Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

10 June 2008

Prayer, Part I: You Gotta Have Faith

Since I mentioned prayer in a previous post I have been asked to say a couple of words on the subject. Well, why not? I pray every day, and I believe in its power, believe that it works.

But before we can discuss prayer, we must talk about faith. For if you don't have that, then all the praying in the world isn't going to do you any good. Prayer works for the believers, and it is not illogical to think so. God wants us to believe in Him.


What's that? God wants? One might legitimately ask, "How the hell do we know what God wants?" Good question. We don't, really, other than what it says in "that Book" which, for the sake of this discussion we will refrain from using or referring.

All we know is that we were created, much the same way as a parent creates a child. We want the best for our creations, and we can safely assume that God loves us and wants what's best for us. At least, that's the premise upon which my life is based.

But isn't saying that I "know" we were created a huge, unprovable, unsubstantiated assumption all by itself? Yup, you got me there. The Big Bang, the primordial soup, and humans evolving from the sea could have all "just happened" I suppose, with no intelligent design behind it. But my brain...my spirit...my very soul all argue against it. No, I don't see a big cosmic accident in all of "this." I see the hand of a very fine artist.

And it is with that inherent, conscious and subconscious knowledge that I go about leading my life.

We can choose to not believe in a Creator. We can choose to go through life thinking that we are completely on our own, that our current physical life is all there is, and that when we die that's it, we're done, end of story, sayonara. That's easy. Such a belief system takes very little thought and, in some ways make perfect sense. We're here for a while, then we're not anymore.

But we believers see God's presence in our lives. We feel His presence, and experience the joy that it brings. When you know that there is a God, and you know that He wants the best for you...and will help you if you ask Him, then that faith gives you hope. And without hope, our very existence is lonely and depressing. Without hope, all you have is the sad resignation and realization that things are out of your control and "stuff" will just happen the way it happens, too bad Charley.

I like Wikipedia's definition of hope, which is simply "...a belief that a better or positive outcome is possible even when there is evidence to the contrary."

Hope is what gets me through each day!

Truly, can there be hope without faith? That's rhetorical; I do not think so.
I've wrestled with my faith for a long, long time. Being brought up in the Catholic church, we are told to believe in God. And a lot of us probably did without question because our parents told us to, and why would they lie? But Christians tend to humanize God. They ascribe to Him certain human characteristics, and often pretend that He has dictated His desires and rules for us in a very clear way. At some point any thinking person would have to say, "Uhh, a lot of this is just a bunch of bullshit." Because it is, let's be honest.

When you start to question things, it can take you down some dangerous roads. For a while I discarded everything that I'd been taught - completely deconstructed my faith. Starting from zero, I rebuilt my beliefs one by one. With an open mind I asked myself, "What do I really believe?"

And as much as I would have like to believe that there is no God, no Creator, nothing more to this life than just Bob, I could not get there. Everywhere I looked, I saw God's handiwork, His presence. I'm a big skeptic...a huge skeptic! But I found that even I am just not a big enough skeptic or hardened cynic to presume that this universe just sort of, you know, happened. No. It was created, of that I have no doubt. Moreover, it was created specifically for us. Pompous? Perhaps. You are free to believe anything you want. That's the fascinating thing about being a human.

Okay, so starting with a belief in a Creator (whom for the sake of convenience I call "God"), what else is there to believe? Well, if I was created, then it was for some purpose. This has so far not been revealed to me, or perhaps I'm unable to perceive it at this point. Maybe some day I'll find out - maybe not. And if I was indeed created, then I am loved - by both my natural parents, and also by the Creator of my spirit and soul. That right there is some powerful stuff!

I know for a fact that my natural parents have always wanted what's best for me. If I ever went to them with a sincere request, they would move heaven and earth (oops!) to get it, for that is what parents do. Mine demonstrated this time and again. Why should I not expect the same from my spiritual Father?

Televangelist Joel Osteen preaches over and over that God wants what's best for us. I mean, he harps on it like a broken record. He says that all we have to do is believe and ask, and God will provide it. It's a simple message, really, but one that we sometimes forget. Believe and ask. Believe and ask.

I know my parents love me. I know that God loves me. They all want what's best for me. It is with this comforting knowledge and faith that I go through life with hope and optimism.

16 comments:

Redlefty said...

Great thoughts, Bob!

Now for the follow-up question -- if God wants what's best for me... how do we know what's best? :)

I really appreciate your perspective. I think all of us can use a little deconstruction now and then!

Bob Barbanes said...

Dang! The post ain't even up 45 minutes and there's already a reply?

Michael, honestly we don't know what's "best" for us. We just have to trust in God that He'll provide it. Some might see this as a cop-out, see it as abdicating or subrogating our rights and duties as humans - that we don't take responsibility for our own actions (both the good and the bad), preferring instead to assign the credit or blame to "someone" else. Not I.

What's best for Bob? It's simple.

I believe that God wants me to be happy...to feel fulfilled, rewarded and productive. I believe that He doesn't want me to be a drain on society or others but rather that I should be a positive force. I believe that He wants me to enjoy this life, both physically and spiritually, and live it in a way that honors Him and my natural parents, that shows neither any disrespect. Further, I believe that He gives us the means and ability to accomplish exactly that.

We need only ask ;)

Rodolfo said...

You wrote eloquently of why you have faith and hope but those two ideas are independent from prayer. I guess as someone who was raised Catholic myself I viewed prayer simply a 50/50 exercise. It could go either way so why pray at all? What matters is the work you put in. Sure I pray at the end of that effort but that prayer that I make has no bearing on the outcome. You don't need to be a man of faith to pray. If you look at case studies of success and failure you can clearly see what and why this worked and this didn't.

Is there is an actual deity out there that responds to our prayers? It sure seems unlikely. But if so does that deity only respond if you work hard and exercise? Not necessarily. I've met many people who live responsibly all their lives and still get blindsided by unforeseen circumstances. But if there's a deity that begs the question who created the deity? Why should a religious person be satisfied with the answer that their particular deity has always existed throughout time. Surely even an irrational concept like *time* has a beginning as well. If there was a deity that created us or allowed us to evolve in this planet then what for? To each his/her own. But what is clear to me is that the hope you have to live another day is simply your natural response to surviving. It's all about survival.

Atheists make the mistake of making a claim that there is no God when they can't know for sure. In my view the most sensible and honest position with respect to belief in a deity is agnosticism. Unfortunately being agnostic is viewed by some people as too fence-sitter.

Well written post overall. Again I don't argue the benefits of prayer because I myself pray occasionally. But any controlled experiment proves that it doesn't work. So why pray at all? I guess I don't have enough faith to be an atheist. But neither do have blind faith to be a religious person.

Bob Barbanes said...

Ahh, Rodolfo, still trying to prove the existence of God scientifically, eh? If you continue, you will lead a life of abject frustration - just as you will if you try to prove that prayer works by looking at various case studies or controlled experiments. Faith doesn't come from the brain, my man. It comes from the heart. God gave you both.

Can I tell you about the times in my life that prayer has worked? I suspect that you would either a) rather not hear them or b) dismiss them as coincidences in any case.

You said that you view prayer as a "50/50" thing, and then ask why bother praying? Well, you must have missed one part of your Catholic teachings. All prayers are answered; it's just that sometimes the answer is "no." So why pray even if it sometimes doesn't seem to work? Because sometimes it does! But I guarantee you one thing: Prayer absolutely WILL NOT work if you don't use it. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I did say that this post was only Part I.

Back to God and faith: Is there an eternal, uncreated deity who predates time? Heh- I believe so but really, who can say? However, just because something might seem illogical to my teensy human brain does not make it impossible, or even improbable. I say why not? I do not pretend that humans know everything there is to know.

You say that "surely" time has a beginning. Really? Well yeah, time as we humans know and measure it "must" have started somewhere. But maybe there are forces of nature in this universe that are far beyond human comprehension. I do not rule it out.

Finally, you say that faith and hope are independent ideas from prayer. I disagree! If you truly believe in God, and truly believe that He not only hears but will answer your prayers, you will be amazed at the results.

Semi-committed fence-sitters who only pray occasionally and half-heartedly need not waste their time. And in my mind, that is a terrible, terrible tragedy.

Rodolfo said...

God gave us a mind to reason but the heart neither thinks nor empathizes. It's simply a pump. If there was such a thing as a soul it would exist in the mind.

Hebrews defines faith as the belief in things unseen. I agree. Faith in my mind was born out of man's inability to accurately predict the future. We can get pretty darn close by simply applying some common sense and factoring the law of averages but but Back to the Future is still science fiction.

Yea I choose B. If I weren't interested in your musings I wouldn't come back so often. But yea they're coincidences in any case. Don't you think it's kinda kinda arrogant for someone to say my prayers were answered when you literally have millions in the world whose prayers should be answered and they don't? So how do I get on your deity's short list?

This is a common mistake I see with religious people. You only view certain aspects of the transcendent and divine or even the mysterious through your particular theology. Whose to say that the Judeo-Christian deity is nothing more than Mother Nature?

Sure nothing's impossible. It's not impossible for me to believe that there is a Chinese teacup orbiting the rings of Saturn as I type this but how probable is that? And if so what makes someone to be so inclined to believe such an improbable assertion? Is it fear? Pascal's Wager?

Why is it a tragedy for someone to be skeptical about certain claims made by theologians? If what is found in the Bible and Koran or other religious books are in fact true they should be able to stand the test of scrutiny.

Prayer and worship have been hijacked by organized religions. Prayer, worship and to some extent meditation can be experienced without a belief in a deity.

I can have faith in the common decency of the American people. I can have hope for a better tomorrow. But one need not pray to some anthropological deity to have those qualities.

Do I need faith and belief to be moral too?

Redlefty said...

rodolfo, my view on prayer basically mirrors yours. I don't personally believe that God hands down yes/no answers on individual prayers. I'm a Christian but haven't said a formal "prayer" in a long, long time. What I do would more commonly be called meditation, I guess.

Not trying to steal your thunder for part 2, Bob!

R1Tamer said...

Hey Bob,

It's reassuring to read the musings of an older and wiser man tackling issues he's dealt with in the past but which I wrestle with in earnest today. Now in my forties am I deconstructing my faith only to realise I cannot shake an unseperable belief in a divine entity I also call God. Even so I struggle to convince myself that I have ever seen an answered prayer which could not more rationally be explained as coincidence. How does one make oneself believe something one doesn't believe?

Bob Barbanes said...

Yes, yes, the heart is "just a pump." Rodolfo, when I said that you feel with your heart, I was not referring to the physical organ. Haven't you ever felt love in your heart? You seem to be working very, very hard at not believing in God. Which is fine. To each...

You're also still apparently hung up on the fact that some prayers are answered and some not. All I can say is that we do not know "God's will," or the spiritual makeup of all those millions you point to whose prayers "should" be answered. Perhaps they are being answered. As I said, the answer is not always yes.

Nothing I can say will ever prove to you conclusively that God is real, or that sincere prayer is answered. Faith is such a intensely personal thing, and I cannot tell you how to obtain it. But it saddens me greatly to know that you do not have it.

You wonder if maybe our Judeo-Christian God is merely some vague, benevolent entity called "Mother Nature?" An atheist might make that claim. A Christian knows differently. Or, another way, if Mother Nature created all of this we would call her God. Same/same.

As for teacups orbiting Saturn, who cares whether they are or not? It's irrelevant. Does it make a difference in your everyday life? I doubt it.

The tragedy I spoke of is that you may never know the grace of God and the power of prayer. You may never feel the joy and security I feel in knowing that I am never alone...that there is a higher power - someone who loves you very much and who wants to see you be the best Rodolfo you can be - someone who'll help you do that if you ask. Because if you don't have a faith in God, how could you ever have faith in anything else? Science? Feh- What does "science" tell us this week...are eggs good or bad for us? Seems like "science" is never as absolute as we desperately wish it was.

And never mind that prayer and worship have been hijacked by religion. FORGET THAT! Never mind what *others* have done or continue to do. Just do what's in YOUR heart. (Oops, I said that word again.) You don't want to be a member of an organized religion? Fine. Then don't! That doesn't mean you can't still believe in a Creator...that you can't worship Him and craft your life in a way that is pleasing to Him. There are no rules. Wait- check that. The only rules are those which you impose on yourself.

And what gives you that "hope for a better tomorrow?" Where does that hope come from? Especially when man has shown time and again how eager he is to destroy himself and the entire planet on which he lives. I think that if you look deeply enough, you'll figure that one out. Hope, like faith and joy and anger and love and hate, is a real, valid emotion that lives, but not in our logical, explain-everything-scientifically brain.

Finally, I'll not address morality. You can come to that on your own. Or not. This post is only about prayer and how we get to the point at which we believe it works. I appreciate the struggle you appear to be having, Rodolfo. I just hope that you one day work through these issues and realize that your brain cannot give you the answers you so eagerly seek.

R1Tamer, you ask how one forces oneself to believe in that which he does not already? Man, that's a good one. I cannot tell you how. All I do know is that I eventually came to a point where I realized I had faith. Faith that my parents loved me, for instance. And then I realized that having faith in God was not such a big leap. If I could have faith that my helicopter mechanic did his job well, and then jump in and go fly that helicopter after he had it all apart, then I certainly could believe in God. Especially when the evidence is so abundant and clear. It is within my capability to believe, even if there are things I cannot adequately explain.

And Michael, if I were a snide smartass, I would suggest that since you really do claim to be a Christian, and really do appear to act the part, then you should pray a little more often - at least to give thanks for your beautiful family and wonderful life which, as we know can be taken away in the blink of an eye.

Redlefty said...

Bob,

That's a great point and is something I certainly do. I guess that based on my experiences in the church I have seen how many members define prayer, and my practices don't fit their definition.

I'm looking forward to part 2!

Anonymous said...

A gallant attempt to convince, however this post just preaches to the choir...

Rodolfo said...

Bob wrote: Haven't you ever felt love in your heart? You seem to be working very, very hard at not believing in God. Which is fine. To each...

Of course I've felt love. Love is a beautiful thing. But your insistence that one must have faith in some supernatural deity is what I find questionable. It's like the myth of secular moral chaos. One need not have faith in a supernatural to be a good person. Neither is faith a pre-requisite to enjoy the finer things in life or find gems in the little details. The irony is that I found it quite easy to disassociate myself from imaginary deities and organized religion when I simply examined the evidence. Try it.

Bob wrote: You're also still apparently hung up on the fact that some prayers are answered and some not. All I can say is that we do not know "God's will," or the spiritual makeup of all those millions you point to whose prayers "should" be answered. Perhaps they are being answered. As I said, the answer is not always yes.

If Gods' will *thy will be done* then why pray at all? Ever wondered why an innocent child's prayer that his/her molesting uncle accidentally chokes on his food never gets answered? You make the claim that prayer works and that a lack of faith (in a supernatural sense) is a tragedy yet the evidence proves otherwise. Why is it some of the most non-religious countries in the modern world have the lowest poverty levels or infant mortality? Our country is one of the most religious westernized democracies yet we have more people in prisons than we do scientists and engineers. I'm just asking.

Bob wrote: Nothing I can say will ever prove to you conclusively that God is real, or that sincere prayer is answered. Faith is such a intensely personal thing, and I cannot tell you how to obtain it. But it saddens me greatly to know that you do not have it.

If I turned on CNN or Fox and they both had breaking news story of Jesus Almighty descending from the heavens wielding magical powers then I'd believe it in a heartbeat. That in my view is evidence of bible God's existence and omnipotence. So what are the criteria for a sincere prayer anyway? When a good Christian family prays to their deity that their beloved mother recovers from cancer and those sincere prayers don't get answered it ought to make you question if not your faith but the effectiveness of prayer shouldn't it?

Bob wrote: You wonder if maybe our Judeo-Christian God is merely some vague, benevolent entity called "Mother Nature?" An atheist might make that claim. A Christian knows differently. Or, another way, if Mother Nature created all of this we would call her God. Same/same.

Actually I think you'd be surprised to find very few atheists making that claim. Atheists come in many stripes like Christians do but they’re pretty much in agreement that Mother Nature isn’t a god. They are a-theists after all. I think it's probably more an Eastern philosophical point of view. My point simply is that with all the competing theologies out there and everyone claiming that their particular brand is the *one true religion* what makes someone like you so sure? I'm not putting you in the same camp as some religious fundamentalist because you're actually pretty rational but as an ex-Catholic I know what it's like to have been told over and over that bible God is real. I don't dispute that what you *feel* is real but to automatically ascribe those *religious/spiritual* feelings due to some imaginary deity professed from a particular book is questionable and even dubious.

Bob wrote: As for teacups orbiting Saturn, who cares whether they are or not? It's irrelevant. Does it make a difference in your everyday life? I doubt it.

It’s relevant because it points out the fallacy of a belief in a supernatural. There's no way to prove (or disprove) something imaginary because by definition it's imaginary. I can make a claim today that there are fairies that exist in the bottom of a forest and you'll have no reservations thinking I'm crazy. Surely absence of evidence is not evidence of absence but most sane people don't even think twice about fairies. So it can be with bible God, koran God, and torah God.

Bob wrote: You may never feel the joy and security I feel in knowing that I am never alone...that there is a higher power - someone who loves you very much and who wants to see you be the best Rodolfo you can be - someone who'll help you do that if you ask. Because if you don't have a faith in God, how could you ever have faith in anything else?

Says who? I have faith in people. Like my mom. She was one of the greatest (and religious) people I've ever known. She loved me unconditionally and would sacrifice herself in a heartbeat for me. And I’d do the same. I know that love. I've felt it in the times she would write me when I was away or the random phone calls that she'd give me or simply the fact that she tells me she loves me. I never feel alone when I think of my mom. I'll never forget the lessons that my mother imparted to me. But she never shoved her religion down my throat and that's why unlike some atheists I'm very sympathetic towards religious people. But maybe my mom was just content that I rarely got into trouble unlike some of her friend's children so she let me be. Who knows? But it would be incorrect for you to assume that a person without a belief in a supernatural or even without a church is an empty vessel. Tell that to someone like Ann Druyan, the widow of the great Carl Sagan. One of the most loving and inspirational skeptics this world has ever produced. What he advocated was a skeptic outlook without losing a sense of wonder about the universe. This man embodied what decency and open-mindedness ought to be yet he was non-religious. It’s the same thing with Albert Einstein. One of the greatest minds in modern times. One who was critical of both the religious and the atheist. Here's one of my favorite quotes from him:

"The most beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all serious endeavor in art and science. He who never had this experience seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious. To me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is."

You and I (believe it or not) get what he's saying. But you don't need a belief in some *celestial decider* to experience these emotions. These are universal truths and for one particular faith like Islam or Christianity to be so sure of their deity is again what I find objectionable.

Bob wrote: Science? Feh- What does "science" tell us this week...are eggs good or bad for us? Seems like "science" is never as absolute as we desperately wish it was.

That's a common misconception of science. Science is not absolute. The essence and beauty of the science is its ability to change. Like us humans. :-) It absolutely rejects dogmatism. If a scientist chooses not to scrutinize his own work or allow others to do so that scientist has essentially failed his profession. That's why peer reviewed journals are so important. There will be mistakes no doubt about it. But unlike the dogma of certain faiths science has a built in error correcting mechanism in place and forces those who practice it to be honest. If you're looking at science for *absolutes* then you won't find it. Even the theory of natural selection is incomplete. So is germ theory. Or electro-magnetic theory. These concepts were discovered by modern day prophets yet the more you study these theories the more we learn how *little* we actually know. It's beautiful and frustrating.

Bob wrote: And never mind that prayer and worship have been hijacked by religion. FORGET THAT! Never mind what *others* have done or continue to do. Just do what's in YOUR heart. (Oops, I said that word again.) You don't want to be a member of an organized religion? Fine. Then don't! That doesn't mean you can't still believe in a Creator...that you can't worship Him and craft your life in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Hijacked religions are serious. Look at Christian extremists like Fred Phelps. One can argue he's simply being too literal but is he? It's guys like him and Bin Laden that hijack the spirituality of their faith and politicize it for their cause. So it should matter especially to decent Christians such as yourself. Secularists have failed in their belief that faith should play no role in the public square. This lack of visibility by reasonable and sensible religious people leaves an opening for the likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Osama Bin Laden to hold political sway. A group's attitude reflects their leadership. The Judeo-Christian-Muslim deity is supposed to be all powerful, all knowing, and ever present. That's the conventional belief. If so this deity has a lot to answer for. Anyone (supernatural or not) who expects me to be accountable must also show to me that they're accountable themselves. And no I reject the notion that this particular deity shouldn't be judged by human traits. If that's how it works then all the more ridiculous for us terrestrial beings to worship an extra-terrestrial deity.

Bob wrote: There are no rules. Wait- check that. The only rules are those which you impose on yourself.

I disagree. Check your bible. It’s chock full of rules and regulations. Some are really outdated, problematic and in direct conflict with modernity. Wouldn’t it be great if we’re allowed to add new chapters to it? Unfortunately holy books don’t have an error-correcting mechanism. That’s what makes it so dangerous.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8

Bob wrote: And what gives you that "hope for a better tomorrow?" Where does that hope come from? Especially when man has shown time and again how eager he is to destroy himself and the entire planet on which he lives. I think that if you look deeply enough, you'll figure that one out. Hope, like faith and joy and anger and love and hate, is a real, valid emotion that lives, but not in our logical, explain-everything-scientifically brain.

I don't dispute that those emotions are real. In fact as we understand the nature of our mind and construct a better picture of our ancient past through neuroscience and anthropology we might fully explain hope, joy, anger and hate. But I fundamentally disagree with your conclusion about deities and prayer being a pre-requisite to any of these wonderful emotions. To quote a famous politician:

"Hope is not blind optimism. Hope is believing and *fighting for* what did not seem possible before."

That's what hope is. Some days I need more hope than other days. Is bible God pointing the way for me all the time? Maybe. I doubt it. It's gonna take a lot of hope and faith to change the way some people treat other people. But ultimately that choice is ours alone to make. When the Bin Laden's and McVeigh's of the world see themselves in those they wish to harm the world will be a better place. A simple change of attitude is all it takes. Simple but definitely not easy. Does a supernatural deity that intervenes depending on its ever changing criteria for sincerity really need to be a part of that? If so we're all screwed.

Bob Wrote: Finally, I'll not address morality. You can come to that on your own. Or not. This post is only about prayer and how we get to the point at which we believe it works. I appreciate the struggle you appear to be having, Rodolfo. I just hope that you one day work through these issues and realize that your brain cannot give you the answers you so eagerly seek.

Well I appreciate you insight and look forward to future posts. Believe it or not I don't' feel like I'm struggling at all. I get stressed out about certain things like any normal person would. A pretty girl walking the street still takes my breath away. I'm constantly amazed at the random acts of generosity by strangers. But I'm pretty comfortable in my non-religious position. Being a skeptic and infidel is different from being cynical and hopeless. I'm not afraid to admit that I may not know everything. But what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is our highly developed brain. Show me a better way to arrive at facts other than through the scientific method and I may understand your point of view on prayer and the supernatural. You and I won't be around to see the ending to our great story but that makes me appreciate what I have now even more. My primary concern is how future generations (my version of the afterlife) will fare. Will they overcome religious/non-religious dogmatism? I hope so for their sake. Deep down in our *hearts* I believe we're (especially Americans) are a decent and generous people. If we overcome the fears, biases and stereotypes and choose instead to listen to our inner angels then I think we'll be okay.

Hopefully.

Of course there's always that asteroid. Yikes!

Rodolfo said...

R1Tamer asked: How does one force oneself to believe in that which he does not already?

The simple answer is evidence. Compelling physical evidence. Peer reviewed and survives scrutiny. when you examine the evidence for a supernatural deity it's easy to conclude it's imaginary. Now here's my Wager:

What if we're wrong about Pascal? What if God created us to be the most scientifically literate of all species and punishes those of blind faith?

I could say that those who deny the evidence for evolution or climate change are in deep trouble on judgment day. Just a thought.

Bob Barbanes said...

Rodolfo, I cannot add nor say anything to your post that hasn't already been said. You have given this subject a tremendous amount of thought and energy, and have come to some startlingly sad conclusions. At the risk of sounding condescending, all I can say is good luck with that. I hope you're not wrong.

I will only make one comment. *You* keep bringing religion and the Bible into this discussion, whereas I prefer to keep it out. Yes, some will say that even a basic belief in God *is* a form of religion, and I will not argue.

But I prefer to deal with this on a purely basic level: First and foremost, does God the Creator exist? I say yes. I go on from there. Where I go may not be where you or anyone else goes. I believe in God; He answers my prayers. Period.

If you make any further responses in this thread, please refrain from making any religious or Bible references, okay?

Redlefty said...

You guys have engaged in lively discourse in a way that is highly admirable. I wish more people could discuss such personal, normally-combative issues in a similar way!

Rodolfo, have you ever seen the "Why Won't God Heal Amputees?" website? Your posts have reminded me of it. I think most people should read that site, whether theist, atheist or agnostic.

I think that one of the highest ideals of humanity is when we rise above what we luckily inherited from previous generations, and press on toward better things. It sounds to me like both Bob and Rodolfo have done just that. You've both mentioned excellent parents, and are grateful for them, and now you are finding your own paths.

Even if those paths aren't the same, I respect them both. Neither has been reached cheaply or easily.

Bob Barbanes said...

Michael, you *know* the only thing I can say to this is...wait...can you see it coming?...is, "Amen!"

Ouch. Sorry.

Rodolfo said...

Bob, I'll respect your wishes. It's extremely condescending when people tell me I'm missing something in life. Or especially when skeptics are labeled *lost*. We don't have our civil liberties attacked like other minorities but there's a huge misconception about us and all we try to do is remind everyone we're normal people. Being non-religious is not a defect.

My greatest hero Thomas Paine and some of our Founding Fathers were deists. They believed in a Creator. I've read some of their thoughts on this subject and found it very stimulating. I once considered myself a deist but unfortunately it's difficult for some people to make distinctions between a belief in *their* Creator and the belief in Abrahamic Gods.

redlefty, Yes I came across that site a couple years ago. It's very clever and helped formulate some of the conclusions I write about.