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.