The Question That We All Should Ask

Have you ever asked yourself: “What is my place in the universe?” If you would be willing to pause for a moment to think about it (and why wouldn’t you?), shouldn’t this be one of the most important questions, if not the most important one anyone could ask? But, amazingly, most people today either haven’t asked it at all or have just dismissed it as unanswerable or with the simple answer: “I have no real importance in the universe.” Now, having such a perspective may seem to be humble and, even, noble. But is it correct?

Up until about 100 years ago things were very different. Most people in Europe and the United States would have answered the question in theistic terms. One’s view of one’s self was in relation to the Creator God, the same One Who is described in the Bible and Who was believed to exist by the vast majority of people. In short, aside from a minority consisting of Jews, Atheists/Agnostics, Muslims and people of other faiths, almost everyone saw himself or herself either as a Christian or a sinner before God.

But over the course of the previous century a new view had been gaining strength in intellectual circles, slowly supplanting Christianity, first in the halls of academia and, eventually, in the entire culture. This approach came to be known as Humanism and was frankly admitted to be a religious alternative to Christianity and other supernatural religions in a Manifesto authored by a group of prominent teachers in the early 1930’s (the first “Humanist Manifesto”).

Humanism featured a starkly different perspective on human existence than Christianity, rejecting the supernatural both on the personal and cosmic levels. On the cosmic side, it rejected the idea of an Almighty Creator and Lord of the universe in favor of a Materialistic view, which held that, ultimately, the universe consists only of matter-energy, space-time and mindless forces of Nature. Consistent with this was the notion of humanity as the ultimate source and standard of truth and morality. After all, if there was no Higher Authority, then we must determine truth and morality for ourselves.

Over the past 100 years Humanism has so effectively become the dominant view that it became rare that anyone would dare to question it. Those who dared to do so would tend to be viewed as odd or ignorant, at best (holding to antiquated and disproved beliefs) if not outright crazy. In American culture, the so-called “Scopes monkey trial” in the 1920’s was probably the clearest sign of the conquest of Humanism. For, although the Humanist side lost the actual trial, it clearly won a decisive victory in the court of public opinion. So it is that most in Europe and the U.S. today just take the Humanist view of humanity and the universe for granted: that we are tiny specks in a vast impersonal Cosmos, mere accidents of Nature, biochemical machines which are the most complex product of the process of Evolution, a process governed by mindless forces.

But is the Humanist view correct? Does it explain human existence? Does it stand up to critical scrutiny? Were we correct in rejecting the old way of looking at things? Or is there another approach which may work better? That such questions are rarely asked today is, in itself, a dangerous thing. Socrates has been credited with saying that “An unexamined life is not worth living.” This seems undeniably true. But in order to properly examine one’s life it is critical that one see it in the proper universal context. Sadly, most of us today have become so convinced that there is only one way to view ourselves and the universe that we have lost our ability to think critically about it and also to think about alternative views.

The goal of what follows is two-fold: to shine a critical spotlight on today’s dominant philosophy: Humanism (including its metaphysical and epistemological partners, Materialism and Empiricism) and also to shine a much-needed new light on its predecessor: Christian Theism. For, although Christianity was the dominant view for almost two millennia, it has been pushed so far from the center of modern culture that it is almost completely unknown by most today.

As one whose personal intellectual journey followed this “two-step”, I came to realize first that today’s dominant view turns out to be what is known today as an “Epic Fail”. Upon reaching this conclusion I fell into a period of total Skepticism. But, unlike some, it seems, I could not remain in skepticism. What followed was a brief flirtation with Zen Buddhism. I was initially drawn to Zen because of its denial both of Theism and of all conceptualization. Coincidentally, it happened to agree with today’s dominant view of the Cosmos (which was well-portrayed in the Carl Sagan “Cosmos” PBS mini-series of the early 1980’s and has recently been updated), which said that all of our experience and thinking are illusions and that ultimate reality is something quite different from what we perceive it to be.

But, if both Zen and modern scientists and intellectuals are correct, then all that we think and experience are merely passing fancies with an illusion of meaning. In short, if this is the case, then we are all the victims of a cosmic joke of sorts. However, even if we are all deceived, it remains the case that we undeniably exist as the subjects of the deception. After all, only a truly insane person believes that he or she doesn’t really exist. Furthermore, there are countless other things we really know to be true, in contrast with countless things we know to be false. It is simply impossible to function moment-by-moment without being able to make this distinction.

Being unable to accept the “Grand Illusion” view, I continued searching. But I was still too much under the sway of my Humanist up-bringing to give any real consideration to Christianity. While I had received catechism in Catholicism at the behest of my parents, I had never truly considered the teachings of the Catholic Church. For, this brief training was easily overcome by the Humanistic indoctrination I was receiving 5 days a week and 9 months every year in a very “progressive” suburban Philadelphia school district.

We all tend to believe what we are taught every day. And to those who object to me calling my public education an “indoctrination”, I would point out that all education necessarily involves the teaching of basic doctrines, “basic” because they are the base upon which everything else is built. All philosophies (including both Christianity and Humanism) have their own basic doctrines, which cannot practically be questioned. After all, one simply can’t go through life thinking that their most basic beliefs about themselves and the world may be wrong.

So I continued searching in every possible direction I could find other than Christianity. Until one day when I suddenly became convinced that I was not an accident of Nature. Rather, I was a creature who had been created by a Creator, created for a relationship with Him. In retrospect I consider this the day in which I became a “born-again” Christian. I had not been prompted to begin thinking about God by any other person or by reading the Bible or any other book. It was simply the opening of a vertical connection by God to me which had not existed before. And once this happens to someone, everything changes.

Within a matter of days I became convinced that the Bible must be what it says it is: God’s unique revelation of Himself. I became confident of this because, of all ancient religious scriptures, the Bible alone described The God Who had just made me aware of Himself. I would add that I had not ever truly been an Atheist who was certain that there is no God. But I was what Christians call a “practical atheist”, who thought and lived on the assumption that Christianity was false and that it’s impossible for anyone to know for sure what ultimate reality consists of and for any one religion to be true. I would later see that this in itself is just part of my previous belief-system.

Having become a true believer in the God of the Bible and the Bible, I began to describe myself as a Christian for the first time and I began seeking the fellowship of other believers. I now saw myself as a Christian not because I had been brought up as a Catholic or because I was an American, but because I truly believed in Christianity. In short, I had come to see that, despite all of the progress in Science and technology and some other areas which had occurred since it was supplanted, it was the previously-dominant approach to truth, Christian Theism, not Humanism, that was actually the correct approach.

In short, the developed world made an intellectual and spiritual wrong-turn about 100 years ago and needs to get back on the right road, turning back to Christianity from the Humanism which can be seen to be self-destructive both in principle (in destroying the true meaning of human nature and human life) and in practice (in destroying the sanctity of life and the civility, freedom and prosperity which depend on this).

This is the path that I am praying that God will lead many others on. It is reflected in the diagram below. The perspective which I came to have is also illustrated in the diagram further below (https://christianityistrue.org/the-duality-of-creation). And I pray that He will use this site toward this end. Soli Deo Gloria!

What Do You Think About God

 

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13 thoughts on “The Question That We All Should Ask

  1. Anonymous
    Hi – Hope we can have a sensible debate. You begin if you wish.

    Re your “I give logical arguments backed by evidence.”, please do😃

    I agree a “Higher Intelligence” is neither provable nor disprovable

    Duke1CA
    Today’s reigning philosophy or worldview in the developed world is Materialism or Naturalism, along with its companion epistemology and ethical system, Empiricism and Humanism, respectively. But Materialism is fundamentally flawed because the assumption that everything can be reduced to matter-energy & mindless forces in space-time leads to obvious absurdities, most basically that it excludes us as observing subjects by claiming that we are ultimately only mindless objects. Naturalism is also flawed because it simply cannot be known that there is isn’t a Higher Intelligence Who rules over the universe. Besides, the claim that only mindless forces ultimately exists fails to explain the existence of our minds and all of our knowledge and experience. Humanism is fatally-flawed because it right and wrong cannot avoid being illusory in a Matter-only universe and also cannot avoid being arbitrary (either a matter of “might makes right” or majority opinion) if there is no Higher Authority for ethics. You need to try to show how these arguments are flawed, not just dismiss them.

    Anonymous
    Please do one pint at a time

    Duke1CA
    This forum is annoying because it’s hard to edit your posts. But I will assume that you understand me correctly despite a couple typos.

    Anonymous
    Yep,
    BTW you appear to be assuming what I believe😃

    Eg, I don’t claim only mindless forces exist.

    Duke1CA
    Actually I would say that the existence of our minds/intelligence, along with the existence of logic and morality demands a credible explanation for where they came from. Christian Theism offers such. Materialism doesn’t.
    Anonymous
    In my view, sentient creator is not dismissive

    Duke1CA
    BTW, I’m not going to do “pints” while we do this, as this would not help the discussion!

    Where do you believe our minds come from?

    Anonymous
    Good question, thanks

    For me, I see a number of options

    Maybe natural causes, maybe a sentient creator. The best I attempt to do is guess at probabilities of the options based on evidence.

    I attempt to avoid “belief”, eg, I don’t “believe” there is no god.

    Thank you for not assuming that I follow or “believe in” one particular philosophical position.

    For example, I actually argue that Christianity has a valid and constructive place in human development.

    Duke1CA
    If you claim natural causes in the sense that mindless forces somehow manage to create minds, you have just violated the Naturalist axiom that only mindless forces exist (which I am glad for, since I consider it false). Would you then consider yourself a mind/body or soul/body dualist?

    Anonymous
    I did not so claim

    Duke1CA
    Beliefs are inevitable for all of us, whether they are beliefs that things exist or are correct or beliefs that they don’t or aren’t. Do you agree?

    Anonymous
    Not totally, so I attempt to minimize what I believe and just do probabilities based on evidence.

    I suspect things exist, but we might be a hologram😃

    Duke1CA
    I’m glad you have a somewhat positive view of Christianity. But it seems that you still believe it has been replaced or is replaceable by something better. As for probabilities based on evidence, you still determine what you will believe or not believe based on your assessments of such.

    Anonymous
    true

    That’s why I continually question my own position

    Duke1CA
    I would actually agree that we could all be deceived about our experience, but none of us can function without assuming that things are generally what they appear to be.

    Anonymous
    true
    We’re build to function that way

    It’s in our DNA (be it God created or not)

    Duke1CA
    Christianity is actually based on our faith that The Creator God is not a Grand Deceiver. If He is, then what Paul says in the New Testament would hold true: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

    Anonymous
    A Grand Deceiver as our creator is not a possibility I find myself able to reject as an option

    BTW thanks for having a reasonable chat😃

    Did you begin by opting for Christianity please? Or do you support William Craig type arguments please?

    Duke1CA
    You’re welcome. I think you do reject that we are all being utterly deceived. No one can really function based on this. Even the clinically insane are able to distinguish between fantasy and reality to some extent.

    Anonymous
    Sorry, can’t totally reject it, merely think it’s less probable than other options

    What is reality is a good side question😃

    Tables appear “solid”, but are mainly space

    Duke1CA
    I would ask you to read my piece “The Question That We All Should Ask” in order to understand where I came from. “Ten Widely-believed Fallacies Today” lays out my main objections to today’s dominant approach and why, by contrast, Christian Theism is credible and workable.

    Anonymous
    OK, do you want me to go away and do that?

    My first glance at your “Ten” was it was basically your opinion.
    Didn’t notice any real proof of the points

    Do you want to choose a point you make – for us to chat about now?

    Duke1CA
    Yes. It would save me from having to spend a lot of time repeating myself. The 10 fallacy piece is more than opinion. It is claims backed by argumentation and evidence. These points must either be shown to be false or accepted.

    Your assumption that Christianity has been or will be replaced by something better is unwarranted unless you can show exactly where Christianity fails. It merely reflects an anti-Christian bias, which is exactly what Humanism represents.

    Anonymous
    I didn’t say Christianity has or will be replaced😃

    Duke1CA
    But you do think that there is a better approach, right?

    Anonymous
    Not currently, humanity is currently to stupid

    Duke1CA
    I would agree with you about the current state of the human race! But that doesn’t answer my question about what you believe is possible.

    Going back to the dualism issue, you seem to acknowledge the real existence of minds. But how can this be so if you deny dualism?

    Anonymous
    Lots of options re what’s possible, none clearly a winner at this point in time
    I agree thought appears to exist

    Are you arguing that we must have a soul?

    BTW, who said I deny dualism, it depends on what one means by dualism

    Duke1CA
    You are equivocating. You earlier admitted to the existence of minds. The problem with the type of skepticism you suggest is that even if we are deceived about everything we know or experience, we would still have to exist as the subjects of the deception.

    Anonymous
    Please define mind

    Brain or more?

    Please don’t claim I have admitted something I haven’t

    Duke1CA
    Our minds must be distinguished from our brains in the sense that we can observe our own brains. Saying this is just our brains observing themselves is a nonsensical non-explanation. In addition, the two-way causality between our thoughts and our brain chemistry actually requires that there are two entities interacting.

    Anonymous
    Sound a nice talky talk argument😃
    I am not aware of a proof of a non physical “mind”
    Please establish you “requires”

    AlphaGo works without a “mind”

    Duke1CA
    What I have just stated is proof that we are more than our brains! Rather, we have brains, which we can alter in many ways, both chemically and also just by deliberate thinking (as advanced prosthetic work and other neurological research has shown).

    Anonymous
    With respect you have not given a Sound poof. You use a “common sense” argument, and there are other options

    Sorry about my typos, my keyboard is playing up

    Duke1CA
    To demand material proof of any immaterial entity is invalid. Your demand assumes the truth of Materialism, despite the inconsistencies I have cited.

    Anonymous
    I don’t demand.
    You equally can’t demand your option😃

    What inconsistencies please?

    Just because we can observe our thoughts surely proves zero

    Duke1CA
    For one thing, that we can at the same time be nothing more than our brains and also observe our own brains. Second, that we somehow exist as intelligent beings in a universe which ultimately consists only of mindless forces.

    That we have thoughts which aren’t reducible to brain chemistry proves that Materialism fails.

    Anonymous
    Because there is non-intelligence doesn’t imply intelligence is necessarily more than a phenomenon of brain size.

    Your last claim is not proved. Everything not discovered does not prove a god or a soul

    I repeat, AlphaGo hasn’t a soul😃

    Duke1CA
    Unfortunately, like most biased anti-Christian Humanists, you can’t provide any alternative explanations for the problems I raise. You can only state that you don’t accept them as problems or that there must be another explanation (which is just a fallacious argument from silence).

    Anonymous
    Yes I can😃

    I didn’t say “there must be”

    I say there are many options (none of which are totally proved).

    I can provide alternatives that are as equally likely, or unlike, as yours

    Duke1CA
    AlphaGo can only do what it has been programmed to do, as sophisticated as this is. Artificial Intelligence is also a myth based on the false Materialist assumption that we are merely biochemical machines. That machines can’t think is shown by their inability to react to unforeseen imput from humans. It’s why computers are often so frustrating to work with.

    Anonymous
    So make #AI into #ASI of brain complexity and size COULD mean it becomes conscious without a soul
    COULD, just like you COULD😃
    We are “Programmed” by DNA, agree?

    Even DNA possibly by a god!

    Duke1CA
    You still don’t get the basic problem with your position. You can’t reduce our subjective experience to objective chemistry without destroying all knowledge and meaning! And I would actually agree that we are programmed by our DNA. But a program requires a Programmer!

    Anonymous
    I do get the problem with my option (not position), I also get the problem with yours, do you?

    Your ‘You can’t” is surely just your opinion

    I merely suggest that DNA does not NECESSARILY require a programmer

    That is it’s not proven one way or the other. Just Evo (evolution has testable evidence) and gods don’t

    It appears I’m not a quick as you to reject other options to a god cause?

    Duke1CA
    All of the supposed evidence for Evolution is based on the assumption that Evolution is the only possible explanation. That’s circular. I will admit that Christian Creation also assumes God as the only possible explanation, so we also operate in a circular fashion. But such circularity is inevitable when it comes to our ultimate beliefs. The difference is that I can show that the Materialist/Evolution circle is a self-defeating one, unlike our circle.

    Have you ever viewed the video “Evolution’s Achilles Heels” or come across Jason Lisle’s book “The Ultimate Proof of Creation”?

    Anonymous
    Evo (and I) don’t assume it’s the only possible explanation. Many intelligent theists accept Evo as Gods way of working. There is an argument that Evo is the most likely explaination

    Please give URL to “Evolution’s Achilles Heels”

    Duke1CA
    Both you and all who hold to theistic evolution fail to understand that the entire methodology behind evolution is based on the Materialist view of ultimate reality. In other words, it is both anti-Creation and anti-Creator at every turn.

    “Evolution’s Achilles Heels” is a copyrighted video. You can find it on Amazon or elsewhere or find a Christian or church which would be willing to lend it to you.

    Anonymous
    Not all theists agree with you

    Duke1CA
    I have just explained that theists who think evolution is possible fail to understand the inherent anti-Creator bias which lies beneath it.

    Anonymous
    If your video and book have real good points, surely they are concisely made on some theist site please?

    Maybe they would say “fail to understand” back at you😃

    Duke1CA
    To put it another way. Just the possibility of there being an Intelligence capable of altering things on a Cosmic level not only makes evolution invalid, it means that we cannot ever know for sure what happened in the past or what will happen in the future based on what we observe in the present. The mere possibility of such an Intelligence is a Huge Unknowable Variable Who cannot be accounted for.

    Anonymous
    Evo SUGGESTS maybe no sentient creator, it certainly doesn’t PROVE not god.

    Duke1CA
    They can say: “No it isn’t.” or “You don’t understand.” all they wish. It won’t prove a thing. I have arguments showing that it is and that they must be wrong.

    Anonymous
    Equally you saying “No it isn’t.” or “You don’t understand.” also proves zero😃

    Duke1CA
    Once again, you fail to answer the specific point I made, in this case, about the impossibility of knowing the past based on what we observe today. I would add that the same is true w.r.t. the future. This is the most basic problem with climate-change speculation/hysteria.

    Anonymous
    Your “the possibility” does not make “evolution invalid”

    Duke1CA
    Yes it does. Because evolution assumes there cannot be an overarching Intelligence behind the emergence and continuation of the universe.

    Anonymous
    Evo does not so assume.

    As I said God could have done it that way is surely not provable as totally impossible?

    “God works in mysterious ways” is surely not totally unreasonable here😃

    Duke1CA
    You are still ignoring the fact that evolution is driven by the assumption that all things can be explained as the result of mindless natural forces. In other words, no God is necessary.

    Anonymous
    No God is necessary is not the same as no God exists
    Evo is not “driven” by assuming no God
    Evo just points out not necessarily a God

    Based on evidence (unlike god theories)

    Duke1CA
    No, your evidence assumes no God. If you can’t see this, then you will never get where you need to go to understand the issues.

    Anonymous
    Nowhere does Evo state an assumption “no God”

    Unlike theism it begins with the evidence not a wishful thinking conclusion

    If Evo stated an assumption of “no God”, no thiest would accept it – and many very cleaver theists do accept Evo

    Duke1CA
    Your position is actually based on your own wishful thinking: namely that you have no Creator to Whom you must give an account of your life.

    Your last argument is a non sequitur based on the faulty assumption that all theists are consistent in their thinking.

    Anonymous
    Again, I have NOT said there is no creator!

    Duke1CA
    You at least assume for all practical purposes that there isn’t. You need to be honest about this.

    Anonymous
    Even a theist would not miss a clear written assumption of “no God”

    I merely see it highly unlikely that any of the gods worshiped by humanity exist. That’s not the same as saying I “assume” they don’t

    I see no “practical purposes” relating to my position. To me the whole question is philosophical, not something proven.

    Please don’t suggest I’m not honest

    BTW: Are you not aware that fossils are only supporting evidence for Evo? Evo is a reasonable option without fossil evidence😃

    Duke1CA
    Evolution cannot even explain the existence of reason itself, much less be reasonable. Your main problem is that you either can’t or won’t see that you just aren’t open to my arguments showing that Christian Theism explains all that exists and all that we know, while Materialism/evolution falls into unsolvable problems.

    Anonymous
    Evo does explain, eg, the ability to reason is a very beneficial ESS

    Duke1CA
    Something being beneficial or any other benefit would be meaningless in a matter-only universe.

    I must go now. Get the “Achilles Heel” video & Lisle’s “The Ultimate Proof of Creation”. These can help you, but only if you are truly willing to understand why someone like me went form your side to being a Christian.

    Anonymous
    It’s not a matter only universe

    If your video/book have any valid arguments surely some theist site has concisely also made them. Any URLs please?

    Please stop your “can’t or won’t” and ” truly willing” put downs, it’s not constructive.

    Duke1CA
    Thanks for a reasonable exchange. You do need to overcome your bias, which is both a natural reaction (which we understand as being mankind’s natural rebellion against our Maker) and the product of indoctrination by a culture dedicated to rejecting Christianity.

    Anonymous
    Thanks back for the chat
    Maybe you need to overcome your bias😃
    Surely history shows indoctrination by faiths not by non-believers😃

    Duke1CA
    I went from your bias, anti-Christian Humanism, to the pro-Christian bias as a Junior at Duke in 1982. You need to realize that you, like everyone else, has a belief-system, a set of beliefs about the nature of ultimate reality, human beings, ethics, values and the existence or non-existence of the Biblical God. Humanism was admitted to be such in the 1st Humanist Manifesto of the 1930’s, read it if you haven’t already.

    Anonymous
    Hi Christopher, I appreciate your coming back, as I have a genuine interest in why you believe what you do. In general, I’m fascinated why most of us don’t have the uncertainty that’s in me. You’re particularly interesting to me as you appear so exceedingly sure of your position😃
    I’m finding interesting your “The Question That We All Should Ask” and “Ten Widely-believed Fallacies Today”. I notice that to give feedback asks for an email address and I have a principal of not publishing any of mine on the internet (nothing personal about you). If you’d like feedback, would it be OK to give a false one like . . .? Or another option (like my doing copy and past to DMs from Word)?
    My wife and I have a rule that on nice a day we all endeavour go out and enjoy nature (the non-tooth and claw bits – I find choosing to create such cruelty difficult to accept from a truly good God).
    As I won’t be replying interactively, please feel free to fire questions for me to consider when I’m next online. Or pass judgements on me, or on your perception of my position, should your so doing support your ego or convince you that you’re right about everything😃

    Wishing you well and thanking you for chatting, regards Anonymous😃

    Duke1CA
    I am not sure that a phony e-mail would be accepted, but you could try. It hasn’t occurred to me until now that this is probably why many won’t post there. If a fake e-mail would work I could let people know this and hopefully get more discussion on the site. Thanks for pointing out this issue.

    I would add that the cruelty observed in Nature is understood by most Christians to be one of the consequences of the Fall of mankind, based on some Biblical texts. Indeed, death & decay did not occur prior to this and will not occur in Heaven (“where the lamb will lie down with the lion”). Finally, certainty is a bad thing when it’s unfounded, but it’s better than uncertainty when it can be justified. I went from certainty that Christianity was false to complete skepticism to certainty that C must be true.

    Anonymous
    Christopher Andrus on August 21, 2015 at 8:57 pm said the following Ad hominem:
    “Your biggest problem continues to be that you refuse to see your own complete bias for natural explanations of things and complete refusal even to consider clear problems which I pose against them, as well as your complete bias against our alternative explanations.”

    Dear Christopher,
    (1) If the exact same Ad hominem was directed at you, what would your response be please?
    (2) What do you think the use of such an Ad hominem say about the personality of the user of it and their logic/communication skills please?

    Sorry Christopher, couldn’t help it – it’s in the DNA that God gave me 🙂

    With best wishes, your new nuisance, Anonymous

    I’ve just had accepted the above “Post Comment” in https://christianityistrue.org/2014/01/02/four-transforming-tweets/#comments … – to try a fake email as suggested. Maybe let’s hope it doesn’t get through?😃

    The Fall of Mankind
    So we all get punished because some bird eats an apple? I know, lets punish the kids of criminals for having stupid or bad parents? Didn’t God (the programmer of her DNA) know that the consequences of His programming of free will, coupled with His other programming, would inevitably mean that she would eat the apple? As an IT software programmer and manager I’d fire Him as totally incompetent. It’s surely stupid/insane to smash a computer because the programmer screwed up? And why do all the non-human species also get punished with the tooth and claw of nature? It all sounds like a big con job by inventors of religions who had high IQs wanting more power, control and lots more money!

    I agree with your “certainty is a bad thing when it’s unfounded, but it’s better than uncertainty when it can be justified.” I therefore look forward to you sharing your logic as to how the likes of the viewpoint expressed in my previous DM and the multitude of other negative perceptions of Christianity are answered. Without sound logical answers from theists, it is understandable that theist silence, or avoidance, of such questions is so frequently construed as being because theists have no answers that can survive rational scrutiny.

    Duke1CA
    What you claim earlier as an ad hominem is not an ad hominem. You need to look up what ad hominem means. My criticism is not of you as a person, it’s of what you are doing, even though you don’t realize it. My criticism is actually based on my belief that you are a reasonable person, who just can’t see that you are not being reasonable, on the one hand, by being truly open-minded to the arguments on the other side, and, on the other, by being willing to apply critical thinking to your own assumptions.

    As for ad hominems directed at me (real ones, in which I am accused of being evil and/or stupid), I’ve had to endure them on a daily basis for the 7 years or so in which I have sought to challenge atheists and other non-Christians here. As for the type of challenges I make of you or others (which are not ad hominems), I wish that someone would have challenged me in the same way earlier so that I might have been able to see the errors in what I was taught before I did.

    Did you try posting with a fake e-mail on my site? Editing one’s comments here is extremely tedious and frustrating. It’s why I prefer discussions on the comment boards of my site. It also allows others to read the dialogues.

    I did not get any notification on my site that you have posted a reply. So it may be that the e-mail must be real. The way things post here is also a problem. I did not initially see you posts following your 2 questions w.r.t. ad hominems.

    All of your negative perceptions of the Scriptures are driven by your a priori bias against the Bible, which generally keeps people like you from considering that there are more favorable interpretations which are reasonable. Or, at least, that there are possible ones, even if we can’t find them. After all, if anyone should be given the benefit of the doubt, wouldn’t this be the case for an Almighty Creator?

    My last post reminds me of where I like to begin with skeptics or opponents of the Bible. One’s perception of the Bible will always be determined by whether or not one is willing to accept that The God described in it exists. If one grants that He does (or, at least, grants this for the sake of argument), then everything in the Bible becomes credible (both morally and physically). I became a Christian because I came to accept that the existence of this God is not only possible, it is actually necessary. For there is no alternative to this which doesn’t eventually become incoherent.

    • Thanks for asking this. If you are asking the question sincerely, there are answers. But my hope is that you are not asking this either as an excuse to hate God and those who believe in Him, or as an argument for denying His existence. The first option is actually somewhat rational, but ultimately foolish. But the second “reason” actually makes no sense at all. The fact that God may do things which you don’t agree with has absolutely no bearing on the question of whether or not He exists!

      As for a Christian response to your question, I would say that the better question is: Why doesn’t God allow people to experience the consequences of their foolishness more than He does? There are countless situations like this in the underground culture of the developed world, but this is the first time we have seen a disaster like this. (Such massive losses of life due to a lack of safety standards are sadly common in poor countries, though.)

      When some people asked Jesus why a tower had collapsed and killed many people, His answer was “. . . those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:4-5) Now, most people today (including Christians who truly understand the Gospel) are not inclined to think as many Jews of Jesus’ day thought (and some self-righteous Christians, who misunderstand the Gospel, and other moralists think today): that the victims of such events deserved it because of their sinfulness. Rather, most today see the victims of such disasters as just that: innocent victims (and some victims of disasters are undoubtedly just that, but others are responsible for their demise, at least to some extent). But, Jesus’ main point still applies: We will all die. The only question is: Will we perish eternally in Hell or inherit the immeasurable blessings of Heaven?

      The #1 practical lesson to be learned from this disaster is that we must stop indulging people who recklessly ignore obvious safety issues, thereby inviting disaster for themselves and others. But, more importantly, this incident should be seen as a warning from God, as well as a call to stop running away from Him, to reach out to Him while He may be found and to receive the priceless Gifts of forgiveness, healing and eternal life which He alone offers.

  2. 1st a bit if background. I have never believed, both my parents do, but they never talked about it. I wasn’t even sure they did until I was in my fifties. I was forced to recite prayers at school, but no one ever attempted to explain why. It was just something they made me do, maybe I expected to be told the why of it later, but I can’t remember that far back. I’m a voracious reader, particularly of fantasy, but aside from child approved thoroughly censored excerpts no knowledge of the bible. That is until I read it in my 30s out of curiosity. You can take a guess what that would mean, but just to make it clear. ‘There was this talking snake’ did not put me in the history, science or fact head space.

    So Humanism as a replacement for dominant Christianity? Not always sure I qualify as a humanist and there are some crossovers with promoted christian thought. While I’m in no sense at all religious, I know enough to know if I’d been brought up in a culture that had not been dominated by Christianity I would be very different. Which is where I have a problem with dominant which is essentially a geographical accident. You’d never say this if you’d been brought up in the Muslim or Hindu world. Also christian values have massively changed over the centuries. If I was to send you back to meet Torquemada, he’d burn you alive as a vile heretic while reciting out of the real bible in God’s chosen language Latin like what Jesus spoke…

    I’m sure if we searched about we could find a Muslim, a Jew, a Hindu, etc with a very similar story to yours, but a different faith. You needed and wanted to believe, you searched for something to believe in and you found it.
    The difference between us is not your specific choice of faith, but your need for it. It’s one I do not share. One of my favourite theist friends who identifies as a christian, but is decidedly not a mainstream one, uses Pascals ‘God shaped Vacuum’ to describe her need for faith. It’s a missing piece of her that she fills with a belief in God. It completes her. I’m aware of no hole in me. No need for purpose as you describe it.
    Faith finds no purchase in me. I’m not special e.g missing the god gene (silly idea), so something else filled that space. Only way to get something in, would be to take something out. No one trying to persuade me to a god has ever put anything on the table I want. Too many by far have tried one form of compulsion or another on me. Only a few years ago, I would have ripped into you. Confirmed every angry atheist stereotype that there is. You can thank a christian that I don’t do that anymore, she taught me you can be one without needing to make others believe as ‘you’ do.
    Regards Tony

    • Thanks for posting, Tony. I don’t have the time to give you a proper reply this morning, as I need to go to work. But I will get back to you later today or tomorrow. I am assuming that you read the top piece before posting. But, if not, I ask that you do, as it can help you understand where I am coming from. I am not a conventional Christian by any means, especially in how I became a Christian and how I argue for Christianity, although I am an orthodox Calvinist in my theology and morality.

    • Sorry, Tony. But I have been especially busy for the past few weeks. One flaw in your thinking is that you falsely assume that you don’t have a kind of faith. We all believe in many things which we can’t prove. I suspect that your faith is well-summarized by the 1st Humanist Manifesto. Have you read this? It should be recognized that the writers honestly and accurately described their philosophy as a kind of religion. We all have beliefs.

      The Big Question is: Are our beliefs true? I have studied all of the major religious and philosophical traditions, having explored them with an open mind in my pre-Christian search for answers. Like most, I was open to any approach other than Christianity. But after God opened my eyes to His existence, I became able to show in relatively simple terms how all other approaches fall short of Christianity, either by falling into self-contradiction or just by reducing to arbitrariness. It’s not that other approaches lack much truth. But where they are truthful, they reflect biblical truth, having appropriated parts of God’s Truth.

      I’m glad you’ve softened your attitude toward Christians. But you still need to take The Big Step and come over to our side. For, it’s the only winning side in the end. My prayer for unbelievers this Christmas is that many of you will stop fighting it and embrace The Greatest Gift Ever – forgiveness from God, reconciliation with Him and the sure promise of everlasting blessings from “our Father in Heaven”.

      • Belief = faith?? Really? You are going to have to work way harder than a simple equivalence fallacy based on the ambiguity of natural language. I know all those games, the best you’ll be able to manage is to temporarily trick me, you see I ruthlessly re-examine my beliefs on every new argument or piece of evidence. I don’t want to be faith directed.

        I do not need proof, indeed I’m dubious that there can be proof. If your God popped down and showed itself to me, I’m as likely to check myself into a mental home as believe my experience was real. I also know there is no way that my experience would be proof of anything but my experience.

        You show me one place where I’m operating on mere faith and I will ruthlessly expunge it from my thinking. All my beliefs have evidence, the fidelity of my wife, the love of my parents, the sun rising tomorrow and that gods are man made fictions.

        The only place you can get me is, I don’t want there to be a god, an afterlife. But I know that I have that bias so I’m endlessly suspicuious of it. The more I want something to be true, the more I check. After all the person most capable of and most likely to fool me, is me.

        Too many believers have lied to me too often in an attempt to make me believe as they do. Perhaps if I’d met my christian friend earlier in life, I might believe as she does, but bear in mind she would rip your argument to pieces if you tried to tell her she was the wrong sort of christian.

        You want to believe, I do not. Those desires colour our thinking. What you accept as evidence, I do not. What I proffer as evidence, you will likely object to.

        So no more word games eh?

        Give up all hope of conversion now, its never going to happen, a better understanding of each other will have to do.

        Hope you had a nice Christmas, and you can look forward to a good new year.

      • Thanks, Tony. I wish you a Happy New Year as well. Your honesty is quite refreshing and admirable, as is your civility. A person like you belongs on our side more than on the side of our enemies, which militant secularist atheists certainly are. 2017 would be your happiest year ever if you could find your way over to our side.

        As for your last post, there is no fallacy in equating belief and faith as I have. I see this accusation as an attempt to evade a simple truth: You don’t lack a belief in God, you believe He doesn’t exist. That is a belief. And your belief that there is no Creator influences how you look at yourself and the world. You seek to explain everything (that is, all evidence) in accord with this belief. You yourself have indicated that even seeing God coming on the clouds would probably cause you to believe you are hallucinating rather than to believe what your eyes were telling you. That would not only be faith in your own belief about God, it would be an incredibly strong faith. Also, it would be quite anti-empirical at that point! Furthermore, you can’t possibly know for certain that your belief that God doesn’t exist is true. This is what makes your belief a matter of faith just as much as my belief that God does exist.

        This is not a game of words. What one believes about God has enormous consequences just in this life, and eternal consequences thereafter, if we are correct. Nor is this a matter of me trying to win an argument. I am trying to get you to do what is right and admit that your Creator is real. This is something which Romans 1 says that all people know (which, of course, includes you). I admit that I take this on faith, because I can’t know for certain what others know or don’t know. But that even unbelievers really know God exists also agrees with my recollection of my experience as an unbeliever (which I was until I was 22).

        If this is correct, then not only do you not know that your belief that God doesn’t exist is true, you actually know the opposite. So, to believe that God doesn’t exist contradicts what you know to be true. That is textbook Denial. Thus we see rejection of The One True God as humanity’s original and universal case of Denial.

        But, beyond encouraging you to acknowledge God, I am trying to get you to leave a path which does not give you lasting peace in this world and will only lead to misery in the end and get on the Path that leads to peace and joy. I do so because I care about you and want you to have the blessings that I have received and the unsurpassed hope that I came to have 34 years ago.

        Though you say you are not as bitter against Christians and Christianity as you once were, it’s clear that your thinking is still being strongly affected by your emotions stemming from past bad experiences. I will freely admit that Christians, because we are still sinners, still sin in how we treat others (believers and unbelievers). If we are truly Christians we will repent when we do so, ask forgiveness and try to make amends for what we have done. But our sinfulness can’t change what is true about God. We may do a very poor job of representing Him in many cases. But this doesn’t mean that He isn’t The One Who should be embraced by you and everyone else.

  3. I read about you on piewasmyidea.com’s “Hall of Shame” page and figured you had to be a satire site. Christ on a cracker you’re for real. I fear for the youth of this world who read your nonsense.

    • The really sad thing is that you are one of millions today who have been so strongly brainwashed against Christianity by the educational system and popular culture that you can’t even imagine anyone believing it. I was once like you, but thank God that He helped me to start thinking for myself and questioning the anti-God, anti-Christian propaganda that I had been taught over the course of 13 years of public-education. Only God can open minds. Nevertheless, you who resist His Call are culpable for doing so because you use the breath that He gives you to deny and even curse Him!

  4. I don’t understand. When I asked the question “How do you know God exists”, you directed me to this page, but none of this answers the question. Could you clarify?

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