Archive for the ‘ Thoughts ’ Category

Fear, Confidence, and Sin … Part 2

I have added a video below, with some context after thinking and rereading this post as a result of a comment.

 

 

No, that is not a title for a crazy Venn diagram like this one. I’m writing this post as a reply to one from a blogging friend, preacher on the web. We’ve been talking for a while and I decided that his lessons should have a MAL counter point. Not the usual ‘he got it all wrong’ counter point, instead I want to offer up the ‘how MAL the anti-theist and nihilist does it’ counter point posts. He’s a nice guy and we’ve had some good conversations. I like him, so it is that I feel both obligated and needful of offering the positive nihilist counter point to his lessons or at least a few of them.

https://lovestats.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/2012-cne-food-venn-diagram.png?w=520&h=383

Now, having found this I am feeling obligated to find a source to buy this one in the middle

Before we get going, let’s stop by Wikipedia

Fear is an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events. Fear may occur in response to a specific stimulus happening in the present, or to a future situation, which is perceived as risk to health or life, status, power, security, or, in the case of humans, wealth or anything held valuable. The fear response arises from the perception of danger leading to confrontation with or escape from/avoiding the threat (also known as the fight-or-flight response), which in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) can be a freeze response or paralysis.

In humans and animals, fear is modulated by the process of cognition and learning. Thus fear is judged as rational or appropriate and irrational or inappropriate. An irrational fear is called a phobia.

Confidence is generally described as a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective. Self-confidence is having confidence in oneself. Arrogance or hubris in this comparison is having unmerited confidence—believing something or someone is capable or correct when they are not. Overconfidence or presumptuousness is excessive belief in someone (or something) succeeding, without any regard for failure. Confidence can be a self-fulfilling prophecy as those without it may fail or not try because they lack it and those with it may succeed because they have it rather than because of an innate ability.

Preacher stars out defining the context of the confidence he is talking about. I’m going to  paraphrase to try a point-counterpoint format. Feel free to use the link above to read the whole post with scripture references intact. I’m not trying to change the meaning of his lesson. Rat me out if I manage to do so. I added some highlights to focus the ‘point’ being made. This post will be long enough as it is.

POINT

CHRIST GIVES US CONFIDENCE

The prophet Ezekiel tells us today that each person will be judged according to his own works … lives in sin, he will die for his sins. Therefore turn from your evil way, and you will live.

[…] God has sent us a Savior, Jesus Christ. […] so that we might really feel forgiven. In this way the peace of Christ fills us and illuminates us from within, rejoicing our heart so that we no longer have any doubt that we have been completely forgiven and can now live in confidence and without fear of the judgment of God.

[…] Christ assures us that it is his merits, not ours, that satisfy divine justice, propitiate God, and avert his wrath against us for our sin. Therefore if we believe in him, we no longer need to live in fear of God’s judgment against us.

Then we must live well, according to God’s will, to grow further in holiness. And we must avoid all evil in order not to anger God against us again and so lose his love and light in our heart.
But if we sin, we can repent anew, confess our sin, and again invoke the merits of Christ’s death to make reparation for our sin and so again propitiate God in our favor.
With Christ we can overcome our fear of God, and rather live in the security of his salvation. If we are in Christ and have confessed our sins, we will live, and we can have confidence in his salvation.

COUNTER POINT

Preacher is talking about the god giving us confidence, yet it is that same god who gives people fear that causes them need of the confidence preacher is talking about. He’s talking about fear of damnation and the god’s wrath. It would be easy to simply say that I don’t believe in a god so have no fear of a god’s wrath. I used to have that fear and now I don’t. Getting rid of religion does not make you free of fear. Never mind the next life, this one has a lot of things which cause us humans to be afraid. Even believers have to deal with these fears. As religious folk say, the rain falls on the just and the unjust. We all have to buy food and pay for a home among many other things. Fear drives most of what we do in this life. It has been said that if the food was delivered free and housing was free most Americans might never leave the house except during commercial breaks on television. That situation rids us of most of the big fears: food, housing, entertainment. Without fear we are often not motivated to excel in life and that is something that I question about heaven as it is described, but that is for another post.

Fear

Humans need fear. It drives us to act yet it is also quite bad for us. When we get a fear signal into the brain our brains start shutting things down which are not necessary at this exact moment to get rid of the fear signal. Biologically we are evolved to dedicate 100% of our resources to the task of getting rid of the fear. If the fear signal is not a full blown fear, our brains might not dedicate all our resources to it, just some. It’s a graduated reaction for many things but for many people they have either no reaction or full blown 100% of the resources kind of action. It depends on the person and the type of fear. In any case, one of the things that usually happens is the brain shuts down parts it doesn’t need for the fight/flight reaction to fears. That includes the pre-frontal cortex, the part we do all our long range planning with, the part we do most of our reasoning with. It’s a delicate dance to deal with fear. The fear that preacher is talking about can never be removed or ‘exorcised’, it lasts for a lifetime or as long as you are a believer.

Sin is that tool that the god uses to chip away at any confidence you have, to make sure that you never quite get rid of that abject fear of eternal torment. It’s the tool that ensures the believer lives their life in fear. (That is definitely not good for you) A fear that only the god can give you relief from. Some might recognize that form of relationship.

That said, how do I deal with fear since I can’t kneel down and pray for help?

Many of our fears today don’t require fight/flight response, rather they require a meditated and composed reaction. That requires that we use the parts of our brains that shut down during fear response. Yes, we’re our own worst enemies most of the time. When I find myself in one of those situations where I am confused and in fear, not sure what to do, I have found that I’m most successful when I do the following:

  • Calm myself down. Meditate a bit if I can or simply sit and be calm in calm surroundings. Prepare myself to think the problem through.
  • Take a measure of the problem. What is it, how far does it reach, how much damage can it do… that sounds odd, but perception is very important. Look at the problem several ways, it too has weaknesses that we don’t usually see at first. Over time I’ve (l)earned the confidence to know I can do this.
  • Make a list of the thing that might mitigate the problem, slow it’s effects, or delay the effects
  • Make a list of possible things which might happen in the near future which I can take advantage of to fight/defeat this fear
  • Organize the list of things I can do, flagging them by time. What can I do right now? tonight? in the morning? I write that list down if needed so it is not forgotten and so I can adjust it as needed. This list becomes my ‘plan’. Sometimes there is nothing I can do immediately but remember to stay calm and all the things I can do are only little ones.
  • I work that plan around in my head to see if there is anything else I can add to make it better or things which ‘might’ happen soon which would allow me to change it to plan ‘B’
  • I used to think I could hear gods voice in my head but now I know it’s only me talking to myself. So I talk the plan over with myself, one of us looking for weak spots, the other telling us that we can make the plan work and what we have to do to make it work. The discussion usually includes preparation for the emotional and physical blows which are likely to come. Then I practice how I will react to those if they should happen so that I’m not completely unprepared for them.
  • The conversation usually includes a worst case scenario analysis as well. This is the part where the believer might say they ‘get right with god’ but it’s when I get brutally honest. What did I do to cause this and what is going to happen if I can’t fix it. In that honesty I prepare myself for that possibility, how I will react, etc.

All of that gives me a plan or three, an honest assessment of what is happening and what will happen. I now have the confidence to move forward, face that fear/problem head on… by myself. I may not know what the future holds but I’ve got the best information that I can get about this problem and the best plan I can afford to combat it. I can and do confidently move forward no matter how bleak it looks. Plan B often works out because that unknown future often enough gives me a new perspective or tool or resource and with my plan and confidence I’m able to take advantage of it when it comes along.

Some of the problems that I’ve faced this way:  Death, extended unemployment, financial issues, relationship issues, work issues, not enough money this month for groceries and many more.

This doesn’t make me fearless, just confident that I can come out on top, that it’s possible and if I’m prepared I can make it happen. Yes, sometimes the plan doesn’t work and the worst case scenario comes true. Funny, as bad as it seemed at the time, looking back I can’t remember why I was so afraid. The worst happened and I’m still here, still enjoying every experience of life. There were times that I couldn’t find a plan or even come up with my lists. My inner voice just simply says “Buckle up MAL, it’s going to be a rough ride, there’s no plan and no turning back” so my plan is do nothing and I carry on anyway with a hope that a new twist will happen and plan B will materialize. Confidence for me is not being certain of the world, it’s being certain of myself. No god can give that to you. You have to build your own confidence from the blood, sweat, and tears of all the times you pushed forward without a plan.

The best part, for me, is that when I come out the other side it’s not that I’m triumphant but that I get to mentally pat myself on the back for a job well done. I get to be proud of myself for surviving or avoiding yet another scrape or crash in life. Knowing that I did it gives me that much more confidence next time for the next problem or fear. That little bit of back patting actually helps repel future fears.

My search for truth helped me form this method. I searched for truth knowing the worst case was eternity in hell and with a hope that the truth would set me free. I’m not exactly free, but I’m informed and I  have a plan. I’m honest with myself about it. Sometimes those conversations I have with myself end up with me having to learn something about biology or chemistry or some other science field so that I have the understanding and knowledge I need to take advantage of any new twists. This is how I came to be so deeply interested in how we think and what consciousness is.

Failure is always an option. No is always a valid answer. The trick is to be calm, have a plan, practice how to react and be patient and ready for when a twist comes along so you can take advantage of it.

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet. — Damon Runyon

My planning, self honesty, and practice are exactly to help me be swift and or strong when that moment comes to change the outcome to a better one. That honesty is about not breaking my own rules as well. That is how this nihilist faces adversity and fear with confidence.

The idea that we have control, whether we really do or not, gives us confidence. That confidence can mean the difference between life and death yet it is the contemplation, the use of our ability to reason and plan which gives us that confidence that fear robs us of. We may have more to fear than fear itself but it is wise to remember that fear is the feeling of losing or having lost. That sounds harsh but giving into fear is to abandon all the resources we have that will help us win.

I’m neither a doctor or therapist. None of this is medical advice. It’s worth exactly what you paid for it.

God Has A Plan For Your Life …

Or not

The Christian bible sure thinks so.

Ephesians 1:4-5 Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will

That makes it sound like we have nothing to worry about. The god will play with us as he wills but we’ll be his toys, so it’s all okay.

https://i2.wp.com/www.whatisthegospel.org.uk/martyrs1.jpg

Before I go on about ‘the plan’ I think we need to spend a bit of time on what omniscience is. The god of Abraham is supposed to be omniscient.

God is the only One Who possesses limitless knowledge. The Illustrated Oxford Dictionary defines “omniscience” as “knowing everything,” and the Bible certainly ascribes omniscience to God (Psalm 139:1-4; cf. Woods, 1988, p. 34). Consider a sample of what the Bible reveals about God’s omniscience: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). “Can anyone teach God knowledge, since He judges those on high?” (Job 21:22, emp. added).

That link goes on to say that the god God knows everything, period. There is nothing that he does not know and did not know before the creation of all existence. That’s a neat trick, but put that on your scratch pad for a few minutes. He is also said to be omnipotent, that is all powerful, able to do anything anywhere anytime.

God is the only being Who possesses omnipotence. In the Oxford English Dictionary, “omnipotence” is defined as “all-powerfulness,” or “almightiness.” In other words, when God wants something to be done, it is done. God has all power in heaven and on Earth (Matthew 28:18), so unlike the limited power of humans, which is constrained by time, space, and force, God’s capabilities are limited only by His own character (see Miller, 2003). Paul wrote of God’s omnipotence in the sense that He is “above all, and through all, and in you all,” (Ephesians 4:6). God is preeminent for many reasons, not the least of which is His great power.

https://i2.wp.com/41.media.tumblr.com/ffc5bce5ad11e3a802144e42eb1a2711/tumblr_mi29n8YNv41qhmhdfo1_500.jpg https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/ce/0a/1d/ce0a1d8cdc8c84118247fb8f555214a5.jpg

So what does that really mean? It’s a lot to unpack. The god of the Christian bible is supposed to have created all existence, the heavens and the Earth. Let’s assume (for argument’s sake) that this god is omnipotent and can do any and all things he pleases to do. Fair enough, right? Can he also be omniscient? Can he do all things and know all things at the same time? This brings up some interesting conundrums that believers are seemingly not so willing to talk about.

The starting point here is that before anything at all ever existed the god of Abraham knew all knowledge, an infinity of it. He knew everything that would happen. It was not a gut instinct, he KNEW what would happen. He knew my mother and hers would die of alzheimer’s, that my grandfather would shoot himself to get away from the pain of ‘black lung’. He knew about cancer, ebola, AIDS, and every other bad thing that would happen to the human race. He knew he would have to punish Adam and Eve, flood the planet, sacrifice himself to himself as a scapegoat, the holocaust, genocide, war, crusades, burning of witches… he knew all that would happen. He knew who he would torture forever in hell and who he would not. He knew who would adore him and who would not.

If that knowledge exists, there is no free will. He knew Lucifer would rebel. He knew there would be a satan. He knew people would go to hell and he knew who they were before he created anything.

https://i2.wp.com/data2.whicdn.com/images/14621468/original.jpg

All of that knowledge exists. The bible and it’s believers claim it to be so. What impact can that have on an omnipotent god, a god that can do as he wants?

Well, if he already knows what will happen, how can he ever change anything? What good is prayer? What kind of plan is it when the instigator of the plan knows what will happen before he even begins? Can such knowledge allow that god to love? Can he love you if he already knows every thought you will ever have? Can such automatons really inspire love in someone? Can such an all-knowing person be just? If you know what action you will have to take before there is a crime, is that justice? Justice requires a decision yet no decision can be made if the decider knows before-hand what the decision will be. If there exists a being as described like the god of Abraham with infinite knowledge, how can such a being be omnipotent. Such a being can have no will or whim, nothing he can do can change from what he already knows will be done. Prayer is useless. God can have no plan for you, it is impossible. To have infinite knowledge and do nothing about the bad things is to make him either a monster or impotent to change them. If he is impotent to change the course of events of creation then he could not have willed creation to happen.

There is another option, he is both omniscient and omnipotent … if this is true it means he necessarily wanted all this bad stuff to happen, including the fall from grace. He is a monster.

There is yet another option: no gods exist and sh1t happens. The universe is unfolding exactly as if this last option is what is happening. To be both omnipotent and omniscient and make everything look exactly like it is happening on its own is to be worse than a monster, that would be actual evil.

 

 

 

Fear, Confidence, and Sin

No, that is not a title for a crazy Venn diagram like this one. I’m writing this post as a reply to one from a blogging friend, preacher on the web. We’ve been talking for a while and I decided that his lessons should have a MAL counter point. Not the usual ‘he got it all wrong’ counter point, instead I want to offer up the ‘how MAL the anti-theist and nihilist does it’ counter point posts. He’s a nice guy and we’ve had some good conversations. I like him, so it is that I feel both obligated and needful of offering the positive nihilist counter point to his lessons or at least a few of them.

https://lovestats.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/2012-cne-food-venn-diagram.png?w=520&h=383

Now, having found this I am feeling obligated to find a source to buy this one in the middle

Before we get going, let’s stop by Wikipedia

Fear is an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events. Fear may occur in response to a specific stimulus happening in the present, or to a future situation, which is perceived as risk to health or life, status, power, security, or, in the case of humans, wealth or anything held valuable. The fear response arises from the perception of danger leading to confrontation with or escape from/avoiding the threat (also known as the fight-or-flight response), which in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) can be a freeze response or paralysis.

In humans and animals, fear is modulated by the process of cognition and learning. Thus fear is judged as rational or appropriate and irrational or inappropriate. An irrational fear is called a phobia.

Confidence is generally described as a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective. Self-confidence is having confidence in oneself. Arrogance or hubris in this comparison is having unmerited confidence—believing something or someone is capable or correct when they are not. Overconfidence or presumptuousness is excessive belief in someone (or something) succeeding, without any regard for failure. Confidence can be a self-fulfilling prophecy as those without it may fail or not try because they lack it and those with it may succeed because they have it rather than because of an innate ability.

Preacher stars out defining the context of the confidence he is talking about. I’m going to  paraphrase to try a point-counterpoint format. Feel free to use the link above to read the whole post with scripture references intact. I’m not trying to change the meaning of his lesson. Rat me out if I manage to do so. I added some highlights to focus the ‘point’ being made. This post will be long enough as it is.

POINT

CHRIST GIVES US CONFIDENCE

The prophet Ezekiel tells us today that each person will be judged according to his own works … lives in sin, he will die for his sins. Therefore turn from your evil way, and you will live.

[…] God has sent us a Savior, Jesus Christ. […] so that we might really feel forgiven. In this way the peace of Christ fills us and illuminates us from within, rejoicing our heart so that we no longer have any doubt that we have been completely forgiven and can now live in confidence and without fear of the judgment of God.

[…] Christ assures us that it is his merits, not ours, that satisfy divine justice, propitiate God, and avert his wrath against us for our sin. Therefore if we believe in him, we no longer need to live in fear of God’s judgment against us.

Then we must live well, according to God’s will, to grow further in holiness. And we must avoid all evil in order not to anger God against us again and so lose his love and light in our heart.
But if we sin, we can repent anew, confess our sin, and again invoke the merits of Christ’s death to make reparation for our sin and so again propitiate God in our favor.
With Christ we can overcome our fear of God, and rather live in the security of his salvation. If we are in Christ and have confessed our sins, we will live, and we can have confidence in his salvation.

COUNTER POINT

Preacher is talking about the god giving us confidence, yet it is that same god who gives people fear that causes them need of the confidence preacher is talking about. He’s talking about fear of damnation and the god’s wrath. It would be easy to simply say that I don’t believe in a god so have no fear of a god’s wrath. I used to have that fear and now I don’t. Getting rid of religion does not make you free of fear. Never mind the next life, this one has a lot of things which cause us humans to be afraid. Even believers have to deal with these fears. As religious folk say, the rain falls on the just and the unjust. We all have to buy food and pay for a home among many other things. Fear drives most of what we do in this life. It has been said that if the food was delivered free and housing was free most Americans might never leave the house except during commercial breaks on television. That situation rids us of most of the big fears: food, housing, entertainment. Without fear we are often not motivated to excel in life and that is something that I question about heaven as it is described, but that is for another post.

Fear

Humans need fear. It drives us to act yet it is also quite bad for us. When we get a fear signal into the brain our brains start shutting things down which are not necessary at this exact moment to get rid of the fear signal. Biologically we are evolved to dedicate 100% of our resources to the task of getting rid of the fear. If the fear signal is not a full blown fear, our brains might not dedicate all our resources to it, just some. It’s a graduated reaction for many things but for many people they have either no reaction or full blown 100% of the resources kind of action. It depends on the person and the type of fear. In any case, one of the things that usually happens is the brain shuts down parts it doesn’t need for the fight/flight reaction to fears. That includes the pre-frontal cortex, the part we do all our long range planning with, the part we do most of our reasoning with. It’s a delicate dance to deal with fear. The fear that preacher is talking about can never be removed or ‘exorcised’, it lasts for a lifetime or as long as you are a believer.

Sin is that tool that the god uses to chip away at any confidence you have, to make sure that you never quite get rid of that abject fear of eternal torment. It’s the tool that ensures the believer lives their life in fear. (That is definitely not good for you) A fear that only the god can give you relief from. Some might recognize that form of relationship.

That said, how do I deal with fear since I can’t kneel down and pray for help?

Many of our fears today don’t require fight/flight response, rather they require a meditated and composed reaction. That requires that we use the parts of our brains that shut down during fear response. Yes, we’re our own worst enemies most of the time. When I find myself in one of those situations where I am confused and in fear, not sure what to do, I have found that I’m most successful when I do the following:

  • Calm myself down. Meditate a bit if I can or simply sit and be calm in calm surroundings. Prepare myself to think the problem through.
  • Take a measure of the problem. What is it, how far does it reach, how much damage can it do… that sounds odd, but perception is very important. Look at the problem several ways, it too has weaknesses that we don’t usually see at first. Over time I’ve (l)earned the confidence to know I can do this.
  • Make a list of the thing that might mitigate the problem, slow it’s effects, or delay the effects
  • Make a list of possible things which might happen in the near future which I can take advantage of to fight/defeat this fear
  • Organize the list of things I can do, flagging them by time. What can I do right now? tonight? in the morning? I write that list down if needed so it is not forgotten and so I can adjust it as needed. This list becomes my ‘plan’. Sometimes there is nothing I can do immediately but remember to stay calm and all the things I can do are only little ones.
  • I work that plan around in my head to see if there is anything else I can add to make it better or things which ‘might’ happen soon which would allow me to change it to plan ‘B’
  • I used to think I could hear gods voice in my head but now I know it’s only me talking to myself. So I talk the plan over with myself, one of us looking for weak spots, the other telling us that we can make the plan work and what we have to do to make it work. The discussion usually includes preparation for the emotional and physical blows which are likely to come. Then I practice how I will react to those if they should happen so that I’m not completely unprepared for them.
  • The conversation usually includes a worst case scenario analysis as well. This is the part where the believer might say they ‘get right with god’ but it’s when I get brutally honest. What did I do to cause this and what is going to happen if I can’t fix it. In that honesty I prepare myself for that possibility, how I will react, etc.

All of that gives me a plan or three, an honest assessment of what is happening and what will happen. I now have the confidence to move forward, face that fear/problem head on… by myself. I may not know what the future holds but I’ve got the best information that I can get about this problem and the best plan I can afford to combat it. I can and do confidently move forward no matter how bleak it looks. Plan B often works out because that unknown future often enough gives me a new perspective or tool or resource and with my plan and confidence I’m able to take advantage of it when it comes along.

Some of the problems that I’ve faced this way:  Death, extended unemployment, financial issues, relationship issues, work issues, not enough money this month for groceries and many more.

This doesn’t make me fearless, just confident that I can come out on top, that it’s possible and if I’m prepared I can make it happen. Yes, sometimes the plan doesn’t work and the worst case scenario comes true. Funny, as bad as it seemed at the time, looking back I can’t remember why I was so afraid. The worst happened and I’m still here, still enjoying every experience of life. There were times that I couldn’t find a plan or even come up with my lists. My inner voice just simply says “Buckle up MAL, it’s going to be a rough ride, there’s no plan and no turning back” so my plan is do nothing and I carry on anyway with a hope that a new twist will happen and plan B will materialize. Confidence for me is not being certain of the world, it’s being certain of myself. No god can give that to you. You have to build your own confidence from the blood, sweat, and tears of all the times you pushed forward without a plan.

The best part, for me, is that when I come out the other side it’s not that I’m triumphant but that I get to mentally pat myself on the back for a job well done. I get to be proud of myself for surviving or avoiding yet another scrape or crash in life. Knowing that I did it gives me that much more confidence next time for the next problem or fear. That little bit of back patting actually helps repel future fears.

My search for truth helped me form this method. I searched for truth knowing the worst case was eternity in hell and with a hope that the truth would set me free. I’m not exactly free, but I’m informed and I  have a plan. I’m honest with myself about it. Sometimes those conversations I have with myself end up with me having to learn something about biology or chemistry or some other science field so that I have the understanding and knowledge I need to take advantage of any new twists. This is how I came to be so deeply interested in how we think and what consciousness is.

Failure is always an option. No is always a valid answer. The trick is to be calm, have a plan, practice how to react and be patient and ready for when a twist comes along so you can take advantage of it.

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet. — Damon Runyon

My planning, self honesty, and practice are exactly to help me be swift and or strong when that moment comes to change the outcome to a better one. That honesty is about not breaking my own rules as well. That is how this nihilist faces adversity and fear with confidence.

I’m neither a doctor or therapist. None of this is medical advice. It’s worth exactly what you paid for it.

Proof That The Christian God Exists!

Yeah, I know. That title is more exciting than this post will be. I do that a lot. Still, bear with me this is pretty close.

I’ve been thinking today about the people that tell me answered prayers are evidence of their god existing.

https://i1.wp.com/www.bohindy.com/uploads/2/2/7/4/22745310/1224283.jpg

I know that looks more like a collision between methane and a flame, but whatever.

I wish Christians would keep a tally of the prayers they prayed which were answered with ‘no’ or ‘not now’. They are fond of remembering the ones they think were answered with a yes but they can never tell you how many were answered with no or not now – essentially not answered at all.

Do me a favor, ask them how many went unanswered when you hear that trope.

https://i0.wp.com/www.psycholocrazy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/animal-monkey_00214527-e1375189304990.jpg

I’m sure you’ll get a reaction a lot like the second image.

More seriously, if supposedly answered prayers is evidence of the god’s existence via interaction with the world it should be fair to say that un-answered prayers are also an evidence of the character of any given god. That is to say that if a god does not answer should we count that as abstention or as a Fsck You. In either case it is not a positive answer.

Matt. 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Clearly the Christian god is going to hear a lot of prayers.

If that did not sink in, this means that Gov. Rick Perry got the middle finger from his god in a big way. Of course that won’t count in the tally of what evidence is. No, that was just a ‘not now’ answer.

Do us all a favor, ask those that use answered prayers as evidence for a list of prayers that were not answered. Ask for details. Those prayers too are evidence to be considered. Let’s start making sure it gets the consideration that it deserves.

When the counting is done, here’s a link you might want handy: A book on statistics

I’m not even going to make the argument that they don’t know statistics. I think that simply asking for the list will be enough to start the conversation or terminate it completely.

Give it a try and let us all know how it worked out.

 

THE MIX OF FAITH AND EVIDENCE – A Reply

I don’t personally find the author of this post offensive but that doesn’t mean that he won’t from time to time say things that don’t seem right.

https://i1.wp.com/www.brainyquote.com/photos/s/saintaugustine121380.jpg

Frank wrote a post called THE MIX OF FAITH AND EVIDENCE. If you want to read the whole thing, go ahead. You’ll have to visit to see the graphic he is alluding to. I just want to comment on some of the points in his post.

So, who insisted that Christianity is built entirely on faith? That’s never been my viewpoint and I’m struggling to think of even one Christian who makes this notion their line in the sand.

The point is that without the faith, the religion is pointless. Christianity without faith is not Christianity. It is the primary pillar of the faith, and it’s the part that is bad.

And yet, someone in an atheist Internet community posted this graphic and figured it would cause lots of people to nod in agreement.
But making a statement in a graphic doesn’t make it true. It would be like me insisting all atheists are militant, arrogant and patronizing. Equally false.

This is true, simply making a statement doesn’t make it true. It was a question: If Christianity is entirely built on faith, why do Christians use evidence?

Before I get going here, let me make it clear that faith is definitely a key part of following Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is the son of God). In fact, a section of the Bible called ‘Hebrews’ spells it out: “Whoever comes to God must believe that He is real and that He rewards those who sincerely try to find Him.”
But nowhere does the Bible claim that evidence is irrelevant. Indeed, evidence is mentioned at key points.

He mistakes the claims as evidence, as we’ll see:

Consider the resurrection of Jesus, which is one of the most important parts of Christianity. In a letter that’s now part of the Bible, a missionary named Paul (who helped spread Christianity throughout the Mediterranean), told other Christians that after rising from the dead, “Christ appeared to more than 500 other believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died.”

That certainly reads like evidence to me, especially as the underlying message is ‘if you don’t believe me about the resurrection, then go ahead and investigate for yourself’. If Christianity is built entirely on faith, why would this be in the Bible?

For the same reason that con artists lie, I would think. This fundamental belief that the bible is true, word for word, is a basic tenant of Christian belief. Even though he points it out that there are ways to interpret the book as saying you should investigate for yourselves the ‘evidence’ offered there is long gone and religions are famous for not encouraging questions. It doesn’t even mean that the original author was being honest. They didn’t mention anyone by name, no government officials, no ruling body, no religious leaders… just a claim that there were witnesses.

Here’s another example, from a section of the Bible called ‘2 Peter’: “We didn’t repeat crafty myths when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Quite the contrary, we witnessed his majesty with our own eyes.” Again, more evidence.

This ‘evidence’ failed to convince most of the middle east. It was not strong enough evidence to keep him from being killed. In short, even in person very few people believed him to be the Christ. Among the few that did, even they had doubts.

The website FaithFacts.org has this take on the faith vs. evidence debate:
Blind faith is faith without evidence, which would be superstition. The Bible does not call us to blind faith. The Bible calls us to faith in evidence. We submit that various truth claims, including Christianity, should be evaluated on the evidence.

When people evaluate the ‘evidence’ contained in the claim (bible) and find it lacking Christians cry fowl or accuse such people of not having an open heart or enough faith or worse we hate their god or simply want to be immoral (as if not being Christian leaves you with no moral compass).

I can tell you, without any hesitation, that if I was called to follow Jesus based solely on faith, I probably wouldn’t be a Christian today. I was presented with evidence, then asked to make a leap of faith based on that evidence and based on the logic of Christianity. I made that leap and have never regretted it.

I can’t imagine what the evidence was. Clearly it was less evidence that I or others would require. That leaves us with a question: What standard of evidence should be used when evaluating truth claims? The only ones that I know of do not find religious belief to be truthful. If they did we’d not be having this discussion over and over again. Why is it that religion requires a different standard of evidence for it to be true? I rather think that this is special pleading regarding evidence gathering and evaluation.

So, where do you stand? Does a mix of faith and evidence make sense to you when considering Christianity? If it does, have you done any research? You may have friends or family members that discourage checking out the claims of Christianity, but this is important stuff.

April 25, 2015 by Frank King Photos

Clearly I don’t think the evidence for Christianity points to it being true never mind proving that it is. The people most likely to be accepting of the standards of evidence required for Christianity to be true are those of other faiths. Even they don’t believe in Christianity. If the ‘evidence’ can’t convince most or all of the people who sincerely ‘want’ to believe then how would it convince those that are simply looking for the truth?

On Orchids And Intelligent Design

Here we see an Orchid. They are part of a 100,000 plus variants or species of the flower. Like any life on this planet the various species have evolved to thrive in their environment. Like many forms of life on this planet humans have cultivated them (changed their environment) in order to change them to be more suitable in some way for humans. Every time that we see them in the shop we don’t think ‘oh, it’s a cultivated orchid’. Rather we think about how beautiful they are, how delicate they seem, how genuinely frail and wonderful they are. To be certain, they are all these things and more. All that changes if they start growing in a corn field. That makes them a weed: a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants. Perspective is everything.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orchidaceae

Philosophies are like this.  There are hundreds of thousands of them, most of the ones you know about are cultivated, shaped by humans to be more palatable or useful. Some of them grow like weeds, thriving in their environments. The human mind offers bad philosophical weeds a fertile environment in which to thrive. Once there the human will cultivate it and work to make it grow and fall victim to the wonderment of its beauty to them. They seldom realize that the beauty of the bad philosophical weed is cultivated by them and for them, competing with the philosophies which will sustain them and help them thrive. The philosophical weeds soon choke out the good philosophies we want and need to cultivate and grow. This is not through malice. It is because we humans don’t like to change the environment that our philosophies live in very much. Change is difficult. In fact, left to our own devices humans have shown themselves to be very poor philosophical horticulturists. When it comes to thinking clearly few of us seem to have that envied green thumb. These weeds, like all weeds seem to do, spread far and wide to every niche they can find as suitable to thrive in. That’s what happens when life evolves to survive. It is very opportunistic with little or no long range planning.

It might be said that an intelligent designer might have planned that so we could all see the beauty of such weeds as orchids or some such drivel. If we carry this analogy through, an intelligent designer wouldn’t have designed our minds as such a fertile place for bad philosophies. An intelligent designer would know that bad philosophies should not be designed such that they are beautiful to behold. It seems almost maliciously purposeful that the human mind, if designed, was designed to be a fertile environment for bad philosophy. It seems shockingly bereft of logic that such a designer would turn out to not have a green thumb, unless you consider that such a designer might think bad philosophies are not weeds, and is cultivating them in human minds. If there was or is an intelligent designer it sucks at gardening or its idea of beauty is detrimental to the well being of humanity.

 

Who Is In Control?

Control? Controlling? Control freak?

Interesting aspects of human nature that we generally note with some negativity involved. Wait, what about self control? Does this dog have it?

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the ability to control oneself, in particular one’s emotions and desires or the expression of them in one’s behavior, especially in difficult situations.

Actually it’s not even about control. It’s about desiring a different outcome more. Control is not about repressing bad behavior. No, it is about desiring a more favored behavior more. Think about it. When it comes down to the nuts and bolts, choosing rocky road over vanilla is actually exercising control. Control is about expressing the desired behavior over the undesired behavior. Wisdom is in choosing the right desired behavior. There is always a trick, right?

Direct your mind and the body will follow. The dog above gets no love for not eating snacks, he gets the desired loving behavior for holding still. Perspective is everything… usually … most of the time… at least on Tuesdays.

Oh wait I hear you say. Just saying you want the more desired behavior is not enough, that never works. Well, no, not just saying it. You actually have to want it. When you want something enough it’s easy to achieve.

Think of it this way: You might not like the thought of eating a kitty kat. When you get hungry enough the desire to not die will over come your desire to not eat kitty kat. Sometimes keeping control feels like that: choosing to eat kitty kat. When the alternative is not living through the week, perspective changes.

All of that, I hope, makes reasonable sense even if it seems a bit off key. Why would I tell you this stuff? When believers say that without a moral law giver humans become amoral and lawless. The god of Abraham means nothing for this dog yet he finds subjective morality and can choose a desired outcome over and above the easy route. Morality is so easy that even a dog can do it.

Oh yes I did just hear you say that without training and a trainer he would not do that. No, without training and a trainer he would not have an object of affection he wanted the love from. The trainer has nothing to do with the dog’s choice to remain controlled other than what value the dog places on the trainer’s love. Oh damn that free will stuff! Yep, I just said that. The dog wants the love of his owner/trainer more than the taste of a snack. That is control… not of an owner over a dog, but of a dog over himself because he desires an outcome from the owner.

Does that make sense?

There are people who will understand what I’m saying. Believers want us to think that the dog is not capable of making a decision and neither are they. Without their god they would gorge themselves on the snacks. They think life is about the snacks or just themselves. Even the dog knows that life is about more. Even a DOG knows how the law of reciprocity works. When believers tell you this kind of thing, remember that they are not even as intelligent as a dog. Then go get some rocky road!

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