Go Look in the Mirror. That is the Only God You’ll Ever See.

Go Look in the Mirror. That is the Only God You’ll Ever See. March 14, 2015
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by EvelynGiggles https://www.flickr.com/photos/evelynishere/
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by EvelynGiggles https://www.flickr.com/photos/evelynishere/

Decades ago, not long after my conversion, I had a discussion with an atheist friend of mine.

This friend was from the time when just about all of my friends — including me — evinced a militant disregard for things Christian.

I didn’t know it at first, but that conversion to Christ was going to change everything in my life, including my relationship with people who had been as close to me as family. One by one and despite everything I could do to avoid it, I would lose them all. Worse, the same friends that I loved, truly loved, would become my worst enemies. They would do everything they could to destroy me.

This particular friend didn’t do that. But the friendship, the easy, warm trust between us, was gone almost as soon as I began to follow Christ. I tried my best to keep my new faith low key. I did everything I could to continue to blend in with my old crowd.

But … you’ve changed, this friend said one day.

It was an accusation, and I cringed inside, not understanding this “change” that he saw, even when I was doing my best to hide it. I did not realize in that moment that he had just unwittingly given me the greatest compliment he could.

He saw Christ in me. Despite everything I could do to pretend that nothing had happened and hang onto all my old friendships, I was changed. And this man saw it.

That comment began the slow unraveling of my old life as an unbeliever. I do not mean that it began my conversion. That had already happened. It was the start of the end of previous relationships with people who lived in the world of unbelief.

I fought it. I wanted to keep these people as friends. I wanted to hold onto the good times we’d shared.

But … you’ve changed, he said. And it was true.

This change began to resound in all these relationships with my old crowd. I never preached to them. I didn’t even talk about Christ to them. But I had changed on a fundamental level, and they were like ring wraiths sniffing me out.

This particular friend was the only one to address the change directly and then to lay into me at the root of that change. He knew, without my telling him, that I was now a Christian. And he began a program of reconversion.

Once, in one of our many arguments, he spat out a couple of sentences that I will never forget.

Go look in the mirror, he said. That is the only God you will ever see.

That comment was the apex of his arguing, and the end of our togetherness as people. It wasn’t the comment itself  that did it. It was the unbridgeable gap between us.

We never formally stopped being friends, but we did stop spending time with one another. It was too fraught, too uncomfortable. We had the memory of a friendship, nothing more.

He died of a heart attack a few years later. There were jokes about his vehement unbelief in the many eulogies at his memorial service. This was a man who understood friendship. The memorial service was a crowded event, the building filled to overflowing.

I walked out, gripping my husband’s hand, hoping that in those last extremities my old friend had finally turned to God.

Did he go to hell? 

I said it aloud when we got back to the car. Was he dead, really, eternally dead and gone to hell? My passionate, crazy friend — had he doomed himself to eternal death?

My husband was silent for a moment. Then, he reached out and squeezed my hand.

Probably, he said.

I changed again after that. My friend’s death shook me out of my somnambulance. I realized that being quiet about Jesus was the cruelest thing I could do to the people around me. I called quite a number of my old friends and told them directly that I did not want them to go to hell. I pleaded with them to change.

One of them changed, began following Christ and follows Him to this day. Otherwise, those calls had no effect.

You just don’t worry about me, one of them said, summing up the reaction from all of the rest.

A few years later, someone I knew and had crossed swords with was dying of cancer. This person and I barely spoke and when we did, it was barbed.

I picked up the phone and called him. Are you right with God? I asked him.

My friend’s death has taught me that there is never a wrong time to try to tell someone about Jesus, and there is never a right time to let another person slide into eternal death while you stand politely by and say nothing.

I read a headline before I began writing this post saying that 7.5 million Americans have abandoned their faith in Christ in the last year. I didn’t read the story, but I would assume that it was based on statistics from a survey of some sort.

There are a lot of reasons for the rising apostasy, but I think that the heresy of salvation through politics is one of the primary factors.

Many Christians have become besotted with a political Christianity where voting right and joining the correct political party has replaced following Christ. They have removed Jesus from Lordship of their lives and replaced him with an angry and unthinking devotion to their political party.

The Holy Spirit will not honor this kind of fallen Christianity. This Christless Christianity without a cross will not produce the fruit of the Kingdom because it is not of the Kingdom.

Go look in the mirror. That is the only God you will ever see. 

Seven point five million Americans evidently decided to turn their backs on eternal life and plunge themselves into eternal death while we were barking at one another over whether or not the priest wears a stole when he hears confessions and is the Church too “feminized” and which political party is the right one for Christians.

Let me tell you something. If Jesus Christ is truly the Lord of your life, it does not matter which political party you are in or whether or not the mass or church service you attend is sufficiently to your liking.

It does not matter because wherever you are, you will do His will. If people aren’t looking at you accusingly and saying You’ve changed, then something is wrong with your relationship with Christ.

If you fit comfortably in this world, then you are not going to fit comfortably in heaven. If you sit idly by and watch people trot themselves off to eternal hell and do nothing, say nothing to stop them, then you are the most cruel of people.

Let me turn my friend’s comment around. When you look in the mirror, do you see your God?

Sin is one thing. We all sin. This is why we have confession. But if you are one of those many people who are trying to cut your faith to fit your politics, if you are trying to shear the teachings of Christ down to slip them nicely into the folder where you keep your political handouts, then you are, no matter how often you go to Church or how much you proclaim yourself a Christian, in rebellion against God.

If you do not accept the Lordship of Christ in all matters, then you are not following Christ. If you do accept the Lordship of Christ, then it does not matter where you are or what people you associate with, you will be His witness in that place.

Bearing witness to the Gospel with our lives is the universal Christian vocation.

But it doesn’t end there.

We are also called to bear witness to Christ with our words.

Ask yourself this: Have people abandoned the Church because of you? Have you driven them away with your peculiar and particular insistence on a vengeful reliance on your version of what a Christian should be? Has your unbending self-righteousness made them feel that the Church is the last place on earth they would go for love and forgiveness?

Or …

Have people come to Christ because of you? Have they felt safe to tell you of their failings, to share their doubts, to trust you with their darkest secrets? Have they experienced the love of Christ in you and begun to follow Him because you allowed yourself to be a conduit of His grace in their lives?

What fruit have you born with your followership of Christ?

When you stand before God, will lost souls point at you in accusation and say He or she never told me about Jesus.

Or worse, will they say, He or she was so angry and so self-righteous that I thought their Jesus was the devil?

How many souls will point to you and say He or she was the spark that led me to Christ?

The answer to those questions begins with another one. When you look in the mirror, do you see a beloved child of God who can trust His love to forgive their sins? Do you see a sinner who does not need to be afraid before God; someone who is forgiven and who is grateful for that forgiveness?

Or …

Do you look in the mirror and see the true lord of your life and the only god you will ever know?

 

 

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62 responses to “Go Look in the Mirror. That is the Only God You’ll Ever See.”

  1. I would pray for your friend’s soul, and trust him to God’s infinite capacity to heal, while not tempering your willingness to profess your faith. Maybe conduct a pilgrimage, perform a service with prayers and fasting, for the faith of all those who have not allowed the seed of God’s word to take root.

    But I look at that phrase he said, “Look in the mirror, that’s the only God you’ll ever see.” and get a revelation he may not have fully understood, even as he used it to profess his unbelief. “We are all made in His image,” so every mirror reveals God.

  2. As was noted in the piece, you are punished personally and professionally for wearing Christ on your sleeve. That is, you actually lost “friends” because you had experienced Christ. Further, many of these “friends” tried to destroy you.
    Atheism isilitant, and is nasty and is destructive? Don’t believe me? Go read some of the screeds and the mindless comments at the sadly misnamed “Friendly Atheist”. While THEY think it is their (ironically) God-given right to drive religion out of the public square in pursuit of “free thinking”, they simultaneously seek to curtail, shout down, abolish any rational discussion of God.
    No, these people are actively and willfully trying to separate themselves from Gods love. Like your former “friends” who castigated you for simply coming to a different life experience, they are hate-filled, judgmental zealots who are desperate to experience eternal nothingness. Let them. It is not a sin to waste your breath on these people. The sin would be wasting effort on them, when you might be convincing a rational person of the veracity of your conclusion.

  3. I thank the Lord Jesus that you changed. Your writings (Christ inspired) have changed me. I am truly blessed to have found your website. God Bless you! Have a wonderful week.

  4. As far as losing my friends when God got me, been there, done that. I didn’t try to talk to them because they wouldn’t listen. Instead, I pray daily for conversions. I hope it’s effective but for the most part I have no way to know because they aren’t people who will ever have anything to do with me again. I speak to those former Catholics still willing to speak to me, but mostly I just pray.

  5. Here’s the thing: belief does not work the way you imply it does.

    I did not choose to become an atheist, its something that happened, very much against my will, as a result of critically, objectively and honestly examining what my beliefs were based on.

    The arguments that gave me a rational foundation for believing in God as a child that I once thought to be rock solid, turned into sand when I reexamined them years later as an adult with the internet at my disposal. So I’ve looked, and I’m still looking, but there’s just nothing there.

    Or what, you think I don’t want to live forever? You honestly think any atheist wouldn’t consider jumping headfirst at a chance of eternal bliss? Unfortunately, its not much of a chance if its based on a lie.

    I can’t shut down my brain or unlearn what I know, and since I have no attachments to Christianity other than a failed attempt to discern the truth, I have no reason to play along, go through the motions and pretend to believe just to make other people feel better.

    When I first self-identified as an atheist, I felt like I woke up from a long sleep only to realize most of the world had gone insane. At first, I tried to figure out how people who were smarter, had access to more information, had been studying the subject longer and had listened to the counter-arguments could still believe and peddle their religion.

    After a year, I realize I care less about what people believe than I do about how they act. I also realize I was more of a christian than many of the most vocal proponents of Christianity have ever been.

    • You don’t have to convince me. Your problem is what you’re going to say to God when you meet Him face to face.

      • I was too quick and dismissive with this reply.

        I don’t know you, so I can’t say what goes on in your mind and heart. However, I think a lot of “atheists” — I’m NOT speaking of you — today are just people who want to be different in order to feel special. They find the self-promoting claims by certain high-profile atheists that atheism is somehow intellectually superior and atheists are, by definition, smarter than their religious brethren, appealing on an adolescent level. They are, in a word, poseurs.

        It takes a lot of guts to be a real atheist, precisely because it is a hopeless and nihilistic philosophy that always ends in death. Facing that is living life with dust in your mouth all your days.

        The sad part is that it is wrong. You say that you can not believe. I accept that, since you are the world’s foremost expert on you. But you are wrong in your unbelief. God is real. I have felt Him, experienced Him, lived with His love and joy in my life for a long time now.

        Life in Christ is not only a reality, it is by far the better way. it is the difference between living with dust in your mouth and living abundantly.

        If you can not believe — and I believe your analysis of you — then trust this: I will pray for you and your unbelief. God is real. God’s grace is real. God’s love for you is real. You are in my prayers, my friend, every single day.

        • While I appreciate the sentiment, I disagree in some of the particulars.

          I’m fairly certain that I’m going to die eventually, and that will be the end of everything I was and will ever be. It sucks; what I dislike the most about the idea of dying is that I’ll never get to find out what happens next in the story of humanity. In a sense, an eternity in hell would be preferable to everlasting oblivion.

          However, the idea of God, and everything that it entails, is not subject to the whims of my desires; its either true or it isn’t. I rather accept a harsh reality than embrace a beautiful illusion.

          Yes, you could say that my outlook in life is grim. But to paraphrase, our current worth is not determined by our humble origins, and our journey is more important than the destination.

          If there is no ultimate purpose to life and everything that is will be reduced to dust, then all we have is right here and right now.

          That means that everything matters and everything counts, even if in the grand scheme of things its just a shout into the void that nobody is listening to.

          Ultimately, I don’t care much for the idea of God beyond an academic or speculative discussion; if he exists and he cares, then he already knows how to reach me.

          What I do care about is people: perfectly flawed and constantly surprising. Every person I’ve encountered or interacted with in any way is infinitely more interesting, complex and real than God has ever been or will ever be to me.

          • That’s all beautiful poetry, but it comes to naught when you must face the reality of a living God whom you have, though your life decisions, decided you will not spend your eternity with.

            As the friend I referred to in this post said one time: “The smoke coming out of atheist’s ___ isn’t all the white, either.” Meaning, the certainties of atheism are fantasies. He was honest enough to know that and say it.

            I’m not pushing Pascal’s wager here. I am simply telling you that I know of my own experience that God is real, and that billions of people would tell you the same thing.

            You are an eternal being, whether you want to be or not. The question for you, as for the rest of us, is which side do you choose for your allegiance. There are only two ways to be: With Jesus, or against Him.

            I choose Christ. Without equivocation or dissembling, I choose Christ. I hope that you will come down out of your atheist tower that you’ve sealed yourself into and choose Him too.

            As I said, I will pray for you every day. If you just open your heart and your mind — and there are few things in this world more closed than the atheist mind — you will feel His call, because He is calling you, right now.

            How do I know that? Because I am a mother and you are His child.

            • I guess this is one of those subjects on which we will perpetually go back and forth. To simplify matters, I’m going to copy a relatively recent email I wrote to somebody who dealt in Christian apologetics:

              ***
              I figure you get quite a lot of e-mail so its very likely this will end up in your spam folder, or just get dismissed as a trolling attempt. But if you can, bear with me a few minutes. The following is something I posted on a YouTube’s Discussion section, for which, whatever reason, I’ve yet to receive a reply to.
              __

              What is the basis for your belief in God?

              Like many people, I once believed for bad reasons, namely, the whole concept of God was introduced to me as a child as a “matter of fact”. This belief was then reinforced by authority figures, and made to look like the default position by my peers and the society at large. Afterwards, religion(s) helped me rationalize my belief with faulty arguments.

              Its a double edged-sword: it works on the short-term, but on the long run, exposure to counter arguments and getting a better grasp on epistemology, makes those once-thought solid arguments for God’s existence crumble away like a sand castle.

              So now I’m at a null-hypothesis regarding God’s existence, and I can’t find a way to bridge the gap between zero to the absolute certainty professed by mainstream Christianity. I mean, sure, I can entertain ideas of different concepts of heaven, hell, gods, reality, etc as a thought experiment for academic, philosophical or purely recreational purposes, but I cannot honestly go from that, to actually believing and asserting those ideas as actually true.

              Listening to arguments in favor of Christianity, like for example, what you label “Extreme Presuppositionalism”, or similar arguments, like the arguments in favor of morality as originating from God, only serve to drive me further away, since I invariably end up spotting glaring inconsistencies like the ones you’ve pointed out in your videos.

              You seem to be a rational and intellectually honest person who also sincerely believes in God. So I want to know, how do you get there? How do you go from “I don’t know for certain but I don’t believe it”, to expressing whatever level of knowledge and belief about God necessary to qualify as a Christian?

              __

              While some of the details are specific to that YouTuber, the general sentiment is the same. I would like to ask you the same question: how do you go from zero to certainty? Before going into details about the correct interpretation of scripture, how do you determine the basic premises to be true?

              That’s the bridge I find myself unable to cross. Its like examining a math problem that’s missing a step; anything that comes after it is suspect.

              You’ve been at this for a while. You are way more versed on this subject than I am. You’ve heard every atheist argument and counter-argument under the sun, yet you’ve found them lacking, otherwise, you still wouldn’t be doing what you do.

              What is it that I’m not seeing here?

              ***

              Now, does that sound like somebody who is operating on the basis of certainty? Or somebody who’s closed himself off from listening to other arguments?

              I cannot choose Christianity unless I believe it to be a viable choice to begin with, and I can’t believe it unless I’m convinced somehow that its true. To me, atheism is not a choice, it was simply the logical and inevitable result of being honest with myself and my beliefs regarding religion.

              I just wanted to conclude with the following: I’m okay. Don’t stress out over something that is neither your fault or responsibility. Even in the event that I turn out to be wrong, whatever happens, happens and was meant to be.

              So really, you shouldn’t spend any additional mental energy on me other than deciding whether to delete, allow or reply to my posts.

              • You’re thinking thinking as AA calls it, in other words, you’re hanging yourself on your on emotional rope.

                There is nothing to the things you’re saying here. What I mean by that is that there’s no there there. “Thought experiment” is just a pretentious way of saying “imagine.” Imagine … whatever.

                The phrase “thought experiment” has been and is being used to manipulate the gullible into imaginings that, as part of a group process, become a kind of self-hypnosis. It’s a flimflam.

                As for a null hypothesis between absolute belief and total disbelief in God, of course that’s a null hypothesis. That’s because they are not opposite poles; they are two totally different levels of existence.

                FWIW, the “data” is all on the side of belief. The only way around that is to assume that billions of people are either lying, or as Richard Dawkins has famously posited, they are delusional. I am aware that certain scientists have attempted to use brain scans to create correlations between certain brain activity and prayer. However, even if their data is accurate and even if the most dogmatic interpretations of that data is correct, it could just as easily be an indicator that there is a God as that there is not a God.

                There is no data “proving” the non-existence of God. Negative proofs are always difficult in the extreme, and this case, a large body of data is being ignored to support one viewpoint. That is not science. It is also not philosophy. It is propaganda.

                It does not matter in any way whether or not a person expresses belief in order to “qualify” as a Christian. The point has nothing to do with you, me or this life. If you reject God, then you are making a decision that determines your eternal destiny.

                This isn’t a club that you join. I grant you that Christianity has its “clubs” in that Christians join together in various communions. But St Paul was very clear about what makes you a Christian and that is whether or not you accept the lordship of Christ.

                Belief does not, in itself, save you from eternal separation from God. The devils and satan know very well that Jesus is God. But they are in rebellion against Him. The difference is in whether or not you heed the call and follow HIm.

                This isn’t a parlor game. You are an eternal being. You cannot die. Your body can die. Your body will die. But you will live on. What happens to you in eternity depends entirely on whether or not you choose Christ or you reject Christ.

                That is another null hypothesis, btw. To put it in simple geometric terms, you are a point, Christ is a point and rejecting Christ is a point. Which point you chose forms a line, either between you and Christ, or between you and nothingness. This line is the trajectory for your life for all eternity. Rejecting Christ or choosing to follow Christ are two lines that never meet.

                God is an experiential reality.

                • The objective of showing that email I sent out was to show that I’m not indulging in any “atheist certainties” or “locking myself in an atheist tower”, that I have in fact, reached out to others in an attempt to gain a different perspective regarding Christianity.

                  But you seem to have missed the overall intent of that message. You’re reading (and misinterpreting) way more out of simple choices of phrase than I ever wrote into them.

                  Yes, I used the phrase “thought experiment” as a synonym for “imagination”. Beyond that, I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

                  When I said “I’m at a null-hypothesis regarding God’s existence”, all I’m saying is “I don’t know”. Again, I have no idea what you mean or what you think I meant when using that expression. And so on.

                  Instead of actually trying to understand where I’m coming from you’re nitpicking insignificant details in order to judge, blame and condemn me for not being a christian.

                  By the way, I had a rather simple and pleasant exchange with the recipient of that email, even if I wasn’t compelled with the reasons he stated for his own beliefs.

                  Believing in the basic premises of Christianity may not be all there is to it, but it is a necessary step, a foundation upon where everything else is built upon. At least for me it is.

                  You say all the data is on the side of belief. What data? Where do I get it? Pointing out the number of people who believe something says nothing about the veracity of that belief. Neither does the threat of negative consequences or somebody else’s personal experiences.

                  This has never been a game to me. I did not become an atheist out of a spiteful youthful rebellion or an attempt to feel superior to anybody. If anything, my “youthful rebellion” consisted of going to religious services and studies.

                  I already got burned once. As a result, my eyes are wide open and it’ll take better reasons to convince me of the existence of God, the truth of Christianity and the integrity of a particular denomination than the ones that convinced me as a teenager.

          • ” I rather accept a harsh reality than embrace a beautiful illusion.”

            Why. Your life will be better if you embrace the illusion. Look at how happy these people are compared to us.

    • I’m really curious, 35, what did you read that so powerfully and completely destroyed what you had been taught in your youth?

      • It wasn’t a single thing on itself, but if I had to point to something that accelerated the process, I’d say it was Ken Ham’s infamous “nothing would make me change my mind” reply during his debate with Bill Nye.

        I know he’s not the best representative to speak for Christianity, but that particular response cut right to the core problem religion has as a mechanism for discerning truth.

        • Excuse me for butting in here, but are you saying that you don’t believe in religion, or that you don’t believe in God? Whether or not religious people have what you think is a “core problem with discerning truth” (and I would warrant that all people, including atheists have this problem) then what does that have to do with God?

          Are you saying that you found yourself unable to resist atheism because of KEN HAM??????

          • Actually I’m in the process of answering that in my reply to you below.

            But for the record, I stopped believing in religion before I stopped believing in God, and the problem I have is not with religious people, but with religion itself, as a set of dogmatic unchanging and unchallengeable assertions.

        • I’m surprised by your response. A debate between an atheist who calls himself a scientist and a young earth creationist who calls himself a scientist seems a weak place to walk away.
          Have you ever read The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom? It is challenging as Dr Bloom is a teacher and philosopher. I’d love to hear your comment.
          Btw, this is not about “sentiment” or “feelings.”

          • I haven’t read that book; from what I glimpsed at during a quick online search it looks like an interesting read. Of course, at this time I can’t comment on the book itself, but maybe this will give you an idea where I stand on some of the issues addressed:

            I value critical thinking more than uniformity of thought, and I identified as a humanist long before thought of myself as an atheist.

            As to what made me walk away, what I mentioned was only part of it. The whole picture, as they say, is more complicated. Looking back, by the time I watched that debate, I would’ve described myself more accurately as a deist with leanings toward Christianity.

            What watching a young earth creationist making a mockery of science in the name of religion did accomplish was spark a series of internal questions that eventually led to: “Why do I believe in God in the first place?”.

            I detailed one of my attempts to unravel my thoughts on the subject on a post below.

            By the way, during my time posting on patheos forums, I’ve run into 4-5 other people who have been dissuaded from Christianity altogether, or at least pushed toward a more progressive version, by that very debate.

            • I never saw that “debate” you mention. I do know that Bill Nye is more of a TV guy than a scientist. Besides, he’s an engineer and engineers are not really scientists. Just ask a real scientist.
              I’d suggest you read The Closing of he American Mind. As I said, it is challenging because it deals with philosophy and reason, something most Americans have not encountered in their educations.

              • Anne, some of the atheist bloggers are obsessed with this debate. They hate Ken Hamm almost as much as they hate me. No idea why.

                • I think there is a logic problem here. To place your faith and trust in a TV guy who was educated decades ago as an engineer is strange. I’d challenge anybody who reads The Closing of the American Mind. It would be the first thing that required abstract reasoning for some of these people.

            • There is something very wrong about your processes of thought. I have begged, in the name of the God who is Truth, a young earth creationist to give up his nonsensical, groundless beliefs. (I am a not a scientist, but a a historian with some anthropology; and it is clear enough to me, from my knowledge of history and prehistory, that there is no way that the human race can possibly be 10,000 years old – let alone the whole world.) Now, the presence of this man who uses religion to justify his obsessions is more probative to you than my exactly opposite experience. To you, he is more representative of faith and belief than I. WHY?

              • I’d say that you haven’t accurately evaluated my process of thought.

                I said:
                “I know he’s not the best representative to speak for Christianity, but that particular response cut right to the core problem religion has as a mechanism for discerning truth.”

                What watching a young earth creationist making a mockery of science in the name of religion did accomplish was spark a series of internal questions that eventually led to: ‘Why do I believe in God in the first place?’.”

                Also, as I previously mentioned, I detailed one of my attempts to unravel my thoughts on the subject on a post below, specifically where I copy-pasted an email I sent out.

                By the way, has it occurred to you that the reason I’m reading and interacting with Christians on these blogs is an attempt to NOT judge Christianity by the worst it has to offer?

                • It is not a matter of the best or the worst it has to offer. It is a matter of what is normal, normative, typical and native, as opposed to what is freakish, local, provincial, and untypical. Not one Christian past or present in a million would have taken YEC seriously. It is based on something – trying to take the Bible as scientific evidence – which every orthodox Christian, for reasons set out by Pope PIus XII in a couple of encyclicals a lifetime ago, would consider total nonsense. What did St.Paul say? In the Scriptures you will find the factual truth about atoms and the void? No: he said, and I quote: “All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3.16) Unquote. The import of Scripture is moral and philosophical, not scientific. It is not a coincidence that the Pope, the ultimate guardian of orthodoxy, is understood to be protected from teaching error (that is what “infallible” means) when teaching faith and morals, but not when talking of science, of history, even of politics. That is because the Christian religion did not, from the beginning, pretend to have a new revelation about physics or politics. We aren’t Muslims. We don’t have our law, our history (denying the validity of anyone else’s) or our dress rules. What we have is a view of God and man. A limited amount of historical facts, particularly to do with the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth and with the history of the Church He founded, are part of that view, Young Earth Creationism is definitely not. You are acting like an alien who affected to judge mankind by the fact that some of them have oddly shaped heads. You have not even begun to deal with the real issues.

                  • Sigh. Everybody is freaking out so much over the mention of a young earth creationist that they are disregarding what I’m actually saying, almost in its entirety.

                    Forget about Ken Ham, YEC and their wacky beliefs or how qualified Bill Nye might or not be to present a scientific viewpoint; all that is completely irrelevant.

                    We have two people, who after a long debate are asked the following question: “What, if anything, would make you change your mind?”

                    One person says: “Nothing”. The other says: “Evidence”.

                    Now, I know that Ken Ham’s ideas are a joke, a self-parody even, but this particular question and its subsequent reply places the opposing worldviews in stark contrast:

                    Its the difference between dogma and reason, the difference between blind obedience and critical thinking, and to a great extent, the difference between religion and science.

                    I find it telling that people have asked me what made me lose my beliefs, without even asking what I believed in the first place. Its also frustrating how some are assuming that young earth creationists are the lens through which I’m viewing Christianity, and themselves by extension.

                    Get this: Its not about you. Its about me, and how my ideas regarding God turned out to be incompatible with reality.

                    Edit: Reworded sentence to avoid confusion

                    • No, 35, I did not ask you what you believed. I took you at your word about believing as a child.
                      Reading your response above, there is a problem with your definition of reason. Science does not define reason or philosophy. It answers how questions, not why questions.
                      The ancient philosophers, who were much more educated and had a much deeper understanding of reason than moderns, would encourage you to look at those questions. In my experience with lots of real scientists, they can tell you what and how, not why. Religion is about the why and the what of existence.
                      Challenge yourself. Read the Closing of the American Mind.

                    • No, you are not listening. In fact, you are quite obviously refusing to listen. There is nothing about YEC and its supporters that qualifies Christianity. Your idea of reason is stale and ignorant (Have youever read Karl Popper?), and you are dodging any opportunity to reconsider it. Your fanatical clinging to this extreme and unrepresentative display is anything but reasonable: it is the limpet cling to an excuse.

                    • Note: Fabio sometimes expresses himself strongly. I give him leeway in this because he’s Fabio and, well, I just do. 🙂

                    • I honestly have no idea what to say at this point.

                      I’ve already said many times in different ways that I do NOT hold YEC in high regard or as representative of Christianity as a whole.

                      I also have no idea what they mean by my “definition of reason”. I’m going to try fixing that sentence to make my meaning clearer.

                    • What is unclear about “There is nothing about YEC and its supporters that qualifies Christianity”? If you find that hard to understand or answer, I don’t see what else I can say that would be clearer. You are judging what you call religion, and by which you mean the religion of others, by things that have nothing to do with it. NOTHING. Do you understand THAT? If not, I give up.

                    • Dude, I don’t care about Young Earth Creationists. If you’ve been paying attention then you would know that my views regarding Christianity and religion are NOT shaped by their particular ideology.

                      What do you want from me, a formal denouncement? Should I denounce faith healers and prosperity gospel preachers next? Do I have to keep going through each and every practice, ideology and denomination until I acknowledge Catholicism as the One True Version of Christianity?

                      If you have a problem with people calling themselves Christians while failing to teach and live up to the standards of Christianity, then take it up with them. Stop pestering me about it.

                    • Point one. One Christian in two is Catholic. So yes, even by your crude standards, we ought to be more representative than anyone else. Point two: you insist on not dealing with what is properly Christian, what CS Lewis used to call Mere Christianity, and instead show a pathological love for the pathological, the estreme, the freakish, the absurd, the unaccepted and unacceptable. This is not arguing, it is collecting bad examples to make Christianity look bad. And keep your dudery to yourself: rudeness and unwelcome familiarity do not improve your “argument”.

                    • Wow. You may be talking at me, but you’re certainly not having a conversation with me. You have been arguing against a figment of your imagination, as a result of your insistence on interpreting anything I say in worst light possible.

                      It seems like reading comprehension, along with the ability to interpret sarcasm, are skills you lack entirely.

                      I’m done discussing arguments I haven’t made and getting trashed for positions I don’t hold.

                    • You mean you did NOT use a Young Earth Creationist as your reason to reject Christianity? Dear me. Funny thing,t he English language – not only me, but everyone else who answered you, seems to have read the same thing.

                    • Actually, no, I didn’t use a Young Earth Creationist as my reason to reject Christianity. It doesn’t matter how many people thought otherwise. Funny thing about reality: its not a democracy.

                      Its understandable that people might have inferred that from my initial statements, where I’m not distinguishing between my beliefs regarding Christianity, religion and God. However, on subsequent posts, I clarify and go into some detail on how I was a deist by the time I saw the debate and that the specific beliefs of YEC are irrelevant to my current positions on these issues.

                      Everybody else has dropped the YEC issue, but you keep bringing it over and over and over again, completely disregarding everything I say to the contrary.

                    • Funny thing about reality: it does not have a reset-erase button.

                      quote”We have two people, who after a long debate are asked the following question: “What, if anything, would make you change your mind?”

                      One person says: “Nothing”. The other says: “Evidence”.

                      Now, I know that Ken Ham’s ideas are a joke, a self-parody even, but this particular question and its subsequent reply places the opposing worldviews in stark contrast:

                      Its the difference between dogma and reason, the difference between blind obedience and critical thinking, and to a great extent, the difference between religion and science.”

                      UNQUOTE.
                      In other words, you, one: take a discussion between two clowns, one of which holds a belief that no sane person with any understanding of facts would consider for a minute, and you consider it representative of the distance between your notion of science and your notion of faith. And you take the second clown’s simple assertion of his own insanity as being typical of religion. What the Hell else do I have to say? You condemn yourself out of your own mouth, and then try to pretend that your words don’t mean what they mean. You are yourself as absurd as either of the two clowns you take to be significant.:

                    • You know what? You are right, I’m an absurd silly person that who has no clue of anything. I bow to your superior intellect; your wisdom has made me see the error of my ways.

                      I shall forever hold you in my heart as prime example of what a true religious person is like. You do Catholics everywhere proud!

                    • In other words, you have ran out of the “I never said that” defence, and have to resort to the desperate trick of pretending there is something to despise about me nailing you to your own words. Sorry. You wrote them down.

                    • No, I just got tired of what’s essentially a pointless argument. Why do you care so much about what I consider or don’t to be the norm for Christianity? I’m an atheist; I consider all versions of Christianity to be absurd, including yours.

                      Ultimately, the question of what constitutes proper orthodox teachings and customs and whatnot is irrelevant to me. You’re the Christian; that’s your problem not mine.

                      When I said:

                      “By the way, has it occurred to you that the reason I’m reading and interacting with Christians on these blogs is an attempt to NOT judge Christianity by the worst it has to offer?”

                      …it had nothing to do with proper theology and orthodoxy and everything to do with listening to nuanced and thoughtful perspectives on scientific, moral, social and political issues, even if (or especially because) they were from people I disagreed with fundamentally on the issue of religion.

                      Yet, here I am, getting dragged into a stupid argument about the merits, or lack of, of Young Earth Creationism and by extension, those of mainstream Christianity as well.

                      I’m done with all that. I have no horse in that race. And I have no interest in arguing about “who are the real Christians” at a Catholic blog.

                    • You only say this now that I showed that your argument is absurd and that you have been lying about it (probably to yourself first).

                    • Am I allowed to point out WHAT they say, WHEN they say it, and WHAT they are reacting to? People do “mislead Parliament”, you know.

                    • At any rate I don’t think this person is a liar, so much as terminally confused. S/he simply does not seem to realize what s/he is saying, its implications, its meaning. A sorry display of what a bad education in logic – or none – can do to a person. S/he denied that s/he had said things that were there upthread in his/her own comments. A conscious liar would be more careful.

                      It also follows, however, that there is very little point in trying to awaken him/her to his/her absurdities. S/he does not have the instruments to appreciate them. It is like trying to explain the glories of a Rembrandt painting to a man born deaf, and much less pleasant.

                    • What argument? My contrast between science and religion as ways to discern the truth?

                      In your own words:
                      “The import of Scripture is moral and philosophical, not scientific. It is not a coincidence that the Pope, the ultimate guardian of orthodoxy, is understood to be protected from teaching error (that is what “infallible” means) when teaching faith and morals, but not when talking of science, of history, even of politics.”

                      You prove my point. When did I say my misgivings had anything to do with the subject matter being discussed?

                      I have no intention of being led around by any person or institution that sets itself up to be above and beyond any inquiry, reproach or scrutiny, regardless of whether they are talking about religion, science, history, politics, morality, philosophy or any other subject.

    • I have a sincere question: Do you believe in free will?

      If you do not, then yes, belief does work as you say. You could no more choose one belief over another than an inanimate rock can decide whether to fall. Indeed, if there is no free will, nothing is animate. Nor is there any way to tell the truth, any more than rocks can sort themselves into bins of “beautiful” and “ugly.” After all, if there is no free will, it is just as possible that the arbitrary and inescapable chains of cause and effect will lead you to believing this falsehood rather than that truth, and against the dictates of these unbreakable chains no one can ever reason.

      If you do have free will, you have a choice between good and bad, true and false, beautiful and ugly. The Thomists say, as little as I can understand them to say, that free will is a choice of routes to the same goal. There, then, one has free choice over what way would follow to the truth of the world. But also, then, one cannot say that belief happens against one’s will.

      • Okay, prove it. Right now, I want you to choose to believe 1+1=7. Absurd, isn’t it? Can you choose to believe that the Sun is not a star? Or that the oceans are made of Kool-Aid? Or that Mars is composed of chocolate?

        I never said beliefs were immutable, only that they were involuntary. What you can choose is how you act on those beliefs.

        You can act contrary to what you believe or allow new information to reshape your beliefs. But if the evidence and rationale being evaluated does not meet your threshold for being convinced on the subject, then you won’t change your mind.

        • But what law of physics requires you to obey thresholds and evaluate evidence and rationales? Is it the Divine Spark of the Infinite Creator that allows you to determine truth from falsehood? Or is the process of evolution itself a god, that it can create creatures that have powers it itself does not have?

          I will use a metaphor–programmers will understand me. It was proven long before computers were common, or indeed that they were mass producible, or producible at all, that there are questions no computer can answer. I don’t mean questions about love or beauty, I mean seemingly simple questions like “Will this program ever finish running?” That last, known as the Halting Problem, is absolutely impossible in the general case. Any program that attempts it will either run forever itself or give a wrong answer given some input.

          So, then, if humans are merely evolved computers, there are questions we can never answer. Among them, the question of if we ourselves can ever answer any question. To know this would require the recursive knowledge that the Halting Problem so shows to be impossible. If we are machines, then, we are slaves to ourselves, and the mindless force that animates us for no purpose. We even have no knowledge that this itself is true, for true knowledge we can never have, no matter what we try. If unstoppable force decrees that we believe 1+1=7, no number of our own scribbles on paper or abacus beads can save us.

          I don’t believe that. I can’t logically reason I am incapable of reason. I believe I have a rational soul created by Reason, and you have the same as well. Do you believe this? I pray that God will give you the grace to reason this.

          • The underlying mechanics of our thinking process is irrelevant. Saying that humans are evolved computers is both irrelevant and a strawman.

            I never said we are incapable of reason, only that in order to use our reasoning to reach a different conclusion than the one previously reached, our reasons have to change in some way, even if that change is in the way we reason.

            If somebody believes that 1+1=7, then learning about what numbers mean and how they relate, can change their mind.

            Likewise, I cannot will myself to believe in God out of the blue; I need some way of reevaluating the issue in order to reach a different conclusion.

            Does that seem reasonable?

            • I do believe you can find purely natural reasons for the existence of God, though the attributes of God, particularly the Trinity and the Resurrection, require some element of faith. So yes, searching for a reason to believe is reasonable.

              I am saying it is impossible for a deterministic, purely mechanical universe to produce reasoning at all.

            • My other reply, on second thought, isn’t quite right.

              Belief is a choice. if you don’t believe belief is a choice, how do you know you are not falsely believing that, because of inanimate forces? I believe that I am right because God gives me the grace to be right. What can nothing offer?

              • So you think belief is voluntary, something you can pick and choose at will?

                Okay then, give it a try. Right here, right now, will yourself to believe that Scientology is true for 30 days. Let me know how that goes.

                • The fact that I can voluntarily chose NOT to be a scientologist, as I am doing right now, shows that belief is voluntary.

                  But if I had to mechanically obey those words, how would I know whether they were true? If there is no free will, then how do I free myself from the slavery of my own natural inclinations? Suppose I wanted Scientology to be true so badly I would reinterpret or ignore evidence to the contrary. How would I know that this was the case, if I would simply ignore the evidence that I was self-deluding as well?

                  EDIT: I should add that voluntary belief isn’t arbitrary belief, but without voluntary acceptance belief is arbitrary.

                  • During this entire exchange you’ve been mixing up and conflating concepts. As a result, you’ve been effectively (and inadvertently, I hope,) arguing against a straw man. So, I’m going to take a step back and lay out as clearly as I can what I mean when I say that beliefs are not voluntary.

                    Beliefs are conclusions that we make about some aspect of reality. They serve as an internal map we trust to aid us in distinguishing truth from falsehood.

                    While beliefs may inform and influence our actions, our actions are not fixed by our beliefs. That’s where the concept of free will comes in; we can speak, think and act in ways that are contrary to what we believe to be true.

                    You completely missed the point when I told you to will yourself to believe in Scientology. I’m not asking you to change your mind based on something that does not meet your standard of evidence, for example, just me saying so; instead, I’m asking if YOU can do it.

                    If beliefs are voluntary then you should be able to change them at will. Can you actually do that? It doesn’t even have to be about religion. Do you have the ability to bypass everything you’ve learned, known and experienced, and just out of nowhere assert that 1+1=7 without in your heart of hearts acknowledging that to be false?

                    You say that you voluntarily choosing not to be a scientologist shows that belief is voluntary? I say that knowing what you know, you couldn’t believe in Scientology even if you wanted to.

                    • This is getting circular, and it’s starting to get testy. It might be a good idea to accept that you aren’t going to convince one another and let it go.

                    • I was going to say the same thing, honestly, next post. I don’t think there’s anything I can add to my point at this point, so I shall personally stop here.

                      I’m still praying for you, 3vil5triker.

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