A Valid Search…

My friend (and I do consider him my friend) Rick made the following statement in a comment below:

“The reality is that a valid search without preconceptions will lead to God,”

Needless to say, I vehemently disagree with this statement.  Throughout history open-minded searching has been blamed for the apostasy of millions.  Scientists are derided by Christians because their search for facts, evidence, and truth consistently invalidates the faith claims of the religious.  The wisdom of men is foolishness to the elect.  I wonder how anyone can take that to be a truth and still make the claim that a valid search leads to god?

There is a serious error in Rick’s statement:  He equates the agnostic/atheist position with the believer’s position.  He equates his presuppositions (which are unsubstantiated faith claims based on the bible) with the position of the skeptical.  Even though we’ve had the discussion before, he refuses to recognize that bringing unprovable assumptions to a discussion (God exists, Jesus rose from the dead, the bible is the word of god) is NOT the same as setting aside all unprovable assumptions and analyzing all factual inputs and accepting the most reasonable conclusion.

I have also asked my friend to directly address that contention – to explain to me why I’m wrong, to show me how they do equate.  He has either refused or been unable to do so, instead simply repeating his assertion, apparently in the hopes that repetition will be the same as proof.

While pondering this impasse (which I think is one of his own making only) I happened across a video that I think very clearly illustrates the problem with Rick’s position.  It’s well worth the watching for persons on any side of the discussion.  In fact, I would welcome Rick’s critique, or anyone else’s, of either my or Rick’s assertion, or the content of this video.

Here you go:

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10 responses to “A Valid Search…

  1. His belief is not as without merit as you seem to think, if I read him right. From his POV, there simply is a god, so an open mind would surely recognise it. I used to say to Bella, you can have your own interpretations, but you cannot have your own facts. She would say, but God is a fact. There you have it.

  2. Not exactly. From his POV (which you’d have to read up on through 100+ comments) a *valid search* will lead to God, as in YHWH and his risen son Jesus Christ. He has been very pointed that atheist/non-theistic belief is an error, and that dependence on reason as a means of evaluating claims equates to a lack of true wisdom. Furthermore, every other religious concept of any kind is error as well. There is only Jesus.

    Our conversation (and I suppose most of my blog) is narrowly focused on Evangelical Christianity. Someone who said to me, “I believe there is a god of some sort. Can’t prove it, you don’t have to believe in it, maybe some of it made it into the bible, whatever” is making a claim I wouldn’t quibble with. It would be an assertion of belief, with the person aware of the limits of that belief.

    That’s a very, very different stance than my friend Rick takes.

    I don’t actually describe myself as an atheist so much as an agnostic. There may or may not be anything out there, and either way, it seems quite unknown and unknowable. If “there is no god” was not an option, but all other options were on the table, I would probably lean toward pantheism. That said, I find that the atheist position makes the most reasonable demands on faith claims of any kind. It’s consistent and, I think, pretty fair minded overall.

  3. Oh. So a “valid search” would not simply lead one to God, but to Jesus — and the precise version of evangelical Christianity that Rick adheres to. That is so silly Looners. What is there to debate? I insist that a valid search of all cats necessarily leads one to conclude that mine is the cutest. If you disagree, you’re doing it wrong.

  4. Building on Paula, evangelical Christians rarely talk about God. The conversation is all about Jesus. Who, I think, most experts agree, was a historical figure. I didn’t bother to look at Rick’s statement: arguments about faith validity or invalidity bore me. But in evangelical (and even much of mainstream) Christian RL, God is a figure in the New Testament mainly to provide backstory.

  5. We use our rational minds to talk about the possibility of the existence of God and we use our rational minds to talk about and explore science. Seems to me that we are totally dependent upon our rational minds. Nothing outside of it truly exists. I think, therefore I am. Simple.

  6. Good video. What he talks about at 2:10– that’s where it started for me. I dare Rick or anybody else to pray: “God, I want to know the truth, even if it means losing you.” And if he can’t do that, why not? Why would a God be threatened by an earnest desire for truth?

  7. “God, I want to know the truth, even if it means losing you.”

    That is excellent. There should be absolutely no fear for the Christian, or any religious person, in asking such a question. I’m sure Rick wouldn’t do it. He’d find some way to dither around the question, claiming it illogical, etc. I was really hoping he’d come back by and speak for himself, but it’s been a few days now, and I’m guessing he’s given up.

    Thanks for visiting :)

  8. Thank you for the opportunity.
    @Chris.tine — Actually, the Christian position is that Jesus *IS* God, so when we are talking about Jesus we are talking about God.

    @ Anon — Your dare has been taken up, by me and by others. Try reading C.S. Lewis or Josh McDowell, or William Murray. Here is a quote from Galileo: ”
    I do not feel obliged to believe that same God who endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect had intended for us to forgo their use.”

    And for my friend Anthony — You made a statement that does not agree with the facts. I *have* asked God about truth, and so have many others. I can provide you with a link to a blog by a life scientist with work published in peer reviews whose opinion is that the configuration of amino acids is evidence of God’s creation.
    And as for what you said about me, I will turn that around for you: even though we’ve had the discussion before, he refuses to recognize that he is bringing unprovable assumptions to a discussion (God does not exist – maybe, Jesus did not rise from the dead, the bible is not the word of God). He has not admitted that his preconceptions either exist or that they could be affecting his thought process. I do have beliefs that are a result of carefully examining my then position of agnostic and rejecting it as not logically consistent. Those beliefs obviously will affect my thought process, and I do recognize that I am bringing them with me.

    And the video — I actually had fun listening to him say that a need to confirm one’s own beliefs would cause non-rational thinking, when one of his other videos is clearly an emotional attempt to justify his belief that hell does not exist. He has an agenda, and the video post is his attempt at promulgating his views. Needless to say, I thoroughly disagree with his views on the validity of Christianity.

    • And for my friend Anthony — You made a statement that does not agree with the facts. I *have* asked God about truth, and so have many others. I can provide you with a link to a blog by a life scientist with work published in peer reviews whose opinion is that the configuration of amino acids is evidence of God’s creation.

      Yeah, we all know who Francis Collins is. The enormous majority of scientists who share his specialty repudiate his claims as assumptive leaps – a glorified god-of-the-gaps fallacy. The configuration of amino acids requires no more supernatural interface than any other observable process of nature. His “theories” are no more accepted than Ken Ham’s instant grand canyon theory. Current research paths in this arena bring us closer and closer to learning the facts relating to abiogenesis (edit: incorrect terminology.) I’ve said many times that not knowing how something happens does not equal goddidit.

      And as for what you said about me, I will turn that around for you: even though we’ve had the discussion before, he refuses to recognize that he is bringing unprovable assumptions to a discussion (God does not exist – maybe, Jesus did not rise from the dead, the bible is not the word of God). He has not admitted that his preconceptions either exist or that they could be affecting his thought process.

      Rick, I know you don’t like this, but I have to say it. You are wrong. You have a right to your own opinions, but you do not have a right to your own facts. Frankly, until you can actually cope with the content of this next section, there is no point in any further dialogue. This is one of the things I was talking about, where you impose your assumptions about my (and others’) thinking process onto the conversations rather than dealing with the truth of the matter. You cannot tell me what I think and make up new versions of how I came to this point. It’s dishonest. If that’s what it takes to prop up your filters, so be it, but you’ll need to admit you refuse to carry on a conversation based on reason and empiricism and just want to proffer your unsubstantiated beliefs.

      I am going to explain why you are wrong about the assertion you made. This is where the whole conversation stops, and it is from here that the conversation will start once you accept the truth of my position and cease creating your own version of it to suit your prejudice.

      You assert I bring unprovable assumptions to the discussion, and you specify three:

      1 – God doesn’t exist.
      2 – Jesus didn’t rise from the dead.
      3 – The bible is not the word of god.

      The low hanging fruit, obvious to anyone with a grasp of the process of reason, is that those are not unprovable assumptions. They are, rather, the default position. Why? Because they represent a reaction to positive claims on the part of your position. When a positive claim is made, i.e.: “God exists,” the burden of proof is on the individual making that claim. I do not have to prove god doesn’t exist. Since god is unseen, and since there is no evidence for his existence that I have ever seen, it is up to you to either present verifiable evidence or to abandon your claim. You can choose to continue to believe your claim is true, but you cannot pretend that such a position is supported by any reasonable evidence, and therefore you cannot expect any reasonable person to accept your claims.

      To dig a little deeper, my position is not “God does not exist.” My position is actually, “I do not know if god exists or not, but on the available evidence, if any god does exist, that god is both unknown and, to date, unknowable.” That constitutes no assumptions other than that mankind has the ability to reasonably explore the world and the universe around him for truth, and that truth will be verifiable by evidence.

      Now, this is usually where you claim something like “God can’t be known by logic.”

      (It’s getting very late – I’m going to pause here and let you ruminate – I’ll edit and continue my response in the morning.)

      EDIT: Onward -

      “God can’t be known by logic,” which phrase you’ve used, but then you say:

      I do have beliefs that are a result of carefully examining my then position of agnostic and rejecting it as not logically consistent. Those beliefs obviously will affect my thought process, and I do recognize that I am bringing them with me.

      So I have to ask which it is? Can god be found by logic or not? So you can use logic to reject agnosticism (or any non-theist position, one could presume) but then logic is no longer usable?

      The universe is full of possibility. No matter what you believe, from someone without preconception or any indoctrination, every possibility exists. No god, universe god, one god, two gods, three, a thousand gods, a million gods, infinite gods, and from there, who or what they are, how they operate, etc.

      All the individual can do is look at the evidence, use his or her sense of reason. If that is truly what you did, if you truly rejected agnosticism (and I assume atheism) by use of logic, and then in turn accepted Christianity as the logical alternative, forget that you’ve contradicted an earlier statement you made – show us how agnosticism/atheism is logically inconsistent, and defend it with reason. You can’t make the claims you do above, then claim you rejected the alternatives through logic, then when painted into a corner, claim that one can’t find god via logic.

      From all possibilities, you’ve made a specific positive claim, really a small series of interrelated claims. It is up to you to prove them. I do not have to prove anything because all I’ve done is reacted to the lack of evidence for your version of events. I make no claims outside of what is evident in nature. Your claims surpass what is readily apparent in nature. Therefore you have to provide additional evidence in order to narrow down from all possibilities to your possibility.

      And the video — I actually had fun listening to him say that a need to confirm one’s own beliefs would cause non-rational thinking, when one of his other videos is clearly an emotional attempt to justify his belief that hell does not exist.

      Two things, Rick. One – That’s a complete bait and switch. You completely ignore that actual substance of the video, which is a direct refutation of your modus operandi from the beginning, and instead use that to deflect the argument to the producer’s video treatise on hell, which isn’t really under discussion. One might almost think you’re supporting the analysis in the video. If so, then I would strongly encourage you to apply it to your own belief system, front to back. You suffer from the exact issue under question in the section you quoted. You’ve already decided which, of all possibilities, you’ve chosen, and you interpret evidence to make it fit rather than considering the evidence first, then letting it lead you to a possibility.

      Actually analyze the video, in fact. Explain why the scientific process, the application of logic, doesn’t apply to your particular beliefs.

      For two, I was going to discuss your conclusion about the other video, but I’ve decided not to let you derail the conversation down another rabbit trail.

      He has an agenda, and the video post is his attempt at promulgating his views. Needless to say, I thoroughly disagree with his views on the validity of Christianity.

      Needless to say. But he uses reason and logic in a verifiable manner to support his viewpoint. I request you do the same.

      To finish up, I would like to note that you still have not fulfilled my one primary question, even though you indicated you would:

      Why would the pursuit of empirical truth lead away from god? If god is THE TRUTH, then no truth of any kind can ever lead one away from god, because everything that is true would and could only reflect god. In fact, if god *is* Truth, then the pursuit of truth using the ability to think, reason, and consider which god apparently gave me can *only* lead to god.

      Yet with the same mouth you will tell me that using reason and seeking the truth has led me away from god, and that any truth I learn using my own mind is foolishness, and that god’s foolishness is wisdom.

      Tell me how pursuing truth can possibly lead one away from the one who is Truth.

    • I’ve read 2 of the 3. Not interested in reading Christian Apologetics any longer. Total waste of my time. I don’t believe in the God of the Bible because of the Bible.

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