatives do indeed challenge objective morality and consequently the existence of God. However (and this is big so don’t miss it). However, every other possibility is based on LESS evidence. What do I mean? Here, let Loiuse Antony, an atheist philosopher, say it better than I can:

“Any argument for moral skepticism will be based on premises which are less obvious than the existence of objective moral values.”

What does that mean? It means that although there are many arguments against God, God is more reasonable. But, just in case you were throwing a red-flag, a review on the field, consider this: God’s existence isn’t just understood by objective morality. It carries over into origins, too. According to LiveScience.com[iv], there are seven (scientific) theories to the origin of life.

  • Electricity – a spark spontaneously created life from hydrogen and other molecules
  • Clay – provided a means of organizing chemicals into patterns
  • Submarine Hydrothermal Vents – concentrated molecules together
  • Ice – protected organic compounds from luminosity
  • RNA – stores DNA and proteins
  • Simple Beings – less complicated life evolved into current models (billions of years)
  • Panspermia – life came from other planets

The same skeptic mentality applies—every alternative requires more faith than believing in a Creator, God. Out of the seven listed above, only one actually addresses beginning life; every other option just posits “where” or “materials required”, but doesn’t come close to offering “why” or “how”. But even the lightning/electricity theory has serious problems because scientists know that the Earth wasn’t hydrogen rich in its early, formative, years (let alone the question where did lightning come from) So, any low likelihood of chance, or abiogenesis (something from nothing), is even lower than reasonable—it’s unlikely. To answer Paul’s question, if God knows how much evidence the brain requires, He has provided more evidence for His existence than for any other plausible alternative. But don’t just take my word for it. Here is converted atheist, Anthony Flew:

“…we have all the evidence we need in our immediate experience and that only a deliberate refusal to ‘look’ is responsible for atheism of any variety.”[v]

Therefore, the problem is no longer, “If God would show up”, the problem is, “If you would stop grasping at straws”. God has shown up. He is visible in the abundant life that surrounds us all. He is true to his word, “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature [Creation and morality, added]—have been clearly seen…so that people are without excuse.

If God would show up…all conditions satisfied.

[i] 1 Sam 18:7; 1 Sam 29:5

[ii] 1 Sam 13:13-14; Acts 13:22

[iii] William Lane Craig, “Defenders Series: Moral 3 & 4”, Reasonable Faith. Presented Feb. 21, 2016. http://livestream.com/reasonablefaith/events/4814084/videos/113118721

[iv] Chales Q. Choi, “7 Theories on the Origin of Life”, March 22, 2011. From: http://www.livescience.com/13363-7-theories-origin-life.html

[v] Anthony Flew. “There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.” From: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/former-atheists-speak-44-quotes/

11 COMMENTS

  1. Roger —

    It’s taken several entries into the series, but I think I’ve finally figured out our disconnect on these articles. I’ve been reading with the assumption that you would be looking to convince a skeptic, and that expectation has generated in me much frustration — as unmet expectations tend to do.

    Having re-read the series, I now see that your articles are written to those who share your presuppositions and to present the internally-consistent apologetic answers to skeptic concerns within that already-held view. Rather than “If God Would ___________”, if I mentally retitle the articles “Why It’s OK That We Have No Evidence for ___________” then I can put on my former theist hat and see what you’re striving for.

    If one already believes in God, and the Bible, and the God of the Bible, then I’d say you’re finding reasonable rationale that a former version of myself might have affirmed. I’ve been attempting to let you know that these rationales hold little sway to those for whom your presuppositions are not shared, but I think I have been wasting my time in doing so. Your message, intentionally or not, is to those who already accept.

    BASICALLY, ASSURANCE THAT PRAYER WORKS COMES IN THE ASSURANCE THAT GOD HEARS YOU; PRAYER IS A COMMUNICATION TOOL NOT A HEALING DEVICE. AT ANY RATE, THE REQUEST WAS SATISFIED.

    These were the sentences that started to clue me in. I nearly choked on the words “the request was satisfied”. Your last article didn’t attempt any kind of method for one to know that one’s prayers to God are any more heard than the prayer I just prayed to the queen of the unicorns. So I read the article again, and since your objective was merely to say that the theology of prayer hearing is unrelated to prayer answering, I guess you did that.

    So with that, in a probably-too-late attempt to avoid tedium, I will refrain from a line-by-line critique of statements that are mere assertions to someone who does not already share your beliefs. That said, there are still some scientific, philosophical and logical points that I feel I must question.

    THOUGH IF YOU WERE HONEST, OBJECTIVE MORALITY CERTAINLY HOLDS WEIGHT

    In as honest a statement as I can possibly make, I see no evidence at all for objective morality. I think it is among the weakest arguments I hear. (I’ve yet to even receive an example of something that is objectively moral.) I’ve had this particular discussion many times, including with some of your fellow bloggers here, as I recall. I’d be willing to have such a discussion with you, but not if you get to win simply by calling me dishonest.

    THE SAME SKEPTIC MENTALITY APPLIES—EVERY ALTERNATIVE REQUIRES MORE FAITH THAN BELIEVING IN A CREATOR, GOD.

    Which takes more faith? To believe that lightning is the result of rapid air expansion due to the heat caused by electricity travelling from areas of positive charge accumulation and negative charge accumulation, or that Thor makes it? The former. It’s very non-intuitive.

    Is this not an apt analogy? Please explain to me how.

    All of the hypothesis you mentioned have some level of evidence. As-of-yet, insufficient evidence, which is why science (unlike religion) is very comfortable saying “we don’t know”. But they have at least some evidence. I know you think you have plenty of evidence for a god, but in terms of scientific evidence there is none, and no opinion on the existence of a creator has predictive power to influence discovery.

    An infinitely complex and fully unexplained being is always going to be a more extraordinary claim than the problem one is using it to explain.

    If every scientific theory currently believed or proposed was the be proven fully and completely wrong in every way, that would not lend a molecule of evidence. To think that is does is the Argument from Ignorance fallacy. (I wish this had a different name, because it always sounds ad hominum, when it isn’t.)

    TO ANSWER PAUL’S QUESTION, IF GOD KNOWS HOW MUCH EVIDENCE THE BRAIN REQUIRES, HE HAS PROVIDED MORE EVIDENCE FOR HIS EXISTENCE THAN FOR ANY OTHER PLAUSIBLE ALTERNATIVE.

    And he hasn’t. Is that perhaps proof there is no God?

    BUT DON’T JUST TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. HERE IS CONVERTED ATHEIST, ANTHONY FLEW:

    Why the appeal to authority? One should point to evidence, not assertions. And why Anthony Flew — a philosopher, not a scientist?

    “…WE HAVE ALL THE EVIDENCE WE NEED IN OUR IMMEDIATE EXPERIENCE AND THAT ONLY A DELIBERATE REFUSAL TO ‘LOOK’ IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ATHEISM OF ANY VARIETY.”

    My most sincere-of-all looks lead me straight from deeply held faith, to the harsh reality that my faith was unfounded. For a second time, you call me dishonest.

    IF GOD WOULD SHOW UP… ALL CONDITIONS SATISFIED.

    For those who already agree with you, perhaps this is true. For myself, all the less.

    All the best, Roger.

    • Roger – I would agree with many of your points and feel they are well made. This seems to be a rather ‘exoteric’ view of prayer and not at all what, say, Evagrios talks about in his treatise on prayer or, come to that, any sage that I have read. Certainly not what the Desert Fathers would have called prayer.

      “PRAYER IS A COMMUNICATION TOOL NOT A HEALING DEVICE”

      This was the sentence that had me spluttering. Communication with whom? An objective God ‘over there’ somewhere? Is the suggestion that God is not ‘in’ us, such that we have to shout at Him across a divide? Surely God is everywhere or must be limited;

      • Hi Peter,
        You are absolutely right. Prayer is more that a communication tool. It is as much a discipline as it is a tool; it is as much inner reflection as it is external outpouring. It exists in grunts/moans and songs/poems. In short, the point I was hoping to convey is God is the source of healing not prayer (though prayer indeed plays a part). All this while not limiting the power and magnitude of an infinite God. I was really hoping to paint a picture of the foolishness of the request without dismissing the sincerity of the appeal.

        Thanks for the insight and referencing Evagrios–that took me back to the college class I never thought I’d need again. Ha. Good times 🙂

    • Hi Paul,
      I’m glad I’m not frustrating you too much, *smile*. A couple points of clarification:
      “I now see that your articles are written to those who share your presuppositions…”
      No, my articles are written for the skeptics. If you want God to show up as a Genie from Aladdin, and another skeptic wants God to show up as a hookah smoking hippie on a mountain, even if God did grant both requests we’d be no closer to proving God exists. However, if we apply external standards it both clears up what it is we are looking for and becomes a falsifiable claim. Basically, I’m asking skeptics to define what it is they’re rejecting.

      “Your last article didn’t attempt any kind of method for one to know that one’s prayers to God are any more heard than the prayer I just prayed to the queen of the unicorns”
      Sure I did, by the same standards I mention above–setting the standard for what the skeptic is asking for. Asking for proof prayer works is a misapplication of terms. If I through my hands up, said “I will believe in evolution when scientists can demonstrate how a Ford Taurus evolved into a Ferrari 458”, you’d laugh and say I’m using the term inappropriately. Same goes for prayer–it’s more about whom the prayer is to than whom the prayer is from. But we can discuss this further on that post.

      “I see no evidence for objective morality”
      The dialog is up to you, I will promise not to call you dishonest, but I’m almost assuredly going to call you inconsistent.

      “Which takes more faith…”

      C’mon. You know that’s not the same. Funny, absolutely (honestly I’m still laughing), but not the same. Knowing how lighting works does nothing to address from whence it came. At some point, something, somewhere is eternal. Whether it is alien life, energy, gravity, or God, nothing will never produce something. That’s common sense. So, as I said in my post, of all the possibilities, they all take more faith than believing in God (even if it’s not the God of the Bible) for reasons like appearance of design, irreducible complexity, and time required, to name a few.

      “For a second time you call me dishonest”
      Not my intention. I know you have studied a great deal. I know you have a well versed background in Christianity and I can only imagine leaving that worldview took considerable thought/prayer (unanswered I’m assuming)/dialog with friends and family. I don’t criticize you for the magnitude of that decision. I’m calling you to step back from the view you can see and look beyond to the big picture. Does life have no meaning? Are we a series of chemical reactions producing desires and emotions? If so, why are you here? Why fight against a worldview so hard to leave? Why invest so much time of your life if a few (1, 5, 20, 50…) years from now you and I are nothing more than bird fodder? I’m not calling you dishonest, I’m appealing to what I think you have yet to reconcile–as much as God has let you down, the world makes no sense without him. That’s not to say we don’t have more understandings of how things work, but absolutely to say we still have zero idea why things ever came to be; why things are so ordered that when something different comes along we actually call it a dis-order; why we can even ask questions, apply to reason, think, and identify. In a materialistic world, truth doesn’t exist (what material is truth made of?), but we still seek it–at our core–like there is something deeper–something inside, calling out that something is bigger than us.
      I’m not asking you to agree with me, Paul. I’m defending what I believe (apologetics)–it’s up to you to accept it or reject it.

      • BASICALLY, I’M ASKING SKEPTICS TO DEFINE WHAT IT IS THEY’RE REJECTING.

        In general, we are rejecting the positive claim that there is a God (e.g. the God of the Bible). As you know, it is always up to the person making the positive claim to make the definitions. That’s the only way it makes sense. Rejecting something you’re not claiming wouldn’t mean anything.

        I understand you may not be happy about having the burden of proof, but that’s the way that positive assertions work. http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/burden-of-proof.html

        ASKING FOR PROOF PRAYER WORKS IS A MISAPPLICATION OF TERMS

        You misread, or I was unclear… I didn’t ask for evidence that prayer “works” (I fully agree that “yes” answers are not a reasonable standard). I asked for evidence that prayer is “heard”, which is what you assert.

        THE DIALOG IS UP TO YOU, I WILL PROMISE NOT TO CALL YOU DISHONEST, BUT I’M ALMOST ASSUREDLY GOING TO CALL YOU INCONSISTENT.

        Found it – http://clearlens.org/2016/02/08/where-do-good-and-evil-come-from/ (just pleased to find I didn’t imagine the conversation)

        Please do point out an inconsistencies. I assume you mean on-going, but if you think I’m inconsistent on objective morality, I’d love to hear it.

        C’MON. YOU KNOW THAT’S NOT THE SAME.

        That’s just an assertion. How is it not the same?

        KNOWING HOW LIGHTING WORKS DOES NOTHING TO ADDRESS FROM WHENCE IT CAME.

        From whence it came? We know the natural causes for lightning… it doesn’t come from anywhere. That’s begging the question. http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/begging-the-question.html

        AT SOME POINT, SOMETHING, SOMEWHERE IS ETERNAL.

        That’s a huge assertion. What evidence do you have for this?

        WHETHER IT IS ALIEN LIFE, ENERGY, GRAVITY, OR GOD,

        These first three things are/would most definitely be finite.

        NOTHING WILL NEVER PRODUCE SOMETHING.

        That’s an even bigger assertion and a positive claim. What evidence do you have for this?

        THAT’S COMMON SENSE.

        Was my explanation for lightning common sense? Is the Earth revolving around the sun common sense? Are germs common sense? Is the theory of relativity common sense? Common sense is not a standard of truth. (see below on “truth”)

        SO, AS I SAID IN MY POST, OF ALL THE POSSIBILITIES, THEY ALL TAKE MORE FAITH THAN BELIEVING IN GOD (EVEN IF IT’S NOT THE GOD OF THE BIBLE)

        I guess I’ll just reiterate that this is Appeal to Ignorance, as I did in my first comment? If I am wrong on this, how am I wrong? http://www.fallacyfiles.org/ignorant.html

        FOR REASONS LIKE APPEARANCE OF DESIGN

        Appearance of design is not design. Complexity is not design. In fact, the way creationists try to illustrate design is to contrast something man-made (designed) to nature (undesigned).

        IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY

        I have yet to see an example of this, nor was one presented to convince the Christian judge in the Dover trial… try as Behe might. Eyes and bacterial flagellum are both demonstrably reducible and are well understood and thoroughly documented. What examples convince you?

        AND TIME REQUIRED

        I recall that we discussed an article you presented on a lone dissenting opinion from a non-biologist who felt 4.3 billion years wasn’t long enough.

        DOES LIFE HAVE NO MEANING? ARE WE A SERIES OF CHEMICAL REACTIONS PRODUCING DESIRES AND EMOTIONS?

        Yes and yes. And the fact that those answers are uncomfortable or undesirable to you has no bearing on their truth. (see below on “truth”)

        IF SO, WHY ARE YOU HERE? WHY FIGHT AGAINST A WORLDVIEW SO HARD TO LEAVE? WHY INVEST SO MUCH TIME OF YOUR LIFE IF A FEW (1, 5, 20, 50…) YEARS FROM NOW YOU AND I ARE NOTHING MORE THAN BIRD FODDER?

        Because I desperately wish someone had exposed the fallacies, misrepresentations, errors and lies (in a general sense, not disparaging Roger) of Christianity to me much, much earlier in life. I cannot, in good conscience, allow assertions without evidence to go unchallenged.

        Since this life is the only one that we know that we have, how we live here is literally everything. This life isn’t a waiting room for something else.

        IN A MATERIALISTIC WORLD, TRUTH DOESN’T EXIST (WHAT MATERIAL IS TRUTH MADE OF?), BUT WE STILL SEEK IT–AT OUR CORE–LIKE THERE IS SOMETHING DEEPER–SOMETHING INSIDE, CALLING OUT THAT SOMETHING IS BIGGER THAN US.

        Truth is the degree to which a statement or idea corresponds to reality.

        Why would it be a thing? It is a property, like wet, cold, old.

        I’M NOT ASKING YOU TO AGREE WITH ME, PAUL. I’M DEFENDING WHAT I BELIEVE (APOLOGETICS)–IT’S UP TO YOU TO ACCEPT IT OR REJECT IT.

        Oh good… you agree with me on burden of proof. Your opening statement sounded like you didn’t.

        • Paul – I was confused about names and my comment above should have had your name at the start of it. I can agree with much of your criticism since it is aimed at arguments that I also feel do not work.

          You say – “Because I desperately wish someone had exposed the fallacies, misrepresentations, errors and lies (in a general sense, not disparaging Roger) of Christianity to me much, much earlier in life. I cannot, in good conscience, allow assertions without evidence to go unchallenged.”

          I feel the same. The Roman church ensured that Europe was bequeathed a bowdlerised form of the doctrine. But a scholar would know that this is not the Christianity of ‘A Course in Miracles’, the Desert Fathers, David Bentley Hart, Nicolas de Cusa, the pseudo-Dionysius and so forth, who represent a view I would endorse.and which does not require such strained arguments for support. Be wary of throwing away Christianity when it is not easy to distinguish the original message from the convenient dogma it later became. For the early Christians ‘prayer’ might refer to meditation and contemplation, the usual methods for the truth-seeker, while classical Christianity is ambiguous on the existence of God, placing Him beyond the categories of existence/non-existence .

          I expect this is not interesting, but I hate to see a whole religious tradition rejected for the sake of claims it doesn’t make. I find that sceptics tend to accept the view of Christianity that they want to oppose rather than investigate whether that view is a plausible or a necessary interpretation of the teachings.

        • “In general, we are rejecting the positive claim that there is a God”
          Then you must be making a positive claim “There is no God”. Do you have evidence to support your position?

          “I asked for evidence that prayer is “heard””
          The question is a non-sequitur. The argument I was defending was that prayer works, not that God exists. God’s existence necessitates his hearing prayer; how can one argue an omnipresent omniscient God doesn’t/can’t hear prayer? How would you apply your argument to this concept to proving to me you are real and not a bot, identity thief, troll, or imaginary?

          “Please do point out inconsistencies”
          The inconsistency always falls on applying subjective morals outwardly. You would likely assume that because you do not lie, steal, or threaten to murder my family that I should hold those same values to you, but that is your subjective belief applied objectively. Humanity doesn’t work that way. Consider this example:
          Let’s say one day, the US Dept. of Transportation decided that people are generally courteous and traffic lights, turn lanes, and all traffic laws were obsolete—everyone can apply their own subjective traffic laws how they deem appropriate. How long do you think that will last before the traffic related accidents become too great? Subjective morality is the same (especially in terms of consistency). It sounds good, but it only works if objective moral values are consistent with your subjective views.

          “That’s a bigger assertion…”
          I guess I’ll just have to appeal to thousands of years of observation and (of course) common sense. Nothing has ever been seen to produce anything (just in case you are reading into this, by nothing I mean ‘no’ ‘thing’ – it is a very literal point). Further, assuming nothing one day produces something, then you are forced to assign an attribute to nothing—He/She/It produced; it is an action. What exactly is so hard about this to believe? Better question, why is it easier to belief nothing happenstanced everything than an all-powerful, infinite creator started the ball rolling? Nothing will never produce something.

          “Appearance of design is not design”
          True. I guess that means appearance of design is accidental. It must be accident that when we purposely design things like airplanes, we look at accidents in nature like bird wings to become more efficient. Too bad were not as good as nature or perhaps scientist might figure out how a bumble-bee flies, since design tells us they are too heavy with too small wings. Hmm, perhaps there is design after-all.

          “The fact that those answers are undesirable to you…”
          Not undesirable…impossible. It leads to too many problems. For example, how do you train a chemical reaction? If I asked you your address, you would give a different answer then me; I would give you different answers at different points in my life. Chemical reactions react, they do not think. The mind and the brain are two very different aspects that require more than the material world can provide.

          “Because I wish someone had exposed the fallacies…much earlier in life”
          And that would what? Make you smarter? Make you freer? Give you meaning? Purpose? What? Your answer is a cop-out.
          When someone is involved in a serious car accident, a team of investigators re construct the accident and try to figure out who was where, when they were there, how fast they were going, and a gambit of possibilities to draw a conclusion on how the accident LIKELY happened. The teams are experts, train a lot, and do a great job. Unfortunately, it’s never perfect. That is, they can figure out the big stuff but why it happened (was the driver dozing off or distracted, e.g.)is a different story.
          There is more to traffic accidents than mangled car parts; there is more to life than materialism. You are a person, Paul, worthy of respect and candor. Your life was not wasted; the let-down you feel is not something to dwell on; you shouldn’t just give up. You have studied a lot, but you have sold-out on a few hard propositions. Yup, the way the Bible is constructed seems odd sometimes. Yes, believing in something I cannot see gives me doubt sometimes. Christianity is hard—I don’t always want to be nice, turn the other cheek, or reconcile why evil exists—why would God allow this/that. But that doesn’t mean I throw the baby out with the bath water. You don’t just get to sit back and talk about alternative views—different ways the car could’ve crashed—without first recognizing that you are alive worth far more than a haphazard mass of evolved space goo…life came from something (not nothing). Materialism is a cop-out. It says, there are too many “other” views, too many “other” possibilities therefore everything I don’t understand is false—all of it. Hogwash! As I said in my post—they all take more faith. But what I didn’t say is, they all take less commitment. And that’s my issue with your position, Paul. You’re worldview is lazy. It presupposes science can or will figure everything out so I don’t have to. You spent years studying, memorizing, and committing yourself to something bigger than you, and when it got hard, when it seemed like the bottom was falling out, you gave in to the worldview that has bigger problems but allows you to be your own god. Materialsm shouldn’t get a free pass—why are you not applying the same critical thinking to materialism as you do with God? That’s your prerogative, great. I want to be a friend you can bounce ideas off, and question hard issues. But you don’t get to sit on your high horse—I wish someone would have spoken out against the hard stuff so I could be something different—reason away the hurt. Moreover, it’s self-gratifying. Which is more subjective morality you impose objectively on others—it’s all about me, unless someone wants to apply their views against me, then it’s about them being wrong (subjectively, of course). Psht.

          • THEN YOU MUST BE MAKING A POSITIVE CLAIM “THERE IS NO GOD”. DO YOU HAVE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT YOUR POSITION?

            Why must I be? I am not. I make no claim “there is no god”. I simply do not find the evidence of the positive claim to be compelling enough to believe it.

            The positive claim is the only one that requires proof. Otherwise you would have to spend your life disprove unicorns, alien abductions, Santa Claus and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

            GOD’S EXISTENCE NECESSITATES HIS HEARING PRAYER;

            How so? Deists would argue with you on that point.

            HOW CAN ONE ARGUE AN OMNIPRESENT OMNISCIENT GOD DOESN’T/CAN’T HEAR PRAYER?

            I guess if you are talking to someone who accepts those assertions, as you’ve defined it into a tautology. How can you argue that purple rabbits don’t have purple ears?

            HOW WOULD YOU APPLY YOUR ARGUMENT TO THIS CONCEPT TO PROVING TO ME YOU ARE REAL AND NOT A BOT, IDENTITY THIEF, TROLL, OR IMAGINARY?

            There are many, many ways to lend evidence to my human identity… and you would get to be the judge as to when the evidence convinced you. We could get on a video call where we can talk, answer your questions, produce identification, etc all on your demand. I could post a photo of myself with my Bible school yearbook and today’s CNN headlines (and I did… https://www.instagram.com/p/BC1NoEAnb1R/ ). You could find people that we have in common on LinkedIn and ask those you trust about me. You could compare my credited appearances in independent media at various times in my life with my appearance and manner. I could fly to your town and we could have lunch and I could lick your head to provide a DNA sample. etc, etc, etc.

            I suspect that nothing could convince you that I’m not a troll. 🙂

            LET’S SAY ONE DAY, THE US DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION DECIDED THAT PEOPLE ARE GENERALLY COURTEOUS AND TRAFFIC LIGHTS, TURN LANES, AND ALL TRAFFIC LAWS WERE OBSOLETE—EVERYONE CAN APPLY THEIR OWN SUBJECTIVE TRAFFIC LAWS HOW THEY DEEM APPROPRIATE. HOW LONG DO YOU THINK THAT WILL LAST BEFORE THE TRAFFIC RELATED ACCIDENTS BECOME TOO GREAT? SUBJECTIVE MORALITY IS THE SAME (ESPECIALLY IN TERMS OF CONSISTENCY). IT SOUNDS GOOD, BUT IT ONLY WORKS IF OBJECTIVE MORAL VALUES ARE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR SUBJECTIVE VIEWS.

            You just pointed out an amazing example of how our views/morals are entirely subjective. While we here in North America have decided that we should drive on the right hand side of the street, in Britain, they decided the opposite and drive on the left. Why is this OK? Is there no objectively correct side of the street on which to drive? What if we all just decided for ourselves?

            What we have is a subjective agreement in each country to the rules we want our local society to follow, and then objective enforcement (laws) to those wholly subjective agreed-to standards.

            Excellent example.

            BETTER QUESTION, WHY IS IT EASIER TO BELIEF NOTHING HAPPENSTANCED EVERYTHING THAN AN ALL-POWERFUL, INFINITE CREATOR STARTED THE BALL ROLLING?

            Because while evidence to the former is incomplete, evidence to the latter has not been demonstrated. In fact, it adds an entirely new set of questions… our whole life is experience with the material. “All-powerful infinite” is a massive massive claim to which we have no experience. How is that possibly easier to believe?

            I GUESS THAT MEANS APPEARANCE OF DESIGN IS ACCIDENTAL.

            Straw-man much?

            IT MUST BE ACCIDENT THAT WHEN WE PURPOSELY DESIGN THINGS LIKE AIRPLANES, WE LOOK AT ACCIDENTS IN NATURE LIKE BIRD WINGS TO BECOME MORE EFFICIENT.

            We know it’s not an accident because we observe the process of the plane builders. The process is well documented, step-by-step.

            We know coral reefs, crystals, snowflakes and other natural structures are not designed, but become complex through natural processes. We have constantly expanding understanding of how the complexity of life came to be… step-by-step, via natural processes.

            TOO BAD WERE NOT AS GOOD AS NATURE OR PERHAPS SCIENTIST MIGHT FIGURE OUT HOW A BUMBLE-BEE FLIES, SINCE DESIGN TELLS US THEY ARE TOO HEAVY WITH TOO SMALL WINGS. HMM, PERHAPS THERE IS DESIGN AFTER-ALL.

            See http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/08/bumblebee-flight-does-not-violate-the-laws-of-physics/ or some 90,000 articles on Google scholar about the flight of bees.

            But it is too bad that humanity hasn’t had the same amount of time to come up with as many experiments that nature has had over the past few billion years.

            THE MIND AND THE BRAIN ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT ASPECTS THAT REQUIRE MORE THAN THE MATERIAL WORLD CAN PROVIDE.

            This is not a separation that those I know in neuroscience make… they tell me that our growing understanding lies in natural mechanisms. What information do you have on this separate nature? What is the difference between processing and thinking? Do you mean to say that these things are not fully understood?

            AND THAT WOULD WHAT? MAKE YOU SMARTER? MAKE YOU FREER? GIVE YOU MEANING? PURPOSE? WHAT? YOUR ANSWER IS A COP-OUT.

            My IQ did not rise a single point when I abandoned my faith, though an increase of knowledge certainly preceded it. Certainly in any quest for truth, more information is always preferable to less.

            In my case, it exposed wrong assumptions upon which I was making decisions in my life… decisions that harmed me, my family and stole time that I will never get back. As a bonus, it cured the cognitive dissonance that plagued me.

            I want to believe as many true things as possible, and as few false things as possible. For my purposes, degree of truth is the degree to which an idea or concept reflects reality. I think you would agree with this goal for yourself.

            What aspect of my answer was a cop out?

            MATERIALISM IS A COP-OUT. IT SAYS, THERE ARE TOO MANY “OTHER” VIEWS, TOO MANY “OTHER” POSSIBILITIES THEREFORE EVERYTHING I DON’T UNDERSTAND IS FALSE—ALL OF IT.

            Materialism doesn’t care about understanding, even though it relentlessly strives for it. Materialism is concerned only with evidence and concerns itself only with that for which there is evidence. Science is comfortable not knowing, but not comfortable asserting.

            From my perspective, it is religion that must fill any gaps of understanding with something… a deity. And remains far too comfortable with that non-answer.

            YOUR WORLDVIEW IS LAZY.

            Materialism is lazy? It is theism that says we don’t need to keep looking for natural answers because “god did it”. It is Christianity that says that what you do in this life doesn’t matter, because your belief earns you forgiveness and a free pass to a better life after this one. It says that praying is a substitute for doing something. It says authority is a substitute for critical thinking. (I’m speaking generally from a lifetime of observation, not of you specifically.)

            Materialism says this is the one life you get, and only you and your fellow lifeforms can impact that experience from birth to the inevitable day you die, so get out there and accomplish what you can. There’s nothing lazy about that.

            WHY ARE YOU NOT APPLYING THE SAME CRITICAL THINKING TO MATERIALISM AS YOU DO WITH GOD?

            I do. I was once where you are. I had the same views. I didn’t set out to leave my faith. I set out to affirm it. I could have written the same articles you do, until I learned too much.

            I seek and question everything now continually, in much more earnest than I did as a lazy believer. When I find evidence to the contrary, materialism will be much easier to set aside than Christianity was.

            I WANT TO BE A FRIEND YOU CAN BOUNCE IDEAS OFF, AND QUESTION HARD ISSUES.

            I want that too. I sensed this reply was more sensitive than others. I’m continually surprised when my comments are approved by your moderators. Thank you for the dialog. As I said, I refuse to stop searching.

          • “I make no claim “there is no god”. I simply do not find the evidence of the positive claim to be compelling enough to believe it.”
            You must make a positive claim: there is a God; there is no God, or I don’t know. To quote a popular song in 1980, “If you chose not to decide, you still have made a choice”, ‘Freewill’ by Rush. I have made my choice—there is a God—and I offer various evidences for that positive claim: objective moral values, origin of life, the ability to reason, appearance of design, etc. I find these to overwhelmingly support my positive claim. What evidence do you offer to support your claim? Are they more substantial than my claims?
            “Deists would argue with you on that point”
            Deists would argue if God cares about your prayers, not his ability to hear prayer.
            “https://www.instagram.com/p/BC1NoEAnb1R/”
            Why so stern looking? And why only 1 eye? These are just curiosity questions.
            “While we here in North America have decided that we should drive on the right hand side of the street, in Britain, they decided the opposite and drive on the left.”
            Deciding which side of the street to walk on has nothing to do with morals and everything to do with leading horses around canals—but I’m sure you knew that. I bring it up here because there is a significant difference between following customs and devaluing humanity. Driving on the right side of the road may get you in trouble in Britain, but it hardly devalues the people who follow those customs. Rape, murder, and genocide on the other hand have great intrinsic value. Enough so that the founders of America wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal, endowed by their creator”. But it isn’t just for Americans, the Nuremberg trials found Nazi officers guilty because of human worth and value. Would you disagree? Do humans have more or less value depending upon who they are, where they live, their life expectancy? Who gets to determine their worth? You? A vocal majority? Governments? Scientists? Why? Is that same standard agreeable if you find yourself on the side of rape, murder, injustice? Objective morality not only exists, it must exist. And it is only possible because God exists. If you don’t see that, we need to start over. You need to hear this: You have worth and are valuable, Paul. But that worth and value doesn’t come from your intellect, cunning, candor, or otherwise—it is only because you are perfectly and wonderfully made (I trust you recognize that *smile*)
            “We have constantly expanding understanding of how the complexity of life came to be… step-by-step, via natural processes.”
            Yet you don’t have life; you don’t have beginnings; you don’t have a foundation. I read a story a while back of an apologist walking through a post-modern museum at Ohio State University. There were staircases to nowhere, pillars that hung from the ceiling and never hit the ground, and many other things that visually illustrated ‘everything is relative’. After completing the tour, the apologist said to his guide, “I wonder if the builders applied the same technique to the foundation of the building”. (After I wrote this I found it was Ravi Zacharias http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2014/01/13/ravi-zacharias-on-postmodern-architecture-at-ohio-state/)
            See, Paul, you have a worldview with a lot of answer to questions that come after the bigger questions—what started it? You see the tree and miss the forest. You watch your step-by-step process but never grasp the first step. Naturalism begins with nature, but where did nature begin. Materialism begins with materials, but where did materials begin. These questions aren’t just unknown now, they are impossible. God is the answer—like. It. Or. Not. Not to be mean, but to be very blunt—you’re worldview is a cop-out. You casually dismiss the questions that led you away from God in the first place. How is it possible God existed forever? I don’t know, but I know nature and materialism are finite; they are effects, not causes. How is it possible that nature and materials existed forever—it isn’t. They deteriorate. Pick apart my words, offer alternatives all day, but you have no answer to origins without an uncaused cause, an intelligent creator, God.
            “Materialism is concerned only with evidence and concerns itself only with that for which there is evidence.”
            There is evidence for the supernatural—ghosts, near death experiences, paranormal activity, total life transformations, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, etc. etc. Some are hoaxes, but many, many things are left unexplained. Materialism must dismiss them—you must reject whatever doesn’t fit your worldview in support of what you want. You get to pick and choose what you call evidence and reject the stuff you don’t like. You don’t like that hundreds of people started a movement of Christianity following the resurrection so you call it legend. You don’t like that Jews changed a millennia of Saturday Sabbath worship do worship on Sunday because of the resurrection so you don’t ever ask ‘Why’. You don’t like that thousands of manuscripts discuss a poor servant boy named Jesus so you elevate him to a fairy tale. Your answers don’t fit, and you dress it up with “well maybe this and maybe that” and then never concern yourself with the question—what started it all? Again, I’m sorry you were let down. I’m sorry someone challenged you with a question you couldn’t answer. But you can’t answer this one and instead of dumping this worldview you say ‘Oh-well’. That’s the cop out.
            You have worth. You have value. And it was worthy of sacrificial love. Don’t forget that in the midst of all the science and fantasy you drown yourself in.

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