Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Human Experience

Nontheists (atheists more often than not) often ask the Christian to prove that their God exists. The Christian then will generally put forth the reasons they believe (e.g. anecdotal, logical). The nontheist questioning the Christian will then generally proceed to "explain away" the reasoning the Christian had for believing in God, legitimate or not. Subsequently, the nontheist will generally insist that the Christian, having no logical reason to believe, dismiss their belief. To their surprise, more often than not, the Christian remains devout in their belief.

Conversely, when the atheist's position is logically refuted (i.e. no evidence for the nonexistence of God, only that -at best- we don't know), and the Christian insists upon the dismissal of their atheistic belief, the atheist remains steadfast in their belief also.

When presented with "evidence" contrary to their belief, both parties seem to shrug it off and continue as if nothing had ever happened. Days go by, until the next week they find themselves at it once again. The process is repeated, and both the Christian and the nontheist come to the same conclusion: that the other is irrational, illogical, and (sometimes) deluded. This is par for the course in Christian Apologetics.

The reason for this blog is simple: I want to talk about why we shrug it off and try again.

It seems to me that despite whatever "evidence" one might bring to the table, there is always other baggage, metaphysical or not, that affects our perception. That baggage, in my experience (and in others': Christian, nontheist, and pagan alike), is always affected by and dependent upon the human experience. We each experience life, observe, participate, and understand things in varying ways and means.

A group of people watching a sunset will all experience it differently; those who witness some tragic or horrific catastrophe will have their own specific experience and observations. We are like snowflakes, vast a varying in shapes and sizes, but also in how we float along, always singular in our experiences, never the same as another.

Sure, it is certainly possible that there are others who experience life in the same way we do, but generally speaking, the way in which we experience life, observe, participate and understand things is distinct to each individual person.

What does this mean? It means that none of us, and I mean none of us, can definitively comprehend what precisely the other has experienced in life and how it has affected their beliefs, observations, perceptions, and understanding. Not even the most rational among us is capable of diverting the human experience, and getting rid of the baggage we carry, for it is only within our life's experience that we find the rational and logical.

So when someone comes to us with what they call "evidence", we listen, we think about it and, if it goes against our belief system, we generally reject it. Why? Because the things we have experienced, observed, participated in, and understood have all led us to the exact point at which we find ourselves at this precise moment. I am a Christian because of not only the events that have led me to this point, but the manner in which I experienced, observed, participated in and understood those events. Similarly, my atheist, agnostic, and pagan friends are who they are because of how they have experienced the events in their lives.

Is that to say that I won't stray from my current beliefs at some point in time? Not necessarily. I may have some experience tomorrow or next week which opens my eyes to an entirely different viewpoint. Similarly, any one of my atheist, agnostic, or pagan friends may have an experience in the future that opens their eyes to Christ. And that is why we shrug it off this week and try again; because what we say might not affect someone this week, but could forever change them the next.

The Standard of Evidence

In argumentation, nontheists typically require the Christian to provide supporting evidence or proof for the existence of God. What I find intriguing is that the nontheist offers no standard by which the evidence must measure up (i.e. what evidences one would expect to see of such a God as the Judeo-Christian God and how those standards are developed).

What I would like to know is this:

1. What evidence would you expect to see/observe/experience in our world if the Judeo-Christian God did exist?
2. How do you come to that conclusion (i.e. how do you choose one evidence over another)?
3. What makes your evidences any better than someone else's?
4. Why should the Judeo-Christian God submit to your evidences?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Just Wondering...

If some scientific applications we deem part of the world (e.g. Causality) do not necessarily apply as it concerns such complex things as the origins of the universe (e.g. Acausality as seen in radioactive decay), then how can we necessitate those same seemingly scientific applications to prove the existence of such an even more complex being as God?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Causality and Satan

I've seen it over and over again, where those arguing against the Judeo-Christian God bring up things like pain and suffering in the world and how a benevolent God wouldn't allow such atrocities to occur. Such people often bring up Judeo-Christian ideas of God such as His benevolence, mercy, goodness, and love in an attempt to discredit such qualities in God. Yet, more often than not, those people fail to recognize two key factors: Causality and Satan.

All people should recognize the ever-present nature of Causality within our world. Regardless of the controversial nature of Causality at the grand scale of the universe itself, most, if not all, scientists regard Causality as a means of accurately relating one event to another in our day-to-day life. That said, most of the events, or atrocities, blamed on God can be easily explained by Causality, that is, that these horrendous events take place because of the actions of others (and even ourselves) throughout time.

The "butterfly effect" is a perfect example of this. Anything at any time could produce an outcome that could be potentially catastrophic enough to cause these seemingly natural occurrences that people so eagerly try to place on God. True, Causality does not explain all of the irrational pain and suffering we see within the world, yet there is something else that does adequately explain them.

If anyone is going to argue against the Judeo-Christian God's benevolence, goodness, mercy, and love then they must also take into account other aspects given us by Scripture, namely, the presence of Satan at work in our world. Why should they take seriously that possibility? Because in arguing against the Judeo-Christian God, they must effectively take on the entirety of belief and doctrine surrounding Him. In other words, if they are going to presuppose God for the sake of argument, they cannot preclude such an adversary as Satan.

Not only is Satan mentioned in Scripture as living in our world, but as actively working in it as well. (Job, 2 Cr 4, Eph 2) Scripture tells us in both the Old and New Testaments that this is true: the story of Job, in Jesus casting Satan out of the possessed, in Jesus being tempted by Satan, and many more. These Scriptures show Satan as being active within the world and working toward his own end, that is, the destruction of God's people. This comes to us in the guise of pain and suffering to others by things we may deem irrational or natural (e.g. "Bad things happening to Good people", starvation, tsunamis and the like).

Am I saying that Satan is the direct cause of all of these things? Not necessarily. I am saying, though, that if someone is going to question the character of God, then they need to appeal to the Judeo-Christian belief in order to convince the Christian. To simply say that God wouldn't do such and such is fallacious at best. How do you know what God would or would not do or allow, or the reasoning for doing or not doing a certain thing?

The fact is that the Christian will always use Scriptures to reinforce their beliefs. And in the case where the Judeo-Christian God's character is under question, that is quite sufficient.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

9 Must Have Apps for the iPhone

Google – Aside from the search feature, the Google app has its own apps built in, namely Gmail, calendar, Talk (Gmail chat), Photos (Picasaweb), etc. Pretty much everything you can do on Google via a pc or mac you can do on the iphone. It’s saved me more than once, and it helps me to keep up with my pictures on Picasa.

Mobile Banking on AT&T – This has been a wonderful app because it allows me to keep track of all of my accounts without the hassle of having to log in to the bank’s actual website. One of the better banking apps I’ve found, it does require a pin each time you log in (for added security) and has been dead on accurate with my bank’s online updating of account info, purchases, and so on. I would also recommend’s new app for those who like Mint’s built-in budgeting feature.

Shazam – Most iphone users (and non-iphone users for that matter!) know about Shazam, namely because it can tell you the name and artist of any song you play for it. There are a few restrictions, though. For one, I’ve read that Shazam is only able to detect English songs, whatever that means. I’ve given it a try with some of my Italian pop music, to no avail (Ma dai!) Shazam is also limited in that it cannot detect live music, though it has on several occasions been able to read live classical music for me. Regardless of the limitations, this is one of the better apps I’ve come across. Now whenever that song I’ve always liked but never knew the name of comes on the radio, I can pull out Shazam and finally know!

Slydial – This gem of an app is the one I’m most proud of. Why? Say you need to call someone back, but you know they’ll talk your ear off and you simply don’t have the time, or perhaps you have only a quick second to let your friend know the answer to a question they’ve been bugging you about all week. This app takes care of it for you. When you open Slydial it will prompt you to choose a contact from your phonebook or to dial a number. Take your pick and let Slydial do the rest. The number will be called, but will be preceded by a series of numbers inserted by Slydial. What this does is take you directly to the voicemail of the cell phone user you just called. I hate to admit it, but I have used Slydial a couple of times, and both times were to give answers to people that I didn’t have time to talk to otherwise. Needless to say, it was not anyone I speak with regularly or would see this blog.

Public Radio Tuner – For the regular NPR listener, the Public Radio Tuner (by American Public Media) is your link to your favorite public radio stations when you’re not otherwise able to listen. Admittedly, Public Radio does not have my local 90.7 fm WXEL station yet, but as long as I can hear Car talk and Fresh Air I don’t really mind.

Balls – Designed by iotic, this is an interesting app I found only in the last couple of weeks. Balls that can vary in size fall and bounce off of each other creating sounds that imitate wind chimes while their colors change each time they hit another ball. Settings include volume, ball size, gravity, friction, bounce, balls (number of), and trails (left behind by bouncing balls). I like to set mine up with the lowest number of balls (3) and just let them bounce around, creating very calming ambient noise.

AroundMe – Granted, I’ve only had this for a day, but this cool app by Tweakersoft is one of the best. Once it has your location, you can find nearly anything that is around you. Not sure where to find gas, hospitals, theaters, restaurants, bars, hotels, banks and more? Now you do. Get it. It’s free.

The Weather Channel – The built-in iphone weather app is good, but The Weather Channel app gives you hourly updates and a 10 day forecast, as well as any weather alerts. It’s definitely worth getting.

Pandora – For those who don’t necessarily have a specific library of music, and even those who do, Pandora will be a necessity on your iphone. Simply type in the name of a song or artist you like and Pandora creates a playlist of songs around that search. Pandora is your free personalized radio.

There are plenty more apps that are just as awesome, but these nine did it for me, not only because they're useful and fun, but because they are all free.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dawkins' Delusion

I’ve been meaning to pick up Richard Dawkins’ infamous book, The God Delusion, for quite some time; I just haven’t had the chance. Now, more than ever, I think I will pick it up. Just a couple of days ago a friend of mine, Jonathan, wrote a blog titled Conceding Dawkins. In that blog, Jonathan posted several quotes by Richard Dawkins that gave me a bit of insight into what Dawkins thinks of faith. Furthermore, Dawkins was quoted as saying that the more you understand the significance of evolution, the more you are pushed towards atheism. Additionally, Dawkins is also quoted as saying that "even mild and moderate religion helps to provide the climate of faith in which extremism naturally flourishes."

Now, I’ve always been a believer in religious freedom, in people having the right to believe what they believe without fear of repercussion. That said, I absolutely cannot stand it when non-theists (and theists, for that matter) say things regarding belief in God that are incredibly false. As I’m sure you can guess, Dawkins has done this, and I intend to point it out.

First up is a quote by Mr. Dawkins wherein he claims a case for ones beliefs does not have to be made:

“Christianity, just as much as Islam, teaches children that unquestioned faith is a virtue. You don't have to make the case for what you believe.”

While it is indeed virtuous to have faith without evidence, belief in God and Jesus Christ is not dependent upon it. It is actually demanded that we test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21). As for making a case for what we believe, this too is a staple of the Christian faith. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to defend our beliefs and 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 says we are to cast down arguments. Mr. Dawkins’ assertions on this topic are in fact unfounded.

Next, Mr. Dawkins asserts that an understanding of evolution would naturally push one towards an atheist view. What I find hard to believe is that such a reasonable scholar of science would come to such a conclusion. The truth is, evolution (and science, in general) is neither theistic nor atheistic. And neither is there definitive proof through evolution that would push one towards atheism. The evidence simply does not exist. Mr. Dawkins, being the good scientist, has failed to check his metaphysical baggage at the door. And the truth is that none of us properly check our metaphysical beliefs at the door. We all carry with us something that prevents us from totally unbiased and rational decisions, whether it is metaphysical assumptions, experiences, or something else. What this means is that the purveyor of rationale and logic is himself, like he claims theists to be, somewhat deluded.

And finally, "even mild and moderate religion helps to provide the climate of faith in which extremism naturally flourishes." If religious wars rage because varying faiths believe each other to have caused some wrong to occur, then how are Dawkins and the new atheists any different? Don't they "wage war" on Christianity (mostly) because they feel we've done some wrong in the world? Don't they believe Christianity to be nothing more than a delusion? Aren't their atheist beliefs lacking in true reason and logic, as they so adamantly claim ours are? The only difference between them and other extremists is that they don't brandish weapons and actively hunt down theists. But then again, there is always a time before fanaticism occurs.

I am by no means implying that atheism will evolve to an extremist position like those of terrorists. But the issue isn't about what I believe can happen, but what Dawkins believes can happen. And if he believes that the moderately religious can eventually evolve into fanatics, then surely it follows likewise for the moderately irreligious. We are all subject to our own bodily desires and emotions, previous experiences and metaphysical assumptions. These things help shape us and bring us to our ultimate positions and stances. The irreligious are no different.

It is through these emotions, experiences, and metaphysical assumptions that Mr. Dawkins comes to the conclusions he does (as seen within this blog). Mr. Dawkins has fallen prey to false reasoning. And by the false reasoning that leads Mr. Dawkins to atheism, he may himself become susceptible to that which he fears can/does eventually happen to religious moderates.

This is not limited to Mr. Dawkins. Any and all who claim a logical and rational position and bring to the table their emotions, experiences, and metaphysical assumptions are all guilty of false reasoning.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Action Needed!

Two-Minute Action Needed Today: Click this link: to send a quick e-mail to these Senators to let them know we're paying attention to their votes and are disappointed they voted to support the Coburn amendment.

We want to know why our Senators voted for this damaging amendment -- see below for details.

The U.S. Senate approved an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that prohibits funding for "...museums, theaters and arts centers..." This amendment was approved by a vote of 73-24.

Copy and paste the link below to review all the votes on this amendment:

Please take a couple of minutes to send an e-mail by clicking the link at the top of this e-mail. Our national partner Americans for the Arts has made it easy for you to communicate your disappointment and ask why.

Thank you for your continued advocacy efforts.