Who Needs This God Nonsense?

And yet, here I am telling my four-year-old granddaughter Lucy that God made the rock she just asked about. We’ve climbed up on this granite outcropping surrounded by water and reeds on the marsh overlooking the Merrimack Bay near my house. We’ve brought chalk to draw on the rock. Her arms are around my neck. It’s low tide and the small of the mud flats is wonderful, so alive!


I say “and yet” because there’s this internal conversation. “You don’t know anything,” I say to myself, “why lie to her?” The other me answers, “But why pass on your doubts? She deserves a chance at certainty no matter how fleeting, and anyway you still beg God for help even on days when you don’t believe. For instance you’re on your face often enough praying for protection for Lucy.”


And that begging, called prayer keeps beckoning me back. Old habits die hard. Nothing kills faith faster than being or having been a so-called Christian leader. Mix in the bitter politics of the religious right, let a few years pass, change careers and get out of the God business, and pretty soon you ask – rather I asked myself – who needs this God nonsense?
It turns out that I do.


Who can I thank for my grandchild? Who can I ask to help my friend?


My granddaughter has questions. My friend H—- is dying. I pray all the time irrespective of “belief” levels or sincerity.


God doesn’t seem to care what I believe. He/She/It  moves me by beauty, by grandchildren, by children, by love, by gratitude for my deluxe guardian angel Genie – I’ve been married to her for 42 years and unlike (most) angels she has sex with me – and by something else real and nagging: a longing in the heart for the tune I knew but forgot.


This “tune” is a melody of faith retained. It isn’t about right belief. It is about the experience of meaning in the context of short mortal life.


So I told Lucy “God made that rock.” This was after she asked me where it came from and who made it.


You see Lucy watches me build. So she assumes someone made whatever she sees because she sees me make things.  I’ve been a mason and carpenter since I was a teen and thus Lucy is used to the idea of coming home after her “Ba” (that’s me) has built an addition to her house for her parents, or renovated a bathroom, or poured concrete for a new deck. When I took Lucy to a hardware store when she was three a sales person asked her – in a talk-down-to-children sugary sweet voice — “and what would you like?” She was probably expecting an answer along the lines of candy or dolls. Without missing a beat Lucy (that blond lovely bright eyed child) answered “A chain saw.”


I could see that the sales person now had to rethink certain assumptions. I also got a weird look as in “Just what sort of people are you?” I could have told the bemused sales lady that Lucy lives across the street from me. I could have said that she is a gift along with her little brother Jack, a gift to her parents but also to Genie and me.


Lucy the daughter of a returned-from-war Marine, my son John. To see Lucy and Jack walk down the same driveway that held such terror for me is the gift. The drive held terror while John fought in Afghanistan and Iraq back in the early days of our interminable misbegotten wars. What I expected every day was the sound of tires crunching on the piece stone and the knock on the door by two Marines in dress blue uniforms one of whom would say, “I regret to inform you…”


Instead Lucy and Jack walk down that cracked old drive to the house and we “dine,” as Lucy likes to call it. We listen to Beethoven’s 9th (fourth movement) full blast where the choir kicks in and we all pretend we’re directing the orchestra. This is the heaven of life rather than the hell of loss.


Which brings up the question: Why am I a nicer person than God? I mean there’s nothing John or my other two children Jessica and Francis could do, let alone my four grandchildren could do to me that would make me condemn them forever. And that brings up another question, then maybe there is no God, or maybe my ideas about that God – or should I say the ideas I was indoctrinated with – were wrong.


On the other hand between the politicizing of right wing churches, the theology of retribution – Jesus died to satisfy an angry two-faced god (sometimes kind, sometimes mean), the commercialization of the God Business, my own horrible sins – I slapped my children, screamed at my wife, have been selfish, nasty and petty — what can be left of faith?


This is especially a question that relates to the Wizard of Oz: pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! But what if you’re that man? What if you were good at fooling most of the people (in your corner of the evangelical ghetto) most of the time, were even sincere – at least at first – and believed your own BS?


How to find faith, or even consider God again, when so much of what you’ve touched, let alone have been, is God-awful in the name of God?


Is there a God? If there is does he hate you? Did Jesus “die for our sins”? What sort of a “god” would continue the terrible cycle of sin, retribution and sacrifice up to such a crazy point as the murder of his own child to satisfy some sort of blood lust masquerading as justice?


But my grandchildren, Lucy and Jack and Ben and Amanda, love me. And my children (now grown) are my best friends and forgave me for my youthful Calvinism-fueled certainties that led to such domineering stupidity. And Genie stayed.


And they did all this without having to choose one of their number to die for any of us on a cross so I would not be angry. They did this because of the goodness in their hearts, because they rewarded repentance with forgiveness.


How does brain science explain that? Maybe the truth of something greater than ourselves is in fact true, that “something” being the voice, the way, the teaching best embodied in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus—who did not take revenge but forgave even his killers.


Maybe his death wasn’t about satisfying an angry God but about breaking the cycle of revenge forever and answering the murder of innocence and an innocent victim with forgiveness for all. If that Jesus, that God is the creator then he’s worth telling Lucy about — even on days I don’t believe, which on many days I don’t.


Belief, faith, ideas, let alone certainties are a dime a dozen and go up and down. Sincerity is an overrated virtue.


We pick and choose. And I pick Jesus to follow – correction —  try to follow,  fail to follow, wish I could follow and hope to follow. I pick that person and his life even when I know that the accounts about him can’t always be trusted because the Bible is a leaky sieve of a document.


Yes, there is clear cool water there but the container is full of holes. The water still tastes good though, when you can get some– say when Lucy looks into your eyes and trusts you even though you don’t deserve it. Sometimes it’s almost possible to believe in second chances.


Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back.

To book Frank to speak at your college, church or group please contact Frank HERE

About Frank Schaeffer

Frank Schaeffer is an American author, film director, screenwriter and public speaker. He is the son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer. He became a Hollywood film director and author, writing several internationally acclaimed novels including And God Said, "Billy!" as well as the Calvin Becker Trilogy depicting life in a fundamentalist mission home-- Portofino, Zermatt, and Saving Grandma.

  • http://stonetableschool.com Robbie Grayson

    How I love your honesty!

    • Frank Schaeffer

      Thanks Robbie for reading my stuff. Best, Frank

  • Beth

    Lovely article, Frank. Honest and deeply moving.

    • Frank Schaeffer

      Thank you Beth, Best, Frank

  • Suzanne Dubinin

    One of your loveliest Frank. Thank whoever/whatever it was that kicked off this thing we call being alive. I say ‘to hell with theologies’ and ‘bring on the onward and upward’ of living in the moment for the experience that it is with those that we love.

    • Frank Schaeffer

      Well put Suzanne, thanks for the kindness and the words. My thoughts too. Best, Frank

  • http://patheos threeten2yuma

    Dr. Jekyll, I presume. Thank you!

  • frustratedbycalvinism.help

    Thanks Frank. I feel your frustration. As a fifty something anglosaxon capital R reformed presbyterian raised, indoctrinated calvinist I too feel that I am leaving the security that the theology has given me for forty years. Now I no longer can relate to capital H hell, am uncertain as to whether foetuses (foeti?) that have been aborted are really human or otherwise, am totally unsure about creation (ie literal 6 day), would like to consider euthanasia as an option should I need it… Help – any resources I should be reading???

    • Frank Schaeffer

      Hi Frusteratedby… The fact is we who come from any kind of religious background — much less the outright madness of Calvinism — have a choice: close our eyes to reality forever or open our eyes and spend the rest of our days trying to get the ringing out of our ears. We are in the position of someone who has been color blind undergoing surgery and having the sense of color restored. The world suddenly looks complex and confusing. There are no answers, just questions when it comes to trying to be certain about anything at all. I think you know what I mean. The very bitter defensiveness of the evangelicals trying to toe the line still gives away the fear they have of really looking at the questions rather than defending the “answers” usually by attacking the questioner. So watch you back but be glad for sanity.

  • http://misoriented.blogspot.com/ Pith Helmet

    I read your blog regularly because I myself am going through a faith crisis, so this question is not an attempt to argue with you, but … why do you keep talking about the death of Jesus in terms of a bloody, angry God who needs to extract revenge so takes it out on his son? I’m sure some Christians have had that view, but there are certainly more benign interpretations, especially the idea that in the context of the Trinity God was giving his own life. You might be hinting in this post that there are other possibilities (“Maybe his death wasn’t about satisfying an angry God…”). It seems to me that the “angry God and human sacrifice” view is more of a straw man.

    • http://patheos threeten2yuma

      Pith Helmet,

      If you’ll pardon my presumption, I’ll attempt to explain Frank Schaeffer to you.

      First off, Frank has created God in his own image; in the image of Frank hath he created Him! That right there goes a long way in understanding our dear friend. Secondly, ever since he could speak Frank has said things to get attention. I’m not making this up, read Frank’s many books. I did and thoroughly enjoyed them! Finally, Frank is still wrestling with the God who made him and who loves him and Whom he still thinks he can boss around. But one day, God will “cheat” and cripple him, and then Frank will walk limping the rest of his days, but he will always be grateful for the time in his life when once he held onto God so close that he could feel His breath on his face!

      Anyway that’s my prayer for our buddy. Call him, “Yisrael!”

    • Frank Schaeffer

      Dear old Threeten2yuma, given I had polio at age 2 I already limp. But you are a bit off the rails with the rest. Do you know just how unhinged an idea of God is who is meaner than we are. And By the way since there is no such thing as any way to know truth objectively we all create our gods in our own image. Madness is just another word for certainty about invisible “truths.’

      • http://patheos threeten2yuma

        Dear Frank, I honestly forgot about your childhood polio else I may have used a different metaphor in making my point, but then again maybe not, because I do think that the Biblical story of Jacob wrestling with God is very apt in understanding not only you but everyone else who has ever lived. The outcome of that match in any human life makes all the difference in the world . . . in fact for all eternity, if the Bible is to be believed. And anyway, you were never “crippled” by your polio in the way that I was using that term, and I think that you know that. However, to the extent that I inadvertently caused you any emotional pain, I am sorry. Please forgive me.

        And you misunderstand the point of my illustration if you think that I am trying to describe a “God is who is meaner than we are,” as you say. The only god who fits that description is the one the Bible calls, “Satan.” As an aside, I know that many, if not most, people do not believe in the Devil or his demon hosts, but in my more than twenty years as a prosecuting attorney here in twenty-first century America, please believe me when I tell you that I’ve seen more evil than I think can be explained merely by human psychology. In fact, I recall from my undergraduate years a college history course taught by an atheist professor of mine who had been educated at Trinity College Cambridge (as he never tired of telling the class) who used to employ the term “demonic” when describing his personal observations of Hitler’s Third Reich during his youth until I asked him once if he was using that term as a synonym for evil or if he was describing what he thought was the activity of actual devils. My professor was stunned and stammered for quite a bit as he tried to undo the description of Nazi Germany that he’d been giving and that apparently he knew in his heart he really believed. In the end, it didn’t matter what he said, the entire class knew what our professor meant. But I digress.

        You say that “since there is no such thing as any way to know truth objectively we all create our gods in our own image.” That may be true of all the little gods we make, but no one makes the one true God. He makes us. And whether or not that can be proven objectively, He certainly can be experienced subjectively. And that did once happen to me and still regularly does to the extent that I am “certain” enough to have built and continue to build my whole life around a personal encounter with the living Jesus. You know I may have more doubts sometimes about the real live Jesus in my life than you or other skeptics, but I would be a liar if I were to say that it never happened (or still continues to happen) that I personally encountered the real Jesus Christ.

        But that did not occur in my life until God “crippled” me and left me limping through life, yet ever grateful for the grace He showed me in the revelation of Himself to me. It’s too long a story to tell right now specifically how this happened, and lots of people probably aren’t even interested, human nature being what it is. Suffice it to say that if God had not so hurt me, I’d have never paid Him any attention at all. I think that to one extent or another, this is how many, many people come to God, like C.S. Lewis’ description of great personal pain as the megaphone that God uses to rouse a deaf world. It isn’t that God likes hurting people, it’s that He loves us too much to let us go to a Godless eternity without trying to turn us back to Him. If that sounds too harsh to anyone, then I’d say that that person needs to grow up. Real love is sometimes a “reckless, raging fury,” as a dead poet once said. And you can rail against God’s love all you want, Frank. You’ll never change it. But by God’s grace, it may one day change you.

        Finally, it’s sadly funny that you should say, “Madness is just another word for certainty about invisible ‘truths.’” Your father used to talk about “true Truth.” “[W]e have from the Bible what I term true truth. In this way we know true truth about God, true truth about man, and something truly about nature. Thus on the basis of the Scriptures, while we do not have exhaustive knowledge, we have true and unified knowledge.” (Francis A. Schaeffer, Escape From Reason, Ch. 2) I guess when you wrote, “Crazy for God,” you were trying to say that your Dad was nuts, huh? But I don’t think that you really believe this, and even if you did, there are myriads of people who knew him as well, or almost as well, as you who would offer a different opinion about Francis Schaeffer, whatever his personal faults may have been. My money’s on the bet that your Dad was right about the Bible and God and all that jazz . . . and that maybe one day you’ll be able to be “certain” of that too.

  • Aggie

    Good post Frank. Just recently started reading your blog– though I think I may have read a book of yours on Orthodoxy years ago. I went to a reformed seminary (with a Francis Schaeffer institute no less) and spent some time going down the Catholic-Orthodox route. In my better moments (which are more frequent now than they once were), I recognize how absurd people are for thinking that it’s somehow wicked to doubt the dubious. I also understand why threats of eternal torture can make a guy feel tense! I feel the need to protect my children from it all too– though I don’t want them to carry my baggage either. Can be a tough balancing act…
    Look forward to your next one.

    • Frank Schaeffer

      Hi Aggie, run while you can or sorrow awaits. The path to insanity is the ever narrowing circle of all religious fundamentalism. I’m very lucky to have made a life outside of that circle and am intrigued by how the folks who stay in continue to spiral down into what — to anyone else — is clearly a form of illness. Sanity is messy but at least leaves you a little time to just live.

      • Aggie

        Frank, guess I wasn’t clear enough. I already made the break. I’ve been an agnostic for 7-8 years now…

      • Aggie

        Hey Frank, guess I wasn’t clear. I’ve been an agnostic for 7-8 years now. I had to run, I felt like I was being dishonest by trying to stay in as long as I did.
        I think the analogy to a mental illness is a fair one. I
        I like some of your comments about “truth” and the like. I find the moral argument traditional believers use to be very tiresome, since Yahweh/Jesus commits most of the misdeeds he rails against. E.g.– kills infants but says murder/abortion is wrong, cursed the entire human race because of Adam’s sin of fruit-eating and then tells us not to curse people or punish people for the sins of othrs, sends people to eternal torture if they refuse to forgive people, etc, etc. The same intense introspection and soul-searching encouraged by Calvinism I find to be self-refuting. For our “total depravity” makes claim of doctrinal precision absurd (most clearly b/c speculative metaphysical thought is involved), and God’s deeds in the Bible make him many times worse than us (as you mentioned). Anyway, enjoying the blog.

  • http://http://winter60.blogspot.com/ Lausten North

    That was an interesting trip inside your head. I prefer Dale McGowan’s approach to children. Basically, let them struggle with questions just like you did and still are. If we just hand them answers, whether it be “God did it” or “Plate tectonics did it”, we rob them of the chance to work through the questions. It is the working through it that grows the synaptic connections that eventually become adults who can hold two disparate thoughts in their head and can look at bad behavior and know there is a good person there.

    • Frank Schaeffer

      Hi Lausten, good point, actually I do both, no short answers really because Lucy and i also get into long reveries on everything from star dust — we’re all made of it — to mostly games where we play and act out elaborate plays including riffs on “what’s real” (I don’t know) etc. It’s all more down to earth and complex than a bit of scribbling indicates. But I’m with you in a “how to” way if asked: let reality make its own impact rather than ideas about reality. Good point! Thanks!

  • http://patheos Threeten2yuma

    Hey Frank,

    Are you calling me crazy? You? My good friend who regularly howls at the moon in public!

    I’m on the road right now, but I’ll write you a fuller response when I get home. Love ya, Man!

    • http://patheos threeten2yuma

      OK. I’m back home from a recent brief vacation. Please see my extended comment above appended to Frank’s reply to me in which we discuss the ever-ironic question, “What is truth?” (Readers of the Bible will know who first posed this question and the context of the fateful
      query. Everyone else, please do go look it up!)

  • Denise

    Thank you for a terrific post. I’m in the wilderness right now, and it’s not a bad place to be, actually. I have an M.Div. and am ordained in my denomination, although I no longer pastor a church because of my struggle with bipolar disorder. Anyway, I strongly relate to believing in God only sometimes. I am trying to recover from doctrine and denominational politics. I keep hoping to find “someone” beyond all the religious filters that exist in my head. I am currently intrigued by the advances in physics, especially the discovery of the Higgs boson and the implications it may have for spirituality and consciousness. I wish I had paid more attention to physics in college! Best wishes.

  • lynn

    Wow, that was really beautiful. Thanks for bringing a tear to my eye.

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  • Reinis

    Dear Mr.Author :) would you mind if I quoted you on this comment:
    “Madness is just another word for certainty about invisible ‘truths.’ “?
    While I have nowhere near the experience you have on these topics, I must say I have been wrestling with very similar issues ever since I became a christian (which is about 2 years ago). Doubt has been one of the main driving forces for my spiritual journey and it’s little sentences like these that remind me to keep focused and not fall into pits of “I’m right, you’re not” thinking.
    Thank you!

  • David Naas

    Just found your post. I feel your pain. Because it is mine also. By definition, God cannot have a lesser morality than humans. But often, this is what the professional God-shouters would have you believe. And, of course, THEY have the key to salvation, so by all means, OBEY!
    All of us are crippled by our encounter with God. But only if we have truly struggled. There is good, honest sex, and there is pleasuring yourself. Most people’s religion is analogus to the latter.
    What I have found is that there seem to be three things God wants of us:
    1. To know that he really, really does want us to be nice to each other.
    2. To think of him(!) from time to time, and have a bit of gratitude.
    3. To remember that NOW is all the Time we have, and that NOW encompasses ETERNITY, so we shouldn’t waste it.
    OTOH, I could be wrong (with a bow to Oliver Cromwell.)

  • David Duffey

    If only we could stop asking unanswerable questions… Just be.

  • http://christianpurposeblog.wordpress.com Carlene Byron

    Love this post! Granite is another of those rocks that causes people to stumble because it’s the most common rock in the surface of the earth and science can’t begin to agree on how it was formed. So yes, as you told Lucy, I think we have to allow, at least for the moment, that perhaps God made it. Bless you and yours!

  • Jim Vickers

    Frank, it is good to see someone asking the questions, and sharing the odyssey we are all on in public. Trying to resolve all the contradictions i.e. between the loving omnipotent God, the crucifixion, and the presence of evil, in our religious traditions is an interesting task, but only the preliminary one. It seems to me the contradictions are something we have to live with and they make the pain and pleasure of life more exquisite. Setting the questions aside permanently because they are too difficult means sort of copping out on life. And I love life. I love my spouse, my family, my country, my church, and this beautiful planet we are on. So here I am enjoying, and sometimes enduring, but here I am and isn’t that the name of God? I am?

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    Personally, I don’t know if god-like supernatural beings exist or not. I can empathize with both belief and non-belief alike. Both paradigms contain their own separate spheres of emotional and rational ways of seeing the world that are (or at least, have the potential to be) internally consistent.

    The thing that I’m always astonished by is the loyalty that people so often have to a particular version of god and the supernatural. There are so many different kinds of religions on the planet and each religion contains innumerable variations on perceptions of the divine. Why limit one’s search to one religion? How can a human being say, “I have a truer understanding of the nature of the divine because my religion represents the most accurate exploration of that presence”? Does it really? Or is this just an error of human perception reinforced by the comfort of walking among a group of believers with similar ideas?

    In that spirit, is it such a bad thing to admit to your granddaughter that you are still exploring the world around you and you still have questions? Is it such a bad thing to let your granddaughter know that life has left you with a humbleness which entails not thinking you have all the answers… not even regarding God?

  • http://www.theemmausroad.com Marc

    Hello Frank,

    As a first timer to your blog, I just want to say thank you for your honesty. After years of faith (growing-up in it and even serving in ministry for a number of years), I find myself in a similar spot. I began my own search for truth only a couple of years ago because my eldest son – whom was pure and genuine in his faith of the Christian god and doctrine as any 6yr old could have been – asked some questions. Simple questions; basic questions. I opened my mouth, pressed ‘play’, and poured-out years of programmed theology. I meant well, but somehow when he looked back at me and asked, “Why don’t you have to hurt Lucas (his 4yr old brother) to forgive me like God does?” – I found myself speechless. It wasn’t that the question hadn’t been asked before, it was *who* was asking the question. Since then, I have wrestled with what my answers should be…if certainty should trump integrity, if doubt warps the upbringing of a child, how much should I be a “friend” vs. a “teacher”. It’s an awful place to be, especially as such questions of faith – ironically – can land you well outside the “circle” of the fellowship (where everyone stairs at you and says, “50 million Elvis fans can’t be wrong”).

    So, thanks for floating out there your own inner dialogue. I have no idea how some folks reconcile the facts that seem to exist about who God is and who he isn’t (since depending on the scripture you pick God either saves women and children or has them raped/dashed against stones), nor do I understand how we who grew-up with “scripture” account for all of those who still live in parts of the world that are just getting it (heck, you could’ve been burned at the stake for having an English or German bible just 500-600yrs ago). In the end, I think faith is a choice – and I judge no one for it. In fact, I almost envy the faithful as it would make so, so, so much inner struggle and pain go away.

    For now, I’ll look for the lone voices that seem both brave and honest – who do not lay guilt, threats of eternal fire and isolation upon those who still seek – and will warm myself at the fires they set along their journey.

    Thank you.

  • http://ancientchristiandefender.blogspot.com/ Jnorm

    I never was able to understand why some are offended by a God who judges people and Nations. If the president of the United States must pick and choose who lives vs who dies in Drone attacks. If human court judges and juries must decide who lives and dies in court cases, if police officers must decide when to take lethal action, then why is it so offenses to some when God judges people and Nations?

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s just rich, and maybe high middle class folk who live in a secular bubble that think this way. A bubble that keeps them safe from the real suffering of life. The real lethal decisions of life. People who don’t have to worry about being robbed or to have their life threatened constantly because they live in a bad neighborhood. To people who have to live with real danger in life, the idea of justice and judgement is not offensive. In fact, it’s welcomed.

    In saying this I don’t want to judge you, but I just wanted you to know that alot of this stuff is probably subjective and it might have alot to do with each persons experiences in life.

  • T Swanson

    Thank you for your post. This resonated with my husband and I deeply. You are not alone with your questions, and we see we are not alone, either.

  • jeannejeannie

    Dear Frank,
    Thank you for articulating what so many of us cannot, but are deeply wishing we could!
    My own experience of ‘the journey’, its dead ends, side tracks, false signposts etc has me here in my late 60s free at last to just rest in the ‘not knowing’ but secure in my ‘faith held’ belief that God actually doesn’t give a stuff what we believe. Just be nice to each other, kind, enjoy the ‘wife’ of your youth, be gentle with each other, be open to ‘the mystery’ and remember what Julian of Norwich said. ‘All will be well and all will be well and all manner of things shall be well’ Bless you.

  • mike

    Where do I start? Firstly and more importantly no one has ever came back from the dead to prove that there is some kind of entity in the fourth dimension or if there is any dimension. I only believe what I see – we are born to die (in such a short time) why? We do not know why people! Get it into your bloody head! We do not know anything except that we wake up, eat, do things, and sleep again. I call it waiting on death. Deep down – so do you.

    The bible, god, jesus (Jewish), alah, buda, etc. etc. etc. – I could go on and on 4200 times until I’m blue in the face. Wiki says there are 4200 religions on our beautiful blue planet – what a shame – what a wast of time. These humans think there so holy (holy?) and religious (religion – n. man made nonsense) like the pope and all his crew, and all other religious leaders are just to darn lazy to go out and do a good days work so they hide in a church and get people to pay for their way – buy their food, clothes, cars, houses ets. etc…I could go on and on. And what gets me is that they don’t pay a penny of tax to help the cause of real life on this Beautiful Blue Planet. They are all a bunch of phonies people! Wake up and stop supporting these lazy parasites. If you believe in some entity then so be it. If you have to pray – then do it at home in your environment.

    I hope that there is god for our sakes and hope that whatever it is – let it be female.

  • Joshua Orsak

    Are you familiar with the theology of Rene Girard? If not, you should get acquainted. Another book you might get a lot out of is Russell Pregeant’s MYSTERY WITHOUT MAGIC.

  • Nick Gotts

    They did this because of the goodness in their hearts, because they rewarded repentance with forgiveness.

    How does brain science explain that? Maybe the truth of something greater than ourselves is in fact true

    Actually, there are plenty of evolutionary explanations for human compassion and altruism: kin selection, reciprocal altruism, group selection, reputational effects, the handicap principle… The difficulty is in determining their relative importance. As it happens, I wrote a long review paper on this ten years ago:
    Gotts, N.M., Polhill, J.G. and Law, A.N.R. (2003). Agent-based simulation in the study of social dilemmas. Artificial Intelligence Review 19, 3-92.