Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I wish you a most blessed Christmas

The year end has not sneaked up on me – it just came so fast I never saw it coming. So I will be off for a few weeks, retreating to the back of beyond, away from phones, power and broadband. Christmas, ah yes, I will be escaping the debate on whether it is inclusive or not to not include references to Christ in Christmas, or to ask if the season should be renamed Spendfest … I will miss the exchanges here, I appreciate the stimulating comments you bring – thank you.

So, a few days ahead of time I want to wish all my visitors a very happy and blessed Christmas, a time to relax and refresh the spirit.

God bless you all!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Am I a secret atheist?

There is a lot said by some atheists that I agree with, to the extent that you may even ask if I have aligned myself with the dark side.

Some atheists say:
" the bible is not actually accurate or true" – and I agree;
" religion has been used as the reason for war and atrocity" – and I agree;
" I could not believe in a God who inflicts suffering on the scale we see it today in the world" – and I agree;
" God did not communicate with us in an unambiguous way – he could have made it easier of us" – and I agree;
" that the creation story in the bible is a myth and that evolution happened" – and I agree;
" that Christians can't agree among themselves on doctrine" – and I agree;
" there is no proof that God exists, in the end you need faith to believe" – and I agree;
" it is illogical to believe in a God that is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, it creates irrational states" – and I agree;
" God could have given unambiguous proof of His existence" – and I agree;
" God could have eliminated evil from this world" – and I agree;
" that an atheist could do any moral action done by a theist and could hold any moral view held by a theist" – and I agree
" that the burden of proof lies with one asserts that there is a God" – and I agree
" you can't categorically prove that anyone had a religious experience" – and I agree.

So I guess I must be an atheist!

… yet …

I understand that the bible is neither inerrant nor literally true, it, together with other religious texts and the tradition of the Church form God's revelation to us.
I know that some people have used (and some still do use) religion to divide, to spread hate and horror and I know that doing that is contrary to Christ's teaching.
I know that there is suffering on a massive scale in this world and that most of it brought about by people exercising their freewill to win power or resources and in so doing go against Christ's message of love and I know that if we all responded unselfishly in love to the plight of others the world would be a much better place for all. I understand that freewill is one of the greatest gifts we have and that we seriously abuse it.
I know God has left space for us to work on his revelations to us to establish the truth in our hearts rather than superficially from a precise text. He has given us the choice of believing or not.
I know about evolution and I have some understanding about the elements of creation, I appreciate the fine balance in the laws of physics and the code system around DNA that I know there is room for a creator in a rational view of the world.
I know the Christian church is fragmented with some deep divisions, some a clear result of human weakness and greed, but I can't escape the common teaching of love for one another even if it is obviously not universally practised.
I know there is no absolute proof that God exists, in the end you need faith to believe, in the same way you need faith to believe there is no God. Needing faith implies choice, choice establishes our moral character. I can't prove there is a God but I am open to accepting the preponderance of evidence that there is.
I know the tri-omni atheist arguments are superficially attractive, but I know they are not new and that scholars far wiser than I have confronted them and debunked them and that I can read and assess their arguments for myself – I get to choose what I believe.
I know God could have given us absolute proof that He existed and then we would have had no choice but to believe.

I know the idea of a world without evil is superficially tempting, but one without freewill and without consequences would be a world without learning or growth, like an eternal living death. I am pleased God was wise enough to spare us that.
I know you don't have to believe in God to be a good person, I just don't see why people who don't believe in an after life would want to do anything other than maximise selfish pleasure within whatever social constraints they choose to acknowledge. I know Christianity preaches a selflessness that is exemplified by those who have given their lives for strangers and I admire that.
I understand about teapots, I have reviewed the evidence that there is a God and accepted it. I also accept that those who assert that there is no God have taken on that burden of proof and note that I am yet to be persuaded by them.
I know you can't prove a religious or metaphysical experiences, but people I know, trust and respect have had them and I believe them sane - I have too and I think I am sane – I know St. Paul would have been crazy to fake his conversion in order to change from persecutor to persecuted, as would have been Wilbur Wilberforce in faking his conversion experience to take on the might of the slave trade at the expense of his health.

So what does that mean? That I am aware of the most powerful of atheist arguments (I have not listed them all above, nor dealt with each fully) but I can see where they are coming from and I still believe in God. While the exact nature of my belief may not be all that conventional I can still say I believe there is a God.