Tag Archives: apologetics

… a challenging quote about God:

“If he is infinitely good, what reason should we have to fear him? If he is infinitely wise, why should we have doubts concerning our future? If he knows all, why warn him of our needs and fatigue him with our prayers? If he is everywhere, why erect temples to him? If he is just, why fear that he will punish the creatures that he has filled with weaknesses? …If he is reasonable, how can he be angry at the blind, to whom he has given the liberty of being unreasonable? … If he is inconceivable, why occupy ourselves with him? … and if he has spoken, why is the world not convinced?”

-Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

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Name-Calling and Education

I am amused and somewhat confounded that when one contests a point-of-view and takes it to its end, the person who finds themselves cornered and apparently without the wherewithal to respond to questions and comments speaks out with a vengeance and declares the other person to lack civility and is a fool to boot. 

My opinion about such things is that our educational system has not fulfilled its rightful role. Those who would call out another in a not-too-subtle manner as a “fool” etc., in most cases, have not been given a stage to present their thoughts for peer review. It is as if you can believe what you want as long as you are passionate enough about it to remain convinced. I find that approach to education wrong headed. Everyone should be given the opportunity to defend their position before their peers while having a person of authority, an instructor, also chime in with their years of experience and maturity. Are we too weak to call out defective thinking because it might hurt the little ones in their social interactions? Well, welcome to the real world.

Higher education is a place for trying out new ideas and getting the kind of feedback that benefits the presenter, shapes the message, even gives reason to re-think one’s position. I find that most of those who do not allow themselves to be challenged in a place of advanced education are unable to handle the emotional baggage that comes with being “outed” for poor style, as in name-calling.


Disliking (Hating) Atheists and other Pestilences

One of the conundrums of religion is the sad but real fact that many people of faith have little tolerance for those without faith. In other words, there appears to be a lot of hate going around. Why does this happen? It is my view that any form of atheism and agnosticism are perceived as a threat to the religious. After all, if one believes they are strong in their faith and a question about their faith appears unanswerable, who wouldn’t begin to wonder and speculate about the foundations of their faith? It happens to everyone. At this point the only thing left to do for a person without an answer is to resort to “faith” as faith gets by with little or no logical formation for it to exist. While this debate could be productive it is stopped cold in its tracks when arguing from logic or supposition. The subsequent “disliking” of faithless non-believers usually takes the form of distancing one’s self from the logician. If you remain distant from the cause of discomfort then discomfort does not have to consciously exist nor do inconvenient reminders of one’s irrational faith and logic. All one needs to do is stay away from its cause. In the short term this works but in the longer view one must take ever stronger and stronger measures to counteract the possibility that logical thoughts of others are the cause of many fears and anxieties.

There are a number of tools we have at our disposal to manage the questions and subsequent anxiety about religion. We could talk it out, try to understand it, we could rationalize it to ourselves, ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, run away from it, and get angry. Anger, minimizing, ignoring and exclusion appear to be the most frequently used tools to deal with what is not acceptable thinking or questioning about one’s faith. That is why there is so much religious hostility in the world. Too often the mantra of those with clear-cut but unprovable religious mandates espouse something like the following statement: “If you don’t believe as I do, I will (kill, hurt, ostracize, label, etc. [fill in the blank]) you!” Nations often take up arms against each other because of one’s beliefs. These nations are often driven by religious ideations and are no different than an individual. Taking up word weaponry to prove one is wrong or to hurt another is not uncommon. Most war efforts are driven by fear and/or anger. In order for one to avoid confrontation or lose a word war we resort to hostile statements while ostracizing the offender. The result is rage, intolerance and isolation. The tendency to isolate one who thinks differently than we do is born of a lack of understanding of both one’s own views and that of others. Of course this works both ways.

The irony in all of this is that many religious types claim to be concerned about the behaviors and thinking of those whose views run contrary to theirs. Yet, when pushed to understand that of another an impenetrable wall arises and communication is severely thrashed. This is an unfortunate result of closed minds, minds that will not consider the views of another when a position runs contrary to theirs. The need to perpetuate their thinking brings a kind of comfort outlasting that of logic. A place of disgrace lingers in the background as a person of faith will surely find themselves placed should they ask the wrong questions or betray their growing lack of faith in their religious culture.

Integrity is at the heart of most religions and expressions of faith. Therefore, it seems only right that a person of faith who is seeking to be a person of integrity would be willing to open up their faith questions and those of others with an approach that questions with honesty, fairness and reasonableness and not hostility, isolation, shunning and ridicule.


Courage To Examine One’s Christian Faith Or, Running Into Cowardice!

Most people assume that what they were taught as children is true, particularly religion. After all, it was taught them by parent figures, and who could one trust more than Mom and Dad? What one learned as a child, assuming authority figures have told the truth, is accepted as true. It is difficult to question ideas of parent figures and people we trust who taught us the basics of living, loving and learning since by doing so we are questioning whether or not we really believe what they taught us is truth.

 

Religious ideas come primarily from the culture and geography we have been born into. We do not generally seek out the truth in other faiths or religious expressions, no matter how “true” they may appear. Most rely on “authorities.” Many of us trust without so much as checking sources or credibility. This is supposed to explain the common questions that inevitably come up over a lifetime. And, most of us have never checked the potential veracity of foreign faith expressions. After all, they are foreign and are not of our culture, how wrong can one be, we conclude in superior tones.

 

Assuming there is waning interest in religion, especially Christianity, conservative types are feeling threatened and appear to be plotting to take away the freedom of speech and expression we have enjoyed in this country. This is due, in part, to the fact that much of what is being accepted by the general public is contrary to a Christian worldview. Many Christians give the impression they are threatened by the many changes to law, lifestyle and religion. Many of the general public have accepted the ways of Christianity while not having much investment in it and expecting the Christian core to capably defend their position.

 

But, have you noticed? Many Christians are feeling they need to go underground. They sense they are not wanted nor believed. And so, to protect themselves, their families and friends, they have disappeared, away from the prying words of people like myself who question the very foundations of their faith. Can’t be questioning one’s faith. After all, the proof is with them. Or, is it? I call this cowardice. Believe but will not defend. Make statements that presuppose one has the truth but when pushed to defend those statements become defensive or disappear altogether. I call that cowardice. I see nowhere in Scripture where the Christian is to cut and run. Doesn’t that cut across the grain? If it is truth and the Bible says to defend it then where are the stalwarts of the Christian faith? Hiding under ground?

 

I Peter 3:15, 2 Timothy 4:1-22, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Titus 1:9, 2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Timothy 2:24-25, Philippians 1:16, Acts 17:1-34, Matthew 5:11-12, Jude 1:3

 

Where, in any of the Scriptures cited above does it say to cut and run? Is there a citation I missed? Could you fill me in and put me right with a Scripture or two? If you have chosen to go underground with your faith, how is that defending the faith? If not, I call it what it is, cowardice! You can run from cowardice. You can be a defender of the faith. Why aren’t you? Isn’t that your job as a Christian?


…to my casual readers on this blog and Facebook

A few days ago I received a rather desperate message claiming my posts were contaminating Facebook and the Internet. Given their perspective, perhaps they were right. I am not able to determine what is right for them, as I am unable to fully declare what is right and truth for me.

 

There is an assumption made that appears to be consistent across the spectrum of thought we have been exposed to on many social media sites. That is, since I don’t believe as many others do I must not be a Christian and I certainly do not believe in God. The thinking that fosters this kind of attitude is sadly out of tune with, not only who I am, but also what I am thinking these days.

 

I make no apologies for what I write as contained within them are the basic questions I am struggling with about my life-long faith. Please note that fb poses a question to all of us each time we open our fb page and that is, “What’s on your mind?” I have taken that question seriously and often post what really is on my mind. These days, my faith is on my mind. I make no apologies for what I write even though to some what I write is troubling. If you are one of those who are worried about my soul I take that concern very seriously. I do not ridicule or ignore it as I take it as a genuine concern for my spiritual welfare and me as person. Your prayers on my behalf are welcome. Yet, I cannot ignore the questions that I ask of God and the questions that propel me to look in many directions for truth.

 

It is interesting to me that, because of what I think and believe, that I am drummed out of existence as if I were some kind of threat to someone’s very soul. Perhaps I do represent an alternative to the usual approach to faith, I can’t answer for you what might be your best approach, but dismissing me, as so many have done, will not change the facts and faith at stake for me.

 

I do appreciate your concern for me, I really do, and I hope to sustain family and friend relationships for many years to come. If being true to myself and my questions poses serious difficulties for you and you find yourself unable to tolerate what I write, then I would move on. My hope is that by clarifying my position that you would stop and consider what it means for you and me by choosing to abandon this relationship. After all, friendships are neither mandatory nor obligatory. If one chooses to sever a relationship I would hope it would be in the best interest of all, including this one. Thanks for taking the time to read and consider my point of view.