The Point

Read a quote by atheist author John W. Loftus in the context of a different conversation that, to me, says it all:

“We need to explain rather than explain away what was said.”

That encapsulates the difference between the skeptical position free of presupposition and the Christian position burdened with the filter of belief.

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24 thoughts on “The Point

  1. Yep. I like this one. Brief, concise. I like that the word “free” is linked to the skeptics view and the word “burdened” to the religious view. Perfect.

  2. not entirely true…I have read some of Mr. Loftus’s writing, and he has the filter of unbelief. His position is NOT free of presupposition, since he starts from the point of view that there is no God. He has decided that God does not exist, and filters everything through that belief.
    It sounded good though, even if the facts don’t support it.

    • Yes, he starts from the point of view that Gods don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Centaurs don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Chimera don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Hippalectryon don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Hippocampi don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Ichthyocentaurs don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Ipotane don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Manticore don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Minotaur don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Ophiotaurus don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Orthrus don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Panes don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Satyrs don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Sileni don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Sirens don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Sphinx don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that Telchines don’t exist.
      He also starts from the point of view that thousands more mythical creatures don’t exist.

      So where’s the proof for any of these? Where are these alleged ‘facts’ you speak of? Care to share?

      • @jim jones…there is no “proof” you would agree with. It sounds like you have made up your mind to disbelieve. If you were honestly seeking answers, I could provide evidence from my own life; or I could tell you of miracles I have personally witnessed. However, you seem to have built a wall around your heart so you won’t have to deal with God, and breaking down that wall is for Him to do not me.

  3. The positions stated by TF were “skeptic free of presupposition” and “Christian burdened with belief.” He didn’t say Loftus fit the first, only that that particular line fit how TF sees things, which is The Point.

  4. And frankly, Rick, if that’s what you got from Loftus’s writing, you weren’t paying attention.

    Furthermore, coming from a point of skepticism is not the same as coming from unbelief. He came from a point of questioning, where he discovered his unbelief. You have a giant blind spot in that you think, for whatever reason, that unbelief precedes investigation, which is far from the case.

    • That blind spot seems to solidify the “belief before understanding” position as hypocritical.

      That said, I do have the filter of believing (hoping?) that our existence is conceived by/within a benevolent spiritual force and subject to laws of nature created “in the beginning.”

    • buzzer sound, please…
      By definition, a skeptic is not free of presupposition.

      from dictionary.reference.com, the #3 definition of the word “skeptic”:

      a person who doubts the truth of a religion, especially Christianity, or of important elements of it.

      Anthony, if doubting the truth of something is not unbelief to you, then perhaps you have a blind spot when it comes to the meaning of the word “unbelief” when it is applied to a writer you agree with.

      another one from dictionary.reference.com, the only definition of the word “unbelief”:

      un·be·lief   [uhn-bi-leef]
      noun
      the state or quality of not believing; incredulity or skepticism, especially in matters of doctrine or religious faith.

      Um, “not believing” – “skepticism”…would that be a presupposition or a filter?
      Again, nice try but no cigar.

      Also, O’Tim…I am not hypocritical, since I have always been clear that everything I say comes via my belief (although I don’t agree with Mr. Loftus that it is a “burden”)

      • Rick, when I read your replies I can see why it took Anthony a couple of decades to figure things out. It is an arduous, uncomfortable task to step outside the circle of one’s faith and observe it with a perspective that is not welcome and often actively discouraged by those within. You can roll out the definitions and debate the semantics all day, but to me it just makes your blind spot all the more obvious.

      • so you disagree with the definitions of “unbelief” and “skeptic” that I posted (and therefore assume that a skeptic is free of bias) or are you saying that my beliefs make it impossible for me to point out flaws in logic? The blind spot is the inability to see that one is being led down a destructive path by the father of lies. A skeptical position is NOT free of presupposition.

      • Gee, Rick, now who’s cherry picking definitions?

        Let’s look at the whole definition, shall we? From a couple of sources:

        Google:
        skep·tic/ˈskeptik/
        Noun:
        1. A person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions.
        2. A person who doubts the truth of Christianity and other religions; an atheist or agnostic.

        Free Dictionary:
        skep·tic also scep·tic (skptk) n.
        1. One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions.
        2. One inclined to skepticism in religious matters.

        Dictionary.com
        skep·tic
           [skep-tik] noun
        1. a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual.
        2. a person who maintains a doubting attitude, as toward values, plans, statements, or the character of others.
        3. a person who doubts the truth of a religion, especially Christianity, or of important elements of it.

        Merriam-Webster:
        1: an adherent or advocate of skepticism
        2: a person disposed to skepticism especially regarding religion or religious principles.

        For good measure: Skepticism
        1: an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object
        2: a: the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain b: the method of suspended judgment, systematic doubt, or criticism characteristic of skeptics
        3: doubt concerning basic religious principles (as immortality, providence, and revelation)

        The point is, skepticism is not a filter, rather a state of doubt, one in which evidence is investigated and only then conclusions drawn that do not go beyond the evidence at hand. In that case, the evidence can be or say what it is. It can be explained – and only by what is observed. The filter of particular belief (God is real and the bible is his inerrant word) creates a burden on the evidence the forces an interpretation that cannot be drawn by simple observation of the facts.

        Now, if the facts demonstrate the interface of a supernatural entity, then skepticism would require the observer to draw the conclusion from that observation that the supernatural entity exists and has interfaced with the observable facts in a way that altered them from what they otherwise would have been. However, in the cases we’ve discussed, the conclusion drawn from simple observation of available evidence turns out to be different when the presuppositions above are imposed on said evidence. Therefore the evidence is burdened by the unsupported belief system that imposes the unevinced perfection of an omniscient God onto it.

        *Anthony, if doubting the truth of something is not unbelief to you, then perhaps you have a blind spot when it comes to the meaning of the word “unbelief” when it is applied to a writer you agree with.*

        Rick, the difference between *doubt* and *unbelief* is immense. I should not even have to explain it to you. That is the heart of your blind spot.

        Doubt is a state of being unconvinced of conclusions that are drawn. Unbelief is a conclusion drawn from evidence or the lack thereof. They are very different things.

        This particular skeptic (me, I mean) only requires solid, reasonable evidence to change his mind. It has not been forthcoming, and that which has been proffered as evidence has been found severely wanting, nowhere near meeting the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

        BTW, the word “burden” was mine, not Loftus’s.

      • Anthony – The difference between doubt and disbelief is almost non-existent. In practical use, when one doubts something, they don’t believe it. Conversely, when they believe something they don’t doubt it. Ipso facto, doubt equals disbelief. You don’t want to admit or see that your own doubt / disbelief has given you some presuppositions. Without debating the right or wrong of believing as I do (and as you say you used to believe), let’s deal with the truth of how everyone filters things based on what they think. As an intellectual exercise, it is possible to conceive of someone being so clear-thinking that they are able to review an idea which has been posited and reach a conclusion via unbiased logic. However, reality says “no way”.
        You said “The filter of particular belief (God is real and the bible is his inerrant word) creates a burden on the evidence the [should “the” have been “that”?] forces an interpretation”.
        I would like to present the inverse as a possibility: The filter of particular belief (God is NOT real and the bible is NOT his inerrant word) creates a burden on the evidence that forces an interpretation…which is to say that the presuppositions you have DO influence your interpretations.
        What do you say? Does it make sense that one group (believers) would have a filter, while another (non-believers) would not have a filter? Isn’t everything that runs through our mind filtered by something?

      • A skeptical position is NOT free of presupposition.

        Sure, if you include the presupposition that one should be able to draw a conclusion from the evidence at hand and not be required to impose unsupported beliefs to the evidence..

  5. Here’s another one for you, Rick:

    Assume A is absolutely true.

    Should we be able to determine that A is actually true from observation of the evidence at hand, regardless of whether the observer believes in a personal god and its particular scriptural revelation?

    If A is absolutely true, then two observers of different belief systems should, by rational observation, be able to determine and understand that truth regardless of belief or doubt. Would you agree?

    • no, I would not agree. Leaving spiritual things aside, let’s look at quantum physics. In that realm, those whose belief system includes Dirac’s equation would come down on one side and those whose belief system includes Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle would come down on the other. The question? Does 2+2=4 with regard to energy in sub-atomic collisions? You see, when the question is how to account for the additional energy exhibited as particle spin that results from a sub-atomic collision, one side says there is an equivalence, while the other side says sometimes there is and sometimes there isn’t. And both are able to agree about what is true from observation of evidence. They just dis-agree on what or Who controlled the outcome. You say chance / fate / whatever is what is in control; and I say God is in control. Is an earthquake just chance or is it under God’s control? We both can determine from observation of evidence that an earthquake occurred. The real questions are deeper than just observable, pragmatic events. The real questions involve love and the reasons behind things.
      I know, you will accuse me of obfuscation again…but really, the important stuff is not what is discoverable only by power of reason. It all comes down to what you believe. Everything else is secondary in importance. Everything.
      Love ya.

      • Hmm, good answer. But there is irony in the likelihood that most adherents of both Dirac and Heisenberg are not Christians. Not trying to obfuscate, BTW 😉

      • Well, I am no quantum physicist (are you?) but as I understand it, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle posits (horribly simplified) that the act of measuring that energy itself is a force upon the particle so that the measurement can’t be accurate. I’m sure I’ve misunderstood some part of it.

        Anyway, I think you’re incorrect in your assertion. Here is why. There is an absolute truth about the behavior of those particles. The issue between the two viewpoints is that neither party has the capability to accurately quantify the particular behavior observed. As I read it, the issue between the adherents is a matter of theory – a disagreement about the interpretation of what is being observed. The issue is a matter of *capability* of measuring. As far as Heisenberg could tell, getting an accurate measurement is impossible because doing so alters the behavior being measured. Neither side is imposing an unsupported belief system onto the evidence to reach a conclusion. Instead they are using all of their accumulated, scientific knowledge to make their best guess about what is going on – but neither side has the capability to concretely test their viewpoint – and in fact, if I read it right, adherents to Heisenberg’s principle theorize that such testing is impossible because doing so adds energy to the behavior, altering that which they were trying to measure.

        That is not nearly the same thing as imposing an unsupported presupposition over observable evidence and altering one’s theory about what was observed based upon that filter.

  6. Anthony – The difference between doubt and disbelief is almost non-existent. In practical use, when one doubts something, they don’t believe it. Conversely, when they believe something they don’t doubt it. Ipso facto, doubt equals disbelief.

    “Almost non-existent?” What is that supposed to mean? There is a difference. Doubt is a state of not accepting a particular conclusion. Disbelief is in itself a conclusion about an assertion. They *are* different. Doubt leaves open the potential of correction, disbelief is a finished viewpoint.

    Just because they are similar does not make them the same. Sometimes the distinctions are fine, but distinctions they remain.

    You don’t want to admit or see that your own doubt / disbelief has given you some presuppositions.

    Because my doubt has given me the freedom to shed particular presuppositions that altered my ability to rationally consider evidence. If my doubt has given me any presuppositions, they are that truth should be observable by the evidence at hand, that one should not have to eschew the clear conclusions of rational observation in order to accept a truth that is otherwise unsupported, and that any revelation of a perfect God should stand up to rational observation and criticism. In actuality, those are the shedding of the imposition of the concept of inerrancy of the bible and the authority of the bible when it is in conflict with observable reality.

    But my “new” presuppositions have a very serious distinction from yours – they conform to the processes of observation, reason, and criticism. They are supported by observable evidence.

    Without debating the right or wrong of believing as I do (and as you say you used to believe), let’s deal with the truth of how everyone filters things based on what they think. As an intellectual exercise, it is possible to conceive of someone being so clear-thinking that they are able to review an idea which has been posited and reach a conclusion via unbiased logic. However, reality says “no way”

    What? Reality says no such thing. As rational human beings, we have the ability to recognize when we are observing through the filter of unsupported beliefs, and therefore have the ability to observe rationally and analyzing/criticizing our observations in a falsifiable fashion, in a manner that can be duplicated by another person. Your unwillingness to recognize the unsupported belief system you impose over your observation of reality in no way is proof that everyone uses a similar, unsupported filter.

    You said “The filter of particular belief (God is real and the bible is his inerrant word) creates a burden on the evidence the [should “the” have been “that”?] forces an interpretation”. I would like to present the inverse as a possibility: The filter of particular belief (God is NOT real and the bible is NOT his inerrant word) creates a burden on the evidence that forces an interpretation…which is to say that the presuppositions you have DO influence your interpretations.

    Sorry, my friend – your turn to hear the buzzer 🙂 That is patently incorrect, because you’ve again put the cart before the horse. Observing the same reality I once observed through the filter of unsupported belief, now without that filter, convinced me that the filter I was using prevented me from analyzing that which I observed without prejudice. I found it wanting, and therefore abandoned my belief. Most of this blog is devoted to helping others understand what I observed – once I allowed for the *possibility* that the bible *may* not be inerrant. So far I have found no evidence to deny the conclusion drawn from that observation. Observation preceded unbelief – not the other way around.

    What do you say? Does it make sense that one group (believers) would have a filter, while another (non-believers) would not have a filter? Isn’t everything that runs through our mind filtered by something?

    Of course it makes sense, as I said above – Human being have the ability to recognize their filters and set them aside and review the evidence at hand. The process within the formal fields of science is known as peer review – where one who offers an explanation of that which is observed can have his/her conclusions tested by others for the presence of any fallacy or filter which has prevented clear observation of the evidence. It *is* possible to observe without the filters of unsupported beliefs.

    • Anthony — You have a huge blind spot where filters are concerned. You refuse to see that your own filter (the one that says “God’s word is not inerrant , and in fact God may not be real”) prevents you from considering the reality of interaction between the spiritual realm and our existence. If I use a red filter on a stage light, it blocks every color but red. After a while, the absence of other colors begins to seem like it is real and correct, but it is all due to a filter. Your world-view filter (agnosticism) blocks all possibility of observing God at work. You by choice refuse to see Him working in the world and in men’s lives. In another reply, you said “the issue between the adherents is a matter of theory – a disagreement about the interpretation of what is being observed”. Well put, and for once you agree with my premise: one sees only what one has allowed themselves to see, based on their own interpretation of facts.
      I have seen God perform miracles. Yup, my interpretation. You might have called it a placebo effect, or coincidence, or maybe just the human body doing amazing things, but I can give you an example that several doctors who do not believe in God called a miracle. I have experienced His love and watched Him change my life. Interpretation? I don’t think so…just clear-headed observation, confirmed by the statements of others.
      So you see, a filter can even be one in which you have deceived yourself into believing that the only correct answers are those supplied by reasoning and observation; that filter can trick you into thinking you don’t have a filter; and that filter can even prevent you from seeing your own prejudices.

      As I said earlier, the real questions are deeper than just observable, pragmatic events. The real questions involve love and the reasons behind things; and really, the important stuff is not what is discoverable only by power of reason. It all comes down to what you believe. Everything else is secondary in importance. Everything.

      I believe that all of mankind are sinners.
      I believe that Jesus was fully God and fully man, and that He died on a cross to pay for our sins; then He rose from the dead to proclaim defeat of death.
      I believe that the only thing needed to be forgiven of sin is to believe in my heart that Jesus is my Savior, and to proclaim Him with my mouth.

      From your blog (the title alone) I gather that you do not believe these things. You have that choice, but I will continue to pray that you hear God calling you. I pray that you will leave the pods you are feeding to the pigs and come home.
      In Luke chapter 15 it is described like this:
      “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

      I’m waiting for the celebration to begin for you.

      • Anthony — You have a huge blind spot where filters are concerned. You refuse to see that your own filter (the one that says “God’s word is not inerrant , and in fact God may not be real”) prevents you from considering the reality of interaction between the spiritual realm and our existence.

        I’m tempted to stop you right there, as you seem to misunderstand the thought process that led to the conclusions. What is interesting is that I actually understand exactly where you are coming from – as the charge is one I use to level at my wife when we would get into these discussions. Now I see why *she* got so frustrated.

        I’m going to spell this out for you and my other readers very carefully, in some detail. It will take some time, so give me a day or two. When I am done, there will be no mistaking the difference between my position and yours, for either of us. That said,

        If I use a red filter on a stage light, it blocks every color but red. After a while, the absence of other colors begins to seem like it is real and correct, but it is all due to a filter. Your world-view filter (agnosticism) blocks all possibility of observing God at work. You by choice refuse to see Him working in the world and in men’s lives.

        No, again you’re terribly misunderstanding, my friend. This will be addressed in the upcoming post – in fact, maybe I’ll use this particular illustration in my explanation 🙂

        In another reply, you said “the issue between the adherents is a matter of theory – a disagreement about the interpretation of what is being observed”. Well put, and for once you agree with my premise: one sees only what one has allowed themselves to see, based on their own interpretation of facts.

        No, we aren’t in agreement, I’m afraid. The main difference is that, if scientists finally found a way to measure the behavior of the particles without altering that behavior, in a verifiable way, Heisenberg adherents would happily abandon their theory and soak up the new information. That’s the nature of science. Both parties are guessing because science is currently incapable of finding an answer. However, if Heisenberg adherents had an ancient book which said,

        “Such things can never be measured, to claim otherwise is foolishness. Let no man deceive you by saying, “Look what I have measured.” They only wish to lead you astray,”

        …it would be a different story. If they believed that the deity/author of that book was the ultimate source of all truth, and that the book could not be wrong, then when presented with the evidence that such things can be measured, they would have to find ways to explain away that which has been observed and measured. They would look for any inconsistency, or worse, would twist semantics to make claims such as, “Dirac’s equation is only based on a theory, and we all know that theories are just guesses.” Why? Because they would have to do that to preserve their belief in the inerrancy of their ancient book, or they would have to abandon that belief and thereby call into question every other aspect of their belief system.

        I have seen God perform miracles. Yup, my interpretation. You might have called it a placebo effect, or coincidence, or maybe just the human body doing amazing things, but I can give you an example that several doctors who do not believe in God called a miracle.

        All of the above. A *miracle* is not a miracle unless there is no possibility of a natural cause. If god exists and is omnipotent, then miracles are, of course, possible. But we shouldn’t attribute a supernatural, unobservable, and unevinced cause to something just because it was *unlikely*. What most people mean by miracles is “very-very-very lucky.” We have seen some incredible recoveries. We have also seen John Biggs and others die still seeking their miracle.

        The wife of one of my closest friends, who is about my age, was diagnosed with a partial arterial blockage earlier this year. She went up to Standford to have a stent put in. While she was on the table they ran into a problem. She had a congenital defect that had basically put a kink in the artery. It’s very rare, and in a case like this, almost always fatal. They induced a coma and pushed through with the procedure. They told my friend she was almost certainly going to die and asked about family and arrangements. I got a call and cried, thinking we were losing one of our best friends.

        Of course the church’s prayer chain was going. I prayed, still being a Christian.

        She “miraculously” pulled through. Miracle, right? Many doctors came by to see the “miracle lady.” As we got the details, though, what happened was: 1- The doctor was a young, sharp doctor, up to date on the latest techniques and technologies. 2- At the moment of the event, she had the heart attack, the doctor (known for his good decision making) realized he had to push the stent through the defect. 3- The doctor told my friend that his wife’s survival was a 1 in 10,000 chance.

        The point is, that when faced with a very fortunate situation, or a bona fide miracle, one must consider whether there is any “reasonable” explanation for the occurrence before insisting that a supernatural event took place. There was a confluence of talent, training, technology, and a little good fortune that created my friend’s “miracle.” There was, however, no necessity for there to be a miracle.

        I’ve got a lot more to say about that topic, actually, too much for a comment – I plan a future post, because in addition to the above, the idea of miracles is a rather cruel one in many respects…

        I have experienced His love and watched Him change my life. Interpretation? I don’t think so…just clear-headed observation, confirmed by the statements of others.

        I would assert that it is filtered observation, not just clear-headed, though be assured I don’t see you as a fogged-in nutjob 🙂

        The human mind has been shown to be powerfully persuasive and emotionally affirming. The change we attribute to god is just as easily self-generated by acting out upon what we believe in. After all, in order to change your behavior, you don’t actually *need* an act of god, you just need to step out in faith and do the things you know you should, and voila, you find you have the power. It’s easy to attribute that to god, but it’s not proof of anything, really. This is also another entire post. 🙂

        So you see, a filter can even be one in which you have deceived yourself into believing that the only correct answers are those supplied by reasoning and observation; that filter can trick you into thinking you don’t have a filter; and that filter can even prevent you from seeing your own prejudices.

        You realize how reasonable it would be to turn this back onto your beliefs, especially because it is you who insist on asserting the existence of the invisible as opposed to accepting the rational observation of reality.

        As I said earlier, the real questions are deeper than just observable, pragmatic events. The real questions involve love and the reasons behind things; and really, the important stuff is not what is discoverable only by power of reason. It all comes down to what you believe. Everything else is secondary in importance. Everything.

        That’s a baseless assertion, Rick. You are using the assertions of the bible as an impetus to place more importance on its assertions (very circular, really) rather than accepting that these things, too, are very human and easily humanly considered. Why would you ever think that love and emotion, devotion and loyalty, morality and ethics, and the ‘reason behind things’ must only be caught by faith your god? You really think you can’t reason about such things. You really think that Muslims, Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists, Baha’iists, Christian Scientists, Agnostics, and Atheists don’t find love. You really think they can’t know deep, lasting, loving relationships?

        Of course you do. But they still do, with or without your approval 🙂

        I believe that all of mankind are sinners.

        I heartily disagree. I think all of mankind are suffering. I think it’s mostly psychological. I think that people show over and over again that there is good in them, real good that gives of itself without expecting a return, that gives for the joy of blessing other people, and is not in need of a tortured savior to give that to them.

        I believe that Jesus was fully God and fully man, and that He died on a cross to pay for our sins; then He rose from the dead to proclaim defeat of death.

        Although for the sake of argument I will often point out that the evidence for Jesus’s existence is far slimmer than the church would assert, I believe that Jesus was a Rabbi who may have even gathered some ideas and concepts from the strain of Buddhism that was known to be taught in Egypt at the time of his upbringing. He taught compassion and love for one another as opposed to the strict Jewish laws. He taught and gathered a following as an apocalyptic prophet. But he died and his apocalypse never happened – over the decades after his death, the story grew, as mythologies and religions in that day did in a myriad different ways, until in a fit upon the road to Damascus, a brilliant teacher by the name of Saul had a hallucinatory epiphany about the little Jewish cult he was poised against and began to teach a mythology borne out of his own continued visions. When it became clear to all Jesus wasn’t coming back, his mythology evolved to reflect this change and the truth waned even further until it was lost in the doctrines of the third century on.

        I believe that the only thing needed to be forgiven of sin is to believe in my heart that Jesus is my Savior, and to proclaim Him with my mouth.

        And I believe actions are more important than words. I think it reprehensible that your god would damn to eternal hell and torture a good-hearted person who lived as well and as winsomely as he could, helping whomever he could, loving his family and neighbors, and with the same hand save a murderous reprobate who just happened to pray a little prayer because he’s crushed with regret for his wasted life.

        From your blog (the title alone) I gather that you do not believe these things. You have that choice, but I will continue to pray that you hear God calling you. I pray that you will leave the pods you are feeding to the pigs and come home.

        I should probably be offended – after all, it turns out I haven’t abandoned reasonable and moral behavior and gone of whoring and wasting everything I have pursuing wanton lust and debauchery. I simply choose to live compassionately and lovingly as I can – learning to give up my attachments to the way I wish things would be and accept them as they are right now – trying my best to see the world in the present moment just as it is, without judgments about what should have been.

        In Luke chapter 15 it is described like this:
        “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

        I’m waiting for the celebration to begin for you.

        It already has. You’re missing it.

        Cheers, my friend.

      • Anthony – I am sorry if the comment about the prodigal insulted you. I really did not mean to equate your life with the profligate waste as described in that portion of scripture. I was hoping to make the point that our Father God is waiting for your return to His loving arms. As an aside, it is somewhat ironic that you could feel insulted if you don’t really believe what the book says. 😉

        All that said, here is the truth:
        You have set yourself up as your own god, in charge of your own world. You said “I think it reprehensible that your god would…” The reality is that God doesn’t need your approval, and since He is God and we are not, we aren’t qualified to offer criticism of what He does. I am sorry for you that you are so blinded by what you call reason and logic, that you refuse to see my life as evidence of God’s hand. I am also sorry that you cannot see your own filter and its effects on what you conclude about life. You have allowed your heart to be hardened to the spiritual truths offered by God. Unfortunately, that is completely your choice…it’s called free will, and He allows you to go there if you want.

        You don’t need to agree (I doubt that you will), but your agreement won’t change reality. God loves you, wants you in His kingdom, and you know what you need to do to get there. You know the truth of His birth, death, and resurrection and right now you are rejecting that truth. Please change your mind and come back to Him. Your atheist / agnostic buddies won’t be as impressed as they are with your blog, but it’s not their approval you really need anyway.

        I am going to step back from the incessant debate and let you go on your way. I will keep praying for you, though. I take heart from a conversation recorded in Matthew chapter 19 between Jesus and His disciples about salvation:

        25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

        26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

        Remember, with God all things are possible. If He saved me, anyone can be saved.
        In His love.
        Rick

      • Anthony – I am sorry if the comment about the prodigal insulted you. I really did not mean to equate your life with the profligate waste as described in that portion of scripture. I was hoping to make the point that our Father God is waiting for your return to His loving arms. As an aside, it is somewhat ironic that you could feel insulted if you don’t really believe what the book says. 😉

        LOL, I wasn’t *actually* insulted, Rick – I hope you know that. That’s why I said “I should probably be offended” because, really, I know where you’re coming from. It wasn’t the book’s assertion that gave me pause, it was the implication that life without the Christian god automatically means a life of dissipation. But of course you didn’t offend me. You’re my friend, and who are we if we can’t speak frankly and directly at times?

        All that said, here is the truth:

        That’s a mighty strong assertion, my man 🙂

        You have set yourself up as your own god, in charge of your own world. You said “I think it reprehensible that your god would…” The reality is that God doesn’t need your approval, and since He is God and we are not, we aren’t qualified to offer criticism of what He does.

        I think you still misunderstand. It’s not that I’m criticizing YHWH/Jesus. In order to criticize them, I would have to believe they exist as expressed in the bible, or to put a finer point on it, as expressed in evangelical theology.

        That’s not the case. Rather I find the massive inconsistency between the description of god as omnibenevolent terribly inconsistent with the acts and commands attributed to him, and the doctrines of eternal punishment to come evidence that the people who wrote such divergent things about god were writing from their own humanity, from their own priorities and motivations. I find it evidence that said writings are not inspired by a perfect god, because what perfect god would be so self-contradictory, inconsistent, and cruel? Believe me – I once wrote a post on an old blog arguing much as you do here.

        I am sorry for you that you are so blinded by what you call reason and logic, that you refuse to see my life as evidence of God’s hand.

        I see evidence that you are a good-hearted person, that you take the best out of Christianity and you do good to the people around you. I think it’s from you. You follow the teachings of Jesus as best you know how, and you, because I know you, do good. Others don’t do quite as well. Under the same teaching, with the same spirit, they do as they do because they’re human. I think that’s true for you as well.

        I am also sorry that you cannot see your own filter and its effects on what you conclude about life. You have allowed your heart to be hardened to the spiritual truths offered by God. Unfortunately, that is completely your choice…it’s called free will, and He allows you to go there if you want.

        Of course he doesn’t 🙂 He says, sure – you can go there, but I’m going to burn you to death eternally with fire if you do. Where is the freedom in that? That’s not freedom to love – that’s my way or the highway. That’s extortion. That’s also evidence of man-made, imperfect concepts being attributed to a perfect god.

        You don’t need to agree (I doubt that you will), but your agreement won’t change reality.

        Of course it won’t – it will only reflect reality 🙂

        God loves you,

        If there is a god who by nature relates in such personal fashion, then yes, he/she/it *does* love me – certainly. But there much of the comparison ends…

        wants you in His kingdom, and you know what you need to do to get there. You know the truth of His birth, death, and resurrection and right now you are rejecting that truth. Please change your mind and come back to Him. Your atheist / agnostic buddies won’t be as impressed as they are with your blog, but it’s not their approval you really need anyway.

        I’m not looking to impress anyone, and I cannot lie to myself and “come back” to what cannot possibly be true. I understand where you’re coming from, but there’s nothing there, my friend.

        I am going to step back from the incessant debate and let you go on your way. I will keep praying for you, though.

        No worries – I warned you that if I can’t win by logic I’ll win by fatigue 🙂 Hopefully we’ll have a chance to wrangle again one of these days. Next time I make it down to Oceanside I’ll check in with you.

        I take heart from a conversation recorded in Matthew chapter 19 between Jesus and His disciples about salvation:

        25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

        26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

        That’s a very nice passage – and I think it’s true – but not in the way you think.

        Remember, with God all things are possible. If He saved me, anyone can be saved.
        In His love.
        Rick

        I am already. Cheers, Rick – thanks for hanging in and spending the time to discuss. I know your heart in this. Hope to see you soon.

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