Two reasons to believe the Bible is inspired

I was chatting with someone this week about questions of faith and “knowing”:  How do we know that the Bible is from God?

Know is a tricky word, because every person’s appetite for evidence is different.  Some need mountains, some molehills.  Either way, the truth is that you’ll never find enough scientific evidence to come to what I call, “Know with a capital ‘K’”. God’s telling us the story of history with the purpose of inviting us into that story, inviting us to re-calibrate our lives according to His plan, His trajectory, and doing so will require faith (as any world view requires a degree of faith).  But before we do that, many of us need to ponder whether this story is just another politically motivated myth, written in order to keep people in line, or raise the identity of one people group to hero status, or if this material originates with God.

This is question worthy of a book not a blog post, but here are two reasons I believe the Bible comes from God, thoughts that have been in conversations this week:

#1 – The Bible’s ethic is wholly other.  In contrast to surrounding civilizations, the Bible presents us with one God, not many gods.  This, in itself, isn’t evidence of its veracity.  But the ethics of this one God are unlike anything to come before.  What other nation’s gods placed a priority on caring for widows, orphans, and aliens?  None.  What other culture promised freedom to slaves after seven years?  None.  What other forgave debts every seven years, and cast a vision for property ownership that would prevent generational accumulation of wealth (and hence, power), by having land revert back to their original owners every fifty years?  None.  What other culture required farmers to leave the edges of their fields unharvested, mandating a smaller profit for the powerful in order that the poor might have substance?  None.

Who made up all these rules that would assure loss of wealth power to those at the top?  The rich and powerful?  Why would they?  Why hadn’t any other culture done so “for the common good”?   Where would they have acquired these ideas?  You can tell me that they “just thought them up”, but my response is that your view, then, is also a leap of faith, and frankly a big one.  Can you imagine this:  “Hey, let’s write a law that will prevent our children from inheriting our property, so that they’ll need to start from scratch just like we did…”  (Deuteronomy 15:1-18)   Maybe.  Or maybe it came from revelation – otherworldly revelation.

#2 - Israel’s self disclosure is largely unflattering. Have you been to Washington DC?  There’s one display (the Native American museum) that talks a bit about America’s darker side.  The rest of the town offers monument after monument praising not only our ideals, but our actions – the wars we’ve won, the press that’s free, the slavery we ended, the soldiers we honor, the aid we’ve given, the geniuses we’ve produced.  We praise our ingenuity, courage, optimism, and endurance.

Don’t get me wrong.  That’s probably as it should be when you’re walking through any nation’s capital.  Wherever I’ve travelled, I’ve found tokens (like the Native American museum) of a nation’s dark side, and boatloads of praise.

Then you come to the Old Testament.  It’s written by Jews, in Hebrew.  It begins with their people enslaved, and catalogs their unbelief, whining, and resistance to progress, both as they leave Egypt, and wander through the wilderness.  It catalogs their eventual conquest of a new land, but their catastrophic failures to obey God in the process, and the price they paid, along with their failure to obey God once there.  The entire “history books” section of the Old Testament is about Israel’s decline into idolatry, greed, corruption, abuse of power, and civil war, leading eventually to their occupation.  Interwoven through that same time period would be the books of the “prophets”, who were less than flattering, and would by many accounts be considered unpatriotic, as they foretold the downfall of their own nation, which unfolded just as predicted.

And you’re going to tell me this is Jewish propaganda material, made up to show the world Israel’s stellar history?

Wow… and I thought I had faith.

Sure.  There are unanswered questions about why God did everything He did in the Old Testament.  But again, it’s the very nature of those unanswered questions that causes me to say, “nobody makes this stuff up”.  As a result, I and billions of others have come to believe that God is, somehow, the source.

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • Terry Hulsey

    The title of your remarks immediately marks you as clueless. “The” Bible? “The” one that includes the gnostic writings? “The” one that includes the Essene writings? “The” one of the Council of Nicaea of 325? “The” one of Martin Luther, which would have excised seven Old Testament books, along with Revelations, James and Hebrews in the New? “The” one that includes the writings of Joseph Smith?
    How can all of these versions be “inspired” when they contradict other versions with an equal claim to “inspiration”?
    Suppose you make a choice of one of “the” Bibles — a choice which must itself rely on divine inspiration — and you are confronted with a welter of self-contradiction.
    And this is just for starters, not making any objective reference, just sticking with self-referential material. The first step outside these documents reveal them to be a hopeless farrago of nonsense, with a smattering of distorted historical material.
    Jacques Monod said it well: “A scientist who believes in god suffers from schizophrenia.” Yes, some very smart people can manage this, but they so this by compartmentalizing, and waffling the glaring contradictions that can’t be compartmentalized. In short, they turn the mind against itself. Go there if you like, if you are prepared to master the art of lying to yourself.

    • Lamont

      TH.
      “Jacques Monod said it well: “A scientist who believes in god suffers from schizophrenia.”

      He said it well?
      Why does this have any meaning?
      How do you know he said it well?
      What reference point do you use to determine anything?

    • http://girlwithflathat.blogspot.com Juliet

      Terry, the Council of Nicaea didn’t decide the biblical canon. The present list wasn’t agreed upon until much later. If you don’t believe me, there are plenty of non-religious biblical scholars who have made this point as well in the course of debunking various factual errors in The Da Vinci Code.

  • raincitypastor

    Thanks for your input. I re-read my post and can’t find anything about the debates regarding what constitutes “holy scripture”, which would be a different question entirely. I presume, and still believe (in spite of what you imply) that most readers will naturally presume that I’m talking about the bible they’d pick up at the grocery store, or the bible that’s called “the bible” in bookshops. If you want my thoughts about the council of Nicea, Gnostic gospels, and Luther’s view of the book of James, you’ll need to keep visiting. They’ll probably come here eventually.

    I also didn’t address the “welter of self-contradiction”, though I understand different census numbers, and chronologies in different books give people pause (but have you watched CNN, MSNBC, and FOX lately – all covering the same story? – with all the ‘welter of contradictions’ therein, you’d probably think they were reporting, what, fictitious events?) That’s also a different post, as is the subject of scientists who believe in God.

    I’m only doing one thing in this post. I address the unique mystery of the Old Testament by posing two questions, neither of which you attempted to answer:
    1. who writes laws that give away the farm?
    2. what nation is so transparent as to weight their own history overwhelmingly towards the revelation of their own failings, rather than providing a propaganda stream of success?

    • Vicki

      I certainly agree that you are not “clueless.” Using any word with multiple meanings does not imply that you are unaware of the other meanings. We all do this exact thing all the time and are still able to understand each other.

      I hate to put words in someone else’s mouth, but as Terry has not yet responded, I hope I’ll be forgiven putting forth a possible interpretation.

      Another word with multiple meanings is “inspired.” The idea that the Bible was dictated, word for word, whispered into the writer’s ear certainly exists. I don’t think you take this view, but for someone who does, self-contradiction and differing lists on what is and is not inspired are problematic. I agree that this problem is not a direct hit on your point. It is, however, a valid and easier hit to make (against a fundamentalist view of the Bible). Personally, I have found that many, many atheists tend to assume that Christians are all fundamentalists or at least hold to a lot of fundamentalist viewpoints. Sam Harris, for example, believes that the fundamentalists are the only true Christians and that the rest of us are just kidding ourselves.

      As a (schizophrenic?) scientist, I get nervous when Christians start talking about proof and reasons for belief. We’ve been down that road so many times and it doesn’t end well. Once, Christian geologists went out looking for proof of the Genesis flood and were much encouraged by early results. Then the fossil record started to show other things instead and the flooding was shown to not be so extensive and the church stopped talking about it where it once had been heralded. Newton felt that his breakthroughs in science still left room for God as the one started the planets spinning. Then science advanced and God was pushed back. A physicist friend once spoke very positively about how there is still room for God in quantum mechanics. I wonder for how long. After the Sago mine disaster, God was often given credit for the 12 survivors. They were held up as a miracle, a sign of God working in the world, until it turned out they were dead.

      In response to your two points:
      1. Most (all?) world religions offer some version of the golden rule. Admittedly, this could be self-serving in its promotion of social harmony, though that doesn’t seem to always be the case. And, many eastern religions go far beyond the Abrahamic faiths in their compassion of other living creatures. You many disagree that this is a valuable ethic, but it is clearly an example of going beyond a self-serving ethic.
      2. The Hebrew scriptures weren’t, for the most part, written by the kings. The interests of the religious people writing and preserving these texts were not always going to be in line with the political interests and they easily could have had reasons for wanting to make certain leaders or groups of people look bad. After all, if things are going bad right now because someone else sinned, it isn’t my fault. It is also easier to talk negatively about the past than the present. (Scholars date many of the books of the Hebrew scriptures as being written after they claim to have been written.) In the US, many outside of the government are happy to criticize our treatment of native Americans. And I have heard people point to the conditions on some reservations and treaties that are still not honored as reasons to question whether or not this mistreatment is wholly in the past. After all, the government seems less uncomfortable talking about how awful slavery was.

      You are actually highlighting two things that I dearly love about the scriptures. My concern is that when they are held up as reasons, they don’t look so hot anymore and we risk missing out on their meaning.

      I can’t help but think it would be far more positive to view religion as something outside of the realm of science, knowledge, proof, and reason. This doesn’t mean that we should believe things that are unreasonable, but my belief in God isn’t a certainty, an understanding, or even a feeling. It is a choice. Regardless of whether or not this is true, I actively choose to operate under the assumption that there is a God. It is a matter of spiritual discipline. I wish this approach to God was more often exemplified in the church. More often, I’m given reasons or encouraged to feel God’s presence. But what happens when those reasons aren’t enough and when I feel nothing? Many people like me just leave in frustration. I find that very sad, for them, but mostly for the church.

      • Roy

        “I can’t help but think it would be far more positive to view religion as something outside of the realm of science, knowledge, proof, and reason. This doesn’t mean that we should believe things that are unreasonable, but my belief in God isn’t a certainty, an understanding, or even a feeling.”

        Vicki I loved what you were saying in your post but I got a little derailed here. Can you unpack the idea of viewing religion outside the realm of science, knowledge etc but NOT believing things that are unreasonable?

        I really struggle with “belief”. There are a lot of fantastical claims within every religion – claims and evidence that we wouldn’t accept in any other context. I am skeptical of much and find that, if I turn it off (as if that was possible) when it comes to religion, I would be incredibly dishonest. I’d love to hear your thoughts when you get a moment. Thanks!

      • Vicki

        Roy,

        Starting with the basics- is there a God? We can’t prove this one way or the other, so I don’t find it unreasonable to just go with that one. If there was some way to prove that there wasn’t a God, I guess I would stop believing – but I can’t imagine how such a proof would be possible. The idea of God isn’t reachable by science. Similarly, there are many aspects of the nature of God that are unprovable. You could make a disprovable claim about how God relates to the world. Anything outside the world is outside the realm of proof and some claims about God’s interactions with the world are sufficiently vague as to not be provable.

        If you are struggling with belief, rather than just walking away, I’m guessing you want to believe on at least some level. I’m saying, if you want to be a Christian, give yourself permission to just accept the message, the moral of the story, and move on without worrying about feeling like you have to accept whatever details of the story seem unreasonable to you.

        So, if the Bible tells us in the book of Mars that God is making it rain snickers bars today as a sign of his nutty goodness – I’m going to say that I looked out the window, saw no foil wrapped chocolates, and so this doesn’t seem reasonable to me. I’m not going to say that it must be true so the candy must be invisible. I appreciate the position that snickers are a metaphor for God’s love, but I’m not crazy about that position because it feels like we are trying to contort scripture to make it fit reality. Maybe that was the intended interpretation, but my position is that it doesn’t matter. The nuttiness of God’s goodness is something we either choose to take into our image of God or not. Neither the unreality of chocolate rain, nor complicated interpretations are going to change that for me.

        Apologies if anyone was offended by the silly analogy. I’m not trying to be disrespectful or blasphemous, but I wanted to avoid a real example because I thought this discussion could easily get derailed into discussing the merits of the example.

      • Roy

        :) I appreciated your analogy. Not controversial but it got your point across.

        “Starting with the basics- is there a God? We can’t prove this one way or the other, so I don’t find it unreasonable to just go with that one.”

        As a scientist, do you feel this contradicts how you go about your work? Bertrand Russell had his teapot analogy that I’m sure you’re aware of – he couldn’t prove or disprove there wasn’t a teapot rotating the earth but he wasn’t inclined to start believing there is just because someone told him there was.

        “If you are struggling with belief, rather than just walking away, I’m guessing you want to believe on at least some level. I’m saying, if you want to be a Christian, give yourself permission to just accept the message, the moral of the story, and move on without worrying about feeling like you have to accept whatever details of the story seem unreasonable to you.”

        I appreciate your forgoing of orthodoxy! I sincerely mean that. It’s tough. I do want to believe but often times it all seems so crazy. If we’re honest I suppose we all have doubts. I guess if I had to capture it all in a couple sentences it would be this: In my pursuit of what is true, I know it will mean letting go of things that aren’t true. I’d call these non-truths idols of sorts. And as odd as it sounds, sometimes I wonder if it isn’t possibly God calling me to this. To sacrifice my idols, be they my goals or the evangelicalism and the ideas of God I embraced at a time in my life.

        It’s nearly 2am so I doubt this will make much sense when I wake up in a few hours. Anyway, I appreciate your hearing me out.

      • Vicki

        “As a scientist, do you feel this contradicts how you go about your work?” Yes. Completely. That is why I don’t like trying to make religion “reasonable.” (Falling snickers bars were meant to be a metaphor.) I think we should avoid unreasonableness (The snickers bars are invisible.) and should focus on the meaning (nutty goodness). I feel like I need to elaborate on why I don’t like making religion reasonable. Bring on the wacky analogies! Let’s say there is some fish monster and I think the fish monster deserves more respect. More and more, society is giving respect to Godzilla instead. I’m doing the fish monster no favors if I pull it out of the water so it can do battle Godzilla and show that it is better or at least up to the challenge. It isn’t. It is going to loose. Just like Godzilla will loose under water. (Dark ages?) The fish monster belongs in the water. If I pull it out, it is not going to look good and I’m upset about that because I care about the fish monster. But I also think it is a bad idea because we’ve spent so much time watching it flop around on the beach that we’ve missed all of the amazing and powerful things that the fish monster can do.

        The celestial teapot:
        I have a couple of problems with the teapot analogy. For the first, I think I may be misquoting Russell a bit and rather taking aim at his quoters. I have heard people talk about how there is probably no God just like there is probably no teapot. There is also the bus ad and billboard campaign some atheist group is doing: “There is probably no God. Stop worrying and enjoy your life.” My issue is the word probably. You see, I have enough of a grounding in statistics that I go all nerdy when people use that word. If you are going to use “probably” in a real scientific way, you need to have some idea of the sort of probability distribution that you are talking about and some idea of the expected value (average) of the distribution before you can say that the expected value falls on one side of a line or not. And because there are going to be uncertainties about both of those things – you can talk about the probability that a probability is something. It is all just fabulous mathy fun. When people say “There is probably no God” they are saying they don’t think there is a God. They can’t determine the probability of God’s existence for the same reasons that they can’t determine God existence. A teapot is a physical object. There are ways to construct a probability distribution for its existence.

        The second is that Russell presents established religion as simply a more elaborate version of some random guy on a street corner and then asks, in the absence of proof, why does the fact that more people are telling you about this teapot make a difference in the absurdity? There are tons of ideas, well entrenched ideas, that societies have let go of when they stopped making sense in world around them – either because the world changed or because their understanding of it changed. Religion keeps popping up. It morphs, but sticks around in some form. The idea of God connects with people on a deep level and we seem wired in some way to believe in God. Have you read any of the work on the God helmet? I don’t mean to suggest that I think of this as proof of God’s existence. It clearly isn’t. I do think it makes reasonable the hypothesis that people throughout time have consistently found meaning in the idea of a spiritual realm and that they are likely to continue to do so. The details of the meaning may change, but the finding of meaning is almost universal. This consistency across time and culture makes God less absurd, to me at least, than a celestial teapot. If people throughout history had found deep meaning for their lives from the idea of the teapot, the analogy would be more apt.

        I would recommend Karen Armstrong’s “A Case for God” if you are interested in reading more on viewing religion in its own realm. She isn’t really a Christian (though that his her background) so it might not help that part of your struggle. For me, however, my reasons for wanting to be a Christian are a separate matter from my reasons for wanting to pursue God rather than atheism. For exploring the meaning in Christianity, I rather like “Jesus For The Non-Religious” by John Shelby Spong (Episcopal Bishop). It is an interesting read, though I don’t agree with everything he says. I mostly don’t like that he seems to feel is necessary to dismiss things like miracles before he can go on to find meaning in them. I’d rather take the scientific facts as irrelevant to the meaning. Of course that is problematic for those for whom the meaning is that God physically intervenes in the world. Personally, I don’t think he does because doing so creates problems for him with free will (assuming he cares about free will) and believing that he does creates problems for me around the question of suffering (assuming God is good). But that is a whole other complicated discussion.

      • Roy

        Thanks for the reply, Vicki! I have not heard anything about the “God helmet”. I’ll have to do some investigation into that to understand it. I don’t want to reply with much before I try and understand it but, reading your brief description of the hypothesis, I think there are reasons that those sort of memes (God, spiritual realm etc) exist and they have more to do with tradition, cultural cohesion, etc more than they have to do with what we’d call the kind of truth a lot of skeptics are looking for. Right now I am in the middle of doing some reading and responding to a book Richard suggested to me a couple months ago so once I am done with that I’ll start digging into finding work on the God helmet idea. Thanks for that suggestion!

        I am very familiar with Spong and Armstrong. Most of the Spong work I have read has been around his writings on LGBT issues but I’m pretty sure I have the book you mentioned by him. I really appreciate his contrarian attitude and provocative nature (“Why Christianity Must Change or Die!”) but sometime get a little frustrated with what seems to be sensationalism for the sake of being sensational. I haven’t read Armstrong’s “A Case for God” yet but I have picked through her book, “A History of God”. I’ll definitely add that new book to my SPL queue.

        Again, thank you for taking the time to respond to this. More stuff to think over :)

      • Lamont

        I’m appalled at your responses!

        Proverbs 26:4 comes to mind….
        Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
        Or you will also be like him. :(

        You need to…
        Pro 26:5 Answer a fool as his folly deserves,
        That he not be wise in his own eyes.

        I’ll try so get back to this tonight… Lord willing!
        Soli Dei Gloria!

      • Lamont

        Vicki.
        When is it ever acceptable for a Christian to remove their Spiritual armor (that is, if one is a X-tian)?
        Eph 6.

        A. Never!

        2 Cor 2: 4-5 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy ARGUMENTS and EVERY LOFTY OPINION raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…

        So why, if one claims to be a X-tian do you do it?
        Simple. The X-tian has been taken captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces (principles) of this world “Rather then on Christ.” (Col 2:8)

        They’ve bought into the “That’s not (S)cience! That’s faith!” mantra of the world! Putting the “traditions of men” above the authoritative word’s of God.

        Vicki states: “I can’t help but think it would be far more positive to view religion as something outside of the realm of science…”

        She’s right. (Of course, only Christianity is true!)
        For God states:
        1 Cor 1:19-21 For it is written,

        “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
        and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
        20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 20 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom…”
        But, Vicki falls on her own sword because of the “Tradition of men” with the rest of her statement….
        “…outside the realm of knowledge…”
        Where does knowledge come from?
        The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge Prov 1:7
        Christ Himself, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col 2:3
        The ultimately personal, triune God of the Christian scriptures “alone” can create with order and purpose, and contains the only “necessary” precondition for all knowledge, logic, meaning, morality, uniformity of nature, destiny… and can exercise sovereign control according to His exhaustive will.

        “…outside the realm of…Proof…”

        It is not the Christians job to prove God exists. Why would any X-tian spend time trying to convince the unbeliever of God’s existence? How foolish it is (Pro 26:5) to try and convince someone of something they already know, but deny? Remember the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results!

        Rom 1:19b-20 because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

        The above scripture applies to “all men.”

        Instead, the X-tian is called to “sanctify (set apart) Christ as Lord in our hearts (minds), always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” 1 Peter 3:15.

        “…outside the realm of…reason.”

        Where does “reason” come from? Who controls it?
        Only the Bible states that man is made in His image, according to His likeness.

        Job 12:24 He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he makes them wander in a trackless waste.

        Dan 4:34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my “reason” returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation

        Acts 18:4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.

        When an unbeliever attacks the X-tianity (i.e. denies Gods existence), they must “steal/borrow” i.e. “presuppose” from the X-tian worldview (WV) to do so, because (again), only in the biblical WV does one find all the necessary preconditions for all knowledge etc… as stated above. The Word of God is the X-tians presupposition, and the X-tian should never leave that foundation lest he be like the fool. More could be said. See: http://www.monergismbooks.com/Always-Ready-Directions-for-Defending-the-Faith-p-17156.html
        Or: http://www.monergismbooks.com/The-Defense-of-the-Faith-Fourth-Edition-p-17986.html

        Vicki,
        Concerning:

        “This doesn’t mean that we should believe things that are unreasonable…

        You stated earlier: “it would be far more positive to view religion as something outside of the realm of…knowledge… reason.” and then suggest we shouldn’t believe something that is “unreasonable?”

        Knowledge and reason are “metaphysical.” Can you prove either “scientifically?”
        How can one do science w/o knowledge or reason? Doesn’t the scientist “presuppose” knowledge, reason, logic, the uniformity of nature? In a chance universe, how can the
        scientist know that the laws of logic, reason, knowledge etc… won’t change?

        “…but my belief in God isn’t a certainty…”

        Mine is! When a person is regenerated (Jn 3) they are given the faith to believe as a gift of God’s grace (Eph 2:8)
        Belief in Christ is something granted to one of Gods elect by grace! (Phil 1:29) Not all men have faith! (2 thes 3:2)

        “…an understanding…”

        It is an understanding!
        Jesus states in John 3: “Unless you are born again (from above) you cannot see (perceive) the kingdom of God.”
        When a person is regenerated, they become a “knew creation.” They were “dead in sin and trespasses, but are made “spiritually alive” in Christ! They recognize their sin and the need for a savior, and are “Granted repentance unto life!”

        “or even a feeling.”

        I agree that it’s not a feeling, although we may feel things. What is though, that man does not live by feelings alone, but, by every word that from the mouth of God!
        In times of doubt, (yes, due to sin, we do doubt) we don’t look to our experiences, but to God’s promise to us in His word! That’s faith!

        “It is a choice.”

        It is! One that no human being would ever choose apart from grace! Jn 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

        Mth 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

        “Regardless of whether or not this is true…”

        If it’s not true (X-tianity) you will die in your sins! Hell is the reward!

        “I actively choose to operate under the assumption that there is a God.”

        This is not faith! How am I to believe that you are a Christian? That you are not lost and in need of repentance before God?

        “It is a matter of spiritual discipline.”

        This is works!

        “I wish this approach to God was more often exemplified in the church.”

        May it never be!

        “More often, I’m given reasons or encouraged to feel God’s presence. But what happens when those reasons aren’t enough and when I feel nothing?”

        I’ve got friends that think that way as well. They say: “wow man! I really felt The Spirit was really moving today!”
        I would tell them “it is written, when two or more are gathered in His name…. then He’s w/us! It’s the word that tells me He’s there! Not the bean burrito I had for dinner the night before!

        “I find that very sad, for them, but mostly for the church.”

        Me too!

        I’m quite concerned about the things you’ve said here! I hope we can interact. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood you?

        Grace alone, by Faith alone, by scripture alone, by Christ Alone, to the Glory of God alone!

        Soli Dei Gloria!
        Lamont.

  • sp

    Thanks for your thoughts on this Richard. You make some great points worthy of consideration. :-)

  • Really

    Wow Lamont, you’re “…appalled..”?

    I was just going to comment on how I appreciated Roy and Vicki’s discussion. Both are presenting a respectful give and take with the goal of understanding different ideas and experiences on a blogging medium that is all to infested with “I’m right, you’re wrong” statements. You don’t have to accept these ideas/analogies, but don’t mock them with scripture that supports your opinion of what’s foolish and therefore makes it lack credibility.

    Proverbs 18:2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinion.

    • http://girlwithflathat.blogspot.com Juliet

      Thank you. I appreciate their discussion too.

      • Vicki

        Thanks!

        The God helmet is so cool. (I should probably put out the disclaimer that the research is young and not without detractors.) There is some part of our brain that says – “Hey! There’s somebody here!” One hypothesis is that this was a helpful warning system. Anyway- the interesting thing is that it seems susceptible to magnetic waves and if you shoot waves at the right part of a person’s brain (that’s where the helmet comes in), they feel like there is someone there with them even though they know no one is. Different people react in different ways. For some it is very clear (there are four people lined up against that wall), for others vague, and some people – like Richard Dawkins – feel nothing (just a little dizzy). The atheist take is “See! All these people saying they feel God’s presence in their lives are just experiencing a neural mis-fire.” The theist response can be “See! We are made with the ability to sense God’s presence.”

        Memes are an interesting idea. I’m not sure it totally works as thoughts aren’t transmitted in the same way as genes. I’m a little skeptical that the concept shows the bias Dawkins brought to the table as a geneticist. I don’t really like Dawkins though. He lost me when he started saying that people who raise their children in their faith are guilty of child abuse. So maybe my hesitation to jump on the memetics bandwagon is my own bias.

        Regardless, the persistence of a religious worldview could certainly be chalked up to memetics. I didn’t mean to offer it as proof of religion, but rather as a reason to view religion as an idea worthy of being less readily dismissed than a celestial teapot.

  • Vicki

    By the way – I’m really enjoying this thread. Think we could get a skeptics community group approved? :-0

  • Wayne Bays

    A scripture comes to my mind as I have read through this thread.
    Pardon, but Paul kind of puts this all in human reasoning in Romans 8 when he said, “Creation was subjected to frustration. Not by its own choice, but by the will of the One who subjected it, in order that the creation itself would be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” He also wrote that we can be heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we also may share in His glory. I consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
    Blessings all.


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