Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN
(CNN) – At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial.
I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.
I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don’t ask me to recite my husband’s without checking my contacts first.
I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I’ve never planned a trip without Travelocity.
Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.
Armed with the latest surveys, along with personal testimonies from friends and readers, I explain how young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.
I talk about how the evangelical obsession with sex can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a list of rules, and how millennials long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt.
Invariably, after I’ve finished my presentation and opened the floor to questions, a pastor raises his hand and says, “So what you’re saying is we need hipper worship bands. …”
And I proceed to bang my head against the podium.
Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates – edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.
But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.
In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.
Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. – precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.
What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.
We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.
We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.
We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.
We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.
We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.
You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.
Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.
Now these trends are obviously true not only for millennials but also for many folks from other generations. Whenever I write about this topic, I hear from forty-somethings and grandmothers, Generation Xers and retirees, who send me messages in all caps that read “ME TOO!” So I don’t want to portray the divide as wider than it is.
But I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they’re looking for and what they would like to contribute to a faith community.
Their answers might surprise you.
Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.
I agree, but my only point of contention is when Rachel states: "Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. Speak for yourself, I have nothing but disdain for high church traditions-especially Catholicism. I believe in El Shaddai (one of the names of God), but I'm areligious on the grounds that (all) religion, like politics, is used to control, manipulate, and divide a populace.
"I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith"
Boy that's a fact. I'm happy that I chose integrity many years ago.
No surprises here. I am a dad to 20-somethings now. I offer a challenge to this great age group...if you don't like what is...then start something new! Lead the way for your generation.
They already have... its called atheism.
LOL at all these idiots talking about god like it's a real thing. Morons.
#1 You can't just throw out the "rules" or it isn't Christianity. Jesus Himself said "those who love me, love my commands and keeps them." If all the younger people want is freedom to sin, the church may meet them halfway eventually, but Jesus won't be there.
#2 There is no need for a truce between science and faith. The actual evidence actually proves the Bible is correct. But you have to stop listening to the anti-religion news media, because all you'll hear from them is how "backwards" and "anti-science" we "Bible-thumpers" are.
I think you're confusing science and faith with secularism and the sacred. Our current advances in science are proving God's handiwork in our daily lives, and thus a cohesive truce is realized. But between the sacred and the secular, there is no such ground.
IMO, this is what the author is eluding to. Today's youth (like all "youth" from before) want to live secular lives without having to aspire to the holiness that the Church deems as a requirement.
I think you are mistaken. The author says the opposite: The Youth of Today are desperate to live Holy lives, but the average church of today is not filled with Jesus. Young people want to see real change, and real Love, and real CHURCH....but its hard to do that when the church is "Whited sepulchers, filled with dead men's bones."
"Our current advances in science are proving God's handiwork in our daily lives"
It's more accurate to say it debunks the myths offered by various religions attributing phenomenon in the world around us to supernatural forces.
I would not say that we need to throw out the Rules, per se. But we needd to reprioritize them. We see a Brother os Sister in Christ commit a sin, and what is the first thing that happens? We always get that mindset. THAT mindset...you know, the one where we start cutting them off from the body because they did something wrong? We start passing judgement on them, but its okay because they're the ones with a problem, right? What we SHOULD do, is instead of 'following the rules", and ostracizing them from the Body, PULL THEM EVEN CLOSER. We should exhibit God's Love in every action, thought, decision. The Law was not made to be followed, but to show that it can not be followed. (James 2:10 – For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.). The law is there to show us that we can not attain righteousness by our own works. The Law and the Rules and the Traditions...they are meant to BREAK us, so that Christ can show us a Better way! (Hebrews 8:7 – For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second)
"#1 You can't just throw out the "rules" or it isn't Christianity."
Too funny. There are so many flavors of Christianity and sets of rules it isn't even funny. Christianity isn't a religion as much it's a religious smorgasbord, ideal for the church-shopping crowd, people who want all the benefits of the core narrative but want to be able to pick and choose how and to what extent they have to incorporate it into their daily lives.
I agree with that observation wholeheartedly. Christianity was not meant to be a Buffet Religion, where you picked the virtues you wanted to uphold and left off the ones you wanted to ignore.
I seriously doubt any other religion has anything like the range of "flavors" you'll find in Christianity. It includes the Amish, Catholics, Mormons, various fundamentalist denominations, churches that handle snakes and speak in tongues, churches with t-shrts and jeans and rock bands and churches where people still wear their Sunday best and the the only music is from pianos and organs. Some are fervently opposed to gays while other marry them and admit them to their ministry. Some allow drinking and some don't. Small, closely-knit congregations and mega-churches with 10,000 members.
However your tastes run, there's a Christian church out there for you if you just shop around enough. Frankly I think that's one reason Christianity is the world's largest religion. If every Christian had to follow the same set of rules and make real sacrifices I don't think there would be nearly as many Christians in the world.
Ignoring their unique doctrinal issues for the moment, think about the Mormons. If being a good Christian meant you couldn't drink alcohol or coffee or smoke and you had to give 10% of your gross income to your church, if the church you attended was determined by where you live (no church shopping allowed), and if all the men were encouraged to spend two years on a mission wherever the church decided to send them, there's no way there would be as many as many Christians.
Or imagine if to be considered a Christian you had to handle snakes and speak in tongues, or live like the Amish. Do you think there would still be 2.1 billion people who considered themselves Christian? I think not.
You're clumping all of the various denominations into the same basket (Christianity) and in the process using said definition to build a false argument. While true that theological differences exists from denomination to denomination, as well as cultural impositions, your argument is hollow.
If your point is that millennials don't understand all the various intricacies that define each denomination, then that's certainly true, for even some (most) elders don't. That doesn't mean that that denomination is wrong per se, but rather that the teachings of said churches ascribe to a set of predetermined rules. Interestingly enough, even the blog author indicated that millennials are seeking some sort of tradition and that's why the established denominations (like Catholicism) have not seen a drop in youth like the evangelicals.
In my "youth", I witnessed the explosion of "house" churches (mostly Calvinistic) because my peers did not like what the Elders were giving them either. Of course, this also happened to be the early 70's and there was a general consensus (fall out) from not trusting the "man".
Is today's youth culture really that different? Granted, I haven't read all of the posts in this blog, but of the ones I have read, the same arguments have been played over again. I haven't read anything that I didn't experience back in my day.
Evidence overwhelmingly shows a *literal* interpretation of the Bible is not at all justified, if we're to go to the extremes of young Earth creationism and Noah's ark actually housing every animal, etc.
Scientists don't disagree with these things because they hate religion (many of them are religious actually), but because they're patently ridiculous. YEC fails all sciences: physics (age of the universe), chemistry (radioactive dating), biology (fossils), geology (meaningful strata in rock), etc. The style of religion that Christian scientists who accept (any of) modern science is one millennials would not mind emulating.
I think the author suggests is that millennials would be much more open to churches that don't push literal interpretations in the face of very-many-pronged potent attacks - e.g. the Catholic Church acknowledges an old universe, evolution, all with divine guidance - if evangelicals were more likely to take such a position, millennials would be more likely to see them as serious beliefs.
//We want a truce between science and faith.//
This assumes there is a schism between the two. History tells us otherwise. Isaac Newton, and others, long predicated their scientific inquiry on, "thinking God's thoughts after Him." The notion that there is a conflict between science & faith is a rhetorical device used by anti-religious materialists to assert that the notion of a metaphysical reality cannot co-exist with an understanding how materials function. This is patently false. And Christians should feel no need to accept the false premise that such a reconciliation is necessary.
History tells us that science has repeatedly over the centuries debunk explanations offered by religious leaders for phenomena in the real world. And the more science explains the less need people feel a need to turn to the church for answers made up out of thin air.
Actually, that is a false statement. Historically science debunks itself and the beliefs of the bible have stood the test of time.
@Beloved: "Actually, that is a false statement."
No it isn't.
"Historically science debunks itself"
Science replaces flawed understanding with better understanding, but science does not debunk science. Religion never replaces flawed understanding. Once religion has taken a stand on something it only changes that stand when forced to do so. The Catholic church taught that the sun revolved around the earth and resisted accepting the conclusions of those in science who said it was the other way around. The pope didn't come out one day and spontaneously declare that God had told him they'd been wrong and it was actually the other way around.
"and the beliefs of the bible have stood the test of time."
From a scientific standpoint that's only because it makes no testable scientific claims that can be debunked. However if you hadn't been in such a hurry to deny an unpleasant truth you might have noticed I didn't say anything about the Bible I said "explanations offered by religious leaders for phenomena in the real world."
In the future you might try reading what people say before you claim its false.
There are many, many examples of supernatural explanations for phenomenon science eventually debunked. We now know disease isn't caused by evil spirits and that seizures are not caused by demonic possessions. We now know lightning isn't caused by Thor throwing his hammer (note that nothing in my comment was even specific to Christianity). We know the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way around, as was the church's position back in the days of Copernicus and Galileo.
A major driving factor in the creation of gods and the religions based on them was a desire to explain things that couldn't be explained by what those people understood about the world at that time. Those explanations were all made up out of thin air and many have been debunked as scientific knowledge as advanced.
@Alexander: Your link points to a classic example of how believers are willing to see proof where there obviously is no proof. Here's the first item on that page:
1. The Bible said the earth is round and is suspended in space:
The earth is round!
You may be surprised to learn that the Bible revealed that the earth is round. Job 26:10, Prov 8:27, Isaiah 40:22, Amos 9:6. Today, we chuckle at the people of the fifteenth century who feared sailing because they thought they would fall over the edge of the flat earth. Yet the Bible revealed the truth in 1000 B.C. 2500 years before man discovered it for himself!
Someone should tell this dimwit that a circle is round, and flat. Not one of those scriptures cited suggests the Earth is spherical. In fact, three of the four make no mention of any shape at all:
Job 26:10 He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.
This one is a disaster. It doesn't suggest the "bounds" are circular or contained on a round object. Anyone who has ever seen water would assume any body of it had bounds. Hardly takes divine revelation to figure that out.
Proverbs 8:27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
Another disaster. This one makes no mention of shape.
Isaiah 40:22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:
Finally we at least get to a claim that the Earth is circular. Unfortunately, it isn't circular as circles are flat (trust me, circles are flat), the Earth spherical. Another failure.
Amos 9:6 It is he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is his name.
No mention of any shape whatsoever. Another spectacular failure.
I didn't even read past this. If the very first example is such a disaster I have no reason to believe the rest of it will be much better.
The fact that the person who authored that page said, "This is the most scientific book I've ever read and changed my perception" and that you posted it here only shows how anxious Christians to believe they have proof.
Alexander, I assumed you posted that as a rebuttal to my comment, but assumptions are evil and if your intent was to reinforce my point I apologize for assuming you believed that page contained valid arguments.
I believe that we see what we want to see. I want to see a world divinely inspired and created by a loving, supernatural Deity I call "Father God.
In my opinion, not based on any fact, not trying to put words in your mouth, you want to see a natural universe built purely by logic and reason where everything can be explained factually and intellectually.
I don't see why we can't just agree to disagree and stay out of each other's way, really.
@Alexander: "I believe that we see what we want to see. I want to see a world divinely inspired and created by a loving, supernatural Deity I call "Father God."
This agenda colors how you see everything and virtually guarantees you'll be able to convince yourself that what you believe is true. It is not a search for truth when you start out wanting to prove a particular result, it's a search to find justification to believe what you want to believe.
"you want to see a natural universe built purely by logic and reason where everything can be explained factually and intellectually."
You are mistaken. I don't want to see anything, I am simply willing to see what I see and accept it as it is without embellishing it with fairytales that have no basis in fact, evidence, or reason. I can accept that there are things I can't explain without having to make up explanations, has believers have done so often in the past.
@Alexander: "I don't see why we can't just agree to disagree and stay out of each other's way, really."
As long as we inhabit the same country, even the same world it's naive to believe we can "stay out of each other's way." History has shown that isn't man's nature.
A major problem I have with religion in general is it fosters your kind of thinking in which justifying what you want to believe takes priority over finding the truth. And while you would probably claim you don't do that, it's inevitable when you approach something wanting to find a particular result. Once you embrace that "faith trumps facts, logic, evidence and reason" mindset in the religious realm it quickly spills over in to other realms, such a politics.
Once that happens we get people trying to base law and public policy on what they want to believe about human nature, the cause of a particular problem, what would be the best solutions and so on what they want to believe (their ideology) instead of what the facts, evidence and reasoned debate us. In other words, we get a government driven by ideologies instead of informed understandings of the challenges we face.
This is a major reason our government is so dysfunctional today. Congress is paralyzed by hyper-partisanship fueled by competing ideologies and a profound ignorance of issues because people today think they don't need to study issues to have valid opinions about them.
"Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'" — Isaac Asimov
Religion fosters this notion by teaching people belief (faith) is a more reliable way to find the truth than study, evidence, and reason. Here's an interesting observation about Christianity. When I hear the word "truth," I think of that which can be verified beyond question by observation, a valid logical argument, and so on. When a Christian hears the word "truth," he thinks of what the Bible teaches. Unproven claims based on the supernatural can be elevated to the status of fact and truth without any validation at all.
So no, we can't just stay out of each others way in my opinion.
I agree that science and faith were never divided. The division is "If faith is needed, which one?"
The minute the church is seeking advice about how to bring young people back to church, it has revealed its true color as a number driven enterprise. They don't get it, do they? Using the name of evangelism in the post-evangelism world to recruit as many members as possible at all cost. Don't they know the work has already been done? The Word has also been preached to the world by the Apostles, who were the ones given the commission by Jesus himself to make disciples of all nations. May the truth be told in God's own Word. The rest of us – we have God's (spiritual) laws written in our hearts, if we belong to Him.
While general attendance is a factor, the Church is also responsible to assure that the message of Christ is passed from one generation to the next. "Making disciples" requires effort, and this is the primary mission of the church (at least it should be). And that is a far cry from what you propose.
The farther we are from the source, the less potent the source becomes. How watered down do we want our "education"? To the point where the education is meaningless?
Most of my friends are no longer in church because they no longer actually believe much of the stuff. Somebody forgot to mention that.
As a millenial, I find this article to be hit-and-miss. I agree that the Church, (not speaking of any particular denomination, but of the entire Body) and Christianity, is losing a large amount of the younger generation. Its not simply because "We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there". There is more to it. We are leaving the church because our lives are becoming hectic and cluttered. We're having to live in these play-by-play situations where one problem arises, and just as we finish handling it, another makes it's entrance. Young people are finding that "Church", in the old sense of the word "A place to go for an hour on Sunday Morning, Sunday Night, and Wednesday night" is TOO MUCH OF A COMMITMENT. We're finding that we live in the world, and the world does not make time for Churching. What this young generation needs to hear, before it is too late, is that "Church" is NOT a building you go to....in fact, Church STARTS when you exit the building. It begins AFTER the service on Sunday. Worship is not 2 songs sung by a band or a singer or a group...Worship is how you act, how you think, the choices you make every minute of every day, and how they affect your PERSONAL walk with Jesus. I've found that I am more of a Christian in my friend's eyes, when I stop badgering them about coming to Church and I start BEING the Church to them every day in every way. An exhibition of the boundless, unending, never-failing Love of God. Its time for us to quit worrying about Tradition, Legalism, The politics of the Church, and say NO MORE. Its time we understood that "Seek ye out the old paths and walk therein" doesn't mean "have a bluegrass band at church, never say a cuss word, don't drink, and take up an offering BEFORE preaching, or you're going to hell", but rather "Seek out GOD and walk with Him". Its time we understood that Christians are not high and mighty, they're everyday, hurt, sinful, broken people just like everyone else, with the exception that they have connected to a Love with God. It is time for a revolution in Faith in America and in the World.
AMEN. May I quote you?
You may indeed quote me.
You might also enjoy this video.
Am seeing a lot of "emotion / feelings" here, a lot of opinion here, but not much mention of what God says (i.e. the Bible). What does He say... "Follow Me".... obey my commandments... don't think he asked Peter and James how they "felt" about it... only to make the commitment to "follow Him". Just saying!!!
The problem is that there is little agreement on those "commandments" as they pertain to life in America in 2013. Nothing in the Bible addresses political activism, abortion, pornography, smoking, what's appropriate entertainment (if any), the role of men and women in society and families, offers any details regarding how to help the poor and so on.
Even the most devoted, sincere believers are left to divine on their own what they believe God would have them do regarding so many modern-day issues, and the result is a Christianity that's more of a religious smorgasbord than an actual religion, ideal for the church-shopping crowd, people who want all the benefits of the core narrative but want to be able to pick and choose how and to what extent they have to incorporate it into their daily lives.
Having known people in a variety of Christian denominations, including Baptists, Mormons, Catholics, Presbyterians, and Methodists, it's been my experience that despite differing beliefs about what God expects of us, they're all sincere, and believe the others are also sincere, but misguided.
That's why there is a Prophet. God has always spoken through Prophets to warn His children in that particular time. Many didn't believe Prophets during their own time. Just look at Noah or Moses or even Jesus Christ himself. It's easier to believe in a dead Prophet than a current one. Why do you think the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints so ridiculed? Even the Bible says it plain and clear, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7)
God does not have to be a mystery. He is not some floating, airy thing that is everywhere and nowhere. God is the Father of our Spirits and there IS a purpose to all this. God is not random. There is a plan.
Current prophets are locked up in a rubber room with Prozac piped in intravenously. Has it ever occurred to anyone that the Second Coming has already transpired, and Jesus is in a strait jacket in a state mental hospital?
CatLover – My point exactly!
@LotusNotes: "That's why there is a Prophet. God has always spoken through Prophets to warn His children in that particular time. Many didn't believe Prophets during their own time. Just look at Noah or Moses or even Jesus Christ himself. It's easier to believe in a dead Prophet than a current one. Why do you think the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints so ridiculed?"
You've been brainwashed to believe that ridicule is evidence you are right. It's a silly notion. In 2011 a bunch of Christians quit their jobs, left their lives behind, and travelled around in motorhomes telling people Jesus was returning on May 21, 2011. They were even more ridiculed than Mormons, and wrong.
"Even the Bible says it plain and clear, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7)"
If I recall correctly the Bible does not mention any New Testament prophets comparable to those of the Old Testaments such as Moses or Isaiah. I assume most Christian denominations take this as evidence that Amos' declaration was no longer valid after Christ came, just as they reject so many other parts of the Old Testament.
"God does not have to be a mystery. He is not some floating, airy thing that is everywhere and nowhere. God is the Father of our Spirits and there IS a purpose to all this. God is not random. There is a plan."
I accept that you believe this. I have never seen any evidence of this, just lots of claims.
I'm an atheist, but I suspect that if I were to become a Christian I would be a Mormon. There are many good things in the Mormon church, they have an excellent system for taking care of their needy, they are not wishy washy, they have a lay ministry, and they expect their members to make sacrifices. I've never had much respect for religions that promise everything while asking for nothing. They only seem to exist to make people feel good about themselves while keeping the harsh realities of life at bay.
Following that which cannot be seen or heard. Good idea.
I'm seeing a lot of "emotion" here, a lot of opinion here, but not much (if any) mention of God's Word. What does God say – am not seeing much mention of the BIBLE in these comments.
Thank you very much for taking the time to research and presenting your findings about a question I have been asking for more than 50 years.
It doesn't surprise me that there are pastors who still insist that they need to market Christianity and your reaction ("And I proceed to bang my head against the podium.") is poignant.
The article in the Christian Pundit (http://thechristianpundit.org/2013/07/17/young-evangelicals-are-getting-high/) states "Young Christians are going over to Catholicism and high Anglicanism/Lutheranism." How much longer will it be before these traditional churches will have gone the way of the evangelical churches?
I live in a small Great Lakes community where newspaper interviews of church pastors almost always include a picture of the pastor with a guitar, where church activity invariably includes the words "praise band", and where church attendance is dominated by elderly women. Most of my friends and relatives here were raised in the Lutheran Church and at least half of them have changed churches more than twice in the last year. They keep asking me to come and worship with them. Worship? The modern church is not a place of worship any more.
Religions have changed from a theological dogma to a dogmatic theology. Religious leaders have gone from explaining their conclusions based on their perceptions to explaining their perceptions based on their conclusions.
Reading all this heated debate about whether God exists makes me wonder. Why would people waste their time debating about something that doesn't exist and therefore not matter? Or does it? What if a God does exist and that is why people are desperately trying to prove his existence or his non-existence... I don't see as many heated debates about the existence of UFOs for example.
This is a Belief Blog. You won't find much discussion of Jesus over in the UFO forums...
There are fewer people who believe in E.T.s than there are gods and UFO conspiracy theorists don't generally get voted into political offices based on their UFOly beliefs, nor are they trying to enact laws based on the exitence of aliens.
There aren't any terrorist squads with members willing to blow themselves up to take down a room full of UFO deniers.
Never heard of a lobby group trying to preserve the sacti/ty the human race by outlawing intergalactic marriage.
They don't harangue non-believers with threats of eternal an/al probing.
Need I go on?
"You won't find much discussion of Jesus over in the UFO forums..."
Too bad. Sounds like it would be a good fit. ;-)
Expect that to change when people who believe in UFOs become as numerous in this country as people who believe in God.
Hang on just a second... "Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus." Is there an editor in the building? Author of blog post, did you really read over this blog post more than once? NewsFlash, there were thousands of generations before Jesus was ever born, who didn't "long for Jesus." The Hebrews may have longed for a messiah, but most of them did, and still do, reject Jesus as that Messiah. You think all the human beings out there functioning just fine in their own context, are "longing for Jesus?" The Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Taoists, Dudeists, and the rest? Please. Maybe the Millennials who are leaving the church, yourself included, are really longing for something other than Jesus, other than a God who is so flawed that he had to have his own son crucified to grant forgiveness to his human children, and atone for the punishment he himself imposed? Read the Bible, it's a horror story. Keep walking away from Churches until you find one that keeps you pointed in a different direction, one far away from the guilt, fear, and lies, that the biblical story perpetuates, that tells you that one of these days, Jesus is coming back, and with him the Apocalypse, fire, and brimstone, and judgement, the dead rising again, like the zombie narratives so popular among us Christian influenced Millenials. The Truth shall set you free, and most of these out of date religions will keep you in bondage. Run!
It's an old Christian trope – the Kierkergaardian conceit that without Jesus, you're miserable.
Oh sure you might feel happy. You may wake up each day with a spring in your step and a smile on your face, but deep down inside you're actually miserable becuase you haven't accepted Christ as your personal saviour.
You atheist just don't get it...it is not about trying to get God to make us happy or feel better or do things for us...childish. It is recognizing that He is God and we are not. He is THE authority and we are not. Happiness is moment to moment emotion. We are called to follow Christ. Here is what he did: Left heaven, came to earth as a member of a poor family in a poor neighborhood and then he worked for some years a s carpenter. After that he spent three years traveling around his region and talking to the marginalized people and telling them they mattered. He yell at church folk and said they had it wrong. Then, because he was ruining business in the church and causing people to question the authority of the church and the government, they killed Him. He let it happen. It is not glamorous and it isn't a carnival that makes you feel better. It is the understanding that relationship is essntial, first with God, then with others.
Now mock away....
I wasn't mocking – I was mentioning the musings of a particular, 19th century Christian theologan.
Kierkegaard was extremely antagonistic to religious inst/itutions and harped endlessly about the need for every individual to have a personal relationship with God. He said that when God took human form, it was a manifestation of His desire for intimate, one on one time with His creations.
He opined that Christians must put far less stock in relationships with other human beings and instead concentrate on developing their connection to God.
"Every human being is gloriously structured, but what destroys so many is this confounded talkativeness between man and man about what must be suffered but also be matured in silence, the confession before human beings instead of before God, this candid communication to this one and that one of what ought to be a secret and be before God in secret, this impatient hankering for makeshift consolation."
He was also quite vocal that you can't be a happy or fulfilled individual unless you make your relationship with Christ the first priority in your life – above and beyond any earthly bonds you might have (or wish to have).
Your obnoxious behavior makes it clear you don't "get" Christianity. Increasingly it seems you see Christianity as a way to justify believing you're superior to everyone who doesn't share your views.
You're one of the most hypocritical Christians I've ever encountered. You're extremely prideful but lecture us about the important of humility. Your comments are littered with intellectually dishonest logical fallacies, baseless character smears, insults, snide remarks, condescension and attempts to absolve yourself of any responsibility for your bad behavior, the worst of any Christian posting here, by the way, with hearty rounds of "You do it too!"
You mock, ridicule, and misrepresent what atheists believe because we call you out on your behavior and pathetic attempts to use logic. You're obviously a bully, someone who gets away with bad behavior in real life because no one wants to deal with the repercussions of confronting you about it, but this is the Internet, and here your bully tactics have no power.
There are many, many fine, sincere Christians out there. You are not one of them. You are a fraud who makes the good ones look bad.
Thank you Skytag! I appreciatte the fact that you are hurt and feel the need to call me out as being a bad Christian. You are the same. You are a bully. You go around and label all Christians drones, brainwashed and ignorant, and when someone calls you out. You whine and say we are mean. I am not going to sit back and be called ignorant. You once again prove you are shallow by making character statements about some one you have never met...Why are you aloud to go around an insult people? I asked you some direct questions and you have ignored them? Why? Are you afraid to answer them? Instead your responses to me are defensive and childish. Please respond to the question I posed or stop responding to my post.
I'm sensing some discord here ...
Yes Catlover, Skytag is scolding me for acting like him/her...And by the way the mocking comment was in anticipation of Skytag. He or she is very predictable. I am not sure why he/she thinks I am a bully, outside of the fact that this is what i called him/her? I meant no harm...I am sorry I hurt their feelings. NO this is not snide Skytag!
@IHAVESEENT THELIGHT: "Thank you Skytag! I appreciatte the fact that you are hurt"
You just can't help yourself, can you? In just eight words you manage to commit two serious transgressions for a Christian.
First, there is no truth to your suggestion that I am hurt and you know it unless you are truly delusional. Otherwise you know full well at as someone for whom I have no respect whatsoever you lack any power to hurt me. You hurt other Christians by casting them in a bad light, but not me or any atheist. Bearing false witness is a sin.
Second, I can't imagine much that's more un-Christian than being gratified at the thought of hurting someone else. You are truly the most pathetic excuse for a Christian I may have ever encountered. You are so far from the ideals of what a Christian should be you actually take pride in your behavior.
The rest of your comment was just more of your BS personal attack stuff, not worthy of a response. Save your fingers and tell it to Jesus, assuming he can stand to be around you.
@IHAVESEENT THELIGHT: "Yes Catlover, Skytag is scolding me for acting like him/her..."
This is a lie, and a thinly veiled attempt to blame me for your bad behavior. You try to lecture people about humility but a humble person would acknowledge when he has not lived up to his own standards and apologize, but you're far to prideful to do that. Instead you make excuses for your behavior and try to blame it on others, which makes it clear even you recognize that your behavior is unbecoming a Christian, and yet you don't change it.
"And by the way the mocking comment was in anticipation of Skytag."
Bad behavior is bad behavior. The idea that you can justify it "in anticipation" of someone else's behavior is even more pathetic that trying to justify it based on someone's past behavior.
"I am not sure why he/she thinks I am a bully, outside of the fact that this is what i called him/her?"
Bullies always tell themselves their behavior is justified.
"I meant no harm...I am sorry I hurt their feelings. NO this is not snide Skytag!"
Not snide, but also not sincere. If you cared about people's feelings you wouldn't act the way you do. No one here is naive enough to believe you just started behaving this way when you came to this forum a few days ago. The obnoxious personality we see in your comments is who you are and have been for a long time. I don't doubt for a second that you've hurt many a person's feelings along the way with your enthusiasm for insulting and belittling people in the hope they won't risk further bad behavior by standing up to you.
There's no way you've gone through life acting like this and not realized you were hurting people. You just don't care, as long as those tactics get you the power you want over people.
A response to Rachel Held Evans article above has been offered at http://seekingdivinemercy.blogspot.com/2013/07/a-response-to-rachel-held-evans-cnn.html
The authors of Christianity were very clever when they designed their God. He is invisible, incomprehensible, not bound by the laws of time, matter or energy, powerful enough to create a universe of a trillion trillion stars out of nothing, is always aware of what seven billion people are doing, and so on.
The beauty of this God is that when a Christian makes a claim about him it's impossible to test. You have to accept it solely on feeling or reject it, but it's impossible to objectively test anything anyone tells you about him because whatever test you try to apply, there is some reason it won't be valid when you try to apply it to God. You either believe in him based on blind faith or you don't. But as an atheist, what's my incentive to adopt blind faith in something I have no reason to believe exists?
There is no incentive other than selling more insurance to your neighbors.
Skytag, I am always intrigued by a professed atheist's statements that God does not exist. For example, you said, "Question 2: Since there is no evidence of his existence..." I believe there is plenty of evidence that God DOES exist. I appreciate the fact that I believe you are honestly seeking a real answer. So start with this and I would be curious to your response.
How can something come from nothing? If there were ever nothing, there would still be nothing. Conclusion: Someone or something has always existed. I think I read in the blog someone said that already, but I am trying to use logic to come to that conclusion. Can we agree on this? Something can't come from nothing?
The Bible says that God is that "someone" who has always existed. If I were truly questioning His existence, that would make me keep searching. I hope it does you.
Next, I would ask, if we agree on that, is that God a God of intelligent design? Again, you said, "Since there is no evidence of his existence..." How does an acorn turn into a towering oak tree? How does a baby form in the womb of another person? How do organs function in harmony through a human body? How is our earth the perfect distance from the sun?
These are honest questions that I believe lead to an intelligent designer and creator. By the way, He is the God of the Bible, who gives us everything we need to know. He does not expect blind faith. He is a God of reason and logic. When you understand who He is and what He is doing and why He created, things make sense. You find these answers in the Bible.
"I believe there is plenty of evidence that God DOES exist."
What you call evidence is just you choosing to interpret ordinary events, phenomenon, or coincidences as evidence. It's well known that people believe what they want to believe, and if you're looking for proof of something you want to believe badly enough you'll almost certainly find something you can convince yourself is that proof.
Here's why I never buy these claims for having evidence. First, it is never anything anyone else can objectively confirm. Second, there are countless conflicting beliefs held by people who are convinced they have evidence for what they believe. I seriously doubt you can find a religion without followers who believe they have evidence that what they believe is true too.
Have you known many Mormons? I've never met anyone more sure of his beliefs than a good Mormon. They'll tell you "I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know God the Father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith." And then go talk to any other Christian and he'll tell you he knows Mormonism is a false religion.
What are the chances that none of the world's 1,500 million Muslims believe they have evidence that what they believe is true? Ditto for the world's one billion Hindus. You'd have to be very naive or very arrogant to believe that all the people who believe they have evidence believe what you believe.
"How can something come from nothing? If there were ever nothing, there would still be nothing. Conclusion: Someone or something has always existed. I think I read in the blog someone said that already, but I am trying to use logic to come to that conclusion. Can we agree on this? Something can't come from nothing?"
We have theories about how the universe began, but we cannot say for sure it came from nothing. Your argument here in a nutshell is that if we have no other explanation for something the explanation must be God. It's not a valid argument.
"The Bible says that God is that "someone" who has always existed. If I were truly questioning His existence"
I'm not questioning his existence any more than I'm questioning the existence of leprechauns. I see no reason to believe either exists.
"that would make me keep searching. I hope it does you."
I have no reason to care what the Bible says because circular reasoning isn't valid reasoning. You can't use the Bible to prove god exists because you have to believe God exists and facilitated the creation of the Bible to believe the Bible has any credibility.
This is apparently your position:
God existed for an eternity extending into the past, alone, in total nothingness, and suddenly, after spending an eternity this way suddenly created — from nothing — a universe that would eventually contain a trillion trillion stars. Then he focused all his attention on terraforming one planet around one of those stars, created life on it. He then, according to the Bible, did many things that gave people proof of his existence until one day he just stopped doing that, and now we're all just supposed to believe he exists and cares deeply about whether we're married when we have sex.
This is not a particularly plausible story for me, and it doesn't even support your own argument. You believe something can't come from nothing, but you believe God created the universe from nothing. The addition of a god to the mix doesn't explain how the universe could be created from nothing. So now you have two things you can't explain, how God could exist, and how could he create the universe from nothing.
"These are honest questions that I believe lead to an intelligent designer and creator. By the way, He is the God of the Bible"
Based on what evidence?
"who gives us everything we need to know."
"If I don't know it I don't need to know it." How convenient.
"He does not expect blind faith."
Of course he does. As I explained, his nature as characterized by Christians makes it impossible to subject any claim about him to any kind of objective test. You either believe he exists on blind faith or you don't.
"He is a God of reason and logic."
Nonsense. Logic tells me that if God really existed then all of the world's religions would have some important elements in common. There is nothing all of them have in common. They can't even agree on whether there is one god or many gods.
If god is the God of the Bible, what logic explains why less than a third of the world's population is Christian?
"When you understand who He is and what He is doing and why He created, things make sense. You find these answers in the Bible."
Once you've allowed yourself to be brainwashed to believe the Christian narrative (as opposed to the Muslim or Hindu or some other narrative) then it all makes sense because you're inside the matrix. Every religion is a narrative people choose to believe because they like that narrative better than the alternatives. But all of the narratives are internally consistent. Once you make the required leap of faith into one all of its explanations make sense.
You're a Christian because your parents were Christians, you live in a predominantly Christian culture, or some such thing. Had you been born in Saudi Arabia, where 97% of the people are Muslims you'd be telling me you have evidence that Islam is true and it would all make sense to you just like it does to them. Is it arrogance or just naivete that has you believing your beliefs are the only ones that make sense?
Your incentive if you wish to call it that is this: if you leave this life and are correct in your disbelief you will have lost nothing. If you are wrong and never bothered to sincerely give it the time and effort to discover what the truth is, you will have lost everything and have an awareness of that eternally. And consider how many discoveries have been made based on faith. Also note that many an atheist scholar have pursued proving various content in scripture was false or myth of events or places that did not exist only to discover evidence to their contrary.
"Your incentive if you wish to call it that is this: if you leave this life and are correct in your disbelief you will have lost nothing. If you are wrong and never bothered to sincerely give it the time and effort to discover what the truth is, you will have lost everything and have an awareness of that eternally."
It is irrational to suggest one should invest untold amounts of time and energy seeking something based on promises with no supporting evidence whatsoever simply because a lot of people believe it. If this were about anything else you'd laugh at the very suggestion.
A major flaw in this argument is assumption that there is only one such glorious promise to investigate, and that's the promise made by Christianity. What happens if in spending my life trying to determine if what you claim is true I fail to discover that the true path to God is Islam or Buddhism or the beliefs of some tribe in the remote regions of the Amazon jungle?
There is nothing objective one can use to know which of all the world's religions one should use to find the truth about God. This is why the "truth" people find is almost always determined by where they live, what their parents believed, and so on.
Less than a third of the world's population is Christian. 1.5 billon are Muslims. Another billion are Hindus. Hundreds of millions more subscribe to one of hundreds of belief systems based on one or more gods, and the vast majority of them believe they have found the truth simply by adopting the beliefs of their parents or the most popular beliefs in their culture.
This is why 97% of Saudis are Muslim, why there are lots Baptists in the South but lots of Mormons in Utah and Idaho, and so on. People don't seek god based on any rational reason to believe they will find the truth, they seek the god of their parents and neighbors and then convince themselves they've found the truth.
The reason for this is obvious, of course. Lacking any objective evidence to guide them in their search they are left to rely on what others who claim to have found the truth about God tell them. If the people you know and respect are Christians that will be the Christian narrative. But if you're in Saudi Arabia it's going to be the narrative of Islam. If you live in India it's most likely going to be Hinduism.
"And consider how many discoveries have been made based on faith."
"Also note that many an atheist scholar have pursued proving various content in scripture was false or myth of events or places that did not exist only to discover evidence to their contrary."
Many a Christian has abandoned his beliefs to become an atheist too. I'm one of them. Even atheists can let their emotions overrule reason or be taken in by well crafted propaganda. We are not sociopaths lacking any capacity for emotion or robots that always make rational choices. We simply see no reason to believe anything one could reasonably call a god exists.
You speak of God as if he should be ashamed that he doesn't have the limitations that humans have.
The God of Christianity is not different from any others. Details are simply hosh-posh in the afterlife I would think. Many paths, one destination, have you. I didn't believe in God for a long while. I couldn't. There were constantly so many questions in my head. that never ended. So many "why's". So many curses. So much hate and fear towards God. Eventually, I gave up understanding (at the lowest point of my life), and, ironically enough, by understanding that I will never understand (in this lifetime), I finally felt peaceful. I accepted that I can't explain some things. and will never be able to.
It's not a matter of "why" you should believe in God. or even how. But I'm glad you feel the need for questions to be answered. That means you're still looking and probably hope that there is some existence of God. I hope you come to see things differently one day. It helps.
"You speak of God as if he should be ashamed that he doesn't have the limitations that humans have."
Christians believe God can change men's hearts. If Christians have it right, if there is anything for which their God should feel shame is failing to use that power to change the hearts of Hitler and Stalin.
There by eliminating free will...nice try. Can we at least agree Skytag that love is illogical and irrational? In terms of Darwinism, does love or compassion make any sense? Wouldn't we all be better off financially and environmentally if we truly followed the logical tennants of "survival of the fittest? If the stronger wiped out the weak, we would have less population density problems, starvation would literally be wiped out. The intelligent one's, like yourself, would be free of the disabled and weak minded, like me, and the world would be free from ignorance. I think all this is logical and in terms of Darwinism, rational. Correct?
@IHAVESEENT THELIGHT: "There by eliminating free will...nice try."
Ah yes, a favorite copout. Christians love to use this one when explaining God's failure to change Hitler's heart while millions of those same Christians pray to that same God asking him to soften the heart of someone they know who is angry, change the heart of a child who has rebelled against his parents, left the church and so on. Funny how they use that free will thing so selectively.
If you'd ever actually read the Bible you'd know the story of Saul's conversion on the road to Damascus:
"As Saul travels to Damascus at midday, he experiences the divine presence: a light from heaven flashing around him and a voice addressing him (compare 7:31/Ex 3:4-10). The descent from Mt. Hermon to Damascus in the plain goes through a region known for violent electrical storms. Though this flashing light may have had the effects of lightning, however, it was a supernatural midday phenomenon.
Saul and his traveling companions see the light, but Saul sees more: the risen Lord Jesus in all his resplendent glory (9:17, 27; 22:14; 26:16; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:8). So overwhelming is the sight that Saul falls to the ground (compare Ezek 1:28; Dan 8:17). The sound or voice probably reminds him of the bat-qol ("daughter of the voice"), the way pious Jews believed God had directly communicated with human beings since the gift of prophecy had ceased with Malachi (Longenecker 1981:370). But the divine presence creates confusion for Saul, for if God is speaking with him, who is this heavenly figure addressing him?
The voice gives the divine perspective on Paul's activity. With a repeated address (compare Gen 22:11; Ex 3:4; 1 Sam 3:10; Lk 10:41; 22:31) the voice asks, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" — Gateway
God didn't seem to have an issue changing Saul's heart when he was vigorously persecuting Christians, and he wasn't killing six million of them in gas chambers and ovens, but 70 years ago he couldn't change Hitler's heart because that would have taken away his free will. Yeah, that makes perfect sense, assuming you've mastered the ability to rationalize anything you want to believe.
"Can we at least agree Skytag that love is illogical and irrational?"
If you are referring to a belief in God, yes. If you are referring to the contradiction I described above, also yes.
Where in your story does it say God forced Paul? He asked Paul to stop persecuting his people...As for Stalin and Hitler, i cannot say he did or didn't appeal to them. I wasn't there.
@IHAVESEENT THELIGHT: "Where in your story does it say God forced Paul? He asked Paul to stop persecuting his people...As for Stalin and Hitler, i cannot say he did or didn't appeal to them. I wasn't there."
Another one of your intellectually dishonest straw man arguments. I never said anything about God forcing Hitler or Stalin to do anything. I said he didn't change their hearts the way he changed Saul's. Why do you use so many straw man arguments?
According to the Bible you claim to believe (but not feel obliged to follow) God made his existence and displeasure with Saul very clear to him via what can only be described as miraculous events. Here's another account, one that's a little easier to read:
"According to Luke’s historical record (Acts 9:1ff), Saul, armed with arrest warrants for those of the Christian Way, departed from Jerusalem en route to ancient Damascus, some 140 miles to the north. As he drew near that city, a light brighter than the noonday sun suddenly engulfed him. A voice inquired: “Saul, Saul, why do you continue to persecute me?” The double use of his name suggests a reproof (cf. Matthew 23:37; Luke 10:41; 22:31). Saul responded: “Who are you, Lord?” The title “Lord” was employed at this point as a mere term of respect, for he knew not who had addressed him.
The voice was identified as Jesus of Nazareth! The stunned persecutor was instructed to enter Damascus where he would be informed as to what he “must do.” Blinded as a consequence of this miraculous vision in which Christ actually appeared to him (9:17; 1 Corinthians 15:8), Saul was led into the city.
For three agonizing days he fasted and prayed. Finally, Ananias, a messenger selected by God, arrived. He restored Saul’s sight and commanded him to “arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16). After certain days passed, the former persecutor began to proclaim among his fellow Jews that Jesus “is the Son of God” (see Acts 9:19-22)." — Christian Courier
It's a very inspiring story for Christians. Yet when Hitler was committing genocide of Jews on a scale to dwarfs anything Saul ever contemplated, there is no reason to believe your God did anything to change Hitler's heart. Ditto for Stalin when he was conducting his purges.
You can engage in all the baseless speculations you want to rationalize this, but out here in the real world there is nothing to suggest God did anything to influence anyone or any event in WWII. It was Russian and Allied troops armed with heavy weapons and air support that stopped the genocide, not your God. You want truth? That's truth.
This is the reason that Jesus said that no one could come to Him unless the Spirit inspires that work. People don't come to God of their own motivation, as if they desired to find what is good and holy. Rather, God acts on individuals, inspiring life in them.
Why would the spirit inspire people in so many, and often contradictory ways? If all inclinations to believe in God were inspired by the same spirit why do people hold such wildly divergent views?
It's hard to find true religion when you hear so many differing opinions and understandings of scripture. I can see why so many would leave religion. Why does it matter anyways.
I am not an atheist. I know there is a law of science that states that something living cannot come from something nonliving or that something cannot be made out of nothing. I also know that there is an innate intelligence within us and everything living thing, the intelligence within every cell on how to divide, create life, grow, heal and mend and die. Thus, I do believe in God. I am a true believer in a personal God. One that is real and tangible, not this mysterious wonder that cannot be explained. I also believe in Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. I believe in a God that has a perfect understanding of science, perfectly obedient to those laws, perfectly just, perfectly merciful, perfect in His love for us. He knows all things and has created all that is around us for our use and happiness. I also understand that with only using a small part of our brains there is no way we can comprehend all the God comprehends. I do know that when we seek for truth we will find true happiness, not fleeting enjoyment. Truth is eternal and no matter what societies trends are or what philosophers of science or religion decide truth will always remain. Truth can be found outside of religion as well. I believe that is what Jesus was trying to teach when he would compare the Kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed, a treasure hid in a field, a merchant man seeking goodly pearls or unto a net, cast into the sea. (Matthew 13) Truth is to be found everywhere.
True religion will draw you closer to Christ, will give you a deeper understanding of who Jesus Christ is, why we must become like Him and how. It will teach us the importance of His Atonement and that it is for everyone (not just a select few He chooses). True religion serves, loves and has compassion, loving the sinner – not the sin. Our society has forgotten the latter. Many believe now that you cannot truly love another without accepting what they do. This is not true. It's funny how we believe in physical laws like traffic signs to keep order or that certain schooling and passing grades to become a surgeon are required and yet we would like to think laws don't exist spiritually. Spiritual laws and commandments do exist. This was the purpose of Christ's Atonement. So we had opportunity to become at one with God through repentance. It's hard to repent if you don't know what His commandments are. This is the purpose of religion. This is why a religion would matter. Jesus himself organized a church. It would be wise to find a church that looks like the one He created and until then, look for true principles found all around you and they will lead you closer to God and happiness. C.S. Lewis is a good example of that.
Read King James Version of St. John chapters 13 – 21. Jesus teaches of who He is, who the Holy Spirit is and purpose. He teaches about love and true discipleship. Chapter 17 is His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Chapters 19-21 cover His crucifixion, burial, His resurrection and showing of himself to loved ones and Apostles. Enjoy.
Are you a 100% sure that you are not biased? Maybe the fact that you set out to demonstrated that God does not exist leads you to according more weight to arguments against God and less to those for His existence, so that at the end the cons outweigh the pros...
I'm relatively unbiased. I have no agenda. If there is no god then I'm not going to decide to believe there is just because a lot of people tell me he's real. I'm not a sheep. If there is a god and this can be demonstrated in some way I'll be happy to accept that knowledge. Truth is, it would be nice to know I didn't invest enormous amounts of time, energy, and a fair bit of money over a period of four decades on a delusion.
As best I can tell I'm just supposed to believe God exists because a lot of other people say he does, and that's not good enough for me. And I'm supposed to just believe God is the God of Christians, apparently because I live in a part of the world where Christianity is the dominate religion. That's not a convincing argument.
The nature of God, and in particular the Christen God, is such that people can claim anything they want about it and you're just supposed to accept it on blind faith. The idea that I'm just supposed to accept whatever someone tells me about God on blind faith doesn't really work for me.
You are biased and you have an agenda. It's ok. Just admit it. None of us are unbiased observers. You have decided to read the world from a perspective that does not include God as its Creator. Your starting point is your own experience of the world. This is sheer navel gazing, and does not take into account history, tradition, or the variety of the human experience, especially those recounted in the Bible.
You operate daily on the "blind faith" your empirical observations give you. This is simply normal. One cannot get around using the information our senses give us. In a similar way, one must deal with what the words of the Bible suggest. For some, the Holy Spirit works faith in Jesus and delivers salvation to them. For others, the hardness of sin in the heart overcomes the powerful witness of the Bible. Sin is a greater and deeper mystery than you have made it to be in your tight little worldview.
I posted this earlier but got no responses. In light of some recently posted comments I'll try again.
"If you honestly want to know God:" — AE
I hear stuff like the above all the time from Christians. To any thinking person these admonitions raise some very obvious, crucial questions I've posed many times, yet no Christian has ever attempted to answer.
Let me preface these questions with a critical observation: There is no objective evidence whatsoever that any entity one could call a god actually exists. Absolutely none. (Christians: Don't waste your time explaining the reasons you believe there is no evidence as they won't change the fact that there is none. If you believe you have evidence, it doesn't count if no one else can see or verify it.) That established, here are the questions:
Question 1: Seeking God requires an investment of time and energy. Prayer, reading sacred works, reading other writings, talking to other believers, and so on. What's my incentive to divert time and energy from activities involving things I know to be real and enjoy to seek something I have no reason to believe is real? Seeking god makes no more sense to me than seeking buried treasure in my yard or seeking leprechauns.
If you respond with a bunch of platitudes, more admonitions to seek or instructions on how to seek you are dodging the question because none of these give me an incentive to do any seeking.
"You will find like I did that the more you seek, the more you find Him the more you realize He loves you and fall in love with Him also." — Whitney
This is the basic strategy people use to convince themselves of something they really want to belief from the outset. When you set out to investigate something with a desire to find it that bias makes it almost certain you'll eventually convince yourself you've found it. You'll be quick to interpret phenomena as evidence it's true and equally quick to reject evidence contradicting it. You'll reject sound arguments against it out of hand while accepting seriously flawed arguments for it. The "pros" column will eventually overwhelm the "cons" column and you'll conclude it must be true.
My answer to my first question is the no one seeks God unless and until at some level he wants to find God. His incentive to invest time and energy is to confirm something he already wants to believe. That makes him biased and that bias makes his conclusions unreliable. In short, people find ways to justify believing what they want to believe.
Question 2: Since there is no evidence of his existence, and hundreds or thousands of religions have existed, how do I decide which god (or gods) to seek? The evidence is pretty clear that the vast majority of people who "find God" find the God of their parents, culture and/or people they encounter in life. This is why 97% of Saudi Arabia's population is Muslim, but only 1-2% of our population is Muslim. It's why Shintoism is the dominate religion in Japan, but not America or Saudi Arabia. It's why some "Christian countries" are predominately Catholic and others aren't. It's why there are large numbers of Baptists in the South but large numbers of Mormons in Utah and Idaho. Where you live is the biggest factor in determining which god you seek and hence ultimately find.
People pick the god they'll seek based on the people around them and subjective factors such as how much they trust others who already believe in that god or how well someone can manipulate their emotions. There is no evidence whatsoever that people pick a god to seek based on any reason one would expect to lead them to the most correct understanding of God and his nature. Seriously, it's a crap shoot, a game of luck exclusively based where you were born and the people you've known.
The answer to "which god should I seek?" largely determines how I should seek him. Should I seek the Jewish god by reading the Torah and attending Jewish services, or the Muslim god by reading the Koran and praying five times a day? Should I read the Bible and Book of Mormon and talk to the Mormon missionaries to know the Mormon version of the Christian God? Should I study Buddhism, Shintoism, or any of hundreds of other religions that exist in the world today?
If I should seek the Christian God, should I seek him through Catholicism, evangelical churches, the Mormons, the Amish, or the teachings of a church that believes in handling snakes and speaking in tongues?
Do not try to dismiss these as glib or irrelevant questions. These are absolutely critical questions. The god you find is determined by where you choose to look for him. Generally speaking, whichever God you set out to find is the one you'll find. Without an objective, reliable way to know which path to travel from the outset in your search, why should anyone believe picking one essentially at random will lead you to the "real" god rather than a false one?
Perhaps because it's too long?
UFO Legacy – President Obama's Future – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iA-top4wEys – More about the incredible – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfZdP0t-oG0
You seriously hit the nail in the head I can't believe everything you wrote is exactly I have thought about. You are not alone. I too have sought out different religions but have yet to arrive at anything that I can say yes, this is something I want to be part of my life.
You are also right about those joining a religion because they allow themselves to be manipulated. I fell in love for the first time in my life with a guy who turned out to be in a religious cult. I was crazy enough to conside joining it just for him. I figured, it would be like having 2 hours for me to really zone out and think about what I will do at work the next day and or imagine myself vacationing somewhere to avoid paying attention to that whole nonsense . I just couldn't do it, and for a while I hated myself for not finding a religion or just picking one, but as long as we know deep down we do good for those around us and strangers, we should be fine
I really truly enjoyed reading this.
skytag, perhaps no one has answered or replied to your post because you have not entertained open ended questions. It does not appear you desire any kind of real discussion. By starting out with the statement there is no proof of the existence of a god type figure (my paraphrase), you show your unwillingness to entertain any differing viewpoint.
Also, answering your own "questions" which are more like statements, also exhibits a lack of willingness to openly approach the discussion, Why would anyone engage in a conversation with someone that appears to be unwilling to do so. This is why you have had no one reply. Believe me, it not because there are not logical flaws in your arguments, but rather your unwillingness to engage in open conversation.
What a load of malarkey. I asked very valid questions. I didn't ask for lame excuses to justify not answering them. I offered my thoughts on why I believe they are valid questions, in part because I didn't want to get a bunch of the kind canned responses people usually give that show they didn't even really understand the questions. I've asked the same thing in very short posts with your "open-ended" questions and gotten answers like "You should seek God because he is God."
If you don't have an answer, just don't reply. Don't attack me because not having answers makes you uncomfortable. You could have offered answers but instead you chose to whine about how I asked the questions. That tells me all I need to know.
skytag, its not worth my time arguing something that you have already ruled out. No, you have not asked questions. By the act of answering your "questions" in your post, you have transformed them from questions to a rhetorical strategy and statement to enable yourself to provide a space for your next set of statements, i.e. "your answers."
I'm not whining, I provided an analysis of why you do not get the replies you seek. I thought you would at least respect a thoughtful analysis, but instead you took it as an attack. That is usually the sign of someone with an agenda or someone goading the question. I will not walk down a path someone has a predetermined answer for, thus my reason given for not answering your "questions."
Just as I do not entertain debate with those that refuse critically reflect upon their own religious beliefs, I refuse to entertain debate with those that refuse to debate an open and constructive manner. By answering your own questions, you have showed your hand and how you operate in a debate. Sorry, its just not something I fall for.
I just wish these forums provided more constructive places for conversation. Instead, I find them to be places where people an anonymously spew their close-minded opinion.
@wilsonb224: "skytag, its not worth my time arguing something that you have already ruled out."
I have not ruled anything out. I just find it highly unlikely one exists.
"No, you have not asked questions. By the act of answering your "questions" in your post, you have transformed them from questions to a rhetorical strategy and statement to enable yourself to provide a space for your next set of statements, i.e. "your answers." "
More excuses. I was only trying to explain why I believe my questions are valid and deserve something more substantive that canned responses and mindless platitudes. In my experience most Christians can't even grasp what I'm really asking if I just ask the questions without explanation.
If I do that I get responses like "you should seek God because he is God," or "because Jesus wants you to find him," which of course don't answer my question at all since I see no reason to believe God or Jesus exist.
Seriously, it's as if they're so anxious to repeat something they heard last week in Sunday School that they don't even take time to understand my questions. I'm sick of people telling me to seek something I see no reason to believe exists, and then when I ask what my incentive is to do that their answer, in a nutshell is, "you should seek to believe what I believe because I believe it."
"I will not walk down a path someone has a predetermined answer for, thus my reason given for not answering your "questions." "
I have my beliefs, and having come to those beliefs after many years of thought and experience I feel confident in them, but I am not closed-minded. I spent four decades as a Christian with strong beliefs, and were I a closed-mined person I'd still be a Christian.
"Just as I do not entertain debate with those that refuse critically reflect upon their own religious beliefs, I refuse to entertain debate with those that refuse to debate an open and constructive manner. By answering your own questions, you have showed your hand and how you operate in a debate. Sorry, its just not something I fall for."
More excuses. Believers have a real chicken-and-the-egg problem. To come to know the reality of God you have to devote time and effort to "coming to know him," but without any reason to believe he exists I see no incentive to invest that time and energy. As far as I can tell the only reason I should believe it's worth my time is that a lot of people tell me it is. And this may seem like a compelling reason on the surface, but since people can believe things and be wrong, and what they tell you they believe is largely dependent on where you live in the world and who you ask, it's not really a compelling reason at all.
So basically I'm asking, or you could arguably say I'm challenging Christians to give me a more objective reason. I don't think one exists, but if I see one that's compelling I will accept it as such. But in 58 years, 40 of which I spent as a Christian I've never heard one, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm not hopeful.
Wilson, Skytag found his god in his own head...don't waste your time responding. He is an example of the "open minded" crowd...except when it comes to religion. He actually believes that because he hasn't experienced something it doesn't exist. He also believes that if you believe, you haven't done any investigation. He thinks that all believers are zombies who sit in a church on Sunday or whatever and go "yes master" as we drool. Outside of feeling sorry for him and anyone who has to deal with him on a daily basis, he applies the same "logic" to all post.
"Wilson, Skytag found his god in his own head...don't waste your time responding."
Apparently you believe as a good Christian Wilson needs someone to tell him what to think and do. Do you think Wilson is a little boy who needs your advice and protection, or is this just an excuse to attack me and libel me some more? Methinks it's the latter.
"He is an example of the "open minded" crowd...except when it comes to religion."
Your obsession with attacking me makes it clear you find my arguments threatening. If that were not the case you would respond to them and identify the flaws in my reasoning, but you never do that. Thus you resort to these personal attacks, often based on lies to discredit me.
"He actually believes that because he hasn't experienced something it doesn't exist."
This is a lie and something I've never even suggested. Resorting to lies to discredit your opponents is an act of desperation. Open your eyes and look around here. No one else who claims to be a Christian is acting anything like you. You are alone in pursuing these desperate lines of attack. Could it be that of all the believers posting here you are the least secure in your beliefs, and hence the most threatened by my arguments?
"He also believes that if you believe, you haven't done any investigation."
Another lie. zzzzzzzzz
"He thinks that all believers are zombies who sit in a church on Sunday or whatever and go "yes master" as we drool."
Another lie, though at least this one has a grain of truth to it. But just a grain.
"Outside of feeling sorry for him and anyone who has to deal with him on a daily basis, he applies the same "logic" to all post."
You lie a lot, so much so, and so freely and obviously I am forced to conclude you're pathologically dishonest. The truth doesn't matter to you, only the attack. If a lie is needed, so be it. It's all rather pathetic, and to other Christians who may read this I do not see you as a typical Christian. Most are much better Christians and people than you are, and I feel sorry for them having their image as Christians tarnished by your behavior.
Skytag, you demonstrate a complete lack of self awareness. But you are right about my behavior. In review, I have behaved like you and that is not good. I apologize for stooping to your level.
@IHAVESEENT THELIGHT: "Skytag, you demonstrate a complete lack of self awareness."
"But you are right about my behavior."
"In review, I have behaved like you"
No, you've behaved like you. No one reading your comments here is gullible enough to believe you've never acted this way before you encountered me.
"and that is not good. I apologize for stooping to your level."
There is no apology in your comment, just more of your juvenile un-Christian insulting behavior. For all your protestations regarding the truth of Christianity you've made it quite clear you're wholly incapable of behaving in a manner consistent with what the Bible teaches. Keep it up. Seriously, people like you are some of the best evidence there is that Christianity is a fraud.
Hi! Being a Presbyterian Pastor I would like to respond to your first question of why it is important to take time to seek
God. We are all born with a piece of God's Spirit in us which is called our "soul". At some point in life, we realize that
our soul has a spiritual hunger to be connected with God. It is through being open to God's Holy Spirit working in us and
showing us God and Christ's existence that we can take the first step towards faith. Yes, there is no proof of God or Christ's
existence, however for those who are open to seeking a relationship of one's spirit or soul with them, they will touch your
heart and speak to you in special ways. For instance, there are times in nature when I sense that God and Christ are giving
me a special miracle – for instance when I saw a beautiful rainbow on the day of my father's funeral. There are signs
in nature that God and Christ are loving a person. Also there are miracles of timing, when something or someone helps
you just in the minute you needed it. Also, start reading one of the stories of Jesus' life in the Bible – either Matthew, Mark,
Luke, or John and read a chapter a day. Keep it up and ask God and Christ to help you know them through that
spiritual exercise; also find a church to worship in that is to your liking and start seeking to hear what God and Christ;s
messages are for you in the worship service. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways to raise certain words and
ideas up in our conscience to give us meaning and guidance. Also confess any sins and ask God and Christ to help
you believe. Finally, make Christian friends in a Christian faith community and ask them to help you ! Jesus said that
all the faith we need to have in the beginning is that of a little mustard seed. But we need to nurture that seed and its
spiritual growth so that it will grow into ultimately the size of a tree. Christ and God love you and want you to open the door of your heart to them and let them come in and make their home with you. (See Gospel of John, Chapters 14 & 15.) We have to open the door of our heart to them. They do not force their way in. We have to invite Christ and God into our
lives. You can do it with a prayer that says " If you exist, pls help me to learn of you and to follow you." God bless you!
If you want to email me, you can. I have more examples of miracles in nature, miracles of timing, miracles of angels
appearing to people to share with you.
"Hi! Being a Presbyterian Pastor"
My ex-brother-in-law is a Presbyterian minister. Presbyterians don't impress me. They strike me as pretentious. He took a job as the pastor of a church in Detroit whose membership had been declining for years. The people there thought he could help bring more people into the church. And he did. He seized an opportunity to reach out to the black community had some real success. Then his church fired him because those weren't the kind of people they wanted him to bring in. It's a clear example of why having a professional ministry is not something I believe God would support if he existed.
"I would like to respond to your first question of why it is important to take time to seek God."
I didn't ask why it was important if you already believe the Christian narrative, I asked what incentive do I have to seek something I don't believe exists.
The rest of your justification is nothing more than a lot of claims I see no objective reason to believe. I accept that you believe all that stuff, but it that is your perception and interpretations in action, fueled by a strong bias to justify your beliefs. Basically your argument, which is pretty much the only argument I hear is, "You should seek God because I say it's worth it."
The obvious problems with that reasoning is are two-fold: One, there are hundreds of religions out there saying the same thing. Two, people sincerely believe things that are wrong all the time. In fact, believers over the centuries deeply believed many things we now know were nonsense, such as the notion that epileptic seizures are the result of demonic possessions. So one could argue that at times believers do more to undermine their own credibility than any atheist or outsider ever could.
"Harold Egbert Camping (born July 19, 1921) is an American Christian radio broadcaster, author and evangelist.
Camping predicted that Jesus Christ would return to Earth on May 21, 2011, whereupon the righteous would fly up to heaven, and that there would follow five months of fire, brimstone and plagues on Earth, with millions of people dying each day, culminating on October 21, 2011, with the final destruction of the world." — Wikipedia
A bunch of Christians quit their jobs, left their lives behind and traveled the country in motorhomes to tell people Jesus was was returning on May 21. That's real conviction, my friend, real belief... in something that wasn't true. Over the past 2,000 years Christians have believed a lot of things that aren't true, and nothing they believe has ever been objectively confirmed. That's not really a strong case for credibility from where I sit.
Mormons talk pretty much like you do and are as convinced they've found the truth as you are that you have. You offer no better reason to follow your path than they offer to follow their path, yet I seriously doubt you would advocate I use the Book of Moron in my search for God.
To be clear, you seem like a fine person and I do not doubt your sincerity. I just think you see things through the lens of a belief system you've chosen to embrace because you found it more appealing than the alternatives with which you were familiar.
1.) If you are asking for an incentive for Christianity, then don't go towards it. But if at any time you feel whatever tasks you are filling your time with and you start to notice something missing, you may want to go towards it.
But oh for God sake, if you are looking for pure comfort and joy, don't go towards Christianity. It's constant torture and cleansing. a cycle. but it works for a lot of people.
2.) I feel like you're thinking that you're playing the lottery when it comes to religion, and it makes me chuckle with happiness. It's simply the same. "Many paths, but one destination." The end goal of most religions is the same. What seem like huge differences among cultures are simply details in the scheme of things. Especially in the afterlife, I would think.
Thanks for the questions. Decided to give you the answers that satisfy me. Since I'm familiar with the Bible I'll reference it.
Why invest the time to seek God? Hebrews 11:6
Which God? 1 Kings 18:21-39
Hope you find your own answers some day.
I've read some conversations trying to prove/ disprove how God and this universe came to be. The first scripture in the Bible reads, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen 1:1 NIV) It does not tell you where God came from or how He did it. It simply states that He existed. He has ALWAYS existed; and, unless we have faith we will never truly believe in Him (Jesus). Man says, "Show me so I can see, " and Jesus says, "Believe that you may see."
This is the mentality of a brainwashed drone with no capacity for independent thought. Why should I believe in Jesus if I see no reason to believe he exists?
I'm curious... have you always had this particular thought process? Was there ever a time in your life where you did have some sort of a belief in a "higher power" whether that be god or something else? Also, how can you prove that Jesus (or God) doesn't exist? Again, just curious...
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