So, just what are we dealing with here?

I am not one for religious debate.  Of all the religious debates I’ve seen (mostly on political forums and YouTube comment sections), I have found them to be fruitless at best and downright obstructive at worst.  Now, does this mean I don’t believe people should speak their minds and exchange ideas?  Of course not.  (If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have started this blog!)  However, never in my life has religious debate actually appealed to me.  After I started observing them, I began to see why, and I think anyone who’s sat through or read enough of the mumbo jumbo understands where I’m coming from.

That said, it would be dishonest of me to say that exposing myself to different perspectives on God hasn’t helped me evolve intellectually and spiritually.  I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember.  Today I am eighteen years old, and I cannot recall a single time that I have wavered my faith.  Years ago, however, my understanding (or lack thereof) of God was radically different from the way it is today.  You see, like many other theists, I used to imagine God as not much more than a man in the sky with a long white beard watching us, making sure we’re on our best behavior, listening to prayers, hanging out with his buddies in Heaven, and all that other stuff.  But I never really got in touch with that faith until I sought to learn more about it.

Over time, I’ve come to conclude that God’s nature has not yet fully been embraced by anyone – even those who claim to have a special relationship or knowledge of Him.  I saw that, for generations, God has been reduced to a mere symbol Whose very nature is understandable within the confines of human knowledge – knowledge that is attributed only to our experiences as members of the universe and followers of its laws.  Such is a reflection of the human psyche.  Of course, few theists are willing to acknowledge that this God goes beyond human conception, which has since the beginning of mankind consisted of the thoughts and writings of mortals.  Thus, we have collectively failed to grasp God (or at least, the concept of God), yet so many of us pat ourselves on the back and claim to not only know God, but to know His desires and His will down to the bare bones.

Now, as any debater knows, two cannot engage in a meaningful discussion unless key terms are defined.  That is what makes modern religious debate so directionless, so fruitless.

Paul Tillich pointed out that it is difficult to speak of God these days because people immediately ask you if a God exists.  We have reduced God to a scientific hypothesis and turned God into the ultimate explanation of the universe.  We have turned God into just another member of the cosmos – that bearded man in the sky, Who goes about His days as we do ours.  We do not engage with God imaginatively, engage with Him ritually, and allow Him to affect us in the same way we want to affect Him.

Why, I ask, can Christians not identify with God in the similar manner as Hindus do?  Why do we imagine God as a distant reality rather than the center of the spiritual life principle of the universe?  Why can God not exist outside the circle of our understanding?  If you think we already do and say that these questions need not be asked, I ask you to pay extra attention to the language that has defined our world’s dilemma with God.

I realize now, that theists and atheists alike have turned religion into a system for providing answers that lay within the reach of human reason.  The task of religion, as author and former nun Karen Armstrong once wrote, “was to help us live creatively, peacefully, and even joyously with realities for which there were no easy explanations and problems that we could not solve: morality, pain, grief, despair, and outrage at the injustice and cruelty of life.”  She gives us the example of cancer: science can diagnose and cure it, but it cannot, in the same way religion does, assuage the terror, disappointment, and sorrow that comes with having it, nor can it help us to die well.

So what is it I’m I getting at?  Religion can work and it can be beneficial to our world, but only if approached with the right mind and the right intentions.  It cannot succeed if it is wrong, idolatrous, or self-indulgent.  Yet rather than making it work,  the fundamentalists have used religion as a substitute for logos, which is intended to provide us with solid answers.  Such is why atheism became a viable proposition, as scientific findings have been used to render “God” redundant and, in doing so, reduce Him to pure nothingness.  This simply would not have happened had theists not justified their beliefs with scientific proof.

As theists, we must instead focus on living life ambitiously.  Live generously, large-heartedly, and open-minded.  Give your life the significance it desires.  Integrate with your daily lives and the moments of rapture and insights that come to you in your dreams.  Engage yourself with the natural order that’s been given to us, and if understanding God starts looking like a fool’s errand to you, try understanding His creation instead.  It’s the second best thing we’ve got, isn’t it?

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153 responses to “So, just what are we dealing with here?

  1. Pingback: Writing About Controversial Subjects | Riding Bitch·

  2. I think that your knowledge regarding rligion is very less
    You need to explore more so that you can eventually understand the concept of religion faith and fate
    It is your fault if you imagine God as a distant reality
    this is not the true reality

    • I think God is revealed perfectly in His son Jesus Christ. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whosoever believes in Him will have everlasting life. Wow that just gets me every time. Our sin debt was to big to have fellowship with Him so He paid the debt and gave us His Spirit guaranteeing our inheritance. So we don’t have to suffer His wrath.

  3. Hello, throw out the word religion and science and your left with the truth. religions are like politicians, made to accommodate. God’s nature is simple but all that is He as the creator is not for us to understand. The path to prosperity within and outward for all is to follow the Word and not that of man its that easy and that hard. Best wishes on your journey in life.

    • Hannah, Is English your first language? I’m damned if I could make head nor tail of what you you were trying to say. Could you write it in plain English so I can understand?

    • When our sins are forgiven and our names are written in the book of life and we live in fellowship with our creator we are in a place that cannot be easily shaken. Our circumstances can’t bring us down our finances can’t depress us, bad news becomes just background noise because neither hight now depth now principality or power nor angle or demon now persecution or hunger or thirst or anything under the
      sun can separate me from the Love of God. Whoooee that is blessin me right now.

      • When our sins are forgiven and our names are written in the lambs book of life and we live in fellowship with our creator we are in a place that cannot be easily shaken. Our circumstances can’t bring us down our finances can’t depress us, bad news becomes just background noise because neither hight now depth now principality or power nor angle or demon now persecution or hunger or thirst or anything under the sun can separate me from the Love of God. Whoooee
        that is blessin me right now. Thank you Jesus

  4. Beyond does God exist – can God exist? If He doesn’t – for what reason are we here and how do beginnings begin?

  5. Wow…appreciate your candid and transparent approach. Thanks for telling us about ourselves. Honestly I think we struggle to really know ourselves let alone a supernatural God. If we make this “logos” you speak of priority I think we will do a better job understanding both ourselves and Him.

  6. Hi there

    You say you don’t believe in religious debate. Do you believe in sharing your faith with others? What happens when you meet someone who is exploring christianity but has a lot of valid, tough, thoughtful questions that might take some time to answer and could lead to a debate…

    • Yes. As I said in the article, people should speak their minds and exchange their ideas on God. That isn’t necessarily the same thing as debating, whereas two people take firm positions on something and defend them without seriously considering new perspectives or compromising their own beliefs when necessary.

  7. Scott, I suspect you don’t really know what you are talking about. There is no way you can have any inkling what is beyond human cognition, nor even whether God goes beyond what we presently understand of him. After all, how could you know, or even guess, what might lie beyond what we know? This is, by definition, impossible. And since, if you are honest, you can’t be 100% sure that God exists at all, then you certainly can’t know that we don’t know enough about Him. We perhaps know too much (i.e. we are making things up).

    Or maybe you think of yourself as infallible and that anything you believe or have faith in can’t possibly be wrong? Wouldn’t this be a trifle hubristic?

    How do you know that your previous ideas about God as man with a beard is wrong while your present understanding of Him is more correct? And what makes you think that most theists aren’t willing to go beyond the human conception? In my experience, every single one of them is. After all, this is what all theists resort to when asked to explain the problem of evil i.e. that our human minds simply aren’t up to the task of comprehending God’s intentions. I think you are rather denigrating other theists’ views while elevating your own, something not very in tune with Christian modesty.

    • Um, with all due respect, did you even read the article?

      The point of the article wasn’t to make the case that God exists. I even said specifically that religion cannot replace the role of logos. (Most people who are critiquing this article seem to be conveniently ignoring that.)

      I am not 100% sure God exists. I am a person of faith, not certainty. If you think that anywhere in this article I suggested otherwise, I’d encourage you to read it again.

      I didn’t even argue that God wasn’t a man with a beard. I argued that he’s something more than that. Atheists and theists, from my perspective, tend to oversimplify God. If God exists, then He would have to, by very definition, be beyond comprehension since humans could not have created Him.

      I’m not trying to not be humble. Quite the contrary. I am saying that humans are not humble enough when it comes to the God discussion.

    • “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
      That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
      And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
      And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
      The work of hunters is another thing: 5
      I have come after them and made repair
      Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
      But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
      To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
      No one has seen them made or heard them made, 10
      But at spring mending-time we find them there.
      I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
      And on a day we meet to walk the line
      And set the wall between us once again.
      We keep the wall between us as we go. 15
      To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
      And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
      We have to use a spell to make them balance:
      ‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
      We wear our fingers rough with handling them. 20
      Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
      One on a side. It comes to little more:
      There where it is we do not need the wall:
      He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
      My apple trees will never get across 25
      And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
      He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
      Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
      If I could put a notion in his head:
      ‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it 30
      Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
      Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
      What I was walling in or walling out,
      And to whom I was like to give offense.
      Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, 35
      That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
      But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
      He said it for himself. I see him there
      Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
      In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed. 40
      He moves in the darkness as it seems to me,
      Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
      He will not go behind his father’s saying,
      And he likes having thought of it so well
      He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’”
      – Robert Frost

  8. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an incredibly long
    comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all
    that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say superb blog!

  9. Scott,

    “Atheists and theists, from my perspective, tend to oversimplify God.”

    This was the kind of thinking I was objecting to. I want to know how you know that people oversimplify God. What reason to do you have for thinking this? Somehow you must be in possession of evidence for God’s complexity that other believers have missed. I want to know what it is. Why can’t God be just as simple as people imagine Him to be? And please, don’t say things like, ‘Well, He created a universe from nothing so He must be complex.” There is no reason why a simple being shouldn’t create a universe. Also, most people already believe He created a universe so they must already be aware that he is that complex. What complexity do you wish to add to this?

    “I’m not trying to not be humble. Quite the contrary.”

    Sorry, but saying that we are not humble enough is indeed a plea for humility, which presumably includes yourself. If saying that we should be more humble is not an example of you being humble, then what is it?

    Could we drop terms like ‘logos’? This is clearly not a university essay and the people reading it are generally not experts in the field. Do you mean logic? Rationality? Reason? I’m sure these everyday words would allow you to communicate your meaning more clearly to people like me.

    • A mere mortal simply cannot assail the mind of an invincible, infinite creator or the entirety of His nature. If we could, that would imply that humans created God and made Him in their image, which is the exact opposite of what theists believe. In other words, “God” and “simple” should never be associated with each other, because any way we conceive of God is going to be inferior to the real thing. This is the very reason why Jews are forbidden to pronounce His name and Muslims must not depict the divine in visual imagery. That discipline is a reminder that the reality we call “God” exceeds all human expression. Such failure to grasp God in His entirety is why we question Him, and that demands humility from everyone, including myself.

      I learned what ‘logos’ was in my junior year in high school. With all due respect, if you don’t understand these terms, you’re probably better off not discussing any of this.

      • Don’t worry Scott, I won’t make you repeat anything that you have already said. For someone who is not certain that God exists you seem to know quite a lot about Him. How you know so much about Him while still claiming to be a) humble and b) not sure that He exists was really my point all along, though you haven’t really addressed it. Still, let’s pretend that you have, shall we?

        of course, the problem with logos is not exactly that I don’t know what it means. After all, it would have been the simplest thing in the world for me just to look up. No, the problem was the way some people, especially teenagers, insist on using big words to try and impress the grown-ups. I think you have succeeded with some people here, but you haven’t impressed me.

        Scott, you lack logic. You wish to claim that mere humans can’t possibly comprehend the totality of God yet it is your mere human mind that you are using to make claims about what God is like (e.g. ‘invincible’). Why can’t you be as honest as an atheist and simply say you don’t know? Why are you pretending to know something your mere human mind can’t possibly know?

        Also your logic about creation is awry. A rock is less complex than me, but does this suggest that I created the rock? Do you believe in evolution? If so you must know that we were once simpler organisms than we are now i.e. simplicity gave birth to complexity. If God stands at the beginning of this chain of life, why can’t he have been the ultimately simple organism. But since you admit to not even knowing that He exists, how can you begin to make claim about what He is like?

        Scott, you are 18 and it shows. How about trying a little genuine humility, rather than the affected type?

      • Just because I don’t having absolute certainty in God’s existence doesn’t mean I wouldn’t how complex He is assuming He does exist. As I said, God is not merely belief in something, but belief in an omnipotent force that is identical with the spiritual life principle of every single creature; the thing that makes reality… well, reality. Logically, it wouldn’t make sense for mere mortals to assail the mind of the one that created them. I know I’ve said that before, but that needs to be clarified, because your lack of reading comprehension skills shows pretty well in this discussion.

        You are strawmanning my argument on creation. This is another area where you completely miss the point, and that is why this conversation is becoming fruitless. A rock lacks a mind of its own. Humans have minds, and we are capable of grasping the concept of a creator God, but we lack infinite mental capacity. God, if He exists, is big enough to transcend human understanding of anything. If there were a level of intelligence that matches God’s, that would of course make God a lesser being than He is, and thus void the theist understanding of Him. And while I believe in evolution, I do not believe God would have to be “the ultimately simple organism” for starting life.

        Before you can even argue whether a creator God exists, you need to understand that His ways, if He exists, are not confined to human understanding. For example, if an all-powerful, logic-transcending God exists, then He can invent colors that we’ve never seen or imagined before. To mortals, that would be impossible, because we can only conceive of the colors we see every day and were already given to us by God. The concept of Him being invincible is something that humans can fathom, but not understand or personally experience.

        Now, let me tell you something: your blatant and condescending attacks on my age aren’t helping your arguments one bit. If you insist on dressing your arguments with ad hominems to try making yourself sound credible, then don’t expect your comments to appear anymore.

      • Mister Sunday, this Greek word “logos” brings up enormous connotations and associations, many having to do with Greek philosophy. More than that, the authors of the Bible used it to communicate something amazingly profound (cf. the Gospel according to John, esp. ch. 1, the Letter to the Hebrews and also the LXX translation of Genesis 1).

  10. “I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember. Today I am eighteen years old, and I cannot recall a single time that I have wavered my faith.”

    “I am not 100% sure God exists. I am a person of faith, not certainty.”

    Scott, these two sentences are a little slippery. You are suggesting that Faith and certainty are mutually exclusive but I would disagree. many people of faith who have never wavered are indeed 100% certain that God exists. The opposite of faith is not certainty but a belief in the value of evidence. Faith is imply belief without evidence. Look at Muslims suicide bombers. Do they have faith? Yes. Are they certain of Allah’s existence? Yes. The dichotomy you have set up between faith and certainty is a false one.

    • I don’t really care about people who are 100% certain God exists. That is not my position here. Faith, as so aptly defined by the Bible, is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1, KJV) Certainty is a firm conviction that something is the case. The problem is that people often mistake their faith for certainty, and that drives people to oppress those they don’t agree with. We are so engrossed in just “being right,” and less about being hopeful that what we are promised is true.

  11. “I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember. Today I am eighteen years old, and I cannot recall a single time that I have wavered my faith.”

    “I am not 100% sure God exists. I am a person of faith, not certainty.”

    Scott, these two sentences are a little slippery. You are suggesting that faith and certainty are mutually exclusive but I would disagree. Many people of faith who have never wavered are indeed 100% certain that God exists. The opposite of faith is not certainty but a belief in the value of evidence. Faith is simply belief without evidence. Look at Muslims suicide bombers. Do they have faith? Yes. Are they certain of Allah’s existence? Yes. The dichotomy you have set up between faith and certainty is a false one.

  12. Hi, came across your blog and was impressed by your thoughtfulness. Just had a couple of questions (based more off your comments and responses than the actual article). You seem to say that you can be a Christian (Christ follower) without believing in the divinity of Christ; how does that square with the passage from John 10:30 where Jesus says “I and the Father are one.” and John 14 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    It seems like you are saying that you can live a Christ like life and be “saved” without believing in the divinity of Christ but it is not possible to be “saved” if you believe in Christ but do not live like Christ; that salvation is based on our actions rather than our beliefs? Not sure if I’m reading you right?

    The Bible says faith without works is dead – James 2:14-20 “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

    The Bible also says that salvation is from God and not “earned” from our works. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

    Just curious to hear your thoughts 🙂

    • First of all, I never understood those passages to imply exclusivity to people who don’t accept Christ in the natural life. Jesus said no one comes to the Father except through Himself, but He doesn’t say “except through knowing me.” I believe people other than Christians can go to God without knowing Jesus, but that their prayer may reach Him only through His son even though they are unaware of it. The same is true of going to Heaven. In the end, only God (Who is Jesus) has the final say on who gets to Him.

      Secondly, I’ve always believed Jesus cares more about what we do than what we believe. I think the right thinking should be pursued, and I think that right living and thinking are at harmony with each other, but it was Jesus who said “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21) We should remember that a focus on “right believing” is what led to various holy wars and persecutions in Europe. I have no more right to dictate whose beliefs get you into Heaven than anyone else.

  13. Hi there I have nominated you for “Everyone deserves an award….”

    Please find the information on the below link if you choose to accept the award nomination.

    http://wp.me/P31gN5-9v
    Hope to continue reading brilliant stuffs from you as always.

    Love,
    Raman Kr Singh

    • Raman,

      If everyone deserves a reward, it follows that no one deserves one. What is the point of receiving an award if everyone gets one? Surely the point of an award is to distinguish good from bad work. I have to say that if someone offered to give me an award called ‘Everyone deserves a reward’ my response would be, “Thanks for nothing”.

      • No Problem Sir 🙂 I liked your posts so, I chose you. But it is fine if you don’t accept it, totally your choice, I respect it.

        No work is good or bad, depends on the person to consider it, and moreover awards are never given to bad works. Thanks & Peace. 🙂 Keep writing good posts.

        and this award was given to me by someone and it was rule that you have forward it to someone, whose blog you find very influencing. Don’t mind please 😛

    • Hi Raman,

      I think you were nominating Scott but it was me, The Unrecorded Man, that was sceptical about such awards, not Scott. Don’t get us confused. I am sure he would like to accept your nomination.

  14. I would like to announce that I will not approve any comments that provoke me to repeat myself. This is the very type of discourse I am counseling against.

  15. Can God make a stone so big that he can’t lift him?
    Omnipotent being can not exist, because if he can not create a rock so big – he is not a omnipotent, vice versa.
    The logic is inexorable, sorry.

    • God does not operate under the laws of logic. The problem isn’t with God – it’s with the absence of logic in that statement.

      This is a very old argument that most atheists have abandoned, yet it still pops up from time to time.

      Not that this has anything to do with the article at all, of course…

      • Amen, actually God’s character is somehow inclusive of logic, and yet God fulfills and transcends HIS own logic! Btw, for our real philosophers here, see Vern Poythress’s new book (2013, Crossway), ‘Logic, etc.’ (733 pages worth!)

      • Tell me, did a god knew about the sin of Adam and Eve before they committed it? If not, how is that possible? If he knew, why did he punish them?

      • The Adam and Eve story tells about how the descendants of primates became able to write your blog and the comments thereto. It is the place where language, abstract thought, conscience, knowledge of God and a bunch of other things entered and created our human experience and abilities. It may not be a factual story as the reality is undoubtedly more complex but it is true, as you and your commenters have proved.

      • Amen there “waltstamp”! Myself, I hold to an Old Earth Creation, with somehow a literal pair, but Adam was created first! (Theologically he is the Federal Head of the race, and too Eve, 1 Tim. 2: 13).

    • Sorry Max, but you cannot prove your own existence with logic either. But take heart, I believe you exist and I believe you are someone I would like to shake hands with and get to know (I am not being sarcastic). A tip on logic and philosophy if you still are reading: If you read philosophy I would recommend staying away from Rene Descartes and philosophers more associated with the analytic tradition–at least for awhile. Let me know if you want some suggestions on what to read.

      • Haha. Good one Max! I don’t think you have proved the existence of your hand, but that is some good evidence to consider 🙂

        How do I know you are not a computer algorithm (like Siri) or a woman typing with her foot? How do I assure myself that this is not just all a dream? Could I be hallucinating?

  16. Scott,i am interested to hear about your thoughts on suffering and God.I mean the type of tragedies that leave us so lost for words,for example,the death of a mother of young children who dies of cancer, ,leaving little children behind without mum…Looking forward to your reply.Thanks Scott..

    • Well, Peace, I cannot say for sure why God wanted to allow suffering (or at least, the possibility of suffering) in the world. The Bible does, however, address this problem, and offer a pretty convincing perspective.

      I’d like to refer you to John 9:1-12. This is the parable in which Jesus heals a blind man. Jesus says to His disciples, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus does not explain the cause of the man’s blindness, but the purpose. The purpose of suffering is not considered by Him to be a problem, but an opportunity to display His works and provide assistance in any way possible. We cannot call out to God without first calling to ourselves.

      Consider how science has improved our world through the years. We’ve found that the answers to many problems of suffering lie within the realm of human knowledge. We can cure the sick, we can improve living conditions for the disabled, and every week science comes out with something that has the potential to make our world a better place to live in. And even absent of these answers, we possess that one thing that carries us through our lives no matter the circumstances: kindness. As the Dali Lama once said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

      • Thanks for a great reply Scott..It is so true, that no matter the circumstances, it is always possible to find kindness.Dali Lama has some wonderful spiritual insights on suffering.I enjoyed reading your post Scott.Thank you:)

  17. well for one I think that is the problem, all the talk about religion. Without religion you end up with the truth the word of God, written by man inspired by God. If you do not have close relationship with God then maybe you should take a deeper look into having one. Like Paul said I work toward the Goal of becoming like His image.Romans 8:29

  18. I think Francis Scaeffer struck a great balance regarding our ability to know God. To paraphrase, he said we can know God truly but not exhaustively. Similarly, after 14 years of marriage I don’t know absolutely everything about my wife. But I truly know her. Paralleling that, Deteronomy says, “The things that are revealed belong to us and our children. The things not revealed belong to God.” So God can bring things from the realm of his knowledge into the realm of our knowledge. We are always growing in that but what He has revealed belongs to us.

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  20. The is not now, nor has there ever been any god, or gods, or spirits. The Universe, and everything in it, is the result of natural processes that occur given the right conditions. To project anything else onto it is no more valid than seeing patterns in the stars or throwing salt over your shoulder for good luck.

    Christianity, for example, is a young and strange cult, in global terms. None of its followers (or very few) actually follow the teachings of its main prophet, including its priests. It seems to be an agglomeration of earlier religions, dubious texts and contradictions.

    The religions of Egypt lasted far longer than there have been any Christians in existence, and yet they claim (in their more fundamental sub-sects) to represent a link through to creation.

    I don’t mean to be mean, most other religions have similar issues, or even more reliance on ‘teaching’ that stands no factual analysis…

    Be kind, share and treat people properly. There, common sense for a prosperous and peaceful world; no worship required.

  21. Scott, I am not sure if you will read this comment. (I stopped reading the ones people left for you after about 10 of them.) What you wrote about in this post is something I have been struggling over lately. I enjoyed it and it has inspired me.
    I hope you are not discouraged by some of the negative words being hurled your way. If I can boldly suggest something, be encouraged by them instead. I find that when I am becoming closer to God, move a step further in my faith, or have a breakthrough spiritual idea, that is when I come against the most opposition. When you find something great, the world will try to take it from you and drag you down.
    Religion is not logos, I must keep remembering that. Religion should spur my ambitions. Thank you.

    • Kris, thank you so much for those kind words. I am glad that this blog has helped you and others cope with the difficult questions that often compel us to doubt what we believe in the first place. That really means a lot to me.
      I am not, in any way, discouraged by negative comments. If someone has a worthwhile argument or criticism to make, and they put the time and effort into their comment so that I know they actually read the article, I’ll gladly approve it, even as I insist that most religious “debate” we see today is seldom productive, at least from my perspective.

      Thank you again for your thoughts. 🙂

      • There needs to be more debate. With all the misinformation the worse thing to do is stop telling the truth… Proclaim it!! And let the chips fall where they may.

      • I am glad to hear that you are not discouraged. I would be. Debate and discussion are needed for people to grow and learn. I am working on gaining enough maturity to handle debates better and to 1) not be discouraged and 2) not result to name calling, haha. Unfortunately, I agree with you that most religious debates, and most internet debates on comment sections, are not productive in that fact that no one seems to learn, grow, or develop respect. I applaud your ability and you efforts to try to change that.

  22. Dear Mister Sunday,

    At eighteen you seem to be off to a very good start, whatever my opinion might be worth. By logos I assume you are alluding to the Person in John 1, and Hebrews 4? It seems like you read the Bible and even better, you are taught by it.

    Unfortunately, since the early days it seems us humans want to make ourselves into gods. That is why we try to make the Scriptures, and even God himself submit to our little schemas and philosophies instead of vice-versa. I seek to know God so that might be a better bond servant of his (and even more mysteriously, a better son, brother to the First among Brothers).

    We must remember we are made in the image of God, but also remember to avoid making God in our image.

    He has shown us what is good and what he requires of us. So let’s act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our Elohim as we relate to Him, each other and the rest of creation.

    • Thank you, Ryan! When I talk about logos, I am referring to what Aristotle used to refer to “reasoned discourse” or “logic” in the field of rhetoric – not to any specific person or deity. Fundamentalists, instead of making religion work with logos, often use it as a substitute for logos, hence why we have the “intelligent design” movement that seeks to replace our current scientific understanding of the origin of life with a literal interpretation of Genesis.

      Indeed, throughout the history of mankind humans have made God conform to the standards and beliefs of the age. When we are at war, He is a hateful God. If we are feeling kind and generous to one another, He is a loving God. We make God everything we are and agree with everything we do to feel right with ourselves, even when we are clearly wrong.

      By continuing to entertain this self-centered perception of God, we belittle His authority and, consequentially, fail to develop a real, positive relationship with Him. This commonly accepted approach to religion by theists must change. As progressive Christian Anne Lamott once said, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

      • Ah, thanks for the clarification Mister Sunday. I haven’t really read Aristotle, or even English translations of him. So are you thinking of his Rhetoric (esp. Book I, Chapter 2) where he talks about pathos, ethos and logos?

        I am even more curious about what you mean by a literal interpretation of Genesis. I have found that people often mean different things when they say “literal”.

        I really liked those last two paragraphs. Well said, on the whole.

      • Yup, that is what I am referring to when I say “logos.”

        By “literal interpretation,” I mean the common belief that the Book of Genesis is a factual account of our world’s beginning; an account that rejects evolution, which is the best explanation of life science has hypothesized, and embraces the use of myth for teaching what is best explained by science.

      • The origin of species is not best explained by science. I would encourage you think about the philosophy of science. In the past what we now called scientists were called Natural Philosophers. Unfortunately, science has detached itself too much from the rest of the academy. This is not only harmful for scientific progress, it is harmful for humanity. Science has become an idol of the Western intellect. The “hard sciences” as they are so called make great boasts and promise progress. But let us remember we used nuclear chemistry to develop the atomic bomb. Also Darwinian ideas have been used to justify racism and worse. We need to be careful that our understanding of reality, especially humanity, is not informed by science in an imbalanced way. I am not against science, but I am critical of it sometimes. I am friends with research scientists and I used to study biology and chemistry, and partly because of that I understand its limits.

      • I agree that science can be abused, but like religion, it serves a vital purpose. If it weren’t for science or Darwin’s evolutionary theory, we wouldn’t see all these medical breakthroughs and scientific developments. The fact that Darwin’s ideas have been used to justify wrongs doesn’t negate the value of his discovery. And there is nothing wrong with being critical of science. That is, after all, what most science-minded people would ask you to do: be critical.

  23. Well said Scott and i think it also goes back to living with faith and trust in those that were truly inspired by God when they wrote the Bible.We must remember that they were also human and therefore it helps not to take everything that is written in the Bible literally.Ultimately,love and kindness continue to be the greatest principles to live by, regardless of all the diverse interpretations of the Bible.

  24. Quick notice: I’ve been receiving a lot of comments about things totally unrelated to the content of this blog. I am still fairly new to this site, so I am not sure if they are spam or not, but please know that irrelevant comments WILL NOT BE APPROVED. 🙂

    Also, I realize it has been a couple weeks since I’ve updated. I am still in the process of attaining a blog spot on the Patheos Progressive Christian channel. It has been several weeks since I last heard from a representative, so I do not know if I my application will be approved. That being said, I plan on updating here soon.

    Scott

  25. Pingback: MUI7GLkEnc·

  26. If you want to know God then you need to read his word.
    Deuteronomy 4:29
    But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
    Matthew 7:7,8
    7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

    8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

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