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Friday, April 4. 2008
It is The Reason for God: Faith in an Age of Skepticism. From the description of the book:
Tim is the pastor of New York's booming Redeemer Presbyterian Church, but he is also well-known through his Thursday Men's Breakfast talks at The Harvard Club, which focus on the application of Christianity to daily life and especially to business life. Either or both are worth attending when visiting NYC.
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Thanks for the heads up BD. Looks like a book I'll have to get ahold of.
That's pretty amazing that one man can 'single-handedly' dismantle all doubts about God. Even Jesus couldn't do that.
He's a smart guy, but we all need our doubts, don't we - or we'd be brain dead.
If that's the case, BD, Tim Keller wants everyone brain dead.
I always think of Thomas when I hear people who think they have the answers. I love Thomas because he trusted Jesus enough to share his doubts. Jesus didn't let him down.
Tim is wonderful. Give him a listen. He is bringing many to Christ in the spiritual wilderness of NYC.
Jeffrey Hart said it best:
“Like the Whig gentry who were the Founders, I loathe populism,” Hart explains. “Most especially in the form of populist religion, i.e., the current pestiferous bible-banging evangelicals, whom I regard as organized ignorance, a menace to public health, to science, to medicine, to serious Western religion, to intellect and indeed to sanity. Evangelicalism, driven by emotion, and not creedal, is thoroughly erratic and by its nature cannot be conservative. My conservatism is aristocratic in spirit, anti-populist and rooted in the Northeast. It is Burke brought up to date. A ‘social conservative’ in my view is not a moral authoritarian Evangelical who wants to push people around, but an American gentleman, conservative in a social sense. He has gone to a good school, maybe shops at J. Press, maybe plays tennis or golf, and drinks either Bombay or Beefeater martinis, or maybe Dewar’s on the rocks, or both."
I admire you believers, I really do. To hang on despite absolutely no evidence, relying on faith alone- that must count for something, mustn't it? But I personally remain unconvinced.
try simplifing it, DrK -- look around you -- by and large, it's people with faith that are trying, or at least trying to try, to be someone better than they are. this may be a manifestation -- heck it may be "the" manifestation.
I like Spinoza on the question -- he asked, "why do we have the thought in our minds, anyway?"
Well, maybe it's just a matter of "hearing the music."
Maybe we are crazy, but you wouldn't think so if you met us.
"...Thomas trusted Jesus enough to share his doubts." Rubbish. He doubted when he didn't see Jesus but the instant he saw him, believed. He didn't share any doubts with him. Doubt is ever with us, of course, and all faiths are dented. No shame in that, but it's not the dents that make the car run.
dr kill, perhaps a different use of terms? There is proof for very little in the world, but evidence for many things. Because evidence is often ambiguous, there is evidence even for things which turn out not to be true. Someone prays and gets better, another prays and does not: nothing is Proved but there is some scrap of evidence for a hundred contradictory propositions in that. Few single arguments or events are definitive proof of even small ideas.
Evidence only becomes meaningful in the aggregate. If you examine all events for suggestion rather than proof, you will arrive at a picture of how the world is. In fact, this is what we all do every day. This is your religion, however vague or even unreligious it may appear. The question is never whether we shall have a religion or no, but which one we shall have, and how much it means to us.
I am, however suspicious of the "US 75% Christian" statistics that are often polled. Vague theists of Christian heritage may call themselves Christians, but just because the cat had kittens in the oven I wouldn't call 'em biscuits.
striking thought that the most durable of all arguments against the existence of god -- that if he did not exist, man would have invented him -- is in truth an argument for, rather than against, as an idea that exists in all minds throughout time and space has by that very fact become something in the real world of human life. That idea needs a name, and that name is called God.
To say that because something exists in our minds that it can't be real, is to say that we ourselves must not be real.
I understand because I was in a similar place. However, I realized that everyone has a world view - whether they realize it or not. Most don't and the mere mention of metaphysics and metaphysical reality makes most folks roll their eyes.
The fundamental fact is that everyone, including the atheist or secular humanist, takes a step of faith. There are no exceptions. It takes a step of faith to believe in God and Christianity and it requires faith to believe there is no God.
The key question is what world view requires the smallest step of faith. I would argue that a Christian world view takes the smallest step.
Listen, boys- belief in a god is the only thing we don't have in common. In my mind, that's a very small thing indeed.
I do not believe there is no god. I believe there is no proof of a god. A difference one can drive a mack truck through. I have faith in many things and many people, but not a god. I have faith that you who count a god as one of the things in which you have faith are no different than me, excepting this one small thing.
If that God exists than it might be a big thing!
You are right though, there is no proof of God. Neither is there proof of no God. But atheism is the exception rather than the rule. And still there is faith.
There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.
ah, the difference between the word and the meaning, Dr K. for example, what is the 'it' of which you see no proof?
Depending on what is 'proof', the mac truck can't be proved either -- not to anyone who can't see it -- tho the reason they can't see it is because they are not looking in the place where it is.
And what about the person whose acts are directed by faith?
Acts make change, acts change the world of tangible things, acts create, say, widgets. a widget is its own proof, but the person who made the widget, who says the making was God acting through him, is mistaken, when another person, who says the widget-maker is mistaken, is not?
The first person is saying only that he knows his own self, while the the second person is saying something much different, that he knows the first person's own self.
If you could ask the Lord to show me the beef, I'd be with you to the death (and Doubting Thomas undoubtedly would agree). And I ask this one small favor in the most respectful, least questioning and blasphemous manner possible. But until then, let us agree that my not believing the 2000 year-old story you find so compelling doesn't necessarily make me a bad neighbor.
I have examined much of the evidence, and I still find no evidence of any god. None. Zero. Nada.
But the take-home message for you believers is that my mind remains open to any evidence or proof of any god, while yours must remain closed if you are to continue believing.
Hell, if you can disprove god I'm no-god all the way.
As far as being a good neighbor. Shoot, come on over. We're having beer and barbecue.
Rubbish? No. Have you read "Beyond Belief" by Elaine Pagels?
Here is a good summary of it. Ironically, in tangential form, it addresses "Evidence only becomes meaningful in the aggregate."
The aggregate's meaningfulness can't always be trusted. But that's obvious.
(If you back space from that page, you will find many references to Dr. Pagels’ work.)
Also, the course, "Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: The Monotheists" by Professor F.E. Peters of New York University offers insight into Thomas and why he did not make the cut for the Gospels. "The Abrahamic Religions", another course by Dr. Peters, also mentions briefly Thomas' role in Jesus' life.
According to my studies, Jesus loved Thomas best and kissed him in the garden after assuring him that he, Thomas, carried the spirit of God within him. That would not do for the Romans or the Catholic church as we know, so they invented religion.
Show me the beef? :) Just show me the ONE TRUE religion and I'll be happy. There can only be one true religion/God. Which is it?
I guess that all that is in the universe is just a huge historical accident that continues to unfold. If so, there is no explanation for order, conscience, morality, good and evil. In fact, anarchy and chaos should be the order of the day.
I am not sure if your need for proof reflects a searching soul and mind or if it reflects the arrogance of man.
As AVI says below, evidence can be found all around for those who have eyes that see. For me, I see a preponderance of evidence.
If you spent the time and made the effort to build a coherent and consistent world view, I think you would find the evidence (or the proof) of God you seek.
Maybe you should read the book?
I wish you the best.
In my opinion, one shouldn't need one true religion, or any religion to be happy. I'm sorry for you if this is true. But perhaps I'm not actually happy, I just imagine I'm happy. Actually, it is the pursuit of happiness that gives purpose to my life.
I don't have any problem with being an accident of a cosmic dice roll, and I have no problem with returning to billion year-old stardust. I love my wife and kids just as much as y'all. I'm just not counting on your god to care for them.
Jeeze, now you're getting into specific religions, which is less appealling to me then the question of a nebulous potential called God.
Read some of Pagel's stuff. Not this one, though it looks interesting. I've read some critiques of her work, too. I might read this one, as we have it at the house.
Beef? There is no beef, Meta. You know that. There's only faith, and that idea extends well beyond the question of God. Frankly, we don't really know a lot.
Dr. K. What's with all of this sanctimonious "sorry for you" shit. It's worst than a born-again Christian. Sorry for you if you need to not believe, okay. I admire your dust in the wind point of view. Don't think you can prove it though, so get off your high horse. You roll in with an insult and then propound your point of view. Prove to me life is a blip. You can't because you have FAITH. Good for you.
If those folks at extremely smart are so smart, why do they have all of those blinky GIF's on their site. I had a frigging epileptic seizure.
'I am not sure if your need for proof reflects a searching soul and mind or if it reflects the arrogance of man'.
I agree with you, I'm not sure either. I am arrogant. But I know one thing for certain, and that is this- if you are certain of your belief you are more arrogant than those of us who need some real evidence.
I appreciate your honesty about your ambivalence.
I am just a flawed person with feet of clay who has experienced God's grace.
I don't see how that makes me arrogant.
I apologize if you have been offended by my comments. No insult is intended to any person or any belief. I have tried to avoid the type of attacks that characterize the usual debates about god and faith. I believe my point of view is consistent. I can't prove anything, but I'm not concerned with the unknown.
I'm not 'sorry for you', and I certainly don't have a 'need not to believe'.
All I mean to say is that I need the same proof that Thomas got. Do you have a problem with me asking?
I have asked, and asked most humbly and reverently, and I have not heard back from any god.
I do not intend to insult anyone, and I certainly cannot prove that life is a blip. And I do have faith, but my faith might not be in the same concept as yours.
Y'all are good dang commenters - the best anywhere except on the physics string theory sites.
We are doing amateur metaphysics now, but I am not too smart. I opened the door when He knocked and He offered me something more valuable than happiness.
Be gracious to Dr. Kill: He/she is a seeker, or would not even be engaged in this conversation.
I was quoting Dr. Kil with the beef. You're right about faith. My sister's minister is a woman who is new to the pulpit. She is targeted by a particularly obstreperous ass demanding to know the answers - all of which are mentioned in the post and more. My sister asked me if I had any good comebacks for her minister. I said "Your minister doesn't need any comebacks. She does not approach her beliefs in some cerebral attempt at understanding because she doesn't need to. She has faith. That is the be all and the end all." I added that she owes no one an explanation.
"...you're getting into specific religions, which is less appealling to me then the question of a nebulous potential called God."
This is where I take the road less travelled. I love the idea of God. I loathe religion.
ha ha. I hate those blinky things! I had to go back to that site to see them, too, because I was so focused the first time, I missed them. That's pretty funny because I have small stickies to plunk over any blinkies on a site.
I am glad to know they bother someone else.
I appreciate what you've written. You said something interesting just now about happiness. It is the pursuit of happiness that makes people happy. For one thing, happiness is often evanescent, but the pursuit is not and it enfolds great optimism and motivation of the spirit. Perhaps that IS how God works within each of us. Who knows. But it is a very warm thought.
I'm sorry for using the 'a' word to describe you. My bad. We are talking about superior, overbearing, presumptituous, self-important, overbearing pride.
I don't think arrogance describes either of us. (haughtiness, insolence, distain, attitude of superiority). We just have different interpretations of our day to day experiences.
Mankind could've never gotten started, if love didn't didn't feel better than no love. But it does, and thus we have altruism, loyalty, affection, attachment, to families, friends, organizations, and to our own selves as social beings. These are our survival instincts--if we didn't have them we wouldn't exist. So we have this idea called 'goodness' and we know it is real because all around us individuals singly and in groups fall out of it in a trice, and they die in some way as they become not-good. Even good individuals have many aspects, some of which are always falling out of goodness and trying to come back into it. This is life, and when it stops death has come. But some individuals fall away and yet still breathe and walk. And others die even tho they are good. So we feel that if death is an end, then life may not be worth the effort. Yet we make the effort anyway. Something makes this happen. Even if it could be reduced to descriptions of brain chemistry and/or instinctive stimulus/response behavior, it is happening, and we have to have a name for it. People don't spend their lives seeking nothing, there is nothing that doesn't exist that could draw so much energy, everywhere and perpetually in time and space. How can we care about a thing that isn't there? The caring itself is the thing. That's why we hear such spontaneous reductions as "God is Love" and "God is the way of life" and "God is light" -- "God" is what we call the thing that makes us alive. Trying to define him any other way makes for incomprehension, chaotic conflict, towers of Babel that seek more knowledge than we can have -- and cause us to scatter ourselves to the four winds.
heh -- speaking of ''babble'' i think i just did some-- well words fail -- the God language needs to be poetry --
Sounds like this Friday morning's mens' Bible study.
You'd fit right in, Buddy.
We do holy babble. We accept mystery, and we accept the life force that is built into us. We are always confused.
Twenty-one years ago I was in the process of killing myself through drink. I knew that I didn't have too much longer to live and I didn't want to die. I tried to quit drinking on my own but it was imposible. I was an arrogant athiest, much like Chris Hitchens only with one tenth the brain power. I wanted to live to see my daughters grow and see my future grandchildren. I made a proposition with God. If you help me quit drinking I'll believe in you. It wasn't like in a movie where the clouds open and a voice speaks, but I haven't drank alcohol since that day and I didn't suffer from withdrawal as I had in my past attempts to quit.
I wandered for a while with vague notions of who God was. I was brought up Christian (Catholic) and didn't think that God was the Christian God or Jesus. So I dabbled with the exotic and the mystic religions, Zen Buddism and Hinduism. The more I read, the less this stuff made sense.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, my wife had all the people in the small country church that she attended , praying for my conversion. The temporary pastor and his family visited us on weekends and slowly introduced us to the bible. I had 13 years of Catholic education and I could not remember ever really studying the bible. This pastor was poor, but he was always giving me books that would help to convince me that Christianity was true and that Jesus is God.
I was the embodiment of Thomas. I needed proof. Not definitive proof, but a preponderence of evidence. I do not believe in blind faith. It may work for some people, but not for me. I read many books, but More Than a Carpenter and Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh MacDowell and the works of Francis Schaeffer stand out as being very helpful to me.
Then my friend introduced me to CS Lewis. Mere Christianity was the convincer. Lewis's life and works have had a tremendous effect on me. It impressed me that a man with such an enormous intellect could go from atheist to orthodox Christian. Up to that point in my life I thought Christians had to be plain old dumb to believe in the Gospel stories.
God has been good through the years, but that is not to say I have my ups and downs spiritually. BD has posted some great stuff in that area.
The pastor who mentored me became a missionary to Columbia back in 1992. He was kidnapped by FARC in 1994. They held him hostage for six months and then murdered him. He left behind a wife, three daughters, and a son. Very sad.
Here's a link to a Mere Christianity study site. I truly hope it helps anyone who is searching for the truth.
heh -- confusion is at least motion and thus natural in a universe in which every part is likewise in motion. the only thing in it which ever stops are the ideas in our own minds, which are constantly trying to fix things and make them stop moving. Not out of perversity but just the mechanics of our existence--our thoughts form in words and words exist to exclude everything but their own meanings -- which makes them poor tools indeed, dangerous even, when we don't know what that meaning is. Words exist in nature only as we humans use them--so they are of man with ideas beyond nature, and thus seem to be equipped to contain God. They are like angels, suspended between the sacred and the profane as pointers in some direction or other, depending on as Lincoln said in his First Inaugural "...the better angels of our nature." God gives us hope -- but we want to not need hope -- needing hope is humiliating to proud animals -- but we forget that to be free of the need for hope is to be without hope, to be hopeless.
Amen to that. Maybe the higher power that you found was in you all the time, maybe it was outside you and you found it, but so help me i cannot see what difference it makes either way, as what came into your consciousness was a higher power, and that's that. Proof? Your testimonial is proof. So many of us want to 'locate' where the higher power lives, as if our search for a way to transcend ourselves is a sort of missing-person investigation for a physical--if perhaps invisible--being, as if having a known address would be the necessary prerequisite for a human to exist.
''stickies to plunk over blinkies'' --har har--o how i wish you were a next door coffee neighbor -- what a laff riot that would be!
The sheer level of posts and passion around this topic is evidence to me that there is something there, though what IT exactly IS can be debated ad nauseum.
The big eye opener for me, where all the pieces finally started finally falling in place, has come from reading an anthropological view of the Bible through Bailie and Gerard.
I was raised fundemental prostestant but am now Catholic. There is certainly good and bad in both approaches as humans with our human flaws must and do intrude on the truth. But what is amazing that TRUTH finds away to shine on religion practiced in good will and sincerity.
God bless...especially to you Dr. Kill
''Perhaps that IS how God works within each of us. Who knows. But it is a very warm thought.''
So true -- we want happiness, and agonize over its slipperiness, all the while forgetting that the gift to be grateful for is that we even WANT it in the first place.
Reminds me of when, when the Russkies put up Sputnik, they declared to the population "See - there's no God up there. Just empty space." Of course, they wanted to be God.
A story comes to mind, and I don't know the particular, about a Russian cosmonaut at a press conference after returning from outer space. He was spouting the party line saying that he didn't see any signs of God while out in space. A newsman retorted something to the effect that if he stepped out of his suit and his space capsule he would have seen God up close and personal. I don't know if the story is true, but I hope it is.
Maybe the higher power that you found was in you all the time--
'The main point that has here been so vividly illustrated is that in the phenomenology of mythology and religion two factors are to be distinguished: the non-historical and the historical. In the religious lives of the "tough mnded", too busy, or simply untalented majority of mankind, the historical factor preponderates. The whole reach of their experience is in the local, public domain and can be historically studied. In the spiritual crises and realizations of the "tender minded" personalities with mystical proclivities, however, it is the non-historical factor that preponderates, and for them the imagery of the local tradition--no matter how highly developed it may be--is merely a vehicle, more or less adequate, to render an experience sprung from beyond its reach, as an immediate impact. For, in the final analysis, the religious expeience is psychological and in the deepest sense spontaneous; it moves within, and is helped, or hindered, by historical circumstance, but is to such a degree constant for mankind that we may jump from Hudson Bay to Australia, Tierra del Fuego to Lake Baikal, and find ourselves at home.
In the present chapter dealing with shamanism, that is to say, we are touching lightly the problem of the mystical experience--which is non-historical and yet, wherever it appears, gives sense and depth to whatever imagery may be cherished in the local tradition, cultivated by the local priests, and more or less crudely utilized for social ends and a bit of spiritual comfort by the local populace. The shaman represents this principle on the primitive level, as do the mystic, the poet, and the artist in the higher reaches of the culture scale.
I should like to suggest, as a basic hypothesis, therefore, a correlation of the elementary idea with the mystical and of the ethnic idea with the historical factors just described. The elementary idea is never rendered or experienced except through the medium of the ethnic, and so it looks as though mythology and religion could be studied and discussed on the historical plane. Actually, however, there is a formative force spontaneously working, like a magnetic field, to precipitate and organize the ethnic structures from behind, or within, so that they cannot finally be interpreted economically, sociologically, politically, or historically. Psychology lurks beneath and within the entire historical composition, as an invisible controller.'
The elementary ideas--Campbell is talking of Bastian, and Jung--life after death, rebirth, androgyny, a dim remembrance of a perfect situation, the labyrinth, etc.--are in our species, from our body and our strange birth and childhood, which is why they are found all over the world, differently reflected in different societies. The gods are within, which doesn't make them false. To mistake, as the muslims do,the ethnic reflection for the elementary idea, and say, only my outlook is right, is the cause of much wasted blood.
Well done bob. The 'invisible controller'... manifests in myriad ways. And we each experience it differently... or not.