It seems of late the most common objections I seem to come against when it comes to my faith have to do with my methodology: Apparently, I lack a compelling link between the God in which I believe and the evidence I claim supports Him. Sure, things like the fine-tuning of the universe, the complexity of life, miracles, prophesy, personal religious experiences, etc. may, to the simple mind, lead to a prima facie acceptance of some divine Agent behind it all — but the superior mind (I’ve come to understand) refuses to accept such hypotheses without an airtight, no-wiggle-room, universally-accepted case that unequivocally and unquestionably shows that X body of evidence leads (and must only lead) to God Y. Until that happens, the rational mind can reasonably — nay, needs must be confined to — the realm of agnosticism.
It’s a neat little case — but I’m not convinced that this is actually how people make decisions. If I wait until I’m absolutely sure about something before I jump, then you can be assured that I will lead a very uneventful life, because I’ll never do anything. Good decisions are not predicated upon certainty — they are founded on a reasonable analysis of the available data coupled with an assessment of the applicable risks. I would posit that this is a far more pragmatic approach when it comes to making decisions — including those having to do with God. (more…)
I’m in the middle of a discussion with hero4thought on his blog (go check it out, he has some good observations, and he seems like a really nice guy) where we are talking about the veracity of equating religion with relationship. I recommend reading his post (and the subsequent discussions that follow) in full, but the nutshell argument seems to be: Since we can’t really verify that God really exists, then any alleged “interactions” with Him wouldn’t really qualify as a relationship in the traditional sense — for relationships, as we are wont to think of them, don’t usually involve ambiguous or elusive parties. We know precisely who the parties are in most relationships, and there’s no question to a third-party observer that such a relationship, in fact, exists. This lack of corroboration when it comes to God, Hero says, makes the relationship claim dubious at best.
I can appreciate his reasoning, and I actually mostly agree — but I disagree that the difficulties presented by the situation are insurmountable or fatally flawed such that we should feel justified in shutting down the God-relationship hypothesis out of hand. In any case, we have just gotten to the point on our discussion where we’re unpacking the question of whether or not a relationship is predicated upon both parties in the relationship existing in the material sphere. I would argue not, and my argument is based on the logical necessity that God be immaterial — and so following is my response to Hero: (more…)
Before typing a single word of this post, I knew it was going to be a raw one.
I hope my readers don’t mind a little personal transparency — but even if some of them did, it would probably go to show that this may not be the place for them anyway. I set out on this blogging endeavor hoping to foster a community of individuals who could handle honest, forthright theological discussion without feeling the need to score rhetorical points or use manipulative debate tactics to twist the truth or evade it completely — where people can be open about their own doubts and questions, can admit that they don’t have all the answers without fear of losing the respect of others, can have at least one place in this online world where people are more important than ideas, and ideas are more important than winning. So, bound up in that vision is this concept of being real — and part of being real is being willing to share at least one real part of you, unadulterated, without makeup, warts and all. And since I got us into this mess, I suppose I should lead by example.
So here’s my confession, and I imagine it has the potential to alienate people on both sides of the God issue: I hope I’m wrong about God.(more…)
Happy Valentine’s Day, readers! I have a thought that maybe, someday, barely loops back around to the Valentine’s Day theme 🙂
One need not read anything beyond the title of my blog to know that I have a high regard for evidence — it’s a big part of my worldview. A philosophy not based on evidence, I believe, is one that is ill-founded, and I would expect any reasonable person to be able to back up their beliefs with evidence. Every one of us here, I think, would like to be able to say that we would be willing to change our worldview at the drop of a hat, given sufficient evidence to warrant such a decision; not to do so would seem symptomatic of some deep-seated bias — a word which finds a comfortable place among other four-letter words, at least insofar as the intelligentsia are concerned.
But, I repeat the question asked in the title: Is evidence really enough to convince someone to take up or abandon belief in God?
In this third part of my Meaning of Life series, I would like to discuss another objection I have to the naturalistic worldview.
I have seen religion denounced for stifling skepticism and scientific curiosity, and sadly this criticism can be somewhat well-deserved — at least, when it comes to certain religious circles. As for myself and my local church, however, the opposite is true; I think asking questions — always asking questions — is the keystone of a circumspect life, whether religious or not. The presence of faith in one’s worldview does not, in my opinion, change this one iota. The kind of faith that discourages questioning is called blind faith, and that’s a brand of faith in which I have no interest.
Implicit in the criticism above (which is often given by naturalists) is the unspoken assertion that naturalism, in contrast to theism, does encourage individuals to ask questions. To many a naturalist, the theist appears as a broken record whose every question about the universe is met with the definitive “Goddidit,” with absolutely no curiosity or drive to go beyond the why and attempt to understand the how or the what. One day I would like to dissect this caricature and debunk some myths to these ends; but for the moment I would instead like to turn the objection around on the naturalist and point out one of perhaps several questions that rarely seem to be asked by naturalists — and yet, are preeminently important.
Why, if god is self evident as most believers think it is, does it need apologists?
It’s a valid question. And since makagutu has gotten on my case in the past for being too loquacious, I’ll try to keep my answer brief 😉
For one thing, though I can’t speak for others, I for one would not categorize God’s existence as something that is self-evident. makagutu is right: If such a thing were self-evident, there would be no need for argumentation, and reasonable people would be expected to believe without needing to be convinced. I don’t think that is the case, though — though I believe there are good arguments for theism, they are still arguments nonetheless — it takes some effort to get there.
So, that’s the quick answer (so makagutu, you can stop reading at this point if you’d like 😉 ) — but I think there’s more to the issue. I may be making a jump here, but I think the heart of the question is: If the case for God is compelling, then why are there reasonable people who don’t believe in Him?(more…)