Monday, November 30, 2009

Is There a God? pt. 3

Today we'll complete the Official ATAT response to "Is There a God?" by Marilyn Adamson. (Hint: I reached different conclusions than Marilyn did.) (You might wanna start with Part 1 and Part 2. I'll wait for you.)

Done with those? Okay. Just as a reminder, let's go back to Marilyn's opening and what she originally said:
Just once wouldn't you love for someone to simply show you the evidence for God's existence? No arm-twisting. No statements of, "You just have to believe." Well, here is an attempt to candidly offer some of the reasons which suggest that God exists.
Okay, so she's offering real evidence, right? Yet so far all she's given us has been
  • Complexity equals intelligent designer. (Didn't work in Dover. Intelligent design isn't science; it's myth.)
  • Also, life is suited to its environment.
  • First cause argument. *Yawn!*
  • Natural laws are cool
  • DNA is a code and Marilyn thinks that means someone with intelligence authored it for a purpose (huge leap, huh?)
So what does Marilyn have in store for us today?
Does God exist? We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.
Notice how we jumped from "Earth exists" to "We know a God exists" without any of that evidence Marilyn promised us? Yeah, so did I. And if a god wanted to communicate with us, surely its existence wouldn't be so unbelievable to so many of us. A god would be able to convince us.
I was an atheist at one time. And like many atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly. What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting something that we don't believe even exists?! What causes us to do that? When I was an atheist, I attributed my intentions as caring for those poor, delusional help them realize their hope was completely ill-founded.
Ah, the "I was an atheist" approach, or as I like to call it, the Kirk Cameron. And of course there's the lumping of "most atheists" when we know there is nothing uniform about atheism. Little Man is a default atheist, because he hasn't been taught religion. I'm a vocal and passionate anti-theist, because I despise religion for what it does to people. Boyfriend Dave is a bemused atheist, because other people's beliefs don't influence him personally very often, and he's happy to coexist with lunatics (which is good for me, I suppose, since I'm not exactly sane.) But Marilyn is trying to suggest that "most atheists" hold a certain view. I'm not even sure there are numbers that could back this up, because of course the atheists you notice more are the ones who are out there talking about religion and atheism and invisible pink unicorns.

Of course, I'm not spending time refuting god. I'm spending it refuting the claims of believers like Marilyn here. Also, I don't think Marilyn's motives or tactics have changed much, even if she's decided to believe something without sufficient evidence.
To be honest, I also had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God. If I could conclusively prove to believers that they were wrong, then the issue is off the table, and I would be free to go about my life.
Okay, well this is sounding more and more like someone who was an atheist for bad reasons. I don't in any way think that god is disproven by me deconverting another theist. How many other people believe or don't believe doesn't affect the validity of the truth claims religions and scriptures makes, so I throw out the bandwagon fallacy when determining whether or not something seems likely to be true. (Being an atheist doesn't automatically lead to skepticism, critical thinking, or logic so there's no need for me to go with a "true atheist" fallacy: atheists are all different, and some of us are morons ripe for conversion.)
I didn't realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue. I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him. He has surrounded us with evidence of himself and he keeps the question of his existence squarely before us. It was as if I couldn't escape thinking about the possibility of God. In fact, the day I chose to acknowledge God's existence, my prayer began with, "Ok, you win..." It might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them.
Marilyn here had a very specific atheist experience of being what I would call a seeker: she wanted to find a convincing enough argument to persuade herself to believe. She does not sound like someone who was comfortable or confident in her atheism, and she is projecting that onto all the rest of us. If God wants to be known so much, why isn't he? I mean, you think he's all-powerful, right? And dont' give me that "free will" nonsense, because the Bible says Lucifer had absolute knowledge of God's existence, yet still chose to go against him. Clearly knowledge does not negate free will.
I am not the only one who has experienced this. Malcolm Muggeridge, socialist and philosophical author, wrote, "I had a notion that somehow, besides questing, I was being pursued."
Ah, St. Mugg, who was once a great satirist and then become a "concerned citizen" of the type who railed against birth control and the blasphemy of Monty Python. If you don't think Monty Python is funny, I really must taunt you.*

C.S. Lewis said he remembered, "...night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England."
Stalker God? I have no objection to meeting any god that is real. I reserve the right to withhold worship of course, but I have no desire to remain ignorant of a god that was real. All these former atheists are believers in the same religion. But Marilyn just as easily could have found converts to Islam or deconverts of Christianity.
Lewis went on to write a book titled, "Surprised by Joy" as a result of knowing God. I too had no expectations other than rightfully admitting God's existence. Yet over the following several months, I became amazed by his love for me.
If god exists and there's sufficient evidence, I'll gladly admit it. I'll be embarrassed as hell, but I'll share the evidence with others. The problem is that in the last several millenia, no god has revealed itself unquestionably to mankind (hence all the different religions). But as a former Christian, let me say I felt "God's love" at one time. But emotions aren't the best way of discerning reality from fantasy. Sometimes I'm scared, when there is no present threat, and sometimes I feel happy, even when things aren't going well. The "love" I felt was an internal emotion: no god was actually loving me, because no gods exist. Lewis wrote about his emotional experience of conversion and of being a Christian, but he had no great evidence for Christ's divinity or God's existence. ("Mere Christianity" used to be a favorite book of mine, but now it's laughably easy to debunk.)
Does God exist? Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.
*snort* First of all, if the question is "Does God exist?" how the hell is "This one time out of all the times God said 'Yo, humanity, wassup?' is the best" an answer? You haven't demonstrated that a god exists, just that religions do (and the natural world), which none of us are denying. (Atheists believe in theists, just not their gods.)
Why Jesus? Look throughout the major world religions and you'll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God. Surprisingly, Jesus did. That is what sets Jesus apart from all the others. He said God exists and you're looking at him. Though he talked about his Father in heaven, it was not from the position of separation, but of very close union, unique to all humankind. Jesus said that anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father, anyone who believed in him, believed in the Father.
Well, why only look at the major religions? More bandwagon fallacy, I suspect. There are quite a few people who have claimed to be both prophets and god, or the son of god: Sathya Sai Baba, Hindu Kamaris, or the sword-wielding maniac from Albuquerque. Here's a whole list of people who have claimed to be Jesus, including such noted thinkers as Jim Jones and Marshall Applewhite. Claiming to be god and actually being god aren't the same at all, and your religion isn't exclusive in this respect at all.

This is a really ham-handed approach at CS Lewis' classic "Lunatic, liar, or lord" idea that since Jesus claimed to be god, either he was crazy, he was lying, or he really was god. (I don't see why option C: Magic is the one that most people believe.) There's also the fourth L of course, Legend.
He said, "I am the light of the world, he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."14 He claimed attributes belonging only to God: to be able to forgive people of their sin, free them from habits of sin, give people a more abundant life and give them eternal life in heaven. Unlike other teachers who focused people on their words, Jesus pointed people to himself. He did not say, "follow my words and you will find truth." He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me."
So Jesus' egoticism is evidence that he's God? Never mind the fact that Marilyn hasn't yet actually shown that *anyone* is god, this is just stupid logic. A claim is not the thing. The Church of Scientology claims they have 8 million members. That doesn't mean they actually do. (They don't.)
What proof did Jesus give for claiming to be divine? He did what people can't do. Jesus performed miracles. He healed people...blind, crippled, deaf, even raised a couple of people from the dead. He had power over objects...created food out of thin air, enough to feed crowds of several thousand people. He performed miracles over nature...walked on top of a lake, commanding a raging storm to stop for some friends. People everywhere followed Jesus, because he constantly met their needs, doing the miraculous. He said if you do not want to believe what I'm telling you, you should at least believe in me based on the miracles you're seeing.
There are claims of psychic healing. Edward Crawford says he does telepathy. Criss Angel walked on water. We know that people can be deceived through illusion into believing something miraculous has occurred. (James Randi and Derren Brown are my favorites.)
Jesus Christ showed God to be gentle, loving, aware of our self-centeredness and shortcomings, yet deeply wanting a relationship with us. Jesus revealed that although God views us as sinners, worthy of his punishment, his love for us ruled and God came up with a different plan.
Because his first plan sucked, right? Go ahead, admit it. You're not a huge fan of the Old Testament, are you Marilyn? Because in the OT, God isn't gentle. He's wrathful and jealous and petty.
God himself took on the form of man and accepted the punishment for our sin on our behalf. Sounds ludicrous? Perhaps, but many loving fathers would gladly trade places with their child in a cancer ward if they could. The Bible says that the reason we would love God is because he first loved us.
That "first loved me" thing sounds great, till you think of stalkers. (I've had a stalker. It's just not fun or flattering at all.) And sure, lots of parents (moms too, ya know) would gladly take on the suffering of their children, and most of us parents try to protect our children from the worst harms. But God's not that kind of parent, is He? He created hell, according to Christian theology** What kind of parents devise a torture chamber to send their children to? Bad parents (often religious).
Jesus died in our place so we could be forgiven. Of all the religions known to humanity, only through Jesus will you see God reaching toward humanity, providing a way for us to have a relationship with him. Jesus proves a divine heart of love, meeting our needs, drawing us to himself. Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, he offers us a new life today. We can be forgiven, fully accepted by God and genuinely loved by God. He says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you." This is God, in action.
Wrong! Muslims believe Allah has reached toward humanity and provided them with a path to relationship and paradise. (There are far more examples, but one is enough to disprove her statement.) Also, let's talk about this everlasting love and what it's really like. If God loved us, he did so while creating hell, casting Adam and Eve out of the Garden, flooding the whole earth, raining down fire and brimstone on those he didn't like (but also loved?), and just generally being a mass-murdering genocidal prick. God in action, eh?
Does God exist? If you want to know, investigate Jesus Christ. We're told that "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
Wait a second, I thought you were supposed to give me real evidence, not just "have faith" nonsense! Marilyn, I'm so disappointed in you. You've done nothing to show that any gods exist, much less yours, and you've done nothing to establish the validity of the Bible's truth claims or of Jesus' words (if he even said them.) "We're told" a lot of things that aren't true, like that there were WMDs in Iraq.
God does not force us to believe in him, though he could. Instead, he has provided sufficient proof of his existence for us to willingly respond to him. The earth's perfect distance from the sun, the unique chemical properties of water, the human brain, DNA, the number of people who attest to knowing God, the gnawing in our hearts and minds to determine if God is there, the willingness for God to be known through Jesus Christ. If you need to know more about Jesus and reasons to believe in him, please see: Beyond Blind Faith.
Well, I guess I'll doing the Beyond Blind Faith article next, because this one is bogus. This isn't "sufficient proof of his existence" it's warped data and begged questions and a blind adherence to the tenants of one particular set of scriptures. I've already explained why the earth is not a "perfect" distance from the sun, although it's a distance that is beneficial for us. The properties of water don't prove the existence of god; the human brain is obviously evolved; DNA is not authored by an intelligent mind; bandwagon fallacies are a crock of poop; I have no such gnawing; and lots of people have forth claiming to be god or a messiah. None of this is even good evidence for the existence of god, much less proof. What disappointing, anticlimactic horse hooey.
If you want to begin a relationship with God now, you can. This is your decision, no coercion here. But if you want to be forgiven by God and come into a relationship with him, you can do so right now by asking him to forgive you and come into your life.
Where's all this forgiveness nonsense coming from? I have nothing to repent of. Humans make mistakes as we learn. We are born this way not because we are fallen from some great height, but because we are evolved from humble origins. Also, by this same logic I could invite the Tooth Fairy and the Invisible Pink Unicorn into my life.
Jesus said, "Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. He who hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him [or her]." If you want to do this, but aren't sure how to put it into words, this may help: "Jesus, thank you for dying for my sins. You know my life and that I need to be forgiven. I ask you to forgive me right now and come into my life. I want to know you in a real way. Come into my life now. Thank you that you wanted a relationship with me. Amen."
If there is a real god, I'd really love to know it in a real way, not this suggestive illogical nonsense. Also, I would never worship the Christian god because I find the character morally detestable. (Bible god is evil.)
God views your relationship with him as permanent. Referring to all those who believe in him, Jesus Christ said of us, "I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand."
Wow, now we've jumped from not even having established that a god exists, to presuming we know his views! Marilyn, this is not a properly constructed syllogism. Start over and do it again, only this time use logic and don't make things up like "no other religion has relationship". You never built a proper foundation, so your conclusions are resting on nothing. (Also, does this mean I'm still going to heaven even though I blaspheme the Holy Spirit?)
So, does God exist? Looking at all these facts, one can conclude that a loving God does exist and can be known in an intimate, personal way. If you need more information about Jesus' claim to divinity, or about God's existence, or if you have similar important questions, please email us.
Well, obviously one can conclude a loving god exists (wow, now we've jumped from "a god" to naming his character), but there's no good reason to. I guess I'll have to email a link to this post and my questions to EveryStudent and Marilyn and see what they have to say.

* LOL "k-nig-its" cracks me up every time.

** Or allowed hell to be created and did nothing to stop it, so he's still culpable.