Tag Archives: atheism

Arguments

Boing Boing: Dawkins: Why There Almost Certainly Is No God

I grow weary of continual “he said, she said” rhetoric. It’s a major part of why I’ve more or less tuned out politics, why I’ve even, to some extent, tuned out of religious and philosophical discussion recently. This is more of the same.

It’s interesting to me that the religious say this nation was founded on Christian principles and that secularists say it was founded on secularism. In truth, this nation was founded, in part, on religious freedom, granting each citizen the right to worship as they see fit. So it’s increasingly ironic that Christians and secularists alike continue to try to force their way of thinking on others via politics and strong-arm techniques rather than through the power of persuasion and one-on-one discourse. Regardless of who is right and who is wrong, I don’t believe there is any room for anger, hatred, bitterness, and strife in the mutual pursuit of truth. And let’s face it – aren’t both sides looking for truth? Naturally, different people are going to arrive at different conclusions. People are going to disagree, sometimes even violently so. That, unfortunately, is the nature of humanity. It doesn’t make it right, of course.

I guess what bugs me the most when I hear this kind of dialogue being spouted in a public forum is the fact that so much of it is laced with anger and bitterness. I can understand, to an extent; frankly, I find my hackles going up everytime I hear someone harshly criticizing my own beliefs. It’s a natural reaction; no one likes to be told they’re stupid and foolish for believing a certain way. No one likes to be made fun of. But just because those emotional reactions rise up does _not_ mean that we should allow them to rule us and govern our reactions. Just because I’m angry and hurt at what someone said about me, whether directly or indirectly, does not give me the right to respond with anger of my own. Don’t you see? That just makes the problem worse.

“A soft answer turns away wrath…” Words to live by, folks. Do you hear me?

Ever At Odds

I’ve been grappling with my feelings about an ongoing conversations I’ve been watching for the past few days. Long-time readers of this site know that I strive to always be respectful of the beliefs and opinions of everyone who comes here, even when those opinions are very different from my own. As a result I have won some unlikely friends and subscribers, and we have had some lively and engaging discussions, as a result. What I have struggled with lately is the debate between three particular groups that seems to have soured all parties involved.

I believe that apologetics are important. Generally, when one thinks of apologetics, they think of the formal defense of the Christian faith, but technically anyone who engages in the formal defense of their faith, whether they believe in God or not, is engaging in apologetics. The reason that I believe apologetics are important is because I think it is crucial that a person know what it is they believe and the fundamental reasons behind that knowledge. I mean, how else can a person stand on their faith and beliefs if they do not know the ‘why’ of said beliefs?

I’ve been watching a virtual apologetic slug-fest for a few days now. The three groups I have seen thus far are: 1) atheists intent on breaking down the Christian faith by showing its logical leaps and fallacies; 2) Christians reacting to said atheist arguments; and 3) other Christians in conflict with the former group of Christians over various issues, including the proper approach to apologetics and whether apologetics are even necessary. What I see is a lot of sarcasm, cynicism, and derision; snide remarks, caustic questions, and critical allegations. What I see is a debate that is merely spinning its wheels in the mud, with any headway in the argument being completely stalled because everyone is pushing against each other in a reactionary manner rather than working and talking together to gain a better understanding of one another and of Truth. As you might imagine, it’s frustrating to watch. I’ve been tempted to chime in a time or two, add my own viewpoint and perspective, but I really wonder if it would even make a difference. I think it probably would not, and so I have not.

I’m all for firmly standing on what one believes. I don’t like dealing with wishy-washy people ((So, when I’m wishy-washy about something because I don’t completely what I believe myself, I’m usually pretty frustated with myself.)), so I have a great deal of respect for an individual who knows what he believes and can back that belief up with reasonable, rational arguments. ((And yes, even statements of faith can be rational, contrary to what some might tell you.)) What I can’t abide is that same individual having a condescending and arrogant attitude about his beliefs, arguing with you about your beliefs simply for the sake of having conflict and with no intention of coming to an understanding with each other.

It’s difficult to determine attitude on the Internet. All we have are words to read. There is little to no inflection added to indicate tone or soften a seemingly harsh turn of phrase. So, something that reads like sarcasm or arrogance may not actually be so. Yet given enough time with the dialogue, one should be able to pick up from the response of the opposing party that one’s own words are being taken as sarcastic and arrogant, and one should then make an effort to couch one’s words from that point onward in softer language that conveys respect and humility. It’s tough, I know, but it’s well worth the effort in the longrun and greater strides are made at mutually beneficial discussion.

I’m watching harsh words be flung about haphazardly, words that contain bitterness and cold resentment, words that strike out with anger, and I think to myself, This ought not be. But I am helpless to do anything about it.

My faith is important to me, and it is important to me to be able to defend it to those who might call it into question. But I find it unreasonable to defend it with sarcasm and arrogance because in doing so, I validate the point of my challenger and forever turn him or her off to the message of Hope that I carry with me. Why do so few see the damaging affect that their words have on the hearts and minds of others? And when faced with the truth of what their words do, why do they then shrug that revelation off so that they may continue as before?

Hard are men’s hearts and blind are men’s eyes when they are confronted by Truth yet do not recognize nor heed it.

To all who come here, to all who read my words, know that you are welcome here and that you are welcome to present and discuss your beliefs in this forum. I cannot do anything about the others who do not seem to be truly open to discussion, but I can continue to assure that this will be a place of sanctuary, where people are free to believe as they will and are free to talk about their beliefs without animosity or rancor. I welcome you with arms wide open and hope that you will choose to stay awhile.

Paths of Viewpoint

Interesting. Rob “pointed”:http://www.rmcrob.com/?p=3008 me at a link for a Christian philosophy “blog”:http://triablogue.blogspot.com/ that endeavors to address some deep philsophical arguments coming out of at least one corner of the atheistic community. At this point I’ve read only the three entries at the top of the page, but in just the few moments in which I have done this, I’ve followed a link-path that has illuminated what is, to me, an intriguing juxtaposition of viewpoints and reactions.

1) Rob sees Steve as being full of himself. I see Steve simply as knowing what he believes so well that he is able to defend his beliefs very eloquently from a philosophical viewpoint.

2) Both Steve and John Loftus (whom Steve has been going head-to-head with lately) see each other as taking snippets of the others’ arguments and presenting them out of context and in so doing twisting the arguments to put words in each others’ mouths.

3) John has added an “entry”:http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2006/12/poisoning-well.html to his “blog”:http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/ (shared with several other authors) ranting about how some people on the web are “poison[ing] the well.” I’m sure he had Steve in mind when he wrote that, particularly since John left a comment on his site today. What I find interesting is that John wrote that rant on his own site, then neglected to disallow the option for anyone to comment or leave feedback.

As I said, interesting. Both Steve and John just got added to my blogroll and daily reading list. I’ve always enjoyed good philosophical discussion and being prompted to think deeply on some of the weightier matters of life and faith. I think I’ll follow both these men for a little while and see what takes place in their discussions. Heck, I may even opt to contribute, and I’m sure there will probably be fodder for writing some things of my own here.

Kicking Against the Goads

I “mentioned”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=507 the other day that I had added another atheist blog to my blogroll. Unfortunately, I’m really not sure how long it will be staying there. I don’t have much use for blogs whose sole purpose for existing is to rant and rail continually against only particular cause or organization. I’ve removed several blogs from my blogroll over the past few weeks because they do exactly that.

When I added this blog, I didn’t realize that there are actually several authors that contribute content – in itself not necessarily a bad thing. But the one author whose content most intrigued me is about the only one whose writing on this blog I can stomach. I have trouble staying with any writer who voices their opinions in a manner that is designed to be deliberately antagonistic, whose style is aimed at doing little more than goading the exact sort of behavior about which they constantly complain. ((And it figures that people are all too willing to oblige by providing such extreme examples.))

This blog is maintained by several atheists whose only purpose is to prove and demonstrate just how stupid religion is, with a particular emphasis on trying to mock and ridicule Christianity and show just how stupid and ignorant Christians are. Now, it should be clear by now that I have little problem with people who believe this way. I have had several discussions here already with other atheists. We’ve shared our beliefs with one another, pointed out our differences and the reasons for them, and had mutually respectful dialogue about them. I’m also aware that at least a couple of atheists think I’m naive and foolish for my beliefs. And I’m alright with that.

What I have a problem with are those types of atheists whose interaction with Christian beliefs are driven by anger and animosity, no matter the reasons they have for such feelings. These are the people with whom no real discourse can be had, simply because it is already abundantly clear that they do not wish to actually talk openly and respectfully. Their minds are already made up, and any response to their claims will only be twisted around to serve their own purposes.

I had hoped to be challenged by this blog. The writing really is quite well done, for the most part. I just think that such writing could be put to more productive purposes, that whatever time and energy has and is being put into trying to ‘undo’ Christianity is such a waste. ((Just writing their beliefs and opinions in a rational, calm manner that lends itself to more open discussion would be a great improvement.)) The level of frustration I see in most of the articles posted in itself puts me off – made worse by the fact that they engage in the juvenile behavior of hacking some of their commenters’ responses in order to make them look more ridiculous than they already do.

I’ll keep this site on my blogroll for a little while longer, but sadly, I fear that it likely won’t remain. I know for a fact that there are other atheist blogs out there with high quality writing that are more willing to dialogue with Christians about their beliefs, and so are far more inviting to those of us who wish to engage in such discussion.

Voice in the Wilderness

Another atheist blog got added to my blogroll today. Obviously, I don’t agree with the vast majority of this young lady’s opinions, but I do find that her articles are articulate and very thought-provoking. I also find myself deeply saddened (though, I’m sure she would probably say that there is no reason for me to feel that way).

Here is one of those individuals whose writing gives me so much to think about and say in response – counter opinions and counterarguments to every belief, perception, and conclusion she poses, assurances that there are ‘religious answers’ to all her questions, promises that there really _are_ religious people out there who _do_ actually seek unity in their faith, rather than divisions and sectarianisms. But she is also one of those individuals who is widely read by a diverse audience. There are already many believers who are shouting their own thoughts and opinions in response – many of whom seem to have both correct theology and an appropriate attitude of respect and compassions, many of whom do not.

It seems like it would be a vain effort to add my own voice to the throng. I would be just one noise in the din, one that would, in all likelihood, be lost or ignored. Would it even be worth the effort to add my opinion to those already offered, my assurances to those already given? It seems like a futile effort, particularly when there are others who are already saying exactly what I would say, particularly when those others have already been shrugged off.

This is one of those times and places where I feel like it might be wiser to just remain silent. I don’t know if she is even still searching for answers; it certainly seems like she has arrived at an ironclad conclusion, one that she will not be shaken from – at least not easily.

This is possibly the first and biggest proof as to why virtual relationships will _never_ replace real ones. As much as I love the digital realm for sharing ideas and furthering discussion and the expansion of one’s own mind, when it comes right down to it, blogs and discussion forums will never prove an adequate substitute for a physical presence in someone’s life.

It has been “suggested”:http://www.rmcrob.com/?p=2697 that the next “Billy Graham will be a geek”:http://www.e-church.com/Blog.asp?EntryID=53109 ; to wit, the next great evangelist will be a blogger. And this may be true, to an extent. Blogging has certainly allowed many to give voice to their convictions and inspire and encourage others with truth from Scripture. “Talk”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=201 is “cheap”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=8 ; it will only convince an unbeliever of just so much. Ultimately, your actions must back up your words, and they have consistently proven to be far more persuasive than anything that can ever be said.

I don’t know if someone like this young lady can ever be convinced that God really does exist, let alone that He loves each and every one of us. I do know that no amount of talk has convinced her to this point, and the actions that she _has_ seen by the religous at large has proven to her that God does _not_ exist. But I also know that a single person can have a profound impact on an individual. I know that even the most hardened atheist can come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. But I also know that it is usually those personal relationships with other living, breathing human beings that serves as the catalyst. So, as much as we all love our little digital worlds, as much as we all love our writing, there comes a time when the keyboard needs to be set aside and the computer turned off, when we need to put on our shoes, tie up the laces, and take a walk in the real world. The sunshine will do us good, and maybe, just maybe, _we_ will be the one who impacts someone in a profound way so that they can see Jesus.

Choose Wisely

“Frank’s Atheistic Ramblings: Jon Stewart”:http://franksatheisticramblings.blogspot.com/2005/12/jon-stewart.html

A quote from “franky’s”:http://franksatheisticramblings.blogspot.com/ blog:

bq. Yes, the long war on Christianity. I pray that one day we may live in an America where Christians can worship freely! In broad daylight! Openly wearing the symbols of their religion…. perhaps around their necks? And maybe – dare I dream it? – maybe one day there can be an openly Christian President. Or, perhaps, 43 of them. Consecutively.

The ‘war’ that most Christians are fighting is not so much to attain the freedom to worship as it is maintaining that right. There are those who are blatantly antagonistic toward Christianity and its followers and who would love nothing more than to outlaw the practice of religion (all religions) as an outdated, outmoded, and archaic system. Unfortunately, a lot of Christians don’t do themselves any favors in their approach to preserve their rights and react against these voices. I personally think that Christians should only take the religious battle to the government and the courtrooms when actual rights are being lost, rather than over what I consider to be petty arguments about the pledge, the verbiage of American currency, or what to name what have been traditionally Christian holidays. I do think Christians should be involved in politics, but I think Christians have a bad habit of choosing their battles unwisely.

But What If You’re Wrong – Followup

“Cassandra”:http://www.jesseandjeremy.com/the_mama/ and “franky”:http://franksatheisticramblings.blogspot.com/ “point”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/index.php/archives/31#comment-29 “out”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/index.php/archives/31#comment-31 a couple of good questions, ones that have been asked by people for centuries. The questions, as I see them in this discussion, are:

  1. How do I know that God even exists?
  2. If God exists how do I know which religion(s) has it right?

**Background**

_Pascal’s Wager._ franky refers to “Pascal’s”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascals_wager “Wager”:http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/pascal-wager/, in which “Blaise Pascal”:http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Pascal.html posits that a rational analysis should lead one to, at the least, wager on the existence of God, supposing that it would be safer to gamble on His existence than on His non-existence. Several criticisms have been levelled at the Wager, and I will mention those that pertain directly to Cassandra and franky’s comments.

The whole of Pascal’s Wager is founded upon a simple matrix, the columns of which are God Exists and God Doesn’t Exist. One criticism of the Wager is that there should be more columns, specifically that the God Exists column should be subdivided into smaller columns, one for every other theistic hypothesis. Pascal’s Wager seems biased toward the Christian God, and critics of the Wager question how it accounts for other religious belief systems.

Another criticism of Pascal’s Wager that is particularly pertinent here is the atheist belief of the zero probability of God. Because atheists believe that God does not exist, it is just as advantageous to disbelieve in God as it is to believe in Him. This effectively renders the Wager moot for this belief system.

Note that Pascal’s Wager is not an argument for the _existence_ of God so much as it is an argument for _belief_ in God. Likewise, the flaws of the argument do not prove that God does not exist, merely that the argument itself has flaws.

_The Flying Spaghetti Monster._ Cassandra mentions the FSM(Flying Spaghetti Monster), a “satirical”:http://www.venganza.org/ “parody”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster religion started in 2005 by OSU(Oregon State University) graduate and physicist Bobby Henderson to protest a decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to allow the teaching of alleged problems with evolution as well as the teaching of intelligent design in science classes. The FSM(Flying Spaghetti Monster) ‘doctrine’ uses much of the same type of verbiage found in Christian doctrine, pairing it with silliness in an attempt to show the ridiculous nature of teaching ID alongside evolution.

**Discussion**

Both Pascal’s Wager and the FSM(Flying Spaghetti Monster) ‘doctrine’ relate directly to question 1 above — How do I know that God even exists? Atheists believe that we cannot know that God exists because He _doesn’t_ exist. By pointing to a noodly monster, as well as flaws in a mathematical proof, the idea is point out logical fallacies and inconsistencies that should debunk the idea of the existence of God, thus rendering religion impotent and unnecessary.

Personally, all the evidence I need for God’s existence surrounds me. I find it extremely hard to believe that all this could have come about by mere blind chance. I was reminded recently of the “irreducible complexity”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreducible_complexity argument, which states that certain systems in nature cannot be broken down any further without the system failing to function in its constituent parts, i.e. the systems must have been designed and assembled by intent, rather than by chance. What I find most interesting about this argument is that evolutionists seems to have no scientific counter-argument, only theory and conjecture, the very things that they accuse creationists of using to support their own theories.

The trouble in science, even with the best-designed experiments, is that it is impossible to competely remove personal bias from the design. The experimenter starts with a question from a certain point of view and approaches the question from a given direction that is, to at least some extent, predetermined by his view. Essentially, his presuppositions inform his agenda and influence it, whether he realizes it or not. This can be said for both evolutionists and creationists alike. Both can start with the same data and the same materials and arrive at very different conclusions, depending upon what presuppositions inform their test design and influence from what direction they approach the question (and even what questions get asked). Both then cite ‘irrefutable’ evidence for their conclusion.

I do believe that science is important. But I do believe that the place it runs into snags, for everyone, is in providing proof as to the origins of the universe and the origins of man. For the evolutionist, the universe has existed for billions of years and finding evidence from so long ago to support their hypotheses now is problematic. Similarly, for the creationist, the universe has existed for only 6,000 to 10,000 years, but providing evidence as to why a Creator would have created the universe with age is likewise problematic. It would seem, at least to me, that the best use for science is to find solutions to current problems. The origins problem will probably always be shrouded in theory and questions, rather than tangible evidence for any argument.

How we do know God exists? For me the answer is simple — I exist, the universe exists, and both are incredibly complex with systems that work so intricately together that they can’t be anything but designed. For the atheist, the answer also seems simple — it doesn’t make sense that there could be a Creator or Designer (though the actual philosophical reasoning for that decision eludes me at this point). There are other evidences that I can cite, as well, for my belief. The Christian faith is a beautiful blend of faith, knowledge, and experience. I have faith that God exists because I can see this world around me and I see a creative design in it. I have faith that God exists because His Word, in the Bible, tells me so, and that Word has been rigorously tested, both by myself and many others, and everything written therein has been shown to be true and accurate (or at least enough to assure me that it is a trustworthy source for truth). My knowledge comes from my interaction with the world, from studies done by Christian organizations who have been able to provide answers that both counter those of evolution and are consistent with the teachings of the Bible. And my experience comes from my relationship with God through His Son Jesus, through the peace in my heart and the hope and the joy I experience every day because I know I live for Someone and something beyond myself, through the compendium of events that come together on a regular basis that are the result of more than mere chance. These things together convince me daily beyond shadow of a doubt that God exists, and more than that — that He is a personal God Who interacts with me each and every day. It is a personal decision, and the things that I see as proof will not convince anyone not ready to believe or anyone who does not wish to be convinced. No one has ever been argued into Heaven, and I do not hope to do so now. But this is what I believe and just a little part of why I believe it.

How do I know that Christianity is the one, true faith, that Jehovah God is the only God, and that Jesus Christ is God-made-man and our intermediary? Part of this is experiential, as I mentioned above, but that alone is not enough, even for me, since people of all faiths can say the same. The biggest part of what convinces me is that the Christian God is so completely unique, compared against all the gods of all other religions. Only Jehovah has a perfect balance of love and righteous anger, of peace and justice, of sacrifice and giving. Only Jehovah God grants all the privileges of Heaven, of an inheritance equal to Jesus Christ, to those who accept it — as a **free gift**! Only Jehovah God gives us everything and expects nothing from us in return. Only Jehovah God sent a part of Himself in human form to do what no man could do so that all men could live with Him in peace. You won’t find that in any other religion in the world. It is unique to the Christian God, and it is so perfect and wonderful that I am compelled to believe and to strive every day to live in a way that is pleasing to a God that would and could be so bountiful and gracious in His love. And I find that even His judgment is fair and loving, when He seeks to discipline me and bring me back to a right relationship with Him.

But What If You’re Wrong?

I don’t typically spend a lot of time ruminating on song lyrics, but I’m going to make an exception tonight. A “thread”:http://www.temple-of-lore.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=6258 was started on a particular “discussion forum”:http://www.temple-of-lore.com that I frequent (and moderate a section for) that touches on something I was thinking about earlier today. I don’t really need much of an excuse to write, so allow me to post the lyrics, and I will follow them up with a little commentary.

Nichole Nordeman – What If
From the album Brave

What if you’re right?
And he was just another nice guy
What if you’re right?
What if it’s true?
They say the cross will only make a fool of you
And what if it’s true?

What if he takes his place in history
With all the prophets and the kings
Who taught us love and came in peace
But then the story ends
What then?

(Chorus)
But what if you’re wrong?
What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

What if you dig, What if you dig
Way down deeper than your simple-minded friends
What if you dig?
What if you find
A thousand more unanswered questions inside
That’s all you find

What if you pick apart the logic
And begin to poke the holes
What if the crown of thorns is no more
Then folklore that must be told and retold

(Chorus)

You’ve been running as fast as you can
You’ve been looking for a place you can land so long
But what if you’re wrong?

What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

(Label: Sparrow Records)

“franky”:http://franksatheisticramblings.blogspot.com/ kind of got the “mental discussion”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/index.php/archives/25 “rolling”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/index.php/archives/23#comment-19.

Here’s the thing — atheists tend to devote a fair amount of time explaining why they believe God does not exist, in much the same way that Christians spend a lot of time explaining why _they_ think He _does_ exist. The question that runs through my head during this discussion is this — what if God really _does_ exist? What harm would it do to believe? If the atheist is right, then the worst that can happen is he departs into oblivion upon his death. But the worst that can happen if he is wrong is he is damned to a place of eternal torment. The options are exactly reversed for the Christian — being right means ending in a place of eternal bliss and being wrong means existence ceases at death. (There are, of course, lots of “different religious beliefs systems”:http://www.temple-of-lore.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=103050#103050 to consider, but in all cases, the final conclusion is at least similar in terms of afterlife.) I wonder — do atheists argue so vehemently for their position because they hope that it is true? (Hint: this would be a good place to chime in.) Given the two options, it seems like it would be better to ‘play it safe’ and seek God, at least from a strictly rational perspective. I mean, what if you’re wrong?

Don’t Disengage Your Brain

bq. “franky”:http://franksatheisticramblings.blogspot.com/ “writes”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/index.php/archives/23#comment-19:
Hi,
I just noticed that I’m on your blogroll and I was wondering why you have an atheist on your blogroll (when it seems like you are obviously Christian). Not that I’m trying to deter you or anything, I was just curious. Thanks :)

This is a good question, and I thought it could bear a little more thorough answer than the “one”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/index.php/archives/23#comment-20 I gave him earlier today.

It’s very easy to fall into a place where you so firmly adhere to your beliefs that you are unable to entertain the notion that you might be wrong. It is also possible to find yourself in a place where you may be absolutely correct in your stance but your attitude toward those who disagree is so reprehensible as to completely undermine any respect you may have garnered. The only way to avoid both of these pitfalls is to continuously consider the idea that some aspect of your position, or your _entire_ position, may be incorrect or flawed. This then enables you to be humble about your beliefs and discuss them with ideological opponents without malice or arrogance. It also allows you to actually listen to the other side of the issue and consider it, rather than merely disregarding it out of hand.

Personally, I hate the idea of locking myself into a philosophical coffin, dead to the possibility of new ideas, immersed so thoroughly in my own cogitations that I am divorced from the world around me. That way leads to death, in more ways than one. Rather, I prefer to acknowledge a particular shortcoming — my ability to know and to reason holds inherent limitations, and it would be foolhardy of me to assume that I can possibly know everything so thoroughly that I cannot help but always be correct. I know that other people have perspectives different from my own, naturally, and those perspectives, when shared, enable to me to view my own in a new and fresh light. Sometimes, I am affirmed in my beliefs, but other times I find validation lacking and discover that a change is needed. Rather than burying my head in the sand and pretending that problems don’t exist, I would much sooner address the issues. I don’t necessarily have to agree with the other stance to recognize accurate criticism, but I cannot see that criticism for what it is if I am too isolated within myself. I have watched many Christians alienate both their fellow believers and the very people to whom they are supposed to minister exactly by arrogantly refusing to admit their error. I do not wish to be one of those Christians.

Part of seeking to better myself involves immersing myself in the world around me. Keeping abreast of events and opinions different from my own helps me keep in touch with the culture. It challenges me and keeps me thinking, keeps me looking at my own beliefs in a new and fresh light. There are only a handful of beliefs that I consider non-negotiable, but the rest are, to some extent, up for continual review. The people I keep in touch with serve as my reviewers, especially when their thoughts stimulate my own. Hence, I read weblogs that belong to individuals who I may disagree with ideologically. I wish to grow and learn continually. That does not, and cannot, happen all by itself.

Thanks for the great question, franky!

Bupkus

Ok, I promised I would come back and revisit this book I’m reading. I’m working my way through it (slowly!). It’s an intense read, to say the least, and I am finding that I just don’t have much time for ‘casual’ reading with my current class schedule. But I just finished the introductory chapter, so let me summarize it.

————————————-

The author is a physicist who originally started as an atheist. Throughout his work, he eventually came to the conclusion that God exists and that a future resurrection of the dead to eternal life will occur (and that this is all provable). He states that the universe has already been existence for at least 10 billion years and will continue for at LEAST another 10 billion, but more likely for another 100 billion+ years in the future. God, in his theory, is in actuality something called the Omega Point, basically the end of time/space/etc. He claims that as a necessity to his theory (and by implication proven through his calculations), God is not yet fully Being, that His Being will actually only occur in the future, at this Omega Point event. He does claim that his God is personal and that his God loves us, and thus will resurrect us. Heaven and Purgatory exist (or will exist, to be more precise), and Hell might exist, depending on a future condition (a.k.a. variable) of the Omega Point event (i.e. the end of all time and space). According to the author, the resurrection of the dead will occur for all those who have died in the past (but not for another few billion years, at the end of time), but that it will occur as an emulation performed through the computers of the future. The dead will be resurrected to this state of being (which he claims can be proven to be identical to our current state of being), and that it will be a state of “continued individual becoming.” Additionally, he states that neither Western Christianity, nor any other major world religions, fits well into the Omega Point Theory. He states that the Omega Point Theory merely proves the two things that every religion shares — that God exists and that He will grant immortality to us. The rest of the book will be used to flesh out these thoughts/theories more fully.

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Already, I’m barely out of the introduction, and I’ve discovered that what this scientist postulates does not match up with the God that the Bible proclaims. I would not say that this scientist is a Christian (and based on his own words, I do not think he himself would claim to be a Christian, necessarily, either; in fact, I think it would be far safer to say that physics is his religion), though he believes in God, because his view of God (and his view of an inevitable and undiscriminating resurrection of all to essentially the same place) does not match the Scriptural proclamation of the Gospel. I plan to continue working my way through his book because I believe in giving everyone a fair chance to voice their opinions (and frankly, I curious to see where he goes with this).