I Think, Therefore…

I am not a sinner.

I am not a saint.

I am not a wretch.

I am not lost.

I am not alone.

I am not lonely.

I am not deceived.

I am not an empty vessel.

I am not a fool for anyone.

I am not a sheep.

I am not a goat.

I am not wheat.

I am not chaff.

I am not asleep.

I am not in darkness.

I am not full of murder.

I am not full of strife.

I am not full of hate.

I am not depraved.

I am not greedy.

I am not insolent.

I am not arrogant.

I am not boastful.

I am not a gossip.

I am not condemned.

I am not stubborn.

I am not unrepentant.

I am not an object of wrath.

I am not immortal.

I am not blind.

I am not a thief.

I am not unfaithful.

I am not unrighteous.

I am not worthless.

I am not afraid.

I am not ashamed.

I am not powerless.

I am not dead.

I am not predestined.

I am not a slave.

I am not hellbound.

I am not evil.

I do not need excuses.

I do not need to be saved.

I do not need to be forgiven.

I do not need to be justified.

I do not need to be sanctified.

I do not need a sacrifice.

I do not need atonement.

I do not need to conformed.

I do not fear any god.

I do not fall short.

I am spiritual.

I am here.

I am here now.

I am awake.

I am good.

I am strong.

I am compassionate.

I am free.

I understand.

I need love.

I have love.

I do love.

I love.

I love.

Love.

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65 thoughts on “I Think, Therefore…

  1. “I, I, I, I….” you are, however, so self-centered that your conclusions are not valid. Look outside yourself for answers. Ask God, and He will give you more value than you just listed for yourself.

    • Welcome to missing the entire point. There is nobody out there, Rick. I am the only frame of reference I have. You are the only frame of reference you have. Your concept of god is a self-generated frame of reference conformed to a modern interpretation of ancient stories that have little factual basis and even less logical basis.

      No matter what anyone ever does, they only can truly see the world through their own eyes. We can empathize. We can sympathize. We can commiserate. It is still only us doing our best to understand.

      • wow, talk about missing the point…I am saying that your post was incredibly self-centered. Man is not an island (you may have read that somewhere). We are NOT alone.

      • Rick. The post is ABOUT me. How the heck is it NOT going to be “self-centered?”

        It’s about what I’ve discovered about myself since shedding the delusion.

        That is the point – the one you missed.

      • I haven’t missed the point…I am making the point: everything you said was about YOU. Nobody else, nothing else. JUST YOU. That is incredibly egotistical and self-centered. It is also very destructive to inter-personal relationships. Nobody wants to be around someone whose only interest is themselves and their self-aggrandizing viewpoint. YUCK!

      • Of course it’s none of those things. This particular post is about me. Big deal. Now if every post every day were just about me me me and how wonderful I am or somesuch, I could see your point. But I express where I’m at in the midst of a major personal shift of perspective and suddenly I’m “incredibly egotistical and self-centered?” What nonsense, Rick.

        Destructive? Sure, if it was my ONLY interest. But the blog and so much else is quite a riposte to that rude assertion. The difference between a single post in which I share my mindset as someone freed from the delusion and “only interest” is a chasm. One would almost think you’re projecting, Rick.

        I also find your accusation of it being “self-aggrandizing” interesting. We’re back to your filter, really. Because you assume “god”, you assume that any denial of the need for god is an elevation of self, which is far from the case. It’s really a repudiation of the self-loathing theology that is Christianity.

        It may be about me, but I guarantee you that it isn’t ONLY about me. It is about a myriad ex-Christians who are relieved to be free of the delusion.

        YUCK yourself. And YUCK to your judgmental attitude. It seems you are blind to how horribly judgmental and narrow-minded you come across in your comments.

      • It is hard to see anyone who starts 66 sentences in a row with the pronoun “I” as anything but self-centered, and the phrases used are definitely not humble. If you can’t see that, you are blind. And yes, to spend time with someone so fixated on himself is “yuck”.

      • Well, good then. We can mark you down under “Completely missed the point.”

        There’s a sub-group under there called “willfully missed and refuses to defend his own assertions.” Should we mark you down under there too?

    • Wow, really? Did you really come to Toon’s blog, and complain that the post was about Toon’s perspective? IMO, that’s about as clever as going to church and complaining that they keep telling stories about Jesus!
      Perhaps you’d find more satisfaction writing a similar post with your own perspectives injected.

      • @ baffled reader…excuse me, but you may have missed the point of the post to which you referred. The comment was not on Toon’s perspective, but on his method of expressing it. Mine was not the only voice with that opinion. Dr. Zen said it much better and more succinctly when he said this: “I don’t believe that it’s necessary to become a solipsist to repudiate Christianity or that that repudiation should necessarily lead you to solipsism.”

      • Toon – If you object to the word solipsism, speak to the one who used it (hint: it wasn’t me). Or is it possible that you only object because of your prejudicial attitude toward my comments, and let it slide when Dr. Zen said it in Feb.?

        from dictionary.com:
        sol·ip·sism   [sol-ip-siz-uhm]
        noun
        1.
        Philosophy . the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist.
        2.
        extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.

        yup, that would describe your post, both #1 & # 2.

      • You’re incorrect, as usual. I could be wrong, but I still hold that David’s post was directed at your over-interpretation of my poem rather than at my poem, which is, I’ll say again, a reconsideration of my Christianity and what it means. It’s a rejection of defining my life by the writings of ancient people who didn’t know jack about life, the universe, and everything, when compared with today. It is not about elevating myself at all. That you can’t see that is a failing of yours, not mine.

        And of course, solipsism, as opposed to egocentricity, is defined by its differentiating factor, that of the metaphysical position that only my own mind can be known to exist, all else, including you, might only be constructs of my own mind – a la Twain’s “Mysterious Stranger.” Of course that’s nothing like what I meant. Welcome to you being wrong again. I see no reason to sugarcoat it.

        You should give it up Rick. I told you several times, and only out of my inability to be firm with those I think of as friends have I carried on. Have you read my open letter? Probably not. You are not welcome to insult me or disparage my character because I don’t agree with your fairy tale. If you don’t read that letter and see your horrid behavior toward me all over it, you’re more blind than I even realized.

        On truth – either put up or shut up. The next time you insult me, it will be deleted.

      • well this time *you* are wrong…I have read your open letter. In fact, I have read every post of yours, and every reply to my replies since you alerted me to this blog. Apparently if David says you are engaging in solipsism (my opinion as to the direction of his criticism), it is ok; but if I say the same thing you threaten me with full contact censorship. Your view of insults is highly directional: if you tell me I am wrong, blind, stubborn about seeing another viewpoint,or that I have no business criticizing your tone that is fine; but if I say you are wrong, blind, or express my opinion of your post that is insulting. Hmmm….
        Tell you what, ask David if he was directing the comment about solipsism to your post or to my reply. Depending on his reply, either I will apologize profusely about my inability to understand, or perhaps you may admit that occasionally Rick *could* be right.
        And yes, I am still working on the ‘truth’ story for you. Just takes time to put it into the right words.

      • Rick – most of the time when I say “you’re wrong” it’s because you are deliberately mischaracterizing me, my motives, my thought processes, etc. – or because you’re twisting the argument to fit your notion (see – solipsism.)

        I have asked David to clarify via PM. I will post his answer. If he was accusing me of being solipsistic, then I reject that out of hand. The idea that one cannot frame a theology and one’s acceptance or rejection of said theology by one’s personal point of view is ridiculous in the extreme.

      • Re: “Directional” insults –

        I think you misunderstand. To characterize your arguments as “blinded” by your particular set of beliefs, forcing you into a conclusion that does not jive with reality is a statement regarding your belief system and its effect on anyone’s ability to dialogue about available facts.

        To ignore my analysis of reality, or any aspect of the religion, and instead attack my motives for doing so is insulting. There is a very clear line of demarcation there, and I believe you ignore it at will.

      • that’s odd…I feel the same way about your comments toward me. From my side, it seems like you mis-characterize my comments because of the filter that your belief system has inserted into your perception. From here it looks like you see things through a lens based on your own focus.

      • oops sorry – it’s not a ‘belief system’…just what you believe and the foundation for your life, whatever you want to call that. And more proof that when you read what I say, you filter it through your own viewpoint (just like ALL of us do).

      • oops sorry – it’s not a ‘belief system’

        Finally, you… uh, what?

        …just what you believe and the foundation for your life, whatever you want to call that. And more proof that when you read what I say, you filter it through your own viewpoint (just like ALL of us do)

        Dang, just when one might think you found a moment of lucidity. It is not a “belief system.” I do not have a belief about god. I lack belief in any particular god, democratically. You seem to think that I believe I have all the answers. The truth is just the opposite. I no longer believe I have all the answers, and I stopped believing that the moment I realized Christianity was so much BS. I’m not offering answers. I’m criticizing the answers I once believed I had. They are the answers you claim to have and which you try to impose on me. I realize I don’t have the answer, and my critiques show why I’m sure you don’t have the answers, and that the answers you browbeat me with are bankrupt.

        I’ve explained this to you ad nauseum. The only reason you can’t get it is because you refuse. I almost deleted your last comment because you’re just doing EXACTLY what I predicted in the letter – trying to win by repeating empty assertions rather than answering the questions directed at you. I’ve answered enough of yours. You’ve always been on the attack. Put up or shut up, Rick.

      • Just for your benefit, here’s one of several parts of the letter you ignore. The problem in your willful ignorance is that you repeat your assertions ad infinitum, but don’t have the intellectual discipline or honesty (I’ll let you pick) to address the reasons that your assertions are incorrect or inaccurate. Here you go:

        “Sixth – Skepticism is not a belief system.

        No matter how some of you wish to argue it, an attitude of skepticism of any claim is simply a requirement that a claim be proven to a reasonable extent before being accepted. Whether your claim is about Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, Mithra, Horus, the universe, the afterlife, human origins, evolution, what color your car is, or the spirituality of eating a peanut butter sandwich, I only expect that such a claim be supported with evidence that any reasonable person can verify independently.

        That is not a “belief” system. It is actually a method of examining belief systems to determine if they are worth believing. It is not a position that makes any positive claim except that truth should be evident. It is a refusal to invest in any set of claims for which there is no reasonable evidence. It is a starting point only. I don’t know how many other ways to say it, but I do know at least one of you will insist otherwise and use repetition in place of evidence.

        I’ll say it again – I will accept your claim if you present it with reasonable, verifiable evidence.”

  2. “Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and shun evil”. Proverbs 3:7
    “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13
    “Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits” (Romans 12:16, Amplified Bible).

    Wisdom without humility becomes conceited, and is accompanied by a condescending attitude. It is ugly as it disfigures the soul. It is like star athletes, so full of themselves they fail to reach their potential for lack of team support. However, humble wisdom says I am a fellow learner of the Lord’s ways, and I am a work in progress just like you. It is to a heart of humility that God entrusts His wisdom, so stay desperate for divine direction.

    • You assume my wisdom lacks humility? What an ironic assertion.

      Your apparent humility actually contains a core of conceit – that you have somehow singularly found the Truth with a capital “T.” That Christianity, and to be more precise, your particular “version” is the Truth That Will Set You Free.

      You operate under a single unsubstantiated conceit. That the Bible is the Inerrant Word of God. And from their you judge the world on a thumbs-up, thumbs-down basis.

      You claim not to judge, yet look at your comment. You’ve judged me already, and prescribed the one and only cure.

      Is that not conceit? Is that not judgmental?

      How fortunate are you that you just happened to be born into a society where the primary religion and worldview just happened to be the right one?

      True humility might lead one to question all of their assumptions, to wonder how 3/4 of the world’s population could be so deluded. To wonder what faith you would have adopted had you been born in Riyadh, in Calcutta, in Kyoto, in Lhasa, in Tel Aviv.

      You may want to reread it. My humility is the sort that accepts the impermanence of life, the limits of my being, and my inability to Know the Ultimate Truth about anything. My humility is the sort that accepts that I can only know by observing. My humility is the sort that accepts that I do not have the mind of god anymore than anyone else does, and far less than many claim, yourself included. My humility is the sort that knows that my communication is only human. Much like the bible you claim as God’s Own Truth.

      The humility you think I lack may be humility you don’t yet understand.

      • methinks thou dost protest too much…nowhere did I say that I assume you lack wisdom. I only quoted scripture regarding God’s view of wisdom. If you inferred that it applied to you, perhaps you need to re-examine your self-view.
        With that said, the list of “I” phrases IS incredibly self-centered. Your list comes from a position of “I don’t need or want anyone or anything else, and I am the only arbiter of what is right and wrong.” So sad to be so alone in your independence. It reminds me of the attitude that would be appropriate for a 3-year-old: “I can do it myself”. Not that you are childish, but your list certainly sounds immature.

      • …nowhere did I say that I assume you lack wisdom.

        You might wish to point out where I accused you of that.

        Humility was the question here. What I did accuse you of is a particular conceit. You didn’t respond to that, but to something made up.

        Your list comes from a position of “I don’t need or want anyone or anything else, and I am the only arbiter of what is right and wrong.”

        And again your filter is showing. It’s nothing to do with what I want or don’t want, and it’s nothing to do with being the arbiter of my fate. My wants are irrelevant. It’s about what is and what is not. What can be observed and rationally proven, and what is the product of ancient fairy tales.

  3. Rick, buddy, I have to ask you – do you get that it’s intended to be a poem – a repudiation of the Christian theology I lived with for so long? Y’know?

    Do you get that each phrase is lifted directly from the bible?

    It’s a poem to illustrate the ex-Christian’s separation from the self-loathing theology that is modern Christianity.

    And yeah, you can deny that all you wish, but it’s there in black and white.

    • yup, the message was received – you are self-sufficient, you don’t need anyone else, and you are really really really great the way you are. That comes across as conceited and self aggrandizing. Even if one believes that God is a human construct, humans still need each other but the message you posted says you don’t need anyone and you have no respect for their opinion of you.
      You posted your opinion, my reply contained my opinion of your post. We disagree. I find my value in being loved by someone outside of myself, you find your value in yourself.

      • So apparently the message was not received. You completely misunderstand. That may just be your filter, who know?

        It’s not where I find value or don’t. At all…

  4. I don’t believe that it’s necessary to become a solipsist to repudiate Christianity or that that repudiation should necessarily lead you to solipsism.

    • Yeah, I thought about that – because in reality that’s more accurate. I can certainly react poorly to life in a number of ways in that list, but the point of it was, of course, to counter the ridiculous biblical assertions that non-believers are defined solely by a set of nasty little accusations, such as “full of murder.” I am not any one of those things.

      I may act insolent in certain circumstances. I don’t defend that behavior when it occurs. I may act arrogant or boastful on occasion.

      But those things are not what I AM. When I, or anyone, acts in such fashion, they act unskillfully. They react to a situation emotionally and without consideration and compassion. It happens to the best of us.

      I am simply me. You are you. Rick is rick. But Rick thinks that at his best he’s Jesus in a Rick suit. That he diminishes and Jesus increases. That things are at their best when there’s no Rick and all Jesus. Because without Jesus Rick is worthless. He’s nothing. That I find sad.

      I suppose that gives him the carte blanche to be judgmental then claim he’s not judging. It must be Jesus instead. He’s god. He can say what he wants. And he can say it through Rick. No conceit there, I suppose.

      We are just people who have a lot to learn from life. We’re good, decent people just as we are. We want to be better and do better, for the most part. We want to love and be loved. We want to share with others and have others share with us. We walk an impermanent world with no guarantees, a lot of uncertainty, and a good dose of chaos and nuttery. We have only this present moment to do good and to love those around us.

      • actually that’s not what I think, but if you want to put words in my mouth (or thoughts in my head), it would be consistent with your egotistical posts. And by your definitions, making an observation is not judgmental, just observing and reporting.
        Based on your statements here, you must have really missed out on some critical theology – no wonder you no longer believe, with a negative viewpoint like that.

      • Whatever, Rick. You’ve been nasty and just unChristian in this comment thread. You’ve made some unpleasant and unskillful assertions. You’ve cast aspersions, but haven’t had the personal honesty or fortitude to defend your assertions. You’ve willfully misunderstood my intent. You’ve propped yourself up as some sort of arbiter of God’s truth, something you can’t back up with anything more than your own personal emotional projection. You’ve been judgmental and hypocritical. You’ve acted terribly conceited, so convinced are you that you’ve got the Ultimate Truth and everyone else is just deluded.

        I’m not surprised that you can’t see how what you’ve said leads to what I said. You don’t seem to have any problem name-calling and judging, so I guess I won’t worry about being civil. You certainly aren’t.

  5. wow, Toon…you really *are* blind to what I am saying. I did make some observations and share my opinions but because I didn’t use 50 cent words like Dr. Zen (“solipsist”), you object. One of the main definitions for that word is “egotistical”, and your post was just that: egotistical. If you don’t agree, then how many sentences in a post should start with “I” before you consider it an egotistical post? Too bad that doesn’t meet your approval level for being a skillful assertion.
    You are not my judge, Jesus is.

    As to whether I am being “un-Christian”, your viewpoint is warped by your rejection of Christ to the degree that your comment is invalid. You rambled on about what I think, and where I find my value, and every one of your statements is neither accurate in conveying what I think, nor accurate theologically.

    [But Rick thinks that at his best he’s Jesus in a Rick suit. That he diminishes and Jesus increases. That things are at their best when there’s no Rick and all Jesus. Because without Jesus Rick is worthless. He’s nothing.]

    Really? “He’s nothing” And you call me nasty & unpleasant? Really?

    I will not waste my time trying to share the answers to all of your assertions, because you do not believe that the word of God is true, but one thing you must hear: my value, my worth, rests in two things – 1.) I was made in the image of God, which is true of all mankind (and why killing is wrong). 2.) God chose me before the foundation of the world and died on the cross for me. I AM emphatically NOT “nothing”.

    What I said is worth repeating: you posted your opinion, my reply contained my opinion of your post. We disagree. I find my value in being loved by someone outside of myself, you find your value in yourself.

    • By the way – the use of the word “I” doesn’t make one egotistical. A sense of superiority and elitism is what makes one egotistical when talking about oneself. An overblown sense of self-importance.

      Such as someone who goes around calling others egotistical and wielding the Ultimate Truth like a yardstick to see who measures up and how.

      Hmmmm, who does *that* describe?

  6. Toon — If what I say seems harsh, remember that you are actively working against God by His definition:
    Jesus said “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” Matthew 12:30

    I will continue to speak up for Him when you or others of your ilk attack the gospel or deliberately misrepresent it in order to further your self-centered agenda, and I do not seek your approval.

    • You know the ‘with me or against me’ dilemma is a false dichotomy, right? In both of your replies, you fail to see how conceited and self-aggrandizing *you* sound. Speck and plank kinda stuff.

      You’re one of the chosen! Oh, how special is that! Not only were you lucky enough to be born into a society that just happened to have the ultimate truth, you were chosen before the foundation of the earth, while all the other goats are the chaff, chosen for destruction, created only to be destroyed, for his grand purpose. That’s not elitist. That’s not self-aggrandizing. That’s not self-righteous and superior. You egotistically think you have the mind of god and therefore can go about judging the lost left and right. You don’t have to refrain from judging others because you have the ultimate yardstick. Hey, you’re evil and working against god! You’re either with us or against us, you’re a turrurist! You think you’ve got it all figured out. You then say, “No, I don’t, I just follow Christ,” then you wade into the argument like the know-it-all you think you decry, wielding the Ultimate Truth like a club.

      I don’t deliberately misrepresent anything. I compare what I learned with what reason (both mine and others) tells me and share what I think. You’ve got this siege mentality, fed by your theology, that makes you think you’re always in a war (that’s what they taught us on Sundays.) It’s a war on Jesus – a war on Christianity. Satan energizes the world and all of the lost who don’t have your special protection, and he’s trying to bring you down. Every application of reason upon the scriptures, the claims of Christian theology, is an attack upon god.

      But you’re chosen. You get to judge. That whole judge not thing was just for weenies. Judge not lest ye be judged – but hey, I guess since you have the mind of god, you’re not afraid of being judged, so you can cast your aspersions and make your judgments with impunity.

      Pure BS, Rick.

      Speaking of deliberate misrepresentation – that is your M.O., my man.

      I’ve asked at least three times – you dodge the question. When speaking of my experience – and my repudiation of this false faith – when sharing my testimony as I see it, what &%$#ing word am I supposed to use? When you share your testimony, do you use the word I? Hell, let’s just grab one line, shall we?

      I will continue to speak up for Him when you or others of your ilk attack the gospel or deliberately misrepresent it in order to further your self-centered agenda, and I do not seek your approval.

      Wow – how egotistical. I will continue to speak, I do not seek – how dare you be so self-centered?

      Of course, you’re sharing what you think of the current conversation. I was sharing what I think about what the bible said about me when I thought one could be saved, and what it says about me now that I know it’s rubbish. In reference to my own experience, I can only reference myself. Your claim to my egotism, if it’s there (and don’t we all have some?) is no more or less valid than my claim to yours. The difference between us is that I know that I *don’t* know the Ultimate Truth. You think you do and you can just whip that out whenever some heathen disagrees with you.

      I will not waste my time trying to share the answers to all of your assertions,

      Of course you won’t. I knew that. You rarely do. As soon as you’re cornered you duck out. This is no exception. You say your peace, then when questioned on it, when challenged, you beg off. Or worse, you repeat your assertion without defense. Like now. I’m used to the pattern, Rick.

      because you do not believe that the word of God is true,

      I call BS. The word is sharper than any two-edged sword. The word doesn’t return void. Honestly, I think you avoid it because you fear being hoisted on your own petard. Somewhere deep inside you know that word of you won’t stand up under the scrutiny and pressure of reason. So you duck out. That’s fine.

      but one thing you must hear: my value, my worth, rests in two things – 1.) I was made in the image of God, which is true of all mankind (and why killing is wrong). 2.) God chose me before the foundation of the world and died on the cross for me. I AM emphatically NOT “nothing”.

      Here’s a thought experiment for you, Rick. I offer it to give you the opportunity to get a little more understanding, and maybe temper that know-it-all got-the-Ultimate-Truth-at-hand attitude. I know for a 100% fact that you will not do it. You will not expose your own psyche this way – or you will feign doing so and not approach the question with honesty. I know it. But here it is anyway, as I would love to be wrong again.

      This thought experiment should be ten minutes long Set a timer to that specific limit. Ten minutes should be plenty.

      As soon as you start the timer, take the first minute and imagine, just imagine, that everything you know about God, Christ, and the bible, is not true. Imagine that you know that for an undeniable fact – that you have been shown incontrovertible proof – something undeniable. It’s okay, because in your heart you know it’s true, right? This is just a ten minute experiment.

      That not being true, imagine what it’s like, knowing there is no YHWH, no Christ, no heaven, no salvation, no hell, no sin, so crucifixion, none of it. Imagine it’s all just a fable, but completely untrue. Imagine you are just another high intelligence hominid on this earth. Imagine nobody has any ultimate truth of any kind.

      Remember, we’re just pretending. It’s kind of like acting. What would it feel like – NOT to have lost something that was real – but like it was never real at all – just this finite life.

      After that first minute of getting your mind around that – read what you’ve written, especially in this comment thread. Read your accusations, your assertions about me, and about yourself and your special status. Tell me how that sounds to someone who knows said Ultimate Truth doesn’t exist.

      That should take you no more than ten minutes.

      I think if you’re honest, I think you’ll see how conceited, superior, self-righteous, self-aggrandizing, and elitist you sound. You might even begin to understand where I’m coming from.

      Of course, you won’t do it. I know you won’t – or you won’t make the effort to give it your all. Perhaps you’ll decide I’m not worth it. Perhaps you’ll just hand-wave and say it’s stupid. I don’t know. I’m just positive you don’t have it in you to expose yourself in that way.

      The same way you won’t answer the challenges I made to your assertions.

      No surprises there anymore, Rick. Judge away. The authority from which you claim to judge means nothing to me. There’s just empty air behind you…

      • viewpoints – the ‘with me or against me’ is only a “false” dichotomy if you don’t believe and you don’t, so it “is” [absolutely positively]. From my side of the fence, believers, it is true. Based on the statements of your non-belief, we can never agree on that one. Oh well.

        Yes, I am one of the chosen. I don’t think that is “self-aggrandizing”, but is actually a reason for humility: God chose me? Really? I sure haven’t earned that and COULD NOT earn that, so nothing about “self” is involved there.
        Yes, at times I can be egotistical, but saying “I don’t need your approval” is simply stating where my sense of worth comes from: my value does not come from the approval of men (including you), but from being loved by God.

        Here’s the thing – I actually DO get what it sounds like from your side. Remember, I used to believe just what you do: I thought that this is all there is, I thought that I was not a sinner, I thought I didn’t need God (in fact I wasn’t sure there really was a God), I thought that the only “truth” had to be provable by experimental results, and so on. Having said that, my rhetoric is actually very similar to yours – you believe you have found the “truth” and you expound on that set of “facts”. I believe I have found the truth, and I expound on those facts. From your series of posts and my replies it would seem that neither of us is interested in being convinced by the other side, but instead we are both trying to expound on what we believe. We are at loggerheads, and I don’t see any possibility of a synthesis of ideas here. When we leave this earth, the proof will be evident. I am confident of my position, and it sounds like you are of yours. Time will tell.

      • Yes, I am one of the chosen. I don’t think that is “self-aggrandizing”, but is actually a reason for humility: God chose me? Really? I sure haven’t earned that and COULD NOT earn that, so nothing about “self” is involved there.

        It may inspire humility within, but without it doesn’t matter if you could earn it or not. It’s elitist – there’s something special about you. You’re chosen, others aren’t. You can go around saying to others “You can be chosen too!” but that would be completely illogical – if god chose some and not others then he with without excuse to punish those he hasn’t chosen – because it was his choice that made them that way. If he were to punish eternally anyway, then he is unjust, unloving, and unmerciful.

        And I would reiterate – I’m not arguing with a god who is there – I’m demonstrating the logically disastrous theology that indicates the religion is man-made and not divine.

        Anyhoo –

        Having said that, my rhetoric is actually very similar to yours – you believe you have found the “truth” and you expound on that set of “facts”. I believe I have found the truth, and I expound on those facts. From your series of posts and my replies it would seem that neither of us is interested in being convinced by the other side, but instead we are both trying to expound on what we believe.

        I would only refer you back to my post “All Systems Go” to remind you why our positions, while similar in the passion with which we pursue them, are very different in content and epistemology.

        We are at loggerheads, and I don’t see any possibility of a synthesis of ideas here. When we leave this earth, the proof will be evident. I am confident of my position, and it sounds like you are of yours. Time will tell.

        It’s true, we are. It’s true, time will tell. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to tell you “I told you so,” cause we’ll both be gone 🙂

      • Yes, there IS something special about me: God loves me. Elitist? I suppose it could be viewed that way by someone who refuses that free gift of love, which you have chosen to do.

        I know you don’t agree with the bible as the word of God; but I do, so I will quote from Romans chapter 8:
        28 We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.

        These verses tell us what it means to believe as it was designed by God: to be conformed to the image of his Son. (verse 29). God’s redemptive action on behalf of the believers has been in process before the beginning of the world. Those whom God chooses are those he foreknew (verse 29). Those who are called (Rom 8:30) are predestined or predetermined. These expressions do not mean that God is arbitrary. Rather, Paul uses them to emphasize the thought and care that God has taken for the Christian’s salvation. The concept is a little confusing even to some who believe, but that is because we are trapped within the framework of time. For God, who is outside of time, it is not illogical to foreknow and predestine and to do both at once.

        You can rail against “logically disastrous theology”, but I have never contended that God’s love can be discovered by logic…that is one of the straw men you constructed to use as a reason not to believe. All this stuff about “why I no longer believe” is rationalization to justify your position. You used to know love (you say) and now you have given that up for self-justification. The opinion you now express it that you are completely sufficient in and of yourself, you don’t need help from God, and in fact according to you there is no God. Anthony, and Anthony alone determines reality and truth. That, my friend, is elitist. And I might add it is very lonely.

      • Didn’t God so love the (the entire) world (and everyone in it)… and is He no respecter of persons? Seems hard to be “special” in that context. And if one considers themselves to be chosen (as one of the elect 144,000?) by The Most High that does smack of elitism.

        Also, how can predestination and free will be coexistent (in or out of time)?

      • @Tim — Yes, God loved the whole world, but not everyone is taking Him up on His offer (see Toon, above title to the blog). And the chosen is not the same as the 144,000. That number is the number of witnesses that will be here during the tribulation, not currently. Now to the hard question: how can predestination and free will be coexistent? That one has been tough for a lot of people, myself included. I only know that God is not stuck in a linear time like we are. He is outside of time, so things we see as sequential are not that way for Him. That scripture I quoted from Romans says that the ones He foreknew He also predestined. I think (and I am not a bible scholar) that means He arranges things to work so that the ones who will call on Him can call on Him and those are the ones He chose. Complicated, yes, but He created the universe, so He can manage that. Hope that helps, and no, I don’t think I am anything special other than because God loves me.

  7. Yes, there IS something special about me: God loves me. Elitist? I suppose it could be viewed that way by someone who refuses that free gift of love, which you have chosen to do.

    Wrong again Rick. This is actually a nice encapsulation of your filter blocking your ability to understand the other party in the conversation. Your presupposition that your god exists narrows your perception of the possible responses to the proposition of an “offer” of “eternal life.” Your assertion that (only) the personal, biblical god exists, and your refusal to consider the alternative, means that all responses are necessarily either an acceptance or rejection of the proposition. But what you ignore, and I wonder if it’s not deliberate, is that assumption of god’s existence is not the only alternative.

    I am not *rejecting* god’s “gift” of love. I am simply looking at the available evidence. My view allows god to exist in an infinite number of forms, or not at all. So far there is no evidence in science that any supernatural being interfaces with the universe in any fashion. Furthermore, biblical Christianity has serious philosophical and textual flaws that strongly indicate it to be a human creation and not inspired by any unevinced divine entity. If, as indicated by the lack of any evidence, the biblical god does not exist, then the Gospel is a 2000 year old myth. If there is no god, then Jesus could not be his son, therefore there can be no law, no sacrifice, no resurrection, and no salvation. Therefore there is no gift. If there is no gift, there is nothing to reject.

    If I reject anything, it is your assertion that there is a gift over which I must choose.

    Elitist. Of course it is elitist. I do not have to stick my jaw out at a real god to find it elitist. Neither do I have to go outside the basic meaning of the doctrine to find it so. More on that in a minute:

    I know you don’t agree with the bible as the word of God; but I do, so I will quote from Romans chapter 8:
    28 We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.

    These verses tell us what it means to believe as it was designed by God: to be conformed to the image of his Son. (verse 29). God’s redemptive action on behalf of the believers has been in process before the beginning of the world. Those whom God chooses are those he foreknew (verse 29). Those who are called (Rom 8:30) are predestined or predetermined. These expressions do not mean that God is arbitrary. Rather, Paul uses them to emphasize the thought and care that God has taken for the Christian’s salvation. The concept is a little confusing even to some who believe, but that is because we are trapped within the framework of time. For God, who is outside of time, it is not illogical to foreknow and predestine and to do both at once.

    Well, congrats, Rick – you’ve performed the world’s most unnecessary exegesis. Do you really think that was lost on me? Do you really think you’re teaching me anything I don’t know? I hope you don’t think that. I’ve explained those same concepts over and over again myself for years.

    Truly, though, you can’t escape the charges of elitism. It doesn’t matter one iota if you are “humbled” by your choosing or not. That doesn’t change the fact that there are two groups – the chosen, and the not chosen.

    You also cannot escape the fact that there is a choosing done by god, prior to the creation of the individual, and indeed prior to the onset of time, in Christian theology. Whether it would be arbitrary to such a god is hardly the point. It’s arbitrary to humanity. It doesn’t matter a whit how much *care* god has supposedly taken. He has chosen some, and others he has not chosen. And those he has not chosen get eternal hellfire as a reward for not being chosen for reasons they are not supposed to question.

    You see, you seem to have chosen just one passage that informs the doctrine of predestination. I’ll make the picture a little more complete:

    Romans 9:16 It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”g 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

    19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”h 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

    22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

    This is a lovely little passage. Here Paul makes it clear that, in his conception, this biblical god makes the choice up front. He has mercy where he will, and he hardens hearts, all to glorify himself. And we are not entitled to question his purpose. Whether we would want to go to heaven or not (and who wouldn’t?) we have no choice. He has apparently made some of us for destruction. We never had choice in the matter. He hardens hearts, by his own volition, and by his own admission, if we accept your assertion that the bible is god’s word.

    Even more elitist is the Pauline assertion that the destruction of others is for the benefit of the chosen, whom he prepared in advance for glory. You can claim humility, but the elitism, and the complete destruction of the doctrine of human free will are clearly evident. Gyrate on omnipotence and being “outside of time” all you want (I know I did) – this passage makes it clear there are chosen and not-chosen, it’s god’s choice, and we have no say in the matter.

    Need I remind you that this is not a rebuke of a god who is there? It is evidence that the bible is clearly a mess of a human invention and not even remotely reasonable as an authority on life and death (see Who Do You Trust for more.)

    You can rail against “logically disastrous theology”, but I have never contended that God’s love can be discovered by logic…

    You are so far off the mark, Rick. Your assumptions blind you to the breadth of possibility in the conversation.

    God’s love discovered by logic? Maybe not. God’s TRUTH is another matter. I’ve made the following assertion before, and you’ve systematically ignored it to go off on a rabbit trail or exegete another passage.

    – If god *is* TRUTH (John 14:6), then the pursuit of Truth is the pursuit of god. – If we were made by god, then our ability to reason and to seek Truth is given to us by god.
    – If god is Truth, then any Truth we discover in the pursuit of Truth should only be able to lead toward god.
    – At no time should any discovered truth contradict any revealed aspect of god.
    – If at any point in our pursuit we have to deny discovered truth in order to maintain belief in a particular god, then that god cannot be Truth.
    – All that is revealed about a particular god of whom it is claimed is The TRUTH should be wholly able to stand up to any and all reasoned scrutiny, all pursuit of the truth, because if god is the ultimate truth, then all Truth, everything that is true, stems from god, and no application of reason could ever contradict or disprove that revealed god.

    Yet we find that is not the case. God as revealed in the bible is contradictory, inconsistent with *his* own description of himself, if we allow for divine inspiration of the scriptures. If YHWH is really the god of the universe, then he is petulant, vindictive, vengeful, selfish, arbitrary, and dishonest about his nature and his motives. Taking the bible at face value, as we were always urged by our leaders, reveals something very different from the all-loving Abba Father we were taught to revere in our Evangelical indoctrination.

    that is one of the straw men you constructed to use as a reason not to believe.

    Spectacularly incorrect at least, and possibly rudely dishonest at worst. You assert that the only possible consideration is that god exists, and that the only questions are, as above, accept or reject him. I repudiate that narrow, closed-minded assertion, as strongly as possible. It is no strawman. It is the primary problem with your blinkered worldview. I have no doubt you’ll ignore everything I wrote about it in this post, as you have all the others, and trot out more verses and threaten us with hell and loneliness again. Oh, wait, you just did that…

    All this stuff about “why I no longer believe” is rationalization to justify your position.

    Again? Where do you get off? It is the truth, Rick. You should try it sometime. My *position* is a logical response to the complete empirical emptiness of the faith I once believed. Who do you think you are? God’s answer to Sigmund Freud? You make no attempt to actually understand the conversation, you spout verses, and you don’t defend your many, and sometimes vicious, assertions about the motivations of those who don’t believe. Your weak defenses are actually indicative of your need to prop up your position. For your faith to be true, we HAVE to be rejecting a god who exists. For your faith to be trustworthy, we HAVE to be making a conscious choice to reject a god who we know is there. For your faith to be whole, you cannot even entertain the thought that god might NOT be there. And from that fear and prejudice, you make offensive assertions about others that have no basis in fact and completely ignore any reasonable conversation had to date. It should bother you severely that you can’t even walk a mile in my shoes. Don’t pretend you have. When you were an unbeliever, you were one prior to the level of exploration, and you were one in a world of Christian default. I daresay you have not explored to the depth that I and many who have abandoned the faith have, because if you had, you would be able to engage in the issues that I continually raise, and around which you continually obfuscate.

    You used to know love (you say) and now you have given that up for self-justification.

    Wrong. To quote Charlie Brown – AUUUGGGHHHH! More of your filter inspired reinterpretation of what I’ve clearly related. The love I thought I knew was my own self-generated emotional response to the ideas that I held so dear. Yours is too, but you don’t see it… yet.

    The opinion you now express it that you are completely sufficient in and of yourself, you don’t need help from God, and in fact according to you there is no God.

    Wrong again, Rick. This must be some kind of record.

    I do not reject help from god because I see myself as self-sufficient. There is no evidence for god, and there is ample evidence that the god you believe in is nothing more than myth. Therefore there is no help to reject. There is only us. I am NOT self-sufficient by choice – only by circumstance. Now, I do choose to recognize that fact, and live with its implications, but the circumstance itself just is – I have not made that choice.

    Anthony, and Anthony alone determines reality and truth. That, my friend, is elitist. And I might add it is very lonely.

    There is nothing elitist about realizing that you and 7 billion other people in the world are in exactly the same boat, that you are NOT chosen for anything, that you are not set apart, chosen before the foundations of the earth, beneficiaries of others’ destruction and suffering, saints destined for everlasting rule in heaven above, or any other extra-special future. What I have found is precise equality with every living thing. Period. That is not elitist. That is, if anything, learned humility.

    That is also a very large brotherhood, and not lonely at all. That’s another baseless assertion you continually make. The arrogance that you think you understand my inner-person, my psyche, and the state of my sense of community and relationship is mind-boggling. You need to take a giant step-back from your monumentally judgmental attitude. Perhaps you think that your bible and your supposed filling of the spirit qualify you to judge the inner thoughts of others, but as I recall, by your own theology, that is an arena in which only god can play.

    • Plagiarism alert…I copied your first paragraph and applied it to you. Who is willful about not understanding the other’s comments, eh?
      Wrong again Toon. This is actually a nice encapsulation of *your* filter blocking your ability to understand the other party in the conversation. Your presupposition that God does not exist narrows your perception of the possible responses to the proposition of an offer of eternal life. Your assertion that (only) the personal, biblical God does not exist, and your refusal to consider the alternative, means that all responses are necessarily either an acceptance or rejection of the proposition. But what you ignore, and I know it is deliberate, is that belief in God’s existence is the only alternative really worth considering.

      You didn’t like it when I said “All this stuff about ‘why I no longer believe’ is rationalization to justify your position.” You responded with: “Again? Where do you get off? It is the truth, Rick.” Nope, it is YOUR VERSION of truth, filtered through what you see and believe. You don’t believe in God anymore. OK, I get it. You are wrong, and I have a duty to keep saying so even if it offends you. You can push Him away as often as you want to, but He still calls out to you. If you feel like I am judging you, that is not exactly an accurate description of what I am doing: I am responding to what you have written, and judging the correctness of that in view of what scripture says. If that bothers you, re-think what you think and say because God is right, always. If you don’t agree, then you have chosen not to agree with God. Your choice, with eternal consequences. bummer.

      • Plagiarism alert…I copied your first paragraph and applied it to you.

        Quite incorrectly. You’re a logical disaster yourself, Rick. Let’s pick this apart. Why? Because I don’t know of a nice way to try to cut through the delusion.

        Who is willful about not understanding the other’s comments, eh?

        That would be you. Glad I can clear that up for you.

        Wrong again Toon. This is actually a nice encapsulation of *your* filter blocking your ability to understand the other party in the conversation. Your presupposition that God does not exist narrows your perception of the possible responses to the proposition of an offer of eternal life.

        This is where you fly off the rails. If you could just understand this ONE point, you’ll have made great strides. I have absolutely no hope of that, because of all you ignored above. Somebody predicted that – oh yeah, I did.

        I have no presupposition. There is a difference between a presupposition from unsupported argument and a conclusion based on observable evidence. You commit a logical fallacy by trying to equate your unsubstantiated beliefs in the myths of millennia old desert nomads with a logical conclusion based on empirical data. The two are not the same.

        The fallacy falls under the burden of proof. Starting from all possibilities, you have made a particular positive claim:

        The God of the Bible exists, and said Bible is the direct, complete, inspired revelation of that God.

        There are corollaries to that claim, of course – Jesus rose again, free gift, etc. But that will be enough to illustrate my point.

        Having made the positive claim, one that selects a single narrow possibility from among many possibilities, the onus is on you to provide evidence to support your claim. My position is simply that, like all other religions, your evidence is severely lacking. That is a conclusion based on evidence. Were you to produce sufficient, verifiable, falsifiable evidence to support your claim, I, and many others would change our minds. We have no reason to do so.

        Since our positions are, in actuality, so different, your reversal is nothing but a juvenile attempt at turnabout – akin to “I know you are but what am I!” – made famous by none other than Pee Wee Herman.

        You make no appeal to actual logic. You pretend that we are debating belief systems, when the truth is far from that. And again, I think you HAVE to hold that position, and ignore all logic to the contrary, or your whole delusion will collapse.

        Your assertion that (only) the personal, biblical God does not exist,
        and your refusal to consider the alternative, means that all responses are necessarily either an acceptance or rejection of the proposition. But what you ignore, and I know it is deliberate, is that belief in God’s existence is the only alternative really worth considering.

        Sad, Rick – and intellectually dishonest. I lived the alternative. But I didn’t turn off my mind. I followed the evidence and found your alternative bereft of reason. Of course it’s not deliberate. Produce reasonable evidence and I will change my mind. Every alternative is possible. The evidence is what matters.

        It would be well to note that, once again, you ignored my critique of your exegesis, my expanded exegesis, my analysis of God as Truth, and basically every point of reason presented. You ignored them because you have no answer for them, and to face them would be more than you can handle. If you can’t actually face the arguments, then call it a day, Rick.

  8. Hey, Toon…More plagiarism (because this little article says things better than I can):
    If you don’t believe in God, how do you explain the reason for your existence? After all, you can’t refer to a Creator, or a divine plan. If you’re not created in the image and likeness of God, as the Bible tells us, from what source do you derive your human dignity? Or are you nothing more than an accident of arbitrary biological forces? Does your life have any more value or meaning than other living creatures – even the simplest life forms that crawl in the mud or swim in the seas?
    If you don’t believe in God, how do you approach the question of your ultimate destiny? Is it simply a question of living a few years and then returning to the dust? Are you no more than an insignificant cipher in the long history of the universe, here today and gone tomorrow? Is there no final judge, no accountability for the way you lived on earth? Is there no spark of immortality, no heaven, no eternal life where the human soul is released from its earthly shackles? And when you die, are the precious bonds of love you forged with family and friends erased forever, never to be enjoyed again?
    If you don’t believe in God, how do you integrate the ups and downs of everyday life into some meaningful pattern? How do you make sense of the suffering and pain that inevitably comes your way? What is there that keeps you from getting depressed? Unlike people of faith, you can’t ask anyone to pray for you.

    Based on your blog entries, I would expect your answer to be something along the lines of:
    “I am so much smarter than you silly people who still fail to apply logic to life and who still believe in the man-created concept of god when there is no scientific evidence of the existence of such a being. I am way better than you because I am no longer blinded by that belief and its concepts of sin and atonement”.
    Why would I expect that kind of superior sounding stuff? How about these lines from above:
    “I do not need to be saved.

    I do not need to be forgiven.

    I do not need to be justified.

    I do not need to be sanctified.

    I do not need a sacrifice.

    I do not need atonement.”

    What you wrote was not a surprise to God. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote this to the church in Corinth:
    For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.”
    Despite your protestations to the contrary, you need God and He wants to have a relationship with you.

    • Hey, Toon…More plagiarism (because this little article says things better than I can):

      For pete’s sake, Rick. You’re running in circles…

      If you don’t believe in God, how do you explain the reason for your existence?

      Ah, lovely. “I can’t explain it, so god did it!” Please, Rick. Surely you can do better?

      After all, you can’t refer to a Creator, or a divine plan. If you’re not created in the image and likeness of God, as the Bible tells us, from what source do you derive your human dignity?

      By recognizing my humanity, dur? Where did you get this stuff? Because it’s not as clever as you seem to think.

      Or are you nothing more than an accident of arbitrary biological forces?

      Quite. So nearly miraculous, so amazing, so unlikely, so random, and so delightfully, chaotically thrilling. An accident of biological and cosmological forces. Stardust. We are stardust. How beautiful is that?

      Does your life have any more value or meaning than other living creatures – even the simplest life forms that crawl in the mud or swim in the seas?

      All life has value. All life is precious. I might be tempted to place more value on my life and that of humans because we are self-conscious – but so are other primates, on a certain level, and possibly several other species.

      If you don’t believe in God, how do you approach the question of your ultimate destiny?

      By being honest with myself. By not pretending that I have some manifest destiny beyond this world, constantly looking ahead to something that doesn’t exist while I miss half of what is going on right under my nose.

      Is it simply a question of living a few years and then returning to the dust?

      It’s actually a rather long time. Then we return to dust. Why fight against what is? Live while there is life. It is fragile and temporary. Accept that it ends, for what is that but reality? It’s not so difficult.

      Are you no more than an insignificant cipher in the long history of the universe, here today and gone tomorrow?

      All of us are. Does that idea make you afraid? In the big picture, we’re all terribly insignificant. Spectacularly so. Your bible pretends otherwise because it feeds that thirst for survival that makes us human.

      Is there no final judge, no accountability for the way you lived on earth?

      Surely there is not – but if there is, it won’t be arbitrary YHWH and his lawyer son. If there is a judge, I think it will be someone far more just, who will judge a person on their character, their effort, their attempt to rise above, rather than which fairy tale they clung to after living a life of abject evil.

      But I don’t think there is – all the more reason we should seek justice here on earth. All the more reason to hold our fellow man accountable, root out corruption, repudiate all acts which harm another for the sake of one.

      Is there no spark of immortality, no heaven, no eternal life where the human soul is released from its earthly shackles?

      Quite doubtful. There is no evidence for an immortal soul. We are highly evolved animals who have developed self-consciousness through adaptation and natural selection, like several other species, but to a much higher degree. The wish for immortality is simply an outgrowth of our survival instinct. Our physiology is like that of any other animal. While our bodies function, we exist. When our bodies die, we cease. There are no 21 grams or any other nonsense.

      And when you die, are the precious bonds of love you forged with family and friends erased forever, never to be enjoyed again?

      Yes. They are a memory. How much more precious is every moment knowing that these years are all you will ever have – maybe a few years of memories, then it’s all gone? We must cherish it in all its fragile beauty, and enjoy it here. There is no evidence for an afterlife to make things right, to get caught up, to make up, to spend time. This is it. Pretending otherwise only cheapens the reality here.

      If you don’t believe in God, how do you integrate the ups and downs of everyday life into some meaningful pattern?

      How narrow must your thinking be to assume that one must have a god to find a meaningful pattern in life. Life is impermanence. We make our meaning daily by living this life to the fullest. By loving those around us, by cultivating compassion, by experiencing life, by not shying away from the truth of its fragility.

      Life is chaos – you seek meaningful patterns. How telling a word you (or the author you plagiarize) use. Did you know that humans have a highly evolved sense of pattern recognition? In what is considered to have been a survival mechanism, the human mind has a strong tendency to recognize facial patterns in natural formations. Because humans and hominids were so vulnerable physically, they developed this acute sense to accentuate their need to flee danger. After all, no harm if you run from a face you see in the shrubbery that isn’t there, but great harm if you don’t see the face of the lion and fail to flee.

      It is thought this tendency may have also led to the conceptualization of gods in nature.

      How do you make sense of the suffering and pain that inevitably comes your way?

      How do *I* make sense of it? I’m sorry, that’s a laugh, Rick. How do YOU make sense of it? How do you make sense of a world of suffering under the power of a supposedly omnibenevolent god? What sort of god heals you or your loved ones of their minor ailments while letting millions starve to death every year without any hope of rescue? What sort of perfectly good god allows so much suffering in the world?

      In my random world, suffering makes sense. It is part of the nature of an ever-evolving world. Life is impermanent and random. It rains on the righteous and the unrighteous, on the young and the old, on the rich and the poor. Nature is just nature and chaos rules. I accept that life is just life. I’m grateful for my good fortune. I recognize that I cannot save everyone, or for that matter anyone really – not for long. Suffering is part of life.

      Suffering in a world created by a perfect omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omnibenevolent god makes no sense. You can go on about sin, free will, etc., but those too make no sense (issues you’ve yet to address in any reasonable fashion.) Anyway…

      What is there that keeps you from getting depressed?

      LOL, what? Accepting reality. Not expecting some sky-god to rescue me from real life. Life is amazing. Life is sometimes hard, sometimes scary, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes restful, sometimes sad, sometimes ecstatic… life is thrilling. Life is what you make of it. How sad that you think you don’t have it in you to live a happy life without a divine being supposedly saving you from yourself. Your take on this is evidence that you don’t understand people very well, and again, that you’re so completely blinkered by your belief system that you can’t imagine any other possibility other than god=happy – no god=depressed.

      Unlike people of faith, you can’t ask anyone to pray for you.

      Why would I want someone to talk to themselves for me? I’d rather they get up off their arse and help me with my troubles, or at least be there so I can talk it out if nothing else. Prayer does nothing. Several comprehensive scientific studies of borne that out.

      Based on your blog entries, I would expect your answer to be something along the lines of:
      “I am so much smarter than you silly people who still fail to apply logic to life and who still believe in the man-created concept of god when there is no scientific evidence of the existence of such a being. I am way better than you because I am no longer blinded by that belief and its concepts of sin and atonement”.

      Now you’re just being an asshole. That doesn’t even deserve the dignity of a polite response.

      Why would I expect that kind of superior sounding stuff? How about these lines from above:
      “I do not need to be saved.

      I do not need to be forgiven.

      I do not need to be justified.

      I do not need to be sanctified.

      I do not need a sacrifice.

      I do not need atonement.”

      If your god isn’t real, then what use have I for those things from someone imaginary? If I do something wrong, I’ll ask forgiveness from the person I wronged, not from anyone’s made-up concept of god.

      All the rest is so much theological refuse developed from the primary nonsense.

      What you wrote was not a surprise to God.

      It’s not a surprise to anyone who has abandoned imaginary belief in favor of looking eyes wide open at the world around us.

      Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote this to the church in Corinth: For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say, “He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.”

      Again – I would refer you to my previous post about Truth, which you ignored. I can only assume it’s because you have no answer for it, or worse, that you know there is no answer for it and believe if you ignore it it will just go away. If god is truth, then a reasonable search for truth should lead straight to god. This vapid assertion of Paul’s is a direct repudiation of the idea of God as Truth.

      Despite your protestations to the contrary, you need God and He wants to have a relationship with you.

      In answer to your repetitive, baseless assertions, I leave you with these two quotes from Carl Sagan.

      Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of this astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.

      You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe.

      • Your response was not surprising…lots of words criticizing my point of view and my belief and stating the superiority of your belief system based on logic and empirical observation only. As I summarized before: “I am so much smarter than you silly people who still fail to apply logic to life and who still believe in the man-created concept of god when there is no scientific evidence of the existence of such a being. I am way better than you because I am no longer blinded by that belief and its concepts of sin and atonement”. You called me an asshole for that, but it is still a valid recapitulation of what you say, and your attitude toward those who disagree. Take a look at what you write from a neutral view and see if that isn’t true.
        Your dismissive response to the quote from scripture shows your contempt for God’s word; and your assumption that I ignore rather than disagree with your post on ‘truth’ tells me you aren’t listening. You have chosen not to believe and that choice is reflected in your writing. The reality is that a valid search without preconceptions will lead to God, but it is your choice to not believe. You will have to live and die with the results of that choice. Bummer, because I love you as a friend.

        But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15 [and one of the gods in this land is the ‘god’ of self-sufficiency / scientific proof, which you believe]
        I would not say ‘adios’, because that means “go with God”; I would not say ‘goodbye’, because that is a shortening of “God be with Ye”…no, perhaps the best thing to do is say “later,dude” because we will account for our words and deeds later when we stand before the God of the universe, who has not changed simply because of your declaration that He does not exist.
        Later, dude.

  9. Your response was not surprising…

    Then why the **** did you ask if you already knew the answer. Jeez, who’s the self-proclaimed genius in this conversation anyway?

    lots of words criticizing my point of view and my belief and stating the superiority of your belief system based on logic and empirical observation only. As I summarized before: “I am so much smarter than you silly people who still fail to apply logic to life and who still believe in the man-created concept of god when there is no scientific evidence of the existence of such a being. I am way better than you because I am no longer blinded by that belief and its concepts of sin and atonement”. You called me an asshole for that,

    Well deserved, it would seem, for you are unrelenting in your error and offensiveness.

    Here, let me show you how that crap sounds:

    “I am so much smarter than you silly people who fail to believe in Jesus and the truth of the New Testament, and who still believe in logic, and objective reasoning.
    I am way better than you because I am no longer blinded by logic and the ability to question and reason for myself. I am way better because I have Jesus on my side and you are lost.”

    You’re a hypocrite, Rick. And if you had even a modicum of intellectual honesty, you would realize that my viewpoint isn’t a belief system. We’ve had this conversation. I’ve explained to you why that is true. You refuse to engage, then parrot the same crap again. If you actually took the time… well, more on that later.

    but it is still a valid recapitulation of what you say, and your attitude toward those who disagree.

    Wrong. It’s not a question of intellect or superiority. It’s the will to believe. Your will to believe clouds your judgment and impedes your willingness to apply your intellect to the question – even to refute my claims. Heck, you ran out of rants and had to borrow someone else’s.

    It occurs to me… hang on again, we’ll get to that in a minute.

    Take a look at what you write from a neutral view and see if that isn’t true.

    When you do. How about that? You haven’t tried. You’ve been riding around on your high horse wielding your bible like it truly is a sword, ignoring most of the content of the conversation to pound on the one (fallacious) point with which you’ve fallen in love. You fail to see your own superior attitude, your elitism, your self-righteousness, your self-aggrandizement, your holier-than-thou attitude. You let me know when you take a neutral look and recognize just how condescending and conceited you sound and then I’ll be glad to take a look.

    Your dismissive response to the quote from scripture shows your contempt for God’s word;

    I have no contempt for any word that any god has spoken. That bible you trust has no such word in it unless it be by coincidence. Just saying something doesn’t make it so.

    and your assumption that I ignore rather than disagree with your post on ‘truth’ tells me you aren’t listening.

    *I’m* not listening? *I’m* not listening? Excuse me while I go to the doctor to get my buttocks reattached because I literally laughed my arse off.

    Let’s go back to the point I let sit a moment ago. It occurs to me, reading through this thread and many others, that I have afforded you the courtesy (thought not without some abrasion) to answer your many, many questions in detail, as honestly as I can, without shying away from what I thought or the implications. Oh, I’m sure if you dig back somewhere you can find the odd one I missed in carelessness or haste. But for the most part, I have done so.

    You, however, have callously taken the role of aggressor. Rather than dialogue, it has become an inquisition.

    I have issued you several challenges, asked of you several direct, pointed questions. You continually ignore them. You blow them off as beneath your notice. I suppose that is another way you are condescending and belittling – after all, if those are the sorts of questions that led me to doubt to begin with, then obviously I and my intellect are far below your grasp of the mind of god and are not worth you notice or time.

    How disingenuous of you to make such demands such as “take a neutral view” yet patently refuse to engage with the questions I would ask of you.

    Considering the article you posted (in lieu of actually coming up with your own questions) well, if that spoke to you enough to let it speak for you, then I can only assume you seriously fear the idea that there may not be a god – more pointedly that your god may not exist. Those questions said as much about you and your mindset as my answers did about me and mine.

    All of this tempts me to think you avoid the hard questions out of cowardice. A harsh word, perhaps, but I think you’ve earned it. If you take a neutral view, I think you’ll agree.

    You have chosen not to believe and that choice is reflected in your writing.

    This is the main problem – you make assertions without evidence – in fact in the face of personal testimony to the contrary. You make these assertions not based on what actually occurred, but rather on how you need it to work out to prop up your belief system. I have not *chosen* not to believe. I cannot believe something that is so illogical and inconsistent as to be unbelievable.

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

    That is a spectacular pile of nonsense right there. You have absolutely NO substance to support that assertion. Your idea of validity is not in the content of the search, but prejudice toward the result. Any search that does not find god cannot be valid in your eyes. Any search that does is valid. That’s illogical. That’s confirmation bias. That’s ridiculous.

    I challenge you to support that with facts, statistics, verifiable evidence. You will be unable to do so. Guaranteed. Furthermore, you will not even try. That is also guaranteed. I can almost guarantee that you will repeat this assertion – without evidence of course – in the near future.

    but it is your choice to not believe. You will have to live and die with the results of that choice. Bummer, because I love you as a friend.

    At this point I question that. A friend would show another friend the respect of addressing the issues brought up in the conversation. I have done so. When do you intend to return the favor?

    But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15 [and one of the gods in this land is the ‘god’ of self-sufficiency / scientific proof, which you believe]

    Of course there is no proof of any of those tribal gods, any more than there is proof for yours. Valid search indeed. And I do not “believe in a god of scientific proof.” Rick, you’re off your head.

    I would not say ‘adios’, because that means “go with God”; I would not say ‘goodbye’, because that is a shortening of “God be with Ye”…no, perhaps the best thing to do is say “later,dude” because we will account for our words and deeds later when we stand before the God of the universe, who has not changed simply because of your declaration that He does not exist.
    Later, dude.

    Wow – self-righteous much? You realllllly need to try that *neutral view* crap you talk about. I think it would make you cry if you had the objectivity to read it that way.

    I’ll tell you this – I’m glad I’ve escaped the delusion. I’ve had time to come to terms with my impermanence, with my mortality. I’ve had time to process the implications, and while I fear my death like any rational person, I’m not afraid of being dead someday. I won’t even know it. And in that last moment, I’ll take comfort in the end being the end, in my responsibilities being over, in having lived with my eyes wide open, and in the sweet peace of permanent unconsciousness.

    You, in contrast, will only have a mere moment, as you drift off, where you will suddenly realize you aren’t waking up on the other side, that this is it, and just as you begin to wonder what might have been, the lights will go out on your blossoming regret.

    How’s that for some self-righteous crap, eh? Does it taste as good going down as it does when you’re bringing it up?

    Later, dude.

    • Toon, you went off the rails with this one: I have not *chosen* not to believe.

      Really? It happened by accident? The non-belief just implanted itself in your brain one day? If what you do or don’t believe isn’t a choice, then what is?

      BTW, if you don’t think you sound superior, take a look at your dismissive comment about the “sky-god” I believe in.

      How you think about yourself, your reason for being alive, interact with others, and live your life IS your belief system, whether you acknowledge it or not.
      As for asking me questions, you don’t like my answers so you dismiss them as non-answers. And yes, I do have a tendency to come across as superior-sounding, but that is me being me not waiting for the Holy Spirit, and I am sorry that my lack of ability has interfered with the message. Of course you don’t believe, so that will sound like a cop-out to you.

      Question: did you ever REALLY love Jesus? If so, what happened to that love? Real love is permanent. A true friend is blunt enough to say that if you don’t love Jesus and believe in Him you will go to eternal punishment, whether you agree or not, or even when you try to avoid the question with ‘logic’ and empiricism. The choice is very simple: yourself or God. Whom do you serve?

      • …accidental…

        Don’t be ridiculous. I suppose it could be construed as a choice – a choice between lying to myself and accepting an obvious reality. That’s not much of a choice. You know what I meant, of course.

        BTW, if you don’t think you sound superior…

        I couldn’t care less. My point was you have no leg to stand on. You have no business criticizing my tone. You’re the quintessential pot calling the kettle black. It’s an invalid criticism and isn’t worth the time. You get back what you give. Take it like a man.

        How you think about yourself, your reason for being alive, interact with others, and live your life IS your belief system, whether you acknowledge it or not.

        Ah, Rick, you never fail. You just keep pounding the hammer on the nail though the board is long split. What you fail to address, over and over again, is the manner in which we have each come to our held conclusions. I’m not going to repeat myself for the thousandth time. You know the difference. You won’t address it for some reason. Your method of answering is to repeat the assertion without providing any actual evidence. I think it demonstrates the emptiness of your assertion and your position.

        As for asking me questions, you don’t like my answers so you dismiss them as non-answers.

        Wrong. They *are* non-answers. Your idea of answering is, I’ll say again, repeating your assertion. You don’t provide any evidence, nor do you dive into any of the logical or philosophical issues. They are non-answers, period. Heck, you didn’t even address a couple strong assertions in the post to which you’re responding.

        And yes, I do have a tendency to come across as superior-sounding, but that is me being me not waiting for the Holy Spirit,

        So you say. You’ve done a ton of not-waiting.

        and I am sorry that my lack of ability has interfered with the message.

        It hasn’t interfered at all. It’s not a surprise. The message is the same no matter how you communicate it. The problem is you can’t support your message with any reasonable argument.

        Of course you don’t believe, so that will sound like a cop-out to you.

        Maybe. Doesn’t matter.

        Question:

        Ah-ah-ah – no way. No more questions until you address some things. We are not going to continue having a one-way inquisition. I’ve been thorough in answering your questions. You’ve been obtuse and unwilling to do the same. You want an answer to that question, I’ll be happy to provide one, right after you answer this one, with logic, using the intellect and ability to reason that you claim god gave you – bonus points if you can do it without resorting to bible verses:

        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.

        Then I’ll tell you what I think and what I know about love…

      • Let me further address one more thing –

        As for asking me questions, you don’t like my answers so you dismiss them as non-answers.

        Wrong. I did not dismiss your answers. I challenged your answers. I poked holes in your answers. I debunked your answers. I *demonstrated* why your answers were either insufficient, unreasonable, unsupportable, illogical, or just non-answers.

        Now how about you do a little bit of the same?

        Expectations low…

      • just saying “Rick, you’re wrong” is debunking, poking holes, and challenging my answers? Or telling me you have repeated yourself for “the thousandth time”…
        Really?
        take it like a man 😉

        Putting together a (hopefully) cogent reply to your request about truth. More to come.

      • just saying “Rick, you’re wrong” is debunking, poking holes, and challenging my answers? Or telling me you have repeated yourself for “the thousandth time”…
        Really?

        Yeah, Rick, that’s it. I’m just going to assume you’re making a joke, because if you’re not…

        Putting together a (hopefully) cogent reply to your request about truth. More to come.

        We’ll see.

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

    I’m gonna have to assign that to the same pile as Toon, especially in light of the years he (and I) spent seeking, serving, worshipping, ministering, and otherwise believing under the aegis of Da Almighty.

  11. Hi Toon , this is Sheri… I decided to make an account lol. I didn’t read all of the comments… Just a little much for me right now. But I wanted to say, I enjoyed what you wrote.. I didn’t think it was self centered… I see it as self awareness. BTW, I’m really enjoying your blog so much… Thank you!!!

    • Hi, Sheri – and thanks! 🙂 I know it’s not self-centered, except that I am talking about myself, but I think in a sense of awakeness. Really appreciate your kind words.

      The comment thread is disheartening. Rick was a pretty decent friend at one time, but he had a tendency to behave very badly and I haven’t chatted with him in a long time.

      Religion can be so divisive. Best in your continued search and journey 🙂

      • Anthony — I owe you an apology. After getting the notice of Sheri’s comments I went back and re-read our comments from 2012. I was boorish and demeaning. I am not a prosecuting attorney and you are not a criminal defendant and my style of commenting was out of line. On top of everything, this is *your* blog, not mine. (couldn’t bold or italicize the “your” just now). If I have something personal to say this is not the venue even if I were not being an a##hole. Please forgive me.
        To those who read the back and forth between Toon and me, I also apologize for offensive behavior.

      • Aww, Rick, I could hug you. Of course I forgive you, and I thank you for that apology from the bottom of my heart 🙂

        And I would be remiss if I didn’t apologize for injecting the high levels of vitriol I can conjure up too 🙂 Two can play that game, and we did a lot of it.

        I’d rather we stay friends and be able to spar philosophically without either of injecting too much personal invective into it.

        I’m so glad you commented 🙂

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